The Spectacle Blog

Da Vinci Decoded

By on 5.19.06 | 12:57PM

Since the film version of The Da Vinci Code is out today I thought I'd link to two hilarious takedowns of the much-heralded story. First, Mark Steyn on "bad writing for biblical illiterates." Here's the opening graph:

It's a good rule in this line of work to respect a hit. But golly, The Da Vinci Code makes it hard. At the start of the book, Dan Brown pledges, "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." It's everything else that's hokum, beginning with the title, whose false tinkle testifies to Brown's penchant for weirdly inauthentic historicity. Referring to "Leonardo da Vinci" as "da Vinci" is like listing Lawrence of Arabia in the phone book as "Of Arabia, Mr. L," or those computer-generated letters that write to the Duke of Wellington as "Dear Mr. Duke, you may already have won!"

And then there's Tim Cavanaugh on taking in a bestseller by osmosis. A taste from the middle of a brilliant piece:

Google and Smut

By on 5.19.06 | 9:30AM

Two days ago, the Christian Coalition announced that it was joining with Google to support regulation of the Internet through what is called "Net Neutrality."

There was talk among Hill lobbyists that the Coalition was promised as much as $50,000, and it isn't clear that any money has yet changed hands. But money could be the only reason the Christian Coalition would sell its soul to get into bed with companies that get into bed with the Chinese government and facilitate profits for pornographers. Now, there is is this story out of South America. No one can blame Jack Abramoff for this one.

House fails again!

By on 5.18.06 | 10:25PM

Every time I look up, Congress is doing something else bad or failing to do something good. The failure of this attempt to lift the ban on offshore drilling is an atrocity. I mean, this should have been easy. First, it only applied to natural gas, not oil, and natural gas evaporates anyway so it doesn't cause oil slicks, etc. Second, all the lifting of the ban would do is let states have the choice to opt out of the ban. So under the proposal, if Florida still wanted its precious little ban in place, it could keep it, even if the proposal passed -- but Virginia, which does want to let gas drilling occur, would have that option. What's so wrong with giving the states the option?!? This just infuriates me.

Monkey Media

By on 5.18.06 | 3:58PM

The White House press corps is a joke. They spend their days being fed questions and information from left-wing special interest groups so that they can zing the President and Tony Snow, and they don't take the time to understand the people and the issues that they cover. How do we know? Why, their White House pool reports, of course. Special thanks to Washington Times reporter Stephen Dinan, who with a fine eye for the important facts filed today's pool report from Air Force One, and noted that while most folks in Washington and elsewhere were watching the confirmation hearing of Gen. Michael Hayden, the White House press corps onboard was watching ... "King Kong." But you know what? Those press guys will almost certainly have thoughts on Hayden's performance, and they will certainly expect the President and his his advisers to be on top of every little factoid from the hearing.

Hayden’s Statement

By on 5.18.06 | 10:16AM

Just got the opening statement Gen. Hayden will deliver in his confirmation hearing today. As with any confirmation statement, it's cautious. And it isn't something that will discomfit the CIA bureaucrats. Money quotes:

Over the past few years, the Intelligence Community and CIA have taken an inordinate number of hits, some of them fair, many of them not. Yes, there have been failures, but there also have been many great successes.

...Internally, I would regard it as a leading part of my job to affirm and strengthen the excellence and pride of CIA's workforce.

This is troubling on any number of levels. Have the failures been balanced by the successes? Hard to see how. "Strenghen the excellence and pride"? How about raising the standard of excellence?

Hayden will be confirmed. But he seems a very unlikely candidate to clean out the Langley version of the Augean Stables.