Tuesday, January 31, 2006


One of the worst most self-serving speeches ever. Gloating, defiant, oblivious and always clueless. Any opposition to this agenda is the prescription to a failed plan like Bush's. None of the facts back up his course of action for the last five years. The state of our union is faltering for most of us. Unless you happen to be a shyster and then it's happy days are here again. Welcome to the 1890s.

Live blogger comment of the night to my fellow California Democrat and uber blogger Kevin Drum:
"8:56 — Let's see, George Bush has already adopted John Kerry's Iran policy, and tonight he will apparently adopt Jimmy Carter's energy policy as well. "America is addicted to oil," we are reliably informed he will tell us. Let's keep a sharp eye out for FDR references too, shall we?"

And Cindy Sheehan was removed from the building. That's perfect.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Da Vinci Code FACT Claim

Here Brown claims none of the theories are presented as fact on his website. "The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters," Brown says. But in the book he clearly does say all the artifacts and "secret rituals are accurate." While Opus Dei is real, Priory of Scion was not in 1099, but a ruse(Plantard)from a few years ago, thus secret rituals in the novel are not accurate as claimed on the FACT page. That sure is misleading.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lies Inc.

Oh yeah Frey boarded that plane all smeared in blood and vomit. Sure. And the story that reported he didn't was stuffed in 2003. His books are piled up at the entrance to Barnes and Noble in Burbank, and the new one is prominently displayed near the Da Vinci Code. A prominent monument to the shameless flim-flamery that is American business; snake oil shills from way back marching over the American public, still clueless after all these years.

Update: Yay. Warner Bros is reconsidering making the Frey film. Unless they rewrite it about a scam artist rich kid screenwriter who lies to sell a memoir. Which would be just as bad. Kill the project Please.

'Tipping Point'

Never cross it unless prepared. We aren't and the policy here is step on the gas like Thelma & Louise.

"It's not something you can adapt to," Hansen said in an interview. "We can't let it go on another 10 years like this. We've got to do something."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Invisible Line

"A good story is at its best when the line between truth and fiction remains ambiguous."(Leicester Hemingway)

But list it as fiction please. Green Hills of Africa was nonfiction.

Stifling Science

What else is new with this bunch? I interveiwed Dr. Hansen myself awhile back. He's a great guy and very knowledgeable about climate science. Muzzling truth is a Bush staple.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Winfrey's Redemption

I think Oprah Winfrey redeemed herself today. Frey can never be.

Update: I've decided after careful thought Oprah should have known better to begin with, (a given really) and can't be completely redeemed. Everyone must pay for their indiscretions one way or another.

Gore's Burden

Al Gore has always been a leader on the global warming issue and the science now backs him up more than ever, but he and I have our work cut out for us. I wish him luck with his film. I have one of my own.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Class Action Against Frey

It's started as reported by Lewis Perdue.

Actor RIP

What is it with successful actors that makes them die so young? The latest, Chris Penn found dead yesterday. I worked with him on Rush Hour. The other premature death that I found strange was Robert Pastorelli of Murphy Brown fame. I worked with him on a failed drama in the late '90s. Even with success the biz can kill. Fans don't see the struggle often months sitting in an apartment in Santa Monica or the valley waiting for the agent to call. It's even more depressing than writing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Essentially, Lies

That's what James Frey's entire book is apparently.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Being Caribou

I was sent this great film last summer and hadn't taken the time to watch it until now. I highly recommend it. This Canadian couple followed the Porcupine Caribou Herd through their entire life cycle on foot into the 1002 calving grounds of ANWR and back. The fight's not over and so far we've won in Congress. Give it a look. I've linked it in my blogroll.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Biased on the Plantation

I don't know who wrote this over in the US Congress, but this fact page on ANWR at the Committee on Resources is off the charts with blatant political bias. Christ, our taxes go straight to industry shills these days. More to come.

And here it is. Apparently flat-earth general Richard Pombo just dictates the angle of analysis on committee issues by virtue of running it. This doesn't even have the faux appearance of objectivity; just blatant wingnuttery.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Transitional Forms

Don't exist in the fossil record to hear creationists tell it. But that is false and here's more evidence why it is so. Read it and weep John Meade. Reality is a bitch for some, but truth is a wonderous thing. I revel in it.

"This is another nail in the coffin of the creationist view, in my opinion," said Mark W. Westneat, an associate curator of zoology at the Field Museum of natural history in Chicago. "It is a great fill-in-the-gap story that shows a nice transition stage at an important point in evolution."

What is Plagiarism?

It's a fair question, but boils down the the misappropriation of other's work and passing it off as your own. There are degrees of this, Justice Learned Hand's commentary, "No plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate." (Sheldon V. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 56 (2d Cir), cert. Denied, 298 U.S. 669, 56 S.Ct. 835) notwithstanding.

In Through a Howling Wilderness the only genealogy not cited is mine. Specifically "Colburntown, after the family of Reuben Colburn" and "From Fort Western to Colburntown." This comes from my research paper and the History of Kennebec County Maine. No citation for this obscure local term is a bizarre slip up, but would almost have to be intentional.

Our genealogy is well-known yet not cited by Dr. Desjardin. No other historian has ever referred to Gardinerstown by our name. It is strictly a local term from 1761 when they first settled the town that later became Pittston. While I support the usage, I'm outraged at the lack of attribution. I've told Arnold Expedition Society leadership about this. I even have the reference online at the AEHS website so there is no excuse for this except to further ignore the Colburn family and my efforts to publish their story. While I'm appreciative of what Tom Desjardin is trying to do for the Colburn House Historic Site, that I nominated, insofar as getting it painted and restored further, that is his job after all. He gets a paycheck to do it. So you'd think he'd be falling all over himself to credit Colburn history in his book since he makes his living off the old homestead? I really don't get it and invite his answer. At best this is academic plagiarism: lack of citation of a source. It's real nonetheless.

Vanity Stalkers

The one thing my books and stance on vanity publishing have brought me is yet another negative: the Internet stalker. I don't mean in the threatening violent sense, just the persistent from posting, and book review sort of following like John S. Meade here. He shows up everywhere I go to disagree with me, and ad hominem my views and philosophy. It's fair game but tiresome.

Now it's Marc Cooper's, before it was Lee Goldberg's, right here and at Amazon. Mr. Meade believes I'm wrong on evolution and more to the point vanity publishing. You see he's a Vantage Press author, (the oldest most expensive subsidy press in the country) and lately Virtualbookworm. His two-line review of the Desjardin book revealing no details from said book is typical. He knows I wrote a similar book and got skunked out by this one as I've said, so this is the little man's chance to bite me back and stick the knife in. I get it.

Not surprisingly he feels safer with Hussein in jail and bin Laden on the run. Of course that's the way things stood before we went into Iraq, but logic is never the believer's friend.

Same crap different day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Not So fast

As David Quammen says, delisting the Yellowstone grizzly is a tad premature. The reasons are what is known in conservation biology as, the problems of small populations.

Tell the Truth

This is the bottomline for memoirists. The truth is sacrosanct in nonfiction and must remain so. Those who think otherwise, as the two great New Journalists: Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe say in this piece, are sadly mistaken. Nan Talese, the publisher of Frey's fantasy, was duped as well as Winfrey, but she at least tries to set the record straight here at the NYO. I'm with her husband: not completely sold. The other story comparing Frey with W is really good too. Neither one knows what truth really is, which is gist the problem at hand isn't it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Viva Gore!

Great speech by Al Gore. I agree with all of it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

7 for Brokeback

It deserves it. Brokeback Mountain is a damn fine film. The scenery is fantastic, and contrary to what some have said is not over done and intrusive. I highly recommend it. That is if you can find a theatre where it's playing.

A Living Document

That's what Bush just called the US Constitution. I wonder how this fits in with the "strict constructionism" he claims to favor?

Follow the Money

"The Iranian airline deal shows how the Abramoff case is already expanding into a broader investigation into D.C. lobbying practices. Ney was introduced to Winfield by lobbyists Roy Coffee, a former legislative aide to the then Gov. George W. Bush, and David DiStefano, who had previously been Ney's chief of staff. Coffee and DiStefano (who did not respond to requests for comment) arranged for Ney and a staff member to fly over to London, where Winfield and his Syrian-born business partner, Fouad Al-Zayat, pitched the congressman on their business plan." Newsweek

All roads lead to a corrupt Bush operative. You are who you run with.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Water of Life

straight from the ground, and there ain't no water here to be found Dire Straits.

Juliet hits another homer with this piece today. Nice work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Liar King

He was a yuppie schemer from birth, a trust-fund bum with a roof rat's adaptive, though repellent traits: a rat cunning and lack of shame.These qualities happen to be the key to success in the US: voila Frey embracing Oprah.

I couldn't agree more and John Dolan digs up more on the scammer James Frey is. Living in LA writing bad movies, and stealing chracters from "Eddie Little-specifically, Frey looted Little's great debut novel, "Another Day in Paradise."

So Frey a rich well-connected produced screenwriter since 1998 decided to delve deep into his past. Yeah right. Guess what his next film is. This thing just keeps getting more putrid.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Frogs RIP

"Amphibians are experiencing a precipitous decline in Africa, Asia and North America, according to a comprehensive 2004 survey, which cited climate change as well as deforestation, pollution and habitat loss as key factors."

As a frog surveyor myself I applaud this new paper and global warming creating an environment better suited to fungus infecting amphibians worldwide. These are the canaries in the coal mine. Heed the warning. Juliet Eilperin is doing an bang up job on the environment beat for the Post after being purged by the pietists on Capitol Hill for wearing too short a skirt or blouse or something equally foolish at the gaggles.


Oprah came to the rescue on Larry King yesterday. I missed it but the shameless defense is reorded here. Once successful liars win. Apparently the book was rejected as a work of fiction then resubmitted as nonfiction. Some memoirs are fiction due to memory constructions like A River Runs Through It. But generally memoir means a factual account of the period of time. There is no leeway in this. The book should recalled and the monetary loss incured. It won't happen since we have a culture of liars now. Only the best liars win even when caught. This just isn't right on its face.

Seth Mnookin gets to the merits of the book and knows a thing or three about rehab too.

"If a novelist wrote a book run through with these kind of straight-from-Central-Casting chestnuts, he'd be politely told to try again … as Frey says he was, by 17 different publishers, before, Frey says, Doubleday's Nan Talese said she'd publish his novel if he recast it as a memoir."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stare Decisis? We don't need no stinking Stare Decisis

The title means "let the decison stand." The argument fallacy sported by the flat-earth senators Brownback and Coburn (the latter one of my relatives, if distant)is one of the false-comparison variety. Arguing that the precedent back in the late 1800s, Plessy v. Fergason, was wrong and overturned by Brown v. Board of Education, and thus, the precedent was wrong and changed, so, are others e.g. Roe v. Wade. Which is their darling. This is akin to arguing self-publication in another era is the same as now. It isn't. It's also the overgeneralization fallacy as well: If one law can be overturned so can any. Few laws are amended to go backwards into limitation of personal choices and freedom. This particular freedom they want to eliminate from the pulpit. There's plenty of historical precedent for this too.

Lying to be a Best-Seller

"While the dealers get together and decide who gets the breaks" In the Gallery Dire Straits

I have always been suspicious of A Million Little Pieces but on the face of it as another self-destruction memoir. Yet when submitting a truthful one as I have about doing good work for conservation ever the Eagle Scout, albeit far from pure, the story is widely rejected. Lying pays.

"In what may be his book's most crass flight from reality," reports The Smoking Gun,"Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy's third victim. It's a cynical and offensive ploy that has left one of the victims' parents bewildered. "As far as I know, he had nothing to do with the accident," said the mother of one of the dead girls. "I figured he was taking license...he's a writer, you know, they don't tell everything that's factual and true."

Yeah they do in fiction, not memoir. My heroics are my own, not made up. They happened. The only thing I'm certain Frey did was get chronically loaded. He dreamed it. We're all heroes in our dreams.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Artful Dodger

Sam Alito is that if nothing else. Generalities, platitudes, ducking key questions and watching while the Republicans fawned all over him. Precedent, can be considered, and ignored. He didn't have an opinion about Bush v. Gore. No one can tell anything about these folks except what they supported in the past. Law is biased based on who reasons from where to some extent. How much is the question?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Blipperton Agency

Blip opened his own lit agency.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reuben Colburn's Dilemma

Review of Through a Howling Wilderness :

Thomas A. Desjardin writes a familiar overview narrative of the March to Quebec, my Colburn family, story with little analysis until the speculative epilogue concerning what would have happen if they had succeeded in capturing Quebec City. En route folks are left out if their name is Colburn. After Skowhegan and Norridgewock Colburn’s Company simply disappears when evidence says they were still marching and involved all the way to the Canadian border; their scouts beyond that. The Getchells fare much better getting a whole chapter based on their family history and myths including a fascinating buried treasure tale. None of the journals mentions seeing, let alone carrying and lamenting its loss as depicted here, a barrel of coins all the way to the upper Dead River.

It is widely known that the journal of John Joseph Henry later a judge written with his daughter on his deathbed was wildly inaccurate, the worst of all the journals according to Kenneth Roberts. Roberts skewered both Colburn and scout Dennis Getchell in Arundel but to his credit Desjardin corrects most of that. Colburn is defended early on for his bateaux and the lack of dried lumber, shortness of time, and even more importantly, he adds the lack of forged nails to the defense and should be applauded for that new addition. The story skims past Colburn’s shipyard and home, and doesn’t mention the three days Arnold spent as guests of Reuben and Elizabeth, not to mention the army encamped in the yard. Moreover, he doesn’t include any Colburn family history as a pertinent back-story at all. How strange for the Historic Site Specialist for the Colburn House State Historic Site. Too close to home?

Colburn gathered the tribes of the St. Francis and took them to Cambridge not the other way around as portrayed here. That was how “he just happened to be in Cambridge in Aug. 14, 1775.” There are other misfires like Mathias Ogden, the cousin of Aaron Burr portrayed as a “friend” and “chum”; the overuse of “Natives” and “Native Americans” instead of what they were: Abenakis. This may be credited to editors? The botching of the Natanis narrative is troubling as a scholar on this particular subject. It’s a twisted tale for sure and I can’t reveal the evidence I have except that I have it from primary sources, but it’s common knowledge from the journals that Natanis rescued the lost companies in the Spider lake swamp. His constant infusing of what Arnold “must have felt” are intrusive in my view, and smack of “tell-don’t-show, instead of the other way around. At any rate, it’s an extensively researched albeit short work and I recommend it even if it is the one that preempted my own, Patriot on the Kennebec, from publication, possibly forever. Any publicity is better than none. And like the haggard soldiers, the future is unknowable from where we sit.

Update: Concerning Aaron Burr and the Jacataqua legend and the banquet at Fort Western, as I point out in my book concerning the thesis of Kenneth Roberts on this matter, the evidence is clear of a banquet at the Howard's in Augusta mentioned by Henry Dearborn, others, and Burr himself writing of "falling on roast chickens" and the like while there.

Just because someone commented on shoe buckles is beside the point. There was a banquet; they speak of it firsthand; Burr was there and Indians guided the travelers. Did he travel with the princess of Swan Island? Could have. He had a personal guide for the last leg into Quebec, and to Montgomery. The child (Chestnutina)is the most doubtful part of the legend. She would have been welcome at Colburn House where he stayed before moving on to Fort Western by wagon, as Indians came and went all the time from the Colburn parlor. It's as likely as the Getchell tall tale of a barrel of gold coins going down in the flood and later recovered by canoe, hence paying for their land in Vassalboro as if that was the only source of coinage in Maine.

Stop the Presses!

WSJ Breaking News: The biggest teachers union gave $65 million in its members' dues to left-liberal groups last year.
12:01 a.m. EST

The left-out part is the membership endorses this, and should they not there's an individual opt-out clause available to all union members. Evil unions and liberals oh my!
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