17 October 2004

Surreality Check

The weekend started off with something that Salvador Dali might have enjoyed… and ended up something that would shock him. On the one hand, we have Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show, lecturing the morons hosts of CNN's wretchedly superficial Crossfire on journalistic integrity, and coming off as far more balanced in his presentation and far more concerned about journalism. On the other hand, it could be worse; instead of Crossfire, we might have to rely solely upon the NYT's biased coverage… presuming that we can figure out what that bias is. Next, the NYT's theater critic—and, sad to say, one with whom I seldom agree very enthusiastically, because he worships the "icons" of the past—believes that we need a new Woodstein. Of course, it doesn't help that the NYT's science writers can't get elementary science right. A bathroom scale does, in fact, work when placed upside down; just because one can't read the result doesn't mean anything. The physics involved in stretching a string as part of a satellite's accelerometer is just a bit different from that of a bathroom scale. It sure beats more Karl Rove, though.

Then Philip Carter tells us that the military isn't composed of a bunch of Boss Hogg's extras after all—that, instead, its opinions are a bit more nuanced than one might expect. Actually, a show in the middle of the first season of The West Wing makes this point better than most, when Admirial Fitzwallace remarks that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will disrupt unit cohesion—but so did integrating blacks. The point is this: That the military is composed mostly of people who are not generals and admirals, and relying upon the generals and admirals to accurately state the sweep of personal opinions in the military is… well, exactly what was described in the previous paragraph.

Time to really go down the rabbit-hole. It's the thirtieth anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. And here I am, looking at my dog-eared copy of Chainmail (which preceded D&D) and first-print-run dog-eared set of the original three-volume set, and wondering whether I should be proud or embarrassed. Then, perhaps, I'll worry about whether this column might be held in contempt if it was a candidate for the Turner Prize (an annual award in Britain for contemporary art). Considering that most of the entries for the Prize can't be held in contempt because they are beneath contempt, that's saying something.