Kathi Derevan: ‘Don’t miss ‘Bad Santa.’ It is my new favorite Christmas movie, replacing ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol,’ which is still firmly in second place. (Definitely do not wait for the airplane version – about two-thirds of the language will be missing.)’


Gary Pollo: ‘Could you do this? Devote 1 day per week to financial advice? Let us all know what is the 1 day you will offer $ advice. Those interested in your ongoing political commentaries can read the other days. Thanks.’

☞ But then I could charge you only one-fifth as much! Have a great holiday season.


Glenn Martin: ‘I just purchased and installed the Bose Mediamate speakers you recommended. The sound quality is fantastic! How Bose is able to get such true sound, including bass, out of such small speakers is beyond me.’

☞ I feel the same way. We have the great Planet Out founder Tom Rielly to thank for this recommendation.


This is sophomoric, disrespectful and wildly partisan. Best of all, after clicking here and here to see what I’m talking about, you can click here to create your own (even one that is pro-Bush).


Peter Ludemann: ‘Check out, especially, these last few paragraphs of Robert X. Cringely’s December 4 column. Cringely knows a fair bit about technology (he correctly predicted that Y2K wouldn’t be a big deal):

Now here’s the really interesting part. Forgetting for a moment Diebold’s voting machines, let’s look at the other equipment they make. Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines. They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways. They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners. They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards. They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms. All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine. But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines — EVERY ONE — creates a paper trail and can be audited. Would Citibank have it any other way? Would Home Depot? Would the CIA? Of course not. These machines affect the livelihood of their owners. If they can’t be audited they can’t be trusted. If they can’t be trusted they won’t be used.

Now back to those voting machines. If EVERY OTHER kind of machine you make includes an auditable paper trail, wouldn’t it seem logical to include such a capability in the voting machines, too? Given that what you are doing is adapting existing technology to a new purpose, wouldn’t it be logical to carry over to voting machines this capability that is so important in every other kind of transaction device?

This confuses me. I’d love to know who said to leave the feature out and why?

☞ Me, too.


Bob P: ‘I suppose that when CBS makes a movie about Clinton featuring some true points about his life and also featuring him having Ron Brown and Vince Foster murdered, you won’t protest it? If you would, maybe you understand how people who liked and respected Reagan react to a movie with major plot points that are conceded to be false by most reviewers. For instance, see this.’

☞ Gosh, Bob. I did read that link. (Thank you for bringing it to my attention.) And you are quite right. If CBS – or more likely Fox – planned to air a movie showing President Clinton ordering the murders of two close friends and appointees, I would protest. After all, murder is a fairly serious charge, and – as even all but the most truly insane Clinton haters would agree – there is no shred of truth to these truly awful allegations.

But did The Reagans make allegations like that? What ‘major plot points’ are you talking about? I don’t know about ‘most reviewers’ conceding major plots to be false, but the link you provided – to an interview with Reagan loyalist Ed Meese, perhaps not the most objective of reviewers – didn’t persuade me even a little.

The first of the 11 inaccuracies Ed Meese enumerates is that The Reagans paints President Reagan as having been ‘a second-rate actor.’

Let us assume for the sake of argument that this is unfair – that he was a first-rate actor, right up there with James Cagney and Cary Grant. Still: is depicting a first-rate actor as having been second-rate even remotely akin to depicting an innocent man as having murdered two of his friends?

None of Meese’s other 10 criticisms rises remotely to the standard you’ve set, either. But let’s take #6, which is perhaps the most serious one, or at least the one that got as much play as any before The Reagans ultimately aired on Showtime:

6. The script writer for the CBS hatchet job admits that the depiction of Reagan as having a calloused attitude toward AIDS victims was something she just made up. And Meese adds that the entire issue of AIDS did not come in through Nancy Reagan. It was Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who “brought that issue to the Cabinet” and it was handled “like a whole bunch of other issues in the Cabinet.”

It is a very serious charge to think that, as tens of thousands of his fellow citizens were dying – fellow citizens including his friend Rock Hudson, in 1985 – President Reagan did nothing about it, and never once publicly uttered the word AIDS, until 1987.

But unlike the charge that ‘Clinton murdered Ron Brown and Vince Foster’ (which I know you are not making, except by way of illustration), this charge is actually true.

So I doubt very much that the script writer would agree that she wrote a hatchet job, or that ‘she just made up’ Reagan’s lack of response to the AIDS crisis.

She didn’t have to make it up. For six years of his Presidency, AIDS was constantly in the headlines. And for six years – which takes a lot longer to live than to say – President Reagan did and said essentially nothing.

With tens of millions around the world now dead or dying of this plague – and hundreds of millions more likely to die – is it not worth depicting that, despite all the headlines and protests, our leader sat mute?

[The Reagans is still playing on Showtime. If you’re interested in history, it’s worth watching.]

Tomorrow: Yet Mor-a Borealis


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