It's a so-so Friday in Chicago. It's not nice enough to sneak out of work or call in sick, and it's too nice to be busy at the office. However it is just right to be at the office and dicking around on the internet. I assume this will be the same next week as well. Let us help you in this quest:
1) The New Yorker is currently doing a three part series on global warming, the first part of which is now available online. They sent a reporter up to parts in or near the North Pole to interview various scientists and what their research is yielding. They make their case by bringing in as many different types of evidence as possible. An excellent article.
2) South Park Character Generator. This is too much fun. Creating sketches of yourself and your friends will easily eat up too much of your time. Feel free to create little images of yourself and post image links in our comments section (I'm curious what you all look like out there). Here is what I look like:
The left image is what I look like right now; the right one is what I hope to look like this weekend.
You have to love this man for not only drawing each image himself, but also for including a Beers Jersey among the available shirts to wear. I mean this with no irony and complete sincerity – if you do not know where the Beers Jersey is from you are almost certainly a terrorist who hates freedom. Or at the very least, you shouldn't be at this webpage; you should probably be off exploring high-end avant-garde erotica instead.
2.5) Have you all heard about this South Park Conservative movement thing? Evidently the National Review crowd is pushing it (there's even a Jonah Goldberg quote on the cover). This isn't new – the episodes defending Starbucks and shrugging at the rain forests are from several years ago. I wonder if the book points out how hard they've hit up Mel Gibson and The Passion.
3) Speaking of ganging up on "the ruling liberal elite", the new chapter for the softcover edition of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank is available online. I wanted to do a "Best of 2004: Books of the Rural Midwest" column, as Frank's book and Gilead were the two books I finished and immediately flipped back to the first page and reread last year. Excellent stuff.
Entitled "What's the Matter with Liberals?", the extra chapter mostly goes over the 2004 election, and how the choice of Kerry and the disastrious campaign he ran played right into the Right's hands. To put it another way, as Hitchens said months before the election: "John Kerry [was a bad choice] because the Republican Party is a machine designed to beat prosperous liberals from Massachusetts."
Frank delights in beating up the Clinton era campaigning, with all the playing to the center, trying to sneak the affluent class out from under the Republicans, and useless advisors out-of-touch with anyone not writing them a check. I think this chapter, and the book itself, is mandatory reading for those on the left. It's consoling to think that Americans were too dumb, or racist, or that (my favorite I hear) Kerry's campaign "was too smart" (!), but consolation will only get you so far, and tough love is often better.
And he's funny as hell, in that perfect chicagoan way (I think he wrote most of the book while living here). And an addictive writer. The highest recommendations. Read away!