June 30, 2004

Good news from Afghanistan

With the constant negative drum beat from Iraq it's easy to lose sight of the goings on in Afghanistan. Luckily Arthur Chrenkoff is on the case with a good news roundup from Afghanistan . Check it out.

Posted by Pete at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2004

Another Child

An Israeli child was killed by a Palestinian rocket yesterday.

"What can I tell you, little boy," said Moyal. A boy leaves home and goes to school and instead of returning home, is buried in cemetery at the end of the day.

"You didn't know anything of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. You didn't know anything about war or peace. You were pure, but we have neighbors, little boy, who are animals, murders that kill little children age 4. We will not forget, we will not forgive."

Meryl points out what is missing from the funeral.

Posted by Jennifer at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

*Ask Jen: Smelly Dogs Edition

Victor wants to know, "Why do dogs like to roll around in dead stinky things?"

Well, first of all, let's not generalize. Some dogs are awfully fussy about getting their royal paws dirty, much less getting animal carcass or fecal matter on their luxurious fur. But let's focus on the dogs who do enjoy a good romp in smelly goodness.

My initial reaction to this question was that it is to hide their scent from predators, and that is the most popular theory. But there are a couple other theories.

Some scientists think it's a show-and-tell kinda thing. The dog rolls in the smelly stuff to bring the scent back to his pack. "Hey! Look what I found!"

Still other scientists hold the position that it's like perfume--the dogs just like it. Their noses are much more sensitive than our own, so perhaps the icky stuff is a great smell to them.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2004

French History: Before the Armistice

Previous entry: Dunkirk.

The Dunkirk evacuation lasted from May 27 through June 3 (1940). Private boats saved 26,000 troops after the evacuation was made public in Britain on May 30. There were no journalists in Dunkirk, so the British government was able to control media information on what was happening. They were also able to spin it as they wished, and told the journalists that the French were to blame for their own defeat due to their lack of fighting, which was completely unfounded and unfair. Britain's Royal Air Force remained grounded throughout the German attack, and Churchill refused to send more troops to France.

France felt betrayed by Britain's limited military assistance and perceived attitude of self-preservation. The feeling was that Britain placed their own self-interests above that of the alliance with France. In the long-term, Britain's actions saved their forces, but this was little consolation for a country facing total defeat and occupation.

The days before France sought an armistice with Germany were chaotic. Communication between France and England was difficult as the Germans rolled through the country, and confusion set in. On June 10, the government evacuated Paris and Prime Minister Reynaud called on the United States for assistance. On June 11, Churchill flew to Briare to meet with the French. France believed now was the time to make the decisive fight against Germany, but Churchill disagreed. Britain would try to weather the coming months and attempt to win France back later on. Churchill offered to send one army division, but would not promise any more before the new year. Marshal Petain responded, "In 1918, I gave you forty divisions to save the British army. Where are the forty British divisions that would be needed to save ourselves today?"

On June 12, Churchill informed his cabinet that France would soon be lost. The next day, June 13, a response came from President Roosevelt: America was doing all it could to supply the Allies, and would not promise additional assistance. This was a huge blow to France and Britain both. Churchill had expected the United States to be in the war within two weeks.

Churchill flew to Tours to meet with Reynaud, who asked to be released from the French-British agreement not to seek individual peace with Germany. Reynaud said bitterly, "it is quite natural for Britain to continue (fighting), given that until today she has not suffered much." Churchill would not discuss the matter and went back to England. What Reynaud did not tell him was that the French cabinet wanted to meet with Churchill before voting whether or not to seek an armistice with Germany. Churchill's failure to show made the argument for a separate armistice stronger. It looked like Britain didn't care.

On June 16, Britain offered to let France out of their peace agreement with instructions to send the French fleet immediately to England so it would be saved from the Germans. When the French cabinet met and read the message, the part about the fleet was omitted. They thought this was another indication Britain had abandoned them. Reynaud resigned as Prime Minister and Petain replaced him. The next day, France asked Germany for an armistice.

Posted by Jennifer at 04:15 PM | Comments (1)

I'll Give You a Topic...

Every summer when I was a kid, we'd drive up to our family's cabin in Wisconsin for vacation. We'd spend one or two weeks up there on the lake, surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Now that we (cousins) are older, some of us don't make it to the cabin very often while others are up there all the time--bringing their own kids now.

This weekend I'll be going up there as I do almost every year, and although I don't have kids of my own, I'll be taking my niece and nephew.

What kind of family traditions or experiences do you remember from your childhood that you want your children to experience?

Posted by Jennifer at 10:32 AM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2004

*Ask Jen: Brownshirt Edition

A reader who shall remain anonymous asked what a "brownshirt" was...as in Gore calling people Digital Brownshirts. So I figured other people might be confused too.

From Encarta:

Brown Shirt noun 1. Nazi storm trooper: a member of a Nazi uniformed paramilitary organization originally forming Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard and later used as a militia. Brownshirts assisted Hitler’s rise to power, but lost their influence to the SS following the assassination of their leader Erich Röhm in 1934. 2. offensive term: an offensive term for somebody who is viewed as being a violent racist ( insult ) [Translation of German Braunhemd , from the brown uniform shirts of the Nazi storm troopers]

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:39 PM | Comments (4)

*Deterring Illegal Weapons Activity

Occasionally an interesting notice will come across my desk:

These commodities, technology, or software (items) are not to be used directly or indirectly, in prohibited nuclear, chemical/biological or missile weapons activities.

I wonder if that warning is more effective than the Surgeon General's.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:00 AM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2004

*Ask Jen: The Morning After Edition

Reader "L" wants to know, "What will cure a hangover?"

Not drinking too much. But you already know that. Before you go to bed, make sure you drink lots of water to rehydrate your body and take a painkiller that doesn't have acetaminophen in it (Advil good, Tylenol bad). For the morning after, drink more water or Gatorade. You'll want to consume some carbs to get your blood-sugar back up and protein for energy. Avoid fatty foods, which will make you feel more nauseous.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 02:04 PM

I'll Give You a Topic...

I'm a strong swimmer and I love to swim, but I have an inordinate amount of discomfort around pool drains. In large pools I try to avoid swimming above them if at all possible.

What are your phobias?

Posted by Jennifer at 09:22 AM | Comments (8)

Quote of the Day

"You never really know a guy until you ask him to wear a rubber."


Posted by Jennifer at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004


The South Korean hostage has been murdered.

What a brave and powerful statement that was. Murdering an unarmed civillian while wearing a hood to hide your face from the world.

These militants terrorists total f*cking assholes are cowards to the core.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)

*Ask Jen: Buckingham Edition

Jim wants to know, "Who (or what) was Buckingham, as in 'Buckingham Palace'? Why isn't it called London Palace or 'Whatevertheroyalfamiliesnameis' Palace?"

Good question. First, let's look at the royal family's surname, because that's kind of interesting.

Before 1917, the royal family's official surname was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Because of the anti-German sentiment during WWI, the King renounced his family's German titles and changed the surname to Windsor. The current royals (The Queen and her direct male and unmarried female descendants) have the last name Mountbatten-Windsor, since Prince Philip took the surname Mountbatten when he became a British citizen.

Now, Buckingham Palace: it was bought by the royal family in 1761 when it was known as Buckingham House. It was originally used as a home for the queen and her children, and was much smaller. By 1847 it had the four wings we see today.

So who was Buckingham? The Duke who built the House in 1703.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:20 AM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2004

French History: Dunkirk

Previous entry: The Occupation.

I'm going to revisit a part of the German invasion that I touched on only briefly in my last post. Frankly, it is too good of a story to miss the opportunity to tell it. Some of you know it, but some of you probably don't--the evacuation/rescue/retreat at Dunkirk.

On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Within ten days they reached the English Channel and cut France off from Belgium and the Netherlands. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were pushed onto the beach of Dunkirk, France. Over 900 vessels arrived to aid in evacuating the troops. Besides the naval ships, common citizens of Great Britain brought their private boats across the Channel to help out. German planes overhead were firing on the targets below, but over 338,000 British and French soldiers were saved.

First of all, think about the logistics of this. Over 300,000 soldiers. I'll give you a moment to consider the number of soldiers America has in the Middle East now...

Okay, moving on. Besides showing incredible bravery on the part of ordinary citizens, this rescue was a very important moment in WWII. Britain's army would have been hard-pressed to recover if that many soldiers had been lost. It was a tactical blunder on Hitler's part. Instead of letting his ground troops move in and finish the job, he wanted his air force to do it. This caused a pause in the fighting that gave the majority of the soldiers a chance to escape.

After Dunkirk, it was only a matter of time before the Germans would take Paris. On June 14, after 92,000 French soldiers were killed, 250,000 were wounded, and 1.45 million were captured, the Germans marched into the French capitol. The Republic was removed from power and Philippe Petain became the new Prime Minister. On June 22, the two countries signed an armistice. Hitler made the French sign it in the same railroad car where Germany surrendered in WWI. The Vichy government was officially installed soon after.

Next entry: Before the Armistice

Posted by Jennifer at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2004

Paul Johnson's Killers

Reports are sketchy, but apparently Paul Johnson's killers are dead.

After Johnson's body was found, Saudi officials "swooped in" on the neighborhood where the killers were.

My question, while realizing it is still early, is this: Why didn't they swoop in a lot f@cking earlier?

Posted by Jennifer at 07:56 PM | Comments (5)

June 17, 2004

Quote of the Day

Yiddish folk sayings...

"The husband is the boss--if the wife allows."
"He who has not tasted the bitter does not understand the sweet."
Posted by Jennifer at 08:19 AM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2004


Blogless Pete is married!

L to R: Pete, Pete's offspring, and Pete's bride. Click for super-size.

May you have many years of happiness and love.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:58 AM | Comments (5)

June 11, 2004

Goodbye, President Reagan

I watched Ronald Reagan's funeral on television. I'm working today, but we have a breakroom with a TV. This is the first presidential state funeral in my lifetime, and I've found the whole week fascinating from a historical standpoint.

I work in a union shop which leans left politically, so I was able to watch the proceedings alone and mostly uninterrupted. Occasionally a co-worker would walk by and ask if I was a Reagan fan. The co-worker I make fun of on this site from time to time was heard to go on for about five minutes sarcastically that "a funeral is tops on (her) list of things to watch." I turned the volume up to drown her out until she shut the hell up. Other than that, I was able to view the proceedings in peace.

The speakers were all very good, although GWB's eulogy dragged on a bit for my tastes. His story about the kid's disaster of a room was my favorite.

My heart has broken for Nancy all week. When she was thanked (by Dennis Hastert?) in the Capitol Rotunda for sharing her husband with the rest of us, that really underscored the way I feel about all the First Ladies. They are dragged into the spotlight (some have danced into it, but that's the exception rather than the rule), and the spotlight has never shown brighter on Nancy than it has this week.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Nancy Reagan:

A woman is like a teabag--only in hot water do you realize how strong she is.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:02 PM | Comments (8)

June 06, 2004

Ronald Reagan

I thought about a few different ways to post about his death from a historical point of view, but I really don't think I have anything to add beyond what has been covered by other bloggers and the mainstream media.

So I'll editorialize instead.

Ronald Reagan is to the Republicans what John Kennedy is to the Democrats. An icon. A beloved president.

Anyone who would rejoice over his death is immature and, frankly, pretty stupid. John Kennedy died over 40 years ago. Did it mark the end of the Democrats? No. Reagan left office over 15 years ago. Did the Republicans fall apart? No.

Lack of empathy is something leftists love to throw at George W. Bush. Lack of empathy is something a few leftists are exhibiting now.

A man died. A husband died. His wife has been watching him fade away for ten years. His children have watched him forget who they even are.

There are no political points to be made here. You don't have to shed any tears, but show a little humanity.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:08 PM | Comments (2)

June 05, 2004

Sad News

President Reagan has passed away. I'll have a post about him up by Monday.

(Unlike me, the media has been planning this for about ten years. Coverage here, here, here, etc.)

Posted by Jennifer at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2004

Off-Topic Question

Okay, the WWII stuff is fun (for me), but it's killing my comments. So here's something NOT to do with the war...

Smoking cigarettes around children is not illegal. So...if we legalize marijuana, would it be okay for adults to toke up with the kids around?

Just askin'.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:59 PM | Comments (5)


How looney do you think someone had to be for Hitler to refer to him as the crazy one?

(Less biased bio here.)

Posted by Jennifer at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

An oldie but goodie...

"Overpaid, overfed, oversexed, and over here."

-Brits regarding Yanks.

"Underpaid, underfed, undersexed, and under Eisenhower."

-Yanks regarding Brits.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)

June 03, 2004

Quote of the Day

Just keeping with the WWII theme...

"Cease firing, but if any enemy planes appear, shoot them down in a friendly fashion."

-U.S. Admiral William F. Halsey to his men after the Japanese announced their intent to surrender.

Posted by Jennifer at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

French History: The Occupation

This series is by no means a comprehensive history of France, but may put WWII in some context.

Brief Introduction.
Culture Before WWII.
Politics Before WWII, Part One.
Politics Before WWII, Part Two.

As we prepare to commemorate D-Day, I wanted to take a look at France from a different point of view. Obviously, being American, most of what I learned in history classes was very America-centric. World War II began with Pearl Harbor, took a detour to Normandy, and ended in Hiroshima. Right? My personal interest in history has led me to research times and places of interest to me. I’ve learned more about history after college than I did in college—and that was my major. Armed with the remnants of my college French, I’ve managed to make my way through a French book or two.

There is a popular misconception that France hasn’t “owned up” to its past, but the Occupation is the most-studied period of French history. True, in the period following the war, the Occupation was romanticized; history from 1945 until 1965 focused on the Resistance. Well, of course it did—the Resistance leaders were in charge of France after the war. After this period of historical slant, there was a backlash. Movies and books that were extremely critical of the French collaboration with Germany were popular in the 1970s.

As with most any period or event in history, there are different sides to the story. The Vichy government persecuted Jews, Freemasons, and Communists. But French Jews were more likely to survive the Holocaust than Jews in other occupied countries. The Vichy government collaborated with Germany. But France had a long history of diplomatic cooperation with Germany. The Vichy government was installed after the Republic was displaced by Germany. But the Republic was already faltering before Hitler’s armies marched into Paris, and the Vichy government had roots extending back for decades. The French are cheese-eating surrender monkeys. But their military was in bad shape after World War I and their economy wasn’t much better…and they’re not the only ones who signed the Munich Agreement in 1938.

One thing that struck me as I was talking to people about this series of posts was the belief that Germany showed up and rolled straight through to Paris and occupied all of France. In truth, the French—with help from British forces—fought the Germans for six weeks before they were simply overwhelmed. The British troops left their equipment behind and quickly evacuated, along with some French leaders who would form the Free French under Charles de Gaulle in London. Germany occupied the northern portion of France, including Paris, in order to put pressure on Great Britain. They allowed an “independent” French government to exist in southern France (headquartered in Vichy).

One thing that is important to point out is the separation between French government and the general public. During the Occupation, 650,000 French civilians were forced to work in German factories. About 60,000 non-Jewish French people were deported to the concentration camps. About 30,000 French civilians were killed as hostages or for being members of the Resistance. About 75,000 French Jews died in Auschwitz. The French public was almost universally hostile towards the Germans throughout the occupation, and their disenchantment with the Vichy government was swift.

Within its own agenda, the Vichy government had its own anti-Semitic program and even imposed some policies beyond what the Germans dictated. The general population, however, was mostly indifferent to the Jews rather than blatantly anti-Semitic. After the war most French Jews just wanted to fit back into French society. They blamed the Germans rather than the French.

(This is a general overview of Occupied France. I will go into more detail with my next posts for those who are interested.)

Next: Dunkirk.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)

June 02, 2004

*French History: Politics Before WWII, Part Two

This series is by no means a comprehensive history of France, but may put WWII in some context.

Brief Introduction.
Culture Before WWII.
Politics Before WWII, Part One.

The Depression hit France later than most countries, but it also lasted longer. In 1939, production levels were still lower than they had been a decade earlier. The French government took an almost lackadaisical attitude towards the economic crisis. The lower classes were hardest hit, and this helped set the stage for class polarization at the same time that political polarization was occurring.

Parliament’s ineffectiveness was due in large part to the refusal of the political parties to work together. In particular, the Socialists refused to work with the Radicals. Between 1932 and 1934, nothing got done in the French government. In October 1933, the Socialist party split as 28 members rebelled over their group’s refusal to cooperate with the Radicals. In February 1934, riots broke out. When the new parliament was seated, reforms were proposed that would keep such a deadlock from happening again. Unfortunately, the right-wing did not act quickly enough and gave the left-wing time to spin the reforms as a new form of Bonapartism. The reforms failed to pass.

Anti-parliamentary groups were materializing in the early 1930s. One of the most powerful groups was the right-wing Croix de feu, which had begun as a war veterans group in 1928. In 1931, the group was opened up to the general public and moved into politics. Paramilitary organizations cropped up within the group, and by the end of 1935 it boasted over 300,000 members. The group promoted themselves in a way that exuded menace and strength. Membership was mostly lower-middle class and urban. The group had a fascist bent that was historically downplayed until recently.

The left-wing answer to the Croix de feu and the Depression was the Popular Front. With Hitler rising in power, the left knew that it would be dangerous to continue their political disunity. The Communist Party, which historically maintained a policy of sectarianism, joined the Socialists and Radicals. Stalin was courting France as an ally against Hitler, which made the French Communists unwilling to damage France’s ability to defend herself and pull herself out of economic crisis.

In May 1936, the Popular Front won the elections and the Socialists became France’s largest parliamentary party while the Communists’ votes doubled. In June they passed a law that ended the Croix de feu and paramilitarism. The Popular Front was perceived as an attack on bourgeois society, and the upper class feared the end of their social space. The threat of communism was becoming a larger concern than the threat of fascism, and by 1938 the Radicals drifted to the political right to combat the rise of communism. This ended the Popular Front’s coalition.

The anti-left furor led to a radicalization of the right-wing. Groups popped up vowing to fight communism by any means necessary. To that end, arms caches were prepared throughout the country, and terrorist attacks were made in 1937. The boundaries between the parliamentary right and the extreme right were blurring, and the former leader of Croix de feu established a new group with approximately 1.5 million members. It favored an authoritarian-populist form of government and was the largest political group in France. Anti-communism was also showing up in some left-wing groups such as the Socialists and trade unions.

At this time, France was still recovering from World War I emotionally. The horror of war had bred pacifism in a significant percentage of the population. The military was not prepared for any kind of fighting, and the economy was ravaged by the Depression. Hitler was rearming his military in defiance of the limits placed on Germany after WWI. There were calls for the rearmament of France, but the nation was war-weary and cash-poor.

The Occupation.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:30 PM

*Talking to Myself

I thought Rule Number One in bachelor parties was "No Cameras."

Yes? No?

Posted by Jennifer at 02:05 PM | Comments (5)

*French History: Politics Before WWII, Part One

This series is by no means a comprehensive history of France, but may put WWII in some context.

Brief Introduction.
Culture Before WWII.

The Third Republic was troubled from the start. Calls for reform began almost immediately after its formation in the 1870s and grew more intense after World War I. The lack of a promised strong executive branch led to problems within the government, and the Republic was fading well before 1940.

When the Third Republic's Constitution was adopted, a system of checks and balances was put in place that was supposed to make government more efficient under a strong executive. In reality, the democratically-elected Lower House had most of the power and the President was relegated to the role of figurehead. The Upper House, or Senate, had limited power as well.

Unlike the Senate, the Lower House consisted of men who were not socially elite. They were schoolteachers, rural leaders, etc. The democratization of French politics began a chasm between political institutions and the social elites. In the aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair, the Radical Party came into power. With them came the elites' worst nightmare: the career politician. One of the first things the Radicals did was raise their political salaries.

Several groups popped up to address the growing disillusionment with the Republic. One of them was led by Charles Maurras, who founded Action francaise, which was a monarchist group that was particularly influential in the 1920s. His group was intellectual rather than political and attracted a healthy following of students from the French Quarter. The group faded around 1926 when the Vatican condemned it. Already some younger members had grown impatient with its lack of action and moved on to more radical movements.

The reform groups that grew out of the political right generally had the same goals, including but not limited to: modernization and technical competence, efficiency and organization, and a stronger executive branch. Unfortunately, the groups lacked charismatic leaders to help push their agenda. Even with a right-wing majority in Parliament in 1919, the right-wing reform movement was stalled. The post-war government was preoccupied with reconstruction, inflation, and budget problems.

The left-wing reform groups also had their goals: streamlined government, educational reforms which would give all children the same education until age 13, nationalization of key industries, and a restructuring of politics that would place the economy first. Like the right, the left failed to see their ideology through. Financial crises kept the government from making any real changes in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

By 1926 France was enjoying a booming economy and financial stability. Reformists once again moved to the forefront. At this time fractured political groups were moving to realign with one another, and parliamentary fighting undermined the reform movements. A modernization bill that had been the subject of much fanfare was never even voted on. In 1932 the Depression caught up with France and politics became even more volatile.

Politics Before WWII, Part Two.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:57 AM

June 01, 2004

*More of Plus They Make Good Money...

Seeing this post reminded me of something I saw several years ago from Scott Adams

Men Who Use Computers Are The New Sex Symbols Of The `90s

(By Scott Adams, Windows Magazine, May 1995).

I get about 100 e-mail messages a day from readers of my comic strip Dilbert. Most are from disgruntled office workers, psychopaths, stalkers, comic-strip fans -- that sort of person. But a growing number are from women who write to say they think Dilbert is sexy . Some say they've already married a Dilbert and couldn't be happier.

If you're not familiar with Dilbert, he's an electrical engineer who spends most of his time with his computer. He's a nice guy, but not exactly Kevin Costner.

Okay, Dilbert is polite, honest, employed and educated. And he stays home. These are good traits, but they don't exactly explain the incredible sex appeal. So what's the attraction?

I think it's a Darwinian thing. We're attracted to the people who have the best ability to survive and thrive. In the old days it was important to be able to run down an antelope and kill it with a single blow to the forehead.

But that skill is becoming less important every year.

Now all that matters is if you can install your own Ethernet card without having to call tech support and confess your inadequacies to a stranger whose best career option is to work in tech support.

It's obvious that the world has three distinct classes of people, each with its own evolutionary destiny:

Knowledgeable computer users who will evolve into godlike non-corporeal beings who rule the universe (except for those who work in tech support).

Computer owners who try to pass as knowledgeable but secretly use hand calculators to add totals to their Excel spreadsheets. This group will gravitate toward jobs as high school principals and operators of pet crematoriums. Eventually they will become extinct.

Non-computer users who will grow tails, sit in zoos and fling dung at tourists.

Obviously, if you're a woman and you're trying to decide which evolutionary track you want your offspring to take, you don't want to put them on the luge ride to the dung-flinging Olympics. You want a real man. You want a knowledgeable computer user with evolution potential.

And women prefer men who listen. Computer users are excellent listeners because they can look at you for long periods of time without saying anything. Granted, early in a relationship it's better if the guy actually talks. But men use up all the stories they'll ever have after six months. If a woman marries a guy who's in, let's say, retail sales, she'll get repeat stories starting in the seventh month and lasting forever. Marry an engineer and she gets a great listener for the next 70 years.

Plus, with the ozone layer evaporating, it's a good strategy to mate with somebody who has an indoor hobby. Outdoorsy men are applying suntan lotion with SPF 10,000 and yet by the age of 30 they still look like dried chili peppers in pants. Compare that with the healthy glow of a man who spends 12 hours a day in front of a video screen.

It's also well established that computer users are better lovers. I know because I heard an actual anecdote from someone who knew a woman who married a computer user and they reportedly had sex many times. I realize this isn't statistically valid, but you have to admit it's the most persuasive thing I've written so far.

If you still doubt the sexiness of male PC users, consider their hair. They tend to have either: (1) male pattern baldness -- a sign of elevated testosterone -- or (2) unkempt jungle hair -- the kind you see only on people who just finished a frenzied bout of lovemaking. If this were a trial I think we could reach a verdict on the strong circumstantial evidence alone.

I realize there are a lot of skeptics out there. They'll delight in pointing out the number of computer users who wear wrist braces and suggest it isn't the repetitive use of the keyboard that causes the problem. That's okay. Someday those skeptics will be flinging dung at tourists. Then who'll be laughing? (Answer to rhetorical question: everybody but the tourists.)

Henry Kissinger said power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. And Bill Clinton said that knowledge is power. Therefore, logically, according to the U.S. government, knowledge of computers is the ultimate aphrodisiac. You could argue with me -- I'm just a cartoonist -- but it's hard to argue with the government. Remember, they run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, so they must know a thing or two about satisfying women.

You might think this was enough to convince anyone that men who use computers are sexy. But look at it from my point of view: I'm getting paid by the word for this article. I'm not done yet.

In less enlightened times, the best way to impress women was to own a hot car. But women wised up and realized it was better to buy their own hot cars so they wouldn't have to ride around with jerks.

Technology has replaced hot cars as the new symbol of robust manhood. Men know that unless they get a digital line to the Internet no woman is going to look at them twice.

It's getting worse. Soon anyone who's not on the World Wide Web will qualify for a government subsidy for the home-pageless. And nobody likes a man who takes money from the government, except maybe Marilyn Monroe, which is why the CIA killed her. And if you think that's stupid, I've got 100 words to go.

Finally, there's the issue of mood lighting. Nothing looks sexier than a man in boxer shorts illuminated only by a 15-inch SVGA monitor. If we agree that this is every woman's dream scenario, then I think we can also agree that it's best if the guy knows how to use the computer. Otherwise, he'll just look like a loser sitting in front of a PC in his underwear.

In summary, it's not that I think non-PC users are less attractive. It's just that I'm sure they won't read this article.

Posted by Pete at 09:30 PM | Comments (2)

*French History: Culture Before WWII

This series is by no means a comprehensive history of France, but may put WWII in some context.

Brief Introduction.

France was the most populous country in Europe until the early 1800s. Before World War I, they enjoyed cultural dominance in the arts, and their cinema was more important than America's. French was the language of diplomacy.

Between 1871 and 1911, the population of France grew only 8.6% compared to Great Britain's 54% growth and Germany's 60% growth. The government encouraged people to have large families in an attempt to increase birth rates. In the midst of this concern with population came WWI--and severe French casualties. No other power suffered a higher percentage of losses. The French began to fear their country would be lost simply because there wouldn't be any French people left. Anti-abortion laws were passed, monetary prizes were given to fathers of ten or more children, and government programs encouraged reproduction.

Before WWI, French artists had been moving towards modernism. The French cinema was dominant. After WWI, the American cinema displaced French cinema. France had shut down movie production during the war, and American movies filled the void. Threatened by American values and spurred by French nationalism, French art and literature moved away from modernism and back to classical French. In 1928, France placed a quota on imported films meant to limit access to American films. Several French books in the 1920s and 1930s examined the changing roles of America versus Europe. After the Depression, America seemed less threatening, but was still highly criticized by nationalistic writers and intellectuals in France.

At the Paris conference following WWI, English was recognized as a diplomatic language equal to French for the first time. This came as a bit of a blow to the French, who had viewed America with vague condescension before the war. English's inclusion was an indicator of America's growing stature in world affairs.

France saw nationalism grow after 1918. This resulted from the war and fears of lessening importance. Immigrants were less welcome, and anti-Semitism was becoming more open. The Dreyfus affair had already brought some of that out, but writers such as Morand and Celine became flagrantly anti-Semitic in the 1930s.

Politics Before WWII, Part One.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

*French History: A Starting Point

I'm planning a series of posts about France this week leading up to the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

This site provides a general timeline and overview of various periods of French history...I highly recommend a visit if you need to refresh your knowledge a bit. It may help put my upcoming posts in perspective.

Culture Before WWII.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:00 AM