Posts from September 2003

Those were the days, comrade, we thought they’ve never end…

Those were the days, comrade, we thought they’ve never end…
: Katarina Witt will play host to a German TV show about Ostalgie, nostalgia for the ways of the old, dead DDR.

The Olympic skating champion Katarina Witt will bring to a climax a wave of Communist-era nostalgia sweeping Germany with a television show next week highlighting the bright side of life in a totalitarian state.

A batch of films, TV shows and series is cashing in on a wave of popular sentiment for the East German Communist era, and nearly all have avoided painful subjects such as the infamous Berlin Wall.

The programme’s uncritical stance has angered those who suffered under Communism. Former dissidents who have studied East German Stasi secret police files say the shows are an insult to the more than 1,000 East Germans shot dead trying to escape to the West…

“It is an entertainment show,” Ms Witt said. “It is time to show we also had fun in the German Democratic Republic.” To drive home the publicity message, the ice-queen sports a blue communist Free German Youth movement shirt.

It is harmless to engage in a little nostalgia about the everyday life of the Osties: the Trabbie or their horrid Commie Cola. But it is harmful to forget about the man behind the curtain in East Berlin (just as it would be harmful to forget about the man behind the curtain in Baghdad). [via Pejman]

: I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed Anna Funder’s Stasiland with true stories and horror stories from behind the Wall. One great bit on the fumbling final days of the once-all-powerful tyranny:

I once saw a note on a Stasi file from early 1989 that I would never forget. In it a young lietuenant alerted his superiors to the fact that there were so many informers in church opposition groups at demonstrations that tehy were making these groups appear stronger than they really were. In one of the most beautiful ironies I have ever seen, he dutifully noted that it appeared that, by having swelled the ranks of the opposition, the Stasi was giving the people heart to keep demonstrating against them.

: I spent some weeks in Berlin before the Wall came down, researching a bad novel about the Wall that never got published (thank goodness). And so I am fascinated with all the stories that have come out since just because there was no way to see behind the curtain back then. Remembering is important. Remembering selectively is dangerous.

: By the way, has anyone heard when Goodbye, Lenin is opening in the U.S.?

A hateful little man

A hateful little man
: David Warren leaves the Anglican church for the Catholic, tracking bile along his path:

I realized that our ship was no longer, as it were, sinking, but now, as it were, sunk, when I saw a statement from one of the hierarchy of Episcopal Church USA, “reminding” Anglicans that their authority is not founded on Scripture, but rather on the operation of the Holy Ghost within the communion. This was a doctrine I had already detected, under layers of deceit, in the meandering verbiage of Dr. Rowan Williams, the new, fanatically liberal, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is the characteristic doctrine of utopian revolutionaries and violent heretics from many centuries — this idea that God is speaking to them directly, and that they may now ignore scripture, history, and tradition, and do whatever feels good.

The Anglican Church will probably be at more pains to conceal than to reveal this doctrine in the immediate future, for it is too obviously the work of the devil. Yet the doctrine becomes absolutely necessary, in the moment when a church decides that, for instance, it will ordain as “bishop” some vile man who has left his wife and children to explore sexuality with a younger male.

Mr. Warren, I might recommend a few other denominations, where the members feel priviliged, over God, to decree who among his creation is “evil.” Who, sir, is the “vile man” here? [via Relapsed Catholic]

: Kathy Shaidle of Relapsed Catholic delivers me a lashing, here, for what I wrote above. I’d leave a reply there, but she has no comments, so I will leave it here.

Let me first make clear that I respect and like Kathy; she has been warm and generous not only on her weblog but also in direct contact. I also respect Warren’s intelligence.

But I mean what I said: Warren’s words are hateful — that is, full of hate. His words are bigoted and spiteful. He calls a man of God, a creature and creation of God, a “vile man.” He put himself in the position to judge his fellow man. And why? Because this man, now a bishop of his church, is gay. Warren is leaving his church, the Anglican, because it embraced a gay man as a leader. I left my church, the Presbyterian, because it rejects gay people from leadership. We are both within our rights to hold and state our opinions, both within our rights to act on them, both within our rights to disagree. And, oh, I do disagree. I am appalled at “Christians” judging and rejecting people because of who they are, because of the way God made them.

Kathy goes a step further in her defense of Warren, noting that I survived the attacks on 9/11 and wrote about it with “passion and fury” and then she says:

David Warren has witnessed something similar, something — dare I say it — more important: the attempted destruction of the Church, the City of God, the Body of Christ on earth. He too has written about his pain, his outrage, his anger at the misguided fanatics who are clearly responsible.

Oh, we split there. I certainly do not equate the deaths of 3,000 innocents at the hands of religious fanatics with the ordination of a gay bishop.

In fact, I’d say that Warren, who has written wisely on Islam and 9/11, fails to recognize that the religious judgmentalism, self-superiority, and, yes, fanaticism that stands behind the attack on America is sadly similar to his attack on his church. The terrorists attacked us because we are not Muslim and we are American. He attacks a bishop of his church because he is gay. The difference is that he is not armed. Both judgments are ruled by bigotry and hate.

I will pass by the other attempted insults — “Boomer Liberal Pieties … misguided fanatics … liberal, non-judgemental Church of urbane sophisticates” as words spurted in the heat of the moment. I will suggest that we dial down the heat.

But I remain shocked at the strong and spiteful language from Warren, who had the time (and editors) to consider his words. I suggest that he is the one who should reconsider.


: Allan Hoffman, tech columnist at the Star-Ledger, reports that Panera will offer free wi-fi.

Drudge’s millions

Drudge’s millions
: Matt Drudge tells the Miami Herald about his business:

By his own estimate, the former convenience-store clerk makes about $1.2 million a year, including revenue from his nationally syndicated Sunday night radio show…

According to the rates posted on, advertisers are charged $3 per thousand impressions for banner ads, or $4,400 a day (discounted to $29,000 a week). The banner ads are rotated, so visitors may see one for AT&T Wireless, The New York Times or another client each time they visit the site.

On a typical day in August, Drudge’s site had nearly 6.5 million visitors, and it had 163 million in the preceding 31 days. The Internet traffic site ranked 215th in current Web traffic.

After Intermarkets takes its commission, the ad revenue is almost pure profit for Drudge, who says he shares a percentage of his profits with Breitbart. The overhead is minimal: $4,000 a month for Web-server costs plus about $20 a month for Internet service….

He avoids most investments and banks his money, he said, because he doesn’t know how long his site — and his reign — will last.

”What happens if everyone charges for content?” he asked. “It’s already started. Who will be left to link to?”

Drudge has said before that he doesn’t want to be called a blogger and now he says why: “Sounds too much like booger.” [via Paid Content]