All posts by Lars Walker

Bitter, but not stupid

In case you’re reading this on Thursday or later, the quotation Phil chose for our header on Valentine’s Day was this one:

“That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man, if with his tongue he cannot win a woman.”

– William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Thanks for your support, Phil.

I spent last evening on the phone with Earthlink technical support, always an exercise in character building and cross-cultural enlightenment. I’d used their online chat service the night before to complain that the laptop card they’d sent me for my wireless network had stopped working. I finally convinced them that it wasn’t me, that the card actually had stopped working. The technician told me to call their Sales Support number so I could arrange to have the thing replaced at no cost.

I decided not to call right away, because it was getting late. I’d do it the next day.

Wise choice.

First I talked to Sales (after a long wait on hold, of course). Sales said no, we can’t do that for you. You’ve got to talk to Technical Support. We’ll transfer you.

Hold Music again for about 45 minutes. Finally I reached Tech. Sup.

“We can’t help you with that,” they said. “You’ve got to talk to Sales.”

More Hold Time.

Got to Sales. “You have to arrange this with Technical Support,” they told me. They put me on hold again.

Another wait.

“I don’t understand,” the Tech guy said. “We don’t have a way to do this.”

I explained that I’d been running back and forth between the two departments all night.

“I’ll find out,” he said. “I’m afraid I’ll have to put you on hold again for a while.”

I waited, but while I waited he actually walked over to Sales and asked them about it. He finally talked to a supervisor and found a way to get my card replaced without a charge.

If I had a daughter, I’d want her to marry this guy.

But I’m not so happy with Earthlink.

I’ve read that there’s an anti-Valentine’s Day movement going on in this country.

“Walker’ll get behind that,” you probably think. “He loves cynical stuff like that.”

Wrong. In fact think it’s disgusting.

It’s part of the whole Me First attitude that’s hardening the arteries of the republic. “I don’t believe in God, so everybody else should hide their religion. I’m allergic to dogs, so dogs should be outlawed. I don’t have a Significant Other, so you better shut up about yours.”

Here’s what I say. If you’ve got somebody you love, hold ‘em tight. Treat ‘em like royalty. Let ‘em know how much you need ‘em and appreciate ‘em.

Give ‘em chocolate.

It doesn’t make me feel any warmer, out here in the cold, to be told it’s just as cold inside.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Want some mustard on that Hero?

You know what an “earworm” is, don’t you? One of those tunes that get stuck in your head, and you can’t seem to not hear it.

On the Northern Alliance Radio Network show on Saturday (the second act, featuring Mitch Berg from Shot In the Dark and Captain Ed from Captain’s Quarters), they used up valuable radio time playing Frankie Valli’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” in its entirety. I’m still not sure why. I think it might have been an oblique comment on something Nancy Pelosi said.

In any case, it’s been my off-and-on earworm all week, and it’s a weird one. Strangely fascinating, though repellant, like seeing Mickey Mouse in a Tennessee Williams play, or watching a man dancing the tango in clown shoes.

I wrote the other day about the problem of villains in books (or any storytelling medium). Villains, being villainous, generally wish to dominate the world, and they definitely want to dominate your story.

The thing about villains is that they do stuff. They get out there and mix it up. Unencumbered by concern for the comfort and convenience of others, they disrupt lives and systems and whole nations in order to get the bright shiny things they covet.

Your hero, on the other hand, is probably heavily encumbered. He’s nice. He’s not going to break down anybody’s door to find out what nameless evil is looming in the shadows. He’s got a job (probably). He’s got responsibilities.

To put it bluntly, he’s kind of dull. He might be nice to have as a husband or a friend, but he’s not very interesting to watch.

This, I suspect, is why many popular heroes are a little nuts. Sherlock Holmes, besides his drug problem, is bipolar, antisocial and narcissistic. Hercule Poirot is narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive. James Bond is a charming, psychopathic satyr.

But you can only take that so far. Make your hero too proactive and he becomes a busybody or a bully.

So the usual solution is to get him into trouble. Bring the villain to him, let the villain do something he can’t overlook, then let them mix it up. Make the villain formidable, give the hero lots of failures and set-backs and close misses to overcome, and you’ve got a story.

But the whole thing’s unsatisfactory to me, as a Christian writer. I believe that good is not essentially quiescent (I’m not a Buddhist). My Lord was contemplative when it was appropriate, but could be extremely proactive when faced with evil. He even picked fights (rhetorically), and once used a whip on some guys (or at least their livestock).

When I created my favorite character of my own, Father Ailill, I had the idea of a mad Irishman coming to live among a lot of dull Norwegians. It might have been good if I’d done it that way, but I came to feel that I’d be able to write him better if he were more like me. So I made him an essentially brash and aggressive guy who’s been broken (I know all about being broken). This added a Flashmanesque element of cowardice (although Ailill is less cowardly than he thinks). I believe it worked all right (I’m not fishing for compliments, I’m just telling you how I dealt with the problem).

But I’d like to figure out a way to build more proactive heroes.

Shoot, I’d like to figure out a way to be a little proactive myself.

Lincoln in context

Finally got my first call for my Room To Rent today. Unfortunately, the guy who left the message on my machine spoke low and was kind of mush-mouthed. The call-back number he left (as far as I can figure it out) isn’t in service.

Probably just as well. Don’t want no inarticulate folks in this house.

(You’ll note that my stress level in regard to renting the room has diminished. I got a check back from my insurance company the other day, with a note telling me I’d double-paid. Haven’t worked out how that happened, but it’s a relief).

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I should post things like this the day before, I know, since a lot of you don’t read my posts till the following day, but I’ll be boiled if I’ll post on a Sunday. So, O Reader of the Future, I apologize if this is the first you heard about it. Write it down in your calendar, and you’ll know next year.

I believe I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think Americans today appreciate what a significant figure Lincoln used to be, not only in America but in the world. We’re so used to his story—the birth in a dirt-floored cabin, the sums written in charcoal on the wooden shovel, the miles he walked in winter to return a couple cents overcharged in his store—that they’ve become rote pieces to us. We lose the impact of the story in its time and place.

(By the way, do kids today learn about these things? Or do the teachers just throw in a couple of lines about Lincoln being a racist white, male president and a closeted homosexual, before moving on to cover Notable Crossdressers of the Civil War?)

But the Old Order was very much in the saddle in Europe in Lincoln’s time. Kings and Emperors still ruled, some of them by Divine Right. The idea that royalty and nobility enjoyed their power and privilege because of an inborn, natural superiority was still in play.

And here was this tall, ugly American, born in poverty, who became leader of one of the world’s emerging powers, who wrote brilliant oratory and who managed to keep a fractious country together through the greatest crisis in its history without the brutality one expected in young republics. His very existence was a rebuke to Old Europe.

And Americans didn’t let them forget it. The hagiographical books and pictures, the pious eulogies and songs about Lincoln, they were partly an expression of real respect, but they were also the cock-a-doodle-doo of a brash young country that had found a better way and wasn’t afraid to say so.

Lincoln was not pretty. He was not elegant. He did not sound like Gregory Peck when he gave a speech—he sounded more like Festus Hagin. But he was successful and progressive and smarter than the whole House of Lords put together.

We valued that in America. Once upon a time.

That hideous Hannibal

I took a little vacation time this afternoon. I spent this narrow slice of heaven sitting around the house, waiting for a technician to come and do the periodic inspection on my furnace. As it turned out, he arrived after the four-hour window had closed. I nearly could have worked my usual time and met him when I got back.

Michael Medved was on the radio as I waited, and this was one of those rare Medved shows where the arguing level was low enough so that I could listen in relative comfort.

Medved panned the new movie, “Hannibal Rising,” the prequel telling about Dr. Lector’s early years. After all, aren’t we all yearning to get a good close look at the dynamics that combine to produce cannibalistic psychopaths, especially when we can make it a Valentine’s date?

I used to be a big fan of Thomas Harris, the creator of Hannibal Lector. His books were harrowing, but he treated his characters with compassion and understanding. The villain in Red Dragon, for instance (not Hannibal; he was a secondary character in that one) was horrible and despicable, and you wanted him dead, but you also pitied him. This was (in my opinion) as it should be.

But then came the movie of The Silence of the Lambs, and Anthony Hopkins’ disturbing performance, and suddenly Hannibal became the star.

Then I read the book Harris called Hannibal, and suddenly everything was wrong.

Harris had (it seemed to me) succumbed to the magnetism of Hannibal as incarnated in Hopkins. He may not even realize it, but Harris seems to have started rooting for the cannibal.

So I gave up on him.

Unfortunately, Hollywood hasn’t yet.

The best portrayal of evil I’ve ever seen in fiction remains (for me) C. S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. It’s certainly one of Lewis’ least popular works, and I have no doubt that many readers have plunged into it, intoxicated with Perelandra, only to find themselves bogged down in the tedium of Edgestow and the Orwellian bureaucracy of N.I.C.E.

But it’s my view that if you slog through those parts, you’ll not only be rewarded, but you’ll finally understand (as in real life) that the hard parts were useful lessons.

Lewis took on the challenge of presenting evil characters without romanticizing them—and any author will tell you that’s one of the great challenges. Villains tend to grow in the telling, and to become lots of fun. Heroes have a way of getting dull and predictable. I think that’s because most of us know a lot more about evil than we do about good, and we tend to equate virtue with passivity.

But Lewis’ villains in T.H.S. are like scoundrels in the real world. They’re not brilliant and charming. They’re not lively and funny. They’re self-absorbed, humorless and devoid of empathy. The reader who works his way through the tough parts of the book will (or at least may) realize that he has spent time in an annex of Hell, and it’s no party down there.

But the community at St. Anne’s—ah, that’s another matter. There we find Lewis’ vision of a Christian fellowship operating as God intended. There we find relationships and laughter and compassion. There we have a glimpse of Heaven, bright as Narnia.

I consider it a tremendous artistic achievement. One that’s never been properly recognized.

The software won’t post without a title, so this is it

Anna Nicole Smith is dead, according to the news. Bloggers all over the country are pausing at their keyboards, pondering whether to meditate on the tragedy/waste-of-life angle or just go with the cheap joke. And having decided, they’re trying to keep the option they chose from bleeding over into the alternative.

I know what to say. I knew a woman once, a relative, who was caring and giving in every way. She hated herself utterly and used various kinds of chemicals to kill the pain. She didn’t die young, but she died long before she had to, as a result of a life-long effort to get this torturous business of living over with, without actually committing the sin of suicide.

I don’t know much about Anna Nicole, but I suspect some of the same dynamics were at work here. So I say rest in peace, and pray she found it in the only place where it’s available.

I feel like I have a cold in my brain. Not in my head, except insofar as my head contains my brain. I’m not physically stuffed up, but my brain feels like it’s congested in a couple layers of cotton batting. I don’t have a headache but my thoughts hurt. I’m not coughing or sneezing, but that little guy with Tourette’s who lives in my skull is doing his Bobcat Goldthwaite imitation a couple clicks louder than usual.

And yet I persevere, because that’s the kind of mug I am.

Here’s a suggestion, for those of you who share my skepticism about Global Warming. Next time you get in a fight with a True Believer, ask them why they’re afraid of change.

“For years you liberals have been telling us that Change Is Good,” you can say. “The only reason anybody could possible resist any kind of change is because they’re bigoted and cowardly. So how come change became a bad thing all of a sudden?”

I offer you this gambit free of charge. Use it as you will, with my blessing.

Not that it will help. The argument will end with your opponent calling you a Nazi, because that’s how these arguments always end.

But at least you’ll have added a little variety to the script.

Unless you thought of this before me, of course.

Tonight you’ll get leftovers, and like it

Because I’m in that kind of mood.

I have to go back in to work for a meeting tonight, and on top of that I’m 56 years old, and a single guy can’t expect to live much longer than that, but that’s probably just as well because I’m likely to lose my home anyway, because my ad for a roommate has been out for two whole days and I haven’t gotten a single bite yet.

So I’m not capable of much more than rudimentary thinking. Therefore I’ll just share something I think I posted before, but that was long ago on the old site. I think it was one of the better quotations I’ve ever heard (or read).

It comes from Newton Minnow, who I’m pretty sure is no longer living. He was famous for having a very silly name, and also for being the chairman of the FCC long before you were born, back when Kennedy was president (but I was already old). He famously called television “a vast wasteland,” back then, and was remembered for it ever after. But this quotation is better. It’s a description of Europe back when it was Europe. Which it isn’t anymore.

I quote from memory.

In England, everything is permitted except for that which is forbidden.

In Germany, everything is forbidden except for that which is permitted.

In Russia, everything is forbidden, including that which is permitted.

And in Italy, everything is permitted, especially that which is forbidden.

That’s all I got, folks. Go read Lileks.

Low-grade cabin fever raving

Had a disturbing message on my answering machine when I got home tonight. I heard the voice of an older woman, very muffled, saying something incomprehensible about snow, and being late for work, ending with “Help me out, here.”

I think.

I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know who she was calling when she accidentally dialed my number. Whatever help she wanted she didn’t get, and it’s all over by now.

But I still feel guilty.

It was almost as cold today as yesterday, but it didn’t feel as bad. That’s one of the great things about cold weather. Even a small improvement registers palpably. I remember a year when we spent several days around 20 and 30 below, and when we got back up to zero it felt positively spring-like.

It also snowed a couple inches, which pleases me because it protects the roots of my sick tree. (Yes, hard as it may be for southerners to believe, snow does actually protect the ground from hard freezing. It has an insulating effect).

I’m in low spirits tonight, and I have a dentist appointment coming up, so that’s about all I’ve got.

I’ll share this link for adult footy pajamas, shared with me by an online friend.

I could go off on a rant about the infantilization of our culture, but…

They look kind of neat, really. Especially on a night like this.

Ha! We don’t call this cold in Spitzbergen!

You want to talk about cold? It clawed its way up to 1° F. today. That was even colder than yesterday, when I had trouble starting my car after it had sat for about three hours in bright sunlight while I was in church.

And yes, I did go all France on the Viking Age Society on Saturday. I hope the guys are still alive.

I even lowered my sartorial standards today. Instead of a hat I wore a stocking cap, along with my faithful Air Force surplus arctic snorkel parka (the undisputed finest winter coat ever designed, imho). Instead of a coat and tie I wore a sweater and tie (a Norwegian sweater, of course). The sweater has a nice collar with a zipper. It converts into a turtleneck, and I made use of that option.

Man alive, it’s cold.

The air sucks the moisture right out of your skin, freeze-dries it, jets it into the stratosphere, and blows it to Greenland, where it falls to earth with a gentle tinkle.

And yet the days are getting longer. The sun shone cheerfully as I drove home from work.

They try to make us believe that this isn’t suspicious—this counterintuitive annual pattern where the sun shines more but the air gets colder anyway.

I know the truth. Haliburton conspired with the oil companies and the international bankers to artificially import cheap Canadian air, in order to raise oil and natural gas prices, swelling their obscene profits.

You can’t pull the wool over my eyes.

Actually, you can.

In fact I’d be grateful. Wool is nice and warm.

Tourism by the book

Today’s post isn’t about Norway exactly. It’s about Norway and other places too.

I’ve traveled overseas several times, and I’ve always gone to Norway. Other countries I’ve visited have either been on the way or on the way back from Norway.

It’s not that there’s no other country I’d like to see. It’s just that my traveling money is limited (often nonexistent), and I have to prioritize.

But I must admit the list of countries I really want to see is fairly short.

Denmark, because it’s another ancestral country, and I haven’t been there yet.

The British Isles, because of all the books and movies and literature.

Israel, because of the Bible.

And… hmm. I wouldn’t turn down a free trip to a few other countries, but I won’t feel cheated at the end of my life if the list above covers my life’s tourism.

I’ve often wondered about my complete lack of interest in the exotic. I hear people saying, “Oh, I want to visit China and Indonesia and Brazil and all those far-off, unfamiliar places.”

And I don’t see it. Why, I wonder, am I only interested in my own culture and heritage, and nobody else’s?

The obvious answer, in our time, is that I must be a racist, but I think there’s more to it.

My interest in travel, I’ve realized, is almost entirely connected to my reading. I want to see the places where the stories happened. That’s why I couldn’t appreciate my one canoe trip to the North Woods with my brothers. There wasn’t any beloved story associated with it. (Also paddling and portaging is a lot of work,)

Visiting the American West, on the other hand, is something I want to do. Lots of stories there, historic and fictional.

My interest in seeing a place is directly proportional to the stories I’ve read that come from there. That’s why I’d like to see England, but France and Germany leave me cold (I know The Three Musketeers is French, but, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, it’s not a story in which the landscape plays much of a role).

I’m not saying this is the right way to look at travel, or that my approach is better in any way than yours.

I’m just saying that’s how it is with me.

And what am I blogging for, except to explain myself in exasperating detail?

My Norway box is full today

Lots of Norwegian stuff going on (for the six of us who look for that sort of thing).

Most prominently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee just announced they’ve nominated Al Gore for the Peace Prize.

Because of all the wars he’s stopped, I guess. Maybe world leaders watching An Inconvenient Truth fell asleep, and the shooting stopped while they snored.

Or something.

Yesterday a Norwegian cruise ship managed to run aground in Antarctica. This is extremely embarrassing for sailors from a maritime country. I note that the name of the captain is not listed. Because of that I choose to believe that the captain is probably a Portuguese. Or a Greek.

As far as I know, Norwegians don’t actually sail ships anymore. They just own them.

Alternatively, I blame Socialism.

It’s kind of handy, being a Norway-phile. When they do something good, I’ll tell you it’s because Norwegians are great.

When they do something embarrassing, I blame Socialism.

[By the way, Brother Baal got in a good one at our Christmas feast. We were eating lefse, a wonderful Norwegian bread-thing made of potatoes (at least most of the time in this country), kind of like a soft tortilla. Most people eat it with sugar, either brown or white. Brown is the tradition with us.

I noted (for the umpteenth time) that I like mine with strawberry jam. “And,” I pointed out, “I once got lefse with strawberry jam in Norway!”

“That’s because of Socialism,” said Baal.

*Zing*.]

On a somber note, Cousin Andreas is dead.

Cousin Andreas was a descendent of my great-grandfather’s sister, who took over the family farm with her husband. He lived in the house where my great-grandfather was born. He worked, if I remember correctly, as a heavy equipment operator (it’s even harder to make a living as a small farmer over there than it is here).

He had been, at one time, a world class competitive marksman.

He was also totally deaf, as is his widow. They met at a deaf school in Trondheim.

My most vivid memory of him comes from the visit he and his wife paid to America several years ago. It was the first time any Norwegian relative from that side of the family ever came over to the land of Indians and gangsters.

It fell to me, as the only Norwegian speaker in the family under 70, to be their tour guide. You won’t be surprised to know that I was pretty stressed over how I would shepherd a pair of deaf people around, relying on their lip-reading skills in Norwegian.

It proved in the event to be a delightful experience. Andreas and his wife were old travelers. They traveled all over the world, and refused to let the fact that they couldn’t hear in countries where they didn’t know the language slow them down. They charged enthusiastically into every situation, relying on the kindness of strangers, and if something went badly they didn’t beat themselves up over it.

In other words, they were the opposite of me. And that’s always bracing.

A special memory is from when we visited Brother Moloch and his family in Iowa. The first evening, Moloch’s wife (who is a splendid person) came into the living room with The Youngest Niece. They pulled chairs up directly in front of the sofa, facing Andreas and his wife. They raised their hands and began to communicate.

It was like a comedy episode. It was like a game of charades. It was a hoot. We were all laughing ourselves silly before we were done. The communication was bumpy, but extremely effective.

I hope to go back to Norway this summer, but I won’t get to see Cousin Andreas again.

I’m sad about that.

Well, that’s settled now

Thanks to Jared at the Thinklings for linking to yesterday’s post, and for flattering me. I can always use to be flattered.

Today was a little milder than yesterday, but it’ll clamp down on Friday. The predicted high temperature for Saturday is about 1° F. The good news is that I’ve found an excuse to wiggle out of the open-air ski event with the Viking Age Society. It’s my weekend on the church set-up team (we meet in a gymnasium, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before). And the scheduled time conflicts with the race.

The Lord’s Church always takes first place with me.

Especially when the alternative is freezing my Asgard off.

I had a blinding flash of insight today.

And we all know what that means.

It means I’ve probably overlooked something.

Nevertheless I shall present it for your comments, criticisms and incredulity.

My thesis: There is a substantial element of racism and chauvinism in the doctrine of Multiculturalism.

This is confusing, because I believe that one cause of Multiculturalism is a loss of faith in our own culture and traditions.

But looked at from another angle, I see an element of cultural arrogance too (not surprising in a philosophy so avidly embraced in France).

Here’s my question: Why would a nation assume that bringing in a massive population of foreigners would not radically alter its own treasured traditions and liberties?

It seems to me the only explanations are either cultural arrogance or plain racism.

To attempt the Multicultural experiment, a country has to figure that the new immigrants are either…

a) so culturally impoverished that they will gladly cast aside their own traditions in order to embrace those of their new home (“There are only two kinds of people in the world; us and those who wish to be us”), or…

b) so stupid that they will soak up their new environment like sponges, without any will to resist (“They’re just little brown people, after all. They’re really like children”).

A culture of thought at once filled with self-hatred and contemptuous of others sounds like a contradiction, but we see it constantly in individuals. The greatest bigots are often the most insecure and self-loathing people.

That’s my theory, what it is. And it’s mine.

On C. S. Lewis: Hooper vindicated?

The serious cold has returned to God’s Country. The high today was a notch over 10°F. I’ve seen worse cold. Far worse. But this is definitely, inarguably frigid.

On Saturday it’ll be even colder. And the Viking Age Society is scheduled to help with a city cross-country skiing event that day, manning bonfires and passing out (warm) refreshments.

I’m trying to figure out a way to weasel out of it.



There’s news on the C. S. Lewis front.
I wrote, over on the old blog site, about the late Lewis scholar Kathryn Lindskoog’s accusations, repeated and embellished through several books, that Lewis’ secretary and literary executor, Walter Hooper, had forged documents, notably the unfinished novel The Dark Tower, and fraudulently published them as Lewis’ work.

I never put much stock in those charges, and it appears my instincts were right. The current issue of Christianity Today features an article called “Shedding Light On the Dark Tower” (not online, but here’s a discussion thread from the Into the Wardrobe site); by Harry Lee Poe. Poe describes a 2003 article in the Yale Review by scholar Alastair Fowler, a student of Lewis’. Fowler clearly recalls Lewis showing him some of his unfinished work, and he says he particularly remembers seeing The Dark Tower, with its disturbing scene about the man with the “stinger” in his head.

It would appear that Lindskoog was motivated to make her charges, in part, by the fact that the Dark Tower fragment just isn’t very good. She couldn’t accept that her hero might have produced something so inferior.

If that’s so, it’s evidence that she didn’t understand the creative process very well. Rare is the fiction writer who can produce saleable material on the first draft, and most who can aren’t the best in their genres. I often tell people, “The first thing is just to get your story down on paper. Don’t worry about the fact that it’s dreck. It’s supposed to be dreck. That’s what first drafts are for. Once the dreck is down in black and white, you can put your artistic mind to work, cutting, shaping, polishing and rearranging stuff.”

You can argue that a poor first draft by Lewis should never have been published at all (good luck with that!). But to complain that an early draft is substandard compared with his published work—that’s just starry-eyed.

Crossing Ann

As I set about my morning ablutions, I looked at the bathroom shelf and wondered, “Where did that fluffy blue wash cloth come from, the one that’s draping the deodorant and the extra bar of soap?”

On closer examination, I discovered it to be not a cloth, but a blanket of foam. My economy size can of shaving gel had spontaneously discharged, popping its cap and cascading blue froth all over the shelf.

I’ve been trying to decide all day whether this was a big deal. It was a large can, and I’d hoped to make it last a year or two. I use shaving cream very slowly, since I wear a beard and only scrape my neck and upper cheeks. So this can represented a lot of mileage lost.

On the other hand I bought it at Sam’s with two other cans of equal size, and I’ve got the other two left. I’ve occasionally wondered whether these might be the last of their kind I ever need to get. So I’ve still got a lot of the stuff remaining.

I’ll let you know what I decide in twenty years or so.

I got this link from Earthlink. It’s a Google Map utility that lets you find out the answer to that eternal question, “If I dug a hole from here straight through the earth, where would I come out on the other side?” Sadly, it’s not China, as I was always told, in my case. I come up in the Indian Ocean, somewhere west of Australia.

There was a bit of a flap today about the TV program “Crossing Jordan” dissing Ann Coulter last night. I happened to watch that episode, since “Crossing Jordan” is one of the small number of shows I haven’t turned off forever yet, due to left-wing political content (though I’m pretty sure it won’t be long now). In the scene under discussion, two characters, a man and a woman, were stranded inside a store (I think it was a store) during a riot in Boston. The woman, a new character, has already established herself as hostile and prickly. The man said to her, “Are you suffering from A.C.S.? Ann Coulter Syndrome, where the person draws power from their enemies’ rage?”

I saw (and heard) a blogger and a talk show host complain today that this was an inappropriate personal attack.

Although I’m crazy about Ann Coulter, I couldn’t get very upset about it. It’s perfectly in line with Ann’s preferred tone of discourse, and I suspect she’s rather pleased about the plug.

In fact, I’m sure she’s drawing power from it right now.

By the way, Ann, if you’re reading this—give me a call. Can’t find your number on my Rolodex.

The episode of “Crossing Jordan,” by the way, was an exercise in Hollywood predictability. A black child was killed by police, and the medical examiners testified that it appeared that the boy had fired at the cops first. Rioting broke out all over the city, and it fell to Jordan, the feisty, beautiful M.E., to discover the Truth that we all knew was coming—that the child was innocent, and the police had falsified evidence. There was a great opportunity here to actually do something original and avoid a cliché, but I expected conventional wisdom and I wasn’t disappointed.