To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002
Okay. But let’s just say he doesn’t. What if he doesn’t? I mean, we sent in those inspectioners, right? What if Sadddy’s all like “sike! We don’t have weapons of mass destruction!” --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002
Listen, George – he does. Our sources say he does.
Look, you need to take your mind off this. We’ll take care of it. I’m messengering over some new materials for you to look at. --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Monday, November 18, 2002
Thanks for the “materials.” I already got Mario to the Sunshine Caves and I FOUND THE WATER CANNON!
Anyway, I’m still wondering a little about those you know whats. Who said Saddam has ‘em? --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Monday, November 18, 2002
Several Iraqi exiles have testified that Saddam is working diligently on weapons programs. Trust us on this.
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Right. Okay. But what if those guys are just like “Oh yeh, he has ‘em” because they want us to invade, right? But maybe they don’t know and they just want us to go in there. Is that, like, a thing? Couldn’t that be a thing they do? --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Because the inspecterators are in there and they can’t find anything so I’m worried that I’m going to look stupid and people will laugh at me. --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
No one’s going to laugh at you. You’re the President. If they don’t find anything, we can always talk about human rights abuses more and go in anyway. --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Saturday, November 23, 2002
We can do that? --------------------------------------------------
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Saturday, November 23, 2002
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: re: What if? Date: Sunday, November 24, 2002
That makes me feel a lot better. And thanks for the gift – with the magnet thingie I can make it look like the guy has a beard or hair or funny sideburns – it’s so cool. You’re the best Defensatary EVER!
"Tests performed on the latest audiotape statement attributed to Osama bin Laden showed the speaker was an impostor...a Swiss research institute said." - From an AP report, today
"U.S. intelligence officials have formally concluded that the voice on the audiotape... is "almost certainly the voice of Osama bin Laden" and that it was recorded in the last several weeks." -From CNN, last week
Washington (FA wire) - Reached in his lab near the Pentagon, NSA Audio Analyst Fred "Skeets" Coomer easily explained the discrepancy between his results and that of the Swiss team.
"They're wrong," he said emphatically, calling the Swiss methodology, "stupid." Mr. Coomer criticized the Swiss team as "a buncha fancy-pantses with their computer this and computer that. If they're so great, how come the rest ofthe world ain't speakin' Swiss and goin' to Swissified movies, huh?"
The Swiss team electronically sampled all known recordings of bin Laden's voice and created a computerized model, which they then verified by testing it on several audio samples of bin Laden and others. In 19 out of 20 cases, the computer identified the speaker as either bin Laden or someone else (the one error was a bin Laden sample incorrectly identified as a fake). The tape in question was then subjected to the same scrutiny.
The U.S. has been careful not to provide details of their analytical methods, but Mr. Coomer offered some insight as to his procedures. "Listen to the frickin' tape," he said, "Right off the bat we could tell one thing: A-rab. Our boys picked that up right away, 'cuz they're trained, they got field experience from the goddam Gulf War, not like some Swissy-sissies I could mention..."
"Anyway," he went on, "we get 'A-rab' right off the bat, so then we go to Phase Two: Which A-rab is it? Well, after that our procedural whatchamathingie gets really technical, y'understand, I don't wanna be talkin' over your head here... but if you listen close to the tape, there's a part where the guy says "I'm Osama bin Laden." Clear as a bell! Seems like our Swiss pals missed that li'l detail, but I guess that's why we protect the world and they sit around makin' wooden shoes and growin' tulips, right?"
Mr. Coomer added that some of the Swiss "sound a li'l A-rab around the edges too, come to think of it," and "somethin's gonna hafta be done about that," but he refused to elaborate further.
On the positive side, as one of the fathers of the modern cover-up, Kissinger is indeed an expert at smelling a fellow rat. But the idea of him releasing any information that would reflect poorly on a sitting Republican Administration… well, that seems about as likely as Bob Novak making People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” list.
So the current regime can rest easy. Except for Colin Powell, who oughta lock his drawers and nail his nameplate to his desk. Reports indicate that Kissinger’s already dropped by “chust to see vot’s up,” and drop off some vacation brochures.
Memo from Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security
To: All personnel Re: Operational guidelines
Hello, and welcome to DHS!
There are 17,000 of you from 22 different departments, but we're all under the same roof now and by golly we're gonna make this work. As you can see, you've been divided into five different departments: Border and Transportation Security, Emergency Preparedness and response, Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, and Management.
For the sake of convenience, you may refer to those departments by their code colors as represented above: "Lime," "Puce," "Sunshine," "Pumpkin," and "Slate."
Now, how's it going to work? Let's look at a hypothetical threat. Let's suppose that the Telecommunications and Cybersecurity subdivision down at Pumpkin (IAIP) intercepts an email that indicates a possible smallpox threat via Mexico. The procedure is simple:
As you can see, T&C gets the threat (1), identifies it as a potential Alert (!), and passes the information to Pumpkin Command, who then sends it down to Threat Analysis. Threat Analysis decides the threat is credible and sends it over to the Commands at Sunshine and Puce and directly to the Border Security subdivision over at Lime. Sunshine, of course, immediately routes the alert over to Biological/Agricultural.
Easy, right? What's next?
Border Security alerts Transportation Security, Coast Guard, and Immigration Services. Puce Command relays Alert to Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery for assessment (who in turn send noncompiled status reports to Pumpkin Command). Sunshine Bio/Aggie sends necessary smallpox info to Pumpkin Command, who send it directly to Threat Analysis. Sunshine Bio/Aggie and Pumpkin TA then send their reports to me. Easy as pie, and all accomplished in 4-9 days (est.).
Okay, but now let's suppose the Coast Guard intercepts a suspect who just may be the smallpox terrorist taking an alternate route! Are we ready? You bet! (Remember - Lime BS already alerted Lime CS (this may eventually get routed through Lime Command, but that's still TBA).) Anyway - here it comes!
Pretty straightforward - Lime CS sends alerts to Puce Preparedness (who then bump it down to Mitigation for additional analysis), Sunshine B/A, and Pumpkin Command (who process and send right on down to Threat Analysis). All three information terminals (P(M), S(B/A), and Pm(TA)) then report directly to me. Now we're ready to respond to the threat!
This is my crunch time! I send directives to Lime Immigration Services to coordinate expulsion (in the event of capture), Puce Response (in the event of non-capture), Sunshine B/A (to keep 'em apprised of any news for analysis), Pumpkin Command, and Slate Procurement (to requisition necessary equipment for response, mitigation, recovery, etc.). I also exchange information with the Secret Service and the State, Local, and Private Sectors (there's some thought towards streamlining this communication glut by creating a Information Dissemination Division. If anyone has any color ideas, please let me know!).
So there you have it - threat to response in 4 easy steps (+27-39 substeps). Please clip the handy Compiled Hypothetical Schematic that I've provided below and save for reference. As time goes on, we may have to add or modify certain steps. But I think we can all agree that when this system is firmly in place (let's shoot for June, 2009, okay?), we'll have the gratitude of a safer nation.
[UN weapons inspectors checking in to their Baghdad hotel. Blix: "So far, so good."]
With peace in the region riding on a clean and orderly inspection, Blix expressed confidence that his inspectors would be allowed to do their job. "The Iraqis have been nothing but cooperative to this point," he said, "They seem genuinely comfortable - they laugh almost constantly."
And so I wing swiftly home from these verdant isles and bid farewell to a people who have become my hoalama (“family”) and a way of life that has become makalami (literally, “my own,” but it conveys a sense of joining (as opposed to taking) that our mainland tongue lacks). I have so immersed myself in the Hawaiian way that I am now nomokomopomono (“ a real, totally authentic Hawaiian, just as authentic as one who has lived here all one’s life, if not more so”). So now I find myself in paupauhalailahaila (“joy and grief as one”). I’ll return, of course, and like so many Hawaiian’s I’ll always carry my (newly adopted) island in my heart. But the pain of leaving’s sting is so immediate, and the as-yet-unknown date of my return so distant, that I am filled with a profound sense nalapahonaiaeiou (“the sensation of feeling the sting of leaving that overpowers the consolation of an as yet unplanned return”). When fortune allows, I’ll return to Hawaii (“Hawaii,” but many subtleties are lost in the translation).*
As for the show – many of you will have heard it by the time you read this. In fact, the show will beat me home by several hours, which makes me wonder why it didn’t offer me a ride. At any rate, we all felt like it went very, very well, and our fabulous hosts seemed to think so as well. Still, there’s no way to predict how our distinctly Hawaiian senses of humor will play on the mainland….
But now I’ve returned. Aloha (“a friendly greeting”). Aholotta aloha (“a very, very friendly greeting”) dear readers, aholotta aloha (ibid).
*No Hawaiian words were harmed (or, for that matter, used ) in the making of this paragraph.
So here's the question. What do you do Wednesday night, when the show airs? Do you watch it, so that your statement tomorrow will involve a specific opinion about the specific show in question?
Well, if your name is Michael Copps, the real FCC commissioner in question, your answer was a resounding "no." According to Reuters, "Copps said he did not watch the fashion show that aired on Viacom Inc.'s CBS television network."
For wimpiness above and beyond the call of duty, for somehow producing a statement that managed to support everyone's viewpoints without ruffling a single feather in the mass media's plumage, for firmly and forthrightly passing the buck of actual action to some TBA'd review board, Fanatical Apathy hereby awards Michael Copps a 2002 Fanny Award for Outstanding Achievement in Bureaucratic Nebulousness. Michael, hundreds of thousands of cubicle-dwellers worldwide who constantly seek newer and better ways to disappear salute you. Your statuette, a small pedestal topped with an invisible figurine, will arrive shortly.
The native men’s garb involves skirts, the place names are unpronounceable, and there’s a definite sense that this place is fundamentally different in character and culture from the nation to which it belongs. Yes, somehow it seems I’ve ended up in Scotland.
In fact, there’s a very good reason why NATO still exists a dozen years after the fall of the USSR, but explaining that reason is going to require the creation of the new science of Bureaucratic Physics. Our First Law will probably be something like “An object at rest will tend to remain at rest while increasing in size by an annual rate of 5% until someone notices.” [Also: E=401(k), although one should never mistake (k) for a constant (as Enron employees are well aware).]
So there’s a lot of pro-NATO political fervor here. But we “Wait Wait” personnel have little time for these quaint local celebrations. We’ve got a show to put on in a couple of days, and our obsessive approach to planning and polishing America’s most respected news-related radio show makes fun and games all but unthinkable. In fact, this very afternoon I was floating in the sunlit surf of Waikiki Beach when Peter Sagal remarked to me, “You know, Adam, our obsessive approach to planning and polishing America’s most respected news-related radio show makes fun and games all but unthinkable.” I agreed, and we soon swam towards shore in order to discuss the implications of that over a leisurely beachside dinner.
On a personal note: To those passengers who traveled with Peter, me, Sue Ellicott, and the rest of us on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 9 from L.A. to Honolulu last night: We’re deeply, deeply sorry.
I'm off to Hawaii in the morning, there to perform the world's first on-air radio hula dance (listen for it this weekend). Fanatical Apathy will be updated a few times, no doubt, but you might expect to see slightly less activity here until next week.
But do I leave thee empty-handed? Nay! It's my great pleasure to unveil the brand new Fanatical Apathy Forum. I'm hosting this one, thanks to the wonderful folks over at phpBB, so there won't be any pop-up ads or unexplained shut-downs. I had to learn more about being a proper webmaster than I'd ever dreamed I'd need in order to get it up and running, but a few beach-side pina coladas oughta help return me to a state of Edenic cyber-ignorance.
The Comments will remain, naturally. But now you have a place to to offer thoughts that don't necessarily pertain to the most recent posts here: ideas, links to stories and sites, photos, spacecraft designs, etc. If you have any problems with the forum, please let me know. I'll get right on it as soon as the surf's down.
[The beast itself, its hour come round at last, slouching off towards simulated Yokohama...]
I'm not saying the machine has evil intentions. But it's simulating the entire Earth. And at some point it's going to take a close look at its simulated version of Yokohama, and there it will find...
... a simulated supercomputer, simulating the entire simulated Earth. And that simulated supercomputer will be at that moment taking close look at its simulated simulated version of Yokohama, and there it will find...
... a simulated simulated supercomputer, simulating the entire simulated simulated Earth. And that simulated simulated supercomputer will be at that moment taking close look at its simulated simulated simulated version of Yokohama, and there it will find...
...and so on. Anyone who knows about computers can see that this recursive loop will eventually crash the world as we know it. At best we can expect to all be stuck in an eternally frozen 2002. The best that can be said about this is that at least it'll preserve the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve for all eternity. Conversely, we're stuck with "Friends."
But probably we'll just hear the sickening whirr of an unthinkably huge hard drive turning and turning in the widening gyre, and then the entire universe will go a disconcertingly bright shade of blue, and like that it will stay. Until the next Big Reboot.
"Great," said 35 year-old Giovanni Costabile of Florence, "Now I'll be picturing il Papa whenever I get into bed. He's a great man, but he's not necessarily an aphrodisiac."
[The Pope: Dead sexy or actually dead?]
The 82 year-old pontiff's two hour performance included several Barry White tunes and a 10-piece band. His occasional dance routines were aided by four bishops who helped manipulate the Pope's body though several modern steps and suggestive gyrations (a video of the performance will be made available to the faithful through the Vatican). His Holiness closed with Prince's "Do Me, Baby," after which the Pope intoned a message that the Italian government “can make the task of having children and bringing them up less burdensome both socially and economically. Awwwwwwww yeah!”
“CNN has learned from coalition intelligence sources that several top terrorist operatives met recently in the area -- where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay intersect -- to plan attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the Western hemisphere.” - from CNN
In Attendance: Imad Mugniyeh (Chairman), Assad Ahmad Barakat, Abu Zalaief, Pyotr Thorstenborg, Ibrahim al Muhammed, Muhammed bin Oslam, Muammar Assad, and Osama bin Laden (deceased).
Minutes taken by: Carlos Escobar
- Allah was praised. The meeting was called to order.
- Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. Allah was praised.
- I. Mugniyeh congratulated everyone on the successes of recent operations, singling out A. Zalaief for his part. A. Zalaief mentioned that he still hadn’t received remuneration for various expenses, even though he’d turned in receipts. I. Mugniyeh assured A. Zalaief that said remuneration was forthcoming.
- I. Mugniyeh was congratulated on ease of setting up meeting. I. Mugniyeh pointed out that U.S. "obsession" with Iraq made event planning easier. M. Assad suggested sending Saddam Hussein anonymous "gift basket" containing fruits and skin care products. Motion was defeated (6-1, M. Assad Dissenting, O. bin Laden abstaining).
- A. Barakat made a motion to open the windows, security risks notwithstanding. O. bin Laden’s advanced state of decomposition was cited, and the motion passed 6-1 (bin Oslam dissenting, bin Laden abstaining). The windows were opened. Allah was praised.
- M. Assad raised the continuing issue of O. bin Laden’s status. I. Mugniyeh argued that O. bin Laden’s leadership was still valuable, heartbeat notwithstanding. Offered as evidence recent audio tapes of bin Laden and their inspirational effect on the faithful.
- re: audio tapes. I. Al Muhammed noted that comic impressionist Youssef “Chickens” bin Achmed was now asking for twice his usual fee to record O. bin Laden’s messages. M. Assad argued that “Yemen’s most outrageous funnyman” had them “over a barrel,” as his bin Laden impression was flawless. Several minutes were spent recalling “Chicken” bin Achmed’s best routines. Laughter, Allah was praised.
- A. Zalaief remarked that he hoped bin Achmed had been “saving his receipts," added, "not that it would make much of a difference.” Laughter ceased. I. Mugniyeh called the remark “snarky.” Zalaief apologized. Allah was praised.
- Lunch was served. M. Assad noted that good hummus was unavailable in South America. I. Mugniyeh remarked that some brands of Chilean hummus were “actually not too bad” and that M. Assad was “welcome to host the next meeting” if he so desired. M. Assad apologized. Allah was praised.
- A. Zalaief counseled M. Assad not to host next meeting, as he “would never be paid back.”
- A. Zalaief was executed by common consent (6-1; Zalaief dissenting, bin Laden abstaining). Body was removed. Allah was praised.
- Debate as to nature of next major operation (“Plan A” or “Plan B”). Secretary was asked to not record details.
-P. Thorstenborg inquired if the new operations would include “ the usual special two for one deals for first-class State Room passengers.” Silence ensued.
- Questioning revealed that P. Thorstenborg believed he was at a cruise line’s annual convention in Buenos Aires. P. Thorstenborg was executed. I. Mugniyeh underscored the necessity for heightened security measures before meetings. Allah was praised.
- Debate resumed. M. Assad said Plan A was best. Barakat argued for Plan B. Mugniyeh concurred. M. bin Oslam concurred. O. bin Laden gave passionate plea for Plan A.
- Barakat accused M. Assad “puppeting" O. bin Laden. Cited nylon strings around wrists, uncharacteristically high voice, fact that O. bin Laden was actually deceased.
- O. bin Laden denied accusation, but A. Barakat, I. Mugniyeh, and Secretary saw M. Assad’s lips moving this time.
- M. Assad was executed by common consent (4-2, M. Assad and O. bin Laden dissenting). Allah was praised.
- Meeting adjourned due to lack of quorum. Allah was praised. Next meeting TBA.
I'll add a couple more as soon as I can - a phototoon compendium, perhaps all the theatrical excursions... But I thought that these two might be the best to start with, seeing as it speaks to frequently asked questions like "What's with the rat?" and "Is PSF a document format or something?"
Things have been extremely busy here at the Fanatical Apathy Home Office. Besides running the world's most advanced civilian space program, I've just finished a new screenplay (huzzah), and "Wait Wait" is taking me to Hawaii next week (a sacrifice, but we journalists have to go where the story is...).
So that's why the efforts of the entire Project Space Force, um, force have been so deeply appreciated. For instance, Dee's timely reminder that we only need to orbit the earth to earn the Big Money was very useful, though I don't see any reason why our craft wouldn't be stable enough to take a side trip or two once we're up there.
But THIS - this is just amazing. Our beloved Rick Schmitz, creator of Fanny the Roborat, has provided us with an artist's conception of PSF so compelling that it genuinely pained me to shrink it down to web-size.
[Building a suit that fits cybernetically-enhanced rescue rats is now a mission-critical task]
Onward and upward! We may have a healthy lead on the competition (I assume; our Industrial Espionage Unit's actually been busy pitching a "Making of PSF" docudrama to the networks), but remember - we've only got two months 'til the new Congress is sworn in...
As he has stated routinely since late summer, Bush said the attacks on New York and Washington that triggered the war on terrorism demonstrate "that a threat that gathers on the other side of the Earth can bring suffering to the American homeland." Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction pose such a threat, he said. - from a story on Bush's Veteran's Day speech
Two new logos were submitted for Project Space Force:
[Your Project Space Force: Benevolence and Benjamins, baby!]
These two arrived in my box on the same day, and the timing couldn't have been more fortuitous had we planned it in our own R&D facility (the location and purpose of which is still TBD, by the way, but it's on our to-do list). At left we see self-described "spaceperson" Mary Weed's beautiful, eco-friendly, idealistic-yet-defiant statement of purpose. At right there's verbal fist-shakin' Matt Drachenberg's timely reminder that while we are of course doing this for the benefit of all mankind, there's only a certain subset of "all mankind" that's gonna be cashing that $10,000,000.00 check!
Many of you have said that the looming prospect of the 108th Congress has made you more anxious than ever to get into space ASAP. I couldn't agree more, and I assure you that we're closer than ever to Launch Day. Why, just this week I received an email from one Alex Hoffman, who writes "I used to be good at math, and I think that we might need some math for this whole thing." Well, I ran that theory by our boys in the Orbital Dynamics Lab (who've been working 'round the clock trying to secure a factory in Bangladesh that can stitch together our incipient line of "Air PSF" athletic footwear in a cost-effective manner). They were more than a little bit excited by Alex's contribution, calling it "the breakthrough we've been waiting for," and they'll begin applying his theories right after next weekend's Horizontal Management Wilderness Workshop (remember folks, pack some long johns and don't forget to bring your HMWW binders!).
The mailboxes here at Fanatical Apathy are always full, and our squadron of buxom (but qualified, highly qualified) interns has been after us to address some of the major issues affecting your FA experience. Seeing as there's not much going on today (some sort of UN resolution demands that Iraq give up every single square inch of its country and all of its secret documents to its enemies' inspectors...I can't see how that could lead to anything important), let's look at some of our pressing business:
The Forum - After a brief heyday, the Forum fell into disuse and was subsequently removed by its host. But now there's a few of you who seem to want it back, and the ol' FA community has grown quite a bit. So - do you want a forum? If there's a groundswell of support, I'll grease the necessary palms (mine) and get a new one going.
The Best of... - Another frequent request is a "Best of Fanatical Apathy" page, where you can easily find your favorite posts (I like to think that the archives themselves are the Best Of, but I seem to be alone in this...). No problem, that's easy. But don't trust those soulless bean-countin' bureaucratic F.A. bigwigs (well, me, really) to decide for you what you want to read... let 'em know with an email or comment.
Project Space Force - PSF was a bit derailed by the considerably more science-fictionesque midterm elections, but work is proceeding apace. We've received a couple more spiffy new logos (coming soon!), our Mission Statement and Productivity Task Force are hummin' along, and we're confident that we're still the frontrunners in the worldwide race to the stars. Courage. [Still, if any of you have any knowledge or experience concerning the actual building of, say, a spacecraft, now might be a good time to come forward.]
I should've mentioned this earlier, but a friend of mine over at "The Daily Show" wrote this little Schoolhouse Rock ditty. Click on "The Daily Show Rocks" and prepare to feel at least a little bit better...
It may be possible that Fanatical Apathy leans a teensy bit to the left, I'll admit it. So you'd think I'd be inconsolable over last night's election returns. But somehow I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of optimism and hope.
"Bollocks!" you say? Well, believe it or not, there are some wonderful things in store for us in the next two years. And I'm going to put my money where my mouth is (though I guess that means I'll have to move the gun aside for now) and tell you all about the...
Good Things About The 2002 Election Results
- Firm legislative action will take corporate malfeasance out of the courtrooms and put it back into the private sector where it belongs.
- Battalions of ultra-conservative but evenhanded judges will ensure that everyone's civil rights are violated in a uniform, colorblind manner.
- Yes, we will be going to war sequentially with a fairly long list of Rogue Nations (to be scheduled in descending order of oil-producing capability). But here's the good news: Our young soldiers will be able to charge into battle secure in the knowledge that should they be called upon to lay down their lives, they can do so without fear of the death tax.
- For the first time in quite a while, the Democrats are indisputably the minority. So it might actually become "cool" to be a Democrat again. Totally countercultural, a movement again, led by far-out hipster daddies like Dick GephardtTom DaschleAl Gore... um... all those really cool Democrats.
- Frightened by the prospect of a population explosion due to curtailed abortion rights and the end of public school sex-and-contraception education? Fret not - a Congress in the NRA's back pocket will help keep that li'l problem under control...
I'll be offering a comprehensive guide to the new political landscape later, but for now l must point out that the so-called "smooth" coting process was anything but. As an example, here's a bit from an exit poll that Fanatical Apathy commissioned in south Florida:
Data suggests McBride will garner 56% of the vote. However, among the McBride voters 49% are "sure" they voted for McBride, 29% are "pretty sure," and 22% said it was hard to say because their ballot "contained only vowels."
Fanatical Apathy's 2002 Voters Guide Part 2: Key Races
Here's a breakdown of some of the key contests in the midterm elections. If you've already voted, please accept my apologies; obviously, some of this information from the Fanatical Apathy Political Research Unit (FAPRU) could've made a big difference in your decision-making process.
In the interest of keeping voters as informed as possible, I'll be updating this post throughout the day.
North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole vs. Erskine Bowles - Somehow, Dole has largely escaped "carpetbagger" charges in this race, despite the fact that the last time she lived in North Carolina was when Eisenhower was President, Sputnik was terrifying the American public with its awesome ability to orbit the earth and make a beeping noise, and the #1 album was "Sing Along With Mitch" by Mitch Miller & The Gang. Meanwhile, in Midland, TX, a 5th grader named George W. Bush was reaching his personal academic peak with a diorama entitled "The Hardy Boys Get Chaset by a Fantom!"
New Jersey: Lautenberg vs. Forrester, Forrester vs. Torricelli - Doug Forrester was doing so well against incumbent Bob Torricelli that when "The Torch" dropped out, Forrester more or less refused to run against replacement candidate Frank Lautenberg. As a result, Forrester is expected to beat Torricelli handily, and thereafter proclaim himself Emperor of the New Jersey that exists in his mind. Lautenberg is expected to concede that particular race while taking the uncontested real-world Senate seat.
Florida: Bush vs. McBride - As the Florida race became unexpectedly tight, the campaigns grew increasingly nasty. These past two days have been brutal. Here's the text of the latest TV ad from the self-described "devious" Governor Jeb Bush: [Dire music plays] "Bill McBride hasn't answered any questions about whether or not he eats babies. Jeb Bush has always been anti-baby eating. Tell Bill McBride to come clean about eating babies." (Bush's campaign points out that the ad never actually accuses McBride of baby-eating, just of not talking about baby eating.)
Fanatical Apathy's 2002 Voters Guide Part 1: Third Parties
Voting in the new century is getting increasingly confusing, in no small part due to the bumper crop of new political parties. Most of these new parties are going to be nominating familiar, big-party candidates but hoping that out of sympathy for their causes you'll pull the lever (or in Florida, check the nearest available box along the x-axis ignoring vertical displacement and allowing for drift) for their party and your candidate. After all, why vote for the Republican's George Pataki when you can vote for the American Family Workers Party's George Pataki? [Come to think of it, why vote for George Pataki?]
But what's up with these new parties? Who are they and what do they stand for? Glad you asked:
The America Second Party - A party devoted to the idea that the United States is the second greatest country in the world. The identity of the greatest country has not been agreed upon; the point, according to party chairman Suzanne Kerwin, is to make America a little "less braggy. Plus, it'll make us try harder."
The Burnt Sienna Party - A great idea, but it won't last. Though there may be lots of liberal support for a party composed primarily of gay environmentalists, the combination of green and purple has proved to be disastrous. Even the party's leadership considers their ill-conceived chromatic identity to be "icky." Look to them to have a new name (and logo) in '04.
The Working American Family Workers Working for Families in America Party - A recent splinter group from the Working American Family Workers for Families party (itself a splinter group), the WAFWWFAP is further proof that simply working and having a family in America doesn't mean you have anything in common with the working American family man next door.
The Green Party - You may have heard of this one. They're dedicated to improving the environment by keeping Democrats out of Washington.
The Codependent Party - This group only nominates incumbents, employing the philosophy that "if we could only love them enough, they'd stop hurting us."
The Opinionated Barfly Party - All those guys who sit alone near the end of the bar in dodgy taverns all night and begin all their political tirades with "I may not know much, but-" have finally organized. Elect these guys if you favor a common-sense government free of crooks and jerks and you'd like to see the CIA-employed Jewish space aliens who shot JFK finally brought to justice.
There will be a little somethin' extra in NPR's Election Night coverage tomorrow - namely, me. Yes, some of us "Wait, Wait" folks are going to be offering our expert commentary and analysis at various points throughout the evening. At the moment, I'm slated to appear some time between 11 and 12 o'clock E.S.T., but this is all subject to change.
Seeing as I'll be appearing shortly after the polls close in most states, I'm just going to assume that it's going to be my job to "call" the close races (why else would they want me there?). So if you have a favorite candidate who you'd like to see announced as the winner, albeit temporarily, just let me know.
Update: A reader has suggested that Election Day is in fact on Tuesday, and is therefore not "tomorrow." Her argument seems pretty well thought out. Still, I'm going to take a few polls and focus-group the whole thing before I make any decision as to whether to alter the above text. If it all checks out, I'll make the necessary amendation no later than Thursday.