Sure We Were Whores, But We Had Class

Ted Koppel almost got us killed.

The year was 1980. We were watching breaking news in our dorm room about Jimmy Carter’s Iran-hostage rescue attempt, the one that failed with choppers going down in the desert. We swore, more than a little. Jimmy was going to start a fucking war, all because that asshole Koppel was needling him on TV every night.

In four days, we would turn 21. Vietnam was over. But not by much. We were raw meat for Our Nation’s next militaristic fantasy.

“Nightline” didn’t spring forth fully conceived from the forehead of Roone Arledge. It started as a nightly report, four days after the “hostage crisis” had begun the previous November. It wasn’t even called “Nightline”. It was called — wait for it — “America Held Hostage”.

Even better: “America Held Hostage: Day 147”.

Now that’s packaging. We might have proposed instead “Americans Held Hostage By Iranian Militants Retaliating Against Decades of American Puppet Rule Following a CIA-Backed Overthrow”, but TV Guide probably would have objected.

Did Koppel at least include the historical context while hammering away at it nightly? He might have; we honestly don’t remember. Most nights, we were probably watching Carson.

But make no mistake: “America Held Hostage” was not a respectable journalistic undertaking. It was a cynical grab for eyeballs by a last-place news division that had recently put the producer of “Wide World of Sports” in charge to bring some zazz to its lumbering newscasts. You know the story. You’ve seen the movie. ABC provided the made-for-TV version.

All of which makes Saint Ted’s recent Sermon on the Mount more than a bit rich:

The need for clear, objective reporting in a world of rising religious fundamentalism, economic interdependence and global ecological problems is probably greater than it has ever been.

Sounds like a good description of 1980 to us. Where were you, Ted?

Oh, that’s right: Anchoring a program that did more to pervert the standards of American broadcast journalism and poison the national discourse than anything following in its wake — because everything followed in its wake. Don’t wag a finger at flag-waving Fox, Ted. They learned it from you.

The case against news we can choose [WaPo]

Heh, I can’t get over the fact that Noje still lived in a dorm room when he was 21.

Unless of course UDuck had more than the 3×12 tandem coffins that my tuition pit institution of higher learning tried to put us up in.

Here is a fascinating piece by Rick Pearlstein at the Nation if you haven’t already read it. He’s reviewing a bunch of books about the 70s and the destruction of the economy. One quote that is particularly striking is when someone remarks that no one expected the American Century to only last for 34 years. It’s well worth a read. And several of the books under his consideration seem to be worth reading too.

Plus… It’s so hot when noje gets righteous. One can practically feel the steam rising from his iPad.

News you can use, from Beijing. There is a GLBT center here. It turns out that one of my work buddies teaches English there. I had thought that the whole damned country is in the closet.

There are also here the craziest drivers I have ever seen, making Israelis look considerate by comparison. When the Israelis are about to do something extreme, you see it coming. Here, they just do flat out crazy shit all the time and it’s the pedestrian’s job to get out of the way.

@Benedick: So, as our resident Limey Brit, will it be Queen Katherine, or Queen Kate? Richard Quest/CNN Brit (and notorious fast talker) has already provided breathless over-coverage.

Oh, and Cameron has given his blessing! Rule Britannia!

What do you expect from ABC? Sure ABC did “The Day After” but had already turned around on a whine from Ben Stein to do the mini series version of Wolverines!!, er, Red Dawn, um, Amerika. Not as entertainingly stupid, but quite boring actually. Never explained how the USSR could
a) subvert the world’s 2nd largest nukular arsenal
b) stop the world’s most powerful navy
c) had the air/sea lift to bring enough troops to pacify US Americuh
d) cause the greatest patriots in the world /eyeroll/ to surrender so easily

They also did what was probably the most conservative SF TV series of all time, Battlestar Galactica (old school–Starbuck with a peen.) It was actually ahead of its time (see Iraq “Freedums”) as it ignored logistics and military logic.

@Nabisco: Much as I dislike all the lord and ladying over there at least the Royals® do their duty. Unlike our aristos who do nothing but skive off their obligations they join up, head committees, and generally provide some kind of value for money. This generation seem to be more on the ball than the last lot – which wouldn’t be hard, it’s true. I suppose we’ll have to put up with months of crap about what she’s going to wear and will it be a British designer, etc. Is he the older one? So he’s in line? It’s all a bit like East Enders with horses. Is she titled? If she’s a commoner can she even be queen or will she be queen consort? My eyes are glazing over as I type. Must have a nice cup of tea and a couple of digestives.

Of course, we’re all waiting for the younger one to come out.

@Benedick: Williams the heir, Harry’s the spare. Kate’s a commoner. Daughter of a retired airline pilot and flight attendant. Allegedly they broke up for a while because she said the words “toilet” and “pardon” [WTF?] in front of the Queen. They’ve been living in sin together for over a year.

She looks like fun. William unfortunately has gone from being the cute son 10 years ago to looking more and more alarmingly like his father, with the bonus of early hair loss. Harry the closeted Nazi ghey date rapist party boy one was the dorkier looking ginger 10 years ago but is growing in to it.

The New Yorker had an interesting profile of Charles a few weeks ago. I’ve always suspected that when/if Elizabeth II steps down or dies, that he my have the title of king skip him and go straight to William.

@Benedick: Is she titled? Quest’s guest helpfully pointed out that she was “from the middle class. Her dad is a self-made billionaire.”

And in the ten minutes of coverage I could stomach, they covered all your questions and more: summer wedding? WHAT ABOUT WIMBLEDON? And of course, my absolute favorite: what color hat will the Queen wear.

I think this is a story only Ted Koppel can cover.

@Nabisco: I expect Fox News will go with Lou Dobbs and mama grizzly anchoring their coverage, with Geraldo and Huckabee and Newt squabbling with each other for more face time.

@SanFranLefty: Allegedly they broke up for a while because she said the words “toilet” and “pardon” [WTF?] in front of the Queen. I suspect this might be part of the great Milk in First debate that consumes public discourse among Limeys. Their language is a minefield set to expose the common – which is different from commoner. Of course, it’s probably all different since I lived there but it used to be that, for example, when introduced one never EVER said anything like ‘Pleased to meet you.’ That is common. One only ever says ‘How do you do?’ One never says perfume, it is scent. One never admires what anyone is wearing or comments on the possessions of others. That is common and might lead pukkah mems in Tunbridge Wells to suspect you of being American. If anyone does lose their head and compliment you on what you’re wearing, you pluck at it and say “This old thing” pityingly. Perhaps ‘toilet’ is now on the outs? It used to be acceptable and to call it the W.C. a dead giveaway. Also, perhaps H.R.H is not the best person to ask. She probably doesn’t know as she never uses them. Perhaps one says ‘I beg your pardon?’ instead of just ‘pardon’? That does sound common to me but one can’t be absolutely sure. Just because it sounds common doesn’t always mean that it is common. It is assumed that one knows. And if one doesn’t that’s probably because one is a touch com oneself.

Also, one may call anyone ‘darling’, from the divine chap behind the caviar counter at the Harrod’s Fish Hall to one’s spouse but one must never, ever, call anyone ‘dear.’

When one (High Limey use of ‘one’ instead of saying ‘I’ like any normal human is one of the single most irritating things about life in the Sceptered Isle) is rehearsing a play in which tea is served – The Importance is a good example – everything will come to a screeching halt while the entire fucking cast plus director, stage managers, assistants, and anyone else in the room, will spend the next three hours arguing about whether the milk is put in first and the tea poured on top of it or the other way around. All kinds of theories will be floated about which practice is common and which is not. It will go on and on and on and on. You will want to throw yourself in front of a lorry. Anything to make it stop. And when it is finally decided, the losing faction will grumble about the wrongness of the choice for the rest of rehearsals, all through the tech, and will be heard at the party on the first night complaining to their friends who will then all offer their own theories on the subject.

Personally, I doubt that Chas will step aside when the time comes. He’s too vain. Meanwhile, brace yourselves for William being dubbed ‘The People’s King,’ because he looks like he actually knows how to change a light bulb or write a cheque and she’s of The Middle Class, which is not yet a euphemism for Working Class.

@Nabisco: What colour H.R.H’s hat will be is, of course, a matter of the greatest importance. My money is on that particularly nasty turquoise/teal colour she seems to favour (my spelling seems to have lapsed, sorry) and though they look like she makes them herself out of old shower curtains they are most likely bought at great expense from some Hat Maker to the Queen. Expect to hear comments about how blue H.R.H’s eyes are and how one was startled by their blueness when one was first presented. Then everyone will say, What a pity the color doesn’t seem to come out in photographs. Thereby letting those of us who haven’t seen them in person know just how common we are. Then someone will bring up the whole question of poor Princess Margaret’s inability to marry Wing-Commander Cockblock, the Man She Loved, because he was Divorced, and how she Never Really Got Over It and went off and married that pansy. Which will be the cue for everyone to remark on how much it’s all changed for the Royals® and What Would We Do Without Them?

Wimbledon must NEVER be interrupted or everyone will die like in 28 Days Later.

Her dad is a self-made billionaire. Thank God they won’t be skint.

@SanFranLefty: HRH will live forever if that’s what it takes to prevent Prince Tampon from being King.’

@Benedick: A Yank friend of mine loves “HELLO” magazine specifically for its fawning coverage of the Royals. I rely on her for HRH hat color news.

@Dodgerblue & Benedick: Forget the hats, I’ve always been more fascinated by HRH’s purses. Why the hell does she carry a purse? Does she need her I.D. and cash? What does she have in there, Mentos and a cell phone? My money is on a flask of gin, if she’s anything like her Mum.

ADD: I put the milk on top of the tea, but I put it in first and nuke it pre-coffee for a poor person’s cafe au lait.

@SanFranLefty: Milk goes in coffee, not tea. If the Brits had figured this out, they would still have their empire and Afghanistan would be their bloody problem, not ours.

I’m told, by One Who Knows, that she refers to anything she’s carrying as her ‘luggage.’ My guess would be hankies, dog biscuits and Xanax.

So you’re Milk In First. Many would find that Upper. But not the nuking. Hot milk should never be introduced into tea. An important ingredient of the MIF theory is that the tea scalds the milk. I don’t buy that myself. But I’m a Soy Milk In Last man, myself.

@Benedick: I only nuke it for the coffee. Cold milk and lemon for my tea.

@SanFranLefty: You can take some horses out of England, but you can’t take the horsey out of some Englishmen.

@SanFranLefty: See “U and Non-U Speech”. Nancy Mitford wrote a hilarious article about, which is re-published in Noblesse Oblige. She meant it as satire but it was taken as gospel. The Upper Class speaker says “What?” rather than “Pardon.”

@Benedick: According to Nancy, MIF is very non-U. Also, isn’t the Queen “H. M.” rather than “H.R.H.”? Or did she decide that sounded too much like the discount clothing store?

My first thought about the whole wedding thing? “Now that’s how you turn an economy around! Well done, old chaps.”

@Benedick: @SanFranLefty: I’m Milk in Last and biscuits chocolate side up, ta. It was pretty humorous to see my step-mom in her quest for iced tea in London though. My favorite attempt was when they brought her a teacup with lukewarm water and one or two forlorn ice cubes bobbing in it, and a teabag.

@Mistress Cynica: And when exactly is she E.R.? I had an Irish friend who was initially very confused that a show about the queen was set in a Chicago hospital.

@Tommmcatt: Sex God or AVATAR OF SEX?!?!?! You be the judge…:
Who even drinks coffee and/or tea?

Excessive amounts of caffeine make me twitch. I try to avoid the stuff as much as I can. I’m considered weird at work (and among friends) because I’m the only one in my dept who can’t stand coffee/Jolt cola/tea.

I take my tea black, except when adding Wild Turkey, honey and lemon (optional) for medicinal purposes only. Mrs RML and I were drinking hot toddies one night and watching AbFab when I was ill. Bad idea – we quit making tea after a while and started drinking the Turkey straight.

I called in my first turkey in a few years ago, which was pretty exciting. What made it even more awesome was when I saw the bird. “Wow – looks just like the bourbon bottle,” I thought as I put down my box call and raised my shotgun.

Pulled the trigger. *click* Nothing. Forget to rack in a shell.

Worked the slide on my pump action Mossberg 500 20 ga. , but not fully enough so I jammed the shell. Rack slide, eject, load. Bored, the turkey wandered off and I had to call him in again.

@Tommmcatt: Sex God or AVATAR OF SEX?!?!?! You be the judge…: I do. Unless it’s Lapsang Souchong, which would indeed be disgusting and barbaric. But this is probably because I’m a hopelessly affected Anglophilic twit.

@Mistress Cynica: I thought they were all HRH – aka Her Royal Highness, or the Limey version of POTUS. But who can tell? ‘What?’ sounds right. Here it’d be thought rude. High Limeys tend to pride themselves on their bluntness of speech and general hatred of culture unless it has to do with flower beds. I was making polite conversation with one of them who’d spent years living in Africa. I asked him what first took him there and he said, “Black cock.” I nearly choked on my sponge finger. All that Mitford stuff gives me the creeps and is the chief reason I cannot tolerate either V Sackville West or her GF. I know I’m wrong but I hate them in the same kind of way I hate Proust, for their idolatry of the upper classes. Because one knows what fork to use does not make one interesting or useful.

Of course one puts milk in tea. Unless one is a communist. Or French.

@redmanlaw: We’ve got shotgun season on here – causing great disgust among the dog population who can’t go into the woods – so the turkey flock is hanging out up the hill from the house. There’s maybe 30 of them.

@ManchuCandidate: I don’t know what qualifies as excessive, but in case anyone was wondering about relative caffeine content (per 8 ounces):

Coke – 19 mg
tea – 47 mg
coffee – 95 mg

I hate the taste of coffee (but, strangely enough, love the smell), and generally avoid Coke (empty calories, and the diet stuff messes with my taste buds), but tea, especially sweet tea, is lovely.

@Benedick: I adore the Mitfords, esp. Nancy, who always seemed to be mocking the upper classes rather than idolizing them. I find books idolizing/idealizing the poor (I’m looking at you, Dickens) to be even more annoying. And while I’m confessing my unapologetic snobbery and elitism, I could never get into Faulkner because I don’t enjoy reading about white trash. Feel free to despise me.

I was taught in the etiquette course my grandmother forced me to take that the English monarch is Her Majesty, while the rest of the royals are mere “Royal Highnesses.” Obviously, this was essential knowledge to have in rural South Carolina.

@Nabisco: Tingle Dorm (Yes. Really. Shaddup!) had the best parties.

@Mistress Cynica: I know it’s wrong of me. I said it was. Who can read Faulkner? Check out Halldor Laxness if you don’t know him. I thought Independent People an amazing work. I came to appreciate Dickens more after I read some V Hugo. And if that isn’t the most pretentious sentence posted here today we are all in big trouble.

Good to know that gran had her priorities straight. I guess we can blame Wallis Simpson for giving two generations of American women quite the wrong idea. Is it true she was a part-time tart, I wonder? Or did the English just put that about to discredit her? They also say she was the only woman he ever managed to ‘pleasure’, if that’s the right word – ‘perform with’ might be better. She literally had the poor bugger by the balls. He was pretty odious, mind you. The Germans planned to install him on the throne as soon as Britain surrendered.

@nojo: Our baseball team lived in Drinker House. Those wacky Quakers!

@Benedick: I happened to have Worldcat open (professional hazard) so I searched for Laxness in nearby libraries. I retrieved this dissertation: “Stoic farmers, silent women : the portrayal of the Icelandic family in two novels by Halldór Laxness.” He’s the Icelandic Willa Cather, isn’t he?

@Mistress Cynica: Not to disparage Willa Cather but no. He’s the Icelandic mad Tolstoy’s love child with Hardy. I People is one of my now top 10 reading experiences. It is stunning. By turns lyrical, tragic, funny in a truly weird way, frightening and flat-out grand. Astonishing characters and some of the best and least likely animals in fiction. It helps to know something of the sagas in terms of style but not essential. I bought a couple more of his books but haven’t been able to read them yet.

@nojo: All of our best parties were off campus – it was a small town, so stumbling home was easy. My freshman dorm was famous for our parties held in the communal bathroom, simply because there was actually room there. The only awkward moments were when someone arrived to actually shower, and we’d have to move our bong keg potted plants.

@Nabisco: I lived in the Ancestral Basement my freshman year, and after one too many shitfaced drunk responsible drives home, I figured it would be a lot easier to live at the party instead of travel to it.

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