Rant: Collected Ventings 1999 – 2004

I’ve been muttering for some time about collecting up some of my most memorable rant-like Whatever entries into convenient book form, and since I won’t have another book out this year until at least September, now seems an excellent time to do it.

So behold! Rant: Collected Ventings 1999 – 2004 — Five years and 284 pages of lightly-edited online bile, now on sale through my CafePress shop, for the outrageous vanity press cost of $16.95 ($15.28 of which goes directly to CafePress. This is the peril of the Publish-on-Demand cost structure).

The book is loaded with most of my most famous rantings, including the following classics:

* I Hate Your Politics
* How to Write Hate Mail
* Leviticans
* Even More Long-Winded (But Practical) Writing Advice

As well as my various bashings of creationists, Confederates, the childfree, conservatives, squishy Salon-reading liberals and anyone else who has aroused my wrath and ire over the last half decade. What it doesn’t feature are my various nice and light Whatevers — no, this is all about outgassing. Which is what I titled it Rant. I figure truth in advertising counts for something.

Why go the CafePress vanity publishing route? Well, because — and not to put too fine a point on it — it’s not a very commercial book. The people who are going to be interested in owning it are the people who know me and/or the people who already read the site. There are several thousand of the latter, which is nice, but it’s probably not enough to convince a publishing house to bother. My non-fiction agent informs me that basically the only books of columns and essays that actually make any money are written by Dave Barry, so a collection of entries by a mostly-unknown fellow venting on the Web is likely to do dramatically less business.

Fair enough. As I’m fond of saying, I’m in the fortunate position of not having to do everything strictly for the money. And in any event, I’ve sold six books already, so I don’t have to worry about whether it’s a “real” book or not. This is entirely a vanity sort of thing — low-volume but also low-risk, since I’m not required to lay out any cash to make it happen. I’ve not violated the holiest dictum of professional writing, which is “money flows to the writer.” Should any money flow here, it’ll flow in my direction. And that’s the important thing.

I should note that putting these Whatevers into book form doesn’t mean I’m taking them down off the site. No, everything in the book is on the site and will likely remain so. As I said, this isn’t a fantastically commerical endeavor — it’s mostly a way to let interested folk read me away from their computer screens.

So if you’ve ever wanted my rantings in book form, here you go. Enjoy! It also makes a lovely gift for dads and grads (or if you go the one-day shipping route, for moms, too). I’ll be interested to see how it does.

Ted at it Again, Again, Again

For some reason I appear to be the guy online who gets to be Ted Rall’s Keeper, since any time he writes something outrageously controversial I get e-mail going “See what your friend has done now? What do you think about that? Huh? huh? huh?” This time around it’s the cartoon about Pat Tillman that’s got everyone worked up, and people want to know what I think about it and about Ted doing it. Fine.

Cartoon first: It’s not my thing. I differ from Ted on my opinion of the morality and the goals of the war in Afghanistan, so this is not terribly surprising. However, even if I did agree with Ted about the morals of that particular war, I’d suggest that even those who fight in a war of dubious morality can fight well and with honor — and indeed be heroes. This is why, for example, that even though I continually note how evil the Confederacy was, I can also note that many of those who fought for the Confederacy did so honorably. I don’t equate the recent occupation of Afghanistan with the Confederacy, and Pat Tillman, from what I understand, died trying to save his squadmates under attack, for which he received a posthumous Silver Star. For that action alone, “hero” is not a bad description of Tillman. So for my money Ted’s wrong here.

Ted next: People, look. I don’t know why any of you are surprised at this point that Ted’s going to take a whack at sensitive areas. He’s been doing it for well over a decade now; he’s going to keep on doing it until he keels over at his desk, pen in hand. He’s a superlefty who is not shy in his opinions and certainly doesn’t mind antagonizing people. This isn’t a defense of Ted; I’m merely noting a fact. This is his business, and he’s good at it. By all means, rail against him and support boycotts of outlets that syndicate his work if you believe it is going to have some sort of effect. If I were you, however, I wouldn’t labor under the illusion that you’re going to shame him into silence, directly or indirectly. It’s a big country. There are too many media outlets, even if you just count the ones on the left. And on either side of the political spectrum there’s no lack of opportunity for those with extreme views. I mean, hell. Ann Coulter keeps managing to scrape up enough dough to eat and hang clothes on her frame. You think Ted’s not going to be able to do the same?

Also, I’d note that before he was a cartoonist, Ted worked in investment banking. So conservatives may want to ask whether it’s worth it to drive him out of cartooning. He just might end up handling your investments.

I do have a couple of comments to make to all the people who call Ted a coward and declare that they’d fight him if they saw him. On the latter, Ted’s not a small fellow, nor does he run from things in my experience. And he’s extraordinarily litigious. If you’re thinking of throwing a punch, don’t expect Ted to fold like a liberal sissy man; he’s likely to fight back. And after he does, he’ll be happy to sue your ass for damages and keep the suit going until the very heat death of the universe. So if you’re going to make that punch, make sure you can take the hit.

On the former, unlike most of the rest of us, Ted’s actually been to Afghanistan, both before this recent war and during it. He didn’t have to go to Afghanistan, and not a few of us who knew him told him that he was insane to go. But he felt that he needed to go and be a witness to what was happening there. At one point in his most recent stay he came one doorknob turn from being shot and likely killed. There are many things Ted may be, negative and positive, but I guarantee you that “coward” is not one of them.