Friday, August 31, 2007

In Which I Resolve Never To Return To Texas

Fuck that.

Too many spiders. I've seen this sort of thing in Guam, and we had gigantic web-dwelling spiders where I grew up, but I never saw this kind of nonsense in the continental US.

In other news, everybody and his brother (well, not my brother) wrote about the two-year anniversary of Katrina. That shit depresses me something bad, so I avoided it. Sorry to disappoint all three of you who read this regularly.

From what I understand, things don't look like this everywhere back home anymore. I guess that's something to be happy about.

This was a great place to eat, once upon a time.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Busy Day

So sorry. I'll try to have something later, but I'm very busy today.



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More Like This, Please

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Former FEMA Director Michael Brown testifying to Congress about the size of his dick.

John Edwards has a really good idea, and it's got a pithy, memorable, funny term: Brownie's Law.
Former Sen. John Edwards said at a Hurricane Katrina conference he would propose what he called "Brownie's Law" requiring that qualified people, not political hacks, lead key federal agencies.

Edwards, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, drew laughter when he spoke on Monday of the proposal at the "Hope and Recovery Summit" ahead of the two-year anniversary of the storm on Wednesday.

"It's an absolute travesty to have people who are essentially political hacks in a very responsible position," he told the audience at the University of New Orleans.

"Brownie" refers to Michael Brown, who was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Katrina struck the United States on August 29, 2005. He was criticized as being a political appointee unprepared to lead FEMA when a floundering government effort stranded thousands for days in flooded New Orleans.

He resigned shortly after President George W. Bush, who appointed him to the post, told him publicly, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" as chaos reigned in the devastated city.
Attention Democrats: This is the kind of shit you need to be doing. It's easily understandable, memorable, and has the support of, oh, 95% of the population (I assume). What an idea--appointing competent officials to high government positions.

Read the rest of the article to get a sense of how fucking crazy Duncan Hunter (R-Bedlam) really is. When the Republicans claim that "government is inept," what they're omitting is the modifier "Republican-run" before the noun in that phrase.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

You May Have Heard About This By Now

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his life partner, undated photo.

Uh, yeah. Gonzo's out. I'd be happy, but I'm kind of worried about which even-douchebaggier-douchebag they'll find to replace him.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Greek Fire

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Yellow = Madness
Red = Sparta

So when did Greece turn into California? That's a bad scene.

UPDATE: Apparently, Ms. Dukakis is involved, as well:
Greek Fires Kill 56 and Lick Ancient Olympia


Amusing Sunday Story

Lookit the cute puppy.

Check out this story in Salon (yeah, you have to wait for the site pass ad if you don't have a subscription) about the late, great Weekly World News. It's written by a guy who used to be one of their reporters. I laughed out loud at this:
Once I was "in," I often described my job, without a hint of exaggeration, as "thinking of the stupidest shit possible." I once pitched a story positing that the U.S. government had data confirming that the one commonality linking all mass killers, including the Columbine shooters, was that they never masturbated. Rather than issue this report, which would save lives but promote onanism, the government preferred to let occasional slaughters take place. My editor rejected it on the grounds that it was "too plausible."

During my stint at the News I turned down chances to write for (the much better paying) Enquirer, because I didn't want to engage in celebrity trash-talk. WWN avoided celeb gossip, with the exception of Elvis and politicians (for instance, Donald Rumsfeld: "Rumsfeld Changes His Name to Rumsfeldstiltskin and Tells Rogue Nations 'Guess My New Name or We'll Invade You,'" "Homeland Security Chief's House Robbed Five Times in a Week"). By those standards alone, I considered it a higher calling.
Good stuff, indeed.



Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Fun

Why not check out the entire last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth today? Here it is, in three installments.

It's because of this small series, and, to a lesser extent, Jeeves and Wooster, that I just can't take Hugh Laurie seriously enough to watch House, M.D.

But I don't guess that's much of a loss.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Asshole

No, not this guy. Not today, anyway.

It seems that astronomers at the University of Minnesota have found a giant hole in the Universe. Seriously. There's nothing there. It's a billion light-years across, and there just ain't shit in it. For comparison, our own galaxy is 100,000 light years edge to edge. Pretty neat stuff, but no one knows what it means yet.

I find it interesting that the asshole of the universe is not actually in Indiana. That would've been my bet.

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Happy Birthday!

Look who's thirty!

The Voyager spacecraft were launched around thirty years ago. They're still operating from way, way, waaaaay the hell away. They're still speeding away from the solar system, traveling about a million miles a day. That's moving. The article has a couple of problems detail-wise, but it's a nice, concise summary.

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File Under "N"

For "No shit, Dick Tracy."

What are we talking about? Why, another incompetent corporate douchebag fucking up our federal government, of course. In this instance, the MSHA official sent to Crandall Canyon to watch that asshole Bob Murray pull a Giuliani in front of the news cameras while a half-dozen men died in his mine.
Many news organizations and blogs are also now asking questions about the governments role and the man chosen to lead the rescue effort, Mine and Health Safety Administrator, Richard Stickler.

Sunday, the questions that had been whispered about for days, the miner's families themselves finally made public.

Sonny Olsen, families spokesperson said, "We are at the mercy of the officials in charge and their so-called experts."

Increasing attention is now being paid to Stickler, the federal government's main mine man.

Stickler used to be a mining executive who - according to various media reports - ran mines which had several fatalities and " incident rate that was often twice the national average."

Stickler's rocky road to appointment

Also coming to light, is the fact that Stickler's nomination to head the mine administration was twice rejected by congress and rejected when republicans were still in charge. Rejected reportedly by senators who were concerned about Stickler's safety record when he operated mines. After his nomination was twice rejected by the Senate, President Bush gave Richard Stickler the mine safety job with a recess appointment. That's a presidential appointment made when congress is not in session. Finally, congressional investigations and hearings are now expected to look at a key provision of federal mining law, one which requires the U.S. Government to be the main communicator when an accident occurs. ABC News now notes it took the mine safety administration two days to take public control of the Crandall Canyon Mine. ABC also adds, "Others were irate that [mine owner Bob] Murray was allowed to publicly predict success and contradict MSHA itself while agency officials quietly looked on."
You ever think that maybe the right-wing people's bedrock faith that "government can't do anything right" is just a reflection of their own incompetence whenever they get near it?

Do they have signs like this in all the White House bathrooms these days?

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Russian Strongman

Teh Гей

Here's Vladimir Putin, showing that George Bush isn't the only world leader who can be photo-op manly on vacation. So how do you say "beefcake" in Russian?



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Video Goodness

Watch. Cry. Laugh. Pray.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Make It Stop

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Please, please, make it stop.

Dear Jeebus, I don't ask for much, but if it's not too much trouble, could you hurry up with that Apocalypse thing? I don't know if I can take crap like this any longer.

Yeah. Great idea, being "the CEO of your dating life." I'm sure that will lead to nothing but secure, mutually fulfilling relationships because, you know, that's what businesses are set up to do.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Stupid Neocon Fantasies

The March of Folly, indeed

So I was reading Digby, like all of you should be doing as well. (Uh, that'll be $35.00, Digby. You're welcome.) She spends some time on Rudolph "Benito" Giuliani and "his" recent article in Foreign Affairs. She easily detects the fingerprints of the godfather of soul neoconservative drivel, Norman Podhoretz. She also makes the following observation, which I think needs comment:

According to this thesis, we have been fighting WWIV for 37 years, overlapping with WWIII by about 20. And WWIV is far from over. in fact, we might even be fighting WWV and WWVI right now, and not even know it.

Okay. So the neocons are idiots. We all know that. But there are a couple of things I'd like to point out. First of all, let's talk about World War II. It was a hell of a cataclysm. Some 60 million people died as a result of the war. The major focus of world economic activity for nearly half a decade was the production of material to slaughter other people (or to support that slaughter). It completely remade the world and American society in ways too numerous to detail here. Now, are we to equate that conflict with the War On Terra? Instead of fighting two massive, modern, industrial nation states on either side of the globe, who's the enemy here? That's right. Some broke-ass motherfuckers living in caves. I'm not saying that al-Qaeda is insignificant. However, we are not going to engage those bastards in a titanic world struggle for the preservation of our way of life. Notice we haven't had, say, a draft, or even partial mobilization of the country for war.

Now about the length of the conflict. Let's say, for the sake of convenience, that it started on 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. Yeah, we could date the start with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, or of Manchuria in 1933, or, hell, even claim that the entire war was an extension of the Great War of 1914-1918. But let's stick with 1939, 'cause that's what most of the history books say. The war in Europe ended in May of 1945, and the Pacific war ended in August the same year. So that's a six-year war. Using my math skillz (they are teh awesum!), that averages out to ten million dead people per year. Yeah, I know that the killing wasn't evenly distributed over the entire war, but work with me here. If the War On Terra is JUST THE SAME AS WW2!!!11!!, shouldn't there be, say, 370 million dead people as a result? Of course, that's a stupid comparison. But it's exactly the kind of false equivalence that the wingnuts do about (inaccurate) murder rates in American cities vis-a-vis Baghdad.

I know that the Baby Boomers and the "Silent" Generation (of which N-Pod is a member) grew up in the shadow of World War II, and they've been trying to measure up to that for their entire lives. But we really need to find a new way of categorizing world events. The World Wars happened on a scale and to an extent that, we all pray, this little planet will probably never see again. We are not engaged in a titanic world struggle to preserve our way of life. We're just not. It doesn't matter how many times Pammycakes or Michelle Malkin or Rudy! bleat about the dire Islamojihadioompaloompaist threat. There really isn't any kind of existential peril. You don't need a World War to define your life. I imagine that if the rightwing bedwetters would take a deep breath and come to grips with these facts, they could actually relax and enjoy life once in a while.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

August, Baseball, and the Fucking Yankees

Yes. Yes, they do.

Leave it to the Onion to have not only the best journalism, but the best sports journalism in the country.

Just go read the whole thing. And be sad that Steve Gilliard isn't here to share the laugh.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lesson? What Lesson?

Arctic Ice Melt, 1979-2003, courtesy of NASA.

See that image? It is, as you may have guessed, a composite image from NASA showing the extent of Arctic ice melting over two decades and a half. This melting, of course, is caused by global warming, which is due in part to our rampant consumption of fossil fuels like oil. Now, it seems to me that a normal person who is familiar with the previous two sentences would look at that image and think, "Wow. We are seriously fucking things up. What can we do to ameliorate or at least slow the effects of this process?"

As it turns out, we are not at the mercy of what I would consider to be normal people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Great Arctic Oil Rush.
Russia has taken a giant leap for the Kremlin by planting its flag on the ocean floor under the North Pole in a politically charged symbolic gesture to claim the rights to the sea bed which could be rich in oil and gas.

In a dramatic technical feat testing international law, the Russians dispatched two mini-submarines 2.5 miles to the ocean floor in what is believed to be the first expedition of its kind.

Both submersibles, with crews of three on board, completed their dangerous return to the surface yesterday after what was described as a "smooth landing".

But the expedition raised the hackles of Russia's neighbours, who also have their eye on the vast mineral deposits that could lie under the Arctic area, and who consider the Russian move as a brazen land grab. "This isn't the 15th century. You can't go around the world and just plant flags and say 'We're claiming this territory'," said Peter MacKay, Canada's Foreign Minister.

Russia has fired the first diplomatic shot in a really cold war. The new oil rush has been galvanised by the accelerated shrinking of the polar ice cap because of global warming, which has allowed exploration that had been previously unthinkable because of the extreme conditions.

Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range crossing the polar region, is an extension of its territory. The UN has rejected Moscow's 2001 claim to the ocean bed, which it says is part of its continental shelf under international law but the Russians are due to resubmit their case to the committee administering the Law of the Sea.

A brains trust of 135 Russian scientists, led by a 68-year-old personal envoy of President Vladimir Putin, the explorer Artur Chilingarov, plan to map out part of the 1,240-mile ridge.

But yesterday's scientific achievement of dropping a titanium capsule containing the Russian flag on to the seabed could not conceal the political advantage gained by Mr Putin. Once again, he has demonstrated to the West Russia's determination to expand its energy empire.

The news of the mission's success dominated Russian television yesterday. Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, said the President considered it "very important ... Being a unique scientific expedition, it is of course supported by the President."

The Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said: "I think this expedition will supply additional scientific evidence for our aspirations." But he added that the issue of territorial claim to the polar region "will be resolved in strict compliance with international law". If recognised, the claim would give Russia control of nearly half of the Arctic's near-half million square mile sea bed.

But four other countries - the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark - also have claims on the ocean floor which could hold as much oil and gas as Saudi Arabia. According to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic seabed and subsoil account for 25 per cent of undiscovered oil and gas reserves.
That's right. If you were an oil company executive, or Vladimir Putin, or (shudder) Dick Cheney, you'd see a grand strategic and business opportunity in the melting of the polar ice cap. Once again, that melting is due in no small part to human consumption of the same fossil fuels these people are so excited about obtaining. From what I've seen in major media reports of this scramble, no one has really mentioned the absurdist drama that is playing out before us.

As my friend Adam put it when I told him about that story, "That's like saying, 'I'm already drunk, why not go to 25-cent beer night?'"

Cross-posted over at First Draft.


The Irrationality of Rational Actions, Yet Again

That's not what I meant when I said "stupid pig."

So imagine you're a cop. Put down that doughnut and stop harassing black people! Stay with me for a minute here. Imagine you're a cop. You see a vehicle doing 57 mph in a 30 mph zone. So you put on your fuckin' blue lights and pull over the vehicle in question. You drag your sorry ass out of your cruiser and approach the truck. When you get there, you see that the passenger has a fucking nail in his head. But you also notice that he's not wearing a seatbelt. Because you're just so fucking magnanimous, you decide to waive the speeding ticket, and you follow the vehicle to the hospital, but you cite the passenger--again, who has a goddamn nail in his head--for not wearing his seatbelt.

Now imagine that you're an asshole, 'cause you would be if you'd done all of that.

This actually happened up in Canada. Check it out.
Docherty, a construction foreman, was accidentally hit by a co-worker's powerful nail gun last week.

A first-aid officer jumped in his vehicle and raced Docherty to the hospital, a couple of kilometres away. But about halfway there, the pair was stopped on Central Saanich Road by a police officer conducting a speed trap.

"We showed him the nail sticking out of my forehead but he didn't care at all," Docherty told A-Channel news yesterday.

The officer stopped the two for driving 92 km/h in a 50 km/h zone and for not wearing a seatbelt. They explained why they were in a rush but the "first-aid emergency" didn't seem to concern the officer.

"He was dead set on getting some tickets," said Docherty.

The police officer followed the two to the hospital and once there issued a seatbelt ticket.

A seatbelt fine in B.C. is $167 but is less costly than a speeding fine that would have amounted to more than $300, according to Central Saanich police Chief Paul Hames.

"I think the officer used his discretion with the two different tickets," Hames said.

The police chief suggested the pair should have called an ambulance, which is permitted in emergencies to drive at speeds higher than the posted limit.

The officer, who is on holidays, was acting according to the law, Hames said.

"My concern is for the safety of the public at large," the chief said. However, he will speak to the officer to gather "more detail from his perspective."

Hames said some will see the police officer's actions as "unreasonable" but he hopes that the majority will understand that excessive speeds on the Central Saanich road were a concern and that the police officer was simply doing his job.

"The public will see a nail in a forehead and [possibly] not see the other side of the story," Hames said.

Docherty was back on the job site the following day and apart from a headache and some dizziness immediately after the accident, is reportedly feeling fine now.

What an asshole. His chief is an asshole too. (If you were ever enlisted in the navy, that will come as no surprise.) I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that there really isn't another side of the story. Seatbelt laws really shouldn't take precedence over big chunks of metal sticking out of heads. Just a thought.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Just Kill Me Now

I'm not a terribly big Elvis fan, but there's nothing The King ever did to deserve this. Not even the goddam gold lamé. Nope, not even that could justify this horror:

Make it stop.


Conspicuous Consumption Alert (Jeebus Edition)


What do you get for the Bible-loving hunter who already has everything?

Why, a camouflage Bible cover, of course!

Reuters reporter Ed Stoddard recently discovered that you can buy camouflage Bible covers, and he thinks that such an item is just astonishing. He half-assedly tries to make some larger sociological point about what these covers mean ("camouflaged Bibles, a curious product which says a lot about American culture."), but he falls right on his face in the attempt.

Such products are classically American and highlight cultural traits which are especially pronounced in the South.

The first is a love affair with all things cam [sic], from pick-up trucks to baseball hats to shotguns.

"Men in the South love camo, it's just another way to communicate that they are an outdoorsman," said Lingner.

These products also highlight the U.S. evangelical love affair with hunting, fishing and the great outdoors.

A U.S. survey of licensed hunters and anglers last year commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found half of those polled identified themselves as evangelical Christians.

Evangelical Christians, who number 60 million in the United States, are a key base of support for the Republican Party, which helps to explain its stand on a number of issues including its strident opposition to gun control. Hunters don't take kindly to restrictions on their weapons of choice.

Man, this is stupid. And what poor use of statistics! First--how many licensed hunters and fishers are there in the US? That seems like something we should be told. It turns out that, as of 2000, there were about 45 million fishing and hunting licenses sold in the US (Thanks, US Fish and Wildlife Service!). So we'll say that roughly 23 million hunters or fishers are evangelical Christians. Now where does Mr. Stoddard get off extrapolating the views of those 23 million to all evangelicals? He seems to be (intentionally or not, I make no claim either way) conflating all hunters & fishers with evangelical Christians. Even if you could do that, evangelical Christians are not some monolithic bloc of zombies. They do have differences of opinions on lots of issues (gasp!), and playing otherwise is just stupid.

The same could be said for hunters. For the record, there are quite a few outdoorsmen and -women who are in favor of things like gun control (see the American Hunters and Shooters Association if you don't believe me). As far as the GOP's "strident opposition to gun control," you know who's responsible for that? The fucking NRA. They happen to be responsible for a lot of Democrats' "strident opposition to gun control," too, asshole. The NRA doesn't speak for hunters, or evangelicals, or any particular group. The NRA speaks for the NRA, and they're damn good at getting what they want.

What bugs me most about the entire article, though, is the David Brooks-like faux astonishment at finding a "cute" news item in the hinterlands. First of all, if you search for "camouflage Bible covers," you get a lot more places to look than just the Christian Outdoorsman. And they're not new, either. Secondly, that goddamn condescending "Why, look at what curious customs these countrified rubes have!" tone really bothers me. Can we put this bullshit wannabe anthropology to rest, please? It's insulting to everyone. Please, please, dear reporters--don't take the David Brooks path. I know it seems easy, but it cheapens us all. Oh, and Mr. Stoddard--I checked all of these stats and stuff in about five minutes using this newfangled thing called "Google." You might want to look into that.

Finally, on to some Bible shit. Wouldn't a camouflaged Bible really be an insult to that Jesus guy? You know, the one who said that you're not supposed to light a candle and then put it under a bushel? (As an aside, that always made sense to me when I was a kid. I mean, you wouldn't want to set your bushel on fire, would you? Where would you get another one at that time of night?) Seriously, hunting people, are you really concerned that the goddamn deer (or whatever you're shooting at) are going to see your Bible and get spooked? How are you gonna explain that one on Judgment Day?

"My son, why didst thou hide thine light under a bushel, as I didst so clearly enjoin thee not to do?"

"Uh, yeah, sorry, lord, but there was this deer that I didst wanted for a trophy, and, uh..."

"A trophy? But didst I not also tell thee to not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth?"

"Well, yeah, but thou seest--hey! Are you gonna let me in or not?"

"I kind of have to forgive you, don't I? After all, I'm Jesus H. Christ! I've just been fuckin' with you! Come on in! Oh, and forget about all that "thee" and "thou" shit. Nobody's talked that way for three hundred years. Anyway, the reception for newbies is by MLK's place at noon. Don't be late."

Cross-posted over at First Draft just for the hell of it.

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Punch and Jude + First Draft = First Punch?

Suck on that, chump.

Hey hey. For the next week or so, I'll be guest-posting over at First Draft. Which, if you don't read every day, you should.

Check it out. You won't be disappointed. Well, not in the stuff the other people post, anyway. Assholes.


Good News, Everyone!

Oh my, yes.

It looks like Karl Rove is resigning to spend more time with his leather slave. Seriously.

Anyway, sorry I haven't had much lately. Things have been busy on my end.



Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Black Day for Journalism

Where will I go?

It is with great sadness that I report the cessation of publication of that fine instrument of public record, the Weekly World News, also known as "The Paper". Oh, and noted son-of-a-bitch Rupert Murdoch acquired the Wall Street Journal, so I wouldn't be too surprised if they precipitously attenuated their usually-critical view of the People's Republic of China. But the real tragedy is the Weekly World News. Shed a tear, everyone.

To lift your spirits on this bleak day, I offer this:

It's 1500 Filipino prisoners dancing Michael Jackson's "Thriller," of course. What else would you expect?

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