Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This video had been around for a little while but I haven't posted it yet so here we are. If you can disregard the one guy's babbling to his woman as if he's voicing over a Ken Burns civil war documentary and the fact that they're both dressed like they're filming a Matrix tribute the martial arts moves are pretty sweet. I give you the Ho brothers (insert your own jokes here):
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
You took a virginity pledge and thought it would actually work:
As many as one in eight teens in the United States may take a virginity pledge at some point, vowing to wait until they're married before having sex. But do such pledges work? Are pledge takers more likely than other teens to delay sexual activity?How many more studies like this one do we need to conduct before people get it through their thick skulls that abstinence-only education and virginity pledges don't work? I understand that many people are religious and their religions try to enforce a bunch of illogical and archaic rules on them but this is irrefutable, scientific data, people! Hard numbers trump hopeful wishes! The human sex drive is one of our strongest and most powerful biological motivators; it's how our species has been able to successfully propagate our genes over the eons to become the big-brained, Earth-dominant species we are today (which also goes a long way towards explaining why it feels so damn good).
A new study suggests that the answer is no. While teens who take virginity pledges do delay sexual activity until an average age of 21 (compared to about age 17 for the average American teen), the reason for the delay is more likely due to pledge takers' religious background and conservative views -- not the pledge itself.
According to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, pledge takers are as likely to have sex before marriage as other teens who are also religious, but don't take the pledge. However, pledge takers are less likely than other religious or conservative teens to use condoms or birth control when they do start having sex.
So yeah, let's flail against millions of years of evolution by trying to follow some outmoded rules in a heavily edited book written by some sexually repressed people a few thousand years ago and see just how well that works out in a modern society. Oh wait, we know exactly how well that works out: kids inevitably end up having sex anyway but are now woefully undereducated about contraception and birth control, leading to increased rates of pregnancy and abortions amongst unmarried teens.
I've never understood why the same people who are so vehemently against abortion rights for women are for the most part also the same ones who fight comprehensive sex education tooth and nail; I would think that reducing the amount of abortions in our society by the most effective means available would be as important to them as they proclaim but their repeated heedless actions in this respect seem to prove otherwise. Maybe this is why I have such a hard time taking organized religions seriously most of the time: besides the fact that I don't believe that innate human sexuality is somehow wrong or a sin, I just can't summon the requisite levels of hypocrisy and irrationality these organizations usually seem to require of their followers.
I know, it looks like the sweetest laser tag weapon you've ever seen, and while there are several lasers involved I get the feeling that being hit by this thing is a bit different than just having your helmet and chest plate start to vibrate:
Look out, everybody — here come the trigger-happy cops with even more non-lethal weapons. Pictured above is the PHaSR, the bad-ass "Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response" rifle that's just about ready for deployment. It puts the hurt on you by dazzling you with laser light, while also burning your skin with an infrared laser. Let's just hope they set those PHaSRs on stun.As I've said before, I have no problem with the existence of guns or private gun ownership but I do hate that they kill so many Americans every year so I see the invention of these types of non-lethal weapons as a good thing for the most part. One of my concerns is that these weapons and others like them will most likely be eventually used for crowd control purposes, doing the job that tear gas canisters and weighted bean bag rounds do today. Not that such methods aren't needed by the authorities at times but with the increased usage of so-called "free speech zones" during lawful political protests under the Bush administration I fear that these weapons have the potential to further squelch the first amendment rights of Americans; I know that Barack Obama will be running things soon but I'm still instinctively loathe to put devices with the express intent of being used on citizens in the hands of our government.
The next big, scary gun in development (but not quite ready for deployment) is the Active Denial System (ADS), blasting out a 6-foot-wide microwave beam that makes those evildoers want to jump back, pronto. Ouch. They rifles aren't going to kill you, but they'll make you wish you were dead until you get your carcass out of those hot rays.
It's good news that the police are developing weapons that don't kill people, but when you look at the way police are all-too-eager to use Tasers, you might consider whether this is a good thing or not. We're thinking they can be either good or bad, depending on who wields them. While we're wondering why we can't all get along, we're also thinking to ourselves, "Don't microwave me, bro!"
[Update: Welcome Idleworm readers! Please feel free to have a look around Brain Rage; and thanks, dermot.]
My flights to and from Texas over the Christmas holidays were made extra fun by the fact that I had and still do have a head cold which made the pressure changes during the take offs and landings some of the most excruciating experiences I've ever endured. When I got to Houston I was rendered virtually deaf for about 20 minutes after the flight until my right ear finally cleared itself; the left followed about 45 minutes later.
The flight back to Cali however was even more exciting: my congestion had gotten worse during my vacation so the landing was akin to having 2 icepicks inserted deep within my aural canals until they pierced brain; pride and dignity kept me from crying out but I'm fairly certain the people on either side of me (yes, I got the bitch seat: joy, joy) thought I was a writhing psychopath.
Again, the right ear cleared first after debarking only this time it took about 45 minutes but the left was taking considerably longer: I went to bed last night with very little hearing and a high pitched ringing in my left ear and awoke this morning with the same. When I got into the shower I could hear the water hitting the top of my skull as a dull echo in the left side of my head. I spent all day taking decongestants in the vain hope that my ear drum hadn't burst during that landing and that I would again be able to hear out of that side of my head and by the time I sat down to a late dinner I was preparing myself to accept the fact that I might have suffered permanent hearing loss.
Naturally I was very concerned since this had never happened to me before but I had decided that I wasn't going to really worry until my cold was definitely gone but who can keep from worrying when faced with the possibility of a somewhat life altering change like that? I laid down to go to sleep about ten minutes ago pondering the very real possibility that I might need some kind of artificial hearing aid for the rest of my life when suddenly: POP! After 31 hours of chronic hearing loss my left ear finally cleared itself minutes after I laid head to pillow. I hadn't shattered my ear drum; I could hear again! I can't describe the relief I'm feeling right now as I repeatedly snap my fingers on either side of my head. Whew. Well, that's about all I have to say about it. I'm just feeling very joyous right now and I had to tell someone. Good night all.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I've said this before and I'll say it again: can you please just give us our bike now?
A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel President Bush's departure from office is coming not a moment too soon.
Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.
"Earlier this year, Bush scored some of the lowest presidential approval ratings we've seen in half a century, so it's understandable that the public is eager for a new president to step in," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director.
CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider added, "As President Bush prepares to leave office, the American public has a parting thought: Good riddance. At least that's the way three-quarters feel."
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Well, Christmas is over for another year and I've made my way back to California. It was great seeing the fam and basically making an all around pig of myself. One of my favorite parts of the holiday was watching my 3 1/2 year old towheaded nephew go absolutely ape shit over his Star Wars presents: it was like going 30 years back in time and seeing myself as a young lad again. So now I guess I'll start steeling my liver for New Year's Eve; my work is never done...
Saturday, December 27, 2008
If the lawyers at 20th Century Fox really wanted to kill Watchmen when they filed a copyright claim against the Warner Bros. production, they got the perfect ammunition as a Christmas gift today from a Los Angeles judge.Dude: weak.
Deadline Hollywood Daily is reporting that Judge Gary A. Feess will rule soon in favor of Fox -- granting their copyright claim over the franchise.
That's coal in the stocking of any Watchmen fan who was looking forward to seeing this film premiere in March -- if ever.
More details will emerge after the judge publishes his ruling after the Christmas holiday.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Stands to reason; a diet of fresh fish and rice is much healthier than one of greasy cheeseburgers and french fries:
The jungles of Papua New Guinea are a different world - the land of headhunters and cannibals.Now I have gone on record in the past as saying that I would try human if I was in the right part of the world at the right time and the opportunity presented itself; hopefully it would also be voluntary and not some "soccer team in the Andes" type of situation. And yes, I know how taboo this subject is amongst most people but taboo subjects are often my favorites; besides, this special time of the year reminds us that people have been engaging in this behavior throughout Western society for quite some time now:
Brave Italian photographer Iago Corazza travelled the country, the island at the end of the world, and took photos of its fascinating inhabitants, who still live a Stone Age existence.
“You find people here who can describe the taste of human flesh,” the photographer said of his travels.
Anthropologist Olga Ammann describes it more succinctly in the book. She quotes people who have eaten other humans: “The meat of white people smells too strongly and is too salty.”
The Japanese are meant to taste the best, according to her study - the only thing that beats it is the meat of their own women.
Those bloody savages and their primitive ways!
It's nice to see that the classic designs never die:
While they’re no where near as predictable as a wooden toboggan when it comes to charting a straight path down a snowy hill, those plastic disc saucer-style sleds can be just as fun, if not more so. All it takes is someone at the top of the hill to give you a little spin when you start your descent, and your ride will not only be unpredictable, but should also leave your head spinning when you get to the bottom. But in a good way.Now having grown up in Texas and subsequently moving to California, I've never been much of a snow sledder myself; in fact, I don't think I've ever been in snow more than about a dozen times in my life. And the closest I've ever come to actually sledding is when the parking garage across from my dorm in college iced over one night and some buddies and myself rode our laundry baskets down the ramps, although I imagine that traditional snow sledding sets off substantially fewer car alarms.
Both sled styles have their advantages, but now that I’ve discovered this Millennium Falcon shaped saucer sled, I’m afraid my classic wooden toboggan’s days are numbered. It’s only big enough to seat one person, so you can forget about bringing along a Wookie co-pilot, but it does have a pair of foam handles to help you steer and avoid other craft on your way down the hill.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I'm traveling to Houston, TX right now to spend the Christmas holidays with the fam. Yes, I'm flying on Christmas day: past experience has taught me that it's actually one of the smoothest travel days of the year, and since my momma's a nurse my family has gotten used to celebrating the holidays on nontraditional dates; besides, it's not when you celebrate but rather who you're drinking with, right? As I said on Thanksgiving, I'm not bringing my laptop so the posts will be a bit sparse for the next few days but hopefully most of you have better things to do during the holidays than check in here every day anyway. I'm out, bitches!
Hope everyone has a good one today; I'll be spending the holidays with my family in balmy Texas over the next few days, gorging myself on my momma's incredible annual Christmas cookies and yes: I have confirmation that she's made the peppermint candy canes that are my favorites. So I'll be loosening my belt and watching football with many of the people I love in this world (although as you can see from the artist's recreation above, I don't think my sister will let me play Santa again for my nieces and nephew, but in my defense I had a lot of eggnog that day), and I hope the rest of you are doing the same.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My thoughts exactly:
[Does anyone really like the Punisher?] He has a paper-thin motivation and his way of exorcising his internal demons has none of the panache of someone like Batman. Yet, he gets relaunched in comics time and time again and has (bad) movies made of him while other more worthy characters (Flash, Green Lantern, Thor) get stuck in development hell.This guy is completely one-note; his comics are pretty much unreadable and movies are hardly ever as good as the comics. I predict that the only people getting punished this holiday weekend are going to be those damn fools who pay $10.50 to see the new Punisher flick: zing!
I see commercials about clean coal technology at least three or four times a day when I'm watching cable news but I hadn't heard anything about this disaster before I read about it at Pharyngula yesterday; this is horrible:
When power plants burn coal to produce energy, the coal doesn't just vanish into the atmosphere to cause global warming. No, there's a substantial amount of left-over sludge called coal ash, a nasty mess that is enriched for toxic heavy metals. It is seriously nasty stuff. This glop has to be stored, somewhere, usually piled up and walled-off, because it's not healthy for anything.
Behold what happens when the containment walls fail.
This is happening right now, here in the United States. Yesterday, a retaining wall failed, and 500 million gallons of coal ash — the vile grey slime in the video — poured down into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, the water supply for Chattannooga and environs.
We're looking at a major environmental catastrophe, bigger than any oil spill, and most of the news media are silent about it. I checked CNN, MS-NBC, even Fox News…not a word. The local newspapers have a few articles, and the regional blogs are trying to follow it, but otherwise, I guess we're going to pretend it didn't happen.
Sure, why report on this when there are snow storms in the Northeast, the annual War on Christmas and the Rod Blagojovich scandal to fill the 24 hour news cycle; that's the damn liberal media for you. I'd be very surprised if Bush does anything substantial about this environmental tragedy before he leaves office other than pardoning those responsible or changing environmental regulations to say that coal ash is indeed good for our water supply; Barack Obama certainly does have his work cut out for him come January. 27 days.
"We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a four-year-old loves her mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a four-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow." -Al Franken, in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them on how conservatives and liberals love America differently
Every time I hear a conservative talking shit about a liberal who has committed the unconscionable act of actually truthfully pointing out some of this country's short-comings and ways we could improve them, I'm reminded of this quote and just shake my head. Franken is still locked in an extremely close recount race with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman for a senate seat in the state of Minnesota; it's way to close to call at this time and it looks like the lawyers are going to have the final say sometime after the beginning of the new year but I still have hope that Franken will prevail and inject some much needed levity and common sense into that political body.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Yes, in continuing with his practice of emulating the Great Emancipator president-elect Barack Obama will be sworn in on Abraham Lincoln's inaugural bible, making it the first time the tome has been used for such an occasion in over 140 years.
Now my well known anathema for organized religion aside, this is indeed a historical relic from the history of this country and my only hope is that it is treated with the requisite care it deserves; in other words, a book this old and important should be handled with gloves at all times because oils and acids from human skin can damage older leather and paper but I suppose the thirty or so seconds that Obama has his bare hand on it can be forgiven in a historical context.
Not to be a relic-Nazi or anything, but every person who winced along with me when the Declaration of Independence was rolling across a DC street after being tossed around like a rolled up dorm poster in the Nick Cage flick National Treasure will know exactly what I'm talking about. Just one more reason to hope for sunny skies on Jan. 20th, I suppose.
Barack Obama walks off the driving range during a working vacation in Hawaii after having announced the last of his cabinet appointments. If anybody reading this is still trying to come up with a last minute Christmas gift for me, a round with the president-elect would not go unappreciated.
Fair warning: this post is pure 80's nostalgia, i.e. anyone over forty will probably not appreciate the movie trailer below; everyone else: I encourage you to check it out.
I loved the Thundercats when I was a kid in spite of the heavily homo-erotic elements of the cartoons at times; I mean, really: one of these guys running around in full-body spandex must have been doing Cheetarah, right? And I say this despite the fact that she was probably the most butch of all of them, while Panthro looked like he was dressed up to go to a leather bar in the Castro.
As will become apparent from all of the recycled movie scenes and actors that have been digitally manipulated, this is not a real trailer but rather a work of love by a fan with a powerful computer, a lot of free time on their hands and no discernible shame about actually having seen the Garfield live action movie; Thundercats, ho!
"Two years from now, I want the American people to be able to say, "Government's not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government's working for me. I feel like it's accountable. I feel like it's transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information, that believes in making decisions based on facts and on science as opposed to what is politically expedient." Those are some of the intangibles that I hope people two years from now can claim," - Barack Obama, president-elect
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I assume past presidents have tried to pull similar shenanigans on their way out the door but I'd be surprised if any of them were such a blatant "fuck you" to the American people but hey, that's just how W rolls:
Saturday, December 20, 2008
You knew it was bad but yikes:
In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, respondents were asked to volunteer their assessments of how Bush would be remembered after he leaves office. The most frequent response, from 56 people, was "incompetent," followed by "idiot," "arrogant," "ignorant," "stupid," and so on. Nine people volunteered a three-letter synonym for donkey.But of course we just need some historical perspective; the odds that he's just some sort of misunderstood genius are obviously much more likely.
There were some kinder sentiments as well, including "honest," "honorable," and "dedicated." The number of participants who called Bush a "liar" also dropped from 18 in 2004 to just 4 this time around.Overall, though, the Pew poll underscored the depth of public disdain for Bush, who now ranks as the most consistently unpopular president since the advent of modern political polling.
"After his over-hyped and intrusive interviews of Obama and John McCain this last August, the best-selling author of A Purpose-Driven Life disclosed to his congregation at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Ca., the one kind of person he couldn’t vote for. “I could not vote for an atheist because an atheist says, ‘I don’t need God,’” Warren preached, according to the Los Angeles Times. “They’re saying, ‘I’m totally self-sufficient by [myself].’ And nobody is self-sufficient to be president by themselves. It’s too big a job.”' -Heather Mac Donald, Secular Right.org, commenting on Barack Obama's choice of Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration
Friday, December 19, 2008
The awesomeness of this can not be exaggerated:
Angry monkeys turned on their trainer - and beat him senseless with his own stick.They're so like us, in that they seem to enjoy beating the crap out of people who make them ride little bicycles for the amusement of others. Anybody feeling bad for this guy? Really?
The enraged primates struck back after their owner handed out a vicious beating to one of the trio during a performance in which they rode mini bicycles in a market in Sizhou, eastern China.
While one monkey twisted their cruel master's ears, another pulled his hair out in handfuls and bit his neck.
Then, when he dropped his cane, the third snatched it up and began beating the trainer around the head until he broke the stick.
The dazed trainer confessed: 'They were once wild and these performances don't always come naturally to them. They may have built up some feelings of hatred towards me.'
Now police are investigating allegations of animal cruelty and may confiscate the monkeys.
Yes, I know: the official, politically-correct title is "Person of the Year" but mine sounds cooler; besides, a woman hasn't won this thing on her own since the mid-eighties anyway. What's wrong, ladies? Are your hooters getting in the way of accomplishment? Just kidding, just kidding: I love your beautiful breasts; many of you already know that.
Not to take anything away from Obama's accomplishment but it seems to me that this distinction has become less of an honor over the years. Back in the day, it was a really big deal because Time magazine was the shizznit as far as periodicals went and there just weren't that many of them around but now that there are so many media outlets choosing their "this of the years" and "that of the years" it's become somewhat watered down. Plus, the bar has obviously been lowered a bit at times: if Bush could win this thing twice, who could even doubt that Obama didn't deserve it?
Either way: congrats to the man; party at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 32 days! Holla!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
So you say you eat a shitload of greasy fast food but you still don't quite smell like you do? Well fret no longer; the King now has his own scent:
Burger King has released a limited-edition men's body spray that evokes the smell of freshly broiled Whoppers. But isn't this what they spray on the burgers already for authenticity? No! According to a press release, "The King is setting hearts ablaze for the holidays with his new scent of choice. FLAME™, a new men's body spray by Burger King Corp., features the scent of seduction with the hint of flame-broiled meat. A favorite of the King, FLAME™ is available for purchase for a limited time at select Ricky's retailers in-store or online." Because nothing's more romantic than the scent of mass-produced beef patties...Personally, I just like to dab a little bacon grease on my wrists and behind my ears and I'm good to go; of course, if I have a big date I'll also hang a sachet of fresh Mickey D's fries from my rear view but burger scented body spray? Now that's just silly.
Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog site, has officially named Sean Hannity it's Misinformer of the Year:
As Media Matters for America has demonstrated time and again, Fox News' Sean Hannity has been a prolific and influential purveyor of conservative misinformation. But never has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading misinformation as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama. Day after day, Hannity devoted his two Fox News shows and his three-hour ABC Radio Networks program to "demonizing" the Democratic presidential candidates, starkly explaining in August: "That's my job. ... I led the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.' " Hannity's "Stop Obama Express" promoted and embellished a vast array of misleading attacks and false claims about Obama. Along the way, he uncritically adopted and promoted countless Republican talking points and played host to numerous credibility-challenged smear artists who painted Obama as a dangerous radical. When he was not going after Obama, Hannity attacked members of Obama's family, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton and other progressives, and denied all the while that he had unfairly attacked anyone.While I sometimes listen to his radio show when I'm driving in the middle of the day (he's hilarious, plus I want to know what the right in this country is listening to), I find Hannity and Colmes to be fairly unwatchable, principally because Alan Colmes is a spineless milquetoast (although this is hardly his fault; the format of the show is set up to favor Hannity and they are not really allowed to spar amongst themselves).
Hannity's attacks may have also influenced mainstream media coverage. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos appeared on Hannity's radio program on April 15, during which Hannity suggested to Stephanopoulos that he ask Obama at the Democratic presidential debate the following evening about his "association with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist from the Weather Underground." Stephanopoulos assured Hannity that he was "taking notes right now." Stephanopoulos then did ask Obama at the debate to "explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem," though he later denied that Hannity had exerted any influence on his questioning.
Because of the unending stream of falsehoods and character attacks that fueled the "Stop Obama Express," and the countless other distortions he promoted throughout 2008, Sean Hannity is Media Matters for America's Misinformer of the Year.
If you have any conservative friends who regularly throw out Hannity's name when debating politics with you, I highly encourage you to check out Media Matters' list of his distortions from the last year; they'll be indispensable during further debates with your aforementioned friends.
On a related note, Alan Colmes has announced that he will be leaving the show at the end of the year. Will FOX News still maintain it's promise of being "fair and balanced" by employing one full time liberal (yes, I know how stupid that question sounds when you really think about it but hey, it's FOX News, right)? Well, wonder no longer:
If Hannity follows the same formula for being "fair and balanced" that other FOX News shows have, the "Great American Panel" should include the following: two ultra-conservative panel members and one moderate, liberal panel member, to compliment the ultra-conservative host/moderator. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that a Pew poll from a few years back found that viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (comedy shows, mind you) were better informed about politics and current events than FOX News viewers. And I have no doubt that Sean Hannity's radio and television campaign of misinformation and distortions had at least something to do with those numbers; bray on, asshole.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is losing his liberal counterpart Alan Colmes at the end of the year, will not be getting a new on-air partner. Instead, the conservative commentator will headline his own show, called simply "Hannity," beginning Jan. 12, the network announced today.
The program -- running in the same 6 p.m. Pacific time slot -- will include several segments in which three guests from across the political spectrum, dubbed the "Great American Panel," will weigh in on the topics of the day. The show will also include regular commentary and interviews by Hannity, as well as a feature called "Hate Hannity Hotline" that will highlight the critical comments he receives from listeners of his syndicated radio show.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I guess as long as we let racists continue to reproduce we're going to have people like this amongst us but it doesn't make this any less sad:
HOLLAND TWP. | In a living room decorated with war books, German combat knives and swastikas, a 2-year-old boy, blond and blue-eyed, played with a plastic dinner set.Now personally, I would have made the cake for the kid; sure, his parents are obviously racist douchebags but he's only 3: let the kid have his birthday cake. Because this will almost definitely be the case someday:
The boy, asked his name, put down a tiny plate and ran behind his father's leg. He flashed a shy smile but wouldn't answer. Heath Campbell, 35, the boy's father, encouraged him.
"Say Adolf," said Campbell, a Holocaust denier who has three children named for Nazism.
Again, the boy wouldn't answer. It wasn't the first time the name caused hesitation.
Adolf Hitler Campbell -- it's indeed the name on his birth certificate -- turns 3 today, and the Campbell family believes the boy has been mistreated. A local supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with "Adolf Hitler" on it.
The ShopRite in Greenwich Township has also refused to make a cake bearing the name of Campbell's daughter, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, who turns 2 in February.Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, a girl named for Schutzstaffel head Heinrich Himmler, turns 1 in April.
An Allentown psychologist said the names would cause problems for the children later in life.Ya think!? That Barack Obama presidency win is looking even more miraculous when you factor in how many idiots like this we still have living in this country.
Just had to get my "something incredibly expensive and luxurious being built in Dubai" fix taken care of:
I guess if you're going to build a luxury oasis in the middle of the damn desert (the temperature in Dubai is around 105 ° F for about half the year) controlling the weather is the next logical step; just one more place I'll never, ever be able to afford to stay at.A LUXURY hotel in Dubai is to create the first refrigerated beach so hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days.
The Palazzo Versace fashion house will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface, reports The Australian.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," said Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace.
"This is the kind of luxury that top people want."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
As a comic book fanboy, I have to admit that the first three X-Men films progressed from good, to better, to best: exactly as I would have written them; anyone who says any different can kiss my adamantium-laced ass. And the trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine looks even better than I'd hoped; in a comic world of kick-ass characters, he's the most kick-ass by far:
Yes, I have finally settled on the final copy for my tombstone (I'll bet that none of you even knew that I was looking). And please disregard the fact that I want my body to be donated to science after I die; I also want the black market, stolen corpse of someone lesser off than myself buried in my place, just so that my tombstone can have a place in one of America's more prestigious graveyards (those plots are free of charge, right?).
My middle, little sister Shannon completed the Dallas White Rock Marathon last Sunday in a record-setting time of 5 hours and 23 minutes ("record setting" meaning that it was the first one she's run, hence a personal record). A post marathon phone call enlightened me to the following runner's truths: never run in socks you've never run in before (apparently, blisters can have their own zip codes), always eat breakfast before you run (even if you cramp up like a motherfucker when you run, as we both do) and never tie a long-sleeved shirt around your waist, despite the heat of the day (because it will chafe in ways you've never imagined).
On a more technological note, I received a cryptic text message from her a few days before the race reading, "What cell provider do you have? Just say yes to the text so you can track me."; when I inquired as to the nature of said message it was explained to me thusly, "Just needed service to set up tracking of marathon." After a little online research, I came across this short post:
This Sunday, the Dallas White Rock Marathon will implement a pretty cool feature for participants and their friends/families. While most modern marathons track runners with (RFID?) chips attached to their shoes, this marathon in Dallas will take that data and send it out, texting or emailing split times and finishing results to anyone who registers with a particular runner.I was subsequently sent a series of split times at various points throughout the race with projected finish times; in other words, I was able to track my sister's marathon status on my cell whilest sitting on my couch, eating a Meaty P'Zone and watching NFL football on my flat screen TV. USA! USA!
In all seriousness, I'm extremely proud of you and your accomplishment, Shannon; I know that I probably had more natural talent for long distance running way back in high school but you've far surpassed me in the realm of sheer will-power since. And credit to One L Bill for the picture above: I heard that you were an inspiration at many points on the course; way to represent, brother.
On a related note, Shannon: your friend in the yellow scarf on your picture sharing page is hella cute: does she have any plans to visit California anytime soon?; just asking.
A few days ago I posted this video of George W. Bush dodging a pair of shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist during an unannounced press conference in Baghdad. While I didn't celebrate or endorse the incident outright in my post, I did refer to it as a personal indulgence, i.e. something I enjoyed watching.
Now I'm sure that there are plenty on the right who will just chalk my reaction up to the so-called "Bush Derangement Syndrome" that is used as a catch-all descriptor by many on the right for anyone who has anything negative to say about this man; that's not an accurate description of the derivation of my dislike for Bush but I'm sure many will say that it is. And as I mentioned above, I did enjoy watching the video: this man has been responsible for instituting so many policies domestically and abroad that I consider damaging to the people, institutions and spirit of America that having a couple of shoes thrown his way is very low on the scale of what I think he ultimately deserves.
But after thinking about this incident some more and watching the reactions and commentaries in the press I've decided that my reaction, however understandable and justified it may have felt at the time, was the wrong one. I should have spoken out against and condemned these actions as an American citizen; every American citizen should speak out against and condemn any physical attack on our president or any other representative of this country, especially if said attack happens on foreign soil.
Why? Because it's the right thing to do; it's the patriotic thing to do. Bush isn't just the president of the United States; he's the physical embodiment of that office and all of the power and responsibilities that reside therein. A physical attack on our president is a symbolic attack on America, and I can not and will not approve of actions done with the intent of denigrating this country. Regardless of how we may feel about the man's politics and policies (and I think I've been fairly clear on this point over the past year), the office of the presidency deserves our support and respect.
I think about what would have happened had one of those shoes found it's mark and broken Bush's nose, the images of him being whisked away by Secret Service agents with blood flowing down his face; I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve it (he does) but the American people and the image of this country certainly do not. As someone who laments our long fall over the last eight years in the eyes of the world, as someone who has been waiting for the election of an actual responsible adult to take the reins of our government and lead us back up into the light of moral clarity and good judgement, I've realized that had Bush been besmirched that day it would have done just as much or more damage to the image of this country I love so much.
On top of regretting my reaction to this incident, something else about it has also given me serious pause: how was this man able to get off two shots at the president of the United States in a crowded room without the Secret Service intervening? Yes, everyone present had gone through multiple security checkpoints prior to entering the room (hence his choice of weapons) and the Secret Service has stated that they reacted in an appropriate manner and with requisite haste but I still find the apparent vulnerability of the most powerful man in the world a bit unsettling.
In a former post detailing my one (I hope that it's just the first) face to face encounter with Barack Obama, I praised the efficiency and thoroughness of the Secret Service agents present at the event, and when on literally dozens of occasions during the presidential campaign friends and acquaintances (always white people; interpret that as you will) voiced their opinions that a black man would inevitably be assassinated by racist elements within our society, I related my lone experience of being in the presence of the aforementioned agents and my confidence in their abilities. I only hope that the incident with Bush served as a wake up call of just how vulnerable one man, no matter the level of protection he is provided, can be in a dangerous world.
On a lighter note, I do have to praise the alacrity with which Bush avoided those shoes; not only did he dodge both projectiles successfully but he didn't even appear very flustered by the entire incident. Of course, when asked about his harrowing experience in a subsequent interview he answered a journalist's comment that throwing a shoe is considered a huge insult in that part of the world by saying:
I guess...I thought it was interesting, I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his shoe at you.This is classic George W. Bush: after our armed forces have spent the last 5 1/2 years in that country under his watch trying to win the trust and cooperation of the Iraqi people and even after several years ago images of jubilant Iraqi citizens hitting the toppled statues of Saddam Hussein were broadcast around the entire globe, you really get the impression that he had absolutely no clue as to the cultural significance of the actions he had just witnessed; as always, incurious to the last.
[Update: Sorry, but I just had this thought and had to post this video; enjoy:
Monday, December 15, 2008
Jacob Sullum at the libertarian site reason.com has some new record-breaking statistics:
According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report (PDF) released yesterday, 2.3 million Americans were behind bars in 2007, 1.5 percent more than in 2006 and a new record. The number includes about 780,000 people in local jails, 1.4 million in state prisons, and 200,000 in federal prison. Roughly one in five state prisoners and more than half of federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses. Assuming the percentage of drug offenders in jails is similar to the percentage in state prisons, the total is more than half a million. "That is ten times the total in 1980," notes the Drug Policy Alliance, "and more than all of western Europe (with a much larger population) incarcerates for all offenses."The continuation of this decades old practice of incarcerating non-violent adults for doing nothing more than deciding for themselves what they're going to put into their own bodies has got to stop. Now of course I've never expected George W. Bush to pursue a rational drug policy (the DEA raids on medical cannabis dispensaries out here in California over the last several years are a testament to that fact) but there is some hope that his successor will propose a more progressive agenda:
President-elect Obama - fulfilling multiple campaign promises to more deeply involve the public in setting priorities for his administration - opened up his Change.Gov website to questions from citizens, and asked the people to then rate the questions up or down.I've seen multiple videos of Obama at campaign events saying that he does indeed want to change these draconian policies, at least as they relate to medical cannabis and it's current prohibition; we'll have to wait and see if he sticks to his guns on this or buckles under to the pressure of the Republicans and drug war zealots.
The first round of questions closed at midnight last night, and it should come as no surprise that many of the top questions involve issues that millions of Americans care deeply about but for which commercial media coverage doesn't do justice in reporting or prioritizing.
"Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"
A total of 2,521 7,947 participants recommended that question to only 102 634 that thought it inappropriate (the latter figure is particularly revealing, demonstrating that the "conventional wisdom" that drug policy reform is too controversial to touch is simply not reflected in public opinion, certainly not among Obama's base supporters).
"Let’s just quickly describe in the most dispassionate terms, as few of euphemisms, as possible, where we are and what has happened over the last eight years. We have a law in place that says it is a felony offense punishable by five years in prison or a $10,000 fine to eavesdrop on American citizens without warrants. We have laws in place that say that it is a felony punishable by decades in prison to subject detainees in our custody to treatment that violates the Geneva Conventions or that is inhumane or coercive.
We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they’ve done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we’re deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law.
And when you juxtapose that with the fact that we are a country that has probably the most merciless criminal justice system on the planet when it comes to ordinary Americans. We imprison more of our population than any country in the world. We have less than five percent of the world’s population. And yet 25 percent almost of prisoners worldwide are inside the United States.
What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.
They have license to break the law. That’s what we’re deciding now as we say George Bush and his top advisors shouldn’t be investigated let alone prosecuted for the laws that we know that they’ve broken. And I can’t think of anything more damaging to our country because the rule of law is the lynchpin of everything we have." -Glenn Greenwald
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I hadn't planned this but it appears today's theme is one of personal indulgences for me; after the bacon and cheese roll and naked Aniston comes this fun little video of George W. Bush being pelted with shoes by an Iraqi journalist at a news conference during an unannounced visit to that country:
Things sure have changed from 5 1/2 years ago:
[Update: I wrote this post earlier today and a few hours later Sullivan posted this at The Daily Dish:
Five years ago, the shoes were directed toward statues and images of Saddam. And so "Iraq" moves forward ...It turns out great minds do think alike.]
Like the bacon dogs and deep-fried bananas foster cheesecake previously featured here, this fat laden roll of pork sings a siren song that my taste buds could never resist; check out the final product:
Be still my heart. Whoa, not that still...
Saturday, December 13, 2008
"Gov. Palin, to some extent, pushed the party more to the right, and I think she had something of a polarizing effect when she talked about how small town values are good. Well, most of us don’t live in small towns. And I was raised in the South Bronx, and there’s nothing wrong with my value system from the South Bronx.
And when they came to Virginia and said the southern part of Virginia is good and the northern part of Virginia is bad. The only problem with that is there are more votes in the northern part of Virginia than there are in the southern part of Virginia, so that doesn’t work." -Colin Powell
Opiate painkilling drugs are in critically short supply across the developing world. So why doesn't the USA just buy the Afghan poppy harvest, process it into painkilling meds, and distribute them to poor countries?
Not only is this one of the best anti-war on drugs proposals I've ever heard, it's actually one of the best ideas concerning the conflict in Afghanistan I've ever heard (and that includes anything Barack Obama or anyone else has ever said about that country).
1. This would cut off the Taliban's chief source of funding.
2. It would put the average Afghan farmer on the side of the US-supported government instead of the Taliban.
3. It would play to our strength -- money. The Taliban has more local knowledge, more time, more patience, more willingess to shed innocent blood. But we have more money. They might be able to outfight us, out-corrupt us, or out-terrorize us, but they can't outbid us.
4. It would put the US on record as alleviating suffering all over the world.
5. By fighting the Taliban with dollars instead of (as many) soldiers, we'd suffer a lot fewer killed and maimed Americans.
6. It might even be cheaper. Soldiers, tanks, planes, humvees, night vision goggles, bullets, Predator drones, etc. are really, really, expensive.
Via The Daily Dish:
We had three things that helped us run a very good campaign, and I think this wasn't the case for Clinton or McCain. One, we had a consistent message. What was our slogan the entire primary? "Change we can believe in." We adjusted slightly for the general—"Change we need." That didn't change. That was boring to the press, but that consistency, I think, wore well with voters. And we didn't have meetings every day about how to change our message.
-David Plouffe, Barack Obama's presidential campaign manager, on how they won
We had an electoral strategy, and the primary contest goal was to try to do well in the early states, and win delegates, in the general to play on the big map. We never adjusted that. And third is we didn't have that internal tension and in-fighting, so we could just focus on doing our damn jobs every day, and executing at a high level. And you're right. I've worked in a lot of campaigns and they've been great experiences, but this was by far the most collegial environment that I've worked in, and it was a real pleasure to go to work every day, and we just had a sense of mission. And that can't be overstated. There weren't a lot of closed doors where people were complaining and we were a unit. And once we made a decision, we had made a decision, and no one second-guessed it.
Truly one of the best run campaigns of the modern era. Speaking as someone who's worked on a political campaign, it really is a whole lot easier to go in to work every day when you respect and believe in the person you're working for; I know that sounds really cheesy but it's the truth.
Friday, December 12, 2008
This story has been all over the news out here in the Bay Area but for those of you not familiar with it, here's a recap:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A husband and wife have been charged with torture and other counts after a bruised, terrified 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, claiming he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.Dan Savage over at The Stranger is understandably pissed off and makes a lot of sense to boot:
Kelly Lau Schumacher, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested late Monday, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for police in Tracy.
They had been taken into custody for questioning earlier in the day at their home in Tracy, where the emaciated boy was allegedly held against his will. A search of the home turned up evidence implicating the couple, Robinson said. Tracy is about 60 miles east of San Francisco.
They were charged with torture, kidnapping and child abuse, and were set to appear in court Thursday, officials said. Bail was set at $1.2 million for Michael Schumacher but his wife's bail had not been set, authorities said.
Kelly and Michael Schumacher are legally married—and they can stay legally married, even if they're found to be guilty of this horrendous crime. They can stay legally married even if the decomposing remains of twenty other teenagers are found buried in their backyard. Their marriage license cannot be revoked. If Michael dies in prison, Kelly can remarry—even if she's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Kelly decides to divorce Michael, he can remarry—even if he's sitting on death row. He can remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce until he runs out of prison pen pals. Because the courts have declared that marriage is so fundamental a right that it cannot be denied to convicted rapists or to serial killers.You are correct, sir: that indeed ain't right.
But it's a right that's denied to me and my boyfriend. Because we're both men and that ain't right.
I loved the previous Terminator movies (loving 3 was done in the way you love an amusing in-law) but I can't decide if I like the direction the current one is moving in. I'm a huge fan of origin stories but the time involved between the first and (supposedly) last of this series makes this one seem extremely forced:
Thursday, December 11, 2008
“I asked him some pretty direct questions...Some of the answers you guys are gonna receive — they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry. In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him.” -Joe the Plumber, on his talks with then presidential candidate John McCain
Yet he never had the intellectual honesty to just come out and say what he thought of both candidates; later in this story, he's asked why he didn't just leave McCain's campaign if he felt this way and his answer was that Barack Obama's answers appalled him more. So now we've established that Joe the Plumber (Jesus, I feel dumber just referring to him in this manner) was not some straight-talking, no-nonsense, blue-collar hero but rather merely a partisan hack who happily traded whatever integrity and dignity he might have once possessed for his fifteen minutes in the national spotlight. And he'll get his book deal or recording contract or whatever other cash-in opportunity he can wrangle out of this whole charade, only now we'll know the truth about this dishonest douchebag and his motives.