Saturday, February 28, 2009

Joe The Author

It doesn't look like he'll be giving Steven King a run for his money anytime soon:

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border's bookstore to hear Joe speak...

Joe got a couple of news cycles' worth of attention starting on Oct. 12 -- he remembers the date clearly -- when he was videotaped confronting Barack Obama about his small-business tax plans... Now, only a few months later, he's kind of like a vestigial tail, a leftover artifact from a forgotten time...

Plumbing? Not happening. "I show up on a plumbing job and the first thing someone's going to say is 'Joe the Plumber didn't do the job right,' " he said. "The next thing you know, it's on the national news. It would be naive to go back to it."

Wurzelbacher says he's still no fan of Obama, but confessed that he never liked McCain all that much, either. Nor has he cared for the politicians he's met on Capitol Hill. "Liars and thieves," he called them...

Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours, but the Joe Show was over in 55 minutes. Total copies of "Joe the Plumber" sold: five.
It's about time we ended the charade of pretending that this guy is anything more than a campaign prop left over from the last election. The smarter Republicans are starting to figure this out but many more have a long way to go.

(hat tip: Doug"e")

Join The Ukrainian Army!

Yes, this is an actual recruitment ad for the Ukrainian army. The guy with the Beemer never stood a chance:

Glenn Beck: Giggling Stoner

This is the reason it's taken an economic crisis for the idea of legalizing cannabis to be taken seriously: because many of the movements opponents can not be taken so, and until they start treating it like a legitimate issue the debate can not happen. Glenn Beck uses every blatant exaggeration and stereotypical assumption (notice that he offers no real facts or scientific evidence to back up his claims, just knowing smirks and little laughs) he can muster to try and prove his point that cannabis is inherently "bad" and that the current economic crisis is just a smokescreen for degenerate lobbyists and stoners who want to destroy society and eat potato chips all day. Also, watch the clip with this observation in mind:

Which of these two comes across as though he’s high on pot? It’s not the one arguing for legalization.

Jesus. This guy's a Libertarian in the same way I'm a Socialist: a few of the tenets of the philosophy sound like good ideas but neither of us would ever really qualify as such. Plus I always take what militant former alcoholics and addicts say about substance abuse with a very large grain of salt. The mindset that because they couldn't control themselves, therefore the use of these substances is uncontrollable is self-centered at best and delusional at worst.

Friday, February 27, 2009

CPAC: 3 Days Of Hate And Failure

Entertaining and anti-President Obama. Did I call this one or what?:

That whirring sound you're hearing is Jimmy Jimi Hendrix spinning in his grave at the invocation of his name by this soulless douchebag. Yeah, baby.

Picture Of The Day

This is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She played Elaine on Seinfeld, and she's almost 50 years old. Check out the abs. If I had any use for contraceptive sponges she would definitely be worthy. Did I mention the abs? Wow.

Are They All "Gotcha" Questions?

Yes, apparently they are:

A couple of weeks before the Alaska legislature began this year's session, a bipartisan group of state senators on a retreat a few hours from here invited Gov. Sarah Palin to join them. Accompanied by a retinue of advisers, she took a seat at one end of a conference table and listened passively as Gary Stevens, the president of the Alaska Senate, a former college history professor and a low-key Republican with a reputation for congeniality, expressed delight at her presence.

Would the governor, a smiling Stevens asked, like to share some of her plans and proposals for the coming legislative session?

Palin looked around the room and paused, according to several senators present. "I feel like you guys are always trying to put me on the spot," she said finally, as the room became silent.

Oh yeah, please run her in 2012. Jindal's blown his chance, right?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy

At my book club meeting last Sunday evening I had a conversation with several friends about the simple act of appreciating all of the incredible things that we as Americans living in Northern California at the dawn of the 21st century have available to us. And I'm not just talking about how we can drive a few hours in one direction to the snow or a few hours in the other direction to the beach or a few hours in another direction to wine country (all of which is really, really cool).

I'm talking about all of the little things that I personally try very hard to appreciate every time I experience them: going to sleep in a big soft bed with clean sheets every night, taking a steaming hot shower wrapped in clean tile every morning, popping open a nice bottle of Pinot Noir in the evening and taking that first bite of a juicy, medium rare steak minutes off the grill shortly thereafter. Not only will the vast majority of human beings on the planet right now never get to indulge in these seemingly simple pleasures most of us here usually take for granted most of the time, but the vast majority of people to have ever walked the Earth most likely never even knew that such pleasures existed.

And those are the thoughts that went through my mind when I watched this video of Louis CK on Conan O'Brien's show the other night decrying the general ennui prevalent across our great nation in the midst of (despite the narratives being sung recently in the 24 hour news media) one of the most prosperous times in the absolute most prosperous nation ever to exist on this planet:

I can't honestly say that I'm always happy with my life and everything in it but I do try to make a concerted effort to be particularly mindful, and especially thankful, for all of the wonderful things I've seen and experienced thus far with what little time has been afforded to me on this planet. Here's hoping that the rest of you are doing the same.

Picture Of The Day

Let's just hope we can kung fu our way out of this mess.

Silent But Deadly

This is a video of researchers in Fairbanks, AK drilling a hole in lake ice and lighting the methane that is subsequently released. Watch out:

Conservative Political Action Conference

The three day long Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, starts today and man do these people have their finger on the pulse of the nation. Along with the usual collection of Limbaughs, Hannitys and Coulters who will be speaking at the event (I'm eagerly awaiting who she'll call a "faggot" this year), here's a smattering of some of the more entertaining topics they'll be addressing in their attempts to make the Republican party relevant in American politics again:

Al Franken and ACORN: How Liberals are Destroying the American Election System

Targets of the Fairness Doctrine

Will Congress Take Your Guns?

Health Care: The Train Wreck Ahead

Will Obama’s Tax Policy Kill Entrepreneurship?

Media in the Obama Era: Is Journalism Dead?

The True Cost Of Global Warming Hysteria
So let's see: that's anti-Jewish comedian, anti-community organizing, anti-liberals, anti-Fairness Doctrine (I agree on this one but as I've said it's a straw man threat at best), anti-health care, anti-taxes, anti-media, anti-environmentalism and climatological sciences and oh yes, definitely anti-President Obama. What about the gays and their attempts to destroy the holy institution of marriage? Oh yeah, there's not an election right around the corner this year so we can table that item and be against it next year when it'll more effectively fire up our anti-homo base. On the other hand, they are pro-guns and pro-entrepreneurship, i.e. money. Huh, running on a pro-guns and money platform should have them doing much better with the inner-city youth vote, especially when you factor in Michael Steele's inspired new "Hip Hop Strategy"; maybe when they include the anti-gay agenda next year that coalition will finally all come together.

You know you're flailing as a political party when you're forced to define your ideology predominantly in terms of what you are against and are trying to destroy rather than what you believe in and want to achieve. I hope everyone is ready for some good old fashioned right wing obstructionism because over the last month it's started to look like hamstringing important legislation is going to be their fresh, new, bold "winning" strategy for the next four years. Just how big is that wilderness anyway?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Right America: Feeling Wronged

I just watched Alexandra Pelosi's documentary Right America: Feeling Wronged last night in which she follows the McCain/Palin campaign to a series of events in mostly Southern states during the last presidential election. Wow. These people are really pissed off. Pissed off at the government, the news media, Hollywood, Democrats, homosexuals, liberals, Muslims, minorities and especially Barack Hussein Obama. And yes, the number "666" even came up a number of times (ah, memories...). I've posted video of McCain supporters saying some incredibly nasty/stupid things about then candidate Obama in the past but the degree to which many of the people in this film had drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid was fairly disturbing.

I hesitate to recommend this flick for the simple reason that I didn't really learn anything new from watching it. It didn't really offer anything fresh or interesting and I certainly already saw enough despicable behavior from the right during the campaign. Pelosi's previous documentary Journeys with George about Bush's 2000 presidential run was a lot more charming and fun to watch but of course that was all before the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war debacle cast a pall over this country and it's politics. Pelosi is likable enough as an interviewer and she seems to have some talent as a filmmaker so perhaps it's just the subject matter in this film but I'm not encouraging any of you to put this one at the top of your Netflix queue anytime soon.

[Update: Just watched this clip from the Daily Show last night and had to add it here:

(hat tip: Reza)]

Paging Dr. Richard Kimble...

Remember when society found it acceptable to hide all of its "freaks" away behind closed doors so that nobody would have to sully their precious eyes by gazing upon their twisted forms? It appears that many in England would be quite happy with a return to that era:

A disabled CBeebies presenter has been the victim of a disturbing campaign after parents complained that she was scaring toddlers.

They claimed that host Cerrie Burnell - who was born with one arm - is not suitable to appear on the digital children's channel.

Miss Burnell and co-presenter Alex Winters took over the popular Do and Discover slot and The Bedtime Hour programme last month.

But the decision to hire her has prompted a flurry of complaints to the BBC and on parenting message boards, with some of the posts on the CBeebies website becoming so vicious that they had to be removed.

Incredibly, one father said he wanted to ban his daughter from watching the channel because he feared it would give her nightmares.

Others claimed that they were forced to discuss difficult issues with their young children before they were ready.

One blogger wrote: 'Is it just me, or does anyone else think the new woman presenter on CBeebies may scare the kids because of her disability?

'I didn't want to let my children watch the filler bits on The Bedtime Hour last night because I know it would have played on my eldest daughter's mind and possibly caused sleep problems. And yes, this is a serious post.'

Some even accused the BBC of hiring Miss Burnell, 29, because of 'political correctness' and solely to meet employment quotas.

One notice board comment read: 'What is scary is the BBC's determination to show " minorities" on CBeebies at every available opportunity!

I don't know what disturbs me more about this story: the outright prejudice directed towards this woman because of her disability or the fact that so many of these parents find it so difficult to have an honest conversation with their children about the human body and other people who are different from them. And before you dismiss them as a bunch of uptight Brits ask yourself this question: were we Americans any less hysterical when Janet Jackson's dirty, dirty tittie flopped out during her Super Bowl halftime show a few years back? We as a society need Tyler Durden and his penis pictures now more than ever before.

Picture Of The Day

This little guy is trippy:

A bizarre deep-water fish called the barreleye has a transparent head and tubular eyes. Since the fish's discovery in 1939, biologists have known the eyes were very good at collecting light. But their shape seemed to leave the fish with tunnel vision.

Now scientists say the eyes rotate, allowing the barreleye to see directly forward or look upward through its transparent head.
I would assume that Superman can do this as well but for very different reasons. I've said it before: nature is so cool.

President Obama's Address To Congress

President Barack Obama gave a non-State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress last night, predominantly about the current economic status of our country. I thought it was a good speech overall that walked a fine line between discussing difficult truths and cautious optimism. He called upon Washington politicians and the American people alike to embrace shared sacrifices and costly new programs to improve health care, schools and the environment. You can watch the speech below or you can read a full transcript here:

One of the most striking aspects of the speech of course was how weird it felt to have our president talk to us as if we are all intelligent, responsible adults rather than scolding us like insolent children. Republican governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal's rebuttal on behalf of his party was significantly less impressive. I got the feeling that he was trying to strike a conversational tone but in the end he just came off as if he was reading a storybook full of the same, tired Republican talking points to an elementary school class. One of my regular readers has posted a video that makes the point much better than my own description. If this guy is supposed to be one of their new up and comers he's really going to need to work on his message and oration a bit but in his defense an Obama speech is a tough act for anyone to follow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tyler Durden Ruins Ferrell's Broadway Show

As if interrupting the Super Bowl wasn't bad enough Tyler is now trying his hand at stagecraft:

So far six audience members have stormed out midperformance of the Broadway show "You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush," the comedian Will Ferrell's lampooning of the 43rd president, according to those keeping count at the Cort Theater. But they haven't been leaving after a particular Ferrell quip.

They've been standing up, instead, after the projection of a supersize photo on the backdrop of the stage. A photo of a penis. Specifically, as Mr. Ferrell (who plays President Bush) leads the audience to believe, the president's penis. Except that's not quite right.

"It's an anonymous but age-appropriate public domain Internet penis," said Adam McKay, the play's director. "We went on the Web and got a penis."

My favorite part of the relevant scene in Fight Club was when the little girl started crying because she had subliminally seen the picture of a man's penis onscreen. Americans' hang ups about sex and nudity really crack me up.

Back To The Future Alternate Ending

If you're like me you probably haven't seen this alternate ending to Back to the Future until now:

This is why I am an advocate for requiring senior citizens to take regular driving tests after a certain age. How many more starships can we afford to lose?

I Love The Japanese

And they definitely know what they like as well. They're so weirdly random and predictable at the same time. You can check out other posts on this theme here, here, here, and here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Internet: An Observation

This little blog of mine usually averages about 50 hits a day between the regular readers and random Internet traffic but over the past three days that meager traffic has doubled and today will likely triple or more because of the image above. For some reason people have been coming here in relative droves for this picture of Vince the Shamwow guy. Yesterday if you looked for "Shamwow" in Google images it was the second image to come up; today it is the first. A few days ago I figured that someone had linked to my previous post using the picture but now I think that there are just that many people looking for an image of this weirdo and that mine has become a popular one. I know that this is all done using mathematics and algorithms and stuff like that but I just found it interesting, like having a digital finger on the insipid, invisible pulse of pop culture.

[Update: So it appears that someone at StumbleUpon has added my original Shamwow post to their celebrities topic, giving this site almost 800 over 1000 hits so far today. This is the second time one of my posts has been added to their site, the first being about the NOT Sarah Palin inflatable love doll. Amazing what people find entertaining, huh?]

Obama Collector Coins A Scam: No Shit?

Man, collectible coins and plates always seemed like such a great investment. Oh, wait:

You may have seen the commercial where Montel Williams hawks some goofy collectible coins with President Obama's face IN FULL COLOR OMG. If you were planning on ordering some, though, watch this video from KATU 2 TV in Portland, Oregon first.* A father and daughter bought the coins and discovered that they're just regular money with color stickers applied. One of the news anchors even comments that she could see the face on the coin through the sticker when she looked at it from the side.

The company that's scamming them, U.S. Coin Network (uscoinnetwork.com and obamacoincollection.com), won't let them cancel the remaining orders they placed that haven't shipped yet, either.

I'm all for hope and change and even blatant capitalism during an Obama administration but seriously: if you buy something this stupid from a late-night infomercial you deserve to be screwed, and I don't foresee any government bailouts on the horizon for your dumb ass either.

Alan Keyes: Right Wing Nutball

If you don't know anything about Alan Keyes here are the pertinent facts: he has run for president three times (unsuccessfully, obviously), he has run for the US Senate three times (unsuccessfully, although probably not as obviously), in 2005 his daughter Maya came out as a lesbian and said this to a D.C. news publication in response to rumors that her father had cut her off financially and that she was now homeless as a result:

"It doesn't make much sense for him to be [financially] supporting someone who is working against what he believes in...Technically speaking, I don't have anywhere to go. I have lots of friends and I could probably go crash with them. I'm going back to Chicago and I'm not really sure what I'm going to do when I get there. I have no place to live there, but there have been people offering to help me find housing, offering to let me stay with them for a little while until I figure things out. I don't have an official place to live but I really doubt that I will be spending much time wandering the sidewalks."
He's also one of about three black men who are still members of the Republican party (the other two being Michael Steele and Larry Elder) and he lost an Illinois Senate election to Barack Obama, so of course we should believe everything the guy says, no matter how shithouse crazy it is, right?:

Decide for yourselves:
Yes, this is the face of the modern Republican party. It would be a bit funnier if it weren't so tragic, huh?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Finishing Timequake

No time for any more blogging today. I need to finish reading Timequake, written by one of my absolute favorite authors Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., before my book club meeting tonight. Also need to clean up my place and buy some wine before everyone arrives this evening so I'll talk to you again tomorrow. If I have time I'll try to write up a review of the book to post here soon.

Picture Of The Day

Pavement art by Julian Beever.

The Crisis Of Credit Visualized

This video has been floating around the Internets lately and I think that it's one of the best and clearest explanations for the economic mess we currently find ourselves in:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Guy Loses Finger To Neodymium Magnets

I've posted about bodily implanted magnets, ferrofluids and even magnetic duct tape before but I had never heard of neodymium magnets until I read this story:

Dirk had an accident. It took 1 1/2 hours of surgery to remove the shattered bones and repair the damage. Medically speaking, he crushed his right index finger distal phalange. The magnets had a 50 cm (20 inch) separation when they decided to fly together.

He is lucky that he only lost a finger tip as opposed to his whole hand. The block Neo below is about 4" by 2" by 2" N45 with a pull force of around 700 lbs (320 kg). The disk is about 3" dia. by 2 1/2" thick N45 with a pull force of about 400 lbs (180 kg). That is his fingernail and some of his finger tip caught between the magnets.

You can view some of the more gruesome photos of his crushed digit at the link. While they didn't exactly destroy his entire finger I'm sure it was still painful as hell. These things are incredibly powerful. If any of you have a nemesis slapping some of these magnets onto the hood of their car would be a pretty cruel but funny joke. Just don't tell them where you got the idea; I love my ride.

[Update: Some follow up photos show that he bounced back just fine. Good for him.]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Brain Rage Is One Year Old Today

Crap, I almost forgot about it. My Sitemeter counter went live on leap day last year but I actually put up this inaugural post one year ago today. Wow. I could probably have written an entire novel with all the time I've spent working on this site but I have a feeling that the same handful of people would still be the only ones who would read it. Thanks again to everyone who wastes time here (and no, I didn't have a cake made; it's just been altered digitally).

Toning Down The Oscars

I was just watching FOX News and saw a somewhat snarky story on how the Oscar broadcast and celebrations are going to be toned down this year because the organizers think that some of the past traditions might not be appropriate given the economic downturn the country has experienced. Now I know that FOX is just broadcasting this story to try to make "liberal Hollywood" look bad but I have to say that I agree with the basic sentiment this time.

Full disclosure: I can't stand awards shows and I never watch them of my own volition. I think that they are self-important egofests thrown by beautiful people who have much more money than most people ever will and are treated like royalty where ever they go. Plus I figure that if anything of note happens I can always catch it online. I made Oscar picks in the first weeks of this blog last year but have decided against it this time and instead will link to Nate Silver's predictions for New York magazine. This guy nailed almost every race in the last election with his statistical analysis and I have more confidence in his numbers than I do my own poorly educated guesses about films I haven't seen.

But what really made me shake my head was when the cute little Hollywood reporter started listing off the ways in which the spectacle will be toned down. A designer who usually displays a different pair of million dollar shoes each year has decided against it this time around. Jewelers are still lending out millions of dollars in jewelry but apparently the stars won't be tossing off the price tags to reporters and expensive colored stones will be favored in lieu of diamonds. And best of all: the famous Governor's Ball afterparty will be cutting back on the number of courses they serve.

Really? This is how Hollywood is going to show the nation that they identify with the rest of America? "Yeah, we'll still be wearing obscenely expensive clothes but no more seven figure shoes: that's a little too ostentatious. And yes, we'll still cover ourselves in precious stones but not too many and not too precious. Gotta play down the excess. And of course we'll be fazing out the sorbet between the antipasto and the fish course because this is serious and people are hungry out there." Two seconds of searching led me to Wolfgang Puck's supposedly scaled-back menu for this thing. Do you know how few Americans will ever be able to afford Kobe beef, black truffles, Maine lobster and caviar? And this is the toned down version of last year's blowout.

I don't mean to sound like a populist asshole here but if you want to do something meaningful cancel the lavish afterparty and donate the money saved to an inner city food bank or something else substantial like that, but please just stop insulting us with this symbolic, "feel your pain" p.r. bullshit while you celebrate your own accomplishments and greatness and the rest of us just watch. Enjoy the Academy Awards this weekend everybody!

Sushi You Can Believe In

This Barack Obama sushi looks about as appetizing as you would expect food that looks like a guy's face to be:

This Japanese sushi chef has developed a fantastic Obama sushi: "Obama's skin is Amis (small shrimp) TSUKUDA煮use. 髪は黒ゴマで、歯はかまぼこ。 Hair is black sesame, fish paste teeth."
And no, I have no idea what some of that says.

The People vs. George Lucas Trailer

Yeah, it's been a little Star Wars heavy lately but I just post this stuff as it comes to me:

Slated for release in 2010, 'The People vs George Lucas' delves into the impassioned feelings and opinions expressed by fans and foes of legendary screen icon George Lucas, and the many debates surrounding his legacy.
Here's the trailer:

I wouldn't say that he raped my childhood exactly but I'm fairly certain that there was some inappropriate touching while Jar Jar Binks watched.

[Update: For no good reason whatsoever here's a bonus video of a guy's cabinet door that sounds exactly like Chewbacca. If you close your eyes you can imagine him arguing with you about locking in the auxiliary power:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

History Will Not Be Kind

Andrew Sullivan wrote an incisive post today on the accepted use of torture by our government and how we as a culture define the word:

Almost any coercive act sustained long enough against a person in captivity can become torture. Think of how we understand the drip-drip-drip of the "Chinese water torture" to be torture. It's not even, as the former vice-president would say, a splash of water on the face. It's a mere drip. But even a drip, sustained long and relentlessly enough, can break a human being. The test for torture is not whether it leaves brutal physical marks or not (that was the Gestapo standard). The test for torture is whether it is of sufficient immediate or cumulative force to rob the capacity of a human being to say voluntarily what he or she knows to be true. It is the imposition of sufficient coercion to destroy an individual's ability to resist giving some kind of answer, true or false, or some unknowable, random blend of the two.
He also discusses how the right's use of colorful metaphors to describe one of the most inhuman of activities is reminiscent of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. It's a great post and I encourage everyone here to read the entire thing.

But what I wanted to address is Sullivan's reference to the ubiquitous "ticking time bomb" scenario espoused by Republicans as an excuse to torture another human being. You've probably all heard it by now: we have a terrorist in government custody who has information about a nuclear bomb set to explode in a major American city sometime in the immediate future and we need to do everything we can to get that information out of him before the bomb goes off. Now setting aside the fact that torture has been proven to be an unreliable method of gathering truthful intelligence, when has this scenario ever even come close to happening in all of human history?

Now I'm not saying that Al Qaeda isn't going to try to attack us again or that we'll never catch some of them in the process but let's be realistic about our chances here. Whether you agree or not with Dick Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine", at least those are sufficient odds of a credible threat. Do you know what the odds are of a terrorist organization getting ahold of a working and sufficiently transportable nuclear device and of them smuggling that device into this country and of our learning about the plot ahead of time and of our capturing someone who we know has direct knowledge of the plot right before the bomb is about to explode? They're by all credible accounts astronomical anywhere outside of an episode of 24.

If we're going to treat that scenario with such a high level of validity then why haven't we begun working on a space defense system capable of spotting and destroying any renegade asteroids over a certain size crossing orbits with the Earth? The odds of being hit by one of these massive rocks are probably just as high as the scenario above while the consequences to our planet would be far more devastating than the destruction of one American city by many orders of magnitude. You can try explaining this to the next right-winger you talk to who spits out this whole time bomb story but don't be surprised when his fingers go straight into his ears and he starts singing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" at the top of his lungs to drown you out. For these guys, fear usually trumps logic.

Michelle Bachmann: Losing Her Census

On Countdown last night Keith Olbermann explored the labyrinthine corridors that compose the staggering intelligence that is Republican Representative Michelle Bachmann's quivering brain-like organ:

President Obama Opposes The Fairness Doctrine

I said back in November that the Republican paranoia was ill-founded:

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOXNews.com.

Can we stop having this stupid conversation now? But of course we know that this will do very little to quell the incessant mewling of the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world, don't we?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Simpsons Opening

Sorry it took me so long to come across this new HD opening sequence for the Simpsons. I unknowingly flipped past it on my DVR last week:

Stimulus Bill Writing Chimp Or Racist Cartoon?

I'm really having trouble understanding how this is funny:

The cartoon in Wednesday's edition of the tabloid New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, links two prominent US news stories – controversy over Mr Obama's economic stimulus proposals and a recent incident in which Connecticut police had to shoot dead a pet chimp that went berserk and mauled a woman.

In the cartoon, drawn by Sean Delonas, a regular Post cartoonist, two officers are staring gloomily at the blood spattered chimp's corpse after one of them has shot it.

"They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," says the other officer.

The cartoon drew immediate criticism from Al Sharpton, the black activist and community leader.

In a statement, Mr Sharpton said the cartoon was "troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys".

He said that it could be asked whether the cartoonist was "making a less than casual reference to this" and could be "inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill".

So a monkey wrote the bill? That's the joke? That's terrible. But if that's not the joke then what else could this cartoon possibly mean other than that those who wrote the bill (Democrats) are monkeys themselves. And if that's the point of your cartoon, you must know that a black man is the new leader of that party and if that's true then your are either racially tone deaf or a flat out racist. Am I missing something here?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Down With The Sickness

The posts may be a little sparse for a while as I have been laid low by the common cold. What's up with all the cold, rainy weather? I didn't move to California for this.

X Men Origins: Wolverine TV Spot #1

I love origin stories. Bring the bone claws, baby:

[Update: Wow, removed already?]

Underground Time Capsule

Why didn't they have cool toys like this when I was a kid?:

All kids like burying things, especially if they have the option of digging said things up later. That's why this Underground Time Capsule is so great. Not only is it designed to go underground and hide precious objects for later retrieval, but it makes the whole process easier by having a screw-on rock at the top, allowing you to add new items without digging it up.
When I was about fifteen I read a National Geographic article about a time capsule that a New England man found in his home that had been passed down for several generations within his family. MRI scans revealed several artifacts that appeared to have been gathered from George Washington's first presidential inauguration in 1789 but upon finally opening the wooden box it was revealed that the items were collected from the celebration of the 100th anniversary of his inauguration in 1889, still quite interesting and historically valuable nonetheless.

After reading that article I was determined that I too was going to build my own time capsule, not to mark any one historical event but rather just as something to send to my future self; some pre-planned nostalgia if you will. So I gathered together many different articles that would fit into the shoe box I was using as my capsule (yes, I went high-tech): a newspaper, a few magazines, toys, coins and bills, and many other things I've long since forgotten about but basically anything I thought might be cool to look at after a long day of driving my flying car around. I then wrapped the box in several layers of heavy paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil (was I planning ahead for water or microwave radiation? I have no idea) and then encased the entire thing in many layers of heavy duty duct tape with a large label reading "Open in 2020".

And now it's sitting on the top shelf of one of my closets upstairs as I type this, waiting for the day that I planned as its grand opening. I sealed it in the summer of 1989 and chose the year 2020 as that opening day, partly because it seemed a long way off and partly because it's a round number that sounded really futuristic at the time. But now I'm faced with a quandary: it's been almost twenty years since I sealed the box up and I only have another decade before the opening date but the sealing up process is still relatively sharp in my memory, so I'm considering moving the date back a decade or so or even encasing it in a more durable container and passing it on to family to be opened after an entire century and my own death have long since passed. Of course, if I lived to be 115 and was able to open it then that would be the shit but with my diet and drinking habits I'm not betting on clearing a century. So, what do you think I should do? Any thoughts or ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Something Treasonous Someone Else Said

"I want everything he's doing to fail... I want the stimulus package to fail.... I do not want this to succeed." -Rush Limbaugh, on President Obama and the new economic stimulus package

As we've recently seen, Limbaugh and the Republicans have obviously decided to put party and ideology well before country and reality, so much so that they are now at the point of rooting against the economic recovery of the United States of America unless it happens under their watch and by their rules. This is rank, callous partisanship and it's tearing our country apart. Anyone who claims that they're just standing behind what they believe at this point is either a complete moron or a fucking liar.

(via The Daily Dish)

The GOP Problem Solver

If their world-view included any semblance of honesty or nuance then perhaps it would be harder to write a computer program that exactly mimics their prescription for every problem under the sun but as things stand I'm afraid that this is the only recourse they have available to them. Sad.

Triumph And The Star Wars Nerds Classic

This video of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog rightfully taunting the assorted nerds and geeks who dressed up for the premiere of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones is comedy gold... for me to poop on:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cartoon Of The Day

Um, kettle? This is pot: you're black.

Star Wars Lines Substituting The Word "Pants"

This has been around for a while but since this is the first time I've seen it, it will be posted. Star Wars lines made better by substituting the word "pants". The most popular lines follow:

  • I find your lack of pants disturbing.
  • You are unwise to lower your pants.
  • Your pants, you will not need them.
  • Chewie and me got into a lot of pants more heavily guarded than this.
  • The Force is strong in my pants.
  • I cannot teach him. The boy has no pants.
  • You came in those pants? You're braver than I thought.
  • In his pants you will find a new definition of pain and suffering
  • Governer Tarkin. I should have expected to find you holding Vader's pants.
  • I think you just can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your pants.
  • Pull up! All pants pull up!
  • A disturbance in the pants. I have not felt this since near my old master...
  • I sense the conflict within you. Let go of your pants!
  • That blast came from the pants! That thing's operational!
  • He has no time for smugglers who drop their pants first sign of Imperials
  • I've just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of our pants forever
  • Alderan is peaceful, we have no pants!
  • These aren't the pants you're looking for.
  • Looks like someone's beginning to take an interest in your pants.
  • The pants will be down in moments, sir, you can begin your landing.
The entire list can be viewed here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Picture Of The Day

Graffiti that only makes sense at night.

Magnetic Duct Tape

Bet you thought duct tape was as cool as it was ever going to get, huh? Think again:

It couldn't be any easier or more versatile: Just stick a few centimetres of the 19mm (3⁄4") wide patented magnetic tape to the back of your photos, posters, calendars, etc. and a matching piece on the wall, the sloped ceiling, the fridge door, office cupboard, memo board, etc. The tape strips will stick to each other magnetically. And can be just as easily taken off again. Unlike conventional removable adhesive tape, you can use this tape again and again. Ideal, for example, if you need to reposition plans and maps several times.
Ladies, if you're gonna get your man something for Valentine's Day, this is it.

Happy Valentine's Day

I'm off the hook this year. Feel free to give your hard earned dollars to flower shops, teddy bear manufactures and diamond companies. Is that stimulus kicking in yet?

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Is Why You're Fat

Because you know you want to try the Turbaconucken, a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, all wrapped in bacon. OK, the bacon wrapping is getting almost pornographic at this point. You can check out the other heart damaging, culinary abortions here.

(via Geekologie)

Picture Of The Day

Yes, that's actually his leg and yes, it does appear to be broken:

Just two fights into the UFC Fight for the Troops benefit show on Wednesday night in Fayetteville, N.C., and the show quickly took a downhill turn.

After Justin McCully opened the show by rebounding from a UFC 86 loss to Gabriel Gonzaga, by decisioning Eddie Sanchez, Dale Hartt nabbed his first win in the Octagon. Winning the way that he did, however, probably couldn't have been any worse for Hartt, unless he was his opponent, Corey Hill.

MMAWeekly.com had Hill winning the opening round of the fight. But during the second stanza, Hill threw a leg kick that Hartt checked with his shin. As Hartt checked the kick, Hill's leg broke in a rather grotesque manner, leaving the crowd in a stunned silence as Hill crumbled to the mat.
Damn. I don't think Mr. Miyagi would be able to rub his hands together fast enough to fix this one.

Doughnut-Shaped Universe Model

Some readers might remember my post from last year in which I accused Stephen Hawking and other physicists of stealing Homer Simpson's idea of a doughnut-shaped universe. Well, it appears that the idea has caught on and now they've designed a fairly sharp looking scale model:

At first, this polished object looks like an ordinary ring. But it's much more than that. This is a model of the universe, which, according to one increasingly popular theory, is not flat, circular, spherical or saddle-shaped, but more like a "3-torus," or doughnut shape. It's also a whole lot bigger then you may have imagined.

Look closer, and you'll notice a minuscule speck on this model. It looks like a tiny flaw at first, but upon closer inspection, you'll see it's a precise wine glass shape. That's us. The tiny area depicts the known universe, showing a timeline of its entire life, from the Big Bang starting at the glass's stem, expanding to where we live today.

Feeling tiny and insignificant yet? I thought I smelled doughnuts.

Condition 1 Cold

I love living in California:

So PK: where's my hit from Antarctica?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The American Anathema To Pork

Some porcine points from a liberal Washington insider:

The conservative blogosphere today is up in arms over some video of Sen. Chuck Schumer discussing American attitudes towards pork.

I think this is once again conservatives believing that conservative media is some kind of serious proxy for what Americans actually think. It isn’t. They convinced themselves that they lost in 2006 and 2008 due to pork, and that’s just ludicrous. They lost because of war and the economy.

People don’t like the government to overspend, they hate stories about $100 dollar hammers and the like. But at the end of the day people send their representatives to Washington to stand up for their home state and district in much of the government’s appropriations process. Show me a pol who doesn’t bring home “pork” and I’ll show you a pol whose seat is in danger.

Is that a license for politicians to spend the public money like the proverbial drunken sailor? Of course not. But the largest democracy also can’t seriously act like the skinflint conservative mythology has built up.

I detest waste, fraud, and abuse from the government - but lets not pretend that for the American people that “pork” is held with the same disgust that misguided war, corporate malfeasance, economic collapse, or careless leadership is.

I know its futile trying to get conservatives to think about these issues in any way more complex than “government = bad” but try for once in your lives.

This is a problem endemic to both sides of the political spectrum and it deserves a bi-partisan solution. Bills that enable large spending surpluses without responsibly allocating the money for necessary projects are simply irresponsible and the practice needs to end but unfortunately the only ones with the power to do so are also the same people who profit the most from the waste. These are the consequences we incur by allowing American citizens to become entrenched career politicians.

Estimate The Value Of Your Blog

Stimator is a website that will estimate the value of your blog or other website using an algorithm involving web recognition, linking and other criteria. According to their site Brain Rage is worth $713 American; that works out to about two bucks a day since I started writing last year. I suppose that I could increase my value by linking to more sites and basically whoring myself out on other comment threads but I've not done so thus far because I just really haven't cared enough to bother. Besides, I find the notion of my own unique genius not being recognized until after my death kind of romantic, if not entirely economically savvy.

Picture Of The Day

This picture has not been photoshopped:

The cheap CMOS sensor of an iPhone does not expose the whole thing at once, it scans from left to right. If you take a picture of something that moves very fast (like an airplane prop) you can get some crazy pictures out of it since each column represents a slightly different time.

The Immaculate Prosthetic Concept Limb

So I'm sure you all remember the bionic contact lenses and the implantable cell phone I've yearned for in the past, and of course I would never willingly give up one of my own limbs for one that was artificial but if the need did arise, this would be the kind of kick-ass appendage I would love to attach to myself:

We never thought it would it come to this, but damn if that image above doesn't make the idea of having a prosthetic limb attractive. A pang first felt at the sight of Oscar Pistorius' Cheetah prosthetics is now fully engorged with visions of reckless play around farm equipment. The concept "immaculate" from Hans Alexander Huseklepp explores the idea of turning a handicap into a high-performance, cybernetic fashion statement. The neurological prosthetic is clad in technology-packed corian plates with dome-joints that offer a larger degree of freedom than that motherly-issued arm of yours. So enough with the flesh-colored plastics already, this is the biomechatronic future of the proud naturoid we'd like to see.
Goddamn, this kind of stuff excites me! I know, I know, it's quite a ways off, but wow. Really, really cool. You can read my take on Pistorius' prosthetics here and you can view the concept limb sans model below:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Death Of Print Journalism

I was watching The Daily Show the other day and Jon Stewart was interviewing Walter Isaacson about his Time magazine cover story "How to Save Your Newspaper". I found myself intermittently agreeing and disagreeing with what Isaacson was proposing but it was this statement towards the end of the interview that really caught my ear:

If we had been getting our news for the past four hundred years from guys sort of talking on some electronic box or on some computer and somebody finally said, "Hey, I can take all of that, I can put it on paper, I'll deliver it to your doorstep, you can bring it to the backyard or the bathtub or the bus," you'd say, "Wow, this paper, that's a great technology. That's going to replace TV and the Internet".
Yes, he actually said that. Apparently Isaacson believes that print and digital media are fairly comparable to each other on most levels of information relevance and dissemination, and that it was just by an odd quirk of fate that paper happened to come along before computers. Can you guess which one of these industries he's been working in for the past few decades? This guy sounds like an ink-stained dinosaur.

Isaacson's problem with the Internet is that there is too much free content out there that he thinks publications and journalists should be charging for, even if the charge is to only be a tiny one. His plan for doing this is to institute a system of electronic micropayments:
A person who wants one day's edition of a newspaper or is enticed by a link to an interesting article is rarely going to go through the cost and hassle of signing up for a subscription under today's clunky payment systems. The key to attracting online revenue, I think, is to come up with an iTunes-easy method of micropayment. We need something like digital coins or an E-ZPass digital wallet — a one-click system with a really simple interface that will permit impulse purchases of a newspaper, magazine, article, blog or video for a penny, nickel, dime or whatever the creator chooses to charge.
He goes on to admit that many similar payment systems have been tried and failed in the past but he believes that the necessity of saving the news media at this precarious point in its history will inspire a workable system. I applaud his intentions as I too enjoy and greatly benefit from good journalism but I fear that he is either naive, ignorant or both.

It's understandable that Isaacson and his brethren in the print media would want to continue to profit from their work as they have in the past but that option just might not be in the cards anymore. The limits and boundaries of intellectual property rights are constantly being tested by the culture of sharing on the Internet and the explosion of new technologies that has allowed this culture to flourish, and I suspect that many in the print media are very reluctant to accept this paradigm shift within their industry despite overwhelming evidence that it is indeed gasping for air. Personally, I don't think print media will die altogether but it will wither and shrink considerably over the next few decades, and it will have to make some major changes to both its business model and its reportage if it expects to stay relevant in a digitized 21st century.

5 Minutes With Bill Burr

If you've never seen him before Burr was the Howdy-Doody looking white guy from Chappelle's Show; he's also extremely bitter and equally as funny. I suspect that the reason I laugh so hard at these relationship jokes is also one of the reasons I haven't gotten married yet:

Presidential Motorcade Black Trucks

I posted about President Obama's rocket-proof presidential car last month but I had no idea that the trucks that accompany it were so lethally bad-ass:

Have you ever wondered what all those extra SUVs are in the Presidential or VIP motorcades? The ones with blacked out windows that no one gets in or out of. No, they’re not just filled with secret service or hangers on. Well, that’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story. They also have a 6-barreled 7.62mm mini gun. It can fire over 4,000 rounds per minute, and when in operation the wipers need to be run to remove spent casings.
I would guess that the video below might deter most future shoe throwers from going after Obama as long as he has these beasts following him around:

Countries That Don't Use The Metric System

That's right: Liberia, Burma and the United States of America. Fine company we find ourselves in, no? The last industrialized Western nation to switch over was Canada and even that was almost four decades ago. Maybe President Obama can rub some change on this problem as well, but I'm not holding my breath: when it comes to this simple and practical issue we Americans are extremely stubborn, to the point of actually taking pride in the fact that we're being so different and non-conformist by not adopting the system used by the rest of the civilized world.

Remember that satellite we crashed into Mars a decade ago? It burned up in the planets atmosphere because one of NASA's subcontractors used the wrong units in their thruster software and it cost us over $327 million. Remember the national outcry by the American people to finally officially switch over to the metric system to avoid massive fuck ups just like that one? Neither do I. Ask the average American how many kilometers there are in 100 miles and they'll stare at you blankly. It's embarrassing, and it's what Obama is talking about when he says he wants to return science to the White House (but as I said, I'm not holding my breath on this particular issue) and one of my great hopes is that he'll be the leader who makes smart cool again. Dumb has had a free ride in this country for way too long.

[Update: I just ran across this new rule from Bill Maher that puts our national anathema to the metric system into better perspective:

[Update II: Forget it, we've lost. M. Lavinashree will own us all soon.]