Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spoiler Alert

You people know who you are. Keep it to yourselves because they're always watching (but not listening, of course):


Protesting One Third Of The Axis

The Daily Dish points to a new dispatch up at the pro-Iranian protester site Tehran Dispatch:

I remember September 11, 2001. I remember watching TV all day worried and sad. I remember holding candlelight vigils with my friends for the victims. Then George W. Bush went on to declare us as one of the “Axis of Evil.” I remember asking myself, “Why?” Not a single one of the terrorists was Iranian, and I wondered why he didn’t bother to make a distinction between the government and the people. In fact, in all of the Middle East I don’t think there is a more pro-American nation than Iran, but no one made such a distinction. Consequently, the Iranian people were viewed with an aura of suspicion in every airport and embassy around the world for the rest of the Bush administration.

But all of that unfounded negative stereotyping came to an end when, in the aftermath of the elections, the nation stood up to the manipulative authorities and separated its account from that of the government. We shattered the stereotype with the amateur photos and videos taken with our own mobile phones. We captured the true picture of the Iranian nation and relayed it to the world, a picture of a young and highly educated nation yearning to be free.

George W. Bush's view of foreign policy was as simplistic as it was short-sighted. His shoot from the hip, "You're either with us or against us" reactionary statements made great soundbites for your average puffed-chest American jingoist but they also played right into the rhetorical hands of our savvier enemies. Bush saw change through an authoritarian lens, believing that the only way democracy could be spread was to have it imposed upon a resistant populace by a superior military force. President Obama has obviously and correctly taken a more measured, long-term approach to the current situation in Iran despite the growing cacophony from his critics on the right. He more than any other U.S. president in recent history understands the power of grassroots movements, of people standing up and demanding the change that they desire rather than being told what that change should be and how to achieve it.

And what would these hysterical chicken-hawks on the right have him do anyway? Sanction Iran even more? That's impossible, as we completely cut them off economically decades ago. Send in diplomatic officials or even U.S. troops to try to oversee the recount process and quell the violence against the protesters? That's naive, as such a move would just validate Ahmadinejad's thus far false claims of U.S. interference and after spending years in Iraq and Afghanistan we have nowhere near the number of troops necessary to do so with any effectiveness. Just go with the old standby plan for Middle Eastern countries and drop some bombs on their heads? That's supremely ironic, as the neoconservatives who are now upbraiding him for his supposed inaction in helping the protesters were the same people relentlessly calling for Bush to do just that to these same Iranian citizens before he left office last year.

Obama's wait and see attitude is just the right posture to take at this time in the face of Iranian uncertainty. The major players on both sides of this current situation were the same instigators of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and both sides are now using the same tactics from that same play book, and they both know this very well. It is a waiting game at this point and the worst thing the United States could do would be for our president to cockily swagger into the middle of this delicate detente and destabilize the situation without having any clue as to what kind of damage that would cause to either side. Obama knows this and it is his patience and even-handedness that we as a nation should be emulating at this moment. The era of cowboy diplomacy for the United States is now thankfully at an end, and in my opinion not a minute too soon.

Michael Jackson: Smooth Criminal, Inventor

I always knew that the guy was multi-talented but this is one multi I just learned about:

As we mourn the loss of spectacular dancer, frenetic and staccato singer, and professional weirdo Michael Jackson, the gadget world reminisces about a patent Jackson filed in 1993. Remember that supernatural, gravity-defying 45-degree lean Jackson performed with his troupe of dancers on "Smooth Criminal"? Jackson used wires and harnesses in the 1988 music video, but that wasn't possible when he performed the trick live in 1992.

He did it with special shoes that quickly slid into pegs that rise out of the floor at just the right moment. Also helping the effect were rigid anklets that worked like ski boots, supporting Jackson and his entourage of dancers as they leaned forward at that magic angle.

Since I haven't posted any of his stuff since his death here's the video of that performance. Notice the guy on the right having a bit of trouble extricating himself from the paraphernalia after they complete the lean:


American Power Powers Down

My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power has apparently laid down his guns as far as our latest blog feud is concerned and I've decided to follow suit. As such, I'd like to offer the following apology: I'm sorry. No, I'm not sorry for anything I said to Don or about Sarah Palin or even about any of the photoshopped images I've created over the past few days. I said what I felt had to be said in the face of his lies and personal attacks and I appreciate the solidarity of everyone who had my back when things started to get really vicious.

The apology I'd like to offer is to say that I'm sorry to the readers of this site. This latest rhetorical scuffle between Don and myself was mean and it was ugly and I'm sure that it was hard to read about at times. I'll admit that I wrote some fairly unfriendly words in the course of things but I still feel justified in the stance that I took and I still stand behind every word that I wrote. I realize that by this point in my life I should be able to resist getting dragged down into the gutter by someone with Don's level of intellectual dishonesty in the blogger world but for as long as I can remember I've always had a problem backing down from an argument when I've known that I was on the right side of it.

For those who are interested you can read Don's final indignant words to me and my admittedly long winded reply in this comment section. I've decided to take a break from his site for a while, partly to focus on some more positive and uplifting subjects and partly to test out the veracity of this statement that is not original to just myself:

Without commenters like myself and repsac3 and all of the other "radical, godless nihilists" stating actual opposition to the things you write your comment sections have digital tumbleweeds rolling through them with occasional "Great post, Donald!"s echoing off the walls.
While I do like to stir shit up over at his site it's become quite obvious that the comments left by myself and others with political views similar to my own are really what drive the conflict and discord that Don's conservative readers seem to thrive on. True, there are a few level-headed Republicans to be found amongst the frothing masses but experience taught me long ago that trying to engage most of his readers civilly is an exercise in futility. And since his last post concerning the Palin photoshopping story, the only post to garner more than two comments is a round up of "leftist" reactions to the recent Supreme Court overturn of the Ricci case decided by President Obama's nominee to that court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It seems that his acolytes were quite happy to swarm all over that one, if only to agree with Don and each other whilst getting their partisan jabs in.

So, it's time here to regroup, recharge and reassess what's going on in the world and why some of those events are important/interesting enough to post and discuss in this forum. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and read Brain Rage. I always appreciate it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Picture Of The Day

The quick lens of U.S. Navy sonar technician Ronald Dejarnett was able to capture this Air Force F-22 going supersonic over the Gulf of Alaska as the pilot did his best Top Gun flyby impression. [U.S. Navy]


Comic Knowledge: It's Important!

It appears that life also imitates comic art. I understand the need to be vigilant as it pertains to the possibility of domestic terrorism but this seems like overkill to me:

Comics writer Mark Sable was detained and intensively questioned by the TSA for carrying a script for an upcoming comic book about a writer who is detained and intensively questioned by the TSA for writing a comic about terrorism.
"Flying from Los Angeles to New York for a signing at Jim Hanley's Universe Wednesday (May 13th), I was flagged at the gate for 'extra screening'. I was subjected to not one, but two invasive searches of my person and belongings. TSA agents then 'discovered' the script for Unthinkable #3. They sat and read the script while I stood there, without any personal items, identification or ticket, which had all been confiscated.

"The minute I saw the faces of the agents, I knew I was in trouble. The first page of the Unthinkable script mentioned 9/11, terror plots, and the fact that the (fictional) world had become a police state. The TSA agents then proceeded to interrogate me, having a hard time understanding that a comic book could be about anything other than superheroes, let alone that anyone actually wrote scripts for comics.

"I cooperated politely and tried to explain to them the irony of the situation. While Unthinkable blurs the line between fiction and reality, the story is based on a real-life government think tank where a writer was tasked to design worst-case terror scenarios. The fictional story of Unthinkable unfolds when the writer's scenarios come true, and he becomes a suspect in the terrorist attacks.

"In the end, I feel my privacy is a small price to pay for educating the government about the medium."

These are the types of guys who stare blankly when costumed comic book heroes are referred to as "capes". Leave this type of thing to the fanboys, fellas.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

American Power And Ugly Babies

Now before anyone says anything stupid or reactionary, no: This is obviously not "a grotesque ridicule of Down Syndrome". It's merely and only a grotesque, some might even say ghoulish, ridicule of my conservative counterpart and community college poli-sci prof Donald Douglas of American Power. Perhaps others might even go so far as to characterize the little guy above as an "ugly baby" but not me, and I've gained quite a bit of notoriety for uttering my famously hypocritical statement, "There's nothing worse than an ugly baby."

Speaking of which, it seems that Don is also coincidentally talking about ugly babies in his aptly named post "Talking About Ugly Babies":

I got a longer e-mail from a reader on the debate thread at yesterday's post, "Democratic Epic Moral Fail!" This portion is the second, concluding half of the e-mail:

A commenter named ex DLB posits: "To be perfectly fair, Eddie Burke was probably just as ugly as a baby. Sorry if that upsets anyone." And JBW replies: "There's nothing worse than an ugly baby, ex DLB."

Okay ... dance around this as much as you like, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist, nor an intellectual genius to understand that Trig Palin is the baby being discussed here. It's just another of the 'nudge, nudge' comments made by these quasi intellectual, heartless, individuals whose words are used to cause as much pain as possible. No wonder the Greek root of the word "sarcasm" means "to tear the flesh." Dr. Douglas, you are right in calling them out on this, and exposing them for what they are. Their treatment of Governor Palin and her innocent children aren't their only targets, obviously. How sad when one's purpose in life is nothing more than to tear down another's reputation, and to harm them, emotionally. If this is representative of the Democratic majority, then we, as a nation, are in big, big trouble.

I sent the reader the link to another post, where "ex DLB" adds, "And Don, you were probably an ugly baby, too."

James "Barebacker" Webb is an inveterate hypocrite, as I've noted previously. And the leftists just can't get away from calling neoconservatives ugly babies! Man that is rich!
This commenter is obviously neither a rocket scientist nor an intellectual genius but more importantly they're also dead wrong. As I've stated more times than I can count in several different forums since this whole brouhaha started, I have a little sister with Down Syndrome. I love her with all my heart and would never insult her or anyone else with similar disabilities by calling them ugly. I'd say the fact that Don's reader just assumes that I'm referring to a Down's child rather than a tubby conservative talk radio host, even within the context of obviously discussing said host, says much more about their own inherent prejudices than those they're trying to impart onto me.

But wait, there's more. It seems that Don also fashions himself as some kind of pudgy, neoconservative Clint Eastwood in his ominously titled post "'You Better Watch Your Back'":
Here's the first thing out of James "Barebacker" Webb's mouth when responding to reader Rusty Walker at my post, "Democratic Values! Left-Wing Alaska Operative 'Ghoulshops' Trig Palin!".
Rusty, you look younger than 63 in your picture.

James brags at the post that "I am well into my second bottle of wine..."

That's some bottled courage for you. Well, folks know what happens to young cocky suckers like James Webb. Recall Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, "Get off my lawn." Chinese Kid: "You better watch your back"...

This is how James Webb operates. Just an ass, totally.
He then bafflingly supplements the above lines with an embedded Youtube trailer for the aforementioned movie dubbed over in Spanish. Why Spanish, you ask? While it certainly defeats the supposed purpose of complimenting the lines he'd just quoted it could be a subtle nod to the social commentary expressed in the film about the innate prejudices pertaining to race and culture that we as Americans all share as an integrated melting-pot society and our ability to overcome those prejudices through mutual respect and understanding. My opinion? Don just posts shit on his site without watching it first.

Even more baffling is Don's specific mention of my comment regarding Rusty's age in a post excoriating me. I was giving the guy a compliment: he looks pretty good for someone who's 63 years old. Fortunately Rusty is not a knee-jerk reactionary when it comes to interacting with people of different political leanings than his own and he took it as such. In fact, I'd like to post the entirety of our short exchange concerning my previous post because I feel that it exemplifies the respectful discussion of ideas I was looking for when I first went to Don's site so many months ago:
Rusty Walker said...

JBW, Okay, all due respect to my good friend Donald, I agree, I’ll give you this, it looks like Eddie Burke. And I’ll give it to him that he even thinks this is clever – I used to be a Provost a college that teaches Animation/Photoshop. So I know the ghoulish visuals students can come up with.

So, maybe he thinks this is funny. It isn’t. But, you, as a person who has a downs syndrome child in the family - I find it hard to believe that you don't think this is over the top. When Letterman went too far, he eventually apologized. It took a while, but I found that redeeming. Were the Republicans to Photoshop Obama and Michele in such a way the left would rightly be outraged (I highly disagreed with the cover issue with the Obama’s as what looked to me as Taliban, as I remember).

People sometimes put it out there in this culture looking for the cheap laugh. But, don't you think, even as a cynical-libertarian socialist, that this is a morbid path to go down, if you are trying to influence?

Or, maybe at the advanced age of 63 I am losing my sense of humor.

JBW said...

Rusty, you look younger than 63 in your picture. Please excuse the brevity of my reply as I am well into my second bottle of wine and am going to fall asleep soon.

While most on the right have seen this as a photoshop of a Down's baby, I have seen it as a photoshop of a woman holding a baby. Blue Oasis' point (whether you agree with it or not) was to portray Eddie Burke as a child in the arms of Sarah Palin. I wrote at my site, the physical or mental condition of the baby in the photo is irrelevant, the photoshop only used the relatively anonymous body of the child to portray Burke in a humorous light.

As someone with a Down's child as a beloved sibling, I see nothing wrong with this adaptation that would not be wrong with the same done with a baby of regular mental faculties. Now, whether you believe that it is right to use the beheaded infant body of a political opponent in a fundraiser graphic is a valid point, but don't tell me that you think that the intention here was to smear or make fun of a mentally-handicapped child.

Don and his sycophants are taking advantage of the fact that Trig is so handicapped to try and demonize Blue Oasis for their opposing political views. I've read your comments here before and I respect what you have to say. All I ask on this point is that you view the incident without the "poor retard" blinders I see on so many in our society.

Rusty Walker said...

Thank you for the compliment of “looking younger than 63” (the photo was taken this year). I have worked out all my life, so I take some pride in that, I suppose.

I understand the points made.

Civilized, rational discussion; a rarity at American Power, to be sure. And obviously I wasn't bragging about how much wine I had been drinking, I was just covering my ass in case I wrote something stupid while drunk at two in the morning. But I guess that's how I operate. Just an ass, totally. Don, please include another humorous photoshop in your next attack on me to compliment the one above, I worked really hard on it. Cheers.

[Update: Unbeknownst to me at the time of this posting, Don has already put up another post condemning someone else for photoshopping the above picture. I fully expect to be similarly condemned and suitably vilified shortly.]

Moonwalking Red-Capped Manakins

The recent death of Michael Jackson prompted one of my favorite bloggers to repost this impressive video of avian courtship behaviour:

Hummingbirds and rattlesnakes move parts of their bodies at amazing speeds. But male club-winged manakins -- colorful, sparrow-sized South American birds -- have them both beat, vibrating their wings at more than 100 cycles per second, twice the speed of hummingbirds. The bird uses this unprecedented feat not for fight or flight, but to impress females with its violinlike hum...

Manakins are lek-breeding birds, meaning that the males compete to mate, while the females raise the young. Since the males do not couple to raise young, a single male could inseminate all the local females. Therefore, competition for females among lek-breeding birds creates strong pressures for sexual selection.

While other birds make wing sounds -- including other types of manakins, grouse, pheasants, hummingbirds and birds of paradise -- and many of the 40 kinds of manakins have developed wing buzzes, snaps and hums, none of these sexually selected adaptations are as extreme as the club-winged manakin, Bostwick said.
You'll have to excuse the clumsy dance moves from the biologist but they're more than balanced out by the smooth moonwalking abilities of these tiny entertaining birds. He, he, he, ooo!

American Power And The Descent Into Madness

Wow, where to begin? And I don't ask that seemingly innocuous question rhetorically. I'm actually pondering exactly how I should address the latest screed belched forth from a man who nonchalantly left some fairly sane observations and comments on my site a scant eight months ago. Regular readers will of course be familiar with my recent blogging feud with one Donald Douglas, PhD from the neoconservative blog American Power. Full disclosure: I know that many of you do not read Don's blog regularly and are decidedly not political junkies of the caliber that myself and many other regular commenters on this site are, so please bear with me as I address this latest round of accusations and half truths aimed at besmirching my good name (well, as good as that name gets, anyway).

This is the exact point in one of his latest posts "Democratic Epic Moral Fail!" where he attacks me personally (Don is pushing fifty if I remember correctly, so please excuse his obvious pentagenarian attempt to sound "hip and with it" by coopting the online verbiage I used in the title of my post "American Power And Republican Humor Fail"; can one person use exclamation marks so often that they actually become a verbal and mental crutch?):

And what does Brain Rage have to say about Trig Palin? It's all at the blog:
There's nothing worse than an ugly baby....
And about Trig's mother, Governor Palin?
... an incurious dullard.
A Downs child? An "ugly baby."
Now anyone who knows me well knows that my youngest little sister has Down Syndrome. In fact, I stated as much in my post on the subject of Trig Palin's supposed "ghoulshopping", and Don has undoubtedly read and absorbed this fact as well. So now please allow me to reproduce the obvious back and forth between myself and frequent Brain Rage commenter ex DLB that Don references:
ex DLB said...To be perfectly fair, Eddie Burke was probably just as ugly as a baby.

JBW said...There's nothing worse than an ugly baby, ex DLB.
Decide for yourselves: Am I actually attacking a mentally handicapped child or am I making a somewhat dickish remark regarding right-wing radio host Eddie Burke's theoretical, tubby infantile visage? And yes it's true, I have referred to Palin in the past as an "incurious dullard" but to be fair I've also referred to George W. Bush in the same manner, and they're both supposedly rational adults who can (debatably) refute such disparaging remarks as to their mentally diminished capacities. Nevertheless, Don then continues his incoherent tirade:
Repsac3 and James "Barebacker" Webb are not some fringe contingents of the Democratic Party. These people ARE the Democratic majority. THIS IS WHAT THEY DO!!
Despite Don's breathless protestations and bold-faced capitalizations, I've stated many times on this blog that I am not a Democrat (as has repsac3 in various other forums not cited here) and I have personally taken Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to task for being spineless bureaucratic pussies countless times, but these are verifiable facts that can be researched fairly easily so Don can obviously be excused for not being bothered with them. But wait, the neocon derangement gets a whole lot more entertaining as we undauntedly press on:
Even this morning, James "Barebacker" Webb has a post up saying it's all a joke, and that American Power has suffered a "Humor Fail."

Actually, the post in question
wasn't comedy. My parody was only half in jest, as anyone familiar with the left's secular demonology knows.

Besides, we can just appeal to the marketplace of ideas to see who's really epic fail here.

Let's compare: Here's my
traffic report for last week:

Here's James Webb's traffic report for last week:

So, my friends. There you have it. James B. Webb. Total. Epic. Moral. Fail.
First, his stating that his post is only half in jest just makes it twice as not funny (and also twice as inaccurate) as I'd previously characterized it. Sorry, Don.

And so my friends there you have it, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'm a moral failure because I have less Internet traffic than Don. By this same logic, American Idol is inherently an infinitely better intellectual offering than PBS's Masterpiece Theatre because obviously only smart and extremely well-read people ever watch or read anything on television or online, ever, ever, ever. The marketplace of ideas has spoken and obviously I've failed to...wait a minute. Didn't this same "marketplace of ideas" also speak voluminously in the last election? I'm sure that it did, and so thusly it declared that Barack Obama was obviously the best and most smartest candidate to ever run for president because he got the mostest votes ever. Right? Don? Hello? Cupcake?

Yes, yes, I know: I could point out that the number of people who view your blog everyday (or even vote for you as president of the United States) has absolutely nothing to do with your inherent morality or self-worth or intellectual capacity, or even your total lack thereof but I'd hate to burst Don's self-inflated worldview bubble (the man has children, and making him suicidal would benefit nobody, other than the whole of human consciousness, free-thought and the funeral industry, of course). And I'm being totally serious here (I know, I don't like it either and it won't last long), does anyone else find this whole "inflated sense of self-worth through Internet traffic and penis measuring thing" just a wee bit sad and pathetic? And by "sad and pathetic" I mean " completely and totally disconnected from the real world and everything that realm holds important and sacred"? We've all seen the ends that these means can lead to, of course. Fair warning, people...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Colbert's Republican Healthcare Infomercial

To counter the Obama administration's healthcare reform proposal the Republicans have come up with a plan of their own: They're against it. Stephen Colbert lays out the finer points of their entire four page document:


Picture Of The Day

"Atop The Empire State Building" -by Vincent Laforet. Deke Johnson, left, and Tom Silliman worked 1,385 feet above street level to repair the electrical connections of an FM antenna atop the Empire State Building. Below them, ant-sized people on the observation deck imagined that they were the ones at the top of the world.

Look at these guys and stop complaining about how shitty your job is right now. My God...

American Power And Republican Humor Fail

In the past I've been quite vocal about my opinion that Republicans suck at humor and I usually emphasize the point by citing the classic example of Exhibit A. It's hard to say exactly why this is though. Does good comedy just require a more liberal mindset? Are most conservatives just a bit too uptight to adequately bring the funny? Or is it something much more ephemeral? My own theory is that most Republican attempts at comedy fail because, as with their political views, these guys seem to define themselves not by what they believe but instead by what they dislike, and the entire enterprise comes off as fairly hateful rather than being even halfway entertaining.

What is the point to all of this theoretical musing, you ask? Well, following the recent dust up with my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas over at American Power it seems that Don has committed one of the biggest mistakes a neoconservative blogger can make: He's now trying to be funny. Now I know what you're thinking: A lot of the stuff Don writes is positively hilarious, this latest endeavour should be pure comedic gold! Ah, but he wasn't actually trying to be funny all of those other times he's cracked us up, hilarious as they were. To put this in perspective, have you ever had a five-year-old try to tell you a joke? They totally suck at it; no timing, a limited vocabulary, stilted delivery, etc. Yet this same five-year-old can with it's next breath inadvertently spit out something that's so humorous you end up pissing yourself just a wee bit (pun intended) laughing about it.

I like to think of Don as the five-year-old of Republican humor, and unfortunately this is one of those times when the little guy's trying just way too hard. For those unfamiliar with the regular commenters around here, repsac3 is a fellow liberal blogger and the creator of American Nihilist, a straight up parody of Don's own site peopled with a motley crew of several other bloggers who share Reppy's basic political views and also find Don's writing as funny/tragic as I do. Repsac is the main target of Don's latest attempt at humor in which I think that perhaps he's now trying to duplicate the satirical tone I employed when writing my own two guest posts that Reppy plundered (with my flattered approval) for use at his site, as I did originally post them in the comment section of Don's blog.

Regardless, please now prepare yourselves for the rhetorically awkward and pitiably unfunny comedy stylings of Donald Douglas from his post "Comrade Repsac3: Commissar of State Security, People's Commissariat for Internet Affairs":

This is Comrade Repsac3, the USA People's Republic Netroots Commissar 1st Rank of State Security, Commissariat for Internet Affairs. Comrade Repsac3 grips feverishly to his sinecure as hardline enforcer for the USA radical left-wing netroots people's movement, the paramilitary base of the Democratic People's Party USA. Comrade Repsac3 models his program as akin to the notorious Lavrenti Beria, the CPSU's butcher of internal security from 1938 to 1946.

As internal security chief for the netroots party appendage apparatus, Comrade Repsac3 leads the Godless nihilist cadres in the left's purge of "Homophobic, Red Shirt, Bible Thumping Nazi, Gay Bashing, Tea Bagging, Racist, White Guy, Bigots."

Comrade Repsac3's shock troops include:

* Comrade Biobrain, State Chief for the Final Extermination of Truth.


James "Barebacker" Webb, Master Enforcer for the Annihiliation of Non-Hypocrisy.

* (O)CT(O)PUS: Netroots High Commissioner and Chief Breaker of Men, Supreme Enforcer of Internet Security and Conformity.


Truth101, Minister of Hate, Animal Bestiality Division.

The central organizational directive of atheist collectivists will stop at nothing to implement its totalitarian system of eradication of tradition and values. No one in conservative America is safe.
So, are your eyes watering and your sides splitting? Yeah, neither are mine. Sorry about that, and no: I didn't fuck up the bullet points; every word is in its original context. But while you weren't laughing did you notice that I scored the title of Master Enforcer? Not too shabby. I was gunning for Minister of Hate but since the only opening was in the Animal Bestiality Division (I'm no expert on the subject but isn't all bestiality "animal bestiality"? See, there's that inadvertent funny again) I'm satisfied with my new post.

Oh Don, you try so hard but unfortunately for you I grade on a steep curve so there will be no A's given out for effort on this assignment. I suggest sticking with hate-filled invective and gross exaggeration, particularly as they apply to your views on liberals, gays, atheists, minorities, the poor, etc. Go with what you know (and are at least somewhat good at) and leave the snarky humor to the professionals. Trust me: We know what we're doing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Love The Japanese

Watch this Samurai swordsman unsheathe his katana and slice a flying baseball in half with one fluid motion:

OK, it took him two tries but that's still damn impressive.

RIP, Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop, died yesterday at the age of 50. Thriller was the very first album (cassette tape) I ever bought when I was a kid and I completely wore that thing out listening to it so much. Just as with OJ Simpson, I've found myself torn on the subject of Jackson and his life of late. I mean, I loved the running plays and the music but the murdering and the child-molesting? Not so much. Jackson obviously had plenty of personal demons though and while they don't excuse some of his more outrageous lifestyle choices they do go a long way toward explaining them. I'm listening to Billie Jean as I write this in memoriam. Moonwalking off, stage left...

Bill Maher's Newest New Rules

Maher is on fire here, especially on the Twitter, Olive Garden and political front:

Word. Is it any wonder why I love what this man says?


I Don't Think Donald Douglas Likes Me...

In the grand and storied tradition of drawing the vehement ire of addled right-wing bloggers, be they young hotties, lipless newspapermen or shyster law profs, it seems that I've now drawn the same from a short, middle-aged, petulant community college poli-sci prof (with all due respect, of course). I am speaking of course about my oft referenced, and just as often mocked, conservative counterpart Don Douglas of American Power. Give it up, ya'll: He really tries hard, and it's extremely cute when he does so.

As regular readers may remember, I wrote a post yesterday entitled "American Power And Trig Palin "Ghoulshopping"" in response to Don's own post "Democratic Values! Left-Wing Alaska Operative 'Ghoulshops' Trig Palin!". Before writing the post I left a comment on Don's blog about his post but then decided to write my own in response, so I deleted my comment and left a link in his comment section, inadvertently making me an apparent "freaking hypocrite". Expound at fairly great length, you ask? Well, OK...

You see, Don had on more than one occasion left links to himself in the comment sections of my site that had absolutely nothing to do with their respective posts. I politely asked him to cease the practice after the first time he transgressed and even left his link up as a show of my benign benevolence and blogger solidarity. He returned the favor by committing the aforementioned verboten act a second time, for which I deleted his link and then emailed him the following:

I warned you once before Don when you shamelessly linked some post about your skateboarding youth on a completely unrelated comment thread at my site. I left that link up and made it clear that I would delete any future comments not at least tangentially relevant to their posts...

When I come to your site and promote my own posts on completely unrelated ones that you've written then feel free to talk shit to me. Until then, I'll keep my own council on the flexibility of MY posting rules at MY site.
The reason I post this admittedly dated email now is because it was quoted back to me today by Don as proof of my own apparently blatant hypocrisy in linking to myself at his site:
Looks like I've gotten under your skin a bit, James.

Hey, that's cool, but just so you know, you're a freaking hypocrite:

You wrote ...
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Now I've never actually looked up the definition of the word "hypocrite" in the dictionary because it's a pretty frequently used word within the English lexicon, so I was a bit confused as to why Don now claimed that it applied to myself in this situation. So I replied thusly:
You've not gotten under my skin one wit, Don. I just like pointing out your inanities for sport.

And I know it's cool but let me recap this supposed hypocrisy for you: I gave you shit for posting links to completely UNRELATED topics on posts at my site. My links today are to a post ABOUT YOUR POST that I left the links on. Please explain to me how adhering to the rules and standards I set for myself and others makes me a freaking hypocrite. I'm dying to hear this. Or better yet, do all of this publicly and hoist me on my own rhetorical petard for all to see.

I'm begging you to.
Now I've also never looked up the phrase "hoist me on my own petard" but I'm pretty sure that it doesn't mean "go apeshit crazy whilst accusing me of being gay". Oh, have I forgotten to mention that Don did indeed attempt to do exactly as I suggested? No? Well, prepare yourselves for a literary treat as you absorb the fairly inane yet highly entertaining ramblings contained within "James Webb, Atheist Hypocrite, Loves teh Gays" (I'm pretty sure that Don is wholly ignorant of the comedic irony of an individual such as himself using the Internet slang term "teh gays" but I'd hate to ruin his good time by pointing it out here).

Have you read it? Pretty good stuff, huh? Now normally I'd refute a discursive diatribe such as this with a point by point blogging technique known as fisking (see the linked examples in the first sentence of this post) but did you actually read the entirety of that disjointed screed? I counted almost four dozen exclamation points that were entirely original to the post itself, but in Don's defense he only went bold-faced type less than half a dozen times (restraint, thy name is Donald). Just consider yourself lucky that indignant, high-speed spittle can't travel digitally or else you and your keyboard would be considerably flecked with neoconservative foam at this point.

For those who might be confused by certain sections of Don's invective, while I'm obviously not gay I do advocate for gay rights on this site and in the comment section of Don's blog. I mention this because some of you might be wondering about the seemingly randomly attempted slur Don tries to impart to me by mentioning some gay Asian dude in relation to my site. Regular readers know that I'm a self-proclaimed atheist (something Don considers an affront to his one true god, apparently) and I have a link to the OUT Campaign in the right-hand column of this site. Anyone who's an atheist can join and add their site to the blogroll there, so Don found himself a gay Asian linking at the same site and has made an online hobby out of trying to smear me, in his eyes, by attempting to conflate our respective sexual preferences.

You see, to people like Don who are uncomfortable around gay people (despite desperately transparent protestations like: "some of my best friends are...") and are vehemently dedicated to denying homosexuals the same rights afforded to every other member of American society, calling another man, or even just intimating (in his own admittedly clumsy and rhetorically fumbling manner) that that man is gay, is an insult of the highest order. I myself understand this mindset better than most: I was born and raised in Texas. I recognize the sound of a bar stool being kicked back by some roided-up tough guy at the mere questioning of his sexual preferences better than I know my own mother's voice, and Don's own puffed-up chest and masculine insecurities would indeed reserve himself a primo spot at that theoretical shit-kicker bar. Shots are on me, Don (like a shot in your fucking mouth, you gay bitch!). Triple points to whomever gets that hilarious, yet highly relevant, movie quote.

So I guess that's it for my riposte to Don's meandering thrust (settle down, guy!) over my admittedly meager challenge to his intellectual prowess (I was at a bar with some friends earlier tonight and have just now started my second bottle of Chardonnay since arriving home). I suppose that many of you were pining for a bit more rhetorical blood lust but come on: it's Don Douglas! I consider all of this back and forth shot-trading to be merely good sport and fine entertainment, for those who are even interested. Also, I have it on good authority from a family member of his that he has considerable emotional baggage, for which I genuinely pity him and those around him.

Chin up, Don. I'm sure that you're far more intellectually resilient and emotionally stable than you appear online. God's speed (and by "God" I mean an impossibly powerful, imaginary character you like to believe is looking out for you and everyone you care about in this world, despite any and all empirical evidence to the contrary)... Have I mentioned that I'm an atheist? Aw, just accuse me of being a "godless nihilist" in a good-natured fashion once again and we'll call it even. Deal? Kisses...

[Update: How can I claim to be a soulless, socialistic atheist without shamelessly promoting any and every portrayal of myself online?
I like to fashion myself as an intellectual, airborne Eric Cartman (although the hair portrays me as more of a Frankenstein's monster than an infant; Jesus Sheeples, can't you at least get the hip, sporty do right?). Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong.]

[Update II: Don delivers yet another masterstroke of rhetorical brilliance by...well, I guess by just calling me gay again only now I seem to have much better abs (and barely a dozen exclamation points; Don, I get the feeling that you're not even trying to over-punctuate anymore, although you do still loves yourself some bold-faced caps, huh?). From his scathing follow-up post "James "Barebacker" Webb":
Jesus, I wish I had the kind of willpower it takes to do that many crunches. For the uninitiated, "barebacking" is a term for having sex without a condom (which yes, I will admit to having done, stupidly on several instances depending on the chick in question) and has come to be used prevalently in the gay community as of late. So apparently a while back prolific online poster and friend of this blog Andrew Sullivan posted some kind of personal ad mentioning barebacking as well as "milky loads", two phrases that seem to have permanently emblazoned themselves upon Don's psyche judging by his own prolific use of them. Now they serve the singular function of blanket, catch-all insults that Don uses in lieu of reasoned rhetoric and actually clever stinging barbs.

He's also claimed to have unearthed another instance of egregious hypocrisy on my part by (only just now) pointing out that I address him by the shortened sobriquet "Don" whilst light-heartedly insisting that he include my middle initial when addressing me by my full name (I chose the "B" myself). Funny, it's just that after calling him Don hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times up to this point you'd think that he'd have mentioned it before and in Don's defense he and pretty much everyone else I've encountered online have always referred to me as "JBW" as that is how I sign my various posts and comments. He's only recently started to refer to me more formally, ostensibly because he no longer considers himself my "homie" anymore. It would appear that the man crush has ended, Truth101. Single tear...]

[Update III: It now seems that conservative and frequent commenter at Don's site Stogie from Saberpoint has purchased his own ticket to board Don's crazy train (or "joined the debate", as Don inadvertently jokes) by questioning the subtitle of my site and my self-identification as a Libertarian-Socialist (which, somewhat ironically, is what caused Don to first leave a comment on Brain Rage oh so long ago. Ah, memories *sniff*).

Now in Stogie's post "Jimmy B. Webb: What's a Libertarian-Socialist?" he not only has made a devastating photoshop stating quite imaginatively that "Socialism is for losers" but he then...wait a minute. I've seen your profile, you're a cartoon dog with a cigar! Who do I look like, Joe Camel? I can take being called gay by a pudgy community college prof but trading barbs with cancer-ridden, cartoon canines is where I draw the line. Good day to you, sir!]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Something Someone Else Said

"The government's effort to manage tobacco rather than make it illegal is exactly what belongs in the debate over pot and other illegal substances that could, at the very least, provide significant boons to medical pharmacology. The FDA has rejected the possibility of making cigarettes illegal by saying the underground product would be "even more dangerous than those currently marketed." So when you make popular products illegal, it has the potential to make those products more dangerous. Gee, ya think?

I know that Gee, ya think is about as far as you can get from a comprehensive plan for the controlled legalization of marijuana and other substances. But let's be adults here. Obama understands the limits of cigarette law because he understands the market for cigarettes. Maybe what the drug debate really needs is a joint in the West Wing." -Derek Thompson, The Atlantic


Advertisement Of The Day

And by "blow your mind" we mean "our seven incher will blow a huge load in your damn mouth". This gives my "Home of the Whopper" boxer shorts a whole new...well, actually those still have pretty much the same meaning but Jesus BK, has subtly in advertising disappeared completely? I've always thought that the commercials where the King is waiting next to you in your bed when you wake up were pretty creepy but this is blatantly hilarious and it just proves once again that Bill Hicks, as always, was far ahead of his time:


HAARM.org - Message Strategy Session

Obviously this is meant to be funny but I suspect that the reality is not much different in many respects:


American Power And Trig Palin "Ghoulshopping"

My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas over at American Power has his digital panties in a knot over the supposed "ghoulshopping" of Sarah Palin's youngest son Trig in a fundraising graphic at liberal Alaskan blog Blue Oasis in his post "Democratic Values! Left-Wing Alaska Operative 'Ghoulshops' Trig Palin!":

A top Alaska Democratic Party operative once again proves the everyday demonology of left-wing secular progressives.

Gateway Pundit and Conservatives for Sarah Palin, it turns out that Linda Kellen Biegel, the publisher of Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, has Photoshopped a ghoulish picture of Trig Palin at her blog.
Trig was born with Down Syndrome and is mentally handicapped. My youngest sister also has Down Syndrome so you can imagine that I too would be considerably offended and justifiably outraged at such an attack against a defenseless child, only I have taken the time to arm myself with a few weapons that Don appears to lack: restraint, common sense and the Google. Here's the supposedly offensive graphic:
Now it certainly does appear that someone has gone to great pains to make little Trig Palin pretty damn ugly, almost "ghoulish" if you will (and let's face it, the authoress of Blue Oasis is no prize herself). Where Don and every other conservative in a tizzy over this supposed outrage epically fail though is that the ghoulish face in question belongs to conservative Alaskan talk radio host and self-proclaimed "Palinista" Eddie Burke. Even after having this pointed out in an update on Blue Oasis however Don still can not see the satirical forest for the ignorance trees, as he relays in the comment section of his post:
She lying:

"She is claiming that it was a photoshop of the Alaska radio talk show host Eddie Burke being held in Gov. Palin's arms ...

The photoshop doesn't look at all like Eddie. It simply looks like a grotesque manipulation of Gov. Palin's beautiful baby boy. It was a tasteless and heartless thing to do. It was the sort of thing a person who is sick with hatred would do..."
Now to be clear, Don did not himself write the words saying that the photoshop doesn't look at all like Eddie Burke. He just claims that the blogger at Blue Oasis is lying (one would assume without actually doing any research or checking it out for himself first) and then posts someone else making this claim, but I think most intelligent people will agree that by stating that the explanation is a lie and posting the quote he has at least tacitly agreed with the sentiment. And even in the update to his original post he again mentions:
"ghoulshopping" Trig Palin into a grotesque ridicule of Downs syndrome
Oh, I almost forgot. After all of that you're probably wondering what Eddie Burke looks like, huh? Now while I wouldn't go so far as Don in saying that he's a grotesque ridicule of Down Syndrome I will say that he does indeed look a bit ghoulish, fairly tubby and exactly like the photoshopped picture in question:
That's the everyday demonology of left-wing secular progressives for you. Oh wait, no it's not. That's the everyday stupidity of right-wing religious neoconservatives. Sorry, I'm always confusing the two. Incidentally, I found the original picture used in the photoshopped graphic on the very first page of my Google image search, even before I noticed that Blue Oasis had posted it in their update.

In a recent post about the faux Palin/Letterman controversy I asked what the next outrage du jour from the Republicans would be, a question that I think was aptly phrased in that it certainly does appear that there is something new that positively infuriates these people every single day. The term "sore losers" seems a bit simplistic and trite to explain this apparent derangement and never ending persecution complex but at this point I can't think of any other rational explanation for this type of behavior.

[Update: Don has added a follow up post with the following supposed tit-for-tat photoshopped picture of Blue Oasis blogger Linda Kellen Biegel:
I told you she was no prize, even without the photoshopped baby body. The picture comes courtesy of No Sheeples Here! which offers the accompanying commentary:
The Great State of Alaska is known as “Seward’s Icebox” and it seems that Linda Kellen “Blimpie” Biegel has made a few too many trips to her own icebox. The blubber-butt blogger from Alaska has crossed a bright red line with a photoshopped picture of Governor Sarah Palin and her son Trig. Donald Douglas of American Power has dubbed her work a “ghoulshop”.

Trig Palin, as we are all aware, is a Down Syndrome baby. An innocent child is being demonized by demented dilettantes in the Democratic Party. Why? The Palin Derangement Syndrome that permeates the left’s diatribe is inexplicable to me. What is it about Sarah Palin that strikes fear in the hearts of these panty-waisted perverts?

Well, I own Photoshop™ too. So here’s to you bitch!
I guess No Sheeples has decided that moral indignation is a suitable substitute for the lack of class she bemoans in Biegel. And as I always say: Palin doesn't scare us at all, she's merely entertainment because we take so little of what she says and does seriously. Also notice that using a mocking photoshop of Palin for fund-raising purposes is now "Palin Derangement Syndrome", and thus any other reasoned and logical argument against her and her policies can now and will be conveniently dismissed as such from here on out (see: Bush, George W).

Don also features the following commentary from Dan Riehl at Riehl World View:
Apparently Linda Kellen Biegel thinks it funny to alter an image to portray Trig as her "humorous" version of what a child with Down's syndrome would look like.

At right is what Linda Kellen Biegel's un-altered picture looks like.

Need I say more?

She must be relying on PETA to protect her. But I doubt they'll want that face for one of those warm fuzzy billboards during "Hug an Animal" week.
Now I guess this is the point that eludes me: How is the photoshop a "'humorous' version of what a child with Down's Syndrome would look like"? Isn't the original picture itself what a child with Down Syndrome does look like? It seems to me that the photoshopped picture is meant to be a humorous version of what Eddie Burke would look like as a baby (an admittedly tubby and ghoulish baby, but still...), special needs or not.

I wrote the following in the comment section of this post as a reply to a commenter who found me via Don's site claiming that Biegel "intentionally" and "willfully" used the picture of Trig:
The point of the photoshop did not have anything to do with her holding a special needs baby, it was just that she was holding a baby. That's the problem with so many people like yourself. You don't look at that picture and see her holding a baby, you see her holding a poor "retard". Then you moan and wail and gnash your teeth and feign outrage that anyone could have used poor little Trig this way, as if using a non Down's child would have been completely different and entirely acceptable.

She most likely "willfully" used the picture of Trig because it was so famous and iconic, and it was so because Palin callously chose to bring her infant child up on stage as a campaign prop in the last election. She injected her own son into the political arena, but now that someone has used just a partial image of that action they've somehow crossed some imaginary line of decency with you people. Personally, I don't think most of you have any clue where that line is located at all.
And finally my blogger buddy and fellow dirty, liberal nihilist repsac3 offers up the definitive commentary on this latest of many faux outrages from the Palin camp in a post that includes a glowing endorsement for this post by yours truly (thanks, Reppy!):
I don't want to tell Cons4Palin.com and the wingnut echo chamber (Yeah, that last one is, predictably, a PUMA site) what to do or nothin', but wingnut ladies and gents, the last thing your 2012 candidate needs is yet another manufactured outrage to make her look like she's everlastingly playing the "poor me" card. It's hard enough just being a female candidate playing in a male dominated world, without you folks making her look weak by throwing these serial pity parties for her. And besides, Sarah Palin is so bad on the merits, that these dirty tricks and personal attacks you folks are endlessly alleging on her behalf really are unnecessary.
Well said. So bring on the next outrage du jour, Palinistas. I can always use a good laugh, and Sarah Palin inspired laughs are some of the goodest.]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Picture Of The Day

Have you ever rowed across a Van Gogh or Monet painting? Neither have I, but it appears you can do just that in China:

Fishermen rowed a boat in the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Friday. The country has invested $7.4 billion toward the construction of 2,712 projects for the treatment of eight rivers and lakes. (Jianan Yu/Reuters)
I always knew that algae was a diverse and resilient life form but I've never seen a display as Impressionisticly artistic as this one.

Your Wine Has Body, But Does It Have Balls?

It does if it comes in a wine globe:

The screwtop has already challenged the tradition and snobbery behind the cork. But are you ready to order wine from a dispenser?

N2Wine, makers of 'wine globes' believe that yes, yes you are ready to buy wines distributed from big vats. They argue that the aging process is overrated and that 90% of wines are as good when bottled as they'll ever be. (Sommeliers in the audience are welcome to affirm or refute that point in the comments while we move on.)

Wine globes are glass containers capable of holding 33 or 70 bottles of wine (depending on the size) that are specifically designed to thwart oxidization, the chemical reaction that ages wine, by preventing any air from entering the system. Instead, the globes vino-filled spheres constantly topped off by "food-grade" nitrogen when liquid levels deplete, essentially freezing wine's flavor in time.

The wine is also under constant water-cooled temperature regulation so that it's served perfectly every time and, obviously, the system can offer more wines by the glass than most restaurants currently offer. A $20,000 wine globe system holds 24 varietals of wine—or 168 bottles in all—putting each wine globe at about a $1000 price but eliminating the need for a cellar.
A quick search of this site will reveal that I can be a bit snobbish about my vino and my first, knee-jerk reaction to this system (I would indeed dispute their claims about the in-bottle aging process) is one of abhoration but I have to remind myself that I love new technologies so I'll admit that I'd consider trying out these globes, had I the discretionary income to afford them of course. Hey, synthetic cork and screw caps have already replaced the old standby. If better tech keeps wine lasting longer and tasting better, who am I to reject progress?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

No time for blogging today. I'm taking one of my uncharacteristic breaks to help a buddy move into his new place and then I'm going to an A's game with some friends this evening, all while trying to squeeze in a haircut if possible. For all of you Brain Rage junkies who just got the shakes after reading that last sentence, fear not: regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ahmadinejad Breaks His Silence

What's happening in Iran right now is deadly serious but if you can't laugh at a tin-pot dictator with an inferiority complex, who can you laugh at? Kill 'em with humor, I say:


Something Someone Else Said

"There is nothing here to vindicate the neocons. Their dreams of democracy flourishing around the world are shared by most Americans and many more people generally. This is not what distinguishes neocons from the rest of us--it is one of the things we have in common. What distinguishes neocons is their authoritarianism, their belief that the common good is something that can and should forcefully be imposed by a strong ruler, ruling class, or government--a point you rightly acknowledge in your post. I therefore don't see how there is any irony here at all. Democracy and freedom are not neoconservative ideas--they do not get to own those concepts. The neoconservative idea is about how to get there, and in this singular distinguishing aspect they have been proven wrong over and over again, leaving disaster upon disaster in their wake.

Once again, this comes back to an issue of respect for the dignity of others.

One thing that keeps coming up in the commentaries on Iran is the observation that, in demanding that the Iranian people accept an election result that is so obviously false, Khamenei is insulting the intelligence, and thus the integrity, of his people. Or as Rami Khoury puts it in the piece you linked to, human beings...do not like being treated like idiots by their own government, and resist the process when it takes place."

This is precisely what was so infuriating about the last 8 years, starting with the disputed election, right on to the very bitter end. Time and again, the neocons who led our country asked the American people, and the world, to accept things that were obviously false (Saddam was an imminent threat to the U.S., WMD or no WMD), obviously illegal (neither Geneva Conventions nor FISA applied to GWoT), or obviously evil (torture), thereby insulting the intelligence and the integrity of the American people.

This is not coincidence--the two are related. The top-down approach, which is at the core of both neoconservatism and tyranny, is fundamentally, or at least invariably, at odds with human dignity. In this important sense, the neocons' hearts are not in the right place at all, even if their dreams about freedom are dreams we all share. But freedom itself is not enough--justice and equality are essential, and tend to be disregarded by neocons, who routinely attack efforts to further justice and equality as threats to (their own) freedom." -A Daily Dish reader, refuting Sullivan's take on the implications of the current Iranian election protests as they relate to the neoconservative worldview.

Perfectly expressed. I post quotes like this one because there is no way I could have said this any better. Now let the right-wing cries of Bush Derangement Syndrome predictably commence in 3, 2, 1...