Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100 Greatest YouTube Moments In 4 Minutes

If you're not familiar with most Internet memes then you probably won't recognize many of these (similar to my "99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced" post) but it's a nice little piece of pop culture nostalgia if you are:


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

President Obama's Amazingly Consistent Smile

This is actually a little creepy but I guess it's a skill you cultivate when you spend this much time in front of cameras:


Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

I've always wanted to visit this place:

Fallingwater, also known as the Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. Residence, is a house designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1934 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, and is part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area. The house was built partly over a waterfall in Bear Run at Rural Route 1 in the Mill Run section of Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains.

Hailed by Time magazine shortly after its completion as Wright's "most beautiful job,"[3] it is also listed among Smithsonian magazine's Life List of 28 places "to visit before ...it's too late."[4] Fallingwater was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production, Guide to Historic Homes of America.[5] It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.[1] In 1991, members of the American Institute of Architects named the house the "best all-time work of American architecture" and in 2007, it was ranked twenty-ninth on the list of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA.
Below is a computer-generated fly around of the structure:

And here's a computer-generated walk through created on Half Life:

Until I next find myself in the Pittsburgh area these CG videos will just have to do.


Cleaning Day

Not much time for blogging today. I have to watch the maid cleaning my empty and about to be former apartment to make sure she doesn't do anything...naughty. I'll try to get some stuff up sometime today but no promises. I have a rather large security deposit to liberate here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cowboys Win On Monday Night

It wasn't a scorefest and a lot of the tackling was butt ugly but the Boys did control most of the game, pulling off their first win in their new billion plus dollar house. They're heading to Mile High to face undefeated Denver next week, who's quarterback Kyle Orten is in my fantasy league (in addition to Dallas wide receiver Roy Williams, pictured above) so I'm hoping for a high scoring game that eventually leaves the Cowboys victorious. Gotta get them fantasy points, people!

Superbad As A Cartoon

Because you know you've always wondered what it would be like:

If you've never seen this flick you'll of course be lost here but let's face it: If you've never seen Superbad, you're lost already. Sorry.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Burning Man Time Lapses

My occasional affinity for mind-altering drugs and my relative proximity to the event have both made me seriously consider attending Burning Man at times but my anathema for dirty hippies and my Irish weakness under the desert sun have always been stumbling blocks for me. Plus I'd have to get into much better shape if I'm going to walk around naked in front of a bunch of other people:


Welcome To Concord

Some free advice from me to you: If you move to Concord, don't park your car out on the street. This is what I woke up to this morning. Bunch of savages in this town...

Beck On Defining "White Culture"

For those not in the know:

Yet now he can't even explain his own words:

You see, Beck won't define what white culture is because that would make too good a sound bite for Katie Couric but of course he knew that Obama hates it because that made a great sound bite for himself. This guy is pasty hypocritical performance art, at best.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Urine Tests To Receive Welfare Checks

Last month I got an email that's been widely circulated around the web from a friend that I had to disagree with. In lieu of original thoughts during my current domestic transition I reproduce that email for you here:

Now here's an idea that just seems too simple........

(Whoever wrote this one deserves a HUGE pat on the back!)

Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me...
I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.
In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test
with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the
distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.
So here is my question. Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a
welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?
Understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their
feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone
sitting on their rump doing drugs, while I work.Can you imagine how much
money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a
public assistance check?
I guess we could title that program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't. Hope you all
will pass it along, though. Some thing has to change in this country --
and soon!!!!!!!
And now my response (and no, I didn't simply delete when I disagreed):
I realize that you didn't write this yourself Tami but the reason this seems too simple is because it is. All requiring urine tests for receiving a welfare check would do is punish poor people for personal behavior that shouldn't be any of the government's business in the first place, not to mention punishing any children whose parents didn't pass the tests. Also, the vast majority of welfare recipients must meet certain work requirements in order to be eligible for aid. While the popular perception of the average welfare recipient is that of a terminally lazy drug addict the reality is that most recipients (not including the elderly, children and the handicapped) are employed at least part time and leave the welfare rolls within twelve months of joining. If the use of illegal substances and being gainfully employed were each mutually exclusive situations as this person seems to be saying then over 40% of Americans would now be jobless.

Welfare recipients and other poor people are obvious targets when people start talking about social engineering through the distribution of government funds (this post about illegal immigration similarly addresses this type of populist demonology) but the truth is that most middle and upper-class Americans also receive "welfare" in the form of tax deductions for home mortgages, corporate and farm subsidies, capital gains tax limits, Social Security, Medicare, and a multitude of other tax benefits. Should we require everyone who receives any of these government benefits to be similarly tested as well? We're trying to save money by denying it to those who use illegal drugs and those tax dollars are worth the same no matter who receives them. And do we really want to give the government that kind of power over our bodies and personal/private recreations?

If this person really wanted to save tax dollars we should have urine tested the CEOs and boards of directors of every investment company and automobile manufacturer that has received any amount of bailout funding and subsequently withheld said funding from any company that didn't pass (do you doubt that these millionaires might have a few illicit substances in their own systems?). While we were at it we could have done the same for every private contractor doing business in Iraq. The government spends $324 billion a year on all welfare and unemployment. The banking industry alone received over twice that much in bailout money while the total cost of the Iraq war is estimated to be seven times that.

I suspect that the person who wrote this is not so much concerned with saving the government money as they are with trying to control the behaviors of others that they disagree with by picking on a group of people who are easy targets and can not easily defend themselves. And incidentally, this person doesn't have to pass a urine test in order to earn a paycheck that will be taxed by the same government that distributes welfare benefits. They've chosen to work for a private company that has this policy, which of course is that company's right. But as I said, giving that power to a government that is the only source of welfare (at whatever level it's being distributed) would be oppressive and dangerous as to our individual liberties and privacy rights. This person may not have any qualms about government intrusion into their own life but I for one do not want to have to piss in a cup to receive my tax return or get a student loan, which is the path down which this course of logic would invariably lead.
Whether you agree or disagree with my take on this, I of course welcome all comments.

Friday, September 25, 2009

80's Zoo Crew Beck: Who Needs Gimmicks?

I assume that this is the media equivalent of a high school year book photo:

Gimmicks like, Obama is a radically dangerous socialist? That's so totally bogus, dude. Donkey Kong, Nihilism, Wooo!

Something Someone Else Said

"He tore up a copy of the UN charter in front of startled delegates, accused the security council of being an al-Qaida like terrorist body, called for George Bush and Tony Blair to be put on trial for the Iraq war, demanded $7.7tn in compensation for the ravages of colonialism on Africa and wondered whether swine flu was a biological weapon created in a military laboratory. At one point, he even demanded to know who was behind the killing of JFK. All in all, a pretty ordinary 100 minutes in the life of the colonel." -The Guardian U.K., recapping Wednesday's speech by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

I haven't heard or read this speech but the Guardian is one of the more reputable papers of record out there, so now having said that: What a crazy Libyan motherfucker, and I'm sure the right-wingosphere will try to tie this insane bastard to Obama in some way. It's kind of sad when acting like an asshole is predictable for you. And before any of you ask: Yes, I also want to know who killed JFK, but I keep that shit on the downlow when someone puts a microphone in front of me.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 Commercial

If you're not a big Jay-Z fan you might not dig this as much as I did but for those not in the know, this commercial seamlessly recreates every one of his previous album covers in less than a minute. Holla:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Keeping On Moving On

So I've pretty much transferred most of my worldly possessions from one town to the other so now comes the real challenge: Cleaning up my former palatial estate well enough to get my deposit back in full. *shudder* Much love to Intrepid Californio and Jeremy for their help, without whom I would have had to drink all of those beers by myself. Posting may be a bit light for the next week as I try to tie up the rest of these loose ends but I promise that I'll do my best to keep up.

80's Video Dating Winners

Videos like this one make me extremely glad that I was too young to have had a "cool" haircut, clothes and mustache during the eighties. Enjoy, ladies:

Wow. And who would have guessed that having fun was so popular? Of course just once I'd like to see the truly daring yet dour individual who laid it on the line and admitted that they actually don't like to have fun. Chicks dig honesty, right?


Ferrell's Protect Insurance Companies PSA

Typical liberal Hollywood: Always on the side of Big Insurance:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Moving Day

When I was a kid I was a total pack rat. I couldn't bear to throw something away out of some irrational fear that I'd inevitably need it as soon as it was gone. I've gotten a lot better about it since supposedly becoming an adult but I still seem to amass a great deal of shit on a regular basis which suddenly becomes much less valuable to me when I have to actually move it. So now my rule is that if I haven't taken something out of its box and used it since the last time I moved it then it gets trashed without a second thought. I've grown tired of trying to hold on to useless things. Regular posting will resume again tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Picture Of The Day II

Damn you, Kanye! You can Kanye up your own website at Kanyelicio.us.


Graph Of The Day

Compiled from the weekly Research 2000 poll. The Republican party has truly become solely a bastion of the white South, which goes quite a ways towards explaining their innate hatred for and opposition to President Obama. And no wingnuts, I'm not saying that everyone who opposes Obama's policies is a racist, just that racism obviously plays some part in that opposition and that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of race relations in the South who says otherwise in light of this data is either a partisan liar or a damn fool. And now for some extremely high-minded and not-at-all juvenile analysis: Is it just me or does it look like the rest of the country in this graph is flipping the Repubs the bird? Snap.


Picture Of The Day

A product of Holy Taco's "If Gary Busey Were In Every Picture Ever" Photoshop contest. There are many more at the link but be forewarned: Some of these are pretty terrifying. But what what else would you expect from Busey?


Technology's Effect On The Written Word

Clive Thompson of Wired magazine examines the new literacy created by the ubiquity of modern technology:

As the school year begins, be ready to hear pundits fretting once again about how kids today can't write—and technology is to blame. Facebook encourages narcissistic blabbering, video and PowerPoint have replaced carefully crafted essays, and texting has dehydrated language into "bleak, bald, sad shorthand" (as University College of London English professor John Sutherland has moaned). An age of illiteracy is at hand, right?

Andrea Lunsford isn't so sure. Lunsford is a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, where she has organized a mammoth project called the Stanford Study of Writing to scrutinize college students' prose. From 2001 to 2006, she collected 14,672 student writing samples—everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions. Her conclusions are stirring.

"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization," she says. For Lunsford, technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.

The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.
Since finishing my first and only year of law school I wrote very little in the vein of essay length prose during my everyday life. When I started this blog a year and a half ago my writing felt extraordinarily stiff and stilted as I remembered how easily my words used to flow when I was writing on a constant basis back in college. I still wince a bit when I go back and read some of the awkwardly arranged paragraphs from my earliest posts here but I have to admit that this largely useless enterprise has definitely helped to resharpen my rhetorical skills, although I'm sure that my humility and long-windedness could both still use some work.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cowboys Lose To The Giants, Go 1-1

Damn it, damn it, damn it. Dallas clearly outplayed New York tonight but they ended up beating themselves with penalties and turn overs, although I'll give props to the lesser Manning for staying cool under pressure whilst orchestrating a fourth quarter comeback drive to set up the winning field goal. On the other hand, how about that stadium? I've talked a little shit in the past about some of the embarrassing glitches that have come up but that thing is truly a modern marvel. Now if we can just win there...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In Defense Of Modern Art

I was recently checking out a post at TYWKIWDBI, one of my daily must read blogs (mentioned here when Brain Rage was added to the blogroll there) written by an elderly yet prolifically posting fellow who goes by the name of Minnesotastan, wherein he repeated a common lament that he just did not "get" modern art. One of his commenters echoed his dirge and linked to the following commentary by the similarly elderly and also perpetually whining 60 Minutes icon Andy Rooney:

Now I can somewhat understand Stan's and Rooney's worldviews as they pertain to this subject. Both of these men most likely came of age in a culture that celebrated the traditional "masters" of the art world, growing up in a time when most credible "art" meant a skillfully constructed painting or sculpture that actually looked like what it was supposed to be portraying. True, the modern art genre has existed for over a century now but outside of the artistic community the views of those like Stan and Rooney have largely persisted as the mainstream of American society.

I've often heard the similar opinion from many other people that modern art is just not as meaningful or well done as that of the traditional masters but I must respectfully disagree. Now this is not to say that I don't appreciate great traditional works. In fact, as I type these words in my humble abode I'm looking at framed prints of "Ancient Rome" by Giovanni Paolo Panini (which I viewed at the Louvre in Paris) and "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Katsushika Hokusai (which I viewed at the Met in New York City) but at the same time they hang across the room from "Lucifer" by Jackson Pollock (which I viewed at the MOMA in San Francisco), one of my absolute favorite works of all time.

So, which of these is the best painting of the bunch? Which is obviously the most artistic? They are each as radically different from each other in form and style as art can be yet I have an easy answer to this largely academic question: They all are. I say this despite the fact that one of the originals is obviously the most expensive while another has almost certainly been deemed the most important and meaningful by the artistic community but I say it mainly because I love each of them for very different reasons.

Now of course I would never assign myself the title of "Arbiter of All that is Worthy and Artistic in the World" (although that would certainly be a kick-ass addition to any resume) but I do know what I do and do not like as far as the art world is concerned, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let some curmudgeonly old commentator like Andy Rooney dictate to me what is and is not "art" as if I were some wholly uneducated bumpkin uncomprehendingly staring at an amorphous splash of paint on a largely unmarked canvas. Rooney's certainly entitled to his opinion on this score (as is Minnesotastan) but I'll be the final arbiter of what I find worthy of artistic praise and merit.

It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is often said because it's true. I myself refer to various pieces and installations as either "good" art or "bad" art on a routine basis but I realize that my personal opinions and designations hardly make these judgements true for others and the same applies to those critics within the art world with educations and personal collections far in excess of my own, and it especially applies to serial scolders like Rooney. If you personally like a piece of art, it's good; if you do not, it's bad. Don't ever let someone else tell you what to think about any particular piece of art just because they claim to have some mysterious insight into said piece, but at the same time don't presume to judge anything as "non-artistic" for everyone else just because you don't appreciate it personally. I enjoy living in a world teeming with art even if I'm not always particularly fond of every piece I come across and unlike Rooney, I'd rather have "bad" art than none at all.

World Trade Center Towers Collision Simulation

The attacks on 9/11 were obviously a tragedy but that doesn't make the science involved any less interesting:

National Geographic has a fascinating simulation of why the US World Trade Center towers collapsed after the planes hit them on September 11 2001.

It's part of a program investigating "science and conspiracy".

Basically, it's because the fuel in the (nearly-full) tanks caught fire, which weakened the columns, which bent slightly, which meant that the roof - and other floors- fell in.

We know that from the real-life example, of course. But it's interesting to see it demonstrated here. Not, of course, that this will satisfy the wingnuts who think it was a conspiracy. Their loss.

But sometimes this is what engineering is about: figuring out why things happen after the event. (Other videos on the National Geographic site ask whether controlled demolition could have done the same job, and whether the hijacked planes were replaced by planes carrying explosives. Enjoy.)
I'd seen the raw video simulations from the Purdue data a few years ago but this is the first time I've seen it compiled with narration and a technical explanation:


Something Someone Else Said

"But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance. He tells kids to study--and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness--and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date--and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West--the way he says, "He's a jackass." He sounds like one of my brothers. And that's the point, because that's what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it's driving them crazy.

It's about time." -Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, on the constant race-baiting from Rush Limbaugh et. al.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Pack It Up, Pack It In, Let Me Begin...

No time for blogging today. I'm packing up all of my shit to move from the affluent white Northern California suburb that is Danville to the slightly less affluent white Northern California suburb that is Concord. If any readers have any useful moving tips (and I assume that they don't, based on the appalling lack of comments as of date) I'd be quite happy to hear them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Praise Of The Sci-Fi Corridor

Den of Geek features what they describe as the very nerdiest piece they've ever put up:

There's a moment in every geek's life when one goes for the 'communal hug' on a pet-subject and finds oneself unexpectedly out in the cold.

The piano player stops playing. The landlord shakes his head as his eyes head heavenward, and he slinks away to rearrange the crisps. The lonely sound of a misdirected dart is all that haunts the otherwise silent pub. And it's definitely time to get your anorak.

"You like what...?"

Corridors in science-fiction movies. I love them.

...Corridors make science-fiction believable, because they're so utilitarian by nature - really they're just a conduit to get from one (often overblown) set to another. So if any thought or love is put into one, if the production designer is smart enough to realise that corridors are the foundation on which larger sets are 'sold' to viewers, movie magic is close at hand.
I'd never really considered it before but I have to agree: The corridor is an integral piece of any decent science-fiction set and this article offers a comprehensive analysis of some of sci-fi's greatest classics. You'll know if you're a true geek/nerd based on whether you actually click through to read it.

Picture Of The Day

Incredible technicolor rock formations:

This unique geological phenomenon, known as a Danxia Landform, can be seen in several places in China. This example is located in Zhangye, Gansu Province. The color is a result of millions of years of accumulated red sandstone and other sediments which have dried and oxidized.
This reminds me of the Monet rowboat from a few months ago. China has some of the coolest shit.

More DC Tea Bagger Protest Hilarity

I say "hilarity" but some of these people are much more scary than entertaining. The anger is very real (although as I've said before, quite obviously unprincipled) but what's truly disturbing are the levels of ignorance concerning basic knowledge of the policies and programs these people claim to despise. I assume that this is the logical outcome of getting all of your information about politics and the rest of the world strictly from Glenn Beck and FOX News:


[Update: A Daily Dish reader echoes some of the points I've been trying to make in differentiating between the left's eventual hatred of Bush for one failure after another over several years versus the right's relatively immediate hatred of Obama over every policy and program he's instigated thus far:

After September 11th, Bush's approval ratings were near or above 90%. Practically the entire country was behind him - saluting and ready for duty. Yes, the Left did try to derail his plans for Iraq - but they failed. And when millions (actual millions) of Americans came out to protest that war - - it was largely ignored by the media. But when 70,000 lunatics came to DC last week to protest "Government Spending" (which, let's be honest, is a euphemism for "Barack Hussein Obama") - they got massive amounts of media coverage and hours of pundit commentary.

Every tea-party rally has been aggressively championed, and all-but-sponsored, by cable-news giant FOX. CODE PINK was almost completely ignored (which, as a liberal, I'm kinda glad about -- but I still stand behind my larger point). A couple went to a Bush rally wearing anti-Bush T-Shirts and got arrested. Guys standing outside Obama rallies openly carry guns and get interviewed by the media.

The heaviest hitters in the Republican party, and in the conservative media have loudly and proudly called for Obama's failure. Liberals who even softly criticized Bush were roundly shamed and called terrorist-loving-America-haters. George W. Bush, despite the controversial beginning of his presidency, was given the chance - - no, in fact, after 9/11, he was given all the unopposed freedom in the world to succeed or fail based upon his own decisions and his own performance. Bush EARNED his hatred.

Obama has not had that luxury.

Sullivan adds:
He also does not have the luxury of the Clinton inheritance. He was left with a steaming pile of doo-doo and a debt already in the stratosphere. And yet they also blame him for that.
Ditto on the CODE PINK opinion, although Cindy Sheehan was extremely nice when I met her. This is why I have a hard time taking a lot of the criticism being leveled at Obama from the right seriously, and their recent attempts to inflate the number of tea baggers in DC last Saturday from the official count of 70,000 into a ludicrous count of 2,000,000 only reinforces this opinion (by comparison the count at Obama's inauguration, the largest crowd ever for any event in DC, was 1.8 million). My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas was calling him the "worst president ever" within a month of his inauguration, for Christ's sake! And yet even after all of this, they still scream and whine about their persecution at the hands of "the liberal media" and Obama's "ACORN thugs".

Again, I'd just sit back and laugh at such selective memory and obvious lunacy if the stakes weren't so high for the country but they are. The Republicans decided from the outset of this presidency to play petty politics rather than do what's right and try to help the American people during this crisis, and I'm getting pretty damn tired of it. I can only hope that Obama is too.]

The £10 English Breakfast Challenge

I love English breakfasts but I'll be honest and admit that this thing looks intimidating as hell:

Check out this ten pound big breakfast challenge being run at a cafe in Westhoughton.

If you can eat it in 20 minutes you get it for free. The only catch is you cannot have a drink with it. I thought it didn’t look too bad until I saw the 10 slices of toast. No chance!

The Big Breakfast Challenge includes 10 fried eggs, 10 slices of bacon, 10 sausages, 10 slices of toast, 5 black puddings, tomatoes, beans and mushrooms.

If you think you can take on the Big Breakfast Challenge you can find it at: Mario’s Cafe, 67 Market St, Westhoughton, Bolton, BL5 3AG. I hope they have enough sausages in for all the people who have seen this offer plastered over the internet.
I'm a notoriously slow eater anyway so I'd obviously never win this thing but I can't think of anything worse than trying to eat ten pieces of toast without drinking something. I'm sure the grease, beans and egg yolks would help force it down but I prefer to actually enjoy my breakfasts and that means copious amounts of OJ must flow. Speaking of, McDonald's opens in three hours and I'm thinking McGriddles. Mmmm, McGriddles...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tibetan Sky Burials

A Tibetan funeral ritual that despite my extensive education in anthropology I've only just now learned about:

After death ceremonies vary from each faith from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, etc. In Tibetan Buddhism, there's a method of burial known as sky burial. Being Buddhist myself, I didn't know what a sky burial was. My humanities professor in college explained the sky burial before we watched a movie called "Kundun." The story behind Kundun is a biographical drama detailing the life of the current Dalai Lama who is the religious leader of the Buddhist faith.

The sky burial is pretty gruesome sight especially watching it for the first time. First time I saw the sky burial that was portrayed in Kundun, I wanted to cringe. It gave me the creeps. But you can't overlook the symbolism behind a sky burial. Each burial ceremony is sacred and carries a lot of symbolism. Sky burial is no different from such burial ceremony.

During the ceremony, the deceased is carried out to the open mountainous areas where vultures are present. What the monks due is sever each body part of the dead body and toss them out to the vultures. It seems disrespectful and sacrilegious to most faiths because it looks as if the body is desecrated. But that's not the intention of the sky burial.

Sky burial's intention is that when the vultures tear apart the flesh from the bones, your essence is part of the birds' essence. To them, you're still living but part of your body lives on in the birds. Also, the sky burial represents that you're giving back to life and to nature. Vultures are considered birds of prey and the sky burial is to honor those birds of prey...

...A lot of people would consider a sky burial to be disrespectful. But a sky burial possesses strong symbolism and a few benefits. A sky burial represents generosity which is one of the virtues taught in Buddhism. You're giving your body up to the birds in a generous acts in hopes to reincarnate in better circumstances. However the reason it's called a sky barrier because it was dubbed that name by the Westerners. While in Tibet it's called a jhator which is defined as giving to the birds. A sky burial is also friendly on the environment because no nutrients and resources are wasted. Meaning no trees are chopped up, no rocks containing minerals are crushed, and no fuel is burned meaning no pollution.

In a nutshell, a sky burial was the cycle of life and death at its simplest as nature intended.
For a much more comprehensive photologue of a Tibetan Sky Burial click here (rare warning: explicit content). Of course, I don't consider a sky burial disrespectful because I have no problem with the fact that our bodies simply decay upon our deaths; Is there any real difference between being eaten by worms or being eaten by vultures? Still the same naturalistic circle of life, as far as I'm concerned.

Now I'm sure that I've mentioned this on this blog before but just in case I haven't: I expect a massive party to be held upon my death, replete with the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol (amongst other chemicals) to be performed by everyone I care about upon my passing with absolutely no funeral proceedings of any kind. Now, I'd prefer that my body be donated to science after my death (yes, I realize that my Hunter S. Thompson-esque dream of being bodily fired from a cannon is a long shot, no pun intended) but regardless of the final destination for my obviously good-looking corpse I fully expect a grand soiree to be in full swing at the time. And I can honestly say that after many years of preparation I have full confidence that many of my true friends will make this happen according to my premortem wishes. Many thanks in advance, amigos.


If You Printed The Entire Internet...

I love to read but this is a bit daunting...

Afghan Insurgents Die In Explosion From IED

Now this is some terrorist activity I can get behind, and it didn't cost us a dime:

I'm glad the kid made it out OK but I fear that we'll just be fighting him in a few years anyway. The war in Afghanistan is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I just don't see a winning strategy for either staying or leaving, thus I've pretty much come to the conclusion that we should just cut our losses and get out. Unfortunately President Obama has decided to double-down our forces there; it's one of many policy decisions he's made since taking office that I find myself at odds with.

Now don't get me wrong, I'd still love to either capture or kill Osama bin Laden but let's be honest: Those are some pretty long odds right now and even if we did achieve that goal I suspect that Al Qaeda would keep right on keeping on, although they've definitely hit a low point in their popularity and effectiveness within the Arab world. And then there's this to consider: What if our taking out bin Laden is just what Al Qaeda needs to revive and rally more believers to their cause? That's not to say that we still shouldn't try to erase his bearded ass but in my experience religious nuts love a good martyr and we should be prepared to accept the regional repercussions of said actions.

But then what happens there when we leave? The recent election between current president Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah (the man so nice, they Abdullahed him twice) has been marred with U.N. allegations of voter fraud that could lead to a run-off election that must be completed as soon as possible so as not to leave this incendiary country essentially rudderless until next summer. The Taliban and other insurgents have started to step up their terror campaigns in the face of increased U.S. military activity and to be completely honest: We're flat broke right now. Plus, every historical precedent I look at says that we could be there for decades and still not pacify the country, much less install a legitimate and functional government. And on top of everything else, there's next door neighbor Pakistan and their precarious nuclear arsenal to consider.

While I obviously don't agree with Obama's decisions on this issue to date, I do hope that he's successful in this endeavour and that right soon. Otherwise, Afghanistan could become the modern day Vietnam in a relatively clumsy modern day Iraq/Korea analogy. I don't know about you (and I'm definitely not an advocate for total U.S. isolationism by any means) but I'm getting pretty fucking tired of being the world's police force. And we're still paying people good money not to grow poppies there. What the hell?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TDS: Mad Men

Per my post yesterday, Jon Stewart explores the impotent rage of conservatives who were against protesting the government before they were for it. Or as I like to call it: rank hypocrisy:

[Update: I just had to add this sign from one of the pissed off geniuses in Washington Saturday:
I can't decide if I like this one or "Keep government away from my Medicare!" more.


[Update II: Max Blumenthal takes aim at some easy targets. The "Politicians are like diapers" sign is the best:


Picture Of The Day

I have a bad feeling about this...


Patrick Swayze, RIP

Actor Patrick Swayze died yesterday of pancreatic cancer, which from what I hear is one of the worst, most painful cancers one can get. He was 57 years old. Swayze became a star after appearing in the eighties chick flicks Ghost and Dirty Dancing but I'll always remember him for his work in the eighties kick-ass flicks Road House and Point Break, both of which I've seen probably a hundred times each.

To lighten the mood, here's part of a classic SNL sketch that he and Chris Farley did together years ago:

Who would have guessed when this was made that they'd both be gone this soon? Sad.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Something Someone Else Said II

"Look, I think we all know why the prescription drug bill wasn’t fought against where health care reform is: the elderly are a protected political class, and those without health care are not. But few people are willing to admit to such naked horse race concerns behind their policy preferences. So what can people who are explicitly opposed to health care because of concerns of fiscal responsibility say in defense of the prescription drug benefit?

If you are blogging or writing politically now, and you weren’t then, you get a pass. If you have some separate reason for resistance to reform other than the expenditure, that’s ok too. But if you are specifically arguing that you don’t like health reform because it’s too expensive or fiscally irresponsible, and there’s no record of you arguing similarly against the wildly expensive prescription drug bill, it’s hard not to see that as hypocritical and partisan. Fair?" -Freddie, The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, commenting on the lack of conservative outrage when George W. Bush passed the prescription drug benefit.

This seems entirely fair to me. I consistently make this argument to conservatives who are opposed to health care reform and the almost universal rebuttal is, "Hey, I was mad about Bush's overspending too!" Really? Because I don't recall seeing you standing on street corners at the time holding up signs calling him a socialist. In fact, I don't recall any public conservative protests against anything Bush did over his eight years in the White House. It is of course your right to protest or not protest anything you see fit but don't be surprised when your current shouting is dismissed as partisan ire rather than legitimate fiscal concerns because your own hypocrisy has clearly made it so.


Americans Observe 9/11 By Not Masturbating

I missed this last week. I guess all of those conservatives were right, I am a bad American:

Something Someone Else Said

"The Democrats just never learn: Americans don't really care which side of an issue you're on as long as you don't act like pussies. When Van Jones called the Republicans assholes, he was paying them a compliment. He was talking about how they can get things done even when they're in the minority, as opposed to the Democrats, who can't seem to get anything done even when they control both houses of Congress, the presidency, and Bruce Springsteen.

I love Obama's civility in the face of such contumely, his desire to work with his enemies, it's positively Christ-like. In college, he was probably the guy at the dorm parties who made sure the stoners shared their pot with the jocks. But we don't need that guy now. We need an asshole.

Mr. President, there are some people who are never going to like you. That's why they voted for the old guy and Carrie's mom. You're not going to win them over. Stand up for the 70% of Americans who aren't crazy." -Bill Maher, The Huffington Post

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Any Given Sunday

Sorry about the lack of posts today but it's the first Sunday of the regular season. Back tomorrow and go Cowboys.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cowboys Display Fail

This is just getting embarrassing. First it was the too-low jumbo television installation and now some brain donor with his laptop hooked up to this display scroll can't even shut it down properly. Of course if Dallas wins the Super Bowl this year all is forgiven but still: I'm surrounded by 49ers fans out here, guys. Stop giving them ammunition.


Picture Of The Day

The painting "Marvel Mobsters" by artist Edwin David (click image to enlarge). Some of Marvel comic's more morally ambiguous heroes reimagined as 1930's-era gangsters. Just cool.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Glenn Beck: Crazed 9/11 Trajedy Whore

I was watching Glenn Beck on the FOX News channel yesterday. Yes, I know... After showing the obligatory montage of the 9/11 attacks set to ominous music that he plays every year to remind us why we should be scared of terrorism he actually started saying something I agree with. Ever on the verge of tears of course, Beck was lamenting the fact that eight years after the World Trade Center had been destroyed there was still just a huge hole in the ground where it used to stand.

He basically said that this is fucked up, and I agreed with him. Then he said that since the Empire State Building was completed in 400 days we should definitely have been able to build the new Freedom Tower with its memorial to fallen Americans in eight years, and I agreed with him. Then he began to decry the name change from "Freedom Tower" to "One World Trade Center", and I agreed with him. Then he said that the change was made to keep from offending people who don't like freedom, and I said "Wait, what the hell...?":

You know why we're not even calling it the Freedom Tower anymore? It's gonna be One World Trade Center. One World, isn't that great? Oh, might be too offensive to call it the Freedom Tower, we sure wouldn't want to have anybody offended by that! We want to make sure we have the occupancy there. Really?! They used to call it the Empty State Building. Do you want somebody who's offended by freedom in that tower? Who could they be? Oh well, China, China. I don't want anybody in the Freedom Tower who's offended by freedom, do you?
Now obviously communist China is hardly a bastion of freedom but I found it a little hard to swallow that we'd changed the name strictly because it offended them or anyone else. It turns out that it was hard to swallow because it wasn't true:
...this week, the owners of ground zero publicly parted ways with the Freedom Tower name, saying it would be more practical to market the tallest building in New York as the former north tower's name, One World Trade Center.

...others privately repeated fears that have plagued the building as negotiations with major corporations to take up space in the tower came and went: that the 102-story Freedom Tower's name could make it more susceptible to future attacks than a symbol of defiance against it.

"The fact is, more than 3 billion dollars of public money is invested in that building and, as a public agency, we have the responsibility to make sure it is completed and that we utilize the best strategy to make certain it is fully occupied," the agency said in a statement Friday.

Agency chairman Anthony Coscia was more critical in remarks Thursday, when the Port Authority announced its first corporate lease at the tower with a Chinese business center.

"As we market the building, we will ensure the building is presented in the best possible way," he said. One World Trade Center is "easiest for people to identify with, and frankly, we've gotten a very interested and warm reception to it."

So Beck was telling the truth when he said that the name change was made to better facilitate its occupancy but he flat out lied about the name offending China or any of the major corporations which might become future occupants. It was changed by a group of bureaucratic businessmen for marketing purposes in order to ensure a larger profit. It was Glenn Beck's good friend capitalism. The Invisible Hand had scratched out the old name and written in a more profitable one but for right-wing screechers like Beck it's better for ratings to rail against non-existent political correctness than corporate profit motives.

And as to those legitimate, yet in my opinion exaggerated fears, that the old name might have made the building more of a target? Beck had this plan for how he and his followers would have redesigned and built the new building:
The Freedom Tower would have been done years ago and it wouldn't have been the Freedom Tower, it would have been the Freedom Towers because we would have built both of these towers back the way they were before except we would have built them stronger. We would have built them in a way that they would have resisted attack. And do you know what my guess would...? They would have been 25 stories taller and have a big fat "Come try that again!" sign on top of it.
Brilliant. We're having trouble filling the tower with paying occupants because of fears of another terrorist attack and Beck's (who will not ever personally be working there, mind you) response is to dare our enemies to do it again. Does this style of arrogant schoolyard taunting remind you of someone else?

Just like every other chicken hawk screaming about how tough we should be in the face of terrorist danger neither of these men has ever been a rescue worker nor have they served in a combat zone. This is the type of tough guy bravado that passes for patriotism amongst the political right in this country now that their savior Ronald Reagan has passed away into that great Drug War in the sky. Hallelujah!

How To Beat Up Anything

A humor website that is "A guide to fighting anything. Bullies, politicians, robots, even future-versions of yourself, back to harass you about your life choices". Being a huge Batman fan I've always wondered how best to take him out. It was a bit more psychological than I would have imagined:

Let me ask you something, are you determined? Really truly single-minded in the pursuit of your goals?

Cause that’s what it’s going to take to beat the Batman. The bad news is this process will take ten years. The good news is, at the end of those ten years, you’ll have taken out the goddamn Batman. That’s a nice little detail to have on your resume.

Step 1: Forget about fighting him. Seek him out and befriend him. Become his pal. Be “there” for him. Get to the point where he’s relied on you and trusts you with his life. Occasionally, do things to reassure him. Point a projectile weapon at him and say, “I’m going to murder you.” Then pretend to shoot him, and say, “Nah, I’m just joking” then hand him back the weapon. Maybe even say, “But I could have…” Now, it’s going be hard, but do your best to say this last part without menace. DON’T let your gaze harden and then drop your head, while eyeballing him in a malevolent manner. If a camera zooms in for a close-up and possible freeze frame on your scowling countenance, push it away. Just try to keep it light. “But I could have… LOL! Who wants lunch?” Like that. Also, avoid repeating lines with an inappropriate intensity. For example, he picks up the tab for the aforementioned lunch and says, “You can get me next time.” Do not mutter, “Oh I’ll get you alright. I’ll definitely... get you… next time.”

On the last day of your tenth year as friends ask him to come over to your desk to help you with a computer game. He may balk at [t]his, as he’s not known as a computer game expert, but be firm, insist he take a look at the screen. “Why not ask him to help you with something he is knowledgeable about?” you ask? I’m sorry, WHO’S GIVING THE TUTORIAL HERE, YOU OR ME? That’s right.

Step 2: When he leans on your desk to get a look at the screen, quickly snatch his wrist, then stand and pivot. Using your superhuman strength hurl him through the roof of the building. Then quickly fly through the hole his body created, shoot him [with] your heat-vision, then grab him and huck him into the fiery Sun.*

*You must be Superman for this tactic to succeed. I hope that part was clear.
There's always a catch. I also especially liked "How To Beat Up a Tyrannosaurus Rex and Actor Mark Wahlberg". He talks to animals, you know.


Scientific Shocker: Men Like Breasts! A Lot!

OK, so it's not just me then:

WOMEN have long complained that their faces are often the last thing men look at - and now a scientific study has proved them right.

Researchers found that virtually half - 47 per cent - of men first glance at a woman’s breasts.

A third of the "first fixations" are on the waist and hips, while fewer than 20 per cent look at the woman's face.

Not only are breasts often the first thing men look at, they also glance at them for longer than any other body part, the experts discovered, the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK reported.
I know, I know, "Any excuse to post a picture of a three-breasted woman on your blog, JBW". Hell, there are a few girls I know whom I'm still not even sure have faces or not. And admit it, guys: This is exactly what happened when you saw the picture above. They're almost hypnotic...

Of course men can hardly be blamed for our mammarian predilections. Male hominids have been conditioned over millions of years of evolution to prefer females with large breasts and round hips so that they will be better able to birth and nourish our offspring. On the flip side, females prefer males with strong arms and broad shoulders and chests so that they will be better able to provide food and protection for those same offspring. As modern humans our current level of technological sophistication negates most of these primal needs but that hardly makes us any less susceptible to them. Now try that explanation out on your wife and/or girlfriend the next time she catches you staring at another woman's chest and tell me how it works out for you.


September 11

I slept through the attacks on 9/11. My cell phone rang around 6:00 a.m. here on the West coast when an ex-girlfriend in Texas called me to see if I'd seen what was happening but I didn't answer, although I did have the thought "Why the hell is she calling me so early?" just before I rolled over and went back to sleep. Being a bartender and hard-drinking partier (yes, even harder than I am now) at the time I leisurely arose around noon and came downstairs where one of my roommates told me that "We've been attacked".

I flipped on the television and numbly watched news coverage for the rest of the day until I had to be at work that night. I didn't know anyone living in New York City at the time but I did call my family and my ex back in Texas; I guess I just wanted to hear their voices. When I got to work I watched news coverage there until closing. Not one person sat at my bar that night. After work I went home and drank even harder than I had the night before, but for very different reasons. That's how I spent 9/11. I'm kind of glad I slept through it.