Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Amen. I always did identify more with Linus. And as a Christmas bonus, here's why Santa Claus is so kick-ass:

I totally knew that Jesus wasn't the only Christmas icon with magical powers and killer abs. Rock on, Santa.

(via, via)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TCR: Salvatore Giunta

I've been reading about and watching this guy all week after he became the first living soldier to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor since the Vietnam Conflict and he's always been the very definition of humility. We need to find some way to clone Giunta whilst imprinting his sense of duty and bravery upon the DNA:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"I never cease to be amazed at what a festering bundle of resentments Palin is. Just a few years ago she was the mayor of a tiny town in Alaska, and today she's one of the most famous people in America. Despite her modest talents, there are millions of people who believe, and tell her constantly, that she ought to be the most powerful person on planet Earth. She's made millions of dollars in the last two years, for the easiest of things -- giving some speeches, having ghost-writers pen a couple of books, doing appearances on Fox, letting cameras trail her around while she goes fishing. And yet she can barely open her mouth without going on and on about how terribly victimized she is, and how everyone has done her wrong," -Paul Waldman, The American Prospect.

Posted because apparently my little buddy Donald Douglas of American Clown Shoes has been lamenting the fact that I've been letting the blog lie mostly fallow lately, and if anyone knows about being a professional victim it is most certainly he. Here's to you, Chubs.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FDA Proposes New Cigarette Warning Labels

This is a bit much in my opinion:

Federal drug regulators on Wednesday unveiled 36 proposed warning labels for cigarette packages, including one showing a toe tag on a corpse and another in which a mother blows smoke on her baby.

Designed to cover half the surface area of a pack or carton of cigarettes, and a fifth of any advertisements for them, the labels are intended to spur smokers to quit by providing graphic reminders of tobacco’s dangers. The labels are required under a law passed last year that gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate, but not ban, tobacco products for the first time.

Public health officials hope that the new labels will re-energize the nation’s antismoking efforts, which have stalled in recent years. About 20.6 percent of the nation’s adults, or 46.6 million people, and about 19.5 percent of high school students, or 3.4 million teenagers, are smokers.
And yes, that's actually one of the proposed images above; you can see more here. Because just giving people the facts about cigarettes isn't enough, the government has decided that it's also necessary to appeal to one's emotions and fear of death and disease in order to control individual behaviour. My conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Clown Shoes accurately intuits my stand on this issue:
I don't know. Maybe some folks are so stupid they actually need these warnings. Besides, what would folks like egghead JBW do without some Nanny Statism to gripe about? Get rid of warning labels and marijuana laws in one fell swoop!! Then everyone would have equal opportunity to death!
Now I'm not a Republican so I don't consider the moniker "egghead" to be the epithet that Don does but I will admit that I do agree with him on this, at least partially: I'm absolutely convinced that some (hell, many) folks are so stupid that they actually need these warnings, there's no maybe about it. Even after several decades of government health reports stating definitively that cigarettes cause cancer and thus death, even after several multi-billion dollar lawsuits against tobacco companies for making false claims about the safety of their products all these years and even though cigarettes have had health warnings on them since the mid sixties people still smoke them! Why do they do this despite all of the warnings and evidence about how dangerous it is? Well, even though I'm an egghead (which is defined as being "elitist" and "out of touch") I understand a truth about myself and my fellow humans that Don does not: human beings have a fundamental need to alter their brain chemistry.

Ever wonder why the War on Drugs has been such an abject failure? Or why people smoke or chew tobacco, drink too much alcohol and eat too much fat, salt and sugar? Of course you don't because you know why people do these things: because it makes them feel good, and no amount of warning labels and government babysitting is going to make them stop doing so. Now this isn't to say that I think cigarettes shouldn't have warnings on their packages. I have no problem with the small amount of government intervention that is required to force companies to provide adequate information to the public about their products but these pictures of diseased lungs and choking children seem to me political correctness run amok.

Now I have no doubt that they'll have the desired effect of convincing a certain number of people not to smoke who weren't deterred by a mere written warning but how far should we as a society be willing to take this? Should the winery that produces my Pinot Noir be forced to place a picture of a hardened liver on every bottle? How about forcing fast food companies to print pictures of a guy having a coronary or having his leg amputated due to diabetes on their cheeseburger wrappers? Or we could even up the ante to things that still hold an element of danger yet don't even alter brain chemistry or directly affect our health, like forcing car companies to place pictures of bloodied corpses on their windshields or forcing the airlines to print pictures of a crashed burning fuselage on every ticket. Hell, we could force companies to put a graphic warning about the worst consequences of every product and activity under the sun on their respective packaging and advertising, then nobody would ever do anything stupid and we'd all be safe from ourselves, right?

Wrong. We could do all of that and more and people would still do stupid things that are dangerous to their health but we've decided as a society that we're OK with that because it's the price of personal freedom in this country. Full disclosure: I don't smoke, in fact I hate cigarettes. One of my great laments is that almost every cute girl I know in California is a smoker but I still defend the rights of smokers to do so because I believe in the principle of individual liberty. Being a hypocrite Don is comfortable letting his government dictate ever more restrictive advertising codes for tobacco and positively draconian anti-drug laws because he doesn't smoke or use illicit drugs, hence he could care less about the individual freedoms of people who do. I would imagine that he's quite all right with the recent San Francisco ban on toys in Happy Meals (gotta protect the kids, you know) and the massive sin tax that California has placed on alcohol and tobacco products (I missed that part last time I was reading the bible), all while he squeals incessantly about big government running wild and Obama ramming his health care reform down our throats.

What this ultimately boils down to is personal responsibility and the philosophy that adults, even stupid adults, should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to engage in behaviour that is dangerous to themselves and their health. Children are obviously different and because their reasoning skills are not yet mature they require additional governmental protection but even then I doubt Don and the rest of his tea partying ilk would want the government telling them how to raise their children in most respects. But telling an adult like him that he can and cannot ingest certain substances and chemicals because in the eyes of the government he's essentially too stupid to decide these things for himself? Well, maybe he needs these warning labels to protect him. Perhaps then despite varying levels of individual stupidity our societal "opportunity to death" might not be equal, but at least we'll all be safe from our own behaviour.

Well what do you know, I wrote this entire post without invoking the phrase "nanny state" even once. You're welcome, Don. Now go do what your government tells you like a good little drone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My '10 Election Predictions

Continuing my biennial tradition of making a mockery of the democratic process by treating it as a sporting event to be wagered upon I've made my predictions for tomorrows midterm elections. The Republicans need to gain 39 seats in the House of Representatives to take control of that body and I have no doubt that they will get them. In fact, I'm predicting they'll take 50-60 with no more than 75. They also need to gain 10 seats in the Senate to take control of that body as well but I just don't see that happening. I'm predicting that they'll take 6-8 with a high of 9, leaving Democrats with a slim majority.

Despite delirious prognostications about Democrats getting "crushed" tomorrow I think that this will be a net positive for President Obama, whom regular readers know I like much more than his party as a whole, going into the 2012 elections. These past two years have been rough ones for Americans but I think Obama has done a fairly good job playing the hand he was dealt coming into office, despite pussified Democrats, obstructionist Republicans, Bush's tanking economy, Bush's two unfunded wars and the myriad of other albatrosses hanging from his neck. Now the Republicans will have two years to propose something, anything substantive that will help get America back on its feet and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has already stated the central plank of their bold new strategy:

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
That's their plan: politics over governance. No serious proposals to reinvigorate the economy or reduce the debt or deficits, just a party-wide retrenchment and digging in of heels with a constant refrain of tax cuts (which is hardly a serious proposal based on the massive deficits we're dealing with). You see, there are only two ways to reduce government deficits: increase revenues (raising taxes) or reduce spending, and since they wouldn't even consider the possibility of the former if Fort Knox was on fire that leaves the latter. But what have they proposed cutting?

As I've said, nothing substantial or specific, just vague platitudes about reducing spending and eliminating waste. 75% of our federal budget is used to pay for only three things: Social Security, Medicare and military spending; everything else, everything else, makes up the other 25%. Any serious proposal to reduce our deficits and steer us back towards fiscal solvency must address the fact that cuts have to be made in those three areas. And even though cuts to these areas will be hard to make and less than popular with voters, any proposals by either party that do not do this should not be taken seriously. And what has the latest proposed spending cut by the so-called party of fiscal conservatism been? The 1.5% of NPR's funding that they get from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: about three million dollars. Our national debt is around thirteen and a half trillion dollars, about four million times that.

"So how does losing the House help Obama?", I hear you asking. Well, if the Republicans win the House and are actually serious about reducing deficits and making spending cuts then they will compromise and work with Obama's bipartisan deficit commission to shore up the economy: win for Obama and more importantly, win for Americans (and many of those Americans will be voting in 2012). If however they do what I expect and continue to try to derail everything he proposes whilst simultaneously proposing to repeal health care and financial reforms that are popular with Americans and even possibly shut down the government, I think it will become fairly clear to voters that Republicans are more interested in regaining power than in trying to help the country: win for Obama and more importantly, huge loss for Americans (and many of those Americans will be voting in 2012).

The president inherited a full plate when he came into office and he needed a strong party that controlled both houses of congress to have his back as he tried to institute his ambitious agenda for America. Unfortunately for him and that agenda, he's had to make due with the Democrats, who to their credit and despite all the shit I talk about them have done a lot of things right over the past two years. But they've also done a lot of things wrong and that, combined with a recessed economy, high unemployment and allowing the Republicans to consistently control the narrative in Washington, is why they're going to lose a substantial number of seats in tomorrows midterms.

But those losses come with a silver lining: in the minds of the voters Republicans will finally be forced to own part of the economy Bush left on his desk two years ago and if the only solution they have for the next two years is still merely "NO!" then they should enjoy tomorrows victory while it lasts because they're gonna have a hell of a time running a presidential candidate on that nihilistic platform. Voters will have two choices when they enter their voting booths: one party that irresponsibly spends your tax dollars like hell and another party that irresponsibly spends your tax dollars like hell whilst simultaneously and hypocritically swearing up and down that they do not. The main difference between them at this point is that the first party has an actual adult as their leader. Please make sure you vote tomorrow everyone.

I'm Back

Read my blog if you want to live... OK, OK, I obviously can't help myself at this point and I'll be honest: I was genuinely touched by the outpouring of support and positive words I received in my ostensible last post. I really did appreciate it and I must admit that blogging can be a fun enterprise as long as one does not put too much pressure on one's self to produce, so here's the deal: this blog will remain up and active but I make no promises about either content or frequency. I might post ten times in a day or just as easily let it lie fallow for weeks at a time; I might rant lengthily about how the Senatorial filibuster has paralyzed that deliberative body or I might just post a video of a cute kitten trying not to fall asleep (note: there will be no videos of cute kittens, as an addendum to my long-standing rule banning lolcats). Basically I'm reprioritizing several things right now and while the blog isn't going to the back of the line it has lost some prominence in my everyday life. So that's it. Thanks again to everyone who reads what I write here. I'm gonna get some lunch now.

TDS: Negative Campaigning

Case in point:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Brain Fatigue And Rage Deficiency

My sincerest apologies to anyone and everyone who comes here to read this blog on a regular or even semi-regular basis and a special thank you to those who have emailed me to make sure that I've been OK over the past two weeks. I'd like to tell you that I've left the blog sitting idle because I've been too busy with various wacky adventures and sexy hi jinks but the truth is that I've recently realized that I'm extremely tired, so much so that I don't think that I can go on any longer. Don't worry, I'm not so tired of life yet that I'm going to eat a bullet or anything like that but rather I'm actually bewilderingly and completely tired of American politics.

I watch and read about the various races across the country lately and I struggle to give even a modicum of a fraction of a damn. Every campaign commercial I hear now sounds exactly the same to me: "I'm tired of career politicians and business as usual in politics. Our elected officials have forgotten who they work for. Help me send a message to Washington that we're not going to put up with partisan politics any longer. Together we can change the tone in D.C. and take our country back." Blah, blablabbity blah, blah, blah. You've heard it all before; I've heard it all before and you obviously don't believe it any more than I do. I consider this type of boilerplate populist tripe to be no more than insultingly simplistic rhetorical masturbation for the ignorant masses (and I hold the entirety of modern media and journalism specifically responsible for this phenomenon, but that's neither here nor there at this point).

"But James", I imagine you retorting to your computer screens, "I thought you were a big supporter of President Obama! He's all about change and ending the partisan divide in Washington. Have you given up on that message and his seemingly earnest attempts to make America a better place?" No I have not, but I have realized that political culture in this country is so disturbingly corrupt and hopelessly mired in a system of failure and inaction that I no longer possess the zeal to believe that it can be significantly changed within my lifetime, short of a national tragedy or a similarly significantly-sized event to shake the average asshole out of their chronic complacency. In short: I give up, and I just don't care anymore. I'm sorry but it's the truth.

I finally understand what so many of my friends and acquaintances have been telling me over the past several years about politics, about how it's just not that important to get so worked up over people and events that are largely and almost completely beyond the control of the average American. I get it now. It's all a game (as so much of life and society is but that's a topic for another time) to make you feel like what you have to say about how this country is run makes a difference and actually matters to those in power. Now I can imagine many of you similarly retorting to your computer screens, "But James, one man/woman can make a difference! The people still have the power of the voting booth!" I wish I could still believe that matters, but I just cannot.

That isn't to say that I'm going to stop voting or anything as ludicrous or ignorant as that. Hell, I've already registered and the county's going to try to nail me for jury duty as a result so I might as well flex my citizen rights every two years but I've realized that the amount of energy and stamina it takes to remain emotionally invested in American politics is hardly worth the meager reward, either emotional or electoral. I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie Blade: Trinity. Blade (who is a vampiric vampire hunter played by Wesley Snipes, for the woefully uninitiated) is in police custody and a government psychologist is questioning him to assess his connection to reality and concurrent level of sanity:

VANCE: What about the President? Do you know who's in the White House at the moment?

BLADE: Some asshole...
Now of course I don't think that Barack Obama is personally an asshole (the movie came out in 2004 so draw your own conclusions as to their nonspecific target...) but it does speak to a larger problem within our society: most people who decide to go into politics are either self-involved assholes or self-important assholes or both. Yes, there are some legitimately good men and women in Washington earnestly trying to make this country a better place but the vast majority of people who eventually gain any significant amount of power there, and thus have the ability to institute any significant amount of change within the system, find themselves so endlessly mired within it that they eventually become everything they ran against, if they even made any attempt to portray themselves as such in the first place. Again, in short (and with all due apologies to Orwell): power corrupts, and I'm finally sick of it.

So, the next obvious and obviously self-involved question here is: does this spell the end of Brain Rage? I would very much like to answer in the negative and say "Hell no! Are you fucking kidding me?!" but the more honest answer is "I just don't know". Continuing on the honesty kick, I have to say that it's been fairly liberating not worrying about what I'm going to write here day to day and it's been even more refreshing not paying much attention to the 24 hour news cycle as if it were my job to do so, despite the nagging voice in the back of my conscience urging me to do just that on a continuous basis. I'd be lying if I said that I don't enjoy writing about current events here but I'd be lying even more if I said that I find the entire enterprise of caring about most of those said events more fulfilling than I do taxing of late.

So again, where does this leave us? And again, I just don't know. I've always been one to follow my intellect over my instincts on most matters because I've realized over the years that my instincts amount to exactly jack shit when compared to my intellect (which definitely says more about my instincts than it does my intellect) and I'm not planning on abandoning that line of reasoning anytime soon but I have been known to change my mind on occasion. Regardless, I plan to spend the vast majority of my time in the immediate future concentrating on real world plans that've been fomenting for some time now outside of the blogging world, i.e. dressing up as a masked crime fighter by night and solving mysteries. So if these are indeed my last words here, many thanks to those who have taken the time to read the meager thoughts I've committed to cyberspace over the past few years and bon chance in your own future endeavours. I'll be around, somewhere.

I remain, as always, James B. Webb. Adieu.

P. S.: I would be remiss here if I didn't take a moment to address my conservative counterpart and constantly comedic foil Donald Douglas of American Power. Don, I've tried to find even an iota of entertainment within your posts or even from one of your sycophantic commenters over the past few weeks as I have in the past but I've woefully come up short on both counts. To say that you're a caricature of your side of the aisle, again as I have many times in the past, is still entirely accurate but unfortunately it's no longer nearly as entertaining. To happily quote one of my fellow nihilistic bloggers: "You're fucking clown shoes". I'll be around two years hence to collect my one hundred dollars when Barack Obama is successfully reelected as our president. Enjoy rhetorically beating off to your big victory this November: it will almost assuredly be short-lived. And good luck with that whole "leftists hate America and are trying to destroy it" schtick. I can think of no more suitable nor entertaining epithet for this blog. Please have someone explain the concepts of humor and irony to you at some point before you shuffle loose this mortal coil. And again, adieu.

[Update: There's no way I'm going out on a down note by addressing Don. Here's something a thousand times more kick-ass: Sgt. Adam Sniffen from the 101st Airborne Division delivering the game ball via parachute before the Michigan vs. MSU game at Michigan Stadium two weeks ago:

Too cool. Adios.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Something Inspired Someone Else Said

"Then, knees touching, neck muscles relaxing, brow drying in the cold dry air, we should drink. Certain things were put upon this earth for our enjoyment, and it’s wasteful and wicked to condemn them," -Barbara Holland, "in praise of the happy hour, the darkened bar, and the winding down of the day".

The New Yorker article I took the quote from begins thusly:

A few weeks ago, the headline of an obituary in the Times caught my eye: “Barbara Holland, Defender of Small Vices, Dies at 77.” A “defender of small vices”—what a fine title by which to be remembered, the kind of informal, appointed job that you didn’t know exists but then seems essential once you do.
I never knew Ms. Holland, nor did I even know of her before today, and although we were divided by forty years and a vast swath of the United States I already consider her a kindred spirit. In Endangered Pleasures I think I may have just found the next submission for my book club.


Political Connotations

Shankar Vedantam talks about studies of both campaigns from the 2008 presidential election:

The researchers found that when they subliminally flashed the name Obama before [McCain] volunteers—the flashes were so brief that the volunteers did not notice the flash—this unconsciously activated words such as Arab, turban, and mosque in the minds of McCain supporters. Likewise, subliminally flashing the word McCain unconsciously activated words such as senile, dementia, and Alzheimer's in the minds of Obama supporters. The same thing did not happen when volunteers were flashed the name of the candidate they supported. The slur-related words were activated only by unconsciously reminding them about the candidate they opposed.
This is why I always say that "both sides do bad things" and that if anyone says that their side does not that they are inveterate liars. But I also say that "one side is better at saying bad things and making them stick". Ask yourself which is more likely to be true: that John McCain is losing control of his mental faculties because he's growing old or that Barack Obama hates America because he's a secret Muslim?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"In the Western world today, there is a group of people who live in a haze of unreality, and are prone at any moment to break into paranoia, hallucinations, and screaming. If you try to get between them and their addiction, they will become angry and aggressive and lash out. They need our help. I am talking, of course, about the Drug Prohibitionists: the gaggle of politicians, bishops and journalists who still insist that the only way to deal with the very widespread drug use in our societies is for it to be criminalized, where it is untaxed, unregulated, controlled by armed criminal gangs, and horribly adulterated," -Johann Hari, The Huffington Post.

Illogic is indeed powerfully addictive.


Maher's New Rules: Barry Whitehouse

Last night Bill Maher laid out why people need to stop their whining and remember everything President Obama has accomplished thus far when they go into the voting booth in November:

Things haven't gone as smoothly as many would have liked but these are tough times and I believe that we're better off with Obama than we would have been without him. I still can't stand the Democratic party but in a two party system with these choices I don't consider it much of a choice at all. I realize that my perspective is somewhat skewed leftward but I still think the majority of honest intelligent Americans would agree with me on this. November will be rough but I don't think it will necessarily be as bad as many are predicting. Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Amazing Musical Instrument

An obviously fictional musical instrument favoring process over product:


Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP, Greg Giraldo

I can't say he was one of my favorite comedians but I really liked this guy (no homo):

Comedian Greg Giraldo — well-known for his work on such programs as Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil, several Comedy Central roasts, and NBC’s Last Comic Standing — has passed away. Both Comedy Central and NBC confirmed the comedian died Wednesday in a New Brunswick, N.J., hospital, just days after being hospitalized, reportedly for a prescription pill overdose.
He was 44 years old. Giraldo was known as the King of the Roast in regard to the Friar's Club roasts routinely broadcast on Comedy Central. His set at David Hasselhoff's roast a few months back absolutely killed (warning, this is a roast):

[Update: The video has already been taken down. Fucking Viacom. Wait a few days and then try to find it again; you won't be sorry.]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

That's Gay: No Homo

When I was in Vegas a few weeks back I was surprised to learn that none of my buddies were familiar with this particular homophobic term made popular by rap culture. Of course after I told them about it we used it about every five minutes for the rest of the weekend because we're all totally not gay:


Touchdown Jeebus Wins Fantasy Week 3

I'm not trying to brag or anything but I totally killed my fantasy football league this week (OK, I'm bragging just a bit), and the Dallas Cowboys finally put one in the win column. This is me smiling.

Many Americans Know Little About Religion

I'm rarely surprised when I learn that Americans know little about anything but I think that this is somewhat telling:

A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.
I was not raised religious as a child but rather than leaving me ignorant on the subject I was encouraged to learn more about it and then decide for myself what I believed. I would explain the results of this survey by positing that many of those who are raised so are not similarly encouraged to think for themselves and question authority but are rather told what to believe from an early age when a child's brain is very similar to a sponge as it relates to knowledge and information. They're told what to believe and they do so without thinking any more about the subject.

This line of thought always reminds me of two of my favorite quotes about thinking for one's self. The first is from Homer Simpson:
Kids are great, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate and they practically raise themselves now-a-days, you know, with the internet and all.
And the second is from comedian David Cross:
I don't have kids but I might someday and if I do I think that I'd like to raise them Amish. You know, instill in them those hard working Amish values and beliefs. And I'm sure they'll eventually have some questions: "Father, how come you get to watch television, and we can't? And how come you get to play video games and read with the lights on and we don't get to?" And I'll get down on a knee and gentlely say to them, : "Well, Sweetie, that's because Daddy's not Amish, and you are. You see, that's what you believe. Now hurry off to bed, you have to get up early tomorrow to harvest my breakfast. Ahh, Amish kids..."
Think for yourself and question everything, especially what you've been told and what you think you already know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Something More Hilarious Someone Else Said

Now that's funny.


Something Hilarious Someone Else Said

Perhaps he should also chow down on a shot gun and complete the analogy? I'm just kidding, I know absolutely nothing about this kid other than that he looks like a lesbian and little girls want to fuck him. I understood Cobain's popularity; this kid's, not so much.


Friday, September 24, 2010

TDS: Postcards From The Pledge

So, you don't like the way things are going in America today and despite the fact that many of our current woes originated during the last Republican administration you're still thinking of voting them back into power for some new leadership and fresh ideas. Jon Stewart takes a look at their new Pledge to America and finds a few things that might look a little familiar:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health Reform Hits Main Street

If you really want to know what's about to start happening in American health care reform do yourself a favor and watch this nine minute long video. Relax, it's a cartoon:


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Worthlessness Of Pennies

I've written before that I think pennies are an anachronism and should be phased out of our society but this guy makes a much more compelling argument:

I had no idea that nickles were also so useless. Societal stupidity like this really annoys me.


Drunken Safety Dance At The Palms, Las Vegas

No, not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. We didn't know this kid but he was quite entertaining:

Home Again, Home Again...

I flew back in from Vegas late Sunday night and then spent most of Monday nursing one of the most dehydrating hangovers I've ever endured. One of the problems with getting together with my buddies from college is that we always drink and party as if we're still twenty years old, and I certainly felt it this time. On the plus side however I actually broke even at the tables, which is quite a rarity for me as I totally stink at cards (plus the Texas/Texas Tech game was easy money).

I had a couple of revelations as it concerns my blogging on this trip that I'll go more into later but for now I'm just going to get myself some Gatorade. So, what'd I miss while I was gone?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

That's right: when Sin City calls you have to accept the charges. I'll be back in a few days. Be careful of the Sasquatch traps I've set throughout the blog, they usually only snare idiots but better safe than sorry. I'm out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

American Power And Don Douglas Hearts Juses

So it seems that my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power has acknowledged his recent Sasquatch FAIL, albeit without giving yours truly the requisite credit for the pwnage:

So "SASQUATCH ISRAEL" is really truly "SASQUATCH IS REAL." And there's even a website for that, on Facebook.

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I'm dumb.

I stand by what I wrote, either way.

That said, the towering intellects at
Sadly No! are all too ready to point out any discrepancies, throwing in a little snide dig at the "Juses" for good measure: "Don Douglas Hearts Juses."

Yes, I do.

But that begs the question: The brilliant leading lights at Sadly No! don't?

Actually, I'm not surprised.

Leftists hate moral clarity. And they hate Israel. We don't need a Sasquatch myth to figure that out. So, a hearty F*** You to the lot of you, assholes.
The boys at Sadly No! fail to link to me as well but they do give the hat tip to bjkeefe, who does in turn credit yours truly. I'm pretty sure however that Don knows who to attribute his newest FAIL to for two reasons: 1) this post is reminiscent of so many others in which he references me in that he's disabled commenting in the mode of an intellectual coward and 2) I left a specific comment on another thread at his site a few days ago that I'm certain he knows was me under the name "Sasquatch Israel", which he of course deleted, again in the mode of an intellectual coward. And how fucked up and myopic is his claim that "hearting Jesus"="moral clarity"?

To answer Don's question which should have been directed at myself however: no, I do not heart Juses no matter how brilliant a leading light I am. I actually think that he was probably a good guy and I like his style (except for the whole naive "turning the other cheek" thing, of course) but I do seriously doubt the veracity of his oft acclaimed magical abilities. My favorite part of this though is that Don stands by what he wrote, i.e. the whole Israel as persecuted mythical Sasquatch meme 'cause Don Douglas ain't ever wrong, even when he's quite obviously wrong. And I don't hate either moral clarity or Israel, although I do think that both have a rabid unthinking fan base consisting partly of simple child-like intellects. I also think that I deserve my very own personal hearty F*** You from the man. Fair's fair, after all.

[Update: Don has posted a follow up in which he ironically takes the boys at Sadly No! to task over grammar and spelling mistakes in an email. Still no mention of yours truly so I left a pithy comment linking to this post and politely asked for my F*** You. It was deleted and commenting was disabled shortly thereafter. I love this guy.]

Masturbate To Christine O'Donnell Day

If you haven't yet heard, Christine O'Donnell is the newly minted Republican nominee in Delaware's U.S. Senate special election to fill Joe Biden's former seat. She was endorsed by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin and beat out moderate Republican and former governor Mike Castle for the nomination. But this isn't her first foray into public life: Rachel Maddow recently dug up a clip from MTV's decade old series Sex in the '90's (which, coincidentally, is the same decade yours truly started having sex), specifically the episode entitled "The Safest Sex of All":

My favorite part of this is her theory at the end there that if guys masturbate then they will have no use for sexual relations with women. Makes sense: what guy would want to eat filet mignon when he can have Hamburger Helper anytime he wants? OK, it's actually one of the dumbest theories on sex that I've ever heard and is only disproven by both evolution and the vast history of human existence. Have I mentioned before how incredibly stupid I think religion is? Yeah? OK, good. Anyway, this flashback video inspired the following comment from a reader on Dan Savage's sex advice blog at the Stranger:

The time has come for you to use your influence to pick a day between now and the November election, and declare it "Masturbate to Christine O'Donnell Day" in either the state of Delaware or the entire United States of America. If there needs to be a male equivalent, so be it. This needs to happen, and you're the only guy who can do it.

Hiding At The Elusive Fuzz Under Christine's Knockers

The "male equivalent" caveat is because Savage is gay but I intend to pick up the heterosexual slack myself. Absent an officially announced date I hereby pledge that this wanton act will be performed at least once by myself sometime before the general election in November, hopefully with "What If God Was One Of Us" playing softly in the background (but I reserve the right to forego listening to that song if it makes everything seem too weird, which it almost assuredly will). I've already worked out several hot O'Donnell/Palin/Bachmann lesbo cougar scenarios that I won't go into any further here but rest assured, it will be the safest sex of all. I just hope they all still respect me in the morning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Burnt A Copy Of The Quran

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we do that.


Monday, September 13, 2010

American Power And Anti-Semitic Hominids

So my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power was in New York City over the weekend for the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. His main post on the events has a lot of pictures taken from around the city and while it's a little heavy on religion and rantings about "the left's Media-Industrial-Islamist-Complex" it's still rather interesting to check out but it's his follow-up post about "the America-bashing, anti-Israel left" amongst the sign-carrying protesters of the various ideologies present that day that I found particularly entertaining. Amidst his claims about supposedly out-debating some anti-war "leftists" on the street I found this gem of an accusation:

Then turning around, I saw this kid yacking it up for the crowd, obviously having a blast with this ugly Jew-hating sign. And what does that mean, "SASQUATCH ISRAEL"? This is a play on the "legitimacy myth" of Israel's existence. As there's of course a "Sasquatch myth," it's worth noting the implied comparison: that Israel is also an ape-like beast existing only in historical folklore. Absent legitimacy, Israel has "no right to exist." This kid's sign is but one more example of eliminationist anti-Semitism. And look at how overjoyed he is in boasting this hatred. Creepy.
I'm sure you're all just as familiar as I am with this oh-so-common yet extraordinarily awkwardly worded insult comparing the country of Israel to the cryptozoological creature known as Sasquatch in order to advance the agenda of anti-Semitic eliminationism, right? You know, all those political cartoons you've seen in which Israel is portrayed as a large hulking fictional beast crashing through the dense underbrush of the Middle East with the words "SASQUATCH ISRAEL" written across its chest? Wait, you're not? Yeah, neither am I and it's because Don's claim qualifies as the very definition of the phrase "desperately grasping at straws". Here's a picture of said kid:
Now tell me, if you had to make a guess would you say that his sign reads "SASQUATCH ISRAEL" or does it perhaps read "SASQUATCH IS REAL"? One might even guess that there's a very good reason that this kid is seemingly "overjoyed" and "having a blast" whilst holding up his sign:
So he's either just some kid having a laugh (or being somewhat serious, who knows?) about the disputed existence of Sasquatch or else he's an unabashed anti-Semite openly boasting of his ugly Jew-hating agenda, thus confirming Don's paranoid fears about the "nihilist left" (oh, and he can't spell very well either). This is what happens when the modern Republican persecution complex goes looking for anti-Semitism around every corner: it inevitably finds it, even in the face of incredulity at the obviously nonsensical nature of it. And on a personal anthropological note, I haven't seen a case of Sasquatch FAIL this bad since the fake freezer Bigfoot from a few years back. I've always suspected that the Sasquatch had a liberal bias...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9/12 Mindset: Police Detonate Suspicious Pony

I used to detonate my little sister's My Little Ponies via my G. I. Joe action figures and some strategically placed firecrackers but this is much more impressive:

I would just like to inform my local police department that I've heard and/or seen some suspicious activity coming from the black Lamborghini that's usually parked across two parking spots at my local Starbucks. Have at it, boys.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

Nine years later. I'd like to think that we've grown and learned something as a country since then yet I still hear the same stupid shit from the same close-minded people. The idea that understanding and accepting those who are different from us somehow portrays weakness or a lack of resolve on our part is chief amongst them. One idiot calls for the burning of Korans because he doesn't like Muslims, so another idiot answers by calling for the burning of the American flag as retaliation.

I know that as a country we're better and stronger than this and we will continue to be so but it's imperative that we also continue to elevate the dialogue and reclaim this narrative from the guttersnipes and haters amongst us. It's the Islamists and Christianists who want to start a holy war; cooler and more rational heads must prevail. I won't pray for those lost in the attacks on 9/11 but my heart does go out to their families and loved ones. You can read about how I spent that day in 2001 here, and you can view an animation of the proposed memorial here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts — including regulation of environmental and other issues and stem-cell research. Take the surprise ousting last week of Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican senator for Alaska, by political unknown Joe Miller in the Republican primary for the 2 November midterm congressional elections. Miller, who is backed by the conservative ‘Tea Party movement’, called his opponent’s acknowledgement of the reality of global warming “exhibit ‘A’ for why she needs to go”.

The right-wing populism that is flourishing in the current climate of economic insecurity echoes many traditional conservative themes, such as opposition to taxes, regulation and immigration. But the Tea Party and its cheerleaders, who include Limbaugh, Fox News television host Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (who famously decried fruitfly research as a waste of public money), are also tapping an age-old US political impulse — a suspicion of elites and expertise.

Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the movement. Limbaugh, for instance, who has told his listeners that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”, has called climate-change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”. The Tea Party’s leanings encompass religious opposition to Darwinian evolution and to stem-cell and embryo research — which Beck has equated with eugenics. The movement is also averse to science-based regulation, which it sees as an excuse for intrusive government. Under the administration of George W. Bush, science in policy had already taken knocks from both neglect and ideology. Yet President Barack Obama’s promise to “restore science to its rightful place” seems to have linked science to liberal politics, making it even more of a target of the right," -editorial in the journal Nature.

There are some things that should exist outside of politics and I believe that science is one of them. Data is data; facts are facts. They're not up for debate and can't be shaped by focus groups. Government should obviously encourage scientific progress but the interpretations of that progress should be left to scientists and experts, not politicians and bureaucrats. It's extremely important that the intellectually dishonest not be allowed to pervert science or hijack the discipline to suit their political agenda. There's already enough superstition and ignorance in the world. America should be better than that.


Hell Comes To San Bruno

If you haven't heard yet there was a massive gas pipeline explosion across the bay from me last night:

Four people are confirmed dead in the massive explosion and subsequent fire that rocked San Bruno, the San Mateo County coroner’s office said Friday morning.

San Bruno Fire Department Capt. Charlie Barringer said earlier Friday that six were dead, but the coroner's office has only confirmed four so far...

Barringer was one of three firefighters on Engine 52, the first to respond to the explosion.

“I thought a 747 had landed on us,” he said. “It shook our station right to its foundation.”

Within a minute, he had sounded a four-alarm fire, he said. Soon after, he said, firefighters discovered a gas line had exploded, destroying not only homes but the grid of water mains that supplied the local fire hydrants. His crew had no water to fight the fires.

“We were overwhelmed. We had multiple neighborhoods on fire,” he said.

The news is now confirming at least six people have died with dozens more injured. I play Words with Friends with a college student who lives in San Francisco, about ten minutes from the explosion in San Bruno. He tells me that he saw at least 50 homes destroyed last night and at least twice that many were damaged. I can't imagine what those folks must be going through right now. Stuff like this is so surreal.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The New World Trade Center

I've lamented the fact that the area around Ground Zero in New York City is still basicly a big ugly hole several times in the past but this animation of what the new towers and memorial will eventually look like makes me feel a lot better about what we're doing there. Let's get this built already:


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cannabis Cuisine

Some appetizing fare for folks who might need their appetites stimulated:

Jonesing for some gourmet tri-tip and a solid buzz? Check out Cannabis Catering, a San Francisco-based outfit that specializes in marijuana cuisine. The brainchild of Chef Frederick Nesbitt, a California Culinary Academy-trained chef who has worked as personal chef for Jerry Rice and John Madden, Cannabis Catering offers four and five-course meals laced with ganja.

The idea for Cannabis Catering came to Nesbitt when he learned that his friend's diabetic mother had been diagnosed with cancer. "I would bring back edibles [from the dispensary], but they're so high in high-fructose corn syrup that she was high off sugar rather than being medicated," he says. So Nesbitt began experimenting with his own pot food--starting with mashed potatoes.

Now Nesbitt cooks an array of cannabis-laced delectables. A sample menu might include salad, lobster bisque, whiskey tri-tip with a demi-glazed sauce (containing marijuana tincture or ground-up hashish), and an infused Belgian chocolate fountain.

Each meal contains the equivalent of three to five pot cookies, but Nesbitt says he can customize the food depending on what customers want. "When you're eating a cookie, you're eating as much as you can in one portion. I'm spreading it out through a whole meal," he says. "The last thing I need is people freaking out on me."

The meals costs approximately $100 per person, but Nesbitt won't dish out his goods unless his patrons have proper documentation (read: a medical marijuana card). "I'm trying to just feed people," he says. "This is one little ingredient of what I'm doing."

Insert generic "pot roast" joke here. Now the obvious question: is eating an entire meal that gives one the munchies a good idea? And what if Nesbitt makes Chinese: would it perpetuate an endless cycle of being hungry a few hours later over and over again? I suppose these are moot points as I would never spend $100 on a cannabis laced meal since I've never consumed an edible that didn't have that distinct taste lurking in the background. It's not a particularly bad taste but it's definitely not one I would like to repeatedly encounter throughout a five course meal I've paid good money for.


2 Minutes Of Parkour

Because I can't get enough of this stuff:


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

American Power And American Taliban

I'm not planning on reading Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas' new book "American Taliban" for two reasons: 1) it's apparently mostly filled with extreme rhetoric from the political left that's tailored to reinforce and stoke liberal and progressive hatred by pointing out the worst behaviour currently emanating from the political right and I'm already well-versed in that subject, and 2) being well-versed in the worst behaviour currently emanating from the political right I can definitively say that it's nowhere near as bad as that currently emanating from the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. Moulitsas is merely taking advantage of the extremely partisan nature of American politics today by making outlandish claims combined with a controversial title in order to sell as many copies of his book as possible. His rhetoric no more represents the views of the majority on the left than do his claims represent the actions of the majority on the right, and only an extraordinarily bitter partisan hack would think otherwise.

Speaking of extraordinarily bitter partisan hacks, my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power seems to agree with me on this point in his review of the book:

It's not scholarly. In fact, there are no footnotes to document the majority of the outrageous claims offered. What's important to note is Moulitsas' tactic of finding the most out-of-the-mainstream personalities and foisting these off as mainstream conservatives. It's a smear-by-numbers approach that at times pulls in top Republicans like Sarah Palin, etc., adds a couple of the more colorful quotes from said personalities, and voilà! You're got the modern conservative movement 100 percent equivalent to the medieval barbarian Taliban, REAL TERRORISTS who cut off noses of Afghan women and behead apostates from the Islamist creed, and not to mention Americans such as Daniel Pearl. It's absurd, of course.
Of course. The political right in America is not nearly as dangerous or brutal as terrorist groups like the Taliban and making the blanket claim that one half of the political spectrum is so only makes Moulitsas look like a partisan fool. Now some of you are probably asking, "But James, Don has proven himself to be a partisan fool innumerable times in the past: how is it possible that he's suddenly become a rational thinker as it applies to this subject?" And the inevitable answer to that question is: it isn't. Because after unequivocally declaring how absurd Moulitsas is for claiming that the American right is in league with the Taliban and America's other enemies, in the exact same post, he writes the following in response to another blogger's more positive characterization of Moulitsas' book:
No, Digby, American Taliban's whole point is that the American religious right is perfectly indistinguishable from the Taliban of South Asia --- and the "American Taliban" is the bigger threat to the U.S. than global jihad. Folks really need to read this book and quit lying about what is or isn't said there. Digby is right up there with Markos Moulitsas as a crazed leftist demonologist who wants a revolution to topple the traditional bases of American politics, if not the constitutional regime itself. Don't be fooled by these people. THEY ARE ALLIED with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and global jihad to destroy American freedom. It's plain as day. I write about it all the time.
You see, according to Don, definitively declaring that the political right is in league with terrorists and wants to destroy America is completely absurd. Outrageous accusations like that only divide Americans and distract us from the very real threat we face from international terrorism. It should be obvious to any sane individual that it's the political left that's in league with terrorists and wants to destroy America. Duh! All kidding aside, this is what I'm talking about when I say that certain people and their opinions are not to be taken seriously. Now some of you are probably also asking, "But James, if Don isn't to be taken seriously why do you read his blog and post about the things he writes?" Again, two reasons: 1) his fail is just too entertaining, and 2) irony is like a drug to me. And if irony were a drug, Don would sell it by the gram.

Fried Frito Pie Wins At State Fair Of Texas

This is an inspired idea:

Some compared it to a rookie winning the Super Bowl MVP when three culinary novices swept the Best Taste award at the sixth annual Big Tex Choice Awards yesterday.

The creators of Texas Fried Frito Pie beat out the competition to take the prize at the Texas State Fair, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The team was made up of Michael Thomas, the originator, Richard Roznowski, the motivator and Jeffrey Lovel, the facilitator, all of whom had a hand in creating the Texas Fried Frito Pie -- balls of cheese and chili rolled in corn chips and then battered and deep friend -- and getting it to the fair.

"We're all big time fair-goers. I probably go six or seven times a year, which for a 3 week fair is a lot. We'd been looking for a classic fair food that hadn't been done fried, and Frito pie just made sense," Lovell told Slashfood.

The trio tried many brands of chili, chips and cheese before settling on Texas Chili Company's chili and a "basic" cheese and chip, Lovell said. "We combine and the chili and the cheese and then we surround it in chips and then we freeze it and then we batter it and fry it."

They spent about six months on the recipe, the Morning News reported. "We had to increase our exercise considerably," Roznowski told the paper.
Since moving to California nobody I've met has ever heard of Frito pie, a staple of Texas cuisine, except for one chick who grew up in Arkansas. The Creativity Award was won by deep fried beer, essentially beer inside ravioli shells. I can't say that I particularly relish the thought of hot beer exploding in my mouth but I'm definitely pining for that basket of deliciousness pictured above.

(via, hat tip: Doug"E")

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bolton For President?

Chris Matthews can hardly contain his laughter at the idea that former Bush administration U.N. ambassador John Bolton might make a run for the presidency in 2012:

Bolton is a far right ideologue so Matthews is right to scoff at the idea that he could have any kind of shot at the presidency but he ignores the elephant... I mean, walrus in the room: Bolton's never gonna live in the White House as long as he keeps sporting that 'stache. Americans haven't elected a president with facial hair in 100 years and I don't see it happening anytime soon. Hell, Jon Stewart couldn't even keep his goatee for more than a couple of weeks and he's not even in politics. It's a sad fact that being too tall, too fat, too bald, too different looking automatically disqualifies anyone from that office. Democracy can be really stupid sometimes.


Top 10 Lost Technologies

Evan Andrews puts the list together, starting with Stradivari violins:

One lost technology of the 1700s is the process through which the famed Stradivari violins and other stringed instruments were built. The violins, along with assorted violas, cellos, and guitars, were constructed by the Stradivari family in Italy from roughly 1650-1750. The violins were prized in their day, but they’ve since become world famous for having an unparalleled—and impossible to reproduce—sound quality. Today there are only around 600 of the instruments left, and most are worth several hundred thousand dollars. In fact, the name Stradivari has become so synonymous with quality that it has come to serve as a descriptive term for anything considered to be the best in its field.

How was it Lost?

The technique for building Stradivari instruments was a family secret known only by patriarch Antonio Stradivari and his sons, Omobono and Francesco. Once they died, the process died with them, but this hasn’t stopped some from trying to reproduce it. Researchers have studied everything from fungi in the wood that was used to the unique shaping of the bodies in order to describe the famous resonance achieved by the Stradivarius collection. The leading hypothesis seems to be that the density of the particular wood used accounts for the sound. Still, some dispute the claim that the instruments are special at all. In fact, at least one study concluded that most people don’t even notice a difference in sound quality between a Stradivari violin and a modern counterpart.

You can read the rest of the list here. To my mind the Library of Alexandria was the greatest loss to humanity but the above reminded me of an article I read in my school paper at Texas A&M University in the mid-90's. A professor there had claimed that he had discovered the secret of reproducing the Stradivarius through the use of chemicals. Last year he was finally vindicated:
For centuries, violin makers have tried and failed to reproduce the pristine sound of Stradivarius and Guarneri violins, but after 33 years of work put into the project, a Texas A&M University professor is confident the veil of mystery has now been lifted. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus of biochemistry, first theorized in 1976 that chemicals used on the instruments – not merely the wood and the construction – are responsible for the distinctive sound of these violins. His controversial theory has now received definitive experimental support through collaboration with Renald Guillemette, director of the electron microprobe laboratory in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Clifford Spiegelman, professor of statistics, both Texas A&M faculty members. Their work has been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Public Library of Science ONE (PloSONE).
I can't imagine the satisfaction he must have felt after so many years of being dismissed by experts and colleagues. I guess that shortens Andrews' list to nine.