Friday, April 30, 2010

Picture Of The Day

Spill, baby, spill. Weak, dude.


Lowering The Drinking Age To 18

I've long been a fan of doing this even after I turned twenty-one. Under my plan every American who is both eighteen-years-old and a high school graduate would automatically be of legal drinking age and able to purchase and consume alcohol. Just being eighteen wouldn't work because we would experience the same outcome we do in colleges: students who are old enough to drink would constantly be buying alcohol for those who are not. It would also be a great incentive for kids to stay in school and get their degree or pass a high school equivalency exam (all of those who do not do so would have to wait until they turn twenty-one to drink lawfully). We allow eighteen-year-olds to be tried as adults, vote, own guns and serve in the military yet when it comes to consuming alcohol they are treated as second-class citizens. I say that if someone can risk their life for their country they should be able to enjoy a beer after work. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picture Of The Day

The Earth as seen from Mars:

This is the first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon. It was taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. (March 8, 2004)
Dammit, I had my eyes closed. How about a heads up next time, Spirit?

Something Someone Else Said

"Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose." -Tim Wise, Ephphatha Poetry.

He posits several other examples that force one to view the recent anger on the right in quite a different light if the tea at their parties was black. There are corollaries on the other side that Republicans will inevitably point out and they should but that will make these examples no less poignant. I encourage you to read the entire piece here.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"I don't know. I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like." -Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, when asked what criteria will be used to establish reasonable suspicion of someone's legal status after signing a bill Friday that requires police in her state to determine whether a person is in the United States legally.

Now I'm all for securing our borders. As I've said before, both Republicans and Democrats have been dragging their feet on border and port security for years now and it's made us less safe as a country but I just don't see how this new law is going to work:

The bill requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

The Republican governor also issued an executive order that requires additional training for local officers on how to implement the law without engaging in racial profiling or discrimination.

"This training will include what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a person is not legally present in the United States," Brewer said after signing the bill.

"Racial profiling is illegal. It is illegal in America, and it's certainly illegal in Arizona," Brewer said.

The rules, to be established in by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, are due back to her in May. The law goes into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, which has not been determined.
Now of course race will be one of the most important components of AZPOST's criteria for identifying illegals. We know that the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Mexican so the police are obviously going to be looking for people with dark skin and black hair but beyond that what else can they possibly do? Short of constraining their search to people who are actually caught in the act of climbing over the border fence and to anyone else wearing a sombrero or colorful wrestling mask there's pretty much no other way to determine who's here legally and who isn't just by looking at them. The aforementioned stereotypical headgear aside, illegal immigrants look just like legal immigrants and American citizens of Hispanic descent and I highly doubt that instituting a "know 'em when I see 'em" policy of differentiation will fly legally. So what other criteria can they possibly use that constitutes a "reasonable suspicion"? Is this essentially just giving the police the power to harass and racially profile brown people for being brown people or am I missing something here?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pulling The Plug On American Power

OK, I hear you. Over the last few days I've received various comments, texts and emails advising me to just ignore Don's insults from now on because trying to honestly debate the guy is like trying to recapture a fart: it's next to impossible and everybody else has to smell it while you're doing it. So in an attempt to clear the air around here I promise to stop engaging him cold turkey. He will inevitably claim victory but he's been doing that all along so who really cares. I know that stuff was not much fun to read at times and I apologize for putting everyone through it. Consider my hands suitably wiped clean and special thanks to everyone who has recently taken to calling me Lance Thundercock; it means a lot.

In Defense Of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Friend of this blog and Thunder from Down Under magpie of The Quiet Magpie has taken exception to my recent endorsement of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day in the comment section of that post. I was in the middle of writing a response when I decided that this issue is important enough that it should warrant its own post. First, magpie's rebuke:

I'm not totally with you on this one, JBW.

"Freedom of speech" is often a cosy refuge for those who seek simply to vilify, and then get away by calling themselves principled for doing it.
Like all our other freedoms, our conduct with regard to that freedom must be worthy of it.

It's not a catch-all get-out-of-jail for fucking people over. It's a political right to speak for truth.

"It's about fighting terrorism".... Not it's not. Destroying Al Qaeda training camps is fighting terrorism.
This has nothing to do with that. And if this were about sending up Jesus we wouldn't even be talking this linkage.

"Nobody in this world has a right not to be offended".

Whoa... reconsider what you're saying there.... Because the ancillary to that is that everyone has the right to go round verbally bullying people in any way they want.
Do you reckon the parents of teens who have killed themselves because of school bullying would be on board for your argument? I reckon not.

If someone called Obama (who - despite the paranoid imagination of the Right - is not even a religious figure) a "something@#$%something nasty" you'd be on their case faster than Republican going to a sex show with donor money.
And quite rightly so.
And if the difference there is that Obama is not a religious figure, but Mohammed is, then that's tacit acceptance that vilification is just fine as long as it's based on religion.
Have I just vilified Republicans? maybe... Depends whether you are a Republican.

In any case YOU are able to comfortably say "nobody has the right not to be offended" because you are a capable debater, have high self-esteem, are emotionally resilient, not in a minority, and are at all times up for verbal agro (confrontation) because you like it.
Not everyone is so well armored.

May 20th is my mum's birthday.
Anybody saying anything about her will meet my friend 'Pain' - to quote the great Mr T.
I understand your concerns magpie but I think you might be missing my larger point. My parenthetical mention of "similarly intolerant individuals" was to address the fact that some will use this occasion as an excuse to specifically bash Muslims and Islam out of religious intolerance rather than an exercise of free speech and they should rightfully be called out for it if they blatantly cross the line into bigotry or have a history of such behaviour in the past. My point is that my merely posting a picture of your prophet or god should not be off limits in a free society, no matter what your views are on the subject. You have every right not to depict your god in bodily form and you have every right to tell me that you think I am wrong for doing so but you never get the right to tell me that I cannot do so, much less threaten me with bodily harm for doing so. In fact, that is the very definition of terrorism.

"Destroying Al Qaeda training camps" is not fighting terrorism, it's fighting terrorists. Terrorism is an ideology and as such is much harder to kill than mere terrorists. That's why the moniker "War on Terror" is as useless as "War on Poverty" and "War on Drugs", because these are wars that can never be won. We will never rid ourselves of terror and thus we will never be rid of individuals who would use terror as a tool to get what they want from others. The best way to fight back against these individuals is to never give in to their demands and thus not allow ourselves to be terrorized. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone understand this better than anyone else at Viacom or Comedy Central (with the exception of Jon Stewart, who has publicly voiced his support for them on his show) and it's why they've created the various Mohammed episodes addressing the subject.

You are completely correct that if this were about "sending up Jesus" we wouldn't be having the conversation and that's pretty much the point. I don't want to sound all right-winger here but if this were about a depiction of Jesus the main difference would be that even if Parker and Stone were receiving death threats from Christians Comedy Central wouldn't have censored their work, just as they haven't when South Park has skewered several other major religions in the past despite loud protestations on their behalf. Islam is the only religion that gets a pass on being criticized by that corporation and it's because of credible threats of violence from Muslim organizations and religious fundamentalists that this is so. I'm not saying that there aren't violent adherents of those other faiths as well but certain branches of Islam do seem to embrace violence much more readily than do other religions (remember the murder of Theo van Gogh). If it's OK to poke fun at one religion then it should be OK to poke fun at every religion. Again, nobody in this world has a right not to be offended.

And I do not believe that "the ancillary to that is that everyone has the right to go round verbally bullying people in any way they want", it's that everyone has the right to say whatever they want unless that speech crosses specific lines that we as a society decide for ourselves and even then those lines are intentionally defined extraordinarily carefully in order to offer as much protection to our freedom of speech as possible. Now of course there are limits to that freedom and I'm not arguing that there shouldn't be: one isn't allowed to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre or aggressively bully another student at school, for example. These limits are specific to certain circumstances and are in place for the protection of individuals and the greater good of society but to suggest that they should also extend to constraining criticism of religious beliefs or institutions is a dangerous precedent to establish and quite frankly a direct violation of the First Amendment.

As I mentioned, last Easter I posted a picture of the Easter Bunny birthing (not "crapping out" as was criticized) bloody Jesus eggs. Many people took offense at the depiction and I was called all manner of foul names and was even threatened with being satirically portrayed as "goatseing" for doing so but to their credit the individuals who criticized me never threatened me with physical violence, nor did they insist that I should not be allowed to express myself in that manner, just that they disagreed with me for doing it. I have every right to say whatever I want about Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or Santa Claus and you have every right to criticize me for it if you wish. Criticism is fine, censorship through intimidation is not.

You are quite right that I would be on someone's case if they (unfairly) criticized President Obama; to do so is my right as well as their's but I would never insist that they shouldn't have that right just because I disagree with what they are saying. And the only distinction I would make between Obama and those other individuals has nothing to do with religion but rather would be that he's an actual living person so slander/libel laws could apply, though even those legal limits on free speech are defined much more narrowly in the case of public figures.

And the fact that I am a capable debater (thanks, by the way), have high self-esteem, am emotionally resilient, not in a minority, and am at all times up for verbal confrontation because I like it may allow me to say "nobody has the right not to be offended" more comfortably than most but that doesn't make it any less true or applicable to all of us. Your or anybody else's comfort level should have nothing to do with determining what I am allowed or not allowed to say in a free society. The odds are fairly good that pretty much everyone will get offended or be made uncomfortable by something they hear at some point in their lives and my advice to them is to do what I do when that happens to me: change the channel. Insisting that the broadcast should be censored or taken off the air is politically correct overkill. Most of the time a remote control is the only armor one needs.

As to your momma's birthday magpie I will gladly wish her many happy returns come May 20th but I hardly think the choice of that date for this particular political protest had anything to do with her and I would of course never advocate attacking anyone's family members (something I learned from The Godfather) for any reason, especially mommas. I hope you don't mind that I turned my response to your comment into a post but again this issue is very important to me and (I think) to the American way of life. I didn't write it so much to convince you of my side of the argument but rather just to let you and everyone else reading this better understand why I am participating in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Everyone is of course free to disagree with me and I welcome all opposing opinions as always. That is one of my favorite things about living in a society that holds freedom of speech so dear and why I so vigorously defend it on this site.

Picture Of The Day

Albert Einstein's desk at Princeton, taken only a few hours after he died in 1955 but never published before last week. My own filing system is very similar.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

You can read about the entire controversy here. I've been meaning to post about this for the last several days because I think that the principles involved here are extremely important. Religious zealots are essentially threatening the lives of American citizens because they've exercised their freedom of speech. As I think I proved on Easter a few weeks back religious folks can get pretty upset when you use your First Amendment rights to say something about their god that they don't like, although to the credit of the individuals who were pissed off that day they only peppered me with verbal abuses whilst never threatening me with violence.

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are two of the most honest and fearless individuals working in television today and they deserve the support of everyone who believes that our freedom of speech is important enough to fight for against the intimidation tactics of Islamist religious bullies. This isn't about fighting Islam (although I'm sure some similarly intolerant individuals will use it as an excuse to do so), it's about fighting censorship through fear. It's about fighting terrorism. Nobody in this world has a right not to be offended. I'll be posting my own Mohammed creation on May 20th and I encourage other bloggers to do the same.


[Update: This always pumps me up and gets me laughing at the same time:


American Power Slips The Bonds Of Reality

Recently a reader on this site left me the following comment:

Please tell me that Don is a made up character; that he doesn't exist. I find it hard to believe that there is someone, breathing God's good air, that thinks like that. Really?
I replied that Don(ald Douglas, my curvy conservative counterpart of American Power) is indeed real but that if he wasn't I would have to make him up just for the laughs, and Don is keeping his hilarity streak alive with his latest and lengthily titled rant against yours truly, "James B. Webb All-Talk (Non) Political Analyst Pwned: Word Bro ... Atheist Megalomaniac EPIC FAIL on Intellectual Substance". All right, let's fisk this bitch:

James (OR WHATEVER YOUR REAL NON-COWARD NAME IS), FWIW (a reponse to your sterile big talk):

You told me not to comment on your blog some time ago, and I have observed your rules. But when Repsac3 stalks and taunts American Power with
genuine racist insults, when he refuses to observe my rules and common decency, you're down with that ... of course you're into racist photoshopping and cyberstalking, so NST, yo!
I'll get to the "real non-coward name" stuff a bit further down but as to my "sterile big talk" Don is referring to a comment I left at his site on a post about how he has officially banned friend of this blog and proprietor of American Nihilist Repsac3:
...end of an era, Reppy. Good night, sweet prince...

Don, despite the ongoing program of intolerance and radical totalitarianism I rock at Brain Rage you are still totally welcome to leave comments there, no matter how many people say how stupid, and frankly too easy to poke fun at, you are. I personally believe that comment censorship, especially within the political blogosphere, is one of the lowest forms of cowardice one can betray and I refuse to indulge in it. You know what I'm talking about...

And I don't blame you for moderating or disabling comments to avoid debating me: I wouldn't want to debate me either. Snoogans.
Now I don't remember telling Don not to comment on my site but as Reppy says in his own response to Don's open letter he's probably thinking of last year when I told him not to leave off-topic comments and links here but I don't want to make fun of an old person who's memory is slipping so I'll just point to the comment above in which I welcome Don's comments with open arms. And as to Don's charge of "racist photoshopping" I know which picture he's referring to and I'll admit that perhaps he has a point:
So I would like to offer the following: I want to formally apologize to Jabba himself and any other Huts who were offended by my Photoshop portraying him as that particular member of the human race. It was not my intention to insult this proud race of intergalactic gangsters and I will happily double the bounty I've issued for Megan Fox encased in carbonite. Bargon u noa-a-uyat.
Frankly, son, you're nothing but a child to me, with an overdriven playground gotcha mentality. Fact is, every single time I've argued substantive points you've ignored them and moved on predictably to insults and snarks: On the budget deficit you blamed Bush and FAILED. On my post on faith, morality and fighting Satan, you dissed it without a single mention of the issues ... FAIL. On Sean Trende's RCP analysis on the November congressional elections? Ignored it again ... FAIL.
Now perhaps my "overdriven playground gotcha mentality" hasn't made this clear in the past but I could really give a damn what Don thinks of me. I was going to refute the three examples he mentions here but I'm kind of in a hurry as I write this so I'll let readers decide for themselves whether or not I've thoroughly addressed Don's arguments in the past but just to cover my bases I'll also use Don's favorite rhetorical device to devastating effect: FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! Booyah.
And you recently wrote at my blog:
"I'm not suggesting that the left isn't responsible for many acts of hate and violence in the world. I'm just pointing out the stupidity of the myopic worldview that one side of the ideological aisle is so much better/worse than the other and regardless of which side says it (and I hear it from both on a constant basis) they always sound like uninformed children when they do."

Actually, the contemporary left's entrenched ideological culture of violence is unmatched on the conservative right. And I responded to you with a link to Jamie Glazov's, United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. Glazov's book is deeply argued and written from personal experience of tyranny and terror. His parents were Soviet dissidents. Their lives were put on the line for speaking out against the Communist Party in 1968, when Jamie's father signed the famous "Letter of Twelve" human rights manifesto. The forward to the book was written by R. James Woolsey, who was President Clinton's Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995. United in Hate received critical reviews from both sides of the spectrum, and retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInery called the book "a must-read if America is to survive the global war against Radical Islam." In short, this is serious stuff, worth engagement.

And what was your response to the citation for United in Hate? Totally predictable:

That's exactly what I mean when I talk about uninformed children, Don. Thank you as always for illustrating my point.

Breathtaking juvenile anti-intellectualism topped with a staggering heaping of brain-addled stupidity.

The comment I left was referring to one of Don's commenters making the inane statement "Violence is the hallmark of the Left" and posting several instances of violence perpetrated by people on the political left. I refuted this by similarly posting several instances of violence caused by people on the political right. Don then tried to refute me by linking to the above book at Amazon.com, so I rightfully lumped him in with the other people I was referring to as uninformed children for insisting that one side of the aisle is so much better/worse than the other. Put simply:
Interchangeable American Power Commenter: The left is horrible and violent.

JBW: Well, there are bad people on the left but there are also bad people on the right and people from either side who say otherwise are fools.

IAPC: The left is horrible and violent and here's a list of examples.

JBW: Again, both sides have bad people on them and here's a list of similar examples from the right.

Don: The left is horrible and violent and here's a book that claims as much.

JBW: Wait, all you did was point to a book that says the same thing the commenter above just said. How does that refute what I just said about both sides including bad people?

Don: Check and mate.

JBW: You're a fool.
I'm not saying that the book isn't as incredible and persuasive as Don claims it to be because I haven't read it and I don't plan to (predictably, all of the "critical reviews from both sides of the spectrum" I came across were on right-wing websites) but by merely pointing to another list of examples about how bad the left is he only proved my point about partisan foolishness and his calling me juvenile or stupid isn't going to change that.
But that's to be expected from someone who's not right in the mind, oddly consumed by some kind of big man syndrome (when in fact nothing seems to warrant such a psychology, which thus raises appropriate and characteristic questions of megalomania).

And let's not forget your online perversions and stalking. When called out on these you own them with insecure phony laughter and some backslapping with your braindead followers in the comments at Brainrage.
Claiming that I'm "not right in the mind" is the pot calling the kettle black (uh oh, is that RAAACIST!?) and I have to ask: what exactly is "big man syndrome"? Is he setting me up to make a fat guy joke? And perhaps I am a bit megalomaniacal but I'd argue that most people who blog are to an extent. I've addressed his whiny, PC claims of perversions and stalking before and I do indeed own them but I assure you that my laughter is very secure and completely genuine. While we're on the subject of perversion though let me just point out that my blog isn't the one with a picture of a porn star in the sidebar (Who's Nailin' Paylin? is a cinematic tour de force if you're interested, Don). Also, Brain Rage is two words, old man.
So, JBW, let's be real, okay. Honestly, you're but a lost child to me. I'm a Ph.D. professor with 15 years experience teaching. I'm a father of two who's been married for 16 years. I've traveled widely and have nearly lost my life. But credentials, wisdom, life failings, and experience mean nothing to you, BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT ALL ALREADY.
Didn't he use that "child" line once already? And yes, he's a Ph.D. professor yet he can't spell or debate his way out of a wet paper bag. And a wife and two kids? Wow, Don got married and reproduced; that's quite a feat. He must be the envy of every man he knows. I've actually traveled to over a dozen countries myself and have I ever written here about the time I had a threesome with a stripper and a nineteen-year-old girl who looked just like a young Denise Richards? It's a true story: you see, I was bartending one night and... Come to think of it, I'm not even going to try to compete with Don here. A wife and two kids. Man... Oh, and credentials, wisdom, life failing, and experience do mean something to me: just not Don's. And I obviously don't "know it all already" but I'm not going to waste time trying to learn about these things from a serial liar with a victim mentality.
Anyway, I understand the sources of your disrespect (hey, four years of college and you've got knowledge), but it's obvious to anyone who's been around the block a couple of times that you're all talk and little action. And the fact that James B. Webb is not your real names adds a hilarious touch to any mention by you of the word coward. So, here's a bet. You will not come out and identify yourself, and you will not meet me for a beer where you express a little humility and respect for someone who ought to be, frankly, your intellectual mentor. I'm in the O.C. Name the bar, on a weekend evening, and we'll meet.

So, what do you say big boy? You have my e-mail. Send me your name, phone number, and a location, and we'll meet like men ... instead of playing meaningless tit-for-tat on blogs that few people actually read.


I'm not really sure what he's trying to say here. Is he implying that people with college degrees who lack PhD's aren't intelligent or well-educated? And the source of my disrespect is pretty much just the things Don writes on a daily basis. To wit: his newly minted claim that James B. Webb isn't my real name. I had to read that line a couple of times to make sure that he was actually claiming such, and without any shred of citation or proof but in the face of such a compelling argument I suppose I can't continue with this charade any longer. Admittedly, James B. Webb is just a clever pseudonym I employ online to hide my true identity: Lance Thundercock. Wow, it feels really good to finally have it out in the open like this. What, you don't believe me? Well here's definitive proof that Don isn't just some chubby deranged paranoiac with a persecution complex:
I'll bet all of you jerks who like to make fun of him are feeling pretty damn stupid right about now, huh? Speaking of bets and stupidity how about Don wagering that I won't travel 400 miles to have a beer with someone who has at various times called me stupid, human defect, intellectually impotent, morally depraved, weightist-wanker, poser-boy, sexist weightmaster prick, Barebacker, young cocky sucker, ass, Master Enforcer for the Annihilation of Non-Hypocrisy, idiot, adolescent dork, atheist online-troll sex-predator, bereft of moral virtue, small-penis prick, fail, loser, sorry-assed punk, communist, nihilist, and RAAACIST!? Yeah, I have a feeling Don's gonna win that one.

Oh, and he wraps his post up by playing the Black Flag song "No Values" because I assume he thinks that it describes me so touché, mon gros ami:

[Update: Apparently I told Don directly that I blog under a pseudonym (I didn't but why let reality influence what one writes?) and now it appears that he has some problems with the color of my skin. But isn't that RAAA...]

Friday, April 23, 2010

As Seen On TV: A Tribute To Doing It Wrong

Whoever put together this compilation must have thought it was my birthday. My favorite part of any commercial that purports to sell people products that will somehow make their lives easier is the opening footage of tragically incompetent individuals who can not master seemingly innocuous everyday tasks such as slicing a tomato, breaking an egg or covering themselves with a blanket. Enjoy the fail:


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The New $100 Bill Is Futuristically Sexy

It's the next best thing to space cash:

The U.S. Treasury has released images of a redesigned $100 bill with new, Bladerunner-esque security features. Benjamin Franklin now consorts with a blue 3D security ribbon and a "bell in the inkwell" security stamp whose color fluctuates from copper to green (watch a video preview below). While Gawker's Hamilton Nolan damned the futuristic new look as "embarrassingly colorful" — "it looks like a god damn child's crayon scratch pad" — other critics embraced the redesign, which will enter circulation next February: "This is money that tells you it is coming from the future," says Alex Balk at The Awl. "It's... confident and a little aggressive." Matt Kiebus at Death + Taxes is also dazzled: "The United States Treasury just made the most complicated piece of currency my eyes have ever seen," he says. "It's new, it's shiny, I want it."
I think it's pretty damn cool, and pretty damn smart from a socio-economic perspective. The harder it is to forge the stronger our dollar will remain. And this video is fairly technically and stylistically impressive for something produced by a governmental agency:


Picture Of The Day

An erupting solar prominence leaps off the surface of the sun in one of the first images captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

At a press conference today in Washington DC, researchers unveiled "First Light" images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope designed to study the sun.

"SDO is working beautifully," reports project scientist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is even better than we could have dreamed."

Launched on February 11th from Cape Canaveral, the observatory has spent the past two months moving into a geosynchronous orbit and activating its instruments. As soon as SDO's telescope doors opened, the spacecraft began beaming back scenes so beautiful and puzzlingly complex that even seasoned observers were stunned.
Incredible. You can view more images and even watch some video of the same at NASA's official SDO press site here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TDS: Bernie Goldberg Fires Back

I was watching The O'Reilly Factor a few days ago when Bernie Goldberg went off on Jon Stewart and at the time thought to myself, "I know Stewart is going to respond to this but I wonder what he'll say?" As always, he didn't disappoint:

The DudeGyver

It's a little late for 4/20 (which I do not celebrate because I consider the culture of it to be juvenile and stupid) but here's a MacGyver/Big Lebowski mashup for ya. The dude abides, and he does it with a paper clip, a hockey ticket and a stick of chewing gum:


[Update: Reason provides three very non-juvenile and non-stupid reasons for legalizing cannabis:


Tea Party Racism And The Black Vote

James Taranto, the editor for the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page, lays out his theory for why the tea party movement has come under fire for accusations of racism:

The political left claims to love racial diversity, but it bitterly opposes such diversity on the political right. This is an obvious matter of political self-interest: Since 1964, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. If Republicans were able to attract black votes, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. Even in 2008, the Democrats' best presidential year since '64, if the black vote had been evenly split between the parties (and holding the nonblack vote constant), Barack Obama would have gotten about 48% of the vote and John McCain would be president.

To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.
The title of his piece is "Why the Left Needs Racism" but it seems to me that the entire premise for his article is somewhat based on a racist assumption, or is at the very least intellectually insulting if you're a black American. That premise is that black people vote overwhelmingly Democratic because they've somehow been tricked into thinking that the Republican party and its affiliate members are racist. That's it: black people were tricked a long time ago and that's why they vote the way they do. It couldn't possibly be because of Johnson's Great Society or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act or the expansion of entitlement programs for those lower on the socio-economic scale or affirmative action laws or hate crime legislation or gun control laws or reformation of drug laws because everyone knows that black folks don't care about any of that stuff, right? And the added fact that the current incarnation of the Republican party is older, whiter and more Southern than it has been in generations isn't exactly sweetening the deal either.

So if there are a myriad of reasons for blacks to vote for the Democrats and very few for them to vote for (as well as several for them to vote against) the Republicans, how exactly does Taranto think that Democrats are going to lose or Republicans are going to attract black voters? Positing a fictional scenario in which McCain split the black vote with Obama is convenient in that it helps him make the point that McCain would have won had it happened but it's also fairly useless to Republicans because it's extraordinarily unlikely to happen anytime soon in real life. And if there is no credible threat of any impending exodus of black votes from the Democratic party then his theory of an organized and institutional racial smear campaign against Republicans on behalf of the Democratic party holds little water as a debatable point. Democrats don't need to lie about race because the political racial reality already works out mostly in their favor.

I can however point to one more reason why blacks might be more inclined to vote Democratic rather than Republican: white conservatives like James Taranto writing ridiculously shortsighted things like "The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country..." in publications like the Wall Street Journal. Or as I wrote last year:
...according to these same people the day we elected a black man as president all the racism in this country just magically dried up and blew away. We made one of them president, what more do black people want!?
Stating that there is no longer any more racism in America is insulting enough to minorities who still have to deal with it on a consistent basis but when those claims are coming from a well-fed, middle-aged white man who writes mostly about money and Wall Street (a bastion of whiteness in itself) while he carries water for the Republican party (a similar bastion of whiteness) it's little wonder the black vote goes overwhelmingly to the Democrats. The tea party movement isn't entirely racist of course but by dint of its demographic makeup it does have a racial undertone that nobody within it's ranks is willing to publicly decry and that coupled with the Republican party's persistent obtuseness when it comes to race relations in this country has insured that Democrats won't have to worry about losing the black vote to them anytime soon. Rather than being easily conned dupes black folks are entirely capable of surveying the political landscape just fine for themselves and when it comes to the tea party movement the vast majority of them have obviously decided that they just don't like what they see out there.

[Update: Apparently RNC Chair and moustache aficionado Michael Steele agrees with my analysis:
Appearing Tuesday at DePaul University in Chicago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said that the Republican Party has not given African-Americans a reason to vote for them.

"You really don't have a reason to, to be honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True," said Steele, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Steele said how the Republican party had been founded as a pro-civil rights party, with Frederick Douglass among its early members. However, Steele explained, the Republican Party has alienated those voters: "For the last 40-plus years we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, 'Bubba' went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton."
And tubby neocons will defend this bankrupt agenda to no end, despite contrary evidence from real folks on the ground.]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Octothief Caught On Camera

This is crazy cool:

Scuba diving near the Wahine Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand, Victor Huang ran into a camera-thieving Kraken that made off with his brand new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT2. Following a five minute chase, Victor was able to pry loose his prized possession from the mouth of the beast.

The entire ordeal was captured on film, Jacques Cousteau-style, and set to the tune of Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones’ “Octopus I Love You.”

This would have been really embarrassing if he hadn't been able to get his camera back at the end. Check it out:

There is ample evidence that these creatures are much more intelligent than they have been popularly given credit for. I think that their otherworldly appearance and lack of cuddliness or anthropomorphism has caused them to be treated more like mysterious aliens in our everyday thinking rather than the curious beings they obviously are.


American Power And Domestic Bliss Abyss

Yeah I know, but this one is just more funny than hateful. Enjoy my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power's pithy post "Lego Blogging!", in which he purports to be spending some quality time with his son although it seems to be more about how horrible he thinks I am than playing with Legos:

My son and I build stuff during off-blogging hours. That's one of the cool things about having a wife and kids (not to mention God). Maybe JBW should quit troll-stalking babes on the web and try some traditional values. Seriously, that's got to beat posting anti-child atheist trash or Rachel Maddow bullshit talking points. Freakin' Christ, James B. "Weightist" Webb, get a goddamned life...
"Not to mention God"? I don't get it: is God playing Legos with them? Now Don doesn't know this but I actually do have a wife. She's invisible and she's called "Drink as much wine as you want and sleep with other women". She's the perfect mother to my invisible teenage son "Spend my college money on a trip to Europe" and my newborn invisible baby "Eight hours of sleep a night". I even have an invisible god who never reveals any evidence of his own existence and appears wholly indifferent towards my life and the lives of everyone else on the planet. No wait, that's Don's god. My invisible god is actually called "Think for yourself because magic isn't real" and he's never watching over me but that's OK because I don't need to believe in a supernatural parental figure looking over my shoulder and shaking his finger at me.

Now I love my invisible family and my non-meddling god because they're perfect for me but I would never insist that anyone else should live the same way I do because I believe in individual liberty and personal freedom. Everyone should be free to live their life as they and they alone see fit as long as it doesn't impinge on anyone else's freedom to do the same. As you've probably noticed though, there are many religious folks like Don out there who are convinced of their own moral superiority and have absolutely no problem telling the rest of us how we should live. Don don't like drugs so nobody should be allowed to use drugs. Don don't like prostitutes so nobody should be allowed to sell or pay for sex. Don believes in God so everyone else should too (just make sure it's the right god, of course) and if you don't or you fail to pay his god the proper respect your character and moral integrity will be called into question. Nanny statism and casting moral aspersions: I'm sure it's What Jesus Would Do.

[Update: Whilst making a run for the border Don reports that he's subsequently edited all of the dirty blasphemy and Jesus bashing from his post:
...cleaned up my post from this morning with the profanity. My apologies. That's not so much like me, and I haven't felt right most of the day. Frankly, I do it mostly to push the boundaries and confound the lefty freaks. But that needs to be way less frequent. I'm practically morphing into that which I reject (i.e., unwashed netroots atheist commies), and THAT bothers me.
That Don: he's such a confounding boundary pusher. And by "unwashed netroots atheist commies" I assume that he's referring to any of the dirty nihilist America haters who frequent my comment section because if he was referring to myself he'd also be shouting WEEEIGHTIST!]

Something Someone Else Said

"You know, a couple of days after the health care bill had been signed into law Obama ran around all over the country saying, “Hey, you know, I’m looking around. The earth hadn’t opened up. There’s no Armageddon out there. The birds are still chirping.” I think the earth has opened up. God may have replied. This volcano in Iceland has grounded more airplanes — airspace has more affected — than even after 9/11 because of this plume, because of this ash cloud over Northern and Western Europe. At the Paris airport they’re telling people to head to the train station to catch trains out of France, and when people get to the train station they’re telling people, “There aren’t any seats until at least April 22nd,” basically a week from now. It’s got everybody in a shutdown. Earth has opened up. I don’t know whether it’s a rebirth or Armageddon. Hopefully it’s a rebirth, God speaking." -Rush Limbaugh.

The de facto leader of the Republican party, ladies and gentlemen. A couple of days ago I remarked to a friend in jest that the right will try to find some way to blame the Icelandic volcano eruption and subsequent ash plume on President Obama and we had a good laugh at the absurdity of that statement. This is why I now call the right in this country caricatures of their former selves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tax Day Tea Party Rallies Unburdened By Facts

I stopped watching MSNBC a year or so ago because it was mostly telling me what I already knew rather than informing or challenging me (plus Keith Olbermann was becoming just a bit too melodramatic for me) but I found this piece about taxes by Rachel Maddow to be very informative in that it addresses tea bagger rhetoric with actual real world facts:

Sunday, April 18, 2010


80's video games take over New York City and then some:


Something Incongruous Someone Else Said, Ctd

"I never considered myself a maverick." -John McCain a couple weeks ago.

"Look, when I was fighting against my own president, whether we needed more troops in Iraq, or ... spending was completely out of control, then I was a maverick. Now that I'm fighting against this spending administration and this out-of-control and reckless health care plan, then I'm a partisan," - John McCain this morning.



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oh My God I Want This Of The Day

I would gladly impregnate someone in order to attain a firstborn child to trade for this:

Yes, the necklace tracking device is a bit cumbersome at this point but just imagine the possibilities: a set of windows looking out onto any view you can program, complete with sound. I'll take one Playboy bunny pillow fight set within a Star Wars laser battle just outside the Pantheon, please.


ObamaCare Is RomneyCare 2.0

So not only did President Obama succeed at implementing his first major domestic policy agenda by utilizing the spirit of bipartisanship but he's also simultaneously hamstrung his most likely 2012 rival within his own voting base in the process. Remember what I said about him being a chess master of the highest caliber (and yes, I still say it a bit hyperbolically)? It's strategy rather than tactics, and the Republicans still fail to recognize the difference.


Tea Party Hip Hop

Who says these people are white (these people are tragically white). Worst. Hip hop concert. Ever:


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The 3D Truth In Old Masters

This is a Samsung viral video pimping their new 3D television technology by showing the secret world behind the works of the old school two dimensional masters. Cool, and kinda funny:


Celestial Music

If Galileo Galilei had a mixing turntable:

SolarBeat is little website that shows the planets in our solar system orbiting the sun and making a little "ding!" every time they complete a circuit. You can mess with the tempo to alter the music, and if you speed it up all the way and sit around for like 40 years you can finally hear the sound Pluto makes. SPOILER: It sounds like a fork hitting a wine glass.
You can check it out here. This really puts the orbits of respective bodies in our solar system into perspective. And birthday parties on Pluto must be quite the occasion.

TDS: A Farewell To Arms

Does that logo look familiar to you?

If it does, it might be because I lamented it's non-inclusion in this film.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

American Power And Intellectual Cowardice

I know I implied in the comment section of another post that I wasn't going to waste any more time on my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power but I just found this too entertaining. In his post "How Bad For the Democrats in 2010?" Don commences to talk a little shit about a bet I offered him some days back:

Having little knowledge of how congressional elections work, JBW thought he'd attempt to puff out his concave chest a bit, slapping down some nonsensical wager to mask his intellectual impotence and moral depravity:
If ... Don is so certain about Obama's dismal approval ratings translating into epic failure then I'll offer him this meager yet serious wager: $100 says that the Republicans fail to gain a majority in either house of congress this November. I'm making the offer publicly so that every one reading this will be privy to it. I think Obama's a chess master of the highest caliber Don, and he's moved his pieces into position to retain his party's majorities through the remainder of his first term. Care to put your money where your mouth is, Fat Boy Slim?
Just ignore JBW's weightist slur there at the end (the dude's shootin' blanks, so no surprise with the bigotry).
He then cites a RealClearPolitics article that posits the very real possibility that I might lose that bet if Don were to take me up on it but instead of doing so he counters with this ludicrous ploy:
And with that, if JBW's so confident that "Obama's a chess master of the highest caliber," then the Dems shouldn't lose any seats at all. I mean, seriously, President George W. Bush actually gained seats in his first midterm elections in 2002 -- 6 in the House and 2 in the Senate. Since Obambi's so much greater than GWB (well, not, actually, not that lefties care), no doubt JBW will gladly put his money where is weightist-wanker mouth is. $100 says Dems lose seats in 2010. If on the other hand, Obama, like Bush in 2002, gains Democratic seats in Congress this year, I'll cut Brain Rage poser-boy a check for $100 fat ones. "Care to put your money where your mouth is," sexist weightmaster prick?
Apparently in Don's black or white world high caliber chess masters (and yes, I was being just a tad hyperbolic there) never, ever, ever lose a match. Ever. So I answered with the following comment (I'll explain why I'm not linking to it in a second):
Ah, how wondrously simple the world must appear when viewed through the mentality of a six-year-old. I just wrote a short play about this post:

Open: American Power blog

-JBW: Hey Don, I'm gonna flip this coin and I'm calling heads. You wanna bet that I'm wrong?

-Don: No JBW, even though I just posted commentary about how the odds of tails coming up are better than heads and I constantly talk shit about how heads is totally going down that just seems too risky for me. I might lose. So instead I'll bet against the coin landing perfectly balanced on its edge.

-JBW: But, even a child knows that the odds of that bet are drastically different from the one I wagered and that only a great fool would take you up on it. Are you high right now?

-Don: No JBW, drugs are bad and I don't like them so nobody should be allowed to use them but if you don't like that bet how about this one: I'll bet that the sun comes up tomorrow. If Obama is as smart as you say he is then he'll figure out a way to stop it. What do you think?

-JBW: I think you're high.

-Don: Oh yeah? Well I think you're morally depraved and a bigot and EPIC. FAIL. and a wanker and a poser and a sexist and a prick and WEEEIGHTIST!

-JBW: Don't eat too many cupcakes, Chubs.


You have just under 33 hours left to take the bet. In the meantime try to act like a man and quit your crying, Nancy.
I thought that was kind of funny but apparently it made Don a little pissy because not only did he delete it but he also permanently deactivated comments for that post. You can run from the truth and you can run from Weight Watchers but you'll never outrun your own intellectual cowardice, Don. 31 hours and counting, honeysuckle.

[Update: Did I say "pissy", because that's not what I meant but it was damn close. Still waiting, gordito.]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Atheist Barbie

Finally, a toy that teaches children good American values. I think I'll hook her up with my Buddy Christ figurine. Her lunch is the best.


Priest Off

I fully endorse this product:


Monday, April 12, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"From all I can see, the Tea Party movement is not simply about the size and scope of government. If it were, it could be a useful force in our politics, if it only spelled out honestly how to balance the budget without raising taxes. (Even Rand Paul won't be drawn on specifics.) It is a movement about identity politics, in which the US Constitution is an emblem of a certain demographic, and that demographic is as much about the Christianist right as it is about fiscal responsibility. Gingrich hit the two pillars of what they hate: "secularism" and "socialism."

Secularism isn't atheism; it is the principle that religious disputes and political disputes should be regarded in separate categories, for fear of unresolvable sectarian conflict (i.e. culture war). Anti-"socialism" means ... well I'm not sure what exactly. Abolition of social security? Medicare? More tax cuts? I wish I knew.

I don't think it has any real traction or coherence apart from a cultural revulsion against modernity, a majority-minority country, separation of church and state, and an abstract loathing and suspicion of anything to do with government. When they offer us some concrete proposals or policy options, I guess we can make a judgment as to the impact on the GOP. But right now, it feels like a primal. and somewhet elderly, scream." -Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish.

Schwarzenegger Reviews The Predators Trailer

I've posted the Predators trailer here and the 160 greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes here so it was only a matter of time before I found this clip combining them (and yes, I know it isn't really him but it's still damn funny):


Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Power And Toothless Photoshopping

Again, my apologies for the extended blogging hiatus. I meant to start up again last night but I was too busy trying to drunkenly pick up sixteen-year-old girls on Facebook and... Heyyyy, wait a minute...

Yes, as you might have guessed the picture above is the latest Photoshop commission by my curvaceous conservative counterpart Donald Douglas of American Power from his post "JBW's Teh AWESOME Saturday Night Pickups!":

JBW's an anything goes Obama-supporting wannabe wifebeater, but the dude does occasionally kick up his heels on a Saturday night!

But hey, I shouldn't judge, being "
a tubby, middle-aged neoconservative with an established history of victimology and a pathetic persecution complex."

RELATED: "James B. Webb: Intolerant Sexist Pig."

And in contrast to JBW's demonic blood-soaked Easter sacrilege, see Serr8d, "
(A) President at Easter Sunrise Service: A Good Man," and "(B) Women and Children and Men worldwide celebrate Holy Week. Good People."

Living by Faith in God."
Oh if only I had a wife of my own to beat! I guess I'll just have to continue to envy Don on that count. And yes, I did indeed call him a "tubby, middle-aged neoconservative with an established history of victimology and a pathetic persecution complex" (you're wise not to try to argue against that assessment, Don) but in my defense I also said that he was "a fat, greying community college prof on the downward slope of a career" who can't "see his own dick without the assistance of a strategically placed set of mirrors" as well. I just want to give the old timer his full due.

As to the above Photoshop: this is definitely a much better technical effort than the last portrayal of me Don commissioned (sorry, Stogie) and I'd wager that it's most likely what I'd look like if I lived the apparent sedentary lifestyle of a community college professor and treated my own body the way Don does his. He farmed this latest job out to his conservative blogging buddy Serr8d of The Cutting Edge:
Dr. Donald Douglas blasts that lousy lefty loser James B. Webb. Nice photoshop, if I do say so myself. Not this one though; another version. Here's this one...

...capturing the essential nature of JBW; a poorly-conceived attention whore. You saw his Easter present to his kids, didn't you? (If I'd seen that before I created those two pshops, I would've changed some things. James B. Webb would be presenting himself right out of goatse.
As I said, these efforts are somewhat better on a technical level but again the messages seem to be a bit incongruous, much like the sign Serr8d used in the image above (although I doubt that this was something he was aware of at the time):
The red-bordered triangular sign shows a scantily-clad woman, who is also carrying a handbag, in the city of Treviso in northern Italy.

The sign states 'Attenzione Prostitute' - seemingly warning people of prostitutes in the area.

Motorists and pedestrians have complained that the sign is 'confusing', saying they don't know if it means to watch out for crossing hookers or if it means prostitutes operate in the area.
I suppose it's fitting that he'd use a confusing sign to convey an equally confusing message. While I've stated many times on this site that I favor the legalization of prostitution (I'm just funny like that when it comes to the government denying consenting adults their personal freedoms) I've also previously mentioned that I've personally never slept with a prostitute and I really don't have any plans to in the future. Incidentally, in that same post I posed the following questions about personal freedoms and the free market system that I'd wager these supposedly conservative Christians Don and Serr8d (who both seem quite happy to give the government the authority to dictate what you and I and every other American can and can not do with our own bodies) would be hard pressed to answer honestly:
...why is it illegal for me to pay a prostitute for sex but a director can pay two people to have sex on film and then make money selling the DVD? Why is there such a social stigma against prostitutes and johns while Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson are treated like celebrities by the media? Why is it that if I pay two people to have sex in my bedroom while I watch it's prostitution but if I watch these same two people on a DVD in my bedroom it's just pornography? And what I consider one of the clearest and most succinct questions on this subject: why is it illegal to sell, what it is perfectly legal to give away?
My own answer to these queries would be "because of religious hypocrisy and how it influences and pertains to the laws of American society" but I'll let them answer for themselves (and yes, I won't be surprised if they decline to do so). Speaking of, I love Serr8d's admission that he would have liked to portray me stretching my own rectum open for the camera (yes, that's what "goatse" means; I told you that you didn't want to know) as retribution against me for not respecting his god as he and Don believe I should. I wonder, What Would Jesus Do to avenge a supposed slight against himself? And oh, won't somebody please think of the children?!

Also speaking of, apparently hitting on and pretending to hit on attractive adult women over the Internets not only makes me an "intolerant sexist pig" in Don's eyes but it also makes me an online ephebophile predator, which brings me to the main point of this post. I use the various Photoshopped pictures I create to accent and add to the main message of the posts they accompany and I try to imbue them with some semblance of coherence (and a bit of humor when I can) as they pertain to that message. In contrast, Don's commissioned Photoshops seem to lack this coherence and he just uses them in and of themselves mainly as attacks against me (which he still won't allow comments on but once an intellectual coward, yada, yada, yada).

To wit: in his post "Living by Faith in God", in which Don intimates among other things that I'm in league with Satan (I know, I laughed at that one too), he promises to follow up on my supposed evility at some later date. You can imagine that I was on the edge of my keyboard with anticipation of what revelations he would disclose about my lack of faith and how it will tragically damn me to everlasting hellfire and what these supposed moral failings (or EPIC. MORAL. FAIL., as Don would serially say) would reveal about me as a "demonic", "fallen", "human defect". You can also imagine my utter disappointment when this promised comeuppance simply and merely took the form of the farmed out image at the top of this post.

So what is the message supposed to be there? Well, in addition to the aforementioned accusation of predatory ephebophilia (brilliantly yet subtly conveyed by writing it on a sign) the main point of the picture, and thus the main point of the entire post since he writes little else, seems to be that Don (who at 5' 10" and over 200 pounds is 25-30 pounds over his ideal weight) is calling me (at 6' 0" and 175 pounds, i.e. medically ideal) fat. Why? Because I make jokes about his weight and since Don is a sensitive boy who has very thin skin for a fat guy, rather than coming up with an original comeback he retaliates by employing the rhetorically impressive and quite classic "Nuh-uh, you are!" defense. Well played. As I said Don, it's a somewhat technically impressive Photoshop but the message seems to be inaccurate at best and illogical at worst and your lack of any interesting or original commentary to accompany it only seems to make you come off as petty and hateful as a result. Hmm, actually that's pretty spot on for you at this point, isn't it Chubsy? Bon appetit, mon gros ami.