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.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

" I guess I don’t think it’s entirely preposterous for Americans to see themselves as a people. But any conception of the American creed sufficiently general to encompass most widespread American conceptions of individual freedom, equality, tolerance and so on is going to be so general that it will do very little to distinguish American identity from, say, Canadian identity. And that’s clearly not what Glenn Beck or the staff of National Review have in mind when they talk about American values, promote a conception of American identity, or encourage Americans to see themselves as a people. ...

The conservative conception of American identity is so selective and so specific that it tends to suggest to its adherents that many (maybe even most!) Americans aren’t real Americans, or are Americans who betray real American ideals," -Will Wilkenson.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Something Unserious Someone Else Said

"This unfortunately is what happens when one challenges the Left. The Left generally lacks the capability and capacity to put forth a well reasoned argument so they are left with name calling, wishing those that disagree with them disease, death or other forms disaster, death threats, and ultimately the attempt to put those threats into action.

It is why you see that the vast majority of violence and attempted, in some cases actual, killing of others. There is always the attempt at "transference" to others because in most cases they want to deny or to try to fool people into believing they are not the perpetrators of the vast majority of these actions. How many people has the Left accused of these actions and then found out the perpetrator is a leftist or leans to the left? For them it becomes a sort of if one throw enough stones at others then nobody will recognize who is really at fault.

The left is true evil and is the Dark side of life. Go to any Leftist site and you see it demonstrated in 90 to 99.9 percent of the comments," -Dennis, one of the regular commenters at my conservative counterpart Donald Douglas' site American Power, as featured in Don's hyperbolicly named post, "The Left is True Evil".

It was recently brought to my attention that I declare an inordinate number of people and organizations unworthy of being taken seriously on this blog. I copped to it, but I also believe that it's usually a justified stance to take and I try never to do so without providing proof; the above is a case in point. Bad grammar aside, I quote Dennis not so much to claim that he and his opinions in particular are not worth taking seriously (although he and they are not) but rather that every other person like him, on the right and the left, who make similarly simplistic blanket statements such as his are not as well.

Yes, of course there are people on the left who say and do terrible things and there are just as many on the right who say and do the same. In fact, it's almost as if saying and doing terrible things is something that people do, regardless of their political affiliations. The way to tell the simplistic unthinking partisans from those one should actually listen to is to watch out for idiocy like this: definitively stating that people from their side of the political aisle are somehow immune from saying and doing those terrible things whilst simultaneously claiming that their adversaries do so almost exclusively.

And not for nothing but what kind of adult talks about "true evil" and "the Dark side" in any setting outside of a discussion about Star Wars and expects to be taken seriously by other adults? Why don't you just tell me that you think the Devil is a real person too so I can officially declare you insane, a child or both? I'm still laughing at people like this but I'd laugh a little harder if I knew they weren't voting this November. Please keep your comments on this post within this blog's accepted evilness range of 90 to 99.9%; all praise the Morning Star.

Newsweek's Newest Cover

Jonathan Alter chronicles the ever lengthening list of myths, lies and distortions that have been spread thus far about President Obama:

Our maddening times demand that the truth be forthrightly stated at the outset, and not just that the president has nothing in common with the führer beyond the possession of a dog. The outlandish stories about Barack Hussein Obama are simply false: he wasn’t born outside the United States (the tabloid “proof” has been debunked as a crude forgery); he has never been a Muslim (he was raised by an atheist and became a practicing Christian in his 20s); his policies are not “socialist” (he explicitly rejected advice to nationalize the banks and wants the government out of General Motors and Chrysler as quickly as possible); he is not a “warmonger” (he promised in 2008 to withdraw from Iraq and escalate in Afghanistan and has done so); he is neither a coddler of terrorists (he has already ordered the killing of more “high value” Qaeda targets in 18 months than his predecessor did in eight years), nor a coddler of Wall Street (his financial-reform package, while watered down, was the most vigorous since the New Deal), nor an enemy of American business (he and the Chamber of Commerce favor tax credits for small business that were stymied by the GOP to deprive him of a victory). And that’s just the short list of lies.
Most of these should come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to national politics for the past few years but it's always telling to see how long the list has gotten. Newsweek's critics are claiming that the cover is merely a publicity stunt to sell more issues and perhaps they're correct on that count but that certainly makes the sentiments expressed in the article no less true or relevant. David Cross, perhaps my favorite comedian, touched on this topic in his newest special Bigger and Blackerer as well as addressing the right's jingoistic hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing America:


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To...

...about Muslims. From the "It's funny because it's true" file:

SALINA, KS—Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.

Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was "perfectly happy" to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world's second-largest religion.

"I learned all that really matters about the Muslim faith on 9/11," Gentries said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the United States undertaken by 19 of Islam's approximately 1.6 billion practitioners. "What more do I need to know to stigmatize Muslims everywhere as inherently violent radicals?"

"And now they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero," continued Gentries, eliminating any distinction between the 9/11 hijackers and Muslims in general. "No, I won't examine the accuracy of that statement, but yes, I will allow myself to be outraged by it and use it as evidence of these people's universal callousness toward Americans who lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell."

"Even though I am not one of those people," he added.
"Muslims are bad." Yeah, I know people who "think" like this.