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Monday, November 29, 2004

Boo Freakin' Hoo 

Oh, boo hoo! Seems like everyone wants me to cry them a river these days. As an American, I have precious little sympathy for the suffering masses of Earth -- but it seems everywhere I look, some other group of shlubs wants me to feel sorry for them.

Boo hoo! So 20 years ago Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemical) caused a massive explosion in Bhopal, India, killing over 7,000 people. Big deal! That doesn't mean Amnesty International has to go picking on Dow Chemical for no reason! Besides, I don't have time to read all of that mess. I need a Quicktime video to watch instead. Pic swiped from Greenpeace.

Never mind about all that -- Best Buy is offering free shipping on many items! Who needs reindeer? There's only a few shopping weeks until Christmas.

Oh, boo hoo! So your house arrest was extended for a year. That's no reason to bum me out, Aung San Suu Kyi. I'm supposed to get all broken up because the oppressive government of Burma is keeping you locked up?

How can I pay attention to such depressing stuff when the new PS3 chips are being unveiled?

Boo hoo, Chilean torture victims! Just because you were tortured horribly by a US-backed dictatorship, does that mean you deserve all that financial compensation? Hey, I got mugged in the park three years ago -- maybe I should ask the government to pay all my bills, too!

I can't waste my time thinking about that stuff; I need to hurry up and order a pet staircase from SkyMall™. How else will my tiny dog be able to get up on the couch?

Oh, boo hoo -- so today's the anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. So what? That was, like, over a hundred years ago. We can't do anything about it, so what's the point of knowing about it?

Now here's some real news -- the 10-disc Ultimate Matrix DVD set is out. Hoo-yeah!

Boo hoo! So we may have committed some war crimes in Iraq. That's no reason to bring charges against Don Rumsfeld and George Tenet, for crying in the bucket! Lousy outside-agitating Center for Constitutional Rights.

What Americans really need isn't some stupid war crimes trial against our secretary of defense. What we need is a Spycam Remote Control Hummer! (I swear I'm not making this up.)

Boo hoo -- so you lost the election. Would you quit complaining about it already, Noam Chomsky?
it means little to say that people vote on the basis of "moral values." The question is what they mean by the phrase. The limited indications are of some interest. In some polls, "when the voters were asked to choose the most urgent moral crisis facing the country, 33 percent cited `greed and materialism,' 31 percent selected `poverty and economic justice,' 16 percent named abortion, and 12 percent selected gay marriage" (Pax Christi).
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some important work I need to do.


Learn Yiddish with Dick and Jane. "See Jane schlep. Schlep, Jane, schlep." via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Coltrane!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Would That I Could Blog Like This Every Day 

Oh, how I wish I could spend every day like this -- spend an hour or two reading the news sites, collect info and links, and then blog for an hour or so. But I suppose my civic duties in the classroom must take precedence. I just wish I had more energy to blog when I got home in the afternoon.

Lovely pic at right swiped from Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY, via Satan's Laundromat.

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

Hey, did you hear the one about how Halliburton lost millions of dollars worth of CPA equipment in Iraq?
A third or more of the government property Halliburton Co. was paid to manage for the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq could not be located by auditors, investigative reports to Congress show.
Not surprisingly, Halliburton says it did a better job than the independent report suggests. Meanwhile in Iraq, Maj. General Geoffrey Miller -- the guy in charge of Abu Ghraib during that whole torture thing -- has been promoted! Now that's an appropriate way to respond to "disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonoured our country". (For an excellent article on Abu Ghraib, see Anne-Marie Cusac in The Progressive.)

And speaking of military personnel being rewarded for human rights atrocities, an Israeli human rights group has lashed out at army Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon for his hideous crimes against Palestinians.
The media campaign came a few days after an Israeli military court indicted an army officer accused by his own soldiers of emptying his weapon into a Palestinian schoolgirl who was already dead. . . .

Channel Two broadcast a conversation between the officer and other troops recorded on military radio at the time of shooting, where he said: "Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed."
That's what I call purity of arms!

And finally from HalliBush Wars, Inc: You should read this report from Paul Street about what the Bush campaign learned from Visa's marketing efforts.
“We did what Visa did,” Mehlman recently told a gathering of the nation’s Repubican governors. “We acquired a lot of consumer data. What magazine do you subscribe to? Do you own a gun? How often do the folks go to church? Where do you send your kids to school? Are you married?” Based on “two years of polling, market-testing, and up-close demographic scrutiny,” Mehlman . . . “develop[ed] an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote --- not based on where they live but how they live.”
Now, do the Dems follow suit, or reject this as a twisted follow-the-corporate-leaderism?


Big Ups to everyone who was around this weekend for an outstanding Thanksgiving weekend -- Diane, Max, Christie, Garrett, Jesse, Arjuna, Ellen (no, I won't call you Granola), Josh, Amy, Ben, Jon, Colleen, Raya, Brian, Kate, Dug, Liev, and everyone else. Mega fun, great food. Good times. We should do it again next year.


I am now officially listed in the Blogarama. Now when people look through the 2093 listings under "Personal -> Observations", there's a slight chance they'll click over to this site. Huzzah! Publicity!

One of the reasons I love The Boondocks is because it's the only cartoon that regularly mentions people like Flava Flav. (TPCQ: "I just came from the crib, ya know / I'm on the go -- throw ya tank into metro.")

How about you -- Do you give to the red kettle?


The Future of Starbucks is cute, even if The Onion did it better.

Today I'm listening to: Jack Dangers!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Things, Stuff, and Items 

Having trouble finding someone to marry? Why not take out a billboard? Yes, some lady in Nashville has erected a billboard to find her soulmate. Makes sense to me! And of course, what billboard-promo personal-ad website would be complete without a 9/11 tribute page?

So then I got to thinking -- that "[your product here] SUCKS" campaign would look mighty fine on a billboard, yessiree. So c'mon, corporations -- don't miss out on my groundbreaking offer!


Lots of stuff from MeFi today, in addition to the loveboard above. First up is the AOL CD throne from StupidCo. (Finally, a company with honesty in titles!) Make sure you also check this page on their website for a cartoon of a lobster attacking a cow.

But AOL CDs aren't just for making chairs! They can also be used to sort-of cut through wood!
Cool blobs of melted plastic everywhere, though, and melted plastic 'candy-floss' blowing everywhere from the spinning disk. Top class entertainment, but as a serious DIY tool I'm afraid the AOL disk gets 0 out of 10.
Hey, remember that game MasterMind, with the colored pegs? Well, it's probably no surprise that you can now play it online. Good mindless fun that feels like intelligence-building.

Batman? (If Garrett doesn't have this site bookmarked, he really should.)

And finally, via Devoter, please enjoy Clear Channel Sucks.

What's that? You wanted insightful links and commentary on the important issues of the day? Thbpt! Go read Wonkette, you hoser. (Oh, wait. Today she's just got naked ladies on C-SPAN. I guess it's a slow news day for all of us.)


Robots! Click the center link -- the others are included in the story.

Today I'm listening to: Orbiting!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bush Administrations Are Good for Music 

Yesterday I got the new Ministry album, Houses of the Mole -- and it's excellent. (I especially like "WTV", a lovely revisitation of the "TV Song" tracks.) As some of the comments on that Amazon page indicate, it's Al's first really good album since Psalm 69. I started thinking about this and how Paris came back with Sonic Jihad after his lackluster Unleashed. I started to realize that some artists put out their best work when there's a Bush in the White House.

So today I spent my morning making this chart, which tracks the quality of the following artists over the past 12 years:
  • Ministry
  • Paris
  • Public Enemy
  • Ice Cube
  • Michael Franti
  • Tricky
  • Helmet
While the numbers don't match perfectly (PE's Revolverlution was less than impressive, for instance), this chart does indeed show that many music artists release their best work when there is a Bush in the office to inspire them. I guess there's something about Bush policies that make for good tunes.

Interesting side note: While compiling this data, I realized that all of my adult life has been spent living under a Bush government -- when Clinton took the White House, Jeb Bush grabbed the Florida Governorship. I wonder what it would be like to have no Bush standing over me?


Obviously we're all revulsed by the recent murder in a Fallujah mosque. But the award for best blog entry on this has to go to Baghdad Burning:
We sat, horrified, stunned with the horror of the scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. It's the third day of Eid and we were finally able to gather as a family- a cousin, his wife and their two daughters, two aunts, and an elderly uncle. E. and my cousin had been standing in line for two days to get fuel so we could go visit the elderly uncle on the final day of a very desolate Eid. The room was silent at the end of the scene, with only the voice of the news anchor and the sobs of my aunt. My little cousin flinched and dropped her spoon, face frozen with shock, eyes wide with disbelief, glued to the television screen, "Is he dead? Did they kill him?" I swallowed hard, trying to gulp away the lump lodged in my throat and watched as my cousin buried his face in his hands, ashamed to look at his daughter.
I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the best thing to ever come of the Internet is our ability to get individual perspectives from hidden spots on the globe dealing with the fallout of empire.

And finally: Yesterday's post on Satan's Laundromat has some very nice pics from a guest photographer, Keith Kin Yan of Overshadowed. Nice stuff on both sites.


Check out the funky Flash at Sketchy Animation.

Today I'm listening to: Ministry!

You may now post many angry comments chiding me for my rankings of your favorite albums.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Victory and Aggravation 

Part of the reason I haven't been blogging much lately is because I've been ensconced in the world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. To say it's an engrossing game is a pathetic understatement. Tonight, I finished the game. Huzzah!

Of course, I haven't finished 100%, insofar as there are dozens of other missions I can still do -- but they're silly and kinda pointless, so I may or may not get to them. But I do want to use this opportunity to gripe about video games -- in particular, their absurd difficulty.

The final mission in the GTA:SA storyline, "End of the Line," is a grotesquely complicated series of stages, each of which is more aggravating than the last. Trouble is, if you mess up on one little part, you have to do the whole thing over again. (Fortunately, I realized after much gnashing of teeth that I could save halfway through if I failed the second half.)

Driv3r is much the same way -- hair-yanking difficulty on some levels, with no options for making the game easier or skipping a mission which is causing particular rage. Final Fantasy X is the same way. Why are these games designed like this? Because they are designed and beta-tested by fanatics -- people who do nothing BUT play video games. So the rest of us (who just want to relax and have fun after work or school) have to feel inferior to these people or waste our time plodding through impossible missions. (I don't see how it's possible to finish that final GTA:SA mission without using a cheat code. I used it many times.)

So yeah. If any game designers are reading this (yeah right): Make the games diverse and engrossing, but spare us the bone-crushing difficulty. If nothing else, take a tip from the Star Wars games and give us various difficulty levels (not to mention regular female protagonists). And note that True Crime: Streets of LA auto-saves after every tiny part of gameplay. Nice!


I have a five-day weekend. Woohoo! Sure, I've got papers I need to grade. But in the meantime I have scads of free time, and Christie and Garrett and Max are coming in tonight. Huzzah! I get to spend time with them and Diane and everyone cool. Hooray for Thanksgiving!

Let's see. What's been building up in the old bookmark file? In case I haven't recommended the movie Primer enough, here's your chance to watch ten minutes of the film. Ooo, I can't wait til it comes out on video.

Have a look at Where the Wild Things Are -- er, Dance.

Hey, young go-getters! How about volunteering for the "PR challenge of the decade"?
The Washington, DC-based Iraqex . . . is offering 2- to 3-month internships in Iraq, for U.S. citizens with college degrees. The work includes "monitoring of Iraqi media, development of press releases and media material, interaction with Iraqi media for information requests and to pitch stories, and support for media events." Iraqex acknowledges that Iraq is a "hostile environment," but says its "U.S. personnel have lived in the country since 2003 without injury."
Thanks to Diane for the link. She also sent us the next one.

Hey, look -- it's my people! Belarus Accuses U.S. of Rights Abuses:
Angered at being targeted by the United States for its poor human rights record, Belarus hit back with a resolution accusing the U.S. government of disenfranchising voters, abusing prisoners and other rights violations.
Two filthy governments flinging mud at each other. Lovely.

Q. Hey, Eric -- isn't it counter-revolutionary to use such an important historical picture to symbolize your meaningless victory over a silly video game which is filled with atrocious stereotypes and propagation of gang warfare as a way of life for young black ghetto-dwellers?

A. Well, but . . . see, the cop in the game is corrupt. And at the end they emphasize the importance of community and the perils of greed.

Q. Oh. Okay, then.


Check out Karate Monkey! From -- where else? -- MonkeyFilter.

Today I'm listening to: Channel Live!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Local Man Can't Have Nice Things 

Madison-area schoolteacher Eric Piotrowski revealed last week that he is simply incapable of owning nice objects -- or even keeping his living space intact.

"I don't know," he said in a press conference last Thursday. "I feel like the universe has decided that I should not own a nice travel mug. Or a non-shredded couch. Or a bedroom door that can close." The announcement came one day after Piotrowski had brought in a maintance expert to fit his bedroom door with a new latch. The following day, his dog clawed through the door in a successful effort to gain entry into the bedroom.

"I'd never seen anything like it," Piotrowski said. "There were shards of wood all over the floor, and a hole just big enough for her to squeeze through. I'm plenty furious, but I also have to admire her determination." Piotrowski's dog, Eileen (see file photo at left), had previously been implicated in a number of other household-destruction incidents, including a couch cushion-shredding and a mattress fiasco. It was this precedent that had initiated the replacement latch in the first place.

"I worried that she would have gone in and shredded the mattress again," Piotrowski said. "But it was fine. I guess maybe she wore herself out getting through the door. Or else she just wanted to sit on the bed. I guess that was it, because it's been fine ever since she killed the door."

"I just wish I had known this would happen," he added. "I wouldn't have bothered with the latch and I wouldn't be out $100 or whatever for the door."

Another major setback for Piotrowski's nice-thing-having-ness came last week in the form of a lost travel coffee mug. "I got this really cool travel mug a while back, but a friend of mine borrowed it and lost it. Fine, no sweat. I got another one, but last week I left it behind at a faculty inservice. The gods do not want me to have that thing."

While some experts have suggested the possibility that Piotrowski's dog is an Earth-based canine form of Solaris' Rheya, others insist that all of these disasters have just been an elaborate way for the universe to remind Piotrowski of the essence of non-permanence and the virtue of non-attachment.

At the end of the press conference, Piotrowski thanked all in attendance and scurried away to continue grading his endless stack of essays.


I finally put up some new stuff at Imagenary. Anything to put off the essays.

Thanks to Mark (and Diane sent me this at one point, I think) for the Purple America map. Red states, blue states -- stop seeing the world in black and white, people! (After all, imagine how silly it would be to have red and blue Europe.)

What do I think about the election? Meh. Tell 'em, Noam.
As to fraud, etc. I don’t think it is a major issue, even if true. The election had about the significance of tossing a coin to pick a king. If the coin was slightly biased, that’s unfair, but not the main issue. The much more important point is that the opinions of the majority of the population were excluded from the political arena on major issues. People voted for the imagery concocted by the PR industry. Exit polls reveal that clearly. But to discover whether the imagery is accurate, we have to compare people’s attitudes and beliefs with the actual programs.
So -- down with the king!

418 galleries and they still haven't posted the picture of Diane and me at SorryEverybody.com. Oh well -- the last image on this page is most excellent. And in case you haven't seen them: Apologies Accepted and We're Not Sorry. Ah, dialogue!

Remember crack babies? Well, don't believe the hype.
Crack babies, it turns out, were a media myth, not a medical reality. This is not to say that crack is harmless. . . . But so-called crack babies are by no means ruined. Most fare far better, in fact, than children whose mothers drink heavily while pregnant.
Quite fascinating; this is one I urge you to read all the way through. (Hey, MonkeyFilter is good for something other than TimeWaster™s!)

Look, it's a lion in a bowling alley.

Man, I don't wanna grade essays. Thbpt.


Thanks to MonkeyFilter for ComedyButchers, the Sim-City-like series of comedy sketches. Well done, if not the most hilarious thing I've ever seen.

Today I'm listening to: Dub Beautiful!

Friday, November 12, 2004

I Heart Egg Nog 

I know I blogged about this last year, but I can't help it! I get all joyous when I spot the First Nog of the Year. I can't help myself -- I love the nog so much. It's delicious and tasty and yummy and fills me with cheer and indigestion. (Isn't this the same picture I used last year, too?)

TPCQ: "Homer, didn't you get any milk? All I see is egg nog." "'Tis the season, Marge! We only get thirty sweet noggy days! Then the government takes it away again." (Lisa, eating cereal:) "I'm having chest pains."

Ashcroft Gone, When Does Rumsfeld Leave?

Rumsfeld says El Salvador can be a model for Iraq. Oh, goodie. Does that mean we can look forward to Iraqi death squads and an Iraqi version of El Mozote?

Coming Soon on Deviant Synapse

Next time: What Eileen did to my apartment. Also: Tonight, Diane and I are going to see the movie Primer again. Why, when there are other movies playing, and Diane almost never votes to see movies twice in the theater? You'll understand when you see the film. Meantime, check the trailer. It's a really good movie.


NintenDogs are so very cute. They even fetch! (Which is more than Eileen will do.)

Today I'm listening to: Hardesertrance Vol. 2!

Monday, November 08, 2004

I Heart Clay Bennett 

This is an image from the best editorial cartoonist working today*, Clay Bennett. He has remarkable skill with iconography, and his work always makes me smile. It doesn't hurt that he's a superb artist too. So take an hour or two and look through his archive. This one is good.

* with the possible exception of Huck and Konopacki

I'm on a conference call right now. (Shh -- don't tell anyone; they think I'm taking notes.) In case you don't know, Greg Palast is reporting on new allegations of Bush-team vote tampering.

Which brings us to... Josh's blog! Yes, Mr. Heling himself is on the blo(g/ck). Today he posted the most excellent Sorry, Everybody site. Thanks, J! And welcome.

Meantime, Garrett has some cute pictures of Max from Halloween.


Here, play with this thing. I don't understand it -- it's all in German and stuff.

Today I'm listening to: The DOC!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Better Words than "Marriage" for Government to Spend Its Time Defining 

  1. Jingoism
  2. Theocratic
  3. Hegemony
  4. Equality
  5. Propaganda
  6. Diversion
  7. Paranoia
  8. Imperialism
  9. Plunder
  10. International Law
Pic taken from here. The list is pursuant to this article. And speaking of textbooks: Officials in Grantsburg, Wisconsin have revised the science curriculum to teach creationism. The next t-shirt I make is going to say:

Heliocentrism is only a theory!


After You is very well done.

Today I'm listening to: MF Doom!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Who Would Jesus Vote For? 

End of the 9-weeks. Grades due tomorrow. Photo from BrassMask.

Democracy Now had an interesting segment today about the religious right's successful efforts to mobilize voters, as well as media work by the religious right. Quoth investigative journalist Robert Parry:
As we saw during the -- during this campaign period, there were [left-leaning] groups that were set up just for the 2004 campaign that raised money for advertisements, and those advertisements went on on mainstream corporate media. They were paid for and then after that was done, it disappears. There's no residual effect, whereas the conservatives have built institutions that continue day in and day out, year in, year out, putting their message across, being consistent and being out there so the American people can listen to them.
Also -- I made some comments on Garrett's blog, and I thought maybe I'd repeat them here just for giggles.

First of all, the GOP did NOT receive much of a mandate. Voter turnout was 63%. 51% of that comes to 32% of the eligible population; hardly a mandate.

Secondly, the Democrats have NOT "fallen out of favor" with the American people. Most states had very tight margins, so although the electoral-vote map looks like the whole country is loopy, each state should really be half-red and half-blue. Whether we agree with the ideas behind the electoral college or not, the "winner-take-all" maps we see on election night certainly misrepresent the way the people in our country vote.

Thirdly, Social Security is one of the most effective US government programs of all time, and any proposals to privatize it fill me with horror. Just like plans to privatize schools and libraries.

Finally, any Christian who votes for a man who leads an illegal war of aggression and approves the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium in civilian areas is a hypocrite and a disgrace to Jesus' good name. Swords into plowshares. Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren.


Speaking of Jebus -- why throw Christians to the lions when they're willing to climb in voluntarily?


Galactic Debate is amusing. Bush and Kerry a la Star Wars.

Today I'm listening to: System 7!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


What's this? (and why?)

There's still time. Maybe a miracle will occur.


This is about how I feel this morning. (Not for kids!) Thanks, Rich.

Today I'm listening to: The sounds of sorrow.