31 August 2007

"His friends say they thought he was doing an art piece"

from Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing, regarding an incident at Burning Man.

LOL Hillary?!?

How I suffer for my art. I went through Sen. Clinton's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman last night, frame by frame to find just the right image with which to add a caption.

(OK, i didn't really go through the whole performance (and it was a performance) frame by frame, I just figured a moment when they were both laughing would fit the caption I already had in mind, but it sounds more dramatic if I claim to have gone through this appearance as if I were some Kennedy assassination conspiracy nut studying the Zapruder film)

Drudge had a headline screaming (with a question mark) that Sen. Thompson will finally announce officially his run for presidency on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. When Arnold Schwarzenegger made his official announcement for his run at the California Governorship on Leno, it was done well, all the copycats since, have been lame.

The two main latenight shows have become important stops on the campaign circus circuit. Nobody seems to give Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Conan O' Brien or Carson Daly any love. I think they're making a mistake. All those guys are better interviewers than Leno or Letterman (each in their own way). Kimmel is very sharp, and he'd be a good challenge. Ferguson when matched with the right guest is brilliant, and if you were willing to respond honestly and follow the conversation however it goes, could flesh out a lengthy anecdote better than anyone, Conan can switch from whacky to serious the best of all the late night hosts, but he's committed to whacky, so if the purpose of the appearance is to show your humor, then he'd bring it out, and finally Carson is the ultimate sycophant, whatever you have your people tell him to ask you, he'll do, he'd give you the easiest appearance to control (yet without the obviously staged managed feel of a Leno or Letterman appearance where the difference between how they handle politicians and their normal persona is so obvious, not that either are tough on the starlets and stars on their shows, but there's still a big difference).

I left out the cable shows in this equation, though the Daily Show has become a major stop for politicians, and so long as your politics lines up with his, Stewart will treat you very well (when Sen. Obama was on, I was pretty sure that despite being straight, Jon Stewart was fully prepared to sex him up, but good).

I'm not going into the usual whine about how this makes the whole political process as unserious and publicity driven as pushing the latest TV show or feature film. I'm not going to write about how politicians are trying to sell themselves as celebrities rather than engage in policy discussions. I'm not even going to complain about how wooden, stiff and boring most of these folks are when they try and do their 'I can laugh at myself' schtick during one of these appearances.

Nope, not even going to mention any of that.

But, I will mention that few people look good captured in the middle of a wide grin with their head tilted downward (Sen. Clinton and Mr. Letterman being no exception).

30 August 2007

LOL Pinter?!?

Harold Pinter's play The Birthday Party, and Harold and the Purple Crayon were both written 50 years ago. Coincidence?

(inspired by the comment section at this So Quoted trivia question post (which I ruin by giving away the answer))

(and I figured it would be even more "pinter-esque" if the 'crayon' Pinter was holding wasn't really purple at all, even though he says it is . . .)

29 August 2007

LOL Halonen?!?

Pictured above, Finland's President Tarja Halonen (not Conan O'Brien, though any confusion may be understandable).

Why is it that Finland is Rootin' Tootin' too? On this survey (small pdf at link, here's the link to the surveyor's website)that's been making the rounds (greeted with predicatbly tut-tuttiness in certain circles), with regards to firearms, they come in third on a per capita basis.

I think any country in the top ten should be considered part of the Rootin' Tootin' club, though they do all pale both in sheer number, and in per capita terms with the Rootin' Tootin'-est people on the planet, the good folks of the U S of A!!!

May we long be the Rootin' Tootin'-est.

28 August 2007


For context, visit here.

it made me laugh, maybe not out loud, but the thought of this particular juxtaposition is at least chuckle worthy, and for more on AYB, here's the AYB Wiki

(also, think of this as a semi-homage to Ed Ruscha, if you must)

The Thing Not Said . . .

. . . not mentioned in this USA Today article (hat tip Instapundit) regarding "black flight" from San Francisco is homophobia within the African American community.

The loss of the black community in San Francisco coincides with the rise in the political influence of the gay community. It could be completely coincidental.

But many have argued that black communities (and there are those who resist that notion) tend to be more homophobic than the population in general (especially amongst blacks who attend traditionally black churches), more predominately black churches than not openly discriminate against homosexuality. This WaPo article from 2004 would seem to support that claim. This article from the SF Chronicle (also from 2004) about black clergy rallying against same sex marriage would also suggest that there's strong resistance within the religious black community towards accepting homosexuality.

Seems like a funny oversight within the article to not even pose the question.

"Nature is very much like a 14-year-old boy"

Quoted from an article (hat tip Drudge) about earthquakes in Los Angeles.

The correct pairing with the line "Nature is very much like a 14-year-old boy;"

A) it builds up tension rapidly, then releases it in an ejaculatory manner
B) it's violent and unpredictable
C) it's sloppy and lazy
D) it's inarticulate, surly, and frequently sullen (but it's only a phase)

You'll have follow the link to find the right answer (unless you were able to guess correctly without doing so).

27 August 2007

LOL Opus?!?

Sorry, Berkeley Breathed, you can't even mention Islam in any sort of humorous context. Salon is 'bravely' hosting these 'controversial' comics online (they've been hosting Opus online for some time, they just didn't join WaPo in keeping this from the public eye). Yesterday's comic wasn't really even about Islam, it was about the Lola Granola spiritual seeker types and fadishness in faith. Washington Post can do what they will with their pages, but they're being particular stupid in this case (and as Breathed's distributor they are sending a stern message to him with regards to what they expect from him content-wise by keeping him off their flagship paper when he dares to mention Islam in a humorous context, even when that context doesn't make fun of Islam at all).

Bloom County was pretty damn good, Opus not so much, but when it comes to the fear of riling the easily offended within the Islamic community, Washington Post is entirely cowardly and predictable, and Breathed is most likely dumbfounded as to how this strip could possibly be considered offensive to Islam.

Though, maybe it's the Lola Granola community that WaPo is trying to protect . . .
More on this at Malkin, Volokh, and Captain's Quarters. I looked around for some lefty defenders of free speech and agitators against religiously inspired censorship, and outside of Joan Walsh at Salon, all I'm hearing is crickets chirping.
And good going LA Times, you printed the comic in question, so far no flames and protests in the street around here as far as I can tell . . .

26 August 2007

"and in five years we’ll probably be going to court and fighting about it"

It's funny because it's true.

(congrats to Parker and Stone, you've earned the reward, I look forward to more stellar work from y'all in the future)

LOL Broad?!?

That caption is so inappropriate considering all the good works Eli Broad is responsible for. A nice article in today's LAT on Broad (photo I deface is also from the LAT, credited to Don Kelsen).

Still it would be hilarious to imagine Eli Broad quoting Dave Chappelle, and Broad is indeed RICH (#42 on Forbes' most current list of wealthy Americans, will he rise or fall in Sept when the new list comes out?).

He's almost 4 times richer than Oprah, and he's got Mayor Bloomberg beat by about half a billion, that's seriously RICH.

(and if you live outside of LA, you probably hadn't heard of him before)

25 August 2007

Even I Question My Ability to Fisk Fisk When He's Being That Fisk-y . . .

That's right, even I can't fisk Fisk, despite just starting a new blog dedicated to slow, langorous, pleasurable all day fiskings. Nevertheless I can't possibly fisk this particular Fisk output, it's utterly unfiskable (good commentary on it can be found at LGF, hat tip Ed Driscoll who gets a few good lines in himself)

There comes a time when a Fisk article is so entirely and irrefutably lame that any attempt at fisking would upset the fabric of the very universe (and yes, I've used a similar joke before).

LOL Fidel?!?

Perez Hilton is right, the bastard is dead (at least I hope he's right, if not, he's been as good as dead ever since they admitted his illness last year, the original photo I've defaced, also from last year).

Maybe, Just Maybe, It's Because the District is Too Big, and the Union Rules Too Restrictive . . .

. . . a continuing massive breakdown in a payroll system installed more than six months ago for LAUSD.

The whole thing is one nightmare after another, but the tone of the article is, 'these poor folks', 'too bad this stuff has to happen', 'they just need to spend even more money to fix the problem', etc.

$95M for a payroll system that doesn't work is absurd. $45M in overpayments to 28,700 employees, mostly on June 5th alone, should be a bigger scandal than it was.

To paraphrase James Carville, it's the bureaucracy idiotas.

When schools complain about not having enough money to pay teachers, maybe they should first figure out how to pay the teachers like any other company would. And I'll bet you any amount of money, that if Deloitte Consulting were contracting to upgrade the system for a similarly sized private company, that A) they would have been bid down to about $10-15M for the project instead of $95M, and B) it would have worked first time out or Deloitte would have had to spend their own money to fix it, and C) Deloitte would have worked with the Human Resources department of that company to fix the system from the ground up rather than try and kludge together a computer system to fit around the rules that already existed in place, and D) Wouldn't still be facing these sort of problems six months after the initial roll out of the system.

I'm guessing union intransigence and typical bureaucratic nonsense are responsible for 80% or more of the expected cost of fixing this problem (which given that they admit to spending $95M and look to spend tens of millions more). I'm thinking somewhere around $100M will be overspent to fix this problem they created. That's money that didn't go to learning, didn't find its way into teachers pockets, and taken directly from local, state and federal taxpayers. With a student body of around 700,000 that breaks down to a paltry $143 per pupil, so I guess it's no big deal, maybe they should go ahead and waste another $100,000,000 fixing this and take another $143 per kid away from the classrooms.

Funny how the LAT can manage to keep a mostly neutral and sympathetic tone while reporting on a story like this (I sense no finger pointing, just sympathy for the poor teachers who aren't getting paid properly), but write a story on some stupid puffed-up Congressional investigation into the Executive branch and objectivity gets thrown out the window.

(Given the photo used to illustrate this story, and the fact that the phrase, "hardest hit" is actually in the story, I could have titled this, "Bureaucrats Screw Up, Minority Women Hardest Hit . . .")

Bravo to Deloitte Consulting for milking this scam for all its worth (way to increase shareholders value!), and a boo and a hiss to the LAUSD Superintendent for gross dereliction of duty.

24 August 2007

Fun With Google . . .

. . . interesting project for perusing google images (with safe search off). I bet a dissertation is hiding in these results somewhere . . .

Take any traditionally female name in an Indo-European tongue, and I can almost guarantee that there will be a picture of a near naked (or more explicit) woman within the first 21 results. You have to pick real 'grandma' names to avoid the jubblies on the first page of hits (Mildred and Gertrude are names that turn up no nudity on the first page of hits). Also, slavic female names are likely to turn up nothing but explicit images. Mary seems to be an odd exception. While the first hit is unclothed, it's a nude painting of Mary Magdelene, rather than a naked pic of some random young woman (plus lots of Mary-Kate in the first few pages of hits for 'Mary'). Every Japanese woman's name also turns up almost nothing but cheesecake to full on porn.

Doesn't seem to work the same way with most male names (except the names Randy and Peter).

Cue Ave Q song . . .

LOL Truly Julie?!?

Poor Julie Chang. I'm sure she had some dignity once, but being the cutesy news gal on a morning show will suck the dignity right from your marrow. Doesn't help that her weekly segment is called Truly Julie (and video corresponding to that Santa outfit shot is part of this week's Truly Julie feature).

Our local CW affiliate has a morning show, they also have an attractive Korean-American woman on the program. But ours is more serious, she's the 'enterprise' reporter and Janet Choi is so serious that her photo is black and white and she doesn't even bother mentioning that she was on Real World Seattle (she was one of those boringly well adjusted house guests) way back in the day.

Does every CW morning show have what Family Guy calls an "Asian Reporter".

Also while perusing the history of Real World, there's never been an Asian male on the now nearly 20 year history of the show. And when I say Asian, I mean no East Asian, no Southeast Asian, no South Asian, no Southwest Asian (come on, not a single non-Black Muslim since 9/11, what's up with that?). Are Bunim/Murray telling me that there are no loudmouth borderline alcoholic fratboy Asian males (or at the very least an ultra-femme gay Asian party boy) willing to have their lives filmed for a tiny bit of psuedo-celebrity? Seems somewhat unlikely that this is the case. Also a bit surprised that they haven't had on a Pakistani or Indian Real Worlder in all these shows since 9/11 so that they could 'explore' the problems of stereotyping and prejudice against that community. Maybe when they come back to the Los Angeles area they'll rectify the situation.

23 August 2007

Is There a Problem, Officers?

Move along, nothing to see here, nothing at all, except a Defamer photo story complete with slightly NSFW pictures of a stark naked man being arrested while walking down Melrose with an exotic cat draped across his shoulders.

Just another day in Lotus Land (it's a state of being, if not in fact a state, yet).

(and don't forget to read the comment section, there's some good ones in there)

(and yes, I have an alibi, plus my hair is shorter)

Yeah, Sure, That's the Reason . . .

. . . recently-weds (how long does newly- last?) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sleep in separate bedrooms according to the Daily Mail because Tom has a snoring problem.

Can't be any other reason for it. Nope not at all. I know what's good for me, I won't suggest any other reason for such a thing. Tom Cruise is the most heterosexual man on the planet and it's clear to me that one of the reasons that Tom has trouble with snoring is due to the vigorous and entirely heterosexual attentions he directs at his lovely wife. Too bad Nicole hadn't insisted on separate bedrooms, maybe they'd still be together.

Frankly, if you have the money and the space, couples should have three 'bedrooms', one each for their individual sleep needs, and a third one specifically designated for 'gettting it on'. Really, you're better off with whole separate houses with just adjoining family, living, and dining rooms. Bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms should be as separate as possible for each grown (or near grown) member of the family.

I've also thought that college dorms should have specifically designated 'getting it on' rooms with safer-sex supplies and a panic button system just in case things get out of hand. It would cut a lot of tension between roommates, and these kids are supposed to be adults, so most of the kiddies in dorms are of the age of consent. A lot of dorms have music practice rooms that are soundproofed, these can be repurposed for such a need, if one is creative enough (and no doubt have been 'repurposed' in this manner more than once).

LOL Putin?!?

I couldn't decide between captions or pictures, so for your glorious benefit, you get both.

Damn you Russian "President" Vladimir Putin. Now I've got that song stuck in my head. Suffer with me and click on the video below. Damn you Pootie Poot.

And the caption at Pravda to lure you into clicking on the photo set that includes the top photo, "Photos of bare-chested Putin send women and men in ecstasy" (I wish I were making that up).

Plus this Drudge linked AP story is fabulous.

A Five State Solution for Dividing California (and Increasing the Political Influence of Each Region)

After seeing the idea kicked around in this Althouse thread, thought I'd attack the idea with an illustrated map. Above is a map of a five state solution for dividing up California. It respects current county boundaries, and I think it does a good job of acknowledging the demographic similarities of each region. The maroon lines are my proposed new state boundaries, with the new names of each state floating near them.

California is by far the largest state, yet our influence nationally is marginalized by that size. Division of the state would multiply our collective influence.

A breakdown of each of the five states (in order of new population, smallest to largest, based on this chart of 2006 estimates):

Lower Cascadia, State Capital Sacramento, postal code LC, current population of the 22 counties included 3,287,069 with a plurality of those people (1,385,607) in Sacramento county. It would be the smallest of the new states in population. This mountainous heavily forested state would be much more similar to its Mountain West neighbors if separated from the rest of California. It'd be somewhere half way between Oregon and Idaho demographically and politically. In the new 54 state United States (state pop numbers via this wiki page) would slot in between Connecticut (3,504,809) and Iowa (2,982,085) as the 34th most populous state. As far as national politics goes, this could be a purple state, as the rural population about balances the urban population and its (projected) 7 electoral votes would be fought over.

Hill and Dale, State Capital Merced, postal code HD, current population of the 16 counties included 3,715,757 mostly concentrated in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley. This state would be dominated by agro-business and agro-business concerns. Hill and Dale (the name reference to the mountains of the eastern and coastal sections of this state, and the valley in the center) would have many of the natural wonders that have made California famous, so conservation and attracting tourism would also be major concerns. In terms of the 54 states, it would be between Kentucky (4,206,074) and Oregon (3,700,758) and rank 30th. Politically it would have more in common with the farm belt states in the midwest than it does with its neighboring former California states, but with a more hispanic twist. Most likely a solidly 'blue' state, but a moderate Republican could put this state in play. With 7 electoral votes it would be another potential battleground state in close elections.

Groovy, State Capital San Francisco, postal code GR, this would be a ring of 10 counties surrounding the Bay Area totalling 7,379,635 in population. This would be the 'fruit and nut' central (hence the name "Groovy"), but it would also be home to the Silicon Valley. As a separate state this would become a perfect test bed for every whacked out progressive idea they could come up with. Let them screw up that geographically small, but fairly substantial numbers-wise area first before solving the problems for the rest of the country. It fits in between Virginia (7,642,884) and Massachusetts (6,437,193) and would rank 15th in the new 54 state scheme. About as solidly blue as a state could be. This would be a permanent 13 electoral votes for the Dems (unless some more 'progressive' party comes around challenging the Dems nationally).

Reagan, State Capital Riverside, postal code RE, this would be five large counties, totalling 10,250,900 people, comprised of the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego (+ Imperial). It would be the most conservative of the new states (hence the name Reagan, and if any other president deserves a state named after him other than Washington, it would be Reagan). It would have large military bases, and would be diverse ethnically, topographically, and economically. Riverside is more centrally located which is why it would make a good capital, and besides I attended college there. It fits between Ohio (11,478,006) and Michigan (10,095,643), giving it a rank of 9th in the new 54 state union, but the area is growing rapidly, so by 2030 it would likely leap frog Ohio, Pennyslvania and Illinois and rank 5th with a population between 13 to 15M. Most likely a solidly red state, similar to Nevada, Utah or Arizona in temperament. Not impossible for a Dem to win here, but it would take a special Dem to win this state's 18 electors and a particularly bad GOP candidate to lose them.

Lotus Land, State Capital Santa Barbara, postal code LL, this would be Los Angeles, plus four other counties with the bad luck of being thrown together with that behemoth, totalling 12,527,654 people. It would be the heart of the entertainment world, one of the powerhouses on the Pacific Rim, with a major world port, a major world airport, and be the financial capital of the Western United States (but still devoid of even a single NFL team). Santa Barbara is a beautiful town, with many great municipal buildings as a county seat already, so it wouldn't be that hard to picture it as a quaint, but bustling State Capital of a major state. The political clout of this new entity would not be dilluted, most likely it would be strengthened by this division. It fits between Illinois (12,831,970) and Pennsylvania (12,440,621) and would be already the 5th most populous state all on its own, but would most likely pass Illinois by the end of this decade and sit alone only behind Texas, New York and Florida in terms of population. By 2030 Reagan and Lotus Land would be neck and neck as Reagan is growing much faster than Lotus Land, making for some interesting local rivalries. Home to 21 electoral votes, this would be fairly solidly 'blue' and would be a major source of money for the national party. This state wouldn't be as 'blue' as Groovy, but it'd only consider GOP candidates in the Schwarzenegger and Giuliani mold.

I think this is a pretty good solution (the names may a bit jokey, but fitting), one that won't ever happen, one that has little support, but the idea of California being divied up into smaller parts does get kicked around from time to time, so might as well put some thought into what the outcome might look like. Currently California gets 55 electors and 2 Senators, these new states should get either 65 or 66 electors and 10 Senators (I added one, based on a bonus congressional district for Reagan). 66 looks a lot better than 55 (but the overall number of electors would also increase by 8 with the addition of 8 new Senators).

UPDATE: Responding to good suggestions added here and at Althouse (much thanks go to Prof. Althouse for linking this directly in a post), here's a SIX STATE SOLUTION.

Renamed all the States after famous Americans people (forgot to change American to people after changing Steinbeck to Serra) to make this sound slightly less crazed and a touch more serious.

Jefferson has remained unchanged (other than the name, which was changed to reflect the Jefferson State movement local to that region).

Hill and Dale becomes Muir in honor of the conservationist who was instrumental in establishing the many National Parks within this proposed state. Also Muir absorbs Kern county which belongs more with them, and cedes San Benito and Monterey to the newly formed central coast state of Serra. The new population figure for this state surpasses 4 million, and as pointed out, those farmers tend to be a pretty conservative bunch, so let's call this a more or less red state with serious agro-business concerns.

Groovy remains unchanged, other than renaming it after the poet Allen Ginsburg. He may have been a native of New Jersey, but he spent a lot of years in SF, and I would have named the state after the local poet Ferlinghetti, but A), nobody would be able to spell the name of the state, and B), he's not dead yet (I know, I'm surprised, too). In comments to this post Hey suggested that Silicon Valley probably wouldn't enjoy being lumped in with the other Bay Area counties, but I think San Jose would serve as a good internal counterbalance to the nuttiness sure to originate in San Francisco if they were their own state.

Serra (named after the founder of the many missions that dot these coastal counties) would be comprised of the central coast counties and would have a small population of only about 1.5 million, but would be center for tourism, have many major colleges, and have an abundance of natural beauty. Thought about naming it Steinbeck for that fella born in Salinas, but I thought Serra (despite the controversy around him) would be a better way to go.

Los Angeles would be all by its lonesome, the state would be called Pickford, rather than Los Angeles, seems appropriate to name this state after the first Hollywood starlet (her or Gish, take your pick). Plus she was business savvy, and did help found United Artists, so she works on a couple levels. Los Angeles county alone has over 10 million people so would be neck and neck with Reagan as largest state carved out of what used to be California.

Also mentioned in comments are the potential water fights a division would cause, but Serra, Pickford and Reagan have plenty of water, they just have to desalinate it. Nuclear power is the way to go, the designs for desalinating nuclear power plants that can be sited near population centers are being used (or are in the planning stages) in many countries. I think Serra, Pickford and Reagan should be happy to join that list and free each of those states from the water neediness that plagues the region. The Pacific Ocean is in no danger of being drained, it's just a bit too salty to drink, and that's easy enough to fix (and once the power plants are operational, cheap, too).

But then, I've thought that's the way to go for some time now.

22 August 2007

Amanpouring Myself Some Drunk-Blogging . . .

. . . I just like typing Amanpouring. But the show just started, and I'm about to unleash the DVR and see what's about to come.


Here's the draught keg, ready to pour some ice cold shatan's brew.


Here's the 2oz shot of Jack Daniels I'm about to fortify the beer with.

Now on to drunkblogging! Updates to come . . .

UPDATE: 6:24pm (6:10:50 on the video), OK, Amanpour is conspiring to keep me sober, for the first ten minutes, no moral equivalizing, I'm getting worried . . .

UPDATE: 6:29pm (6:14:25 on video), I'm changing the rules, cause I'm getting thirsty, I'm adding the category, "it's all America's fault" to the list of drink-worthy phrases or tropes. Poor Syed Qutb, he was a young innocent poet and scholar with a stylish Hitler moustache, until he came to America and was exposed to women in two piece swimsuits. Naturally it follows that from there he calls for the destruction of the west and inspires generations of radicals. It's all our fault (two gulps just to get things started).

UPDATE: 6:36pm (6:17:45 on video), OK, now I'm angry, Ms. Amanpour is totally drink-blocking me now. I changed the rules to add the 'blame America' category and she completely misses a golden opportunity. She mentions the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as a radicalizing moment in Islam, and profoundly influential in making Bin Laden and Al Qaeda important, yet doesn't mention that the muhajideen didn't have a snowballs chance in hell of driving off the Soviets like they did without training and material support by the CIA. Charlie Wilson was more important in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan than either Al Qaeda or the Taliban (and don't you forget it). In this case, I'm very suspicious of her studied avoidance of blaming America in this instance (and you can tell how sober I still am, I don't think 'studied avoidance' would fly from my fingers once I'm on my 2nd or 3rd boilermaker).

UPDATE: 6:42pm (6:23:10 on video), Karen Armstrong will do me solid. She's a big time apologist for radical and violent Islam. It's that awful forced modernization commited by that puppet of the CIA, the Shah. All praise Ayatollah Khomeini. They "stood up to the United States and humiliated a superpower" (woohoo!?) That's worth two gulps.

UPDATE: 6:55pm (skipping ahead . . .), I might have missed some drink-worthy moments, but all this talk of the joys of martydom is depressing and not a particular at all revealing, moving on . . . made it up to 6:41 on the video, finally blaming the current operations on Iraq for a whole generations of jihadis and radicals (woohoo!?) I think that's worth two gulps.

UPDATE: 7:02pm (6:46:49 on video), If only we hadn't staged troops in Saudi Arabia when we repelled Iraq from Kuwait, maybe Bin Laden wouldn't have gone and done all those awful things (definitely worth two gulps).

UPDATE: 7:09pm (skipping . . . skipping . . .) After some nonsense about Ms. Amanpour trading her less modest normal veil for the even more modest full on mullah approved extreme veil, she visits a mullah/scholar on the Hidden Imam. Fun stuff that, but not drink-worthy, so skip, skip, skip, and now I'm caught up, so I'll polish off the rest of my current glass, eat diner and return in about 45 minutes to watch the last 50 minutes of this program. . . (a few gratuitous gulps to empty my glass)

UPDATE: 8:07pm back to watching this, after a nice hot sliced beef (slathered in bbq sauce) sandwich. Ohh, Karen Armstrong again (7:14:10 on video), "It's important to say that none of the great world religions has been good for women." That sounds like moral equivalency to me (only one gulp). One point about that, yes, all religions have practiced some form of repression, but so to say that because women were oppressed by most Christians, Jews, Buddhist, Hindus or Taoists up through the 19th century (and even into the 20th century) gives Muslims a pass to kill unmarried couples who dare walk together in Iran today, is the worst kind of moral equivalency. And the kind of actions we see in Iran with their violent religious authorities haven't been seen anywhere in the West in this kind of overt way since the 18th century. So no, there is no equivalence there, no matter what Karen Armstrong chooses to state.

UPDATE: 8:27pm This crap is boring, Christiane is talking plenty, but she ain't saying nothing. Blah, blah, blah, only a few radicals, blah, blah, blah, Islam is actually feminist friendly, blah, blah, blah, jihad isn't evil, blah, blah, blah, those evil right-wing politicans in Europe are stirring racism, blah, blah, blah, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an evil apostate attacking Islam, blah, blah, blah, Muslims are fluffy peaceful bunnies so long as you don't offend them, then they're pushed towards a tiny cohort of radicals.

Meh. God's Bollocks more like it.

Made through, barely got a buzz on. I'm seriously disappointed. Jack and Ale do go together nicely, though.

If you were completely uninformed before, than there might have been a few bits of interest mixed in, but if you've been a good consumer of news and current events and prevailed upon yourself to be informed about the issues of the day, then this was just a seriously soft-pedalled treatment of old material.

Useless stuff, and maybe even dangerous given that the threat a place like Iran represents was greatly downplayed.

Welcome to the "Real" World . . .

. . . my URGE service has been swallowed up by Real Network's Rhapsody service. The terms of service have stayed the same, but now I get access to the Rhapsody catalog of downloadable and streamable tracks.

Like most computer users I've come to despise Real and their buggy, invasive and awkward software. But I'm willing to give them another chance. The big plus to this change is that Rhapsody's catalog is really, really big, and with the addition of the URGE catalog, it's now freakin' huge.

The minus is that to use all the features of this new combined service you have to use the Rhapsody media player. I don't like it so far. It's clunky, it's been buggy so far (even so far as to get blue screened twice since I've started using it, and since I've been using Vista blue screens had been a thing of the long forgotten past).

I like the quality of the streamed audio, however, and am going to experiment with NOT downloading tracks to my computer. So far it works fine and that frees up gig after gig of space. Also, Rhapsody is fully compatible with my Samsung portable, so I can still listen to my subscribed tunes in my car.

The interface still sucks, they're trying too hard to look and feel like iTunes and they do a piss-poor job of it (and I don't really like iTunes in the first place, WMP11 FTW!!!).

But my sub doesn't run out till December, so I'll give them till then to work out the kinks, and if the mysterious blue screens of death don't keep coming up, and the streams continue to work as well as they seem to do, I may stick with this service.

Haven't tried to break it yet, we'll see how good the stream sounds while using bittorrent (for legally tradeable goods only, of course).

Amanpouring Myself Another Drink . . .

I'm thinking of drunk-blogging tonight's CNN Special Presentation of "God's Warriors: Muslims".

Anytime Ms. Amanpour says anything that draws moral equivalence between evil deeds done by folks in the name of Islam with other faithful, I'll imbibe in some of Shatan's own brew.

I expect to be completely ripped by the end of this presentation.

I'll be DVR-blogging, so it won't be 'live', I'll try to keep up with the first broadcast (6PM my time) best I can, but that's a bit early in the evening to get plastered.

My drug of choice for this evening will be a hearty mix of Heineken and Jack Daniels. I won't be chugging my Boilermakers Purdue style, and since I won't be dropping the shot into the beer mug, technically it's not a true boilermaker, but the taste and effect is largely the same. So that I'll still be alive by the end of this program, I'll limit myself to a sizeable gulp at each instance of moral equivalizing. Any other rules I should follow? Should I finish off whatever's left in the glass for each use of the phrase "religion of peace"? Should I do two gulps each time Ms. Amanpour brushes aside those oppressive bangs? Go ahead, you have a few hours to suggest a few rules.

Since I mentioned Heineken, I love those Heineken 5 liter draught kegs. I'd love them more if I could get one full of MGD light, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Guinness instead (Heineken isn't my favorite beer, but this new beer delivery system is my favorite beverage delivery system), but that will have to wait. Once these miracles of modern technology are proven successful in the marketplace, the other brewers will follow suit. I'd love one of these things for soft drinks, too. Freshly pulled, and perfectly mixed Diet Coke from a keglike dispenser with its own CO2 system would be awesome.

Tell Me Something I Don't Already Know . . .

Mark Heisler begrudgingly admits that yes, indeed, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the Universe (that's right, even those aliens doing their fly-bys near Haiti ain't got nothing on Kobe).

Kobe in his prime v Jordan in his prime matched with about equal teammates would be a sight to see. Can only happen in computer simulation land though.

Kobe has taken his game to a new level over the past six months or so, it was hard to tell when he was with the Lakers (especially when they got swept in the playoffs), but playing with the best of the best that the USA has to offer, he still is clearly better than anyone else and is the only person you want defending the other team's best player or taking the last shot when the game is on the line.

He was outstanding in both 'blue on white' games they played getting ready for the FIBA Americas Championship that starts today. He's been a demon in practice, and he has the awe and respect of all the other all stars gathered.

He better stay a Laker, and the Lakers better do whatever it takes to assemble a team that he can win with.

The big knock on him is that he doesn't do enough to make those around him better, but you try making everyone better when Smush Parker is your point guard (good luck Miami Heat, you'll need it). Getting Derek Fisher back should help a lot more than people expect, plus a healthy Walton, Mihm and Odom could help make the Lakers a lot better than anyone expects them to be.

LOL Schroeder?!?

Former Congressperson Pat Schroeder (D-Co) speaks ill of conservative readers. Not a big deal if she was just a bitter old ex-politician who sees her beloved ideology becoming less and less relevant. But she's also a bitter old ex-politician who happens to be the president of a trade group, as well.

Insulting a large chunk of your potential customers isn't a smart way to run a trade group. But smarts and liberalism don't always mix (though they will always claim that only the smartest, bestest, and most wonderfulest people get to be the chosen few, the liberal). Michelle Malkin does a great job attacking this statement, read what she has to say.

And just to up the irony quotient of this post just a little more, I'd like to thank Lindsay Beyerstein (aka Majikthise) for such a lovely photo of Rep. Schroeder which I could deface. It's nice to do this feature without any worries of copyright infringement for a change.

And I swear, I am teh smart, even though I am teh conservative, honest (and I've been known to read a book or two . . .)
UPDATE: Prof. Althouse also has some good things to say about this topic. Guess being so close to the media's epicenter hasn't changed her too much, yet.

21 August 2007

Let's See How Coach K Did . . .

. . . did he follow my advice about the USA Basketball roster for the tournament starting tomorrow?

No. Although ten of our picks line up.

I included Kevin Durant and Chris Bosh, while Coach K went with Tyson Chandler and Michael Redd. I think Kevin Durant would have given you just as much shooting as Redd, while giving you more defensive flexibility with his length. I don't understand picking Chandler over Bosh, unless Bosh is hurt, or just didn't fit in as well when asked to be a role player surrounded by other talent. I think most GMs would pick Bosh over Chandler, but this isn't just about who the best player will be, it's about the best teammate for this particular situation. The ESPN article doesn't mention Bosh at all, but digging around, see that he had a reoccurance of plantar fascitis in his left foot and withdrew last week.

So my only disagreement with the team would be to put Durant on instead of Redd. Redd is a great shooter, but I just don't see him giving you the intangibles that Durant has, on top of that, Durant will be a star in international play (and the NBA) for most of the next decade, and this early exposure to international play could have helped his development (and wouldn't have cost the team).

A loss at any point, and anything less than gold in this tournament would be an upset (though all they really need is 2nd place to lock in their Olympic spot, better to win all the games, anyway).

LOL Fundamentalists?!?

I admit this one is in very questionable taste. But, I have a feeling that Ms. Oppressive Bangs would still argue that all religious fundamentalist are created equal. The photo above (sans cutesy caption) would argue against that point. I'm not making fun of this man's torture, I'm attacking those that would draw false comparisons between this barbarity and the more run of the mill fundamentalism we have at home.

The original caption for this UPI image reads as follows,

Saeed Ghanbari receives 80 lashes in public view in the Qazvin province, 91 Miles (165 Km) west of Tehran, Iran on August 21, 2007. Ghanbari was convicted of consuming alcohol and having sex outside of marriage. (UPI Photo/Mohammad Kheirkhah)

If you are prayerful, pray for Saeed Ghanbari, if you aren't prayerful, at least recognize the huge difference between the Iranian religious police and our more local (and far less violence prone) Christian Fundamentalist. The Iranian religous authorities do this in the open, what they do behind closed doors is a thousand times worse. Here's hoping the people of Persia will rise up against their oppressors and rejoin the modern world. Until they do, they remain a serious threat to the rest of the globe. And a people who would do this over a drink, a slap, and a tickle, are not to be allowed to develop WMD under any circumstance.

20 August 2007

Michael Vick --- Unperson

If the reported plea agreement really happens (it's reported as a done deal by the AP, but from 'anonymous sources', so who knows), then Michael Vick has become an unperson as far as the NFL and general media is concerned. He's done as a public figure, he will never work again in a reputable field (no second life as a studio analyst for him).

What his willingness to enter a guilty plea suggests to me is that there was real evidence beyond the word of his thug friends that he was complicit in their activities (like tapped phone calls, or video).

His barbarity is at a level that the NFL will erase him from the books and ban him for life (though they'll use the gambling admission as the main reason for a lifetime ban), there's no redemption in Michael Vick's case, he can be contrite, and sorry, but he won't be forgiven, at least by the NFL, or by the public at large.

He was an intriguing, frustrating, and erratic talent on the field, and he's demonstrated that off the field he is a poor excuse for a human being with no discernable empathy for anyone but himself.

There is a thug culture that might embrace him as a figure of veneration upon his release from jail, so he might be able to make some cash as a rapper on an independent label, or as a wrestler on a small circuit, but his talent as one of the more sublime athletes of his generation will be wasted.

There is one area that he might be able to explore and remain a competitive athlete (though not nearly as highly paid). Maybe he could become a decathlete. Given how far he can heave a football, he'd likely be spectacular with a javelin and discus given a little training. Likewise, his footspeed is among the tops in the NFL, which suggests he is already world class at the 100m. He'd have to condition himself into having some distance running ability for the 400m and 1500m, but he'll have at least a year to 18 months to work on that (in prison), if the USOC banned him (which they may not have grounds to do so), there's plenty of small nations that would gladly have him be their shot at Olympic glory. Also, despite the evil of his deeds, there are companies that might use him for endorsements precisely because of the distatsteful nature of his actions. But as far as major endorsements, or any team sport or league, he's done. Individual sports that are more popular internationally than they are in the United States are his only option as an athlete once his sentence is served.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him at the 2012 Olympics in London competing under the flag of some small Carribean nation, but as a star athlete or celebrity personality in the United States, he's done, forever.

The "Ron Mexico", flipping off the fans, and water bottle incidents now either seem like small potatoes, or patterns in a disturbing patchwork of ill considered anti-social and stupid behaviors.

It would have been nice if he had a head and heart to go with his amazing athletic talents, but it wasn't meant to be. His skills might have caused those other things to atrophy, or he's just a heartless, idiotic asshole, and would have been so even without the amazing athletic gifts.

New Blog News . . .

New blog, Unhinged Rants, I may even stick with it. This one will continue on as fitfully as ever.

LOL Amanpour?!?

(does anyone expect this CNN special series to be anything but a 'moral equivalence' fest?)

(and the 'oppressive bangs' phrase, borrowed from amba's description of Christo's Gates)

19 August 2007

I Agree with Everything He Says, Except Calling it an "Immodest Proposal" . . .

. . . Hugh Hewitt makes a serious proposal on how General Petraeus' forthcoming report should be revealed to the public.

It's a big moment, and deserves the sort of major attention that Hewitt suggests it receives. The big papers should print it in full, and all the cable outlets and the broadcast networks should show the press conference in full without interruption.

It won't happen as he suggests it should. The media loves to mediate, and presenting General Petraeus unmediated would make it that much harder to push their preferred narrative afterwards.

Maybe by making the suggestion early and publicly, you can shame the media into doing the right thing by the American people, but I seriously doubt it.

(and please, save the name 'immodest proposal' or 'modest proposal' for satire)

LOL Goracle?!?

16 August 2007

I Just Felt the Earth Tremble . . . , Must BE GLOBAL WARMING!!!

Oh Noes, Global Warming causes Earthquakes and Volcanoes, who knew?

Seems like some scientists have trouble separating cause from effect. That periods of rapid warming and cooling correspond to periods of heightened volcanic and earthquake activity makes sense. But to suggest that the causal link between the two is from the weather, and not from the toxic spew being belched from the Earth's bowels, seems counterintuitive at best.

(and there really was a bit of a shudder just now, one of the joys of living in Southern California)

"Tennessee Lad"

There is a lovely piece in the Telegraph today about Elvis Presley, who died 30 years ago (Christ I feel old as I type those words). A lot of people get very snooty about the Tennessee lad but I do not.

Johnathan Pearce posting about Elvis at Samizdata. When it comes to Elvis, I'm more inclined to agree with Chuck D's assessment, but that's not why I quote the comment.

I find it odd to call him a "Tennessee lad". I think a more common construction would be something along the lines of 'lad from Tupelo'. By calling him a lad, you would seem to be talking about his early years, and those weren't spent in Memphis.

To manufacture a different case, let's look at Governor Schwarzenegger. He's a Californian now, through and through, he's even the frickin' Governator, but if I were to talk about him I wouldn't describe him as a 'California lad' (nor even a 'California kinder', and we won't even talk about his time as a cop amongst kinder).

I'm certain that Pearce wouldn't ever call John Lennon, that 'New York lad'.

Is it the power of Graceland, or ignorance of Elvis' history?

14 August 2007

Just Hand Them the Trophy . . .

. . . all twelve ESPN experts polled pick USC to win it all this NCAA football season. Guess there's no reason to bother playing the games.

At VegasInsider they show the Trojans as favorites in the betting line for the BCS title game at 3 to 1. Michigan is at 6 to 1, West Virginia is at 7 to 1 and Florida is at 8 to 1.

There's less certainty about the NFL. New England are strong favorites, but not like USC. In the NFL you have the current odds at New England 5 to 1, Indianapolis 11 to 2, San Diego Chargers at 6 to 1, and Chicago Bears at 8 to 1.

Hard to argue with those teams as being the most likely to win the Superbowl, though I do think if Reggie Bush stays healthy, and stays spectacular, than New Orleans will make it to the Superbowl, and even if they'll be facing a superior AFC team, anything can happen in one game.

I'm a little perplexed at how lowly rated the Tennesse Titans are. They're solid on both sides of the ball, and Vince Young might have a monster year. Maybe you can explain their 75 to 1 odds on the overall strength of the AFC and fear that Vince Young will be struck down by the "Madden Curse".

And yes, this means you'll get to laugh at my NFL picks again this year, I won't a little thing like being mostly wrong stop me from making picks again.

(and despite all their fire power, I'm still not sold on the Pats)

UPDATE: Icepick asks in the comments what last year's picks were. Here they are. Not a single one had Florida even winning the SEC (all 12 had Auburn), let alone being in the BCS title game. There was no strong consensus as to which teams would be in the BCS championship last year. Lots of Ohio State support, either as champ or runner-up, though. Inexplicably Notre Dame was in the mix, too. Eleven of the twelve are the same ESPN 'experts', too, so it is an apples to apples comparison of prognosticators (mostly).

College is inherently less predictable than the pros (even though the teams are less competitively balanced), given that a great team can lose any hope at the BCS game if they have just a single bad week. Playoffs would help that situation, the pressure to stay undefeated discourages teams from scheduling against other good teams for their non-conference games. NCAA football is fun to watch, but it could be a lot better.

Now I'm just waiting for Sippican Cottage to chime in with his disapproval and derision at my lack of faith in his Patriots. . .

And as far as this year's USC Trojan's team, it's the deepest one Pete Carroll has had, they've got monster talent at nearly every position, and Booty (heh, heh, he said 'booty') is going to be a very good QB. Given the Trojans have won it all with less talent recently, there's no reason not to expect them to roll through their schedule and defeat whichever team lines up against them in the BCS title game this year.

Given the lack of a pro team, the Trojans are Los Angeles' main football obsession, and the local media has been all over USC already. The Trojans have a bunch of tough games on the road this year (Nebraska, Cal, Oregon, Notre Dame and ASU), but folks are ready to give them the trophy, anyway. 3 to 1 is looking pretty good, if they stay undefeated through the Notre Dame game, expect that number to hover at about 2 to 1 or 3 to 2.

I Don't Normally Quote Spam, But . . .

. . . when I'm greeted this morning with the subject line, "When You Need A Stiffy-In-A-Jiffy" I just thought I'd share.

It's for 'Authentic Viagra', naturally.

Seems like the spam-filter should have caught this gem, maybe the filter is developing a sense of humor and letting slip through the especially creative ones.

Scary thought that, what if the first emergent intelligence on the internet is the AI developed for a spam-filter? That intelligence's view of humanity might be pretty low (yet basically accurate).

13 August 2007

Meaningless Statistics Lead to Meaningless and Misleading Conclusions

The latest meaningless statistic floating about is the 'sudden' drop in the U.S.A's ranking in life expectancy.

It's a very misleading number, for a number of reasons, but this is being used by advocates of more nannyism to promote more nannyism.

First of all, 77.9 ain't bad for life expectancy, but even that number is just being pulled out of thin air. The very top is 83.5 for Andorra, which isn't particularly different in quantity. If someone dies before their 84th birthday, do you say they died too soon? Do you think someone who dies before blowing out 78 candles was stricken too early? Didn't think so. Anything past 75 is a full life. Some people pack more living in their years than others, but basically, any healthy years past the age of 75 is pure gravy (and death before 75 is too soon).

But the number is still a lie. One of the bigger components dragging down the USA's number compared to other developed (and under-developed nations) is the way we count infant mortality. We count 'live births' differently than the rest of the world, and babies that would never be delivered elsewhere, get delivered here. That alone could account for the difference between the USA and France, UK, or Germany. We have the highest infant mortality rate because we count every infant. Europe doesn't, a lot of cases that they consider 'stillbirths' are full term or close to full term babies. Their lower rate of premies isn't necessarily cause of better neo-natal care, but because their view of 'viability' is completely different, and they are much quicker to abort fetuses for medical reasons (even in the 2nd and 3rd trimester).

The European view on this is more 'pragmatic', which makes comparing health statistics impossible when there's such a huge cultural difference in this area of medicine (the wiki explains the difference succinctly) pure bunk. I bet if we were to count all women who enter the 3rd trimester and then compared survivability one year out, suddenly the European mortality rate would look worse if not comparable to the USA's. But they don't keep that statistic, so there's no way to do the comparison.

I haven't seen a single article mentioning the new US ranking that brings up the huge differences in reporting on infant mortality, though they do mention how our 'high' infant mortality rate factors into our lower life expectancy at birth.

Also, how accurate is life expectancy at birth? It's not outside the realm of possibility that some children born in 2004 may end up living in some form or another well beyond 'natural' life spans. Read enough sci-fi, and you can start to believe that within 75 years downloading of consciousness into a neural net, or transferring consciousness from an older body to a younger body is an achievable goal. Look where technology was 75 years ago, and given the exponential rate at which certain technologies advance, the possibility that real life extension (turning life spans into centuries rather than decades), might be possible. There are a few non-nut doctors out their who are working on 'curing' aging.

And if aging does get 'cured' I bet there will be plenty of Americans lined up to get cured. So the real average life expectancy for an American kid born in 2004 could end up being well beyond 77.9, if the aging cure ends up not being ridiculously expensive, then a significant portion (at least significant enough to greatly alter the average) of Americans born in 2004 might still be around in 2400.

The mind boggles, but I'd rather think about that than use some dumb easily manipulated statistic that relies on governments to report on themselves to tell us that we're 'slipping' compared to the rest of the world.

I've already heard some folks use this as another cudgel with which to beat us into submission on the notion that nationalized and socialized medicine is superior.

Yet I don't see anyone looking at how many of those countries ahead of us in life expectancy also 'lead' us in percentage of the population who smokes. Maybe we just need to smoke more. Seems to work for Japan.

And one more thing, another thing needlessly brought up in this article is the disparity between 'black' and 'white' life expectancies. You want to 'cure' that disparity, then legalize drugs. Much of the disparity is due to the violence and incarceration targeting black men associated with the drug trade. Make the drugs legal, and the street crime, and disparity in death rate will evaporate (though some extra OD deaths may occur, I would guess that this increase would be less significant than the much greater drop in deaths due to illicit drug trade related gun play).

So these are my conclusions, if you want the USA to climb up this chart again, legalize drugs, game our infant mortality statistics the same way Europe does, and don't over-regulate biomedical research. Do those things, and we'll be number one (or at least number eleven) again in no time.

07 August 2007

Phil Jackson, Zen Master?

Zen Master kicking ass, that is.

Picture found here (hat tip True Hoop). Three things the Chinese love at the moment, basketball, the internets, and photoshop.

I love all that stuff too, maybe I'm part Chinese?

06 August 2007

Remembering Hiroshima . . .

. . . 62 years ago, an atomic bomb was used in war. Only one other has been used since. Remarkable when you think about it. Likely, the uniqueness of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be a distant memory.

The strange situation we have found ourselves in is that the end of the Cold War ended the strong threat of global destruction at the click of the button, but ever since the likelihood that some nation (and even worse, some non-state actor) will fling a nuclear device at another increases every year.

If we make it to 75 years since Hiroshima without another nuclear event, that'd be remarkable. If we make it to 100 years after Hiroshima without another bomb being dropped in anger, that'd be miraculous.

Still, President Truman made the right call, the only decision he could make. The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved millions of lives, both American and Japanese, a long prolonged invasion of Mainland Japan would have greatly altered the post-war landscape. The bombs punctuated Japan's defeat, without that punctuation they might have fought to the bitter end and resisted any subsequent occupation.

The victims in those cities shouldn't be mourned any less, and the horror of nuclear weapons shouldn't be discounted, but it will always remain the right thing to have done.

Your Home For News on Stephen Tobolowsky . . .

. . . that's right, I've decided to turn this into one of those celebrity sighting blogs, only it will only be celebs I see personally, and within a few blocks of my own house.

That might limit the scope of this blog, but the first such celeb I have for you is a good one.

I spotted Needle Nose Ned Ryerson as I was walking home (I'm so damn green, it's not even funny) this afternoon. He's one of the few actors I've seen (Daniel Stern the other) who look taller in person than on film. I was this close to walking up to him, glad handing him and calling him Ned.

He didn't look like he was in the mood to deal with that though, so I just let him be. Not like Groundhog Day is the only thing he's been in, he was great in Deadwood, among many other things, but forever he'll be Ned

Old Needle Nose is good and all, but I'm hoping the next report will be about bumping into the newly single Jessica Alba at my local coffee shop (and having a long flirtatious conversation that ends in exchanged digits).

05 August 2007

What He Lacks in Coherence, He More Than Makes Up For in Insanity . . .

Ahhh, Steven Weber, how do I love thee, let me count the ways . . .

Here's some highlights of his most recent missive entitled, "Getting It Off My Chest (or Channeling Andy Rooney On Peyote)"

I hate these fucks, with their secret agendas and insatiable thirsts to control all the energy and all the money and all the people. I loathe them for not being able to cope with inadequate genitalia. If I can, you can! Jesus, get over it!

My take-away from that paragraph is that Steven Weber will never be doing a 'full frontal' scene. Personally, I'm relieved, and not at all disappointed.

It's strange to me how it's all come to this. It would be as if the affable owner of a general store where everyone in the neighborhood bought their goods and sundries, this guy who knew you by your first name and patted kids on the head and didn't crap a flat tire if you needed some credit, all of a sudden felt that it was utter anathema to have such a calling and shifted from avuncular to nucular overnight, charging exorbitant fees for bubble gum and isopropyl alcohol and taking it upon himself to torch the competing establishment a block away. And then somehow blame his customers for it.

My take-away from that paragraph is, 'Huhh?!?'. It's really like that? I'd buy myself some land in Costa Rica, stock it with Bond-Villain style concubine/bodyguards and leave Ameruhkkka to the fundanutters if I believed as Steven Weber seems to believe.

And why are all the assholes in charge? Why do they have all the guns and conscripted armies and get to go to summits and fund weapons research? How about developing a music gun? Or a fruit bomb? Drop some fucking fruit bombs on pissed off radicals and get 'em all hopped up on vitamin c and anti-oxidents or whatever the hell and just call it a day? And if the douchebags really want to they can wear crowns or sashes or tiny flag lapel pins if it makes 'em feel like big men.

In the Weberverse, the draft is clearly still on, and aging passive-aggressive comedic character actors have the highest lottery numbers. Uncle Jam wants you Steven Weber, he wants you to Funk With Him.

I realise Weber is low hanging fruit (or given his inadequate genitalia, not so low hanging), but sometimes it's fun to examine just what is coming out of the fevered swamp of 'progressive-land'.

If somehow the Democrats keep hold the legislative and win the executive branch of government in 2008, I can gaurantee I'll have some pointed comments to make about the legislation they're likely to pass, but I can't imagine every spewing this sort of sputtery nonsense, or display a hatred towards the people that elected them.

This is mainly here as a reminder to all those in "fly-over" land, that the folks that surround me in La-La Land and work in the Dream Factory really hate you, deeply, passionately, and would ignore you completely if they didn't want your money so damn bad. If films that only played on the coasts could gross $250M instead of struggling to make $5M then you'd never see a 'crowd-pleasing' blockbuster again. But they'll sneak as much America-hating rhetoric into the margins of those films as they can get away with. Ex-military always have PTSD and are a little too gun crazy. There's always corruption at the top. Hot chicks always work for 'progressive' causes. And it's always about THE OIL.

They can't comprehend why all you 'non-coastals' haven't embraced every 'progressive' position and whim over the past few decades (they've implanted those concepts in every conceivable media, yet you still resist, why?), and they really can't understand how you could find Jeff Foxworthy entertaining (OK, I'm with my La-La brethren on that one, but that doesn't mean I hate y'all).

03 August 2007

'He Got a Bruised Liver, a Bruised Lung, and a Silver'

(the title pulled from what I think J.A. Adande said while filling in on PTI today)

Insanity, pure insanity, that he was able to get up shortly after this can only be attributed to his athleticism, the angle at which he struck, and dumb luck.

I wouldn't have shown it if his injuries were worse, when you first see Jake Brown's sickening fall, it's pretty shocking, and a commenter over at Gawker (not known for their X-Games coverage, but some things transcend categories) who says they were at Staples when it happens hints at what it must have felt like to watch it live:

BY LITTLE MINTZ SUNSHINE AT 02:22 PM I only wish I had seen it on tv but I was sitting in a suite right at the pipe and saw it happen. It was a horrifying thing to see and I'm still trying to get the "thud" sound out of my head. Needless to say, the suite fridge was cleaned out of booze immediately after he dragged his damaged internal organs off the pipe

The Summer X-Games have made Los Angeles their home and will be here again for at least 2008 and 2009. It's become a pretty big event around here. L.A. really is Sportstown USA.

And above is the video of the trick Brown pulled off earlier where nothing bad happened.

And while I am at it, here's some video of Sal Masekela's (X-Games Host) dad blowing his horn (no grass was grazed in the above performance, but it was in this one (audio only, video doesn't directly match audio))

Some Details From Private Beauchamp's Next Piece for The New Republic

According to one source, the tale that Private Scott Beauchamp about the disfigured woman in the mess hall is an urban legend (hat tip LGF, and like all urban legends there may be a grain of truth surrounded by a bushel of hype and overstatement).

In his next dispatch expect tales of bored soldiers handing out Pop Rocks and Pepsi to Iraqi children, encouraging them to consume them together, and laugh in glee as the kiddies stomachs explode.

In another incident, Private Beauchamp details his involvement in a psy-ops campaign using pig's blood and parts as a threat against Islamic extremists.

Once Again, House Democrats Making Me Look Prescient.

In the aftermath of the '06 election I had this to say:

Trying to think of the right analogy for what seems likely to happen over the next two years, one thing comes to mind over and over.

King Pyrrhus and his triumphs over the Romans at Heraclea.

Because of Plutarch, his 'victories' have become part of our language.

Judging from the early scuttlebutt regarding committee and leadership battles within the Democratic party, and also the legislative agenda they seem intent on pushing, the phrase Phyrric Victory may soon be replaced by a phrase such as Getting Pelosi'd.

The Democrats won this battle, and won decisively, but the fundamental problems within the Democratic Party that have caused a permanent shift in the American political landscape are unchanged, and by the looks of things, are likely to get even worse.

Republicans were defeated in this election, but not Conservatism. Democrats were victorious, but not Liberalism. Nobody in the Democratic leadership in DC seem aware of this, however.

Too many Republicans got too lazy and corrupt due to a belief that Democratic incompetence would save them from themselves. It nearly did, a split Congress was close to a reality despite the advantages the Democrats enjoyed this go round.

The mess (hat tip Instapundit) in the House last night would seem to reinforce the idea that the Dems are turning their '06 victory into an '08 defeat. Those moderates who gained seats for the Dems in closely matched districts will most likely have to defend their association with the Pelosi wing of their own party, and if the GOP is smart, they'll run moderates against them in those districts, giving voters a chance to keep a moderate path while punishing the party in power. That's what worked in '06 for the Dems, and it could work again in '08 for the GOP.

02 August 2007

Your Perez Hilton Link of the Day . . .

. . . I haven't linked to Perez Hilton before, his gimmick of crude drawings on photos doesn't impress me. But I do like his take on Hugo Chavez meeting with Sean Penn.

Lots of defenders of the Líder Máximo, Jr. abound in Perez's comment section, though (and Spicoli is still a useful idiot).

I'm Well On My Way to Becoming Steven Weber's Biggest Fan!!!

If it's the case -- and hell, we're talking about the Bush administration here! -- then that can only mean the short, exciting life of the United States is almost at an end. Because it is become insane. And its leaders are amoral. And its actions are erratic. And its last days will be spent cringing angrily, clinging to souvenirs of victories past.
From Steven Weber's HuffPo post about Pat Tillman. I couldn't dream of coming up with rhetoric that ridiculous while satirizing insane left-think in a million years. I am in awe of his lack of reality (wait, sorry, he's 'reality based').

I think he's secretly a conservative, and only pretends to be an insane lefty in order to discredit that viewpoint. I can't explain this level of hatred otherwise. In a few short paragraphs his incandescent, unhinged, unreasoning, and immature tantrum about the current administration perfectly distills all that's wrong with 'progressive' America-hating paranoia.

Bravo to you Mr. Weber, you are the Maestro, again, Bravo!, Bravo!!, Bravo!!!

"People of average intelligence have more intercourse, sure, but I’ll bet the Mensans are winning the orgasm competition by about ten to one"

No comment, just a link.

"And it will guarantee him better restaurants and perhaps better looking Chinese girlfriend."

Quoted in the Journal Times in Racine regarding why Yi Jianlian is looking to force a trade to a city with a larger Chinese presence than Milwaukee.

I'm pretty sure L.A. has both in abundance, and we have two NBA teams, if he won't play for the Bucks, surely a deal with the Clippers or Lakers makes sense for all parties involved.

Now this bit is for Yi, you already conduct interviews in English, so I assume you can read our simple language by now. If you want Chinese cuties, they can be found all over the LA Basin, but for the biggest concentration head over to Monterey Park, Alhambra and Rosemead. Each community boasts over 40% of their population being Asian (mostly Chinese, with some Vietnamese for good measure). Even better, none of those places are more than 15 miles from Staples Center, so getting to the games should be a breeze (once you get used to our LA traffic). I'm sure there's a few tall, attractive Chinese native, or first, or second generation girls who would be happy to help with your improving English fluency. Noticed on your wiki that you are a native Cantonese speaker though you are also Mandarin fluent. As it so happens, the LA Chinese communities is one of the places where Cantonese still predominates, so our Chinese cuties might make the transition to English for you a little easier. As far as the quality of the cuties, here's the homepage for the Miss Los Angeles Chinatown competition, judge for yourself.

As far as restaurants go, we have good Chinese restaurants, some very authentic, others kitschy, others grungy, but where LA cuisine shines is in the "fusion" places that meld flavors and styles from all over Asia. Once you've had traditional Chinese fair prepared with a Thai flare or a Japanese sense of balance, you'll forget about going to a straight up Chinese restaurant for awhile. But if straight up Chinese fare is what you're after, you could do worse than Hop Woo (three locations to serve you, one close to Staples center in Chinatown, one in Alhambra, and one on the Westside, in case you decide to live near the beach). If you want to bump into famous folks, than head over to Mr Chow in Beverly Hills, but if you're smart, you'll go for one of the better fusion places like the magnificent Yamashiro high in the Hollywood hills (with spectacular views to match). But if you must stick to the Chinese food and like your shrimp slippery, then check out Yang Chow.

So, Yi, keep fighting to get to a big market like Los Angeles, you won't find anything like these places (and the selection of attractive Chinese women will also be limited) in Milwaukee. Stick with it, the Lakers couldn't get KG, but maybe the Lakers can still swing a deal to bring you, the "Chinese KG" to the Lakers.

And who would you rather play with, Kobe Bryant in the sunshine (video reminder of what he can do here), the best player on the globe right now, or Andrew Bogut near the frozen tundra?

The Good Thing About Living In Earthquake Country . . .

. . . is that, for the most part, bridges, overpasses and such are "over" engineered for normal use. It's unknown what the specific causes were for the terrible bridge collapse in Minneapolis (a good starting point for coverage is Buzz.mn, a good place to marvel at the disgusting nature of some people on the internet is the comment section at HuffPo).

Not that our infrastructure is perfect in CA, freeways have buckled, and bridges have collapsed here, too (though I don't recall that happening without a proximal cause such as quake, or tanker fire), failure in all human systems is inevitable, and usually the decision making process that lead to the failure was reasonable, yet somehow flawed. It's hard to fix, and even inspect systems that are under continuous heavy use, yet that's what we do with all sorts of infrastructure. It's not a uniquely American problem, it's a human problem. Stuff happens, often for cause, causes that were foreseeable and obvious in retrospect, but hindsight, as they say, is done by asses.

Seems like the 2006 inspection of this particular bridge will get heavily scrutinized now, but it's likely that despite the problems spotted, there was nothing remarkably different about this bridge than all the other similar spans (which is why they figured it was solid without major review until 2020). Had some engineer suggested shutting down every such span and working every flaw till each was perfect, that engineer would be called a Cassandra, and unrealistic. Yet, most likely some Cassandra will step forward and claim they were prevented from doing just that.

Speaking of "The Logic of Failure", I recommend the book by that title. It's a bit dense, a bit jargon heavy, and it's translated from the German so some of the language gets a bit tortured. But as a short (yet thorough) examination of decision making and the use of computers to model behavior, it's a damn fine read.

Humans are flawed, especially when it comes to assessing long term risks. Certain fallacies crop up again and again in a variety of situations, but the psychology behind these faults are often the same, the book mentioned lays this out in detail. Pick it up at your local library, or order it from Amazon, it shouldn't disappoint.

Also, Tammy Bruce has a good post about not posting about this immediately. There's really nothing to say other than to be thankful if you weren't affected, be thoughtful for the ones that were, and be mindful that now isn't the time for judgement and recrimination.

James Lileks is probably getting traffic to Buzz.mn like never before (most every blogger I've read link him when mentioning this story, for the blogosphere Lileks=Minneapolis and Minneapolis=Lileks, Buzz.mn probably wouldn't have accrued all that benefit had Lileks not taken over 8 weeks ago), and I'm sure he'd trade every last eyeball, and all past and future eyeballs for a way to go back and prevent this from having happened.

(and it's probably true what Douglas Adams said about time travel, the main problem with it is grammatical, though some are attempting to create a framework for discussion)

01 August 2007

A Reform Scheme That I Might Have Come Up With . . .

. . . an un-modest proposal in California threatens to shake up national electoral politics. From a national election standpoint the passage of an initiative that made the largest state in the nation a non-winner take all state, would be disastrous for the Democratic party.

Given that this state leans strongly Democratic now, it would seem this has little chance to pass, but there are ways to sell this. Here's the bullet points for presenting this proposal to all voters (but especially independents and non-hardcore Democrats, presumably Republicans should be thrilled with the idea and should support it en masse)
  • Fairness
  • Should increase voter participation
  • Force candidates to campaign in California
  • Strong disincentive for gerrymandering

As far as fairness goes, it was the Democratic party after 2000 that suggested a national winner take all election would be fairer. If California 'disarms' unilaterally, it will put a great deal of pressure on other states to follow suit. Allocating electors by Congressional district would be the simplest way to get closer to a national popular election, which Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama and others have argued for in the past.

If each district is contested, then fewer people will perceive their vote as 'not counting'. That should be a strong selling point for this proposal. It's also a party neutral selling point.

Making California matter in the national election should be an easy selling point for all Californians, regardless of party. CA hasn't had a closely contested presidential election since 1976, and California has never factored into electoral politics. The few close elections in CA haven't effected the national results. Going to a system where each district is contested (and the overall winner gets a bonus of 2 electors), would mean that California's voters would be crucial for candidates of either party, and would matter in most every future election. We write the checks that finance these campaigns, it's about time they're forced to spend some of that loot on our airwaves.

Folks tend to complain about gerrymandering, yet there's no strong incentive for our state legislature to refrain from this undemocratic process. If the districts factor into the presidential vote, the party in power would want to have fewer 'safe' districts and make many more districts competitive (right now, there are no competitive districts in CA), instead of designing a bunch of 65-35 districts that favor either Republicans or Democrats, the Dems in the legislature might be pressured to make much more balanced districts giving a national candidate a chance in 'GOP' districts (and by doing so, they'd be forced to make fewer strongly 'Dem' districts).

Here's a link to the PDF of the actual initiative, it's a work in progress, and may not qualify for the ballot, but I suspect that this proposal will make it on the ballot for the next election and the serious problem this presents for 'progressives' can best be illustrated by this histrionic article from the New Yorker.

(as a footnote, I should add, it would be idiotic for any large state to unilaterally 'disarm' where the electoral college is concerned, but that doesn't mean I can't root for idiocy, and just cause it would be idiotic from a realpolitik standpoint, doesn't mean you can't sell this issue on the bullet points above, voters in the aggregate tend to ignore realpolitik and vote based on personal perceptions of fairness)