31 July 2008

If You Want Local Coverage, Best Go 5437.37 Miles Away . . .

Los Angeles Police Department Chief of Police, William Bratton, proving that you can take the boy out of Boston, but you can't take the Boston out of the boy, stepped in it with his comments regarding the attempts to pass a new anti-paparrazi law.

I happen to agree with him that a new law isn't needed to protect celebs from the actions of over zealous paps, just enforce any existing laws that these idiots break while trying to get a shot should do the trick.

(I don't agree that Lindsay Lohan's gayness or not gayness has anything to do with anything he's talking about, or Britney's relative sanity and clothedness level at any given moment while in public)

But I want to point out that, the LAT just has one blog post, nothing in the actual paper, and yet the Daily Mail over in London has a full article, with background info.

Most of the LA City Council are asses (actually, I take that back, ALL of them are, sorry for any confusion my first statement may have caused), but Dennis Zine is especially asseriffic, so it's nice to see at least one paper singling out his douche-baggery for comment, even if it doesn't make it into the actual local paper of record for Los Angeles. And I say that even though he's one of two Republicans on the council, an ex-LAPD seargant, and most likely much closer to my own views on most subjects than any other council member. Despite all that, a tool is a tool, is a tool, even if that tool happens to agree with some of my own personal political philosophy.

So this post isn't really about City Council douchebaggery, rather this is about the LA Times utter lameness. If Sam Zell wants to make money with that rag, he should get tabloid-y with it, emulate the Daily Mail, the NYPost, and the Sun, and go ahead and actually cover the gossipy crap that is happening in their own back yard. Also, a Page 3 girl would be nice, if any city in the United States is ready for exposed nipples in their daily paper, it's Los Angeles.


The LAT did cover the story the following day, which given that the initial comment was uttered early in the AM on Thursday, is only natural. However, the Mail had it posted up on their website within hours of the incident and hearing, whereas the LAT waited until their normal publishing schedule and the story didn't hit the web until after 1AM (UPDATE within an UPDATE: it's possible they posted the story earlier than that, the last time I checked was about 8pm, and the first time I checked this morning was 9:30am, so all I know for sure is it was posted within that window, though their usual pattern is to post the entire day's paper around 1am and not post any bits earlier, unless it's a really big story like some Manny fella coming to the Dodgers). That's part of the problem that newspapers have, some get this right, some don't. In a 24 hour global news environment, you can't wait for the lead reporter on a story to be ready to post the completed and fully edited version just prior to the locked down copy for the print edition. Do that, and you'll get scooped on events that happen just down the street (as the LAT did). The rushed Mail report isn't demonstrably different than the LAT more leisurely produced piece, although I do like this one paragraph in the LAT:
As the dispute between officials churned on, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and representatives from celebrity- saturated communities, including Malibu, Beverly Hills and Calabasas, listened as the famous witnesses detailed their encounters with photographers, which they described as frightening.

Hmmm, "celebrity- saturated communities", I'm thinking celebrities aren't always mixed in easily and require more effort and mixing than mere saturation would suggest, I recommend using the phrase "celebrity- emulsified" instead.

Also, to prove my point about Councilmember Zine being an utter douche bag, here he is calling for an investigation of Chief Bratton
Later, Zine asked the mayor and the Police Commission to investigate Bratton's comments. He cited the assessment of Lohan's sexual orientation as particularly inappropriate. A police officer who said similar things would be investigated and possibly disciplined, Zine charged.

"I am just absolutely shocked at his obstinacy. We are trying to do something positive," Zine said.

Bratton brushed off suggestions that his remarks were insensitive. He said that he had a long record of supporting gay rights and noted that his sister is a lesbian.

There are already too many laws to deal with too specific of issues, why not try and get these paps in trouble on 'hate crimes' violations? Claim that 'celebrity' is a protected class, and these pap-swarms are a form of anti-celebrity harrassment. There are already plenty of bad laws on the books that could be taken advantage of, if that's what they want to do, passing new bad laws won't make the problem vanish.

The Ongoing War for Which There is No Political Will to Continue to Fight (Yet it Rages On . . .) WITH Added Bonus Top Ten Stoner Comic Films

Not that war, and not that other war either, no, I'm talking about the War on Pot. Setting aside the larger War on Drugs, the War on Pot coupled with pseudo-legalization of some forms of pot use (and continued criminalization of its commercial cultivation) has created a tremendous tension between local and federal law enforcement in the many states that allow Medical Marijuana.

Prof. Bainbridge notices (by way of commenting on this New Yorker article), and comes out for full legalization (and hints that he may actually inhale from time to time, like probably a good 50-75% of his UCLA colleagues (all departments, not just Law).

(and that statistic is entirely made up, but given the political leanings, the age ranges, and the social classes that make up the faculty, it wouldn't be at all surprising if at least half of the faculty are at least occasional social users of the stuff, if not full on chronic chronic tokers)

So why the hell won't either McCain or Obama come out for full legalization of marijuana at the federal level, along with full amnesty for non-violent offenders currently incarcerated?

Seems like a no-brainer policy position, that actually has widespread support across the political spectrum (for more evidence, at the conservative Michelle Malkin site, in a post about the success the DEA has had transforming themselves into a counter-terrorist organization as well as a drug interdiction agency, a good many commenters advocate for legalizing most drugs, especially pot). Obama used to be sort of for the possibility of thinking about trying on an interim basis a pilot program decriminalizing marijuana (OK, I lied, his position is even slipperier and more namby-pamby than I make it sound).

There's room for either candidate to come forward with a pro-legalization position during the debates, or at the very least a pro - get the federal government out of interdiction of marijuana and leave that particular matter up to the individual states - position. It wouldn't be entirely inconsistent with what either of them have said in the past, and even if it would be portrayed as a 'flip-flop' they could both claim that realities on the ground have changed, the cost of this particular "war" aren't worth it, and the potential windfall that a change in federal policy on this issue could bring far outweigh any possible deleterious social effects caused by an explicitly state's rights stance on marijuana policy.

UPDATE (sort of): Can you update a post that you never got around to posting in the first place? Above was what the original post was supposed to entail, but I got called away before hitting the big orange 'publish post' button, and never got back around to digging up the mentioned links, checking the spelling, and tidying up any poorly worded passages (or at least, poorer than I usually let escape). Below are things added today, July 31st. This post was also partially inspired by this Carrie Rickey list of stoner comedies, which I mostly disagree with. My Stoner top ten would be as follows (and thanks to Bill at So Quoted for jogging my memory with this post):

1. Big Lebowski (nothing more to be said, really)

2. Cheech & Chong's Next Movie (by far, the best of the C&C films, if you want a truly surreal experience, though, the bowdlerized version they showed on broadcast Fox has to be one of the top ones. They managed to elide all mentions of drug use from a Cheech & Chong film, and somehow transformed the huge bag of pot that Cheech's cousin Red was carrying from pot into diamonds. The sheer audacity and stupidity of creating a version of a Cheech & Chong film that has somehow magically become a non-druggie film just boggles the mind. I doubt you could find this version anymore, I'm sure the DVD version is the original, and I doubt Fox, or anyone else would ever broadcast it again, so, if you saw it, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't seen it, then you don't know what you're missing)

3. Dazed and Confused (More about the end of high school than about getting high, and Rickey mentions two people who really didn't have big roles in the film, where the biggest star of the film was clearly Abraham Lincoln head)

4. Friday (seriously, any stoner comedy list that doesn't have this classic included, is very, very misguided, or at least very, very white)

5. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (More about the American Dream, than about getting high, but the NPH stuff saves this from being stupid and lame, instead of stupid and awesome)

6. Zardoz (I know you may object to calling this a stoner comedy, but seriously, this film is hilarious, and everyone in it had to have been high as a kite while making it, plus Sean Connery in big red diapers)

7. Topper (Alcohol is a drug, dammit, and this film is damn funny, and seeing ghosts seems pretty trippy to me, so I'm calling this a stoner comedy, and if you don't like it, tough)

8. Pulp Fiction (The first and only 'heroin comedy' ever) UPDATE: Bill in the comments reminds me that Pulp Fiction isn't the first or only 'heroin comedy' as Liquid Sky exists (I just didn't remember it, and when I did remember it, remembered not liking it much), also this review makes a case for Trainspotting being a 'heroin comedy', but I'd classify it more as a drama with occasional comic and absurdist elements.

9. Head (The Monkees film, this film is trippier than it has any right to be, and despite being as dated as hell, has some pretty absurd moments that approach being actually kind of funny)

10. Pineapple Express (This film tentatively holds a space in the top ten, Franco and Rogen together again seems like brilliant casting, and I don't see how this film could possibly go wrong)


Meant to link the video clip (above) of Obama talking about the possibility of decriminalization, along with the post where I first mentioned it (no jokes about short-term memory problems, please). Of course, the only time this came up in a debate last fall,

above, he "mistakenly" raised his hand to indicate he opposed decriminalization of marijuana (that's a pattern that seems to repeat itself with The Presumptive One), yet he's been very quiet on the subject since, and besides denying changing his position on the issue, has not made any firm commitments as to how he would fight to legalize the ganja as President, or even propose legislation as a Senator (which he could have done for the past 3 and a half years, yet never seems to get around to doing, guess he's too busy doing curls, playing basketball, and running for President).

30 July 2008

"Get Your Hands Off of My Ass, Steve Nash"

(getting picked up by the Clippers will do strange things to a man)

(Nash's excuse? He's Canadian, 'nuff said)

(also, Nash does a pretty mean robot, he could probably make a few bucks busking on the 3rd St. Promenade, if he really wanted to)

(found via True Hoop)

29 July 2008

We Interrupt Your TUESDAY HOOKER!!! Coverage for Breaking News . . .

. . . I was driving, didn't even feel the stupid thing, so I have nothing to report, other than I've got no cel service at the moment (most likely due to the network being taxed by frantic calls of people checking in with each other, not infrastructure damage of any kind).

I blame Professor Althouse, she wanted the total L.A. experience, and that includes the temblors . . .

Judging from the shake map, it was barely a ripple by the time it travelled here, though it looks like it should have been felt as a strong shudder by millions of people from Downtown on east, and all the way south to Long Beach.

Damage should be light, though crap will be strewn.

Also, I shouldn't be too jokey about this, from time to time these initial jolts aren't the main shock, but a foreshock of something worse, later, hopefully that's not the case this time.


There's the jpg of the shake map. Lots of yellow, which corresponds with strongly felt, but a light potential for damage, and as you can see on the map, Santa Monica was in the weak to not felt range. Also, it looks like they've downgraded the initial magnitude to 5.6 from 5.8, and as damage assessments factor in what they say the magnitude is, sounds like the initial signs are lots of shaking, but no breaking.


The PAGER system estimates population exposure at each level of intensity, and it looks like over 5 million people felt this as a strong shake, and 7 million people felt a significant but light shaking, so that explains the cel phone network going down. I bet at least 2 million of those folks have been dialing repeatedly over the last hour, and the cel network isn't designed to handle that volume all at once.

Luckily, buildings here are robust, and after Northridge, compliance with building codes have been more rigorously enforced, plus the epicenter is in neighborhoods that have sprung up recently, so they shouldn't get anything worse than a cracked monitor or LCD TV or two (one advantage of those big heavy CRTs, harder to topple, less top heavy).


If this is some entity smiting me and this whole area for those TJ Hooker posts, my sincerest apologies for the fright and inconvenience this may have caused.

Who knew the Zmed still packed such a punch!

UPDATE, 5.4:

Magnitude 5.4 is the latest estimate of the intensity, which is significantly lower than the initial 5.8 (it's an exponential scale so that's a big difference in energy, a 5.8 shake is about 2.51 times larger than a 5.4 shake, and compared to the 7.8 shake in Chengdu not long ago, move that decimal over twice, so the Chengdu earthquake generated 251 times the energy compared to the moderate quake we just had).

Also, Wolf Blitzer keeps calling it a "strong earthquake", but according to the USGS, you don't get to call a quake "strong" until it's above a 6, from 4.5 to 5.9, "moderate" is the better term to use. "Strong earthquake" suggests real damage over a significant area with loss of life. This wasn't that kind of event, this was just a jar breaker, and the occasional water main buster (this time, there's always a next time).

(TJ) HOOKER TUESDAY!!! (Zmed in Underwear Edition)

For the ladies. Or the guys, or the guys who are becoming ladies, or those men secure enough in their sexuality that they can appreciate another man's sculpted body without being troubled by any possible homoerotic undercurrent that might be bubbling just under the surface despite the fact that they lurrrrvvv themselves the ladies.

That 4 seconds is for everyone!

(except, maybe Adrian Zmed, ironically enough, he probably looks at that and feels just a tad depressed about it all)

(or not, he might see that and think to himself, 'damn, I still got it', Adrian, if you're out there, please feel free to comment and let us know which it is, OK?)

Also, regarding this being tagged "Bad 70s Television" despite the fact that this show ran from 1982-1986, but the aesthetic, the situations, and the entire feel of the whole enterprise just screamed 'Bad 70s Television', so despite being completely inaccurate, that tag is full of 'truthiness'.

Not all of culture rebounded from the morass of the 70s immediately upon Reagan's first inaugural, some things stayed stuck, like a Mammoth in a tar pit into that sticky, icky decade, and a show like TJ Hooker was one of those things.

(TJ) HOOKER TUESDAY!!! (Dancing Locklear Edition)

I Think This Fits in With HOOKER TUESDAY!!!, Also . . .

DRUDGE, again, this time IN RED.

Sen. Stevens of Alaska faces criminal charges. . . Developing. . .

I say this counts, not because he got caught with a hooker, pregnant, or otherwise, but because he's prostituted his office and used his power and influence to feather his bed, and those of his family members. So if that's not prostitution of the kind that SHOULD BE illegal, I don't know what is. It's Republicans like him that give the GOP a bad name, it's Senators like him that give all of Congress a bad name.

Story's still breaking, but he's been a piece of work for a long time, and if he's guilty of what he's charged (innocence/proof/guilty, and all that), he should do real time, and if he's not guilty, he's still a dirty, sleazy, pork-loving poster boy for Terminal Limits.

(and here are my posts back during the whole "hold" saga)

And, if they're bringing charges, I'm sure they have a solid case, so I say, nail the bastard and throw the book at him.

You Post a Link to One Little Story With a Prostitution Angle, Then All the Suddden It Becomes HOOKER TUESDAY!!!

DRUDGE has this headline up just a moment ago, "Pregnant prostitute ring busted in Missouri . . ."

So many questions this stories raises that aren't addressed by the tiny article linked.

How big is the market for this? Do they charge extra the further along they are? They couldn't go with the headline, 'Barefoot and Turning Tricks'? How many of their 'clients' sought these women out on purpose, and how many just figured, 'what's the difference'? Will they express for an extra fee? Are you grossed out by now? But aren't women who are pregnant supposed to be at their sexiest? How much longer can I keep up with this question asking gag?

(not any longer, sorry, the idea of visiting a prostitute has no appeal to me whatsoever, though I think the social costs from forcing underground outweigh the potential social costs for making the activity legal, so while I find it personally abhorrent (more from the 'john's' perspective rather than the prostitute) I think people should have a right to engage in a short term contractual relationship that has a 'happy ending' if that's what someone is in the market for and can come to an agreeable price, and no forms of coercion have been used in any steps in the negotiation process)

(also, I think there's a "Show Me State" pun somewhere in this story, but I'm having trouble figuring out the precise hook to make that work, again, I've failed as a blogger, I guess prostitution does that to me, maybe I should avoid the subject)

Just Because Something Has Become Technically Possible, Doesn't Mean That You Should Actually Do It . . .

. . . technology continues to advance at a growing and thrilling pace. Stuff undreamt of 50 years ago, are commonplace today, while a few dreams of the past (where are my flying cars?) never came to pass.

And then there are some techs that are just so wrong, they are beyond wrong and should have never been developed in the first place, or at least should never be brought to market, and at the very least, should they be developed and brought to market, anyone selling and purchasing said product should be shunned by all good and polite society with extreme prejudice.

This is one of them.

It Was Just the Shark's Way of Saying, "Hello, Chum!"

Viral marketing for SHARK WEEK, gone awry?

Who Knew?

2008 JUL 28 015

Back in the late 70s, and early 80s, when you were listening to your Cheech & Chong records and smoking from your bong, or heading out to the recently built multiplex to see their latest film and hotboxing in your "love" van in the parking lot just before stumbling to your seat in the movie house . . .

You weren't being a stoner-loser, you were contributing to a burgeoning art scene and joining a long line of art patrons by helping Cheech Marin get rich.

(and for those of you too young to have experienced it first hand, I'm sure you got some second hand "Up in Smoke" sent your way, either through Cable, VHS, or DVD, and I'm sure a certain percentage of you even inhaled)

28 July 2008

Glass, Half Empty, Half Full, or Half Impossible?

Glass, should it exist? How does it exist?

I take comfort that there are still mysteries to be solved. So I guess that means my slightly impossible glass is half full.

I Really Want to Have Something to Say About This Article, But I'm Coming Up Dry . . .

From today's Daily Mail:
Not quite. While it ticked some of the boxes on their list - regular testing for sexually transmitted infections, a safe environment - it was altogether, well, over the top.

They didn't approve of the way the girls were brought out in a lineup for the client to choose. As Jean put it afterwards: 'It was a bit like a dog show.'

Shirley did not like the fact that the girl who was chosen didn't have an option about whether to accept. 'I think a girl should be able to say no to a man if she doesn't like the look of him.'

So what, precisely were these Hampshire grandmothers doing, weighing up the pros and cons of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch?

The ranch was one of a number of brothels visited by the pair in Holland, America and New Zealand as part of their 'research' for the campaign by Hampshire WI to decriminalise prostitution.
. . . sorry, I've failed as a blogger, I've got nothing to add, but do read the linked article, it's interesting.

The Dangers of Parody in a Post Modern World (Baudrillard Edition)

Althouse trys out the new Cuil search engine by doing some ego-searching.

I tried, too, but being anonymous, and not particularly well linked, means my results were meager.

Tried the same trick on google, and at least this page was the first hit (just googling "XWL" doesn't work, since there are many "xwl"s and most of them aren't me, so I googled "xwl immodest" instead to narrow the field).

In the results I was confronted with something very disturbing.

I got published!

In the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, no less (vol 4, number 3, OCT 07, contents and other links, here)

Seriously, dudes, I was funning there. I was pissing on his grave.

Looking in the context with which my excerpt was presented, clearly, they aren't "in" on the joke of what I was trying to do there.

Damn you, postmodernism, damn you to hell!!!

Satire and parody aren't possible anymore.

Here's what they quoted:

  • The original Baudrillard has ceased.
  • The counterfeit Baudrillards continue to represent 'Baudrillard-ness' for most 'consumers' of his philosophical production.
  • From a few counterfeits they have reproduced themselves exponentially at campuses across the globe.
  • The simulated Baudrillards "or third order simulcra" are now the only Baudrillards that anyone knows, the copies of Baudrillard are now and forever more, more real than the 'real' Baudrillard ever was or ever could have been.

Here's what they left out:

The post's title, "He Was Brain Dead Long Ago, His Body Finally Caught Up . . ."

Cleverly, they linked the archive for the month, rather than the actual post, I guess expecting nobody would bother scrolling all the way near the bottom to see the actual context of the original post.

I guess in a Journal celebrating a "Dead Wanker", you'd expect the editors to behave like Wankers themselves.

26 July 2008

You Make the Call: Fawning Article Regarding Candidate Obama, or Serious Expose Revealing Potentially Campaign Changing Health Issue?

(via Michelle Malkin)

From reporter Judith Bonesky of Bild
“My name’s Judith” I reply. "I’m Barack Obama, nice to meet you!” he says, and puts his arm across my shoulder. I put my arm around his hip – wow, he didn’t even sweat! WHAT A MAN!

Now, you might think this is just part and parcel with the insane fawning and hype that accompanied Presumptive Candidate Obama as he toured Asia and Europe.

But what if something else is at play, too?

Anhidrosis is potentially a very serious medical issue, one that shouldn't be taken lightly, and could be the sign of some underlying problem.

Other potential causes are simple dehydration, but given the reporter mentions his bottle of Evian, we can possibly rule that out.

Another possible cause could be prescription (or non-prescription) drugs. Here's a list (PDF) of some drugs that may contribute to anhidrosis. Not listed are the illicit drugs that cause this problem, most notably, MDMA, but it would seem awfully odd if he were taking that stuff.

After all, The Obama has no need to ingest a chemical to get a feeling of warm and fuzzy well being towards everyone he meets and in turn reflected back at him by others. He is The One, so his very presence in a room has the effect of getting everyone to behave as if they've been dosed with several hits of Ecstasy.

Rereading the linked article, and assuming that Ms. Bonesky was tripping balls on X (or at least The Obama related syndrome that strongly mimicks the effects of the drug), it makes, much, much, more sense.

Also, this whole bit about the curls: Part of a balanced workout, or middle aged guy in a gym trying to impress a younger girl with his physical prowess? YOU MAKE THE CALL!!!

(what, I can't use that bit twice in the same post?)

Given the Positioning, I'm Thinking It's More of a Really Nasty Tumor on His Thigh . . .

Ohhh, "Transgressive Art".

Artist creates statue depicting Jesus in all his glory, and a much, much firmer glory than we are accustomed to seeing.


When he sculpts an explicit portrayal of Mohammed's first carnally connubial night with 9 year old Aisha, then I'll believe this twerp is really 'transgressive'.

He'd hit two taboos in one go with that one, the line between art and kiddie-porn, and the undue respect artists (at least comparatively with Christianity, Judaism, and other creeds) seem to accord Islam given the violent reaction of a certain subset of its adherents.

Instead Mr. Koh goes after Mickey Mouse, E.T., and Jesus and shows them in a more 'excited state' than we're used to.

Also, if you follow the link, the Daily Mail chooses to show the Jesus statue, with a little bit of pixelation, I guess to obscure the offending member, but they do so in the least obscuring manner possible, so rather than obfuscating, it more or less highlights the offense.

Way to go.

Somehow if there had been an explicit statue of Mohammed with an obviously under-age Aisha engaged in marital sex, I don't think it would have been presented with the barest of pixelated cover-ups by the Daily Mail. But, I could be wrong.

Other possible projects for Mr. Koh would be to go art-historical with this crap, a recreation of Michelangelo's David, but with a more impressive (and tumescent) twig and berries than he now sports, Rodin's Thinker, but engaged in an activity other than thinking, retitled Rodin's Wanker, and finally, a 100% accurate reproduction of Bernini's The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, cause that's already pretty damn explicit as originally realized.

I really should get the commissions to do this crap, I've got much better ideas, I can always hire a crew of real artists to do the actual work.

24 July 2008

Who Issues Those "World Citizen" Passports, Anyway?

DRUDGE EXCLUSIVE!!! (sorry no twirling gumball)

'I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.'

Are you counting the moments before The Presumptive Obama, World Citizen, addresses his Deutschlander acolytes?

How did Drudge get an early copy of the speech, is he just breaking the embargo earlier than anyone else, or does he have a mole in The Presumptuous One's speechwriting team?

Don't see how The Presumptuous One wins any votes in places he needs to win votes by being seen getting adored by crowds of un-Americans. But, The Obama knows better, and this wave of adulation will build across the Atlantic, crash on our shores, and sweep through all the way to the other coast, enveloping all those flyover states imbetween, or at least I guess that's what they're hoping for.

Surf's Up (Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude)

Noticed an inordinate amount of surfboards tied to cars coming and going to and from Santa Monica's beaches today. Checked the forecast, and looks like conditions are unusually good for the west facing beaches, so that explains it. Usually our surf is crap, but not today, evidently. Noticed evidence on some of the cars that some surfers were coming from as far away as Orange County, hopefully everyone will be respectful out there and nobody will get too territorial, that stuff is plain juvenille.

Take care out there, dudes, and dudettes (saw one couple rollerblading with boards in hand towards the beach, that takes some skill (and seems like a recipe for trouble, too).

It'll be a nice day down there, surfing or not, a bit breezy, not exactly hot, but nice.

21 July 2008

Another List of Stuff I Didn't Get Around To Blogging About (Weekly Edition July 15th-July21st) . . .

01) Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog (Awesome, but beware the usual Whedon twist)
02) The Dark Knight (Haven't seen it, probably won't see it for another few weeks)
03) Obama Abroad (I'd have hit the fawningness of the press, too)
04) Elefunk (Hella Fun!)
05) Bye-Bye Roni (Sorry to see him go, but $17M/4yrs would have been crazy)
06) GLOW (Or, how are city wasted $300K)
07) SPAMS (Not the kind that gets you cheap Viagra, the kind that sniffs for bad stuff)

I might remember to blog the rest of this week, I might not, I just like to keep you guessing. . .

(I might even be cooking up a 'modest proposal' on improving our two party system . . .)

15 July 2008

You Wanted Pictures of a Dame in a Bikini, I've Got Your Pictures of a Dame in a Bikini

Dame in a Bikini.

Before you follow the link, know that this Dame is 63 years old.

Before you hesitate to follow the link based on the age of the Dame in question, know that this Dame is Dame Helen Mirren, and she still has a rockin' bod.

And if you want to see more of that bod from decades ago, rent this really messed up (but kind of interesting) movie.

(that is if you can find it, it's out of print, and seems rare)

(seems to be available through netflix, but not Blockbuster Online)

14 July 2008

A List of Things I'm Not Blogging About Today . . .

1. Obama's (Salty Chocolate) Balls (Althouse)
2. LAT Hypocrisy (Ed Driscoll)
3. Miley Cyrus' (Prematurely and Unfortunately Leaked) Budding Sexuality (Defamer)
4. Near Death Experiences (all of mine have happened in the Mojave) (Samizdata.net)
5. Really Ugly Women in Tights (So Quoted)
6. What Jesse (Purportedly) Really Said (Undercover Black Man)
7. KTLA "Reporter" Getting P0WNed!!! By Sad and Sorry Apple Geeks (Boing Boing)
8. Dumb (and Soon Costly for the Cop) Arrests (Instapundit)

That's enough of what I'm not blogging about today, there's probably plenty of other subjects beyond these I could blog about today, but be assured that you will not see a post covering the above topics at this blog for the remaining 24 hours, that's my promise to you.

(and no jokers better point out the inconsistencies inherent in that statement given that this post amounts to 'blogging', so all the subjects I've promised to not blog about have obviously been blogged about)

13 July 2008

WANT (drools)

(via PS3 Fanboy)

The Ion Rock Band Drum Rocker.

(at $299.99, won't be getting, however)

But, the addition of a Drum Trainer within Rock Band 2 has me intrigued, might make the upgrade worth it.

(nothing, other than a lottery win, would make $300 add on drum controllers for a game worth it, however)

(also, Ion hasn't announced a PS3 version of the drums yet, but those should come, soon enough)

I'd still love to see them expand the set list beyond the usual RAAAAWWWWWKKKK tracks, but that seems unlikely.

A Very Generalized, Purely Anecdotal, Description of a Major Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives . . .

Fred Barnes, a real conservative is described (parenthetically), by David Harsanyi
I had the pleasure of meeting the Fred Barnes, executive editor of Weekly Standard and Fox News personality, a couple of weeks ago when he was visiting Denver for the Independence Institute’s sixth annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party. (Which was somewhat anti-climatic considering Fred doesn’t drink, smoke or shoot.)

Conservatives, they fight for your right to do the things they themselves choose not to do.

Liberals, they fight to take away your right to do the things they themselves choose to do.

Those descriptions aren't always the case, but in general, small government conservatives are a little more inclined to be for personal abstinence while supporting choice, while liberals seem to have a habit of hypocrisy when it comes to stuff like firearms, the environment, and high rates of taxation.

The big glaring exception (that the press loves to point out) would be on sexual issues, especially of the closeted homosexual variety. Given that the social conservatives don't have a candidate in the general election this go round, hopefully that's a sign that their presence as a highly coveted nationally voting block is on the wane. Maybe the GOP can lurch back to the Goldwater/Reagan small government style of conservatism again, with or without McCain as president (might be easier for a neo-Reagan to emerge in 2012 in the aftermath of a McCain failure, unfortunately. If we're lucky, McCain might turn out to be more Reagan-esque in practice as Executive, then one would suspect from his campaign rhetoric).


Eric at Classical Values has a post about some people already putting out IMPEACH OBAMA bumperstickers.

Well, it's good to get an early start, and since I will be President starting in 2017, I figure I might as well be the one to start an IMPEACH ME!!! movement.

Moments after the swearing in ceremony, I promise to illegally dismantle the IRS, a half dozen cabinet departments, and the CIA (and I'll use the military to get it done, if I have to, nothing says it's time to quit your cozy government job like well placed C-4).

Given those sort of actions require congressional approval, that would be an impeachable offense.

Of course, given that those actions would probably be highly popular with the voting public, let's just see if they go ahead and convict me.

So I'm hoping to get impeached by mid-February 2017, it's the least I can do, and I wouldn't be doing the job I'd been elected to, if I didn't.

Ummmm, Teddy Roosevelt Was About as Conservative as his (Distant) Cousin, Franklin . . .

(via Drudge)

John McCain sees himself as a Teddy Roosevelt Conservative.

As Scooby would say, Ruh-Roh.

Things That I Can't Admit to Seeing, Yet I'll Discuss Anyway . . .

True Blood, the upcoming series by Alan Ball (of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame) will be hitting HBO in September, and may or may not be widely available on your favorite torrent site in what appears to be an intentional leak to build buzz for the project.

The show is based in the Southern Gothic with Vampires Universe created by mystery novelist Charlaine Harris.

Anna Paquin is a fairly unique actress, and she's playing a unique role as Sookie Stackhouse, at least it would be unique if we hadn't seen the sassy, yet repressed, too smart for her small town, Southern barmaid a million times before. There's the psychic twist to this one, but that's also not out of the ordinary in Southern Gothic tales.

I think they're aiming for a lighter tone than they achieve, and the usual gut-wrenching violent turn that Ball is fond of is present here, too, so I suspect if this gets a longer run the tone will get more violent, more introspective, less fun, with plenty of anti-Southerner bigotry thrown in for good measure (Ball can't help himself it seems, I think Ball was attracted to the source material not cause he likes these people, but because he hates them, which isn't a good place to start from).

The other thing I couldn't possibly have seen since I'm not in the UK is the first episode of Bonekickers, the new Indiana Jones meets CSI series from BBC. All you really need to know about this one is that there is a beheading in the first episode (no video, just a news article on the controversy), shown on screen, and it invovles a muslim (as the victim, not perpetrator). Anti-christian hokum at its DaVinci Codey-ist (involving a neo-Templar group and a dig of an apparent Saracens on Templar attack in Bath, England), paid for by a licence fee. Got to love Britain, while it lasts. The show itself is silly fun if you can get past the gut-wrenchingly idiotic politics of it all. I suspect this will never see the light of day in the United States, and as the BBC is raping the British public, seems only fair to steal some of their product (especially since that product will never be shown here)

Judging from the previews it gets worse next week (something about a black candidate for U.S. President and a racist plot against him, how this ties in with an archaeological dig in the UK, I'm not sure, but given they had the "true cross", Templars and apparent Saracens in Bath in the first episode, anything is possible . . .)

(after showing how racist and evil white Christians are in England, I think they felt the need in the second episode to show how the really white and really racist Americans perfected their manifestations of hatred. Hopefully I'm wrong, but given the BBC's track record, I doubt I'm exaggerating in the least)


Again, not admitting that I've seen the leaked pilot of True Blood, but I see that the 'sassy black friend' (and given the way the role was played, there is really no other fitting descriptor for he part) has been recast (it was Brook Kerr in the leaked version, and she's written and played in stereotype overdrive mode), and hopefully reworked a lot, cause Tara Thornton was the clunkiest bit in a clunky pilot.

Ranking Angels . . .

Perusing my song list, I just noticed I have ten different songs called "Angel" by ten different artists.

Here's how they rank.

1) Angel --- Aretha Franklin. 'Retha, 'nuff said (at her best).
2) Angel --- Gavin Friday. A sinuously (and sinfully) sexy song. Off of the great Shag Tobacco album.
3) Angel --- Eurythmics. The saddest Angel song, later Eurythmics, still powerful.
4) Angel --- Massive Attack. The creepiest Angel song. Pitch black (and pitch perfect) electronica.
5) Angel --- Happy Mondays. Ahhh, Pacifiers and Glow Sticks (and Eeeeeee) . . .
6) Angel --- Kirsty MacColl. No video, sorry, you'll have to make do with a live performance of Can't Stop Killing You on Conan from a million years ago. Great song, though (both Angel, and Can't Stop Killing You)
7) Angel --- Luscious Jackson. Another non-video, Naked Eye will have to do. They were a great band. Interesting mix of influences.
8) Angel --- Jimi Hendrix. Minor Hendrix song, a bit hippy-dippy, but enough blues to make it tolerable.
9) Angel --- Belly. I liked Belly. Recorded at the World Famous Santa Monica Pier (about a mile and half and 15 years from where I'm typing this from)
10) Angel --- Leona Lewis. Not sure why I haven't deleted this album yet, don't like it much.

Also, wouldn't "Ranking Angels" be a great name for a neo-Ska band? Someone needs to bring back two-tone, might as well be the "Ranking Angels".

I'm amazed 8 out of 10 were available on the Tubes. There's very little that's not on the internet.

The Madden Curse Strikes Again!!! (?)

Brett Favre wants to unretire, but the Green Bay Packers don't want him, and they won't release him, given that the contending teams with the biggest need for a QB are division rival Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

The Packers are doing the right thing here, Favre is being a baby, and the Madden Curse strikes again.

Bet they thought going with a retired player would be a sure way to avoid the curse, they were wrong. That's what they get for letting affirmative action guide their decision making (Favre is the first white player to grace the cover).

And call me sick, but I'm probably going to get the $89.95 collector's edition of the stupid thing for the PS3.

But as far as the "curse" striking poor Brett Favre, all I can say is . . .


The Voluptuous Horror of Disco Orchestration . . .

That's the version I remember from many a bad 70s variety program (I'm certain I've seen this song accompanied by Donny, Marie, Rollerskaters, and Busby Berkeley style camera work, unless it was the Bradys along with Donny and Marie, which is a real and horrifying possibility).

(inspired by this Simply Skimming post)

(post title inspired by this band)

(more on "Disco Orchestration", at the Wiki)

(damn, being a kid in the 70s, really sucked)

(The gentleman who put together the Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drump Corps, Harold Wheeler, can still be found on ABC's highest rated show)

(I'm out of parentheticals, nothing to see here, move along folks . . .)

And lest you think I'm making up how hard the 70s sucked, here's a Donny and Marie Star Wars Themed production number, in two parts (featuring Paul Lynde, and what sounds to me like the actual voice of James Earl Jones). . .

(obviously, I lied about being out of parentheticals, above, I'm never completely "out" of parentheticals . . .)

(OK, one more Fife and Drum bit of YouTube aided copy-infringing, their Disco Disney medley from the Babyface Strikes Back album)

(and I assure you, I never personally owned any of those albums, though I may have listened to the Meco Star Wars album an unhealthy amount of times, another project with Harold Wheeler's fingerprints all over it)

(I'm happy to report that I'm unable to download any Wing and a Prayer music from Zune, but unfortunately The Best of MECO is readily available, and won't be finding its way on to my hard drive any time soon)

(This link rich post was worth waiting a week between posts for, wasn't it?)

05 July 2008

Mr. David Cay Johnston, I Got Yer Response Right HERE!

(read the comments here for the reason behind this post)

1) Some disciplined King-Harbor workers still on the job (the title doesn't match, but it's the same story)
This article focuses on the recent discovery that many health care workers at King-Harbor who had been disciplined, and the folks that run county health services strongly implied that these 'bad apples' would be tossed aside, were still on the job or working elsewhere within the county system. The reporting of the story is mostly straight, but there are a few sins of omission. In my opinion those omissions are reflective of a 'progressive' and 'pro-labor' approach to the problems at King-Harbor.

First, they missed the real story to this story, and the fact that they missed the juicier part of the story, in my opinion, is attributable either to incompetence, or bias. Computer records detailing disciplinary hearings of employees at a troubled facility vanish into thin air making it far harder to track these employees and verify if the promised measures had taken place is a major story, yet that's not the focus of this article. Here's the salient bit
But a Times review of personnel data and disciplinary appeals shows that at least 22 employees with significant disciplinary histories at King either still work at what remains of the facility -- several outpatient clinics -- or have been reassigned to other county hospitals. Exactly how many problem employees from King are on the job remains a mystery.

After receiving an information request from The Times, county officials said they discovered that a computer glitch had destroyed electronic records used to track where disciplined King workers were sent after the hospital's closure.

The loss of the records system is particularly startling in light of the hospital's troubled history. The facility's medical lapses have been blamed, in part, on its failure to keep accurate records on workers' job performance. The result was that some problem employees had personnel files that looked spotless.

Some members of the Board of Supervisors expressed dismay at The Times' findings, saying they showed that the board had failed to make good on its pledge a year ago. "It frankly sticks in my craw that we have not been able to deal with the people who personified the culture that caused King to close," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. "We have not fulfilled our promise to clean things up."

Seems to me the first question should be, 'Was the loss of this data intentional?' How could you not pose that question? When you analyze something like this, the thought running around your head should be, 'who has something to gain?, who has something to lose?'. Maybe the reporters did attempt a follow up to how the data disappeared, who was ultimately responsible, and who any likely suspects are if it was an intentional act. Maybe the reporters wanted to comment on how suspicious this data loss appears and the editors tore it out of their original draft. If it had been a CEO who had conveniently discarded possibly damning data, would that not have been pursued a bit more vigorously?

Also, when they went to speak with others about these workers, I find it interesting that John F. Schunhoff, the county's interim director of health services, is paraphrased while SEIU local 721 president Annelle Grajeda is quoted directly. That isn't absolute proof of bias one way or another, but it does suggest a better relationship with Grajeda, and they do print her insinuations about management and the Supervisors without challenge.

Sometimes a little muckraking is called for, instead this article is bland, what's happened within the county health services is appalling, yet rather than really attacking this story, the LA Times just sort of nibbles around the edges of it. Conclusion, this story isn't biased so much as useless, I'd prefer biased.

2)Secret tapes of former Orange County sheriff contain racist and coarse language
When a story fits all the paper's favorite stereotypes about law enforcement officials and Orange County residents, then there's no reason to do anything but just report the story straight as can be. No bias, put possibly (probably) some glee in getting to cover this.

3)McCain again shuffles top campaign aides
The LA Times covers changes in McCain's staff hierarchy, nobody was fired, nobody was really even demoted, just a few responsibilities shifted, yet quite a few column inches were created, anyway. First off the record quote,
"There's a lot of unease," said one Republican strategist who is an occasional advisor to the McCain campaign. "There's the age factor, the past-versus-the-future thing. He's conservative by most measures and people generally like him. But when it comes down to getting excited about the candidate, it just isn't there."

If there's one thing I hate, it's unsourced, unnamed quotes. Said one LAT staffer to me, "I hate working here, it's no fun anymore, it's nothing but old timers waiting for a buyout, incompetents hoping nobody notices they can't do their job, and ideologues hoping to sneak in as much crap as possible before the whole ship goes down in flames". What, you question whether or not someone from the LAT said this to me? (yeah, you probably should, and I also question who this unnamed strategist is, or even if they exist)

Next paragraph has an interesting inclusion
The campaign changes were revealed while McCain, 71, was in the middle of a three-day excursion to Colombia and Mexico to highlight his views on free trade, a trip that fed perceptions that the senator is operating as his own campaign chief, to his detriment

What's McCain's age doing in this sentence? Might it be part of some larger effort to paint McCain as old and out of touch at every opportunity? Also, the sentence itself doesn't follow from the previous sentence, doesn't contribute much of anything, and draws a conclusion that isn't supported by any facts. How does this trip 'feed perceptions' that the Senator is operating as his own campaign chief? I'd like to know, I don't see it, but maybe I'm missing something.

Another questionable sentence follows a bit down in the article
Many in the party feel that having a former lobbyist in the campaign's top spot undermines McCain's reformer image and message that he is the best candidate to change Washington.

Funny, I really don't recall too many within the GOP speaking ill of lobbyist and lobbying (our Governator being a notable exception). "Many in the party" is another one of those phrases like, "one Republican strategist" that raises all sorts of alarm bells, especially when the assertion being made doesn't really match with where most of the party is. Lobbying gets a bad name, they're an easy target, but it's mostly been the DEMs squawking about undue influence. Conclusion, another case where there are some odd choices, but mostly fair reporting, and lots of bad writing. As I said in my original post, it's not the bias that's so bad (but it's still there), it's the fact that what they serve is such thin gruel, to go along with the predictable framing and mindset.

That article is in sharp contrast to the July 5th article on Sen. Obama's decision to wrap himself up in Old Glory and offer up a more "nuanced" definition of patriotism (Obama doesn't use the word, but the article does, and that in of itself says plenty, doesn't it?). No unnamed sources, no 'Democratic strategist', instead many quotes directly from Sen. Obama, along with some framing quotes like this one
Ann Shea, 47, an attorney who lives in Butte, said the nation faces hardships that trump patriotism.

"The issue is, we're paying almost five bucks a gallon in gas, we're in a war we shouldn't be in, and the current administration, which is the one McCain will carry on, is just lying to the American people to get what they want," she said. "Obama's not about that."

So in an article on McCain, nothing really about Obama, but in an article about Obama, let's not forget to take a jab at McCain, sounds like a plan.

Here's the concluding few paragraphs of the piece
This week, Obama visited North Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Missouri, emphasizing family values and patriotism. His campaign understands that he needs to look reassuring and familiar -- like a patriot.

Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, said in an interview Friday that Obama struggled in his early life in ways that Montanans can appreciate. Schweitzer said it was unfair to paint Obama, with his Harvard Law degree and Ivy League pedigree, as elite.

He "grew up being raised by a single mother and grandparents when she didn't have enough resources," the governor said. "This is what happens in politics. You cannot in any way measure Barack Obama's life and call him elite."

Obama likes to say that words matter. But he knows that pictures matter too.

On this Fourth of July, Obama was not merely talking like a patriot. As he watched the parade -- and as a battery of cameras recorded his reactions -- he clutched in his hand a tiny American flag.

Yeah, no bias at all, nope none to be seen. First, get the folksy Democratic Governor of Montana to remind folks that Obama is just folks, but top it off with the reporter somehow knowing in his heart of hearts that The Obama is "not merely talking like a patriot". The reporter could mean that Obama now realizes that he must play the stupid flag waving game and 'look' the part as well as 'talk' the part, or he could mean that deep down Obama really appreciates the 'tiny American flag' he clutches (but not clings, please, no clinging) in his hand and has been as much of a patriot as anyone, he just has trouble expressing it.

In my opinion, the McCain article seems much more accusatory and questioning of the information given, while the Obama article reads like a press release from the Obama campaign (although the campaign might not have dared to release a press release that was quite so glowing and fawning as the actual 'news' article that escaped onto the pages of the LAT).

I'm getting bored of this now, mainly because the LAT A & B sections are very boring to read (not that C & D are all that much better written, but at least they're shorter, usually).

As far as picking three more articles, no way Jose, I concede, I'm wrong, you're right Mr. Johnston, since I couldn't prove that EVERY article contains hints of bias and agenda journalism I guess that proves what?

  • That I have a habit of overstatement, even if my original point generally remains perfectly valid (nope that's probably not what you were looking for).

  • That those layers of editors at the LAT suck the life out of every article (nope, that's probably not where you wanted me to go, either).

  • That neither of us proved anything to the other with this exercise, you'll still think that the LAT, NYT, WaPo and the like are beyond reproach, and that bloggers are just nuts with keyboards, while I'll continue to think that there are way too many fuzzy headed liberals running around these institutions who regurgitate a whole host of outmoded received wisdom and that, along with an outmoded business plan will lead to the near total demise, as its currently configured, of the print news industry within the next decade.

  • You've made your point Mr. Johnston, I was wrong, you were right to question the absolute nature of my statement (have I mentioned I have a tendency towards overstatement?), but just because you disproved (with my willing participation) that there is an absolute tendency for bias to infect every aspect of every article doesn't mean that my larger point about bias infecting the decision making process, the tone, the writing style, and even who they hire and fire has also been refuted (bias doesn't have to be manifest in every case to be ever present, it's there, it's not always expressed, but it's always there, and it would take some radical changes in staffing and philosophy for things to be different at Spring St.).

    It's not like Im the only one who's had thoughts along these lines based on the latest round of firings and buyouts at various papers, Glenn Reynolds has a go at the LAT here, and Ed Driscoll kicks them while they're down as well. On top of that, a few weeks ago Matt Welch commented on other proglems at the LAT, and while he doesn't speak about bias, he does speak about a company with a sickly corporate culture.

    04 July 2008

    CHANGE, We Believe That's Exactly What He Promised. . .

    (via Instapundit)
    Change, it turns out, wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Having campaigned for the past year as the agent of transformation, the man who would lead an historic shift in America's political direction, Barack Obama is discovering that there is quite a lot he likes about the way things are.

    Gerard Baker, for the Times of London commenting about The Obama's recent habits of mutability.

    Evolving positions are a fact of political life, if one were to be such a stalwart as to never change any of their positions, that politician would look a fool.

    But the candidate of change has brought changeability to a level that very nearly resembles an artform. He not only changes his mind, he has done it within the very same day on a few occasions.

    Now that's Change We Can Believe In!

    He's not the first Muslim major party candidate for President, The Obama is pure Zen, baby.

    He reminds me of this little story:
    Kitano Gempo, abbot of Eihei temple, was ninety-two years old when he passed away in the year 1933. He endeavored his whole life not to be attached to anything. As a wandering mendicant when he was twenty he happened to meet a traveler who smoked tobacco. As they walked together down a mountain road, they stopped under a tree to rest. The traveler offered Kitano a smoke, which he accepted, as he was very hungry at the time.

    "How pleasant this smoking is," he commented. The other gave him an extra pipe and tobacco and they parted.

    Kitano felt: "Such pleasant things may disturb meditation. Before this goes too far, I will stop now." So he threw the smoking outfit away.

    When he was twenty-three years old he studied I-King, the profoundest doctrine of the universe. It was winter at the time and he needed some heavy clothes. He wrote his teacher, who lived a hundred miles away, telling him of his need, and gave the letter to a traveler to deliver. Almost the whole winter passed and neither answer nor clothes arrived. So Kitano resorted to the prescience of I-King, which also teaches the art of divination, to determine whether or not his letter had miscarried. He found that this had been the case. A letter afterwards from his teacher made no mention of clothes.

    "If I perform such accurate determinative work with I-King, I may neglect my meditation," felt Kitano. So he gave up this marvelous teaching and never resorted to its powers again.

    When he was twenty-eight he studied Chinese calligraphy and poetry. He grew so skillful in these arts that his teacher praised him. Kitano mused: "If I don't stop now, I'll be a poet, not a Zen teacher." So he never wrote another poem.

    The Obama avoids attachment to any one position, The Obama only needs for you to believe in the rightness of his actions at the time of the acting. If the exact opposite is called for just a moment later, than that too was the right action.

    Also reminds me a bit of Heraclitus, 'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.'

    He's the first candidate to have attended higher education after postmodernism had taken over, and he seems to learned the lessons of a generalized antipathy to the belief that there is such thing as an objective truth very well.

    There are no 'truths', so there can be no 'flip flops' (except of course, the kind that Matt McConaughey loses)

    232 Reasons Why America Kicks Ass!!!

    (this is an unordered list, the numbering is only there to help me keep track, and may take all weekend to complete, will update throughout, until I reach #232, also some of these reasons may not be unique to America, or originated in America, but dammit, we do it better in America)

    001) When people refer to America, they don't mean all of North America, any of South America, but the U S of A, and that Kicks Ass
    002) Ice Cream Sandwiches Kick Ass
    003) The First Amendment Kicks ALL Sorts of Ass (bet you wish your lousy country had one!)
    004) The Second Amendment not only Kicks Ass, but Takes Names
    005) Las Vegas, Nevada
    006) We are a nation founded on text foremost, not an ethnic, religious or cultural identity
    007) We prefer Football over Soccer
    008) I Can Has Cheezbugers (Couldn't have started anywhere else)
    009) The Whole George Clinton Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership Connection
    010) Drive-In Fast Food
    011) Silicon Valley
    012) Porn Valley
    013) Hidden Valley Ranch
    014) The Opportunity to Succeed (and to Fail)
    015) We Landed on the Freakin' Moon (though China might beat us back there)
    016) Basketball (and that 2008 Gold Medal is Ours, hand it over now)
    017) Bugs Bunny
    018) Charity (Our charitable giving dwarves all other nations)
    019) Faith (We are uniquely faithful compared to like mature democracies)
    020) Hope (We are also uniquely hopeful in the aggregate, despite what some polls might say)
    021) The United States Armed Forces (The Most Kick Ass Military Ever)
    022) Separation of Powers
    023) Parker & Stone
    024) Chewing Gum
    025) Herman Melville (no really, he does kick a lot of ass)
    026) Gibson Guitars
    027) USNS Mercy, and the USNS Comfort (does France have converted tankers as naval hospital ships, I think not)
    028) A truly Free Press
    029) Fireworks on Independence Day

    That's enough for now, 1/8th done, 7/8ths to go, more to come . . .

    030) Wide open spaces
    031) Dense urban jungles
    032) Sprawling suburbs
    033) Bucolic college towns
    034) Flinty New Englanders
    035) Hopsitable Southerners
    036) Taciturn Midwesterners
    037) Laid Back West Coasters
    038) Edgy Urban Dwellers
    039) Coffee for Breakfest
    040) Pancakes for Dinner
    041) Hamburgers
    042) Hot Dogs
    043) BBQ
    044) BB Guns
    045) BB King
    046) Lucille
    047) Apple Pie
    048) Key Lime Pie (Much better than Apple)
    049) The Fender Stratocaster (I included Gibson, got to give Fender som love, too)
    050) Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels (not exclusively American, but the biggest market, and many of the best writers are from the US of A)
    051) "Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay"
    052) Noah Webster (saved us from the tyranny of the extra "u" along with other annoying spelling quirks)
    053) Big Box Retailers
    054) Amazon.com
    055) Woot!
    056) Conspicuous Consumption
    057) Parsimonious Rectitude
    058) Lazy Sundays

    1/4 of the way down, 3/4 to go. This would have been a lot easier to do back in 1855, or so . . .

    059) PIXAR
    060) Apple (even though I kind of hate them)
    061) Microsoft (even though everyone else kind of hates them)
    062) IBM
    063) Ford (what's left, anyway)
    064) GM (also, what's left)
    065) Hollywood (most of the time, sometimes they do the opposite of kicking ass)
    066) Milton Friedman
    067) Dizzy Gillespie
    068) Frank Lloyd Wright
    069) Free Enterprise
    070) Relatively low taxation when compared to other advanced democracies
    071) We're not Canada! (just kidding, Canada, though 'We're not America' seems to sit near the top of the 'why Canada Kicks Ass, Eh' list)
    072) Oprah Winfrey
    073) Surfing
    074) Skateboarding
    075) NASCAR
    076) The Statue of Liberty (a gift from France, but imbued with meaning by our Freedoms)
    077) The Golden Gate Bridge (plenty of other bridges around the world, but few are better looking)
    078) Hoover Dam (plenty of other dams, some bigger since, but nothing of that scope attempted back then
    079) Empire State Building (we built plenty of cool stuff in the 30s)
    080) Ragtime
    081) Dixieland
    082) Delta Blues
    083) Swing
    084) Bebop (sorry Fusion, you miss this list)
    085) Rock & Roll
    086) Hip Hop
    087) Country Music

    3/8 done, plenty more Kick Ass awesomeness to mention, (and really, given the loose categories and definitions, this list could go into the hundreds of thousands, we kick that much ASS, in America) . . .

    Reasons 088) through 232)

    I believe a full 5/8ths of why America Kicks Ass, and has cause to Kick Out the Jams whenever our collective Birthday comes up has to do with the founding principles on which we were created. Classical Liberalism wasn't something that had been tried before, and it has worked brilliantly every where people have committed to making it work. Communism on the other hand, nothing but misery. Even Communisms slightly less offensive cousin, Socialism, isn't exactly all its cracked up to be. The basic founding principles of our nation were crafted with an awareness of human nature, both to harness the good that we can produce, and also to rein in our negative tendencies. Our founding father's weren't perfect, but looking back at the other revolutions of the period, we seriously lucked out (and by extention so did the rest of the world)

    The United States, since its inception has been a force for the betterment of the lives of everyone on the planet, we haven't been perfect, there are still many imperfections both at the government level, and of our people, but the proof of our goodness can be seen in who our enemies have been, and who our allies have become. Have a war with the UK, that's OK, someday you'll be our Atlantic Partner, help destroy Germany, that's OK, we're buds now, drop atomic weapons on Japan, that's OK (and was for the betterment of both), we'll show you how to be prosperous, peaceful, and much better neighbors in your neck of Asia. We're still working on a better relationship with Russia, but we'll get there, maybe never having a 'hot war' with Russia has lead to making the reproachment more difficult. Iraq and Afghanistan could still go poorly, or more likely, they will become better countries after the decades of chaos and misrule that preceded our intervention (and possibly as much as a decade of chaos and fumbling towards something better).

    America Kicks Ass, even if Matt Yglesias still thinks our nation never should have been born . . .

    I Guess They're Still a Bit Bitter About That Little Declaration of Ours From 232 Years Ago . . .

    What other explanation for this. On BBC2 this Sunday's episode of The Conspiracy Files, 9/11 - The Third Tower (imagine hearing one of those, dun, dun dun musical stings like in the Dramatic Chipmunk clip as you finish intoning the last syllable of Tower).

    How stupid do they think the British public is, that they'd watch this crap?

    How messed up is it that folks there have to pay a license fee to fund programming like that?

    Seeing that one of the editors over at the Beeb is pushing this stuff made me pull a Dramatic Lemur face, no lie.

    Also, I don't know what you're doing for Independence Day, but besides punching the first Brit I see (OK, maybe not, we take assault here seriously, unlike back in England), I'm going to watch me some Team America: World Police.

    03 July 2008

    I Guess Since His Dog Will Likely Be Spayed or Neutered . . .

    Over at the Politcal Radar at the ABC News blog, this bit about the Obama's family pending introduction of a canine companion to their home
    While the Obamas have decided a dog will be a part of their family, the timing is still up in the air. During a May appearance on Good Morning America, the couple was asked whether their two daughters had yet to receive the dog they were promised.

    Sen. Obama responded that Malia and Sasha have "a year to test whether they are sufficiently responsible," but was cut off by his wife who insisted, "They are responsible...we're getting a dog."

    When Obama replied that he was concerned about who would be the official pet walker, the potential first lady said, "You will. You will all be walking the dog."

    "Okay. All right," Obama conceded.

    Seems like the Obama's new puppy won't be the only neutered male in the household (assuming they get a male, and they neuter him, which if they get a purebred, they may not).

    Seems like a pound puppy is the way to go, or better a pound dog, one with a backstory, preferrably a pitbull mix of some kind, or some other 'real' dog, and none of this Bichon Frise or Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier crap (or god forbid, a Poodle or Chinese Crested, I'm OK with Mini-Schnauzer, though, but just barely) the AKC is trying to push.

    Given that Obama is a mutt himself (just like me, or somewhat like me, afterall, my African-American father is actually African-American, and not just African), seems like picking up a proper grade "A" American Dog of Not Easily Determined Breed would be the way to show that The Obamas are of the people, and not hoity toity types.

    Speaking of hoity toity types, surely the McCain's Yorkies are all Cindy's, right?

    First KevinKeith Coogan, Now David Cay Johnston Calls Me Out . . .

    Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist (or somebody who created a blogger account to pretend to be him), David Cay Johnston (ex of NYT after a Jan 2008 buyout, and at the LAT 76-88), a NYT bestselling author of Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch took issue with my characterization of the LAT and their propensity to insert editorial language and spin into 'hard news' stories.

    I'll cook up a response sometime before the end of July 6th, cause, why the hell not.

    As far as the Kevin Coogan incident, that happened elsewhere.

    But what I really want to talk about in this post is the book spines. I'm convinced that many books are sold based solely on their title, sub-title, and how the book spine will look when lined up with other like tomes. It's the only explanation for the myriad of screedy books of questionable literary merit that litter the top of the non-fiction bestseller lists.

    I suspect many people, on both sides of the political aisle, display these books as talisman and markers of identification for their particular bent. They aren't buying a book for the tale it spins, or the cogency of its argument, or the information contained therein, rather they are buying the object itself. I've seen homes where the books are arrayed in a somewhat fetishistic display meant to evoke both a personal identity and a sense of belonging to a particular tribal identity.

    There's really no other explanation for the relative success of books from the likes of Glen Greenwald (worst. author. evah!), or Sean Hannity (OK on the radio, annoying on TV, horrible in print). Both of them are on opposite sides of the fence politically, both are terrible writers in completely different ways, and both manage to churn out bestsellers on a regular basis.

    The other thing is, it only takes a few thousand copies sold per week to make a bestseller, and the various lists are somewhat selective in the book stores they reference, so the NYT list doesn't really reflect the numbers on all books sold (they exclude big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco), Amazon is a much fairer gauge of real world performance for a particular book, in my opinion, and their list often barely resembles the NYT list.


    Clearly I'm no journalist, I can't even get my Coogan first names straight. If only I had layers of editors to help me with stuff like that.

    02 July 2008

    LOL Los Angeles Water Cops?!?

    For more on this story, see LA Observed. Also, it wasn't at City Hall itself where they were breaking their own rules, but that building is the symbol of city government in Los Angeles, so it'll do, plus it makes the quote inscribed on the side of City Hall, "THE HIGHEST OF ALL SCIENCES AND SERVICES - GOVERNMENT" just that much more ironic, don't you think?

    Unaltered photo, part of this photo set.

    Previous post pointing to that quote here (along with link to who said it, picture at link makes inscription much easier to read)

    Here's the Drought Busters Program highlights . . .
    According to Los Angeles’ Prohibited Water Use Ordinance, customers cannot:
    • Use water on hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways or parking areas (with the exception of water brooms)
    • Water lawns between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during April through September, and between 11a.m. and 3 p.m. during October through March.
    • Allow excess water from sprinklers to flood gutters.
    • Use water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains unless the water is part of a recirculation system.
    • Serve water to customers in eating establishments, unless requested.
    • Allow leaks to go unattended.

    Come On, You Know You Want to Gloat, Even If Just a Little . . .

    They’re cutting 150 editorial staff positions by Labor Day. As usual, Kevin Roderick has the internal memos.

    And as always, I see these changes as resulting primarily from the challenge posed by the Internet, and not from a loss of readership due to bias. I ask commenters not to gloat. Some good people will lose their livelihoods, and that’s not a reason to celebrate.

    That's the entirety of Patterico's post on the subject. I think he's being a bit too kind. Yes, some good people will lose their jobs, but for every 'good' person losing their job in this cutback, there will be a dozen people who probably should never have been in the news or opinion business in the first place. The biggest problem at the LAT is that they've replaced the "OR" in News "OR" Opinion with an "AND", the need to editorialize during reporting infects all aspects of that paper, from Health, to Home, to Politics, to even the damn Automotive section. Even where a point of view is called for, like a Film Review, or Architecture Review, their staff has a need to inject every third paragraph with some sort of political statement (invariably about the eeevils of those Cons, Social Cons and Neo-Cons). It's predictable, it's offensive, and worst of all, it's trite and uninteresting. Be as liberal as you want to be, but admit it, and be interesting about it. The LAT just doesn't get it, bias isn't a problem per se, so long as it is out in the open, and the people communicating are engaging.

    Barack's Denver Problem . . .

    (an interesting post about the above video can be found at Undercover Black Man)

    Presumptive Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Barack Obama may have a slight Denver problem. The above incident is just an indication of things to come. Those that believe The Obama Will Wash Away All Our Sins are going to descend on Denver and list their grievances (think Festivus on steroids), elucidate their dreams for a New and Improved Even MORE United States (so long as you bitter bible and gun clingers toe the line).

    These folks are not just going to have an impact on the Democratic National Convention, they'll have an impact on the election, too. Local media in Denver is going to be covering the madness, from the aging hippies trying to ressurect 1968, to the Code Pinkers, to the Extreme Greens, lots of nuts are going to be attracted to this event, and seeing all that tumult up close may change the minds of Independent voters in Colorado in general.

    I think the convention may contribute to McCain winning in Colorado, and if Obama doesn't pick up a few Western States, he'll have trouble Electorally.

    One more video for your perusal (in lieu of further comment). . .

    01 July 2008

    Balls, Heh, Heh, Heh . . .

    Not just any balls, though, the most perfectly spherical ball ever made!

    I Thought Crossroads Was a Good School?

    Crossroad's most famous sports alum, Baron Davis, will reportedly sign a 5 year, $65M contract on July 9th.

    Dude, what are you thinking?

    Presumably, Magette will go elsewhere, and they'll re-sign Brand, giving them a starting five with Brand, Thorton and Kaman up front, and Davis with who knows who else in the backcourt. Great frontline, and Davis might be able to anchor a solid backcourt, but then again, these are the Clippers, so who knows what will happen.

    They might put together a good season, but with New Orleans, LA Lakers, and Utah looking like locks for 3 of the top 4 seeds, you still have a solid San Antonio team, talented Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Denver squads (though they seem to be in disarray), and a potentially scarily good Portland team. That's already nine teams fighting for eight playoff spots, don't see how the Clippers or Golden State can muscle any of those teams out of the top eight.

    And yes, I can already say with a large degree of confidence that Minnesota, Seattle/OKC, Memphis, and Sacramento won't be within shouting distance of a playoff berth.

    The Clips are better than the bottom teams in the Western Conference (if everyone is healthy), but unless one of the top eight teams blows up with injuries and dissension, it's going to be hard to make the playoffs.

    (but if they were in the Eastern Conference, they'd be a 5 or 6 seed, easily).

    UPDATE: J.A. Adande (also a Crossroads alum) defends his buddy's decision to come to the other LA team. Adande remembered that Mobley is still on the team, I guess that's why he's a paid journalist, and I'm just a guy with a keyboard. Some other team might take a chance on Shaun Livingston's reconstructed knee and get a fantastic player, and bargain in the deal. He'd probably look pretty good in a Cavaliers uniform . . .

    Now the Clips will have not one, but two Hollywood producers on the team. Just wait, sometime in February there'll be a locker room brawl over accusations of bad faith bidding up on the asking price on the next Diablo Cody project between Brand and Davis . . .

    Seriously, Dudes? Seriously, That's Messed Up

    That's messed up right there. I'm offended that y'all take offense at that ad campaign. You're entitled to your values, but they aren't universal, and you should grow up enough to be able to see an ad that has something in it that you may not find in keeping with your traditions. If you can't handle the give and take in a pluralistic society, then there are plenty of countries on this globe where you can follow a very narrow interpretation of your faith and never be faced with anything that might offend (like bare armed women, clean shaven men, alcohol consumption, pork products, and cute little puppies)

    You know, when I was a wee lad, our family dog, a big black Rhodesian Ridgeback, was named Mohammed. Do I earn a fatwa now?

    And my father used to go to a Mosque on Fridays (not so much because he agreed with the Black Muslim movement, but it gave him an excuse to cut class once a week when he was in high school).

    If It's Not Scottish It's . . .

    Andy Murray, proud Scot Tennis pro has advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. The Brits are going crazy (as evidenced by the linked Daily Mail story).

    He's just a roadbump in the eventual Federer-Nadal final, though. Nadal isn't losing a set. Grass isn't his best surface, but he'll do fine against Murray.

    Still not watching it, since they've improved the racket technology, Men's Tennis is unwatchable. It's all serves, aces, and poorly returned balls that lead to easy winners. Rallies are a thing of the long forgotten past, and even though Federer has been dominant on all surfaces other than clay (with Nadal killing all on that surface), it's been the boring kind of dominance, rather than the exciting Tiger Woods sort of dominance.

    I remember watching Becker, and Borg, and McEnroe, way, way back when during the Wimbledon 'fortnight', but now, it just doesn't matter.