Wednesday, July 31, 2002

 
Gosh, and I always thought she was such an honest and rational person

Ms. Harris not only was out of town, she was conveniently out of touch, in her own undisclosed location. Her staff stressed that she was back in the office Friday -- "the critical day for her to be here." What a relief. She thus was in place to ask Gov. Bush to extend the qualifying deadline for a day because of the "emergency" caused by the plane crash. This would be the same Katherine Harris who saw no "emergency" when a virtual tie in the Florida presidential race demanded that counties get time to count as many legal ballots as possible.

Now normally, I really don't give a damn about flash-in-the-pan pseudo-celebrity opportunists; after all, actually reporting news about them only gives them more popularity. But this woman's actually trying to continue a career in politics, and frankly that makes it worthwhile to identify her as even more of a political joke than most of the world already knows she is. What can I say, I'm as compassionate as I am conservative.
 

   

 
Gosh, I hope it's a fiscally conservative war...

Talk about sad. Turns out that it's very possible the United States literally can't afford a war with Iraq. Like that's ever stopped us before.

An American attack on Iraq could profoundly affect the American economy, because the United States would have to pay most of the cost and bear the brunt of any oil price shock or other market disruptions, government officials, diplomats and economists say.

Eleven years ago, the Persian Gulf war, fought to roll back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, cost the United States and its allies $60 billion and helped set off an economic recession caused in part by a spike in oil prices.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan divided the cost of the 1991 war with the United States, but today none has offered to assist with financing a new military campaign. In fact, each has signaled that it is not eager to be asked, diplomats say.

The Persian Gulf war cost $61.1 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service, of which $48.4 billion was paid by other nations. The House Budget Committee's Democratic staff said that in 2002 dollars, the cost of the war was $79.9 billion, providing a very rough benchmark for what a conflict of similar dimensions might cost today.
 

   

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

 
Well, I would too

"We'd give the Palestinians a state if Bruce Springsteen would come."

An interesting article on the effects of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict towards the local entertainment industry yields what could be, quite possibly, the most logical statement that has come from the region in the last two years.

I say go for it. This could even beat Kermit.
 

   

 
"Say, Dick, you know any good contractors? Really? You do?"

Halliburton Co. has been awarded a $9.7 million contract to build an additional 204-cell detention camp at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to hold additional suspected al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The move will expand the high-security prison on the base, where hundreds of such "detainees" from Afghanistan are already being held in 612 small cells.

Brown and Root Services, an engineering division of Halliburton, will build the additional 6-by-8-foot cells on the windward side of the remote U.S. base at the southeastern tip of Cuba, the Pentagon said.

The work is expected to be completed by October. But the Pentagon suggested on Friday that the facility could grow even more and that the contract could eventually total as much as $300 million if additional options were exercised over the next four years.

Well. Isn't that a coinky-dink.
 

   

Monday, July 29, 2002

 
Gosh, it must be Opposite Day or something

Yet again, the bush administration is adamant on a massive attack and "regime change" operation against Iraq, but now, they're discussing an operation that would be the exact opposite of what Bush Sr.'s administration did in the Gulf War over ten years ago:

The inside-out ideas are essentially the reverse of the American strategy in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, which dislodged Mr. Hussein's occupying army from Kuwait.

The aim would be to kill or isolate Mr. Hussein and to pre-empt Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction, whether against an incoming force, front-line allies or Israel. Those weapons are the wild card in all the outlines of a military confrontation.

Strangely, attacking Iraq itself is still the opposite of what most rational and military-trained representatives in the government suggest to be the best move for the good of the U.S.

More than one officer interviewed questioned the president's motivation for repeatedly calling for the ouster of Hussein. "I'm not aware of any linkage to al Qaeda or terrorism," one general involved in the Afghanistan war said, "so I have to wonder if this has something to do with his father being targeted by Saddam," a reference to the U.S. government's belief that Iraqi agents plotted to assassinate former president George H.W. Bush with a car bomb during a 1993 visit to Kuwait.

Retired officers and experts who stay in touch with the top brass, and are free to say what those on active duty cannot, are more outspoken in supporting the containment policy and questioning the administration's apparent determination to abandon it.

"I'd argue that containment is certainly a better approach than either marching on Baghdad or destabilizing the Iraqi government by killing Saddam," said retired Col. Richard Dunn III, a former Army strategist. "It only has to work until something happens to him -- he's either killed or dies."
Added Jim Cornette, a former Air Force biological warfare expert who participated in Gulf War targeting of Iraqi weapons bunkers, "We've bottled him up for 11 years, so we're doing okay. I don't know the reason the administration is so focused on Iraq. I'm very puzzled by it."

So how do these two opposites add up? By the fact that the opposite opinions are given mostly by those who are. the exact opposite of someone who actually has experience in war. This final story from the Chicago Daily Herald brings up yet again the ever-growing list of "chickenhawks:" the rich white guys who have decided that even though the closest they've ever been to a tank is getting tanked at a DKE party in 1973 (ahem. "Allegedly,") they somehow know more than, oh let's say Colin Powell, who actually has battle experience.

All this from the opposite of the guy who the country elected, and who's rapidly revealing himself as the opposite of the man the people who actually did vote for him thought he was. What a fun and silly day Opposite Day is!
 

   

Friday, July 26, 2002

 


XQUZYPHYR & Overboard will be inactive for the remainder of the weekend as I shall be lost for the next few days somewhere in the wilderness of the Great White North. Most likely I will be lost in the areas that have a gigantic casino. Go fig.

Most of my weekend will involve trying to forget about what the fuck is going on in the country, but don't think that means I'm not going to be checking in. I'm sure in the next three days I'll find tons of stuff to complain about when I get back. Evil never sleeps, and whatnot. Actually, I'm going to spend most of my weekend searching for Crunchie- the delicious Cadbury wafer-chocolate candy that is the absolute favorite of my sister's boyfriend, but is, for some reason, not sold anywhere in the United States. That's right, one of my Canada vacation activities is smuggling entire crates of imported chocolate across the border. Hey, I think it's tastier than crack.

Special thanks to all my Canadian readers for, well, having a great goddamn country for me to run rampant in. I'll try to leave it in a somewhat tidy condition, but if you've ever taken the opportunity to visit my country, you'll know that Americans tend to not be very good at keeping anything very clean. See you all Monday; Tuesday if my friends find out how cheap the beer is before I can get them back in my car.

(And before the Canadians write me to ask: yes, I deliberately colored the beer can blue.)
 

   

Thursday, July 25, 2002

 
The long international lack of anyone actually giving a damn in the last four years about this is finally over

As we've covered before, I jump for joy almost any time I hear the news that a huge company as failed to destory the livelihood of an artist because their feelings were hurt, but this is just one of those events that makes you weep at the actual length of time it takes something so ridiculous to be resolved.

Today, the California Appeals Court ruled that, under God,

Just kidding.

Today, the California Appeals Court ruled that Mattel's intellectual rights were not infringed by references to Barbie in the song "Barbie Girl" by the band Aqua. For those of you who needed as much help as I did remembering it at first, the song's catchy tune garnered it international sleeper success when it was first released... in 1997.

Yes, that's right. It took, and may very well have not been fully taken if Mattel appeals again, over five years to establish what a child who was born around the time the song was released could tell you today: people, at least back in 1997, can say whatever they want as an opinion of something and not be sued over it.

Mattel, which strangely enough only filed the lawsuit after the song became a success, sued on the grounds that Aqua, who are currently performing I would guess at the very most weddings and the occasional mall opening in Denmark, "sullied Barbie's image with a song laced with sexual innuendo." Here with a response is a woman sexually gratifying herself with a Barbie doll.

No, I'm just kidding again. But when you clicked the link to check it out, did you question the morality of potentially violating copyright laws to view the desecration of a beloved cultural icon? Of course you did.

Sinner.
 

   

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

 
Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 11

Via the Times Online (full story here):

Western diplomats believe they were within hours of clinching an unprecedented Palestinian commitment to end suicide bombings when Israel launched its missile strike on Gaza on Monday night.

The Times has learnt that a Palestinian declaration containing an unconditional commitment to end suicide attacks on civilians was finalised hours before the attack. It was to have been made public yesterday but has now been postponed indefinitely.

Yesterday diplomats said they suspected the attack - which killed 14 Palestinians as well as the Hamas commander Sheikh Salah Shehada - was timed to wreck what might have been a breakthrough. Backed by senior leaders of Yassir Arafat's Fatah movement and the Tanzim, the Fatah wing most closely linked with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declaration contained a commitment to do everything in the militias' power to stop attacks on Israeli civilians, including settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

International mediators involved in drafting the document, a copy of which has been seen by The Times, confirmed that two hours before the strike a very senior Fatah leader met Hamas leaders in Gaza to secure their support.

"Those directly involved in drafting the statement believe that this (attack) was a purposeful initiative on the part of the Israeli leadership to undermine what the Palestinians believed was the chance to stop the suicide bombs," one of the international officials involved in drafting the 1˝-page declaration said.

So, let's get this straight. On Monday, the leader of Hamas announced that there was actually a chance towards an ease in violence by discussing the possibility of something that has almost never happened before: Hamas calling off suicide bombings.

Within 24 hours, Israel responded to this in the most diplomatic and logical way possible: killing the military leader of Hamas- not by arresting him or shooting him, mind you, but in a strategy that truly exercises the full technological advances of the Israeli military: dropping a 2,000 bomb on a Palestinian apartment complex where he lived, killing 14 other people including nine children in adjacent homes.

So, as one might guess, there's a slightly different statement from Hamas now, far from the mere "postponed indefinitely" that the Times article mentioned above.

Ariel Sharon, in addition, has expressed regret over the loss of civilian life, in his statement addressing the operation as "a great success." Go ahead. Rattle that one around again.

It's hardly, of course, to the level of obscenity of the average message board poster about this incident, as I'm sure you'll notice from any of the Yahoo! links. Apparently, as Tom expressed today, there is a difference in "moral equivalence" between the obviously evil Arabs killing civilians and the triumphant Israeli military killing civilians. The high-profile verbal-vomit is on the scene as well, as Tom points out as well with his link to Eric Alterman, who spews this:

I don't know if killing the military chief of Hamas, together with his family, is an effective military measure-as surely someone will rise to replace him and it will make a lot more people angry, perhaps even angry enough to become suicide bombers. It may not bring Israel and the Palestinians any closer to peace or mutual security. But I don't have a moral problem with it.

Hamas is clearly at war with Israel. Hamas feels empowered to strike Israeli civilians inside Israel proper and not just on the war zone of West Bank. Sheik Salah Shehada could have protected his family by keeping away from them. He didn't and owing to his clear legitimacy as a military target, they are dead too.

So tough luck, fella. War is hell.

Fine, Eric. I'll agree with you. Let it be known: it's official, Hamas is clearly "at war" with Israel. Therefore, Israel's retaliation is "at war" against Hamas. So when exactly are you going to tell us how killing and injuring scores of civilians to deliberately kill one person isn't a "war crime?" Let me know when that article comes out, Eric.

For now, however, I'm going to reflect on how horrendous the next 72 hours or so is going to be in Israel. Because of this, Hamas has reached a new level of apeshit, and I don't know how many innocent Israeli civilians are going to die. I do know, however, that unlike someone like Eric Alterman I'm going to be just as sad with their death regardless of what side they're on. I hope Eric doesn't have a moral problem with something compassionate like that.
 

   

 
Just in time- July's official World's Stupidest IdeaT

I don't think we can break this in the next four days, and I'll be out for the half of the remaining time come Friday, so I'm calling it.

This month's official World's Stupidest IdeaT comes, as many do, from Capitol Hill, where legislators are working on a bill that gives the entertainment industry full legal ability to hack your computer if they believe you have pirated material on it. Theoretically, on the belief that someone may be illegally trading MP3's or movies over a file-sharing network, this bill will allow the MPAA or the RIAA full legal immunity from maliciously and covertly invading their home computer network, including deleting their files, corrupting theirr system, and intentionally transmitting errors and viruses. In addition, the bill restricts the user's (translated: your and my) ability to sue the industries for damages incurred as a result of such "investigations," such as destruction of equipment, loss of software, or in potential cases, hijacking of domain names.

In other words, an industry which essentially makes more money than the Gross Domestic Product of the nations in which they claim their headquarters to be located for tax purposes now has such a disadvantage against the actions of the average American that the only way to even the odds is to give them full Vigilante rights. In a non-digital sense, this is the equivalent of allowing the manager of your local 7-11 to track down people suspected of shoplifting and sever their hands off with a meat cleaver.

I was going to say here "I'm not sure what the entertainment industry did to deserve such a priveledge," but I think we can all take a good look at the campaign donations of most of our Congress and take a quick guess about that ourselves. So instead I'll sit back and try to figure out which one of these is more likely to happen if this steaming bag of bullshit that is being called a draft bill passes:

1. The most massive online backlash from hackers worldwide against the entertainment industry (especially from thsoe outside the U.S., who might be interested in discussing the international legal aspects of giving U.S. companies the "right" to hack them) in a digital clusterfuck that would make the Y2K scare look like the ATM ate your card, or

2. The subsequent influx of other industries declaring their need for such abilities too. Let's go beyond the aforementioned shoplifting anaology. How about the newspapers being allowed to break into your bank account if they think you took more than one paper from the vending machine? Hey, On some news sites you have to register to use them... why not let the news sites have the right to print false stories about you if you lie on the form? And do we really need traffic court... why not just let the cops come and burn yor car down during the night if you ran a stop sign earlier that afternoon.

Regardless of which of those cases are more likely, I suspect either will be necessary to point out the true meaning of this bill: this is possibly the first time the abilty to rob other people of their own rights is being taken away from restriction to law enforcement and the military and being placed in the hands of the highest bidder: an industry that has decided that their need to protect profits supercedes their support of equal protection under the law.
 

   

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

 
You might be a Red... just a Red... if...

From (insert sarcasm here) ever-so-reliable NewsMax: an alleged circa-1961 document explaining 45 ways the Communists want to destroy us all.

If this is true, and as I state openly there's much doubt to that, we can all bask in the irony of several items on the list.
 

   

Monday, July 22, 2002

 
I am a serious person always able to control my temper.

Except, of course, that I'm not. But hey, who am I to tell Hello Kitty to shut the hell up.

Oh yeah. It's the Hello Kitty Psychological Stress Test. I am not kidding. And it's not a fan thing. It's straight from the official Sanrio products site, and if my analysis of the dialogue in the site is correct, whoever wrote it is criminally insane.
 

   

 
The President of the United States has gone completely insane, Pt. 5

Oh, I missed these. Really I did.

It's one of those special Mondays in which the President has done so much to piss the country off in such a short time that I don't even have time to reflect on all of it: case in point, the recent revelation that Bush has once again found a way to fuck over overseas family planning organizations because they may or may not be helping people in ways that the President finds questionable. Insert easy leftist line about Compassionate Conservatism here.

But as you might have noticed, the above isn't really insane, more on the typical Bush level of a simple "my god this man is a complete fucking asshole" level. No, the insanity came a little earlier in the morning, when I had to deal with this news feed:

Bush, Ridge consider using Military for domestic law enforcement.

On-site reviews determine U.S. air strikes killed hundreds of Afghani civilians.

At least at the time I started writing this post, these articles were next to each other. In the same day that the president has decided that it would be a really good thing if domestic law enforcement was aided by military forces (which, as the article will inform you, is currently forbidden by yet another law that Bush and Tom Ridge want to repeal to allow the government, currently run by the ever-popular "State's Rights" party, to have even greater Federal powers) the same military has announced that they can't even do their goddamn job efficiently in another country.

As I have said multiple times before, I try really, really hard to not hate the actual, physical, tangible, individual members of the Armed Forces. Because I understand that as an individual (or, I guess, as their "Army of One") they are flawed and not some giant entity that we as a public should hate. They're human beings like you and me.

But listen, George: stuff like this is not helping me to keep thinking like that. And yes, as the Commander-in-Chief, it is fair to place the blame for the massive fuck-ups of the army on you. And likewise, this plan of yours and Ridge's is equally susceptible to your blame.

I find it hard to believe that there are actually people out there who would not find this plan to be completely and utterly insane. It's like the comment Ted Rall made in a cartoon a few weeks back about Bush picking which amendments to the Bill of Rights he can suspend next- since he won't take your right to have guns away, I guess his next step will be to force you to start quartering troops or something. I'm serious- Bush passing a law next week allowing Federal troops to stay in your home for the interest of Homeland Security. Does that sound any more or less irrational that saying that the military is now allowed to act as a domestic police force?

 

   

Saturday, July 20, 2002

 
This can in no way be good

Israeli settlers arrested for selling stolen military weaponry to Palestinian terrorists.

Ummm... yeah. Gosh. Closest I can figure is... I don't know, maybe a mordibly bad sitcom pilot? Other than that, I'm trying to figure out how exactly to look at this. I guess in a way we should be happy the settlers and the terrorists are finding a way to get along... right? By... yeah... by selling weapons to the people you want to pre-emptively launch missles against because you think they might use weapons against you.

Golly, I could have just smoked a large bag of crack right now, but this was much easier. I'm going to go rest my head now.
 

   

Friday, July 19, 2002

 
This one's... for da ladies. Oh yah.

Sorry. I just love doing the Vegas asshole lounge singer line like that. Anyway.

Got a somewhat intensive set of responses in regards to the previous post about Hillary Clinton and all that revolves around her (which, according to some, is apparently a hell of a lot.) Intensive, let me remind you, implies that the number of reader feedback e-mails I gets actuall breaks double digits in a day. So I'm not saying you SlashDotted me or anything like that.

My only real irking issue is that more than one of you seem to have this idea that Hillary couldn't be a good VP candidate because she's a woman. This is, of course, ridiculous. First of all, statistically women had a better election run in 2000 than men did: of the five women running for Senate (which though small, is still a high percentage of the what, 20 or 30 seats up that year) in the 2000 election, all of them won. Elizabeth Dole is very likely going to win in November, and there appears to be a rising wave of support in Florida for Janet Reno as governor, who I think we all agree considering her record and her state is the living epitome of a political arena in which anything she does from here to November will have absolutely no effect on most of the voters who have decidd their opinion of her months in advance. To which I can only say sorry to Janet Reno because considering the boss she had to deal with I don't think she did that bad a job.

Anyhow, here's a link from reader Tom Gevaert from AlterNet about women candidates. This is a continuation of the whole "how can so-and-so win" topic, so once again keep in mind I don't actually agree withhalf of what this article says. (The whole death penalty rationale is complete garbage. And listing "have a website" as a campaign tip? That's like listing as a tip "make sure to file for candidacy." I mean, duh.)

On a side note, I'll do my best to put up a hefty supply of stuff this week to make up for the before and after. The latter referring to me going to Canada next weekend leaving the site most likely abandoned for a few days around that time, the former to make up for the infrequent posts this week, which were a result of a busy internship interview schedule. It included two seperate interviews with Viacom. Yes, I know. What can I say, MTV needs video editors and John needs anything that can remotely relate to animation and its related software.
 

   

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

 
Just who's side am I on, anyway?

I just finished writing an overly long message on Get Donkey! (which, this level of plug deserving but not actually intended, is pretty much one of the only few sites I'll actually bother to leave messages on) in regards to the latest poll showing Democratic support for a possible Hillary Clinton involvement in the 2004 Presidential ticket. As always, the first reaction for centrist and leftist Democrats is to scream in terror. As one of the Burros pointed out, "the Right would go nuclear to prevent her from winning."

To which I say basically two things: one, would anyone out there please explain to me how the Right has not already "gone nuclear" to prevent her from doing anything from buying a house to running for political office to the color of her conservative but oh-so-modern-woman suit that day; and two... well, here's the post I wrote:

---------

There is a strong resentment for Hillary Clinton in the Right Wing.

So in terms of Democratic votes, who in the blankety-fuck cares? The most massive of all fallacies in both Clinton campaigns was the half-assed idealogy that Clinton could ever, EVER appease the conservative vote. It's complete bull.

The fact is, anyone voting against the DNC just because of Hillary is the person who would vote against Hillary even if she DIDN'T RUN- just because they HATE her that badly for no describable reason. To tell me that there isn't a nearly equal sentiment on the left against George Bush is a hard pill to force-feed me.

We have all seen the spin starting on the media: Gore's most likely platform is going to be the "everything was better under Clinton" campaign. How else better to strenghten Democratic resolve, as well as give the most blatantly unavoidable Fuck You to the right wing (primarily the fiscal conservatives and the psychotic "Death to the Socialist" corporate-whores in the right wing) than actually have a Clinton back on the ticket?

This article from Steve Neal at the Chicago Sun-Times covers most of what I didn't about this as well, mainly the entire "namesake" issue. If there is anything in this world that is fueled by overt symbolism, it's politics. And trust me, "Gore/Clinton" is beyond edible to the masses.

Finally, you've got the unification factor: left-wing Democrats love Hillary Clinton. Michael Moore, who helped run the Nader campaign, voted for Hillary Clinton over the Green Party candidate, and follwed up by writing a lengthy article about why he did it.

I'm not saying I actually endorse this plan, but I'm saying someone other than this virtually unknown cartoonist has got to be thinking it as well: the combination of Gore and the "Nader's Fault" militia courtesy of people like MWO (who regardless of your level of support for them we can all agree really, really need a hug) with the Right Wing's own successful job of making Clinton look like a Socialist will utterly destroy any support for Nader.

That said, here's one more fun activity which I call "how to make blood shoot out of your nose." Ready? Okay. Concentrate.... Hillary Clinton. Dick Cheney. Vice-Presidential Debate. I'll leave you with that.

---------


Now I'll point out to everyone again that in no way (oh sweet Jesus, in no way!) is this an actual endorsement for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton as the 2004 DNC ticket, merely an unbiased, unrestricted, and completely and utterly unresearched analysis from, as mentioned before, a 21-year old college student with the political mentality roughly equal to that of the new burritos at Taco Bell. So take this all with a grain of salt (or the overly large amount of Sodium in aforementioned fast food products. This post has officially gone off track and shall end now.)
 

   

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

 
Updates TBA

In regards to the strange occurance of a handful of people who are actually asking about the older essays that were on previous versions of the site over a year ago, I say only two things: 1. Jesus Christ, I have people who have been fans for over a year? and 2. I will add them to the archives and notify y'all whenever that happens.

With September (and therefore the return of the actual namesake of this site, the comics) fastly approaching, other possible changes and updates will be examined as well. Don't worry, nothing drastic or anything.
 

   

Monday, July 15, 2002

 
Boy, it's a good thing for them there's not an election in three months or anything.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans. Let the word reach out from sea to shining sea. For truly we have reached a momentous occasion in American politics, and for the future of hot-issue punditry for decades to come.

The Republican Party has gone officially insane.

Capitol Hill lawmakers rushed over the weekend to put Public Broadcasting System on notice that it better think twice before bringing to America a new, HIV-infected Muppet developed for audiences in AIDS-ravaged South Africa.

In a letter dispatched to PBS president Pat Mitchell, Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-LA) and the five other Republicans leading the influential House Commerce Committee raised several concerns about the Muppet. They also reminded that the panel has budgetary oversight of the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, which in turn provides funds to PBS.

Tauzin, chairman of the commerce committee, gave Mitchell until Friday to answer several questions, including the amount of money PBS dedicates to "Sesame Street" and any funds specifically earmarked for the new Muppet. The politicians also want to know if there are any plans to introduce the Muppet in the U.S., and any role corporate underwriters might play in the decision-making process.

For those of you only taking a casual glance and can't read the upper part of the screen now that they've done the double-take and have spit their coffee all over their monitors, yes. You did read that correctly.

The GOP is publicly threatening the nation's longest-running and most beloved children's program.

Because they disagree with a Muppet.

In Africa.

Now, there would have been a time where I would have sat here and debated in my mind the possible issues that might be affecting the concept of how and HIV-addled Muppet might affect our nation's youth.

Perhaps, in some attempt at rational fear, the Republicans were momentarily haunted by the images of the Muppet actually receiving the AIDS virus on national television in some way (in a scene which, long-overdue, addresses the rampant crisis in the Muppet world of drug use and unprotected, primarily homosexual sex.)

Perhaps, they feared the emotional backlash to their own children if they see a Muppet that their children love so much go on television and say they have a disease that their mommies and daddies told them is given to them by God as punishment for sinning, thus shattering the previous Papal doctrine instituted in 1971 that declared Grover as a symbol of Christian purity.

Perhaps they are trying to make a pre-emptive strike against yet another example of the ever-popular South African entertainment industry that is ever-spreading across the ocean and further dissolving the American cultural heritage that NASCAR spent so much time building up to create our own national identity.

Or perhaps, in homage to the tradition of Muppets having a hand up their ass, a large handful of Republican congressmen decided to see what their heads would feel like up there.
 

   

 
What?

Bush compares economic crisis to binge drinking.

In remarks intended to restore confidence in the American economy after a series of corporate accounting scandals, the president's most colorful words were about economic troubles. "In order for us to have the security we all want, America must get rid of the hangover that we now have as a result of the binge, the economic binge, we just went through," Bush said.

This from a guy who recovered from a hangover by being arrested three times, waiting until he was 40 to stop "being young and irresponsible," and claim his divine requirement to never drink again, but that in no way does that mean he's an alcoholic.

Dave and Jay are going to serve this one with A-1 Steak Sauce tonight, aren't they?
 

   

 
I'd crap my pants over this, but then Mom might be watching

Reader Tyler Bishop alerts me to this story:

The Bush Administration aims to recruit millions of United States citizens as domestic informants in a program likely to alarm civil liberties groups.

The Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS, means the US will have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. The program would use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report "suspicious activity".

A pilot program, described on the government Web site www.citizencorps.gov, is scheduled to start next month in 10 cities, with 1 million informants participating in the first stage. Assuming the program is initiated in the 10 largest US cities, that will be 1 million informants for a total population of almost 24 million, or one in 24 people.

So, this may or may not be the dumbest thing since Duck and Cover, but I'm sure I won't be called to be part of this program. Hey, that's a thought. SInce I get a couple hundred of you reading this site, that means at least a handful of you are reporting me to the government! Hey, can you do me a favor and report me to other web sites so I can get a couple of job offers or something too? Umm... yay America? Huh? Huh?

Update: Tom just wrote about the same thing, and as always, in a much more informative and introspective manner than I usually provide. That's why he makes the big bucks, you know.
 

   

 
Well I guess we need to make more than a few things straight here

Just in case you were worried that the people of this unified country might have actually stopped being utterly horrible to each other, a judge has ruled that a gay man may not visit his children if he lives with another man.

Theron McGriff, a chemist, has asked the high court to examine [Idaho judge] Riddoch´s decision to award full custody of his two school-age children to his former wife, Shawn McGriff.

Riddoch ruled that Shawn McGriff be awarded primary legal and physical custody of the children, and Theron McGriff receive visitation rights "providing Father is not residing in the same house with his male partner."

McGriff, 38, and his partner recently bought a house together. Because of the ruling, McGriff´s partner moved into a mobile home in front of the house.

Shawn McGriff´s attorney said the mother´s biggest concern was how Theron´s homosexuality would affect the children.

And we'll just stop right there. Shawn, let's chat, shall we? Just you and me, white male East-coast cartoonist to ignorant Midwestern homohobic mother.

I think I'd like to start off by congratulating you on your tremendous use of conservative family values in the interests of protecting your children. After all, in today's world, there is nothing more important that making sure your children are brought up in a caring, well-nutured environment. Which makes me so glad to hear you've told your children that they're not allowed to ever see their daddy because you believe he's got a horrible problem which makes him a danger to them. Oh, and the decision to raise them as a single parent without any involvement from the father. That's some wise parenting for you.

(Now, before I get the hate mail, let me explain here that I'm not saying kids can't be brought up well with only one parent. I am, as the latter half of my life has shown, one of the many cases of proof that every now and then living with and being raised by only one parent does not make you too fucked up. Save for the whole emotional trauma and long-term obesity and social disorders and now that I think about it my parents' overly-long, irrational and occasiaonal litigiously slanderous divorce was probably the worst thing that ever happened in my life so why don't we forget I wrote this paragraph.)

So anyway, let's just assume that you're the world's greatest parent- and it's very likely, what with insisting that your children not be allowed to see their obviously loving and concerned-for-their-well-being father and all- and say, just for the hell of it, raising them relatively on your own won't be detrimental to their upbringing. Just what the hell are you and your equally ignorant lawyer thinking when they say that your concern is the children being exposed to their homosexual dad?

Did you read the article I read, Ma? Are you going to actually find ways to prevent your children from "being exposed to the homosexual lifestyle?" Are you going to file for a restraining order against any and all possible partners your ex-husband might have? The guy's current partner is willing to legally reside in a goddamn trailer to supercede whatever dipshit ruling this judge wants to make against your ex-husband, which makes it look in my eyes as if he seems to be handling the obvious sociological concerns about two gay men spending time with a kid that you seem to be handling the psychological implications of realizing that your husband would, apparently, from now on rather fuck other men than you. Is that an actual factor in your reasoning for this horrendous lawsuit? I don't know, but I sincerely doubt both you and your lawyer didn't sit down and at no point even suggested the notion that mentioning how Daddy was gay might be a great way to leverage the ruling for custody in your favor.

Am I going to address the custody issue? No, because I don't know anything about that. I think you're a homophobe, but I certainly have no evidence to prove you don't love your children as much as he does- you just have a fucked-up sense of other people's personal lives. I'm addressing the visitation issue, and your ex-husband and his partner's dignity. No judge has any right to tell a parent who is physically, mentally, and emotionally stable that he has no right to see his or her children. No judge has the right to tell those children that the can't see their parent because their parent's personal live disgusts them personally. And no psycholgist has any right to tell a court that the homosexual lifestyle has an emotional or psychological effect on a child, because when it comes to divorce and split homes, trust me and millions of other former latchkey children: there's absolutely nothing gay people could do to make the situation any more fucked-up than the straight people have already made it. So why not cut this bullshit and let your children be brought up by two parents: if you truly cared, then you'd realize that doing the best for your children is more important that doing your worst to your ex-husband.
 

   

Friday, July 12, 2002

 
Ummm.... yay?

It's back.


Y'know, this is what I love about New York. It's the only place where you can have landmarks finally be re-opened for public viewing and just feel... a little special. Excuse me, I... (sniff)... I need to go off and cry for a moment. Out of joy, of course. Sure.

(For the record, or moreover for those with bad eyesight, the sign reads, or did at the time of this photograph, $6,116,272,083,627, or $66,791 per family)
 

   

 
More weekend mail-on-mail action

From Barry Routh, in regards to being completely fucked:

You think you're fucked? I live 4.1 miles from I5, which is I find a major Nuclear waste route. There are major truck accidents every three or four months along that stretch of I5. Of course I live ON the san Andreas fault here on the left coast, So I face the prospect of being buried in a quake with a few tons of radioactive waste. Just another perfect day.

Well, that'soptimistic. More detail from Todd Jaszewski:

First, I'd like to mention that I'm not arguing your point about the government being exceptionally stupid by implementing this project which, as you pointed out, is already an effective failure before it's even begun. There are a couple other things to mention, though. People have a tendency to greatly exaggerate the potential effects of "nuclear waste."

Speaking as someone who has completed radioactive isotope safety courses and is certified to handle these isotopes (and have, in the past), I have to claim that the transport of these materials is far less hazardous than the general public is led to believe by watchdog groups. Admittedly, it is not safe - a spill involving this material would, indeed, be hazardous to the environment and evacuations would be more than justified (hopefully encouraged), but much radioactive waste in the nation is not the harmful, world-altering material used in missiles and bombs for the purpose of mass-destruction. Much more is low-emission material used for scientific purposes, which is regulated and prepared to maximize safety.

I believe, though, a significant point is being overlooked. If all this material is condensed into one spot, the hazardous and non-hazardous combined, we're making a very significant target that anyone, terrorist or hostile nation, may wish to strike. This is not good, particularly considering the location of the site isn't exactly a national secret. My worries stem from this fact more than any other, as any "accident" involving such a store of radioactive material would be disastrous and detrimental to anything within breathing distance.

So, as I explained to him earlier, instead of worrying about the means of this possible disaster, we merely need to be looking at the ends of it. Oh goody.

And finally, an e-mail from Ramsey M. Arnaoot, who has, I humbly admit, has called me on a grave error I made in a previous post. I will reprint her e-mail here, and frankly all I can say is how sorry I am to have possibly misled my readers, and my country, by making such an erroneous false accusation.

First of all, cheers to you for your weblog, which often broadcasts logical and prudent opinions. It will probably disappoint you that I am taking the time to write this email on the subject of the word orifice.

Etymologically the english word "orifice" is taken from the latin "orificium" - however, I would like to stress that "orifice" is now an english word, NOT a latin one, and its plural is formed in the same manner as the VAST majority of english nouns: simply add an "s". Thus the plural is orifices. Forming a plural in english is not a matter of great anxiety; the exceptions to our general rule are few, and they are noted in any common dictionary. Mouse-mice, goose-geese, et cetera. "Orificium" is a latin neuter singular noun - thus the plural would be "orificia" - (just as datum -> data); orificium itself is NOT a plural form and could NEVER be construed as such.

So, what I said that all of you were wrong, well I'm wrong. Some of you might be right. Unless Ramsey is wrong. In which case, maybe we should all agree to stop talking about this.

 

   

Thursday, July 11, 2002

 
God's not dead, he's just politically dormant!

Two bills currently being debated in the U. S. Congress would allow churches to spend their funds on political campaigns and to endorse political candidates.

H.R. 2357, sponsored by Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C.), would remove a longstanding rule that banned churches from using tax-exempt revenue to fund political campaigns.

H.R. 2931, sponsored by Philip Crane (R-Ill.), would apply a "bright line test" under which churches could spend up to 20 percent of their budgets on lobbying and 5 percent on campaigns, with the maximum political expenditures not to exceed 20 percent. Crane has previously sponsored legislation mandating the posting of the Ten Commandments in the chambers of the U.S. House and Senate.

Jones and Crane both have maintained strong relationships with religiously conservative groups such as American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which was founded by Christian Coalition leader, Pat Robertson. The name is an obvious knock-off of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

...[S]everal churches and religious organizations including the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the American Jewish Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, all oppose the bills.

The full story here. And I suppose it goes without saying that this is, of course, this week's most horrible concept ever.
 

   

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

 
We are all completely fucked. That is all.


What you are looking at, via the MapScience Center, is a map depicting the proposed route for nuclear waste deliveries to the now-approved Yucca Mountain facility.

I can say only one thing about the ruling that the site doesn't: it is obvious, without question, that any senator who actually voted to approve this unholy violation of logic and human safety did so for one (or both) of only two reasons: they are either completely in bed with the nuclear power industry, or they have enacted the greatest of "Not In My Back Yard" reasoning to avoid having nuclear waste eventually stored in their state.

Every other issue can be addressed through the MapScience site, which allows you to enter your street address and, like the example of my home town shown above, be provided with a detailed map showing exactly how close you are now going to be to nuclear waste.

Deadly radioactive material. Passing by your home. At constant intervals. For over twenty years. Since, as I mentioned before, the NIMBY ideology started this mess, I think it's a valuable resource to provide anyone with that line of thinking with a visual aid as to how goddamn stupid this project is.

My "favorite," if that's what one could call it, part of the site is the link provided in the map to a list of the closest nuclear plants to your home, how far away they are to you, and how much nuclear waste is going to be left there even after Yucca Mountain is filled.

Some of you may not have followed me on that. I'll repeat it, because there is no doubt in my mind that this bears repeating to make sure you are all completely aware of it:

This site lists, by the metric ton, how much nuclear waste will stay in your home state after the completion of the Yucca Mountain project- a project created allegedly to condense all the nuclear waste into one area. Which means, essentially, that ten years before the project is even planned to begin it is already an effective failure- in fact, the problem if anything will now be escalated by the frequent movement of countless tons of the what is quite possible the most deadly thing know to humankind in and out of 43 different states.

So, to repeat: we are all monstrously fucked. Please direct any further inquiries to the aforementioned site that provides more details about how fucked we are than my humble apocalyptic ranting.
 

   

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

 
Well, that pretty much makes sense, doesn't it?

Bush proposes increase in "corporate responsibility," Dow Jones drops 178 points.

Does anyone else find that mildy humorous?
 

   

 
Stupid Ignorant, racist, violent white men

Watching "Talkback Live" this afternoon, I realized at the end of the first segment that five different white people had all delivered some derivation of the line "we need to know what wasn't seen on the video." How zen-like. I'm simply amazed at how many white people seem to be concerned about this issue as opposed to everyone else, who, understandably, are much more concerned about why in the name of Christ a sixteen-year old human being was beaten against the hood of a police car by four officers after being handcuffed.

I remember seeing on TV from the 2000 Democratic National Convention a video of an anti-globalization protestor- a young white blonde man, most likely no older than his early 20's- throwing a firecracker or smoke bomb of some sort into the window of a police officer's car. The video continued to show the surrounding crowd freaking out and screaming at the targeted police officer who subsequently threw open the door to his cruiser and immediately drew and aimed his gun at the boy's face. The issue discussed that night was not of the officer's right to immediately respond and subdue a suspect who, for all intensive purposes, just attacked a police officer with an incendiary device, but rather his right to immediately bypass physical contact or his nightclub and go straight to threatening deadly force in order to subdue the protestor.

I mention it because incidents like these, despite what my fellow Caucasians have been saying every five minutes or so on CNN, do seem to have race as a factor in the scope of opinion: the common opinion towards the predominantly-white anti-WTO protestors is that they are college-liberal hippies who need to have respect for the American Capitalist system beaten into them. (Translated: they deserve to be beaten through excessive police force) The common opinion towards incidents of black men beaten and/or killed by enraged police officers is that they were street thugs who had it coming, and we need to see more of the video to prove that the violent (insert epithet here) performed some act of violence that necessitated the police returning the favor tenfold. (Translated: they deserve to be beaten through excessive police force)

The incidents are similar through the general opinion of "God-loving and/or -fearing Americans" that the suspects needed to be taught a lesson in American justice. Oh, and they need to get jobs. Apparently, as Enron and Worldcom is proving, it is vitally important to get a good job and make lots of money as a deterrent to committing crime. The difference, you'll notice, is that whites are given the benefit of the doubt, blacks are not. The white kid is accused of not realizing his potential in the American economy; the black kid is assumed to most likely have committed a criminal act. The white boy needs to leave college and "enter the real world" and get a job; the black boy needs to be beaten and thrown in jail because he obviously wants to be a criminal.

It's amazing, because I remember this video from 2000 where we see, plain as day, what motivated a cop to use excessive force and brutalize a suspect, and at the very least we can say it was zeal in attempting to subdue someone. Today, we have a video of an already-restrained 16-year old and whites are screaming for as much validation as possible to their inherent belief that this black animal was being violent.

And yes, that's exactly what they're looking for, and they're not trying to hide it either. Kudos to the National Review's Jonah Goldberg, who as we all know loves those minorities (as his classic tirade against Asians proved- the one with such lines as how he hates the Chinese government because "they put MSG in everything") for being the first white guy on national television to remind all of us that Rodney King was a drug user and had a previous criminal record at the time a handful of LAPD officers beat the living hell out of him for several minutes. Because, as Goldberg was obvious trying to imply and relate to this case as well, that somehow fucking matters.

Well, guess what? It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if this kid had struck an officer, it doesn't matter if he tried to pull a weapon on him, it doesn't matter if he insulted him, or attempted to use psychic powers on him, or even if he fucking asked the officer to beat the crap out of him. There is no excuse for a uniformed, allegedly trained member of the police force to physically assault a handcuffed man.

I understand that there's almost no excuse to fight a police officer, and there's no excuse for anyone to throw a firecracker into anyone's car, but the reason we have and maintain a trained police force is just that- they are trained. It is their job to be able to hold back the desire that the average American apparently has- that of instantly and violently countering any physical action taken against us. It is not their job to beat the crap out of a black boy in an incident that, to be frank, just makes it too damned easy to point out the racism and inner desire of biased violence against minorities that exists in America.
 

   

 
Completely useless update

Just to let you know, after extensive research it has been discovered that the plural of "orifice" is "orificium", from the Latin root, maintained due to its most common use in medical terminology.

My thanks to all those who wrote me to suggest the answer to this riddle, despite the fact that absolutely none of you got it right.
 

   

 
I have absolutely no idea how to respond to this article

...Pete G. Peterson, Blackstone Group co-founder and former U.S. Commerce secretary; John Snow, chairman and CEO of CSX Corp.; and Felix Rohatyn, a former Lazard Freres partner. All are calling for rapid, bold institutional and legal reforms to revive investor confidence. But these financial giants are discovering that if they want to save capitalism from itself, they'll have to rely on liberals to lead the way.

That's right. Apparently, corporate owners are starting to assume that since conservatives in Washington obviously have no intention of giving even the smallest of rat's asses about stopping corporate crime (to the owners' credit, not all corporate crime, just, apparently, the ones that lead to bankrupcy and therefore potential profit loss- the horror) it is now being asked of liberals to help. I am pretty sure I got that right. Therefore, I am pretty sure my head will begin to spurt blood from random... whatever the plural of "orifice" is. (Orifices? Orifici? Whatever.)

The full article, entitled (again with the spurting blood) "Capitalism's Best Pals: Liberals," via the Los Angeles Times.
 

   

 
Well of course I got canned

Since it was such a unique experience, about the aforementioned jury duty: what I expected to happen, happened. It just took a hell of a lot longer than I expected.

In Bergen County, jury duty assignments are given in the "one day or one trial" format, which means you and 399 or so people are put in a big room. Then, they show you a really condescending video that takes about 15 minutes and half your brain cells to deliver all the information to the three or four people who have never watched TV in the last fifteen years and therefore never seen a single legal drama/comedy show that explains (lo and behold) the basics of the legal system. In actuality, the only information the video provided was to mention several times what you can't that you tend to see on the legal shows (such as go on your own to visit scenes of crimes and stuff like that.) The court representatives then leave all 400 of you in the big room for about two hours with nothing but the TV, which the highly intelligent and educated people that are the potential deciders of other peoples' fates almost unanimously decide to switch on to whatever channel is showing Ricki Lake.

Despite being ordered to show up at the big room at 8:15 AM, you are not going to be called to any courtrooms for another two hours or so, since of course the judges have no reason to be there that damned early. Eventually, the actually process starts: in groups of about 30 or 40, you're taken to the various courtrooms in the courthouse where the jury selection process. The judge explains the case and calls people at random from his list of the 30 or 40 of you in the room to take jury seats. Then you are asked questions by the judge to determine if you are unfit to be a juror in this case.

Now, here's the tricky part, and the one that explains the whole "one day or one trial" concept. if you are excused as said above, you don't get to go home- you get to go back to the big room and wait some more. Hence, you are either serving for the trial you get assigned to, or you are sitting in the room for the entire day. Which I got to do. more on this in a moment.

If you pass the basics from the judge, the lawyers then have the option to make a peremptory challenge- essentially it means they can ask the judge to remove any juror they want from the jury and invite a new person left from the group of 30 to take your place and be tested in the same manner. They do not have to provide any reason for this, which solidifies my belief that this concept was created for the purpose of allowing lawyers to get rid of minorities on the jury without actually openly violating the Civil Rights Act. If any lawyers want to explain otherwise, please become a consultant for the latest TV legal show, because it'll be a much better way to reach a mass audience than by e-mailing me.

I never made it to the jury box in the first courtroom I entered. The second time, I got up there. I was in the main courtroom for jury selection in a criminal trial, which meant, of course, that a minority was charged and the world's whitest man was the prosecuting attorney, and was making it his goal to prevent a dingle black person from being on the jury.

Not to mention, of course, liberal college students. This is the actual course of events when my name was called to take a seat in jury seat number 10: the judge told me before I sit down to state my name and my occupation. My exact response: "I am a student at New York University, but I'm currently home for summer break."

The instant the judge told me to have a seat, the prosecutor turned to the judge and said "the state asks to strike juror number 10." Apparently NYU is one of those schools. And that was my grand experience on a jury. I'm also going to get a check in the mail for five bucks, which would be more exciting if I didn't have to pay seven for lunch at the courthouse cafeteria.

So, feel free to take a look at my previous post, where I mentioned how I expected to be struck before I even warmed the seat of the jury chair. I'm glad to report I did not disappoint- I didn't even get to sit down before I got kicked out of the courtroom.
 

   

Sunday, July 07, 2002

 
Safe holidays?

For starters, let me make the wonderful announcement that in the midst of returning from the lapse in posts, I have to say that tomorrow morning there might be another one, as I have to report to the Bergen County Courthouse at 8:15 AM for jury duty. I am almost 100% positive that the combination of being a college student, having taken law courses, and, of course, showing a remote level of judicial liberalism will get me stricken from the jury pool before my ass even warms the seat they direct me to, but we'll se what we shall see. I'm not in a position to com up with cute or clever ways to get out of it, because technically I was supposed to go the jury duty four weeks ago. I overslept. So the court people very politely gave me a new reporting time and (again, very politely) explained that if I missed this one they would pretty much send a Federal Marshall over to my house to take me to the courthouse, which frankly, I think, would bother the cats.

But anyway, a few things about the 4th. First of all, the America's Army game came out. There has, as I'm sure some of you have heard by now, been a huge debate going on about whether or not we as a public should all be worried about a Federally-funded, Army-sponsored computer game directed towards children that teaches them specifically and realistically how to be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Okay, that said, even reading that five seconds after I typed it sends a chill down my goddamn spine.

So I felt I should register my opinion on this (significant voice of reason that I am, of course:) I'm not as much worried about the game than I am the blatant hypocrisy of our government officials.

When games like Unreal or Quake come out, there is a massive outcry among members of the Senate (not that I'll name anyone specific. okay, he looks kind of like Droopy. and his name is Joe Lieberman. No more hints) about how these games are violent. These were the people that wanted to find out what games were on the computers of the killers at Columbine High School, to see if they inspired them to kill students. Now, apparently, not a single elected official in Washington raises a single eyebrow about a game, which, mind you, is very easy to access without any age-related failsafes- you download it for free off the Army's website- that teaches one all the aspects of military tactics, including the use of various firearms, and that touts its realism as a key factor of enjoyable playing. In other words, a game that vividly and descriptively instructs children of all ages how to use a high-powered rifle is in no way dangerous or threatening, but games that teach you the intricate details of plasma-fusion energy cannons fired from the platforms you reach using your anti-grav boots are dangerous to our nation's youth. Of course.

The other story of the 4th, of course, was the ongoing coverage of how much increased security was put in place over all our nation's blah blah blah and then it turned out that in the midst of all the increased security Saddam Hussein's nephew was training at the Florida flight school one of the 9/11 terrorists attended. To which I can only say I think about the true security of our nation and feel very, very sad.

That said, I was going to make this argument before, but I'll address it now: why do we actually increase security on holidays? Didn't September 11th prove that the terrorists will strike at any time regardless of days we, their enemy, find significant? I mean, I understand basic security increases for things like, say, New Year's or a major sporting event like the Super Bowl or the Olympics- because huge groups of people are going to be condensed into one place providing and easy body-count target. We don't have this fear on the Fourth of July.

Look at the news. No terrorist attacks. No threats. The only event even remotely capable of being construed as a terrorism-related event would have occurred regardless of security levels that day. And right now, the only people adamant on the belief that what this guy did was a terrorist act is the Israeli government. For what reasons, I don't know. My closest guess is that they want to call it a terrorist attack as an excuse to invade Los Angeles and eliminate possible enemies of Israel. Which in itself is ironic because most people who vehemently hate Israel think the Jews have all invaded Los Angeles years ago. Okay, I just made two very terrible jokes in a row.

Forgive me for saying this openly, but I doubt it hasn't been thought before, and frankly if terrorists are looking at this site for tips then I think we've won the War already, but wouldn't the best day for terrorists to attack us be July 5? I mean, think about it: we'd all have been talking about how we managed to get through a holiday with no terrorism threats, security would be decreased to normal levels again, and everyone would be in a relaxed, less-aware state. Then we get hit. I'm not saying I want this to happen, I'm just saying it makes a fuck of a lot more sense than believing that terrorists are going to strike on days when we as a people are at both are highest level of security and a level of such high patriotism that if anyone actually did do something to us, we'd decimate them with such righteous anger that other nations would piss their pants watching it on the news.

All I'm saying is keep in mind that terrorists, as their name implies, are trying to terrorize people. And I'm sick of hearing about all this security needs to be put into place because we think we know when we're going to be terrorized. Yes, they care about symbolism, but they care more about their symbolism, not ours. They are going to choose killing lots of people on a random unexpected day over killing a few (due to being highly-guarded) people on a specific expected day. So Until we actually start working on real global solutions to stop people from wanting to be terrorists in the first place, every goddamn day of the year is a day where we should be at "increased security."
 

   

Friday, July 05, 2002

 
Still in the midst of holiday relaxation... right... because I'm doing so much this summer usually... but I'll post an article I found from ESPN. No, it's not about Ted Williams. It's about the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Folks, very rarely does an article come along that contains so much crap you never needed to hear in your life in such a small article. In what has to be less than a thousand words, we have been given a true story that contains all of the following actual quotes:

  • scarfing down 50 1/2 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes

  • weighed 113 pounds before the contest and almost 120 pounds after

  • Internet gamblers ... favored him to win by 20 hot dogs

  • body heaved as his cheeks ballooned with remnants

  • a roman-method incident (the IFOCE's term for regurgitating)

  • some hot dog slush did spill through Kobayashi's fingers and pieces of liquid bun spouted out of his nose

  • guys last year were yelling and screaming 'drugs, drugs, drugs'

  • competitors complained he had two stomachs

Well then. I'm off. Revel in this, a true example of quality informative journalism.
 

   

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

 
From corollary to shining corollary

It's like a chain or something: now there's an update on the update from two posts ago. Yet another thoughtful contribution from Eduardo, in regards to the school in Alabama we discussed yesterday:

I hadn't heard anything about the Alabama pledge case until I read it on your site, which I find particularly interesting because I live just outside Birmingham. I would, however, like to reaffirm your confidence in our glorious state and confirm two points:

1. Yes, elementary and middle school students are forced to say the pledge. I had no idea it wasn't required until high school, at which point I promptly stopped doing it.

2. Yes, some schools (HIGH SCHOOLS, no less) still use corporal punishment, but the majority do not. I know of two in this district that use paddling as an alternative to detention, but I'm sure the numbers are higher out in other counties. Walker County, the district in which this incident occured, is one of those stereotypical backwater redneck places you don't take rafting trips in, so it's not really much of a surprise that this kind of thing would go on.

Finally, there's a quote near the end of the article that I'm taking to task here. The defense attorney offered the following to the three-judge panel: "After the pledge, he said, a number of students told the teacher that they didn't like what Holloman did and said his act disturbed them while they were saying the pledge."

Pardon my French, but bull-fucking-shit. Alabama may be known for its ultra conservative and predominant redneck culture, but as an average high school graduate I can say with 100% certainty not a single student complained. Even the people who would stand for the pledge never paid any attention to what was going on. They stood, they crossed their hand on their chest, they mumbled the message from their rote memory, then they dropped back in their seat and tried to finish the homework that would be due in a few minutes.

No one was disturbed. I doubt anyone even noticed except the teacher who apparantly had nothing better to do (Like, say, teaching?)

That said, enjoy your holiday, folks, here in the land of beating minorities and compulsory religion.
 

   

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

 
More from the Legal Department

An update on the last post: one or two people wrote to express their views on my last set of points somewhere along the theme of not understanding any of them. Strange, as after reading it again myself it doesn't seem to make any less (or for that matter, more) sense than anything else I've written.

However, to clarify: among others, a significant point I was trying to make is that in the wake of outrage over the Pledge of Allegiance controversy and rulings that make so many people somehow afraid that all these retarded killers are now not going to be put to justice, or something like that, conservatives who have for decades been crying for legal and tort reform (in a desire to limit the ability to make businesses suffer for improper behavior) in a belief that lawyers are abusing their power are refusing to accept that judges and other authority figures are equally abusing power.

Essentially, there are three main entities of direct superiority in this country: mentors, employers, and legal/political authorities. My point was that seing how we all know one of those three, employers, have proven repeatedly that they abuse their power, how is it illogical to assume that the other two do not do the same? Yet when someone accuses an employer for an abuse of power (such as lawsuits against the Tobacco Industry or protests against Free Trade) there is a wild conservative-led cry for tort reform to prevent "frivilous lawsuits" or a dismissal of the accusers as "radical extremists." When someone accuses a teacher or politician of abusing power, conservatives do one of two things: praise the "reaffirming power" of judges or teachers who give out harsh (translated: stupid) decisions such as the ones I linked to yesterday, or (primarily when it involves Democratic politicians) insist that any action commited that could be remotely be construed as an "abuse of power" mandates the accused be immediately disbarred, discharged, dismissed and/or destroyed.

That said, I've been pointed to two such cases that have come up since my last post: first, in an apparent lapse of forgetfulness that the Cold War ended about ten years ago, a sewing plant fired a man for being a Communist, and as the article points out, not for promoting Communism at work, but merely for running in a local election as the candidate for the Socialist Party. Second, reader Michael Brewer alerts me to this incident in which an Alabama student was disciplined for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. We won't even address the second issue the article points out, that being Alabama apparently still maintaining the right to physically abuse students under the care of its public education system.

In other words, both cases involve authority figures invoking their said authority to punish subordinates, and almost in the same way: both incidents involve people who are accused of "disruption" by acting in adherence to their First Amendment rights. Yet despite the similarity of the abuse of power in each case, Conservatives will have a different spin because of the nature of the authority figure.
 

   

 
Fine, let's talk judicial reform

Before I get into this, I'd like to apologize for any possible lapses in responding to e-mails or posting as frequently for the next few days. Aside from the holiday this week, I have somehow developed a strange case of insomnia as a result of literally missing an entire night's sleep to watch the World Cup at 6:30 AM EST Sunday morning. Also, the whole "punchier than that time I was whacked out on codeine after dental surgery" thing adds to the random ranting in this post, so bear with me.

I'm decided in my weirded-out state that I can't understand how people in this country decide to have opinions about the legal system. This is a combination of a few recent news items, one of them of course being the whole Pledge of Allegiance thing, as well as yet another story about a judge who has given a "creative" sentence. Apparently to alleviate the whole boring mindless tedium that comes with holding the lives of other human beings in your hands and stuff like that. This story can be linked to yet another recent news item that people have debated recently in the form of the thought I had when reading this story: this is why the Supreme Court won't let judges give out the death penalty anymore.

The first thing that I compare this too is the sudden conservative flip-flop when the judgments don't seem to be hate-motivated. Conservatives who have railed on the "unfairness" of hate crime legislation (which can lead to harsher-than-normal judgments against criminals who committed crimes specifically because of the race of the victim) suddenly talk about how great the legal system would be if we, for example, caned people like in Singapore, or when the woman is forced to be chained to her misbehaving daughter with a 12-foot chain, or, in a ruling which brings fond memories of ancient times when slaves were forced to kill each other for the pleasure of the Roman aristocracy, when the criminal's prison sentence is contingent on how well he places in an athletic competition.

Along with performing physical challenges at the behest of an audience, judges have apparently found no problem with turning back the clock a few hundred years to the European disciplinary ideals of public humiliation, such as this recent case where an unruly student was instructed to show up in old clothes and goggles and allow his classmates to throw jelly at him. I'm not kidding.

In addition to the utter absurdity and blatant abuses of authority these actions display, what makes the running ruling and the public apology ruling disturbing is that this comes from the same judge, who obviously has proven two things: he is either bored or feels himself too good for his job, and in either case he is unfit to have it.

If a judge feels a defendant was convicted of a crime so minor it doesn't merit a harsh sentence, than the judge should realize that the action shouldn't be considered a crime. If the judge feels he or she doesn't deserve jail, then sentence them to community service or something that remotely relates to rehabilitation or contribution to the bettering of society. Precedent is not established by creating obscure sentences reminiscent of a physical challenge one would watch on some televised Japanese game show at 2 in the morning. "Well, Mr. Smith, you can avoid a 30-day jail term, all you have to do is eat these five tubs of cool-whip in les than a minute!" (Those of you interested in Japanese insane-stunt game shows are advised to, like me, develop horrific painful insomnia.) The laws of this country don't provide such power to the Judicial Branch as to allieviate their belief that they are somehow the new host of Double Dare. They do, however, allow people to determine when people are mentally incapable of performing their duties, and I fail to see how no one's brought that concept to this judge's attention.

So, relate this to the whole Pledge controversy: a talking point of choice for the fanatic pro-God pundits was that since the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that no student can be forced to recite the Pledge, then the godless liberals have no right saying that those who choose to say it are violating church and state. What I said in the previous paragraph proves something, and it's something I hate to say because I wholeheartedly support the public education system: many teachers, like many judges, know they can put the rules aside and make those who they have direct control over do whatever they want them to do.

Right-wing pundits like Genevieve Wood (who I mention because she said this four days ago on Politically Incorrect, so I'm not just referencing stuff from 1998) are still using the line that Clinton's failure to receive "punishment" for his "crime" have led the youth of the nation to believe that they can now "get away with 'it.'" The highly insane pundits have applied this logic as far as Enron (yes, this is true: there are people allowed on television who say to the cameras that Key Lay fucked thousands of people because Clinton taught him he could get away with by fucking one) but always focus on how this can cause more actions by the accused.

And there's the problem: these incidents all show that more scrutiny needs to be applied to the accusers as well. There are too many judges that have decided that just because "cruel and unusual" makes a ruling improper, apparently being just cruel or just unusual is acceptable. And there are, sadly, too many teachers who feel that their role as disciplinarian extends beyond an educational level. In same cases, it should, but I fail to see how such a case involves instructing students to hurl food products at each other.
 

   

Monday, July 01, 2002

 
It begins. And let's remember, we're officially a nation under God now. So let's see how fast about, oh I'd say, maybe 85 percent of Congress suddenly decides to ignore what happened to his son and all that stuff.