Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bracing for the State of the Union

It's tonight, at 8:00 PM. Here are some things to read instead of watching it.
  • Will Durst on WorkingForChange has The George W Bush 2006 State of the Union drinking game. An excerpt:
    1. Whenever George W uses the phrases: "national security," "tax relief," "activist judges," or "affordable health care," drink two shots of beer.

    2. Whenever George W mentions the tragic events of 9/11, the last person to grab a toothpick, stand, and salute must drink three shots of beer. If you stab yourself in forehead with the toothpick, drink two more shots.

    3. If George W actually says, "If Al Qaeda is calling you, we want to know why." first person to finish a whole beer gets to toss Li'l Smokies at any of the others until they finish their beer. Use the toothpicks.

    4. If George W makes up a word like "strategerie" or "deteriorize," drink four shots of beer.

    5. If George W speaks of Hamas and repeats his earlier statement that "it's good to see people are demanding honest leadership," the first person to stop laughing gets to drink one shot of beer then pummel Suit with empty shot glass. No head shots.

  • Greg Saunders at This Modern World has more to say about "Health Savings Accounts" vis-a-vis regular, non-rich people in Saving What You Don’t Have:
    I wonder if Bush has ever had to lay all his bills out on the kitchen table and figure out which ones he can pay immediately and which ones can wait until the next paycheck? Or if he’s ever lived in an overcrowded apartment with hand-me-down furniture, eating the same thing six days a week because it’s cheaper? Or if he’s ever had to settle for a job slightly less shitty than the one he had in high school because there weren’t any jobs in the field he majored in? Of if he’s gone through the process of figuring out which generic brand products at the grocery store are as good as the name brands and which ones aren’t?

    As most of you know, I’m not just describing poverty here. This is normal life for many Americans. Some live paycheck to paycheck, while others are able to pinch enough pennies to save a few bucks. Either way, most people don’t have thousands of dollars to spare.

  • Last December I wrote, "I'll only post [Insani-T-Shirts.com] shirt designs on this blog if they're super-duper exceptionally relevant and/or hilarious." I think I've shown remarkable restraint, especially given that we now have more than 220 cool and/or clever shirts for sale, and I haven't posted a darn thing since then. But, in honor of whatever lies, deceits and misleadings are headed our way tonight, I hereby invoke that clause. All these - and more - are available in the Politics section of our site; click on a picture to see it full-size.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

My Brother: "Impeach the Sombitch!"

My big brother Mike has not only started a blog, he's immediately jumped up there into the esteemed ranks of Ralph Nader and Al Gore in calling for the impeachment of our "President". Check out King George Lies!, which catches Bush lying and denying about the spying:
In April 2004, Bush told an audience in Buffalo, New York: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Heckuva job, MSHA

Heard on NPR this morning, another great example of what we get under Republican "leadership", New Federal Mine Safety Rules Criticized. Worth a listen, but I'll bottom-line it for you. Mine safety protections that have been in place for 35 years are being dismantled by this administration's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Because guess who's in charge? A dude from the mining industry, and no, not one of the people who risks their lives every day to drag coal out of the earth.

Seems there's been a law since 1969 that mines have to have separate shafts: one for the conveyor belts taking coal (and the accompanying plenty flammable dust) out, and another for blowing massive volumes of fresh air in. That's because, if the coal on the conveyor belts somehow does catch fire, and the same shaft is having air powerfully blown down it, well, that would be bad. Seems pretty obvious, huh? Alas, it's a little expensive, too, building two shafts instead of one. So, of course, that rule's out!

Other recent examples of crumbling government protections under this corrupt regime, on this blog alone: FEMA and Medicare Part D. Georgie, you're doing a heckuva job.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Granny D. Discusses An Elephant

Via WorkingForChange, the transcript of an excellent speech by Doris "Granny D" Haddock addressing the recent outbreak of political corruption.
We all see ourselves as hard, unselfish workers, building a better tomorrow for our people. If a senator in his Lexus or Mercedes speeds by a homeless family after voting down a budget item for affordable housing, it is not because he is cruel, for he is working for the larger goal of building a prosperous society that encourages people to get to work and take care of their own families, and he is doing that today by helping an oil refinery avoid smokestack regulations. It is not because he doesn't want clean air and water, but because there is a price to pay for jobs and growth, and you have to break some eggs to make that omelet. In fact you may have to allow some mercury into the eggs. The fact that the wealthy elite of the community agree with him and forever finance his reelection is but a happily synchronous fact of life and maybe even a sign from the big CEO in heaven that all's right with the world.

...The present season of scandals, both in Washington and in statehouses, including Wisconsin's, is not the airing of some unfortunate lapse of ethics by otherwise ethical people, it is merely the case that the elephant that has long been in the room of our democracy has once again released a sudden offense of gas and everyone is concerned to clear the air, but they will be content also to let the elephant remain. And it will all happen again if we do not take this opportunity to coax the beast from the room.

Read all, I entreat you. Don't worry; it's not Long Ass.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Medicare Debacle

Over at Talking Points Memo, they've started a new special-purpose blog to cover the Medicare Part D debacle, called, conveniently enough, the Drug Bill Debacle Blog.

The first post, by Kate Steadman, does an excellent job of explaining the history and details behind Part D: The A, B, D's of Medicare.
But no clause in A or B covered prescriptions. The pharmaceutical industry as we know it today was non-existent in 1965 -- few effective pharmaceuticals had been developed and the majority of health care costs came from hospitalization and surgery. A drug benefit wasn't necessary and would have only compounded the political hurdles getting government-sponsored health care passed in the first place.

And the second post, by Ezra Klein, "expand[s] on the genesis and corporate rot of the Medicare Drug Benefit," in Corruption Matters.
A normal drug benefit would, as Kate said, simply tack on prescription coverage to Medicare Part B, paying a portion of pharmaceutical costs as part of the outpatient benefits. Medicare could then use its massive size and market share to bargain down drug prices, ensuring affordability and long-term savings over the fractured, smaller private system. But the two losers in that equation -- private insurers and pharmaceutical companies -- were the two with access to Congress, and so the bill takes precisely the opposite approach, choosing to involve and enrich the affected industries rather than achieve savings, comprehensive coverage, or simplicity.

Together these two stories provide a perfect case study of what we get under Republican "leadership", even in the life-and-death area of medical care for seniors: cronyism, corruption and incompetence. As Klein notes,
The Medicare Modernization Act was the K Street Project in action... The bill is a mess of bad policy and industry giveaways, and even once the initial administrative hitches calm, the prices will remain exorbitant, the benefit will remain labyrinthine, and the stories of seniors falling ill only to find their plan lacks coverage for their treatment will remain common.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Health Savings Account Primer

Word has it that the Bush "Administration" is going to start pushing "Health Savings Accounts," reportedly starting with the State of the Union address. Ezra Klein at The American Prospect offers A Pre-State Of The Union Primer to explain.
The idea here is simple. Conservatives believe Americans have too much health insurance, that they spend heedlessly and wastefully on care, procedures, and medications they would simply forego if insurance plans didn't pick up the tab. Ergo, HSA's, which end risk pooling, forcing care to come directly from pockets. Newly responsible for their medical bills, consumers will be spurred by the Magic of the Market to make smarter decisions, show more prudence, lead healthier lifestyles, smile more often, and smell springtime fresh. It's gonna be awesome.

At least if you're healthy. Because what HSA's really do is separate the young from the old, the well from the sick. Currently, insurance operates off of the concept of risk pooling. Since health costs tend to be unpredictable and illness isn't thought a moral failing, we all pay a bit more than we expect to use in order to subsidize those who end up needing much more than they ever thought possible. The well subsidize the sick, the young subsidize the old, and we all accept the arrangement because one day we will be old, and one day we will be sick, and no one wants to shoulder that alone.

But HSA's slice right through this intergenerational, redistributionist arrangement: they're a great deal for young, healthy folks because they don't force subsidization. Just don't get sick. And if you're already sick, don't think you can hide by remaining in traditional insurance plans: when the healthy rush towards HSA's, older plans will hold only the ill, and insurance companies will send premiums skyrocketing to recoup the difference.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Comics

And that does it for Long Ass Speech Week. Let's hear it for those Long Ass Speeches!

But let's face it. I can't keep this up. You can't keep this up. It's too much, I tell you; it's TOO MUCH!

And so today we will retreat, into comics.
Get Your War On

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Kennedy at the Sierra Club

We now return to Long-Ass Speech Week.

Via Wil Shipley's blog, "Call Me Fishmeal,", a link to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s speech to the Sierra Club last September. As Shipley says, "I don't think you can disagree with this speech. I don't care who you voted for. You simply can't say, 'Yes, I want to be slowly poisoned in a world that's dying, so that 8 or 10 guys can be a little bit richer.'"

Some excerpts:
This is the worst environmental president we've had in American history. If you look at NRDC's website, you'll see over 400 major environmental rollbacks that are listed there that have been implemented or proposed by this administration over the past four years as part of a deliberate, concerted effort to eviscerate 30 years of environmental law. It's a stealth attack. The White House has used all kinds of ingenious machinations to try to conceal its radical agenda from the American people, including Orwellian rhetoric. When they want to destroy the forests, they call it the Healthy Forest Act. When they want to destroy the air, they call it the Clear Skies Bill.

But, most insidiously, they have put polluters in charge of virtually all the agencies that are supposed to protect Americans from pollution. President Bush appointed as head of the Forest Service a timber-industry lobbyist, Mark Rey, probably the most rapacious in history. He put in charge of public lands a mining-industry lobbyist, Steven Griles, who believes that public lands are unconstitutional. He put in charge of the air division of the EPA, Jeffrey Holmstead, a utility lobbyist who has represented nothing but the worst air polluters in America. As head of Superfund: a woman whose last job was teaching corporate polluters how to evade Superfund. The second in command of EPA is a Monsanto lobbyist.

(This is apparently the NRDC site he refers to there.)

On "red" states vs. "blue" states:
I do 40 speeches a year in red states, and there is no difference between how Republican audiences and Democratic audiences react when they hear what this White House and this Congress are doing. There is no difference except that the Republicans come up afterward and say, "Why haven't we ever heard of this before?" I say to them, "It's because you're watching Fox News and listening to Rush." Eighty percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on.

On coal-burning power plants that wanted (and got) longer than 17 years to clean up:
President Clinton's administration was prosecuting the worst 75 of those [coal-burning] plants, but that's an industry that donated $48 million to this President during the 2000 election cycle and has given $58 million since.

One of the first things that Bush did when he came into office was to order the Justice Department and EPA to drop all those lawsuits. The top three enforcers at EPA, Sylvia Lowrance, Bruce Buckheit, and Eric Schaeffer, all resigned their jobs in protest. These weren't Democrats. These were people who had served through the Reagan and Bush administrations, the earlier Bush administration.

On mercury poisoning:
I have so much mercury in my body -- I had my level tested recently, and Waterkeeper will test your level, you can send them a hair sample -- my level is about double what the EPA considers safe. I was told by Dr. David Carpenter, who is the national authority on mercury contamination, that a woman with my levels of mercury in her blood would have children with impairment. I said to him, "You mean she might have," and he said, "No, the science is very certain today. Her children would have some kind of permanent brain damage." He estimated an IQ loss in those kids of about five to seven points.

He goes on to say that the White House had just announced that it was abolishing Clinton-era rules, substituting instead rules that were written by utility-industry lobbyists - rules that will allow those companies to effectively never have to clean up mercury emissions.

On corporations and government:
There is nothing wrong with corporations. Corporations are a good thing. They encourage us to take risks. They maximize wealth. They create jobs. I own a corporation. They're a great thing, but they should not be running our government. The reason for that is they don't have the same aspirations for America that you and I do. A corporation does not want democracy. It does not want free markets, it wants profits, and the best way for it to get profits is to use our campaign-finance system -- which is just a system of legalized bribery -- to get their stakes, their hooks into a public official and then use that public official to dismantle the marketplace to give them a competitive advantage and then to privatize the commons, to steal the commonwealth, to liquidate public assets for cash, to plunder, to steal from the rest of us.

...And what we have to understand as Americans is that the domination of business by government is called communism. The domination of government by business is called fascism.

On what this Administration really represents:
I say that this is an Administration that represents itself as the White House of values, but every value that they claim to represent is just a hollow facade, that marks the one value that they really consider worth fighting for, which is corporate profit-taking. They say that they like free markets, but they despise free-market capitalism.

What they like, if you look at their feet rather than their clever, clever mouths, what they really like is corporate welfare, and capitalism for the poor but socialism for the rich. They say that they like private property, but they don't like private property except when it's the right of a polluter to use his private property to destroy his neighbor's property and to destroy the public property.

And they say that they like law and order, but they are the first ones to let the corporate lawbreakers off the hook. And they say that they like local control and states' rights, but they only like those things when it means sweeping away the barriers to corporate profit-taking at the local level.

As with MLK on Monday and Al on Tuesday, this is a long one. But hey, I gave you yesterday off, so read all, I entreat you.

By the way, if you want the book-length treatment, check out his book, "Crimes Against Nature : How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy".

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jan. 18 Onion

Top-Selling Educational Baby DVDs

We take a break from Long-Ass Speech Week here to enjoy a modestly funny Onion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Gore: "Impeach the Sombitch!"

Well, more or less. Prompted by This Modern World and Talking Points Memo, I read the speech Al Gore gave yesterday, On the Limits of Executive Power. He didn't even allude to stolen elections (he's maybe too good of a sport), but after reading this, and thinking about those, well, it's the scariest damn thing, ever. Bush & Co. are slowly but surely angling for totalitarianism.

A few bits of Al's speech that jumped out at me:

On the Attorney General's lame defense of domestic spying:
[H]e concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along?

This reminded me of the sham of weapons inspectors in Iraq before the invasion: ask the question, ignore the answer:
When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother.

Here's where I started to really be afraid. It's harsh when it's laid out like this:
The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

...If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

What about the checks and balances on the power of the Executive Branch? Exactly. What about them?
The President's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.

Here's the ultimate argument to all the apologists, televised and not, who say it's all okay, because we're scared.
The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

He ends with five specific recommendations:
  1. appoint a special counsel to investigate the domestic spying
  2. enact whistleblower protections for workers in the Executive Branch
  3. hold congressional hearings on the allegations of criminal behavior
  4. just say "no" to the PATRIOT Act's extension
  5. all telecomm companies should immediately stop providing illegal access to private information

I admit it, it's a long one. Read all, I nevertheless entreat you.

Update: MP3 audio available at GlobalFreePress.com; RealPlayer video at C-SPAN.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Last year's MLK Day post referenced his most famous speech, the "I Have A Dream" speech (note the link to the audio in that post is broken, here's a working link to an MP3 of it).

This year I found this other speech, a sermon actually, called "The Drum Major Instinct". An excerpt of it is playing in a little Flash program on The King Center.org today. (Brace yourself - it autoplays, and loud -- but it's well done.)

First, an explanation of the title.
And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It's a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life.

And so before we condemn them, let us see that we all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade.

From there he goes on to say how this instinct, working on many levels within people everywhere, is the source of many of humankind's problems, from keeping up with the Joneses all the way to racism itself. He tells the story of confronting his white jailers in Birmingham, about whose side they should be on. [Click here for audio of part of this.]
And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, "Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You're just as poor as Negroes." And I said, "You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march."

Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can't hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out. (Amen)

He goes on to discuss how this instinct works even on the level of nations in the world. (Substitute "Iraq" for "Vietnam" as necessary.)
But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." "Our nation must rule the world." (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

So far, this is all good stuff. Truly, a great sermon. But as with any truly great sermon, it's the end that really brings it home. And reading it posthumously, knowing how he died, gives it even greater impact.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)

I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that's all I want to say.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mass Employee Exodus at FEMA

Heard on NPR: Woes at Embattled FEMA Spur Employee Exits.
FEMA is having trouble holding on to its best people. Several FEMA staffers have told NPR that people are leaving because the agency is in trouble and no one appears to be addressing the problems. These departures are raising concerns about FEMA's ability to respond to the next disaster.

I've worked at more than one doomed organization, places where it's almost embarrassing to admit you work there, companies where the highest level leaders have their heads so far up their asses that they'll never see the light of day again.

And that's what it sounds like at FEMA. People are getting out as fast as they possibly can. A FEMA spokesperson counters, saying that they have lots of new applicants. In addition to probably being full of crap, that's beside the point. What is happening there is a sudden, massive exodus of everyone who knows anything. That kind of loss can't help but impact FEMA for years to come.

From the audio:
Paul Light is a professor at New York University and has studied FEMA and the federal government for 25 years. He watched FEMA grow from an obscure, chaotic department in the 1980's into a powerful, well-run agency in the late 1990's.

"What's amazing about FEMA is that the turnaround was so quickly voided. That is amazing to me. To think that this agency five years ago, was a destination of first choice for new employees, and only five years later, has become a destination of last resort. It's just surprising that after all that work that this agency was undone so quickly."

Georgie, you're doing a heckuva job.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It Is The Soldier, Not The Blogger...

Red State Son dissects a famous bit of patriotic pop culture on Red State Son, Freedom Granted, Freedom Won.
Surf any site where endless war and nationalist frenzy are celebrated, and chances are good that you'll bump into this:

It is the Soldier not the reporter, who has given us Freedom of the press. It is the Soldier not the poet, who has given us Freedom of speech. It is the Soldier not the campus organizer, who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate. It is the Soldier not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag and whose coffin is draped by the Flag, who allows the protester to burn the Flag.

...Pretty stirring stuff. Gets the wood nice & stiff. Only thing is, it's bullshit.

...Soldiers, by and large, are tools used to advance the interests of those who own and run the country. They are lied to, conned and conditioned to believe they are fighting for "freedom" when in most cases they are killing, dying and being maimed to enrich domestic elites and their allies/business partners. This is a big hard truth to swallow, which is why a lot of military personnel, and many vets, prefer the standard story.

It's a good one, well argued from his personal experience in the U.S. military. Read all, I entreat you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'll Bet You $50 You're An Anti-Gambling Wacko

Via Greg Saunders on This Modern World, a link to "Houses of cards," a story about how Republican Of The Year Jack Abramoff manipulated conservative "Christians" on behalf of his Indian casino clients. Nice.
Mr. Abramoff first hired Mr. Reed, a prominent evangelical who once called gambling "a cancer," to leverage his evangelical contacts to defeat pro-gambling legislation in Alabama in 1999. Mr. Abramoff hatched the campaign to protect the gaming interests of one of his clients, the Choctaw Tribe of Mississippi. While Mr. Reed worked to rally Christians for campaigns that benefited Mr. Abramoff's clients, Mr. Abramoff's partner, Michael Scanlon, wrote an e-mail to Kathryn Van Hoof, a former lawyer for the Coushatta Tribe, describing the plan to use Christians: "Simply put we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet, and telephone."

Intel Inside, AAPL at $80.86

Via Daring Fireball, an awesome coincidence:

On the very day the company officially announced its first Intel-based product, Apple's stock price closed at $80.86.

Jan. 11 Onion - Sports Year In Review

This week's Onion is repeats, all the sports stories from the last year.
  • Lance Armstrong's Endurance Tested By Sheryl Crow Concert
    "It was a pretty tough slog," Armstrong told reporters after the event, which he was obligated to attend as part of his new role as Crow's future husband.

  • ESPN Courts Female Viewers With World's Emotionally Strongest Man Competition
    Other strong overall performances were turned in by Martin "There, There" Richards, a graphic designer who remembered to make his wife's beloved tapioca pudding on the anniversary—not of their marriage—but of their first date; Garth "The Embrace" Josephsen, who maintained some form of reassuring but undemanding physical contact with his fiancée for nine consecutive hours; and Ben "Soulmate" Siegel, who made his girlfriend laugh despite her belief that minor weight gain and childlessness were ruining her life.

  • Pete Rose Jr. Somehow Finds Way To Disgrace Family Name
    "It'd be tough for any son to live in the shadow of a tax-evading gambler, a man who would only admit he compromised the integrity of baseball as part of a publicity stunt to promote his autobiography," said Cincinnati Reds beat reporter Hal McCoy ... "But Rose Jr., who never had the raw talent that his father exhibited in his heyday, was nonetheless able to live up to his namesake in his own way."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Enjoy BloodRayne For Free

It has long been my opinion that bad movies are worthwhile, as they prompt many hilarious reviews of their badness, which I (and now, through the miracle of blogging, you too) can enjoy for free. "BloodRayne", the latest attempt to make a movie out of a videogame, proves this perfectly.

BloodRayne Poster

Via Slashdot's story, (Bloodrayne Officially Awful), we quickly wind up on Next Generation, with a recap of bad reviews that includes this gem, by "Filmjerk":
"In his mind, [Boll] is Steven Spielberg; arranging danger and adventure on the screen with clarity and a roaring sense of excitement. However, the tragic reality is that Boll has all the artistic ability of the average 4th grade finger-painter."

But if you want a reviewer that will really tear apart a bad movie (or a good movie, for that matter), of course you must read The Filthy Critic's BloodRayne review. A few highlights:
[BloodRayne] sucks harder and more sloppily than a Bennigan's waitress on her lunch break, but costs slightly less.

For the actors, appearing in a Uwe Boll is a declaration that they act for money and have costly addictions that must be fed. It also declares that they have less self-respect than a Tri-Delt. It's like falling on a spiral of shame and bumping your head on every step all the way down to the bottom.

Costumes have a vague sense of old timeyness, as though the costume designer pillaged the rennaissance faire at the "special" school.

Bloodrayne is pure shit. So pure that if people shot up shit instead of heroin this would be a million bucks a kilo.

Lastly, a verbatim email interview with the "director" at gaming site 1Up.com. It shows a dedicated, hardworking artist, struggling to be understood by his contemporaries. No, not really.
1UP: Rayne is a violence-prone product of rape. How did you help Loken identify with that kind of character?

UB: i didnt helped her - i throwed [sic] her in her first scene in a situation where a guy wants to rape

Thursday, January 05, 2006

60% Crap From A Deep Ass Source

On the inimitable Tiny Revolution, Jonathan Schwartz analyzes the cold, hard numbers, in: David Letterman Precisely Estimates O'Reilly Crap Content. He includes a link to a short excerpt from Letterman's show on Media Matters. And his pinning of two of O'Reilly's specific claims to "originat[ing] in an undisclosed location deep within O'Reilly's ass" just works the scatological metaphor all the better.

T&A In India; Naturally

Here's a two-for-one Twisty Faster reference post.

Maxim India
First, she brings the news that high-brow Western culture is fast following offshored jobs to India: Maxim magazine is starting an Indian edition. Twisty has a few pointed words about this, in De Spread of Debauch (worth clicking through to if only for her Photoshopped Indian stripper goddess),
Lucky India! Perhaps now that backward hellhole of a subcontinent can retrain its recalcitrant female population to lovingly embrace the male gaze, just like their enlightened, surgically-enhanced western sisters. Because, let’s face it; until now Indian women have been woefully ignorant of the enormous sense of freedom and self-worth that obtains through sashaying around town in hot pants and stiletto heels in exchange for male approval.

But better even than Twisty's twisty prose is the very last bit of the Guardian article, linked above, which I will now spoil for you.
Iona Ferguson, daughter of retired diplomats in London and now living in New Delhi, is the only woman on the tiny Maxim team working 14-hour days in a basement to get the first edition ready for the December launch.

"I do find it rather ironical that I came to India to explore spirituality and yoga and ended up working on a tits-and-ass magazine," said Ferguson.

Lastly, as a Twisty bonus, here are some philosophic musings by her on the subject of what is "natural".
Meanwhile, because there’s a new “gay movie” out [Brokeback Mountain], here’s an article that seems to be saying “gay humans are ‘natural’ because sometimes male sheep fuck each other.”

How about this: everything everywhere is “natural.” Plastic is natural. Murder is natural. Cars are natural. Monsanto is natural. When cockroaches inherit the earth it will be natural. It’s even natural for imbeciles to claim that homosexuality isn’t natural. It can’t be otherwise. That humans have contrived any thought or object or behavior that is not inherent in the very constitution of the earth is impossible. Everything here, as far as the eye can see, was puked out of the guts of the same star. Events -– geological, metaphysical, chemical, comical -– have proceeded accordingly.