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March 11, 2006

technically, it makes us smarter than them, but alas

Show me a surprise that's left in the world.

Cause:  President Bush consistently polls under 40%, approval-wise.

Effect: FBI whispers of terror threats against March Madness.

Note also how ingeniously the FBI phrases their inducement to general fear and paranoia -- "no credible threat".  I'm convinced that, if you're not paying attention, the phrase "no credible threat" can sound spookier than "very credible threat".

It is sad though that the best the administration can do in the way of scaremongering is the NCAA tourney.  Dude, every reasonably well-informed American is terrified of our porous and insecure ports, and the best they can do is a college basketball game?  What's next, flea markets?  Church picnics?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:33 AM

March 10, 2006

oh well, i guess it's civil war then

While the significance escapes me, nothing escapes the Yahoo! Box of Headlines:
• Most Americans say Iraq civil war likely - poll

Um, exactly when did an opinion poll have any relationship, causal or otherwise, with unfolding events?  I'm sure a majority of polled Americans would agree that Darfur is a character from "Dora The Explorer".  Does not necessary make it so, no?

Unless this is some bitter experiment in chaos magick or something, I file this headline under, "Not News, You Yutz".

Posted by mrbrent at 4:46 PM

March 9, 2006

torture and how to swing it

I forget, what was that whole hoop-de-damm-do over the US torturing people?  I don't mean what was the deal as far as my deal goes -- it's an easy one.  I'm one of the yella-bellies that's pretty much universally opposed to institutionalized torture, period.  Maybe I'm squeamish, or what my classmates used to call "a sissy".  Could be.  I just think that once a nation-state claims the power to torture folk, be it terrorists or girl scouts, then that nation-state loses it moral authority.  But I read to much history.  Also I am a communist.

But what I am trying to remember was the argument used to convince the knucklehead, the forces of righteousness.  You know, the fellow citizens who swear that it would be nothing less than unpatriotic not to torture some dude but scream "you're infringin mah rights" when they get pulled over for driving while shitfaced.  The fellow citizens who saw no problem in abrogating the Geneva Conventions and all sorts of civilized-ness if it would beat back the insurgency, and their secret BFF, Al Qaida.  The sort that thought that Alberto Gonzalez's brief justifying torture was a fine piece of work -- why not have the little fella be Attorney General?  The kind of fella that we call "Strawman".

Now what was the argument we used to convince this dude that he was on the wrong side of the torture issue?  Was it something about us losing our moral highground?

Actually, I like the military argument better -- how can we expect our POWs not to be mistreated? -- but, whoops, there goes gravity.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:08 PM

mystery iranian

The Yahoo! Regularly-sided Headline Container decides that specificiy is in the eye of the beholder:
• Iranian remains defiant on nuclear issue

Let us now argue for hours over which Iranian is remaining defiant, as the headline does not seem willing to disclose which Iranian.  A logical choice would be Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, or its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Personally, I nominate the Iron Sheik as the defiant Iranian.

To be fair, if you click through to story, you see that the headline is not the choice of whoever passes as Yahoo's! copy editors, but rather the choice of the AP, orginiator of the story.  In the end, though, this is a Yahoo! Headline Box-level of clarity-error.

If there were more odd Iranians like Sheiky, I could have stretched the premise further, alas, alas.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:49 PM

nothing worth protecting

This is me boring you.  It is but a tiny news, but still I will do my impression of a crazy man standing on a milk crate banging a ladle on an old tin stockpot until they come to take me away.  My great-grandfather was a charismatic faith healer -- I am genetically capable of this behavior.

The House of Representatives passed HR 4167, a bill which forbids states from requiring food warnings that are more restrictive that food warnings required by the FDA.  (Text of HR 4167 can be found here.)  While Republicans claim that the bill only simplifies food regulations (i.e., if salmon is dangerous in Wisconsin, why isn't it also dangerous in Rhode Island?), the end result will be a big victory for the food industries, who will face loosened labelling requirements and decreased scrutiny from the states, who are a lot less easy to manipulate than, say, the FDA.

It's a pure giveaway to the corporations on the safety of our food supply.  Why don't they just sell the FDA to the United Arab Emirates while they're at it?

Soylent Green is becoming more and more attractive as a possiblity.

[Note: law has not hit the Senate yet.  Still hope, though marginal.]

Posted by mrbrent at 11:41 AM

searchphrase reference is lazy

I highly disapprove of what I'm about to write.  In fact, I have always held that posts that refer to searchphrases that are logged as the searchphrase that bring a stranger to your website are not very good posts at all.  A post about searchphrases is like a magazine with some cast member of "The Sopranos" on the cover in the week of March 6, 2006.

Having said that.

"Presidential wiretapping unfair" -- couldn't agree more.  Not sure if this is a question of fairness, but it's a unique way to approach it, reducing the President to a stinky old cheater.  Yes.  It fits.  The President: no one you'd want to play kickball with.

"Women of the White Power movement" -- dude, not here.  Anywhere?  Is there some aphrodisiacal power in small-minded, small-souled, ignorant racism?  Or maybe you're a small-minded, small-souled, ignorant racist woman yourself, and you're looking for friends?  Oop, there it went -- I just stopped caring.

The obligatory headscratcher is "jamaican motorcycle fatalities".  Don't recall looking into that.  Maybe I should, for Jamaican motorcyclists everywhere.

And the capper is "we d like it back to tell the truth".  Why someone would be googling a lyric from a Harvey Danger song on a bonus CD is unclear to me, but it does provide enough novelty to get one through the morning.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:03 AM

March 8, 2006

niffi finke

I'm feeling a displaced rantiness today.  Free-form angst, like the part of my brain dedicated to snark and rant slipped a disk, if it in fact had disks to slip.  So many bad newses, and so little focus.  I'm all cuss words and vinegar.

But, if you need a little distraction, go visit Nikki Finke's blog.  I did not even know that Nikke Finke had a blog.  If you're not familiar with Nikki Finke, she is an LA-based columnist, the scourge of the entertainment industry.  Her access to info is famous, and she knows her way around a sentence.  And she sticks sticks into beehives, just to show she can.

She is blood-pressure lowering, which is a high compliment on days like these.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:01 PM

wednesday: partly ominous

Wednesday morning, and I'm not enjoying the tiny newses of the day.  No, I didn't think that Tom DeLay would get shouldered aside in his primary.  No, the combination of Cheney's shotgun-rattling and Rumsfeld's slow sleight-of-hand blameshifting to Iran for Iraq failures is not unexpected.  No, it's no surprise that the Senate Intelligence Committee is rolling over to have its belly scratched on the Administration's illegal domestic spying.  But still, it tends to make one's commute more depressing.

But now I have tripped across even more badder tiny news.  Of course, it's a diary from DailyKos, which makes sense, because DailyKos is a community of obsessives whose collective efforts at monitoring events of the day rivals the raw wattage of all the newspaper reporters inna world.  What is the badder tiny news?

It is an executive order, from our executive, whatsisface, President Bush, ordering the Department of Homeland Security "to expand opportunities for faith-based and other community organizations and to strengthen their capacity to better meet America's social and community needs".  In other words, more Federal money for Christian churches!  And not just garden variety money, either -- DHS money, you know, the money that has previously been allocated towards destroying New Orleans and selling our port security to the highest bidder.  Critics from both sides of the aisle attack the efficacy of the DHS, and the Administration thinks its a good time to privatize the DHS when no one is looking?

You can read more about the implications and the timing in the diary from whence the story came, and you can read the full text (to see that we ain't making this shit up) on the official site.

It's extraordinary how the Administration is determined to dismantle as many of the governmental apparatus that safeguard the citizenry as it possibly can, even in the face of swelling opprobrium.

Okay, I feel better, having used "opprobrium" in a sentence (and almost correctly!).

Okay, now I feel depressed again.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:51 AM

March 7, 2006

this one's for you, walt

It is not unusual to detest the banal, at least amongst people I know.  Perhaps it's not our best quality, despising the mundane, viewing safe popular entertainment as a cynical swindle of the unwitting.

Sometimes, there's a little something that can make you get over your jaded-ass self.

Start collecting your Thomas Kincade prints now, before it's too late.

[Via Heidi Macdonald's invaluable The Beat, which is, yes, a comic book newssite.]

Posted by mrbrent at 5:44 PM

i wish i could quit quitting you

Time's up.  Two macros need to lie down for a nap, as they are tired -- "I wish I could quit you", as well as "Heck of a job, Brownie".  Fun is fun.  I like fun.  But fun isn't always necessarily funny, though, so let's leave these two to small market drivetime shock jocks, and our grandparents.

Unless maybe you mix the two.  "I wish I could quit your job, Brownie."

Maybe not.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:38 AM

March 6, 2006

liveblogging the oscars

I hear that this "liveblogging" thing is catching on.  You know, "liveblogging" -- watching something, but instead of experiencing it, writing about it for your website.  In realtime!

Well, my computer is in a different room than the TV (I figure if I cross the streams then there goes the flux capacitor, etc.), so I took live notes of the Academy Awards ceremony, and now will type them out all 20th Century-style.  My live(on tape)blogging of the Oscars:

11:15p - Can't sleep.  TV too loud.  Watch Oscars til end.

10:30p - Phil Hoffman won an Oscar?  I know some drama teachers back home that are pretty excited.  Okay, actually, one.

10:00p - "PHotCS" unfortunately not dry enough to put me to sleep, with cacophony of Oscars that my wife and dog are watching in background.

9:30p - Tired.  I lay down to read.  "A People's History of the Supreme Court" (by Peter Irons) is the book, which is dry enough to slow me down to twenty pages an hour, with TV background noise.

8:15p - I remember that I don't like to watch Oscars.  Time to do the dishes, maybe catch up on some e-mail.

8p - Oscars start.  Ooh, Jon Stewart.

The reverse chron order is confusing for beginners, yes?  Like seeing while driving "LANE/IN/STAY" painted on the street.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:09 AM

March 5, 2006

don't give away the choking game's shocking twist

Slow day in the Yahoo! Headline Box?  Um.  Yep.
• Police issue warnings about 'choking game'

They don't give a description, but the Choking Game is presumed to be armed and dangerous -- at least more so than the Tickling Game or the Gentle Carressing Game.

Actually, the warning is about this game where kids block off their oxygen, pass out and then get a big rush when they come to.  Big story?  Not unless childhood is now much different than my childhood, in which variations of this game also existed.

Authorities are now trying to figure out what kind of helmet parents can make their eighth graders wear that will prevent this behavior from happening.  At least, now that we've beat back the whole bike-riding menace.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:13 PM

hello oscars

If you don't know what today it is, you're not paying attention.  For the past two weeks, all the news services and providers have been running headlines fitting this template: "[Entertainment industry] gears up for [awards ceremony]"  (It tickles me to no end, claiming that "Annual thing happening again soon" qualifies as news.)  And as the Espys aren't until July, you gotta know that this is the time of year when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dusts off their circle-Rs and puts on the Oscars, about which, I should remind you:
ACADEMY AWARD(S)®, OSCAR(S)®, OSCAR NIGHT® and OSCAR® statuette design mark are the registered trademarks and service marks, and the OSCAR® statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Do not TOY with the AMPAS!

As the only nominated movie I've seen this year is "Syriana", I predict that "Syriana" will win every category it is nominated for, and at least three categories (short film, maybe? supporting actress?) that it is not nominated for.

Oops, just remembered.  I saw the first bit of "Walk The Line".  It was okay as far as hagiographies go, but it didn't prevent me from napping.

So please do enjoy all of your Oscar parties, but don't forget that the cops will be our in force tonight, waiting for all those Oscar night drunk-drivers.  Enjoy the Academy Awards® responsibly.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:25 AM