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March 31, 2006

continue gabbering

This Yahoo! Headline Box headline goes out to the young lady who sat behind me on the bus from Easton, PA to NYC's Port Authority last night:
• Long cell phone use raises tumor risk - study

Can I get a "Bwoo ha ha ha ha"?

Posted by mrbrent at 5:31 PM

go mets

Baseball season is upon us.  We know this not only because Bud Selig is seeking to drive MLB straight off a tall cliff in the most intricate way possible, but rather because it's all nice-y outside, and because nationwide media outlets have commenced with the "BASEBALL SEASON IS UPON US" yelling and screaming.  Ahh, media.

Deep inside, I'm what you would call a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, due to a very synchronicitous couple years living there when I was a boy.  But I am not longer a boy -- or even boyish -- and as I have lived in NYC for years, it's convenient to have a local team as one's own, to have and to hold, etc.

That would be the Mets, the Amazin's, the Metropolitans of New York, representing Queens County and all that is good in the world -- note the marked lack of the designated hitter!  I would tell you about this year's Mets, but Dan G. has already done so in exeedingly hilarious fashion, so hilarious, in fact, that this post has been crafted for the express purpose of linking Dan up.  So please go over now to Bald and Effective and read up the good stuff.  Yum.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:47 PM

rich kids unite

You may or may not have heard, but there is a hoo-ha in Durham, NC.  Yeah, that one, with the lacrosse team being suspended for collectively stonewalling on a rape investigation.  Ordinarily I have little time for lacrosse and/or Duke University, but today I make an exception.  More background here.

Today's New York Times ran a little story on the situation, with comments from lawyers and local reactions, etc.  Standard news story.  Best of all though, is the photo they ran with it.  It is a photo of the porch of a local house in Durham, putatively belonging to a supporter of the lacrosse squad -- it is festooned with signs, like "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" and "Shame on all who are quick to judge".  Ugh.  But the sign in the upper left corner?  Double ugh.

For the click-averse, the truer-than-all-the-other-signs sign reads, "Rich Kids Unite."

That kind of derails the whole conversation, doesn't it?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:36 AM

March 29, 2006

charles stross

Good news/bad news.

The good news is that Charles Stross has an online journal.  Charles Stross?  He's a novelist, my new favorite thing.  SF.  I'm working my way through "Accelerando", which I'm enjoying and recommend unreservedly.

The bad news is that phishing has jumped media, like a nasty flu virus.  It was hard enough convincing your parents to disregard the offical-looking e-mails from their bank -- now we have to convince them not to trust the phone, either.

It is interesting the phishing v2 was constructed by deconstructing the technology (door-to-door is next?), though it is not as interesting as the phishers sitting in front of a jury of their peers.  Especially if the jury of peers is armed with pitchforks and torches.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:59 PM

basic instinct 2

Nothing against the motion picture industry, not from me.  It's just an industry like any other, a little clueless sometimes, but it gives some talented people jobs.  (No, not the movie stars.  Them ain't jobs.  People like me with the day jobs.)  So, yeah.  I guess what I'm saying is, "I'm sorry I'm about to criticize you, movie industry, in light of my gainful and continued employment."

But, "Basic Instinct 2"?  For real?  The studio is hoping that those of us in our 30s will helpfully explain to those sadly younger what "Basic Instinct 1" was?

Generally speaking, let's agree that the 14-years-later sequel phenomena is whack.  Nothing personal against Sharon Stone, but I won't call it a comeback, because we're in "first as tragedy/second as farce" territory.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:05 PM

March 27, 2006

immigration reform

I see that there is now a public discussion on U.S. immigration policies.  This is of course a hotbutton issue for many communities that had grown accustomed to a certain homogeneity in their environs.  (Here in NYC we've had a pluralistic social make-up since, oh, forever.  We enjoy watching the hubbub from a distance.

As this is now a public discussion, I offer two conversational bits.  First of all, as easy as it would be to lob a steady barrage of "racist" at those whose panties are in such a bunch over illegal immigration, I don't believe it's the best offense.  Calling them racist can be deflected by accusations of ad hominem, inasmuch as all we "coastal liberals" can do is whine, cry and name-call.  Instead, I suggest that if you are of a sort that is seriously committed to immigration reform, then the centerpiece of any reform package should be fines for any business concern (and jail time for the CEOs) that is caught employing undocumented immigrants.  If the illegals pose such a problem, then shouldn't those that profit from their illegalness pay a penalty?  In fact, would it not be hypocritical to suggest otherwise, perhaps demonstrating that all of your up-in-armedness is not the principled pursuit if justice but rather dislike of brown people?

Obviously, I do not expect this conversational gambit to popularized anytime soon.

And finally, to whoever the first American was that introduced the idea that the best way to protect our Northern and Southern borders is with a wall, a fucking wall, let me say that you have the reached the level of strategic genius of Wile E. Coyote.  May I suggest anvils perched atop?  Or painting a picture of the landscape/horizon on the Mexican side, so that undocumenteds run into it, thinking it real.

Onward, rocket scientists.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:54 AM

March 26, 2006

my right hand, my enemy

Through some coincidence, I've stumbled across three or four content-references to the seeping menace of same-sex marriage.  Or, more accurately, the social reactionaries who coldly realized that same-sex marriage was a straw-man that everyone could get behind, the straw man that some reckon was the deciding factor in the 2004 presidential election.  (Me, I'm old-fashioned -- I think the deciding factor in the 2004 election was systemic vote-tampering.  Another day.)

My knee-jerk reaction has been that the only thing that has been "eroding" the 19th Century idea of marriage was the increasing divorce rate, and if, in fact, social conservatives wanted to clothe their bigotry against people who are not like them in some kind of "defense of marriage" meme, then the only appropriate response would be an equally vigorous campaign to amend the Constitution to ban divorce in all fifty states.

John at Americablog has a shrewder proposal.  The knee-jerk reaction should be a campaign to illegalize jerking off.  I would miss it, but anything for a good cause.

Reductio ad absurdum, baby.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:18 PM

katherine harris

Katherine Harris, maybe you remember her.  She was the Secretary of State in Florida back in the heady days of Bush v. Gore.  You know, the Secretary of State who was also the chairman of the Florida Bush campaign.  No?  The one with the make-up, the really scary trowel-face lady?

Now you remember.

In the intervening years, Harris has found gainful employment in the House of Representatives.  She represents the 13th District in Florida, which would be Sarasota and the like -- filled with retirees who might actually think Harris is a hot tomato or something.  She's held her seat for two terms, and probably her greatest accomplishment was revealing that the US government had spoiled over one hundred terrorist plots, including one to blow up a power grid in Carmel, IN.  In fact, this revelation was so earth-shattering that everyone in a position to know denied it.  Plus also the people of Carmel were cheesed off, never having heard of this plot and understandably wanting to know more.  Her explanation of the seeming discontinuity between her version and reality was, "It's classified... obviously not classified to me... but things I can't go into details about."

The GOP has never been a large supporter of the Harris campaigns, as she's the big glaring made-up reminder of a gamed and stolen election that they'd rather have sweep under the rug where it won't agitate moderate voters.  Nevertheless, she has decided that she is going to run in the Republican primaries for the Senate seat of Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the 2006 elections.  Which campaign has already not gone smooth.  After allegations that the defense contractor whose graft landed Duke Cunningham in jail had also contributed funds the Harris, Harris surprised supporters and detractors alike by not announcing her withdrawal from the Senate Race and instead announcing that she would not only stay in, but also pledge to spend a ten million dollar inheritance on her own campaign.  Her own money -- she was not going to "have anything left".  (Other than, of course, her husband's millions in real estate, which I guess was besides the point.)

I can't figure out if that vow of poverty/extravagance was the smartest or dumbest thing ever, or both.  On the one hand, the idea that a candidate is going to blow their personal fortune begs the question of the fitness of the candidate.  On the other, the pledge could create a new category of appeal to naive voters, with the electorate deciding that Harris deserves to be Senator because she so clearly wants it so bad.

She followed her Fox News announcement with a pledge to sell all her assets, going a step further than merely disposing of her sizeable inheritance.  Or at least I think that's what she meant.  She was using creepy conservative Christian codephrases ("I am willing to take this widow's mite, this pearl of great price, and put everything on the line"), so she was saying either that she was going to put all her stuff towards the election, or that she was the princess of some realm of Faerie with a star-crossed love for an elf.  Hard to say.  Maybe this will motivate her base of ultra-right Christians -- maybe Jesus Christ himself shaking her hand and smiling on national TV would work better.

We'll see if Jesus is motivated to do so.

Meanwhile, I'd like to exhort Harris to stay in the race.  The Harris 06 Campaign is a slow-motion train wreck.  Not that there is any shortage of these, but her slow-motion train is of such outstanding quality that it would be a disservice to the American people to drop out now.  The American People need novelty, and the American Crazified People need a crazy person to look up to and to defend beyond the point of reason.

Katherine Harris, please keep doing it for the American Crazified People.

[Crazification?  Click John Rogers.  And further Katherine Harris meltdown is at Talking Points Memo.]

Posted by mrbrent at 1:31 PM

i warned you about the zombies

Just a little random weirdness.  Well, random weirdness to me, at least.  For others, transnational panic fodder.

Who will be the first congressman to stand up against children who dress as zombies and shoot each other?  Which congressman will have the courage to take on the children/zombies?

On a more serious note, I hate it when a fringe trend is introduced to the national consciousness in correlation to a tabloid crime.  Like, for example how most American newsconsumers would betcha that the first time a teen malcontent wore a trenchcoat to high school was at Columbine High.  We are not a country of sociologists, that is for shore.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:58 AM