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July 29, 2006

shout out to mel gibson

Some folk would find it interesting that Mel Gibson got popped for driving while snockered.  Not me.  Caring about the crimes and misdemeanors of our treasured celebrities is so 1998.

However, the fact that Mel called a female cop "sugartits", now that's some fascinatin' news.  Sure, he yelled some about the Jews as well, but I'll let others fry their grits over that one.

I've always figured that calling a woman "sugartits" would be the quickest way to get slapped that I can think of, just as calling a fella "bitch" would be the fastest way to start a fight.  And now Mel is as married to "sugartits" as Rush Limbaugh is married to Oxycontin.

Let's just thank Mel for keeping up the fight to introduce the worst words possible into the common parlance.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:53 PM

July 28, 2006

for you foodies out there

Bourdain got out.  If you were following that sort of news, you read that Anthony Bourdain was shooting some TV in Beirut when the shelling started, and then was trapped there.  He finally was evacced.  His account is online at Salon.  It's a searing read I recommend.  It's the perfect antidote to the yutz (that guy at the store, your boss, your uncle, whoever) who launch into the inevitable "Who cares about the Lebanese/just a buncha terrorists" tirade when you object to the disproportionality of the Israeli attacks.  Yeah, shut your gob, meatball, do your research, and try to check for exploded civilians before you wave your little flag.

And it is also a bit of an indictment, if you're the sort who still needs one.

What is clear -- as far as we're concerned -- from all sources is that there is no official, announced plan.  No real advice, or information, or public exit strategy or timetable.  The news clip of President Bush, chawing open-mouthed on a buttered roll, then grabbing at another while Tony Blair tries to get him to focus on Lebanon -- plays over and over on the TV, crushing our spirits and dampening all hope with every glassy-eyed mouthful.  He seems intent on enjoying his food; Lebanon a tiny, annoying blip on an otherwise blank screen.  I can't tell you how depressing that innocuous bit of footage is to watch.  That one, innocent, momentary preoccupation with a roll has a devastating effect on us that is out of all proportion.  We're looking for signs.  And this, sadly, is all we have.

Yes, a good read.

[Hat tip to Zeebah.]

Posted by mrbrent at 2:49 PM

you knew i would write on steely dan someday

I never had nothing against the Steely Dan.  I don't exactly have an extensive collection, but I will not turn the station when an old song pops on the radio whilst driving to Pennsyltucky or wherever it is I'm always driving.  And I remember "Hey Nineteen" pretty well from Junior High, and that eye-opening moment when you actually discover what "the Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian, etc., etc." is from a practical stand.

Of course, I'd say a good half of my friends, all with pretty exemplary taste in music, really do hate them some Steely Dan, like they ran their moms over or something.  Is understandable.  Me, I can't take Velvet Underground.  And yet still we are friends!  Can you dig it?

Anyway, Local Memory brings to attention a letter from the band to Hollywood movie star Luke Wilson.  No, really, go read.

LM thinks Steely Dan are bad-asses, but also nerds at the same time.  I think that some of the letter's patois shows the age of its writers.  However, I also have nothing against age, as mine is causing a nasty case of free-form perpetual nostalgia, so I am adding Steely Dan to my list of parties with whom not to fuck, in an epistolary sense (like Wolcott and Edreso).

And now I will fill my pad with SD merch, like keyrings and hoodies.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:46 AM

July 27, 2006

you got your armageddon in my peanut butter

I would like to expand my Anti-Apocalypse campaign.  Not so much the breadth of it, or, for God's sake, the amount of time I do not spend on it.  I'd like to define "Apocalypse" to include other related concepts that should also be avoided and opposed.

For example, the concept that brute military force can defeat an asymmetric, non-state opponent is a concept that I am very anti.  I have no degree in foreign policy, but I do have a small understanding of history, and history is littered with world powers being embarrassed by insurgencies, or terrorists, or whatever you call them.  In fact, was not the USSR done in by the Mujahideen?  So let's avoid this concept on a forward-going basis.

Also, let's throw in people who look forward to the Apocalypse.  This includes both the suicidal and the Christianists, who seem to be getting a lot of ink these days on this issue.  Here, read some of their inspired rhetoric for yourself.  There is a word for these Left Behind types, and that word is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  I am anti-them, science is anti-them, and hopefully cute puppy dogs and smiling children will join us in being anti-them.  Come on, puppy dogs/kids, do the right thing.

Remember, the next time someone walks up to you in the street and asks you, "Apocalypse?" you just answer, "No thanks, I'm stuffed."  For you are anti-apocalypse, and I am too.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:01 PM

not good news for claustrophobes or the skittish commuter

You know, I always felt in the back of my mind that there was just something not right about the new subway turnstiles.  If you haven't visited NYC lately (ever?), a couple years ago the MTA started ripping out the old turnstiles (which looked pretty much just like the ones you remember from movie theaters) and replacing them with new "tall" turnstiles, which are much more like a revolving door than a turnstile.  These started popping up in unmanned subway entrances, as the tall turnstiles are pretty much impossible to jump.

The tall turnstiles revolve two ways, and some trick of the engineering makes the action when leaving the subway very slow -- it takes a lot of pressure to make that sucker move.  And when it moves, it moves ponderously.  It gives one the overall feeling of a police state, with its overall design and function.

And it turns out that my foreboding is justified, as the tall turnstiles are apparently death traps, with their exit-delaying mechanics pretty much guaranteeing trapped innocents in the case of an emergency.  And why implement the deathtrap turnstiles in the first place?  Well, it allows the MTA to cut workers, thereby saving cash and damaging the union.

Just another friendly reminder that the MTA would prefer you dead if it would save a buck or two.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:43 AM

July 26, 2006

yes, i know that's not what banality really means

Yesterday, the Senate decided to disagree with me.  I was all hepped up that yesterday should be day one of our campaign to repeal the Iraq War Powers Act.  Sadly, the Senate instead decided to pass a bill criminalizing the interstate transport of a girl for the purposes of having an abortion.

It would be fun to sit around and riff on what a poorly conceived law this would be.  (i.e., does this apply to Greyhound drivers?  what if you drop the girl off right before the border, and then she walks across, etc.)  But no, the real fun is in envisioning a world in which the most pressing issue facing the Senate on July 25, 2006, is the rampant and unstoppable interstate transport of girls, and then comparing that imagined world with the one we live in.  And then weeping uncontrollably.

I also think that I agree with the senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when he says, "Congress ought to have higher priorities than turning grandparents into criminals."  I'd even settle for a Congress that had any priority at all other than mollifying its base.

Leadership is rotting head-down, and banality will soon be the standard operating procedure everywhere from your local school board to the steering committee of your town's Kiwanis.  And for these purposes, we will define "banality" as "incompetence that refuses to even pretend that competence is being attempted".

Okay, let's go back to talking about repealing the President.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM

July 25, 2006

coincidence... or deja vu, maybe?

Usually, I need three instances of coincidence before I give credance.  Today I will settle for two.

Last night I was spending a ruminative moment thinking about world politics, the future, etc.  This was predicated by a rant on the Air America I had heard detailing all the ways we are fucked, all the fucked things that have already happened, the fucked things that will happen and other fucked up things.  The central agent in this catalogue of no good news is, of course, US foreign policy.  This is no surprise.  It's only taken them five years, but the Bush Administration has destabilized an already unstable subcontinent, destroyed diplomacy as an institution and burned every last shred of good will towards the US.  (I didn't have to write that last sentence, I've got it saved as a shortcut so as to save time.)  Ultimately, after cogitation, I decided that my Anti-Apocalypse stand (T-shirts forthcoming) should be reaffirmed, and maybe we all people should do something before this shit gets real serious.

Of course, the obvious choice is to riot.  It wouldn't work so good, but nothing energizes the underclass like a good riot.  No, the obvious choice is not to riot, but what's the harm in blowing off a little steam before effectuating change?  If we could only find some way to riot without anyone getting hurt, and with only the property of the evil bastards being damaged.  Maturity and conscience definitely have their drawbacks.

So what I thought of, as a simple little silver bullet that could actually go a long way in driving a stake through the heart of a certain deathcult presidential administration, is this: an act of Congress.  The President has been hiding behind the authority given him by the Iraq War Powers Act since 2003.  Take back the authority.  It's clean and elegant (and improbable), and a concrete goal, something to work towards, and sloganize.  Yes, it's wishful thinking, but it does have the advantage (and disadvantage) of being more efficacious (and less fun) than a riot.

And then this morning I find a DailyKos diary from an actual Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, advocating repeal of the Iraq War Powers Act.  So, if a Representative from California and a slack motherfucker from Brooklyn can have the same idea, then this idea is a good idea, by all that is right and holy!

So it's settled.  Impeachment is for those with no sense of humor or style.  Let's repeal the Iraq War Powers Act.  And quickly.  I am tired of seeing the phrase "tipping point" in print.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:58 AM

let's play science 7.25.06

I faintly remember this feeling of disappointment.  So I'm trolling through Ellis' research site and stumble across the headline, "Deja vu 'recreated in laboratory'".  I was naturally excited, what with my passing interest in cognitive science and my fixation on all things novel.  What could be more fun than random and unjustified deja vus?  And how great would it be to deja vu people randomly?  Or, better yet, in the office?  This advance in deja vu technology could set the pranks arms race ahead by a hundred years -- hopefully it comes in either a pill or some kind of ray gun.

Sadly, no.  It's just some boring old hypnosis.  And if you think of it, recreating deja vu may well be one of the least novel things to do with hypnosis, especially when compared to barking like a dog, say.

In the article, scientists posit that deja vu is the brain hitting the "I recognize this" button without the recognition actually having happened.  Um, duh.  That's pretty much the definition of deja vu, smart guys.  Hopefully you can stretch your cognitive science superpowers a little further than deconstructing the obvious.

Whatever.  Find some way that I can drink it and I'm sold.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:02 AM

July 24, 2006

even wars need names

If we can ignore the atrocities for a split second, I know a certain conflict that could really use a name.  True, names are but artificial labels we use to blind each other to the truth (anyone?), but they are also valuable in as much as we are all unified in the purpose of knowing what each other's talking about.  Also, once there is an accepted name, then proposed names that carry pejorative connotations (such as "The Israeli Invasion of the Innocents" or "The Islamofascist's Reward") have a little less traction.

I realized that I myself indeed need some word-signifier to clarify my thoughts.  Ten days of thinking to self, "Well, what is our opinion on [unnamed Israel/Hezbollah/Hamas conflict]?" has injured my brain, as I was wasting way too much processing power on fixing "[unnamed Israel/Hezbollah/Hamas conflict]" in my head.

Save our brains.  Name the conflict.

I suggest "The War of Everybody's Aggression".  Or maybe, "The Why Do You Want To Beat Me Up For Trying To Name A War War".

Posted by mrbrent at 11:26 AM