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August 10, 2007

alex balk is a proud patriot

I'm not posting this because it's good.  It is good, this charming effort by Gawker's Alex Balk, the latest in his series of parodies of Actual Real News.  But good is beside the point.

I'm posting it because Balk has seen the light -- rain is trying to kill us all.  Disagree?  Try this then: fill your kitchen sink with water, submerge your head in it, and then try to breathe.  Not so, easy, is it?

I'm just glad that Balk is on board.  Maybe now the dissolute ironists of the world will join us in our struggle against these mundane forces that are trying to destroy our lifestyles.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:29 PM

rudoph giuliani would also like some cuban healthcare

I know Giuliani is an asshole, and you probably know that Giuliani is an asshole.  Judging from his status as front-runner in the Republican primaries, there are citizens that have yet to discover that Giuliani is an asshole.

Of course, I hear the strawman calling: "If he's such an asshole then how come he was mayor twice (three times, if you count America)?" rebuttal, I'd ask you to consider for a second that maybe being an asshole is not an immediate liability in the city of New York.  As far as America goes, well, let's think about this for a second.  All the rest of America knows is that Giuliani was depicted as heroic following the events of 9-11 -- depicted so not only by the media, but also by the local Chamber of Commerce that paid a hot 75 large for Giuliani to come and speak for a half hour or so.  Why would the CoC pay so much money for a speech if the speaker was not in fact a bona fide hero?

You see, the many ways that Giuliani is not a hero but rather an asshole -- his twice-divorcing, his race-baiting and his 9-11-exploiting being but only three of the ways -- have not yet filtered down to the rest of America.

And I've long thought, since Giuliani hinted at his presidential ambitions, that it would be only a matter of time before he would reveal himself to be an asshole, to Rudy-lovin' Americans and the rest of the world.  And then these Americans would realize, "Hey, that guy's an asshole.  And not the kind of asshole that I would want to be my leader, but rather the kind of asshole I'd like to see locked in a room with Andy Dick for a year," and then Giuliani's political prospects return to where they should be, on the level of a, say, Lamar Alexander.

IMHO, that time, where Giuliani "steps in it", has finally happened:

"This is not a mayor or a governor or a president who's sitting in an ivory tower," [Giuliani] said. "I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them."

Common sense: unless you spent a couple of weeks (at the very least) sifting through the wreckage of Ground Zero, with no protection against the pollutants in the air, you are not one of the Ground Zero workers.  And if you claim that you are one, then you are an asshole.

Look forward to more examples of Giuliani's heroism.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:50 AM

August 9, 2007

to catch and release a predator

Here's an interesting item, into whose waters I'm leery to wade.  NBC series "To Catch A Predator" is coming under some scrutiny.  The series, which consists of taped sting operations where men intending to have inappropriate relations with minors are lured into filmed arrests, of which I've never been a fan (as detailed below), is ethically suspect and is undermining the cases against the perps:
Paying sources for information and giving police and prosecutors notes and tapes of interviews with story subjects violate the tenets of ethical journalism.  There are also problems with prosecuting the cases that come out of Dateline's sweeps-week-friendly episodes.  As the article explains, prosecutors were unable to pursue cases against 23 men who were caught in Dateline's snare in Texas.

And why am I leery to bring this up?  Well, if you are a producer/fan of the show, then it's pretty elementary to disarm your critics with a little of the old "strange bedfellows" judo -- "You criticize our show, which opposes child molesters, therefore you support child molesters."  I wish we lived in a world where that sort of logic (i.e., dubious) was not widely held as logical.  We do not.

So, for the record, while I strongly oppose child molesters, I am skeeved out by the concept of recording the arrest of child molesters for broadcast as "entertainment".  And as the concept skeeves me out, the fact that entities are making money off this pornography of righteousness is fucking disgusting.  "TCAP" practices thsi weird "negative objectification" of criminal types that is suddenly in vogue, where society is supposed to delight in the sad fate of lawbreakers, and it's not a long way from there to tossing Christians to the lions.

Plus also keep in mind that the whole thing smacks of entrapment, which is against the law, no matter who you're trying to net.  And while acts of entrapment are sad events with regard to our Constitutional rights, they are even sadder events with regard to the probably-bad guy who gets to skate because of said entrapment.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:43 PM

po folks, sweet tea, looking backwards

I have written before of my predisposition towards sausage gravy and biscuits.  We all have our culinary totems that somehow make it from childhood to the age that we have to figure out how to food ourselves.  I got stuck with sausage gravy and biscuits.  It is why I'm hot.

Below please find a paragraph I tripped over (from a nice piece on sweet tea by Slate's Jeffrey Kleinman) that raises a very good point w/r/t these food items that get imbued with deeper meaning:

For me, personally -- and I suspect I'm not alone —- sweet tea is a primal link to my own Southern past.  I grew up a Jewish kid in Atlanta, with a mom from Brooklyn, N.Y., and a dad from Cleveland.  To assimilate with my classmates, I quickly learned to say y'all, talk about Herschel Walker, put honey on my biscuits, and enjoy sweet tea.  While my parents made us drink an unsweetened mint tea blend at home, I strong-armed them into stopping by Po Folks on the way home from baseball practice.  A middling Southern-style chain (we didn't know enough to eat at Mary Mac's), known for horrible phonetic misspellings, heavily larded chicken, and, most importantly, sweet tea served in Mason Jars, it was practically the only place I could get hooked up properly —- at least, that is, until I began raiding the always-full homemade pitchers in my friends' refrigerators.

You may guess that the good point raised has something to do with cultural assimilation through eating, like a gastronomic Stockholm Syndrome.  It is a good point, and those of us that moved around as children all have our stories.

But actually, that is not the good point.

Turns out the good point is the casual mention of the southern chain Po Folks.  Freakin' Po Folks!  I lived in an area that had a Po Folks, and we went there with the extended family back in the day.  Dude, that place was a confusion -- the caricatures of the barefoot, dirt-poor hillbillies raised by the shotgun shack decor was on one hand repulsively dismissive (missing teeth, three Xs on the jug of shine) and on the other hand warmly embraced.  It was a total ball of self-loathing mixed with pride that somehow was supposed to make you want to eat more?  It was hard to compute.  I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be emulating the Po Folks, or carefully avoiding Po Folk behavior.

And yes the sweet tea is served in Mason jars, which does sink quite indelibly into one's memories.  I'd forgotten about Po Folks.

But also, sweet tea is some good stuff.  Have some.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:13 AM

August 8, 2007

just because i'm from wv doesn't mean i'm from coal miners, but still

Hey, another quick one!
• Officials maintain hope for Utah miners

And, well, they have to, as no one is willing to disregard the equivalent amount of safety regulations in saving the miners as they were in the preciptating act of the actual mining.

I know I'm breaking at least five or six of the Laws of Journalamism in writing this, but at a certain point my gorge rises.

But really, what's not to like about our economy, you dirty hippie strawman naysayers?

Posted by mrbrent at 11:36 PM

the analogy, will she hold?

Maybe you're sick of how steam and structural engineering are the foremost enemies to our American way of freedom-loving life, but too bad.  You may now add water falling from the sky, or "rain", to that list.  And not only has rain joined forces with the evildoers, but it has brought a metropolis to its knees.

Dunno if this has made the national press, but a rainstorm blew through early this morning and apparently picked up each NYC subway train, twisted them into pretzels and hurled them into New York Harbor.  And this wasn't just any rainstorm!  Well, okay, it was just any rainstorm.  But still!  I will hand it to that canny rainstorm -- how could any public transportation be so farsighted as to protect a subway system against ?

So, long story short, I'm working from home, and the terrorists have won again.

The tide is turning, and oh but the pun could put any joy into my heart!  If only we could figure out which Godless aspect of our lifestyle is responsible for God punishing us.  I blame Facebook, plus maybe the gays?  Lemme watch TV so I can figure out what I think.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:07 PM

August 7, 2007

livitit welcomes you

At the supermarket, some old lady finished her harangue of a stockperson on the excellent nature of dogs as pets with:
Remember, "dog" spelled backwards is...  [Pause of Significance.]  God!

Mmmmm, yep.

Sorry, lady, defining the intrinsic value of a thing by the novelty of its backwards spelling is the act of a lunatic.  Tell me, when you push your cart down the aisle, what are the cans of tuna saying to you?  Are they telling you to annoy some poor girl stacking yogurts at nine in the freaking morning?  This place backwards is "Livitit", which, while not as dirty as it sounds, is an order of magnitude cooler than whatever your old lady name backwards is, so confine your inanities to the confines of your old lady apartment, on a going-forward basis.

I really gotta stop overhearing.

And yes, dogs, once domesticated, are most excellent companions.  Old ladies, however -- there is a reason why they are feared.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:58 AM

August 6, 2007

the nytimes got wee

This may not be big news to everyone, but today the New York Times started publishing in a trimmed-down size.

Probably this is most relevant to the discussion of the future of our print media, which I don't usually get into because I'll be one of the four last living people that prefer to consume information printed on murdered/stewed trees.  However, having read the new tiny New York Times on the subway this morning, I will say that it left me feeling as if I had grown eight inches taller over the weekend.

I will try to wield my new enormity in a way that does not clumsily destroy doorframes, knock over automobiles, etc.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:56 AM

chili's irksome blossom

This is why we have the Internet.  Before the Internet, an incident of bad service at a restaurant never amounted to more than a story told to friends and family.  Some tsks, a shake of the head, and then a reciprocal anecdote about someone's cousin or something.

After the Internet, your bad service incident becomes a major embarrassment to the provider of service.

Admit it -- that is one seriously ugly-lookin' bloomin' onion, or whatever cute name they gave it.  Now everyone point and laugh at Chili's.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:52 AM

August 5, 2007

tom tancredo something cocoa puffs

Last week, GOP presidential candidate (and sanest man in the country) Rep. Tom Tancredo unveiled his master scheme to prevent WMD terrorist attacks on American soil -- deterrence:
"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," the GOP presidential candidate said.  "That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do."

Maybe Rep. Tancredo's right -- that is the only thing he can think of.  But he should also consider maybe that the ill will generated by an already-hated superpower holding holy sites hostage over the possible actions of unrelated third parties is not going to get the U.S. invited to any birthday parties anytime soon.

Plus also both Mecca and Medina are located in Saudi Arabia, which is somewhat of a putative ally of the United States, and probably would want to be consulted before being nuked.  But if Rep. Tancredo gets to be president, I'm sure he'll hire someone to figure that stuff out.

This weekend, the Fourth Estate powers-that-be were generous enough to give him the opportunity to clarify his statement.  The clarification:

"He is open-minded and willing to embrace other options," senior Tancredo adviser Bay Buchanan told CNN today.

That is indeed reassuring.  Still, it would be premature to get too relieved, however.  Tancredo still thinks it's a good idea and has no intention of ruling it out, either.

“This shows that we mean business,” Buchanan said. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that.”

Yes, I remember the last time that I was going to blow someone up.  Oddly enough, I ended up not blowing them up, because I realized that they meant business.  What an odd coincidence.

This all reminds me of a shadowy organization that has threatened to annihilate Western holy sites of commerce if the United States military doesn't leave the Arabian Peninsula.  I know that it's not very patriotic of me to draw the comparison, but are the Subtle Quiet Masters of Realpolitik like Tancredo really so intellectually shallow that the comparison doesn't slap them inna face?  And is this hypocrisy of motive if not practice just an acceptable by-product of flexing some foreign policy muscle to wow the red-staters?

Maybe this wackadoo shit flies with the dummies of the world, but if this sentiment is indicative of Rep. Tancredo's talent, then I wouldn't want the dude driving my cab, let alone presidenting my country.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:57 AM