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December 14, 2007

rep. steve king wastes congressional time, is sub-literate

Let's follow up on the news item of the House of Representives' best idea yet on how to look busy -- sponsor a "yay, Christianity" bill.

Surely that sucker won't make it to a floor vote, no?  Actually, yeah, it will.  And only nine representatives voted against it.

Obviously, to vote against the bill is to risk the howling outrage of a whole bunch of people waaay more righteous than you are.  But is there anyone on Capital Hill that still remembers their job -- you know, run the country?

And let's examine the verbal skillz of the sponsor of this, the Most Important Legislation Ever, Rep. Steve King:

"I've watched Christ be eradicated by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawsuits and people be afraid of confrontations.  They wish (people) 'happy holidays' but not 'Merry Christmas' because they might be offended," King, R-Iowa, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Syntax gap in the first sentence?  Check.  Detonation of a "they" bomb in the second sentence?  Check.  "Eradication" of Christ?  Oh noez!

What will Rep. King do without a Christ?

Posted by mrbrent at 12:49 PM

big pharma: yup, they ruined baseball

Like you, I'm still in the middle of wading through the couple hundred pages of reaction to the Mitchell "Big Fat Cheaterpants" Report, but I think I'm far enough into it to have an opinion other than, "Knoblauch?  No way!"

Which opinion is:  "Way ta go, Big Pharma!"  Maybe you've read something different, but I've yet to come across word one discussing the implications of the scandal as far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned -- i.e., they skated.

Not to say that exclusive blame should be laid at the doorstep of Better Living Through Chemistry, but do keep in mind that while the professional athletes were gobbling performance-enhancers like Smartfood and MLB officials were Hey-look-it's-the-Queen-of-France!, the companies manufacturing these substances were raking in dumptruckfulls of cash.  You can't exactly root around in the forest to find the secret grove of "Deca-Durabolin", or stalk the wild "Dianabol" in its natural habitat -- someone made these things, and if you consider their limited medical applications (they're not quite curing heart disease, are they?), you realize that exactly one party stood to gain from a nation of ballplayers with needles in their asses, and a generation of kids emulating their behavior.

I'm sure that Big Pharma is just shocked -- shocked -- that their products were being used to cheat.  Hopefully their anticipated global annual sales of $750 billion dollars will cheer them up a little.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:58 AM

December 13, 2007

to snark on the yankees and pats in the same post? ahhh

Now it is the time where we all rush to look at this list and pick the one baseball player accused of hitting the roids that is particularly shocking and/or a let-down.

(To you readers from exotic locales wherein the American game of baseball is not played (Europe, parts of Canada -- do you guys take yourselves out to the ballgame at SouthCom?  I dunno.), our government has decided that players of this game should not artificially enhance their performance, unlike in every other non-Olympic sport, and so sicced a retired senator to get to the bottom of it.  Soon they will also ban "training", as it produces an unfair advantage.)

For me, the name is... holy shit!  Chuck Knoblauch!  Former Twins second baseman purchased by the NY Yankees, whose bat and base-stealing contributed to three world championships.  I got more than one friends who were Yanqui fans back in the day who were Knoblauch fans above all.

But is it any more surprising that the Yankees of New York would dabble with the cheatin' than it is that the Patriots of New England would?

Posted by mrbrent at 2:46 PM

you've been great; try the veal

I'm sorry, but just what did they think cloned cats were going to do?  They're cloned, for criminy's sake.

They also reproduce by laying eggs in the torn thoraxes of livestock, and need to drink human spinal fluid to survive.  But I guess they'll find that out sooner or later.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:24 AM

December 12, 2007

peter bagge got old

I try to stay away from all the birthday and obituary references, 'cause , face it, there's just so damn many, and what else is there to say than, "Happy Birthday!" or, "That's so sad!"

But as fifty is a number that is divisible by both five and ten, it'd be a shame to miss wishing a happy half-century to Peter Bagge.  Peter who?  Oh come on, now, Peter Fucking Bagge, whose work you are at least familiar with to look at.  His comic book "Hate", a nearly decade-long story of Buddy Bradley's conspicuous consumption through his 20s, was as important as anything else in ringing in the slack-motherfucker-ing 90s, with a visual style that harked back to the more hallucinatory styles of the comix artists of the 60s and 70s.

And I'm happier to report that P. Bagge is no less busy now than then, contributing feature-length comics to Libertarian magazine Reason (like this one).

May he have fifty more.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:10 AM

December 11, 2007

isn't it more important to be nice, christians?

I don't know how it is in your place of employ, but these weeks that creep towards the Christmas break tend to be a bit busier than usual.  You'd think that the opposite would be true, but that's mostly because you were deeply imprinted by your years of education, when Christmas was a no-fly zone of novelty and irresponsibility.  It's the same reason that your internal calendar resets in September.  But now that we've left the real world and entered the workforce, it seems that mid- to late-December is a time for panic, a time to get that shit done that should've got done back months ago, quick, before the fiscal New Year.

Given its current bad reputation, I am happy to report that the same holds true for our American House of Representatives:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has introduced a resolution (H.Res. 847) saying, and I am not making this up, that Christmas and Christians are important.  The House is scheduled to vote on this groundbreaking resolution on Tuesday.

The text of the resolution is in the link -- it's far more super excellent than any snark I could come up with, even if I really tried for once.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:18 PM

hardee's biscuits are awesome

Let me briefly revisit sausage gravy and biscuits.

Last weekend brought me to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, to a little town tucked behind a mountain off I-81.  As I usually do in that part of the country, I got up extra early so I could sneak off to the Hardee's drive-thru with the little dog before the wife arose.

I think I've taken Hardee's for granted, all these years, disqualifying them from serious discussion of sausage gravy and biscuits on account of their being a fast food concern -- fast food concerns being a big reason why Things Are Bad, or, at the very least, all those fat Americans aren't very healthy.  But as I shared some butter biscuits (sausage gravy on the side) with the family, I remembered my ur-sausage gravy and biscuits experience from when I was a kid: a long-lost, small fast-food chain in and around Charleston, WV, in the late 70s called "Sisters Chicken & Biscuits", I think.  We hit that place nearly every weekend, usually to purchase a honking big bag of such chicken and biscuits, or, in the morning, sausage gravy and biscuits, of course, to drop by whichever grand-parent or uncle we were visiting.  And those biscuits, and that sausage gravy, was the best I ever tasted, and I don't expect to ever taste better.

(This falls in line with my buddy Sam's hypothesis that your favorite [X] food, the Platonic ideal of pizza or french fries or lobster bisque or whichever, will be the first example of [X] that you ate that made you consider [X] as an enthusiasm and not as plain old food.  He should think of a snazzy name for that.  Maybe write another book.)

So, in light of this, let me say that Hardee's biscuits?  They are awesome.  If you step inside the Hardee's, you will see that they are spending money on in-store advertising promoting the fact that their biscuits are scratch-made, which may explain why these biscuits are so awesome.  Of course, if you do go inside, you will also get hit in the face with a part of America that you are not familiar with, which is fine -- differ'nt strokes, etc. -- but also lends itself easily to "looking down one's nose", so to speak.  Resist this impulse.  You are better than that.  Instead, have a biscuit.

Oh, and the sausage gravy is not all that.  In fact, it's not that at all -- watery, bland.  I actually had to take a pepper shaker to it!  In Virginia, where the little piece sugar cured ham I got at a gas station (!!) is as weaponized a pork delivery system as David Chang could hope for.  Nope -- you will have the sausage gravy (it is, after all, sausage gravy), but it is the biscuits that you will be writing letters to the editor about.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:19 AM

December 10, 2007

neal stephenson's interface

I'm excited that Cory Doctorow decided to post this appreciation of an unsung Neal Stephenson novel -- Interface, co-written with his uncle and originally published under pseudonym in 1994.

It (and another novel, The Cobweb) were rereleased under his true name two years ago, and I read them in the span of two post-Christmas weeks.  Interface was especially vivid.  It's a vaguely Manchurian-candidate tinged technothriller whose worldy understanding of presidential electioneering had me doubting was ten years ahead of its time:

And like Cryptonomicon and the System of the World trilogy, this book makes you feel like Stephenson is tapped into some of the Big Secrets of how the levers of power work in the world, the mysterious underpinnings of finance, history, and human relationships laid out there for us to see.

Stephenson is more known for presaging Second Life with Snow Crash and taking the 800 page thriller back from Tom Clancy with the aforementioned Cryptomonicon.  And his System of the World trilogy, the last three books he's published, manages to examine the Age of Enlightenment in the context of both the history of computing and the rise of the nation-state, all the while swashing more than a buckle or two.  All should be required reading, so please leave your desk and get to it.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:58 PM