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May 3, 2008

matt taibbi's spanking the donkey

Further to the bleak, bleak, bleak immediately previous post, I am currently reading a book that is easily the best "current affairs" book that I've read in years -- "Spanking The Donkey", by Matt Taibbi.  It's all speaking the truth in irreverent but accurate ways that makes you feel no so alone in the face of feeling like the last not crazy person in America.

Yes, I do frequently refer to the work of Mr Taibbi in these posts, so it is no surprise that I'm digging the book.  But seriously, when I started it I felt an invisible hat leap three feet straight up off my head, just like in the funny pages.

Also, Mr Taibbi just won some kind of magazine award for "Columns and Commentary", so maybe the rest of the world is catching up to him.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:19 PM

you need to talk yourself off the ledge every couple months

I was reading through the morning's paper, which was basically gloom, despair, etc., with the story about the mad rush to execute people particularly annihilating my spirit, and I wondered: at what point to you throw in the towel?  At what point do you surrender and admit that your nation is an inherently bad actor, a force for no-good, peopled by the small-minded, the blood-thirsty and the proudly ignorant?  At what point is it okay to relegate yourself to your county's sad slow slide into parody?  I may not be the salvaged remnant, but is there much of anything you can point to these days and be proud of?

I don't pretend to be delicate, but how many times a day do I have to think to myself, "The FUCK?" before I should just close my eyes and think of the greater glory of France?

Well, whatever.  I went to Free Comic Book day and they gave me an Iron Man HeroClix, so I guess I can't complain about that.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:42 PM

May 2, 2008

as we all recover from law day

I can't believe I missed Law Day again this year!  I keep meaning to throw a big Law Day party for all my friends, where we whoop it up and celebrate laws -- by breaking them!  Littering, unlawful assembly, not separating recyclables -- whatever's clever (and unlawful)!  Bwoo ha ha ha.

Also, I'm not sure if I noticed this last time around, but the actual name of the useless holiday is not "Law Day", but rather, "Law Day, U.S.A.", (by presidential proclamation!), which sounds less like a useless holiday than it does a B movie from 1979 that couldn't afford to hire Burt Reynolds, and instead cast some nobody with a passing resemblance to Burt Reynolds.

Law Day, U.S.A.: 10-4, good buddy!  Yeeee-haw!

Also, to answer the unasked question: every day is Day Day.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:43 AM

plus also the fire hydrants painted to look like uncle sam

In perhaps his longest post ever, Grizzly Dad (if that is in fact his name) ponders what once was and what is to be:
This doesn't sit well with a vision of America that resides somewhere in my brain.  I was 8 in 1976, and America had caught Bicentennial fever.  We were all feeling pretty patriotic, but it was a different flavor of patriotism- it had roller skates and a disco beat, and celebrated a narrative in which a brave bunch of ragtag colonialists decided to defy an authoritarian regime.  Because of the brave defiance of our forefathers, we had the freedom to wear our jogging shorts a little too short and have rocks as pets, and our comics could be unknown and our devil could be out-fiddled. We were silly, to be sure, but we weren't scared.

And then he endorses Obama -- no need to be coy about that.

It's good to see that Griz and I actually agree f-  No, wait, we pretty much agree on everything.

U-S-A!  U-S-A!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:46 AM

April 30, 2008

will we ever tire of the president's casual ignorance?

Yeah, the president's press confidence yesterday was priceless, as usual, as he swore up and down that he never seen that economy before in his life, and got no idea how it got in his car.

Everyone has their favorite moments -- like perhaps when he blamed the recession on the failure to drill in ANWR -- but mine was when he decided to show those eggheads a thing or two and utter the following:

We're dealing with a group of ideologues who use asymmetrical warfare -- that means killing innocent people -- to try to achieve their objectives.

OMG the terrorists have broken the symmetry barrier!  Will nothing save us from their freedom-hating spatial reasoning!?!

Of course, "asymmetrical warfare" is an actual piece of jargon, describing (I think) the engagement of opponents of unequal means, which is used by very thoughtful guys like this one.  Unfortunately, it doesn't really have anything to do with killing innocent people.  It's about one side being "asymmetrical" with the other side, as far as their capability to wage war goes.  So, Mr President: WRONG!

Plus also, the concept of "using" asymmetrical warfare is a stretch, in the same sense that asserting that some actor is "using" plain old warfare is a bit awkward.  It's got a thin tether to the truth, but you wouldn't really say that, unless you were just learning English.  (Or unless you were pretty unfamiliar with the concept but very impressed with its flashiness and therefore planned to use it as much as possible.)

Poor president -- he tries bust out the five dollar word and chokes on it, like a pretzel.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:03 AM

April 29, 2008

even memphis is not safe

Gaw, I really thought that the post 9-11 "only you can help point men wearing towels on their heads to local authorities" had simmered down to a large extent.

I guess I was wrong, or, at least I'm wrong if I'm visiting Shelby County, Tennessee, where an town hall meeting was held, advising the locals of the dangers of photography:

Shelby County sergeant Larry Allen warned attendees at the meeting to look for people who appear to be doing surveillance outside public buildings, such as shopping malls.

"One of the things discussed in the al-Qaeda manual is conducting surveillance of your target," added Eric Jackson with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.  "That could mean looking at a building to see how security is established."

Because, again, how can the bad guys blow places up without photographs of the place?  Are they supposed to just guess?

And I'm not advocating blind complacency in Shelby County, which is the home of Memphis, a town I have great affection for.  I'm just saying -- well, you know what I'm saying.  Let's try to leaven our caution with a liberal dose of common sense, and the need for our children to be able to sleep at night.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:17 PM

just tell hillary exactly what your vote will cost

Scorched-Earth Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton has decided, when it comes to economic policy, to appropriate the means of the oppressor:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season.

That's panderiffic!  Her rationale:

“At the heart of my approach is a simple belief,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Middle-class families are paying too much and oil companies aren’t paying their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump.”

Which simple belief is easily supported by her legislative record, as First Lady.

You may be surprised that Sen. Clinton would stoop to buying votes with tax abatements.  I'm surprised that she thinks that your vote is only worth a measly 18 cents a gallon.

But watch the surprise be on me, as I doubt that very few people have gone bust betting on the grubby self-interest of the American electorate.

Boy, I'm starting to fucking hate these primaries.  Or at least part of them.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:55 AM

April 28, 2008

applebee's is a lying coward

I found myself last night sitting at the bar of an Applebee's in northwestern PA.  Long story -- let's just say that I'm a sucker for half-prices appetizers after 9pm.  But, more interestingly, I noticed that each of the TVs behind the bar (as opposed to the TVs on the walls in the bar-area of the restaurant) had the following inscribed on the bottom of the screen:
Copyright regulations prohibit use of volume on this TV for broadcast programs

I might not have memorized the entirety of U.S. copyright law and the associated legal precedent, but, no it doesn't.  Ain't no copyright law that sez, "Thou shalt mute all TV sets in bars."

Now, there is this weird kink in the copyright laws which provides that public performance of certain music is subject to the permission of the copyright holders, administered by these public performance organizations like ASCAP and BMI, but if this is what Applebee's TVs are referring to, then it's not copyright regulations that are preventing the sound from being turned on -- it's the unwillingness of Applebee's to pay ASCAP/BMI a fee.

Also, they might have some agreement with a specialized content platform -- like the cable channels run by MLB or the NFL -- but again, it's not copyright regulations that are playing Scrooge with the play-by-play, it's Applebee's.

I looked for a commensurate notice on the menu saying:

Free market capitalism requires that all food and beverage projects are subject to a 400% mark-up prior to serving

But it was not to be found.

Having said, my half-price chicken quesadilla was not quite delicious, but just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:21 PM