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July 4, 2008

a caricature of a southern bigot

Hey, Nick Denton did something I agree with, for once.  Not like usual.

But happy Freedom Day!  I forget which aspect of freedom we're actually celbrating today -- can't we color-code these freedom holidays or something?  Whatever, I gotta have this slaw done in a half-hour.

Because that's how I celebrate freedom, with peanut-lime slaw, and the potato salad I made earler, and an afternoon viewing of "Meatballs".

Posted by mrbrent at 6:23 PM

July 3, 2008

jeffrey lord: too dumb to pull it off

He just shoulda wrote, "The word is Hitler-raping-baby-seals," which would have had about as much relation to the truth as what he wrote, which is, "The word is fascism."

To save you the click, some conservative dude that Edroso reads so that we don't have to lists the imaginary effects of an Obama administration, including legislating your diet, forcing Limbaugh off the radio, tarring and feathering oil execs, etc., and then concludes that the effect would be "fascism", as a call to arms for the insipid, I suppose.

I have a pretty good working knowledge of the definition of the word "fascism", enough so that I'm not going to consult a dictionary, even for dramatic effect.  Fascism, as it has been evinced in the past century, is an authoritarian state unifying its citizens with usually ugly appeals to national and/or ethnic pride, and utilizing state security forces to monitor and police dissenters.

So, even if the Obama administration were to forcefully try to even the imbalances of wealth distribution, or bring back fairness in broadcasting, or even pursue a ban of handguns, none of these actions would constitute fascism.  They wouldn't even be in the same zipcode.  No matter how badly the right wing would like to take up the mantle of the oppressed, "political correctness" in any of its iterations will not resemble fascism.  It might resemble a distasteful thing and it might be no fun, but it will not resemble fascism.

And without rising to meet the gnip-gnop of current political discourse, I can think of a few things, like the "love it or leave it" argument, like the marshaling of national pride against the dirty heathen illegal immigrants, like the conceit that the marriage of the similarly gendered is somehow dangerous to our moral fabric, which come a lot closer to this scary "fascism".  Oops -- I guess that was gnop, wasn't it?

So that would make the author, Jeffrey Lord, not only mendacious but also a demagogue of the Joe McCarthy level.  Oppose Obama for whatever you want, but please consult your user manual before you try to pull off a rhetorical maneuver that makes you look like an asshole, such as launching a barrage of rocks from the confines of your glass-walled sun-room.

But it is a nice, dramatic closing sentence -- I remember being able to muster that kind of pomposity too, back in high school.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:39 AM

July 2, 2008

food party

OK, I've only watched two minutes of the third episode, and the trailer on the home page, but I've watched enough to know that it will be your new favorite show: "Food Party".  I will be watching the rest when I am off the clock.

It would be passé to pull a "beyond description" -- let's just say that it's a cooking show with puppets, and I already like it more than all of the alt-comedy currently being terrestrially broadcast.

Episodes are here, and I tripped across it while catching up on Cutlets.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:48 PM

john stossel would like you to have some more cake please

I like bitching about the media as much as anyone, but I do know a hawk from a handsaw, as they say in Elsinore.  TV reporter/concerned conservative columnist John Stossel is of the opinion that the media is destroying our economy by reporting on financial difficulties currently being experienced by consumers:
On the "Today" show June 20, David Faber referred to "the recession ... these tough economic times."   Yet that very day first-quarter GDP was revised upward again to 1 percent.

America is not in recession, and who knows -- maybe we'll be less likely to have one if my compatriots [journalists, presumably?] would just chill.  A recession is defined as two quarters of negative economic growth.  We haven't even had one quarter of negative growth.

Those are clearly the words of a man who does not fill his own gas tank.  While one can dither over economic indicators, there is also the real-life experience of having to pay for shit, and realizing that you have to pay much more for it.  I'm not exactly destitute, but I'm concerned.  And all the Americans that are more paycheck-to-paycheck than I am must be freaking terrified, no matter what the Dow is, no matter what the GDP is, no matter the quarter's growth.

Further, for some of us, the tragedy of the Great Depression was not that vast tracts of capital evaporated during the stock market's decline.  I'm a little more concerned, historically, about the spike in unemployment and decline in wages that created all sorts of social ills (like, um, poverty) that none of us want to see repeated, and which seem to be knocking on the door.

To be fair, Stossel does make the point that the media's comparison of times now to the Great Depression are whack, given how bad that pain was, both on a consumer level and a business level.  But in stating that news outlets are overstating consumer-level gloom and anxiety betrays a total ignorance of what consumer-level gloom and anxiety is like right now.

Though maybe if we all used the NASDAQ as our umbrella, we'd be happier, though still screwed.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:21 PM

john mccain's military record can kick your ass

Will the nationwide anxiety attack that has arisen over the words of Gen. Wesley Clark continue today?  Because wherever I went yesterday -- the streets of Soho, the subways of Flatbush, the bar -- the conversation was all, "No, eff the gas prices!  Wes Clark something something!"  Then usually pitchforks and torches.

For the record, Gen. Clark said, “Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” which was taken by those who get paid to write about these things as some kind of outrage.  First of all, everyone knows that Sen. McCain is clearly qualified to be president, so what the fuck, Wes?  And second, Sen. McCain was not shot down -- he gently landed his crashed fighter just to show those Viet Cong bastards how wussy their POW program was.

Mostly it's just fun to watch the plague of outrage from the talking heads, where one candidate is treated deferentially even though he is probably a Communist, and the other candidate is like ten times more heroic than you ever were, so vote for him already, so his zipper is so not down!

(A much more linear and smart take on this is over here from John Rogers, who should be too busy making a teevee show to care about this.)

Posted by mrbrent at 9:27 AM

July 1, 2008

of interest to three or four of you

Last week I posted a small thought (on one of those online small-thought-posting-services) that it seemed that the portion of the Internet peopled by professional/amateur/in-between content providers (I guess you'd call them "blogs") was intent on devouring itself.

There were a couple of incidents that lead me to think this, none of which I want to publicize at all -- it's a little bit too Faces-of-Death for me.  But to characterize broadly, everybody seemed to be gunning for everybody else, instead of The Man, which is the usual target.  I don't know if that means that everyone became The Man at roughly the same time last week, or if Mercury is in retrograde, or if the "everybody" of the blogging world is stranded on the same desert island for too long and running out of food.

Anyway, that was last week.  This week, skirmishes are breaking out in the corridors of power.  Which will make last week look like fun pillow fights at a sleepover.  (And which I post because it will make the traditional media, or at least the traditional media that hasn't already reported it.)

I think a lot of people need to stand in a circle, hold hands and sing "The Greatest Love Of All" together before any further damage is done.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:39 PM

terrebonne parish, lookin' good

The school board of a parish in Lousiana is considering enacting a rule that all student commencement addresses be given in the English language.  While not exactly the height of palatability, this is the kind of knee-jerk nativism that makes its authors look like jerks.  So what happened to incite this must have been pretty bad, right?  Like a be-turbaned teen waving scimitar, enumerating the ways to kill freedom in Pashtu?

Not exactly:

Cindy Vo, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, spoke about high-school memories, friends and the future.  Then Ms. Vo, 18, recited a sentence in Vietnamese dedicated to her parents, as they watched.  She told classmates that the line, roughly translated, was a command to always be your own person.

The school board should be very specific and spell out that the problem they have is not with speaking in a foreign language, but speaking a single sentence in your native language, dedicated to your immigrant parents, and then translating it.  The gall of valedictorians today!

I bring this to your attention not to mock and deride the good but stupid people of Terrebonne Parish specifically and Louisiana in general, but instead to make West Virginia look incrementally better by comparison -- those mountaineers may be leery of the crypto-muslim, but they sure ain't afraid of a few funny-sounding words.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:38 AM

housecleaning 7.1.08

I'm looking over last month's "search keyphrases" (i.e., phrases entered into a search engine which brought back something from this site), and as always, there's a few worth sharing.

Nothing overwhelming in numbers this time (usually if there is, it's something like "tits" or "John Titor").  But, there are always the solo entries that reveal the seedy underbelly of our wishes and desires, like "matt taibbi shirtless" and "bob lonsberry divorce".  On the borderline of this category is "how to electrify your bird feeder", which I hope is meant as, "how to wire your bird feeder for lights and a little stereo".  But probably not -- to answer, throw it and a hair dryer into a bathtub full of water?

This one I like for its specificity:

and now for the award winning act of stupidity of all times the people of america are considering the election of to the most powerful position on the face of the planet -- the presidency of the united states of america - a muslim male between the age of 17 and 40.

That would be a sizable portion of one of the "Barack crosses his fingers when he sez he loves Jesus" emails going around.  Apparently, the searcher wanted to be sure that he/she found the exact smear email they were looking for, and not one of those other ones, about how he's allergic to gluten, or conspiring with the Queen of England.

And my favorite is "terrorist scuba divers armed with almanacs", which one of my favorite descriptions of the sort of bad-guys whose arrests the Justice Department has been quick to tout.  The phrase is from this article by Bruce Schneier, who deserves an extra ration of petrol for writing it.

Yes, this is a little bit like asking you how cute you think my baby vomiting is, but, on the other hand, sometimes it is fun to see how sausage is made.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:17 AM

June 30, 2008

truth about obama

This was linked in the GoogleChat profile of a buddy of mine.  I've seen it referenced before, but finally gave it the two minutes to read it.  (Thanks, buddy with profile.)  It is The Truth About Barack Obama:
Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN.  His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized.  His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic.  He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning.  He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening.  He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

I especially like the use of the all-caps.  That shit is harder than it looks.

And I'm not linking it in a fit of pro-Obama activism.  Yes, I am pro-Obama, but, more importantly, it's really funny.  Really funny trumps activism.

I'd probably link a smear of Obama if it were legit funny.  But there's no danger of that happening, no matter what Michael Weiss thinks.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:12 AM