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August 22, 2008

i dialed 62262 a long time ago

So I went through all the trouble of registering my cell phone number with the Obama campaign (so I could be one of the first couple million people to know who his running mate will be), and I have not received a single hoax text message yet.  Dudes, come on.  How am I supposed to make it through this Friday without a hoax text message?

When I think of those hoax text messages we used to get back in high school -- hoooo, boy.

My pick for veep: either Bruce Campbell or the ghost of Bobby Kennedy.

(You can fake your own hoax text messages with info on Wonkette.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:44 AM

August 21, 2008

mccain: but that the senile dementia were the only scary thing

If there was room on the front page of your local newspaper in between all the "Obama Is Losing!!!" stories, you might have heard that Sen. McCain not only let a reporter bring up the issue of his abundant personal wealth but also couldn't recall how many houses he had.  (Hint: more than one.)  It's too bad that Sen. is such an obviously regular guy, because the fact that he has so many residences he blithely can't remember them all might raise an eyebrow or two!

But, even better than that is the Senator's clarification on his assertion (which those faggoty Dems are gonna make fun of anyway) that the metric for determining who the "rich" are is five million dollars a year, which clarification runs something like this:

In the interview, McCain did not offer an alternate number, but had a new answer ready.

“I define rich in other ways besides income,” he said.  “Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them.  Others are poor if they’re billionaires.”

So then I guess McCain wants to cut taxes primarily for people who are rich in their lives?  Or maybe wants to introduce an "Ability to Educate Your Children" tax credit?

The Senator is leaving his days of "Worst Candidate Ever" behind him, so that he can concentrate on being a character from "Catch-22".

(Yes, after a little poking around, it is true that McCain did say something like what he is quoted saying above about 30 seconds before he said "Five million dollars".  But my point on the quality of his soaring rhetoric stands.)

Posted by mrbrent at 10:32 AM

August 20, 2008

future is now: synthespians

I forget the jargon for it, but I remember reading about CGI a couple years back, and some smarty pants was saying that there was a ways to go before humans could be rendered/animated in such a way as to make them indistinguishable from actual humans.  Something about how the closer CGI artists got to the day, the creepier the subtle differences would appear to the viewer.  They weren't saying that it would never happen; they posited that a graph of indistinguishability over time would be a rising straight line, and then a plateau, or even a dip, before undetectable fakeness is achieved.

I only bore you with this because undetectable fakeness has been achieved.

I don't know if I should be freaking out or throwing a party.  Or, better yet, wondering what the fuck I thought an English degree was going to be good for in light of the ascension of the technerds.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:31 PM

defending frank from kakutani

I don't ordinarily take issue with book reviews -- it strikes me as the hobby of someone with a desperate need for a different hobby.  But, I read a review by NYTimes lead reviewer Michiko Kakutani that struck me as an egregious sack of wrong, and therefore, fair game.

The review is of the new book by Thomas Frank called "The Wrecking Crew".  I've not read the book, but I am very familiar with Mr Frank's work, mostly by being a longtime subscriber to The Baffler back in the day.  Frank is a proponent of the idea that Big Business (however you want to define that) is actually controlling the nation in a thinly-veiled oligarchic sense -- i.e., the interests of private enterprise will be addressed before the interests of the citizenry.

That's an idea that I'm pretty solidly behind.  And it's an idea that Kakutani will not abide.  From the second paragraph, after labeling the book a "Manichean-minded screed":

Instead of using the Jack Abramoff scandal to examine the problems of a political system that empowers lobbyists, special-interest groups and big money players, Mr. Frank tries to turn the scandal into a case study in what he sees as the evils of free-market principles.

Anytime a reviewer drops the phrase "tries to", you get a sense of where the review is going.  But it's nice of Kakutani to identify the book that Frank should have written instead of the one he did.

And her conclusion:

As a result, Mr. Frank comes across in these pages as a sort of parody of the liberal right-wingers love to hate — as someone in love with big government for the sake of big government and opposed to all manner of capitalism and entrepreneurial initiative.  At the same time, his strident, impatient tone undermines the possibility of a sober, nonpartisan discussion about matters like the Bush administration’s awarding of no-bid Iraq reconstruction contracts, its bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina, its politicization of the Justice Department and its adherence to tax cuts in wartime that have led to huge deficits.

I don't think I got the memo that stipped that all book-length discussions of matters of governance needed to be non-partisan.  Or sober, even.  And so what if Frank, or any other author, is "opposed to all manner of capitalism and entrepreneurial initiative"?  Would that somehow disqualify them from a review of their book and not of their politics?

Oh, there are other fallacies and more better speciousness in there, too, but why waste all morning wallowing in them?  She spends a little too much time disagreeing with the premise of the book for any assertion that the book is not good to gain traction.  So boo go Kakutani, unless she was conked in the head and woke up thinking she was Thomas Friedman.

This would be my first time hating on Kakutani.  I feel like an honest-to-God litblogger.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:25 AM

August 19, 2008

neal stephenson in wired

My enthusiasm compels me to bring to your attention.  Wired files a feature on author Neal Stephenson in advance of the release of his latest novel "Anathem".  It's a good introduction to acquired taste that is Neal Stephenson:
Only a few months ago, another epic bubbled up from his basement.  "Anathem", Stephenson's ninth novel, is set for release on September 9.  The Nealosphere, of course, is over the top with anticipation.  This time, Stephenson has given himself the broadest stage yet: a world of his own creation, including a new language.  Though he's been consistently ambitious in his work, this latest effort marks a high point in his risk-taking, daring to blend the elements of a barn-burner space opera with heavy dollops of philosophical dialog.  It's got elements of "Dune", "The Name of the Rose", and Michael Frayn's quantum-physics talkathon, "Copenhagen".

Not much that I can say about Stephenson that I haven't said already (over and over again) -- he's smart, he knows his way around a sentence, and his imagination is both focused and bigger than you are.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:37 PM

the rocker: highest grossing picture of all time

In the neighborhood in which I work, the wheat-pasters have been concentrating on slapping posters up advertising the motion picture "The Rocker", which were annoying enough, as the featured image is an underweared Rainn Wilson (who seems like a nice enough guy, but still).

This morning, the campaign stepped it up, with a new series of posters.  The good thing about the posters is that the Wilson image is cropped to be neck-up.  Thank you.  The bad thing about the posters is the tag line, fully half of the poster:

"The Sleeper Comedy of the Summer!"

Nothing inherently offensive about that.  But, the definition of "sleeper" (or "sleeper hit") is a term that refers to the unexpected material success of a piece of entertainment product.  For example, both "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Little Miss Sunshine" were not expected to be so successful, but ended up doing a kajillion dollars at the box office.

This may well end up being the case for "The Rocker", but, sadly, the release date is tomorrow.  So any claim based on the success of the movie would be purely speculation.

In which case, why not promote the film as "Best Picture 2009"?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

August 18, 2008

saddleback church forum: bigfoot-free

Some of my compadres are wringing their hands that Sen. Obama did not come off as popular as Sen. McCain at a Saturday night Faithapolooza emceed by Larry the Cable Guy.  I understand their worries -- we all want our guy to win every game, every time.

Me, I give Obama props for wading into what would be hostile territory for any Democratic candidate.  Though I am disappointed.  I wish he would've just taken the stage wearing a Jesus-fish hat and said something along the lines of, "Hey there, Jesus-people!  I know everyone says that you're so stupid that you'll vote for a steaming pile of doo as long as it gives lip service to "family values", but I wouldn't do you the disservice of saying that to your face -- much too long of a sentence for you to pay attention to.  But I am wearing a Jesus-fish hat, so have fun voting for me in November."  That was not to be.

And I say that the crowd was not so much inspired by McCain as they were shocked that he remembered where he was for an entire hour.  I know I was.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:37 PM

this was supposed to be greetings *from* bedford, va

A couple two-three things I learned after spending most of last week in Bedford, VA:

First, there is no local/regional beer, but more local/regional brands of biscuit flour than I can count.

Second, four or five miles out of town, there is a little store with an organic/gluten-free goods, cheese and meat (mostly ham).  FYI, four or five miles out of Bedford, VA is officially the middle of nowhere of the middle of nowhere.

Third, if God had intended for the people of Bedford to have Internet access, he would have created man with a USB port behind his ear.

But still!  Nice place, pretty mountains, and the most land-locked D-Day Memorial in the universe.  Seeya soon, Bedford, VA.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:29 AM