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November 29, 2008

make fun of terrorists: they are really sensitive

Just to manufacture a moment of levity as big-box employees get trampled to death in Mumbai and terrorists wage two-day firefights in Long Island, I propose that the next Sarah Palin/Tucker Bounds/Michele Bachmann figure, the person always good for the quotable insane thing, be Ayman al-Zawahri.

You may remember al-Zawahiri, as he is the reputed number-two of Al Qaida.  He also has the callous of a whole-lotta-praying on his forehead, so he is the devoutest mass murderer of our day.  And he is responsible for not only reintroducing "house negro" into the common parlance, but also concern-trolling our current economic crisis:

"The modern economy has been destroyed by the strikes of the mujahedeen (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and usury," [al-Zawahiri] said, using the Arabic term for holy warriors...

Hey, that misplaced modifier threatens to be more funny than Zawahiri!  Thanks a lot, illustrative pullquote.  Continuing

Zawahri then called on the American people to "embrace Islam to live a life free of greed, exploitation and forbidden wealth."

Dude, greed, exploitation and forbidden wealth is the freakin' American dream.  If he keeps coming up with punchlines like that, someone will hire him to start live-blogging "So You Think You Can Dance".

(Lest I be accused of accusing Palin/Bounds/Bachmann of killing thousands of people, the only equivalence between them and al-Zawahiri is that they say things out loud that make people laugh.  But on the other hand, we live in a country in which comparisons are often mistaken for statements of fact, so I guess I'm taking my chances here.)

Posted by mrbrent at 6:32 PM

November 27, 2008

forecast for today: partly malcolm gladwell

Here's a minor thought worth sharing -- clearing out the email inbox I noticed a whole array of "come back to Classmates" spam that I apparently was intrigued enough by to not immediately delete.  Which made me remember Classmates dot com, which I hadn't for a while.  I forget the exact time, but it seems like we all rushed onto CM right after it launched, spent a month or two looking for people we used to know, maybe had two or three slight email exchanges, and then moved on.

And now that we're all wiser and older, Facebook in four years, had become ubiquitous in the lives of about thirty-five percent of the people I know, and at least seventy-five percent of the people I know.  It has caused me to have actual conversations with long-losts a number of times, and dinner with someone I hadn't seen in twenty-three years once.  So I was thinking: why is it that Facebook just worked, while Classmates is on its way to Pets.com-dom?

Well, for one, Facebook has never asked me for money.  There are other differences in the mechanics of the sites, and in the marketing, but for me the game-changer was the money.  And if an amateur like me can suss out that the subscription model is done for (in the "general interest" Internet), then it must be really really dead.

(I also could have figured that out by deduction, once the thought, "I should start a subscription-based site," crossed my head, recently.)

Posted by mrbrent at 8:22 AM

turkeys playing football

I was reminded that today is Thanksgiving Day (here in the States) by the fact that the Yahoo! title graphic has been animated with what looks like (at 7 in the morning) purple-headed bugs but is in fact, upon closer inspection, turkeys playing football.

And if there is anything that says Thanksgiving Day like turkeys playing football, I'm not sure what that thing would be.  So Yahoo!: happy T-Day right back at you.

And the rest of you: this is my favoritest holiday ever and I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I intend to.  Now excuse me, I'm gonna go cook the hell outta some biscuits.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:18 AM

November 26, 2008

terrorists to finish job mta started

God, I think I've forgotten what the proper cheeky and/or panicky response to a terror alert is supposed to be.  Terrorists are targeting NYC subways?  Er.  Okay.  Maybe it will ease up congestion on the morning commute?  That'd be a relief.  Or maybe, "Yoinks!"  Or, "Ruh roh!"

I remember years ago I'd think about such things and get the sweats/shakes and just generally fret.  Jeez, I remember once following a box truck over the Verrazano Bridge had me in what must have looked like convulsions.  But now, not so much.  Maybe it's a function of distance from 2001.  And maybe it's the feeling that we're about to have an Administration peopled by grown-ups, who cannot be as easily manipulated into foolish foreign policy misadventures as the current administration.  Actually, yeah.  That is a huge comfort.

So I guess as long as the terrorists don't call me a house negro or anything, then whatever to those terrorists and their tiny little genitalia.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:11 AM

no, not that georgia

Cracks in the orthodoxy in Eastern Europe!  In televised testimony, former Georgian ambassador to Russia implied that Georgia might not be the aggrieved party in last summer's limited military action with Russia (you know, the one that everyone decried as the rebirth of Soviet aggression).  In fact, he even tiptoes around Georgia's responsibility for the conflict.
A former confidant of President Mikheil Saakashvili, [Erosi] Kitsmarishvili said Georgian officials told him in April that they planned to start a war in Abkhazia, one of two breakaway regions at issue in the war, and had received a green light from the United States government to do so.

Sorry, I wrote "tiptoes around" when I meant to write "baldly asserts".

This may not be so much news to the more paranoid of us liberal types -- you know, those of us that tend not to categorize nation states as "freedom-loving/hating".  Europe has harbored the suspicion that Georgia was trying to manufacture a Russian "invasion" to generate Western sympathy/support, though it's a suspicion you didn't see a lot on Fox News.  But to see an ally's public stance as a morally upright baby democracy victimized by the Russians be questioned by a story in the very traditional media is a bit of a shock.  I can't imagine that happening twenty years ago, or even ten years ago.

Of course, the simplest explanation for this is not a thaw in the news-reporting services over openly questioning Western Hegemony.  The simplest explanation is that the Georgians screwed things up so bad that it is impossible not to report it.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:05 AM

November 25, 2008

bailout this

Speaking of punchlines, a very popular variety of punchlines/"good ones" these days it to somehow reference the couple trillion dollars in bailouts that have been handed out to date to a variety of rapacious deserving third parties.  As in, "Give me some of that bailout money," or any other such form in which the generosity of the bailouts to behemoth corporate interests is ironically compared to the unavailability of similar (or at least proportionate) bailouts to actual individuals/family units like you and me.  It's kind of like "Where's the beef?" for now; somewhere, right this very minute, some form of the Bailout Punchline is being simultaneously used by thousands of amateur comedians/office cutups.

In full knowledge of this, and in light of the fact that all the bailouts seem to have little effect other than to make everyone more nervous because the bailouts have little effect, I'd like to say, "Give me some of that bailout money."

(Seriously, every time I see a story with a headline like "Paulson to address consumer credit", I'm all like, that would be a good idea, until I actually read the story and see that he doesn't mean to throw money at us consumers, but rather at credit card companies so that they will offer more credit.  Hey, just what a nation of debtors need!  More God-damn credit!)

So yeah.  Gimme gimme gimme.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:38 PM

silly randian, tricks are for kids

Huge beautiful catch by the Artifact -- hours of fun and a barrel of laffs.  It is a selection of dating notices from fans of Ayn Rand.  Said fans are also known as Objectivists or Egoists, or, between you and me, Clowny Clown-Ass Jerks.  A sample:
You should contact me if you are a skinny woman.  If your words are a meaningful progression of concepts rather than a series of vocalizations induced by your spinal cord for the purpose of complementing my tone of voice.  If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight.  If you’ve realized that if speech is to be regarded as a cognitive function, technically they aren’t speaking, and you don’t have to listen.

Man, I wish I had a million sisters for this dude to date, as he really sounds like the box-of-chocolates/dozen-roses type of guy.

I know it's not polite to tap poke at the Randians -- they might self-improve all over you! -- but if you walk like a punchline and talk like a punchline, then, etc. etc.

Plus also our scorn will only make them stronger.

[Via this fella, via Maud.]

Posted by mrbrent at 12:45 PM

please don't hate me for using the second person pov

This is how it's done:  you need posts, right, because they don't pay you not to post.  Some magazine runs the inevitable umpteenth feature on Rachel Maddow -- great!  That's "something happening".  But since it is the umpteenth feature on Rachel Maddow, there's not much to frame the link with that hasn't already been beaten into the ground.  Maybe hint at the impending backlash?  Ahh, maybe glancingly, but that's the pro forma label for any post-meteoric rise, plus also she seems irreproachably nice.  Wait!  Her MSNBC patron, Keith Olbermann, is widely known to be prickly and obnoxious.  So, if you project his assholery forward through time, then you get this chocolate into that peanut butter, preview, pull the trigger.

Sausage made.

I'm harshing, yes, but I believe it to be an egregious shot -- I mean, what do the other famous cranks of today think of of Maddow's success?  What does the ghost of Norman Mailer think?

Of course, dissing Gawker for snark raises all kinds of questions, like, don't I have something better to do right now?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:18 AM

November 24, 2008

my toe vs. joe's toe

My toe is better.  Still hurts, but clearly not broken, and only a little bit less bad than as depicted in this bit of KITH journalism.

And further to my immediately subsequent post, the Yahoo! Box of Headlines chimes in:

• Analysis: Expertise trumps change in Obama's early picks

It's a link to a CQ "water is wet" thinkpiece, but still -- the Slow News Month Virus creeps on.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:40 PM

if obama were for real, he would hire only recent high school graduates

I first noticed this meme from some rightwing talking heads on a CNN segment, but this NYTimes Week In Review piece sums up the sentiment best (i.e., without the chortling, fake incredulity and smuggery):
AS he sought the presidency for the last two years, Barack Obama liked to say that "change doesn’t come from Washington —- change comes to Washington."

Nearly three weeks after his election, he is testing voters’ understanding of that assertion as he assembles a government whose early selections lean heavily on veterans of the political era he ran to supplant.  He showed that in breathtaking fashion by turning to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, his bitter primary rival and the wife of the last Democratic president, for the post of secretary of state.

Two shorthand responses:

First, certainly Obama did campaign against Sen. Clinton, and in doing so was not one hundred percent worshipful of her husband's tenure in the Oval Office, but I would say that he "ran to supplant" the Clinton Administration is more premise than truth.  He did drop the word "change" like I would drop pancetta in a good carbonara, but to suggest that the circumstances he was implying he would change are those of eight to sixteen years ago is specious.  So then to hire some veterans of the Clinton Administration is not a backslide as far as I'm concerned.  And besides, what exactly is Obama supposed to do?  In the past twenty-four years, there has been exactly one Democratic administration.  Is he supposed to people the White House with men and women with no government experience (or worse, Republican government experience?)

And finally, maybe the "change" Obama was talking about was not so much a deviation from the long history of executive branch power structures, but a change from the past eight years.  And in the names announced or floated so far, I see none that would match the uselessness of a Michael Brown, a Alberto Gonzales or a Douglas Feith.  A move away from an incompetentocracy is a big enough move for me.

Though I admit that it's hard to find things to write about after the year and a half adrenaline rush of an election.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:22 AM