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January 9, 2009

a hollywood no bigger than their shrivelled little hearts

I've you've ever seen a stand-up, you are familiar with the conundrum of, "This tastes horrible, here try it!" and you've heard many talented people ponder what exactly is up with that.  But, boy, people sure are funny, though, demanding that you put that clot of curdled milk in your mouth too, huh?  Ahhhhh, people.

So anyway, this tastes like something died inside a dead thing and then lay in the sun in a hollandaise sauce for a week.  Here, try it.

It's the latest Pajamas Media/Freedom's Watch, with its Highly Successful Rightwing Business Model which should enable it to buy Google any day now.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:03 PM

i thought the prop 8 hullaballoo had died down

After successfully fanning the flames of gay-hatin' (with a big fan indeed), two groups that supported the passage of California's Proposition 8 have filed suit in federal court that would remove from public record the financing of the groups.  Said their attorney:
"This lawsuit will protect the right of all people to help support causes they agree with, without having to worry about harassment or threats."

Firstly, I'm unfamiliar with the actual statute, but the public record of parties who donate cash with the purpose of achieving a political end seems pretty intrinsic to the idea of free and fair elections, which we kind of pride ourselves on around these parts.  It keeps the process transparent, and helps clarify the line between advocacy and graft.  So, to grant an exemption to this would set a precedent that could do damage to the process itself.

And secondly, cue broken record, but there ain't no such thing as a right to help support causes without having to worry about harassment or threats, any more than there is a right to be held responsible for the consequences of your actions.  If you don't want to be singled out for your donation, causing reasonable people to look at you like you are a dick, then don't donate and keep your dickitude to yourself.  And as far as "harassment and threats" go, both are already illegal and/or actionable.

It boils down to, "Stop being mean to us because we hate GLBTs," so add cowardice to their list of things that make them worthy of mocking and derision.  Drop the lawsuit and stop wasting the court's time, or find some other skirts to hide behind.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:05 PM

gaza: no sugared almonds anywhere

Spent the morning commute reading what seemed like eight articles on continuing events in Gaza, which left me feeling a whole lot less like a productive employee/goldbricker than I had planned on for the day.  Not to draw myself into a thousand word deathspiral of blather and mopery, but it's not like nothing else sucks in the world right now, and the whole bilateral "We're gonna kill you worse" shit gets pretty fucking wearisome.

But hey now, I did at least find a ray of dark humor in the whole coverage, as Cardinal Renato Martino, the Pope's dude to speak on these things, in qualifying his comments comparing conditions in Gaza to that of a concentration camp, gets off an inadvertent good one:

He defended his comments in the center-left Italian daily La Repubblica on Thursday.  While noting that Hamas rockets into Israel were "certainly not sugared almonds," he called the situation in Gaza "horrific."

"Sugared almonds" is a very pretty little flower in the mud, lemme say.  Get that cardinal a TV show.

And if you're laughing too hard and long these days, take a strong whiff of this (which is the first self-contained story on A1 in the NYTimes I can recall).

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

January 8, 2009

i know, deep thoughts are annoying

This is an excellent example of the ways that entertainment is being generated circa right now, as Urlesque collects the tendrils that spun off the first two or three iterations of "Garfield Minus [X]".  Basically, the individual user is churning out content in ways that traditional Big Media cannot keep up with.

Certainly the "Garfield Minus [x]" memes will be played out in the traditional media (and remember that the Corporate Behemoth That is Jim Davis has already agreed to release a compilation of the original "Garfield Without Garfield"), but the swarm of (largely hilarious) takes on the originals happens in a period of time in which it's not possible to develop a TV show or movie, let alone shoot and distribute one.

Maybe the "GM[x]" concept is not one that can sustain an entire corporate media product -- that's fair to say.  But that's never stopped anyone before.

Short version is that we have taken back the beating of dead horses from stand-up comedians and SNL.  (Not to take anything away from the "GM[x]" collection linked, which is funny, especially "Garfield Plus House Cat".)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:16 PM

sarah palin is running to be the next senator of new york

It's not a case of misplaced short-term nostalgia.  The Internet needs Sarah Palin:
"I’ve been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope," Palin told conservative filmmaker John Ziegler...

"It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out and I think that as we watch that we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be."

You think Norm Coleman could serve up a softball like that?  Ann freakin' Coulter would kill or die to come up with a quote so radioactively linkable.  In fact, maybe if Coulter would abandon her smarty-pants what-will-she-say-next schtick for Palin's I'm-drowning-and-only-more-clauses-per-sentence-can-save-me, then maybe she could start sellin' some freakin' books, like she used to.

Anyhow, Palin's back, so prepare for online inundation.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:32 PM

maybe they should arrest that guy that killed oscar grant iii for murder?

Just a brief note to remind anyone who might have missed this, but there was a wee taste of rioting last night in Oakland.  The six o'clock news version:
Authorities said 105 people had been arrested in the protest over the fatal New Years Day shooting of Oscar Grant III after a splitter group broke off from the peaceful march and began trashing store fronts, breaking windows, setting fires and damaging at least one patrol car and several other vehicles.

The background is that Oscar Grant III was handcuffed and lying face down when the BART cop shot and killed him, which was captured by multiple video sources.  (All of such videos are available online, which I won't link cuz I don't like watching a man being killed, but hey, go for it.)  The BART cop is not cooperating with the investigation.  More good explanation on the situation from Warren Ellis, Oakland's most beloved comic book writer.

Coincidentally, I overheard some old smoke the other night telling a story of being whisked out of DC by his old man when the riots started, and I thought to myself, "My, what a strange thing to be talking about, right here and right now."  But it is useful to be reminded that sometimes streets are taken to, even here in the fully-domesticated USA.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:07 AM

ap: terrorists like to blow big things up

Deep deep thoughts from the Associated Press concerning the upcoming presidential inauguration:
WASHINGTON — The upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama is an attractive target for international and domestic terrorists, but U.S. intelligence officials have no information about specific threats to the Jan. 20 event.

You know what, AP?  In other news, Carole Lombard is an attractive target for alternative reality sweetheart of this guy right here, but this guy right here is happily married and has no information about how to invoke specific alternate realities.

At this point in history, with information being more widely transmitted and ubiquity levels off the charts, obvious things are really obvious.  Like, public gatherings are terrorist targets.  Non-driving six year-olds know that.  And public gatherings with most of the government present?  That's a Carole-Lombard level terrorist target.  Even the hinge-jawed revenant that is Dick Clark knows that.  So, assuming the attractiveness of this potential terrorist target is obviously well-known, then that information is not news.

But don't let that stop you, Eileen Sullivan of the AP:

An internal intelligence assessment, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, says the high visibility of the event, the presence of dignitaries and the significance of swearing in the country's first black president make the inauguration vulnerable to attacks.

God, I hope that's Ms Sullivan's mischaracterization and not what the assessment actually says -- none of the attributes she listed make the inauguration vulnerable.  The size of the event makes it vulnerable, and the number of entrances/exits makes it vulnerable.  The significance, etc. of the event makes it high-value for the criminally disposed.  Which glaring error does not take anything away from the non-newsiness of the story.

Man, I wish I was a reporter for the AP: waltz in around eleven, make a few phone calls, read a few press releases, type type type, and I'm at the bar by Happy Hour.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:38 AM

January 7, 2009

Coleman: Democracy is not a robot

Defeat has not made Norm Coleman, former senator from Minnesota, any less loathsome, as he has decided that the election must end in litigation, in the interest of fair play and everything that is good and right:
Coleman shrugged off the idea that he might concede the election to avoid a protracted fight that could leave Minnesota with only a single senator in Washington for months.

"Something greater than expediency is at stake here," Coleman said.  He added: "Democracy is not a machine.  Sometimes it's messy and inconvenient, and reaching the best conclusion is never quick because speed is not the first objective, fairness is."

Sidestepping the question of how messy machines are not, let's revisit Coleman's views on expediency right after the election as the recount was triggered, when he was up by a couple hundred votes:

Coleman went before relatives, friends and supporters at his campaign headquarters in St. Paul to say he was "humbled and grateful for the victory that the voters gave us last night."  His campaign website flashed the word "VICTORY."

Coleman urged Franken to waive his right to a recount, saying that the prospect of changing the result was remote and that a recount would be costly to taxpayers (about $86,000).

"I just think the need for the healing process is so important..."

It's no shock that any politician, on either side of the aisle, would act in his/her own self-interest.  It is customary, however, to try to camouflage bald hypocrisy with something at least approaching plausible deniability.  And it is Norm Coleman's failure to do so that makes him a glaring turd.

(Why such outright hatred for Coleman from a non-resident of Minnesota?  Because he made political hay out of the funeral of Paul Wellstone.  Karma equals bitch.)

Posted by mrbrent at 2:10 PM

Morning dayjob excitement

Can I describe the unmitigated pleasure of showing up for work and finding that a fire had broken out/been extinguished two floors down not three hours ago?  Yes I can.  It's like this: "What th- What?  Dude.  Dude!!  Fucking yikes.  Shudder."  Then the rush to the water cooler, where we all try to remember if there was ever a storyline in "Cathy" where the office nearly burned down, and then she was all, "Mondays!" with the little sweat bullets shooting off her head.

Good news is that our floor is undamaged but for sticky smoke smell and some stuff that fell over when the FDNY busted in and broke all the window.  Bad news is that I'm going to have to sit behind the desk with that smell in my nose all day.  I'm going to get home and smell like I've been standing too close to a bonfire.

Also, no one was hurt, except for the applicable insurers, who really hate this kind of crap.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:06 PM

sanjay gupta and judge judy walk into a bar

You may have noticed that, in response to news of the Obama transition team's offer to Dr. Sanjay Gupta of the position of Surgeon General, everyone from dignitaries like Michelle Malkin to newspaper blogs to personal blogs to anonymous but racist commenters have compared the choice of Dr. Gupta with the (speculative) choice of Judge Judy for the Supreme Court.  Good job everyone!  Everyone knows that a joke is funniest when told simultaneously by hundreds.

Best I can tell, this young man beat them all to the punch, and hats off to ABC's Jake Tapper, who employed the unqualified-celebrity structure for a punchline but went omitted Judge Judy entirely.

And to be fairest, the concept was pretty explicitly presaged by Christopher Buckley's last book, "Supreme Courtship", in which a television judge is nominated as a Supreme Court justice.  I don't know how it ends as I started reading it right before the annual Christmas wheelbarrow-full of gifted books happened (and will have to get back to it later), but I will guarantee that he is funnier than Michelle Malkin.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:36 AM

January 6, 2009

wsj: any result in which al franken got more votes is tainted

Further to Al Franken being an actual for-real senator, the Wall Street Journal yesterday ran an editorial that purported to list the ways in which the recount in Minnesota unfairly favored Al Franken.  But even more fun is 538's Nate Silver responding to said editorial with a whole bunch of facts:
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with taking such a position [i.e., that the certification of the Minnesota Canvassing Bord is illegimate].  The Journal's editorial, however, has several basic facts wrong, makes several other assertions based on flimsy or nonexistent evidence, and generally has little understanding of the process that has taken place to date.

Let's go through the editorial paragraph by paragraph.

And he does, with thoroughness that defies pullquoting but is strong in its logic and conclusions.  It is a refutation, but it would be more accurate to call it a whuppin'.

When one asserts the truth (even in an editorial, with murkier fact-checking requirements than actual reporting), one should take efforts to ensure that one's assertions are not as laughable as one's child asserting that the cookies left on the counter ate themselves.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:11 PM

nobody googles ann coulter anymore

So there is a further update to the Ann Coulter/NBC story mentioned in the immediately previous post.  But I'm not going to link it, or tell you what it is.

Because, well, I think we all agreed to ignore her from now on, and let her go away.  But ignoring her all to myself is no fun, so I wanted to share my ignorance of Ann Coulter with you all.

Also: remember cassette tapes?  Man, I must've had fifty or sixty cassette tapes, back in the day.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:05 AM

January 5, 2009

ann coulter: the punchline years are the awkwardest

Gawker may be suffering from some unidentifiable (without hindsight) combination of talent-drought and ubiquity, but Alex Pareene is at least still part-time there, and he can still swing a mean sentence, as he does in this post concerning The Today Show's to have Ann Coulter on to shill her latest horrid yet lucrative "book":
Rush and Ann still have lots of listeners and sell lots of books, but they're not driving any sort of national conversation anymore, just throwing meat to increasingly marginalized anger-junkies.  The Obama smears didn't catch on last year, and they won't get much traction until he starts fucking up.  So it was absurd for NBC to annoy viewers by giving this outdated comedienne a microphone during the already hallucinogenic fourth hour of Today.

Ann's statement [link w/held on account of nyah-nyah] involves the words "liberal media bias" but still doesn't even make sense within her own little mythology of persecution, so whatever.  Let's let her go away in peace.

True, writing about her is not exactly the best way to let her go away in peace.  But, writing about her railing impotently against her creeping insignificance does have its own rewards.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:22 PM

smart guys on the march

Compare and contrast these indispensables, which are related only in that they can both be considered of the "year-end" genre, which ordinarily I loathe but from which I am yet willing to squeeze drops of usefulness.

First, Rex Sorgath (which sounds exactly as made-up as the name of his site, Fimoculous), sums up, in his opinion, the top 30 blogs of the past year, with side discussions of trends and the like.  He's a grand old man of the Internets, with the added benefit of being a Smart Guy of the Internet, as evinced by his succinct description of Tumblr as:

... the platform that has essentially reignited the personal blogging movement: reblogs over comments, overheard conversation over discursive prose, clique over mass, fast over deliberative.

Second is an ongoing discussion with author/futurist Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky concerning the year 2009 -- kind of a reverse-engineered best-of.  The discussion is scheduled to last for another week and a half, so it will be worth revisiting over time.  Sterling sets the mood:

Welcome to 2009!

What I now currently wonder is: what kind of OTHER development makes us stop maundering about liquidity issues?  You know what's truly weird about any financial crisis?  WE MADE IT UP.  Currency, money, finance, they're all social inventions.  When the sun comes up in the morning it's shining on the same physical landscape, all the atoms are in place.  It's not merciless enemies would blow themselves up in order to bleed on our shoes... oh wait.  They are.  Well, it's not like the icecaps are melting.

Oh wait.  The icecaps ARE melting.  Okay, maybe I'll start over next post.

From their the discussion visits post-collapse Russia and then wanders into paradigms of the New City and Commons-based peer production.  And even gets hung up on the word "hippie" for a moment, which makes it chart up one notch for me.

Neither link is as enlightening and embiggening as discussions of the death of the child of a celebrity, so be forewarned.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:55 AM

norm coleman: you are the nicer guy this couldn't have happened to

The sense I'm getting is that I'm in the minority when I say that Al Franken, running for Senate in Minnesota, does not skeeve me out at all.  Yes, he was a comedy writer for a while, but weren't we all comedy writers, for a while?  And I was a big fan of his brief stint as a radio talk how host, even though it was quickly clear that Al Franken was not actually the best radio talk show host in the world -- a little too deliberate and steady-footed.  And then his cohost Katherine Lanpher, who was actually talented at radio broadcasting, left for pastures greener, which left Franken with little to do than retire from radio and run for Senate.

I guess some found that his background of sometimes dirty jokes were less than befitting a candidate for the Senate.  Whatever, too late -- Al Franken is the new junior senator from the great state of Minnesota.

This news will of course be met by legal action from the team of previous senator Norm Coleman, who is as feckless and hypocritical as Paul Wellstone (the man Coleman beat by virtue of Wellstone dying in a plane crash) was beloved.  (I just spent ten valuable minutes trying to find the one website detailing the many violations of Coleman against honesty/civility, and could not, so take this as a tiny exhibit a).  But as William Rehnquist is no longer Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I anticipate that the reasonable application of Minnesota vote count procedure will be upheld and allowed to resolve itself unimpeded.

Which means we all get to contemplate six years of that Al Franken voice on the evening news.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:44 AM

January 4, 2009

an elephant is in the room

It is times like these, in which Israel sends in the tanks, that being a dedicated but amateur smart-ass fail you.  I have an opinion, but unfortunately the opinion is something like, hey, dumbasses, why not stop trying to kill each other?  But of course, the other guy started trying to kill me first, etc. etc.  And then, wary of the sixty year-old chair fight, I take pains to say that not only am I not taking either side, and also expressly not taking the other guy's side, so aim your invective elsewhere.

See?  Boring and insightless.

On Friday, I picked up the paper on the way in to the city, and the deli guy tapped the front page, above the fold -- a photograph of some civilians being pulled out of some wreckage in the Gaza Strip -- and then asked me why the other papers aren't reporting this?  It was the New York Times, naturally, and the tabloids I think were running covers of some dude who lost a lot of weight.  I shrugged and offered something commissary ("I know, man"), but sadly the answer is that a) it's all happening a half a planet away, b) it's a conflict running for so many generations that fatigue has set in, and c) it's such a complex political problem, with so many moving parts, that everyone but the most ardent realizes that there is no military solution.  I feel for the guy -- if someone was invading Rochester, NY, I'd want bandwidth for that too.

You just feel pretty silly sometimes, looking for the diverting snark to post, the morning after you spent an evening watching Live CNN Coverage.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:31 AM