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September 5, 2009

my bathroom sink is clogged

Well that was a frustrating day, with me waging war on a clog in the bathroom sink and losing.  Bonus trivia: did you know that what is commonly known as a "snake" bears the technical name "auger"?  That's a name I'm more familiar with from shop class, and in the spooky ominous poetic sense (spelled with a "u", I know, but enough of a small wonder to sleep soundly).

And during the monotonous plunging, my mind wandered, sadly, to politics and discourse.  I recalled (plunge plunge) that in the odd times when I have a polite conversation (plunge plunge) with someone asserting some markedly Limbaugh/Beck point (plunge "death panels" plunge) and I respond with some statement of fact, the riposte more often than not is, "You can't believe everything you read."

Which is, hey!, kind of the fucking point in the first place, right?  And which is why ignorance of the willful variety is like a plus nine amulet these days -- what you won't know can't hurt you.

The clog may have won this day, but tomorrow I'm calling in air support.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:47 PM

September 4, 2009

michele bachmann, for old time's sake

After a quick half minute's introspection, I realized that Michele Bachmann is right -- I only write mean things about her because I don't want her to be president.

Because, face it, it's not like Michele Bachmann is the only insane person slowly stewed in their own crazy like a dingbat confit.  I can think of at least one or two others.  And so for me to single her out, to bring attention to the fact that she wouldn't recognize a lick of sense if she sat on one, that her despicable lowest-common-denominator schtick would be despicable if you thought her capable of anything resembling ulterior motives -- there must be a reason for that.

And the only reason that makes sense is that I don't want Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin, for that matter, to get to be president -- whether it's their turn or not!

It's a terrible knowledge to uncover, right before the holiday weekend, and it's shocking how transparent I am.  Hopefully a couple of hamburgers or a bit of roast pig will make me feel better.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:40 AM

al franken vs. tea partiers: collegial

So I sat though the entirety of the video of Senator (!) Al Franken engaging a posse of Tea Partiers for ten minutes.  It's not gonna get a lot of play on the cable news -- Franken takes hostile questions, patiently, and ends up having a congenial conversation with his constituents.  It is not telegenic.  But Franken is talking with and not to his potential protesters, respectfully, and the protesters are being respectful back (that's what makes this news).

Actually, it's a little but dull, so be warned, but it is an excellent antidote to full of a summer of yelly angry people for whom the only fair election is the election with an outcome desired by the yelly angry people, a summer so filled with American Idiocy that now even Joe Klein, nestled deep in the Beltway, is terrified.

In short, it is a kick-ass ten minutes of boring that is the first hopeful sign since I broke out my seersucker.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:12 AM

ladies and gentlemen, bob ney

I was not going to shill this Awl piece by Abe Sauer.  It's actually great -- dude's on some kind of tear.  It starts out on a new Arby's rollout featuring women in soft-porny French maid costumes, drives past John-Kerry-wears-a-beret and then parks somewhere around the awe-inspiring capacity for the American people to perpetrate the dumb.  But I feel like honest cheerleading must take a break now and again, so that it doesn't devolve into regurgitating everything Sauer writes.

But I do have to shill it on account of strange circumstance -- former Rep. Bob Ney, who is referenced in the piece w/r/t his "freedom fries" concept, has joined the comments thread.  Or someone claiming to be him has joined, whichever, it's maximally weird and let's all rush to the parking lot to watch.

Good morning.  Why are you still here and not there?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:35 AM

September 3, 2009

good news/bad news: coral reef edition

Good news and bad news!  Bad news first.

Coral reefs as we know them will cease to exist as we know them in forty years, knocking the biosphere hella out of kilter.  The prognosis?

"The future is horrific," says Charlie Veron, an Australian marine biologist who is widely regarded as the world's foremost expert on coral reefs.  "There is no hope of reefs surviving to even mid-century in any form that we now recognise.  If, and when, they go, they will take with them about one-third of the world's marine biodiversity.  Then there is a domino effect, as reefs fail so will other ecosystems.  This is the path of a mass extinction event, when most life, especially tropical marine life, goes extinct."

The good news is that an intrepid soul has made a compilation video of UFO footage taken in New York's Hudson Valley.  Set to ambient!  Remember ambient?  No little green men, but nothing washes the taste of foreboding out of your mouth like a little Truth Is Out There.

Yay, UFOs!  Boo, doom!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:16 AM


Of course it's prurient -- it's about micturation for the female of the species, which has the dual advantage/drawback of relating to both elimination and genitalia, so attention will be paid to this news of a portable, er, device to enable women to piss wherever they want.

News worth a post, to be sure, especially in light of the fact that it's called "Ladybag", which means that there is now one less potential hipster aphorism in the world.  But the best news it how this Ladybag works:

The disposable Ladybag is a plastic bag fitted with absorbent polymers that turn urine into a gel.

You may not be able to fly your car to the Cape for the weekend, but you have lived to the age where urine is turned into an inert, non-urine-like substance so that you may dispose of it without getting a case of the ickies.


Posted by mrbrent at 10:52 AM

September 2, 2009

the utility of glenn beck

Gawker points out a few reasons why having Glenn Beck around is a good thing in a little post entitled "Why The World Needs Clown-Like Glenn Beck".  I'll grant one of the points:
Beck epitomizes the right-wing fanatic and, thus, exemplifies the nation's darkest political recesses.  Without him, saner citizens wouldn't know the insanity that flows through a fairly large chunk of our increasingly divided country.

It's true -- no way to know how the foundation is rotting until you crawl under the porch and take a good look.

However, that is a rationale that is more hindsight than foresight.  I'd make the conservative argument that the world does not need doughy millionaire clowns like Glenn Beck because they transmit lies, dangerous lies that will inspire the witless to do witless things.  Lies like, "Obama is taking away our freedoms!" and, "The will of the aggrieved outweighs the results of elections."

And right now the witless things done are limited to being rude to congresspeople and having bus tours to support the health insurance industry.  But our nation's capacity for dangerous witless things is unbounded, and needs no encouragement from clowns like Beck and his little Lonesome Rhodes Sedition & Variety Hour.

And I can't even argue that it's good to have him around as a target of mockery and derision -- much too easy, and right now his only defense is his ratings.  We need better smarter demagogues to disagree with.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:25 PM

dan savage nails it (heh)

Didn't catch it last night and haven't watched the video, but just from the transcript (and being casually familiar with Dan Savage's body of work), I am heartily recommending this interview of Savage by Olbermann concerning the Republican Party's little Frankenstein problem:
They began 20 or 30 years ago pandering to the Religious right and the Religious right realized that it could just run it's own candidates, elect it's own people and put the nuts in charge, and that's what they've done.  Michele Bachmann is a religious extremist and a nut and she's the kind of person who once upon a time the Republicans could count on her vote and her support for saner, more middle of the road Republican candidates who could work with Democrats and weren't bat crap crazy and now she's the ones who's in there and they are stuck with her and her extremism.

And on why being Christian ain't what it used to be:

I've read the bible backwards and forwards, and a lot in there, a lot Jesus had to say about taking care of the sick, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, visiting and not executing the prisoner and nothing about capital gains tax cuts, nothing about denying health care to American families and American children and nothing about this sort of insane opposition to a democratically elected President.  They really have hijacked Christianity and are giving it a bad name.

That's an awful lot to quote, but there's a whole lot in there, truths percolating below the surface, and Savage does an excellent job in voicing them clearly.  I hope it comes off as well on video as it does in print.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:26 AM

good morning 9.2.09

Maybe the most apt commentary of the purchase of Marvel by the Sovereign State of Walt Disney is not directly about this acquisition.  Instead, this column that Warren Ellis writes for Bleeding Cool, a comic book industry news site, is about who drew Superman's head when Jack Kirby jumped ship to DC in the early 70s.

Yes, non-fanboy, Kirby did indeed have a quick run at DC -- you can thank him for the New Gods and Kamandi, the Last Boy On Earth.  And a run on "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen", in which everything but Superman's head was drawn by Kirby.

This is illustrative of the fact that the comic book business has been mostly only a business a long time before Time Warner or Disney decided to pad their portfolios.

Good morning: it's not show friends, it's show business.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:50 AM

September 1, 2009

hans von spakovsky: unrepentant shitbag

This caught my eye this morning and thank goodness there are professionals like Steve Benen around to keep their eyes on the ball -- the NYT ran a big article on the refocusing of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division (i.e., into an agency that actually enforces civil rights laws).  Since this is American journalism, the "on the other hand" reaction:
Among the critics, Hans von Spakovsky, a former key Bush-era official at the division, has accused the Obama team of “nakedly political” maneuvers.

Now, I'm not long-memoried, but fortunately von Spakovsky is a funny name, so I recall him as not an uninterested figure on this issue.  As Benen puts it:

Hans von Spakovsky is, of course, a revolting, dishonorable figure from Bush's team, who was a leading player in the administration's "vote-suppression agenda."  If he's outraged, sane people everywhere can take comfort.

Revolting and dishonorable are soft-ball descriptions of this shitbag, who turned the Civil Rights Division on its head in pursuit of partisan gain -- using the force of the Federal government to discourage the disenfranchised from voting.  And to have the gall not to crawl under a rock once it became common knowledge what exactly he was trying to do is galling to say the least.

But I guess we're kind of used to it now -- isn't Karl Rove some kind of celebrated commentator now for his valuable insight?  Doesn't sound like frog-marching to me.

Remember and repeat: Hans von Spakovsky is no more qualified to speak on the Civil Rights division than Bernie Madoff is qualified to speak on hedge funds.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:59 PM

bad neighbor policy

Further to Stross' thoughts on compassion, I'd heard of (and not given much thought to) the outcry over the lodging decisions of Moammar Ghadafi while visiting the United Nations next month.  But after brief consideration, I have a devil's-advocate suggestion that this NIMBYism is misplaced.

There is nothing bad-ass about refusing to host a guest.  There is only rancor and small-minded incivility.  It's not a measure of muscular patriotism or fierce opposition to lawlessness, it's just misguided vengeance.

Wait, am I saying that you have to be polite and show forbearance even to those you hate, to those who have harbored terrorism?  Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.  It's what grown-ups do, especially in the realm of international politics, where there are a surplus of heads of state with some sort of blood on our hands.  It's the treatment we would expect to be accorded to our leaders, and do-unto-others rules the day.

And those who proscribe this kind of behavior either would prefer to see a populace frothing with pitchforks and torches, or are not grown-ups.  (Sometimes both.)

Not saying you can't hate the guy's guts -- hate away! -- but manners first.  We don't have to give him a bouquet of flowers and a back-rub (and we can even protest, if we wish), but to agitate to keep the guy out entirely is a cynical political piggybacking of the pain of the families of the Lockerbie victims (whose pain will not lessen no matter where Ghadafi is housed).

Posted by mrbrent at 7:45 AM

good morning 9.1.09

Yes, the news of Marvel Entertainment (which is what Marvel Comics grew up to be once its characters were deemed assets) being purchased by whatever Disney calls itself these days (Disney Intl?  DisneyCom?) was distressing.  I found out by hearing it on the radio in a car, which is the way I found out that Elvis died way back when.

And while I am like everybody else concerned that the suits will interfere with editorial in order to make the characters (or "properties") more appealing as merchandise fodder and in ancillary media, that's not my paramount worry -- um, Marvel already did that.  Disney is a more loathsome entity than Marvel was (Stan Lee > Walt Disney), but Marvel hasn't been free of the suits for decades.

No, mostly I'm scared that Disney, with its successful focus on improving distribution channels and content delivery as it edges towards a vertically integrated entertainment monolith too big to fail, might realize that it should be selling comic books on a retail and not a wholesale basis and then accidentally-on-purpose put comic book stores out of business.  (Just like comic book stores and direct distribution accidentally killed the practice of selling comic books at drug stores and 7-11s.)  Nothing to do but wait and find out, right?

BTW, Good morning.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:42 AM

August 31, 2009

good morning 8.31.09

Was at an (excellent) wedding in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the weekend, so again I am news-challenged, but I am fascinated by the bite of the Dick Cheney interview that got the most play on the television news networks I did get to see.  (Well, I'm fascinated by Dick Cheney, so there.)  The bite is as follows:
"We had a president of the United States, President Obama, tell us a few months ago there wouldn't be an investigation," said Cheney.  "Now, they get a little heat from the left wing of the Democratic Party and they are reversing course on that."

And keep in mind that the context of the bite is investigations of the CIA, and not the alleged political malleability of the president.

The bite is mostly interesting for the tone, in comparison to the body of Cheney's speaking ill of the current administration work -- it's a backslide of epic proportions.  Initially, Cheney spoke in declarative sentences, and by last week he was reduced to alleging the doubts of the American people and hiding behind them.  Now Cheney is simpering about how Obama PROMISED and it's NOT FAIR!!  He's getting less and less Darth Vader all the time.

And to make it an actually a good morning, read Andrew Sullivan comparing Cheney's interviewer, Chris Wallace, to a teenage girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers, and then imagine what it must be like to be an embarrassment to one's family and one's name.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:55 AM