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June 12, 2010

hello lehigh valley

A brief paraphrased snapshot from the early-morning local Pennsylvanian call-in sports radio show:
The German Army was probably man-for-man better'n the Allies, but the Allies still won the war.

I'm pretty sure they were talking about the slumping Phillies, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how that works in context.  Which tells you all lot about the Lehigh Valley.

I don't mean that in a bad way!  I like it here.  I just feel the place is intentionally difficult to parse, like Yogi Berra was in charge of the narrative engines.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:29 AM

June 10, 2010


As someone that recently finished reading Bruce Sterling's "Heavy Weather" a month ago, please be aware that a new kind of cloud formation has been found:
A newly-discovered cloud formation, first identified last year, has appeared again this week after a massive storm over Missouri.  The clouds, called "Undulatus asperatus," create a roiling, churned pattern that looks almost like the wake from a ship.

The implication being, of course, not that the new formation was finally stumbled upon, but rather that clouds are forming in heretofore unanticipated ways.

Actually, let's say novel ways instead of unanticipated -- "Heavy Weather" concerns itself with characters in the not-distant future predicting an F6 tornado, which would be kind of a city-sized tornado.  Or, more accurately, a tornado that forms in a novel way.

Make sure to click through for the pictures, which show a sky that could easily be mistaken for, "The world is about to end."

Posted by mrbrent at 10:23 AM

good morning 6.10.10

Last night around, I figure, 4:00a, a pretty epic swatch of dreams started.  It started out with some avant garde performance that I'm dragged to see, which slid into meeting these kids who are all energetic and young and we all become fast friends, which then segued into all of us sharing some habitation which was the backdrop for some smaller sequences which eddied off, but ultimately ended with the kids asking if I wanted to write/act for their little theatrical concern.

This dream of course has absolutely nothing to do with my present-day hopes and dreams and everything to do with a different place a long long time ago, but my GOD it was all I could do to struggle out of sleep and awake to the realization that not only I had overslept but also that dream was a bit of hindsight-wish-fulfillment weaponized to make me cranky for a full day.

(Which of course means that this has everything to do with my present-day hopes and dreams as are currently unknown to me.)

So that's my morning!  Thanks for the friendly ear!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:53 AM

June 9, 2010

bros icing bros

A (hopefully) final word on icing from Drew Magary:
Stop it.  You fucking cut it out right now.  I don't care if you recognize this whole icing thing as stupid before going ahead and doing it anyway.  I'd rather you be genuine about it.  I remember the first time someone sent me a link to that Bros Icing Bros shit, I thought it was a site about frat guys raping each other with ice dildos.  That would have been sooooo much better than what it turned out to be.

As with all drinking games, icing would only be truly interesting if it was played with people deathly allergic to alcohol, so there's something more at stake than one's bro-ness.

I'm not concerned on a personal level, of course, as I have no bros to speak of.

And if you don't know (despite the national coverage) what icing is, skip googling it and go right to Alex Balk's cautionary tale.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:22 AM

tuesday primaries wrap-up

So yesterday's primaries were interesting after all!  An actually insane person gets to run against Harry Reid, South Carolina gets to talk about cheatin' wives for a another bit, and you can barely hear the results from the Arkansas over the tears of DailyKos diarists.

It's unfair to single out DK, but progressives are generally wailing over Sen. Blanche Lincoln's run-off victory over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter like it was 2004.  I myself would probably prefer Halter over Lincoln, but I am not the state of Arkansas.  It's an elementary lesson in the consequences of actions: if a bunch of nation-wide organizations (organized labor, MoveOn) through the full weight of fund-raising behind an inherently local contest, the locals might actually notice and resent it.  And the melodrama and the hurt feelings are just embarrassing.  It's good in a way, as it's a chance to remind yourself that you're not a joiner.

If only Orly Taitz had been successful in her bid, it would've been nearly perfect night of novelty.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:54 AM

June 8, 2010

no scuba tank/almanac required

Generally I'm a fan of NYPD anti-terrorism efforts — they are grown-up and forward-thinking — but this bit of sky-is-falling runs the risk of being a bit histrionic:
The FBI is warning of a possible new terror tactic: per ABC News, a "battle of suspicious bags" is being encouraged on a jihadist website. The bags, while suspicious, might actually be filled with harmless items like water bottles, or socks -- not with bombs.

This seems to be the functional equivalent of finally realizing that someone is breaking into your house every night, stealing all your stuff and replacing all of it with perfect replicas.  Sure, it's sourced from message-board intel, but if the bad guys exhort each other to mail all postage with upside-down stamps to terminally confuse USPO employees, should ABC News report that?

I'm not saying that the bad guys are not probing response times and tactics with fake threats but- um don't look now but I think that dude standing behind you is taking photos suspiciously and he's swarthy.  I were you I'd panic uncontrollably to my nearest precinct.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:39 PM

tuesday's primaries

Popular news analysis storyline of the day: today's primaries will "test mood of voters" of our United States.  Me, I'm not buying it.

First of all, these are not open primaries.  The amount of votes required to hijack a primary election for either party is not equal to the amount of votes required to sweep a candidate into elected office.  So even if all the incumbents are supplanted by all the wackos, it doesn't count as a significant trend bearing on the election in November until that election has happened.  It's an interesting factoid for those of us that care about such things, but does not rise to a level of seriousness.

And second, "voter revolt", as this phenomenon was called after Rand "Says The Darndest Things" Paul won in KY, is an absolute misnomer.  Regardless of the outcome, voters are voting.  Defying conventional wisdom is not a revolution.  An actual revolt should probably involve something more refusing to actually vote.

And lastly, talking about the "mood" of something just strikes me as silly, as moods are such subjective conditions caused by matters of little importance, like "sugar crash" or "slept funny".  I'm nitpicking, but I don't think that moods need to be elevated into something to be taken seriously.

But have a nice Tuesday anyhow.  I'm only going to pay real close attention to the South Carolina race, because those right wingers down there drag knuckles so bad it's like watching a sociology experiment.  Now with lie detectors!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:35 AM

June 7, 2010

support free weeklies

Last week I noticed that the corner deli out in my distant Brooklyn neighborhood was all of a sudden carrying the Village Voice.  Since that's a long damn way to send a truck with bundles of free weeklies, I picked one up, tossed it on my desk, and didn't get around reading it until yesterday.

And I found it a rewarding experience, and not just in a nostalgic sense.  The front of the book is scrappier than I remember it, and the listings are a sharp reminder of all the culture that I could be supporting were I a better person.  But best of all was a many thousand word feature on Coney Island which is a more than casual look at the history of Coney Island and the terrible prospects for its future, and a very close look at Thor Equities, which is the developer that snatched up great swaths of Coney Island real estate and razed it with the stated purpose of building something wonderful like condos or a mall!  And as awful as that seems, it's not as awful as Thor's likely intention — sit on the now-vacant lots and dump them for a profit without building a fucking thing.  Even though the Internet is no longer the domain of not-so-many words, the feature is another example of things you would not know without journalism.

Plus the Village Voice is free, as are other "free weeklies", so count that as an innovation that the web takes credit for but did not invent.  And the Dolans are terrified of the VV, which means that someone is doing something right.

So I say go forth and seek out your local free weeklies.  And if you're afraid of peer pressure, remember that print is dying, so by supporting your free weekly you are actually being ironic.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:48 AM

mlm in a public place

I am right now sitting in a national bread/coffee chain, availing myself of the wifi, and directly behind me is a young woman with her newborn sitting with a blazered woman, probaby 15 years older.  And the place is empty enough that not only can I eavesdrop, but their every sentence is louder than the canned classical music.  And the older woman is selling the younger woman a dietary supplement program, for I'm pretty sure weight loss, though the young woman can't be more than ninety-five pounds.

The saleslady is following a script — the segue from the personal testimonial to the "which credit card would you like to put this on" was pretty seemless.  I'm not catching the name of the program, but if it's not a MLM scheme I'd be shocked.

I've stumbled on the shadow economy: all those manufacturing jobs that were lost in the past two generations will be replaced by pyramid schemes that are perpetrated entirely upon friends-of-friends who will be spieled in the suburban coffee chains of America.

It is only MLM that can turn our economy into the engine that powered the middle class.  Or a combination of MLM and knocking over liquor stores.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:44 AM