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Saturday, July 05, 2008

We're All A Bunch of Fatties

I found this chart courtesy of CalorieLab.

Yay for Colorado, still the leanest state in the Union.

Sad result of CalorieLab's study: The obesity rate is growing in all 50 states.

She Got Game

Angel going in for the dunk.

Flip-Flopper

We really need to banish this phrase from our vocabulary. Not only does it sound stupid, but both presidential candidates are serial flip-floppers. So whoever wins in November, we're going to have a flip-flopper in the White House.

Feel better? Or bitter?

Tacking to the Middle is a Bad Thing Now?

I remember seeing a headline that said Obama was coming to Colorado Springs (Dobson Country, the headline called it) to give a speech. There was some speculation he was going to meet with Dobson, but I doubt that happened.

Dobson is nothing if not an unforgiving asshole.

Part of this story cracked me up, though:
Before Obama's appearance, state GOP leaders accused him of reversing his positions and "plunging to the middle" on such issues as federal funding for church-based social programs.
As if "plunging to the middle" is a bad thing! (Newsflash: Most people in this country live in the fucking middle, dummies!)

But wait...doesn't the GOP support federal funding for church-based social programs? Shouldn't they be happy?

Or is scoring cheap political points more important?

Hating on Megan Again

You gotta love Megan McArdle.

A DC Blogger named Brian Beutler gets shot three times a few days after the Supreme Court ruled that you have constitutional right to a handgun and then he has trouble paying his medical bills.

McMegan says:
I thought this went without saying, but apparently not: divisive political issues. Not going to be debated. On my blog. In reference to the shooting. You are severely testing both my patience and the limits of my good manners.
I think the weird punctuation is supposed to simulate speaking through gritted teeth and doesn't reflect a sticky keyboard.

Never mind that a guy getting shot illustrates some of the problems of our country's gun culture, or that the resulting medical bills illustrates some of the problems of our country's healthcare system.

"Now is the not the time," Megan says. "This is not the place. And if you don't shut up about it now, I'm going to turn green and start throwing tanks."

Come on, Megan. Just admit that you'd rather not talk about it because your cherished libertarian positions may have negative side effects like, I don't know, random shootings and people going broke in the emergency room.

But if only Beutler had a gun to defend himself with! The headline wouldn't read "DC Blogger Shot on Street." It would read "DC Blogger in Street Shoot Out." As McMegan might say, that's not a bug. It's a feature.

PS...McMegan is guilty of perhaps the dumbest metaphor ever here.
"Goolsbee is dodging and weaving like George Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle."
She should have just used a generic boxer, you know, "a prizefighter in the boxing ring."

Because while George Foreman did fight in the Rumble in the Jungle, he didn't do much dodging and weaving.

A Big Deal Gets Even Bigger

So the Pepsi Center might be too small for Obama's nomination and there's some talk of moving the event to Invesco Field. That would be pretty impressive and I think if they can work it out, they should do it.

And then they should somehow send me tickets.

The High Price of Infidelity

I've got one word to describe the possibility of A-Rod losing millions in his split from his wife.

One word, repeated several times.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I hope she gets it all!

Happy Independence Day

So it's the 5th of July already, but here's hoping you didn't burn your face off lighting fireworks.
(I'm not a big fan of Jessica Simpson, but lordy does she look yummy in that outfit.)

Penn Jillette's Bullshit on Global Warming

I have much love for Penn and Teller.

And in this op-ed, he asks an interesting question:
But the climate of the whole world is more complicated. I'm not a scientist, and I haven't spent my life studying weather. I'm trying to learn what I can, and while I'm working on it, isn't it OK to say "I don't know"?
Of course it is. It's entirely fair.

In fact, I'm with you on that one, Penn. I don't know if we're facing an imminent climate crisis, or whether it was man made or not, or if we can even do anything about it anyway.

But I do know that there are islands of plastic in the ocean.

Penn knows that, right?

He's also a smart guy, so I'm sure he's heard of something called "Superfund sites." He might even be aware that there are over a thousand of them (an average of 20 per state).

I'm sure he also knows about the harmful effects of oil spills and pollution. At least I hope he at least heard about them. Being born in the 70s, I've heard about it my whole life.

So I guess what I'm saying, it's irrelevant if Penn "don't know" if global warming is real or not, he should know that there's a good way to be industrious and a bad way, and we should choose the good way.

Unpublishing Boing Boing

Strangeness over at Boing Boing.

Apparently they (actually Xeni Jardin) decided they didn't like Violet Blue anymore, so they (actually Xeni) removed all mention of her from their blog. There was no announcement. No explanation.

Just one day, Winston Smith went to work at Minitrue and the next thing you know, history is completely changed.

Of course, in their explanation, Boing Boing defended the move by saying:
We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship.
WTF? "Unpublished?" Seriously?

When movable type used to stamp images on paper, unpublishing something just wasn't possible without a bonfire. With electronic media, it's quite easy. You just hit the delete key and history is changed instantly.

But just because something is easy, doesn't mean you should do it.

And while I understand Boing Boing's reasons, which basically amounts to "It's our blog and we can delete posts if we want to," I'm not sure that's a good enough reason.

Doesn't changing content on your blog ex post facto have a deleterious effect on the integrity of your blog?

Probably yes...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Biofuels

I'm not sure this story passes the smell test.
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.
75% huh? That's a nice, convenient number there.

A little too convenient. Not 74%, not 76%...but 75%. Exactly three-fourths. Riiiight.

This part is funny:
The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.
A 72% difference? That's quite a discrepancy.

So what's the true story? However you play it, one thing is clear. We probably shouldn't be using our food as biofuels. Forget corn or wheat-based ethanol.

Let's grow hemp!

Wall-E: Greatest Pixar Movie EVER (With Commentary)

(Here be spoilers.)

Now that I've actually seen Wall-E, I can say with supreme confidence that it's more cautionary tale than liberal propaganda. In fact, I don't think its critics can name even a single conservative principle challenged by Wall-E.

Oh, there's the environmental message, but what's so conservative about ruining the planet with toxic waste? And yes, the president (who is also the CEO of the corporation that controls everything, Buy N Large) does say, "Stay the course," but that is quite obviously a dig at George Bush rather than any right-of-center ideas.

And therein lies the rub. The critics assailing the movie speak less of Wall-E's political motivations and more to their confusion of "Bushism" with conservatism. At its best, conservatism is a pretty useful ideology, not just in politics but in life. (Imagine a conservative saying the same thing about liberalism!) At its worst, though, what passes for "conservatism" is a knee-jerk circus of freakouts, not principles but reactions.

9-11 leads to Iraq, Al Gore's environmentalism leads to global warming denialism, science classes at school lead to home-schooled creationists, save Terri Schiavo, torture is good, income equality bad.

And the controversy over Wall-E is no different. It's not a thoroughly thought out critique, just reflex.

Take the Buy N Large corporation, which apparently makes and does everything, from big box stores to banks. It's the kind of state-controlled nightmare you'd see running a Communist-era Eastern European country. It's simultaneously the cause of the earth's problems, too much trash, and it's "solution," which basically amounts to, "Hey everybody, let's go take a pleasure cruise in space while we clean up the earth." And by the end of the movie, it's clear that Buy N Large can't do anything right. They can't run the world, they can't clean it up, they can't even manage the eventual return of mankind to their homeland. To me, that's not the shark-like market efficiency of Wal-mart, but the plodding ham-fisted ineptness of a state-controlled bureaucracy.

And life on the pleasure cruise doesn't seem to be some kind of conservative utopia rendered ridiculous with the clever application of satire, which you might find here and here. It instead seems like a deconstruction of couch potato culture, with its thousands of doughy citizens all soft and docile in their chairs, their only interaction with the world on the screen in front of them. What political faction was that intended to skewer?

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Wall-E is one of those unique entertainments that truly has depth, layers upon layers of thematic meaning built into a charming story whose ultimate message has nothing to do with politics or partisanship and everything to do with what it means to be human.

I suppose if one were looking for the political implications buried in the story, you could find something. But sometimes an ink blot is a butterfly. And sometimes it's just an ink blot.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ghetto Garden Inventory

I've already bragged blogged about my tomatoes and cucumbers, but I figure it's time for specifics. I've got 10 cucumber plants in the ground and 13 tomato plants, each plant a different variety and all started from seed. (One maxim of the Ghetto Garden this year is that I wasn't going to buy any plants. I was going to grow them all myself.)

So here it is, in no particular order:

Cucumbers:
Spacemaster
Boston Pickling
Tendergreen
National Pickling
Poinsett 76
Eclipse Hybrid
Marketmore
Bush Champion
Straight Eight
Burpee Pickler

(Not yet planted: Sweet burpless, Muncher, Jolly Green)

Tomatoes:
Super Beefsteak
4th of July
Jubilee
Delicious
Roma
Big Boy Hybrid
Better Boy
Beefsteak
Rutgers
Early Pick
Early Girl
Super Marmande
Little Brandywine

(Not yet planted: Jet Star, Burpee's Long Keeper)

So far, the cucumbers have been the big challenge. Many of my transplants didn't survive and had to be replaced. (Good thing I had plenty of backups.) The tomatoes are cake. The challenge there is keeping the vines cut back and the new growth tied to the stakes. I thought I was going to have problems with my Rutgers plant, but it seems to have recovered from the early spring cold snap nicely. My roma plant though is probably going to be permanently stunted.

In another month or so, I'll be able to open my own roadside vegetable stand. See as the Great Depression Part II is coming up, that might be a good idea.

Drip System 2: The Front Yard

I installed the drip system in the front yesterday. I got it all laid out early in the morning and was about to bury it in trenches, but I decided to test it out first. Good thing, too, because halfway down the line the feeder tube had a gash that sprayed water ten feet in the air. All I needed was a connector, so I could cut out the affected section and join the pipe anew, but I didn't have one and I didn't feel like making a special trip to Home Depot for just a $.79 connector.

So I got one when I was out and about with my nephew and we came home to finish the installation. Of course, by this time it was noon, the midday sun at its full height, the work area completely exposed and hot like an oven. Fixing the pipe was easy.

Digging it into a trench in the unforgiving soil was another story. It was not fun...

But I am impressed with the results.

The PSP

My nephew Scott bought himself a PSP the other day. He raised the money himself by doing odd jobs for relatives and liquidating some of his assets (I think he sold his Xbox or something).

The funny thing is that he carried his new Darth Vader PSP with him all day like a teddy bear. He drained the battery early and forgot the bring the AC adapter to charge it, so for most of the day he was carrying a dead machine, but that didn't matter to him. Even if he couldn't play it, he seemed to feel better just holding it.

I could have been a jerk and told him not to bring it with us as we ran around, but I figured nah. He earned it. Let him be.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Heartwarming


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

I remember a different video with the same concept from a few years ago. Maybe it was the same dude, I don't know.

But I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed when I watched this one, especially when all the other people rushed in and joined him. The only reason I can come up with is that I felt a little better about the world, about mankind.

Still in the tear-jerking and heartwarming categories, it can't beat this vid:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Weekend Fever!

One more hour until my weekend.

Which means I'll be doing other things besides surfing the internet and watching the news.

Which means I might blog about something besides politics. If you're all politic'd out, I'm sorry.

In my defense, I offer only this wisdom, stolen from the liner notes of a Corrosion of Conformity record:
“Politics is the control of wealth and power. You are being conditioned to condemn politics as petty and boring, thus granting all the more control to the powers that be. You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. The choice is yours.”

Neither Party is Mine, not the Jackass or the Elephant

Isn't it kind of funny how the term "Sister Souljah Moment" has lasted longer than Sister Souljah's music career?

By the Time I Get to Arizona is still one of my favorite Public Enemy songs.

This is Getting Old

John McCain says about Wesley Clark's comments:
Reporter: "What's your reaction to that line of criticism?"

John McCain: "I think that kind of thing is unnecessary. I'm proud of my record of service, and I have plenty of friends and leaders who will attest to that. The important thing is that if that's the kind of campaign that Senator Obama and his surrogates and his supporters want to wage, I understand that, but it doesn't reduce the price of a gallon of gas by one penny. It doesn't achieve our energy independence, make it come any closer. It doesn't help an American stay in their home who are at risk of losing it today. And it certainly doesn't do anything to address the challenges that Americans have in keeping their jobs, their homes and supporting their families.
Dude...

Your efforts to tie Clark's remarks to the Obama compaign are WEAK.

You wanna know what Obama said about Clark's comments? Let's ask Obama.
"For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country — no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary," Obama said. "And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides."
Look, John, criticize Clark if you must. But be honest about it, for fuck's sake.

That's clearly NOT the type of campaign that Obama wants to wage. He condemned Clark's remarks faster than Dick Cheney acknowledged he shot a dude in the face. And guess who just got his name taken off the VP short list? Wesley Clark.

But McCain wants me to believe that Clark is the Obama campaigns secret attack dog? Please...

On a side note:

Please, John, elaborate on how you are going to reduce the price of gas by a penny. You going to take on the market there, Mr. Lifelong Republican? Right....

Tell me how you're going to get us off our dependence of foreign oil. And no, a hundred year occupation of Iraq will not do the trick, buddy. If we're talking in the language of addiction, that's the equivalent of turning your basement into a methlab. It doesn't fight the addiction, just makes it easier to maintain.

Also, how are you going to help Americans make their mortgage payments? You gonna pay them with your own personal fortune? Nah, didn't think so. You going to change any policies?

Who the fuck are you fooling? You're a Republican! Even if you wanted to, your party won't play along. Government intrusion into business affairs just aren't something they support usually.

See, John, this is why I'm not voting for you. Not only do you speak in meaningless marketing jargon, you don't mean anything you say! It's all triangulation and spin.

It's almost as if the lesson you drew from the last 8 years is that insincerity is a winner. Wrong lesson, pal. After 8 years of Bush, insincerity just isn't selling the tickets it used to.

This is Refreshing

From Obama's "patriotism speech:"
And yet, at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged – at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for.
Damn, he's good.

Retarded Meme of the Day - (No Offense to Retarded People)

A lot of talk about Wesley Clark's remarks. He said, "Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

Of course, this forced a lot of people, not just right wingers, to put their hands on their hips and hiss, "Oh no, he didn't!"

The funny thing is that this statement, not the most controversial ever uttered, is being painted as a "personal attack" on McCain's military service.

My question is this: Agree or disagree with the statement, but how is it a personal attack?

At any rate, I don't think there's any mystery as to why most people fall to their knees in awe over Navy pilots. I saw Top Gun, too. To a deskriding civilian, Navy pilots are pretty impressive.

I imagine, however, that the world looks differently to the Four Star general who was once the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. (That's Dwight Eisenhower's old job, by the way.) The "fighter pilot mystique" probably just doesn't impress him that much. When you're at the top of the game, everyone else is an underling.

Besides, Wes Clark knows from personal experience that military experience, even if you're a decorated combat vet-slash-four star general-slash-SACEUR, doesn't get you very far in presidential campaigns.

It's not the combat experience. It's the politics.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Burritos

Even though I live in a "Mexican" neighborhood, complete with carnicerias (butcher shops), pandaderias (bakeries), peliquirias (movie rental joints), and lavanderias (laundromats), it's nearly impossible to find decent Mexican food.

Actually, I should rephrase that. You can find Mexican food anywhere, just not the kind I like. You can keep your lime wedge and onion slices. I want green chili, man!

So when Viva Burrito, a local family-owned chain, opened up a restaurant two blocks from my house, I figured that I would finally have an alternative to Chipotle and Taco Bell when I wanted some decent American-style Mexican food.

Unfortunately, I've discovered after three visits to Viva Burrito that the service absolutely sucks. Twice they've fucked up my order, giving me a D breakfast burrito rather than a C. The second time it took them forever to figure out how to use the credit card machine, which apparently shared the line with their constantly ringing phone. (What is this, 1997? Put that shit on a dedicated line, people!)

So when I left today with my "D" burrito (ham, not bacon...), I said to myself, "You know, James...fuck that place!" I was about to add them to the list of places that are unworthy of my business, but they're burritos are so good.

So I guess I'll have to outsmart them. Since they are apparently unable to tell a "C" from a "D" --they do rhyme, after all-- I'm going to have to say something like, "C, as in coche." That way there's no confusion.

And I'll just pay with cash.

See...you gotta be smarter than the dog.

That's Not Change You Can Believe In

John McCain says "Obama's word cannot be trusted" (direct quote) because he flip-flopped on public financing.

Bah.

A blog called I'm Not Feeling You has the better take:
Outspending your opponent because you have the support of corporations, PACs, Lobbyists, etc. is wack. Outspending your opponent because millions of people like me are sending you their beer money is fucking awesome.
At any rate, this seems like one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" issues for Obama.

If he took public financing, his critics wouldn't be assuaged. It's not like they have an affinity for taxpayer financed campaigns, after all...

But if Obama had taken that deal, they'd probably just call him a weak candidate with no visible means of support. "Look at him," I can see them saying. "He can't get contributions from his supporters, so he has to rely on the taxpayers. What a loser. You don't want to support a loser, do you?"

Yeah, actually I do.

You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits

I found this story somewhat interesting, especially this graf:
On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It's like you're hearing about two different men with nothing in common," Peterman said. "It makes it impossible to figure out what's true, or what you can believe."

But, Mr. Peterman, that confusion is the point! The motive isn't to inform you, dude. They want you to believe lies, and even better, spread them along.

At the risk of sounding like a bible-beater, let's consult Jesus and see what he thinks.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
That's Matthew, Chapter 7.

He elaborates:
A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Don't look at me, man. That's Jesus saying that.




(And yes, I recognize that it's somewhat ironic for an atheist to quote Jesus, but one doesn't have to accept the man's divinity to accept the wisdom of his words.)

Firefox Issues

Anyone else having issues with the "new and improved" Firefox 3.0? Sometimes when I have several tabs open, I'm unable to switch between them. Not only is this frustrating, but what's the point of even having tabs if you can't use them?

Here's hoping for a fix in the near future... I really don't want to go back to using IE.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Drive Thru

I didn't realize that "My Drive Thru" is being used in a Converse ad campaign called Three Artists, One Song. Trying to find the lyrics, I found this article instead.

And from the comments, it seems like I'm in the definite minority as far as liking this particular ear bug. (No one I've played it for has liked it as much as I have, I can tell you that.)

No one likes the bells?

Wall-E: LIberal Propaganda or Innocent Symptom of BDS?

It's no secret that I'm in the bag for Barack Obama. I can't help it. I like the guy. I like his style. I like what he stands for.

But I've been very careful not to internalize my support so much that any criticism of him is by extension criticism of me. That way, in the last few days of Obama's second term, I won't get upset when a Disney cartoon satirizes some of the dumb things he said in his administration.

Apparently, many wingers are whining about some of the thematic elements of Pixar's latest "instant classic" Wall-E. They are asking themselves:
Have we lost the wonderful studio who brought us The Incredibles and Ratatouille to Bush Derangement Syndrome?

This is what passes for serious, intelligent discourse in conservative circles?

Stabbed in the back by a cartoon? Sheesh....

Updated:
I've thought a little bit more about this, and I've concluded that the people complaining about Wall-E's alleged liberal bias are being (inappropriate generalization alert) unreasonable. I really don't think they've thought this one past their own ideology.

On its own, the phrase "stay the course" is non-partisan. Just as Bush can "stay the course" when it comes to war, a liberal can "stay the course" when it comes to something like racial equality or universal health care. Anyone can "stay the course."

What makes the phrase a target for satire, though, is how a meaningless buzzword became in the hands of the Bush administration a declaration of strategy, even after it became obvious that being successful in Iraq was going to require more than "staying the course."

Eventually Bush realized this and quickly the strategy changed from "stay the course" to "surge." Then when the surge was over, there was endless discussion over whether the surge worked. Most people's conclusion? The surge worked whereas stay the course did not.

So maybe the makers of Wall-E were trying to put in a subtle dig at Bush because they're deranged liberals. Or maybe they were poking fun at a feckless leader spouting out meaningless buzzwords instead of implementing a strategy that works. I haven't seen the movie yet, but from the reviews I think the best interpretation is probably the latter.

After all, we can't expect people who are, well, deranged to contain their anti-Bush rhetoric to a political slogan that right-wingers abandoned a long time ago.

You want real anti-Bush propaganda? Go see War, Inc.