Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tattered and....WTF?

Sometimes things ebb and flow, and right now, there is a definite ebb in the metal scene. Maybe in every scene, who knows? Metal's what I know and what I pay attention to, and lately there just hasn't been much to hold my interest.

Sometimes I worry about my beloved metal. Like most genres of...anything really, metal loves its trends. If it's not hair metal this year, it's grunge the next. If it's not nu-metal, it's screamo. And here we are in a lull, no new trends kicking around, the old hands either limping along as shadows of their former selves (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth) or toiling away in obscurity (Slayer, Sepultura). The hair metal guys are big on the state fair circuit. Poison played the Greeley Stampede last week.

And then one of the big bands that seemed to have survived the nu-metal onslaught, Slipknot, not my cup of tea, but arguably a metal powerhouse, announces this.

A clothing line. At Hot Topic.

And get's called Tattered and Torn, because getting tattered and torn clothes for a buck fifty at the thrift store just doesn't come with that Hot Topic experience.

I'm not saying that Slipknot is selling out, because for a band that's a compliment. I'm just saying that you're going to see a lot of Slipknot kids with their funny hair and nose jewelry running around your neighborhood wearing some high-priced, not-so-fashionable clothes in the near future.

Is that a good thing?

No it is not!

It's not good for metal. It's not good for the world. Just because J-Lo's got a clothing doesn't mean Slipknot needs one too.

More With Less

You know, I was thinking...

I worked at the phone company for many years, but slowly it dawned on me that I was working for a bunch of scammers. When the executives weren't illegally dumping stock, they were engaging in illegal fiber swaps or hiring third-party companies to illegally change your long distance carrier.

The guys running the company weren't businessmen. They were con artists.

But when the ruse was exposed, the ax came down and many of them were led off in handcuffs. Millions of dollars later...

A new executive team was brought in, and when they promptly looked at the sorry state of the company, they probably had an "Oh shit" moment. This is when the communiques started raining down from on top. "We're going to have to do more with less," was the guiding principle.

At the time, I knew that whoever didn't "do more with less" was going to get shitcanned and my survival instinct kicked in. Alright, we gotta do what we gotta do, I thought. So let's do it!

Now, years later, I have a different take on it.

I'm half-tempted to send them a half-payment this month with a little note that says, "Sorry, guys. Money's a little tight this month, so you're going to have to do more with less."

I don't think they'd be as eager to play along.

Kiss My Ass, Jesse Jackson

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I think Jesse Jackson is an ass.

For a guy who has spent decades "talking down to black people" as an activist and has fathered at least one child out of wedlock...I'd say Jesse is the one who needs to have his nuts cut out.

(Also, my disgust with Jesse Jackson has nothing to do with race or politics. If I were black, I might have some latent good will for his activism. If I weren't such a limp-wristed leftist, I might find some political common ground. But instead, I'm a judgmental moralist and in my book, any dude who has the temerity to call himself "Reverend" after fathering a child out of wedlock can kiss my ass. Both cheeks.)

Phil Gramm Is Bushism

This guy makes an interesting, but incorrect, point regarding Phil Gramm's "nation of whiners" comment:
This is conservatism. The dismissal of economic burdens from others making less money than you. The belief that an ideal economy can thrive with a small boat of winners and a giant sinking ship of losers. The insistence that your economic dissatisfaction is illegitimate, and can only be explained by a brainwashing from the media or politicians.

Gramm's only unique remark was expanding the blame beyond "big media" and "the Democrats" to ... everybody. Calling America "a nation of whiners" only made glaring the fundamental elitism of conservatism.

But make no mistake. Gramm is conservatism.
Sorry, bud, that's not "conservatism." That's Bushism.

So a lot of conservatives don't get the distinction...

Do "progressives" have to be that dumb too?

Fuck Cancer To the Thousandth Power

Tony Snow is dead.

Hated the man, but I hate the disease that killed him even more. Rest easy, Tony.

Updated: I'm surprised at my reaction to this. I really really really didn't like Tony Snow. Didn't like him, didn't even know him. But I'm sad. He was only 53!

To Quote Tarrantino: Let's Not Start Sucking Each Other's Dicks Just Yet

So I was reading this bit of commentary by Glenn Beck, mostly so I could ridicule it as necessary, but I was a little heartened by what I saw. His conclusion deserves a full-throated endorsement:
So, for at least that one day, let's just remember that America still leads the world in the principles that matter most: The rule of law, freedom of religion, equal rights, freedom from an oppressive government and, fortunately for the Philadelphia Inquirer, freedom of speech.
Of course, I could list the many ways that Beck's beloved conservative movement has been actively working to undermine these things, but I'm willing to concede that my critique depends on your definition of "rule of law" (does it leave wiggle room for authorizing torture or ignoring FISA before deciding to change it?), equal rights (just not for the gays), and freedom of religion (how can you have that in a "Christian nation" anyway?).

Nevertheless, it's useful to remember that America is a truly great nation.

It's so great that you can become a millionaire by painting your not-so-funny comedy routine with a new coat of political colors. And you don't have to be funny or politically sophisticated to do it!

Even don't have to get your facts right.
Beck writes:
Our economy is almost as big as the next four largest economies on Earth (Japan, Germany, China and Great Britain) combined. The state of California alone has an economy as large as the entire country of France. Illinois has the same GDP as all of Mexico. New York matches the entire GDP of Brazil. Florida's economy is as large as South Korea's. Texas has a GDP roughly equal to Canada's. Michigan's economy is as large as the entire country of Argentina.
I'm assuming from the context that citing all of these numbers are meant to make us feel better about ourselves. Our economy may stink at the moment, but at least economically California is as big as France!'s not true. I have no idea where Beck got his numbers, but the IMF, the World Bank, and the CIA World Fact Book has France's GDP at just over $2 trillion. (In a range of $2,046,899,000,000 to $2,053,695,000,000.)

California's GDP according to the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis is literally hundreds of billions of dollars lower, at $1.8 trillion. It may seem like a small point, but it makes the California's-economy-is-bigger-than-France statement empirically false. However, this statement is true: "The state of California (along with the country of Norway) has an economy as large as the entire country of France."

His other comparisons suffer from the same truth deficit: Illinois (GDP in billions: 609,570) has the same GDP as Mexico (1,346,009)? Um, no. Michigan's economy (381,963) is as large as Argentina's (523,739)? Um, no. New York (1,103,024) matches Brazil (1,835,642)? Um, no. Florida (734,519) is as large as South Korea (1,200,879)? Um, no.

What non-Euclidean geometric magic are you using to make these statements, Mr. Beck?

(Although, to be fair... Texas's GDP (1,141,965) is "roughly equal" to Canada's (1,265,838), but Canada still has a $120 billion advantage.)

All of this attention to detail (as opposed to truthy feel-goodisms) shouldn't distract from an essential point. It's quite impressive that California, with half the size and half the population of France, has such a high GDP.

But does that point need to be made with bad info? Because, really, Glenn, my second impression* upon hearing that was, "Oh yeah, if we're so fucking great, why is it that communist China built a working high-speed maglev train?"

* My first impression was, "I better make sure this wingnut isn't lying to me. Go, go Google power!" Because, as Reagan found out during Iran-Contra, the work of wingnuts must be checked. Trust...but verify.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Absue of Freedom?

These posters by Chip Kidd are a thought-provoking take on Norman Rockwell's famous "Four Freedoms" paintings. These Kidd posters aren't exactly a revision of the sentiments expressed in Rockwell's originals, more like a clarification.

Man-Made Disaster

It is so hard for me to believe that this person is human. The unnatural tan, the charming silhouette which screams eating disorder, the heft in her bosom which screams silicon injected through mutilated nipples, the chopped and rearranged "face" which only resembles a face because all the features of a face are painted on.

The sad thing is that you know it took a lot of work to look this bad.

Unneccesary Censorship

This cracked me up.

Yes, you have a dirty dirty mind.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Street Musician in Boulder

Up on the Pearl Street mall.

This guy had a didgeridoo, a foot powered gong, finger powered steel drums, and some kind of squeezebox. Pretty cool stuff.

Also check the father and daughter listening in.

I'd Like the GOP if the GOP Still Liked Ike

This post from Lincoln Chafee got me thinking.

If Dwight Eisenhower was still around, I'd probably be a Republican.
The new Republican Party, which controlled the executive and legislative branches for much of my time in the Senate, has squandered a surplus, neglected our planet, desecrated our First and Fourth Amendment freedoms, mired us in a costly quagmire in the greater Middle East and augmented the tragic disparity of wealth in America. Who would call these policies conservative?

Eisenhower-Rockefeller conservatism supported a robust middle class and sound environmental stewardship. It also championed personal freedoms and valued investing in educational opportunity for all. But these policies have all but disappeared from Republican politics. Can anyone imagine a modern Republican president warning America of a dangerous "military-industrial complex"?
Thanks to old Republican Ike we have the Interstate Highway System. Forget the "military-industrial complex."

Can you imagine a modern Republican president supporting such a massive public works project? In America?

Not these clowns.

The only thing they're willing to spend billions on is war in Iraq.


I have 3 hours left in my work week, and I have to say I'm quite unmotivated.

The night shift is boring.

I don't feel useful.

I want a raise and barring that, I want my 40 hours back.

A Normal Gun for A Normal Person

I'm watching In Bruges, the British gangster comedy starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes. It's quite good and I highly recommend it.

One line jumped out at me and it relates to the content of this post.

Ralph Fiennes's character goes to a gun dealer to pick up a weapon. Looking upon the vast array of weaponry, he spots an uzi and snorts, saying, "An Uzi? I'm not from South Central Los fucking Angeles. I didn't come here to shoot twenty black ten year olds in a drive-by. I want a normal gun for a normal person."


That's Not Phoniness You Can Believe In

John McCain really has a bad case of the phonies. I've seen better acting in porn movies. Here he is in Denver yesterday:

And he was hyping Crocs? Really?

Crocs is a nice heartwarming rags-to-riches story, but it's not exactly a heartwarming story of American ingenuity or long-term entrepreneurial success. I doubt that Crocs will be around in ten years. Their rise can be attributed to trendiness, so I suspect their demise might be fueled by a backlash.

(Crocs is a Denver company, and McCain was speaking in Denver. My conclusion? Pandering.)

You don't see anyone wearing Vision Streetwear anymore, do you?

Updated: Wow. John McCain was just talking to John Roberts on CNN and his smile looked botoxed on. I wonder if he can be charming without coming off as a total fraud.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Eastern Promise, Western Folly

You know who kicks ass? Donnie Yen.

I just watched one of his movies called Saat po long, otherwise known as Killzone, and man, it was good.

As I was watching it, I wondered why Hollywood hadn't come knocking on his door, but then I remembered that they already had. Their best use for him, though, was as a bit player in sequels, a Highlander movie, as well as Blade II, directed by "visionary" director Guillermo Del Toro, not to mention Shanghai Knights, which is a little like using a lawn mower to cut your hair.

This is the great Donnie Yen! He's a leading man. He speaks decent English. He's ripped. And he kicks ass!

And yet he gets second billing in insignificant parts...

But then I remembered that Hollywood doesn't know what to do with Asian stars. Even the biggest action star of them all, Jacky Chan, can't get a decent role in Hollywood. Straddled with sidekicks (Rush Hour, Shangkai Noon/Knights) or stuffed into poorly executed action-comedies (Tuxedo, Medallion), the best of Jacky's American films can't match his work in Hong Kong cinema.

Even Asian stars that have seen some level of success in America (Gong Li, Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li) have to go back home to get decent roles in decent movies. (I know, I know. You really loved Bulletproof Monk.)

So who needs Hollywood when these same people are making truly amazing movies in Asia?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I Could Almost Be A Crunchy Con...Almost


Rod Dreher, known mostly for his "granola conservatism," writes:
How are the people in southern Ohio supposed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps when the only jobs available to them are low-wage service sector jobs? Better than nothing, surely, but how do you raise a family on that? When globalized trading policies send manufacturing jobs overseas, and open-borders immigration policies keep wages for those jobs that remain low, how, exactly, is a working man or woman supposed to bootstrap their way out of that hole? I'm not asking rhetorically. I really want to know.
I wanna know too, man.

Although I disagree that it's "open-borders immigration policies" that keep low-wage jobs, well, low-wage. What open-border immigration policies? Don't mistake the wink and nod of illegal employment as a "policy." The policy is as closed-borders as it's ever been. That it is shirked so often and so easily just hints at how ineffective it is.

I also disagree with this part:
How are the economic interests of working people bettered by a party -- the Democrats -- who pursue policies that more or less cast off all traditional social mores in pursuit of individual sexual fulfillment -- and expect the state to pick up the tab, indefinitely, for children resulting from libertine lifestyles?
I'm not sure that's supported by the facts. Oh, I know the Democrats are the devil's spawn, capable of the cruelest evils imaginable, but can you seriously --and I mean, seriously-- accuse them of "cast(ing) off all traditional social mores in pursuit of individual sexual fulfillment?"

I don't think so, seeing as "individual sexual fulfillment" isn't really part of the Democratic Party platform. Here's the 2004 platform so you can check it yourself. They say that abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. The only time they mention sex is in the context of discrimination, either by sex or sexual orientation. I suspect the 2008 platform probably won't be much different.

I do, however, offer a full-throated endorsement of this:
Capitalism is the greatest force for change in the world -- and our society's having made maintaining the consumer delights it's provided for us, and the individualist-consumerist ethic that undergirds it the telos of our politics, has gotten us into the condition that we're in. It is simply lunacy for Limbaugh to claim that conservatism is "about" the American people being able to live how they damn well please, no matter what the cost, and at no personal sacrifice to their own desires. That is what Limbaugh-style conservatism amounts to -- and I believe many Republicans agree with Rush. It is absoutely, unequivocally unconservative!
This part is just wack, though:
And liberalism, with its emphasis on sexual liberty no matter what the social cost, represents the other side of the coin.

A Contrast in Styles

I just a report on CNN about how Londoners are freaking out over a rash of gang-related stabbings.

Yes, stabbings.

I love this statement though:
London's deputy mayor for policing, Kit Malthouse, said: "Eighteen young people dead in six months is completely unacceptable and we will do everything in our power, in the short term, to bear down on the immediate problem, while recognising that the ultimate solution lies in more complex and longer-term interventions that turn the faces of our children away from a life of violence."

Huh. What's unacceptable in London is a way of life in Los Angeles. (Note that link takes you to a blog that reports on all the homicides in Los Angeles County.)

Only in L.A. hardly anyone gets stabbed. Instead, it's "shot to death" or "shot and killed" or "fatally shot." I had to go way back to June 23rd (a mere two weeks in real time, but in homicide time, that's 18 murders ago) to find a stabbing death.

Yeah, you know where I'm going with this.

There is massive gun control in London. Forget about a handgun. They're banned. To get a rifle, you need a license and to get a license, you need a "good reason" to have it. (Sorry, self defense isn't considered a good reason in the UK.)

In the US...gun control is anathema.

Gang violence exists in both countries. In the country with gun control, it's personified by stabbings.

In the country that hates gun control, it's personified by shootings.

The empirical results speak for themselves, despite one's philosophical bent or ideological ideal.

Mea Culpa For Megan

Hi, Megan. Thanks for dropping by. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings when I hated on you. It's nothing personal. As much as your blog annoys me at times, I still keep reading, so I guess you're doing something right.

I hope you enjoy Aspen. Sorry there's no vegan food. I guess you gotta go to Boulder for that.

Love, James

On Jesse Helms

So Jesse Helms died. I can only say one thing about that, and it's not even mine:
Well I rolled Jesse Helms like a cigarette
Smoked him higher than the highest of the minarets.
Jesse James couldn't even handle it,
Started looking at me like I was sanskrit.
Cuz in the great shining path of the great monster trucks,
There's no such thing as beginner's luck.
I'm the dirty dozen for the price of one.
Get it while it's hot, going going going GONE!