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Friday, December 31, 2010

Movies that Never Get Old

Die Hard.

Yeah, I watched it on Christmas. It's my It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer all rolled into one. Here's a great line that you can use in your everyday life, one of many, which is why the movie is immortal.

"Whoo-Ah! Just like fucking Saigon, eh, Slick?"
"I was in junior high, dickhead."

Public Transp

They said it was going to snow 5-10 inches, which if you think about it, is quite a range. I didn't take any chances. I went through the old routine...walked to the bus stop, took the bus, took a train, took another train, walked a mile down one hill and up another (no shit!) to work.

Ten hours later, did it all again only this time in reverse, up one hill and down another, train, train, bus, walk home.

I listened to Baroness's Red Album twice, once on the way to work and once on the way back. It's the kind of record that just keeps on giving, adding new dimensions and textures with each listen.

Check this one out. (And listen for the interesting percussive elements later in the song.)

So this snow...it's technically the first big snow we've had. It's sprinkled a bit here and there, and maybe one morning we woke up with frost. For the most part, though, it's been a relatively warm and dry winter. It's been nice, I think, but I am glad to see the snow. Better late than never.

The reason I took the arduous bus route by choice today (as opposed to my year in public transportation exile) is contained in this story:

Although there was only 2 inches on the ground in Fort Collins Thursday morning, it made for treacherous driving conditions during the morning commute. About 30 accidents were reported Thursday morning, two of which were rollovers.
It's not clear if that was 30 accidents in Fort Collins or in the general Front Range geothermal area.

But still, that's a lot of people having a bad day to say the least, and probably a bad next couple of months too. I don't want to join them.

Four bucks and a couple hours isn't too bad a trade for having life and limb --and truck-- intact.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fun With Random Commenters

Some random dude found an old post I wrote about A Serbian Film and chewed me a new one:
You liar, I hate people like you, you haven't watch a movie and talk about it like they have seen it.

There's no such thing as "The main character, a former porn star, is forced to rape and kill a baby. His baby."

This is untrue. The main character is forced to watch a movie by the director, a woman giving bith to a baby then a dude raping it...

No such things as killing and raping is own BABY.
My response:
Oh for fuck's sake. I got the details of the baby raping wrong? Sue me.

I didn't see the movie. I'm not going to. And even if I did, I'm not going on some guy's blog to tell him how much I hate him for not getting the details of the baby raping scene right. Jesus Christ.

Assholes

Think Progress is off my Christmas card list. They simply cannot be trusted.

Here they are alerting the world to the possibility that Georgia may "require all transactions with the state....to be paid with U.S. minted gold or silver coins." Clearly a dumb idea, and as Think Progress notes:
Were Franklin’s bill ever to become law it would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for Georgia’s economy.
Ya think?

But I'm not going to take Think Progress's word for it. So I looked for some more sources, a source with more journalistic integrity and less zeal for political advocacy.

Which brings me to this article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, which explicitly states:
The bill, filed on Feb. 17, is unlikely to become law, observers said.

“We’re monitoring the legislation and do not see much appetite from the General Assembly for Georgia to be the only state in the Union to adopt such a standard,” said David Oliver, spokesman for the Georgia Bankers Association, in a prepared statement.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the gold standard and the role it played in our country’s history,” said George Selgin. Selgin is the BB&T Corp. chair of free-market thought at West Virginia University.

Selgin is an expert on the history of currency standards and monetary theory.

“But after reading over it, I have to think this bill is a bit kooky,” he said.
And this is from a guy who's sympathetic to the gold standard!

I think it's safe to say this bill has zero chance of becoming law and the only people supporting it are the bill's sponsors and about ten loyal Glenn Beck listeners.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Case Closed - This Book Sucks

I was listening to Cornwell's Jack the Ripper book on the way home this morning, and not only do I think her case is flimsy, I'm starting to think the whole thing is just sexist dreck that doesn't make any sense.

Her suspect is a guy with no penis, who is so enraged by being unable to function sexually that he's driven to kill. And yet she imagines this man as being a devotee of London's prostitutes. She imagines him meeting up with the first Ripper victim, enduring some drunken taunt, and then unleashing his rage at her, stabbing her 39 times for laughing at his angry inch.

And yet...why would a man with no sexual function visit a prostitute? Here's a man whose penis was sheared off in childhood. Sure, there's probably shame, anger, a whole mix of emotions brewing inside him, but there's also experience. He knows he can't perform. Surely, it must have occurred to him that the prostitute may say something unkind about his little Vienna Sausage. Is this the world's most naive dickless killer?

I don't buy it. I think this guy stays the hell away from prostitutes. He redirects his energies into other things...like painting.

(As it turns out, there's not much evidence that Walter Sickert was, in fact, missing any of his penis.)

And this, I think, is where the sexist stuff comes in. Cornwell seems to assume, perhaps for good reason, that the Jack the Ripper killings are sex crimes. And yet, even she admits that they're not. The lack of rape in the Ripper killings, you see, is evidence that Dickless did it! Sickert's knife was his penis!

Knife/Penis/Knife/Penis (You see what I'm trying to do? I'm trying to couple these two concepts in your mind.)

As the dark fantasies of a lesbian terrified of the sexually dominant male, I get it. As a plausible solution to the Jack the Ripper killings? No way, dude.

I suspect the Ripper went after prostitutes because they were easy pickings. If there was anything sexual involved it was probably just a ruse. "Oi, fancy a shag in the alleyway?" Then slash.

Motive? A sadist maybe, but probably something more mundane like an ambitious pimp clearing out territory he wants to take over. Maybe a gangster who wasn't getting paid. Someone called somebody a ho and bitches got slashed. You could come up with all kinds of explanations, some more plausible than others.

Most of them more plausible than this one.

Jack the Ripper - Case Closed?

I've been listening to Patricia Cornwell's book Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed, and though I'm not very far into it, I'm not that impressed.

Something struck me as "off" almost from the get-go and the more I listen, the more it becomes obvious that, well, it has major problems.

The first of which is the terribly weak case it presents. You might think she found some evidence that points to a suspect, but from what I can tell, she fixated on a suspect then went around looking for evidence.

Among the reasons why a painter named Walter Sickert "may" have been Jack the Ripper:

a) He supposedly had a botched operation as a child that mutilated his penis.
b) His mutilated penis left him with an impotent hatred of women.
c) Which was displayed in his "misogynistic" paintings.

I hope to Christ she presents more evidence, because that's mighty thin!

The psychology doesn't even seem right. I'm assuming if you lost your penis before you knew what you could do with it, you'd won't feel much loss. You'll feel a kind of abstract regret about experiences not had, perhaps, but you won't really know what you're missing. How are you going to develop strong enough feelings to hate women?

And why hate women? Why not hate....doctors?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

True Story

Today I talked to this guy on the phone, and when I asked his name, he said, "Ryan Reynolds," then after a pause, "the sexiest man alive."

"Oh yeah," I said. "I'm gonna hook up with your ex-wife."

"Go for it," he said.
A few weeks ago, a pregnant lady was hit by a car at an intersection near my house. The lady survived, but the baby did not. The driver of the car took off and hasn't been found.

It's been a big story in the local media.

Now the city is going to change that intersection...but in the dumbest ways possible: With signage.

Consider that at every other intersection on this street there are street lights and here, in a rather illogical place, is a stop sign. Maybe an additional street light would be more appropriate?

Lying to Yourself

Dan Simmons, who in the age of Obama has willingly joined the ranks of predictable ideologues, writes the following about the Net Neutrality debate:
The Internet may be the greatest single human-technical advance, outside of certain medicines, in half a millennium or more -- and while Arpanet laid the early cables, the 'Net grew according to its own rules and logic and in compliance with the ebb and flow of free market forces.
Um, no.

Simmons is making the same mistake that a lot of commentators have been making. They are confusing the World Wide Web for "the internet." And I understand. You look at the last ten years and you see how the Web has transformed business. Amazon, Ebay, Netflix. These web-based businesses did "grow according to [their] own rules and logic and in compliance with the ebb and flow of free market forces."

But there's a whole underlying structure that you do not see when you put "www.amazon.com" in your browser, a structure that didn't grow according to free market orthodoxy.

I'm glad Simmons mentioned Arpanet, which developed many of the principles of this underlying structure, but he's much too dismissive of its importance. If the first e-mail was sent on Arpanet in the early 70s, why did we have to wait until the 1990s to start using the web?

(Hint.)

Simmons would have you believe it has something to do "the ebb and flow of free market forces." But of course, he would be wrong. The market had to wait a couple of decades before they got their hands on a packet-switched network, and even then...we're still using the same software protocols DARPA created in 1983!

In a later comment, Simmons wrote this bit of nonsense:
You're obviously too young to remember the good old days when Ma Bell reigned, when everyone in America "leased" a big clunky rotary phone from said company (the phone coming in any color you wanted, as long as it was black), and when choice between AT&T and Comcast, much less among a hundred types of phones and service plans, would have seemed like wild and crazy free trade.
Pop quiz, hot shot. Who do you think broke up Ma Bell? "The ebb and flow of market forces" or the forcible intervention of the United States government?

If you said, "the ebb and flow of market forces," lose two points.

Ma Bell didn't feel "the ebb and flow of market forces" until it was broken up in 1984 because in 1934, they were given state-sanctioned monopoly powers!! Even after they were broken up, they were still basically regional monopolies, Mountain Bell here in the west, Pac Bell on the west coast, etc. The competitive market we have today is the product of the Telecom Act of 1996, which has very strict rules for how these companies operate. You call any of that a free market? Bah.
In today's 'Net environment, outside of such happily regulated environments as China, Iran, Russia, a hundred start-up companies around the world will leap into any gap created by customer dissatisfaction.
Oh yeah? Unless they're getting their IP blocks from ICANN, good luck with that.
We ask only one thing of the government, the Democrats, and the Obama administration -- quit trying to save us from ourselves and our own choices.
If you only knew, you ignorant bastard...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tebow! Tebow!

I'm not getting on the Tebow bandwagon, but I have no problems with him starting for the rest of the year. The season is done for the Broncos anyway. At best, they're playing for draft position.

So start the young guy. Give him a taste of what he's up against, give us a look at what he could do. Any other season, you'd probably wait until next year, give him some pre-season time. But this year, because of the labor struggles, there might not be a "next year."

So let it ride. Go Tim Tebow!

Lying to You

Man, this video is really bad. It's typical of Libertarian thought these days in that it dispenses with fact and relies on supposition.

Take this:
"But in the U.S., this interconnected system stayed very open and free, because the government has stayed very hands off and the companies have incentive to cooperate with each other."
What the fuck? It's almost as if the internet just materialized out of the swamp, as if the Telecom Act of 1996 that set up the structure of this interconnected, cooperative system never even happened.

I love their answer to the question about what you'd do if your ISP started blocking you. "What would you do? You'd probably cancel your plan and go to a provider who gives you easy access to your favorite sites."

Yeah, you'd probably do that. If you can! God forbid you live in a place where there's only one ISP. (And yeah, even in 2010, they still exist.) What are you gonna do then, you rugged individualist you, build your own network? You and what bank account?

"Neutrality is what customers want, which is exactly why ISPs have stayed neutral without a single government regulation." Again, I refer to the Telecom Act of 1996, which does qualify as "a single government regulation." You know, it's only 14 years ago. I know Libertarians have long memories. They're still bitching about 1934's Wickard vs. Flyburn decision. Surely they can remember 1996.

"Net neutrality types" --Hey, fuck you, buddy-- "also worry that companies will charge some users for the amount of data they use instead of a flat monthly fee." Actually haven't heard that, and think this is a very misleading account of the throttling debate, but we're talking about some doctrinaire Libertarians here. They're only out to convince each other.

And you know, hate on the FCC. The FCC sucks. Yeah, it's true. But if they set up rules that enforces net neutrality, that's no great evil. It's actually a good thing.

Really?

Spamming blog comments? Is this a valuable use of one's time and energy?

Kids....

This weekend I told my nephew about Sasquatch. I told him they were my new favorite band, made him listen to Boss Hog, went on and on about how they were so underground that it's amazing they got a record deal.

He called me last night to dispute that because a Sasquatch song was featured on Dog the Bounty Hunter.

And I guess that seals it. Once your music is on Dog the Bounty Hunter, you are no longer underground; you have officially made it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travels with Charley

I've been listening to an audiobook version of Steinbeck's travelogue Travels with Charley read by Gary Sinise and these are my observations:

A) Steinbeck has chops you would not believe. Sometimes his prose can seem stilted, and it is, but it is also without flaw or error.*

B) The sweeping generalizations, though cleverly written, annoy me. He goes to a small village in some beatnik part of the country and comes out saying Americans are this and Americans are that. It's not really forced, but the mythologizing doesn't always ring true. Some of that is the simple passage of time, but some of it is just the musings of a strange old man who asks too many questions.

C) Taking a long road trip like this would be fun. He was gone for months, no real destination but "to see the country," just him and his dog and the people he met. He had the latest in camping technology, truck, campershell, all the goodies, and from his whimsical tone, seemingly enjoyed every minute of it. All that driving would stress me the fuck out, so instead of a dog, I'd take a person. They drive, I come up with the pithy observations.



* And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Steinbeck impression. Thank you, and have a good night.

Everyone's Got One

Gallup finds that "Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism."

Now you might think I'd do something jerky like changing the headline to read something like, "Four in 10 Americans Are Idiots," But that wouldn't be very charitable of me, considering the season.

Instead, I will just say that they are wrong.

I mean, I can't say with any degree of certainty that there is no God. I strongly suspect there isn't, but I have nothing but a deep-seated doubt to back it up.

However, I can say with 100% certainty that God did NOT create human beings in our current form within the last 10,000 years. And I've got the science to back it up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tree of Life

I was wondering if Terrence Malick's new movie was going to have the dreamy, ponderous voiceovers that he's known for, and yep...looks like it. His style takes some getting used to, but it's worth it.

That's What I Said

Last night I left this comment on this post about DADT over at Outside the Beltway:
I watched Restrepo last night. Good flick. Highly recommended.

Among the many thoughts that occurred to me as I watched the movie is that it’s borderline insulting to argue that our soldiers wouldn’t be able to handle a DADT repeal. They deserve more credit than that.

Let’s face it, the soldier distracted by his brother’s sexual orientation….just isn’t a very good soldier. He’s the one that should be kicked out.
Not long after, Doug Matconis writes this post and concludes it with:
[General Amos’s] belief that these professional trained soldiers would be so profoundly disturbed by [gays already serving in the military] that they would be unable to perform their jobs strikes me as being an insult to the troops themselves.
At least we agree!

Adverbs Are Bad, continued

Here's a dude who uses too many unnecessary adverbs:
It really does a good job of humanizing these guys and stays completely away from politics. But I do have a few (semi-political) observations, which thankfully the film's "I'm not telling you what to the think" tone allows me to make.
Really? Completely? Thankfully?

Man, who writes this crap? Oh...that's right. Me!

Best Description of Josh McDaniel's Reign

He took a playoff-caliber team, stripped it of its talent, and reduced it to mediocrity.
- Weston Gentry

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ya Think?

I was wrong for trying to push this issue within the Army.
-Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who was court-martialed for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because he wants to see the vault copy of Obama's birth certificate.

It can't be claimed that this dude doesn't stand up for what he believes, but that's not saying much when you believe something utterly stupid. To be willing to go to jail and ruin your career because of some talk radio conspiracy theory? Not very bright...

This Could Have Ended Badly

There's some wicked curves this guy attacks at high speeds. This is not a closed course, either.

Of course, I post this video so you can listen to "Boss Hog" by Sasquatch, my new favorite band. Love this song.

Restrepo

I watched a great documentary on Netflix this morning called Restrepo. It's kind of a year in the life of an airborne company fighting in Afghanistan's Kongerol valley.

It really does a good job of humanizing these guys and stays completely away from politics. But I do have a few (semi-political) observations, which thankfully the film's "I'm not telling you what to the think" tone allows me to make.

1) I think John McCain (and all the others) are horribly mistaken if they doubt these guys' ability to serve with gay people. Not only are these soldiers more than capable of getting past such pettiness, I think it's an insult to them to think they can't.

The bonds of brotherhood are on full display here, and they run deeper than vestigial prejudice.

2) What we're doing in Afghanistan is a fool's errand. There's a scene in the film where the company's captain is meeting with all the village elders, all of them old guys with dyed red beards, bad teeth, skinny frames. The captain's trying to work with them, win over their hearts and minds, and he's saying things like, "That's why we want to bring those projects in, build roads, provide jobs. We're going to flood this valley with money."

And while I'm watching this, I'm thinking, "This sales pitch would be great if you were making it to an American." We value things like jobs and modern development. We hear that stuff and our eyes light up.

But look at that old guy. You think what he wants is a job? You think he wants you to pave a road to his valley? Certainly doesn't look like it. It looks like he wants you to leave so he can beat his wife and have sex with his goat.

Has anyone else seen this yet? Thoughts?

Conquest of Paradise

One of my favorite "bad" movies is the Christopher Columbus epic 1492: Conquest of Paradise. It's an objectively bad movie that flopped terribly when it came and, as far as I know, has never been released on DVD in the States.

But I love it.

It's too long, it's boring, it's way too gruesome, it's outright silly in some parts, it's not historically accurate, and it stars Gerard Depardieu. That last one, I think, is why the movie utterly fails. You have a Frenchman playing an Italian who worked for the Spanish...and he's speaking English.

The problem: Gerard Depardieu can't speak English. Ridley Scott insisted Depardieu play his Columbus, but he should have also insisted the movie be in French (or more appropriately, Spanish) or at the very least, that Depardieu's lines be overdubbed by another actor.

It might not have been a big hit, but it probably would have been a better movie.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Intellectual Dishonesty

Megan McArdle is a constant source of amusement. Style-wise, she's one of those writers who punches up her stuff with a lot of adverbs* but content-wise, she's just a lazy thinker who comes to a conclusion then comes up with reasons why she came to that conclusion. (You know, the opposite of how the process is intended to work.) And then, when her conclusion has some holes in it, or is obviously wrong, she doesn't modify it...she just comes up with new reasons why she was right all along.

Example:
On a reading of the commerce clause that allows the government to force you to buy insurance from a private company, what can't the government force you to do?
This is a familiar argument you will hear from libertarianish types who don't seem to get that the insurance mandate, as onerous as it is, isn't the "government forcing you to buy insurance" any more than the mortgage interest tax deduction is "forcing you to buy a house."

That's because they've already decided that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and bad and should have never been implemented, so instead of arguing all the reasons why the mandate is bad or may not work, they get to just change the terms, decide the case before it gets to the Supreme Court, and fucking win!

Now with that said, there are some decent arguments against the insurance mandate** but this "You can't make me buy health insurance" crap is not one of them.


* Egregious example from the above-quoted post: "Personally, I kind of doubt that, but this is completely beside the point." One sentence, two adverbs, neither of which add anything to the sentence. And yes, I realize that people talk like this. I also recognize that a lot of the "ums" and "uhs" and other verbal tics common in speech are usually removed from writing. This is because when you speak, information is being conveyed with tone, volume, facial expressions, et cetera. On the page, it's word choice alone.

** Here's two off the top of my head: A) It makes the insurance industry inextricable from the healthcare industry, not exactly a good development if cost-cutting is your goal. After all, you're not just paying for your healthcare when you go to the doctor; you're also paying your insurance company's overhead. B) It will negatively affect those who it intended to help. If you can't afford health insurance, logic tells you that you can't afford this tax either. If you have health insurance (which is the goal of most rational people) you don't have to pay the tax, so whining about it is...well, nice in principle but a little weird, right? (Well, considering that whining about taxes you will never have to pay is kind of a hobby on the right, maybe it's not so weird after all.)

Prediction for the Internets

Nobody will ever beat Brett Favre's starting streak. Nobody.

Adverbs Are Bad

I found this piece of atrocious writing and it hurt my eyes. From an account of a one-night stand with failed Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell:
When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by.

Obviously, that was a big turnoff, and I quickly lost interest. I said goodnight, rolled over, and went to sleep.
Content aside, let's just say I'm glad this guy is so eager to modify his verbs because without all the adverbs, I wouldn't know what he was talking about.

"I immediately noticed..." You mean, you didn't have to wait until your eyes adjusted in the dark? It didn't take a second or two? It was immediate. Good to know..

"Completely passed her by..." As opposed to, partially passing her by or mostly passing her by. No, the passing was complete.

"Obviously, that was a big turnoff..." Um, sorry, dude, but it's not at all obvious why you find hairy pussies a big turnoff. You're gay? You're a child molester? You're a shallow prick?

"I quickly lost interest..." Wait, how quickly? Like...immediately?

Of course, maybe I'm being unfair, attacking this dude for his writing ability. His real crime is obviously being a douchebag.

Making Sense

Not sure who this Dan Barber guy is, but here he is explaining why vegetarianism is woefully naive. This is from a talk so it's a bit unpolished, but I think he makes some great points.
There is no healthy ecological system that I’ve ever seen that doesn’t include animals — there just doesn’t. Because the manure from the animals is a free, free ecological resource that amends the soil that gives you better-tasting and healthful vegetables. That’s been around since the beginning of time. So to say that vegetarians live on this higher plane of ethics (and I’m not here to argue that slaughtering animals doesn’t carry with it some weight), but you have blood on your hands when you eat vegetarian as well, especially if you’re in the northeast. Because your food is coming from somewhere, and your calories are coming from somewhere in the winter, and if they’re traveling hundreds of miles, and in many cases thousands of miles, you are burning fossil fuels to get them there, and generally they’re produced in monocultures, and that has a huge cost on natural living systems. They might not be animals that you and I can identify with, but they’re insects and bugs and whole types of flora and fauna that are dying to produce those vegetables.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's My Party, I Can Cry If I Want To

Sometimes I feel bad for Elizabeth Hasselbeck. She's got that problem that a lot of partisans (both left and right) have; their political loyalties short circuit their cognitive functioning.

In the most generous assessment of John Boehner's crybaby act, Barbara Walters says he has an "emotional problem." I'd agree with that (if I thought the tears were genuine).

But then, listen to Hasselbeck spinning for her boy Boehner:
"Let's not crucify a man for getting emotional. He's probably a fine man who cares and if he wants to give small businesses tax breaks so they can hire somebody so they can have a job...you can't just brush him like that and say that he's a bad guy."
Seriously...poor girl.

Boehner is getting "crucified" not for getting emotional, but because he always gets emotional. And at the slightest provocation! It was touching...the first time. And crying at the mere mention of school children?

I guess I'm just insensitive, but my reaction to that is "What the hell is your problem?" The instinct to hand him a tissue and coo, "Let it all out, big guy. That's right, wash all that hurt out," well, that just doesn't exist.

And you know, John Boehner may be a fine man who just wants to help out small businesses. But there are other fine men out there who also want to help small businesses that are a little more able to keep it together.

One of those guys should be Speaker of the House. Not this sad clown...

The Write Name

The other day I came up with a story. Notice I didn't say "I wrote a story" because I'm still writing it and there's no guarantees that I'll ever finish it or it will ever become, you know, A Story.

I already started fooling around with the idea and things were going well. I'm typing and typing and thinking and typing and then I looked up, and there were three pages staring back at me, which is a good sign. It may actually turn into something...

But I had to come up with a name for a female character, and for some reason I hit on Missy. Missy what, though? Even if I'm never going to use her last name in the story, I have to give her one. That's when I hit on Missy Eliot.

That's perfect! I thought. And then it started to sound a bit familiar... So Missy Eliot is now Missy Eccleston. Yeah, I'm going to change that again...

This Is Your Majority Speaker

John Boehner gave an interview on 60 Minutes and, of course, he cried...

This can go one of two ways. Either John Boehner is an emotional wreck who starts tearing up at the slightest provocation.

Or he's a manipulative little prick who cries a few tears to cover up his lack of sincerity.

So there ya go, he's a weepy wimp or an insincere fake. You pick.

Living At Home

I'm somewhat obsessed with paying my mortgage. It's the first thing I do every payday, I always pay extra, and when I can, I throw some extra "extra" at it. I've gamed out the various scenarios that will ensure maximum money-savings. I know my current balance to the nearest dollar ($107,380) and my pay-off date (March of 2030 if I never pay any extra principal...but fat chance of that!*).

But the last couple of years, I've been wondering if I made a foolish decision. And then I saw this chart...





* My goal is to pay it off by 2020, hence all the extra.

Deal With the Devil

When you ditch the oversimplified, self-serving mythology presented by politicians seeking election, you can take a look at things as they are and you realize that not only are the myths wrong but that things are actually a bit more complex than we realize.

For instance, tax breaks for filming.

The last few years, there have been a lot of big-budget studios, as well as some smaller firms, producing film and television products in New Mexico. The reason?

Not a sudden demand for New Mexico's distinctive scenery. No, it would be a sudden demand for all the tax breaks and incentives provided by the New Mexico Film Commission. A 25% tax rebate! Interest-free loans of up to $15 million! No state sales tax! Credits for hiring journeymen employees!

When it comes to attracting runaway film productions, this kind of thing works. It lowers costs for the filmmaker and it brings productions to a state that otherwise wouldn't get them. But it's not without its downside.

For America's stingy tax payers, who are reluctant to pay for things like libraries, road construction, and a proper education for their kids, it seems strange they would be willing to pony up millions to invest in the notoriously volatile film production business.

And then there's this:
The Texas Film Commission has denied a tax incentive to director Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios for their production of Machete, the Mexploitation film set in that state which was shot in Austin in the summer of 2009. The letter cited part of the code that says incentives can be denied to films "because of inappropriate content or content that portrays Texans or Texas in a negative fashion."
Hmmm, maybe I'm just thinking too much here.

If the tax break policy was designed to encourage filmmakers to produce their films in Texas, doesn't this "you must also show Texas in a decent light" requirement tend to undermine that? After all, "Texas wants filmmakers" is going to get a lot more responses than "Texas wants filmmakers who are willing to make government-approved pro-Texas propaganda."

And this is leaving aside the question of whether Machete "portrays Texans or Texas in a negative fashion," which is pure bullshit. If you've seen the film, you'll know Texas and her Texans actually come off in a good light. It's the crooked politicians that don't come out looking so good. But no matter...

If the Texas Film Commission wants veto authority on content, then it might be best to just move your production to New Mexico...which is, like, the opposite of the Texas Film Commission's goal.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mayhem Like Me

I have to admit a soft spot for the All State Mayhem commercials. And the credit goes to Dean Winters, the actor playing "Mayhem." I love the devilish gleam in his eye as he wrecks all this mayhem. It's not mean-spirited, but you get the sense that he really does enjoy causing all these problems.

I must also admit some camaraderie for Winters since he, too, is a survivor of a virulent bacterial infection. He had it worse than me, ended up losing a few toes and a thumb and spent months in the hospital recuperating, but I know his pain.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Favorite Band

Sasquatch.

I picked up all three of their albums from Emusic and have been listening to nothing else since. They remind me of Fu Manchu but with better songwriting skills and a singer who can actually sing.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised

When I was a teenager, I made my Mom take me to go see Hellraiser III.

I'd like to take this moment to formally apologize. What a cruel thing to do to your own mother...

The Truth

When considering whether or not to see a movie featuring Angelina Jolie, I must first get over the fact that the movie features...Angelina Jolie.

That girl creeps me out.

Announcement

We are less than a month from 2011. If you still "have questions" about Barack Obama's birthplace and birth certificate, you are...how can I put this delicately?...a fucking idiot.

I don't care if you're a reliable Republican voter. I don't care if you're to the right of Reagan. If you are having trouble accepting correct information because of your political loyalties, then you are missing the ability to think.

(For what it's worth...this Luke Scott guy more than proves that he's an idiot when he starts gushing over Ted Nugent.
I'm a big fan of Ted Nugent because he's a "keep it real" type of guy. He respects wildlife, he loves to hunt. I look at Ted Nugent and ... he's an American. He has the core beliefs of what it means to be an American in his heart. He lives by those beliefs and those principles. It's the same beliefs that our forefathers, who fought for our country, have. I'd be real interested in meeting him one day.
I'm a fan of Ted Nugent, too, but it's mostly because Stranglehold is a kick-ass song. His hunting lifestyle? I guess I'm with ICP on this one. "You like to hunt a lot? So fucking what?!"

And the whole American thing? Seriously? You mean you can tell just by looking at Ted Nugent that he's an American? Without looking at his birth certificate, how do you know? (Must be the camo...)

Updated: Lower in this interview with Luke Scott, it contains this:
"Crime is actually less in places where people own guns. Washington, D.C., is a case in point. It has the strictest gun laws, but who has the highest crime rate in the country? Washington, D.C.

(Editor's note: D.C. was 16th in violent crime in 2009, according to this.)"
Way to go, editor! Calling him on his bullshit.

The actual city with the worst crime rate in the country? Camden, New Jersey. Which is geographically close to Washington, I guess...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

You've Gotta Love the Manly Simplicity

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Ernest Hemingway

Actually, there's more to it than that.

Also:
I'm a storyteller. If I wanted to send a message, I would have written a sermon.
Philip Pullman

Yeah, Franzen.

Freedom to Suck

This was a pretty nice takedown of Jonathan Franzen's best seller Freedom. My favorite line:
"It’s as easy on the brain as “Two and a Half Men” - but far more impressive when displayed on a subway train or in a coffee shop."
Yowch!

I was somewhat interested in Freedom when I first heard about it. I read something about how it talks about overpopulation, but then I tried to find out more about it and the more I read, the less interested I got.

I couldn't get a straight answer as to what it was about. Wikipedia, which usually provides decent summaries, offers this:
Freedom follows several members of an American family, the Berglunds, as well as their close friends and lovers, as their complex and troubled relationships unfold over many years. The book follows them through the last decades of the twentieth century and concludes near the beginning of the Obama administration.
Um, you're not selling me here!

I'm supposed to care about the "complex and troubled relationships" of the Berglund family....why exactly? The relationships of a completely fictional family are only going to be interesting in the context of a story. I'm sure there's a story in Freedom, but I'm not so sure it's terribly interesting. Alfred Hitchcock, who knew a thing or two about how to tell a story, said that drama is "life, with the boring bits cut out."

Someone tell Franzen.

(Beat)

And on Franzen-related tangent, I found this interview with him, where he says this, probably with a straight face:
Most people aren't aware of the degree to which free-roaming outdoor cats are a problem in this country. At least a million birds a day are killed by them, so we're talking about a minimum of 365 million birds in America alone in the course of a year -- perhaps as many as a billion.
Now maybe I'm just a cold-hearted bastard, but if I were to put together a list of all the problems in this country, "free-roaming outdoor cats" wouldn't make the list.

Cats killing birds is not some "hurry-fix-it" issue; it's the natural state of the world.

What do you think, readers? Am I being too harsh on Jonathan Franzen?

A Note On Comments

Chances are, if you've ever commented on my blog, you have at one time or another run into my Uncle Jim. You'll know when it happens because you'll read a comment --doesn't matter which name is attached-- and think, "Wow, what an asshole."

Now my comment section isn't such that it requires much policing, and even if it did, there's no way I'd block my uncle, so if you encounter the brick wall of jerkiness that is my uncle in the comments section, I'll advise you to do what I do:

Talk back. Give him the blog comment equivalent of a nut shot. He's a tough guy. He'll survive.

McDaniels

It's news a hundred years old by now, but Josh McDaniels was fired by the Broncos on Monday. I think the McDaniels record speaks for itself. Questionable personnel moves (seriously, you ditch your quarterback, your receiver, your would-be running back, but hire the Spygate dude?) plus questionable judgement, multiplied by an embarrassing win-loss record.

Yeah, all I can say is I'm glad it's over.

And here's hoping Bowlen hires a pro next time.

Fun With Wikipedia

Reading about Liam Neeson, I came across this soon-to-be-edited paragraph about some "controversial" comments he made about Narnia's favorite lion, Aslan:
In 2010, Neeson voiced the character Aslan again in the sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Recently, the Irishman appears to have done some original research and become confused about his voice-over character Aslan by "claiming his character is also based on other religious leaders such as Mohammed"[35]. C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, has always said emphatically and repeatedly that the Aslan character was an alternative version of Christ. Neeson has offered no explanation for reinterpreting the author's intentions.
Does this strike anyone else as, well, weird?

I'm not sure I understand the urge to be so protective over a fictional character. I mean, yeah, I get that Aslan is "an alternative version of Christ," but implicit in that understanding is also the understanding that Aslan is NOT Christ. Aslan is a lion from a place called Narnia. Jesus was a Jew from a place called Galilee. Both are the main characters in a series of popular books. Only one, though, claims to be the Son of God...

And guess what? It ain't Aslan.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Pathetic

John McCain is a very small man.

On the Unreliability of Cultural Memories

I had to rescue this comment from my moderation queue about my skeptical post about the Peruvian "Stargate."
It was not "them" who said it, it was the natives/locals of that area; some legend handed to them from generations to generations. Call it BS or silly-75% of viewers call it as "truth". Respect other people's beliefs.
And honestly, I can't disagree more.

I respect other people's beliefs...as long as those beliefs are valid. Why must I respect wrong beliefs? To be nice? Sorry, not that nice.

As for the "natives legend" angle, sure, that this is a legend may be accurate. But so what? Legends are, almost by definition, not historical.

Anyway this was my response:
I'm a bit skeptical about "cultural memories." Have you ever heard of the "Telephone game?" Now imagine that game being played over centuries...

Not exactly reliable, I would say.

Also consider that post-Columbian contact with European diseases killed maybe 90% of the native population, and whatever cultural records they may have had were destroyed by the Spanish, yeah....I'm going with the local legends/native cultural memories are less than accurate.

And if they're as absurd as some kind of stargate using technology that doesn't even exist, that makes them twice as suspect.
The more I study this stuff, the more convinced I am that "cultural memories" about ancient happenings are next to useless.

* I didn't even know I had a moderation queue!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rock N Roll Never Felt So Good

It's almost 2011. If you're offended by anything the metal band GWAR does, you are...two decades late to the fucking party.

Ann Althouse, a law professor at a school you don't want to go to, writes a post consisting of this text:
Violence against women...
... amuses liberals sometimes.
And a link to a GWAR video where they do mean things to a Sarah Palin look-a-like.

Seriously? There's no indication that Althouse is familiar with GWAR, which makes it strange that she finds them representative of "liberals." It would make more sense to say that violence against women humans sometimes amuses liberals GWAR.

I mean, couldn't Althouse be bothered to check Wikipedia, where it says right there in the first paragraph:
The band is best known for its elaborate sci-fi/horror film inspired costumes, raunchy obscene lyrics, and graphic stage performances which consist of humorous re-enactments of politically and morally taboo themes.
But let's play Althouse's game, shall we? If GWAR proves that liberals are sometimes amused by (simulated, theatrical) violence against women cast members, then what does this prove?

Here we have actual violence against actual women, and guess what? This was at a campaign appearance, not a heavy metal concert. (I know, I know, but really...context does matter.)

Does this prove that conservatives are sometimes amused by violence against women? C'mon, Althouse. Make the case. (Yeah, didn't think so.)

At any rate, here's my favorite GWAR song. Dig the horns, but try not to let them hurt your feelings.

PS. I hope Althouse never comes into contact with the song that this post is named after...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Strain

I recently listened to (as opposed to read) a book co-authored by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan called The Strain. It's the first book in a vampire trilogy and being a fan of Del Toro, I had high hopes.

Unfortunately I found the book rather trite and pedestrian. I got the sense that the idea originated as a movie treatment, but because of eerie similarities to Blade II, wiser heads prevailed and said, "Before we blow $50 million on a Blade II remake, let's turn it into a novel instead!"

There were a lot of things that bugged me about the book. The Blade II vibe, including a vampire autopsy scene and a climax with a sword-wielding protagonist fighting vampires in a subterranean tunnel. (The sword-wielding protagonist, by the way, started the book as a scientist bureaucrat with the CDC. Did I buy the transition from disease-fighting scientist to vampire-fighting action hero? Not...one...bit.)

But I'm going to have to say the thing that bugged me most about the book was the "olive scene." Chances are, if you've read the book, or listened to it like I did, you might not even remember the olive scene. It's not even really a scene. It's just the most vivid description of a man eating an olive ever.

I have not been able to locate the exact quote in the book, so you'll just have to take my word on it, but while I was listening to it, I remember actually rewinding it to hear how awful it was. At first I thought I found an example of poor writing, but no: Technically, the writing was sound. Good verbs, good sentence structure. Not a weak clause in the paragraph.

The problem, I realized, wasn't clunky style. It was the utter banality of the subject. The entire content of the idea could be expressed with four simple words: "He ate an olive."

Sure, you can spice it up with, "He set the olive between his teeth, squeezed until it popped raining down a shower of olive juice on his tongue." (Again, can't find the quote, so this is an approximation.) No doubt, the second version is more vivid but if all you're trying to say is "he ate an olive," why dress it up in fancy clothes?

Just say "he ate an olive!"

Praise the Lord

Finally!

Athletes appeal to God in locker room prayers. They thank him when they score. They thank him when they win.

But he never seems to get the blame when they lose. Until now.

Stevie Johnson, who dropped a potentially game-winning touchdown in overtime this week, tweeted after the loss:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...
I guess God's just a Steelers fan...

Fire Him

Josh McDaniels is making it very hard for this Bronco fan to give a shit. This year, we're one of the worst teams in the league. We're one game better than the perennially struggling Lions, but so what? The Lions have scored more points and the goal is to become World Champions, not "Worst Team in your conference."

But this whole Spygate Part Deux crap is really the last straw.

Hey, I didn't mind when you wanted to trade Jay Cutler, pissing him off so bad that he demanded to leave. As prone to throwing interceptions as that guy is, oh well.

I didn't really mind when you couldn't get Brandon Marshall in check. Yeah, he's a talented receiver, but he's also kind of a douchebag. Brandon Lloyd is just as talented, but he's missing the douchieness.

So you want to draft a quarterback instead of a linebacker? Fine. Just don't be surprised when your main quarterback plays better than he ever has, your newly drafted QB is practically useless (except on direct-snap plays in the red zone; then he's of limited utility), and your defense sucks.

But if you want to be this big of an embarrassment...I ain't watching.

Sick

All weekend, I felt like Madonna looks...like shit.
Lack of sleep plus mild dehydration equals one sick Jimmy. I'm skipping Thanksgiving next year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Honeysuckle Rose

Note to law enforcement officers across the country:

You will find pot on Willie Nelson's bus.

So quit looking for it. Leave him be.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who Is This Media Person You're Talking About?

There was a time when Republicans were the party of "personal responsibility" and high expectations. Of course, that time was before Sarah Palin came onto the scene.

Here she is doing her "whining about the media" thing on Facebook:
If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve.
Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.

Most fair-minded people, even the ones who can't stand you, recognized this as a slip of the tongue. It was funny because it played into the idea that you're an ignorant hick (an idea, I should remind you, that you have done very little to dispel).

However, since "the media" doesn't have ears, they can't listen. Since "the media" doesn't have eyes, they wouldn't have noticed anything. Since "the media" doesn't have arms, they can't do "due diligence."

Oh, and here's the thing that you should really get through your head, Sarah, considering you seem intent on running for president or something: When you fuck up, it's not the media's fault.

"The media" does not control what's coming out of your mouth. And if you can't control what's coming out of your mouth, maybe you should just shut it.

In Case You Forgot...

Rush Limbaugh is an asshole.

Here he is going crazy on Obama's Thanksgiving message. Imagine Rush rolling his eyes as he says this:
"The Indians are minding their own business. We were incompetent idiots. We didn't know how to feed ourselves. So they came along and showed us how, and that's what Thanksgiving is all about."
Notice the unmistakable "us versus them" language, which is even stranger when you consider that the "us" in this case refers to the English settlers in the Plymouth Colony, none of whom were born in this country and none of whom survived the next 150 years to see the founding of America.

But they were white, English speakers...so I guess that makes them more "us" than those brown fuckers with the funny words.

Another history lesson from Rush:
"Every cliche that is wrong about Thanksgiving shows up in his proclamation. The Pilgrims show up at Plymouth. The Indians had been there for thousands of years. We get off the boats. We don't know how to feed ourselves. The Indians show us how. They shared their skill in agriculture, which helped the early colonists survive and whose rich culture continues to add to our nation's Heritage."
Let's examine the "wrong cliches" here:

The Pilgrims show up a Plymouth. This is true. Before that, the Pilgrims tried to settle in the Netherlands, but that didn't work because they had trouble integrating into Dutch society. So they split for America, where the Indians had indeed been for thousands of years. The Pilgrims did get off the boats. I'm sure they knew how to feed themselves, but this knowledge didn't prevent half of them from dying during that first winter.

The Indians did help the early colonists survive, not only by showing them agricultural techniques but by providing them with crops unfamiliar to Europeans. I know, I know, the whole Columbian Exchange thing is a cliched myth, too.

"We" (ie, the white English-speaking people of European descent) didn't need help from no stinking Indians! The half that lived through that first winter would have eventually figured out to farm in New England. "Yeah, thanks, Squanto, but we don't need your corn, your potatoes, your squash, your pumpkins, and your domesticated turkeys. We're doing just fine with our wheat and cabbage..."

I mean, it's ridiculous. And even more ridiculous? The sycophantic eagerness of Rush listeners to accept the bullshit. Witness:
CALLER: I am the father of 11 Rush babies, and one thing that we love about you is the historical perspective that you provide and --

RUSH: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

CALLER: -- for al the historical information you give us.
Um, see that's your first mistake, caller. You're getting your "historical information" from Rush Limbaugh instead of a history book.

What's the Latin phrase for "Consider the source?"

Small Potatoes

My brother, a big fan of Tom Tancredo, attended the big Tancredo-Arellano debate last Tuesday. I know what you're thinking...who the hell is Arellano? He's the "Ask a Mexican" guy from the Village Voice papers. (Ours here in Denver is called Westword.)

It seems to me that Tancredo's latter day career has been defined by a gradual erosion of stature. He used to be a sitting Congressman. Then he became a fringey, one-issue candidate for president. That didn't work, so he went for a hastily-arranged run for the governorship of Colorado.

And now he's debating the "Ask a Mexican" guy.

My brother says Tancredo schooled Arrellano, and since I only skimmed through the transcript, I can't dispute that. But let's just say that my bro is right.

Big deal. A guy with a record of meaningful defeats should not get too excited about a pointless victory.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chris Henry Lives!

Well, pieces of him do.

When it became clear that Henry wasn't going to survive, his mother decided to donate his organs.
Very quickly, Polk, Arnold, Benton, and Elliot were informed that their transplants would be happening. Polk received a kidney, Arnold received a pancreas and a kidney, Benton received a liver, and Elliot received two lungs.
Pretty remarkable, no?

Thanks, Asshole

Another thing to be thankful for:

The speed trap set-up by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's office on I-25 this morning. Because finally someone is doing something about the scourge of early morning Thanksgiving Day speeding...

Thankful I'm Not Armed

This is only my second day back on the night shift and guess who's been bugging me already?

Yep, that fucker again. May someone undercook his turkey and piss in his stuffing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Always Thinking

In the new show The Walking Dead, there was a character who was hand-cuffed to a pipe and left on a roof. I won't go into detail about how he got there. All you really need to know is that there's a guy handcuffed to a pipe on a roof and there are zombies coming to eat him. The key is lost. But there is a hacksaw.

Of course this guy is going to cut his hand off to escape. This is why the writer got rid of the key and introduced a hacksaw.

The way the show reveals all of this is actually quite well done, but you can still see it coming a mile away.

A more realistic treatment would have been less predictable and no less horrible.

You're handcuffed to a pipe on a roof. All you have is a hacksaw, and just for the sake of argument, let's say it's too dull to cut through the handcuffs. What do you do? Start sawing at the wrist?

Why?

Seriously, why would you cut off your whole hand when simply cutting off your pinky will do? Start at the web between the fingers and rip downward, just shear off that whole pinky area*. It really should be enough to slip out of the handcuffs and escape the zombies.

The best part? When you're done, you're only down one finger not five.

(My Granny had a similar injury and, trust me, it was nowhere as debilitating as missing a hand.)

Assume a Can Opener

Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post on the TSA controversy that's been blowing up:
The marginal invasion of privacy is small relative to the potential benefit of averting a terrorist attack.
Woah, woah, woah.

Um, when was the last time airport screeners averted a terrorist attack? Now if you ask me, you can't take something that has never demonstrably happened (TSA screeners catching a terrorist) and act like it's the norm.

I have to say, it's amusing to me that this is the big topic of the week. I was anti-TSA before being anti-TSA was cool. The proof. And I quote myself:
I walked it off, fuming and mumbling to myself like Yosemite Sam. My family was of little help. I heard things like, "It's for your own safety," and "It's a minor inconvenience."

I was too mad to make my case. A minor inconvenience, for what purpose? Safe from what? Breast milk and bottled water? Ladies with shampoo in their baggage? Dudes in wheelchairs? Digital cameras in the same tub as laptops?

Fuck that. I'll take my chances.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Slayer Christmas

The guy who made this video insists that he programmed his Christmas lights to Slayer, but I think it's pretty obvious this is an animation of still photos edited together to a Slayer song.
Still, it's pretty cool. Someone should do this for real.

Or at least animate wind in the trees and a car driving past to make it a less obvious fake.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Newsbabes

When I saw this pic of Megyn Kelly from GQ, my only thought was, "Wow!"
But then I started thinking that this an old picture. Her hair is much shorter these days. Still, "Wow!"

David Frum Explains Why I Don't Like Sarah Palin

And no, it has nothing to do with her baby*.

It's this:
...Palin is a candidate who habitually qualifies some Americans but not others as “real Americans.” That subdivision is a crucial element of her mental architecture, maybe the single most important element of her mental architecture.




* One thing you hear from Palin defenders a lot is that people don't like her because she had a retarded baby instead of aborting it, and as far as accusations go, that's just weird. What part of "pro-choice" does she not understand?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Punch Drunk Comedy

This song is quite funny, but for my money, the funniest bit is when he goes crazy with the "The drummer from Def Leppard's only got one arm" line. (Around 2:20)
All day yesterday at work we were tossing that back and forth.

"Hey, did you know that the drummer for Def Leppard's only got one arm?"

"That was site 903. They said the drummer for Def Leppard's only got one arm."

"What's this alarm mean?" "It means the drummer for Def Leppard's only got one arm."

Ah, the things we do to pass the time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three More Days

And then I'm on the night shift.

The bad part? Harry Potter comes out at midnight. The epic struggle to get cooperation from underemployed, underpaid, teenagers who just don't give a shit just got that much more epic.

Just Saying

The drummer from Def Leppard's only got one arm!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vampires

I watched a movie this weekend that I can't get out of my head. You might have heard about it, a haunting little Swedish film called Let the Right One In.

They did an American remake but I haven't seen that yet.

This one, though, this one borders on genius. The filmmakers use that old trick of not really showing you much, which allows the viewer to fill in the details with their imagination. There's a climactic scene set in a pool where the vampire girl Eli slaughters four bullies, but all you see is poor little Oskar, his head held underwater.

There's a splash, then two feet being inhumanly dragged across the pool, then a severed head plomps in, bounces off the bottom, and the hand that's been holding Oskar's head underwater? It floats away, gushing blood.

That and the aftermath is literally all you see. You couldn't improve on that with ten more Saw movies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

La Nina

It snowed off and on today, nothing major. When I got off work at ten, it was more like rain. Until I got on the highway, that is. That's when it turned into heavy white flakes that bounced my headlights back at me, blocking the road.

And then after a while, it was like rain again. Weird.

Monday, November 15, 2010

49-29, and Guess who Scored the 49 this time?

In that post-season meeting, where Coach McDaniels sits down with the Broncos big dogs to talk about keeping his job, he should include this highlight reel to make his case.

The story: A team suffering a string of various losses, humiliations, and insults, a team crumbling, faces up against one of its conference rivals. It could be more of the same, the "same" being nothing but bad, or it could be...

An offensive explosion. Seriously, every pass in that highlight reel is amazing. Kyle Orton threads the needle, Brandon Lloyd snags it out of the air, Gaffney outruns three dudes. And Moreno drags his defender across the goal line and finishes him off with a suplex.

You can't see me, indeed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet Land of Liberty

Oh, this pisses me off. Seriously...why the fuck are you frisking a three-year old?
If you're wondering why America is fucked, look no further than this.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Australians Are Lucky

From Blabbermouth:
Three-quarters of KYUSS — the influential American stoner rock/metal band, originally from Palm Desert, California — will embark on Australian tour next May under the moniker KYUSS LIVES!
The missing member? Josh Homme, he of Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.

And that's alright with me. In the "Who's the MVP of Kyuss" debate, I fall firmly in the John Garcia category. I've enjoyed his post-Kyuss music much more than I've enjoyed Homme's and that may be due to approach.

While Garcia seems to have wanted to capture the "Kyuss sound" with his subsequent bands, Homme seems to have run away from it completely. He traded in the reverberating riffage for a muddy, decidedly non-metal guitar sound. Strong vocals? Who needs em when you have a thin, high voice that warbles between weird and mildly annoying? (Admit it: Josh Homme isn't a very good singer.)

Example: This sounds like Kyuss.

This does not:

And, please understand, I'm not saying Queens of the Stone Age are rubbish. They're not bad.

They're just not Kyuss. And I like Kyuss, man.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eating Pork

Swine-eaters of America should contemplate the mental torture pigs experience before ordering a ham-and-cheese sandwich.
-Jeffrey Goldberg

I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment. Contemplate the mental torture thing, sure, but some other time. When you're eating a ham sandwich, contemplate how good it will taste. I mean, sure if we're going for effect, if we wanted to prove a point, contemplate it with ham in hand. But then again, while we're slaughtering the pig, think about how good that sandwich will taste, about the bacon and pork chops and pulled pork shoulder you'll be mawing on. Guess who wins that argument?

But what about dogs? I've never eaten a dog, and I don't think I really want to, but whether you should eat dogs or not depends on how they taste. I don't have some moral stand on it. Personally, I'm not really adventurous with my meats so the choice is easy. I'll pass. But if you want to order the dog dish, go for it.

Jeffrey Goldberg has a different idea:
Dogs should not be eaten because of their unique qualities and their unique relationship with humans, but pigs should not be eaten because they are noble and intelligent creatures.
And those aren't bad reasons, per se. Every animal, not just dogs, has unique qualities, many of them not as endearing as a dog's, and all the animals we eat, pigs included, have what could be called "a unique relationship with humans." We take care of them, they take care of us. It's part of the deal.

As to "noble and intelligent" creatures, I don't know. Some of that is anthropomorphizing, and some of that is wildly overblown. Let's face it: The smartest pig is still dumb. Noble? Farm pigs are cute, I'll grant, but you want to see a verminous creature, the very antithesis of nobility, observe a wild pig. I'm not saying I have. I'm just saying go do that and see if "noble" is the word that pops into your head.

Paid My Dues

Your welcome, Colorado.

Signed,

A taxpayer.

(PS. The crazy thing about the linked article is the breakdown of other fees. Only $1,284,718 in liquor licenses? That's it??? It's a lot of money, no doubt, but with all the bars and liquor stores in this state, you'd think they'd be able to raise a little more than that.)

A Few Things

Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was also my 34th birthday and a Tuesday. Here are some other things that happened:

A) While I was driving through the parking lot at the ecoWal-Mart on Tower Road, a black cat darted out of the cars on my left and skittered across my path to the cars on my right. When you think about it, it seems mathematically impossible. What are the chances that a parking lot will contain a cat? What are the chances that the cat will be black? What are the chances that the parking lot containing the black cat also contains a 34 year old in a truck? What are the chances that the cat and the truck will be on a path of convergence? What are the chances that they converge at just the right moment to become auspicious?

I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

B) The first snow of the season fell. Usually, by October, Colorado has already dug itself out of its first big storm. It comes in quickly, dumps a few feet, breaks a ton of branches, rips a few power lines, kills everyone's gardens. This year, it's been dry and unseasonably warm. But yesterday, just about the time I'd be getting ready to go to work, the clouds rolled in, the sky darkened, and it started raining, not snowing yet, just wet, half-frozen sleet. This morning there was a fine coating of snow on the ground, but it's nothing like our usual first-snow blizzard. (Although, I'm sure that's coming soon.)

C) A skunk was rooting around in my backyard last night. A skunk! I have a few alley-cats that hang out in my yard now that I don't have dogs, and then there is the squirrel menace, but this is the first time I have ever in my life seen a wild skunk. I scared it off by throwing things at it, and though it raised its tail at me, it didn't bother spraying me. But it did make me reconsider my plan to use traps against the squirrels.

Now I'm not so sure I'll just be trapping squirrels. After all, a squirrel in a trap can only hiss at you. But a skunk in a trap...that's another story.

Monday, November 08, 2010

House of Broken Promises

This month's eMusic find is House of Broken Promises. This is what I know about the band: The drummer and guitarist used to be in Unida, one of John Garcia's post-Kyuss bands, and this video was filmed by Rick Kosick of Jackass fame.

Friday, November 05, 2010

I Hate Fridays

The rest of the working world looks forward to Friday nights.

I dread them.

I spend a lot of time at work relying on low-paid, low-skilled teenagers who are as apathetic as they are ignorant. It's almost enough to make you consider suicide.

It Really Is That Simple

Andrew Sullivan makes a basic case for the legalization of marijuana.
My view - regardless of the arguments back and forth about the effects of marijuana - is simply that it is absurd for any government to prevent people from growing a naturally-occurring plant that requires no processing to provide humans with pleasure. It's pretty basic, actually. This is a core freedom for human beings and requires an insane apparatus of state control and police power to prevent it from occurring. All you have to do is burn a plant and inhale the smoke. If humans are not free to do this in the natural world in which they were born, what on earth are they free to do?
Amen, brother!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Roots of Metal

Priest before they were, you know, Priest.

Rob Halford reminds me of my late aunt Paula, and I don't mean that as an insult to either of them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Nancy Pelosi Don't Cry

John Boehner is going to be the next Speaker of the House. Expect tears. And I don't say that because I'm a liberal. I say that because John Boehner is a notorious cryer.

He cried tonight, which is weird. His party just picked up a majority in the House, made a small dent in the Senate, and from all accounts, had a pretty good night. He should be smiling.

I Can't Take the Tea Parties Seriously

Because they spent the last two years convincing themselves they're part of something new and different and exciting....

And then spent Election Day voting for Republicans.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Peruvian Stargate

I'm watching a show on the History Channel about "Ancient Aliens," and it's almost all pure bullshit. You can distill this show and sell it as snake oil. I mean, it's almost silly.

Take a look at this picture.
It's a very strange Inca carving found in the mountains of Peru. Now I have no idea what the purpose this served, but I would guess that it's a half-finished carving or an aborted attempt to quarry a slab out of the rockface.

But there are all these people on the show talking about how it might be a kind of "Stargate" that the ancient Inca kings used to travel via wormhole to distant locations across the universe.

Now what the hell about this rock would lead you to believe that?

This Year, I'm Keeping it Simple

Victim of Changes

All these years, I've been a metalhead and while I've loved bands influenced by Judas Priest, I never got into Priest. Maybe it was all the spikes and leather. Never really been into that. Maybe it was the screaming falsetto. Not my thing.

But the fact is, I've been missing out. These blokes have some chops.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Fun

It wasn't funny at the time, but looking back it's kind of funny, but today at work, one of my co-workers came in on shift raging. Oh, he was raging!

It's Halloween, you know, and every year all the corporate pukes have a costume contest and decorate their cubes and see who has the best theme. You know, office politics bullshit that we, in our little bubble of a control center, do not participate in.

"When is this company going to grow up?" my co-worker grumps after seeing one particularly obnoxious theme in the hallway.

Then we give him his shirt, that the manager of another department had made for him. We all got one, with our pseudonyms ironed-on to the breast. I wanted to be Herb, but I decided to just be Machete, Jr. His shirt, since he was in the Navy and didn't want to offer up a pseudonym, said Seaman Stains.

He threw it across the room like a grown-up.

You've Seen the Butcher, Now Watch the Video

The deftones have released a video for "You've Seen the Butcher," my favorite track from their Diamond Eyes record. Dig it.

You've Seen The Butcher

Deftones | Myspace Music Videos

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Rule: Big Burly Men Shouldn't Be Violent Towards Women (Even if they work for Moveon.org)

Depending on your political persuasion, the following video is either going to make you mad or fill you will glee.

Of course, if the video fills you with glee, you should reconfigure your moral compass.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Embarrassment

Wow. What a debacle.

Last week, the Broncos lost in the 4th quarter. This week, they lost six minutes into the first.

If Coach McDaniels isn't fired after the season, I'll be surprised. His tenure has been marked by a steady progression...downward.

Updated: In Peter King's column, he had this to say about the Broncos:
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 7:

a. Everything about Denver. How would you know where to start?
Ouch.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Those Scary Muslims

Whatever you do, do not show this website to Juan Williams.

Unless you want to see him shit his pants, which would, admittedly, be kind of funny.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Observations

A) A couple hundred years from now, there will be thousands of people running around with Octomom's genes. We're talking exponential growth of Octomom-level stupidity encoded in the human race's genetic profile.

B) In America's political system, we have people like Meg Whitman spending $140 million dollars of her own money applying for a job, basically, which she will have to do for a couple years and which makes considerably less than $140 million bucks. To me, that's a weird investment.

But there may be other factors involved. Ego, obviously. Power, too. Sure, the governor's salary isn't that much, but think of the billions you will control! Whatever it is, something's fishy.

Friedkin

William Friedkin, director of 70s classics The Exorcist and The French Connection, is perhaps the most over rated director of all time.

Have you seen Sorcerer? Man, it was awful.

White Rap

I love the Beastie Boys, but I think it's very strange how they're the only rap act that Denver's modern rock station plays.

And hey, I get it. They're white, they have punk-rock roots, but their music is firmly rooted in the hip-hop tradition. What makes the Beastie Boys acceptible and not, say, DMX?

(I wonder...do hip-hop stations even play the Beasties? I dunno.)

The Dispensary

You would be forgiven if you thought that the guy who works at my local marijuana dispensary is retarded.

He's not. He's just really, really stoned.

YES!

I am not a baseball fan at all...

But I'm so happy that the Yankees lost.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cut Your Weeds!

I was just complaining to my brother yesterday about my neighbors on the south side.  They've got weeds two feet tall growing in the cracks of their driveway.


And part of me understands.  They're renters.  They don't treat the property like it's theirs because, well, it's not theirs.  They live there, but so?  That doesn't mean they have to mow the yard or trim the weeds in the driveway.  Why do that when you can just walk around?

Now the reason this bugs me is not because it looks like shit --even though it does-- but when you let weeds grow to maturity, they seed. And while I appreciate my neighbor's thoughtfulness in providing the entire block with enough weed-seed to last all next summer, I really kind of wish they would have consulted us. Maybe we don't want your fucking weeds.

Anyway, today as I was going to the laundromat, Code Enforcement pulled up next door with a crew in tow...and well, the weeds are now gone. Thanks, Code Enforcement!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Auction

This morning I went to an auction with my brother at a storage facility.  I haven't seen that many toothless hillbillies in one place since NASCAR night at the bowling alley.  And really, they have a pretty good racket.

The storage facility, not the hillbillies.  From what I can tell, they can't afford toothbrushes, shampoo, or mirrors, but they can afford to drop a hundred bucks on a storage locker full of junk.

Here's the deal.  You can only look inside, but you can't step over the threshold.  If you bid, you must pay cash immediately.  Then you have 24 hours to remove all the junk, sweep the floor, get it ready to be rented to someone else.  (Preferably someone who pays.)

Like I said, nice racket.  People bid to clean up your storage locker, and then they pay you!  The storage place probably cleared a thousand bucks in less than an hour, and they'll have eleven nice shiny, freshly swept units to rent out to some other guy who has too much shit.

Of course, considering that most of the stuff was considered to be worth less than whatever the fee on the locker, most of it was...well, junk.  Mattresses, old TVs, appliances that might not work.  In one there was an old style heater that I wouldn't have minded, and right next to it a reproduction of the Last Supper...with all black disciples and a black Jesus in the middle.

We didn't bid on anything, but it was still pretty interesting.  An auction like that, where you're basically cleaning up trash, I say let the hillbillies have it.  But in a couple weeks, the City of Denver is having a bike auction that might be worth checking out.

Broncos Country

It was a good game, even if the Broncos lost.

PS. My niece is going to be Batman for Halloween. Yes, Batman.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If You Can't Take the Heat...

Good for Justice Sam Alito. He won't be attending the next State of the Union speech.

I guess this time he can get his feewings all hurted in the privacy of his own home.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moral Ambiguity

I know a lawyer is supposed to represent his clients to the best of his ability, but this is a bit ridiculous:
"We are very proud to represent Ms. Folden," Samuelson said later Friday. "There are a lot of people here who think that shameful conduct is not attributable to Ms. Folden."

Samuelson said many people have reached out to Folden since the incident, and that she shares a common bond of faith with people in Northern Colorado and across the country.

"We believe she is a woman of strong moral conviction and deep religious faith," he said.

Some believe blame should not be placed on Folden for her actions, Samuelson said, but rather on those that brought the art to the community.

"There were a lot of people from Northern Colorado and across the country who think that it was shameful for the city of Loveland to display this piece, which by all accounts was highly insensitive to people of Ms. Folden's belief system, and I think deliberately provocative," Samuelson said.
I see.

So if you're religious, and you see something provocative, it's perfectly okay to start breaking shit with a crowbar. Good to know...