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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Surveillance Camera Man



Pure brilliance.

Earth Rocker

New Clutch album.....coming next year.

That's going to be a long wait, man.

Scary Thought

There was guy on CNN, some expert talking about the storm damage in NYC, and he said something like (paraphrasing) "The city is going to have to be redesigned." And it occurred to me that he's probably right.

Horror Writers of the 90s

I have not yet finished reading Kathe Koja's The Cipher, though my Kindle informs me that I have 13% left.  Hate to say it, but I no longer care what --if anything-- happens and I no longer care if I've wasted my time.

I'm pretty sure that I did.

But I did go ahead and splurge on a bunch of eBooks from other horror writers I used to read back in the day, writers like F. Paul Wilson, Ray Garton, Richard Christian Matheson and David J. Schow.  Prior to the digital book revolution (which I am slowly coming around to) their books were hard to find, you know, from being long out of print, released by small houses, or various other 20th Century problems.

It's almost like they said to themselves, "If I re-release my old stuff, maybe that 15 year old kid who read it in 91 will want to buy it again a week before his 36th birthday."   Maybe.....

At any rate, I have been enjoying this stuff way more than I've enjoyed the best (?) parts of The Cipher

First allow me to provide you a small taste of what you will read in the Cipher, plucked randomly from the page I'm currently on:
"I did my best to ignore them all, sat finishing my meal: a warm ginger ale, chewy antique saltines, and raisins, a little red box of raisins and my eyes filled with quick and stupid tears: I remembered eating them in my lunch at school, saving the box to prop on my desk and pretend the Sun Maid was winking at me.  As I thought this the little face on the box came alive, melted like living wax to become Nakota's, complete with her customary impatient sneer, the basket she held filled not with grapes but tiny skulls."
Pages and pages of this kind of thing, elaborate descriptions of head and bodyaches, needless details on the horrible thing he's eating, and this horrible Nakota character.  Ugh.  She's so unpleasant that only a female writer could get away with creating her.

Not my thing....

This, the first lines of David J. Schow's story The Shaft, is more my speed:
I made it to the rail just in time to watch Chiquita destroy an aluminum umbrella table, face-first, five stories below the balcony on which I stood.  She missed the pool by a good ten feet.
Oh man, a breath of fresh air! It's coherent, vivid, and concise. It's even kind of funny, in a twisted way. Not a single word is wasted. Not a single extraneous detail is added. Koja's writing is often vivid, too...but --I'm sorry-- a vivid description of a woman splattering in an "aluminum umbrella table" is simply more interesting than a vivid description of "chewy antique saltines."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Shill...or Hack?

Conor Friedersdorf nails it with this:

America is filled with people who think its okay to lie, bullshit, or otherwise misrepresent the truth in order to advance the electoral prospects of a politician or the cause of a governing coalition. Let's call them shills. Other people aren't necessarily aware that they're misrepresenting the truth, but their work is so shaped by what would advance the causes of a candidate or governing coalition that it's often indistinguishable from the shills. We'll call them hacks. In a better world, journalists would be sworn enemies of shills and hacks, and the best are. Unfortunately, the press, especially the political press, has more than its share of shills and hacks.
It came to mind when I read this nonsense from Michael Medved.

In a sense, the recent media mantra about Chris Christie “rescuing” or “saving” the Obama campaign reflects the same sense of desperation about the president’s prospects. Why would a confident, successful chief executive who has masterfully concluded his triumphant term ever require rescue from the boisterous governor of New Jersey?
I can't tell if Medved is being a hack or just a shill.  Much has been made of Chris Christie's embrace of Obama, parsing the electoral prospects.  What does this mean for the election?

I dunno...probably nothing.  But I think it's interested that Medved portrays Obama as the desperate one and Christie as the savior.  It's cute and everything, but really??

Look at this photo:
Considering what you've seen on the news about how Sandy rearranged the state of New Jersey, do you think it's accurate to characterize the interaction between these two men as a desperate Obama coming to Christie for election help?  Is that's what's happening in this picture?

I submit that Christie is desperate for Obama's help and for more important reasons than electoral politics.

I do love this though:
Nevertheless, Republicans look and sound notably more energized and exuberant than their Democratic counterparts as they swagger with self-assurance toward the electoral finish line.
This seems to be true. There does seem to be a lot of swagger and self-assurance.   Yesterday I saw a Juggalo-sized. Romney window decal on a car.  But swagger and self-assurance can only take you so far.

Eventually you have to deliver the goods, and in this case..... it's the votes.  It appears that will not occur:

I suspect Republicans are going to swagger and self-assure themselves into a loss.  And they will have hack/shill Michael Medved cheering them along to their doom.  Good job, guys.

(And seriously, guys, the Bush years taught us that you need more than swagger.  Why is this lesson not sinking in?)

The Regulator

If you want to do yourself one favor today, listen to this song. C'mon. Five minutes. It won't kill ya.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Headline of the Day

Comes courtesy of Matt Yglesias in response to Romney's food drive for Sandy victims:

If Mitt Romney Wants To Help Hurricane Victims, He Should Donate Some Of His Vast Fortune

Too clever by half, Matt!  Says Matt:
 Mitt Romney has a boatload of money—specifically an estimated $250 million in wealth. Not only that, but Romney's campaign and GOP-aligned groups are poised to spend tens of millions of dollars on television advertising in the final week of the campaign. A candidate who genuinely wanted to sacrifice some campaign opportunities in order to help people would take some of that money and give it to storm relief charities rather than spend it on TV ads. 
Yes, makes sense. But "Mitt Romney" and "genuine" do not belong in the same sentence. This is a guy who, at 65 years old, dyes his hair to make it look like he's just now starting to go gray. Look, there's only one thing that Mitt Romney "genuinely wants to sacrifice." And that's the country, sacrificed for another rich man's tax cut.

Posted Now For Future Reference

We all know I laugh at Libertarians and argue with conservatives. In 2012, Libertarians are "most likely to believe untrue things" and conservatives are "most likely to say untrue things." It's a problem, but it's not my problem.

Here is a symposium of who Reason Magazine's contributors are voting for.

Summary: If they're voting, they break for Gary Johnson. (Indeed, Johnson gets only a few more votes than "No one.")

Here is a symposium of who The American Conservative's contributors are voting for.

This one is a bit more diverse, with some endorsing Romney, some endorsing Obama, a few endorsing Johnson, and some doing the whole "I'm not voting thing." There's even a few "write-in for Paul" votes.

This tells me a few things:

1) Support for Romney is tepid, at best. He will no doubt get the "Team Republican" votes, and many right-leaning voters will naturally prefer him to Obama. But I'm getting a very Gore/Kerry loser vibe here, with support but little enthusiasm.

2) Libertarians have a very inflated sense of their own importance. (Shocker, I know, huh?) They've been talking up Gary Johnson for years, all the way back to when he was governor of New Mexico. They wanted him to win the GOP nomination, even though the GOP wouldn't even let him participate in the debates. Now he's on a Presidential ballot and will no doubt garner some votes.

Very few of them....

In 2008, the Libertarian candidate --also a former Republican-- Bob Barr got 523,713 votes. (It was less than half a percentage of the total vote.) Not to sniff, because that's a lot of people, but it's statistically insignificant.

John McCain lodged 59,934,814 votes, literally over a thousand times more votes than the Libertarian candidate.

I suspect Johnson may do marginally better than (the embarrassing) Bob Barr but even if he doubles the 2008 vote, he will still have attracted a little over a million people.

In a country of over 300 million people.

After a months-long election season.

No matter how you cut it, Gary Johnson is not popular, not a viable candidate, not even a viable protest vote. In other words, he's the perfect candidate for a political movement that's also not popular, has no viable governing philosophy, and lives in protest of the 99% of this country who have a different opinion.

Check Gary Johnson's vote totals next week.  And then weigh Libertarian commentary accordingly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Charging For Wireless Versus Wireless Charging

You know you're too tainted by capitalism when you see a headline that says "Starbucks Tests Wireless Mobile Charging in 17 Stores" and you think, the rip-off never ends, does it?  

See, I thought they were going to start charging, you know, money for wireless mobile, but no....they're talking about wireless charging, as in, charging your devices with no cords. Which instantly takes that story from "They'll fleece ya for everything" territory to "Wow, that's pretty cool."

Paragraphs to Ponder

From a larger, interesting article on human origins and whether the human experience is sustainable:
The Japanese have an expression, hara hachi bu, which means, roughly speaking, “belly 80 percent full.” Hara hachi bu is shorthand for an ancient injunction to stop eating before feeling full. Nutritionally, the command makes a great deal of sense. When people eat, their stomachs produce peptides that signal fullness to the nervous system. Unfortunately, the mechanism is so slow that eaters frequently perceive satiety only after they have consumed too much—hence the all-too-common condition of feeling bloated or sick from overeating. Japan—actually, the Japanese island of Okinawa—is the only place on earth where large numbers of people are known to restrict their own calorie intake systematically and routinely. Some researchers claim that hara hachi bu is responsible for Okinawans’ notoriously long life spans.
Someone needs to tell my stepmom.

Someone other than me.


Star Wars

Disney paid George Lucas $4 billion dollars for the Star Wars universe and fanboys across the galaxy cried out in triumph. 

After watching the prequel films and their respective DVD commentaries/documentaries, I have a theory as to why the Star Wars prequels sucked so bad.  They were written, directed, produced and financed by George Lucas himself.  He had an army of yes men, all of them devoted to bringing his vision to life, and there was no one there to tell him "No."

With the prequels, Lucas was allowed to write his own ticket, and boy did he.

What he needed was someone with veto authority.  "Sorry, George, but we can't greenlight a script with Jar Jar Binks in it.   Can we get fewer Gungans and more Jedis?  This Darth Maul character...is there anyway we can make him not die?  And Annakin Skywalker, the child years?  Nobody wants to see that, especially in a movie about some boring trade dispute.  You know what people want to see?  The origins of Darth Vader.  Where's that script?"

Seriously.....it's still somewhat shocking to me how seriously bungled the Star Wars prequels were.  George's yes men and were too busy running around figuring out how to bring Jar Jar Binks to life without asking themselves whether they should.

I have seen the unvarnished full extent of George Lucas's artistic vision and I wish, not for the first time, that someone had compromised it. I think Disney is just the company to do it.


Bad Faith

From Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction to "protecting traditional marriage" to "Show me the birth certificate," the right wing in this country has been entirely way too tolerant of bad faith arguments

To me, Mitt Romney is the personification of this particular problem.  He has spent his campaign first convincing Republican partisans that he's "severely conservative," and then once he got the nomination, he's been working hard to convince the rest of the country that he's not as conservative as those wackos who would end legal abortion or invade Iran.

People are noticing.  Here's Matt Yglesias on the subject:
If Sherrod Brown were running for president on Romney's currency manipulation platform, center-right commentators would be losing their shit. When Romney does it, the assumption is that he doesn't mean what he's saying. In a sense I think even Romney's deeply dishonest ad pretending that Jeep is shifting production to China reinforces the idea that there's a dual-track message here. For the sake of voters in Ohio and Wisconsin, Romney is running as a retrograde protectionist. But elites are supposed to know he doesn't mean what he's saying. The fact that his protectionist ads are so fast and loose with the truth is, among other things, a way of signaling that he's just screwing around.

 This is one of the things that bugs me so much about the modern Republican party.  There is no incentive for honesty.

If there was, the first clown to bring up Obama's birth certificate years ago would have been laughed out of the room.  But what happened?  We had to endure years of birther speculation under the guise of shoulder shrugging and "just asking questions."

Just asking questions?  Yeah, you're asking questions about raised seals and newspaper announcements, but you never asked the most salient question of all:  "How fucking stupid do you really think I am?"

For me, the answer is simple:  "Not stupid enough to buy your bad faith bullshit."  Mileage will vary.