Wednesday, December 31, 2008
here's a documentary on the making of one of my favorite films of all time, terry gilliam's Brazil. i first saw it at the buckhead cinema and draft house in atlanta (why aren't there more movie theaters where you can order beer and nachos and shit? that is the coolest concept ever.)
anyway. me and my friends went to see this late night showing of brazil, all of us terribly under age, got plowed on cheap beer along with eating a handful of mescaline. i remember walking out of the theater into the 2 am downtown atlanta morning, seeing the construction cranes, the shitty, bland, packed together office buildings and mini-malls, and thinking, we are living terry gilliam's nightmare.
happy new year, everyone, and hope you have a good time tonight. :)
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I'm not generally a big visual art guy; i write reasonably well, i sing and play guitar reasonably well, and i like to think i can act a bit. but i have never been able (or at least felt like was able to) draw or paint or anything like that. So it is rare when a visual artist really grabs ahold of me by the balls.
This artist, Miran Kim does that. I clicked on this site through metafilter, and i just can't tear my eyes away. There is something at once haunting and comforting about these paintings, something indescribable that makes me feel warm inside while simultaneously creeping me out. Hope you enjoy.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It’s weird, the stupid shit you remember as you get older, shit you should have forgotten years ago, stupid little details that are utterly meaningless in and of themselves, but which for you hold some significance. I was fixing some eggs this evening (yes, if you must know, for dinner I was having a four-egg omelet with tater tots and some celery and carrots and shit. There. I have reached the absolute nadir of blogging shame: I have literally blogged about food I ate. You’re welcome.)
Anyway, as I was whipping the eggs (that’s not a euphemism) I remembered out of the blue this friend I had when I was a kid, maybe 6th grade, whose mom would make ‘special’ eggs by adding a little bit of cinnamon to them. Which I thought was utterly weird. See, this kid, Axel was really a friend of a friend -- a friend of two friends actually, two kids I was in classes with and who I guess my parents knew from Michigan State. I had just moved to East Lansing like the year before and didn’t know that many people, but I hung out with these guys Jay and Dan, and their friend Axel from the ‘old neighborhood’ (an extra two blocks down the street) who I didn’t know as well. The feeling I get as I look back is that this kid’s parents weren’t university folk, and so there might have been a class thing going on there -- upper middle versus lower middle, maybe? All I know is he had like 73 brothers and sisters and his mom always seemed like she was behind on cleaning and rather harried.
So I get invited to a sleepover at this kid’s house, along with Dan and Jay, and the next morning his mom makes eggs with some cinnamon, and I have never forgotten the smell or the taste. They say when you die that the last sense that goes is the sense of smell, and that seems right to me. There is no other sense that so instantly brings up images and memories for me.
But what all of this is coming around to is that I wonder: do we ever change? I mean, we get older, we learn new facts, we fall in and out of love -- but do we ever really CHANGE on a fundamental level? I think not. I think by the time we’re teenagers we are locked into the type of people we are going to be for life, more or less. I am still that shy kid who feels awkward in new situations -- more or less. I mean, I have learned skills that help me cope with discomfort and nervousness through time spent on the stage, but inside? I’m the same kid. Trust me. I wonder how many other aspects of our lives can be directly chased back to how we reacted and learned how to react to the world when we were kids.
When I die I expect I will smell cinnamon. Or perhaps bourbon. :) Not that I plan on dying anytime soon, lol.
Is it just me, or is this annual ‘season of giving’ one of the most frantic, annoying, irritating times of year? I mean, in a time when we are supposed to celebrate rebirth and renewal and giving and peace and joy and all that, do you not find that people behave shittier and more selfishly than at any other time of year? Don’t get me wrong -- all I have to do is buy some presents and fly back east every year to visit family, so I guess in a way I have it easy. I don’t have houseguests, I don’t have to prepare a big ol’ Christmas dinner or any of that.
What I’m talking about is the atmosphere out in the world in the weeks prior to Christmas. Is it just me or do drivers get more surly, do people seem more rushed, more irritated with each other, more crazed than usual? What is this insane pressure we put on ourselves every year?
And why do we call it a time of giving, a time of generosity when all we’re thinking about is how quickly we can score those deals and get the fuck out of the store? When all we’re doing is imagining the slow, painful death of the painfully slow cashier at Barnes and Noble as we wait in line behind twenty other irritated shoppers. (This is just me imagining the thoughts of others, I swear. I haven’t done a bit of shopping yet this year. :)
I’m just trying to remember how lucky I’ve got it, what a privilege it is to be alive in this time, and what incredible gifts I’ve been given, in terms of my friends, family, and my life. I’m not a religious person, but even if there isn’t a god I have been ‘blessed’ by something. I’m trying to remember compassion and hope and connecting with my fellow human beings, because the truth is, we are, all of us, blind and ignorant and doing the best we can with an impossible burden -- and I’m not talking about our shopping lists. All the rest is bullshit, and it don’t mean a thing.
Definitely, definitely NSFW. Or at least turn your speakers way down before you play it if there are people around. :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I’m re-reading Walker Percy’s “Love In the Ruins,” an awesome book about the crumbling of America as she once was. It’s ostensibly about a race war that isn’t so much a war as a capitulation, and about a doctor who is “abstracted from himself,” as he feels many Americans are. But he finds a way to cure these psychic ailments, to cure liberal ennui as well as conservative rage. Got me thinking about the dirty south again, where I haven’t been for a long time:
Driving south there is a distinct, sharp moment when you realize you are no longer in the north. You may not recognize it as it occurs, but you soon come to realize that it has happened. Coming from Michigan down through sad, old Indiana, then across into Kentucky, and there it is: something has changed. The northern rust belt has given way to something softer, less clanging and more sonorous. The fields are just as green, the landscape much the same, but something has changed.
In the west there’s not so clear a distinction, but I have made the drive to New Orleans from Colorado, and you can see some of the change, after you pass through Evil Texas, with its faux-southern deception. Texas is a fictional place; it doesn’t exist except in the minds of its proponents. It’s all suburbs and sprawl and concrete and scrub, a shithole of the mind.
Coming from the northeast especially there is something miraculous about driving south. There was a time coming down through Maryland and the Virginias, late at night, the only one still awake, when you crossed through some mythical veil and there you were. The ground fog clung warmly to the green, loamy earth; the dingy tension, the grime of the ancient northeast seemed to melt away. A broad white slab of new concrete expressway carries your lonely 4 am car down, down further into that old world, like a humid fairy tale storybox waiting to be opened. It’s a place waiting to reveal its secrets, but you have to know how to ask for them.
In a way, the south seems even older than the exhausted, soot-covered cities of the northeast that came before it. There was a gentility, a politeness -- however false -- that gave this place its charm, its mystery. There was hope here once, a feeling that a better world not only awaited the faithful after death, but could also be created here on earth. There was a dignity, a gravitas in the way things were done that is lost.
And a sense of sadness mixed in too. You get the feeling that the south always knew she was doomed, that the Big Sin she committed had spelled out her fate all along, and she knew punishment was inevitable. The sadness of the countryside is palpable. It is a land of death.
But driving south late at night, your only companion the radio because all your music seems tired and old, there is a moment when you can feel these ghosts of a more prosperous time reaching up out of the soft, fertile ground. You can hear them asking, whatever became of their way of life, how did it get reduced to a cartoon, a bad joke wherein ‘Southern’ became synonymous with ‘Ignorant,’ or ‘Racist?’ It was a proud country once, for all its faults, even in light of the Big Sin. There were good people here. But like everywhere else, it has now been reduced to a mockery of itself.
Sometimes, though, sometimes if you’re very quiet as you drive southward late at night, she still shares her secrets -- but only if you ask in just the right way.
Salting the earth.
The phrase ‘salting the earth’ is an ancient and overused one. The gist of the concept is that if one spreads salt over formerly productive fields, they won’t be able grow crops anymore. The origins of the term lie in a punishment employed by ancient cultures as a final slap in the face to the losers of a conflict. For instance, the Assyrians are said to have salted the earth surrounding certain cities that refused to pay tribute to them. And one ancient judge in Israel is said to have salted his own capital, Shechem, as punishment for an attempted rebellion against him. The Romans are said to have salted the earth surrounding Carthage as punishment for the prolonged Third Punic War, but scholars dispute this claim, as the Romans relied on North Africa as the ‘granary to the empire’ for centuries after. The Romans always knew which side their bread was buttered on.
Which brings me to my point. What the fuck are the douchebags in the outgoing administration and their myopic handmaidens in congress thinking? In a matter of weeks they have:
- opened up 150,000 new acres in the west to oil and gas drilling leases
- slipped a nice loophole on limiting exec pay into the very public $700 billion it shoveled to its buddies on Wall Street resulting in, you guessed it, no limits on exec pay
- admitted that Al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion, responding with ‘So what?’ (No, Bush literally said that on television.)
- decided that Detroit (and likely the rest of the economy) can sit and spin unless they’re willing to gut their union contracts
There’s a certain insane vindictiveness to all this behavior, when you consider that the $5 trillion surplus Bush inherited has already been turned into a $10 trillion deficit, and that despite that insane outlay, most Americans are worse off than they were 8 years ago. It’s almost too much to think that these guys are just so insanely greedy that squeezing more cash out of the taxpayers drives them to these levels of shamelessness.
It's like, you won, fuckers. What more do you want?
You raped the economy, you raped the Middle East, you raped our military, you raped the Constitution, you raped the memory of America's honor, you raped the poor and the middle class, you raped the environment, you raped the truth -- you raped the dignity of our very nation. YOUR nation too. What more could you possibly want?
Do you remember that moment in “The Dark Knight,” when Alfred is musing on The Joker’s possible motivations, and he says to Bruce Wayne, “Some people just like to watch the world burn?”
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It's called passiveaggressivenotes.com. the notes people send in are hilarious. Once you start clicking through some of them, it's really hard to stop. :)
more people should post notes like this, actually, as cell phones are indeed vexing and insolent. nice choice of adjectives, there.
The pair of notes above is classic -- one person's passive-aggressive tendencies bring out PA in someone else, prompting a good old fashioned note war!
but the one below is awesome on so many levels: the fact that the manager had to program the message into the machine that prints the receipts, the fact that the back-handed pseudo-compliment is so...not a compliment, and the misspelling of 'tries.' classic.
it also makes me wonder: in what sense is she 'slow?' after all, she is called their 'special' employee of the month... (i've worked with a few 'special' people over the years, and believe me, they need all the encouragement they can get. :)
Monday, December 8, 2008
In Odessa, Texas, Cooper's group rented a house, outfitted it with surveillance equipment, and turned on a grow light often used by marijuana growers. But when the cops came swooping in less than 24 hours later to raid the house, what they found was two small Christmas trees peacefully growing under the lights, along with a poster telling them what was going on.
Here's the local news coverage of the story. Sry for the shitty sound.
Now, this is significant, and not just a publicity stunt, as the local news reporters tried to suggest, because it is illegal for cops to use thermal imaging cameras to seek out houses that use grow lights -- which are legal, by the way. Also, it is illegal for cops to lie on affidavits by claiming they have informants who have witnessed illegal activity at the location, leading to probable cause for raiding the house.
Here's the raw footage from Kop Busters of the very confused looking cops entering the house.
According to the Kop Busters web site, the cops first attempted to arrest their attorney, who was waiting for the raid, and refused to show them the affidavit which would explain how the cops came by their probable cause. Essentially, the question is: which is it? Did they lie, or compel an informant to lie about witnessing suspected illegal activity at the house? Or did they illegally use thermal imaging cameras to 'see' the heat signature from the grow lamps?
And the other significant 'take-home message' from this raid in particular is that there is an Odessa woman currently serving eight years in prison resulting from a bust in which a police informant swore in court that he planted the drugs on her, even passing a polygraph to that effect.
Again, your tax dollars at work. Imagine the injection of cash into this struggling economy if we were to repeal even just the marijuana laws, and tax the sales of same. Last Friday was the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Maybe it's time we look into trying that again.
They're trying to infiltrate our precious bodily fluids!
Even in tough economic times, the war on drugs (read: war on sanity) remains a cash cow. Apparently it's important enough to patrol our norther border that Customs is going to start using a $10 million Predator drone to search for people crossing illegally and bringing in drugs. The planes can stay aloft for 18 hours, and fly at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, so they can keep us safe from those nasty Canucks trying to cross our borders with their Great White Northern Lights weed. According to NY Times story, quoting John Stanton of the Customs and Border Protection Service:
Along the entire northern border, Customs and Border Protection officials make about 4,000 arrests and intercept about 40,000 pounds of illegal drugs each year.
For the moment, though, the flights from Grand Forks will remain mostly along the 300 miles of the upper edge of North Dakota and a slim part of Minnesota, Mr. Stanton said.
He went on to say that Customs was going to begin employing the drone flights "...because the planes had become available..." which just goes to show you, if you build it, they will come. If there's a technology available, the anti-drug fanatics will find a way and a justification to use it. To wit, in a delightfully Rumsfeldian quote
Asked whether he expected to uncover a significant problem with drugs, border crossings or terrorism in northern North Dakota, Mr. Stanton said no one was sure.
“We hope to actually use this aircraft to measure that,” he said. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Excellent. Your tax dollars at work.
General John Stanton of the Customs and Border Protection Service
Sunday, December 7, 2008
But i ran across this clip of some behind the scenes work as Marc Shaiman (who wrote "Hairspray" the musical among other things) gets actors like John C. Reilly, Jack Black, Maya Rudolph and Andy Richter into shape for the short film. Keith Olbermann did a short piece on the film, and if i remember correctly, Shaiman wrote the piece in a day, and they rehearsed and filmed it in another day. Pretty amazing stuff, and funny as hell. Enjoy.
added bonus: my favorite John C. Reilly sketch from FOD: "Satisfaction Guaranteed." (definitely NSFW) Pepperbee's cares about customer satisfaction. No, they really, really care. :)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It has been posited (and largely debunked) that the Romans' extensive use of lead in water pipes, pottery glaze and cosmetics may have led, in part, to the end of the empire. The idea is that lead poisoning caused a vast, multi-generational, neurological degeneration so acute it led to malaise and finally madness across the empire.
And while further research shows that the Romans were at least aware of the ill effects of prolonged exposure to lead, it seems almost undeniable that SOMETHING happened to these people to cause them to just fade away, albeit over many centuries. Hell, it could be argued that the DECLINE of the Roman Empire lasted longer than this nation has even been in existence -- what makes us think we're going to go on forever? Or even much longer?
At any rate, reports of the excesses among the aristocratic classes of the Romans point to some sort of sickness at the heart of an empire that, for a time, controlled three-fourths of the known world.
Perhaps that very success is what begins the inevitable clock of entropy ticking for an empire. Perhaps individuals in an aristocratic class having almost literally anything they want leads to a sickness of the soul.
There is a jadedness of that sort at work today in this country, a sense that there is nothing new under the sun, that nothing is left that could possibly impress us. Lies become truth, the extraordinary becomes ordinary and ulterior motives become the only reasonable motivation for every action.
I started thinking about this 'end of empire' scenario and how it might work today in America when I re-read Phillip K. Dick's 'Valis' recently. He posits that the empire never really ended, that we humans were just unable to see it as continuous over centuries and millennia. (It's a long explanation -- read the book. It's amazing.)
But lately I've been thinking about the possible effects of the sickness that is at work over vast swaths of television, and in certain corners of the internet. In large part, these two means of transmitting media not only convey our culture to us -- they ARE our culture. Therefore they must be a fairly accurate barometer of who we are.
Now, I am by no means a Moral Majority type. I don't believe in whitewashing, in Disneyfying the world and pretending that everything is sunshine and roses. I believe there is a sickness at work there too, that people who can pretend that the world was just peachy in 1955 -- when people still got polio, institutional racism was the law of the land, and women were regarded as little more than objects to woo and marry in order to reproduce -- those people suffer from a blind kind of sickness, an ignorance of the soul. There is a deep sickness of denial in putting on blinders and pretending that humans aren't violent, sexual, visceral animals as well as poets and musicians and writers -- we are creators of beauty as well as 'creators of destruction,' as it were.
But perhaps there is a sickness in allowing ourselves to see too much as well. The other end of the scale, seeking out the most titillating, foul and degrading forms of entertainment cannot be without effect. It's at least possible that viewing these images and reading these words may at least create a sort of feedback loop that taps into the potential sickness in our souls and begets more of it. I'm talking about 'reality' television -- that vast bowl of shit and human self-degradation that pretty much IS television these days -- I'm talking about the chanboards, I'm talking about the hate-filled chat rooms, the hate-filled blogs -- I'm talking about the sheer, unprecedented quantity of dumbness and bile that surrounds us online and on television.
And I'm not saying that I'M somehow too cool or too smart or aloof to succumb to the guilty pleasure of these things. I just wonder what we are doing to ourselves when we do succumb.
There are times when I believe that humans in general are little more than monsters in disguise, that we are all Patrick Bateman in American Psycho: perfectly tailored, slathered in expensive oils and lotions, ripped from countless hours of working out -- a perfect beautiful form on the outside, but sick unto death at the heart.
And there are times I believe we are angels, creatures of potentiality that have a unique choice and ability to rise above our animal roots and become something almost god-like.
Perhaps there's a fine line, a place where we can -- while retaining an honest understanding of the very real underpinnings of our animal nature -- choose to rise above it, to react to our world and our fellow humans through something larger than revenge, or anger, or simple fear. Perhaps...
Or will the vast twin toilets of television and the internet, combined with easy consumerism promising us everything we could ever desire turn out to be our empire's lead paint?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Dear Wacky Brit-Dude:
Jesus here. Hey, saw a story about how you decorate (desecrate?) your house with over $60,000 worth of lights and gadgets and stuff every Christmas. And how you’ve been acquiring decorations since you were ten, and how you start the decorating process in October in order to get it all finished by the time the holiday rolls around.
And hey, no one can say you haven’t worked hard on this. Seriously. I sure can’t fault you for your enthusiasm!
But here’s the thing: stop it. This is utterly ridiculous. And tacky as hell. Your house looks like someone ate Times Square, chased it with the Vegas Strip and puked the whole thing up on a small house.
I mean, what the hell are you thinking? Forget about how far you’ve strayed from the original story of Christmas -- remember the simple manger? The straw and donkeys and sheep and shit? What about the effects your house has on your neighbors? You have heard of global warming, right? Not to mention the cost of your monthly electric bill.
Goddamn, son, do me a favor and shut off the lights and send the money you would have spent on your power bill to a charity or a soup kitchen or something. That would be the more Me-like thing to do, my friend.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks, but no thanks.
(via fark. and sry for the small pic--the only one avail on the orig story site. kjb out)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Wow. See, this is the sort of thing that’s going to make it so hard for the Obama Administration to get anything done once the Bushies actually hand over the keys to our decrepit, rusted-out Oldsmobile Cutlass of a country. It’s not going to be obstructionist Republicans, kooky, wacked-out libruls, or even the broad swath of people across this country for whom the only category that fits is The Dumb -- you know, the ones who believe in secret muslims, magical socialism, jack-booted librul thugs going door-to-door to take away yer guns, bangulate yer daughters (and sons) and force yer women to have abortions.
No, I predict the real difficulties are going to come from Terribly Smart People, like Mr. David Brooks of the New York Times. This morning, on the ever-so-weighty and portentous Op-Ed page of the NYT, where so, so many TSP ply their terribly smart trade (see William Kristol, Thomas “Six More Months Should Just About Do It” Friedman et al, ad infinitum) Mr. Brooks’ column had the sub-hed:
“Barack Obama and his team should put into action a foreign policy doctrine that builds on some of the ideas developed during George W. Bush's term.”
Um, okay, wow. Where to begin? That is, after scooping up the brains that leaked out of my ears when my head went PFOOF upon reading that line. First of all, the notion that Obama’s team could develop a foreign policy doctrine that builds on that of the Bush Administration assumes that there ever was a foreign policy ‘doctrine’ at work over the last eight years. As near as I could tell, it was an ever-shifting phantasmagoria of imaginary WMDs, bad B-movie dialogue, and pissing away trillions in taxpayer dollars on dubious contracts for Bush/Cheney cronies.
Second, the use of the word ‘ideas’ in conjunction with the words ‘George W. Bush’s term’ is a contradiction in terms so volatile I suspect Mr. Brooks may have opened up a black hole of inanity so dense we’ll read that the entire island of Manhattan got swallowed up.
Essentially what Brooks is arguing for -- aside from an independent evaluation of his meds and possibly a CAT scan to check for undetected brain tumors -- is to carry on with the policies established on the ground by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. To punch up his point, Brooks uses this quote from Gates, who was apparently trying out his best Donald Rumsfeld impression:
“In recent years, the lines separating war, peace, diplomacy and development have become more blurred and no longer fit the neat organizational charts of the 20th century.”
Well, gosh, thank you for that insight. I suppose you’re also thinking outside the box in seeking proactive solutions by addressing the new paradigms presented by the changeover to new data streams and approaches to global interconnectedness?
And not only does Mr. Brooks go all ga-ga over this limp bit of nu-business gibberish, he fails to see or at least address the searing line in that phrase: “…the lines between war, peace, diplomacy, and development have become more blurred…”
You heard it here first, folks. War is Peace. Now, I must leave you to report to the Ministry of Truth to have my head wiped and everything I've read and written over the past eight years flushed down the memory hole. Hell, I might just jump in there myself.
David Brooks of the New York Times, just one more in the parade of Terribly Smart People who will help to keep those lunatics and hippie/muslim/abortionists in the Obama Administration in line, using logic.
Monday, December 1, 2008
These guys are full of win. A series of a dozen or so short (~30 sec.) videos depicting asshat bar customers and how people in the service industry would LIKE to deal with them.
here's a couple to get you started:
and my personal fave, the cellphone asshat. :)
Saturday, November 29, 2008
And although it is a unique way of dealing with shoplifters, I will bet 10,000 euros that this woman never shoplifts at that store again. :)
Friday, November 28, 2008
This is absolutely sick. A worker at a Long Island Wal-Mart was literally trampled to death this morning when he tried to hold back the crowd as they stormed the store for Black Friday deals. via C&L.
"Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him."
Wow. In order to save a few bucks on a PS3 people are willing to run around and OVER a fellow human being? There's something deeply wrong with this society when shopping trumps simple human decency. It gets worse and worse every year, and every year people keep falling for the stores' bullshit, that they're going to get some crazy special deal if they wake up at 3:30 am and get to the store.
They're just things. They're just items that you will grow tired of, as you tire of everything. These things will not change your life. They will not make you happy. Your unhappiness lies in a deeper place than that. Yet we get fooled all the time by
Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
as Bob Dylan said. This just makes me sad.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
my favorite line:
"Oh, my father-in-law will be there. Do NOT talk politics with him. If he finds out you voted for McCain he'll stab you with a turkey baster."
"Please. I voted for Palin."
happy thanksgiving everybody. :)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I mean, just when you think they've already thought of everything, someone comes along and thinks...the unthinkable: a bra for men. One that men are actually buying. One that doesn't seem to be, in the tradition of the 'bro' or 'mansierre' of Seinfeld fame, designed for men with copious moobs. It seems to be for regularly-proportioned men. Who crave wearing a bra.
"Corporation. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."
This is truly an amazing constellation of stories, starting with one from the NY Times (via kos). In it, the reporter tells us what’s going on with executives from Swiss-owned USB, a financial beast (it hardly makes sense to call these behemoths ‘banks’ anymore, does it?) that gorged itself on the sub-prime loan feeding frenzy like many of its US counterparts. And like its US counterparts, USB took a big hit when the shell game of bundled sub-prime loans finally reached the breaking point -- to the tune of $50 billion. And the company is on the hook for more than that to the Swiss government in order to remain solvent.
So, what did the former president of the bank, Marcel Ospel and two former bank directors do? They offered to give up more than $27 million in compensation they would have received.
These guys said, if I may paraphrase, “Hey, you know what? We fucked up. Whew! Boy do we ever suck at this. We thought we were smart, but we clearly suck ass at this whole making money thing -- apparently, huh? Ha ha! No, seriously, we got duped by the allure of a fast-money scheme, and we should have known better. And we lost our investors $50 billion or more, not mention ruining our good name, and that of our company, and possibly the economy of our nation in the process. So, you know what? Mea culpa. Keep your $27 million. Compared to all that shame, what’s a few million extra -- especially when we’ve already made a killing in the process of fomenting all this destruction?”
Makes sense, right? Put that on a resume: Lost $50 billion, blew up a formerly respectable company and helped to damage and possibly destroy the entire economy of not only my nation, but the entire planet.
Talk about a bad employee review. You sure as hell don't ask for a raise or a bonus after a quarter like that. It makes sense that they wouldn’t take the money. But the funny thing about this story to me is the incredulity of the American reporter, and his US-based sources when reporting on this. To wit:
“In the United States, lawmakers and regulators have expressed profound frustration over a perceived lack of remorse among executives who made millions while peddling investments in securities whose plummeting value has pushed the financial system to the brink of collapse. Executives have resisted cuts.”
‘PERCEIVED lack of remorse?’ What personal remorse, or honest assessment of mistakes made by individual CEOs of these bailed-out corporations have you heard? All I hear about is how the ‘climate’ and the ‘markets’ and the ‘cycle’ of a ‘perfect storm’ of business-y business stuff blah blah...and then the markets, and consumer price index blah blah -- oh, and how it's Congress' fault. Or Clinton's fault. Or Obama's fault. Or the librul's war on christmas' fault. And basically never mind all that, taxpayers. Just hand over the bailout money.
And here’s a Stanford professor’s take on it:
“That is almost unheard of,” Dirk Jenter, an assistant professor of finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, said of the move by the executives. “They’ve clearly been shamed into doing that.”
Shame. What an incredibly alien idea, what an unspeakably foreign concept, what a mind-blowing, perversely deviant, bizarre notion, what a ticklishly unique and strange proposal for a business school professor to contemplate. One can only imagine that having had this utterly unfamiliar thought, said professor was instantly launched into a bizarre dreamland wherein Ben Stein sits on a giant mushroom smoking a hookah and Henry Paulson screechingly rearranges the seating.
Thank you, Stanford Graduate School of Business, for the fine work you have done in training the legion of soulless dipshits who helped bring all this about. Please, o please, continue instructing the best and the brightest shining lights of the business world and continue to send them to Wall Street so they can start to seed the cycle all over again using taxpayer bailout money.
Because basically the entire thing is a sham. I forget who said that money is really just a shared hallucination, but this crisis really paints that, wouldn’t you say?
For a spot-on dissection of the sub-prime loan issue and how things came to this pass, read this article, by Michael Lewis. He’s the guy who wrote ‘Liar’s Poker’ back in the 1980s about that decade’s Wall Street fiasco -- and he posits pretty strongly that the seeds of our current crisis lie in changes that took place back then.
The article is long, and a little dense at times, especially for those of us who ain’t so good with numbers and what-not. But it’s a fascinating read -- and it’s worth it, if you want to understand what’s happened. Trust me.And finally, here's a little Ween to send you on your way, playing a song that sadly, no thinks should rightfully be stuck in Bush's head the rest of his life. Same applies to the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street.
And making me laugh in the process.
In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
RIP Mr. Burroughs.
William S. Burroughs
Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
Thanks for a continent to despoil
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and danger.
Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.
For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
Note to self: if you're wasted drunk and under arrest in the back of a police van after getting in a bar brawl, do NOT sing the 'Spiderpig' song from the Simpsons Movie to the cops. Oh, and perhaps don't call an officer a 'ginger' either. (A two-fer? Simpons reference and a South Park reference in one go?)
"A man has been jailed for breaching the peace by singing Spiderpig from The Simpsons Movie at police officers.
David Mullen was sentenced to three months for the incident and calling an officer "ginger" in a police van."The judge also admonished the 22-year-old for apparently drinking since he was only twelve. As this occured in Scotland, I assume the judge was disappointed the man hadn't started drinking at a younger age.
The man defended his actions by stating that he was only singing the song because it was the ringtone on his cell phone.
Good thing it wasn't 'Fuck the Police."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This is too amazingly funny not to link to. So this one guy has a website, and now a book called 'Hot Chicks With Douchebags.' Which is funny enough in and of itself. But now, one of the douchebags -- er, alleged douchebags -- who appeared in the book has sued the publisher and author for libel, claiming that his inclusion in the book has resulted in his being subjected to
"hatred, contempt, and humiliation" and has resulted in "friends, acquaintances, coworkers, employees, and strangers alike" calling him a "douchebag."
According to the smoking gun. Of course, no one bothered to inform this douche -- er, alleged douche -- that by filing a lawsuit he has done much to promote the sale of this book and publicize his own douchiness -- er, alleged douchiness.
That's him in the top picture, in which, according to the author, his
"popped-collar, spikey-haired presence was so far beyond regular douche, so far beyond uberdouche, he could spontaneously create a new element on the periodic tables--Douche Nine."
Even though the lawsuit is being filed in a Clark County (Las Vegas) court, the website demonstrates just how lucky we all are to not live in New Jersey, home of douche clan. This is the swamp from whence these creatures crawl, spreading their douchiness leaving behind a snail-slime trail of hair gel and Axe. Can't wait to see how this case turns out -- wouldn't it be funny if the judge just said, 'Hey, dude, the author is right. You are a douche. Now get over it, or else flip that collar down.'
i ran across this game demo yesterday that looks like something i could REALLY get into. it's a game called left4dead, a first-person shooter (boring, i know) in which you are part of a team of survivors of a zombie plague (getting cooler). but the kicker is there's also an option to play as...THE ZOMBIES!!!
sounds fun? just watch this demo:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So holy Joe gets to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. In a secret, and frankly shameful ballot, over 40 senators voted to let him stay, while only 13 voted against. You have to keep in mind too that the way things work in Washington, the ones who voted against did so knowing full well what the outcome would be, that their votes were largely pointless.
We have to remember also that Obama himself put it out there that this was the result he wanted. Now, it's hard to say what kind of White House he is going to run, but based on his campaigning, we have to assume that he isn't the type to be easily led by advisors. He is decidedly a hands-on kind of politician, and he must have known full well what he was doing when he let it be known that he wanted Lieberman to retain his chairmanship.
Not to paint lipstick on a pig, ha ha, but in looking at the brighter side, one commentator on Countdown last night pointed out that what Obama has done is to collect a huge freakin' IOU from Lieberman. I imagine a 'Godfather' type of scenario (even though reports say no such conversation took place between the two men; reportedly Obama didn't even return Lieberman's calls) in which Obama says, 'One day I may ask a favor of you in return...' Time magazine also has an article outlining this view.
Now, as to whether a smackdown was called for, or even if Joe the Weasel-Rat can be trusted to do the right thing is an open question. I think my feelings are known on that subject, not that they are important. But as the article says:
That lingering resentment should help guarantee his cooperation. "It is the iron law of reciprocity. He will remember and help those who helped him at a critical time in the future," says James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. "It is politically smart. The President and the Democrats will need him in the future. It is part of building bipartisanship and political capital."
If nothing else, all eyes will be on him, and the knives shall remain sharp in Washington, as they are wont to do. He shan't betray the dems a second time without unleashing ten kinds of hell upon himself.
And as the Senate moves closer and closer to the magic number of the 'filibuster-proof' 60 blue seats, each vote counts. I hesitate to get all gooey over the 60 number though, as some pundits more attuned to the horse-race aspects of politics tend to do. Frankly it doesn't mean shit. As Lieberman has proven, the only thing these guys ever consistenly support is saving their own asses. Senate Dems are not likely to vote in lockstep as the Republican-controlled House did prior to 2006, and there are likely to be Republican defections to the Dem side on big votes as well, what with the way the wind is blowing.
Ultimately, though, the more probable blue votes that are out there, the better. Senator Intertubes has been flushed, with Alaska booting out convicted felon Ted Stevens in favor of a democrat, so 58 seats are held by Dems with two more races up for grabs, in Minnesota and Georgia. One can only surmise that Obama knows what he is doing--revenge might be sweet, but getting shit done is important too.
As Time pointed out, Lieberman has thus been effectively 'defanged.' Better to have the rat at least pretending to be on our side, rather than running amok and deliberately fucking shit up out of his own petty bitterness at being given the boot.
I ran across this link to some civil war photos that are really stunning in the stories they tell. The brutality of war, the faces of these men and the horror reflected in their eyes over what they had seen, and the sheer scale of the destruction that was wrought by Americans in America. And they are a reminder of the fearsome power that we humans are capable of unleashing on one another.
And consider too that these photos were taken nearly 150 years ago. Clearly war technology has made leaps and bounds since then, but even with canons and other iterations of early artillery we were able to do this to one of the greatest cities of the South. One can only imagine what the modern destruction wrought by American soldiers in our name in foreign countries might look like, were our military not so averse to releasing images of it. Especially because this destruction took place here at home, the above shot brings to life the sense that this is no intellectual exercise. Actual people lived here, worked here, got married and raised families. The crumbled brickwork of their buildings and shattered streets, and the stink of rotting corpses is all they are left with after their lives have been brought to this moment of bleak hopelessness.
I am also struck by the odd column standing in the center of this shot. Beyond the obvious, the scene is reminiscent of the fall of Rome--a once-mighty power brought down to the harsh reality of time, decay, and death that hunts all of us.
(FYI: I am not attempting to glorify the South or its position in the Civil War in any way, merely to point out that the destruction of war, and what it does to people and the great works we build is universal in its horror. Seeing this decimation on American soil brings it home, literally and figuratively.)
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yes, that famously overused word that appears in blogs and online chat sites with so much enthusiasm that it runs counter to the apathy it conveys has now appeared in a dictionary. "Meh," which is believed to have been first coined by the writers for the Simpsons, expressing boredom, apathy and indifference is now an official English language word, according to HarperCollins.
I would get excited about this, but whatever.
A community college teacher in Maryland has been collecting delightful gems of the Manglish language for many years now, and a Baltimore Examiner columnist has published several of them in a recent column. (via fark.)
Here's one, in which a student explains his absence from class in a note:
“I was absent on Monday because I was stopped on the Beltway for erotic driving.”
Sounds like fun...
Here's a few more gems, and there's many more here.
• “The person was an innocent by standard, who just happened to be the victim of your friend’s careless responsibility.” • “Society has moved toward cereal killers.” • “Romeo and Juliet exchanged their vowels.” • “Willie Loman put Biff on a petal stool.” • “Another effect of smoking is it may give you cancer of the thought.” • “The children of lesbian couples receive as much neutering as those of other couples." Or, when asked to use the past tense of “fly” in a sentence: “I flought to Chicago.”
The funny thing to me isn't just the mangling of the English language, but the utter lack of thought put into some of these. (And before you get all high and mighty about community college students versus large university students, i must say that i personally encountered lots and lots of examples of idiocy like this both at Front Range Community College as well as at CU-Boulder.)
Here's a couple of winners:
• “Benjamin Franklin discovered America while fling a kite.” • “Christopher Columbus sailed all over the world until he found Ohio.”
I also found this online dictionary section that lists commonly misunderstood/misspoken phrases that is amusing. "A blessing in the skies" being one of my personal faves.
I believe that children are the future.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
It looks like Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont is now the first senator to publicly state that Lieberman should not be allowed to even remain in the dem caucus, let alone retain his chairmanship. (via TPM)
"Every Senator will have to vote the way he or she believes they should," Leahy said, in a reference to the upcoming vote on Lieberman's fate in the Dem caucus next week. "I'm one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did."
And thanks for pointing out the obvious that seems to be escaping the waffling, fearful dems:
"I would feel that had I done something similar," Leahy concluded, "that I would not be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress."
Also, as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, (via C&L) we've already lost Joe's vote anyway. After years of playing footsie with the Bush Administration over torture, Katrina (non) investigations, Iraq, etc., what's the point of even hypothesizing that he would do the right thing in the future? Plus tha argument that the dems can at any point strip him of his chairmanship, as Sen. Evan Bayh likes to pretend is an ace in the hole, what do you think would happen if, hypothetically, a Lieberman-led investigation into Obama's American-ness, or his ties to some long-ago radical were undertaken, and THEN the dems decided to pull the plug on Weasel-Rat Joe? The radical far-right would explode.
Boot this guy, please. We won; for once take the freakin' ball and run with. Don't be pansies.
Contact Senator Salazar if you're a Colorado resident.
okay, now, i like coffee. a lot. i'm not even really human until i've had one or two or three espressos in the morning, and i dare not interact with other alleged humans before then. and i like good coffee. i have a grinder, and i don't even drink the brown water that passes for coffee most places; my regular coffee maker has gathered dust in a cabinet somewhere for years, as i only use my espresso maker.
however, this is just bizarre. 'kopi luwak' is a delicacy, a type of coffee made from beans that pass undigested through the systems of Indonesian cats called civets. the beans are gathered by hand, out of the poo that these cats leave behind, then roasted, ground, and made into coffee just as any other non-poo type of coffee would be.
some theorize that the cat's digestive enzymes break down proteins that give coffee it's bitter taste. and despite the fact that thousands of these cats were recently extirminated due to a SARS scare, people still pay between $120-$600 a pound for the rare beans.
so, not only are people drinking cat poo-coffee, they're drinking possible SARS-cat/cat-poo coffee.
let's face it, people are fucking weird.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is awesome. Thinkprogress has put together a comprehensive list of all that is wrong with Joe. via C&L.
Said progressive candidates would cower to terrorism: In an interview with Salon.com, Lieberman said, “I worry that whoever gets the Democratic nomination will have a hard time scampering back to assure people that they’re prepared to take on the Islamist extremists and [any] other nation that threatens our security.”
Linked Obama’s policies to socialism: “There are ways I suppose you can make an argument that there are some similarities between what Sen. Obama is talking about (‘spreading the wealth’) and classic, what used to be known as socialist theory…[but] I’m not going to use the name calling,” Lieberman said.
[An aside: this is one my favorite tricks, adding the 'i'm not going to call people names,' tag right after calling someone a name. Same concept as adding 'no disrespect' right after saying something completely disrespectful, and thinking it's then okay: 'Hey, man, your girlfriend is a fat whore who blows dockworkers and homeless guys. No disrespect.']
And this is one of the best. When it comes to running the committee he heads, and performing, you know, oversight, like the Senate is supposed to do, he's just not that into it:
Lieberman on oversight duties: “We don’t like investigating”: Responding to criticism of his committee’s record, Lieberman said, “We like to do legislation,” Lieberman said. “We don’t like investigating … just to see who is at fault.”
Write or call Senator Salazar, if you haven't already, and tell him why this douche must go.
this is brilliant. somewhat obvious in places, but this guy is a former talk radio producer and he lays out exactly how this ugly segment of the *gasp* media works. a long article, but worth the read. via fark.
Whither goest thou, o right wing of the right wing? Wither goest thou, o Republican?
As is fashionable moments after an election, Terribly Smart People have been performing a vivisection on the still-breathing (barely) corpus of the losing party, and their findings are...stunning. Stunningly hilarious in some cases.
But the way the groundswell seems to be forming, many people on the right think, against all logic, that it wasn’t that voters in this country responded negatively to the usual culture war nonsense they’ve been spouting more and more shrilly for a couple decades now, but rather that the Republicans aren’t conservative enough.
Yes, you read that right. People like David Brooks, a TSP for the WashPost laments the shift ever-rightward, kinda, in an article yesterday, but he thinks the battle between traditionalists and reformers is already won:
“To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.”
And they have much-loved standard-bearers too:
“Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are the most prominent voices in the Traditionalist camp...”
Awesome. Well, delusion is as delusion does.
Let’s see how this might work, in the mind of a traditionalist: McCain got a bump when he picked Sarah Palin. Then the polls showed her popularity steadily declining, to the point where nearly 60 percent of Americans said she was unfit for the job of even VICE-president. And then we lost the election. So let’s double down and pump out more candidates like her: ignorant, proud rednecks with no curiosity about the changing world around them and the belief that God wants them to run for office to rule over a world he invented 6000 years ago. Oh, and sporting Neiman-Marcus and wearing make-up applied by $22,000-an-hour make-up artists, naturally, because that’s what Bubba and Mrs. Bubba shopping for diapers for baby number seven in Wal-Mart can relate to.
Really? But all I can think is, cool. Go with that. The party of, as William Burroughs put it, ‘...decent church-going women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces...’ resonated so well everywhere but in a band of red across the western Appalachians and the central South that you want to push those values even further? Go for it. We’ll look forward to 2012.
The idea that the economy is what wrecked McCain is another trope that gets trotted out a lot lately, but I think this is overstated. I think (hope) that the tired politics of meanness, hatred, fear, and demonization of ‘the other’ is largely played out, and that the bankruptcy of this tack is what sank McCain. Not saying that these tactics won’t ever come up again, just that this world is so much more connected and even cosmopolitan, at least through electronic connections, that the device of trying to scare the rubes in the heartland with images of the scary Other is fading in its usefulness. In this day and age, is a white family in rural Indiana really going to be that terrified by the image of a black Harvard graduate in a suit when their teenage son has been dressing like a wigger for years and belting out rhymes by 50 Cent?
But even the election results may not cow the rightest of the right, those brave culture warriors looking to convert the rest of us to their shrinking demographic. One thoughtful article I ran across today points out the similarities between the moment Republicans face today and what the conservative Tories saw back in 1997. Jonathan Freedland is a columnist for the Guardian UK, and in his assessment of how the Tories reacted to their plight when Tony Blair beat them soundly is a blueprint for what we can expect here with the Repubs:
“What might panicked Republicans learn from the Tory experience? That apparently the first response to electoral disaster is denial.... Under pressure from the Tory right in Parliament and the press, Mr. Hague (Conservative Party leader) adopted a “core vote strategy,” aimed chiefly at enthusing the Conservative base. He pressed the right’s favorite button, hostility to the European Union — the British equivalent of opposition to abortion — warning that Labor would abandon the pound in favor of the euro. The response was an electoral walloping nearly as brutal as the one the Tories had suffered four years earlier.”
I think we’re already strongly into the denial phase. Let’s start getting those ‘Palin/Limbaugh 2012’ posters ready!
...does this mean that good taste is suddenly coming back into fashion? Crocs reports $148 million loss in the last quarter, so i assume people aren't buying these atrocious plastic shoes anymore.
Or, as fark put it: "...thousands of grown-up male customers finally took the time to look at themselves in the mirror."
can the loss of palin/mccain/palin finally augur the death of tackiness? are americans fed up with wal-mart chic?
one can only hope.