April 27, 2004
Pundits? We don't need no stinking pundits!
Ah, politics. Some selections from around the web:
JohnKerryIsADouchebagButImVotingForHimAnyway.Com — The URL pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
Stand Up and Holla! — An essay contest for 18-24 year-olds being sponsored by the Republican National Convention. The essay topic is: “Why is the President’s call to community service important and how have you demonstrated it?” Okay, I have two questions. First of all, what the hell is that question even asking? The part before the “and” is straightforward, but how does one demonstrate “the President’s call to community service”? Does demonstrating against it count? Okay, that’s already more than two questions, but I’ve got a second major question. It’s a one-word question. “Holla”?
Bush Country Ketchup — What would a campaign be without partisan ketchup? A pretty obvious gimmick, really. Reminds me of the lame anti-Ben-and-Jerry’s Star Spangled Ice Cream, the “Ice Cream with a Conservative Flavor”. Personally, I think you’d have to be some kind of nut to actually want to purchase a flavor of ice cream called “Choc & Awe” (though presumably not a “Nutty Environmentalist”). Seriously, are there any funny Republicans? Even Dennis Miller’s gotten considerably less funny and more didactic since he became an outspoken neocon.
My Secret Life as a Prostitute — No, not about politicians. Instead, a rather well-written weblog by a more noble variety of whore. Makes for pretty interesting reading.
Hey Crackhead — Speaks for itself:
I am an engineer. Do you ever see me shaking down bums in the Loin for a calculator and sliderule? No, you don’t. Because engineering is the main thing I do, I went and bought myself a calculator. The main thing you do is crack. How do you get by without a crackpipe? The other crackheads must clown on you non-stop. I mean, the fucking saw you used to saw off my sparkplugs is probably worth five or ten bucks. Why not sell or trade it for a crackpipe? You really haven’t put much thought into this, have you?
April 18, 2004
Hope he found what he was looking for
We have a new winner in the “Most Disturbing Google Search to Land Someone on Selling Waves” category. Today, someone searched for:
“read long about people being forced to get naked then opening someone else’s belly and lay in it until he entered his body then killing him by cutting his heart out”
and ended up here as a result. I don’t know which is more worrying: the fact that selling waves is number 8 on the list of pages that came up, or the thought that maybe the guy found what he was looking for.
Seemingly innocuous care instructions on a computer sleeve, until you read the part in French more carefully. The last three lines say:
Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n’avons pas vote pour lui.
Which translates to:
We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him.
I don’t know what’s funnier, the apparent appeal to French sanity or the fact that there are plenty of Americans (see linked post) who are so pleased to have their prejudices validated that they’re willing to spend their money on bags they don’t need just because the bags come equipped with a derogatory reference to the president written in French.
If you’re interested, t-shirts are also available. If you follow the link, you’ll note that the manufacturer is claiming that the whole thing was a joke on the company president, not a criticism of Bush. Now who here actually believes that?
March 23, 2004
More Shock Troops
Have you noticed lately that girls are wearing camo everything? Is this part of the war on terrorism? Shock the Iraqis with hot pink minis? Or are the girls trying to blend in with cartoon characters and drag queens? Someone please enlighten me.
I think he was right with the first idea. Me, I figure it’s all part of a larger scheme to create a second wave of shock troops. You know, for when the first shock wears off.
March 11, 2004
Back-handed optimism, grace à academe
Well, according to this professor of sociology, our great political problem today is that people are becoming increasingly “disengaged” from politics and seem more interested in carrying out “voyages of self-discovery” than in imposing their beliefs and ideals on everyone else. He even seems legitimately upset that: “Today the question of who you vote for is seen as barely significant, and self-identity is viewed far more in terms of individuals’ lifestyles, cultural habits and personal experiences.” Wow, astounding. Perhaps my pessimism about the future is misplaced. I have always thought that a distinguishing feature of sociological writing is its tendency to establish totally arbitrary value-dichotomies and then to adopt a bizarrely impassioned attitude towards them, but all I can say is, with problems like these, who needs benefits?
February 19, 2004
What makes people want to barcode themselves? Or, for that matter, literally barcode themselves (and lots more examples)? Conspiracy theorists have been decrying the barcode as the mark of the beast and predicting mandatory barcode tattoos as part of the New World Order for years; apparently lots of people want to get a head start.
February 14, 2004
Here's hoping the seller learned a lesson from Mike Rowe
The next eBay auction that will undoubtedly result in ridiculously massive and totally bogus bids: 867-5309
February 10, 2004
Count me out of the movement
I am a vegetarian and despise the Atkins diet for a number of reasons, but if this is the type of “evidence” that the vegetarian activists are relying on to discredit it, they need to make a break with their consciences long enough to shoot themselves…
February 08, 2004
Too Stupid for Words
Keith Carson, Alameda County supervisor, expresses his doubts about the use of police department funds to purchase a gunboat to patrol San Francisco Bay:
I think local officials are caught in a quandary. We may have the gunboat out there to protect the goods moving on the water, but the money taken from some other area, some preventative program, might force some mentally deranged person with a gun to shoot somebody. [Emphasis added]
January 08, 2004
Philosophy in defense of an impulse buy
I may have to retract some of my approving citation of Theodore Dalrymple, as it turns out that his personal solution to the spiritual vacuity that he encounters every day in Britain is to move to France. I must say, it is oddly reassuring, while of course utterly contemptible, to see that the world has not changed so much that sectarian solutions to existential problems have fallen in popularity. Might as well wear blue socks rather than red socks in order to cure oneself of cancer. Even Dalrymple seems aware of the flimsiness and narrowness of this sort of social criticism in his stirring testament to the hope which springs eternal in the human heart at the prospect of beginning a new life in a new land:
“The French are some years behind us in the race to cultural oblivion. No doubt they will catch up with us in the end, but I hope not to see it in my rural fastness. For the moment they still order things better there.”
January 06, 2004
Vico's theories freed from Joyce?
So now Howard Dean thinks he’s Job. But Job had everything he could hope for, and was almost arbitrarily deprived of the fruit of his ambitions. That’s is more or less the opposite of Dean’s trajectory. I also don’t think that he is Jeremiah, although that might be the most obvious Biblical figure to compare him to. Jeremiah lived in a time of slavery and poverty for his country, and railed against the lack of pride and militancy of his people. Again, that is pretty much the opposite of both the situation and the rhetoric of Howard Dean. I think that he is probably one of the minor, non-electable prophets somewhere between Hosea and Habakkuk, but I’m not sure which one. Any suggestions?
December 27, 2003
And now for a lighter topic-serial killers!
Two new movies have just been released about various aspects of the life of the convicted serial killer Aileen Wournos, who was executed in Florida last year, have just been released. One of them, Monster is a fictionalized Hollywood treatment. The other one, Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer, is a documentary about the filmmaker’s ordeal last year while testifying during Wournos’ final appeal. Not having seen either film, I can’t really comment on them as films, but they do raise yet again the legal, social and yes, perhaps moral issue of the death penalty.
I promise this will be my only contribution to the death-penalty debate, but I was spurred to it by the rather perplexing attitude of at least one reviewer of the films, who at least affected to be flabbergasted that Gov. Jeb Bush would have consented to the execution of this clearly insane woman, who apparently in the documentary spouts off an endless litany of psychotic paranoid theories about her situation shortly before her death. Now nobody could be surprised that a governor who was elected partly on a pro-death penalty platform would allow the insane to be executed. But a very large number of people, not just a single movie reviewer, seem to be very appalled by this. I’m no fan of any of the Bushes, but I don’t entirely understand this furor over the execution of the mentally impaired (as opposed to executing the sane).
I have not formulated a firm attitude towards the death penalty myself, but in my mind the only possible justification for it is as the human equivalent of shooting a mad dog, i.e. as the only possible means of dealing with individuals who are simply too psychotic and dangerous to exist in society. Now I am not sure that this is true of anyone, which is why my feelings on the matter remain ambiguous, but in any case, if is true of any person, their relative sanity is pretty irrelevant. In fact, insanity would actually make it more likely that they could not be dealt with in any way other than execution.
But these people that believe that only the mentally capable that are aware of the moral significance of their actions should be eligible for execution clearly have a different conception of the point of the judicial system than I do. I have no faith in the idea of retributive justice, mainly because, as I have said before, I don’t believe that moral concerns have anything to do with the motives of the judicial system (even if they did, I don’t understand what could give judges or juries moral authority over our lives, but that is a different issue). But I can only conclude that those who support the death penalty only for the sane must have a retributive idea of justice. Why else would the relative moral culpability of the perpetrator make any difference?
Well, I suppose there is one other possibility. Some people may believe that all insane people can be cured through psychotherapy, while those who decide to murder calculatedly are beyond redemption. But this seems to me not only stupid but also perserve. Even putting aside what the actual boundary between sanity and insanity is when one is talking about mass murder, isn’t the very concept of sanity, as opposed to insanity, the idea that the sane person is reasonable, i.e. amenable to reason, capable of being reasoned with, while the insane person is not? So who is more likely to be “cured,” the sane person or the insane? It is apparent what a ludicrous debate this would be, and how filled with hubris. Which brings me back to my original premise: judges and juries have no God-like insight into other people’s psyches, hence they have no right or ability to decide upon relative moral goodness and then dispense punishment accordingly. There are some people in the world, like suicide bombers and those who train and prepare them, who I have difficulty imagining as being anything other than enormous menaces to the world for the duration of their lives. For ones such as them, I can at least see a valid argument being made for their execution, though I would not go so far as affirm it at present. But as for this phony, sniveling pseudo-moral sanctimony, enough with it!
November 27, 2003
bureaucratic ban on costly capitalization
I'm in the mountains, looking forward to skiing tomorrow, and unhappy with the dial-up-only internet access around here. So all I have for you is a brief mention of the Swedish bureaucrat who banned uppercase; the perfect plan for making government documents look like AIM chat transcripts.
October 26, 2003
What the Fuck?
I admit, I'm speechless right now:
Alexey Lipatov's "Stalin vs. Hitler".
Makes you wonder how the author would have done on this personality disorder test.
October 05, 2003
Just for the Hell of it
September 25, 2003
I apologize for the total lack of content this week; I've been absolutely swamped with work. And thanks, bro, for filling the vacuum a bit.
Anyway, have fun making your own slogan.
September 22, 2003
Weird Link of the Day
On the other hand, this guy kicks ass.
August 01, 2003
We all know about the propensity America has to send in so-called "shock troops" as the first part of any plan to pound the shit out of little brown countries, right? Well, I was thinking today that, since this happens all the time, the shock troops probably aren't very shocking anymore. Maybe it's time for a different strategy. The next time, instead of the usual shock troops, the army should send in untanned, slightly overweight naked guys with shaved heads in groups of 8 or 10. They could invade in tightly packed but undisciplined formation and run away in the same manner as soon as they realize how dangerous the situation is. A few waves like that, and the enemy du jour is bound to be shocked nearly senseless.