"A Certain Nobility"

Simon Evans's "Symptoms of Loneliness."

Monday posting will resume in the new year. Cheer up, motherfuckers!


Ghost of Christmas cool

I'm interested in online literary archives. I'm going to incorporate some into my classes this spring, including the Poe archive at the Harry Ransom Center.

Check this out: all sixty-six pages of the handwritten manuscript of A Christmas Carol, complete with edits and notes and a typewritten version to aid in reading. You can even download a copy for yerself.


Castle for sale

This place is for sale and about five blocks from me. Any Bellmen want to pitch in? We could blog in peace while the zombies flail helplessly against the rock walls.


"Nobody even said "happy birthday" to me. Someday this tape will be played and then they'll feel sorry."

Depressing Monday posting.

R.I.P, Dan O'Bannon. He was a groovy dude. Collihouse has a nice piece on him.

comic via Curved White.

I must be missing something

Kevin Drum writes:
But leverage is everywhere, not just on Wall Street. If you buy a house with 20% down, you're employing leverage of 4:1. At 10% down it's 9:1. At 5% down it's 19:1. At the FHA minimum of 3.5%, it's 27:1.

That's too much. Just as leverage much above 10:1 is dangerous in the banking system, it's dangerous in the home mortgage market too. If 10% had been the minimum down payment over the past decade, the housing bubble never would have taken off the way it did. Crazy loans would have been rare. Unqualified buyers would have continued to rent. Mortgage fraud would have been dramatically reduced. Speculation and flipping would have been dampened. Foreclosures wouldn't have decimated entire cities. The derivatives market wouldn't have reached such stratospheric heights. We still might have had a medium-sized housing bubble, but the world probably wouldn't have been on the verge of imploding last year.

We should limit leverage everywhere: in the real banking system, in the shadow banking system, in hedge funds, and where it's baked into derivatives. But we should also do it at the individual level: mortgage loans, car loans, and credit card loans. The point is not to cut off credit, but to do what we can to ensure that it grows steadily and sensibly, not catastrophically. A minimum 10% down payment to buy a house is a place to start.

I get the point, but it's important to keep in mind that the 3.5 percent FHA amount is for first time home buyers like I hope to be early in 2010. There are loads of responsible people who plan to live in the home that they buy at 27:1 leverage and have figured out how to make the monthly payments. Punishing all home buyers to curb the behavior of speculators and "flippers" would be really unfortunate.


The continuing commodification of the short story

This is an interesting little piece about The Atlantic's deal with Amazon. The magazine is publishing short fiction again, but you have to buy it separately from Amazon to play on ye olde Kindle.

Some of the comments are pretty funny, too. Here is one of them, from Chris Broe:
What’s the difference? Short story. Novel. It’s going to have stupid vampires in it. If the reader is that easily amused, then $3.99 is a perfect price point. “What are you reading?” (Oh, it’s a short story I bought on line.) “What’s it about?” (Well, it’s got these, you know, it’s really great, it’s set in this weird country…….it’s about vampires, okay? Vampires.) “Why Johnny can’t read, eh?” (Huh?) “This is my stop, good luck.” (Snob. What are you reading? Come back here!) The Snob stepped quickly from the car, dodging the rush of fresh passengers. Then a vampire jumped from out of nowhere and killed him, and laughed about it, like the dirty rat-person thingie a vampire truly is. The end. That’ll be $3.99 please.


Fatherhood's worst surprise so far

Speaking of reading books...

The experience of being a father is full of surprises for me, and most all of them are pleasant. But there's one that's really, really unpleasant.

It makes me an emotional wreck when I sit down to read fiction of any sort that in any way relates to childhood. Even (perhaps especially) descriptions of childhood woes that are cliched or trite have a devastating effect on me as a reader. I often have to put the book down and try again later.

Max (pictured), I blame you.

Frack this list: io9's 20 best sci-fi novels of the decade

Either io9 has such poor taste that I can safely ignore their recommendations OR I am clearly out of touch with what is happening in the world of scifi. Here's their list with my reactions:

Acacia: The War with the Mein, by David Anthony Durham

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Durham.

Air, Or Have Not Have, by Geoff Ryman

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Ryman.

The Alchemy of Stone, by Ekaterina Sedia

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Sedia.

The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson

I've read the first book, but couldn't finish the second (sorry, Tracy K and Jeff M!). It's definitely baroque, and I really like sections of the books, but there are chapters that just meander into pointlessness. Or maybe I'm not smart enough to get the awesome of those chapters.

Confessions of Max Tivoli, by Andrew Sean

Never read it. I heard of this when that terrible Benjamin Button movie came out, but haven't gotten around to checking it out.

Down And Out In the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow

Never read it.

Of course I have heard of Doctorow (it's boingboing's internet, we're just living in it). I've read exactly one short story of his, which I enjoyed. I actually think his (mostly appealing) blogging makes me hesitant to read his novels. Definitely something weird going on in my brain on this one. I should just pick up the damn book.

The Execution Channel, by Ken MacLeod

Never read it.

MacLeod (which I will continue to pronounce "McCloud" whether or not that is correct) is aces in my esteem for tackling politics in his science fiction, but I don't find his actual writing to be very good. At his best, he evokes Iain M. Banks, but cannot sustain it. The reviews say this is one of his better works, so I guess I should pick it up.

If you are going to read MacLeod, my recommendation would be to start with Cosmonaut Keep, also published in this decade.

Glasshouse, by Charles Stross

Never read it, but it has been sitting on my nightstand for several months.

This paragraph is copied and pasted from McLeod's: Stross is aces in my esteem for tackling politics in his science fiction, but I don't find his actual writing to be very good. At his best, he evokes Iain M. Banks, but cannot sustain it. The reviews say this is one of his better works, so I guess I should pick it up.

If you are going to read Stross, I would start with Singularity Sky, also published in this decade.

Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

I'm reading this right now on the Kindle iPhone application. So far, it's pretty good. I'll update the post when I finish.

Look to Windward, by Iain M. Banks

Okay, it's not bad. None of the Culture books are bad. In fact, the worst Culture book is probably better than most of the books on this list. So I guess I have no complaint with it's inclusion here. But if you haven't read any of these books before now, I would heartily recommend beginning with his short stories, or jumping in to Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons, or Excession.

The Mount, by Carol Emshwiller

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Emshwiller.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

Never read it, but I do intend to do so. I am a fan of Atwood's work.

Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Gibson (just kidding, but for real I have never been a big fan).

Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville

Never read it. I'll probably get around to it. I have read two others of Mieville's.

Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge

This is not a great book, but it is a very, very interesting vision of the near future. If you want to know where things are heading, this is probably a more accurate prediction than most. (Note that the title is a complete sentence, not a phrase with a punctuation error).

Stories of Your Life And Others, by Ted Chiang

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Chiang. This is despite io9's assertion that:
Chiang is one of the legends of the science fiction world, often hailed as the best short story writer of his generation.

Where have I been?

Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Never read it. Heard of the movie.

Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton

Never read it. Never heard of it. Never heard of Walton.

World War Z, by Max Brooks

Never read it. The Zombie Survival Guide was somewhat amusing, but did not leave me wanting more.

To sum up, that's 15 out of 20 I've never read. So it's completely not fair to react to this list so negatively. However, I will say that any of the follwoing novels could take the place of the Harry Potter book on any list, any list at all, that purports to be a list of great science fiction. All were published in this decade.

Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan

I recommend the whole series, with the caveat that Morgan feels like he must include some truly ridiculous sex scenes every 50 pages or so.

Pandora's Star, by Peter F. Hamilton

Truly mega let's-throw-everything-in-the-blender sci fi.

Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey

If it didn't feature some (really quite innocent compared to a lot of stuff in this list) homosexuality, this would be an outstanding example of young-adult science fiction. Let me rephrase: This is an outstanding example of young-adult science fiction, but you will not likely find it in any young-adult section due to the aforementioned lesbianism.


Jack Rose R.I.P.

I'll give you a hand, Jason. Although my first post of the new era is not a happy one.
I learned today from Rob Cambre, an acquaintance in New Orleans, that Jack Rose died of a heart attack this month. Rose was a master guitarist whose work in the drone band Pelt would be notable enough had it not been eclipsed by his solo work. He was mentioned in the same breath as John Fahey, and he was 38. I saw him live thrice, once opening for Mogwai, where I met with him briefly. You know when you meet someone for the first time and knew they were ok? It was like that. But the first time was when he opened for Donald Miller at the Zeitgeist in New Orleans. He played this awesome blues piece that, over the course of a minute or so, morphed seamlessly into an Indian raga played at the speed of speed metal. It was one of the most transcendent musical moments I've ever experienced.

Listen and watch via authormag.


Monday posting begins

As promised last week, I'll be updating the blog with two or more posts each Monday. Today I've got a short insta-style post to Kevin Drum on Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade, and a link to a terribly awesome article about a new folding plug design to overcome the absolutely terrible U.K.-style of electrical plug.

And, via icanread via @rands, we've got a doodle about a walrus.

Design FTW

I love this. A simple design for a folding plug that will instantly be popular with anyone who travels with a charger in (or to) the U.K.

This is very appealing to the design geek in me: Great design overcomes stupid existing hardware, pushing it towards obsolescence while remaining backward-compatible. I work on similar problems in my current job (and it's just about the only interesting thing about my job).

Check out the whole article at Icon Magazine Online.

In a perfect world, taxing carbon would make more sense than Cap and Trade

Unfortunately, we live in a world that features such institutions as the United States Senate. I have to agree with Kevin Drum on this:
And at the risk of pissing off some decent people, I'll add one other thing. In the near term, no serious carbon tax will ever pass the U.S. Senate. Period. If you believe otherwise, you're just not paying attention to things. A big part of the surge in interest in a carbon tax is purely cynical, coming from special interests who are afraid a carbon cap might actually pass and want to muddy the waters with pseudo-liberal arguments in order to build an anti-C&T alliance and keep anything at all from passing. There are plenty of carbon tax advocates who are perfectly sincere, but I gotta tell them: you're being played by people who are the farthest thing imaginable from sincere. If you win, we're not going to get a carbon tax. We're going to get nothing.

Barring a sea change in the political situations (possibly brought on by a literal sea change?) cap-and-trade is our best bet to get some legislation passed that could have a positive impact.

It's worth checking out Drum's primer on cap and trade from April. I'm not swayed by all points, but it's definitely more realistic than the carbon tax.


This is not the end

No, dear reader, this is not the end. But posts have been pretty thin here at your humble blog of record. My job and new kid are absorbing almost all of my time. Our other Bellman are not frequent posters, either. But there are deeper mechanics at work, here, too.

The first is that DR has stopped posting. I hope that--if this blog keeps going long enough--DR comes back around. He was more than 50 percent of of the reason for the existence of the Bellman in the first place. And much more than me, he would fasten on to a subject and provide continuing attention, insight, and clear writing about it. By contrast, my own posts are usually quite inconsequential.

The other mechanism has to do with the force that drove us to blog in the first place. The Bellman was born in a truly bizarre political environment where the executive branch was busily eroding some of the most basic foundations of our country; and in a media environment where to be on television, one had to pretend that Bush was being "responsible." A lot of us started blogging just to convince ourselves that America had not gone completely freakin' crazy.

That's really not the situation anymore, and while the current events in D.C. and the world are just as important and far-reaching, they don't scare the bejesus out of me like the rush to war and the suspension of habeas corpus for brown people did.

The internet still needs its blog of record, however humble, so I am going to try a new strategy to keep things going: I'm going to collect blog-worthy items all week and do a blast of 2 or more posts each Monday. That way, all readers who remain can know when to expect new content, the world can continue to enjoy its faithful Bellman.

Other Bellmen may post during the week--as may I if something cries out for immediate textual response (that is, if the outrage cannot be contained by my twitter account (feel free to post your nom de twit in the comments... I'll follow you, dear reader)). So, if you've got the Bellman on speed dial, keep it tuned in! Or... some more appropriate, less mixed metaphor for continuing to visit our little blog.

So, like I said (3 times now, count 'em), this is not the end. Although, it is the end of this post.


Pabst for sale

I mean, it's already cheap, but this time we're not talking about buying beer, we're talking about buying the beer company.
The company is looking for a buyer willing to shell out around $300 million for its Willy Wonka Beer Factory that produces Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, Schlitz and Colt 45 — in other words, roughly a quarter of the world's supply of awesome. | via |

Let's all pitch in and buy the company!

(image source unknown)


Take the ringer. I'll drive.

A member of the Bellman Nation just bought a late-model Ford Focus. A cute car in good repair, fairly described as a modestly priced receptacle. Nonetheless, there were two features that I hadn't experienced. One dashboard button activated cabin lights in the footwells and drink holders. The cool part is that the lights are in half a dozen colors, cycling to a new color each time the button is pressed. It's like a rave for your ankles.

The other feature of note is the car's bluetooth integration. After syncing a cell phone, a small text display on top of the dashboard will list caller ID information on inbound calls. It will also use a text-to-speech function to read incoming text messages through the stereo speakers. In that mode the radio tuning knob can be used to cycle through a list of canned responses.

It turns out the engineers did not include a reply for having the car robotically repeat "wax balls".


Specialized but Equal

FCC proposes some new rules on Net Neutrality, including the following:
"Managed" or "specialized" services, such as VOIP or subscription video services, may fall into a special category since they "may differ from broadband Internet access services in ways that recommend a different policy approach, and it may be inappropriate to apply the rules proposed here." The FCC is looking for input on how to approach this special class of services.

That's a loophole big enough to drive a business plan through!


Gremlins with a time machine

Two physicists suggest that the interference from the future is causing bad luck to our high-energy physics experiments:
“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”

This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an “anti-miracle.”

via NYT (reg. req.)


Another reason to hate Glenn Beck, he has no sense of humor

There are some rumors floating around the Internet that Glenn Beck raped a girl in 1991.

If it weren't true that GLENN BECK RAPED AND MURDERED A GIRL IN 1990, then he would come out and deny these allegations.”

I also heard that Glenn Beck murdered and raped a girl in 1990. I was not shown any compelling evidence of this, but Glenn could easily clear this whole thing up by releasing his sealed criminal records.”

I don't know if Glenn Beck raped and murdered that girl in 1990, but without him releasing his criminal record, we will never be sure. |Poljunk|

I don't want to dignify those allegations by endorsing them. They strike me as almost as juvenile as Mr. Beck himself.

But my friend Mehmet recently sent me a link to a reply brief in Beck's litigation against the website glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com

Beck's legal team has surely advised him that this parody site is protected by the First Amendment. The same Amendment that allows Beck to spew his bullshit across the airwaves.

So Beck's legal team has attacked the domain name instead. But this is legal strategery as the defense team points out.
We are not here because the domain name could cause confusion. We do not have a declaration from the president of the international association of imbeciles that his members are blankly staring at the Respondent’s website wondering “where did all the race baiting content go?” We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent’s website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent’s website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck’s very rhetorical style. |Link|

The brief explains the parody involved in the website:

The raw materials of the Glenn Beck Raped and Murdered a Young Girl in 1990 meme (hereinafter, the “Beck Meme”) are twofold. The meme is a parody of from Glenn Beck’s own argumentation style mated with a Gilbert Gottfried routine performed during the Comedy Central Roast of “comedian” Bob Saget. During Gottfried’s speech, he kept repeating (in his trademark nasally voice) that there were rumors that Bob Saget had raped and killed a girl in 1990. Gottfriend admonished listeners to stop spreading this rumor – which had never existed in the first place. As there is no more sure fire way to destroy a joke than to explain it, much less in legal papers, ...

The humor equation is simple: (Outrageous Accusation) + (Celebrity) + (Question Why the Celebrity Does Not Deny the Accusation) = (Confirmation of the Falsity of the Accusation + Laughter) A poignant example of Beck using the Gottfried Technique is this Glenn Beck interview with Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim. Beck famously
"No offense and I know Muslims, I like Muslims, I've been to mosques, I really don't think Islam is a religion of evil. I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly. With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying let's cut and run. And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I
feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies. And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy. But that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."

I love the "counter-argument" of ChristWire:

[T]he court case against Mr. Hall is clear cut. He has slandered and libeled with the intent to do harm. He infringed upon Mr. Beck’s good name, reputation and copyright. He has sought to profit from lies. He is promoting a radical political agenda for his own secret nefarious purposes. He has made false accusations, akin to crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater. His words are a threat to the livelihood and safety of Glenn Beck and his family. Mr. Hall has tried to hide behind the cliché of “Freedom of Speech” while in truth attacking the very foundations of American democracy. |ChristWire|

I also love their description of the defense attorney,Marc J. Randazza:

Who is stepping up to defend this criminal? It is none other than Marc J. Randazza, described in his hometown newspaper as a, “slimy liberal incompetent moonbat home-schooled moron lawyer.” Randazza labels himself with the fancy title “Esquire” as if he’s living in some 19th-century English hamlet wearing a peacock feather in his fedora. He runs a website entitled, The Legal Satyricon, in reference to a work by an ancient Roman pedophile named Petronius. (The immorality and sexual radicalism of The Satyricon was brought to the big screen some years ago by notorious Italian Federico Fellini.)

Lawyer Randazza seems to handle only the most salacious of legal cases, mostly involving impoverished bloggers. (You have to wonder what sorts of physical debasements these penniless clients must trade for his services.) He is a professor at a Florida law school (though it’s hard to imagine such a thing) and also claims to be a resident of Gloucester, Massachusetts, a stone’s throw from infamous homosexual politician Barney Frank’s congressional district. |ChristWire|

I think it's overly simplistic to say that there are "Two Americas," there are far more than that. But I don't want to visit Glenn Beck's America anymore.


Mothers Against Drinking

I think it is past time that MADD stopped pretending that it is anything other than a temperance organization. They always blame the drink, and never blame the driving. Now they are even marketing their own brand of non-alcoholic beverages.

But the most damning segment of their official position page is their response--inadequate as it is--to the findings that so-called "distracted driving" is more deadly than drunk driving. Rather than finally acknowledging that automotive culture is a root problem, MADD actually endorses having mobile phones in vehicles... in order to report drunk drivers.

It's not just MADD, of course. Atrios recently blogged:
After taking the subway home from a show last night one of the first things I saw on the teevee was an anti-drunk driving ad. It occurred to me that in all the years I've been seeing these things I don't remember a single one (I could be wrong!) suggesting people take mass transit instead of driving.

Drinking and driving should not be combined, obviously. But if the collective energy brought to bear against drunk driving was instead focused on demphasizing driving as the main way to get around, we might save a lot of lives... even in situations where nobody's had a drop to drink.


"Can I give you a hand?"

He had gotten quite used to his hooks,” his mother says of her son’s artificial arms. “He could dress himself. He could drive his car. He could do a lot of things.”

…after the double hand transplant, Kepner had to start over again…Now in therapy, he is learning how to pick up small items, like cotton balls, and catch a ball, but he still has no feeling in his fingers. The nerves grow about an inch a month from where the hands were attached, at the forearm.

“They told him it will be at least until the end of the year before those nerves get down into those fingers,” Doris Schafer said. “Then he’ll begin to do things.”
| via |

Meanwhile the evil is growing towards his heart and brain at two inches a month!

But seriously, that's pretty cool.


Now I get it...

I always wondering why our congressional representatives are so obsessed with France.

If people in [EU headquarters] struggle to understand how troublesome Congress can be to an American administration, they should try this mental aid.

Congress is a bit like France: prickly, status-obsessed, ruthless in defending national interests and addicted to subsidies for special interests such as farmers or industrial champions.

Both are ambivalent about free trade: as the Copenhagen climate talks near, it is France and certain American senators who want to talk up “green tariffs” in case China and India duck binding limits on carbon. |The Atlantic Gap - Economist|

It's because they're so much alike!

Ow, my morgellons



Update from the melting pot

Taken together the four items form a measure of what scholars call racial resentment. We find an extraordinarily strong correlation between racial resentment of blacks and opposition to health care reform.



We're number 1!

Once again Texas is No. 1 in the nation when it comes to the percentage of its residents who are uninsured. Just over 25 percent of Texans were uninsured in a two-year average calculated at the end of 2008, according to the Census Bureau. That's an increase from the 24.1 percent uninsured rate in 2005 and 2006.

From a numbers perspective, Texas has 5.9 million total uninsured residents.



My favorite part of Obama's speech

... was these grumpy lumpuses:

They just can't stand the fact that Obama will never reveal the Wu-Tang secret.


Ladies and gentleman, I give you the next First Family of Japan

“While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus,” Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of premier-in-waiting Yukio Hatoyama, wrote in a book published last year.

“It was a very beautiful place and it was really green.”

Yukio Hatoyama is due to be voted in as premier on September 16 following his party’s crushing election victory over the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sunday.
When she awoke, Japan’s next first lady wrote, she told her now ex-husband that she had just been to Venus. He advised her that it was probably just a dream.

“My current husband has a different way of thinking,” she wrote. “He would surely say ‘Oh, that’s great’.”



Here but for the grace of god I am rapidly going

Mini-microsoft on his annual review process:
I found a bunch of old reviews of mine recently. Flipping through the review forms started with refreshing simplicity from over a decade ago, rapidly turning into confusing churn (company value ratings and all that crap), to now a fragmented collection of task-driven thoughts. While it's nice that the review form has pretty much stuck to the current form now and we don't have new components coming and going (yeah schema?) it really doesn't compare to the first couple of reviews I did at Microsoft.

Of course, I had great managers who knew how to give concise feedback, both daily and as part of my review. Where you don't have demonstrated collective excellence, you have process.


Another day, another insane Dwarf Fortress developer note

Dispatches from a parallel universe of video game development:
I had somebody shoot my toe off with a crossbow, which was cool, because it was after the slash vs. pierce merge. It just happened that the toe was narrow enough to be removed.

I got to test out the sort of reverse compound fracture thingies where a piece is knocked inward rather than out through the skin. Right now the relationships for the ribs are a little too general, so in the example a left rib goes through the liver (rather than a more appropriate right rib, but that's okay for now. The current text: "You bash The Farmer in the upper body with your bismuth bronze war hammer, bruising the muscle, jamming the left floating rib through the liver tissue and tearing the liver!" There are various issues -- mentioning the bruise is a little weird since it's not that important, the mention of the liver tissue vs the liver tear could be compacted, there are actually two floating ribs on that side and it doesn't go into exactly what happened there, and The Farmer is capitalized (which is an older problem), but it works well enough for now so I'm not going to spend a lot more time on the text. This one also demonstrates the body part relationships nicely though -- the rib was struck first, and it shows a compound-style fracture acting between different parts (rather than just a bone through skin in a single part).


Too broad a brush

Drawing a contrast with the complete lack of similar issues from the left wing of our political spectrum, Josh Marshall says what we've all known for some time:
Let's be honest with ourselves: the American right has a deep-seated problem with political violence. It's deep-seated; it's recurrent and it's real. And it endangers the country. It just makes sense to say something the first time they hit the sauce and not wait for things to get really out of hand.

The problem is, of course, that 99.99 percent of right-wingers are peaceful people. And so talking about this real issue is very, very difficult. Statements of fact turn out to be legitimately offensive to folks on the right who would never, ever participate in or advocate for political violence.

It's key, then, when talking about this to acknowledge that we are talking about crazy people, and that, while we may disagree with the political tenets of the right, they are not crazy.



I've been persuaded that I will be more successful in life if I learn to suffer fools gladly. The problem is that I simply cannot force myself enjoy the drivel of dunderheads, no matter how hard I try.

Do you think hypnosis would work? Is there a pill I can take that will make me enjoy the company of morons?

Help me out here!

Blasters! Swords! Blonde Clone Girls!

All this could be ours.
Universal have confirmed that Bryan Singer will produce and direct the big-screen reboot of Battlestar Galactica, following up on Wednesday's leak from HitFix.com. Singer will producer the movie with Galactica creator Glen Larson. No writer has been attached yet.

As much as I loved the early seasons of the revised BSG, it got so bad that I am enthusiastic about anything that can bring back that ol viper-ey feeling.

via, img via


That sinking feeling

Not only is Obama doing worse in opinion polls*, by picking Bud Light as his beer of choice, he's managed to deal a blow to sales of that disgusting brew.

* Don't freak out people, he's just getting started.


... unless you sell them to gypsies

I am dismayed to read at the consumerist:
The new government estimates are out on child rearing, and now "a middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood" (not including childbirth or college), reports Reuters. In today's dollars, it works out to between $11,000 and $13,000 annually.



Putin was quoted as saying,"Oi, I bet youse fought oid keep me old dickie dirt on. Cor blimey, Oi fink if de boids wants it, they gets it, now doesn't dey. Watch fo Transportah 4: Pony Bloody Express"


And many more

President Obama took time out of his day to cuddle up with Helen Thomas.

Certainly an improvement over a melted grocery store cake.

But President Obama got it backwards. When I think of presidential birthdays, I picture a sultry singer/actress/model delivering a heartfelt serenade.


Monday funnies

Like I was saying, it might have been the plan.


The Fire of Time

T.D. Mischke expresses his ambivalence towards humanity in his latest column for City Pages.

Over one billion people are expected to vote [for the Seven Great Wonders of the Natural World], and they say not a single one will be opting for my candidate.

The global poll to determine the seven natural wonders of the world is underway—seven natural wonders to go alongside the seven manmade wonders. The finalists include the Amazon rain forest, the Dead Sea, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Millions have weighed in already, online and by phone. But they tell me my vote has been wasted because my candidate was never nominated...

I nominate you, the creature I see out my car window shuffling past the convenience store, picking the quarter off the sidewalk. You with the fanny pack emerging from Walmart with your lawn ornament.

I nominate myself and my brethren—we the people. I nominate us as the greatest wonder of the natural world. We've only been around 200,000 years, yet look at us. We're something to write home about.

Mountains, trees, and waterways are sites to ponder, but what subject dominates bookshelves everywhere? Human life, that's what. We're not just standing there looking pretty. We're on the move. We're going places. The ancient Egyptians were something, but the ancient Greeks were better. And I like Martin Luther as much as the next guy, but have you read Ken Wilber?

Yes, we rape and torture, but it only makes the Minnesota Orchestra all the more startling. We have the dark and the light in us like nothing this universe has ever seen. Even night and day don't have such stark alter egos. Night is as sweet and soulful as any summer afternoon. Our dark side, however, is too horrific to fully comprehend (see Nanking, 1937). So when we walk on the moon and build the St. Paul Cathedral, there is every reason to ask, who the hell are these freaks?

We are the world's greatest show, for better and for worse. We offer jaw-dropping surprises when you least expect it. When the savagery of South Africa's apartheid leaves you ashamed and aching for that isolated cabin in the woods, along comes the staggeringly mature civility of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and damned if we don't outdo ourselves again.

We can vomit on a park bench holding a cheap bottle of brandy and give our lives to save a child we've never met. We can stand with our shirt half untucked, needing a shave, smelling of old cigarettes, and deliver a sentiment that cracks open a steel heart. Our capacity for love is boundless, but we can die moaning of some half-cent sales-tax increase.

What else touches our depravity and nobility? What else comes near our fascinating complexity? We are dust, and we are gods, peerless in our paradox.

|Humankind snubbed on Seven Wonders of the World List (hyperlinks omitted)|

I've been reading the Tao of Physics lately and Mischke's article makes me think about the yin and yang and how several schools of eastern spirituality believe that all people possess light and darkness in their souls, the yin and yang.

So very different from the Christian conception that we're born with the corruption of "original sin" and have to be baptisized, only to later struggle with "sin" our entire lives.

I prefer to think everyone has the potential for light and darkness within them.


Friday dumb game blogging

Golden idols, explosions, jiggling. This game has everything.

Totem Destroyer 2


Laser-guided sazz wagon

I just got back from putting a couple thousand miles on a new rental car. As owner of a vintage automobile, I don't really keep up with the newer automotive conveniences. I know that tire pressure sensors are now required. Seatback DVD players are old news. Even heartbeat sensors and cars that park themselves are out there.

But I was entirely surprised to find that the car I was driving had autonomous cruise control. For the uninitiated, this type of system will automatically reduce your car's cruise control speed if you come up behind a slower moving vehicle. It will even brake or bring you to a complete stop if another vehicle enters the lane or stops in front of you. It turns out variations of this feature have been available on some cars for more than 10 years.

This got me thinking about what other features we may see on the way to the self-guided hover cars that are in undoubtedly our future. I for one hope that frame mounted paintball cannons become factory standard. There are a lot of drivers out there that need to be marked to alert other motorists.

Do the Bellman visioneers have any other ideas for Detroit?

that's just how we swing

Via TSH,
Ever wonder why we swing our arms when we walk? Is it just a left-over trait from when we were on all fours?

Well, some researchers were interested in answering that question. They found out that swinging arms wasn’t quite the waste of energy most had assumed. In fact, holding your arms by your side while walking requires 12% more metabolic energy.

Why do I see a future infomercial on the handcuff calorie burning plan?


Is it just me?

Or does Steven Seagal still got it?


Watch your mouf

A year ago, we saw a quiz thing that asked you to determine which of four odd phrases were euphemisms for sexual acts. By the time we had discovered this question, every item on the list had developed a carnal reputation. That is to say, every item. We are fast approaching a point where ordering a sandwich at a deli will land you in prison. While I'm intrigued by the dystopian undertones of this scenario, I don't necessarily want to live under its strictures, not least of which because I tend to frequent delis.

Also, I'm pretty sure that "Dystopian Undertones" is guttermouth for the male testes.

via PA.


Radio gone wrong

Talk radio this morning is all about Obama - Gates - racism blah blah blah, instead of health care. It's almost as if Obama planned it that way.

I'm not sure who is filling in for Laura Ingraham this morning, but he just suggested that now would be a good time to burgle Gates's house. Ahem.



Apparently, there are no flesh-eating robots in DARPA's pantry.

Although I'll bet this just gave someone in the Pentagon a new idea...


Kepner Got His Grip

Dalton Trumbo's polemic against war, Johnny Got his Gun |WK|WC|, is the story of a who wishes he'd been killed by the artillery shell that maimed him... removing his arms, legs and face.

IMO one of the most poignant parts of the book is when he wishes he could once again hold his girlfriend in his arms. It made me realize how lucky I am to be alive; to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

I wonder if the Associated Press' Dan Nephin had read Trumbo's classic work when I saw his article Hand Transplant Patient hopes to feel Wife's Touch at Salon. Worldwide twelve people have had double hand transplants. Welcome to the twenty-first century, my friends!

The art and science of medicine are amazing and it's truly a wonderful world to live in if one has health insurance.

But the cynic in me wonders if the black market in human body parts isn't about to explode.

Friday dumb game blogging, projectile edition


Bonus game: Crush the Castle


Always bet on black

I almost have a gambling problem.

I don't actually gamble much, and when I do I manage to limit the amount I risk, through a series of strategies--for example, limiting how much I bring to the table, or getting my casino fix in unthreatening environments like our local branch of Casino McVegas.

But I always feel like I am on the verge of having a gambling problem. I have the urge to risk it all!

Enter Swoopo.com. They call it "Entertainment Shopping." This kind of thing is really dangerous to me, because it is gambling in the guise of of something else. These kinds of things have potential to slip past my anti-gambling defenses.

I mean, for goodness sake, check this out:

Dude bought an $1,100 for $55.96.

Of course, "Stenvenson" had to get lucky. He had to be the last person willing to bid, at 60 cents per bid. In his particular case, he had already bid 214 times, meaning that in the end, he spent $55.96 on the television, but $129.00 on the bids.

To be sure, that's still a great bargain. But had he not been so lucky, he could have dropped that $129 and received nothing in return.

Like any well run house, Swoopo takes a substantial rake. It was a 2¢ auction, so the website brought in over $34,000 in bidding fees, more than enough to cover the price of the TV.

My advice is, don't try it. It's a sucker's game. Myself, I've purchased some bids, but like I said, I almost have a problem.


Dear jurisprudence

The Sotomayor confirmation hearings start in about half an hour. CNN has a video link if you're looking for one. But this confirmation should be a snooze. Here's a classic for your enjoyment.


Like a rock

The big news today, of course, comes to us from bankruptcy court. After months of denials, finger pointing, and not-so-veiled threats, an American icon is in bankruptcy, hoping to come out stronger and more viable. I'm talkin' about the Dude here.

Dykstra clarified on his web site:
Although I am saddened and a bit embarrassed that I had no choice but to resort to this action, at least I am in good company. . . .
Two of our greatest presidents, Thomas Jefferson (filed several times) and Abraham Lincoln, were able to restructure their lives through bankruptcy and went on to do great things such as helping to establish the University of Virginia and abolishing slavery.
Ulysses S. Grant went bankrupt after leaving office when a partner in an investment-banking venture swindled him. (I can certainly identify with this one.)
William McKinley filed for protection while serving as Ohio’s governor in 1893. He was in debt to the tune of $130,000 (an insurmountable sum in those days!) before some friends eventually helped to bail him out. Three years later, he occupied a desk in the Oval Office.
Other prominent men who made the list and later went on to huge successes:
- Mark Twain
- Donald Trump (2 timer)
- Henry Ford
- William Crapo Durant (founder of GM)
- Walt Disney (up to bat several times)
- Burt Reynolds
- H.J. Heinz
- Milton Hershey
- P.T. Barnum
- Lenny K. Dykstra (coming soon!)

So if I'm reading this correctly, Lenny Dykstra will be President in 2012

Oh, also, some company named GM has emerged from bankruptcy protection and has already shown their commitment to new ideas by reforming as a reimagined entity called GM.


... in which Jason alienates certain Jewish readers

Among Jews, a subtext of many debates about Israeli/Palestinian politics is the question of who gets to define Jewishness. Is it believers and militarists who believe that "Greater Israel" really is land "promised" to the descendants of Abraham and Isaac? Or humanists who take pride in Jews' diaspora history as "rootless cosmopolitans?" Who is more "in touch" with their Jewishness -- a secular Israeli or a practicing American? A peacenik, a kibbutznik, or a hawk?

Of course, like most debates over legitimacy and authenticity, these questions are reductive, silencing, and actually prevent people from understanding one another. The starting point for a political discussion on settlements, for example, or Palestinian statehood, should not be a definition of "appropriate" Jewishness. Why? Because fixating on that question, as Phil Weiss has written, makes it easier to elide the fact that the group of people primarily suffering right now -- and primarily culturally threatened -- are not Jews, but Palestinians.

That's not to say that we shouldn't make political arguments informed by our own understanding of Jewish values -- and do so proudly and assertively. I've done so myself. But the bottom line is that those who seek to police other people's Jewishness betray an ideological rigidity that is completely unhelpful in the current political moment. | TAPPED |

I'd go further, and say that applying the question of "Jewishness" to politics--while completely understandable--is straight up racist.


Rob Bricken Watches Transformers(ers) so you don't have to

And thank god for that. I don't think I have the constitution to withstand it. Here:
Why would a robot need to fart, pee, or vomit? And why would it need testicles?
Michael Bay does not understand what a robot is.
Why can only a Prime kill the Fallen? Why can Jetfire teleport? Why can the Fallen wave a staff and make shit fly around? Why do actual cars and Autobots get sucked into Devastator's maw, but John Turturro and that other kid can run around?
Because... because FUCK YOU, that's why.
If you had to pick a single scene that exemplifies Michael Bay's utter disdain for story and continuity, what would it be?
When five Decepticons sink to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve Megatron's corpse. A submarine tracks five "subjects" going down, and when they get there, one of the Decepticons is killed to give parts to Megatron. 5 -1 +1 = 5, right? No, because the sub somehow tracks "six" subjects coming up. Not only is this very basic math, this is the simplest of script errors. It could not possibly have been more than one page apart in the script. And yet Michael Bay either didn't care to notice or didn't give a fuck. "Math? Math is for pussies. My movies are about shit blowing up, man."
Could you sum up the film in one line of its dialogue?
"I am standing directly beneath the enemy's scrotum."


How to Kill a Robot

The Firearms Blog: Firearms, not politics has some useful tips on weapons selection for anyone whose mission involves facing down marauding robots.


When you've lost The Corner....

Rich Lowry writes:
I think I have pretty well-established credentials when it comes to being charmed by Sarah Palin, but that statement, as a statement, was simply terrible. Rambling and not at all persuasive as an argument for her decision. More Gibson/Couric than GOP convention speech. She shouldn't have said a thing without getting Matt Scully—or some similarly talented speechwriter—on the case first. As to how this decision plays out ultimately, we'll see. There's plenty of time if (as I assume) she wants to run in 2012, and she obviously has plenty of capital with Republicans. But not an auspicious start.

and Rick Brookhiser:
Are we to accept in an aspirant to the Oval Office cutting short her tour of duty in the Alaska statehouse?


With instant replay, it would have been Brazil 4, USA 2

JOHANNESBURG--During halftime at tonight's Confed Cup, with the U.S. miraculously up two-nothing over Brazil, I went to go gloat to a British friend over a beer at one of the stadium's Budweiser stands. "I'm feeling triumphalist again!" I told him, raising my American flag over my head.

"It's halftime," he warned. "Don't have a 'Mission Accomplished' moment." | via |


Adventures in miscategorization

Ben Smith blogs:
Nixon saw interracial pregnancy as grounds for abortion

A remarkable bit of history from Charlie Savage, who is listening to newly released Nixon tapes:
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”

Barack Obama was 11 at the time.

Interesting in its own right, for sure. However, what's with the tag?


I probably would not have been so persistent

... but this guy--who happens to be a colleague of mine at work--used the new "find my iPhone" functionality (discussed in a previous post) to track his phone down, somewhat aggressively.
We parked along Medill and hopped out. It was a Puerto Rican neighborhood. On the south side of the street, an outdoor birthday fiesta was convening, and some of the participants eyed us three honkeys questioningly. Now at this point I had no fricking clue how we would find the phone; did I think I'd find it under a bush? I certainly didn't plan to go door-to-door, nor did I expect the cops to regard a blue circle around the entire block as sufficient cause for a search warrant. I sent a third message to the phone that I'd been formulating in my head: "We have tracked the phone to Medill St. and are locating it. Please call 512-796-xxxx to help us and claim a reward." Short version: WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE.

And now his little story has been posted on Daring Fireball, which, at our workplace, will make him quite the bees knees.


Sunday funnies

Indie Rock Pete says:


Privacy is as privacy does

Two items of note on the privacy front.
A new frontier for the invasion of personal privacy, drumroll, please: the City of Bozeman, Montana wants access to job seeker's Facebook accounts. This local government employer asks those soliciting positions with the city to supply a list of social networking sites they frequent, as well as log–in details and passwords as part of a comprehensive background check. | the guardian, via chat from my sister |

Way to go, Montana.

Second, version 3 of the iPhone software--along with a Mobile Me account--let's me locate my phone if I've lost it. Or my wife's phone. Even if she hasn't lost it.

In other words, I can now track my wife's movements throughout the day:

Not that I'm going to do that. That would be rude. As I've stated before, I think it will be a whole generation before our social norms are sufficiently adjusted to this new technology.


Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads.

I think such explanations are especially popular in times of rampant uncertainty, which is where we are now. After all, if we understand the movement of the financial markets then we have a modicum of control - we know when to buy and sell - and people love control. In one classic 1975 study led by Ellen Langer, male undergrads at Yale were asked to predict the results of coin tosses, a cliched example of a random event. Nevertheless, a significant number of the men believed that their performance improved through practice - they got better at calling heads or tails - and that distraction would detract from their performance. How did they justify this wishful thinking? As Langer notes, the men engaged in some sly cognitive filtering and consistently "overremembered past successes".

Is Wall Street any different? The market, after all, is a classic example of a "random walk," since the past movement of any particular stock cannot be used to predict its future movement. Given this inherent stochasticity, it's silly to attempt to explain the daily movement of the market: such an endeavor is like analyzing a series of flipped coins, or trying to explain the payout patterns of a slot machine. We can construct theories - and some of these theories might even sound intelligent - but they're ultimately futile attempts to stave off the flux.

What's even more disturbing is that such errant explanations might actually cost us money, since they lead, inevitably, to over-confidence. (Those Yale undergrads vastly overestimated their ability to predict coin flips.) We become so convinced that the logical-sounding explanations are true that we forget we're dealing with a random, inherently unpredictable system. The end result is too much trading.

The Frontal Cortex


Feeding the troll

What we learned in the last thread is that a straight white man from Texas can't abide anyone thinking that Letterman's jokes about Palin were out of bounds.

Now, I know Midkiff is a bottom feeder and isn't very bright besides, so forgive me for dramatizing this next point. Sometimes ridicule is wrong and undeserved even when the object of ridicule is a proper subject of criticism for other reasons. Putting aside Palin, it was wrong for me to refer to Midkiff as a not very bright bottom feeder in the first sentence of this paragraph. Perhaps those things are true, perhaps they aren't. In any case, truth was not the point. The discursive function of those insults was to delegitimize Midkiff by expressing contempt for the very idea that he might be considered an equal. If I'm lucky, those words will also interfere with Midkiff's capacity to engage in reasoned discussion by making him so mad that he can't help but respond with a string of obscenities.

But let's move on if we can. What project was Midkiff engaged in when he responded to the Palin/Letterman post? According to his self-presentation, Midkiff was concerned not to let Palin get away with crying crocodile tears about sexism. But since the point of the post was to call Palin out for crying crocodile tears, you have to think that there's more going on here. My guess is that had I not called out the (obvious to me) sexism of Letterman's jokes then there's very little chance that Midkiff would have commented.

So we have here a situation where Midkiff -- a person, it should be noted, who has so little interest in engaging me that he has all but given up commenting on the blog -- cannot help but chime in when it is suggested that prominent female politicians ought not be ridiculed on the basis of their appearance. Why does he care so much? I mean, there are some pretty clear reasons to avoid that sort of stuff. What's the benefit of insulating it from criticism? None that I can see. And yet it mattered so much to Midkiff that he began a conversation with me.

Here's one thing I know for sure. The bra burning feminists who Midkiff disparages would have predicted precisely the behavior from him which he has so kindly exhibited.


Must. not. blog. about. Palin.

Letterman jokes that Bristol was knocked up by A-Rod -- poor taste, not acceptable in our politics and worth criticizing him for -- and makes it even worse by telling the joke in a way that opens it up to the interpretation that he was talking about the 14 year old Willow -- incredibly stupid, but he did apologize -- and rather than accepting the apology at face value, Palin decides to imply that Letterman is a child molester.

Letterman jokes that she dresses like a slutty flight attendant -- poor taste, not acceptable in our politics and worth criticizing him for -- and she claims that her first thought was for the poor flight attendants who he had slandered.

Really? I mean, if Palin would just handle this like a human being I'd be on her side.

Adding: Accepting the apology at face value would mean accepting that Letterman meant to be joking about Bristol. It wouldn't mean saying that Letterman did nothing wrong.


Futurama gets renewed for 26 episodes

Weird, but true, and hopefully awesome.



Since I just got back from the west coast late last night, do I get to call tonight's insomnia 'jet lag'?

Since I'm awake anyway: One thing that I didn't mention in this post, but which I think you'll agree qualifies as relevant, is that I'm pretty strongly prejudiced against greatest hits records as a general rule. My thinking, if you can call it that, is that buying a greatest hits record is tantamount to acknowledging that you are incapable of liking music that you haven't heard before. All and still there are lots of records out there, more than I could possibly have time to listen to, and a body needs find a way to cut through the crap and get to the good shit. So that's the context in which I asked whether there weren't, after all, some bands/artists who were better represented in compilationary form.


Link roundup: porn and piracy

Where in the past I would have done quick insta-posts on these items, lately I've taken to throwing them in my Evernote notebook, in the hopes that they will be resources for more substantial Bellman posts down the road. Now, I am thinking that's unlikely, so here they are all in a rush.

1. Evernote! I highly recommend this service. It is free, it has a Mac client, a Windows client, an iPhone client, and a web interface, so I have my notebook everywhere I happen to be. importing and organizing information is very easy. And if you need something to push you over the edge into trying it, notes with images are scanned and put through text-recognition routines so that you can search against their contents. Pretty slick! It highlights the portion of the text that it thinks features the word I searched for:

2. I think some of my friends might be criminals.
An Iowa man was convicted of possessing child pornography last week because some of the books in his vast collection of Japanese manga (comics) appeared to depict minors engaged in sexual acts
39-year-old Christopher Handley, an office worker, was brought up on charges of possessing child pornography in 2006 when customs officials seized a package for him. It contained several manga, some of which were "lolicon" that showed what officials said were children being sexually abused. There were also images of bestiality. Handley has a huge collection of manga, and only a few are lolicon. He also had absolutely no child pornography of any description in his house or on his computer.

Nevertheless, Handley entered a guilty plea. According to Threat Level, it was simply because his attorney had exhausted all other options:
"It's probably the only law I'm aware of, if a client shows me a book or magazine or movie, and asks me if this image is illegal, I can't tell them," says Eric Chase, Handley's attorney.

Ruh-roh. If this extends to literary descriptions, I better return my copy of Lolita to the public library!

3. Piracy is a moral imperative. Eskil Skeensburg is an interesting fellow. He's developing a game called "Love" by himself that might possibly revolutionize the way games are developed, and is quite likely to be a fun game. But I also like reading his blog, which is mostly about developing the game, but meanders around to topics like,
It is a duty not a right to break an unjust law.
The only way to find pirates is to monitor all peoples communication.

The only way to stop piracy is to deprive people of all communication.

Either someone can own a message and stop others form saying it, or we have freedom of speech.

These are the stakes. Don't think it is about someone getting payed. The financial well being of me and all the artists I love is insignificant, compared to the basic rights of a human being. Supporting artists is one thing, stopping people form exercising their rights like freedom of speech or taking away peoples right to privacy is another.

I used to think that supporting artists was the right thing to do. Now I'm asking, do I longer want to financially support organizations who use my money to lobby governments and courts to take away my basic rights and freedoms? [Have they] made it morally wrong for me to pay, in their quest to force me to pay?



Imaginary black on white crime

Later, I'm going to update this post with a link (or possibly an embedded video) of a segment from The Daily Show. In the meantime, here's a blog post that I'd like to believe inspired the bit.

Update: By now you've probably seen this if you wanna, but here it is.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Imaginary Black on White Crime
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis


All this time

After years of knowing nothing at all about the lyrics of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" other than that those lyrics included the lines 'don't stand so close to me', 'sometimes it's not so easy / to be the teacher's pet' and 'just like the old man / in that book by Nabkov' I've finally figured out what the song is about and let me tell you, I'm scandalized.

In other music news, earlier this evening I was listening to a Clash record[1] so bad that it made me wonder whether I wouldn't have been better off buying the greatest hits collection instead. Which, in the natural course of things, made me wonder which bands/artists out there are better represented on their greatest hits compilations than on any of their albums.

I think there are two main kinds of cases. First are bands/artists whose oevre is so broad that you really need a compilation to get a handle on the sound. A good example, I think, is k.d. lang, whose sound has changed over the years and who, incidentally, released a fantastic greatest hits compilation in 2006. Next are bands/artists who just don't have all that many good songs when compared to how many albums they've put out. I don't know about The Clash, but The Kinks (to take an example) definitely fall into this group.

What say you all?

1 -- Combat Rock.


You left him, you left Chewie!

As you would expect, I spent some time this morning watching a public access rebroadcast of New Tong Dynasty Television's coverage of a comic book convention. Good stuff.

The book, I think, was Vector Prime, which of course I haven't read. I've only read one Star Wars novel ever, when I was about twelve, which I picked up from a younger cousin during a too long summer stretch at my grandmother's house. Nevertheless, I've been told by sci-fi heads at both Borders and Blimpy Burger that the newish novels are pretty good. Vector Prime's R.A. Salvatore, at any rate, is a perfectly competent writer of pulp fantasy. Still don't plan on reading the books.


Sotomayor messaging meeting (abridged)

GOP Thinker #1:Okay boys, we've got our nominee. Let's get to work. What have we got on...what's her name again?
GOP Thinker #2: Sotomayor.
GOP Thinker #6: I believe it's actually pronounced Sotomayor.
GOP Thinker #3: God help us, where do they get these people? Can't they just give us Garcia?
GOP Thinker #6: I wouldn't lead with that.
GOP Thinker #3: Did we ask you? Are you even in this meeting?
GOP Thinker #4: Cuervo.
GOP Thinker #3: What?
GOP Thinker #4: For her name. It would be funny if it were Cuervo.
GOP Thinker #6 (softly): Jesus.
GOP Thinker #1: Boys, come on now! What have we got?
GOP Thinker #3: She's a woman. Hispanic. Affirmative action hire.
GOP Thinker #2: Everybody hates affirmative action.
GOP Thinker #6: Her resume's a little deeper than that...
GOP Thinker #2: True.
GOP Thinker #6: Ivy League. Yale Law Review. It's not going to stick. We need to find cases. Who was on that?
GOP Thinker #11: I've got the summaries from the interns. Top line is solid work, unlikely to change the balance of the court.
GOP Thinker #3: What are you two even doing in this meeting? Jesus.
GOP Thinker #1: Guys! Let's get back on task.
GOP Thinker #2: That's right, back on task!
GOP Thinker #1: So what have we got?
GOP Thinker #4: I've got a speech where she says some things about how being ethnic makes her a better judge, a few other things like that.
GOP Thinker #3: There's the name. We can do a lot with the name.
GOP Thinker #2: Great ideas all around!
GOP Thinker #6: Are you people kidding? Do you understand that backlash politics won't work forever? The country is changing.
GOP Thinker #1: Really, how did you get into this meeting?
GOP Thinker #2: Yes, that's a good question.
GOP Thinker #3: Now we're getting somewhere!

Adding: Ta-Nehisi Coates has da rill shit.


On nutsack tattoo visibility, and the improvement thereof

Gillette does not condone use of a straight razor to clear the underbrush. Rather, follow their approved technique.

The best a man can get.


Empirical results to tatoo on my nutsack

Now a new paper, published by the journal Contraception, culls evidence from several studies to argue that withdrawal is actually nearly as effective as condoms in preventing pregnancy. The paper reports that couples who practice withdrawal perfectly over the course of a year -- meaning the male partner always pulls out before ejaculation -- have only a 4 percent pregnancy rate. More "typical" couples using withdrawal (those who sometimes mess up) have a pregnancy rate of 18 percent. |Dana Goldstein|


sunday quotes vs. the black eye peas

via colihouse again
I heard “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas while switching between radio stations in my car. The words “I got the that rock and roll, that future flow, that digital spit, next level visual shit” piqued my curiosity so I decided to listen to the rest. As the beat kicked in, I remembered sort of liking the Peas’ first album and dreamily wondered whether T-Pain and Kanye West have inspired an amazing new genre: cyber rap. Just as I was starting to smile at the prospect of a Funkadelic generation for the 21st century, Fergie’s brute battle screech crushed all my hopes of space-hop grandeur with just one verse: “I like that boom boom pow, them chickinz jackin’ my style, they try copy my swagger I’m on that next shit now”.
I like a little supersonic boom as much as the next guy, but until one of these Peas can be a little more specific about their zooming space shit I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. What exactly makes this song futuristic? Help me out. Until then I’ll try to avoid saying “You’re SOO two thousand and LATE” in my lexicon and look to the cosmos for answers.

I keep thinking Fergie is singing, "I got that fuchsia flow," which would be, you know, different.
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