Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sulfuric Blog

Chavez: Bush Devil
So Hugo Chavez called President Bush the devil at the United Nations. The President could not be reached for comment; he was otherwise engaged, at his ranch, dermabrading his incipient horns.

Musharraf: Armitage Devil
In an interview to air on 60 MINUTES, Pakistan’s President Musharraf said that after terrorists struck the United States, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Pakistan's intelligence director the United States would bomb his country if it didn't help.

Musharaf said, "The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, `Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.'"

Armitage insists that his comment was misheard, and what he really said was, “Tell Mushy we haven’t been stoned in ages.”

Musharraf: His Life Story
Asked to comment on this statement at a press conference at the White House the other day, Musharraf told reporters, "I would like to. I am launching my book on the 25th, and I am honour-bound to Simon and Schuster not to comment on the book before that day."

President Bush, turning flack for a moment, said, "In other words, buy the book, is what he's saying. Buy the book."

His book is called IN THE LINE OF FIRE – A MEMOIR. He supposedly did not write it, but was ghost-written by a Pakistani columnist. Yes, the title comes from the Clint Eastwood movie.
Chavez: Buy This Book!
In the midst of his harangue against our Satanic President, Hugo Chavez hefted a paperback copy of HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL: AMERICA’S QUEST FOR GLOBAL DOMINANCE, by Noam Chomsky. He told the audience, “I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is right in their own house.” I never thought of Noam Chomsky as an exorcist, but just another scolding pedant. You never know.

The book, by the way, after Chavez’ plug, jumped to Number 1 on Amazon.

Hotel television moment, with devil.
When I was in DC, I got caught up on LAW AND ORDER reruns, which is the thing to do when you’re in a hotel. Also, while flipping the dial, I caught an episode of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, a guilty pleasure, I guess because it reminds me of teevee from my youth. Fistfights! Bad guys!. A lame theme song, sung by its star!

Now, most WALKERs are about his girlfriend getting kidnapped by convicts or motorcycle gangs. But the episode upon which I landed up gave up the following exchange:

“Bring the children!”

“Yes, Lucifer!”

I changed the channel immediately, and with satisfaction. I didn’t even need to watch the rest of the show! That little bit of dialogue told me everything I needed to know. Satanic cult plus kidnapped children plus Walker on the trail equals a last minute rescue with high flying kicks and then good old Chuck Norris trying to look whimsical as he drinks coffee in the bar run by the semi-wacky old guy.

Zach Braff
I’ve been reading a lot of sarcastic comments about this guy, in the Onion, and in Slate. And I haven’t the foggiest notion who he is. I rule!

The Administration regrets the error. Not.
(AFP) US spy agencies have dropped a political bombshell six weeks before national elections, with the leak of a classified report concluding that the war in Iraq has spawned a new wave of Islamic radicalism and increased the global threat of terrorism.

The intelligence document on Sunday rocked a central pillar of the Republican Party's campaign platform ahead of November elections: that the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein made America safer, not weaker.

Why they hate us, more
The New York Times informed me this Sunday that a bank out of Portland, Oregon is branding itself more as retailer than a financial institution. Instead of “branches,” it has “stores.” It offers free wi-fi access. Now it offers CDs of unknown musicians local to the markets where they are located. They also offer what they call a “custom banking blend.” I was going to sign up and ask for French Roast checking, black no sugar, but then I noticed that the bank also has its own brand of coffee. These truly are the Latter Days. Excuse me, Latte Days.

Big Mommy
From the English paper, The Mail:

“Britain's first 'talking' CCTV cameras have arrived, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly.”

One of the managers of the system in Middleborough told the paper: “There was one incident when two men started fighting outside a nightclub. One of the control room operators warned them over the loudspeakers and they looked up, startled, stopped fighting and scarpered in opposite directions.”

Another: “Would the young man on the bike please get off and walk as he is riding in a pedestrian area.”

Been Laden?
There’s a rumor going around that Bin Laden died of Typhus a month or so ago.

According to Reuters: “One theory surrounding the mysterious French leak is that it was designed precisely to flush the al Qaeda leader into the open, prompting him to release a new tape that might give a clue to his whereabouts and state of health.”

Sneaky us. And there goes Reuters again, revealing our top secret plans to the enemy!

Voter ID.
The GOP has been floating plans to make it mandatory for voters to show a photo i.d. when showing up at a polling place.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue: "It's simply unacceptable for people to sneak into the country illegally on Thursday, obtain a government-issued ID on Friday, head for the welfare office on Friday and go to vote on Tuesday."

What? Illegal immigrants are voting? I don’t think so. People who can LEGALLY vote aren’t voting.

Besides, they’re too busy defecating in the spinach to vote. Here’s a tip, spinach growers: give your migrant workers some Porta Potties and bathroom breaks. The nation’s emergency rooms will thank you.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Why they hate us, part CVI:
Lindsey Lohan. After the first time her coochie showed up on the Web, why didn’t anybody tell her to put some pants on? What kind of management does she have anyway?

Is the Pope Catholic?
I read the Pope’s speech in its entirety, which can be found here:

In addition to the “offensive” bit, the speech also makes reference to St. Paul, Socrates, and Kant. His central point, as I took it, was “not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.” The speech concludes with: “It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.”

Well, judging by the response so far, Islam has refused the invitation.

Giles Frazier in the UK Guardian opined: “If millions of Muslims were offended by the scribblings of a few unknown Danish cartoonists, it's pretty obvious the enormous potential for harm that might flow from a few ill-judged comments by the vicar of Rome.”

Millions of Muslims appear to be moody and very touchy five year olds, some of them with bombs. Islam needs a good spanking, and a time out. Islam needs to be grounded. And we non-Muslims should start acting like responsible grown-ups, not pussy footing enablers of temper tantrums.

Why they hate us, part XVII
From Slate: “When I first started looking at my friends' Netflix lists, it felt a little creepy.”

That’s because it’s, well, creepy.

9/11:2: update
In a previous blog, I talked about a creepy photograph which showed a bunch of hipsters apparently lolling about as the Towers burned behind them.

Well, one of the subjects, responding to a damning article by Frank Rich, wrote to Slate:
“A snapshot can make mourners attending a funeral look like they're having a party. Thomas Hoepker took a photograph of my girlfriend and me sitting and talking with strangers against the backdrop of the smoking ruin of the World Trade Center on September 11th. Earlier, she and I had watched the buildings collapse from my rooftop in Brooklyn and had made our way down to the waterfront. The Williamsburg Bridge was filled with hundreds of people, covered in dust, helping one another make their way onto the street. It was clear that people who ordinarily would not have spoken two words to each other were suddenly bound together, which I suppose must be a fairly common occurrence in the aftermath of a catastrophe….”

Oops. My bad. Sorry. It’s still a creepy photograph, though.

I got it right!
About lonelygirl15. Not normal girl with webcam. Actress with crew.

Some things I didn’t even know existed until I saw them mentioned in news stories.
Fetish film kingpin.
Scientology goons.

I think we can all agree on this at least:
Nancy Grace is a big asshole.

What would Popeye do?
From the New York Times, in the wake of a nationwide E. coli outbreak, caused by packaged spinach:

“It is too early to say where the spinach has come from,’’ said Laura Alvey, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration. “This is an active investigation, and we will provide more information as it becomes available. We have no evidence that this was deliberate.’’

In other news:
Play-Doh is fifty. Why is it still around? It is vastly inferior to modeling clay, and gets all dusty and nasty when it dries out.

Why I hate us:

My Trip to DC
I flew to Washington D.C. earlier this week to participate in a taping of Philosophy Talk (a radio show hosted by two Stanford philosophy professors; streaming audio can be found at, at the Smithsonian. The guest was J. Craig Venter, and the topic was genomes. He was very charismatic and articulate.

Before the taping, somebody made the remark that the quest to map the genome would make a great movie. Being a wiseacre, I said I hoped not, because Russell Crowe would probably be in it. Dr. Venter then said that he’d been talking to Hollywood folks about movie possibilities. And the actor suggested to play him? Russell Crowe.

Again. My bad. Sorry.

More DC
Walking to the bus stop, I passed the Department of Education building, a faceless entity by and large, but the four entrances had been tricked out to look like little red schoolhouses, on the eaves of which were faux chalkboards on which had been written, in faux chalk, “No Child Left Behind.”

A block or so after that, I saw a middle-aged man in a windbreaker, with FEMA written on its back. He was hugging a younger woman, who was weeping uncontrollably.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Recycle this blog

Headline of the week:
Man on trial for threatening judge threatens judge.

Steve Irwin
What was with that guy? Who holds a stingray in such a way that it can stab him in the chest? Who would pick up a stingray in the first place? Hello?

Katie Couric
On her first night on the air, she asked viewers to come up with a sign off phrase for her. Now, I realize that “interactivity” is a hot thing these days. But you don’t ask people to come with a catchphrase that totally captures your personality. It just invites snarkiness. Your catchphrase is yours. If people don’t like it, it won’t catch on, and that’s that.

It’s like asking people to come up with a sexual fantasy for you. What if your bosses think the sexual fantasy attracts viewers, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what really turns you on? So with catchphrases. Katie Couric could be trapped forever in a world of dwindling ratings and a catchphrase she despises. She’ll take to drink. An unpleasant episode will occur. It will all end badly.

On this, the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I propose a ban on the following:
(1) The phrase: “9/11changed everything.”
(2) Comments about the Event by people who weren’t at the Event, but watched it on television.
(3) “The War on Terror.”
(4) Dick Cheney.
(5) Cellos or sad violins in promotions for television commemorations of 9/11.
(6) Liberals whining about conservative bias in THE PATH TO 9/11.
(7) THE PATH TO 9/11.
(8) Conservatives painting liberals as Chamberlain-like appeasers. Appeasers to whom? Where’s the Hitler here?
(9) Stupid conspiracy theories.
(10) Lists.

This may be the creepiest photograph I have ever seen:

If, for some reason, you can’t link to it, it can be found in a new book, WATCHING THE WORLD CHANGE: THE STORIES BEHIND THE IMAGES OF 9/11, by David Friend (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

The picture shows five hipsters, with a bicycle, sitting by the river, as smoke fills the sky behind them. You can see a tattoo on one of the hipsters’ lower back. None of them are looking at the catastrophe, but instead seem to be having a relaxed conversation (one of them is even semi-horizontal), as if to say, “So, what else is going on?” “Not much. You?”

And I’ve just violated Rule (2). (See above.)

Guy news.
From Reuters: “Men may have developed a psychology that makes them particularly able to engage in wars, a scientist said on Friday.”

Now’s the time to buy.
I have heard that iPod sales are plummeting. An article in the Guardian (UK) surmised that it’s because the iPod does not have the cachet it once did (because everybody has one- except me). A spokeswoman for The Zandl Group, a trends forecaster, said that some of their consumer interviewees “that the batteries are not replaceable, so when they die the entire player must be replaced. We have heard from some conspiracy theorists that the batteries are made to die soon after the warranty ends.” (Thus violating Rule (9). See above.)

Further, she said, “Other complaints are that iTunes [Apple's online music store] is overpriced and the format is not easily transferred on to other players. In our ethnography interviews, some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods because it's too much work, while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.”

The backlash may have been engineered by Sony in a sinister plot to bring back the Walkman. Oops! Rule (9) violation! See above.

President Bush…
…last week revealed that we did in fact have secret locations in other countries where terrorism suspects were not tortured in any way. Information obtained from these individuals may or may not have been extremely helpful in the War on Terror (Rule (3) violation. See above.). Now these suspects are going to Guantanamo, in preparation for prosecution by the United States. Of course, the evidence against them will either be considered top secret by the government, or repressed by defense attorneys as unreliable because obtained under duress. Happy anniversary!

Why lefties suck.
I belong to a Yahoo group called Compact, which is ostensibly a group of people helping each other to get off the grid, get frugal, find bargains, shop secondhand, eat healthy, compost, etc. I had read a newspaper article about the group and joined, hoping to find links to places to recycle electronics, say, or how to make your own shampoo out of leftover salsa.

There is some useful information, but for the most part, it’s a bunch of self-congratulatory whiners confessing guilt that they bought a pair of pants at Wal Mart. It’s like a 12 step movement that’s not addicted to anything, but wishes it were.

The other day I came across a post that contained the following:

“Shopping at Goodwill when you're making $90k a year looks to me like your (sic) stealing from the poor. I'm really having a hard time reconciling this behavior with the great concern the Compactors have for natural resources and for others (as their behavior relates to pollution and consumption).”

This post lapses into total incoherence in the latter half of the second sentence, and the assertion in the first is among the dumbest things I’ve ever read. It assumes that (a) rich people make a habit of shopping at Goodwill. They don’t. It assumes that (b) a rich person shopping at Goodwill is somehow snapping up items out of the hands of the poor. He isn’t. If a poor person spots the item first, and picks it up, all the rich person can do is gnash his teeth in fury. It assumes that (c) the purpose of Goodwill is to provide low cost items to poor people. It isn’t. Its purpose is to provide low-cost items (donated) to anybody, to benefit its parent non-profit organization.

One of the commenters on this post remarked:

“I would also like to point out that if a person is making regular ‘donations’ of used items to thrift stores, then, well....obviously one could assume that person consumes way too much.”

So if you make too many charitable donations, you’re part of the problem? Hippies. Oh, how I hate you.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Funny Old Blog

Here’s a funny thing.
You know the two Fox journalists who were kidnapped in Gaza? Apparently they promised to be Muslim, if their kidnappers would let them go, then reneged on the promise. You would think that folks would be grateful the reporters weren’t beheaded, much less released, but here’s what the ever-reasonable Debbie Schlussel had to say:

“That they apparently said the Shehadah, the oath to Islam (also known as the oath of Martyrdom) means that if they ever publicly denounce or renounce Islam--as they appear to have done--that is a mortal sin. And they're subject to a death sentence for it. Muslims can never leave the faith, no matter how they joined it. Good luck to them. Hope they have good security.”

And the ever so brave David Warren:

“I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths . . . And the two Fox journalists, whom I will not stoop to name, begged for their lives even though, in retrospect, their lives probably weren't in danger. . . . Men without chests, men without character, men who don't think twice.”

The “whom I will not stoop to name” is a nice touch. I think we don't need more chesty men, though. America's got a surplus of those.

From Hot Air: “As for Centanni, he should be immediately fired from Fox News. I base my view not on the video here, but what he has said since his release, under no duress whatsoever. Let him seek employment with the Islamo-Nazi loving BBC or Al Gaziera.”

Again, this whole Islamo-Nazi thing doesn't sit with me.

“Among other things, Steve Centanni had this to say upon his release yesterday at the love-in with the Hamas leader and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister:

‘I just hope this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover this story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful, kind-hearted, loving people who the world need to know more about and so do not be discouraged. Come and tell the story. It’s a wonderful story. I’m just happy to be here. Thanks for all your support.’”

Of course, at the time of this statement, Mr. Centanni was surrounded by people quite similar to the ones who had kidnapped him in the first place. A chesty man might have said, "Go ahead. Pull the trigger. You don't have guts." A chesty man might haved died.

That Wily Iranian!
First, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a long letter to President Bush, which was dismissed. Then he went on 60 Minutes, and displayed an amazing amount of television presence for an utter loon. Smiling, he beat Mike Wallace to a standstill, responding smoothly to his hardhitting barrage with answers like, "The problem that President Bush has is in his mind he wants to solve everything with bombs. The time of the bomb is in the past. It's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges." It’s all about Bush, you see.

At one point, an assistant even came into the shot to fuss over the President’s suit.

Last week, he challenged President Bush to a debate, to which an unnamed White House official responded, “Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns that the international community, not just the US, has about Iran's behavior, from support to terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."

“See,” the President of Iran seems to be saying, “I’m the reasonable one here.” Except for the wiping Israel off the map stuff. But again, he was probably just kidding.

In other news…
I just read a feature in the Chronicle telling me that Osama bin Laden is, according to the headline, “a dimming terrorist superstar.” The author, John Arquilla, a defense analyst, suggests that the US drop the bounty on him from $25 million to $5 million. “This action would be…making the point that bin Laden is simply less important than he used to be.”

Further, “Those familiar with retail closeout sales or limited-time offers know that they spur shoppers. Closing out the bin Laden bounty may impel a ‘buyer' to step forward.”

They’re not hunting a human! They’re shopping!

Is this shopping too?
From the NYT:
“Now a growing number of couples like the Kingsburys are crossing a new threshold for parental intervention in the genetic makeup of their offspring: They are using P.G.D. to detect a predisposition to cancers that may or may not develop later in life, and are often treatable if they do.

“For most parents who have used preimplantation diagnosis, the burden of playing God has been trumped by the near certainty that diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia will afflict the children who carry the genetic mutation that causes them. …

“Couples like the Kingsburys, by contrast, face an even more complex calibration. They must weigh whether their desire to prevent suffering that is not certain to occur justifies the conscious selection of an embryo and the implicit rejection of those that carry the defective gene.”

In other news…
Rumsfeld told the American Legion last week: "Any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere." Spoken like a man with chest to spare.

Ikea denies!
AP: “Ikea denies speculation that the picture of a dog in the Swedish retailer's new catalogue was doctored to make it appear it had a human penis.”

Weird blogosphere events.
Lee Siegel, a former columnist at The New Republic. A while back I blogged about his assertion that "The blogosphere…radiates democracy's dream of full participation" but is actually “hard fascism with a Microsoft face.” His claims were met with puzzlement and ridicule (further evidence of fascism to Siegel, who wrote: "Two other traits of fascism are its hatred of the process of politics, and the knockabout origins of its adherents.")

Well, he’s been fired. Apparently, he was a “sock puppet.” That is, he created a fictitious persona to attack his critics and defend himself. Posting under the alias of "Sprezzatura" he wrote, among other things, “Every young write [sic] in NYC has it in for poor Siegel it seems. They all write like middle-aged hacks. He has the fire and guts of a young man…” and “I'm a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I'm an editor at a magazine in NYC and he's written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. …And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can't.”

And now he can't write like him either, at least not for The New Republic.

Another weird blogosphere event.
A Tasmanian teen who called herself “Emmalina,” and became an Internet sensation on YouTube, has stopped blogging.

In her last post on YouTubeTalk, she wrote, “Every day I logged in and discovered more and more cruel spoofs, harassing videos, death and rape threats, incredibly nasty comments and God knows what else. I can't take it anymore. YouTube 'popularity' is hell unless you're a f---ing saint with nothing to hide, or you have indestructible confidence.”

Ah, the glory of YouTube.
Neva Chonin, in her wonderful Sunday SF Chronicle column, brought my attention to lonelygirl15 on YouTube. I have not seen all of these things, but Ms. Chonin says she “has a purple monkey hand puppet, a lazy eye and a mysterious shrine to ye olde occultist Aleister Crowley.” Her videos average a million views apiece.

But is she real? Ms. Chonin doubts it. “The narrative sounds formulaic and scripted, and lonegirl15/Bree is not an especially convincing actress.”

I checked out a couple of the videos. Man, are they fake. But I guess such things don’t matter any more.