Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Knew This Was Coming...

For all those who laugh at you when you warn of the impending zombie apocalypse, you can now tell them to stuff it, because this shit's coming. Check out this sign from an Austin roadway:

Sure, "the news" claims it was college pranksters, but we all know it was the work of courageous heroes attempting to warn as all.

But the best part of the news article linked to above? They feature a link to a website for zombie pin ups, you know, in case you're really excited about the coming invasion...

Why Billy Joel Sucks

The Missus and I got into an argument once over Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" when she praised it for being so creative. I countered with the notion that it's not creative at all, it's just listing things that happened in the 20th century in no particular order and occasionally rhyming. It has no consistency, no timeline, no over-arching narrative, no commentary on what's happening (other than the insightful "wow! isn't the world a crazy place where stuff always happens?"),'s just a meaningless recitation of major events and completely inconsequential events he threw in for reasons of cadence and rhyme.

And even then, the lyrics are fucking ridiculous. Listen to the song and really pay attention to it -- half the things he mentions are just people's names he throws out, and half of those people really don't warrant it. For instance, Bob Dole?!? What exactly was Bob Dole's impact on the fire of the world (which keeps on turning)? Being a forgettable Senator and handily losing a presidential election?

And what finally pushes Mr. Joel over the cliff at the end of the song? Nuclear paranoia? Mid-east turmoil? The savings and loan crisis?

Nope. The cola wars. Pepsi vs. Coke.

Do what you will to the world, says Billy Joel, but don't pit two innocent sodas against each other like that. How can we collectively live with ourselves after the billions of dollars in property damage and thousands of lives lost in that meaningless war?

For further proof, check out this great article detailing why Billy Joel sucks so much more than other similarly shitty pop musicians.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And There Goes The Last Lingering Bits of My Childhood Innocence...

Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson, has not only at donated over $10 million to the Church of Scientology, she is lending her voice, posing as Bart, in a series of robocalls inviting people to convert to Scientology:

I don't know if it's sadder that she's doing this, or that it's gotten to point where I laugh at the idea of Bart Simpsons' likeness being able to sell people anything...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Better Start Funding a Missile Defense Program

A New Zealand man spent $9 on a generic mp3 player at a thrift store and came home with something chock full of military secrets, including troop positions (as well as the home phone numbers and addresses of many soldiers) as well as weapons movements and other very sensitive information. Astute readers will remember that this is far form the first time this has happened; a few years back a laptop was lost containing private information about thousands of soldiers.

And yes, I know everyone makes mistakes and blah, blah, blah, but how does this seriously continue to happen? But an even more pertinent question is why do we outspend the rest of the world combined on our Armed Forces when we're attacked by men with box cutters and it only take 9 bucks at a thrift store to get military secrets?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!

'Tis the year of the Ox. So...go be ox-y today.

This is going to be this dude's best year ever, according to the Chinese

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Never Overlook Those Panthers

As the humble li'l University of Northern Iowa Panthers notched a comeback victory over the pesky Bradley Braves last night to remain atop the Missouri Valley Conference (and in line for its automatic tourney bid), our greatest export is prepping for another Super Bowl, only this time with the Cardinals.

When Kurt Warner came into the league and burst onto the scene with a freakish first season as a starter, those of us familiar with his resume on the now-defunct Iowa Barnstormers knew it was no aberration. But soon he got the injury bug, got bounced from the Rams, was signed by the Giants to be a mentor to Eli, and then shipped to Arizona to live out his golden years as so many over-the-hill Americans do.

Except he's come back to show that his time on top the league was no fluke and that he's always been a great quarterback. But over on, Kerry Byrne argues that the pride of Panther nation is actually a better quarterback than the vaunted Peyton Manning.

Yeah, even I didn't believe it when I saw the headline, but he makes a good case -- Warner has a better career passer rating, a better post-season passer rating, a better post-season record, has been to more Super Bowls (with arguable worse teams), and has thrown more post-season touchdowns, despite playing in five fewer playoff games. If he had been in the NFL his entire career, we can only ponder the kind of eye-popping stats he could have put up by now.

Which all goes to confirm what I've been saying since the Cards became a decent team this season -- if Warner isn't an automatic first-ballot Hall of Fame QB, then I don't know who is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Capitalism Kills...Quite Literally

A recent article in the British medical journal The Lancet argues that well over 1,000,000 Eastern European working-class men have died as a result of the transition to capitalism. Yup, over 1,000,000 (for a good summary of what this means, check out this article.)

Say what you will about the Soviet Union (and there's plenty to say; it wasn't necessarily that great of a place to be), but this certainly has to put a bit of a fly in the ointment of the "free market cures everything" crowd. Sure, in the Soviet Union people couldn't get McDonalds, but they could get free health care and guaranteed employment. And they didn't die at the clip of 1,000,000+ people a decade.

This is not to defend Soviet-style socialism -- which if we really wanted to get into it, I could argue had long ago stopped being socialism -- but to point out how ludicrous it is that we leave life-and-death matters like health care and food supply to be apportioned out by a make-believe fairy tale we call the market instead of using common sense measures to make sure everyone has enough food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc. to maintain at least a modicum of livable existence.

After all, why is it that a corrupt, bureaucratic totalitarian government could do a better job of feeding and caring for its citizens than, say, the most powerful nation on earth, where over 90 million people are under-insured or have no health insurance at all?

Just because the Soviets screwed up communism when they tried it doesn't make it bad idea...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So Yeah...Fuck That Guy

I think the reality of Bush being out of office really hit me last night as I watched the Daily Show, the final Daily Show of the administration. As most people who do so, I was first getting seriously into politics when I was in college. My freshman year Bush was elected and the Daily Show was just beginning its steep climb to respectability. And through the course of this administration, the Daily Show has probably done the best job of pointing out the odious mixture grave stupidity and arrogant, unearned confidence that have so marked this administration, and I couldn't help but note a bit of melancholy in their coverage of the last night of Bush.

And really, what more is there to say? The man and his administration have fucked up pretty much everything they've touched, and it really isn't that radical to suggest that Bush will be remembered as one of, if not the, worst presidents ever. Even people who voted for him twice (twice!) don't even bother to defend him anymore. And both he and Cheney, in all of their exit interviews and speeches, have not even pretended to show remorse. I don't have nearly as much Hope™ for the new guy as a lot of people do, but we can all agree that getting those bastards out of power is good first step toward making things better. Other than that, what bad things can I say about the guy that haven't already been said and won't be said again and again for many years to come? Not too many.

So, yeah...fuck that guy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Not Sure It Was Ever There to Begin With, But...

If you were under the misguided impression that "art" had anything to do with the making and packaging of movies anymore, the New Yorker has a great article detailing the horrible, horrible process of marketing major studio films.

Whether it be through making sure the African-American character stands at profile on the movie poster so as to make his race "indiscriminate" or not releasing the trailer for a chick flick until it "tugs on the ovary," the article is full of factual nuggets explaining how we, the movie-going public, are nothing but easily programmable idiots. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hill Billy Music Day

Over the past year, I've managed to acquire a fairly nice banjo and an incredibly beautiful hard-top mandolin. However, I've had extremely little time to practice. That, coupled with my growing love of all things Gram Parsons, has had me itching to find the time necessary to get at least decent enough to play them along with others.

As such, with the girlfriend on vacation and the roommate out of town, I am having the first of what hopefully will become annual event -- Hill Billy Music Day. I got myself a fifth of whiskey and am locking myself in the house all day, doing nothing but slowly draining that bottle (well, not the whole bottle) and becoming proficient at the banjo and mandolin in the process.

You know, there's a great deal of challenge and stress in academia, but it's also the kind of job that allows you to take the occasional week day off for drinking and making music. And that's my kind of job...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Cool on The Internets These Days? A Round-Up

No time for a full post this morning, but I do have some pretty sweet links I came across if you are trying to waste some time and/or educate yourself (but really, waste time):

First, over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald gives a great breakdown of how Thomas Friedman and the other flunkies at the New York Times are explicitly advocating terrorism.

If you are also on your third cup of coffee this morning (I really, really need to cut back), then you may be soon seeing the dead (in hallucinations; you're not going to die least, as far as I know).

Finally, are you racist? Sexist? Judge people based on their religion? No? Maybe you just don't admit it. Find out here at Harvard's handy tool for diagnosing subconscious prejudice.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In How Many Ways Can One Urinate?

I recently received a questionable parking ticket (but aren't they all questionable?) inside of which there was a little green card telling me my case could be dismissed if I entered in the Restorative Justice Community Action program. Of course, I wasn't eligible for such a program because my fine was only $34 and it says in giant bold letters on the flier that this program is for non-traffic offenses only (which makes one wonder why it's included in a parking ticket...), but I'm glad such programs exist. Most of the eligible offenses (drinking in public, loud music, loud dog, loitering, posession of a small amount of marijuana, etc.) are the exact kind of minor crimes I would argue are best punished by community service and no record, rather than an excessive fine and damaging criminal record.

But what interests me most about the list of offenses is that there is not one, not two, but three separate categories of public urination. You can be charged with disorderly conduct public urination, indecent conduct public urination, and indecent exposure public urination. I suppose I can guess the difference between the last two, but I'm not quite sure what the difference is between indecent and disorderly conduct.

A quick google search failed to shed any light on the definitional differences, but with my limited knowledge of the criminal justice system, I know there's likely a very hazy delimitation of what makes one's urination more indecent than disorderly. Either way, though, there's something to think about the next time you really need to go and there's no bathroom in sight, because you may be committing somewhere in the neighborhood of three crimes at the same time...

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Post for the New Year

It's been quite a while (two weeks, to be exact) since I've been on this thing, blogging out my li'l rants and various ramblings to the great information super highway. What can I say, other than a much needed mental vacation was taking place. But alas, I'm back to soul-crushing grind of my regular life, and as such will be posting with regularity again.

This was, however, one of those breaks where nothing really interesting happened. Don't get me wrong, it was a good time hanging out and catching up with family, but that doesn't exactly make for scintillating copy. I've got a good dozen half-written posts waiting to be finished, so I will have new and/or interesting content soon, but for the meantime, enjoy this obit of the man who provided Hattie Carroll with her lonesome death...