Thursday, February 26, 2009


Today, while wasting time on facebook rather than working on much more pressing matters, I was invited to join a group planning the apparently-upcoming 10 year reunion of my high school graduating class.

Other than making me feel old, it really just confused me. What is the purpose of these things anyway? Especially in today's technologically-advanced world of the future we live in, can't people just get in touch with those they'd like to be in touch with? Do we really still need to bring people from thousands of miles all over the country to awkwardly sit in a cafeteria and force small talk with people they vaguely recognize?

Maybe it's just me; I have no intention of ever going to high school reunion, but mostly because there's only about 2 people from high school I'm in contact with at all in this stage in life. But I think it's bigger than that -- what is it that compels people to put so much stock in a meaningless social and geographical marker? Why do I supposedly have something in common with people I happen to go to school with a decade ago? More to the point, what could I possibly share with these people that would make me want to waste a weekend hanging out with them? If you miss the people you went to high school with, why don't you just go visit them?

Perhaps I'm just too cynical, but I just can't bring myself to understand why people would want to re-live their teenage years...unless, of course, said teenage years were the peak of these people's lives, as I well suspect they may be. But in that case I would really recommend counseling, not a reunion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Current Internet Meme

So here's a popular little game going through the internet that's quite addictive:

1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “Random" or click
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations" or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”or click The third picture will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.(I recommend

Here's two I've come up with -- this first one is the seminal debut album of shred-metal gods Religious Leaders in 1853, simply entitled "Above all else, wavering loyalty"

Or for a more relaxed listening experience, I recommend the free-jazz sounds of Ma Zun on their latest release "What They Did or Did Not Do"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The World's Greatest Super Group? No, Not at All

Announcing possibly the weirdest supergroup ever formed, Tinted Windows. Featuring former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha on guitar, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, 1/3 of Hanson (Taylor), and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger, it promises to be...weird.

It turns out that Iha and Schlesinger own a recording studio together, so that explains half of it. And then I supposed Cheap Trick ain't so bad, and it's not like there's a great number of concert gigs and album recordings to get in the way of Carlos' free time. But a Hanson brother? Does this mean Hanson became really cool behind my back?

My theory? After the demise of both the Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle, Iha is just wandering around Los Angeles looking for anyone who will play with him...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Thought The Whole Reason We Got This Guy Was Because He Wouldn't Do This

Why does Obama keep mentioning Iran's nuclear-development program despite the fact that government scientists agree that Iran is making no attempt at gaining nuclear capacity?

Why? Because there's a political consensus on the matter. Granted, I definitely did not drink the kool aid on this guy and didn't expect him to be that great, but I really thought we could at least count on him not to the exact same thing Bush did on hostile governments and nuclear proliferation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here's How We Deal With Problems in 'Merica this morning had a lis of the top 5 places you should visit before they're destroyed by global warming.

I can't help but be taken back just a little by that. Not that a mainstream news article finally treats global warming as a given, but that their proposed solution for it is to get in all the normal planet you can before the inevitable happens.

No mention of, say, anything we can do to prevent or combat global warming, just a list of some good tourist sites that will be ruined by our planet's (human-caused) rising temperatures.

Not to say we're partying on a sinking ship, but does anyone else feel like we should maybe do something about the rising water?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nixon: Even More Bat-Shit Crazy Than You Thought

This past December, the Nixon presidential library released its largest collection of archival papers and tapes, revealing even more paranoid insanity from America's most-beloved paranoid crazy president. Now that the library has shifted to federal caretakers (and away from private Nixon loyalists, under whom the only mention of Watergate was a display arguing it was a political coup launched by Nixon's enemies), much more has come to light about Nixon's enemies list and over-all craziness.

My favorite example: Nixon was so obsessed with being loved that he made all civil service employees in the white house remove all pictures of former presidents, including one 41-year veteran of the White House who was forced to remove a picture of Kennedy with a personal inscription.

All of this is searchable online at the museum's website, so feel free to take this president's day afternoon off and regale yourself with irrefutable evidence of the decline of Western civilization...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bongs and Biceps

For any of you following the sporting world, or really even just the news, you know that two of the big stories out right now are that Olympic hero Michael Phelps smoked some weed at a party and Alex Rodriguez used steroids for at least 3 years.

While the A-Rod story is much more recent and the hysteria is still only building, I find it very instructive to look at the punishments handed out in these two cases. Phelps was handed a three-month suspension from the governing body of his sport, while A-Rod has yet to get any more punishment than the usual flack he gets for being a vain, self-serving choke artist.

So just to recap: Phelps uses a relatively harmless drug used by roughly 40% of our population (according to most reputable social data) and receives a three-month suspension from his sport. Rodriguez uses a highly-damaging drug that is both illegal and specifically banned from his sport, and has yet to receive any punishment.

In addition to Phelps' punishment, 8 other people (identified through photos) have been charged with either misdemeanors or felonies, while those who supplied A-Rod have escaped both detection and punishment.

Again to recap:
Smoking weed: 9 people punished extensively
Using steroids to score a $252 million contract: 0 people punished

Is it not time to at least start a conversation about where our nation's priorities are on drug use?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ever Wonder What Kids Like?

Well, wonder no more, for there are marketing executives to tell you exactly what teenagers think and like!

I'm not sure what creeps me out/sickens me the most about this...the sickening marketing of our children? The screaming obviousness of all of it presented as if it were a novel concept? The fact that someone got paid to do this?

No, I think I'm going to go with the pseudo-science aspect of it. It always makes me laugh when people look down on those of us in the social sciences as if we're not real sciences, and claim that those of us in the academy don't really do any work or real research. But that's not it at all; we're all just in the wrong field.

If someone tried to turn in that "research" to any sociology journal, they'd be laughed at so hard they'd [insert folksy saying about what happens to someone being laughed at here]. But if you do that same shoddy research and call yourself a marketer, you not only get paid 10 times as much as a professional sociologist, but for some reason you're seen as a productive a valuable member of society, as opposed to an ivory-tower egghead that doesn't know what they're doing.

Far be it from me to suggest something so radical, but it almost feels as if we as a people have skewed set of priorities...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not That It Needs to Be Pointed Out...

But despite the election of a bi-racial president, it turns out racism is not actually dead.

A political cartoon from the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Is Baseball Forever Ruined?

An interesting sky-is-falling piece on the state of baseball in light of A-Rod's positive steroid test. While I don't quite agree that the sport is indelibly ruined because of yet another hulking man-monster being revealed as a steroid user (much like with Bonds or Giambi, it's not that hard to tell something's going on when a skinny guy suddenly morphs into a muscular giant, but it does make some interesting points. As Stark points out, if A-Rod's steroid connection keeps him out of the Hall, which is likely considering the fate of McGwire and (likely) Sosa, this means the owners of the following statistical categories will not be in the baseball Hall of Fame:

The all time hits leader (Pete Rose)

The single season home run leader (Bonds)

The all-time home-run leader (Bonds)

The most 60 home-run seasons (Sosa)

The winningest right-handed pitcher of the modern era (Clemens)

The person who will probably break the all-time home-run record (A-Rod)

As I said, I don't think this will permanently destroy the game of baseball, but it is pretty weird that the holders of most of the major records in the sport will never be in the Hall of Fame...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Ahh, the first fake spring of winter

High in Minneapolis today: 40

This marks the second week in a row we will have had two days in the 40s. And as much as I like those days, in some ways I wish they just wouldn't come in the first place, because I know that there's still plenty of February left, and that it'll probably go back to -20 next week. All this one day of nice weather does is give us false hope that maybe the rest of winter won't be so bad.

But I figure the cold weather makes us a better a heartier people out here, so maybe this is just another wrinkle of nature trying to test us even further with the mocking taunt that for a lot of people, this weather is as bad as winter gets, not the most beautiful day in months...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Beware the Gopher!

The Emaciated Gopher sounded the first warning shots to the University of Minnesota yesterday, as 70-some grad students marched against poverty-level wages and exorbitant student fees. The University responded with a Bush-administration flunky who says that making far less than the federal poverty level is something we should be grateful for. But only for grad students, not for, say, the 7th highest paid college president in the nation. Check out some surprisingly good media coverage of the event here (with some nice video):

Monday, February 02, 2009

Poor Kurt

So the Cardinals didn't win the Super Bowl (apparently Kurt Warner doesn't love Jesus quite as much as he says he does), but they at least made it a better game than I think most people were expecting of them. But what do you think people, was it enough to punch Warner's ticket to the Hall of Fame?

I think fact, I think it should have been a settled matter before the game. He may not have won, but he (and the rest of the Cards) at least proved it wasn't a flue that they got there, and had one or two lucky breaks gone the other way, they would easily be Super Bowl champs right now. And considering that Big Ben now has two rings and a long career ahead of him, he's probably Hall-bound in his future as well.

That makes it a Super Bowl meeting of two probable Hall of Fame QBs, one from Louisville and one from the University of Northern Iowa. Either way, it was a banner day for fans of the little guys...