Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sorry, Busy End To The Semester

So it dawned on me today that I've not updated this in a couple of week's, which more-or-less defeats the purpose of having a blog. My excuse is that I'm really busy because of the end of the semester and job applications and all of those fun things.

So instead of something witty and clever, I'll give you some happy Christmas news: R. Kelly has apparently written 32 new chapters of his magnum opus "opera" Trapped in the Closet. For the uninitiated, Trapped is a Dada-esque tale of cheating, violence, redemption, and midgets farting, all told in a completely non-linear and oft-impossible to follow story. Basically, it's like listening to any R Kelly album, only slightly more insane.

But before you get too excited, apparently Kells is having some money issues and doesn't have the scratch to film it yet. So instead, take your time to review and digest all the brilliance of the original 22 chapters with this handy flow chart to explain the action:

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What Do Hipster Children Eat?

As a poor child who grew up eating lunchables, I'm jealous of how the other half eats...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

How Solid Is Your NFL Faith?

Now that Brett Favre is truly and honestly retired for what appears to be for good (there's roughly a billion NFL teams that need a QB right now and he's still not playing), there's no one left for the gushing sports media to slobber over. Sure, there's Tom Brady and his all-American good looks, an there's Aaron Rodgers and his dominance, but none of them inspire the same all-around worship as the ol' gunslinger.

But maybe there's hope on the rise, as Tim Tebow has come along and is already starting to get the ridiculously over-the-top, unearned adulation. To explain the process to people who don't know how to properly genuflect to the appointed leaders of sport, here's a NFL Chick Trak to inspire you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Make It Really Hard To NOT Point Out Your Blatant Racism

After Alabama passed HB56, their own version of Arizona's SB1070 (the "show me your papers" bill), it was roundly criticized as racist by those opposing it (as was Arizona's). Yet defenders of the bill(s) were quick to point out there was nothing racist about the bill(s); after all, the bill(s) don't make it illegal to be hispanic, they say, they only increase the attention paid to people who are in this country without legal documentation. Now, if it happens to target Hispanics more than any other group, they claim, well then maybe those darn Hispanics should keep their noses clean and stay out of trouble.

This is a classic racist ploy -- as long as you dress your racism up in neutral language, you always have plausible deniability. After all, there's no way to prove either HB56 or SB1070 were designed to harass and intimidate Hispanics. But in practice, it seems Hispanics continue to bear the brunt of these measures -- remember, about half of all undocumented immigrants in American hail from Europe, and yet somehow very few Europeans are being arrested or harassed under these statutes.

But sometimes events happen that just really pull the curtain back on all of these shenanigans. Events like when a German executive of Mercedes-Benz in the states for a meeting at one of the company's manufacturing plants near Tuscaloosa is arrested. The officer at the scene did what was required of him and brought in the executive to be detained while his immigration status was investigated.

So here's a perfect example for the it's-not-racist crowd: a white person, nay, a rich white person, was subjected to detention and search under this apparently not racist law. What a chance to trumpet the law as color-blind and status-blind! You see critics? It's not a tool to harass and intimidate (largely poor) people of color, it's applied to everyone!

And yet, their reaction could not have been farther than that. Rather than see this as one of the many examples they love of their law in action, a group of Republican representatives has already called for rewriting portions of HB56. Presumably to include the direction that even though this is not a racist law, it's not supposed to apply to white people...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dear Police Brutality: Zing

This photo has caused quite a bit of shock lately to people who don't regularly follow issues in American policing (to those of us who do, it's neither surprising nor shocking). It's a member of the UC Davis campus police casually point-blank pepper-spraying a group of non-violent and non-confrontational demonstrators who had not left when told to disperse. I say it's not a surprise to people who follow such things because many police have gone on record already saying this is  standard procedure.

Amid calls that the officer, his superiors, and even the university president should be fired or step down over the incident, the internet has sprung to action to get a more immediate, if somewhat less satisfying, retribution on the officer responsible. His phone number and address are now widely-available public knowledge, and he's become an internet meme -- the casually pepper spray everything cop.

And while this is what it is -- fairly juvenile mocking of someone who arguably deserves it -- it shows one of the internet's greatest collective powers these days. While retribution of any meaningful kind will probably never come to this guy or those issuing the orders (police have such incredibly strong unions that firing them is nearly impossible), at least we can take comfort in the fact that this guy is now a world-wide punchline and poster boy for police abuse. And that's something...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas is Coming

And I have found the only present I ever want. If you buy me this Whiskey dispensing machine, you officially win the abstract concept of "friendship" for now and all time:

The Happiest Person Ever Photographed

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jeffy Calls Meatballs "Meatbulbs"

Bill Keane, the creator of Family Circus, died this past week. Not to speak ill of the dead, but from a young age, I've always thought of him as one of the greatest con men to have ever existed. After all, he took one of the most bland and unoriginal creations ever and spun it into a life long job and million-dollar empire. Somehow he was able to keep getting paid in exchange for cranking out trite and repetitive comics of children pronouncing words wrong and their creepy grandfather spying on them from a heaven in which everyone inexplicably wears potato sacks and rope belts.

The small solace we can take in this travesty of a man making millions for being actively stupid while we work actual jobs for much lower pay is that it is both easy and fun to mock this shitty comic mercilessly. One of the best examples is the Nietzsche Family Circus, pictured above. But even better is this classic list of reviews of one of the Family Circus books. Coming from the era before Amazon tightly controlled the reviews and comments on its website, these little gems represent some of the earliest (and best) snarky destruction the web has become so good for.

At least Keane's survivors can take solace in the fact that these comics both seem to write themselves and people somehow keep reading them, so they will be wealthy for generations to come...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ha, ha! Suckers!

As regular readers know, I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the tail end of my degree program. This means I'm supposed to start looking for a job. But applying for and interviewing for academic jobs is not like most jobs. It's like another job in and of itself in terms of the sheer volume of documents and proposals and whatnot they expect out of you.

Since it's such a big process, I decided to try it this year, just so I could learn how it was done when I went back and did it for real the next year. Well, somewhere along the way I must have learned it well enough, because I actually have a job interview. This was completely unexpected.

And while it's mostly terrifying, because I rarely if ever feel prepared for big life events, it's also pretty damn good news. So this is what Dog and I sounded like pretty much all morning after I got the e-mail inviting me out for an interview:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Simpsons Predict Reality Again

As I've noted before, the Simpsons is quite adept at predicting the future. The ol' "life imitates art," if you will. Well, it turns out they've done it again.

As any Simpsons fan will know, there's a three-eyed fish (or multiple three-eyed fish, it's unclear) swimming the waters near the Springfield nuclear power plant. In one episode, Bart caught this fish, which Mr. Burns, in an hilariously apt take on standard pr practices, named Blinky and claimed he had an evolutionary advantage with his third eye.

Well, whether an actor portraying Charles Darwin will come forward an suggest this fish is somehow superior to others, but fishermen in Córdoba, Argentina have caught a three-eyed fish near a nuclear power plant.

This really leaves us no other option than to spend the rest of the day contemplating what other Simpsons episodes will soon come to pass...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sigh...Long Break Again

Oh wonderful and intelligent blog readers, how I have failed you. This fall has been particularly busy as I attempt to start writing my dissertation, and as such, incredibly important things like blogging have fallen by the wayside. But I make this commitment to you dear readers -- there will now be pretty regular content on this here interwebs site.

As regular readers recall, last month was Healthy October. Having now mastered completely every form of healthy living, I turn to my scholastic endeavors with Studious November. Gone are late nights watching t.v. or playing video games. Gone too are weeknights spent with friends or doing anything remotely enjoyable. For if I am to finish this dissertation any time in the near future, I need to get back to working an absurd amount every day.

But on the plus side, all of this sitting frustrated at a computer will give me both the time and material to pump out regular blog posts again. So please, cancel your suicide plans and ignore your family, job, and all other appointments. This blog once again exists and demands your attention.

In the meantime, here is a picture of a literal Wall Street fat cat:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Them Wall Street Protests

Been super busy lately, so blogging has gone back down to the bottom of my priorities list. And I really feel like I should have posted something by now about the occupy movement, but such is life sometimes.

Though trust me, that will happen eventually, for now I don't have the time to say anything too insightful about it that hasn't already been said (though I will soon! I promise!), so instead I'm going to take the cheap cop-out and link to someone else writing about it instead.

Several versions of this kind of argument have been making the rounds of the facetubes and twitbooks and whatever else the kids are using these days, but I think this one stands out for being well-written and from a reputable source. That being said, I direct your attention to Four Charts That Explain What The Protestors Are Angry About.

Obviously you can go read the article yourself, but the gist of it is that while minimum wage and real incomes (inflation adjusted) for the bottom 40% have declined and barely risen, respectively, corporate profits have skyrocketed, and executive compensation and incomes for the top earners have experienced similar sharp growths.

While the income disparity angle is interesting enough, I think the corporate profits chart explains the problem even more succinctly. The wave of outsourcing and off-shoring in the 80s was justified by businesses as an attempt to stay afloat and keep pace in a hectic global market. And if that actually were the case, then asking for some concessions from workers would be a reasonable option. But since they were all actually seeing record profits...well, I don't mean to sound too cynical, but this may indicate that not only were these businesses maybe not being super truthful, they also were literally lining their pockets with money stolen from the pockets of workers.

And this is why people are angry.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

This Proves Pretty Much Everything I've Been Saying...

Headline from today's newspaper: With immunity ruled out, U.S. troops unlikely to stay in Iraq past 2011.

This is so blatantly ludicrous, I don't even know where to start. It's one of those crazy moments where the powers that be accidentally tell the truth, and for people like me, those moments are always simultaneously exhilarating (they're telling the truth! and I was right!) but yet completely depressing (shit! I was right about all the horrible things they're doing!).

For those who don't wan to read the article, the gist is that the Iraqi government, because of the many, many straight-up homicides, rapes, and other incredibly illegal and immoral actions of US soldiers and contractors, will no longer grant a blanket immunity to all US military personnel and instead will now prosecute them for illegal acts (crazy, I know). And now because the US military does not get to do whatever it wants whenever it wants wherever it wants, it's taking its ball and going home like the spoiled child it is.

This is also pretty concrete proof that the many problems and legal violations of the invasion were systemic, and not the fault of those classic "few bad apples." Because if only a "few bad apples" were breaking the law, you wouldn't really need blanket immunity from all prosecutions. Hell, if it truly were just a "few bad apples," wouldn't you want legal prosecution of them, to show how upstanding and law-abiding the rest of you are?

But maybe I'm being too cynical. Maybe no laws were ever broken by any military personnel or contractors. But if I'm wrong about this, I'd sure like to hear an explanation of why the refusal to extend immunity is the reason why they're finally packing up and going home, because I'm just not smart enough to figure out any other way those two things are connected...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

To Whip It or Not To Whip It

As any long time reader of this blog will know, I am sucker for every possible type of graph, flow chart, venn diagram, or other such smart-ass way of graphically depicting things from pop culture.

So, for instance, if you're worried about whether Mothersbaugh and company would advise you to whip it or not, well, worry no more:

Monday, October 03, 2011

Announcing Healthy October

Part 5  in the Bottoming Out and Moving Onwards Series. Find Part 1 here, Part 2 here,  Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

Pictured: Me?
It turns out that being depressed isn't particularly good for your health. I'm sure there's all sorts of scientific studies or some such thing that say this, but I'm sure it's more than obvious to anyone who's gone through a shitty point in their life, which would be pretty much everyone, I assume.

Anyway, as part of bottoming out in life this summer, I more-or-less abandoned every even semi-healthy activity there is. So little things like exercise and eating food that contains nutrients were replaced by drinking heavily, eating shitty fast food, sitting on my ass all day, and then some more heavy drinking. As such, I've gotten a little soft around the edges. And by "soft around the edges" I mean fat and lazy.

And while getting into shape and living healthily really aren't that hard, it is often hard to start doing them, mostly because living unhealthily and being fat are super duper easy.

After a few false starts, I've decided to arbitrarily pick the beginning of October as the time I would get serious about this, and take it super seriously for a month -- the month of healthy October. The idea being that if I take getting back into somewhat healthy habits really seriously for a month it will pretty much maintain itself after that.

So for the rest of this month, it's going to be making all my food at home, and mostly fruits and vegetables and all those sorts of things at that; knocking out the unhealthy snack foods completely; maintaining a regular exercise routine; and cutting back on the drinking. I figure, do all that for a month with strict discipline, and that's got to be good enough to get back into fighting shape.

The end of healthy October will be marked by Halloween, during which I will drink heavily and eat a lot of shitty food.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Gots To Get Paid, Son

Man, has it really been nearly a month since I last blogged?

According to the records on this website, yes. Sorry about that.

But I have a damn good excuse, and this time it's not nearly as mopey -- I've been busy putting together job applications. And not just any job applications, but applications to get a real big boy professor job.

And not too surprisingly, before a university hires you to be a professor, they expect a lot of information from you. A lot.

Like upwards of 20 or so pages of essays, commentaries, past work, etc. And then, of course, writing samples and all sorts of other fun stuff on top of that.

So I've been doing little else but working on those things for the past few weeks. But I'm starting to see a scant amount of light at the end of the tunnel, telling me I must be getting close to finished with them. OF course, these are the kinds of things that are never actually finished, so I guess I mean I'm getting close to a place where I fine with other people reading them and judging me based on their contents.

With out getting into the inside baseball of academia, the kicker of this is that I'm fully expecting not to get any job offers from this group of applications. Hell, I'd be pretty surprised if I even got an interview out of it.

So really this is all just getting me some valuable life experience. Or something like that. And if there's one thing I've learned in my short time on this earth, it's that life experience usually involves something being a frustrating pain in the ass...

Friday, September 09, 2011

It Seems To Be a More-Or-Less Weekly Event

It sure does seem to be a regular event these days that some sort of righteously anti-gay politician or preacher is found buying meth and having gay sex in a public restroom, or hiring a gay prostitute to go on vacation with them, or employing some form of wide stance that only coincidentally appears exactly the same as gay code for anonymous sex in an airport bathroom.

But at this point, who can even keep track of these guys anymore? Hell, it's stopped even being that much of a surprise when one of these guys is accidentally out. It seems more like the burden of proof is now on homophobic politicians to prove they're not actually secretly gay.

Well, if you're having as much trouble keeping track of all of the hypocrites as I am, there's a handy new resource: It's a simple compendium of all known hypocritically anti-gay politicians who were either outed or admitted to their sexuality. It also features a nice running tally of the number of days since a prominent homophobe was embroiled in a gay sex scandal. You know, so you can accurately decide who won the Ted Haggard office pool.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

No, They Certainly Don't

Here's the most entertaining tumblr I've found in a long time (occasionally NSFW): Boobs Don't Work That Way.

It's a nice little compendium of pretty much the biggest problem with comic books/anime. The representation of women in comic books is a lot like the problems I have with corporate sports as they exist today.

Because I enjoy both greatly. And like modern corporate sports, there's actually a lot more to comics than skeptics and the disinterested give them credit for. It's been years since Alan Moore and his ilk took comic books to the realm of respectable art, but many people still dismiss them as pulp or useless. So, much like I find myself when discussing sports with the educated elite that populate our nation's higher-learning institutions, I'm often stuck defending comic books to people who think they're at best a waste of time, at worst, some sort of blight on humanity.

But again like it is with major sports, there's some things about comics I just can't defend, the absurdly and aggressively sexist portrayal of pretty much all women in them (when they're even there) being foremost among them. And like most of the shitty things about modern sports, this incredible sexism is completely unnecessary and obnoxiously pointless, not to mention, giving them a bad name and an easy excuse for dismissal by those already inclined to ignore them.

I suppose that's a lesson of life though; there's really nothing you can support that doesn't have some obnoxious shit you have to apologize for...

Monday, September 05, 2011

Family Man or Incompetent Man-Child?

Part 4 in the Bottoming Out and Moving Onwards Series. Find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Traveling abroad is great for providing examples of socialization, because being in another culture lays bare how truly so many of our rather fundamental beliefs are essentially arbitrary. This is not to say that many of them aren't quite good ideas or ways of doing things, just that there are plenty of other great ideas and ways to accomplish things, and why you chose one over another is mostly dependent on the society you grew up in.

Take living with you parents, for example.

In the recent years, there's been a bunch of panicky articles about this in the American media; 20/30 somethings who had moved out of the house were moving back in because of the tough economy. The articles especially focused on college graduates who had to move back in with their parents after college because they couldn't find any work. I'm sure there was even some cutesy nickname attached to it, like re-nesters, or something like that. I don't care nearly enough to search for it.

Anyway, the point is that these people moving back in with their parents were not only seen as quite an abnormal development, they were seen as some sort of commentary on our society. Some posited them as a sign of how bad our recession is. Others claimed that kids today just refuse to grow up, what with their cartoons and their music and their invasions they just can't stop fighting and whatnot. But all of them saw this as an inherently negative or backward step for both these young adults and, more-or-less, the country.

Because we have a powerful cultural narrative in American about what it means to be an adult. And for the vast majority of people here, this means leaving the home at 18, probably getting a degree of some kind, buying a house, getting married, having kids, etc. But all of these latter steps are predicated on the idea that you've left your parents house.

Where I was overseas, the situation was the exact opposite. Many people only left their house when they got married, if they even left the house at all. And because of various cultural, religious, and economic restraints, younger sons and daughters may have to wait a long time to get married. Most people I met were prety surprised to learn I was no longer living with my parents at the tender young age of 28, what with the fact I was neither married nor had any children. Who cooked for me? How did I manage a household? Etc.

So really, this is just two versions of ways to do things, specifically where to live. Neither of them is inherently good or bad (they both have their upsides and downsides), but we tend to think the one we do is normal and that doing it another way is odd at the very least, horribly wrong at the worst.

It's also a good example of how understanding how a social process works in no way prevents you from being a part of it, whether you want to or not. So I know, for instance, that living with your parents or not is essentially an arbitrary cultural script, so it's not really anything to worry about it. But I live in this particular cultural context that says it's odd. So anytime it comes up that I lived with my parents for most of the summer, I'm quick to explain how it was a really unique circumstance, it wasn't for a long term, etc.

And that, of course, is if the subject is even brought up in the first place. Because even though I've never felt judged by anyone about this and they always understand (especially when I offer my now well-rehearsed explanation), I can still feel how out of step with the normal cultural script this is and feel pressured to explain why I've deviated.

Though of course now I'm living on my own again like a grown up, so I can just pretend it never happened...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Marvel At My Semi-Competent Adulthood

Part 3 in the Bottoming Out and Moving Onwards Series. Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Blogging has been quite spare lately because the day has finally arrived -- by the end of this very day, I should be fully moved out of my mommy and daddy's house. So this past week has been a blur of packing and all the other mishegas that goes with moving.

While were I live likely has little to do with how successfully I put my life back together, there's definitely some psychological benefit to no longer doing something pretty widely regarding a marking you as a failure in life.

So by the next time you read this humble li'l blog, I'll be out living on my own, like a big boy...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Football Team Do You Support?

I've apparently been on quite the flowchart kick lately, so here's yet another one. If you're lost on which NFL team you'd like to support in the upcoming season, here you go:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back To School Time

Just in time for heading back to campus, might I present the 10 douchiest colleges in America.

I'm...proud? say there's 3 Big 10 schools on the list, making us by far the most well represented college conference.

Though this list has surprisingly little overlap with the top 10 party schools lists, which you assume would also draw in a significant amount of douche bags. Not to say I'm questioning the methodology or results of such a precise scientific endeavor, but it does seem a little suspect...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In 1992, I Could Have Reproduced This Poster From Memory

I grew up when professional wrestling was in its death throes, but wasn't the horrid wasteland it is today. Sure, the great regional leagues had all been picked clean by Vince McMahon and the like, but at least there were still fun and colorful characters, like fighting garbage men and angry barbers. Of course, there were some horrible racial stereotypes, but I assume that's still going on in wrestling and has really always been a mainstay of the sport.

But the reason I complain about wrestling today is not just the insidiously sexist/homophobic corporate clusterfuck nature of it, but the fact that all of the fun and mostly wholesome names and characters have been lost in favor of characters who are just aggressively dumb and sexist.

But via the always entertaining deadspin, here's a definitive taxonomy of professional wrestling names (click to enlarge):

Monday, August 15, 2011

They May Be Crazy, But Their Method May Still Be Sound

So of all things, I recently read an interesting interview with the Public Information Officer for the Madison Police Department. Apparently when it's a slow day or a really interesting case comes down the pipe, Joel DeSpain writes a ripping good police incident report for it, such as this one of a possible rapture situation.

This made me instantly think of two quite divergent thoughts. The first is of a Patton Oswalt bit from his slightly over-rated Werewolves and Lollipops. He says there are certain towns like Madison or Austin that are so incredibly weird and encapsulated in their own little world that you either need to get out quite young, or never leave. Because if you try to leave as an adult, the rest of the normal world will be completely bewildering to you ("You mean I can't pay for this sandwich with a song?" "No. You literally cannot do that.").

And so it makes sense this DeSpain guy works for the Madison PD. Only in Madison do you have a couple of cops get called out to some annoying little cutesy stunt and instead of getting pissed off and angrily cleaning it up while grumbling about the God damned kids these days, they pass it along to this guy, who spins a fantastical tale of whimsy about it. I feel like this man would be beaten up in many other departments.

But the other thought was that things like this are not such a bad idea. Because really, a lot of what causes the perceived/ real (there's some significant arguments about which of those it really is) hostility, or at least distance, between the general public and the police comes down to the perception of police as dicks. And while some certinaly are, I'd argue the vast majority are not.

But I would argue the vast majority of police are pretty humorless, at least when attending to official police business. And the complete lack of humor and self-awareness, while probably aimed at being professional, certainly doesn't do anything to combat the appearance of just being jerks. Which again, I argue most police are not.

So maybe finding ways to inject some levity into the police world, as well as allow the public some glimpse into the often absurd/surreal world of policing, might break down that real (or possibly only perceived) divide.

But the fanciful NPR-oriented-humorist-style police reports? Yeah, that will probably only work in Madison...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Am Officially Living A Country Music Song

Part 2 in the Bottoming Out and Moving Onwards Series. Find Part 1 here.

By any metric, this has not been a particularly good summer for me. Which makes it even more of a bummer, because Minnesota summer is something to look forward to. Nay, something to dream about. A shitty winter? No sweat, it's already pretty shitty. A shitty spring? No problem, for you have summer to look forward as you dig out of it. A shitty fall? Not that great, since I love fall and all, but at least the slowly decaying life around you thematically highlights your self-pity. But a shitty summer? That's just straight up shitty.

But being the eternal optimist I am, I've been joking that at least there's a couple of country music songs to get out of my misery. And this past weekend, that became so much more true. On my way up to the Pine Country Demolition Derby, my poor li'l purple car finally died. Well, it didn't die, but the clutch blew out, and would cost far more to replace than that piece of shit is worth, so the unfortunate decision was made to junk it.

In addition to all the memories of my 16 year-old baby, I now am without a car, which fully completes the country song. To recap my summer: my fiance left me, I'm flat broke, and my car died. So help me God, if something happens to my dog, I'm officially done with life.

R.I.P. Li'l Purple Car

Friday, August 05, 2011

Your Pic For Friday

I don't know if the following image is photo-shopped or not, but supposedly this is a pic from the Simpsons store at Universal Studios:

I choose to believe it's real, because this is the kind of world I want to live in...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bottoming Out and Moving Onwards (And Possibly Upwards)

So it's been well over  a month since I last blogged, and it's about time to get back into the game. Why the extremely long layoff, you ask? Or, more accurately, you will eventually ask someday when you stop by to check if I've ever updated this.

The short version of the story: as regular readers know, I was overseas all spring. About a week and a half after getting back, my fiancee left me. In addition to taking the shattered remains of my heart, she took most of the household goods. And also my place to live, as it's hard to find apartments for one that will also accept a dog. While I've found a place to live with a friend, the house is currently being remodeled, so for the next month-ish, I'll be living with my parents.

Now, I fully understand that life can get much worse than this, blah, blah, blah. But as a personal low, being left by my fiancee and being forced to move back in with my parents pretty much qualifies as my biggest personal failure to date.

So after taking a month or so off of life to "process my emotions" (read: drink a lot and ignore the problem), I've decided it's time to come back to the land of the living and start to put my life back together.

So while this humble li'l blog will continue to feature all of the potty-mouthed ramblings and mildly humorous links you've come to expect, updates on my bottoming out and attempt to reconstruct my life are going to become a new regular feature.

And so far, I have to say that other than little things like dignity or self-sufficiency that other folks may worry about, living with your parents as an adult is really not that bad. Lots of free food, physical copies of the newspaper (ha! old people!), and someone else paying the utilities. Could be worse.

Anyway, stay tuned for more...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

They're Even Afraid of Athletic Competition

Without going too much into it, pretty much everyone who is even remotely close to unbiased about the situation agrees the American drug war is completely screwed up. Heck, even a lot of people who are strongly biased to support the drug war admit it's screwed up. Whether you believe in the legalization of drugs or not, it's pretty hard to deny our current system of mass incarceration and ever-increasing penalties is having absolutely no effect on the levels of drug use in our nation and is having all sorts of deleterious effects (with little things like us having the most people in prison in the world, measured by raw numbers of percentages, and having more people in prison on drug charges than the entire EU has in prison for any reason).

Yet what's frustrating for people who would like to reform this broken system (let alone people who would advocate for legalization) is that when presented with the fairly indisputable evidence of how the war on drugs is not working, the official government responses is to pretty much put their fingers in their ears and yell "la la la! I can't hear you!" until you go away.

And in what has to be the most humorous analogy for this I've ever stumbled across, in the Congressional Softball League in D.C., the ONDCP's Czardinals refuse to play the drug-policy reform Capitol Hemp One Hitters (I swear to God I'm not making up either of those names).

While the Czardinals claim a scheduling problem is preventing the match up, the One Hitters took to a press release to note this has happened 6 years running now and wondered why the ONDCP was so afraid to face them, either in debate or on the softball diamond.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

McBain: The Movie

Sorry blogging has been so light lately. I'm on the very tail end of my great overseas adventure, so I've been really busy cramming work in, seeing friends for the last time, and all the other things one does at the end of a long trip overseas.

But to tide you over until I return with my patented brand of angrily ranting into the empty void of the internet, someone has stitched together all of the McBain clips from the Simpsons over the years and it pretty seamlessly becomes a pretty good action flick.

The writes claim this is entirely a coincidence, but knowing those folks, I wouldn't be too surprised if this was a little intentional...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Good Is It If It Has Nothing To Say?

I hated Eminem long before doing so was cool, though I had a friend who long tried to persuade me I was wrong to dismiss him so flippantly. He tried to convince me that Em had really great rhyming skills, and his flow was impressive, and all the other things that various music critics and fans have cited for liking him. But being a self-righteous college activist, I would tell him I simply couldn't sign off on any music that brazenly misogynistic and homophobic, and was frankly surprised he could. His defense was that you don't have to agree with everything someone says to like their music (which I agree with), but I would retort that if you really disagree with much of what someone says, then why are you listening to their music?

And while I'd like to think I've gotten a little less self-righteous over the years and have come to accept more music I might have once found questionable, I think the basic point still holds. At a certain point, someone's objectionable lyrics just override whatever else their music might have to offer. It reminds me of a review I read a couple years back of a Snoop album in which the reviewer wrote something to the effect of "Sure, Snoop has one of the best and most recognizable flows in all of rap, but he doesn't really have anything worthwhile to say with it."

And this sort of debate happens all the time in music, but it coming to the fore now as the indie world has fallen in love with flavor-of-the-moment rapper Tyler, The Creator, whose debut features music so violently misogynistic and homophobic it's become notable in a genre that's pretty much known for such things.

Sara of Tegan and Sara recently took to the interwebs to object to the uncritical praise Tyler's gotten from otherwise intelligent folks, writing in part:
As journalists and colleagues defend, excuse and congratulate 'Tyler, the Creator,' I find it impossible not to comment. In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook, and find deeper meaning in this kid's sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its 'brilliance' when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?... The more I think about it, the more I think people don't actually want to go up against this particular bully because he's popular. Who sticks up for women and gay people now? It seems entirely uncool to do so in the indie rock world, and I'll argue that point with ANYONE.
It's a somewhat tired point, but still relevant. Even more telling about the state of gender relations in our time, though, is probably Tyler's response:

"If Tegan And Sara Need Some Hard Dick, Hit Me Up!"
For a guy who's supposed to be a lyrical genius, you'd think he might be able to come up with a bit more intelligent come back...

Update: Emma Carmichael has a much more intelligent take on this.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Legal Power of Dylan Lyrics

In grading piles of student papers every semester, certain trends start to appear pretty quickly. The obvious plagiarists, the smart kids, the ones who obviously didn't write their own papers, etc. Amongst these many types, there's always the arty/alternative kid who includes lines from their favorite band because, you know, man, music like, is deep.

And I have to admit, I was one of those guys. My senior thesis features multiple Rage Against the Machine quotes as chapter headings, because I'm edgy like that.

But it turns out, it's not just solipsistic undergrads who do this. Apparently, it's pretty common for judges to do it as well, which is either heartening or depressing, depending on your view of the world. 

And befitting the over-representation of baby boomers currently on the bench, a recent study finds that Dylan is by far the most quoted lyricist of them all, cited over twice as often as the runner up Beatles. I like to pictures these judges at home, Pink Floyd posters on the wall, scratchy hi-fi spinning in the background, sitting at a wobbly desk, pounding out these deep opinions, envisioning how much this shit is going to blow the minds of those squares down at the courthouse...

Noted legal scholar

Monday, May 09, 2011

Links Instead of Insight

Hey folks, running short on time again, so here's some fun links to while away your precious time:

First, if you're interested in developing an exacting matrix that will help you understand the maximum amount of drunk you can get for the least amount of calories consumed (and who isn't interested in that?), then I present Get Drunk Not

Second, and far more awesome, the internet has now arrived at the most useful universal measurement: the Danzig. Right now it only converts metric to Danzig, but metric was always just the stepping stone to a better universal measurement anyway...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rules For The Internet

This video should be federally-mandadted viewing for anyone who uses the internet, or at least anyone who ever comments on internet message boards:

Oh yeah, and it turns out some terrorist guy was killed by the U.S. While normally this sort of thing is what I use this blog to rant about, I'm too blown away by how even otherwise-rational human beings are celebrating this like we all get free puppies and ice cream.

So I'm most likely never going to do a longer post about this, but I will say it doesn't really mean anything. It's not going to magically bring people back to life, it's not going to end the two and half wars we have going on, it's not going to restore our civil liberties, etc.

But hey, it will give the president an approval ratings boost for a few months. So I guess that's something, right?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Your Beastie Boys Link-O-Rama (Featuring Two Links!)

By now, I'm assuming you've seen Fight For Your Right Revisited, the short film starring everyone ever, ostensibly taking place shortly after the video for Fight For Your Right ends.

If you have not seen it yet, go watch it now. It will make you laugh and bop your head, like the first time you listen to a skit-heavy West Coast album. Seriously, go watch it. I'll wait.

Ok, welcome back. Funny, right? Well, if you didn't understand the song, it's likely because the Beastie Boys are notoriously dense and obscure with their references. Luckily enough, the fine folks over at the AVClub have put together a compendium of 167 Beastie Boy references explained.

Now you, too, can be the obnoxious person who insists on explaining what a song is referencing, despite it being clear no one cares. And everyone likes that guy, right? Right? Guys?

Monday, May 02, 2011

God Bless The Internet

Every time I come across a really stupid website that is hilariously entertaining but simultaneously the kind of thing I can't believe anyone wasted their time putting together, I can't help but feel that's the exact reason the internet exists. I can only feel sorry for previous generations that had no way to access the wide world of people wasting their time on pointless shit solely to bring mild amusement to complete strangers. That must have been a horrible world to live in.

A perfect example of this is the tumblr Dads Are The Original Hipsters.

If I were feeling more intelligent today, I'd write something about the ironic appropriation of past styles/cultures. Instead, I'll just point out how incredibly true this simple yet profound statement is. And I'm living proof, with about every cool piece of clothing I own having been pilfered from my old man's closet...

Friday, April 29, 2011

How Do You End A Beer Fast?

With a bacon smoothie, apparently.

Several weeks back I blogged about J. Wilson, an Iowa man who gave up food for Lent, subsisting only on beer.

At first it was only 4 beers a day during the week and then 5 a day on the weekends, but it had to be upped to 5 a day every day to keep up his energy. Not only is that somewhat funny, it's also probably the only time you'll hear someone say they need some more beer to keep up their energy.

In any event, thankfully someone was there to cover him breaking the fast, which he did with a bacon smoothie (smoothies apparently being the best way to ease back into solid food).

Which I think makes the ordeal even more awesome. You subsist only on beer for 6 and a half weeks, and bacon truly is the only thing you could use to make that better...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Here's A Blog For You To Follow

For those of you in and/or around the Mpls/St. Paul area who like food, you should check out the Heavy Table, a mostly non-pretentious foodie blog. Well, I'm not sure if it counts as "foodie" because they mostly review places at which you could afford to eat, but nonetheless they seem to know their stuff.

They also have some fun on-going features like "What's In Your Fridge?" which they kicked off appropriately by checking in on what's in Prince's fridge.

Not only is Prince's fridge just about as wacky as you might expect it to be, His Purpleness did not allow any cameras in his house, so the post is accompanied by a pencil sketch of the fridge. Which just seems more appropriate anyway.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back In Action

Been sick and busy the last week, thus the lack of blogging. But I'm back healthy (if no less busy), so the blogging should get back to some semblance of regularity. That being said, I don't actually have much time today, so here's a hastily written post!

If you're like me and aging out of the time when you're with "it" and what has become "it" is now weird and scary to you, fret no longer. Simply consult this handy illustrated list of scenesters to fill yourself in on what the kids are up to these days.

And if you want to look cool to them, might I suggest picking up a nicely rendered Iggy Pop action figure for your ironic art collection?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Would Have Been a More Appropriate Blog Yesterday

It's probably pretty old news to anyone who reads this blog, but there's a pretty staggering number of major U.S. corporations that pay no federal taxes. Or some, like GE, not only don't pay taxes, they get government subsidies on top of that, putting them in the "negative 600% tax bracket" as Jon Stewart put it.

But to highlight the most egregious abuses, my friend and yours Bernie Sanders put together a list of the Top 10 Corporate Tax Cheats.

To borrow from a current Facebook meme, I don't recall NPR, teacher's unions, and people on social security creating this recession, and yet...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Post-Racial America

Now that we have a bi-racial President, that nasty "racism" business is completely behind us, right? I mean, clearly there can't be any more problems now that we've had a small number of successful people of color in important public and business positions, right?

But man, remember how horrible things used to be? Like when people believed crazy things about how people of different races were better than others and that mixing the two would result in all sorts of horrible problems?

I mean, I remember a time when as many as 46% of Republicans in Mississippi thought all interracial marriages should be illegal. Those were dark times, the times Because that is indeed currently what 46% of Mississippi Republicans believe.

But don't worry; we certainly don't need pointless things like Affirmative Action, because we're past all of that racism stuff...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How Much Are You Paying For War?

Probably more than you think. Go to the Afghan War Calculator and you can see approximately how much of your earnings this year went to pay for the war in Afghanistan.

And then, of course, don't forget to factor in the money you're paying to bomb Libya and the on-going war technical assistance provided to Iraq.

But if you think this is a lot, remember, upwards of a tens of cents of your yearly earnings are going to egregious wastes like National Public Radio and k-12 education, so maybe if we completely eliminate those things we can start cutting into this war debt...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

News Roundup!

Been too busy to blog lately, so here's things I would normally have something much more witty to say about:

--Jesse "The Body" is considering another foray into politics - if Rand Paul decides to run as an independent (but not if he does so as a Republican), Jesse will be glad to be his running mate.

--In a move that should surprise no one, the Yankees were caught cheating. In a move that should surprise you even less, MLB will take no action on the matter. It's almost as if a team with large amounts of money and great name recognition can get away with whatever they want...

--Have you just been burning with a desire to see a head-to-head infographic comparison of Bob Dylan and Kanye West albums? If so, your oddly specific wish has been granted.

Regular blogging full of wit and sparkling commentary to resume next week...

Monday, April 04, 2011

There Goes Your Afternoon

If you came of age during a certain time, say for instance, the exact period of time I came of age, you probably remember the shitty little hand held electronic games that were nearly ubiquitous. As a kid who was generally denied video games by his parents (and now look at me; parents of today, let this be a lesson to you), these were a God send. Sure, they were crummy, repetitive, and usually very difficult to discern how gameplay was even supposed to take place, but dammit, they were a video game I could have.

Well, in the internet's ever increasing attempts to destroy the last vestiges of my productivity, a Polish firm Hipopotam has digitized and put most of them online. They've not only managed to keep the frustratingly clunky game play, but even the plastic thunk of the controllers.

This may or may not be what I end up doing with the rest of my day...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please Feel Old Now

This picture comes from a photo collection taken at various shopping malls in 1990.

Look at them, and then marvel at the fact that 1990 is now over 20 years ago...

Friday, March 25, 2011

What You Should Be Reading

I've written here before about my unabashed love for Deadspin, the snarky sports blog that's for more informative and interesting than pretty much all other sports news sites combined.

Now they have a new running feature from the eggheads at the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective. As the name implies, they're a group of Harvard students and researchers applying quantitative analysis to sports (e.g. Sabrmetrics and the like).

In their recurring contribution to Deadpsin, they're applying their fancy school mathematics to the sports exploits of fictional characters. For example, today they looked at the usage rate of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air in the one time he played organized basketball on the show. In previous entries they've looked at such burning questions as how often Trey Parker should theoretically lose a game of Baseketball, and the box score from the cartoon/live-action/product placement reels of Space Jam.

Also, they produce sweet charts like this:

The Fresh Prince only missed one shot, and it was half court

Monday, March 21, 2011

Well, If They Wanted Dignity They Shouldn't Be Poor

In the latest in a long line of ridiculous public policy measures designed to strip punish the poor for being poor and to strip them of the last few shreds of dignity they have remaining, Minnesota Republicans are trying to push a bill that would make it so public assistance could not be converted to cash form (ever) and could only be sued at special terminals at select stores.

What's the justification? Well, this is public money! If we're going to give these people money, then we should be able to dictate every detail about where, when, why, and how they can use it. Down to every last penny.

Of course, if we give hundreds of millions of dollars of public money to banks and investment firms (as, you know, a thank you for fucking up the entire world economy), it's nothing less than fascism to even argue we should have any say over how they spend it. Only a God-less socialist would suggest that the least we could do is not allow them to award themselves multi-million dollar bonuses for completely fucking up at their jobs.

After all, I'm sure they'll do something useful with the money, not blow it all on food and rent like those lazy poor people...

Thursday, March 17, 2011


With the start of the season a mere 15 days away, I'm starting to become acutely I'll be missing the first two months of my favorite sport. Fortunately the baseball season lasts approximately three years, but still.

So in the meantime, I've been reading a shit load of baseball-centric blogs to fill the void in my life, and wanted to pass along some of the highlights of these exploits.

First, there's the all-steroids team featuring a player at each position who most clearly benefited from some time on the juice. Notable for Twins fans in the inclusion of David Ortiz, who in his 6 years with the Twins manages 58 home runs total, and then went to Boston and got a locker next to a known steroid user and suddenly couldn't stop hitting home runs. Also not too coincidentally, he suddenly lost the ability to hit homers after said roids hookup was traded to LA...

Also of great interest is the first ever NCAA-bracket to determine the greatest set of facial Hair in Twins history. While I assume it's inevitable the Pav-stache will take the day, check out all of the first round brackets (conveniently broken down into Griffith era, Pohlad era, 21st century, and worst of all time), and be sure to get over there in time to vote for the second round.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How To Catch The Most Elusive of Prey

The hipster is one of the hardest to define social categories, as so many people are desperately trying to be one, but no one ever likes to be called one. In fact, calling someone a hipster is often either the first sign you yourself are a hipster or that you will soon be accused of being one.

That being said, apparently last week someone began setting up hipster traps all over New York City, consisting of some of those dumb ass sunglasses they all wear, a PBR, a bike chain, and some of those hippie cigarettes that are apparently less evil than other brands of cigarettes.

In any event, hopefully we can get some of them in captivity and dissect them for the purposes of science...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Have You Given Up For Lent?

Before you answer, if you were going to say some variant of "I gave up Catholicism for lent! Ha ha ha!" let me stop you right there. The first time it was said it was neither funny nor original, and the millionth time it's said, it is even less so. This is one of the greatest drawbacks of social media; I saw some variant of that joke at least a dozen times in the past few days, all from different people, all of whom thought they were just so damned funny.

Ok, but that's not the point of this post. The point is that some guy in Des Moines has given up food for lent. Instead, he will get all of his of his nutrition via beer, a la the monks of old.

And before you think he's just some dumbass frat boy who wants to drink a lot of beer, he's apparently put a great deal of research into this and consulted with a nutritionist to make sure he won't, you know, die or anything. Also, he's only having 4 beers per day, so even despite their relatively high alcohol content, he won't ever be drunk from it.

Still, even with those boring safety qualifications, this is way better than giving up chocolate or something...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gettin Out While The Gettin's Good

Of all the times I could have picked to go abroad, I seem to have hit on the jackpot. While I'm enjoying relative warmth and some actual sunny days now and then, the folks back home are under a record snow that is already in the top 10 of all time, and threatening to go to number one if they get the typical snowy March.

And I can't say I miss it too much. Not only had I gotten my fill of snow before heading out, but the piles of snow in my backyard were already enough to dwarf the fence and then the garage.

But that's nothing compared to some of the snow piles around the metro area. For instance, they're currently taking bets on when this 60 snow pile in St. Paul will finally melt.

I'm not due back until June, but at this rate, it doesn't seem too unlikely there'll be snow left for me when I return...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Banksy's Oscar Pout

Although Banksy already awarded himself an Oscar (complete with stormtroopers to protect it!), the Academy did not officially give him one.

His response?

The little girl is the 15 month old daughter of a producer of The King's Speech who apparently dropped and broke his Oscar. What comment Banksy is trying to make is up to us to figure out -- is he pouting about the loss? Making a mockery of institutional awards? Who knows/particularly cares?

My current favorite hypothesis is that Banksy, who has managed to somehow maintain the anonymity necessary to be a tagger despite international fame and being the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, is actually that little girl and this is how she has chosen to reveal her identity to the world...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Athletes Are Great Students! (Well, Actually Some Are, But Not The Ones We Want You To Think Of)

If you follow college athletics at all, sooner or later you'll hear the justification from the NCAA or a particular school that "student" athletes get better grades and graduate at a higher rate than the average student population. This, they'll inevitably go on to say, not only disproves the stereotype of the dumb jock, but also shows how good college athletics are for the "student" athlete.

And this is actually true, if you combine all athletes. The problem is, the ones getting those good grades and graduating are overwhelmingly in those sports you will never once see on television and are usually women. But of course, such defense of college athletics citing these statistics are rarely made during a women's lacrosse meet.

No, these arguments are usually made during events like nationally-televised football games. The problem is that this sample of athletes is in no way representative of the greater population. Major football programs tend to graduate somewhere between 50-75% of their players. And the numbers aren't so low because people are going pro; even the most elite football programs have at most 10% of any given class go on to play a single professional play. The rest typically drop out because they're injured or performing poorly and their scholarship is rescinded.

Yet even beyond on these factors, athlete grades are boosted by dozens of  perks, both legal and not-so-legal. For example, most athletes are provided with free tutoring, supposedly because they have demands other students do not. Cynically, one could say this is because they need to keep their grades up to make the university look good. And even looking past the seemingly annual event wherein it's revealed the "tutors" were actually doing the work for their charges at one school or another, there's all sorts of other semi-legal, mostly-shady tactics to keep athlete grades up.

For instance, it's recently been revealed that Stanford, universally lauded for making its athletes maintain the same standards as the rest of it students, was distributing a list of easy classes to its athletes that they could take to boost their GPAs. Standford has defended the practice by saying it's not about how easy the classes are, but instead about classes that might better fit into their unique schedules, which isn't much of a defense, since the school publishes its list of available courses by time offered already. Now would it explain why only a few classes from the given time periods were listed as "courses of interest" rather than all classes from that period, since you know, it's only about the schedule, not about how easy the classes are.

But then again, I guess this is all just based on the outmoded notion that universities are places that exist to educate people, so I suppose none of this is really a problem...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I Don't Know What It Is, But I Know It's Associated With Moo-Slims!

So a recent trend around the nation, and especially in the South -- America's racist uncle that you have to invite to Thanksgiving dinner but you hope doesn't say anything -- is the introduction of bills in various state government to ban the implementation or consideration of Sharia law (the former of course being something we're very much in danger of, and the later being something that's used mainly to settle divorce cases).

Of course, what these bills are completely missing is that Sharia law is not a written set of rules, but rather a way of interpreting religious tradition, so it's pretty difficult to ban it. It would be like banning math because you don't like to pay your taxes. But we all know this isn't about fear of an interpretation of certain Islamic traditions, but instead about making sure the scary brown people know we don't like them.

In that spirit, one of the more entertaining developments in this little cycle is that the legislator who introduced one of these bills in Alabama doesn't even know what Sharia law is. Not only was most of his bill directly cribbed from the Wikipedia article on Sharia law, when reporters asked him about it, he couldn't even speak about the most basic aspects of Islam, such as the difference between Sunni and Shi'i.

I'd say trying to ban something when you don't even know what it is just because you're vaguely aware it's associated with a group of people you don't like is probably the height of racism, but at the rate this country is going, somebody will do something even more insane in about a week or two...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

More About Wisconsin

In the latest development I've been able to find, it turns out folks are no longer being allowed to camp out inside the capitol, but many are merely moving their sleeping outside (which is pretty bad ass this time of year).

There seems to be little movement toward any type of resolution from either side, with union's still not wanting to give up the one thing out of the laundry list of concessions they've already agreed to that defines them as an organization, and Walker and Co. not wanting to give up being assholes.

In other developments, Michael Moore eventually got around to showing up and gave a great speech about the lie going around that Wisconsin/America is broke and the only way to fix it is by slashing social programs and destroying unions.

In eve more exciting development, thousands of farmers from around the state are planning on driving their tractors to the capitol to join in the demonstrations. They are also putting a call to taxpayer/friend of the farmer Willie Nelson to come join them, so this has the potential to get supremely awesome...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I'm Bored and Have Nothing Better To Do With My Time

Have you ever wondered what Holy Diver would sound like as an acoustic ballad? Than you are in luck:

For those of you not in the know, here's a reference point:

Friday, March 04, 2011

Why I Kinda Sorta Like College Basketball

I'm not much of a basketball fan. Probably because I was short and slow growing up, which is a combination that is perfectly suited to suck at basketball. Short and fast? Plenty of roles for you to fill. Tall and slow? No problem. But short and slow, no dice. So I was terrible at it and probably developed some sort of resentment for it.

And professional basketball these days is so boring. I'll avoid getting into the tired tropes everyone lists as why they don't like pro ball, but my complaints center on how no one appears to be trying outside of the marquee games and it's all just isolation one-on-one plays every time down the court.

But because of my beloved plucky mid-major Panthers, I started following college basketball toward the end of my college career. And while I think the game in general is better at the college level than the pro level (they do things like run plays), I think the real reason I like it is the fans.

Because unlike pretty much every professional sport, in college basketball actual fans can get good seats near the court for somewhat affordable prices. So unlike pro games where the first 30 rows are all business executives who may have a passing interest in the game or, in some places, celebrities just there to be seen, in a college game the crazy dedicated fans are right up on the action.

And as such, they're a lot more creative and entertaining. For example, the great pics below from when the BUY Jimmers visited SDSU. As you're probably aware, BYU is a Mormon college, so the SDSU student section all dressed up like Mormon missionaries (complete with bike helmets!) and had some great signs poking various levels of inappropriate fun at BYU.

You will never see signs like this at a Lakers game..

Thursday, March 03, 2011

How iTunes Made Me Hate Elvis Costello

Seriously, fuck this guy

I suppose it's not very original, or even necessary, at this point to say that the ability to (legally?) download pretty much any music one could want has dramatically changed the way most of us consume music. Whereas once you might hear about a band or artist you want to check out and then remember that person/band the next time you're at the record store and decide whether it's worth wasting your hard earned money on said band's/person's album, these days you can download an album before you're even done reading a review.

Once I was compelled to do this with Mr. Costello. He's one of those guys that most people whose taste in music I trust seem to like, and I was reading some sort of music blog that highly recommend several albums by him. So I downloaded them and plopped them into iTunes along with most other music I own in the theory that as they came up randomly, I would listen to them and grow to fill in this lacuna in my musical knowledge.

Now I don't have as much music on my laptop as I do on my desktop, but still, according to iTunes' count, I have 5.8 days worth of music (or 139.2 hours). And according to iTunes I have 6.1 ours of Mr. Costello's music on there, which would be roughly 4.3% of all of the music I have on there, for those keeping track at home.

Yet despite what Apple claims to the contrary, there's no way the iTunes algorithm doesn't favor Elvis Costello on my laptop for some weird reason. Because I have equally large amounts of Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Dr. Hook, and Drive By Truckers (and a few others) on there, and yet I can go entire days without them coming up on my random shuffle. Yet it sticks out as unusual when I'm able to sit there for even 20 or 30 minutes without an Elvis Costello song coming up.

And as such, not only have I not come to appreciate his music, I've come to despise him. Now, pretty much any time one of his songs comes up, I almost instinctively skip it, even if it's one I like, just because he comes up so often in what is supposedly a random shuffle.

I realize this is completely irrational of me, but it's not my fault. My iTunes apparently has a crush on Elvis Costello and is determined to make me listen to him at any cost. And there's few things I react to more negatively than someone (or thing) trying to force their musical tastes on me.

So I've gone from completely indifferent to angrily annoyed with Elvis Costello, ironically because of my quest to appreciate him. And it's all the fault of iTunes' poorly programmed shuffle algorithm.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Easily More Impressive Than Their Final Four Run

I've posted college band videos before, such as this awesome video of the Hawaii marching band forming a giant football player kicking a field goal, but this one easily beats all others.

It's video of the George Mason pep band playing a mash up of Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name" and "Bulls on Parade." And apparently their director has made the arrangement available for anyone who wants it, so if you're conducting a pep band somewhere, get in touch with this dude...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why The Tea Party Exists (To An Extent)

So I know it's a complex phenomenon, and there's lots of reasons the tea party exists right now and its members share the crazy ideas they do (like I'm sure it's just coincidence all these crazies happen to come out when we get our first Black president).

But one of the major reasons so many people think Government spending is crazy or stupid is because they don't understand it. It's really not their fault, as 40+ years of anti-tax activism by far-right nutjobs has people pretty convinced about 97% of federal spending is free welfare for drug abusing teen moms (when in reality, free welfare for drug abusing teen moms is a relatively small percentage of federal spending).

And of course it isn't just that. But what most people don't realize is the many ways they benefit from government spending. For example, a recent study by Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University found that the vast majority of people will report that they don't get any government benefits, despite the fact that most people do.

For instance, she found that 60% of those claiming the home mortgage interest deduction claimed they don't use any government social programs, despite that being a government social program. 53% of people with federal student loans, 52% of those claiming the child or dependent tax credit, 44% of social security recipients, 43% of unemployment recipients, the list goes on and on -- so many of these people said they receive no government social spending despite the fact they're all getting (fairly large sums of) government social spending.

This helps explain a lot about Americans. For instance, why people can look at the public unions trying to hold onto their collective bargaining power in Wisconsin and think they're trying to get fat off of government money. Or why people can fool themselves into thinking they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps without anyone's help.

Because they simply refuse to believe (or fail to recognize) how much help they've gotten and continue to get

Monday, February 28, 2011

Shocker: Fox News Encourages Employees to Lie

In what should come as a surprise to no one, it turns out Fox News regularly encourages/cajoles/forces their employees to lie about important matters, even to federal judges.

Although this is a bit like pointing out that things get wet when it rains, it's always good to catalogue such behavior for future reference...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More on Wisconsin

There's been a great deal of awesome photos coming out of the ongoing occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol building, but I think this is one of my favorites:

It's a short list of rules for anyone staying there that were spontaneously devised by the occupiers. In addition to these rules, there are strict guidelines posted throughout the building about where and what food to share, where and when to clean (the demonstrators have taken over care of the building while they occupy it), and other such postings to ensure a smooth and well-functioning occupation.

I think what I like most about this sort of thing is that it effectively demonstrates how these people are not random crazies or troublemakers, but are actually extremely well-organized and courteous. It's a powerful example of the power of people to organize and regulate themselves, even without fear of retribution or anyone forcing them to do so.

As of the latest news I've been able to find, things are still at a stand still, but demonstrators are staying strong. Things may be heating up soon, though, as Anonymous, the internet hacker collective best known for their recent defense of Wikileaks, has announced they're taking on Governor Walker and Koch Industries.

I for one cannot wait to see what they come up with...