when the status quo frustrates.

I’m losing touch with the youngsters

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Today I was sitting in an Arby’s (yeah, I know, but everything shuts down here on a Sunday and I was pressed for time) and Kelly Clarkson’s song “Because of You” came on the Musak Dispenser. I listened to about a half a refrain’s worth of lyrics and thought, “what an odd tribute to her mother. It makes it sound as if she’s thanking her for making her a mopey, boring neurotic.” Then I went and assisted the recording of a symphony orchestra that was accompanied by no less than three children’s choirs (adorably placed in the audience…wankers. I am NOT mic-ing the audience. Sing loud.)

Then, on the ride home, the song came on again. Having little else better to do I listened more carefully this time…it’s not a tribute at all! Kelly Clarkson tricked me! She’s actually angry with someone! Well, angsty is more like it. I guess that’s the best you can do when your career depends heavily on your being made out of sugar and spice-but mostly sugar. The focus groups didn’t care for spice.

I didn’t think I could like her any less after “ms independent,” but what do you know? Turns out I can. I thought it was odd a few months ago when Pink released that “Stupid Girl” song and people flipped out over how awesome it was, but if this is the kind of stuff Pink was being played against, I can kind of see why it was a biggish deal now.

Press can’t take a joke… aimed at Bush

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

The White House Correspondants’ Association got together last night to french kiss themselves and the fun-loving President. Bush brought Dubya impersonator Steve Bridges for yuks:

“All right. Maintain. Be cool. Let’s give this a try,” said Mr Bridges as Mr Bush.

“We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at IAEA formal sessions, but through intercessional contact.”

Mr Bush repeated: “We must enhance non-compliance protocols sanctioned not only at E-I-E-I-O sessions, but through intersexual conduct,” eliciting howls of laughter from the audience.

It’s so funny when he does it! But not when he does it. Crooks and Liars has the video from Stephen Colbert’s keynote speech, one in which he repeatedly and insightfully skewered the President. Unfortunately, he made the little lapdogs uncomfortable:

Several veterans of past dinners, who requested anonymity, said the presentation was more directed at attacking the president than in the past. Several said previous hosts, like Jay Leno, equally slammed both the White House and the press corps.

“This was anti-Bush,” said one attendee.

Strupp, in the crowd during the Colbert routine, had observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting–or too much speaking “truthiness” to power.

To me, that’s the real story behind the dinner last night.

President Bush has lied to these people repeatedly. He swore to them there were WMDs, and they believed him. He promised he would fire whoever leaked classified information from his administration… until it became clear it was him. He lied to them about his sense of urgency on Katrina and how we’re doing in Iraq. He’s currently lying to them about the Iranian nuclear threat and more. The WHCA has been made to look a fool because of him.

And they keep coming back for more. Worse, they remain protective of him. If you watch the tape, you can practically hear the squirming from the parasites in the crowd as Colbert launched his clever, accurate verbal assaults, and the first-hand accounts back that up.

Nobody is asking them to stretch the truth, just report it.

Maybe they were just embarrassed to be reminded of that by one of the few people in the public eye brave enough to do their job for them.

Supersize the Enemy

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

I’d like to think that McDonald’s — well, I’d like to think that McDonald’s would be proof enough that there is no god. Joining our fine admistration, Mickey D’s recently announced it’s on the warpath:

“This is the face of the enemy over the next 18 months,” correspondence recently distributed to McDonald’s Corp.’s franchisees asserts, in highlighting a series of potential problems.

Huh. To find out what face the nation’s food-folks-and-friendliest fast food empire could find so threatening, I went straight to the source, McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner… by which I mean I made up an interview with him.

punkass marc: Thanks for [not] joining me, Jim.

Jim Skinner: Thanks for [in no way shape or form] talking to me, Marc.

marc: So, the war talk. Sounds like you guys are getting serious about fighting injustice in the world.

Jim: You bet. We have to strike back at those who would destroy our way of life.

marc: Awesome. So when do we go get him?

Jim: Him?

(more…)

Corral, No Horses (or Shetland Ponies)

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Click below for the Gerald McBoing-Boing Required Reading List.

(more…)

Romper Stomper and My Duh Moment of the Day

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

I watched Romper Stomper last night, the 1992 movie that featured Russel Crowe’s breakthrough role (gag). I was surprised that he was quite good — playing a skinhead.

This movie does not condemn skinheads as openly as in American History X, but it does do two things that I found interesting:

1) Every major character in the movie is suspect. There are no real protagonists to like and the characters that the camera are closest to are heavily unrealiable.

2) For once, you get to see a crew of Asian men kick ass without numchucks and martial arts — they use crowbars and 2x4s to stomp some skinhead ass. Finally.

Number two was a nice respite from the recent Asiaphile shit I see from white kids lately, a topic that Jen takes on in a satisfying and righteously angry post:

And you know, it wouldn’t even be so bad if the kids doing the taking and bastardizing were able to defend their actions in the court of me-about-to-kick-your-ass. I’d love it if the next White boy wielding homemade tonfa and worshipping Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do fighting style were able to address accusations of Asiaphilia. I’d even be okay with the Asiaphile if they knew about Vincent Chin, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Japanese Interment. I’d love to have a conversation with the Asiaphile about his (re)birth after watching Full Metal Jacket.

But, no. The Asiaphile doesn’t understand the politics or consequences of his fetish. He knows all about the Meiji Restoration and has memorized the Art of War by heart, but actually defends Hiroshima and Nagasaki (200,000+ killed in a brutal act of terrorism, but to the Asiaphile, it was a necessary act to defend the people who really matter). He knows nothing about the Asian American movement even though he organizes endless anime, sushi and karaoke nights at his college campus. He doesn’t even see his interest as a fetish, he sees it as his God-given right to take and take and reappropriate my culture because he feels denied somehow that his mixed-up part-Greek, part-English, all-European-American, totally of the Caucasian Persuasion ass doesn’t have a native tongue that’s quite as “different” or an American culture that involves bladed weaponry. It reminds me of the kind of bullshit privilege that encourages Americans to take classes in getting stranded in the wilderness following a plane crash — ninjutsu is a cool diversion because you know you’ll never really have to use it to save your life.

And I’m the asshole for objecting to the fortune cookie-ing of my heritage.

Anyway, reading Jen’s post just after watching this skinhead movie made me have a duh! moment of something I’ve never considered: The flipside of ignorant racism is ignorant cooption of others’ cultures. Even worse, among their peer groups, the individuals that do so consider it enlightenment.

Fuck. I could have hit myself for not having realized that yet, but there you go.

My mom taught me how to cook, but I taught myself how to make the meringue bikini.

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Via my favorite anti-feminists, I found this article about another area in which Americans are getting dumber in, and of course the prepared-food corporations are more than obliging, even though it does inconvienence them a bit that we are too stupid to cook:

When the country’s top food companies want to create recipes that millions of Americans will be able to understand, there seems to be one guiding principle: They need to be written for a nation of culinary illiterates.

Basic cooking terms that have been part of kitchen vocabulary for centuries are now considered incomprehensible to the majority of Americans.

For a few paragraphs I read it and was all, “right on! We need to not be so lazy! Cooking is fun!” because cooking is fun (my favorite thing, after sex and physics, is the preparation and consumption of food, which is why I need to make my fourth favorite thing exercise). But, there was a reason Ladies Against Feminism liked this article, and we get to it by the bottom of the first page:

For many people, cooking classes like his compensate for what they did not learn at home. “Food companies have to acknowledge that there used to be a level of teaching in the home by moms and grandmas that is not as evident today,” said Janet Myers, senior director of global kitchens for Kraft Foods who has been creating and testing recipes for the company for 30 years.

A survey of women in their twenties and forties for Betty Crocker showed that 64 percent of women in their twenties had mothers who worked full time, outside the home, during their childhood, compared with 38 percent of those in their forties. The group in their forties primarily learned to cook from their mothers and at school; the younger women also learned from their mothers, but more of them learned from their fathers, television chefs, or on their own.

Do you see that mom? You went back to work and that’s why I only have a partial grasp on the concept of searing. I hope it was worth it!

Lisa Bernstein, 31, an employment law attorney in the District, said that while growing up, her mother was too busy to teach her much more than how to make spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Tired of microwaving frozen dinners, she signed up two years ago for lessons with veteran cooking teacher Phyllis Frucht.

Ok, I realize the journalists like to pick quotes that reinforce thier point, even if that means quoting a woman who apparantly spent her entire adult life eating frozen dinners rather than exploring any other “pot of boiling water and microwaved substance from jar” entrees available today-or expanding that to “something boiled served with meat,” since meat is among the most basic of all possible things to cook. (Instructions: get slab of meat. Apply heat until meat becomes uniform appetizing color and stops bleeding. If it turns black, try again but cook for less time. Serve warm.) How did Stouffer’s get the chicken to be all white like that? Hoooowwwww? Must be something you need crazy machines to do.

The problem of Lisa segues nicely to a dreamy reminice of days gone by, followed by a tsk-tsk what-has-the-world-come-to? on the subject of consumer science:

Some of these skills used to be taught in mandatory home economics courses in middle school, but most of the classes ended about 20 years ago, said Pat Lynn, a Springdale, Md., high school teacher who taught her first home ec class in 1968. But in some schools, including her own, home economics has been reconstituted under the umbrella subject of “family and consumer sciences” to include electives in cooking, parenting, fashion and career training for jobs in the food-service and hospitality industries.

God, first Mom, then the schools fucking left us high and dry! Except I did take a manditory home ec course in seventh grade (home ec and shop where mandatory for everyone in seventh grade, then we naturally and voluntarily divided along gender lines in eigth grade, except for the boys who took home ec to meet girls and those of us girls who took shop because we liked the electronics section and the class was easier to skip.) I still have the shark-shaped pillow I made, although the sewing skills that helped make the shark are long gone.

Still, this doesn’t seem to be a lack of home ec skills taught in school as much as it is a lack of problem-solving skills. Problem: I can’t cook. Solution A: Find a recipe (and, if necessary, a dictionary) and follow it untill it makes sense. Repeat with more complicated recipes until I can cook. Solution B: Sit here with my microwave and my helplessness until someone offers to solve my problem in exchange for money.

Luckily for the Ladies Against Feminism, the status quo remains firmly in effect:

And despite laments about the end of home cooking, more than three-fourths of all dinners are prepared in the home, with women doing the majority of the cooking, according to the latest figures from the research firm NPD Group.

Unfortunetly for LAF (in addition to ladylike behavior, they have strong perferences for thrift and a can-do, DIY attitude) the women doing the cooking are willing to spend scads of cash on magazines with recipes they can’t follow and gourmet cookware they don’t know how to use. Also, they prefer picture-based recipes, like the kind that come with an Easy-Bake Oven:

Interest in food is undiminished, as measured by magazines devoted to the subject (it’s the second-most-popular topic behind crafts and hobbies for new magazines launched in the past three years, said Samir A. Husni of the University of Mississippi) and in sales at gourmet cookware chains such as Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.

Still, in test kitchens at food giants such as Kraft, the goal is terminology that is “simplistic, and very literal, to make it easy to understand,” Meyers said….

“They’ve grown up with the computer, so they expect things to be faster, including cooking,” said Botham, now director of corporate communication at the company. “They like baking by adding things to a mix. In recipes, they want fewer ingredients — seven is ideal — and they like step-by-step pictures that show them what to do.”

“Seven is ideal” Hasn’t it been like fifty years since Betty Crocker (or was it Duncan Hines?) managed to mainstream cake mix by switching from a just-add-water formula to add-eggs-and-water in order to trick housewives into feeling less guilt over using a mix? And here we are today, more sophisticated in that we need 5 extra ingredients in order to feel like were really cooking just like mom did. Excuse me while I go find some old people to lord it over.

Dumbest Texans around

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Partly because the dumber ones moved to the DC area, and partly because they are just that stupid, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and his lap dog, team GM Charley Casserley, as the official State Morons of Texas. Put their pictures up next to the state flag and state bird, because the mistakes these two men have made in the last 6 months have been iconic.

Bob McMair’s first big screw-up was keeping Casserly around to run his team. The Texans have drafted over 30 players and only 2 (CB Dunta Robinson and WR Andre Johnson) are legitimate above-average starters. Every second-round pick has been a bust, only Domanick Davis has emerged from the middle rounds as a diamond in the rough, and no free agents signings have made an impact. Good idea to stick with the plan, Bob.

Once Dumb and Dumber sat down together to determine how to recover from their 2-14 disaster season, they first made sure to pick up the option on questionable QB David Carr’s contract for franchise QB dollars over the next 3 years. Is he worth it? Tough to say — the offensive line Casserly has refused to fix is so bad he can’t stay on his feet. Carr seems to take a long time to read defenses, makes bad decisions at crucial moments in a game, and has never demonstrated the capacity to be more than a good game manager. Hardly a guy to lock down when you had the option to turn him loose.

Why turn him loose? Because the most popular football player in Texas, possibly in the state’s collegiate history, was available to take with the first pick in the draft: Rose Bowl superhero Vince Young. Will his game translate to the NFL? Maybe. Probably. The likelihood was good enough that McNair should have thought seriously about it. The only hope Mcnair’s team would ever have of passing the Cowboys in state importance lay in the possibility of Vince Young finding stardom in a Texans uni. Houston-born and raised, the kid is already a folk hero there, and building around him would have bought the team eternal loyalty from hundreds of thousands of locals.

But maybe Carr can be good, or good enough. Fine. Then you draft the most exciting offensive player to come out of college in the modern era, RB Reggie Bush. Some scouts graded him as the best player they’d ever evaluated. He averaged 8.9 yard per carry over an entire season, a record-setting feat nobody else may sniff for decades. He would help Carr look a lot better than he is right away. And he’s the only talent that could justify looking the other way when it came to Vince Young.

But they chose option C. The Texans drafted defensive end Mario Williams. They did it because Bush was balking at their contract offer and the Texans wanted the #1 pick signed, and also because the team brass — that would be McNair and Casserly — felt the defense needed more oomph. Never mind that Williams, a “measurables” monster, has had his desire and motivation questioned, or that he got 10 of his 14.5 sacks in 3 games against inferior opponents last year. Nope. Somehow, he’s the guy. Even then, of course, trading down would have been the preferable option. You could pay him less and pick up more draft picks. Taking him #1 overall is beyond short-sighted; it’s downright insulting.

If the State Morons wanted to appease the fans, they would’ve drafted Young. If they felt like Williams was the best fit for their franchise, they should have traded down to get him. If they wanted to save the franchise and please the fans at the same time, they would’ve taken Bush.

Improbably, they did none of the above and that’s going to cost them for years, especially if Young and Bush both pan out. Young will be taking snaps for Tennessee — you might remember them from such franchises as the Houston Oilers. Should Young make the Pro Bowl in the traitorous Titans jersey, Bob McNair might as well fold up his retractable roof stadium and head for the hills; the locals will never let him live it down.

Most of the time, I advocate ignoring fan interest when it comes to drafting or signing players. Pro football isn’t a popularity contest, and even if it is, winning is the easiest way to be crowned Prom King. But the Texans were coming off of a humiliating season full of empty seats and turned-off TVs. With the #1 pick in the draft, the Texans needed to claim an identity.

Unfortunately, they did.

Who Needs Rights?

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

We don’t, apparently:

The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court’s approval, the Justice Department said Friday.

This is going to catch up to us sooner rather than later.

Friday, April 28th, 2006

We’re all going to die. Eventually, the sun will burn out and everything in the universe will disintegrate into a uniform haze of cold, dark, particles. I can’t fucking wait.

But we won’t be around to see it, because we are determined to shoot ourselves in the fucking face, first.

The truth is that climate change has affected people’s ability to grow crops, rear livestock and find water to drink. Even malaria has become more and more life threatening in many places as it spreads to warming regions.

Many of the rural Ethiopians I meet do not directly associate the worst effects of climate change with human activities in richer countries. Yet it is precisely those Western activities which are principally behind the climate change they now experience in their daily lives.

Why we gotta be such a bitch about this? Humans are fucking up the planet something awful, as we have done since we learned how to get together in big groups and build things and kill things. But it doesn’t have to be like that this time. We probably can’t undo all of the damage, but we can stop making new damage, and talk about ways to mitigate the effects of what has already been done.

Most of us touchy-feely progressives are only slightly better than those assholes in thier hummers, but that’s because there is little you can do, as an individual American, to avoid sucking up more than your fair share of the world’s resources. Got a Honda and some energy saving lightbulbs? Good for you, Captain Planet. Do you use chemical fertilizer on your lawn? Eat meat you bought in a grocery store? Eat corn? Wear synthetic fabrics? Well, you’ve just lost some Planet Karma points, far more than if you’d just used the cheaper lightbulbs and skipped the steak.

But Kyso, you say, who are you to be lecturing me? You’re blogging right now, sucking up the electricity. You drive five miles to work instead of biking down the narrow industrial highway. You just had pepper steak -cheap pepper steak!- for dinner. Where exactly do you get the fuck off on lecturing me?

The answer is, I am a flaming hypocrite. It’s better than the alternative, which is willful ignorance. But the more you learn about where your clothes come from, where your food comes from, where your books come from, the angrier you get about how much you’re fucking the enviornment, and how pitiful your attempts to do something about it are.

I come from the land of McMansions. How much good does it do for me to heat my apartment to less than 65 degrees in the winter if the energy I save is just going to let my mom’s dumbfuck freind heat her foyer with 20-foot ceilings to 74? What are my options for living responsibly when even the responsible choice burns more gas than it saves?

There is only a small subsection of America who can pat themselves on the back for their earth-friendly ways, and they are not reading this blog, because they are too busy tending their gardens and making clothes out of wool they sheared from thier own sheep-and even then, they could just be doing damage to the enviornment on a local, not global scale. Still, it’s a start.

So what do the rest of us do? Those of us who can not opt out completely, but wish to leave as little destruction behind us as we go? I wish I had a goddamn clue. I’m a blogger, not a miracle worker. Surely we should not stop buying energy-effecient lightbulbs or carpooling just because the neighbor’s H2 or factory farming turns our individual efforts into largely symbolic gestures. But the time is long past when you could switch from an American steel car to a Japanese plastic car and act like you just did the planet a huge damn favor.

We’re reaching a critical point, where only massive changes at a state or national levels will really do anything worth a damn. So I guess our job, besides composting and sorting our trash, is to find politicians who are willing to be scared shitless about climate change and willing to enact policies that will make America a little more Earth-friendly. We’ll probably need massive federal funding for public transit projects, a complete re-appraisal of how we grow our food, research in ways to clean up the damage that has already been done, and probably even less popular shit like holding corporations accountable for polluting or taxing people with SUVs-god, I want to tax the fuck out of those SUVs.

Best Gif Ever

Friday, April 28th, 2006

060413raiders.gif

And just so everyone knows, we chopped Kyso into tiny pieces and threw her into my compost bin. That, or she’s busy with finals. Who knows?

Hm.

Friday, April 28th, 2006

bppebay.jpg

Either Huey Newton really sold out or somebody needs to tell Ebay their advertising blows.

Oh, Schadenfreude, How We Love Thee!

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Rush Limbaugh has been arrested and charged with drug fraud.

Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on Friday turned himself into the Palm Beach County Jail to face a charge of fraud for concealing information to obtain a prescription.

He was quickly released after posting $3,000 bond, jail officials said. Prosecutors alleged that Limbaugh violated the state’s “doctor shopping” law by getting four doctors to write overlapping prescriptions and failing to tell them about each other. Limbaugh, who pleaded not guilty, struck an agreement with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office that calls for the charge to be dropped in 18 months provided that Limbaugh continues to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past 2 1/2 years and must refrain from breaking the law during that period, Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, said in a statement.

Limbaugh also will pay $30 per month for the cost of supervision and will pay the state $30,000 to help offset the cost of the investigation into the doctor-shopping allegations.

Prosecutors previously were investigating prescriptions that Limbaugh received from Florida and California doctors between March 2003 and September 2003, when he allegedly picked up 1,733 hydrocodone, 90 OxyContin, 50 Xanax and 40 time-release morphine pills.