Friday, November 23, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5439

This is for today. Happy Buy Nothing Day!

Episode XVIII


*breathe* "Would you ladies like to" *breathe* "come see my etchings?" *breathe*

(Image originally uploaded by; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3152

This is for last Friday. I hope everyone's enjoying the holiday weekend.

Fresh off an award-winning Bach-Mozart-Beethoven album, poised for a breakout tour of prestigious concert halls, the Tokyo Conservatory of Music Brass Ensemble soon regretted hiring A Flock of Seagull's old manager—even if he did come cheap.
(Image originally uploaded by arrow5260; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1542

This is for today. Let's continue with the M. C. Escher theme. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

If you stay at the Hotel Escherplatz, you can bring your American Express card—but don't expect to find the ice machine on your first try.
(Image originally uploaded by uzi yachin; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1546

This is for Thursday last week.

Secretly delighted by this uncharacteristic creative failure, M.C. Escher's jealous siblings soon started referring to the abandoned-in-frustration knitting project as his "Impossible Muffler."
(Image originally uploaded by mrsnowak; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8775

A bit of classic pop for today:

When your heart is enchained
By two grids overlain
That's a moiré
(Image originally uploaded by emily*allen; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3850

For Wednesday last week.

There's an alternate universe where people refer to "motorcycling up your cherry"—just not in polite company.
(Image originally uploaded by Soleil***; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0965

OK. Here's an awful, awful pun for Wednesday two weeks ago.

Q: Who is the Orthodox Church's favorite jazz musician?

A: Ornate Coleman.

(Image originally uploaded by voice-stgeorge; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #4196

I've still got my dailies to catch up on, but here's a contribution to the weekly fun.

This SCA group needs to get its act together. I mean, I'm fairly sure that real medieval warriors didn't stand around during breaks talking about mutual funds.
...and I'm fairly sure that real medieval banners didn't say "Jalapeño Poppers! New at Applebee's."


Got your nose!
Gaaaaator faaaaaace
You've got the cutest little
Gaaaaator faaaaaace
This one is for the cappers. Happy Thanksgiving and hopefully I'll see some of y'all at IS and/or HCC.

Greetings from Satan's Penis National Monument!
(Images originally uploaded by oneofdadskids, Claus Moser, George Fordham, tuzi69, and greenernick; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7793

Oops. This is for yesterday, when I couldn't quite to it.

The Fodor's guide says try the Sub of Science, don't ask for the Sub of Time if you're in a hurry, and for God's sake avoid the Sub of Monsters unless you're partial to head cheese and organ meats.
Oh, what the hell:

Objects in mirror may be terrier than they appear.
(Image originally uploaded by jenac and MaoPoPo; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6148

This is for last Tuesday.

Dave Semmelweiss of Scoliosy§§ became known as "the Les Paul of the Coin Slot" after discovering that he could get a whole new range of cool feedback effects by passing a mild electric current across his skin and varying the amounts of his asscrack sweat.
(Image originally uploaded by GreekDiner; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1259

All right, this is for Tuesday...two weeks ago?!? Yikes. Time for some more catching up.

Note to selves: Don't make fun of Cindy for wearing plaid unless you want to find yourselves walking home again.
(Image originally uploaded by Raj Vaswani; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mystery Non Sequitur Theater

I am increasingly convinced that Maureen Dowd is not a human but a relatively unsophisticated artificial intelligence (if you'll forgive the use of the word intelligence in this context). I say "unsophisticated" because she manages to work two references to Hillary Clinton into a column that's otherwise about—well, psycho-economic studies of dating behavior or "men be different from women" or something—but neither reference makes a lick of sense, either in context or out of it. Here's my impression of how she gets to the first one (emphasis mine):

blah blah dating blah blah study blah blah men like this blah blah but women like that blah blah

Hillary Clinton, who is trying to crash through the Oval glass ceiling, may hope that we’re evolving into a kingdom of queen bees and their male slaves.

????? Eeewwwwww. I'm scared of bees. Wouldn't much like being a slave, either. Damn that Hillary!

Go ahead. Read Dowd's piece and see if you find yourself saying anything substantially different from "WTF?" when you get to that line. I dare ya.

Here's my impression of how she gets to the second:

blah blah smarts blah blah plump hips blah blah angry men earn clout in office blah blah angry women lose clout in office blah blah

That may be why Obama is trying to get “fired up,” in the words of his fall slogan, while Hillary calmly observes that she can take the heat and stereotypically adds that she likes the kitchen.

And there it ends. OK, there's sort of a logical transition into this one; there's a semi-sequitur here. But still, you'd be forgiven for wondering whether there's a quota built into Dowd's programming and she has to work at least two belittling references to Hillary Clinton into each column or her processor will lock up or something.

Anybody who reads this blog (all three of you) knows that I'm fond of captioning random photos. Much of the joy of captioning is in imagining possible contexts for the photo: using words to momentarily conjure up a state of affairs in which the photo would "make sense" in some way not entirely at one with—but not entirely alien to, either—the world of our familiar experience. Sometimes I find this relatively easy, sometimes relatively hard, but I usually enjoy the challenge. As I look at this MoDo column, though, I find myself baffled by that first non sequitur in particular. I am struggling to imagine a context in which the sentence—

Hillary Clinton, who is trying to crash through the Oval glass ceiling, may hope that we’re evolving into a kingdom of queen bees and their male slaves.
—would make sense. And now I know I'm going to be plagued by this. It's going to linger in the back of my mind and intrude itself upon me while I'm trying to concentrate on other things and otherwise make my life miserable. Is there a context in which this otherwise crazy MoDo utterance would make perfect sense? If so, what is it? We must find it! I'm stumped, but if anyone has suggestions, put 'em in comments or send 'em care of Make Sense for MoDo to

Won't someone please think of the context?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2386

OK: this is for Monday last week. Dunno when I'll get to Monday yesterday. Maybe later today. Maybe later than later today. Maybe.

I saw this photo of Dale Chihuly stuff in the New York Botanical Garden and immediately thought of a haiku.

Dear Dale Chihuly
Midget sub waits for orders
Meet demands or else
(Image originally uploaded by Sevillana246; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, November 12, 2007

Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #3688

Well, I'm still behind on my Daily Random Flickr Blogging, but here's some quick entries for this week's group festivities.

The trick to an alpine rescue? Bring a can opener. I had a Bernese Mountain Dog that could hear one from half a continent away, I swear.
Gumby's distant cousin Osvaldo is an accomplished tango dancer.
Because really, what's the point of having thighs if you can't crack walnuts between them?
"What is this 'life' of which you speak?"
(Images originally uploaded by go_gate, trishfielding, paul boelen, and Beavis Bob; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9035

This is for today. You got your LOLcatting in my Random Flickr Blogging!

(Image originally uploaded by quatre mains; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)

Labels: ,

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7527

I'm still catching up a bit; this is for last Sunday. I've changed my method again, by the way; for the time being, I'm just going to the first page of each set of results (I random-generated the four-digit numbers a while back) and then rolling a virtual die to tell me how many pages to go forward from there. I look at those pictures, roll again, go that many to the next page, etc. I do this until I've got something I think I can work with. Why a virtual die? Well, a physical one would just be so last millennium, don't you think?

"Only in America!"
(Image originally uploaded by 'Diane; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2130

We had a gorgeous launch of a big-ass rocket earlier tonight; the sky was so clear, I'd swear you could see the thing halfway to Africa. Lovely!

This is for today. Tell me there ain't some great band names in there, I dare ya.

Mint Chocolate Feet placed a disappointing third in the Dadaoff, behind the Mexican Spiced Riding Mower and Pythagorean Manatee Wax.
(Image originally uploaded by neomia; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5314

This is for last Saturday.

No one understands my highly allegorical English history play Crouching Tudor, Hidden Stuart.
(Image originally uploaded by jnathanj; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, November 09, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5620

For today, Categorical Aperitif is proud to present an excerpt from Animal Planet's Incubation Up! series.

As a chick, Lionel had had big dreams of a cozy hole off the fairway of some upscale golf course, but as an adult he found himself living in a dung-lined burrow in the rough beachside scrub just like all the other members of his brood—the ones who hadn't been killed by cats or snakes, anyway. "Life is a series of compromises."
(Image originally uploaded by ldskater; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8190

OK—this is for last Friday.

"Still Life with Less Than Five Carbs" resoundingly won the amateur photography contest, leading to accusations of bias on behalf of the twiggish, Atkins-crazed judges.
(Image originally uploaded by HPChou; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3229

This is for today:

to get me a fresh Zima and
ask the DJ to play that Fatboy Slim song I like
(Image originally uploaded by erik.lang7; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2510

Okay, let's see if we can't get back into the swing of this again. This is for last Thursday.

For the fourth year in a row, Yellowstone Putt-Putt won Miniature Golf Enthusiast's "Most Challenging Courses" poll, narrowly edging out Death Valley Crazy Golf and Mauna Loa Mini-Putt.
(Image originally uploaded by MeetJustin; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Speaking of Useful Idiots

Mmm, nothing like a rich dose of irony—or is it poetic justice?—first thing in the morning (via Drum, via Atrios):
Five authors have sued the parent company of Regnery Publishing, a Washington imprint of conservative books, charging that the company deprives its writers of royalties by selling their books at a steep discount to book clubs and other organizations owned by the same parent company.

In a suit filed in United States District Court in Washington yesterday, the authors Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray and Richard Miniter state that Eagle Publishing, which owns Regnery, “orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self-dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate.”

Some of the authors’ books have appeared on the New York Times best-seller list, including “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,” by Mr. Corsi and John E. O’Neill (who is not a plaintiff in the suit), Mr. Patterson’s “Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America’s National Security” and Mr. Miniter’s “Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush Is Winning the War on Terror.” In the lawsuit the authors say that Eagle sells or gives away copies of their books to book clubs, newsletters and other organizations owned by Eagle “to avoid or substantially reduce royalty payments to authors.”

The authors argue that in reducing royalty payments, the publisher is maximizing its profits and the profits of its parent company at their expense.

Um, yeah. When it's factory workers and grocery clerks and shelf-stockers and whatnot being screwed, you guys usually call that "the marketplace." It's funny how, when the Invisible Hand picks your pocket, y'all suddenly call it "injustice." My favorite lines have to be these, though (emphasis added):
In Regnery’s case, according to the lawsuit, the publisher sells books to sister companies, including the Conservative Book Club, which then sells the books to members at discounted prices, “at, below or only marginally above its own cost of publication.” In the lawsuit the authors say they receive “little or no royalty” on these sales because their contracts specify that the publisher pays only 10 percent of the amount received by the publisher, minus costs — as opposed to 15 percent of the cover price — for the book.

Mr. Miniter said that meant that although he received about $4.25 a copy when his books sold in a bookstore or through an online retailer, he only earned about 10 cents a copy when his books sold through the Conservative Book Club or other Eagle-owned channels. “The difference between 10 cents and $4.25 is pretty large when you multiply it by 20,000 to 30,000 books,” Mr. Miniter said. “It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance.” He added: “Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?”

Um...maybe because—and I hate to say it, 'cause I'm not a Marxist, I'm a liberal, and I think that social democracy offers a better prescription for curing the ills of capitalism than communism ever did, and hey, that's what Michael Moore was trying to tell us Sicko but I guess y'all were too busy whoring for the right-wing propaganda machine to listen—Marx had a point. Maybe, left to its own devices, the profit-obsessed bourgeoisie really would create, in the end, only a disgruntled, dispossessed army of its own gravediggers. Maybe that "cartoon" is more of a portrait than you'd like to admit.

Slap on some just regulations and a safety net, though, and maybe we can turn these productive forces in directions that'll make us all better off—rather than just making a few people obscenely rich thanks to their ability to siphon off an inordinate share of the wealth created by the labor of others.

I hope that this nose-rubbing in the realities of the pimp/ho relationship proves educational for these guys.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An Open Letter to Anne Applebaum

Dear Anne Applebaum:

Fuck you and your snotty little column about celebrities visiting with Hugo Chavez and your snide little cracks about "the malcontents of Hollywood, academia, and the catwalk" and your lame little guilt-by-association attempt to equate Chavez's Venezuela with Bolshevik Russia.

Has it eluded your notice that Chavez did not take power in a revolutionary bloodbath but instead has commandingly won democratic elections—repeatedly? Or that the track record of the U.S. when it comes to democratically elected leaders like him who move in socially democratic directions is generally, well, bad, including as it does the support of reactionary authoritarian coups against democratically elected governments in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), etc.? Or that the U.S. was complicit in an overthrow attempt against the democratically elected Chavez just a few years ago?

Has it not occurred to you that these facts might have something to do with why Chavez has referred to "President" Bush as "the devil," a "dictator," a "madman," and a "murderer"? Given what Bush and his administration have done to both Iraq and the United States, I fail to see much that's objectionable about any of these—except maybe "the devil," but that's only because I resist the temptation to blame supernatural beings for human evil.

For all your breezy insinuations that Chavez is some sort of awful tyrant, let's be honest: he's got a long way to go if he's even going to try to compete with Bush in degrading democracy, encouraging corruption, and piling up corpses. And you know what? I didn't even know who Naomi Campbell was until I read your column, but now I think that that you ought to get down on your knees and kiss her scrawny supermodel ass and thank her for giving you this opportunity to phone in a practically-writes-itself column where you sneer at celebrities and invoke the ghost of Bolshevism and talk about Hugo Chavez like he's Stalin or Pol Pot or something. Hey, as I type this, our "ally" Pervez Musharraf is busily jailing his entire political opposition. I eagerly await your column about that poor dupe Jon Stewart, who once offered Musharraf tea.

You wanna see a "useful idiot"? Look in the fucking mirror.


Oh, Penn Jillette: you proclaim yourself a scourge of frauds, charlatans, and idiots, but then you appear with Glenn Beck—a fraud, charlatan, and idiot than which there is none larger on telly— and blithely recite lame troglodyte talking points about Hillary Clinton. What's wrong with this picture?

Last time I checked, Quoting Out of Context was still a fallacy. Did you not know that, or was the Beck appearance just a convenient time to forget it?

Feh. The late, great Bill Hicks used to say of wealthy, big-name celebrities that still did commercial shilling that as far as he was concerned they were "off the artistic roll call." Puritanicality aside, I'm tempted to suggest something similar about so-called critical thinkers who play footsie with the likes of Glenn Beck. I cannot but admire your skills as a performer and wit, but lemme tell ya, it's going to be a LOT harder to take you seriously as a champion of critical thinking after this. Go on, go on over to the snake-oil side. They pay better, anyway.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Anti-Seinfeld

Dangit, stuff keeps getting in the way of catching up with my Eventually There'll Be At Least One for Every Day Random Flickr Blogging. In happier news, though, we finally got some honest-to-gosh fall weather in east central Florida. I mean, my bare feet actually got cold yesterday. Cold, I tell you!

I'll catch up with the ETBALOFEDRFBing as soon as I can; meanwhile, while I don't usually find much worth reading in Slate aside from Today's Papers, I highly highly highly recommend this piece by Ron Rosenbaum. I've never seen Rick Shapiro, the "anti-Seinfeld" to whom Rosenbaum refers; however, I don't think anyone could put their finger any more perfectly on what it is that I've always hated about both Jerry Seinfeld and his insipid show:

When the hype began for Bee Movie, I wondered if Seinfeld's trivializing inanity could do any more damage to the American psyche than it'd already done. And it occurred to me that rather than merely denounce Seinfeld, I should suggest an alternative, his evil twin, the Sydney Carton to his Charles Darnay, Rick Shapiro. That's me, always thinking positive.

When I say damage to the American psyche, am I exaggerating? Well, I don't know if you read Steve Martin's lovely recent memoir in The New Yorker. It was about how he became a comic before the comedy club revolution and how he participated in the birth of a new, original kind of American comedy that he and few others were exploring in the '60s and '70s. It was at once incredibly funny and incredibly silly, but also genuinely and provocatively philosophical.

But suddenly almost all that died, and I blame Seinfeld and the so-called "sweater comics" he inspired for killing it off with their smirking frat-boy blandness. Their idiot "observational humor" made a religion out of self-congratulation. Most of the Seinfeld show's humor was about making fun of anyone who was in any way "different"—immigrants, people with any kind of accent, any kind of idiosyncrasy, any kind of deviation from the Charles Darnay mold.

You could argue that a nation's character is defined at least in part by its sense of humor, and Jerry gave us the sense of humor of self-satisfaction. Anything that didn't fit the suburban Massapequa mindset was something to be held up for piddling laughs. He was so deeply in love, so deeply satisfied by his own trivial quirks that those who didn't share them were alien subjects of ridicule.

The promotional booklet really says it all. I'm not going to waste my time or yours reviewing this saccharine little animated fable which is NSFD (not safe for diabetics). Instead I invite you to stare at a drawing of Jerry's bee "Barry B. Benson," and tell me that you don't eventually see Satan.

My friend, I don't need to look at an animated bee to see Satan; I see him every time the local station runs an ad for Seinfeld. Jerry's bland, besweatered visage looms over the show title and station logo, and if you look into his big, dead eyes, you can catch a glimpse of the Dark Lord howling with triumphant laughter just before the Enzyte commercial comes on.

The Austin Lounge Lizards have a song that often comes to my mind at moments like this. It's called "Put the Oak Ridge Boys in the Slammer," and it's about—well, exactly what you'd think, given the title. But the Oak Ridge Boys are only a convenient synecdoche, stand-ins for any number of lucrative banalities. Here are my favorite lines:

Lunchtime in the USA
Baloney and American cheese
Same forty songs on the radio
Call the music police!

Send the Oak Ridge Boys up the river
And stick 'em where the sun don't show
Moor 'em in the Monongahela
Or out in the Ohio
Put the Oak Ridge Boys in the pokey
Silence 'em forevermore
Chase 'em down out of the Smokies
With brickbats and two-by-fours

I gotcher little show about nothing right here, pal. *bonk*

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #2571

Dangit, I keep missing out on the group fun—but not this week.

Meanwhile, outside Georgia O'Keeffe's house....
Meanwhile, in the late Sixties: Whew...maybe I can slip away while Shatner's busy with that big lizard thing. I really don't want to talk about that "album" he's working on.


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7700

This is for yesterday, sorry.

Sometimes the undead require blood; at other times, they can be placated with a medium frappucino.
(Image originally uploaded by InanityScout; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


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