Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3935

Some of us are leg men; some of us are breast men; some of us are nape men.
(Image originally uploaded by perkunas; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4685

The hardest part of being a Confederate States re-creator, Jenny found, was constantly having to hide the KISS tattoo she'd gotten on a dare back in college. She particularly kicked herself over the choice to have Gene Simmons's tongue going all the way down to the first knuckle. Someone got a glimpse of it once at the Ladies' Auxiliary Cotillion, and there was most unpleasant fainting episode.
(Image originally uploaded by calanimephotos; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, April 28, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2107

I love the smell of an overturned truckload of illegal fighting roosters loose on the Downtown Connector. Smells shot lead at noon.
(Image originally uploaded by dekesone; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


"I Feared for My Normal."

Matt Taibbi goes undercover with the Christian Right. Read it and weep.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8721

San Francisco, 1957: Protesters from the Bay Area Anti-Freudian Liberation Now Group (BAAFFLNG) repeatedly disrupt Alfred Hitchcock's attempts to shoot phallic imagery for Vertigo.
(Image originally uploaded by Side Salad; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


A Thought About Karl Rove

Listening to Karl Rove talk about bipartisanship is like listening to the Marquis de Sade talk about Valentine's Day.

If you read this recent WSJ piece of his, you'll notice that it's structured kind of like a porn movie: there's a bunch of fancy-looking numbers-and-statistics-laden "analysis" of the Democratic race at the beginning, but this seems tacked on mainly to avoid the inelegance of cutting straight to the grunting and the money shot at the end:

The Democratic Party has two weakened candidates. Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.

And what of the reborn Adlai Stevenson? Mr. Obama is befuddled and angry about the national reaction to what are clearly accepted, even commonplace truths in San Francisco and Hyde Park. How could anyone take offense at the observation that people in small-town and rural American are "bitter" and therefore "cling" to their guns and their faith, as well as their xenophobia? Why would anyone raise questions about a public figure who, for only 20 years, attended a church and developed a close personal relationship with its preacher who says AIDS was created by our government as a genocidal tool to be used against people of color, who declared America's chickens came home to roost on 9/11, and wants God to damn America? Mr. Obama has a weakness among blue-collar working class voters for a reason.

Um, no. As anybody who watched last Friday's Bill Moyers Journal will know, it is a serious mischaracterization to say that Reverend Wright wants God to damn America. That now infamously quoted-out-of-context line came at the end of a long list of examples of governmental immorality, amorality, and hubris. Wright's point was that, like it or not, America fits into a disturbing pattern:
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT: Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change. And I'm through now. But let me leave you with one more thing. Governments fail. The government in this text comprised of Caesar, Cornelius, Pontius Pilate - the Roman government failed. The British government used to rule from East to West. The British government had a Union Jack. She colonized Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Hong Kong. Her navies ruled the seven seas all the way down to the tip of Argentina in the Falklands, but the British government failed. The Russian government failed. The Japanese government failed. The German government failed. And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into position of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God bless America? No, no, no. Not God bless America; God damn America! That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating her citizen as less than human. God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!
Millions of Americans profess to take the Bible at least as seriously as Reverend Wright does; perhaps the real meaning of "damn" in this Jeremiad will make more sense to them upon further reflection—and once the full context of the quotation is clear. At any rate, for at least one reason for Mr. Obama's supposed "weakness among blue-collar working class voters," Mr. Rove need look no further than the work of greasy, lying political operatives like himself.

P.S. I think that that big-ass sentence about Hillary Clinton would be clearer with semicolons, as at least one item in the series contains an internal comma:

Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement; the absence of a clear and optimistic message; the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power; the phoniness and the exaggerations.
But perhaps proper punctuation is for the little people.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3292

It was another Arteoke Day at the park. A man patiently assembled a wall of soup cans, a naked girl practiced balancing on a prop clamshell, and "Adam" waited for his God, who had missed the 2:10 bus and was running late.
(Image originally uploaded by Glenn Loos-Austin; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


O'Reillity Check

Y'know what's most endearing about Bill O'Reilly? His frequent assurances to his viewers that his program researches stories carefully, so you can trust him when he tells you something 'cause he and his crack staff always check it out and tell the truth about it. Except when they don't.

On the April 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly, discussing a controversial ad by the North Carolina Republican Party attacking Sen. Barack Obama and Democratic gubernatorial candidates Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore, asserted, "[T]he reality -- and we've researched this -- is that Senator McCain has no power at all in North Carolina, all right? And Republican leaders in that state think that ad is going to help them, so they're going to go with it, no matter what McCain says." O'Reilly added, "And that's the truth. And that's what we do on 'Reality Check.'" But, contrary to O'Reilly's assertion that McCain "has no power at all in North Carolina," several supporters listed on McCain's website are also listed as having leadership positions on the North Carolina Republican Party's website and have also donated money to both the North Carolina GOP as well as Sen. McCain's presidential campaign. McCain has yet to remove their names from his website and has not reportedly returned their donations to his campaign. Additionally, neither McCain nor the Republican National Committee (RNC), which has also denounced the ad, has suggested that the North Carolina GOP will face any repercussions during this campaign season, at the party's nominating convention in September or otherwise, for its refusal to pull the ad.
Nice, but this is nowhere as impressive as the time when, to back up his false claim that his mighty boycott over their refusal to join the Iraq attack had cost the French billions, he cited a nonexistent publication called the Paris Business Review. Inventing, not just a fact, but a whole source: now that's chutzpah.

Or is it? The simplest explanation, of course, is that guys like Bill O'Reilly are just shameless liars, but as I have previously speculated apropos of Chuck Asay, there is a more charitable possibility: that O'Reilly lives in an alternate universe but broadcasts in this one. In the universe he sees, there really is a Paris Business Review, France really was left economically bruised and battered by an O'Reilly-led boycott, and John McCain really does have "no power at all in North Carolina"; in the universe he broadcasts in, however, he just winds up looking like a mendacious blowhard. If only the ontological rift that bridges the two universes could be closed permanently with BO'Re on the other side, so he could pontificate in a place where his genius and honesty would be appreciated. Science? Get the Large Hadron Collider on it, pronto.

MFMs in the MSM Update

PBS's Newshour has now done a segment on the "message force multipliers" story; even better, they actually brought on John Stauber, one of those undersung heroes from the Center for Media Democracy, which has been busily educating citizens on the sad realities of PR, perception management, government-media propaganda collaborations, etc.—doing a job that the mainstream media in a democracy ought to do but don't. Indeed, one sad spinoff of this story has been the evidence it's provided that many in the MSM have so thoroughly internalized their role as de facto propagandists that they can't even see the Times's revelations as much of a story—or can't admit that it is, anyway. PBS says that Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC all declined an offer to participate in the Newshour story, and it's almost embarrassing to watch Robert Zelnick, the former ABC correspondent who did agree to come on opposite John Stauber, keep trying to frame the story as one of "media seeking experts for regular meetings, must give good interview," desperately trying to ignore the inconvenient facts that Stauber keeps bringing up: that the evidence suggests that the whole operation was planned and executed by the Pentagon as part of an illegal domestic propaganda exercise.

"John Stauber is not of the Body."
Now here we are, thousands upon thousands of lives and billions upon billions of dollars later, mired in an occupation with no end in sight, Osama Bin Laden no closer to capture, the Middle East no closer to peace, oil prices skyrocketing, food prices skyrocketing, home values plummeting, mortgage crisis spreading, climate crisis worsening, etc. etc. etc. What will it take to make media insiders like Zelnick finally rethink the way they do business? If the damage done to the United States in the last eight years is not enough, what will it take?

Anyway, kudos to PBS for its segment—and especially for bringing on a serious critic like John Stauber. I know better than to expect anything similar from the other outlets mentioned above.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8741

The very portrait of nonchalance. "Wow, look at that sunset."
(Image originally uploaded by cdiclerico; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5664

Product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between the Guggenheim Museum, the Sydney Opera House, and Cadillac Ranch.
(Image originally uploaded by alessandro silipo; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


MFMs in the MSM

That's "message force multipliers," the Newspeak name for that army of ex-generals and whatnot that formed a de facto front group for the Bush Administration by going forth unto the media and posing as objective voices while dutifully reciting the same talking points, not that we knew they were doing this until that New York Times story came out last weekend, and not that you'd know it know yet if you relied on NBC, CBS, NPR, or PBS for your news. Now, The Daily Show, they're on the case—but not these august representatives of the MSM.

Tuesday's Democracy Now! had a nice segment on the "Pentagon Pundits" story; listen or read down for some particularly infuriating conversations with Frank Sesno and Aaron Brown of CNN. Brown is particularly obnoxious: faced with reasonable questions about why CNN filled the ether with military and ex-military voices but offered virtually no time to war skeptics during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, he responds by calling the issue "a red herring" and blathering on about how knowledgeable the generals are in military matters—and then proceeds to suggest that his DN! interlocutors had somehow missed his point when they press him on the issue of CNN's grotesquely imbalanced pro-war coverage. Gaaaaaah. I hate these people.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4289

I'm having a crappy week. I crave the redemptive power of cuteness.

We now return to My Fair LOLCAT. "Why, yes, thank you, I would like a cheeseburger very much."
(Image originally uploaded by; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6953

The Eurocop films were huge hits elsewhere but bombed in the States, probably thanks to the hero's wispiness and the many arty but interminable paperwork montages.
(Image originally uploaded by ... Thomas Junk™; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, April 21, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3294

The great action photographer Arnold Geddes specialized in catching women in mid-nag.
(Image originally uploaded by michielvw; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


True In So Many Ways

Such a weird, wild, whacky world it is. No sooner do I mention Siegfried and Roy in a caption than, courtesy the News Dissector, I run across this multiply disturbing comparison in Spiegel Online:

Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke have more in common with the big cat entertainers Siegfried & Roy than any of us can be comfortable with.
With an opening like that, can you resist reading the rest?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2338

Suddenly, Clippy appears on the screen:

"It looks like you're trying to asphyxiate me. Would you like help?
• Yes, fetch the month-old milk from the fridge
• No thanks, the socks should do the trick"

(Image originally uploaded by legman29; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4218

Archaeologists are divided on the significance of these hermaphroditic shaman figures but have nonetheless informally dubbed them "The Olmec Siegfried and Roy."
(Image originally uploaded by erasmo perez; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, April 18, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4893

Quixotescope was my favorite of all the old anamorphic formats. Such vibrant colors!
It may have less zazz, but it also attracts much less ire than their original slogan, "The Harriet Tubman of Valve Lifters."
First the French hens became Freedom hens; now the eight maids a-milking have been replaced with eight ferrets drinking out of deference to feminists and the lactose intolerant. Political correctness has gone too far, I tell you.
(Image originally uploaded by norjam8, Voodoo Zebra, and wordweasel; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Always With the Monkeys

Cursed anti-elitism!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1541

Inspired by the Sci-Fi Channel's gritty updating of Battlestar Galactica, HBO's reworking of The Partridge Family shocked many with its frequent references to casual sex and heroin use.
(Image originally uploaded by mike_1630; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Call Him Tim

Speaking of the crappiness of the corporate media, that Tim Robbins speech to the National Association of Broadcasters that's been making the rounds is definitely worth a look or listen. The text may be found here, and FAIR has been kind enough to make it available in .mp3 or .wav.

The absolute zenith of news, the perfect storm of reporting, the shining city on the hill in news coverage was Lewinsky v Clinton. Now that was fun. We couldn't get enough of that. There were salacious details, semen stains, oral sex. And the president lied. He threatened every notion of marriage and the sanctity of family. He put our country at risk. And when he did lie we held his feet to the fire. We reported on every angle, every permutation of the story. We held hearings, appointed an independent council, led off every newscast for months about the lie, played it until there was no hiding from it, and then held him accountable by impeaching him. It is our moral responsibility to report on the sex lives of the powerful. It is the only thing that kept our country alive at that point. It righted our ship of state. It saved our collective soul. And it was great, juicy fun. Imagine what would have happened to our country's soul if the president lied and nothing was done about it, if impeachment was off the table. Where would we be today if we did not hold our president accountable?
There's a nice live recording of his play Embedded, by the way—quite worthwhile.

All But Comical

Wow. Apparently, I missed a humdinger of a waste of time last night.

Good old ABC News. I rarely bother watching TV "news," but it's ironic: one of the last times I actually sat down to watch an evening newscast, ABC World News with Charles Gibson insulted my and every American's intelligence with that pathetic manufactured Hey! Look! Two guys-who've-cheered-on-the-war-and-"The Surge"-for-years-but-we'll-pretend-they're-war-critics-anyway now say "The Surge" is working! propaganda exercise discussed here. "Usually dependable"—right.

I try to avoid thoughts like this, but I find myself wishing that there were stocks on the National Mall or someplace like that and that every media celebrity who's taken a big paycheck in return for degrading the national discourse and insulting the national intellect could be sentenced to a turn in them. It could be part of every childhood pilgrimage to the capital: stand reverently in the Lincoln Memorial, climb up the Washington Monument, pelt Charles Gibson with garbage. Maybe we could train a webcam on the stocks or feature them on a dedicated C-SPAN channel so people who can't visit Washington could share in the cathartic thrill. It's a crabby, mean-spirited vision, but it's mine.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8127

Such historical realism! As the original caption notes, this is "Alton Morris dancers performing in the garden of Jane Austen's house during the village fete and open garden day." The only thing missing is Jane Austen herself standing at the window as she was wont to do and shouting "Get out of my garden, you sick freaks!"
(Image originally uploaded by DavidQuick; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Out of the Chamber Endlessly Echoing

If you're sick unto death of the stupid, dishonest elitism! blathering from well-heeled politicians and well-heeled media celebrities (The Daily Show has a nice compendium below), then read John Nichols on Obama on trade. Then take the nearest gun, pray to whatever higher power you believe in, and kill your ****ing television.

Don't Mention the War

What? Tom Brokaw managed to write an almost-700-page book on The Sixties full of interviews with people who lived through them that barely mentions the Vietnam War?

Since Brokaw's book consists mainly of more than 80 interviews with veterans of the '60s, his biases are primarily revealed through his choice of interviewees. Democratic Party activist and businessman Sam Brown is cited twice in the book, but a seminal '60s figure like Tom Hayden is ignored. Sen. James Webb's portrayal of the war as solely a military battle, and of antiwar protesters as cowardly and unpatriotic, receives five or six times as much space as anyone else interviewed. The experiences of brave anti-draft leaders like David Harris, who went to jail out of moral opposition to the war, and courageous people like former volunteer chief Don Luce, who risked his life for years to bring civilian suffering to public attention -- including exposing the "tiger cages" and other torture of tens of thousands of political prisoners -- are not included.

Veterans like Colin Powell, Bob Kerrey, Wayne Downing and John McCain, who do not mention U.S. murder of civilians, are interviewed at length. The views of equally well-known veterans who bravely exposed and opposed the murder -- like John Kerry, Bobby Muller (whose organization won a Nobel Prize for the land mines treaty) and Ron Kovic (author of Born on the Fourth of July) -- are written out of Brokaw's history. Les Gelb, a former Department of Defense official who worked on the Pentagon Papers but kept silent, is interviewed. But Daniel Ellsberg, the former government official who bravely copied the papers and leaked them to the press, is not even mentioned, much less interviewed. War opponents like George McGovern, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton are only quoted about the war's aftermath -- not the crimes that led them to oppose it.

Sigh. A book on The Sixties that doesn't mention Daniel Ellsberg. And thousands of people—lured in part, let's be honest, by Brokaw's celebrity (he was on the teevee, so he must be smart)—will buy this and think that it gives them some understanding of the era.

We've found a new use for celebrity "journalists" as mythologists-by-proxy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1368

E for Enormous Army of Lawyers—Run!
(Image originally uploaded by epicfailcult; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Standard Operating Procedure

It looks like Errol Morris is back as of April 25—at least for you folks in New York and Los Angeles.

Update: Fixed ultra-embarrassing "Error Morris" typo—only ten days after making it! God, that was sad. He's one of my favorite directors and all.

PowerPoint Karaoke?

The fact that this exists helps to shore up my faith in the human spirit.

If you've never heard of PowerPoint Karaoke, that probably means you're neither German nor a hardcore techie. The phenomenon has been spreading geek to geek and conference to conference since it was invented by a German artists' group in 2005. PowerPoint Karaoke sessions have been held at last year's E-Tech conference in San Diego, the Chaos Conference in Berlin, and at smaller tech gatherings in Los Angeles, London, and Montreal.

In a typical event, a few brave people volunteer to "present" a random deck of slides pulled off the Web, or borrowed from friends or employers... The audience laughs, cheers, and yells out suggestions as the presenters gamely struggle to link one slide to the next, transforming something that probably started life as a tedious corporate monologue into a five-minute flight of creative irony.

Live Random Flickr Karaoke might also be fun, now that I think about it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4474

Taking Grandpa out in public became more and more an ordeal. "Look at his eyes. He's been smoking the reefer, I tell you!"
(Image originally uploaded by Ciscovaras; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9486

Products of unspeakable ménages à trois between Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Cohen, and E.T. the Extraterrestrial may be closer than they appear.
(Image originally uploaded by o2ma; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Finest Home Movies That You Have Ever Seen (Not)

Elvis Costello's song "Less Than Zero" was inspired by seeing notorious British fascist Oswald Mosley on television. Costello himself said that the song, with its dark hints of sickness and perversion, was "more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument"; however, here we are years later, and Mosley's son Max has apparently been caught on film in a "sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers" replete with bondage, whippings, concentration-camp-commandant roleplaying, etc. Irony or prescience? You make the call.

Not Having Cable

I miss SO MUCH. Like Hardball, for instance. So many great insights into politics, like Don't ask for orange juice instead of coffee in a diner as it shows you're an elitist, or out of touch with "regular people," or something.

I kind of wish Obama would ask for carrot juice next time, just to see if it would make Chris Matthews's head explode. If that doesn't work, try kumquat. Or pomegranate. Or Clamato. Anything. Just bring on that explosion, baby.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5064

I apologize if the Dylan reference is too obscure, but honestly, it's the first thing I thought when I saw the photo.

Spanish Harlem Incident: The Sequel.
(Image originally uploaded by daniel arnold!; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton. I think that the jaunty Byrds version captures the playful, flirtatious spirit of the song even better than Dylan's original.)


Somebody Just Hit Him with a Pie, Already

Economics according to Glenn Beck:

This is what she [Michelle Obama] said at a North Carolina campaign stop, and I quote, "The truth is, most Americans don't want much. Folks don't want the whole pie." I do. But I -- there's a fat man screaming to get out of me. "Most Americans feel blessed to thrive just a little bit." Well, good, let's lower the bar. "But that's out of reach for them." And then she continued, "The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so someone else can have more." Well, hello and welcome back, Karl Marx.

A redistribution of pie doesn't make me feel any better. Thanks, but no thanks, Michelle. When it comes to pie, or money, I'll take all I can get. I want all my pie. I should be able to keep my pie. And you know what? I want you to have a huge piece of pie, as well. Have the whole thing. It's not because I'm -- I'm selfish, I'm not. Unlike the Obamas, I happen to give away more than 1 percent of my income to charity.

The bottom line is this: success and money -- it's not finite. This is America. That's not a zero-sum game. There's as much as you feel like working for it. You know, you've got to -- you got to look at money and success as the ocean. It doesn't hurt the ocean to back a dump truck up to it and take a bunch of water out of it. There's more. Stand in line, go get it. Let's stop thinking about pieces of pie, and remember that if you wanted to look at it as pie, this is America. We're a freaking bakery. Bake more. Make as many pies as you want.

Um, no. Wealth is not like the ocean; it's not just out there waiting for someone to back a dump truck (?) up to it. See, Glenn, your pie metaphor could be instructive for you here if only you'd pay closer attention to it. A pie, after all, isn't natural; it has to be made. And surely Marx's point is that, too often under capitalism, the people whose labor actually makes the pie don't wind up getting their fare share of it; instead, the pie is "owned" by someone else who, all too often under capitalism, pays the people who made it as little as possible for their labor and keeps the rest. Except, I guess, for the bit that gets paid to people like you to go on TV and obfuscate the issue by offering poorly thought-out metaphors and screaming "Marxism! Socialism!" anytime someone suggests that the existing system of distribution is not sufficiently fair. Whether you earn your piece honestly (by being an idiot) or dishonestly (by being a whore), I cannot say—and I doubt that your masters care. I just look forward to the day when your fifteen minutes are over and you can retire into the future of mattress-shilling obscurity you so richly deserve. Hasten the day, --nash

Friday, April 11, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2198

I don't think I've done a limerick before. Haiku, yes, but not limerick. I know what you're thinking: Big deal. When you can caption by sonnet, let me know.

Said a pale young fellow named Stock
As he stood by a deep Scottish loch,
"Should a monster appear,
I will not quake with fear,
I'll just hit the damn thing with this rock."
(Image originally uploaded by boozyjimcarver; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Oliver's Army

John Oliver and The Daily Show do a number on Fox News (parts one and two). Worries about excessive executive power, tough questions about a sitting president—those were the days. The Clinton days, that is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6060

Decades of runoff from the Educational Testing Service compound produced a horror that is to dreadful as ghastly is to appalling. Not since the beginning of standardized testing has the world beheld a terror like The Teacher from the Black Lagoon!
(Image originally uploaded by GerryT; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4633

But the kidnappers fell out over comma placement, and the ransom note was never sent. "We should put one after the father's name, as it's a proper noun used in direct address." "A comma is optional in such instances." "No, it's necessary to set the elements of direct address off from the actual clause." "It's optional, I tell you!" *guns drawn* *groups scatter*
Cappy the Contact Mine was probably the most underappreciated of World War II mascots, though you do occasionally see him on Antiques Roadshow.
Fun Facts That Earthlings Do Not Yet Know, #127: The Tau Cetian word for planet translates literally as "Caution: Filling May Be Hot."
(Image originally uploaded by PeteBerg, k c m, and Vincent Ma; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7301

And here the local police had been freaking out at the news that the "Tenth Street Satans" were moving in. The FBI seriously needs to hire a proofreader, big-time.
(Image originally uploaded by fivedollarones; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Backward Christian Soldiers

See, this is why some of us get worried upon hearing that some prominent Democrats—presidential candidates, even—have more-than-casual ties to creepy right-wing "religious" groups (via C&L). It's like a bad joke. Q: What did the Democratic Illinois legislator say to the atheist testifying before her committee? A:

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

See, many of us want Democrats to help protect us from religious tyrants, not to be religious tyrants. Is that so wrong?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1634

Late April, 2008: Pundits continue to assail Barack Obama over his inexplicable decision to forgo "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" in favor of crooning "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" instead.
(Image originally uploaded by daveiam; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton. Don't miss that Sinatra YouTube;it's really quite good—and that may be one of the ten best song performances I have ever heard, period.)


We Own the World

Nobody weaves inconvenient facts together into a hairshirt for the naked emperor quite like—

I'm sorry: that metaphor has been left on a hillside to die. Just go read Chomsky.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9943

Suddenly, Glenn Beck comes charging into the frame. "Don't worry, kids—I'll save you!"
(Image originally uploaded by seton family of hospitals; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1823

Here's a threefer to end the week.

Ah, the original cover photo from the seminal '60s jazz classic "Premature, Compared to What?"
Dear Senator Carson: If the President can count on your support re. the warrantless wiretapping bill, then the media need never know of your secret canophilia.
Mid-April, 2008: Pundits dissect Barack Obama's latest attempt to manly up.

"Americans like their president to use a spinning reel, Chris, not an overhead reel."

"The fisherman symbolism will only remind voters of the rumors that he's a Muslim."

"Hey, wasn't Ernest Hemingway gay?"

(Image originally uploaded by WebBuddha, brianmc, and Ray Majoran; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, April 04, 2008

An Open Letter to Bob Gorrell

Dear Bob Gorrell:

I can appreciate that cartoonists are sometimes out of ideas and can't do anything much more sophisticated than belch forth bile about politicians they don't like. Hence, I assume, this cartoon:

Hey, speaking of bald-faced lies about war zones, do you remember when St. McCain took that "stroll" through a Baghdad market to show Americans how normal and peaceful Iraq really was, not like how that bad ol' liberal media made it look—without bothering to mention that he'd been accompanied on his "stroll" by a hundred soldiers and five helicopters? Nah, I didn't think you did. Selective memory sure comes in handy, huh?

I rather like the disturbingly isoceles newscaster, though, I must admit. Be sure to bring him back in the future.


An Open Letter to Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Dear Representative McHenry:

Those of us who opposed the Iraq war routinely get accused of "not supporting the troops" and "hating the military" and such; though false, these slurs are understandable, since they distract attention from the extent to which we have been right about this war being a ghastly, tragic mistake—and with no respectable reasons left in their arsenal, it's not surprising that war supporters would turn to the verbal equivalent of feces-flinging. But I have never, never heard a war opponent refer to a U.S. soldier as "a two-bit security guard." We may not like this sick, stupid war, but we do not have contempt for the people who have been forced to fight it. But they're just employees to people like you, aren't they? Not long ago I read a suggestion for a bumper sticker: "There are two kinds of Republicans: millionaires and suckers." I'm not usually fond of bumper-sticker slogans, what with their built-in oversimplification and all, but the more I hear you people talk, the more I think that that one is spot on.

Give those people a McApology or get McLost,


Update: Representative McHenry has apologized—and it turns out that the offense was not as originally reported, either. The offendee was a foreign contractor, not a U.S. soldier. The use of the expression "supervisor" rather than "commanding officer" in the video should have clued me in to that likelihood. (Contractors outnumber U.S. troops, after all, and more of them are foreign than American.) I apologize for my stupidity. Unfortunately, ThinkProgress has yet to apologize for its. They have only posted updates, and from what I can figure, their original source for the claim was an opposing politician's press release which only called the offendee "a sentry protecting U.S. personnel in Iraq"—a fair description, given what is said on the accompanying video. Who embellished this to "U.S. soldier"? ThinkProgress claims that two sources—Carolina Politics and the opposing politician, Lance Sigmon—"originally reported" the "soldier" claim, but Sigmon's post only refers to the offendee as a sentry. The Carolina Politics post has been updated and corrected, but a cached version links to the Sigmon post and bears the headline, "McHenry Refers to Soldier as 'Two Bit Security Guard'." This seems to be where "sentry" got turned into "soldier"—with ThinkProgress then embellishing this further to "U.S. soldier." Pretty shabby. It's a sad day for a "progressive" site when The Weekly Standard gets to score cheap points off of you for what is at best shameful carelessness and at worst pathetic sleazery—and when you're reduced to linking Captain Ed in your defense.

He's right, though, that TP's error doesn't let McHenry off the hook. My thoughts above about the mindset revealed by that "two-bit security guard" comment still stand. Plus, when one considers the disparities between soldier pay and contractor pay—"Some contractors make in a month what many active-duty soldiers make in a year. Indeed, there are private contractors in Iraq who make more money than the Secretary of Defense or the commanding generals"—"ten-bit security guard" would probably have been more apt.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6150

Don't feel bad. Lotsa guys chicken out halfway through their Equus audition.
(Image originally uploaded by Capitan Giona; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9844

But as Senator Craig faded from the headlines, Wide Stance the mascot's fifteen minutes of fame were soon over.
(Image originally uploaded by tcgathens; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #0463

I remembered to come out and play this week.

What this airport needs to liven it up is a production of a little play called Waiting for Godot!

A baggage carousel. Three trees.


I keep waiting for Disney Studios to give us the interactive Marilyn Monroe thing, but no, all we get is PT-109.
Hell of a way to lose a nipple ring.
(Images originally uploaded by andy54321, MattwThorn, and joelhousman; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)



The Iraq war has been awful in many, many ways, but it's been a serious boon for Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, aka the founders of the Institute of Expertology. So many experts! So astoundingly wrong! So little accountability! Read a nifty op-ed by the expertologists here; there's also a nice conversation with them on last week's RadioNation (MP3).

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9323

Who among us has not heard that still, small voice, coming as if from above, saying, "You gonna eat that?"
(Image originally uploaded by whoismike; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7971

Carpooling I understand, but skipooling? That seems kinda like overkill.
(Image originally uploaded by Jewlicious; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


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