Saturday, July 31, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3856

Saigon...shit. I'm still in Saigon.
(Image originally uploaded by rkalajian; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, July 30, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4347

"Magnificent! The unidentifiability of the ingredients; the perfect balance of the glistening, the inchoate, and the gelatinous; the three hitherto-unknown-to-nature shades of green—this meal is unappetizing on pretty much every level. Congratulations," the judges said, "you graduate from airline to prison chef."

*squeals of joy*

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


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9079

*Cindy insists on doing photo shoot at beach*

*Earth-Shaker Poseidon awakens from long slumber, angered by hideous outfits*

*Ancient Greek polytheism turns out to be the right religion*

*Desperate scramble to sacrifice cattle ensues*

*Soon impossible to get a decent hamburger*

*Thanks a lot, Cindy*

(Image originally uploaded by vork22; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The French Rooster Connection

The Big Picture has an awesome "infographic" that sums up how Glenn Beck and his loyal sponsor Goldline sucker people into buying overpriced gold coins that basically represent instant losses of investment wealth (h/t Media Matters). Ahem:

Despite Rep. Weiner's investigation, it is not illegal to overcharge customers. Everyone knows a $2,000 Fendi purse is a grossly overpriced fashion statement, but no one thinks of it as a good 'investment.' The problem is that Goldline is taking would-be gold investors and turning them into coin collectors without their knowledge. When the Glenn Beck version of the financial apocalypse cometh, the last thing you want to be holding is a bunch of antique French coins.
Big honking .jpg version here. How many of Beck's viewers do you suppose have already lost lots of hard-earned money to this sleazery? I swear, he makes Lonesome Rhodes look like Edward R. Murrow.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0472

Word of advice: When hiring a wedding singer, (a) check references and (b) insist on complete control re. repertoire.

The hysterical bride in the penny arcade
Screaming she moans, “I’ve just been made”
Then sends out for the doctor who pulls down the shade
And says, “My advice is to not let the boys in”

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


Entropy Nation

James Howard Kunstler pokes around in some Hudson River remnants of industrious industrial America and ruminates on a civilization that's polluting, financializing, and outsourcing itself into oblivion:

The reality I spend these days rambling the river with is the reality of a nation riding a great wave of entropy into the unknown. Only at this stage of the ride can we indulge in our Goth fantasies of the charming vampire nether-life. Believe me, when things really get dark we will all be wishing desperately for something more like lambs-in-the-meadow and the kindly touch of a loving hand and the dim memory of what it was like to care about anything or anyone.

Where we are now, to me, is the real dark time, the proverbial moment before the dawn. The depravity of our culture, Disney merchandise, cool ranch Doritos, and all, is something that people of the future will marvel at for centuries to come. The purity of our surrender will fascinate them. They will conclude that we looked into the abyss... and decided that we liked what we saw in there.

In all fairness, that became much easier once the abyss was renamed THE FREEDOM VOID.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0472

Alas that Confuse-a-Cat has yet to open a branch office in Trondheim.
(Image originally uploaded by Ami & Papa Photos; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Slap That Mythology Around a Bit More

Dean Baker's probably getting to the point where he can critique the ever-predictable WaPo in his sleep:

In an article that discussed the two-tier pay system that Chrysler and GM adopted as part of their rescue plan, the Post told readers that the debate over autoworkers' wages during the bailout pitted "the advocates of the free market against those for a 'fair wage.'" Actually, there was no one in this debate advocating a free market. Those who wanted to see the wages of union auto workers cut were still very supportive of the licensing and professional restrictions that protect doctors and other highly paid professionals from foreign competition. These people also support other major forms of interference with market outcomes such as copyrights and patent protection.

The only clearly recognizable view held by those who insisted that autoworkers wages [sic] lowered to $14 an hour was that they wanted to see autoworkers get paid less money. The Post should simply report what people say and not attribute an ideology to them which almost certainly does not fit reality.

How many Post writers are really worth more than $14/hour? Especially the hacks on the editorial page?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2937

I just couldn't stomach RenFests anymore once they started embedding ads.

"Forsooth, m'Lord, consulteth thy physician if thy engorgement persisteth beyond one quarter of yon sundial."

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


Our Pentagon Papers?

Today's Democracy Now! features a great panel discussion of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan mega-leak if you're curious. Jay Rosen's post has been getting a lot of attention; I must say that he nails the administration's response entirely too well:

2. The initial response from the White House was extremely unimpressive:

  • This leak will harm national security. (As if those words still had some kind of magical power, after all the abuse they have been party to.)
  • There’s nothing new here. (Then how could the release harm national security?)
  • Wikileaks is irresponsible; they didn’t even try to contact us! (Hold on: you’re hunting the guy down and you’re outraged that he didn’t contact you?)
  • Wikileaks is against the war in Afghanistan; they’re not an objective news source. (So does that mean the documents they published are fake?)
  • “The period of time covered in these documents… is before the President announced his new strategy. Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three month policy review and a change in strategy.” (Okay, so now we too know the basis for the President’s decision: and that’s a bad thing?)
Hope and change, baby. Hope and change.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2810

Bob emerged after years in his isolated cabin in the mountains to post his civilization-changing manifesto only to have it taken down almost immediately and replaced with a lost-puppy notice.

It's hard out there for an alienated loner.

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


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3819

"Hey, baby: Want to try a new creation of mine that I call a Queegarita?"

*middlebrow reference lost on 95% of hittees*

*another 4% don't drink*

*remaining 1% drop hints involving Myth of Sisyphus*

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


Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4285

Weatherman Dave will never live down the day he mixed up his "chance of showers" with his "golden sunset" and told the entire tri-state viewing audience to "expect golden showers before the day is through."
(Image originally uploaded by houltbrandon; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Great Enemies List in the Sky

RIP Daniel Schorr, one of the last remaining reasons to listen to NPR.

And let's just say that his record of being sacked from corporate-media jobs for pissing off the government made him something of today's media. Sigh.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5741

Damn. That's perfect. I hereby decree that if I ever start a religion, every marriage ceremony will be held in the hedge maze from The Shining.
(Image originally uploaded by daniel john buchanan; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Taint

It's good that they're making nice with Shirley Sherrod again, but karoli is right: "There's no question that the administration walks out of this one with the taint of a Breitbart/Fox punking on them." And so does the mainstream media: When, oh when, will the recognize Andrew Breitbart for the journalistic fraud that he is? (But hey, it's all the NAACP's fault for provoking Breitbart in the first place, right? Blecch.) And so does the conservative media, for that matter:

At some point conservatives need to ask themselves about the larger meaning of this kind of conduct [i.e., the Daily Caller and its Journolist nonsense]—and Andrew Breitbart’s—for their movement. Beyond the ethics of lying and smear one’s opponents, I would think conservatives would worry about the fact that a large portion of conservative media is dedicated to lying to conservatives. They regard their audience as marks to be misled and exploited, not as customers to be served with useful information.
I hate to say it, but damn if the shoe doesn't fit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3806

Eugene Levy: actor, director, inexplicable gigolo.
(Image originally uploaded by L'album d Armando; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Still Clueless After All These Years

While it's good to know that the Obama administration has rethought its stupid and impetuous actions in the Shirley Sherrod case, it's also painful to contemplate the levels of political cowardice and incompetence summed up in this Guardian article:

The White House has been forced to make an embarrassing U-turn after it appeared to have acted rashly in approving the sacking of a senior black official who was being targeted by a controversial rightwing blogger.

The Obama administration had initially supported the decision of Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, to force the resignation of Shirley Sherrod after a misleadingly edited version of a speech she gave in March caused outrage on the internet. The edited clips, put out by Andrew Breitbart of the conservative site, who has worked with the leading rightwing blogger Matt Drudge, gave the impression that Sherrod, the department's head of rural development in the southern state of Georgia, had boasted about having discriminated against a white farmer 24 years ago.

But when the full footage of the speech was released hours later, it became clear that she was recounting the story as a parable for why every poor person deserved to be helped equally, whatever their race.

In the wake of the full tape becoming available, the White House said the case should be looked at again. Vilsack, who initially had said his department had a "zero tolerance for discrimination", also made a startling volte face, promising a "thorough review to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner".

But by then the damage had been done, with the White House and a key department having apparently acted in haste to force out of office a senior black woman at the whim of rightwing pundits.

Jeebus, but the truth hurts sometimes. The Obama people are supposedly packed with internet savvy; is there nobody in the administration who, you know, monitors the blogosphere or keeps up with the important media-crit sites at least? I mean, anybody who's read Media Matters for even the last six months would know better than to take an Andrew Breitbart story at face value. To act like this because of Andrew Breitbart is beyond shameful:
Sherrod said she was ordered to resign by Vilsack's deputy, Cheryl Cook, while she was on a long drive, and was even ordered to pull over on the side of the road and send in her resignation by Blackberry. "The administration were not interested in hearing the truth. No one wanted to hear the truth," she told CNN.
And I guess nobody at the NAACP keeps up with Media Matters, either:
The saga also embarrassed the NAACP, which was also over-hasty in judging Sherrod, telling Fox News that it repudiated "racists in our ranks". After seeing the full video, it said it had been "snookered" into misinterpreting her views.
Ye gods. After what Breitbart did to ACORN through video trickery, you'd think that any story associated with him would be treated with extreme skepticism by anyone to the left of Tom Tancredo—let alone by people working for the oldest black political organization and the first black POTUS. Yet here we are.

People! Do yourselves a favor: go here, bookmark it, add it to your RSS feeds, subscribe to the email list, whatever. It won't solve all your problems, but it should at least help you avoid being marks for cheap scammers like Breitbart. Tear yourselves away from Politico and Drudge if you have to, and for God's sake get a clue about the media apparatus arrayed against you—before it's too late.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0945

Few sculptures capture the human condition quite like Jacques Lipchitz's Long Line for the Restroom.
(Image originally uploaded by 4svetla; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


President Breitbart

Y'know, if the Obamanoids are going to throw people to the wolves this easily, I'm not sure it matters all that much if the Republicans get their precious subpoena power back after the mid-terms. As digby notes:

They are telling wingnuts everywhere that all they have to do is gin up a phony controversy (especially about a black person, apparently) and the administration will fire them so as not to shake confidence that they are "fair service providers."

This is sheer cowardice.

And "political malpractice," and that's almost too kind. Did the Clinton years teach these people nothing? Have the last 18 months not given them ample evidence of just how cynical, nasty, and ruthless many in the right-wing power structure are? Did the Obama administration learn nothing about its opposition from the stimulus fight, the healthcare fight, the unemployment fight, etc.?

Watch out White House staffers, indeed. Your own boss just painted a big 'ol target on your backs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7091

"Well. And here I thought Rio Jesus was a Howard Hawks Western." "Quiet, you."
(Image originally uploaded by forlani; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Democracy Monday

It's an embarrassment of riches at Democracy Now! today: Bill Arkin talking about his and Dana Priest's long-overdue WaPo investigation of the Kafka-on-steroids post-9/11 corporate/national security apparatus (see also Greenwald and Atrios); Tim Shorrock wondering why it took Pravda on the Potomac so long to get around to investigating said apparatus; and Dean Baker on Social Security and catfood commissionry.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7996

They don't like to admit it publicly, but half of MoMA's Japanese collection came from various Akira Kurosawa yard sales.
(Image originally uploaded by wyliepoon; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


"it all has the feeling of a Mormon doing a pole dance"

Sam Smith on the Obama disappointment and being "stuck with a Democratic president trying to act like a Republican while still holding on to his liberal base."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5572

Bettie Page: fetish model, pin-up icon, avid rock climber.
(Image originally uploaded by Hopes photos; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, July 16, 2010

Say Amen

James Galbraith: "Bankers must be made to feel the power of the law in their bones."

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3092


FREEDOM™ is recommended for casual use as an object of veneration or rhetorical weapon only. FREEDOM™ is not recommended for serious use. When taken seriously, FREEDOM™ may cause side effects including dissatisfaction with existing socioeconomic authorities and institutions, failure to conform to accepted sociocultural norms, conflict with family, alienation from peers, difficulty with neighbors, ostracism from dominant social groups, countercultural affiliation, violence from defenders of established order, death, and independent thought. Side effects may be worsened if FREEDOM™ is taken in conjunction with JUSTICE™, MORALITY™, or SOLIDARITY™. Management accepts no responsibility for suffering caused by management attempts to contain FREEDOM™ within parameters defined by management.

Ask for it by name.

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


Backward, Bronze Age Soldiers

A must-read when you have a chance: Truthout's long but engrossing profile of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (an organization whose necessity would be inconceivable in an America that still understood its Enlightenment roots) and fighter against the increasingly fascistic versions of "Christian dominionism" that have spread even into the institutions most popularly associated with the defense of traditional American liberties: the armed forces. Here's just one small taste of the sort of stuff he's up against (emphases mine):

MRFF receives multitudes of thank you's from veterans and service members serving across the globe. One thank you came from a U.S. Navy veteran, a self described "religious Jew," who described extreme religious coercion during hospital stays at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2007. "During two hospitalizations, despite my written and verbal instructions to the contrary, the hospital staff was not content to just refuse to contact my rabbi," wrote Akiva David Miller, now the director veterans affairs for MRFF, "they sent a proselytizing Protestant chaplain in to see me - while I was bedridden and wired to a heart monitor - to tell me that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews too, and that my only hope was salvation through Jesus Christ." Miller and his rabbi protested and the medical center retaliated by discontinuing Miller's care. When they cut of [sic] his pain medication, Miller asked his doctor why. His response: "You're a religious Jew. Why don't you try prayer or meditation?" Miller contacted MRFF. Mikey flew out to Des Moines and held a press conference that launched a full investigation that confirmed Miller's discrimination. And with the help of his old boss Ross Perot, Mikey got Miller care at the Dallas V.A. Medical Center.
According to that Navy Times story,
Miller, 46, an Orthodox Jew, said he was repeatedly proselytized by hospital chaplains and staff in attempts to convert him to Christianity during three hospitalizations over the past two years.

He said he went hungry each time because the hospital wouldn’t serve him kosher food, and the staff refused to contact his rabbi, who could have brought him something to eat.


Over the past two years, Miller said, he has been asked over and over by the Iowa City VA medical center’s staff within its offices, clinics and wards, “You mean you don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah?” and “Is it just Orthodox Jews who deny Jesus?” He said one staffer told him, “I don’t understand; how can you not believe in Jesus; he’s the Messiah of the Jews, too, you know.”

They can pretend all they want that this sort of abuse is done in the name of the dominion of God, but all I see is the dominion of men—nasty, petty, small-minded, cruel-hearted ones at that. Whatever they may call themselves, it's hard for me to call people like this "Christians" since so many Christians would not think that they were somehow honoring God by tormenting and belittling a sick man. Instead, I've come to think of these disturbingly arrogant, authoritarian, anti-intellectual, bibliolatrous, sometimes downright sociopathic people as Bronze-Age Tribalists. They're BATs as far as I'm concerned.

Read more when you get a chance—if you have the stomach for it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2770

The class of '94 enjoyed the commencement address by Dr. Timothy Leary. "Look to this day, graduates, and watch out for that giraffe."
(Image originally uploaded by wayne.horng; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)



I confess, I don't follow baseball and am one of the people who had to wait for a descriptive phrase such as "famous controversial Yankees manager" before comprehending who the "George Steinbrenner" was that I've been hearing about lately. Apparently, there's quite a mania about him in New York City and elsewhere, leading Matt Taibbi to see the whole phenomenon through an intriguing class-war lens:

The mania for elegiac slobbering is one of the most disgusting things about this country, but you'll never see a clearer example of America's unique capacity for this sort of activity than this Steinbrenner business. When Bruce Springsteen dies, it won't be appropriate to make jokes about millions of Americans fawning over a dead Boss. But in George "The Boss" Steinbrenner's case, it fits perfectly, because Steinbrenner was in every conceivable way the prototypical office tyrant and the fact that he's being uninterruptedly worshipped after his death by a nation of cubicle slaves tells you almost everything you need to know about the modern American psyche.

In no other country do people genuinely love their bosses the way Americans do. They'll go home after 12 hard hours of capricious superiors peeing in their faces, and the very first thing they'll do is call up some talk radio show and denounce the graduated income tax that gives them a break at their bosses' expense. In other countries bosses need to constantly fend off revolts and strikes; in America people tune in by the millions to cheer on an impetuous, bloated asshole like Donald Trump as he ritualistically fires a succession of sheepish sacrificial stand-ins who are clearly chosen for their resemblance to the target demographic. And The Apprentice was just one of many reality shows where people literally jack off to their own job insecurity!

They've got peoples' heads so turned around in this country that this ring-around-the-collar self-flagellating terror at being thought of as poor and subordinate has people reflexively worshipping their bosses, to the point where George Steinbrenner -- a workplace Caligula so stupid and self-centered that he could not be convinced George Constanza wasn't named after him -- is somehow thought of as cute and lovable. George Steinbrenner was not cute; he was the biggest fuckhead of his generation. Steinbrenner was the kind of guy who wouldn't accept that two plus two equaled four if a parade of MIT professors proved it to him on a fifty-foot blackboard. And if you tried to point that out to him, he fired you in the middle of the night, which he thought was funny, except that you were feeding your kids with that money.

Don't miss the Stalin Applause Index, either. Something like that is going to happen here one day, just watch—probably at a Tea Party rally or somesuch. "First person to stop clapping HATES AMERICA."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5372

Weirdest. Chili recipe. Ever.
(Image originally uploaded by -Andrew-; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Apt, All Too Apt

I loves me a good simile:

Oblomova, in the comments to a post at Rumproast, says:

Honestly, I think it’s time to start trying out the meme that “The GOP loves America the same way your creepy stalker ex-boyfriend loved you. If they can’t have their country, no one can—and if you try to leave, they’ll throw acid in your face, kill your cat, and burn down your house.”

I don’t think that’s particularly hyperbolic—Republicans have made it clear in the past year and a half that if they can’t govern the country, they’re going to render it ungovernable. I think their behavior seems very literally sociopathic.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4692

Little Magneto did fine on Lucite but became a triboelectric terror when his masters switched to shag carpeting.
(Image originally uploaded by youngthousands; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, July 12, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9043

Norman Retrievers are fine inland dogs but should never be taken to the beach due to their genetic predisposition for invading England.
(Image originally uploaded by Sharing the Road; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How We Got Here and Where We Might Be Going

Robert Reich pens the must-read kickoff piece in a new Nation forum on Inequality in America. Who could have guessed that oligarchy isn't good for the rest of us?

Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. America's median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class can boost its purchasing power is to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn't pay their bills, and banks couldn't collect.

China, Germany and Japan have surely contributed to the problem by failing to buy as much from us as we buy from them. But to believe that our continuing economic crisis stems mainly from the trade imbalance—we buy too much and save too little, while they do the reverse—is to miss the biggest imbalance of all. The problem isn't that typical Americans have spent beyond their means. It's that their means haven't kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them.

A second parallel links 1929 with 2008: when earnings accumulate at the top, people at the top invest their wealth in whatever assets seem most likely to attract other big investors. This causes the prices of certain assets—commodities, stocks, dot-coms or real estate—to become wildly inflated. Such speculative bubbles eventually burst, leaving behind mountains of near-worthless collateral.

The crash of 2008 didn't turn into another Great Depression because the government learned the importance of flooding the market with cash, thereby temporarily rescuing some stranded consumers and most big bankers. But the financial rescue didn't change the economy's underlying structure. Median wages are continuing their downward slide, and those at the top continue to rake in the lion's share of income. That's why the middle class still doesn't have the purchasing power it needs to reboot the economy, and why the so-called recovery will be so tepid—maybe even leading to a double dip. It's also why America will be vulnerable to even larger speculative booms and deeper busts in the years to come.


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5680

(typing) "In short, although the RedState Blogathon has enjoyed the Mandela Hotel's friendly service and reasonable rates, a lot of us find it hard to relax here for some reason...."
(Image originally uploaded by hadsie; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)



I was catching up with Democracy Now! and realized that I'd almost missed a highlight of their coverage of the G20 mess up in Toronto a couple of weeks ago: a scorching speech by Maude Barlow that first lays out a harsh bill of particulars re. the ever-worsening ecologic/economic mess that is our world and then sums up the utter waste of time and space that is the typical international corporate elite kaffeeklatch:

The declarations have already been drafted, the failures already spun. Instead, this global royalty who have more in common with one another than they do with their own citizens and they are here really to advance the issues and interest of their class are also here just to advance the status quo that serves the interest of the elite in their own countries and the business community or the B-20, the new term, a community that will get private and privileged access to advance their free market solutions to these eager leaders. The agenda is more of the bad medicine that made the world sick in the first place. Environmental deregulation, unbridled financial speculation, unlimited growth, unregulated free trade, relentless resource exploitation, tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to Social Security and a war on working people. In other words, savage capitalism.
Listen. Read.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5137

It was a dark day for thousands when David Byrne finally sold out.

You may ask yourself
Which long distance calling plan is the one for me?
You may ask yourself
Where can I get Little Italy food at Olive Garden prices?
You may tell yourself
There's no hope for athlete's foot suffers like me
You may say to yourself
My God, it's an axis of savings!

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


Friday, July 09, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1625

It's merely a photograph of a mural of the product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between George Clooney, Josef Stalin, and Mr. Clean, and it still places higher on the People's Sexiest Men Alive list than I ever will.
(Image originally uploaded by DoubleKf; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Elvis (????-2010)

Elvis was a sweet-natured stray who showed up shortly after my sister moved to this neighborhood well over a decade ago. How he wound up here, nobody knows. Did he wander away from a nearby house? Was he abandoned by somebody departing the area? Did he travel a long way before having the good fortune to cross paths with my sister, a longtime animal lover who quickly took pity on the wary gray cat that turned up in her shed one day? Wherever he came from, Elvis found the closest thing to a home that he may ever have known, hanging out behind a neighborhood's house for the most part but almost becoming an "inside cat" in recent years, coming in for food, staying in on occasional cold nights, and getting locked in the garage during the occasional hurricane. He never quite got litterbox-trained, though, and rarely seemed to want to stay inside for very long. Recently he'd started looking pretty bad: skin problems, change in gait, increasing difficulty in jumping—and he was making an odd meeping noise a lot, whereas for the past decade he'd been a very quiet cat, hardly ever so much as meowing. He went to the vet this morning, mainly to see about the skin problem, but as I'd feared, the vet found a mass in his abdomen of the sort that old cats don't really recover from. So Elvis got put down this morning.

It's a bit ironic that I'm writing about Elvis now, as my elderly uncle died a couple of weeks ago and I still haven't written about that. I've been trying to, and at some point, hopefully, a reasonably decent post will come together. (The last couple of months have been rough, both practically and emotionally.) He was 94, and he was quite ready to go, and while there's much, much more to say about him, I feel oddly less sad about his death than I do about Elvis's. I mean, I'm very sad that my uncle is gone, and I wish that his last weeks of life had been better than they were (to hospital, to nursing home, back to hospital), but I know that he understood what was happening to him, and I know that he was not afraid. For Elvis, on the other hand, today must have dawned like pretty much any other; he could not have known that he'd be getting stuck into a cat carrier at 8:00 in the morning and that his still-warm but limp, lifeless body would be getting dropped into a hole in the backyard by 10:00. It's that horrible facticity that gets me, I think: one minute he's looking forward to another dayful of whatever joys he managed to get from this place that was more or less home for him, and the next he's locked in a cage, traveling in a car to an unfamiliar room where he'll wind up dying in the hands of strangers. His last hours of life must have been full of fear. It's that, as much as missing the animal and regretting the joys that it will no longer know, that makes me miserable when something like this happens. We humans may live in dread of death, but at least we can sometimes know when it's coming, and prepare for it, and make our peace with it. For animals, I fear, it is merely a nothingness that follows a time of strangeness and terror.

Elvis, old friend, I know that you didn't have many years left in you, and I'm glad that you found something like a home, and a reliable food source, and humans you could trust, and I thank you for all the times you did things like hop up on the hood of the car to say hi (and, of course, to put yourself in better petting range), and I'm very, very sorry that your last hours weren't kinder, and I hope with all my heart that you understood to some extent what we were trying to do for you and that you knew that we loved you and that this gave you some comfort as the darkness closed in on you. I don't know where you came from, and I don't believe that you're someplace better than this now, but I do know that you were a source of joy to the humans who knew you while you were here, and I know that the universe will always seem a little emptier without you in it. Goodbye, old friend, and thank you for crossing my path.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9489

Angst Corporation found their muse by accident and their big hit with "Ow Owee My Knee Owee Ow."
(Image originally uploaded by; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4540

*sigh* "What's the matter? Don't you find my symmetry fearful anymore?"

"I'm just tired, is all."

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


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hideous, Mutated

Jeez, barely two weeks ago I innocently mention Gallagher in a post and next thing I know, digby is pointing me to an account of his new act (?) that is really, really final-scene-of-Cabaret sick, sad, and scary. Apparently, he still closes his show by bashing various squirty things with a sledgehammer, but nowadays, he can't make it to this desperate climax without first bashing a lot of non-things: gays, feminists, blacks, Hispanics, foreigners, President Obama, etc. And he's proud of what he's become. And he thinks he's some kind of great truth-telling artist. Seriously: read it and weep.

The reviewer captures my thoughts perfectly: "I cannot believe Bill Hicks is dead and this motherfucker is still touring."

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9717

Curse my weak French, I could have sworn I asked for a ménage à trois, not a barrage à trois.
(Image originally uploaded by GeoFX; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy Fifth of July

Do yourself a solid and don't miss the hour with Michael Moore on today's Democracy Now!—it's an enlightening look at 25 years of filmmaking and activism, and it's often laugh-out-loud funny to boot.

A part that isn't laugh-out-loud funny is about what happened after his brief antiwar remarks at the 2003 Academy Awards, where he won an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. Taste the liberty! Smell the freedom!

I went back to the hotel room that night, made the mistake of—my wife went to bed, and I stayed up with the remote control. In LA, after the Oscars, it’s only 9:00 in the evening, so every local channel has a, like, post-Super Bowl show. And every local—I just went around. “Well, that’s the end of Michael Moore.” “Why would he do that?” “Well, that’s the end of his career.” “No one’s going to give him a job here.” I mean, every channel was saying that. And I watched that literally for an hour. And by the time I went to bed, I believed it. I believed that was it, I’m toast.

We got back to Michigan. Our house was vandalized, horse manure spread everywhere, signs on the trees telling us to move to Havana, and everything else, which, when you live in Michigan in the winter, that actually doesn’t sound so bad.

And then life got—you know, I decided to say just to hell with it, and I, fifteen months later—in those fifteen months, I made Fahrenheit 9/11. And it was made during this time of constant death threats, constantly being attacked physically—and I’ve told you some of this before. I don’t really like to talk about it publicly, because I don’t want to encourage, you know, nuts to—but eventually, they had to put—I had a total of—it got up to nine bodyguards on me, three per shift, twenty-four hours a day, living with us.

You know, I mean, there was the guy in Nashville that came, jumped up on the stage with a knife. There was a guy in Portland that had a metal pipe coming at me. There was the guy in Fort Lauderdale who was just walking out of Starbucks and saw me on the sidewalk and became livid and took the lid off his hot, scalding coffee and threw it in my face. The bodyguard was so—I mean, he was so fast, he put his face in front of mine to catch it and got second-degree—we had to take him to the hospital, but not before he took the guy down on the sidewalk and handcuffed him. And then, there was the guy who was going to blow up our house. And he was making his practice bombs in Illinois, and one night one went off accidentally. He wasn’t hurt. The neighbors heard it. They called the cops, and they came there, and they saw all the materials and the list of people whose homes he was going to blow up. And it was Janet Reno, Rosie O’Donnell, Hillary and me. And how I made it on the lesbian list, I don’t know, but I—But Girlfriends Magazine, the following year, named me "Man of the Year," so—that’s the lesbian magazine. So, no, all I can—I try to laugh about it, because—anyways, he was convicted and went to the federal penitentiary.

And as I’ve said to you privately, I’ve wondered at times if I had it all to do over again, whether I actually would, because I don’t know if it’s been worth it, personally. I don’t think it’s been good for my health. I don’t think it’s been fair to my family to have to live in fear, to my eighty-nine-year-old father, who lives alone, who has to live with that fear, and all the security apparatus that has to be put in place to protect them. And the honest answer—I’d like to give you the brave answer, but the honest answer is I’m not so sure I would do it again, having gone through what I went through at that time. And I say that only because I’m human, and I’m every bit as frightened of not being able to finish my life as any of you would be.

But somehow I pushed through it. I have some very good friends and a wonderful family, and so many—you know, all of you and the people that keep going to my movies and send me lots of words of encouragement, and all my Twitter followers. So, I’m grateful for that, and I persevere and keep going. And I don’t know what I’m going to do next, because I’m not doing anything right now. But I’d like as many people as possible to see this last movie, and it’s because I think it says everything I want to say about how we’ve structured our society when it comes to how we treat each other.

Call me crazy, but that "I don't know what I'm going to do next" makes me wonder whether he's thinking about running for President in 2012. He's exactly the kind of well-situated oddball who could mount an insurgent campaign from the left—one that would be far more visible and credible than, say, any of Nader's challenges. He knows how to handle the media, and he can talk class conflict in a way that crosses traditional right-left divides. Hell, he's willing to talk class conflict. Don't try to tell me there won't be millions of Americans ready to speak that language, too, after another year of recession and austerity pimping. (As my friend jules would say, the boots are wearing out.) Actually winning might be a very long shot, but attracting enough votes to scare Obama into triangulating leftward for a change—could a run by a media-savvy old-school labor Democrat with celebrity unignorability be a way of accomplishing that, at least? Or am I dreaming again and don't know it?

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3050

Brown: It's not just a color; it's a way of life.
(Image originally uploaded by Malbee; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Treasures of the Internet

I'm thinking more and more that Jonathan Schwarz is among them, not only for reminding us of a great George Orwell line but also for sharp, slashing media takedowns like his recent piece on Time server Alex Perry's prettified history of the Congo.

He has great taste in voices, too.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1776

It doesn't feel much like a holiday. Sigh.


A holiday message from Manifest Destiny Stomach Pumps, Inc.

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


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1874

In retrospect, CNBC's Golden Calf Hour with Larry Kudlow should have clued us that the end was nigh.
(Image originally uploaded by f/stop; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, July 02, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2285

Unfortunately, Anole Man fled into the one place where his secret identity could not remain concealed for long: The Old West Can-Can.

*instinctively perceives skirt flips as territorial challenge*

*reflexively bobs up and down and extends dewlap aggressively*

*The Mockingbird's agents follow screams of crowd to their quarry*

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


She's a Big Jewy Jew!

The Daily Show has some fun with the various noxious attempts by Senate Republicans to make Elena Kagan look as weird, alien, and otherwordly as possible. "Where are you at on Christmas Day?" Yikes.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Release the Kagan
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I'm surprised that they haven't made more of the Patton Oswalt comparison, but then those senators probably don't know who that is.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7845

The genius of capitalism: Warehousefuls of Tickle Me Persis Khambatta sit moldering for a decade after the flop that is Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture only to fly off the shelves once they're repackaged and sold to angry Catholics as Dismember Me Sinéad O'Harlot.
(Image originally uploaded by Aravist; Random Flickr Blogging originally invented by Tom Hilton.)


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