Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worst product ever: Cheeseburger in a can

Imagine that! The worst product ever, and it's not something crazy from Japan! No, this comes straight from our good friends in Germany, and is apparently intended to be used to sate your hunger whilst in the midst of a rigorous treks through the Alps or some such. Imagine if the von Trapp family singers had been blessed with a couple cases of these while escaping their evil Nazi overlords! (Via Spluch)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Memo to Bill Clinton: dude, SHUT UP.

Look, Bill Clinton. You were pretty much a kick-ass President. I voted for you twice, I campaigned for you twice, and I wore myself hoarse defending you when you put certain things where you shouldn't have with that nice intern lady. But, look, you really are behaving like kind of a overbearing me-me-me jerk with all the "OMG don't elect teh Obama!11!!!1!1" stuff lately, and it is wearing thin, and it is kind of making me wish you'd just shut it and go away for a while. Kthxbye.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Prediction: the Super Bowl is going to suck

I used to approach my analysis of the AFC and NFC championship games by looking at both teams in each game, considering how they'd match up against the other, looking at moves their coaches had made all season long in preparing for similar games, and generally just wasted a lot of time reading the analysis of other, more seasoned football fans. In the last couple years, though, I've realized that guessing the teams in the Super Bowl is actually quite simple: the Super Bowl will feature the worst game possible between the four teams in the championship round. This year, I would have been delighted with: Chargers vs. Giants, Chargers vs. Packers, or Patriots vs. Packers. I knew, going in to the game, that I would NOT be happy with a Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Giants, so I suspected that both those teams would win. And, guess what, they did.

So, my prediction now is that the Super Bowl is really going to suck. Again. The Patriots are coached by an egomaniacal wife-stealing hosebag who doesn't care what anybody thinks as long as he wins. The Giants are coached by a Cheney-level control freak who hasn't seen a dynamic offensive scheme since he spent 10 minutes in 1993 watching his son play a game of NBA Jams. This does not bode well for an entertaining game. Add to that the fact that the prestige of the Super Bowl usually convinces teams with dynamic offenses (Colts, Steelers, etc.) to resort instead to a grind-it-out offensive strategy, and I'm afraid we're looking in the eyes of a 17-6 defensive struggle that nobody will remember in a few years. I will be overjoyed if I'm wrong, but these are the two worst possible coaches to have if you want a dynamic game (and, yes, I'm aware that they scored over 70 points the last time they played each other). I will be totally and utterly shocked if there are more touchdowns than field goals in this game, and the probable MVP is either the Patriots' kicker or Asante Samuel, who will get one or two interceptions and make a few tackles. That's all it will take to be named MVP of this one. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

From Portland, OR: should you really get a Medal of Heroism from the police because you killed a guy who attacked you?

That's the question I have to ask after reading this story from my hometown of Portland, OR:

A Civilian Medal of Heroism will be awarded Wednesday to Susan Kuhnhausen, the Portland nurse who strangled an intruder hired to kill her in 2006.

Kuhnhausen wrestled the hammer-wielding intruder to the ground and choked him to death.

Kuhnhausen's husband, Michael, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit murder. He hired the man kill his wife.

Susan Kuhnhausen is one of 85 civilians and police officers who will be recognized for heroism, lifesaving skills, or distinguished service in the Portland Police Bureau's annual awards.

The committee says the 53-year-old displayed courage and heroic action.
No question, she displayed courage. But heroic action? She saved herself! This was pure instinct! A guy tried to kill her, so she defended herself and killed him. I'm not trying to take anything away from the "woah!" factor of the event, but I have to really wonder whether this belongs in the same category of somebody who rushes into a burning house to rescue some kids or something.

A hero, to me, is someone who puts their own safety aside in order to help/save someone else. There has to be a measure of self-sacrifice (or at least heroic disregard for one's own safety to advance the public good) at play in order to be called a "hero". Remember that dude in New York who jumped down onto the subway tracks to save a woman who was having a seizure, and just narrowly missed being run over by the subway? Ok, he's a hero. The woman in this story simply defended herself. Would a woman who shot an armed intruder be given the same award? I doubt it, but there's really no difference.

I know this is kind of a classic blog thing to do--make something non-controversial into a controversy, but I think it's a worthwhile question: what's so heroic about defending yourself? Isn't that just a natural reaction?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Brief foray into complicated world of post-structural concertgoing proves overwhelming for Hannah Montana fans

Breaking news! Apparently some young fans and their (highly impressionable, highly idiotic) parents are upset because of some underhanded shenanigans during a recent Hannah Montana concert. E! Online explains thusly:

Giving her fans the best of both worlds is apparently too much for Miley Cyrus to handle on her own.

The singer, who performs both as herself and her Disney Channel alterego on the sold-out tour, was accused in an OK! magazine report this week of using a body double during a brief portion of her show.
"Then they covered her with a black sheet and she went through a secret door. Within a second, a new 'Hannah' came out of a different door wearing oversized white glasses. The whole time this was happening Miley's vocals were still playing. The new imposter had her back turned while she danced, trying to hide that fact that she was not Miley Cyrus. At this instant I became very suspicious."

Had these fans read--and UNDERSTOOD--the thesis of Derrida's "Difference" prior to attending the show, they would have grasped the central point advanced by post-structuralist critics and being performed by Ms. Cyrus in a very sophisticated and nuanced bit of deconstructionist criticism: that the concert actually consists of THREE preformers: Miley Cyrus, the "real" singer, her "TV" "alter-ego" (one of the cool things about deconstruction is that literally everything can be scare-quoted), and a third person who represents a composite character that lingers in the neverworld between fact and fiction, between Mylie and Hannah, between the authored work and its author, between creator and created.

In other words, in order to understand the genesis of Hannah Montana, we must first understand the genesis of the actor creating the "sign" of Hannah, in this case Mylie Cyrus, who is herself the outcome of a very intricate set of circumstances involving her father, noted neo-Foucaultian Billy Ray Cyrus. The complex relationship between sign and signifier here devolves into a complex series of binary oppositions between Hannah and Mylie, leading to the point where the concert has no choice but to generate a "third" performer to serve as a proxy for the outcome of the conflict between symbol and symbologist. That the concertgoers were confused and/or outraged by this only shows the depths to which they have been subjugated by the traditional Western structuralist mindset.

Why do so many leading Republicans look like ugly animals?

Really, there's no complex though process behind this post, other than to point out that every time I see former senator Phil Gramm, economic advisor to John McCain, on TV, I think that he looks like a box turtle. Here's the evidence.

Also, I've been trying for some time to think of the animal I'm reminded of every time I see Rudy Giuliani, aka 9udy 11uliani, aka America's Mayor, and it finally hit me: naked mole rat!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Feel the Fredmentum!

This graphic pretty much shows what happened to Fred Thompson's presidential hopes in New Hampshire yesterday.

Yeah, that's right. Dude finished 1,500 votes behind "Total write-ins." Ouch.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Update: Emily Rocheleau is NOT the stupidest person in New Hampshire

I've been contacted by a person who knows Emily Rocheleau, who I accused yesterday of being the stupidest person in New Hampshire, to inform me that her comment to the NY Times, in which she admitted to being torn between Barack Obama and John McCain, was a vast oversimplification of her view of the presidential campaign. Apparently she works for a climate change organization, and thus is aware that of all the GOP candidates, only McCain has been courageous enough to even admit that climate change is a real problem, and that we should actually, you know, do something about it. So, her statement to the Times was intended to convey her respect for McCain's courageous (relative to the rest of his party) stance on global warming.

So, I retract my statement that she's the stupidest person in New Hampshire. She is, according to my emailer, friendly, smart, and a good person, and my emailer seemed credible, so I have no reason to doubt that statement.

With that said, I hereby announce that the stupidest person in New Hampshire is anyone voting for Fred Thompson.

Emily Rocheleau: Not Stupid. Actually pretty cool.

Another post in which I ramble about "miracles" and their meaning

During lunch today I did one of my favorite things: ran on the treadmill while watching the 4 TVs in my employer's gym while NOT wearing headphones so I could laugh at the close captioning. One of the TVs was showing the press conference of legendary Redskins coach Joe Gibbs announcing his resignation/retirement. Now, I like Joe Gibbs, and think he's a very decent guy, and respect his reasons (actual family reasons, not the fake family reasons that some politician who's just been caught in bed with a hooker comes up with) for retirement. However, one of the things that annoyed me was his discussion of how religion factored into his decision. Because the volume was not on and because I was running at the time, I wasn't able to transcribe his statements, but he said something along the lines of how he has to give thanks to God for looking down and allowing someone like him (a guy who took dance in college, for crying out loud!...wait, I did that too....) to become a coach, and how this means we have a benevolent creator or some such.

But wait. The Redskins suffered the tragedy of losing their best player this year when Sean Taylor was murdered in his house. This gets back to my frustration about how people call it a "miracle" when a plane crashes and 218 people die and they pull one guy alive out of the rubble, or when a building collapses and 98 people die but a four month old baby survives. In order to say that the survival of one is an act of God, don't you kind of have to accept that the deaths were an act of God, or that God was, like, too busy to pay attention? Can people really imagine a God who will look down and help one person, but not bother helping others? Is it really savvy for Gibbs to say that God played an active role in his success at the same time that one of his players was flat out murdered? Was God busy that day?

I'm not saying I don't understand what he's trying to say, but this is one of those moments when people tend to nod their head politely when someone thanks God for their success, rather than wondering about the logical implications of that statement.

Howard Schultz is a two-headed Monster: AP

Something about this AP photo/caption made me laugh:

"Right." Such a simple word, such a tricky situation. The guy in front's body is to the right, but the other guy's head is to the right. Which is it? What are the rules for this kind of thing?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Emily Rocheleau*, 22, is the stupidest person in New Hampshire

This is, generally, an up-tempo, "feel good" blog, like one of those infectious morning shows with Moose Mike, Rocket Jaw, and Krazy Kat on 100.3, Jammin' FM. But, from time to time, I have to take a break and point out somebody who has chosen, for whatever reason, to put his or her name in the national news and say something so utterly stupid that he or she deserves to be branded as a simpleton for the rest of his or her utterly bewildering life.

And, in this case, that someone is Emily Rocheleau, a 22 year old "independent" voter from New Hampshire. Now, plenty of blogs have devoted acres of print to pointing out the absurd infatuation our media and political world has with "independent" voters. Also known as "undecided voters," they are people who wait until the last possible moment, despite a veritable avalanche of news and information about the candidates, to make up his or her mind about who to support in a given election.

Since the eyes of the political world are now focused upon New Hampshire, where, legend tells us, all the men wear flannel shirts and all the women are seasoned political mavens who could spend hours lecturing you upon the intricacies of quorum calls and cloture resolutions, the press has once again rushed "independent voters" into the spotlight. Yesterday's NY Times featured a photo of Ms. Rocheleau, and said the following about her in the caption

Emily Rocheleau, 22, is trying to choose between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
Ok, look. It is January, 2008. The presidential candidates have been declared candidates for quite some time now. I simply don't know what to say about someone who is undecided to the point of not knowing whether she will choose between Obama and McCain. That is simply ridiculous. You could not hope to find two candidates whose views on actual issues are more different than Obama and McCain. You could not hope to find two men whose paths to the US Senate are more different. In what they believe, who they represent, and the life experiences they would bring to the Oval Office, you have two men who are very nearly diametrically opposed. So what, pray tell, explains someone who will vote for either one of them?

I'll tell you what explains it: the obsession our media has with trying to force candidates beyond the boring world of actual issues. Reporters and news anchors are, frankly, bored with hum drum things like health care and economic issues (outsourcing? BORING!), so they turn elections into a contest of personalities. And the result of this is that voters like Emily Rocheleau, 22, get trapped into thinking that either one of these guys would be a fine person to elect, as if the policies they will implement are somehow secondary to the kind of people they are.

(*I mention her name because she attached herself to that statement in the article. I'm sure there are thousands of others who share her disappointing perspective, however.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My blog is not dead, and neither am I

It's been about twelve years (give or take 11.9 years) since my last blog post, but I hope to be back on my blogging feet in the days ahead, and back to my regular posting. Whew, holiday travel and related festivities are exhausting.