Friday, November 28, 2008

Halfway Out

Just bought my scarlet letter lapel pin, and I got this message:

"If you paid by credit card, the charge will be listed on your statement as UPPER BRANCH."

The Out Campaign is designed so that people don't have to be embarrassed to be atheist anymore, so they can be proud. Yet, when it comes to credit card statements, everything's hush-hush. You motherfuckers.

Amerirail. United Subway of America. Underground Railroad?

I will readily and easily admit that the economy is not my strong point. I learned the words "progressive tax" and "flat tax" my senior year of high school and that's about the extent of my knowledge. So when the debate over what to do with the Big 3 auto industries, I listened, but there wasn't a whole lot of chiming in that I was capable of.

Letting them fail doesn't sound like a good idea. Putting millions of people out of their jobs probably won't help the economic crisis any.

I only somewhat like the idea that we're working on now, which is they come up with their own plan for fixing the company before the government gives them anything. What it sounds like people want from this is for the auto companies to say, "Hey, ya know what guys? We've been building SUVs for too long. How about we work on those Hybrid doodads?" The problem with this is that (for reasons lost on me, but seem easy enough to work backwards on) the Hybrid deal isn't good on the money. (Right? If it was, they would have been building those a long time ago.) So if building more financially conservative vehicles wasn't on the books back when they were making money, it seems impossible to ask them to do it now when they're losing money.

At least, that is what my economically limited brain is telling me.

This morning, however, I heard a good idea from cartoonist Keith Knight. He talks about a lot of things in his latest cartoon (notice how he barely draws anything) but one of the ideas he touches upon is a national railway system. A counterargument I can think to that is Americans don't really want to give up driving, not even the littlest of bits. The counter-counterargument to that is that Americans should probably suck it up if we're losing so much money.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If You Laugh at the Title, You're in High School

There are a few things I try to stay as neutral about as possible. Politics is a good example. The more you get your heart attached to something, the harder it is to be objective about it, and therefore, the harder it is to make it good and make it work. But, "politics" is of course just a different word for "human nature"* so it nearly requires your heart to be involved.

Movies are the same way. I want to say that I always judge a movie on its merits alone, but my obsession with Spider-Man will quickly prove me wrong. (Sidenote: I still have not seen Spider-Man 3 out of fear my heart will be broken.)

When I heard about the Harvey Milk movie coming out, I was very pleased, and I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to be so stupid good that it infiltrates every aspect of American culture for a week. I wanted it to be Twilight.

I haven't actually seen it for myself, and I probably won't even get the chance to for a long time, but I was happy to read some positive reviews. Here's Metacritic. And here's Roger Ebert. They don't suggest that this movie will "infiltrate every aspect of American culture for a week"** but they are positive. And I can't explicitly recommend this movie, because like I said, I haven't seen and won't for a while, but doesn't it sound like it's worth seeing just to see?

*I don't remember who said this, but it wasn't me
**I do remember who said this, it was me, two paragraphs ago.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Um, Fuck Yes

Dear World, thanks for kicking ass.

Here is my goal for the next few days: Consider the possibilities of recreating a Neanderthal and preempt Creationists' arguments to explain it away.

Just a Great Big Let-Down

There was a time in the not too distant past when stories like this one would fill me with glee. No longer, my friends. No longer.

Instead, I'm just depressed. I know this won't go through. It's impossible. They're going to pull a Calvinball on this and nothing will change.

I'm really hoping our next president will finally stop garbage like this from ever happening.

(Update - Glenn Greenwald on this story.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

News Flash

The election is over. Why are you still reading my blog?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

D'oh

For me, the majority of news falls into one of three general categories. The first is enragening. The second is Why is this news? The third is huh?

You can file this one under Three, and then under One.

I really could not be more confused. How could this possibly happen? How could the UN, of all things, run out of money for food?

Friday, November 7, 2008

A! C! L! U! A! C! L! U!

Fuck yes. The ACLU is taking Prop 8 to court on the grounds that is an invalid change in the California constitution, due to the lack of going through proper legis-- oh, who the fuck cares? Prop 8 is going to court, the same court that ruled that its counterpart was unconstitutional to begin with, so you can expect Prop 8 to be overturned.

Recently, you may recalled I was ruminating on the ethics of this action, overturning a referendum voted in by the people. You may think I'm a hypocrite for cheering on the courts to strike down this vile piece of legislation. Right now, I absolutely do not care. I'm just happy to know that before this turd of the year was less than a week old, it already had an expiration date.

Dear ACLU, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

A Short Aside

In the midst of all this political ballyhoo, I am reminded of one stark fact: I am not in America. Furthermore, places outside of America are usually really weird.



This is a picture of the octopus snack we had at work today. We took about a ten or fifteen minute break to cut up some steamed octopus and chow down.



I'm not sure, but I guess the black stuff is ink. I thought was just squid, but apparently there is something black inside the head of octopus too. I missed getting a shot of the head-eating before it was gone. I guess that's the best part.

Political Quickie

I'm trying to keep up with all the news and opinion I've been hearing lately, but it's downright impossible. Do I feel elated or cautious about Obama's victory? Is it historical or overinflated? Am I to be angry at the Prop 8 outcome, or should I hopeful that the path to equality is drawer closer, albeit at a slow pace.

For the moment, I just wanted to share a few quotes I've seen lately.

“Lord, we ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we ought to be; we ain’t what we gonna be, but, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”
- MLK Jr., found in Nick Kristof's column.

Newsweek has presented a list of short anecdotes that were embargoed prior to Nov 5th. The most interesting one was this, about Obama and the debates:
When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

"As promised by their father nearly two years ago, Malia and Sasha are getting their puppy when they move to the White House. And they will probably contemplate the acquisition of their new pet with more detail and scrutiny than McCain did his own running mate."
-August J. Pollack

"For most of the years of the American experiment, ''we the people'' did not include African Americans. We were not included in ''we.'' We were not even included in ``people.''"
-Leonard Pitts Jr.

More to come later.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Election: Overall

I'm guessing that for the next week or so, I'll have a lot to say about the election. Partly because I'm a pretentious windbag, but mostly because I have so many mixed feelings about it, I'm sure I'll change my mind half a dozen times before I find myself in my cynical zone of comfort.

Speaking of cynicism, as of right now, this election feels like a failure. The referendums in California, Arizona and Florida have passed. The one in California effects me the most, not only because that proposition effected the most people, but because it repealed a right that was already in place, whereas the other two are denying rights never had.

Think about that for a second. That happened in our country for the first time. We have a long history of halting progress -- slavery, suffrage in multiple forms, miscegenation, segregation, the list goes on long than we'd like to admit. These were all times when people underneath rose, but not in the case of Proposition 8. Instead of preventing people from gaining equality, we stripped them of it.

The symbolism of electing a black president cheers me up. (An understatement, actually. I shed a few tears when I saw Jesse Jackson crying and listening to Senator Lewis talk about the inconceivability of seeing an African-American president.) It is a stop in the right direction, but no matter how proud I felt to be an American seeing this country elect a black man to the highest executive office in the land, there is still a lot of attitudes that need to change before we can declare racism deceased.

Which brings me to the original goal of this post, to discuss the shit that's already cropped it in the form of editorial cartooning. I'll spare you the tiresome and endless images of Abraham Lincoln giving the thumbs up, or any combination of pictures of America and the phrase "Yes We Did", but these below bear mention:

This One is particularly moronic.



Jim Siergey
Nov 5, 2008

This shit is just ridiculous. Of the billions and billions of "success" analogies you could have made, you went with basketball, which we all know, Obama is very skilled at, what with the whole "being black" and all. Idiots.



J.D. Crowe
Mobile Register
Nov 5, 2008

This one rubbed me the wrong way when I first saw it, but I'm having trouble articulating why. I think because although I see what the artist is trying to do here (both Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama have broken racial barriers) I think there could have been a better way to do it. As great as Jackie Robinson was at baseball, let's not forget that politics and intelligence in general is a much more astounding feat. To me, this seems incapable of capturing the gravity of the situation.



Tim Jackson
Chicago Defender, Madison …
Nov 5, 2008



It's amazing how much context can effect a political cartoon. If you didn't know diddly-squat about the Chicago Defender, you might think that this is a racist, asinine cartoon that has diminished a great man into a stereotypical gesture. If you knew that the Chicago Defender is a "black newspaper", you might think that this is just an asinine cartoon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thanks Penny

Elitist Post

James Wood on the Republican assault on language. (Warning: This link will send you to the New Yorker website. You will be officially barred from any hoe-downs, hootanannies or drinking PBR. Cow-tipping is still cool though. Also encouraged.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Have About Fifteen Minutes to Write This Post

This short anecdote that I heard about Sarah Palin today might actually ruin my day.

As the title suggests, I have only a short amount of time to heave this burdening contempt from my chest, so I'll allow you to first read the actual news story, and then point you to Glenn Greenwald's take on the matter. Gleen Greenwald, by the way, being a former lawyer of constitutional law.

The phrase he uses to describe the statements made by Dowd and Palin -- "so stupid it hurts" -- doesn't really capture the full extent of what's going on here. Dowd's argument I can at least understand; she is arguing for full transparency in government. What she doesn't understand is that while full transparency in a politician's professional life is required for a democracy, full transparency of their civic lives are at their discretion. Meaning, if they invite you into their home (or all seven of them) or their jet or anything other than their public records, it's because they're doing you a favor. I'm dissappointed in Dowd for getting this confused, considering she has much more journalism experience than I do, but her heart's in the right place.

Palin's thumping organ, however, is someplace I cannot understand. Criticism by the press is, jesus, that's the most first amendmenty you can get.

Look, it's obvious she does not understand what the First Amendment is about. Not even close. (In fact, it's becoming very clear to the country she hasn't even read the constitution, if she can't grasp both the First Amendment and the duties of Vice-President.) She does not seem to understand that the government has not prevented her from saying these things, but by the press somehow saying that she is "negative" this is hindering her right to free speech. Greenwald is right: This does hurt.

What bugs me is that I'm guessing she's going to get away with this shit. She's been playing the "I'm just like you only a governor" schtick since she was introduced to the politcal arena. Your average citizen does not give a damn if a politician's right to free speech has been infringed (moreover, they would most likely applaud a good "shut the hell up" to statesmen they disagree with) but they care, and are angered, when an American citizen is denied his or her First Amendment rights, especially from the evil media.

She has, in my view, invoked the most scared, most beautiful part of this country, to justify stretching the truth and downright lying, and to cower and hide from the backlash. If we gave Palin her way, the media would not be allowed to criticize her statements. Think about that for a second: Palin is stating that the media should not be allowed to criticize her. That is no longer painful, it is dispicable and frightening.