All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Evening News

Some of my Opera tabs have been open for a week. It's time to read the backlog and clear it out.

So Much for Being Liberators
Iraq under Saddam was more or less the best Arab country to live in, if you were a woman. You had rights, could go out in the street on your own, be a professional, own property, etc. You didn't have 'democracy', but what that really means, especially in modern Iraq, isn't so much a system of rights as murderous anarchy.

The big trend in women's rights in Iraq today? Their families burning them to death.

Great job on the liberation there, El Presidente.

Source: The Guardian

Mortgaging the Future, No Pun Intended
A large recap sort of article on the Bush administration and the price we'll all be paying for the next half-century or so on their financial mismanagement.

Basically they indict him for wasting a 2 trillion dollar surplus, the War in Iraq, the soaring cost of oil due to insecurity in oil producing regions, the glut of worthless spending to his cronies, and the like. It's nothing really new, but a nice summary.

Source: Vanity Fair

Sixty Minutes of Toes
60 Minutes may be doing a big expose on former Governor Spiegelman, who basically got put in prison for being a Democrat. Supposedly he was bribed, but the same guy who did the bribery also claimed to bribe a bunch of republicans, who were never investigated or indicted, and then was given a very lenient sentence for testifying against the Governor, then released early under very suspicious circumstances, and so forth, while the judge has obstructed his appeals and put endless delays in front of his attorneys.

All in all, a very fishy situation.

Source: Tuscaloosa News Blog

Bush Labor Regulation Board Rules Unions Aren't Business-Related
See, businesses can now screen out any emails that relate to unions from company work servers. They can of course continue to browbeat their own employees with anti-union propaganda, like they have at every single job I've ever held.

Sigh.

Source: Raw Story

That's it for now. I need some sleep.

Breaking News -- English Paper Declares London World's Greatest City

After an exhaustive search, The Independent, a Brit paper, has found that London is the world's greatest city.

This is the biggest surprise since Cheney picked himself to be Vice President!

I'll leave my slightly cynical retort to Mr. Sweeney Todd.
 

There's a hole in the world
Like a great black pit
And the vermin of the world inhabit it
And its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit
And it goes by the name of London...

At the top of the hole sit a privileged few
Making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo
Turning beauty into filth and greed
I too
Have sailed the world and seen its wonders
For the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru

But there's
No Place
Like
London!


Business News of the Day

Like the Wall Street Journal, only not for complete tools.

Ruh-Roh, Tax-Fraud
No, I don't know why Scooby Doo is saying that. I just had it pop up in my head.

In the actual story, it seems Fed-Ex has been cheating on its taxes for the drivers it uses in its Ground service, while simultaneously cheating said drivers out of benefits they're supposed to get. The IRS has taken a dim view of this, and fined them 319 million dollars for 2002 alone, in back taxes and penalties. They're facing similar audits for 2004, 2005 and 2006; why not 2003, I have no idea.

They could be looking at a billion dollars in IRS penalties alone by the time this is over. The Teamsters have been trying to unionize the Ground drivers and see this as a major victory.

Source: Reuters

Circuit Shi... Nah, That Pun is Too Easy
So the executives who ran Circuit City into the ground and made it lose 75% of its share price in a year have gotten big fat 'retention' bonuses in time for Christmas. This is the end result of their disastrous plan to fire all their senior employees and hire cheaper salespeople to replace them.

Great job, guys. Not that the ruling class is ever held accountable for anything.

Source: The American Prospect

The Business of, Err, Supercars
Just a comparison of the former Knight Rider KITT and the new one from oh-so-serious journalists at Popular Mechanics. Kind of boring and stupid, except to note that the new KITT lacks grappling hooks, flamethrowers or oil slicks.

No grappling hook!? An outrage good sirs.

Also, the car is being designed by the idiot who did the Batmobile in Batman and Robin.

Designer Harald Belker, who has created the Batmobile for Batman and Robin and a next-gen space shuttle for Armageddon, came onboard to give the new KITT. a unique look. "The goal was to make it look more aggressive without being hokey or garish," Belker says. "Maintaining as much of the original beauty of the Shelby as possible was important—and not just because of the Ford connection. It had to be simple yet believable as a superhero."


Yeah, like he knows anything about avoiding garish designs.

Source: Popular Mechanics

Friday, December 21, 2007

Posters to Buy


Mostly a note to myself, but anyone out there who wanted to get me some small Johnus gifts could grab these posters before I do.

I want both versions, for the record.

Who Knew a Commercial for a Children's Hospital Could Bring the House Down?

Nevertheless, it did.

Real life story of our adventure before Sweeney Todd.

Sweeney Todd

A very short review.

Go see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Go on.  The rest of the world's not doing anything special today.  We'll wait for you to get back.   

Trust me, you won't regret it.  

I Yet Live!

So after the snowman incident I kind of came down with something and was pretty sick all week. Yeesh.

But I'm better now, so on with the links and news.

Finally, CSI Redux
This pretty much explains the whole show, along with all of its various clones and retreads.

Source: Cascade Failure

Ebay Madness
If you're evil and have disposable income there's no end to the fun you can have.

Source: Ebay (naturally)

Mars Was Already Pretty Beaten Up, It Hardly Needs a New Dent
Used planets just aren't what they once were.

Oh well.

Source: The LA Times

Slashdot Said It Best, I Think
Begun, this War on Christmas Has.

Source: Gizmodo

Bush Sez: A Bargain at Twice The Price!
Oh, and you will be paying twice the price, too.

Iraq war now tops Vietnam in cost using adjusted dollars. Twice as expensive as Korea.

Source: Yahoo News

Lakota Indians Withdraw from Meaningless Treaties
Not that it will help them, but at least it made the news.

Source: Fox News (oddly enough)

Putin of the Year
Vlad makes Person of the Year at Time.

The article has some great Russian jokes in it too.

Still, creepy, creepy man.

Oh, and FYI, Time? "A Tsar is Born" is not a clever title. Not the least bit. Plus, considering how Russkies see the Tsars, it's pretty insensitive.

Source: Time.com

Department of RICHARD IS BACK OH THANK THE LORD
Looking for Group with another Richard comic that needs to be made into a shirt.

Seriously. I'd buy like five all by myself.

Source: Looking for Group

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday News...Day...

Read away.

H2 drivers are really lame
But their suped up little SUV is even lamer.

Honestly, these morons think that because they take a standard SUV frame and put a big, boxy set of body panels on it that it has suddenly become a military asset. They deserve to be fleeced. It's just a pity that they get to ruin our atmosphere by actually driving the damn things afterward.

Never Let Reason Get in the Way of Your Superstition
Caste discrimination continues in India. Truly ugly stuff. Even the local government is siding with the bigots who want to drive an 'untouchable' out of her job because she cooks food for their kids.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Nothing good ever comes from any interaction between religion and government. Ever.

Source: The Independent

Hooray for Compact Fluorescents
Looks like the big Energy bill that's about to be passed will contain a provision to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in favor of CFs. This is definitely a step in the right direction, albeit a small one.

To all those who are worried about mercury emissions from CF bulbs, remember two things. One: the mercury in a CF is sealed inside the glass. It's not going to jump out and bite you. Two: Most power in the United States is generated by coal. Burning coal releases enormous amounts of mercury directly into the air and water supply. Even if CF bulbs aren't recycled, merely by reducing the amount of energy that has to be generated by coal, they force a net reduction in the amount of mercury in the water we all have to drink.

Here, have a chart.

So, yeah. Still better off.

Eta Carinae Has a New Rival for My Affection

NASA has released a swath of images showing one galaxy blasting the living daylights out of another using radiation from its supermassive black hole core. Very nice.

Any Earth-like planets in the path would be quickly rendered sterile and uninhabitable by living things, unless they're very deep underground. Again, very nice.

Source: Space.com

Shawshank Reenactment Society, First Chapter
So two inmates actually pulled off an escape from a 'high-security' prison by using the trick from The Shawshank Redemption and covering the hole they had made in the wall with girly pictures.

Seriously. Not making this up.

Source: CNN.com

Huckabee is Very, Very Creepy
So is his family. Apparently his demented son and a friend, when at a Scout retreat, strung up a stray dog and tortured it to death. Huckabee then used his position as governor to keep them out of jail.

He even canned a guy for not looking the other way strenuously enough.

Source: Correntwire

The CIA Is a Real Piece of Work
Thanks to various lawsuits, information has emerged on exactly how the CIA tortures people we illegally spirit away in the dead of night, around the world, in violation of common sense and international law.

It's an ugly story indeed, showing that we've learned a lot from our various client states in Latin America and further afield about how to inflict inhuman suffering. Everything's here, from sleep deprivation to temporal disorientation, isolation, confinement, plus we've got the new tricks where we use medical professionals to prevent the inmates from killing themselves, starving themselves, and once they've been completely snapped like twigs, we use psychotropic drugs to force them back to sanity for another round of torture!

Thanks a lot, various American doctors, for going along with this scheme.

Source: Salon.com

These People Need to Get Out More
Honestly, when you start talking about the future like it's going to come out of a Cory Doctorow novel, you really need to touch base with reality. Computers and virtual spaces are all well and good, but as long as you can't actually plug into the Matrix, there are limits to how much they're going to change society. And no matter how much you might want your information-drenched, 'everything at your fingertips' society to work perfectly, nothing ever does. A world where you're never lost because you have your own personal HUD is a world where you're never alone because someone is watching your feed, even if that 'someone' is just an NSA spybot program. A world where you can find any service you want, from pizza to a lawyer, is a world where you'll be bombarded ceaselessly with advertisements FOR pizza, for lawyers. And a world where everybody can produce their own goods from their own energy is a world ready made for religious extremists and bombmakers, a paradise for your Montana wingnut crowd who can finally make their very own brand of Semtex.

So please, enough with the blue-sky blagospheric world-view. It's more than a little exhausting.

Source: Firedoglake

Ways NOT to Make a Christmoween Snowman

  1. Try to use unpackable fine powder snow, drier than the Sahara
  2. Come up with 'ingenious' method to harden said snow using water
  3. Fail to spot-test fake blood on snow to see if in fact it will resemble blood, or merely turn into a viscous goo upon contact
  4. Continue meddling even as ingenious snow shatters upon every slight touch.
  5. Go to bed instead of committing ritual suicide, as honor demands
So, yeah.  A bit down this morning.  If it even survives the harsh light of dawn, I might take pictures of my Ozymandian disaster out there, just for posterity.

But don't count on it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Clear Out the Tabs News

Opera, Opera, sing to me... sing of news...

Lost World, Giant Rat
Another expedition into Indonesia's virtually unexplored jungle, another series of bizarre and adorable animals.

In particular, in the picture slideshow, note the pygmy possum and the unnamed, but GIANT rat. It's the size of a cat. A pretty big cat. And completely docile, it seems.

Source: AOL News

Sovereignty is Another 'Quaint' Concept
The U.S. Border Patrol has been firing tear gas and pepper spray into Mexico in response to stone throwing mobs, or just because they feel like it.

Innocent people live in perfectly legal housing in the area. The border people just don't care. They're shelling a sovereign foreign power, and they just. don't. care.

Technically folks, that's a declaration of war on Mexico.

Source: Raw Story

Insert Witty Human Interest Title
A reporter/news anchor with vitiligo, the disease that kills off pigmentation cells in the skin but is otherwise harmless, is telling his story and writing a book. The contrast between the man with and without his work makeup is astonishing, I have to say. I can't even blend a halloween mask in decently.

Nice of him to go public. I can see how a disease like that would be humiliating, and in his line of work it's a real economic issue too. I hope they find out how the disease works, if for no other reason than that it'd be useful science. Kind of curious, an autoimmune, or seemingly so, disease that has such a mild effect.

Source: USA Today

Curses
So they've been making an effort to actually sift through all the archaeologically useful trash the Romans left in their wake in England, of late. In particular, it seems, the Romans had a custom of inscribing a person's name in lead and throwing it in the hot springs at Bath to curse them.

A recent rare find shows that someone did something like that to an Emperor by stamping his face, via a coin printed with his likeness, into some lead.

The Romans were kind of odd.

Source: The Guardian

Maybe This Means the Daily Show Will Return Soon
So various deals are being cut with the WGA to get late night shows back on the air without strikebreaking or scabs. Letterman in particular, as he owns his show, rather than CBS, seems ready to tell his parent network to shove it and agree to the new terms to get back on the air full steam. Leno and Conan are having to settle for skeleton crews.

Still, the networks are obviously starting to lose their bargaining strength.

Source: Firedoglake

Historical Irony Department
While the U.S. considers requiring an internal passport to fly from one American city to another, Eastern Europe moves into the travel paper free EU zone.

It's like bizarro-land when your former communist states are acting so much freer and more open than America, but there you go.

Source: Raw Story

Human Strain of the Endless War Against Eastasia
A story in the Army Times about the toll new tactics in particular are taking on already exhausted units in Iraq, and how one 'rebelled' by following mental health advice and medicating themselves out of a murderous frenzy.

The article is noteworthy to my mind for three things. One: The military continues to ignore its own mental health professionals, dealing with post-trauamtic stress as cowardice. Two: a unit that had lost, in rapid succession, something like a quarter of its men to attacks and suicide, is still expected to serve in active duty. Three: the insurgents in Iraq have already adapted to our new heavier personnel vehicles by using massive under-the-road bombs (500 lbs of explosives) that flip the vehicles on their backs like turtles, where they burn with everyone trapped inside.

Fourth-generational war, folks. There's no way known to win one. Welcome to the 21st century, where your billion dollar bombers and heavy armor don't mean jack.

Source: The Army Times

News of the Mourning

Radio, radio play my favorite news.......

Lieberman Should Be Drowned in a Gunney Sack Like the Rat He Is

So 'Independent-Democrat' Lieberman has, without even waiting to see who the Democratic nominee for President is, gone out and endorsed Republican McCain.

Boy, Hillary, I bet you feel great about helping to beat the drums on his pet grudge against videogames now, don't you?

Source: Huffington Post

PS: The title of this post comes from a conversation I had with an EB employee back in 2000, when he explained that he wouldn't vote for Gore for President because of Lieberman and his anti-videogame crusade. He concluded with the statement I've reused as a title.

It's Officially OK to Rape American Women in Iraq Now
Seriously. The Justice Department refuses to prosecute one of their employees, a translator, who raped an American working in Iraq. The State Department even lets him keep his security clearance and work at translation.

Meanwhile, gay translators can go beat feet.

Source: Shakespeare's Sister

It's Official: Worms are Happy Eating Poo
The inventor of a worm-based septic composting system was forced to evaluate not just the health impact of his invention on the worms, but the *mental* health impact.

Ok, ok, I want to know if the worm suffer too. It's not as outrageous as the story presents it, though I wouldn't have said 'mental health', but simply asked for a stress assessment.

At any rate, the results are in: the worms love eating human waste.

Good for them I guess.

Source: Raw Story

Prissy Little Man Sells Kid's Christmas Gift for Profit
So an angry father sold off his kid's Guitar Hero III after catching the kid smoking pot in the backyard.

The article says it was a Wii version... is there EVEN a Wii version or is this another ignorant reporter?

Additionally, some idiot paid 9 grand for this copy. Argh, the stupid, it burns!

I don't understand this man. His son was clearly practicing! How can you get the full rock star experience if you're not occasionally performing bombed or stoned or smashed or what not? It makes no sense.

Just listen to this whiny little bitch of a father:

The naughty son, however, will not go without a present on Christmas.

"I am still considering getting him a game for his Nintendo. Maybe something like Barbie as the Island Princess or Dancing with the Stars ... I know he will just love them," the father said, tongue-in-cheek.


Ahahahaha... I'll run some more salt in my son's wounds and attempt to emasculate him in the eyes of society!

So funny. Or you could skip making the asinine point and donate some of that cash you pocketed to Child's Play, where poor suffering kids might actually want to play a Barbie game.

Source: Raw Story

A Word from the Pontiff
Pope decries seeking pleasure from drugs and other 'selfish' behavior.

Then he walked to his private car on his shiny Prada shoes and immaculate robes to hang out with his suspiciously close male secretary while, still, refusing to apologize for being a death camp guard during WWII.

Moral authority is a wonderful thing.

Source: The Washington Post

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I've Got Those Sunday Morning News Blues

My baby left me... something about a train..... 

Let's make this rapid-fire so I can clear out my Opera tabs, shall we?

There's a Right Way and a Wrong Way To Do Almost Anything
El Presidente sends out Christmas cards with a staunch religious message and an extensive bible quote.

Asks Walters: "Does this also go to agnostics, and atheists, and Muslims?"

"Don't you think it's a little interesting," Walters also asks, "that the president of all the people is sending out a religious Christmas card?"


I think it's a little offensive that the President sends out Christmas cards through the White House, actually. I don't care if he wants to do it as a private individual, but since when is it the place of government to tell us about Jesus?

There are, of course, alternatives, if you want to do something more fun and less preachy.

Sources: Raw Story
Slashfilm.com

Al Sharpton, Legal Eagle
So it turns out there's an FBI tape from 2003 where Al Sharpton asks for $50,000 to be donated to his political campaign with the promise that he'll land the donor a cushy contract if he does so.

Sharpton claims that this is not illegal, because he was only a candidate for office, not an elected official. If he's right and that loophole exists, then... just wow. Amazing.

Source: Philly.com

Mackris v. O'Reilly
Turns out that an enterprising soul has made an opera out of the sexual harassment case against Bill O'Reilly, he of War on Christmas fame. A sample has been posted to Youtube, and it is astonishingly funny.

Source: Jesus' General

Department of I Can't Help But Gawk
I really don't want to be the guy who slows down at a car accident to see the carnage, here (leave that for the esteemed Mr. Carlin), but you really have to see some things to believe them. You might have read or seen an article about the little girl in India born with four extra limbs, thought by some to be an incarnation of an eight-limbed Hindu goddess of wealth. Well, they performed a successful surgery to remove the extra appendages and she's apparently doing well. The reason I link this particular article is most of the way down the page, they include an x-ray of the girl pre-surgery.

Wowsa.

Apparently she didn't so much have extra limbs as a headless, torso-less conjoined twin growing out of her pelvis. Those were its arms and legs, not hers, that they cut out.

Ewww.

Here's hoping she does well in the future.

Source: BBC News

Department of Another Bad Idea
So it seems there's not actually any law governing how much money a charity has to spend out of what it collects on, you know, charity.

Seriously.

This has led, in turn, to a raft of less than scrupulous 'charity' organizations that take in money, supposedly for Iraq war veterans, and then siphon huge amounts off the top. Things like half-million a year salaries, for instance.

Lovely.

On the other hand, you have charities like Fisher House, which spend 90% of what they take in directly on charitable work. They don't do much in the way of advertising, so they rely on word of mouth and so forth to get the dollars. Jeffrey Rowland of Overcompensating and Wigu had a shirt on sale to benefit them for a while but unfortunately that option is no longer available. The roommate has one and I shall have to post a picture sometime. At any rate, if you're going to give money, make sure you check out who it's going to.

And if you want to give to vets, the Fisher House people are apparently a good place to send the checks.

Sources: Fisher House
The Washington Post

RIP, Julia Carson
Finally on a sad note, Julia Carson, long-time public servant and Indiana congresswoman, just died from complications of a long fight with lung cancer. Carson was a remarkable figure in Indiana politics, a black woman hated with visceral fury by the Republicans and the right wing, who used people power as a political machine and created a small Democratic empire out of the city of Indianapolis. By all accounts honest, hard working, ingenious and dedicated, she spent her life helping other people and fighting the sort of entitled idiots who have driven this country to the brink of self-destruction. She will be missed.

My own most vivid memory about Carson was the vicious campaign against her one election year when I was still a kid growing up half-time on the south side. The Republicans thought that doctoring up a photograph of Carson, using the old Nazi propaganda techniques (lighting from below, high contrasts, etc) so that she looked like a crack addict would play well in their advertising. It was one of the most baldly racist, ugly things I've ever seen in a political campaign, and a real harbinger of events to come, where in future elections Republicans would insinuate that black candidates were out to get your white women, or that Max Cleland, who lost 3 limbs serving his country, was in league with Osama Bin Laden.

Carson won the election, handily as usual. It takes guts to stand up to abuse like that. I always admired her for it.

Source: IndyStar.com

Christmoween in Pictures

Last night the fair city of Bloomington, Indiana was plagued by a menace from beyond the veil of death itself:


Zombie Santa!

This repulsive monstrosity, cast out by both Man and God, was spotted in and around the downtown area, distributing toys and candy to the least reputable of our citizenry.

Accompanying the foul spectre on its unholy mission was another undead abomination, herself once a jolly and humble elf, dedicated to bringing the joys of the Yuletide to one and all.

Now merely a rotting, shambling husk, she brings only pestilence and death!

Authorities urge all citizens to remain indoors, and to avoid any and all contact with these foul and twisted creatures. If spotted, please notify emergency services immediately, then return to your televisions and resume watching It's a Wonderful Life until normalcy is restored.

Temporary blog hijacking.

This be the roommate, despite what the post byline will say.

There will be a proper Christmoween post coming later tonight or tomorrow, whenever the esteem├ęd gentleman who usually posts here gets around to it. All I know is, I got the pictures web-ready, so now the rest is up to him.

To anyone reading this who shared in the holiday cheer tonight: hi from your friendly neighborhood zombie elf! Now gimme your brains.

This concludes the post hijacking; mechanoid, feel free to delete my post when you're ready to put up the real version.

-- Jenny, aka the roommate, aka ur mum