Thursday, January 29, 2009

Powerful Ad

I don't usually do this kind of thing, but this commercial actually choked me up a bit.

In A World Beyond Irony....

.....We have DABA, or Dating A Banker Anonymous. Please tell me this is a clever hoax. Or shoot me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh, Magoo!....You've Done It Again!

Such a marvelous day in the history of our nation that it can only be slightly marred (or, if one's tastes are sufficiently perverse, enhanced) by the semi-literate pretensions and ravings of Jonah Goldberg. Here, in attempting to critique the literary merit of President Obama's inauguration speech, he plays to his strong suite and explains a basic point of human rights to those of us who are too dense to appreciate it:

But the line that grated on me most came from the bit about service and sacrifice. He said:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

No, “they” didn’t. Slaves certainly didn’t endure the lash of the of the whip out of a sense of service and sacrifice for us. That is one of the reasons slavery is so evil; it isn't voluntary.

Gosh. Is that what's wrong with slavery? Who knew? I guess I'll have to let that 14 year old girl out of the trunk of my car now and get my money back for the duct tape. Gee. I knew there was something wrong about slavery but this whole volition thing is really wild. Thanks Jonah!

But, as most of us know, the slaves did endure the lash "for us" - certainly "for" those who purported to own them, but also for their children and for the hope of a better future, however long it might be postponed.

Not content with vicodin-addled bullshit like this, we also get to endure Jonah as would-be copy editor:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

Gathering clouds and raging storms? Really? How did that survive the first draft? Oh, and shouldn’t that be forebears not forbearers? A forbearer is someone who refrains from something.

Well, thanks to Marc Ambinder's yeomanlike work dissecting the speech, those who would care to know will recognize the "storms....clouds" imagery as allusive to a hymn by one-time slaver and later abolitionist John Newton. Perhaps that is why it survived the first draft.

I could go on (for instance, Goldberg's niggardly interpretation of the expression "forbearer" -which actually is a word, albeit an archaic one) but this time it really is too easy. Follow the link and read his whole post. I do understand that the myth of Goldberg's insight exists primarily in his own mind, but gibberish like this ought to lay that legend to rest for good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OK, We're Doomed

I've been trying not to panic about the recession but this really makes me nervous: Beer Sales Falling With Economy.

Beer usually holds up better than other categories during tough economic times, said Benj Steinman, editor of trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights, and that trend had been holding true during this recession for some segments of the industry. But the latest figures show the market is trending downward, perhaps accelerating as global economies continue to sputter, and relief seems uncertain.

Beer is ''recession-resistant, not recession-proof,'' Steinman said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israeli Politics - Soviet Style

From Anti-War News:

Israel Bans Arab Parties From Election
Balad Chairman Asks Why Lieberman is so Afraid of Democracy

By a margin of 26-3, the Israeli Central Elections Committee decided to ban the Balad Party from running in next month’s election. By a margin of 21-8, they also banned the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-T). The two bans will prevent more than half of the current Arab members of Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, from running for reelection.

The Arab parties earned the ire of the most hawkish elements in the Israeli government by publicly opposing the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. Balad likewise made enemies by explicitly calling for equal rights for all citizens of Israel, regardless of national or ethnic identity, which the ruling Kadima Party said would “undermine Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.”

A handful of Arabs will remain on the ballots across Israel, running for as-yet-unbanned Jewish majority parties, but with the general consensus among most of the population that Israeli Arabs are traitors based purely on their ethnic background, they would seem to have an uphill battle. Many disillusioned Arab voters may not vote at all, now that the only significant Arab parties aren’t allowed on the ballot.

During the discussion, Balad Chairman Jamal Zahaika called the move to ban his party “a test for Israeli democracy” and warned that the ban would lead to an outright Arab boycott of the election.

Zahaika also asked Avigdor Lieberman, the driving force behind the ban, “Why are you afraid of democracy?” Lieberman declared Balad a terrorist organization and said “whoever values life” would understand the need to ban it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finally, Some Good News

Looks like a big win for copyright progressives:
Some digital rights advocates cheered the appointment of longtime copyright-reform champion Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Boucher is taking over for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who will now head the Energy and the Environment subcommittee, the lawmakers announced Thursday.

As a longtime proponent of consumers' rights to lawfully copy films, books and other material, Boucher is considered a likely opponent of any entertainment industry efforts to restrict the Web. Among other measures, he is likely to oppose attempts to require Internet service providers to filter networks for pirated material.

Boucher also has tried to revamp the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to make it more consumer-friendly. Two years ago, Boucher and another lawmaker, John Doolittle (R-Calif.), introduced the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 1201), which would have softened the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. Those rules generally prohibit consumers from defeating digital rights management software aimed at limiting their ability to make copies--although the Copyright Office grants exemptions in some circumstances.

No Accounting For Taste....

....but I dig the shit out of this. Gotta be viral hit in a minute.

Spheres Of Consensus

Here is a very good article,"Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press" by Jay Rosen. Essentially, Rosen describes why the journalist class sound so unbelievably out-of-touch when dealing with any topic. As seen on the graph above, the pundits and reporters view themselves as the gatekeepers for the coveted positions within the "sphere of consensus" which, for them, defines issues that lie beyond all questioning or legitimate inquiry. Rosen argues that the sphere of consensus, as determined by the so-called MSM is deteriorating, and one gets the feeling that he sees this as a good thing.
I'm certainly inclined to agree, though I think there is a counter-argument that this is symptomatic of a decline in consensus of any kind and thus a risk of true societal deviancy and civil disintegration.

NoScript Rocks

The last straw for me was having to wait two minutes for every page at the NY Times website to load. Thanks to Firefox's NoScript add-on, this kind of bullshit is now a thing of the past. This is the bestest add-on ever. In fact, it is indispensable. Turn it on or off, as needed. No more worries about whatever blumpkin backfire some Madison Avenue web hack has decided to inflict upon your browser.
It's also a good safety measure and is Open Source to boot. Get it here if you don't use it already.

Change You Can Believe In

I always love the apocalyptic visions of James H. Kunstler. Especially when they are as on the money as this one is:

It is hugely ironic that the US automobile industry is collapsing at this very moment, and the ongoing debate about whether to "rescue" it or not is an obvious kabuki theater exercise because this industry is hopeless. It is headed into bankruptcy with one hundred percent certainty. The only thing in question is whether the news of its death will spoil the Christmas of those who draw a paycheck from it, or those whose hopes for an easy retirement are vested in it. But American political-economy being very Santa Claus oriented for recent generations, the gesture will be made. A single leaky little lifeboat will be lowered and the chiefs of the Big Three will be invited to go for a brief little row, and then they will sink, glug, glug, glug, while the rusty old Titanic of the car industry slides diagonally into the deep behind them, against a sickening greenish-orange sunset backdrop of the morbid economy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Edd Cartier Dead At 94

This is a few days late, but for some reason it hasn't been as widely disseminated among the "toony" blogs as it should be. A strange oversight for someone whose work Howard Nostrand described as "tight as a tick", saying further that it looked as if he drew with a protractor. Though his work doing illustrtions and interior cuts for The Shadow Magazine were just fine, I grew to know and love him through his SF and fantasy work for Unknown Worlds and Gnome Press (among others). Whimsical and evocative stuff.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Way We Were

Kenneth Rexroth on the Cotton Club:
One of the most ridiculous things I ever read was a description, by some French aesthete, of the old Sunset, made immortal by Armstrong, as though it was some sort of musical tempestuous Unit Meeting of the “exploited Negroes of Chicago’s stockyards and steel mills.” I have read similar things about the Cotton Club. Now I almost never went to the Sunset because, although I knew the owner, it cost in the neighborhood of thirty dollars to take a girl and dance or sit through a couple of sets. As for the Cotton Club — lest I be thought chauvinistic, let me quote Langston Hughes’s autobiography, from his chapter entitled in bitter irony “When the Negro Was in Vogue” and which you should certainly read:

White people began to come to Harlem in droves. For several years they packed the expensive Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue. But I was never there, because the Cotton Club was a Jim Crow club for gangsters and moneyed whites. They were not cordial to Negro patronage unless you were a celebrity like Bojangles (Robinson).

I have been to the Cotton Club, and let me say that in addition the acts were vulgar and chauvinistic past belief. If one of them were put on today the NAACP would have a picket line which would fill the block in front of the place. On the platform above the horrors of chorus and comics was the Ellington band, imperturbable, elegant, and infinitely contemptuous. Duke earned that famous dignity the hard way. As a matter of bitter literal fact it was cheaper to dance or listen to a white jazz band than to the more famous colored ones. I think it cost fifty cents to go to White City and enjoy the music of McPartland, Tough, Teschemacher, and Bud Freeman, and even the Coon-Saunders Band at the Blackstone was cheaper than the Sunset. Obscure gutbucket bands played places like the Fiume where only very bohemian whites ever dared to go.