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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I can't get behind that...

Add to the list of things I can't get behind:

Pro sports teams named after anything but a city*. Where the hell do these teams even play?

Arizona Cardinals? Florida Marlins? Carolina Panthers? New England Patriots? Florida Panthers? Carolina Hurricanes? Tennessee Titans? Texas Rangers?*

I can't tell you where a single one of these teams play, and you know why? Because they are bullshit. Any team that doesn't have a city it can name its self after is chicken-shit. And you'll notice that most of these teams are in soulless sunbelt hell-hole states-- except the Pats whose soullessness is a whole lot less metaphorical.***

* A dispensation is rendered unto "Minnesota" teams. We get it; you're from Minneapolis-St. Paul. It's cool.

**Special ire is directed at the Houston Texans for the stupidest name in all of sports.

***Go Bills

The Buffalo Bills

Need I say 4-0, baby?
First time since the glory days of the early 1990's.
Arizona, watch out; we're coming for you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Sound of Blunder (apologies to Ray Bradbury)

A Sound of Blunder

 

 

The setting is a Pentagon briefing room.  The lights are dim as a scientist in a lab coat is finishing a presentation.  Assorted Generals and men and women in suits sit around a long table watching.

 

(Caption:  The Near Future

                   The Pentagon)

 

Scientist:  And so, in conclusion, with the immaculate vision that is hindsight, we can use this new time travel technology to prevent many of the worlds worst disasters from ever occurring.

 

Lights rise, and various discussions break out simultaneously.  A man in a suit sitting at the end of the table bangs a gavel on the table.

 

President:  Order!  Order! Silence!

 

The room gradually silences and the Congressman begins

 

President:  Ladies and gentlemen, if what Dr. Richenbacher has told us is true then we are at a truly historic moment.  The moment when we can truly rewrite our own history, through the technology of time travel.  It is with the gravity of such a moment upon us that I propose the boldest possible use of this technology.  I propose that we use it to prevent the greatest crime in the history of humanity from ever happening!

 

General: (eyes narrowing, fists clenched) The 2012 Backstreet Boys Reunion Tour “Backstreets Back.”

 

Congressman: (rocking out, falsetto) Alright!

 

President: (as if this had been a reasonable statement) No, (eyes narrowing, fists clenching) I propose that kill Adolf Hitler before becoming Chnacellor of Germany.

 

General 2: Brilliant!

 

(The room again erupts into the commotion of several conversations.  President bangs his gavel)

 

President:  Order!  Order!

 

Senator:  But we namby-pamby libtart Democrats in the Congress could never approve of preemtive killing.  What about habeus corpus?

(The room again erupts into the commotion of several conversations.  President bangs his gavel)

 

President:  (Sullenly) If the Democrats won’t let me defend America and our American freedoms, then I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.  Dr. Richenbacher, mothball the time machine.  Maybe someday….

 

Congressman 2:  There must be some way we can tax and spend Hitler away.

 

Senator:  Eureka, by Jove that’s it!  If there’s one thing the Democrats love more than obstructionism, it’s spending the people’s hard-earned tax dollars on artwork from highly offensive artists!

 

Whole room: Huh!?!

 

Scientist:  Aaaaaaah, I believe I see what the Senator is on to.  You see, before entering politics, Hitler was a struggling artist in Vienna.  If only he had found success in artwork, he may never have founded the Nazi Party.

 

Senator: (excited) We could send an agent back in time, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to purchase Hitler’s paintings and prevent World War II!

 

Senator 2:  (with strong Southern accent)  Why public funding for the arts!  No, no, there must be some other way… I just can’t….  (looking downward, sullenly, muttering)

 

(The President, walks over to Senator 2, and puts a hand comfortingly on his shoulder)

 

President:  There is no other way.  This is an important mission, one that can only be entrusted to America’s very best.  There is only one man for the job, and I believe that we all know who that man is..

 

Whole room in Unison:  Will Smith!

 

(The doors to the back of the room burst open and fog begins to fill the room.  From the fog emerges Will Smith in flight uniform.  He struts to the front of the room and salutes the President, and puts a cigar in his own mouth)

 

Will Smith:  Will Smith ready to rock and roll, America!

 

President:  Good, then, Mr. Smith do you understand your mission?

 

Will Smith:  Let’s kick some Austrian ass.

 

(President looks at him puzzledly)

General:  (into president’s ear) I think he mean’s yes, sir.

 

Scientist:  Then right this way, Mr. Smith

 

 (Scientist shows him to the time machine.  Smith enters it.  Scientist hands him two bundles of old money.  Scientist fiddles with some controls, fog comes from machine.  Lights in room blink.  Scene cuts to Smith dropping onto a Vienna street in the 1920’s.  Smith walks into a second floor studio full of paintings, with the prices having visibly been repeatedly lowered.

 

Will Smith:  Yo, Adolf!

 

(Scene cuts back to a CNN type television screen in the future.)

 

TV Announcer:  And with the results from the West Coast coming in, CNN is projecting that the Republicans have retaken control of both houses of Congress.

 

(Scene changes to original “war room.”)

 

Senator 2:  (shooting pistols in the air) Well, yeehaw!  Furst thing we gonna do is cut that there fundin’ for that National Endowment for the Arts!  (fires pistols again, and a bit of plaster falls from the ceiling)

 

Congressman:  All except for the money we appropriated for Will Smith to buy Hitler’s art with, right?

 

Senator 2:  (leaning in close to Congressman and sneering)  Now listen here, boy, and listen good.  We aint spendin’ one single goddam dime on public art.  Not so long as I chair this here committee.  What we need to do is send someone back in time to prevent Will Smith from spendin’ that money, and preemptively killin’ Hitler while he is at it.

 

Senator:  But what about habeus corpus, inchoate offences, specific intent?

 

Senator 2:  Boy, you ain’t listenin’ we got a new Sheriff in town.  Now what we need is someone with the brains and the balls to pull this off.  We need America’s best.

 

Congressman:  But we already sent Will Smith back in time.

 

Senator 2:  Then we need America’s second best.

 

All in Unison:  Jeff Goldblum!

 

(The back door to the room bursts open, and Jeff Goldblum comes in in a leather jacket, and heavy sunglasses.)

 

Senator 2:  You know your mission, boy, now go get ‘em.

(Scene cuts to Vienna 1920’s.  Jeff Goldblum walks to into the same second floor shop that Will Smith is already in.  Voices can be heard in the back.  Jeff Goldblum slowly approaches them listening intently.)

 

Will Smith:  Damn that is a nice watercolor you got there.  I like the elements of chiaroscuro shading in the background.

 

Hitler:  I can let you have it for twenty-five Deutchmarks. 

 

Will Smith:  Awwwww, hell no!

 

Hitler: Ok, ok, twenty.  (Smith stares stone-facedly)  Ok, twenty and I throw in the sketch of my German-shepard Lebenstraum for nothing.

 

(Smith pulls out some money, and Hitler takes the painting in question from the wall to give to Smith.  Goldblum steps out from the shadows behind the two men.)

 

Jeff Goldblum:  I, uh, I can’t let you.  You see, I can’t let you do that Will.

 

Will Smith: (turning to see Goldblum)  Awwwww, hell no!

 

Jeff Golblum:  Here’s how it is.  The government has sent me back in time to prevent you from buying these, uh, these paintings, and while I’m here, I’ve got to kill Hitler.  So you can, you can just step aside and let me do my job.  (Goldblum pulls out a gun)

 

Will Smith:  Now, I can’t let you do that.

 

(Will Smith lunges at Jeff Goldblum, and wrestles the gun away.  The two men fight visciously and in the process, they accidentally knock Hitler out of a window.  They stop fighting and look down onto the street to see his body)

 

Jeff Glodblum: Well, it looks like we killed him anyway. 

 

Will Smith:  Looks like it.

 

Jeff Goldblum:  Well, it’s back to the future then?

 

Will Smith:  Yeah

 

(The two men walk toward the time machine during which time one of them steps on a butterfly, killing it.  They go into the time machine and set to  return whence they came.  They step out of the machine to see that humanity has instead evolved into human-lizard hybrids.)

 

Jeff Goldblum:  Well, it looks like… life… has found a way…

 

Will Smith:  Awwwww, Hell no!

 

 

 

Finis

 

Bob Conley

Maybe one of the strangest facets of the upcoming election is that a Ron Paul supporting Democrat, endorsed by the Constitution Party's candidate for President is running to the right of Republican Lyndsey Graham and is currently polling just outside of the MOE on several major polls.

If this guy, Bob Conley, gets elected, maybe he can form a caucus of two with Joe Lieberman...

To be quite honest, I don't know whether to root for the guy to knock off a Republican, or to root for Graham in fear of the headaches this guy will cause President Obama and Harry Reid if he gets elected. I guess his opposition to the debacle in Iraq is a major selling point. In either case, this is an entertaining undercard that shouldn't be completely overlooked for the main event.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If McCain can't campaign....

Then why doesn't he have Sarah Palin debate on Friday?  As Vice President she would certainly be able to take over any of McCain's duties at a moment's notice, right?

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Airport

So, I spent this last weekend in Buffalo attending my brother's wedding. It was great and I'll post more on that later. What got me thinking the most this weekend was airport security. God, what a fucking waste of time and energy. If you ask me, all this business of removing shoes, and surrendering tiny ass pieces of metal is bullshit.

The only reason that hijackers were able to gain control of four planes on September 11th is that they were the only ones who knew that the rules had changed. The passengers and crew of those planes were all operating under the old rules of a hijacking: hijackers take control, hijackers make demands, law enforcement delays hijackers until tactical ops can get into place, hijackers make a mistake, tactical ops kill hijackers. All the passengers and crew have to do in this situation is sit tight. Even on September 11th, the folks on United '93 had realized that the rules had changed and while they were not able to save themselves, they certainly prevented their airplane from being used as a weapon.

Never again will Americans allow men wielding box-cutters to hold them at bay. We're not a nation of wimps. We're the land of the free and the home of the brave-- no matter what Congress and the Bush admistration say or do. The success of the September 11 attacks ensured that they could ever be carried out again, because it put all Americans on notice. Now can I please have my cork-screw back?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weddin Bells

Loyal reader, I'll be in Buffalo this weekend serving as best man in my brother's wedding. It should be good times, and a welcome break from the insanity that is my job. As my parents only have dial-up, it is highly unlikely that I will be blogging until I get back on Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Excessed

So, friends, I have been excessed.  If you're not familiar with the process of being excised, it is a deeply beloved tradition of DC Public Schools.  The school system waits until a teacher is settled into a classroom, having spent immeasurable hours setting up a classroom and building raport with students and staff-- not to mention hundreds of dollars on supplies, then suddenly your principal takes you aside to tell you that your services are no longer needed and you should be ready to teach a new class of students at a new school next week.  Ha ha ha.

So, they've told me where I'll  be teaching next week, but not what.  Thanks, DCPS, you're a pal!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

PAC 'em in-- alma matters

So, here's an idea that I've been tossing around, and I've gotten mixed response from the people I've laid it out to:

Let's say that you're a big booster of an elite university that has a terrible track record of electing alumni to Congress, state-wide office and the Presidency.  This paucity of elected alumni makes sense, because, while elite, your university lacks some of the popular cachet (and good-ole-boy-ness) of Yale, Princeton, and Harvard. It also isn't a large public university.  If you're a candidate running for office in Missouri and you've got Mizzou on your resume, you're bound to have thousands of fellow alumni in your district.  That's some good-will and networking that is almost invaluable.  Alumni from this university, while numerous, are dispersed thinly across the breadth and width of the world.  

And not only is alma matter valuable in getting voters to pull levers, led by awe or fraternity, it's useful in getting people to run in the first place.  Fans of the West Wing will recognize numerous scenes in which one of the cast was deployed to convince someone to run  or not run, because they went to the same law school, or dormed together as undergrads.  Social scientists also identify this as one of the major reasons women and minorities don't run for elective office-- there isn't already someone on the inside  with a similar attribute inviting you in.  Women don't get asked to run, minorities don't get asked to run, and alumni of this elite university don't get asked to run.

So, how to jump-start this?  My proposal is to create a PAC whose goal is to "prime the pump" for alumni looking to run for state-wide or federal office.  There would have to be some guidelines for determining sanity and viability, but I would propose it be a non-partisan committee who looked primarily at alma matter.  Alumni knowing that they had one sizable campaign contributor lined up, would be far more likely to explore the possibility of running, and then to run.  Once a significant number of alumni were elected, the door would be open.

Would alumni contribute to the PAC enough to make it viable?
Would it make more sense to have separate Democratic and Republican PACs?  
Hey, aren't you a Campaign Finance Reform geek who hates PACs?

These are all questions to be answered in the comments section, but with this I humbly submit my proposal to you , my readers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Buffalo Bills

This is the year. Go Bills!

PS: Flutie Flakes are back!

Sleight of Hand

So, I just read the article "...And Nothing but the Truth" by Farhad Manjoo. In it, Manjoo discusses the state of the modern news media as they relate to truth. He discusses studies in which people (unsurprisingly) tend toward media outlets which are friendly to their pre-existing views. No big surprise there. He then discusses how our news sources also affect our opinions on matters. NPR listeners for example were outraged by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's scurrilous attacks on John Kerry's war record; while, Fox News watchers thought of them as revelations from on high.

So far, I'm not surprised by Manjoo's findings, but I was dissapointed that Manjoo didn't take the article where I would have taken it, and that is to draw the cross-hairs on the "Mainstream Media," "Drive-by Media", "Corporate Media", "Traditional Media" or whatever your preferred term is for CBS, NBC and ABC (from left to right) along with what's left of the major daily newspapers. The problem with these outlets is the idea of impartiality. I love impariality in the news media, and I believe that along with a healthy selection of openly biased media, there should be a selection of ostensibly impartial media as well. My problem is that the traditional news media have taken impartiality to mean that there are two eaqual sides to any argument. That is bullshit.

John Kerry was a rich kid, who after graduating from Yale VOLUNTEERED for military service in Vietnam, where he killed people and took pieces of metal into his body on multiple occasions. There are piles of documents to corroborate this, and dozens of witnesses. The swiftboaters found a couple of people who were in roughly the same area of Vietnam at roughly the same time, to spread rumors that he might not have been wounded as badly as some of his records state. Really? No legitimate news organization should have let this stand for a second. It is not impartiality to give a nut job equal time. It is not impartiality to let a nut job go unchallenged when attacking a wounded veteran's war record. It is impartiality to call "bullshit."

So what's a Tim Russert or Charlie Gibson to do? As they see it, it's their job as an impartial observer to change the debate. The debate is no longer a cut and dry one. It's no longer, "is John Kerry a legitimate war hero?", because the answer is "hell yes." The narrative now becomes, "is John Kerry responding to the Swift Boaters effectively?" This is a question to which there is legitimate debate. In a place with a functioningly impartial news media, his decision to stand aloof of the mud would have been a wise one, but instead of a legitimately impartial news media, John Kerry, and America had Tim Russert and Charlie Gibson, and Barbara Walters, and The New York Times changing the question from heroism to effective message control.

I bring up the Swift Boaters only because A. It was discussed in the article, and B. it's something that really still gets me piqued. But the issue of impartiality still stands today. Is Sarah Palin the best person in the Republican party to be Vice President of the United States? The answer is a cut-and-dry equivocal "no." So, the news media change the question: "Is Sarah Palin qualified to be Vice-President?" There can be debate on that subject. Sara Palin is a natural-born US citizen; she is older than 35. She has a pulse. She fits the legal requirements to serve as Vice President. She's also been the mayor of a small town. She's been governor of a small state for two years. That makes her more qualified than a lot of people, I guess. She is probably in the 80th percentile of people qualified to be Vice President. So Democrats look like asses for saying she's not qualified, when she clearly has a list (albeit ridiculously weak) of qualifications. Is she qualified? I guess so. Is she the most qualified? Hell no!

Don't even get me started on how sexist it is for me to call her unqualified either....

A modest proposal for the disposal of certain medical wastes

So, I've been involved in quite the lengthy philosophical discussion with the wife tonight about the state of the world. One of the threads we keep returning to is the state of the global environment, and the effects of humanity on it.

Anywho, so during this conversation, I mentioned that scientists measuring the quality of tap water have found caffeine, birth control, nicotine and prescription drugs in tap water. I turns out that a lot of drugs are over prescribed and end up getting flushed down the drain, and cannot be filtered out of water by existing systems. So, the wife was pretty worried by this, but luckily I came upon and inspired solution to deal with these, errrrr...., solutions:

COURTNEY LOVE. All of these drugs are intended to be used within the human body, and, well Courney Love is intended for the consumption of all of the above substances. By my un-scientific reconing, Courtney Love's body alone could be used to cleanse enough water for the Cleveland municipal water works. After the success of the Courney Love Municipal Water Filtration Plant is proven, it's a simple process of serving other cities. The Rolling Stones alone could serve most of the American Northeast. So, as a matter of patriotism, I implore Britney Spears to please get back on the wagon.... or off the wagon-- I can never keep those straight, but you get the idea