Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart Again"

Perhaps Some Good Shall Come from this Vampire Trend After All

I'm sure I'll get around to seeing Twilight sometime in the future, but I can't imagine it being any better than this flick:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wherein Peter "the Hitman" DiGaudio Helps Explain the World to Us All

Sometimes I read things that make no sense to me without the aide of some secondary context. For example, this little diddy:

The controversy surrounding a comedy CD distributed by Republican National Committee chairman candidate Chip Saltsman has not torpedoed his bid and might have inadvertently helped it.


The day after the story was first reported by The Hill, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan issued a statement expressing disgust over the song.


Duncan was joined by Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis, another RNC chairmanship aspirant who chided Saltsman for sending out the CD.


Not everyone is so sure, with some RNC members contending that Anuzis and Duncan may have actually hurt their candidacies with their responses.


former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who would be the party’s first black chairman, has drawn notice for his vigorous defense of Saltsman.


As a result of his position, a source close to the race said that at least 12 uncommitted committee members have contacted Blackwell to thank him for his support for Saltsman and have expressed anger toward Duncan and Anuzis “for throwing a good Republican under the bus.”


In calls to committee members in recent days, both Saltsman and Blackwell have been reminding Republicans of how both Duncan and Anuzis reacted to the story.

Yglasias has the most succinct description of the environment in which this kind of behavior, both by Saltsman and the GOP committee, is par for the course:

One of the distinguishing characteristics of modern American conservatism is that it believes in a curious concept of “color blindness.” In this view, racism is bad. But absent truly egregious behavior, it’s not something you’d really get all that upset about nor is it something you should be really attuned do. But so-called “political correctness” — meaning something like anti-racism that’s gone too far — is a really serious problem. Any hint of political correctness is worth getting upset about. And the views of actual members of racial minorities as to what is and isn’t racist should be completely discounted. Rather than saying that the prudent and decent white person will steer a mile clear of racist activity — sending out “Barack the Magic Negro” CDs, for example — the best course of action is to deliberately drive straight at the line and then get really upset at anyone who says you’ve crossed it.

[empahsis added]
For a perfect example of this, look no further than the blogger who apparently can not refer to the President-elect by any other name than "Chocolate Jesus":

Current RNC chair Mike Duncan, architect of successive Republican congressional disasters, has voiced his objections to reports in the Drive By Media of Saltsman’s gift to the RNC members.

“The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party,” Duncan said in a statement. “I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate as it clearly does not move us in the right direction.”

Spare me the faux outrage, Mr. Duncan. You’ve just got sand in your vagina. Nothing like the Rockefeller Bush wing of the GOP, those blueblood, countryclubber elitists who brought the party two successive landslide losses. Sounding like the perpetually outraged, offended PC Left isn’t going to rally your base.

Duncan is a loser with a capital “L” tattooed on his forehead. He needs to go away. Permanently.

Saltsman has been criticized in some circles simply for creating a diversion and wasting time and effort to defend his actions. Boo-freaking-hoo. There’s nothing wrong with what he did, or with Shanklin’s parody, and when unwarranted attacks are made, they need a response. When those attacks don’t generate a firm, decisive response, they tend to stick in the public eye.

I’m sick and tired of either the phony outrage from the likes of Duncan or the effeminate girlie man response from others, with the “We shouldn’t say that because someone might be offended,” or “We mustn’t do that because someone might be offended.” Both of these are part and parcel of the Democrat-lite wing of the Republican Party. These guys couldn’t win a one-man race for dog catcher. Losers, every last one of them. Losers in life, losers in politics.

[emphasis added]
What DiGaudio doesn't explain is how offending people -- then going and telling them they're pussies for taking offense -- wins votes.

I keep thinking that the GOP can't get any lower and then a few months later they do something to prove me wrong. By this point, I feel like I should make Bingo cards with different demographics and/or constituent groups to keep a running tally of who the GOP is alienating this week.

Here's the thing: the GOP is not losing any African Americans with this latest fiasco, but that's largely because they can't possibly lose any more. Instead, they'll lose moderate white Republicans who may be socially and fiscally conservative but can no longer look their black, Latino and gay friends, family and coworkers in the eye and say, "I'm a Republican." This incident won't be enough to start that exodus, but it's a good bet that it will hardly be the last of its kind. Eventually, that will start to erode the moderates.

When that happens, they'll just be a party of Peter DiGaudios without anyone to purge from the party because no one will want to belong to it any longer.

I Want a Picture that Says, Come to Wisconsin! ...

Where it's cold, gray and the winter lasts the rest of your life!

Wisconsin Bloggers Who Run for Office Bleg

Since a pair of bloggers have announced their intentions to run for local offices, I thought it would be a good time to quickly figure out what kind of record bloggers who decide to run for some kind of office in Wisconsin have -- anyone know?

Since that's kind of an amorphous construction, let's set up some requirements:

1.) The blogger has to have maintained a blog for at least 6 months before announcing his or her candidacy (minimum of 6 posts).

2.) Any office counts. Can be municipal, county, state, federal, dog catcher, coroner ... hell, if anyone knows of a blogger running for senior class student council president, let me know.

Here's a local example of who, so far as I know, would qualify under these conditions. Tony Palmeri has had a blog now for pretty much ever at this point. I'm pretty sure he had one long before he ran for state assembly in 2004 and he certainly had one when he won his seat on the city council. So Palmeri's 1-1.

I'm pretty sure Brian Bain, Mike Norton and Jef Hall all started their blogs after they were elected to their respective positions -- please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong -- so they don't count.

So folks like Jo Eglehoff count, while Mary Lazich and Mark Pocan don't.

That's all I got -- and by those number bloggers are 1-2 when running for office, a number which doesn't exactly look very thorough to me. Feel free to chime in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Chief's Top 10 "Top Ten 'Top 10' Lists" of 2008

*** Buzzfeed

*** Lifehacker

*** Social Citizens

*** Suitably Flip

*** Paper Cuts

*** Top Ten "Top Ten Words of 2008"

*** Chewing Pixels

*** Top 10 "Top 10 iPhone Flaws" lists

*** Swan Fungus

*** Gizmodo

We Have Taken the Twin Cities! (Watch the Hell Out, Dubuque!)

Apparently the State of Wisconsin has annexed Minneapolis.


Probably the most simple, yet devious and good-natured prank I've seen in a while:

[via RB]

Bettie Page was Never Spanked that Badly

Yesterday's implosion by the Cowboys was the first sporting event I have ever seen televised from the City of Brotherly Love during which I did not hear the crowd boo once.

Thank you, Philly!

I've adopted the Baltimore Ravens for this year's play-offs. Ed Reed must be omnipresent or something because that guys is everywhere on D.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Display Fail

[via HT]

While Everyone's Slagging on Mary Lazich's Receptionist...

There are a few bloggers from Franklin who are taking a few well-deserved shots at political lackey, wannabe media mogul and epic dipshit Kevin Fischer today, so I thought I'd join in the fun.

I've never been to Franklin, WI. I've never had any reason to go. I don't know anyone who lives there. In fact, I've never met anyone from Franklin. In my mind, Franklin is just a really big chunk of real estate with a stately name.

Really, the only way I know much of anything about the city of Franklin is via Fischer's tedious wankfest, This Just In... and my impression of the city has suffered greatly as a conquence. One thing I've noticed that happens among local bloggers is that their discussions quickly become insular and how their conversations appear to outsiders rarely becomes a consideration. Since I'm an outsider to the Franklin blogosphere, I'm going to interject a small thought from a foreign perspective.

Fischer is quite probably the single worst municipal ambassador in the state of Wisconsin. I'm consistantly baffled at how such pompous and arrogant dick can be hired to participate in the making of laws, a process that by necessity requires a certain degree of comprimise which Fischer day in, day out, demonstrates he has no capacity for. This is why I can only assume that he serves as a receptionist in his boss's office. I just can't picture any one in another office -- Democratic or Republican -- wanting to work with a guy's who's every action seems to be the equivilant of leaping from one's chair and yelling, "Look at me, everybody! I'm retarded!"

He's an embaressment to his employer. He's an embaressment to his employer's office. He's an embaressment to Wisconsin. But above all, he's an embaressment to the city of Franklin. I'm sure the people of Franklin take him with the proverbial grain of salt, but for someone like me, who doesn't know any better, his showboating baffoonery reflects poorly on Franklin and drains from the city any sympathy I might otherwise have for it.

I wasn't aware of his appalling behaviour earlier this year, but it doesn't surprise me. In fact, I'm fully expecting future displays of douchebaggery from this asshat.

Hang Down Your Head, Fred Dooley...

Shorter RDW: Jerome Corsi is a totally credible source on all things Obama...

Quoth Jon Henke:
The continued tolerance and prominence of Jerome Corsi - his books, columns and appearances - is just embarrassing. It is embarrassing for the Right, embarrassing for Republicans, embarrassing for conservatives and libertarians, embarrassing for all of us.


Bad as his gross errors are, though, it's not just that. It's also about who Jerome Corsi is.

Please stop embarrassing yourself, Fred.

Shouldn't You Threaten to Walk Back to Detroit if You Lose?

Saw this on ESPN just now:

DETROIT (TICKER) Travis Fisher is ready to walk.

The Detroit Lions cornerback said in a published report that he would walk from Green Bay, Wisconsin if his team notches its first win of the season on Sunday.

“If we win, man, I ain’t catching the plane back home,” Fisher told the Detroit Free Press. “I might walk. I’ll walk back. I’ll walk back to Detroit.”

What kind of incentive is that? Wouldn't you want to agree to walk back to Detroit is you lose?

Actually, might going back to Detroit by any means of transportation just be punishment enough for a loss?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Question: Peaches Simpkins?

Answer: What is the awesomest name ever.

If you're a Republican, please read this.

Warmest regards,

The Chief


... And thank you, Mike Duncan.


If you're wondering why the pic above is accompanying this post, it's because this was the first pic that showed up when I did a Google images search of the word "Peaches Simpkins."

Field Research that Rocks

Lemme Kilmister rocks for science:

The researchers attended hard rock and heavy metal concerts including Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row, and identified that the up-down style was the most common head banging technique. They constructed a theoretical head banging model of this popular style to examine the effect the range of head and neck motion has on injury severity. A focus group of ten musicians was used to calculate the average tempo of their favourite head banging songs.


And what of two of the most famous head bangers, Beavis and Butt-head? When head banging at a tempo of 164 beats per minute to "I Wanna be Sedated" the range of motion of Beavis' head and neck is about 45º, say the authors, so he would be unlikely to sustain any injury. But the news for Butt-head may not be so rosy. Preferring to head bang at a range of motion of 75º, he may well experience symptoms of headaches and dizziness.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mandatory Weekend Viewing

Part 1 and Part 2


The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

Whole thing here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Headlines of the Damned

Today's edition of Headlines of the Damned is brought to you by the AP:

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

[via Contentions -- see the previous post]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crazy Valkarie Statistic

The Tom Cruise flick has a $70 million marketing budget!

Not the casting budget.

Not the production budget.

But the goddamn marketing budget ...

Get Ready for Several Weeks of Palin Revisionism

This is almost painful to read:
Said one pollster: "The McCain campaign took this person and completely botched her assets." What's more, the pollster said that in Palin, the McCain campaign had an expert on one of the key issues that was on the minds of Americans: energy prices. "They should have used her knowledge and focus on her expertise." And the pollster said on background that the campaign should have played up her reputation as a political maverick.

Instead, the campaign "took her and turned her into an attack dog and she wasn't good at it." And it hurt her national image, with one internal GOP poll putting her positive to negative image at 48 percent to 48 percent.

Is there any reason why Palin could not have been both?

Why of course there is!

The reason why Palin wasn't used in a Energy Policy Expert capacity is because she is not an energy expert.

If Palin would have come out of the gate and wowed the public with her command of the issues, the lack of experience issue would not have weighed so heavily against her. But she didn't. In fact, she didn't really come off as much of an expert on anything, so trotting her around the country to give a bunch of policy speeches was out of the question because she just didn't have the credibility (that's also partly a function of being such an unknown).

Palin wasn't chosen for the ticket because she was an expert on anything. She was picked to appeal to the base. She was picked to be an attack dog and far from being bad at it she was actually quite good. That's why she's viewed as such a polarizing figure in the wake of the election and that's why she has little appeal beyond the most conservative wing of the GOP which tends to value ideological purity over policy expertise and/or experience.

This Will Only End in Much Shame and Great Gnashing of Teeth

MTV will be airing a reality show that will track the life of a UW freshman ... and it will be shot by students.

Here's the weird thing: a few years ago MTV did something similar with fraternities and sororities at the University of Buffalo and UC-Davis and admissions applications went up in the following years. The same thing will probably happen at UW, but unless MTV hires the very best editors in the universe this will be likely be a Pyrrhic PR victory.

Plus it will give Steve Nass and his toady puppet master a whole new series of things to bitch about.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is the "Godfather" Anti-Semitic?

I, like Jeffery Goldberg, have seen the Godfather movies (at least) 145 times and it never struck me that the movies were anti-Semitic. In fact, I've always thought just the opposite: that the Godfather was philo-Semitic. But the rational he supplies via Slate's Ron Rosenbaum is not without merit:
Hyman Roth is the age-old stereotype of the Jewish betrayer. The prime Italian gangster values in the sage are sometimes betrayed, but a betrayal recognized as a departure from the norm, the core virtue in the saga - honor and family. The Jewish values: Nothing but money (and maybe TV dinners), the apotheosis of which is Roth's betrayal of Michael, "This is the business we've chosen."
Look at the Jews in the films, the Hollywood horse lover, Moe Green in Vegas, Roth. Any "good" Jewish gangsters we should respect as we supposedly should respect Don Vito and Michael?
That's a fair assessment, but I think an incomplete one. I always saw Roth as a far more complicated character than merely a stereotypical caricature. Roth is a man that's very concerned about his legacy and is one of the few characters in the movies who is acutely aware of his own mortality. He's an outsider among outsiders. By the time we watch "II" we know that Michael "chose" his profession because it's the family business -- but we don't know how Roth got into the game. Michael carries on about the importance of family, as well he should -- after all, that's his power base. We don't know the same about Roth. In fact, Roth is in some ways a version of Vito: a self-made man who never raised his own family and must now seek alternative ways to carry on his legacy.

I could go on looking at Roth as a character onto himself, but it's really difficult for me to swallow Rosenbaum's critique of Roth in terms of a comparison to a character like Michael Corleone. If Roth is the archetypal "Jewish betrayer," then what is Michael? Roth may out to swindle the Corleone family for his own financial gain, but Michael is the one who betrays his actual family, despite his lofty rhetoric throughout the film that family is the most important thing is life, when he has his weak and ineffectual brother killed.

Plus, isn't it Michael who lays the dreaded "kiss of death" -- that Biblical act of betrayal from which a great deal of the "Jewish treachery" stereotype is based -- on Fredo? In doing so, isn't it Michael who identifying himself with the ur-traitor Judas?

Moe Green and the Hollywood horse guy are trickier to deal with and I'm far more willing to buy into Rosenbaum's critique of their roles in the movie but, again, if we're to judge them in terms of the Corleone family, it's difficult to argue that any character in the trilogy is more villainous than Michael precisely because he falls so far from the beginning of the original to those last lonely frames of "III." Complicating the matter further is that Italian-Americans don't exactly escape various stereotypical depictions throughout the films either...

But the reason that I find it extremely hard to call the Godfather movies anti-Semitic is that -- specific characters aside -- the story itself is very Old Testament. One of the fundamental truths that is passed on through the narrative of the Corleone family is that the sins of the father are revisited on the son(s). Don Vito is a righteous man in an unrighteous world who is forced to take actions that come back to haunt him and his family. His is a twisted version of the American Dream -- a man who is able to rise to fortune and happiness by living the life of a "virtuous criminal" (remember his decision not to get into the drug business?). Micheal's story arc is the inverse of his father's tale and his fall from grace is the American Nightmare that is told in story after story in the Jewish tradition.

But getting back to the issue of Roth, Moe Green and the Hollywood dude being stereotypes. The more I think about it the more I think Rosenberg has a legitimate point about how stereotypes infuse their characters, and yet given the context of the story, I'm more inclined to think this was intentional on behalf of the Coppola and Puzo. For one thing, the Jews in the story aren't the only ones defined by stereotypes --no one can tell me that Sonny isn't the embodiment of the hot-blooded Italian that so many WASPs feared during the first wave of Italian immigration during the 20th Century.

So much of the Godfather is about family that it's easy to forget that the very definition of family and nationality is thrown into flux by the Americanness of the film. The Corleones may speak Italian and live like Italians in the Old Country, but they're almost entirely American. Vito lives in America for far longer than he ever spent time in Europe, but his family clings to the traditions of Sicily like most immigrants do -- and there are few groups who are better at maintaining traditions like Jews.

I've often wondered if there was some sort of metaphysical connection between Roth and Vito -- that Vito established a business relationship with Roth because both were immigrants in some way (Vito literally and Roth spiritually) and that this relationship dissolves when Micheal, no longer an immigrant, ascends to his father's throne. Does that mean Roth doen't exhibit stereotypical character traits? Not at all, but it might be an odd way to emphasis the connection between the Corleones and the Jewish people rather than as thinly veiled anti-Semitism.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


[via TT]

And it's Only Getting Cheaper

I actually can't wait for the day that the next great animated movie is conceived and made in someone's basement:

For Toy Story it took 117 computers running 24 hours a day to get the movie wrapped, with each frame taking from 45 minutes to 20 hours to finish. By Monsters Inc. (2001), Pixar was able to convincingly render things such as wrinkling shirts and hair, far beyond the relatively simple plasticized texture of Toy Story, and was using more computer processing power than the three previous Pixar films put together.

And today, as Price writes, “the hardware and software of an animator’s workstation, once the province of major studios and effects houses, could now be had for the cost of a good used car.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Headlines of the Damned

Today's edition of Headlines of the Damned is brought to you by the Fort Smith, Arkansas Times-Record:

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

[via EDSBS]

You Know There's an Open Senate Seat in Florida Next Cycle...

Does Rush Limbaugh have the balls to put his money where his mouth is?

Hey, You Know Who Can Save the GOP with Her Awesome Advice? Michelle Bachmann!

Dear Republicans,

Please, please, please, please, please, please, listen to Michelle Bachmann for all of your rebuilding-the-party needs ... she truly is the best thing to happen to the GOP since Katherine Harris.

Warmest Regards,

The Chief

Paul Weyrich, founder of the proto-FOX News

The Racine-native is probably one of the five most influential conservatives ever to come out of Wisconsin. Here's a story I always enjoyed:
In December 1975 Gingrich sat in the front row of a conference room at the Marc Plaza hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Paul Weyrich's class on how to run a winning campaign. Weyrich would become Gingrich's political godfather; he was the founder of net-Political NewsTalk Television and the guru of the New Right. Weyrich quickly saw in Newt a useful if somewhat comic instrument to achieve his ends. Though Weyrich was in charge, Newt quickly took over the meeting. Voice chiming, arms waving, Gingrich "began to lecture me about how we should run as a team," Weyrich recalls, "and how all of the people that were there, if they all ran with the same theme, they would be far better off than if they ran singly, and that it was my responsibility to put together a theme for all of these candidates." Almost 20 years later, that strategy produced the Contract with America. At the time, all Weyrich remembers thinking was, "Where did you come from?"
Weyrich is often described as a conservative "thinker," but he was an infinitely superior activist, organizer and enforcer of conservative dogma. Weyrich had a gift for being ahead of his time, and there's no better examples of this than his founding of the Moral Majority in the late 1970s and, conversely, the "conservative cable TV network" he tried -- and failed spectacularly -- to build in the early 1990s.

An interesting guy who died too young.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flight of the Conchords, Season 2

The whole first episode is on Funny or Die -- skip ahead to 24:30 for one of the funnier odes to angelic erotica you're likely to hear this Christmas season:

And on a semi-related note: here's a list of hipster-approved baby names (courtesy of Alex Massie).

Have a Very Hitchens Christmas

Hitch tees-off thusly:
I had never before been a special fan of that great comedian Phyllis Diller, but she utterly won my heart this week by sending me an envelope that, when opened, contained a torn-off square of brown-bag paper of the kind suitable for latrine duty in an ill-run correctional facility. Duly unfurled, it carried a handwritten salutation reading as follows:

Money's scarce
Times are hard
Here's your f******
Xmas card

I could not possibly improve on the sentiment, but I don't think it ought to depend on the current austerities. Isn't Christmas a moral and aesthetic nightmare whether or not the days are prosperous?

And proceeds down the fairway in vintage Hitchens manner.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mary Lazich's Receptionist Needs to Get a Fucking Life

This is the stupidest goddamn waste of hypertext I've read all month.

Please contribute when you have something remotely interesting to say.

"I Am Not Now, nor Have I Ever Been, a Monkey Psychologist"

There's a both enlightening and humorous exchange going on at Cato Unbound between Brad DeLong and Lawrence White which has resulted in the best line I've read all day and the inspiration for a little of the Avalanches:


Does the cover trash Catholics or does it play on the Madonna/Whore dichotomy that is reinforced by the Christmas season -- during which the figure of the Virgin Mary plays such a prominent part?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Night Link Orgy

*** End the TARP.

*** The cost of Government triples ... in a year.

*** Opinions on the auto bailout differ drastically according to how the question is asked.

*** Bankruptcies are on the rise.

*** Genius.

*** 5 awesome bank jobs.

*** The best songs used in advertising this year.

*** The first photo of extraterrestrial liquid water:

Coming to Grips with the Bailout

At least one conservative blogger is starting to see the ramifications of letting the auto industry die a sudden and unceremonious death (others, not so much)...

But, of course, it will get much worse than just people collecting unemployment checks and state governments losing income and corporate tax revenue. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel actually did a really great job describing how awful the closing in Janesville will be this weekend.

The suppliers and the retailers et al. will likely have a ton of loans themselves that they will no longer be able to pay them off. Unable to find jobs, they'll default on their mortgages, car loans or credit card debt. Homes will be foreclosed thus depreciating the values of the homes owned by non-auto industry employees. Everyone stops sending money like they did just weeks earlier and area businesses bare the brunt of the new frugality. More people are laid off, more businesses close.

Without a job or a home and likely having filed for bankrupcy, there will be little reason for ex-auto industry employees to stick around in their old neighborhoods. A mass migration will begin from former auto industry communities around the Midwest that will decimate entire cities in Michigan and Ohio (as well as other places like Janesville), turning them all into smaller Youngstowns. This will all come at a time when private investment will slow to a grinding halt as banks on Wall Street get their shit together and governments will be strained by declining revenue and peaking demand for social service programs. Crime inevitably starts to rise and is perpetuated because local police forces don't have the resources to deal with the surge. Property values continue to decline. People with the resources to get the hell out eventually do, thus depriving the communities with tax revenue and leadership.

And that's just scratching the surface...

But if worrying about what can actually happen in the real world does start your engine as much as worrying about ideology or politics then folks who oppose the bailout (who appear to be mostly of the very conservative and/or libertarian persuation) might want to think about this:

The above will occur in plenty of states, but the effects will be felt most accutely in Michigan and Ohio and the unions in those states will not be blamed, especially when the optics the GOP is putting forth right now are pitting the unions against a handful of Senators with Southern accents and a ton of foreign, non-union automotive plants in their backyards.

Try winning a presidential election in the future without Ohio. Right now the GOP is kissing the industrial Midwest good-bye for a generation and retreating to the last redoubt it has in the country: the Southeast. There's been talk of the GOP becoming a regional party for some time now, but this may be the issue that final cements their doom.

Unbelievably Awesome or Geeky Beyond Measure?

Sadly, I can not seem to make up my mind:

Via Deadspin, which opines thusly: "Star Wars-themed Sports jerseys; When you want to tell the world, 'I will never have a girlfriend and I've come to terms with that fact.'"

Take That, Foot!

It's not like Jeff Wood doesn't have enough enemies as it is these days ... can someone please remind him that additional legislative points are not awarded based on degree of difficulty?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Conservation of Energy

This New Yorker piece was noted in the Times this morning:
Refrigerators consume a lot of energy; all alone, they account for almost fifteen per cent of the average home’s electricity use. In the mid nineteen-seventies, California—the state [nominee to head the Dept. of Energy Steven] Chu now lives in—set about establishing the country’s first refrigerator-efficiency standards. Refrigerator manufacturers, of course, fought them. The standards couldn’t be met, they said, at anything like a price consumers could afford. California imposed the standards anyway, and then what happened, as Chu observed, is that “the manufacturers had to assign the job to the engineers, instead of to the lobbyists.” The following decade, standards were imposed for refrigerators nationwide. Since then, the size of the average American refrigerator has increased by more than ten per cent, while the price, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has been cut in half. Meanwhile, energy use has dropped by two-thirds.
Emphasis added.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Breathtaking Inanity of Mary Lazich, Vol. II

Is this a pledge to never do another direct mailing in any of her future campaigns?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Abner Mikva for Senate?

Interesting idea... (He's a Milwaukee native)

The story of Chicago politics is rather elegantly summed up in this short story that Mikva likes to tell:

“When I first came to Chicago, Adlai Stevenson and Paul Douglas were running for governor and senator,” he said. “I had heard about the closed Party, closed machine, but they sounded like such great candidates, so I stopped in to volunteer in the Eighth Ward Regular Democratic headquarters. I said, ‘I’m here for Douglas and Stevenson.’ The ward boss came in and pulled the cigar out of his mouth and said, ‘Who sent you?’ And I said, ‘Nobody sent me.’ He put the cigar back in his mouth and said, ‘We don’t want nobody nobody sent.’ ”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Breathtaking Inanity of Mary Lazich

So, just before 2:00 p.m. this afternoon state Sen. Mary Lazich posts some WMC-approved talking points up on her blog on how everyone in Wisconsin wants "market-based" health care and that "54 percent of voters disapproved of ... government-run health care." Here's a screen capture of her headline:
Fair enough, Lazich is not one for government-run health care ... except hours earlier (just under four, to be precise), Lazich was actually hawking a government-run health care program to her readers:

Again, these posts ran within hours of each other.

I'll leave this up to the reader to decide if if this is (a.) cherry-picking, (b.) talking out of both sides of her mouth, or (c.) the sign of someone who has absolutely no fucking clue what she's doing.

Thursday Morning Link Orgy

*** the 10 Worst Predictions of 2008 (thank God no one reads this blog...)

*** 10 Reasons Blago could get all up in Obama's grill

*** The Traditional Media Deathwatch continues

*** 7 Dumbest things ever done by airport security

*** What's a credit default swap?

*** 11 notable Presidential pardons

*** Black hole at the center of the galaxy? Confirmed.

*** Jokes and jokes and jokes ....

*** Can you write an entire innaguration speech using only 6 words? Knock yourself out ...

"In the past I had been a fan of Ryan. I am not a fan any longer. "

Owen Robinson banishes Paul Ryan from his conservative fiefdom, apparently unmoved by the small detail that an obscene portion of the Rock County economy revolves around the closing GM plant (but have no fear, the Janesville JCPenny is staying open!).

And some dude who goes by the nom de comment RecessSupervior'sSupervisor deploys the rarely utilized "You're a Fag!" argument, last used during the famous Berkeley/Johnson debates, to advance his cause...

[The RSS starts off his "argument" with an outright falsehood: "The public overwhelmingly opposes these bailouts." Not so, according to Pollster:

Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government providing money to banks and other financial institutions to try to help fix the country's economic problems?

    46% Approve
    44% Disapprove
    When looking at just the auto sector bailout, the public is equally as divided.]

    Such is the state of conservative debate: If you do something I don't agree with, you are dead to me. If you try to explain the nuance of the situation, you're gay.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Party of Ideas!


    Steve Egg also adds much needed substance to the debate...

    Thus far the only public voice that has provided me with a reason to oppose the bailout has been Rep. Kagan. There are tons of perfectly valid reasons to oppose the bailout, but the Right seems content to say "This is bad" and leave it at that. That's not good enough.


    Ahh, this is better ...


    Oops ... now we're back to square one.

    Annals of Bribery

    How Sen. Harry Reid, himself from a state that is no stranger to extra-legal proceedings, dealt with a bribe offer:

    In July of 1978, a man named Jack Gordon, who was later married to LaToya Jackson, offered Reid twelve thousand dollars to approve two new, carnival-like gaming devices for casino use. Reid reported the attempted bribe to the F.B.I. and arranged a meeting with Gordon in his office. By agreement, F.B.I. agents burst in to arrest Gordon at the point where Reid asked, “Is this the money?” Although he was taking part in a sting, Reid was unable to control his temper; the videotape shows him getting up from his chair and saying, “You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!” and attempting to choke Gordon, before startled agents pulled him off. “I was so angry with him for thinking he could bribe me,” Reid said, explaining his theatrical outburst. Gordon was convicted in federal court in 1979 and sentenced to six months in prison.

    (Emphasis added)

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Does the "Joe the Plumber Spirit" Include Ingratitude?

    Last week Kathy Carpenter wrote an embarrassing post on what she referred to as the "Joe the Plumber Spirit":
    Joe the Plumber's spirit of individuality, determination and hard work will rise again. I believe it, just like Ronald Reagan believed it.
    Did Reagan believe this spirit also included being a huge dick?

    Way to pick 'em, Kathy!


    The inspiration for the nostalgia:

    That is all.

    Note to Mary Lazich's Receptionist's Blogging Substitutes

    Can you really hate on Planned Parenthood with a straight face when you're blogging under the pseudonym "Conservative Casanova"?

    Just asking...

    Don't Look Now ...

    But Steve Kagan may just be acting like a congressman!

    [Just for the record, the Chief supports the bailout, but it's impossible for us to begrudge Rep. Kagan's position on the issue.]

    Man, a day when I agree with both Steve Kagan and Charlie Sykes ... will wonders ever cease?

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Fads that Time Forgot: Drill Here, Drill Now Tuesdays

    To the best of my knowledge, the first use of "Drill Here, Drill Now Tuesdays" as an on-going blog theme in the Cheddarsphere was on July 29th of this year, when Silent E, Sheboygan Shenanigans, No Runny Eggs, Sean Hackbarth, and Bill Widgerson decided to appropriate a gimmick from a blogger with a genuinely awful name for a blog.

    So how'd it go?

    Well, it didn't exactly turn out to be the online show of solitarity (or attention span) that the organizers likely had in mind. Steve Egg proclaimed that the feature "will appear here every Tuesday (whether I’m here or not; the only difference is I won’t be able to update the current gas price while on vacation) until Congress wakes up and allows a lot more domestic drilling (I’m not talking about just ANWR, or just off the Florida coast where Cuba, Red China and Brazil are preparing to drink our milkshake, or just the shale fields in the Rockies)."

    Emphasis his.

    Hackbarth and the blog about sex offenders in Sheboygan didn't even make it to the next week. Widgerson became an ocassional contributor.

    By mid-October, when gas dipped below $3.00 a gallon the determination of Silent E and Steve Egg began to noticable wane. There hasn't been a Drill Here, Drill Now Tuesday since Wednesday, November 19th when gas was under $2.00 gallon. Even Jessi, who started the whole project off, hasn't chipped in lately.

    So, I think it's fair to call Drill Here, Drill Now Tuesdays a total bomb.

    Here are the lessons:

    Drill Here, Drill Now presents only one solution to the economic (I'm not even going to bother with the environmental or foreign policy issues in this post) problem of high gas prices: more supply. Well, in the months that gas dropped from more than $4.00 to less than $2.00 a gallon supply has actually been cut to stem the tide of lowering prices. So even though production is at or below summer levels, the price is nearly half of what it was.

    What gives? Demand is not what it was.

    Part of this is seasonal. Americans drive more in the summer than they do in the winter and the late economic meltdown has probably lead more than a few people and businesses to cut down on their transportation budgets.

    So can someone explain to me in simple terms what increasing domestic supply would do that decreasing demand hasn't already done? (And I don't necessarily mean going cold turkey off oil, but maybe just decreasing demand through more efficient use?)

    Hey, Anything Happen Today?

    A few years ago a friend from Chicago made the following observation about his newly minted Governor, who had barely been in office a year before he started being investigated: "Man, this guy is so useless that I wouldn't take the time to learn how to pronouce his last name if it were Smith."

    [photo via Deadspin]

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    It's Amazing to Think that, Not too Long Ago, Thousands of People Trusted Merrill Lynch with Their Money

    Take it away, Mr. Massie...


    Here's Charlie citing George Will's weekend screed against the Fairness Doctrine, or what he terms "the left's continuing obsession with regulating free speech," despite, in the words of Steve Benen, "no one is seriously trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine."

    Emphasis Benen's.

    We've noted that there are more important things to worry about than clocking pundits on local radio stations (as have numerous others), but Sykes continues to display his persecution complex for either personal or professional gain.

    That's when it hit me -- it's really hard to tell the difference between where the personal ends and the professional begins with Sykes ... or for any talk radio host, for that matter.

    For several hours each day Sykes and his ilk are basically engaging in an act of public psychoanalysis. Instead of a couch, they pull up to the mic where a broadcast audience fills in for an analyst and to whom they yammer on almost in the stream-of-consciousness style of "the talking cure."

    Freud would've loved talk radio.

    These guys are professionals, but they're still subject to the same struggles between the conscious and the subconscious and that conflict occasionally manifests itself in odd ways. They talk smoothly and fluidly, so when they do screw up -- when they do trip up and let loose a "Freudian slip" -- it's very pronounced and easy to recognize (so easy that the talkers themselves are just as quick to recognize it and laugh it off before derailing the conversation).

    Since Sykes' blog is essentially just a supplement to his radio show, I'd wager it's subject to the same rules of conscious/subconscious conflict.

    One of the most popular "figures" to psychoanalyze over the years has been Shakespeare's Hamlet, but I think that psychoanalysts have a wealth of of material to sift through in the form of talk radio hosts. In fact, it might even be an opportunity to get back to the glory days of psychoanalysis when the budding field was butting up against the ethos of the Victorian Age (which the strict morality of some of the most extreme right-wingers seems to resemble at times). Charlie Sykes is the perfect Freudian case study. Sometimes is something as routine and benign as the whole persecution complex thing above, but then there's something a little more eye-opening like this hint of a castration complex ... to say nothing of how he is constantly examining issues related to childhood, parenting, education and the like.

    Oh, the places this little exercise can go! Even when Sykes is discussing public works projects his imagery conjures up a metaphor for anal retentiveness.

    Freud is one of the unholy trinity of modern thinkers conservatives have spent much of the last 150 years trying to dismiss (Darwin and Marx being the others). He's been marginalized recently (and for good reasons), but maybe it's time to bring him back out of the moth balls. Besides, a little pop psychology is great at parties after a few beers -- it should be just as entertaining online.

    So from here on in we're going to be subcontracting our commentary on Syke's nonsense to Dr. Freud, Professor emeritus at the University of Vienna.

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Sunday Night Link Orgy

    *** The prank phone call that almost led to to war between India and Pakistan ... can somebody please get these guys a red phone/hotline?

    *** The origins of piracy in Somalia ... and some tough, but reasonable, possible solutions that just so happen to include the best line I've read all day:
    Water-skiing playboys in Lamu can stuff it.
    *** Isn't an enemies list just a bit too Nixonian even for this administration?

    *** Great article on college radio in the New York Times.

    *** The financial crisis has pummeled Wall Street, is bearing down on Main Street and is now set to ravage ... horse country!

    *** Any bets on what the books are behind the President-elect?
    I'm going with either a three volume collection of Lincoln's speeches and letters or the Federalist Papers.

    I kind of think it's pretty cool that he's doing these things from a high-rise. Apparently the transition offices are on the 38th floor of the federal building in the Loop. That's a pretty nice western-looking view of the city from that height.

    Say it Ain't so, Amsterdam?

    Terrible, terrible news...

    Which begs the question: which city will pick up the slack?

    I'm crossing my fingers it's Macau.

    Saturday, December 6, 2008

    Welcome Back, General

    I think this might be the most inspired cabinet nomination yet.


    Just a reminder:
    There were a few empty chairs at General Eric Shinseki's June 2003 retirement ceremony. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn't make it to the event, which honored Shinseki's 4 years as U.S. Army chief of staff and 38-year military career. Neither did Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, nor any of Rumsfeld's other close associates. For a four-star general concluding a brilliant career, it was a major breach of protocol.
    Hit the link up for the reason why -- in case you've forgotten.

    Charlie Sykes, Who Thinks Everyone Born After Him is Dumber than He, Should Read this Article

    The breed improves.

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    What's the Worst Industry in America?

    A totally subjective list only loosely grounded on dispassionate observation:
    1.) The Airline Industry
    I would rather travel in a rickshaw from Detroit to O'Hare -- nay, I would rather operate a rickshaw with passengers that consisted entirely of a family of morbidly obese manatees in the dead of winter wearing naught but my socks than get aboard a plane these days.

    Airport security should be the very definition of clinical insanity. Every flight is oversold and I swear I've seen knife fights break out in terminals between travelers trying to just get the hell out of Memphis. (How did they get knives past the TSA? They didn't need to. They fashioned shivs from the trash bin at the Sbarro in the terminal. Modern airline passengers are either a.) goddamn resourceful when they are thrust into the Hobbesian States of Nature which are airport terminals, or b.) also know how to make pruno) If you are lucky enough to get on board the experience is simply miserable -- every archetypal fear on the emotional spectrum is pushed to the breaking point continuously over the course of the flight. Airlines used to serve food and drinks to help sooth passengers fears of heights and the rapid decent in a flaming aluminum tube there from. The food sucked, but it wasn't meant to be good -- just comfort food. Now that's gone and replaced with the stifling feeling of claustrophobia that comes with airlines trying to pack each plane with as many poor schumcks as possible.

    By the way, I'm a very low maintenance traveler with a high threshold for transportational bullshit. I don't mind being inconvenienced from time to time. But every time I travel it's the same thing: stressed out employees at the gate and on the plane who think that their airport ID badge makes them a second Lieutenant in the army of Fuck You, long lines to check in the luggage/go through security, and fewer flights to choose from.

    Yet despite these fewer flights, and presumably fewer planes cluttering the runways, I feel like I'm spending more time taxiing on the tarmac and can't remember that last time a flight I was on arrived on time.

    It sucks. I hate it. Maybe flying is better in Korea, where apparently ejaculating champagne bottles are served gratis. I don't want to hear 9/11 excuses anymore. Every time I fly these days I'm resigned to the fact that traveling days will be miserable and there won't be anything I can do about it. I'd rather be slapped in the face as I board the plane rather than greeted cheerily. It would be at least a token shred of honesty in an otherwise miserable business transaction.
    2.) Financial Services Industry
    Thanks guys.

    (Editor's note: If this were an objective list, the financial services industry would be number one with a bullet, as the kids once said, but the vast and ubiquitous damage this industry has done to the economy pales in comparison to my personal contempt for the airline industry.)
    3.) Newspaper Industry
    If you ever get a chance to read Editor and Publisher magazine -- the trade rag of record for the dead tree press -- these days, then you must know how it felt to read the published names of dead soldiers during the Civil War. See exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P and Q.

    And that's just in the last five days.

    Many papers have finally gotten wise to the fact that they need to shift their platform from hard copy to online, but they haven't figured out that the proliferation of news on the internet actually places a larger burden on them to report more local stories. I'd be so bold as to suggest that most papers ditch the AP services they subscribe to and focus entirely on local issues or come up with original content on national/world issues through a local lens. That requires more (or better) reporters, not fewer. Instead, they're shedding staffs and thinning their products. That's when the death spiral begins, eventually giving us this bleak future:
    "Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010," the Chicago-based credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.
    Could the Oshkosh blogosphere pick up the slack if the NW went under? Not at first -- where's the local high school sports blog? Then again, I'd imagine that sooner or later part-time bloggers would eventually find a way to do what the pros did.

    [MORE: Jesus, it's even worse than I thought...]
    4.) The Music Industry
    I have a theory -- explained over numerous pints of beer at watering holes across the country to various friends -- that the artistic health of pop music is directly proportional the health of the recording business. The RIAA dicked around for over a decade trying to fight internet piracy and it got them nowhere. Instead of working with the internet, the RIAA clung desperately to the CD model that made them very rich in the '80s. The problem with this model is that it requires brick and morter retail outlets. Sure, you had soulless places like Wal-mart that sold a ton of records for a while, or product-specific chains like Tower in the malls of America, but then you had regional chains like the Exclusive Co. or stores like Atomic Records in Milwaukee or Fifth Element in Minneapolis.

    Go into the Exclusive Co. today and it's mostly DVDs and audio hardware ... and Atomic is closing down in February. No one buys records any more. It's all iTunes or file-sharing now, but even that doesn't seem to compensate for the dip in sales.

    And there's every reason to believe that it's only going to get worse.

    I thought that a friend who works for a record label (this used to be a sexy job, one she worked all of her life for, but she can barely bring herself to admit it to strangers these days) was joking when she said that the only way labels make money these days is from ringtones. She wasn't (though that might not even be true anymore). That's simply not a sustainable business or artistic model.

    Pop music is not going anywhere, but like all arts it needs to be cultivated. When an industry is in decline and denial, it simply doesn't have the capacity or patience to
    develop talent. That's when the High School Musical Soundtrack becomes the best-selling album of the year -- and it would take a lot of sex and drugs to convince musicians that it's worth being that lame.
    5.) The Auto Industry
    Here's a story that I think illustrates the ills of the American auto industry quite well:

    A family I know has not owned an American car since the early '90s when the Buick they owned started on fire. When the fire department completed the investigation they determined the official cause of the fire was -- and I'm not kidding about this -- "spontaneous combustion." Those words are actually on the official report. Apparently the insurance company, obviously thinking there was some kind of fraud afoot, needed numerous additional paperwork explaining the cause further.

    This was the last American car this family ever bothered looking at.

    Detroit is really up shit's creek. Three weeks ago I would have thought they were a lock to get their bailout cash, but now I don't think Congress would trust them to make change for a dollar. They screwed this up in almost the same way they screwed up their businesses: take a whole bunch of shit for granted (cheap gas/money from Congress) and aggressively ignore strategic thinking (I didn't hear any of the three CEOs talk about business plans after 2010). Bailout or no -- and let's face it, any bailout the auto companies get is likely to be just a stop-gap measure that prevents at least one of them from going under for x number of months -- Detroit is going to be a much smaller place in a few years.

    There. I'm sure there are many more. Drop your suggestions for additional industries that suck in the comments below.