Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sarah Palin needs some thicker skin

Straight off her nonstop whining tour complaining about Letterman's joke she's now decided to take on some local bloggers who photoshopped a local conservative talk show host's face onto the face of a baby Palin is holding. The disturbing image can be seen here but you may want to ask any children to leave the room first.

I don't even know that guy but that's hilarious. Palin? Not so much.
Recently we learned of a malicious desecration of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother's love for a special needs child.


The mere idea of someone doctoring the photo of a special needs baby is appalling. To learn that two Alaskans did it is absolutely sickening. Linda Kellen Biegel, the official Democrat Party blogger for Alaska, should be ashamed of herself and the Democratic National Committee should be ashamed for promoting this website and encouraging this atrocious behavior.

Babies and children are off limits. It is past time to restore decency in politics and real tolerance for all Americans. The Obama Administration sets the moral compass for its party. We ask that special needs children be loved, respected and accepted and that this type of degeneracy be condemned.
Malicious desecration? Atrocious behavior? Degeneracy? Give me a break. And what the hell does Obama have to do with this anyway?

They're not making fun of your kid and you know that but no one plays the victim better than the conservatives who love to decry the "culture of victimhood."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My mind continues to be blown

I'll admit that after getting their asses kicked by Costa Rica, sleepwalking past El Salvador, and getting rocked by Italy and Brazil I was pretty down on the US Men's National Team. I'm by no means a soccer expert but even I could tell that their tactics were ridiculous, that they were playing with no emotion (outside of scared, perhaps), and that guys were out of position. They were headed into what everyone assumed would be the last game in South Africa as part of the Confederations Cup and what many hoped would be Bob Bradley's last game. What a difference a few days makes.

Headed into the Egypt game they basically needed a 3-0 win combined with a 3-0 Brazil win over Italy. Pretty much impossible for a team that had, to that point, been outscored 6-1. Well, they got exactly what they needed and advanced to the semis against the #1 team in the world, Spain. Spain had just set the world-record for wins in a row (15) and were tied with Brazil for the longest unbeaten streak (35). They had crushed the three teams they played and had two of the most fearsome goal-scorers in the tournament. Well, we got lucky against Egypt but against a good team it will be more of the same.

Oh, how wrong I was. I was fortunate enough to get to keep an eye on the game thanks to a boss that likes soccer and ESPN360, one of the greatest inventions known to man. They came out playing with a purpose and right from the start you could tell they weren't going to back down. Jozy Altidore, one of the Americans' best young players, is under contract with Villareal, a Spanish team, except he never gets to play for them so it was extra amazing when he muscled his club teammate out of the way to put the first goal into the net.

Spain came back firing and the much-maligned back four played the best game they had in ages. They were everywhere inside heading out Spanish crosses or getting a toe on the ball to disrupt passes. Anything that they let Spain get by them Howard was right there to stop. Just an amazing performance when I thought they were way overmatched against Torres and Villa.

Clint Dempsey redeemed himself from some shaky play earlier in the tournament by putting in the insurance goal off of a really dumb decision to not clear that ball. Kind of a fortunate goal and I still don't know why the hell Donovan just won't shoot the fucking ball when he has it right there but, hey, it worked. So, probably one of the biggest wins in US history. I might rank the Mexico and Portugal wins in WC '02 a little higher as far is in my lifetime goes but there aren't many bigger than this one.

Next up they have the winner of Brazil-South Africa in the finals. Brazil whipped them once already but this team is flying high so it might be fun to get another crack at them. After that the B-team goes to South America for the Gold Cup then it's a huge qualifier in Mexico City, a place where the US has never won. Overall I like to see the team and sport get some buzz here as this was plastered over every sports website I saw. I really just like to see the team play like they should, with heart and an abandon that a team with no pressure should play like. After the Egypt win the team was pretty defensive about the (extremely minor compared to someplace like England or Brazil) criticism directed their way but if that's what it takes to get them to play like this I'm happy.

With all of my focus turned to this I'm kind of bummed I didn't get to pay much attention to, South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford's hilarious story. Earlier in the week someone there noticed, hey, where's the governor been? His aides, security detail, and wife were all like, uh, dunno. After a day, the aides said, uh, yeah, we talked to him, still not sure where he is. His wife, meanwhile, is dropping all kinds of comments about taking care of her kids and how he missed Father's Day. Then the aides changed the story into, he's hiking the Appalachian Trail (something I've always wanted to do but I guess I have a job that I can't just leave without telling somebody...). Then people are like, hey, here's his car at the Atlanta airport. Then his car mysteriously moves to a SC airport. Then he comes home today and, wouldn't you know it, he was down in Argentina having an affair.

Must have been a bad connection on the phone. Did he say "I'm hiking the Appalachian trail" or "I'm getting some Argentinian tail?" I'm just glad to see we have these "family values" Republicans like Mark Sanford and John Ensign and David Vitter and Larry Craig and, well, I could keep going but this is long enough. But I'm so glad we have these guys keeping the sanctity of marriage intact in the face of this merciless onslaught of teh gays. Heaven forbid we allow gay couples in committed relationships to obtain the benefits conferred with marriage. Why, something like that would devalue their own marriages which everyone knows is meant for a man and a woman and the man's Argentinian lover.

What makes this even more hilarious to me is that the Dobson/Falwell crowd begged Sanford to run for president because the selection they had to choose from was just so pitiful and they needed someone with real Christian values to carry their standard. Ha. Ha.

Unfortunately, the actions of scumbags like him affect his wife and children. In a refreshing change of pace she didn't have the tearful standing beside him press conference that so many of these wives choose to put themselves through and released this statement.

On a sidenote, in a hilariously predictable manner, Fox News identified this guy as a Democrat, something they've, uh, been known to do in the past anytime a Republican is facing some sort of scandal or horrible polling result. Yeah, but they're a legitimate news organization...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things that kind of blew my mind today

Anybody been following the situation with the New York State Assembly? Basically, a little while back two Democrats facing corruption charges announced they were switching to Republicans which would then switch the Assembly to their control. The Democrats said "nuh uh" and locked the door to the chamber claiming that it wasn't legal if they didn't have the votes to do this. They eventually convinced one of these losers to switch back leaving everything deadlocked and both sides claiming that they are the presiding body and one of the rogue Democrats was now the Senate president. The Democrats haven't been into the chamber for 2 weeks until today. This is all really confusing stuff and I don't really follow most of it myself.

Today they took things to another level and acted like a bunch of children. A special session to try to help resolve all this and pass certain critical tax bills was scheduled for this afternoon and the Republicans were planning to enter the chamber an hour before this session so they could be in charge. However, while the Republicans were having a pizza party to plan this master stroke several Democrats snuck into the chamber through a back hallway and started their own session in the dark to avoid arousing suspicion.

So, at 2 P.M. the Repubs come in with their own presiding officer, Espada, and their own gavel and are sneaking reporters into the balcony to cover the whole thing. Of course things devolve into lots of shouting and banging of gavels and parliamentary maneuvers and rushing in and out of the chamber to alternately get on one side or the other of the quorum threshold.
Both sides gaveled out -- using their own gavels and own presiding officers -- as they waited for Paterson to send the bills. A Republican senator, though, said the "extraordinary session" has concluded and it will take another formal request of the governor to bring the Senate back to order. Both sides, however, talked of returning to the chamber later this evening. How, or if, what has become a constitutional crisis for the Senate, can be resolved is as uncertain as the June 8 GOP-led coup that created today's confrontation.

"You're out of order. Don't you call me out of order," Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat, snapped at Sen. George Winner, who the Republicans tapped to lead the floor fight as presiding officer. He did so from below the chamber's podium, which the Democrats had seized earlier in the afternoon. "I don't understand what their point was other than trying to establish that they were in charge," Winner, still clutching his small gavel, said as he worked his way down a packed hallway after the session.
Unbelievable. Pretty soon it will be like those clips they show on those shocking video programs where the Asian legislators are beating each other with shoes. What a mess.

This news is a little old but there's a really bizarre story about two Japanese men who were detained in Italy for attempting to carry $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds into Switzerland. No one knows what the hell these guys were doing with that much money. According to this they could have bought out the economies of Slovakia, Croatia, and Cambodia. Or just paid for three Beijing Olympics. The men were released and the US Treasury is already saying they think the bonds are fake. The conspiracy theorists out there wonder if Japan was trying to secretly dump the boatloads of US currency they own, possibly from "secret" debt issued by someone in the government. Hey, that would kind of suck.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mentos


Ha, these cats are so high. (via Erin GG)

In "The Botany of Desire" Michael Pollan writes about how humans and plants benefit from the relationship they have with each other and how plants use and enhance certain characteristics to induce humans to propagate their species. One of the sections is about plants that get you high, specifically marijuana, but he also talks about his cat who would head out to the catnip at the same time every day just to get stoned to bejeezus. The whole book is great but that's pretty much one of the most fascinating chapters of any book I've ever read.

Also, good news if you're coming to Lawrence. They caught the robbers in my 'hood after they tried to knock off somebody else in South Park and, in the least surprising development ever, they were from Topeka. I wish the picture was a little clearer so I could see if they were, in fact, twins or if the LPD is racist and just uses a standard "black guy" sketch for everyone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Crime alert!!!!

There's been a string of robberies in and around my neighborhood lately. Some of the commenters in the LJ World seem to think that it's a direct result of Barack Obama's "socialist policies" but I'm not quite convinced that's the reason, yet. I mean, I seem to remember crime in this city before Obama became president but maybe that's just liberal revisionist history on my part. Anyway, it kind of strikes me as odd that they keep robbing drunk college kids on their way home from the bar. Any self-respecting student isn't going to be going home with more than a couple bucks in their wallet, are they? Either way it's a shame that college kids can't stumble home drunk without worrying about being rolled.

Today the police released sketches of the criminals and, well, it's a little confusing. Isn't that pretty much the same picture except one guy has a hat on and the other doesn't? What good is that at all? Are these guys twins? Did the person describing them just say, "uh, they were black guys. Yeah, that looks like them." or what? Is that really the best they can do? What completely worthless drawings, LPD.

The article that lists the strings of robberies fails to mention my favorite when two guys went after somebody leaving Louise's West. They tell him to hand over his wallet and he says "I have nothing" and takes off running. I'm pretty sure that's what I'd do. I rarely carry much cash on me and I'll cancel my card as soon as you leave so basically you're just taking my Yello Sub punch card and making me get a new driver's license and library card. Is causing me all that inconvenience really worth it? I think it's better for both of us if I just run away.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Whoa

Got this from Terrace Agenda:
An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident.

Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31.

All 228 people aboard lost their lives after the plane crashed into the Atlantic four hours into its flight to Paris.
We could point to whatever those crappy sets of movies where the kids were supposed to die but didn't and then death stalked them (or whatever, I never actually saw them) or Charlie attempting to avoid his fate in Lost but really isn't life just sort of a weird set of coincidences? Like a giant Plinko board or something?

I don't really buy into "fate" or "purpose" or "everything happens for a reason." Sometimes shit just happens. One woman survived the sinking of the Titanic and lived for another 97 years. This woman gets an extra week. Why? Who the hell knows.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pirates roaming the halls of power

The Pirate Party won a Swedish seat in the new European Parliament elections. Let me extend a hearty "yarrrr!" in congratulations.
A Swedish political party which wants to legalize file-sharing on the Internet scored a surprise victory Sunday when it took a seat in the European parliament.
Pirate Party supporters celebrate the party's surprise victory in Sweden.

The Pirate Party won 7.1 percent of the Swedish vote to claim one of the country's 18 seats in the European parliament.

"Together we have changed the landscape of European politics," Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told file-sharing news Web site TorrentFreak after the win.

"The citizens have understood it's time to make a difference."

The single-issue party was founded in 2006 through anger in Sweden at controversial laws that criminalize file-sharing.

After doing some reading I don't think I'd call them a "single-issue party" but their focus is definitely on freedom of information on the web and privacy from the government issues.

11-year old college graduate

Nice accomplishment but stuff like this make me roll my eyes.
Up next for the tireless boy wonder: In the next six months to a year, he plans to devote himself to martial arts, write a book for kids on how to succeed in school, and take up scuba diving.

Not on the agenda: playing video games.

"I feel it's a waste of time playing video games because it's not helping humanity in any way," says Moshe, who wants to use his knowledge to change the world.

Ugh.

Friday, June 05, 2009

This is wildly entertaining


Besides the ending I think my favorite part is when he starts yelling "Yahweeeeh!"

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nobody's home

Via Arrowhead Pride I came across this article in The Atlantic on KC's (mostly empty) Sprint Center. I've attended games at the last two iterations of whatever early-season college basketball tournament they have there (CBE Classic something or rather...) and got to see Michigan State, Maryland, UCLA, KU, Washington, Syracuse, Missouri, and, uh, Florida, I think so they usually have a pretty good field. The arena was close to being sold out but they had to discount a lot of tickets this year which was a little odd considering KU was playing but they had overpriced their market, I think. We were way, way up in the nosebleeds and could have had a pretty significant upgrade if we had just waited until the week before to buy. I guess I'll know that for next year which is probably not the lesson they wanted people to take from that.

So, those events were pretty cool because I got to see some teams that ordinarily I would never have the chance to see in person and the arena is absolutely beautiful. We were 8 miles from the games but still seemed to have a pretty good view of everything from up there. The outside looks great, they have a bar in the arena, hell they even have a QuikTrip in there. The only problem is there's no one to play there. They actually hung a banner bragging that they opened with 8 straight nights of sold out Garth Brooks concerts. How embarrassing is that?

The city kicked in $222 million worth of tax money to build this thing and people were reassured that with AEG operating the place it was only a matter of time before an NHL or NBA team is back in KC. Since then the usual pattern has been NBA/NHL team allows it to leak that they're interested in KC, city of said franchise freaks out and throws tax money at a new arena, team stays, Sprint Center sits empty.

Even worse is that the city spent a ton of tax money and gave out cheap loans for an out-of-town developer to create the Power and Light District across the street from the arena. On the one hand this is good because people are going downtown again to eat and drink and the many restaurants and bars there while on the other hand once you look past the shiny lights you realize it's another soulless corporate enterprise that represents nothing unique about KC.

The perfect example is the BBQ places down there. In my opinion there's absolutely nothing better than KC BBQ. Doesn't matter if it's Arthur Bryant's, Gate's, Oklahoma Joe's, or any of the other amazing places but does P&L have any of them? Hell no, they have Famous Dave's. Personally I think they have good stuff but they can't match up with any of the three I mentioned and they sure as hell aren't representative of KC.

I could go on but basically the entire P&L District is the Sips of KC except more racist and subsidized by the city of KC. My major point is that I, personally, would love an NBA or NHL team in KC but I think it's kind of messed up that they'll spend that kind of money chasing a team when their school system is so bad that anyone that can afford to get out of it does exactly that. Something seems odd when they're willing to chase any sports or development dream that any out-of-towner sells them but they can't manage anything else. Maybe a team would be beneficial to the city and maybe it would fail like the ones in the past and maybe this arena will continue to host circuses and Garth Brooks but it would be nice if it seemed like these people actually had a clue about what they were getting into.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My summer reading plan

Some of you might remember that last summer I kinda sorta kept track of what I reading and what I thought of those books right here on this very blog. It turns out that this idea was pretty much universally reviled by my dozen or so readers. Seriously, I (shockingly) very rarely have anyone ever tell me they didn't like something I wrote on here but a few people told me they never read them because they were "too long" or some other weak ass reason. Too long? Really guys? Most of my posts are stream of consciousness rants with little to no editing but those posts I wrote about books were too long? I decided you just hate reading so I've decided to scrap that for an even better and more obnoxious one....Infinite Summer!

The premise is this: a group of people connected by the internets (and one person I know in real life) will read and discuss David Foster Wallace's masterwork Infinite Jest from around June 21 until September 22. I just got my copy in the mail today and it is huge. Like, almost 1100 pages huge. But, from everything I've read it's still a really, really entertaining read and having some goals should keep me working on it. I'm just finishing up Oblivion, his book of short fiction which I've enjoyed immensely. He really did have an amazing talent for writing in different styles but still managing to create a poignant and entertaining read. I've heard really good things about his non-fiction work like "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (an essay where he describes his experience on a cruise ship and also the title of a collection of his non-fiction works) but Infinite Jest is supposed to be his best piece of all so I'm looking forward to getting into it.

I don't think I'll really be posting my thoughts on the book since no one else will be reading it but I do know that only the highly intelligent peruse fine blogs such as The Basement so I have no problem encouraging you to go ahead and grab a copy and join us.

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Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos

I guess you that's about all you could say about PETA as well who decided to use the murder of an abortion doctor to jumpstart an advertising campaign in Wichita.


That's a classy move, guys. Of course, this is the same group that brought you the "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign, which, like many of their other stunts was designed to get as much attention as possible. A cause I only help when I point out the outrage or idiocy involved. Yet, I can't help myself.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fred the Barber

I was cleaning up my apartment this evening and happened across a copy of Toons, an Ames, Iowa weekly comics newspaper, I had picked up on my way to Minnesota a few weeks ago. As I was flipping through it I noticed that one of the ads said, "We're praying for you, Fred (the Barber) Watne."

Fred was my barber for most of my time in Ames and a pretty exceptional character. Even when I was getting my hair cut there he always had a lot of health problems so I was always a little glad to see that he was still advertising in Toons whenever I was back in Ames. He operated out of a 2nd floor "shop" in Campustown that I'm not sure I can even describe. The only sign was a hand painted sandwich board advertising "Fred's Shop" with an arrow pointing upstairs. He didn't really keep regular hours so it was a good idea to call and set up an appointment or check to see if the sign was out front. His lobby had a couple of couches that were usually covered with any number of old copies of Toons or reggae CDs. He had a TV in there with a stack of VHS tapes filled with old boxing matches. Covering the walls were a few pictures of Fred with various people but mostly just post cards from around the world.

There was only one chair in the place but it had a decent view overlooking the balcony of Mickey's and a few other businesses. Fred would almost always have his window cracked even in winter so he could feed the birds that would fly to his windowsill. When they flew up he would usually whistle back and forth with them to try to get them closer.

Interruptions like that were fairly common and when you went into Fred's Shop you certainly didn't expect a fast haircut. He was always telling some story or (usually slightly dirty) joke and I can still hear the way he would pause for a moment just after the punchlines before bursting into laughter and repeating the line again. He had a lot of these idiosyncrasies that I picked up on like the way he would put on just the right reggae music and pause for just a second to enjoy it on his way back to the chair. As his health failed I thought his haircuts might have gone downhill just a bit but people kept coming back because of the experience of it all.

So, after reading that advertisement I searched around and found this article in the Ames Trib that was published the day before he died according to his obituary. Fred lived a pretty amazing life and will definitely be missed in Ames, especially in the Campustown area and among the Hispanic population that he spent so much time befriending and helping. Despite the health and financial problems that always seemed to be hovering around him he was always relentlessly optimistic and just an all-around good guy.