April 30, 2008

NPR Mocks Self

One of my favorite things about playing the Grand Theft Auto video games has always been listening to talk radio and now the circle is now complete.

April 29, 2008

The Pope is Awesome

There's nothing like a visit from his holiness, the pope, to kick off spring. As a once kind of catholic myself, I've always enjoyed the rare opportunities we get to follow the pontiff's zany travails as he wanders across this great land from New York to DC. Yes, far and wide.

But don't you dare think for a second that being the pope is easy. No, heavy is the head that wears the giant ridiculous pope hat. For example, if you were the pope and Bush threw a big birthday party in your honor, would you
a) go but pretend not to be having fun
b) go late and get so smashed that a cardinal has to drive you back to the hotel in the pope mobile
c) go early so that you have plenty of time to make creepy pope eyes at Jenna and Barbara
d) totally not go at all because you heard that Bennigan's gives out free ice cream and sings you a snappy birthday song.

The correct answer is d. Bush, even as the president of the most powerful country in the world, you just got stood up. Yes, it's true and you can read about it at the end of this article.

I was also excited to hear Pope Benedict import his favorite oxymoron to the new world - The Dictatorship of Relativism. Seriously, could you come up with a more nonsensical way of shaking your fist at young people and their confounded modern ways? What's next, The Tyranny of Tolerance?

(Happy Cat Pope via neutralzonetrap)

April 28, 2008

Please Explain

Will some political spin artist please try their best to explain this discrepancy.

When McCain gets an endorsement from Rev. John Hagee he is happy to get his endorsement, and at the time of the endorsement the news reports the story as McCain building bridges with his conservative base. But compare the conservative criticism, and media reaction to Obama's connection with Jerimiah Wright.

Why does McCain get a free pass? How come the media refuses to ask McCain if he thinks that the people who died in Katrina deserved to die on account of their sinfulness? If you think McCain shouldn't be required to answer for comments made by a "radical" religious leader, well then why does Obama have to answer the SAME EXACT question 1 millon times?

The media dropped the ball on this one big time. Of course, come general election time, the republican election machine will turn the entire general election into: your radical religious pastor is crazier than mine. And of course the democrats will tuck their tale between their legs, attempt to explain and retreat, and very likely lose the election.

April 26, 2008

Last Chance Caption Contest #3

This contest is nearing an end. Entries thus far:

Young Man: "He has been sleeping for almost 2 days now."
Woman: "Will you please push him out of the train, my hat is starting to quiver..."
Old Man: "POPPYCOCK!! I AM AWAKE. And to prove it I will inspire you with dance.

Young Man: What's that you say, old chap? One million dollars for a night with my wife?
Woman: Honey, please, would you stop trying to whore me out to every creepy old gentleman we meet?
Old Man:zzzzzz...

Young Man: Just sign the papers old man, or the lady here gets it.
Old Man: I will never sell to you, Johnson. By Thor's hammer I shall never betray my family. You know how much that dirt farm means to me.
Young Man: Dammit! You beards are all the same. What with your smooth, bald heads and glimmering spectacles. I will get that dirt, old man! If it means I hunt you down like a scurvy wharf dog I will get it all!
Woman: Stop yelling, Lawrence. Your mustache is flailing.
Young Man: Quiet you!

Young Man: I do beg your pardon, old bean. But, is this perchance the the carriage to...Chattanooga?
Lady: Oh, Reginald. How drole of you.
Old Man: If I rolled my eyes anymore than this, my head would pop off.

Young Man: Tell us again of your visions, Father.
Old Man: I see tubes. Yes, millions of tubes packed with moving images that flow like water. A hindu pygmy dances. A negro baritone sings of processed cocoa precipitation. The future is strange indeed.
Young Man: Make sure you tell that story exactly as you just told it when we get to the sanitarium.

YoungMan: Oh, isn't it wonderful dear? To be seated next to the one and only R.J. Baldinlockes III. Even in his sleep he projects such raw unbridled majesty. I have always dreamed of the opportunity to be in the presence of such greatness.
Lady: Oh word? I think he just farted.
R.Jeezy: Poot!

Young Man: "Hey silly woman, did you hear about the caption contest? I submitted an entry and await my winnings."
Woman: "Well this man submitted so many entries he lost function in his left arm."
Old Man (dreaming): "Damn those grass-fasters! They are so FAST!"

Young man: hey, HEY, Chrome Dome stop crappin in your pants

Feel free to vote on these if you want. Just remember, this is not a democracy.

The Code of the Comics

If you're like me and interested in the history of comics and the history of censorship in America, you might want to check out a new book by David Hajdu, "The Ten Cent Plague." It about the legislative efforts and the resulting self imposed censorship within the horror comic industry of the 50s. WNYC's "On the Media" has a great interview with Hajdu that's worth a listen.

April 24, 2008

Let's Drink and Make it Official

I just learned that the official state drink of Rhode Island is Coffee Milk.

Two questions - What is the hell is Coffee Milk and why in the name of pointlessness does Rhode Island have a state drink?

The is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from the self-styled island state.

April 23, 2008

Home Movies clip of the day

It's time once again to share one of my favorite "Home Movies" moments.

You may be interested to note that the female voice actor in this scene is Maria Bamford. You can catch the whole episode on Youtube. Be sure not to miss the "Journal to the Center of McGurth-k."

Curses part 1
Curses part 2
Curses part 3

April 22, 2008

There's Something about Basra: Part 2

Implicit in my last post about US narratives of the Iraq War was the assumption that, at least up until now, there has been some kind of agreement between the US media, the US government and the US military to stay on message with their versions of the war. I found the situation in Basra as being particularly interesting because it marks for me the first time that I've seen major news organizations creating narratives that haven't been spoon fed to them by the Bush administration. Another piece of evidence to this effect surfaced on Sunday in the form of a New York Times article questioning the role that supposed independent military analysts had in disseminating Bush administration spin into the media. I want to draw attention to this article because it demonstrates possible change in the media's behavior by drawing attention to the extent of collusion between the administration, the military and the media. One must admit that there's a problem before steps can be taken to solve it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the article, it basically describes how the Pentagon used techniques ranging from financial leverage to a "carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo" designed to influence the military analysts used by the media into mindlessly repeating administration talking points. By wittingly or unwittingly disseminating the administration's message to the American people, these analysists an the media that hosted their opinions have become cogs in the state propaganda machine. An the message is also much more effective because it is coming from the mouth of someone who is thought to be independent. So, in other words, when Rumsfeld says the war in Iraq is going peachy most people know that he's full of crap but when retired General Murmur then agrees with Rumsfeld on CNN, people are less suspicious. The Times piece relies heavily on FOAed (Freedom of Information) documents in which these analysts are often referred to as "surrogates." The term, winning the hearts and minds, seems appropriate here.

And, all of this looks awfully familiar to the military psyops programs in Iraq that disseminated US military reports into the Iraqi press through independent Iraqi journalists. In that instance (in case you don't remember), the US military selected the most favorable from their own reports from the field, sent them on to an American private contractor who was paid a lot of money who then secretly got the reports into the hands of Iraqi journalists who would be paid good money to rewrite them and to publish them as their own. Again, don't call it propaganda, deception or government control of the press; call it winning the hearts and minds.

The modern military conducts "full spectrum warfare" which goes beyond the battlefield and aims to create a social and intellectual climate more conducive to their strategic goals. The enemy is not just the opposing army but also the minds of members of our own society who oppose military actions. There's a quote from the book "Military Science" that is quite relevant here: "The methods and aims of the new science are to create an unshakable belief in the high ethical value of war and to produce in the individual the psychological readiness for sacrifice in the cause of nation and state." Did I mention that the book was written in Germany in 1933 by Ewald Banse? I know it's cliche to talk about the Nazi's but I think their attitudes about militarism are worth examining and avoiding.

But, getting back to my first point, I have to say that while this article is far from the first time* that someone has called into question the objectivity of these analysts but it is, to my knowledge, the first time that one of the news organizations that actually uses these people has notice that there might be a problem with doing so. For a paper like the New York Times that has relied so heavily on experts of these types for information such as whether or not Iraq had WMDs, this article is a big deal. After years of crushing disappointment with our national press, I remain hopeful.

*Amy Goodman is one of the most respectable voices that has been criticising of the close ties between the media and the military from the beginning. I've been waiting to show this video for awhile now so I'll post it here instead of just linking to it. Remember while you watch it that the war was still very popular at the time when this speech was given. Goodman was seen as an fringe radical for bringing up these concerns.

April 13, 2008

A Party and a UFO

I had a dream recently that I was at a party. It was in a house that I didn't recognize with twenty to thirty people that I've never seen before. People were wrapping presents for some unknown event. Throughout the dream, I mingle. I can tell by the way that I'm mingling that these people are my friends. Maybe, even the house is mine, I don't know. What I found interesting about the dream is that usually the people and places in my dreams correspond to people and places in the real world. When I am in my house in a dream, it may look weird and out of proportion but I know that it corresponds to my house in the real world. This dream felt like I was living a totally separate dream existance with it's own unique geography and population.

On a related note, I was lying in bed half asleep a few months ago (it was the morning after those UFO sightings in Stephenville, Texas) while my girlfriend was on the internet looking for video or images of the UFOs. She finally found a news program that put up some of their coverage. So, S woke me up so that I could watch it with her. I glanced over at the screen.

What I saw was huge shape, like a large flying wing that slid effortlessly across the clear sky. This thing was about a mile long and constantly changing shape like a giant work of origami. It was unmistakably real and foreign to human engineering. I remember thinking excitedly to myself that this will be the video that will finally put the mystery of UFOs to rest. Definitive proof has been found.

Then, I woke up. I had dreamed the whole thing while hearing the audio from my girlfriend's computer. She had tried to wake me up to watch but I had fallen back to sleep before I had the chance.

Let me tell you, watching the actual clip after my dream clip was so incredibly disappointing. It looks like a video of a raver with a glow stick taken by a cheap digital camera that's been dropped down the stairs a few times.

April 11, 2008

Words from Dr. King

Praise is due to those media outlets that have used the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to revisit his speeches and his philosophy instead of merely invoking his name. When I hear King talk, I am amazed at how the man refused to speak down to people. His words were filled with literary allusion and historical reference. It is often said that the American people don't respond to intellectualism; that they need to be talked to "at there level." This almost invariably means that the US public only understands the repetition of meaningless catchphrases, appeals to emotion, and the use of arguments devoid of information and ungrounded in reality.

King refused to do this. His is not an empty rhetoric: it is reasoned, articulate, and intelligent. Here's a video set to MLK speaking out against the War in Vietnam.

It's not a huge leap to see this speech as criticism of the Iraq War in addition to Vietnam because King is speaking out against that special brand of hypocrisy that comes with militaristic patriotism. He says mockingly, "Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, so noble in its praise when I was saying, 'be nonviolent towards Bull Conner.' There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you said, 'be nonviolent towards Jim Clark' but will curse and damn you when you say, 'be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children.' There's something wrong with that press."

So, we come to the present day, when the powers that be say that US is entitled, no obligated, to invade Iraq because of threats to national security even as those threats were not overt and later proven false. And, those same people who once said that US must respond to this invented danger now demand that Iran remain silent and passive in the face of overt threats of military action and even nuclear attack from the US government. Apparently, only the US has the right to respond to violent threats or to issue them.

King also alludes to a connection between "the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism" or also phrased as "poverty, racism, and militarism." It seems to be the role of so much of the media to pull these issues apart and pretend they are separate.

Finally, I hear the inspiration for the recently scandalous words of Jeremiah Wright when King says ,"Don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be. A sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement and is seems that I can hear God saying to America, 'You are too arrogant.'" Inflammatory rhetoric indeed. I wonder if Obama will be condemning, in unequivocal terms, the words of Dr. King?

April 10, 2008

Tuba Heroes

S and I just had dinner and Okemos' own Tuba Museum and International Cafe. They have some pretty good food at that Tuba Museum if I don't say so myself. Anyway, we were having a conversation about the recent string of super hero and comic book movies and this happened:

S: Superman can fly and he's got super strength and other super powers while Batman is just some rich guy.

Me: Batman's rich but he's super smart. He's a detective. That's gotta count for something.

S: Whatever. He's a rich guy and Superman is a "super" man. There's no comparison. They're not even in the same league.

Me: Well, there's the Justice League. That's kind of a league...that they're both in.

April 7, 2008

Sonic Boom-erang

Isabout time that 80's Brit synth pop came back in vogue.

Accident Prone

As my older Bro Unbeatable certainly knows, I have a history of being too energetic and then hurting myself as a result. Well in a recent trip to Bath (Eng.) my Girlfriend actually documented a live action slide show of how this process works. Once again, my hyperactivity gets the best of me....

April 4, 2008

Pretty Pictures

I added a slide show of images that were created for this blog to the sidebar and at the foot. Let me know if it slows down your connection to the site.

Oh, and also. If someone ever makes a movie about me or someone I know, I want my part to be played by Lowly Worm from Busytown.

Seriously, though. Dude looks like me.

Return to the US

So my return journey to the US is set for a little less than 2 months from now. I can't wait to see the crew. Especially these two clowns: