Friday, April 18, 2008

The Berate Debate - WTF ABC?

For any of you who watched the debate the other night and thought "WTF?" you are not alone. From
Editor & Publisher called this week's ABC presidential debate "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years."

Moderators George Stephanopolous and Charlie Gibson spent the first 50 minutes obsessed with distractions that only political insiders care about--gaffes, polling numbers, the stale Rev. Wright story, and the old-news Bosnia story. And, channelling Karl Rove, they directed a video question to Barack Obama asking if he loves the American flag or not. Seriously.

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

Worth every second:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope Blames Priest Rape on Society

Jesus Has Nads

I'm not kidding. In front of tens of thousands of followers and other assorted religiophiliacs, in direct reference to the Priest scandal - you know, that whole pedophilia thing - Pope Benedict XVI said that the degradation of society's values are to blame.

"Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today."

Perhaps he should make that clear to the priests that fuck little boys in the ass.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NRRRD GRRRL Sofa King Hawt

One of my personal heroes, Phil Plait, posted about this video on YouTube: NRRRD GRRRL, lamenting that he was never able to see ladies like this in college. I know I saw a few, but it was in high school that I dated one...okay, two. And it was wonderful lovely delicious. If only we had a time machine. Watch the video:

The artist is MC Chris, and his new album will be out in May.

I'll be first in line. I don't know if I can wait.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wal Mart in Drag

You might remember that Wal Mart has a sexist suit against it. You might remember that Wal Mart is ruining America. Either way, this Wal Mart Drag video is lovely.

Right Wing Glurge Spam - Political Correctness

I said SPAM, motherfucker!

Sometimes you don't know someone's political leanings until you land on their "hay, this iz funny!" forward list. And even after that, you still respect them. After all, how else are you going to know what sorts of ultra-pseudo-patriotic, right-wing "librulz r crap" emails are going around?

This came from one of those friends:
The following is the 2007 winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year's term was Political Correctness.

The winner wrote,
"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
Hahaha. Oh, those righties.

Unfortunately, it has not yet hit, but the first pieces are, unsurprisingly, unverifiable. The Texas A&M website is void of any reference to turds, save one that has nothing to do with the supposed contest. I've also looked at over a dozen blog and web posts of this quote: none of them link to an actual contest and most actually refer to a forwarded email. Good show, folks.

Note to self: Make up quote that quips on the definition of the Constitution or some such fodder that pokes at righties then disseminate quote by emailing a liberal who is known to flagrantly forward unjustified emails to others who will do the same.

Note to self: Make friends with a liberal who is known to flagrantly forward unjustified emails to others who will do the same, should such be found to exist.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Americans and Learned Helplessness

Sad Dog - Learned Helplessness

Beginning in 1967, Martin Seligman began a series of studies that helped buck some of the generalized ideas of B.F. Skinner's behaviorism and gave rise to the phrase "learned helplessness." I'm not going to go into the details of the study; you can read it here.

Here's the basis of the experiment:
  1. A dog given a periodic electrical shock and a lever to stop it can learn to use the lever and deal with it.
  2. A dog given a periodic electrical shock and a lever that does nothing can learn to deal with it.
  3. A dog given a random shock and no means to control that shock will fall into stressful depression which, for dogs, consists of curling up in the corner of the sometimes-electrified cage, shivering with stress, and wincing at the occasional shock. This "giving up" and "dealing with it miserably" is what is called Learned Helplessness
This I heard about back in my early college days, but not until I saw the gas prices do their magical dance over the past couple years did I bring it into relevancy.

We are the third dog. Americans. World citizens. Anyone who is not directly in power. Many of us have curled up in the corner of the cage, driving through our daily grind, making sure we have a job, not rocking the boat, just trying to stressfully survive and always, always, awaiting the next shock.

As I mentioned, this thought came to being because when I began driving, you could still find gas for under a buck a gallon. Typing it, it sounds like a fairy tale, sounds like I'm 100 years old, but it was in 1993. Fifteen years later, we're looking at gas quadrupling in price. But steady we could understand.

The gas does a dance, a random dance for those of us very normal Americans who do not have the mental window into futures trading. As it was rising, we'd see a peak of thirty cents in a week. All over the news. Then it would drop fifteen, maybe twenty. All over the news again. But the up and down introduces complacency: "Well, it's a little higher now, but at least it's not as high as it was." And we keep saying that and we keep saying that and it goes up 4 steps and down 2 and up an down. And before you know it, I'm driving to Cleveland two weeks ago and internally audibly said to myself "Wow, $3.19 isn't so bad." But six months ago people were talking gas boycott at $3.00.


This happens in government as well: slowly and slowly our civil liberties are evacuated and someone puts the breaks on the electrical current for a couple minutes and our tail's all wagging. Bush denies that global warming is real and suddenly says he's going to support legislation to aid global warming (details to come, of course). Our taxes go up, our insurance rates rise - but maybe not so much one year - and we're looking at a couple hundred dollars coming to us in May. This is worse than shock; it's shock and biscuits.

So what's the solution? To carry the analogy, one dog could break the leash, crash the door. But we have minders, and before a shit is taken on the floor, we're back in the cage awaiting our next shock.

No, all the dogs must break loose, surround the minders, and in one solid and strong barking voice shout "NO! No more!"

I know. Dogs can't talk. But we can.

We've been led to believe we are a government of the people, by the people, for the people, yada yada. I have yet to see that play out in truth in my lifetime. I'm guessing many of you haven't. And lest we sit around watching American Idol and the Superbowl, we never will.

Any suggestions?

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable."


Bend the bars. Make the change.

Rambling: Can Democrats Avoid Criticism?

As my always disclaimer states, I am not a fan of Republicans, but neither am I a mouthpiece for Democrats. I will vote Democrat in November.

That said, we've got Obama's new reason for being attacked:
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Okay, this one doesn't need much background and can't really be explained away. The statement is angering because it's true. It terribly fucking true. I'm listening to Sean Hannity rail right now, How dare anyone claim that the great people of the United States of America are anything less than perfect!

But we are far from perfect. Obama said it concisely: Americans feel helpless because of continually being let down by their elected officials, because of seeing the economy fall apart, because of $4.00/gal gas and they can't do it anymore, they can't feel like they can control anything or have impact on how things are run, so they take refuge in things they can control: their religion, their beliefs, their hate. That's how mob mentality gains a foothold and the last refuge for learned helplessness (which I will attack in my next post).

But people - especially people who he is talking about - don't want to hear it; people like Sean Hannity who make their career on making themselves out to be the salt of the Earth like every good, hard-working, abused, and down-trodden American won't hear of it. Because from the Republican perspective, hard-working Americans with low-paying jobs in small towns are tough-livin' freedom fighters, but hard-working Americans with low-paying jobs in urban areas are lazy porch monkeys who don't know how to better themselves.

So Obama said something true about Middle America and everyone's outraged. I don't think he should've said it, but he did. He deserves to hear about it, but not from the angle that right-wing radio's running.

On the other hand, we've got Hillary doing shots in a bar in order to "connect" with Middle America. Crown Royal, to be specific. There are a very few points to make on this drinking op:
  • Most Middle Americans do not buy Crown Royal because it's a touch fucking expensive. They drink Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and Wild Turkey. Perhaps even Paramount or another well brand. I drink Jameson, but that's because I'm an elitist prat who's not simply scraping by.

  • Crown Royal is not an American, but Canadian, whiskey. (It's better than American whiskeys because America has a rule that does not allow the aging of liquor in previously-used barrels; Crown Royal is aged in oak barrels previously used to age cognac, enriching and complicating the flavor.)
This incident is not a huge deal, but I've heard many a parody today on the right side of the dial.

So Hillary, in trying to connect to Middle America, was unable to get it 100% right.

I guess I'm tired of hearing all this prattle about our Democratic candidates on poor word choice or whiskey choice or church choice or gun choice. John McCain being elected will lead directly to the deaths of thousands of Americans and thousands of non-Americans, if not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, then in Iran, and maybe a couple other countries that could exacerbate the rest of the world balance, knocking us into a World War with ...well, everybody.

To the right: shut up about the nuance; the only true threat to our freedom is the possible election of John McCain.