Category Archives: snicker

chuckle laugh guffaw. humorous observations.

one of jon stewart’s better moments

In a career of many many good moments of political commentary, surely one of the highlights of Jon Stewart’s career was the Wednesday March 4 episode of The Daily Show, which was almost entirely Jon Stewart doing commentary & interview about the financial situation.

I particularly loved his comment to Joe Nocera about CNBC’s “journalism” on Wall Street:

How does a guy like Rick Santelli have the balls to get mad about this idea of giving homeowners a break, when this network, CNBC — how did they miss this entire story? They’re a financial news network , I mean, it’d be like the weather channel interviewing hurricane Katrina and saying, “You know there’s reports that you have high winds and flooding,” and Katrina’s like, “No no no I’m sunny,” and they’re like “alright,” and then they walk away. This is insane!

At around 17:30 in the video.

energy “expert” à la William Carlos Williams

Sarah Palin recently made a strange and nearly incoherent comment about US energy policy when asked about keeping domestic oil production in the US (WarRoom 9/19):

Of course, it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag, you know, the molecules, where it’s going and where it’s not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It’s got to flow into our domestic markets first.

WarRoom linked to Obsidian Wings’ interpretation of this comment, which appears to be (mostly) a suggestion that Congress would ban exports of oil. There’s good analysis of why this is a bad idea — such a bad idea that it really ought to be obvious to our energy “experts”.

Of course, according to McCain, his VP candidate is an expert (but not one of those elitist experts) who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America”, probably because her state is in charge of producing 20% of the nation’s energy needs — no, that’s not right: 20% of the nation’s oil and gas production — no, not quite: 20% of the nation’s oil? — no, try again: around 18%, but falling to 13% during the first two years of Palin’s gubernatorial administration. Yes, there we go. Which is of course a decent amount, if only the McCain team didn’t lie about it.Gary Farber’s comment on same post.

Anyway, MaryL on the comments thread had this retake which I thought deserved a bit more attention:

This is Just to Say

I have flagged
the molecules
that were in
Alaska

and which
you were probably
saving
for Canada

Forgive me
they were fungible
so sweet
and so cold

Chortle. I love WCW and literary mashups and political absurdity — to have all together at once made a very pleasant start to a Saturday otherwise full of work.

the bear stearns of organized pedophilia

It’s a bit dicey to find anything funny in the sexual slavery / prostitution ring known as the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, aka, the Mormon child abuse cult). Bill Maher managed to do it by pointing out the discrepancy between society’s treatment of misbehavior by “cults” and misbehavior by “religions”.

If you can stomach it, watch the video at Crooks and Liars. It’s funny but only if you can laugh at the really fucked up things that infuriate you and make you despair of the world.

Relevant transcript below the fold.

Continue reading

you paid for it; who owns it? Wal-Mart’s contracted recordings

So, Wal-Mart is fighting with its former video contractor over ownership of a variety of recordings of internal Wal-Mart affairs.

An aside: From the description, it seems like some of them might have been automatically captured footage. The question of copyright over surveillance camera footage and other automated recordings is an interesting one, I think, opening up questions that touch on originality in copyright law; artistic intent; purpose of copyright law; norms; blah blah blah. In the land of amazing coincidences, the sort of coincidences that one’s human pattern-seeking brain wants to interpret as cosmically weird or destined or psychic or deistic intervention, but isn’t — in that land, my partner & I were having a heated debate over this very issue, just the other day, before we had heard anything about the possibly relevant Wal-Mart case. What are the odds?!? Given the geeky arguments which infest our home on a regular basis (and the tenuous connection of that discussion to this issue) — pretty good, I’d say.

At any rate, there’s some 15,000 tapes that the company (Flagler Productions) took of Wal-Mart over the years. Wal-Mart used them for holiday parties & whatnot; family style blooper reels to amuse the employees, I guess. Eventually Wal-Mart cancelled their contract with Flagler, which, trying to figure out how best to turn a profit from the mess, decided to sell the videos. Who’s buying? Clip services, documentary filmmakers, litigants, union organizers … Heh heh.

I bet some in-house attorney who failed to include an IP assignment clause in the service contract (or notice its absence) is in trou – ble.

Aside from one’s usual disdain for things Wal-martian, one can’t help but sympathize with the frustrated administration that generated this statement:

“It’s difficult to understand how the company could now sell to third parties the material we paid it to produce on our behalf. … Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind.”

Needless to say.

On the other hand, there’s a certain poetic justice to it: Wal-Mart photo developing is one of the many, many places that have given consumers grief because they couldn’t prove copyright ownership of photos deemed “professional quality”, or that were commissioned for weddings, family portraits, etc.

(link from Howard Besser)

on insanely stupid, homophobic, racist, white Republican legislators

Bloggers & media have been all over the latest in a long, long series (at least as long as i have been reading the news, which is 20+ years now*) of sexcapades by Republicans and religious right leaders: Florida state legislator Bob Allen (R), who solicited an undercover cop for a blowjob in Titusville, FL, and is consequently being charged with soliciting prostitution. The cop was black, and Allen said that there were black men loitering about the park so he offered the blowjob + cash to avoid becoming “a statistic.”

Where to begin.

1 – It’s a relief that it’s charged with soliciting prostitution; not too many years ago he could have been charged with violating Florida’s sodomy law. (Not that I’m happy he was charged, at all. Once it was clear it was a gay thang, the officer seems to have been only too happy to bust the guy for solicitation. Bob Allen is pathetic, but is this what we need to spend public funds doing? The cop was plain clothes investigating a burglary. I’d rather have had him finish that job than bust Allen for a BJ.)

2 – Some people seem surprised that when Republicans ostensibly straight men solicit sex from other men they often (usually?) offer to give rather than to receive. It’s pretty obvious: See, receiving they can get at home, with their eyes closed. Giving, for Republicans ostensibly straight men, is best done in parks, bathrooms, park bathrooms, etc.

3 – It’s a shame that there is still so much homophobia that Republicans gay men resort to paying strangers when there are lots and lots of men having gay sex for free. In Florida. Even (or especially) in Cape Canaveral.

4 – What’s worse: That racism is apparently so acceptable for this “straight” white Republican man that he thinks it’s an excuse (albeit a really, really implausible one) for being gay, or that he thinks being gay is worse than racism? What a sad and tangled mess that man’s mind is. (John Scalzi has the best comment:

The only real bit of news out of all of this is that Allen would rather be seen as a terrified racist than as someone willing to solicit strangers in a public restroom to get some man-on-man action. Well, here’s the thing, Mr. Allen: Clearly, you can be both.

5 – Gotta love the last line of the Orlando Sentinel story:

When Allen was being placed in a marked patrol car, he asked whether “it would help” if he was a state legislator, according to a police report. The officer replied, “No.”

6 – Allen’s political positions: Cosponsor of an anti-public lewdness bill that would have prohibited park sex. CFNews 13. He got a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition prior to his 2006 election.OS 7/12 He supported amending Florida’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and opposed a bill to curb harassment of gay students.365gay


* There must be a blog somewhere dedicated to charting the sexcapades of moralizers. If there’s not, I would love to start it, but it would be apparently a full-time job, so some independently wealthy person needs to start it. Or pay me to start it. Seriously.

crossing my screen today

How to give a great man-to-man hug — a hilarious video from the developing world of masculinity studies. I went to it on the off-chance that it was actually funny, and was well-rewarded for my optimism.

Kitty not happy tshirts at work: The salon.com column “dear cary” handles various ethics and manner type issues, and I read it occasionally when spending a leisurely morning catching up on news. Today’s column was out-of-the-ordinary great: a meditation on the nature of work, especially non-democratic work.

Suellen Parker, an artist, was profiled at the NYT Magazine in a little video segment about her recent NYT Magazine cover. My partner1, a reliable spotter of intellectual property issues in the news, called my attention to it. Parker’s art for the NYT cover worked like this: She built a clay model; then shot photos of real life models to sculpt the expression; shot her clay model; then took bits & pieces of real life people photos (lips, eyes), to photoshop her clay model together with a bunch of other stuff. Totally fascinating, and M & I had a fun morning conversation about whether Parker only used her own photographs; had she gotten model releases for the photoshopping use, or just for modeling expression in sculpture; and so on. As far as copyright goes, clearly a fair use, but it’s an interesting example of the sort of thing that causes problems for copyright absolutists. (Like copyright image-recognition filters ….?)

… Our conversation also touched on gender issues. Watching how Parker presents her work, and how the NYT frames it — edits it, what music they choose for the background — and how we receive the video, we wondered how it would be different if the artist were a man. How much internalized sexism do we have in evaluating this artist? Would we see her as more “artiste” and less “craftsperson” if her voice had been his deep tenor voice? Would the NYT have chosen a more dramatic background music? A recent study suggests that we begin absorbing gender roles even as toddlers — how deeply embedded are gender roles in our construction of the world? Pretty damn.

And then there was this cool geekery — a video about new technologies that combine social information (like flickr, tagging, etc.) with new photo viewing & recognition technologies. (seadragon & photosynth). The less cool end of this fabulous flickr futurism: Combining photos from flickr with all the knowledge of the world & 3D visualization sounds fun and all, but flickr censors images for people based on their government. What will it look like when we combine flickr’s image censorship with AT&T’s proposed network filtering with google’s youtube video filtering? I see lots of blank spots in the brave new web 2.0 world.


 
 
 
 
 


1. My partner, legally recognized as such for at least a few more years. Thanks, Massachusetts!

atheist outreach and hypocrite hilarity

check out this awesome overpass/sidewalk art at yonkis.com — you have to scroll all the way to the right, and it’s not a flip photo so do it slowly enough to notice the homo sapiens-like creatures … at the shortest point of the wall, at about the 75% mark (L-to-R).

The pointer came from pharyngula, where they’ve also been discussing atheist outreach. Elsewhere in the blogosphere people have been wondering if posting flyers on cars in church parking lots is a good way to reach out to the faithful (the “parking lot challenge”) and what kinds of flyers would be good. I posted some of my thoughts in a comment, but to sum up: (a) flyers can come in all kinds of different information, and if you’re willing for 90% or more to be thrown away you could save the life or sanity of some unhappy teenager who *wants* rationality but doesn’t know how to find it; (b) lots of other places are good to pass out tidbits of reason: bus and train ads, newspaper inserts, inserts in bookstore books, hotel bibles; (c) anybody ever do “you’re welcome for the good deed” card?; and (d) what do you say when someone says “god bless you” and you want to be polite and friendly and brief, but corrective?

… And speaking of religious people: The “abstinence-only” promoter in the Bush Administration’s foreign aid department (aka the “AIDS czar”) resigned in embarrassment after getting caught on DC madam Jeane Palfrey’s list of prominent johns. (See WPost 4/28 and ABC 4/27.) Ha ha. Oh, my anger at BS thinly-veiled with sanctimony is rarely so well matched by my pleasure at hypocrisy revealed. My cup runneth over, but I tell you — the Bush administration has produced so many of these kinds of things that it’s kinda hard to keep up.

I anticipate many more such juicy stories once her client list (which is in the hands of prosecutors and ABC?) is published, and we know more names of people who sought “massage and sexual fantasy from college-educated women”. The irony of the abstinence-only AIDS czar being one of the first to go is rich though. It is Good to start the day with hypocrites brought low. I am in a happy, happy mood.

Kent “Dino” Hovind arrested on tax fraud

Despite being firmly warned to not post on blogs this week but to focus on my deadline, I found this too delicious to not post:

On July 13, 2006, Kent Hovind was arrested and indicted in federal court on 58 charges. Of the charges filed, there is one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws, including falsifying bankruptcy documents, filing a false and frivolous lawsuit and complaints against the IRS, destroying records, and threatening to harm IRS investigators. 12 of the charges are for failing to pay employee-related taxes, totaling $473,818, and 45 charges of evading reporting requirements by making multiple cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 reporting requirement (smurfing). The withdrawals, totaling $430,500, were placed in 2001 and 2002.

Hovind has maintained his innocence. “I still don’t understand what I’m being charged for and who is charging me,” he said. [23] Magistrate Miles Davis asked Hovind if he wrote and spoke English, to which Hovind responded “To some degree”. Davis replied that the government adequately explained the allegations and the defendant understands the charges “whether you want to admit it or not.”[24] A September 5 trial date has been set for Kent Hovind and his co-defendant wife, Jo, who faces 44 charges. Hovind stated that he did not recognize the government’s right to try him on tax-fraud charges and entered a not guilty plea “under duress” when the judge offered to enter a plea for him.[25]

Alas it’s a forward of a forward so I don’t have the original cite. (update: apparently it’s from the latest updates to the wikipedia entry on Hovind)

crossposted @ sivacracy

Reader, I married fafblog.

It was the only thing to do, after such postings as:

There’s No “War” in “Warrant”1 (12/17):

So George Bush secretly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants or judicial oversight. Oh, it violates your civil liberties, oh, it illegally breaks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, oh, that tape of you and your boyfriend having phone sex has been playing in the NSA break room for a month and a half. Well boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, America? It is the world’s tiniest violin playing just for your civil liberties. You can hear it in excellent quality sound because it has been bugged by the NSA. …

“Oh but Giblets the president’s executive order is illegal” you say. That’s the kind of namby-pamby whining that would have the U.S. follow “international opinion” and “the Geneva conventions” and “U.S. law.”

Fafblog followed up on the no-FISA-needed Executive Order with The King of Freedom (12/23):

…How soon we forget the lessons of September 11th! Faced with a threat unlike any before, America can no longer afford its cumbersome system of unwieldy checks and balances. Instead it must nimbly respond to terror with a single, streamlined, omnipotent executive branch. Instead of waiting for critical domestic spying programs to pass through Congress, where bickering Senators can selfishly subject them to public scrutiny, an efficient White House can put them into practice so quickly the country doesn’t discover them for another four years.

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of office. Nor have Congress and the courts been rendered powerless, as all three branches of government have vital roles to play: the executive branch to be the president, the legislative branch to support the president, and the judicial branch to tell the president he is constitutional….

Fafblog’s coverage of the war on terror is also must-read-blogging: (World Without a PATRIOT Act, 12/17):

So I’m browsin through my local library checkin out the latest developments in shelving technology when Osama bin Laden jumps outta the card catalogue an hijacks the reference section!

“Oh no!” says me. “Stop him before he misfiles that almanac!”
“Mwa-hahaha, you’re too late!” says the terrorist mastermind escapin into the periodicals. “Now nothing can stop me from researching the history of your hometown’s spicy marmalade festival!”
“He’s in the microfiche,” says the crusty ol librarian. “We’ll never catch im now!”

Oh John Ashcroft, where are you when we need you most!

And see The Central Front in the War on Facts (12/8):

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military’s planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn’t a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren’t factually inaccurate, but mere “spin” – such as the article that spun an Iraqi general’s death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America’s leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality – and reality has always been America’s greatest enemy in Iraq.

And the ongoing coverage of the torture?-we-don’t-torture-but-we-need-to-be-able-to-torture-(even-though-we-don’t-torture) story was as good as it gets; most recently with Let a Thousand Bad Apples Bloom (12/17) (“Rest assured, from this day forth, the detainees tortured in American military prisons will only be tortured by accident or happenstance, or by dozens of rogue soldiers acting in simultaneously and of their own accord.”)

And on domestic issues, Fafblog also nailed it with Nature’s Harmonious Money Cycle” (12/8):

So you can’t afford to heat your house and somebody went and cut your Medicaid and food stamps. “Oh no!” you say burnin a spare child for warmth. “Whatever will I do.”

… and righteously chastised us all about dangerous support for the HPV vaccine (God Bless the Plague, 11/17):

God created death and disease to provide a divine disincentive against soul-sullying sin. Can America afford to innoculate its children, insure its poor, and make peace with its neighbors if it means not living in fear of an insane, invisible overseer in the sky who barks at his creation in a series of mad, contradictory myths? Absolutely not. God bless the plague!

In conclusion, I highly recommend daily conjugal visits with fafblog (the worlds only source for fafblog).

not fundamentalist hijackers after all

My friend badgerbag was hanging out & making pastry with various kids, including her own, when one of the kids started acting up. There followed this exchange:

Oh and at some point Moomin went, “Besides, Sophie… Jesus says you should be kind and love other people.” WHAAAAAT? I freaked out! What what what? I mean, okay, sure, but… attempted elaborate casualness not fooling anyone as I froze and hissed “oh how INteresting – who told you that?” It turns out that fundamentalist xtians have NOT hijacked my child’s mind but instead Rook had given a stab at explaining what xmas was about. Whew. (But wait, wait, I’m not ready to deal with this level of discussion….)

Chortle.

potential evidence for intelligent design

questionable authority reviews a pro-‘intelligent design theory’ entry that describes a future history of the fabulous medical and scientific breakthroughs generated by ‘intelligent design theory’ and the abandonment of ‘Darwinism’. While the whole post is highly recommended, it was one of the commentors who really tickled my fancy. Responding to the future history’s assertion that ‘Darwinist’ scientists ignore ‘junk DNA’*, commentator Stephen Stralka adds:

It also occurs to me that no matter how much functionality we ultimately discover in junk DNA, none of it will be any better evidence for ID than what we currently know about DNA.

The kind of thing that would be evidence of design would be if the junk DNA turned out to contain stuff like copyright notices and license agreements.

Or copy protection. DRM-protected genomes that prevent unauthorized replications, derivative works, jumping genes & species hopping diseases? Or maybe when you have a baby, a rootkit installs itself on the parents’ reproductive organs, preventing them from further replications. I do indeed see a great future for ‘intelligent design theory’.

(Another commenter followed up:

Oh, man. “If you agree to the terms of this pregnancy, click Agree. Otherwise, click Abort.”

Except that he’s missing about 5 screens’ worth of finely printed legal verbiage about restrictions on the pregnancy and abortion process. Luckily Frontline has got it covered.)


* According to the ‘future history of intelligent design’, ‘Darwinian’ scientists don’t do research on ‘junk DNA’. really? in this future history, will my partner’s dissertation & ongoing postdoc work on various aspects of gene regulation turn out to have all just been a terrible and poorly-compensated decade-long dream?

david leheny on dan brown

I don’t know how to sum up Dan Brown’s contributions to American literature any better than to say that the first “word” of praise on his website is “Unputdownable.”

Plus Harry Reid, David Brooks, and William Safire. Read the whole thing.

morning tea reading

  • The Rude Pundit tears it up on comparisons between the Clinton Whitewater-MonicaGate scandal, and the Bush-Cheney Fraudulently-Induced-Then-Bungled-Iraq-War-PlameGate scandal. [link from sideshow]

  • debate over intelligent design: the abstract factory points out that intelligent design advocates, like pretty much every other human being, work within a science-based framework when it really matters to them personally. [link from sideshow]

  • Fafblog: damn you grover norquist, for accepting money from the gays:

    Yes, as all right-thinking Gibletsians know, gays are not merely plotting to destroy the family. They are plotting to corrupt the global economy with mass monetary queerosity! Even now they are introducing creeping fruitism into our proudly heterosexual stock market and pansying up our once-butch interest rate! They even handle the same money we do, getting microscopic particles of gay all over our precious national currency! Did Abraham Lincoln just wink at Giblets from the five dollar bill? Get away from me, Honest Abe! Giblets doesn’t need your mincey forfathery leering and your log cabin jokes!