Category Archives: snicker

chuckle laugh guffaw. humorous observations.

lemony snicket copyright

The copyright notice in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002):

No part of this book may be used, reproduced, destroyed, tampered with, or eaten without written permission except in the case of brief, possibly coded quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews, and subpoenas. Allegedly printed in the United States of America. For information address HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019, although the people at this publishing house have no idea where the documents enclosed in this book came from. If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs or illustrations in this book you may find yourself in Very Frightening Danger and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing you can do about it. Please note that the author has been called a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character, an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for dinner by an odd number of dubious authorities. Send help at once. All rights reserved. Wouldn’t you rather read about ponies?

jonathan kozol on education & no child left behind

DS: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

JK: Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.

DS: Isn’t that why President Bush enacted No Child Left Behind, to narrow the achievement gap between white students and minorities?

JK: I would hesitate to try to navigate the thought processes of that sophisticated, well-educated product of Andover.

DS: Seriously, why would Republicans, who have traditionally opposed big government, encumber schools with the testing requirements attached to No Child Left Behind?

JK: The kind of testing we are doing today is sociopathic in its repetitive and punitive nature. Its driving motive is to highlight failure in inner-city schools as dramatically as possible in order to create a ground swell of support for private vouchers or other privatizing schemes.

“School Monitor: Questions for Jonathan Kozol”. Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON. NYT Magazine, 2005 Sept. 4.

chortle: atheist meetings

Pharyngula tears up a Christian apologetic, which was fine and entertaining, but it was the commenter Oneiros Dreaming who made me laugh out loud:

pharyngula: Personally, I’m a little bit miffed about this frequent assertion that atheists are just that way because they want free sex. I’m an atheist, and I never got to take advantage of all that free lovin’ hedonism; all of the atheists I know seem to live rather ordinary, conventional lives. I got married, have been faithful ever since, have had three atheist children who haven’t bothered to shoot up their school or muck up their lives with drugs, and as far as I know, my freethinker wife hasn’t been participating in any Black Masses behind my back. Is it all the other atheists who have wild and degenerate private lives?

Comment #35656 Oneiros Dreaming: Dude, you really have to start going to the meetings.

yet more quotes & comments

some links, some quotes, some comments, all in one … I pulled various of these articles up several hours ago from various blogs, which I would like to link back to, but windows got closed, systems got rebooted, and to make a long story short I no longer know which link came from where.

  • Molly Ivins writes about SLAPPs and also reminds us of one of my favorite George W. Bush quotes: “There ought to be limits to freedom.” Uttered in response to a parody website. (which it seems is now on hiatus). [link from sideshow]
  • God, I loved this: famous same-sex swan couples: romeo & juliet, of boston’s Public Garden [link from plaid adder war journal 8/12]
  • This Swedish library is loaning lesbians. [Which reminds me of one of my favorite canvas bags/t-shirts seen around ALA: “Nobody knows I’m a librarian.”] The library project is called “The Living Library” and allows you to check out various, err, types of people for 45 minutes. Now circulating, a lesbian, a Muslim, an animal rights activist, a gypsy, and some other folks. [link from librarian.net 8/17; see also sbs]
  • John Nichols, “Being Like Bernie” [Sanders], The Nation, 2005/8/15.

    At his best, Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems– discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering. That’s the genius of Sanders’s independent status. But it is also a source of frustration. While Sanders backers formed the Vermont Progressive Party, a third-party grouping that holds six seats in the State Legislature, he has never joined the party and has sometimes been slow to embrace its statewide campaigns. While the sense that Sanders is a genuinely free agent serves him well, it raises questions about whether Sanders will ever create not just an alternative candidacy but an alternative politics in his state. “He will not leave a party behind him. So what will be his legacy?” asks Freyne of Seven Days. “I don’t see a next Bernie on the horizon. I don’t see what comes after him. There’s a lot wrapped up in one man, and I don’t know where that gets you in the long run.”

    But Sanders makes no apologies for refusing to be a party man. Yes, of course, he’d like the Democratic Party to be more progressive and for third parties to develop the capacity to pull the political process to the left. But Sanders is not going to wait for the right political moment to arrive. What he’s done is create a model for how an individual candidate can push beyond the narrow boundaries of contemporary politics and connect with voters in the same sense that Progressives and Populists of a century ago–operating within the shells of the Democratic and Republican parties and sometimes outside them–did so successfully.

    ai-yi-yi. i must rant. why should sanders have to leave a party to leave a legacy? his unreconstructed individualism is charming. the man stands for himself. people like and appreciate that in almost anybody and especially in politicians. a party? what do parties stand for? mostly, their own ongoing existence. at any given moment, a party might have a general drift — towards theocracy, say, or corporate welfare. or a party might be a confusing morass of many different opinions and no center. evaluating a party by its platform tells you nothing: who could imagine, reading the RNC platform, that there would be such a group as Log Cabin Republicans? is evaluating a party by its inner circle power brokers any more useful in assessing what a party stands for? the value of political parties lies in certain advantages for their members in furthering their common agenda through pooling resources, power, etc. but once a party is too big to reflect any common agenda for all its members, and has significant disagreement on major policy points among its members, then its continued existence becomes just an exercise in maintaining its own power. so bernie sanders doesn’t do party politics, but manages to get things done, stick to and voice his opinions, and he’s wildly popular. hmm. i think there’s a lesson there.

  • Digby, Shameful Indifference, 2005/8/14:

    Memo to those on the right who say the Left supports Islamic fundamentalists: we’re the Godless Heathens, remember? We’re against the religious zealots running governments across the board. Of course, that includes your “base” here in the US too so you’ll have to pardon us for our consistency and ask yourselves why we find you incoherent on this matter.

    Such a useful point. Get rid of the rhetorical labels (“left”, “liberal”, “Republican”, “Islamist”, “Democrats”, and all the various pejorative quasi-puns that conservative blog commenters think are so funny, e.g., “Dims”) and look at specific positions. State control of the press. State control of individual’s sex lives. Specific state positions on individual’s sex lives: same-sex okay or not? Protection of natural resources: important or unimportant? up to the state or the private sector? … and so on. For instance, who’s opposed to non-marital sex, same-sex relations, immodesty in women, indecency on the airwaves; and supportive of patriarchal households, tending to form personality cults around strong authoritarian leaders, pro-military/violence, pro-government entanglements with religion. With so much in common, I guess I should be happy that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists don’t get along better. Hooray for doctrines & deities!

freedom of info, giblets-style

Indeed, the Medium Lobster could not agree more: while some in the petty name of “truth,” “accountability” and “basic humanity” might want to open this material to the world, outrage over yet another American atrocity would just fuel more violence. Oh, ACLU, don’t you have enough blood on your hands? Which is why the Medium Lobster also believes the time is long overdue to classify the Iraq War.

go read fafblog now

terry pratchett’s new secret novel

The widely quoted, hilarious response by Terry Pratchett to the Canadian court order [more from Michael Geist] applied to early purchasers of Harry Potter 6:

Terry Pratchett, by a strange coincidence, chose the H*rry P*tter launch day to issue a stern warning about his next Discworld novel: ‘Now that the bound proof copies of _Thud!_ are out, and will no doubt be winging their way to an e-bay near you, I would like to say that ANYONE WHO READS A WORD OF IT before publication day will be MADE TO SIT IN THE CORNER and their ENTIRE COUNTRY will be given DOUBLE DETENTION until every single person SAYS SORRY!!!!!’ So there.

quote in Ansible; also at forum.rpg.hu via boingboing via minilinks

fantastic library pork

Garrison Keilor imagines library pork like the Alaskan bridge-laden Republican Transportation bill. First, the model:

For Alaska, the Republicans earmarked $223 million for a bridge almost as long as the Golden Gate to link the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,000) — which is a town that exists to sell T-shirts and postcards to cruise passengers for three months a year — to the local airport on Gravina Island, replacing a seven-minute ferry ride. Alaskans also will receive a billion-dollar two-mile-long bridge connecting Anchorage to hundreds of square miles of undeveloped wetlands, a great convenience for bird-watchers who now, instead of having to kayak across the water to observe the red-bellied grommet, can drive over in their Explorers and bring a mobile home with them.

Alas, I fear the undeveloped wetlands may not stay either un- or wet- very long. Next, the improved library library pork version:

I imagine that a super-library of that caliber might cost $223 million if you add in the books, the banks of computers with high-speed Internet connections, the movie theater, the Children’s Room, the Steam Room, the Nap Room, the Hobnob Room where English majors can gather for a libation, the underground parking garage, and the kindly reference librarian with the bun, the faint mustache on the upper lip, the navy-blue knit dress, the sensible shoes, and the glasses on a chain around her neck. Those ladies have become rare and do not come cheap.

Ahem. I’ll resist going on the usual anti-librarian-stereotype rant just because Mr. Keilor is so charming & hilarious. He offers us one final bit of lobbying strategy which I think is a sure winner:

And we need to promote public libraries as a tool in the war against terror. How many readers of Edith Wharton have engaged in terroristic acts? I challenge you to name one. Therefore, the reading of Edith Wharton is a proven deterrent to terror. Do we need to wait until our cities lie in smoking ruins before we wake up to the fact that a first-class public library is a vital link in national defense?

girls go(t) game

Hillary Clinton has jumped all over the Grand Theft Auto downloadable sex mod scandal, apparently in an attempt to shore up her right-wing base and reconnect with the Tipper Gore Fan Club. USA Today 7/14; wikinews 7/17; salon.com 7/22; gtaSanAndreas links to a video of the mod in action]. Ted Frank on Overlawyered reminds us of a similar culture-war foray from the Democrats — Bill Clinton’s 1992 attack on Sister Souljah — and is pretty funny to boot:

Me, I’m just amused by the thought of class action attorneys trolling for a named plaintiff parent who will testify that, while she was okay for her little Johnny to buy a game involving drug dealing, gambling, carjacking, cop-shooting, prostitution, throat-slashing, baseball-bat beatings, drive-by shootings, street-racing, gang wars, profanity-laced rap music, homosexual lovers’ quarrels, blood and gore, and “Strong Sexual Content,” she is shocked, shocked to learn that the game also includes an animation at about the level of a Ken doll rubbing up against an unclothed Barbie doll with X-rated sound effects, and is thus a victim of both consumer fraud and intense emotional distress, entitled to actual and punitive damages totalling $74,999 per identically-situated class member in the state.

Having posted this, I have to comment on a) the class action schtick is just unnecessary; this anecdote stands alone; b) I wrinkled my nose at a few whiffs of sexist patronizing & homophobia: the contemptible ‘named plaintiff parent’ of the anecdote is of course female (because Donald Wildmon & crew are just not funny, I guess) and Overlawyered’s list of social ills includes, along with various depictions of violence, “homosexual lovers’ quarrels”. Dude. When my spouse & I fight, it’s ill, all right, but not “throat-slashing, baseball-bat beating” ill. Get some perspective.

Speaking of sexism & Grand Theft Auto, feministing raised the concern about the frequent sex-violence connection in popular entertainment. Commenter erin shed some light, which I’ll quote in full since I can’t point directly to it:

I’ve done some research on game patches, and unfortunately, the majority of those out there serve to further exploit female characters (avatars). For example, in the Xtreme Beach Volleyball game, there is a nudity patch which allows the player to play in full nude mode. No big surprise that all of the volleyball players are female. There is also a patch for BloodRayne 2 that allows a player to actually change the breast size of Rayne, inflating or deflating to one’s personal desire. These patches are readily available on gaming websites and message boards, and are fairly easy to use for any semi-experienced gamer.

However, there are also some female gamers who are designing patches to further enhance their gameplaying experience as well, kind of a proto-feminist hacker art movement. There are a few patches for the Tomb Raider series that allow a player to “gender bend” Lara Croft, turning her into a drag queen, dominatrix, or queer babe.

For more on these patches, look at Anne-Marie Schleiner’s article “Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons?” www.opensorcery.net/lara2.html

Posted by: erin at July 11, 2005 11:16 PM

What’s the remedy for stupid, sexist, ridiculous, offensive, insensitive, unsatisfying speech? More speech. These female gamer/hackers get that. And so do some universities and businesses. The current monoculture in video games isn’t ‘just the way it is’; it’s a result of social forces and trends. These social forces and trends are hackable and that’s an opportunity.

update 8/15:

On the sex-violence issue, shakespeare’s sister linked to an article about research showing no change in aggression from playing aggressive video games. The paper is Williams, Dmitri & Skoric, Marko (2005). Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game. Communication Monographs, 22(2), p.217-233, available at https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/dcwill/www/CMWilliamsSkoric.pdf.

Most intriguing, though, the rest of shakespeare’s sister’s post on gaming and kick-ass girl heroes talked about lance mannion’s concerns about boys hitting girls in action media (video games, movies, comics). Sh-Sis isn’t too concerned about it, and neither am I. But I’m glad she brought it up, because often, while watching Buffy, Xena, Lara Croft, and the like, I experience a split-second cultural response to the gender: “There’s a boy hitting a girl!” Or, sometimes, “There’s two girls fighting!” I never have a gender consciousness moment like, “There’s two boys fighting!” This learned response annoys me; my own mind is colonized; I know it, but how can I turn it off?

As for boys hitting girls in video games, I’m going to throw out an aggressive opinion and see how it ages: I’m all for it. To the extent there is violence in video games, I want it to be equal opportunity violence. I don’t want female exceptionalism. In the real world, boys hit girls all the time, despite the politesses of “boys shouldn’t hit girls”. Those politesses haven’t stopped gendered violence and I have a sneaking feeling that they contribute to it. Combining two different instruction sets (“girls are special; don’t hit them” with “but it’s okay to hit otherwise”) is surely just going to lead to confusion and anger and a well-founded sense of injustice among young people of the okay-to-hit variety. A stripped down rule set (“don’t hit”) seems much less confusing & much less likely to cause gender-based anger.

global warming: fact or fantasy?

Fafblog! cautions us to go slow until we’re sure — hmm, just like the bush administration, which was recently caught manipulating and distorting scientific reports yet again:

The usual leftist quarters are fired up again, calling for America to join a veritable science jihad, worshiping at the altar of fact when we’ve yet to hear what fiction has to say about the situation.

One can’t be too careful when deliberating over the shifting and byzantine web of confusion and doubt that is so-called “climate” “change.” Whom should we believe: the unruly mob of every reputable climatologist on the planet, or the selfless sages at Exxon-Mobil? Uncertainty abounds, even among higher beings like the Medium Lobster. We must examine all sides of the issue, take input from all corners: from the side of science, and from the side of oil industry whores paid to lie about science. Someday, somehow, between these complex and opposing points of view, we may just find an answer.

unsex me — no, really

  • Richard Nathan has written shakespeare parodies, and actually had them produced. I particularly like the title of “Scots on the Rocks” (MacBeth). Performance could be amusing — I did chuckle over Lady MacBeth’s “unsex me”:

    .
    .
    .
    S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R
    .
    .
    .

    (and when did it become the thing to do for mainstream media to provider spoiler warnings? it seemed like it was a fan/geek thing, and now all of a sudden, very very mainstream. or has it always been thus?)

    Act I, Scene 5:

    Lady MacBeth: Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here!

    The witches move to center stage, singing and dancing. Lady Macbeth doesn’t notice them.

    WITCHES
    (singing)
    We’ll unsex you here!
    Do not show any doubt or fear!
    Just growl and sneer,
    Scratch your crotch,
    And swig a beer!
    And we’ll unsex you here!

    The witches gesture magically. There is an explosion of flash powder, and suddenly Lady Macbeth has become a man – a tall, waspish man, with a neat little mustache. I will continue to refer to Lady Macbeth as “she” in the stage directions, but starting from here, for as long as she lives, she should be portrayed by a man.

    and later:

    Act 5, Scene 5:

    Two servants enter, carrying the body of the Queen. It is the female version of the Queen, as she was before she was un-sexed. The servants lay the body of the Queen before Macbeth.

space weapons

Re-assuring words from our Glorious Leader’s curiously independent-minded military leaders:

“We haven’t reached the point of strafing and bombing from space,” Pete Teets, who stepped down last month as the acting secretary of the Air Force, told a space warfare symposium last year. “Nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities.”

The Air Force believes “we must establish and maintain space superiority,” Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. “Simply put, it’s the American way of fighting.” Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as “freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack” in space.

Apparently, Star Wars is not a successful defense program! It’s a movie, instead:

The Air Force’s drive into space has been accelerated by the Pentagon’s failure to build a missile defense on earth. After spending 22 years and nearly $100 billion, Pentagon officials say they cannot reliably detect and destroy a threat today.

Tired of waiting around for that tedious old bureaucracy, the Air Force is leading us into a bold new destiny! Is the Air Force some kind of independent super-military agency now? Why is the Air Force coming to the Glorious Leader to authorize their own separate special “Air Force” weapons? Doesn’t this seem a little, well, “precious bodily fluids” to anyone?

“Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny,” he told an Air Force conference in September. “Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.”

For background details: fafblog 5/19; NYT 5/18

savage advice on election 04 & the next four years

Dan Savage’s 11/10 column advises us to enjoy our urban islands and hold out for midterm elections, being grateful that the Republicans will have no one else to blame but themselves.

If that doesn’t work:

But, hey, if this cold-comfort analysis is wrong, SSF, if we all live to regret the gay marriage issue coming to a head, rest assured that all the dykes and faggots out there will pay a high price for it.

What he said.

Continue reading

ding-dong

John Ashcroft is retiring. Yes, I’m sure that Bush will show us how it could be worse, but for right now, I’m taking my pleasures where I can. [nyt 11/9]

The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.

Not yet, John, but your resignation is a good first step.

Continue reading

who knew? bush is really a horror movie character. or two.

[T]those of us who argued that there was really no difference between Bush and Gore look pretty stupid now. None of that reflects especially well on Al Gore, by the way; it simply wasn’t evident at that early date that the then-Texas governor was the real-world version of Greg Stillson, the born-again, world-destroying future president in Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone.”

and later:

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes: Kerry is a lot better than Bush on the environment, abortion, civil liberties and judicial appointments. Again, it’s a comparison between that good-looking real estate guy who only gouged you a little and Chucky, the devil doll from the “Child’s Play” movies.

— Andrew O’Hehir, “Civic Avowal”, salon.com, 2004-10-28

hee-hee.

chortle

favorite jon stewart “the daily show” moment: in the friday sept 24, stewart was discussing a bush press conference, like this: “Blah blah blah, at Bush’s press conference, reports with their [pause, air-quotes with hands] ‘questions‘ …”