Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Disaster Relief

if you want to help the quake/wave victims but are having trouble getting through to the Red Cross site, you can donate on Amazon and all proceeds go to the Red Cross relief effort.


Amazon donation link

Such devastation - I wonder why I am so surprisingly shocked that nature can still knock man on his arse in this day and age.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush of Monkeys

The Immoral Minority

It's times like these when I am proud to be a New Yorker...

An artist has made a painting of Dubya out of many pictures of monkeys. It was censored of course and the NY gallery was forced to close the exhibit down. But some awesome donors paid for the painting to be digitized above the Holland Tunnel for all to see. And the original will be sold on ebay with part of the proceeds donated to parents of US soldiers who wish to supply their sons and daughters with body armour in Iraq. So classic!

Here are the stories from the British press: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,1378985,00.html and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4117059.stm

May your days be merry and bright... Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Holy Hobbit Hole

Am I a dork to think this project is kind of cool? probably. Some major geeks want to build a real live hobbithole.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Hobbit"

impeach him

Straight from the ACLU

"NEW YORK -- A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up."

What kills me is that I've only seen the Times and the BBC covering this. I'm hoping this gets out to more news outlets later in the day. Post other sightings!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

aw jeez

As it turns out, almost half of Americans think that Muslim Americans should have their civil liberties restricted. Not foreigners from muslim nations, mind you (not that that's much better)...but Americans who happen to be muslim. I'm glad this country learned its lesson after interning japanese americans during WW2.

AwJeezNotThisSheetAgain1

Read about it here

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Every Kid Wants One of These!

I think those dancing Elmos and talking Doras can go home... we have a new holiday winner.

(click on the title to see what the hell I'm talking about).

Monday, December 13, 2004

Will you please stop bludgeoning me over the head with Julia Roberts?

I saw Ocean's 12 over the weekend, and it was fine. Not as good as the first one, of course, and the plot was very thin and illogical. But I was there for the cool music, the cool clothes, and my boys* Matt, George and Brad. I was also pleased by the addition of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Eddie Izzard, and Robbie Coltrane. Very cool.

But they insisted on asking her back for the sequel. Now, don't get me wrong, I used to be pleasantly indifferent to Julia Roberts. She is (and always will be) an average actress. Yet she has become this thing; America's Sweetheart, everyone must worship the Roberts, blah blah blah. I still can't find a rabid Julia Roberts fan. I know plenty of people who think she's okay, but nobody ever says, "Wow. Julia Roberts. She was fantastic in ____." Pretty Woman? Mystic Pizza? And don't bring up the Brokovich thing. Nine times out of ten, playing a real person** will garner an Oscar. I just don't get what the big deal is, and I'm tired of her being shoved down my throat every five minutes.

Anyway, without giving too much away, there's a weird plot point in Ocean's Twelve involving our Miss Roberts that made me want to vomit. It pulled me right out of the movie, messed with the cool factor, and lowered my estimation of all parties involved.

They also woefully underused the supporting characters (Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Asian Guy, Guy who plays Casey Affleck's brother, and Mousy Guy) that made the first one so funny and entertaining.

Despite all that, I will say it was light and fun to watch; a perfect movie to leave on TV while you're doing something else, and I'll definitely be picking up the soundtrack. But it won't end up on my shelf next to Ocean's 11.


*They get disappointed if I don't see their movies. Brad is still miffed because I refuse to see Meet Joe Black.


**The same is true if you play a hooker, and Julia's Brokovich wardrobe was pretty much leftover stuff from Pretty Woman (from the parts where she actually dressed like a streetwalker, not the whole Eliza Doolittle make over part, which I still maintain should have involved a healthy round of tests performed by Richard Gere's private doctor).

Sunday, December 12, 2004

the dude abides

Once again, I'm convinced that I do boring language research. Scott Kiesling, a linguist at the University of Pittsburgh, is a sociolinguist studying the usage of the word "dude". CNN Reports here :

"He found the word taps into nonconformity and a new American image of leisurely success."

If that's not The Dude, I don't know what is...

Friday, December 10, 2004

Despair

For you private sector types. I think he's saying what we're all thinking.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ukraine

Until recently, my main associations with Ukraine were my memories of watching Vitaly Potapenko, "the Ukraine Train" labor in his capacity as the Celtics backup center. If he could only catch the ball and jump...

We're all familiar with the scene of some downtrodden slav living under some authoritarian regime looking to the US as a beacon of hope and freedom in an otherwise cruel world. How the tables have turned.

There's an inspirational article in the Dec. 13 New Yorker (not online) about the election in Ukraine and its aftermath. For those who haven't been following it, the election was rigged by the old-line party in power, but the opposition took to the streets in protest, and have forced a re-vote. The article gives an eye-witness account of the massive demonstrations and a nice, gentle summary of who's who and what kind of historical and social forces have shaped the conflict.

Plus, excellent choice of orange for color scheme. Very stylish.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Immoral Minority

Another Blog

This is from Murray, who did actually take part in the Guardian influence-an-ohioan campaign, but to no avail of course....

http://becker-posner-blog.com/

and for a little background

http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/002323.shtml

Monday, December 06, 2004

Family Hour

Apparently 99.8% of the complaints to the FCC this year regarding indecency on television are being made by the activist group Parents Television Council. I for one welcome our bible thumping overlords. They work under the assumption that Americans are incapable of wisely making good TV watching decisions. Frankly, they're right. I blew a solid hour last night watching House Detectives on the Home Garden Network, so if anyone needs a TV intervention, I do.

I decided to check out their site, and they actually rate television shows for sex, violence, and language. This is great for procrastination...just look up your favorite shows:

The Simpsons
"This long-running animated production focuses on the daily life of a suburban family living in the fictional town of Springfield. Despite its early timeslot and animated format, The Simpsons is not recommended for younger viewers. The show ridicules entrepreneurs, religion, educators, and law enforcement officials, and has occasionally incorporated foul language into its dialogue. The cartoon sends a mixed message on parenthood: while the father is a bumbling idiot, the mother is a loving and patient wife and role model."

So much for satire.

Better yet, they have a top 10 list of the best and worst shows on television. Before seeing the list, I thought "Perfect! I can point out how the shows they call the 'worst' are actually, intelligent and sophisticated!" No such luck. The "best" show are unsurprising (e.g. Joan of Arcadia, 7th Heaven, etc...), but the worst shows are actually pretty bad (e.g. Everwood, Fear Factor). I'm not offended by the gratuitous sex and violence, but by the poor plotlines and lack of creativity. I guess we're all going to hell.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Blue State Blues

Our fiscally responsible, pro-tax cut government is considering scrapping the federal deduction for state and local taxes.

Guess who would get hit hardest? The blue states, specifically New York and California. The real kicker is that California already pays more than $58 billion dollars into the federal government than it takes out. Ugh. Is this just an unlucky coincidence...

"Let me put it like this: It certainly isn't something that's a discouragement," said one prominent conservative. "Yes, we talked about this. The fact that it hits blue states is not something that's been missed among Republicans."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Washington Governership

Apparently the governor's election in Washington State was really close. The democratic candidate lost by only 40 votes. There clearly needs to be a recount, but in Washington, the party that wants a recount has to pay for it. The deadline for the money is today at 5pm.

Chris Gregoire, the democratic candidate, will tell you all about it here .

...And the Seattle Times also has a story on it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

pie

Do you like pecan pie?

A really really big pecan pie?

Mina's brother's friends made one:
pecanpie

The process was documented for posterity.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Immoral Minority

The Immoral Minority

Sexual Healing from Across the Pond

Boy, do I love living in ultra liberal, holier-than-thou London. Never mind that there are no conveniences such as pre-grated cheese and pre-chopped carrots, nor a little thing called air conditioning or tumble dryers, nor "large" pizzas that are actually bigger than your face, nor a working transport system, nor sinks with one tap for both hot and cold water ensuring that you will not alternatingly scald and freeze yourself when trying to wash your face (but why bother washing your face anyway? all that pollution will never be cleaned off). Never mind all that third world shite because people here don't have vocal religious political zealots that ACTUALLY HAVE ANY KIND OF POWER. Nope, they sent those daft scarlet-letter wearing fanatics off to America's shores on the Mayflower centuries ago. Smart buggers.

Oh yes, I love living here now that they've decided that all of America is made up of stupid jesus nutters. For example, Time Out this week quotes: "'Speak to your pastors immediately because Satan is attempting to enter your mind.' - A US Christian group tells its members what to do if they're tempted to watch Oliver Stone's homoerotic Alexander the Great biopic."

Funny as hell, but this kind of branding does not help our Blue State, we drink Chilean wine, watch artful Scandanavian films and can get over 50% on the geography olympics cause. (OK, I really got 40% on the geography olympics. And the best part is I'm getting a PhD in geogrpahy... the cultural kind though.)

Hey, do you think we could start a charity where we raise money from Limeys and Surrender Monkeys to get everyone in the Red States laid properly???

Have yourself a spiteful little christmas...

I’m flying out to Iowa this weekend to see some family for Christmas, so I had to do some early shopping. Luckily, we only have to buy for the kids, but when the “kids” are three teenagers with the false impression that you’re cool, the pressure is on.

I went to H&M, which has two very attractive qualities; it’s cheap, and they don’t have one in Iowa, so the kids think it’s exotic. Beautiful. So, after about a million laps around the accessories department, I came up with what I hoped was a combination of trinkets that are both fun and work for all the age levels. Now came the hard part: checking out.

If you’ve ever been to the H&M in downtown Boston, you know there’s ALWAYS a long wait for the registers. It doesn’t matter how many customers there are, or how many cashiers they have. You. Will. Wait. This happened to be a case where there were few customers (many of whom were trying to return 87 items without a receipt) and one painfully slow cashier who didn’t look a day over 15.

So there I was, in line, staring off into space, when some earth shatteringly loud high-heeled boots came stomping over to the line. In them was a very tense looking chick who, immediately upon her arrival, barked a question at the hapless clerk, who was trying to decipher the broken English of the patron in front of me.

“Are you the only register in the store? I’m in a hurry!” Teen Clerk blinked and looked towards the other end of the store (which was roughly 6.3 miles away) and gave the standard reply: “Uh, I’m not sure.” To this she gave an exasperated “I-can’t-believe-everyone’s-an-asshole-but-me” sigh and clomped off to make the 6.3-mile journey to the other side. No big loss.

Meanwhile, Broken English was trying to buy something without a price tag, so Teen Clerk had to run off (it was actually more like a disinterested saunter) to the area where the garment may have originated, which was roughly 4 miles away. I stared blankly at a thoroughly uninteresting music video for some song by some band displayed on LCDs over the registers. Many moons passed, but Teen Clerk made a triumphant return, priced garment in hand. Shortly thereafter, Bitch ‘n Boots came clomping back and almost went nuclear at the lack of progress made in her absence. She loudly shifted her weight, stamping every time she did so, and let loose a periodic “Oh my God!”. Now, I wasn’t exactly in love with the lackadaisical stylings of Teen Clerk, but I don’t think working at H&M is terribly rewarding (retail in general pretty much sucks), so Bitch ‘n Boots getting all huffy wasn’t terribly useful. In fact, it was interfering with my zoning out.

So when it was my turn up at the register, I dumped all of the accessories (in triplicate) onto the counter in a messy pile, instead of going with my original plan of sorting them into categories. This earned a sigh and two boot stomps. Sweet. I was also super-polite to Teen Clerk, who seemed relieved that I a) spoke English and b) wasn’t scowling. I made polite chitchat, hoping to distract him from the task of ringing up my million items, thereby ensuring a mistake would be made.

I was not disappointed.

Teen Clerk looked woefully at the receipt, counting the items listed on the paper and comparing it with the mess on the counter. “Oh, no, I think I missed two items.”

This elicited an “Oh-My-God!” and more weight shifting from BnB. I smiled. “That’s okay, I’m sure we can sort it out.” More stomping. She was going to have kittens at any minute. Teen Clerk smiled back, “Eh, don’t worry about it, I’ll just ring it up.”

Nice. Not only did I get to piss off an annoying stranger, but some free stuff as well. Patience is definitely a virtue.

Even when brought on by spite.