Saturday, August 31, 2002

 
Well, shit.

Look at this here, I done went out and started drawing again.

Figure I might as well announce it now so I don't blindside you all later in the week: XQUZYPHYR & Overboard returns to the Washington Square News with a new comic this Wednesday, September 4. All comics shall, as always, be posted online roughly around the times of printing. Plans are iffy as to a comic the week of 9/11, but regardless, the standard weekly run will commence Wednesday, September 18. Somewhere along the line, there'll be a site redesign. I hope.

As you were.
 

   

 
God to determine whether or not he exists today

Today, on the sunny paintball fields of Joliet, Illinois, loyal believers in the Federation shall take to the field to defend their territory against the Klingon armies led by the devilish radio personality Mancow.

Really.

As the article explains, as part of this charity event, a mass paintball game will be held with a goofy Star Trek theme, complete with an appearance by William Shatner himself, as the de facto leader of the Federation players. And "Mancow" Muller, otherwise know as the world's slimiest piece of shit, will be heading the Klingon players.

In other words, several hundred people tomorrow will, albeit with paintballs, have the means, motive, and opportunity. to shoot Mancow repeatedly.

I will repeat that, just to make sure everyone else claps their hands along with me.

Mancow might get shot tomorrow. Repeatedly. With high-speed balls of paint. In the face. And genitals.

God, who as we all know by now is an avid reader of this website, hence why I am now both legally blind and permanently impotent, has officially decided to declare to the world whether or not he exists in this plane of reality in the only appropriate way he can.

So tomorrow, listen on the news so hear if a massive ice storm erupts over the wind-swept paintball fields of Joliet. Because if there is a God, and he truly does love us, then we shall hear on the news of this glorious day when the winds shift and the temperature drops just long enough to somehow freeze paintballs- not enough, mind you, to reach terminal velocity- but just enough to rupture a scrotum through a protective cup.




Someone here really, really needs a girlfriend.

 

   

Friday, August 30, 2002

 
Well, gosh, that only took 13 years.

In a rare move today for a Stay of Execution request, the three most left-leaning Supreme Court Justices publicly stated their opposition to executing teenagers who committed murder earlier than the age of 18.

In Wednesday's public dissent, Stevens said he opposed executions of minor killers when the court last considered the question in 1989, and would do so again. Ginsburg and Breyer did not go as far. They said only that the court should revisit the question considering the June decision on retarded killers.

The dissents follow the court's landmark ruling this year abolishing executions of the mentally retarded. The court said it is unconstitutionally cruel to execute those who may be mentally incapable of fully understanding their situation or unable to help their lawyers.

Death penalty opponents predicted the same reasoning could be applied to the execution of those too young to fully understand their crimes, and Stevens himself has predicted that the question will be the next death penalty issue the court decides.

It is impossible to know when that reconsideration might come. In the meantime, there is nothing to stop executions such as Patterson's unless state legislatures or governors step in, lawyers said.

The statement on retardation was the most significant among several rulings in the court's most recent term that re-examined the mechanics of capital punishment without addressing the constitutionality of the practice as a whole.

''The U.S. Supreme Court is now taking a hard second look at capital punishment, which is not to say at the end of the day the court is going to abolish it,'' said Michael Mello, a Vermont Law School professor specializing in the death penalty.
 

   

Thursday, August 29, 2002

 
Third Update: Given its own post beacuse it's big enough to merit. Tamsen Schwartz has thoughtfuly provided a link to Fortune Brands, the conglomerate who owns Jim Beam along with Master Lock, Cobra, Swingline Staplers Inc., Titleist, and several other product lines so ridiculously unconnected to one another it boggles the mind as to what the CEO of this company is thinking, as if he's collecting companies like Monopoly properties hoping to have as many different colors as possible to trade later for an actually useful set of something. I mean, Jesus. They make padlocks, golf balls, staplers, and bourbon. What the fuck?

Anthony J. Diaz and Clarkson Hine are the VPs of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications, respectively. Contact info is as follows:

Fortune Brands, Inc.
300 Tower Parkway
Lincolnshire, IL 60069

phone: (847) 484-4400
e-mail: generalinquiries@fortunebrands.com

As is the case of all protests, recommendations and suggestions can not and will not be made as to the content of your complaints. However, please note that in most cases, postal mail and phone calls are much more effective than e-mail, and a rational tone indicating a boycott of the product is much more beneficial than wanton verbal assaults on the switchboard operators. Please do your best to avoid getting me arrested for promoting urinary terrorism.
 

   

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

 
Speaking of oppressive labor.

And here I was complaining about my problems. Here's an actual horrendous labor conflict, in which the Jim Bean manufacturing plant is now menacingly (and, according to labor regulators, illegally) preventing employees from using the bathroom on their own free will. Highlights of the article:

Under a policy implemented in October, line workers at the Jim Beam Brands Co. plant may use the restroom only during lunch and two other scheduled daily breaks, one before lunch and one after. They also are allowed one unscheduled toilet break per day, and can be disciplined for taking more, starting with a warning and escalating to dismissal after six incidents.

The union said 45 workers have been disciplined, some workers have begun wearing protective undergarments and others have urinated on themselves because they were afraid to leave the line.

Jo Anne Kelley, the union local's president, has worked at the Jim Beam plant for 34 years. She said that the policy is degrading and that company officials have told some workers that they should ''practice'' going to the bathroom every two hours at home on the weekends to put themselves on a schedule.

Well, isn't that nice.

I gave this my usual thirty seconds of analysis and came up with this suggestion for the workers, and I think I should share it with all you readers, because if you buy Jim Bean it reflects on you too. You all work in a manufacturing plant, right?

So. I'm going to assume you're on the bottling lines as well? And you need to relieve yourselves?

Thaaaaaat's right.

You heard me. Jim Bean won't let you piss? Piss in the bottles. Stat sending an inappropriate quantity of very skunky beers down the assembly line, and I think Jim Bean will have a helluva lot more to worry about than the "laziness" of their workers. Call it urban terrorism, call it civil disobedience, call it whatever you want. I call it "fuck you Jim Bean, we're all gonna urinate into your product until we don't have to wear diapers to the job anymore.

Now, some of you, primarily those who drink Jim Bean, and may be worried that this idea might lead you into. say. drinking another person's urine, to this I say two things: first, how would you know? Have you ever really drank piss before? And two: They're making employees wear diapers. DIAPERS! And you think drinking urine is dehumanizing? These people are going to be wearing it.

So I say, Jim Bean bottlers, go for it. And if you work at a separate bottling plant, fuck 'em. Piss in the bottles there too. Let 'em know that the customers are gonna get pissed on unless the employees stop getting shit on.

Update: Yes, thank you to all who pointed out I've misspelled the name of Jim Beam in the post more times than I care to go back and correct. So let's just leave it at "you all know what I'm talking about."

Second Update: At the request of readers not wanting to support Jim Beam (or potentially drink urine) can find a list of major bourbon brands and distilleries here. I can't find the contact info so you can yell at Jim Beam directly, but if anyone has that send it to me and I'll post it.
 

   

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

 
Work, work, work, work, work

I'm going to apologize again for the lack of posting as compared to the frequency you found over the summer. The difference being, of course, that this summer I had this slight case of "not being able to find a job and therefore having nothing to do but sit at the computer and write about stuff eight or nine hours a day." umm. -itis, or something.

Now, being only two days into back at NYU, I'm overwhelmed. A week from tomorrow I have to have finished and presented for my first Animation Production class the storyboards for a film that I have to like enough to enjoy spending the next eight months drawing and animating entirely on my own. In addition, starting in about two weeks the comics come back, which, don't get me wrong, the idea of drawing again making me squeal with glee, but also with fright over how busy I'm gonna be this semester.

Couple that with the fact that I'll be pulling two 9-to-5s a week at the Viacom building in Times Square all this semester for my Web Design internship with Nickelodeon, along with my hopes of getting a course-grader job to earn a little bit of cash on the side (since the Nick.com gig is an unpaid internship) and you can how I've suddenly discovered there's not as many hours in the day as there were when, oh say, I didn't have to get up until 10 AM to make Stove Top Stuffing for breakfast and watch CNN in my underwear while my mom, who was gracious enough to feed me, clothe me, give me a roof over my head for the summer and oh yeah, I guess spring me from her loins too, went to work. If it wasn't for my 18-year old brother actually having been even less productive than me over the summer, I might have actually looked bad.

Oh, and yes, along with the upcoming redesign to the site, I'll add all the stuff I mentioned earlier into the archives, and as the year progresses I'll try to keep you all informed about said Animation Production film as well. I'm not going to describe anything that isn't definitive yet, but I can say that there's a 90% chance it will involve monkeys.
 

   

Monday, August 26, 2002

 
Stars and bars

This is completely goddamned ridiculous. Turns out the United States has over 6.6 million people in prision, an average of one out of every 32 Americans, more than any other nation, with an increase of over two million people since 1990. That's right. In twelve years, we've put an extra two million people in prison.

And now, a few passages of blatant obviousness:

Experts noted the recent trend of arrests declined for murder, rape and other violent crimes. Many of those on probation were convicted of using illegal drugs or driving while intoxicated, the report showed.

Texas had more adults under correctional supervision than any other state, 755,100. California was second with 704,900. Texas also had the most adults on probation, 443,684, followed by California at 350,768.

Whites accounted for 55 percent of those on probation, while blacks made up 31 percent, statistics show. On the other hand, 46 percent of those incarcerated were black and 36 percent were white.

I think we can all guess the handful of conclusions this entails. More as it develops from the land of the (96%) free.
 

   

Friday, August 23, 2002

 
Ah, so it was four hundred people drag racing. Of course.

No, really Mom, I'm packing. I swear. Just checked in to repost an informative e-mail from Stephen Bates, who whall now provide us all with an update on the mass K-Mart arrests we discussed earlier this week.

The Houston Chronicle on 8/20 revised the number to "only" 278 arrested... oh, well, that's completely different; that makes it OK, right? The story about the 10-year-old apparently is genuine; she was separated from her father in the melee. So, apparently, are the stories of the kids who had receipts from Kmart; they and their receipts appeared prominently on the local news.

Much good it will do them: as of the last I heard, they all still have to go to court. A lot of people pled guilty just to avoid spending another night or a dozen or a hundred nights in jail awaiting some sort of court action... Houston makes it notoriously difficult to assert one's innocence. The rest have arranged or will arrange bail, a couple hundred bucks minimum. A lot of cars were towed, another couple hundred bucks more in towing and storage fees for the owners.

The local debate is about whether this is an isolated incident... one bad cop mistakenly put in charge of a drag racing bust that found no one drag racing, but decided to arrest a bunch of people anyway... or a systemic problem needing better civilian oversight of police. Having seen a few things in my 54 years here, I tend to believe the latter: there are far worse police departments than HPD, but HPD needs a good looking at. In fairness, a lot of cops are genuinely horrified by the whole business.

There's another issue no one seems to be addressing: the response in letters to the editor at the Chronicle. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the people who wrote seem to think it's just great these kids were rounded up and taken downtown. I know that kind of person is more likely than most to write a letter, but it's still mighty scary.

I am an ACLU member, and every passing day reinforces my need to support civil liberties organizations. With that disclosure, I'd like to ask... can you give me one good reason the kids and their parents should NOT sue the assets of the City of Houston, and maybe a couple of individual cops as well? Those arrested are victims, and the Constitution gives us a right to petition for a redress of grievances. These people should be made whole for all the money they spent getting themselves out of jail, their cars out of storage and their charges dropped by the courts. Expensive for the City of Houston, and hence for me? Yep. What of it? It's more important that the right thing is done.

By the way... for any who say to themselves, "only in Texas," they need to take a good long look at the ACLU web site.
 

   

Thursday, August 22, 2002

 
A. Johnson's Big Move

As always, I'm aware that I always seem to start writing more as soon as I say this, but nevertheless:

Posts have a 60-75% chance of being rather light for the next few days as packing and preparation begins for the Sunday trip back to NYU for the Fall 2002 semester. Updates will soon follow in regards to the exact date that (OH SWEET LORD YES, he hopes them to say) comics will resume publication, and you might even, if you're really good, start to notice the occasional, oh I don't know, annual site redesign. I also, as a combo obligation to myself and my school paper, have to start putting time aside to write an article about the upcoming anniversary. Yeah, that one. Stay tuned.
 

   

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

 
Barr-done.

Do not let the door hit you on the ass on the way out, asshole.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go out and hug random people.
 

   

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

 
Gosh, now where have I heard this before

Many of the 60 people who packed the small court room shouted "God is great!" in the Hausa dialect, as Lawal wept.

Moments later, a nearly full House gathered to recite the pledge, with some shouting "under God." They followed with a sustained standing ovation...

Oh gosh, I'm sorry, was that two seperate articles? Silly me.

Update: Big ups to Mike Skallas for actually grabbing this before me. Yes, I just said "big ups."
 

   

Monday, August 19, 2002

 
Impromptu ACLU and civil lawyer's convention to commence... right now.

According to this article in the Houston Chronicle, Houston police decided to arrest 425 people for trespassing at a local 24-hour K-mart and SOnic Burger. In addition to the towing of cars, police arrests and detainments included high school students, parents, and a 10-year old girl. In addition, those arrested and incarcerated (in the case of the 10-year old, seperated from her father who she was with at the time and place in Juvinile Detention- go ahead, read that again) filed multiple claims of abuse from over-tight handcuffs and refusal to accept any logical excuses, including, as the articel points out, the arrest for "tresspassing" of a student with a reciept of the K-Mart he had just exited.

I'd like to rephrase this, because I think the situation bears it.

Four hundred and twenty-five people, as young as ten years old, were arrested for tresspassing- in the parking lot of a store that was still open at the time of the arrests- some of whom were in fact dining at the adjacent restaurant and/or bearing legal proof that they were in fact using the store to which the parking lot was attributed, and had their cars towed and wrists injured from incompetent police procdure.

Look, I'm not all excited and wet about the idea of the legal system being brought to another slowdown because of the massive level of lawsuits this story will likely contain in the final chapter, whenever that's written- but I would love to hear anyone try to give me a spin about this story that doesn't condone an influx of civil lawyers to the area at such a high rate that the region actually gains another Congressman. I think the Houston Chronicle is aware of this as well... I mean, how often do you see a news story with a detailed roadmap of how to get to the area?
 

   

 
Forbidden love in a place of unwanted war

...[I]n a packed, smoky nightclub on the edge of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim district, the gay communities from both sides still bridge the growing divide, breaking down racial and political barriers as Jews and Arabs defy traditional stereotypes and threats of suicide bombers.

Laila's remains the only nightclub where Israeli Jews clap enthusiastically side by side with Palestinian Arabs. Does the fact that these revelers are gay, lesbian or bisexual have anything to do with their mutual tolerance? Absolutely.

The rest of the story is here, and I suggest you all read it to reflect on how utterly absurd the Middle East conflict is that people from both sides of the most ultra-conservative religious and violent bastions of zealotry are coming together in bars that represent a lifestyle that in various sectors of the Islamic religon can get you shunned, if not outright executed... to relax.
 

   

Saturday, August 17, 2002

 
Hillary Rosen needs to, Chuck Jones-style, be tied to a chair and force-fed a large stick of lit dynamite

Not that I'm going to suddenly jump on the whiny broke college student oh-look-at-us-we're-revolutionaries-because-we-steal-music-online bandwagon, but this latest move by the RIAA is completely fucking ridiculous.

...[F]or a final assault on human dignity, the Recording Industry Ass. of America has sued for the right to determine which Web sites you and I will be permitted to visit.

Taking a page from the book of totalitarian regimes, the media industry is suing major ISPs, demanding that the foundations of a Chinese-style Great Firewall be laid to protect their precious copyrights, Reuters reports.

At issue is the Listen4ever site, which the RIAA whinges is beyond their influence. According to the wire service, the industry hasn't been able to figure out who owns the offending site, and is stymied in its efforts to take action against it.

It is therefore necessary for the thieving, rotten little people of the United States to have their Internet access regulated.

In other words, the RIAA is pushing a lawsuit that, if and when it likely succeeds, would essentially create a precedent for any major company to order the international censorship of websites that it determines as a legal threat. We can all sit here and enjoy thinking of numerous doomsday scenarios about what this can lead to: perhaps Kraft can sue to have me blocked for making disparaging comments about Kool-Whip on the grounds that I'm unfairly removing potential sales of their highly radiactive space-age polymer ice cream topping-slash-insect repellant.

Again, I'm not saying the opposition is the most brilliant strategy (though I will mention something in the next paragraph) but the idea that any company can activate some kind of NAFTA Chapter 11-style attack on a web site to remove it from existing because they legally disapprove of it is beyond ridiculous, it's downright obscene.

That said, just as a random thought: there's this whole thing called "fair-use," right? So technically, one can't put up an entire song on theri website that's owned by the RIAA, but they can put up, oh, say a 30-second clip. So why not make a whole bunch of sites that each archive various 30-second clips of different songs, then someone just design a program to connect all the different clips together? If any readers actually know of this idea being implemented, or attempted to be implemented, let me know. It's just sort of a random thought I'm having. This, of course, in no way means I endorse it. Nope. No siree.
 

   

Friday, August 16, 2002

 
Now that's some good... that's a horrible line and I'm not going to finish it.

The older articles from 2-3 years ago long gone, few know of the recurring gag XQUZYPHYR used to have about his spontaneous urges to run out and hug, for no reason, and of all people, veteran Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. There was really no explanation- it's not like I found every single one of his articles of the utmost quality, though I did find most of them that way. Somewhere in the Midwest a 50-something grandfather is thinking about the concept of a random desire to hug Richard Cohen and laughing his ass off. For all you young 'uns, I guess you're as confused about this as I am. I have, for the record, no control over the psychological urges of my own cartoons characters. Really.

But I digress. There's something about this specific man writing a scathing attack on Ann Coulter. It's like watching someone's grandpa beat the shit out of a guy in a bar with a broken bottle. Or that scene in Happy Gilmore where Bob Barker just mops the floor with Adam Sandler's ass. Richard Cohen, a man who you can't even imagine ever uttered a swear word in his life, in a calm and elder statesmanly tone rips the little skank a new one. If I may:

What explains their [conservatives'] rage and, while I am asking questions, could you think of another commentator -- especially one on the left -- who could have written what Coulter did about Muslims and go on to bestsellerdom? Being conservative is like being criminally insane: You can't be held accountable.

Oh. Oh, yes. Feel it, bitch. Feel the burn from someone who knows how to fucking write political commentary.

I don't know what the hell is wrong with me today. I'm going to lie down for a while, perhaps the rest of the weekend. Dick, if you're ever in Jersey, stop by Teaneck for a much-desired hug from a few psychopaths in black masks and trenchcoats.
 

   

 
God, Hollywood just chews you up and spits you out, doesn't it

The nation mourns as the announcement is made official from the man himself: TV's Wil Wheaton to be cut from the next "Star Trak" film.

Yes, it's a travesty. And yes, for some reason I can't say his name without saying "TV's Wil Wheaton." It just... it just sounds so right.
 

   

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

   

 
And now, a short visit to Blatantly Fucking Obvious, Wisconsin

Nearly half of the young girls surveyed in Wisconsin said they would quit going to Planned Parenthood if their parents had to be told they wanted prescribed contraceptives, according to a study.

The study suggested that parental notification could lead to more teen pregnancies, abortions and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Congress and 10 states, including Wisconsin, have considered legislation requiring that parents be informed if their children are seeking prescribed contraceptives, the study noted.

The study found 47 percent said they would stop using all sexual health care services at Planned Parenthood if their parents were notified they were seeking birth control pills or devices.

Ninety-nine percent of the girls said they would have unprotected sex or use condoms if they couldn't get prescribed contraceptives, the study found.

Okay, so did everyone read that? Have we all decided we really don't need to keep screaming this louder? Attention stupid parents: it's called talking to your children. It actually can be done, and it makes them a lot more receptive to sharing their feelings with you than legally mandating their informing you of all their actions. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, Mader and Pader, but your daughter? She wants to have sex. And as this study is showing, she's going to try to do it, and she's going to be interested in doing it, whether or not you approve, and- get this- whether or not you try to put guard towers at the Women's Clinic.

Am I saying it's great that, as the article states, girls as young as 12 are having sex behind their parents' backs? Of course not, with a good combination of "I think it's too young" and "who the hell am I to say anyone's too young to do anything," but I am downright thrilled to hear that girls as young as 12 are actually on their own decision without the influence of their parents actually realizing that Planned Parenthood is a smart idea. And not that the survey says this or anything, but one would believe that most young girls getting birth control behind their parents' backs are girls that have parents who would forbid them somehow from going... and to me all that means is 47 percent of the girls in Wisconsin are a hell of a lot smarter than their parents.
 

   

 
A bit of discord in the Ministry of Propoganda

A sample of two "updated" posters from this site, in which the author (and I think some contributors) have painstakenly altered the text of classic World War II-era propoganda signs. I know this isn't an original concept, but frankly it's worth pointing out due to the level of brilliance, not to mention high quality in the posters. I swear, if these things looked any more real I'd be sking them where I could order one.

Update: Rendering unto Ceaser's that which is Ceaser's, I should point out that the poster site is the work of one Micah Ian Wright, artist, writer, children's animator, and admirer of Olmec heads. Seriously. Go play on his happy happy fun fun site.
 

   

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

 
Preparing the wallpaper for that special place in hell

Several former Enron Corp. insiders who earned a combined $25 million in the year before the company crashed are asking for millions more in severance pay.

The list of executives includes the wife of former chief executive Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Carter, and former vice chairman Mark Frevert, who has asked for more than $6 million in severance pay. Carter, who was Enron's corporate secretary before marrying Skilling in March, wants another $875,000.

Frevert, who was made vice chairman after Skilling's shock departure on Aug. 14, 2001, was paid $17.3 million in the year before Enron crashed. He claims that he is owed $6.6 million in severance, a calculation that was based in part on his performance bonus, court records show.

Carter earned $477,500 in the year before the crash. John Sherriff, the former head of Enron Europe, earned $4.3 million in the same period and has asked for $1.6 million more.

I'd like to point out that yes, I am aware that a man who made $17.3 million the year before his company spiraled into the worst bankrupcy ever is now claiming he deserves... let me check that again... six and a half million dollars. Based on... that's right... his performance. In his job.

Which he destroyed.

Frevert could not be reached for comment at the time of this posting, as his entire face had mysteriously melted in a slow claymation dissolve effect much like that scene in Radiers of the Lost Ark.
 

   

Monday, August 12, 2002

 
Umm... run that one by me again?

From KOBTV, a New Mexico NBC affiliate:

State GOP chairman John Dendahl wooed the Green Party with an offer of potential "six-figure" political support from an unidentified source if the Greens ran candidates in two congressional races.

He says he was asked by someone in Washington, DC, to offer the campaign contributions, but Dendahl declined to identify that individual -- other than to say he can't say the source had no Republican connection. But Dendahl does say he doesn't regard it as a Republican deal or GOP money.

Well, I'm glad he doesn't call it that. It's funny, because I and almost anyone I know would call an attempt to give someone over a hundred thousand dollars to do something that would, if made public, be deemed unquestionably immoral a bribe.

Nevertheless, this is sort of a philosophical question: will sites like MWO use a story like this to attack the Greens or to attack the GOP? The story refutes a direct link to the Republican Party in regards to the bribe, yet the story itself is about the Greens refuting the belief that they allow the GOP to aid them in defeating Democrats. I myself am a Democrat, but even I can realize that this is one of those great little events where the rabid pro-DNC groups just cannot have it both ways.
 

   

 
And now for something completely agreeable.

Monty Python's Terry Jones on the War on TerrorismT:

It is well known that the best way of picking out terrorists is to fly 30,000ft above the capital city of any state that harbours them and drop bombs - preferably cluster bombs. It is conceivable that the bombing of Dublin might have provoked some sort of protest, even if just from James Joyce fans, and there is at least some likelihood of increased anti-British sentiment in what remained of the city and thus a rise in the numbers of potential terrorists. But this, in itself, would have justified the tactic of bombing them in the first place. We would have nipped them in the bud, so to speak. I hope you follow the argument.

Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, we could not have afforded to be complacent. We would have had to turn our attention to those states which had supported and funded the IRA terrorists through all these years. The main provider of funds was, of course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem. Where to bomb in America? It's a big place and it's by no means certain that a small country like the UK could afford enough bombs to do the whole job.

The full article here.
 

   

 
And this is how we'll all start the work week.

Giant brown cloud of death threatens millions in Asia. Really.

A two-mile-thick cloud of pollution shrouding southern Asia is threatening the lives of millions of people in the region and could have an impact much further afield, according to a U.N.-sponsored study.

It said the cloud, a toxic cocktail of ash, acids, aerosols and other particles, was damaging agriculture and changing rainfall patterns across the region which stretches from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka.

The report [made on the effects] calculated that the cloud -- 80 percent of which was man-made -- could cut rainfall over northwest Pakistan, Afghanistan, western China and western central Asia by up to 40 percent.

Apart from drastically altering rainfall patterns, the cloud was also making the rain acid, damaging crops and trees, and threatening hundreds of thousands of people with respiratory disease.

I'm going back to bed now. Thank you.

 

   

Saturday, August 10, 2002

 
Flame me if you want, just as long as there's no smoke with it

I took a little bit of time to decide whether or not I agreed with this before coming to my final decision, but after hearing the voice of the opposition I had no choice but to declare my ultimate position on this matter:

Good. It's about damned time.

I'll go on more about this, and I'm sure I'm going to get both positive and negative feedback about an issue so volatile that it actually has it's own Nazi anaolgy, but for now I just came home from hanging out with my friends, and I have to get up early in the morning to, among other things, wash the stink of cigarettes out of the clothing I wore tonight.
 

   

Thursday, August 08, 2002

 
Bad. Bad asshole. Stop it. Stop being an asshole. Bad.

Rush Limbagh proposed on his show today that, okay, just a moment, let me get this right: that "the upcoming memorial for 9/11 in New York City would send the wrong message - one of weakness and vulnerability." Therefore, he suggests, the proper way to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks would be to... of course- bomb Iraq into the ground.

Actual quotes from the Limbaugh show, according to an article from World Net Daily:

"I think it would be fabulous ... I think a 9-11 act on Saddam ... you talk about getting this country up!"

"Wouldn't it be a great thing if people of New York are going through their candlelight vigils and reading the names and so forth and all that stuff and we are 'pow!' piling into Saddam? And on the way over we accidentally drop a couple bombs by mistake in the sand deserts of Saudi Arabia?"

"All this talk about Iraq is gonna culminate in [military] action, I think you should know it is gonna happen, it's just a question of when; 9-11 would be a good date."

"Everybody and their uncle is begging us not to go into Iraq - the little Europeans, the little West Germans, the Saudis ... While everybody wants regime change, they don't have the guts to do it. So if it's gonna happen, we're gonna have to be the ones to do it."

Oh my holy lord. This is the most horrible man alive. Yes, I know, I'm not actually all suprised like I've never heard Limbaugh before, but... Jesus Christ on a Segway, that's just obscene. It's like a dog who just shit on your carpet, you just want to rub his face in the shit and say "No! Bad!"

(Oh, yeah: thanks to A Small Victory for the story link)
 

   

 
I'd like to drop loads and loads of napalm on Florida

The election, insane Cubans, rampant handgun abuse, and Jeb. With the obvious exception of my Junior Year roommate, there pretty much doesn't seem to be any reason for me to want to prevent anyone from setting off a large set of explosives that somehow magically break most of Florida off from the mainland of the U.S. and let it somehow sail away down south, or perhaps just a few hundred feet until it sinks, stupid lawmakers and all screaming as they ask God what have they done to bring such wrath while he says "oh, sorry, I can't hear you, I'm watching these god-damned hysterical clay people and I'm so fucking high right now! Buddha! Pass me the bong!"

Apparently, once again the state legislature has come up with this miraculous conclusion that women, by being able to generate another living being from within the depths of their own body- an act that if anything should be considered women's unflinching and indisputable proof that they have complete supreme power over anything with a penis- actually have less rights than anyone else because of that power. Awwww.

Am I acting bitter? Yes, because as mentioned umpteen times before, there is nothing in this world that pisses me off more than the government deciding that they have the right to pitch fences and guard towers inside a woman's uterus. And yet Florida has, all on it's own, declared that it is vitally important women are legally required to declare in the local newspaper that they're giving a child up for adoption.

Adoption is an institution which was originally created for the purpose of allowing mothers who don't want to (or can't) abort their fetuses, and who don't want to leave the baby in a dumpster, to give the children they feel they can't take care of to a place that can guarantee they will be brought up safe and healthy (theoretically, but adoption agencies themselves are a different rant altogether.) Amidst all the differences in procedure, there was one that I had always thought was crucial: the anonymity of the mother. The right for the child to have new, adoptive parents that would care for it, and the right of the birth mother to privately and securely go on with her life without the possible pain and anguish of having to deal with it thirty years down the line. Essentially, Florida is making a law that requires the adoption to not only be declared public to the entire circulation of the local paper, but completely eliminates the entire concept of anonymity. It doesn't seem to be hard for a child to know what their birthday is. What's the purpose of sealed adoption records when this law means any adoptee can simply run through the local papers of their birth date and do process of elimination?

Even beyond the brutal attacks on privacy this law is beyond stupid. Much as how fanatical right-wing religious psychos try to videotape and photograph women entering abortion clinics to dissuade them from abortions, the public revealing of adoption procedures will dissuade women from putting their babies up for adoption. And what then? Does the state of Florida really think emotionally forcing a girl to keep her unwanted baby will magically make her love it more? Preposterous. I am not even angry, but downright frightened, at the worst-case scenarios here. We're not talking anymore about girls fearful of having abortions or not. We're talking about already-born babies with mothers suddenly realizing they're scared for their lives to publicize their desire to get rid of the baby. Do you want me to LIST possible ways someone could snap and come up with other ways to get rid of one? I sure as hell don't.

This is a law that will increase the demand for abortion, complicate the concepts of adoption, and scar mothers for their entire lives with the fear that an adoption is made public, and that down the road their abandoned children will come looking for them. I understand that many adopted people want to find their birth parents some day; I also know for a fact that many parents who gave their children up for adoption don't. And I know that's another complicated issue in itself, but I've always seen it as this: you don't have the right to potentially emotionally scar another person because you think it might heal your own emotional scar. And the openness of this law makes that scenario a lot more possible.

So here's the only suggestion I can give the people who want to oppose this modern-day Scarlet Letter while the lawsuits against it are still pending: shut the system down. I don't see how it costs that much to fill out an ad in your local paper. Start a fund, collect some money, and start taking out notices. Loads of them. Enough to fill two or three pages. And lie.

That's right. Make up tons and tons of false adoption notices. A unique combination of fake notices that sound logically real mixed with ones that are blatantly fake but grippingly nasty ("father unknown; likely local Florida politician who was really horny that night after passing a ridiculous law stripping women of their privacy rights") should be enough to start a plan that kills laws in the second-easiest way: rendering it completely irrelevant.
 

   

 
Oh dear God. Seriously.

They're back. All hail the upcoming rise in Christian Evangilism. And, of course, pot smoking.
 

   

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

 
Hah-hah! [/Nelson]

Bob Barr accidentally misfires gun, almost kills self. Yes, it's goddamned hilarious because it's Bob Barr.

An antique .38-caliber pistol accidentally discharged as it was being handled by Rep. Bob Barr during a reception in his honor. The bullet hit a glass door, and no one was hurt.

Widener said "one of us hit the trigger" just as he gave Barr the gun during Friday's reception at Widener's home.

"Nobody was in any danger. We were handling it safely, except that it was loaded," said Widener, an independent lobbyist. (Ed. Note: What?!?) "I am thankful Bob was careful to always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction."

Through a spokesman, Barr said: "This accident only underscores the importance of proven gun safety measures, especially when owning and handling antique firearms."

Right Bob, right. That's what this incident underscores.
 

   

 
Just wondering if that Frappucino tastes like shit in your mouth yet

Nearly two years ago, in October 2000, Samantha Buck of Astoria, Oregon bought a small coffee shop in downtown Astoria and named it Sam Buck's- after herself.

One year later, Starbucks Coffee® opened a Starbucks store inside Fred Meyers, five miles away. Starbucks® lawyers then served Samantha Buck with a cease and desist order: she must stop using her own name on her store, because they claimed it was causing confusion for Starbucks customers who might be led to believe they were patronizing a Starbucks® store when in fact, they were going into Sam Bucks. They offered her $500 for the expense of removing her name from her store.

Sam said no thank you, and soon thereafter, Starbucks filed a lawsuit. She must rename her store or an injunction will be filed, and assuming a properly corporate-friendly judge, will likely be issued and enforced. If Sam Buck continues to use her name on her store, she can be found in contempt of court, and can be jailed.

Starbucks® of course, is under the impression that they own not only the name Starbucks®-which they plagiarized from Herman Melville's Moby Dick without attribution- but also anything that sounds vaguely like Starbucks.

You read that right. Starbucks is suing another coffee shop that existed over a year before their local store did on the grounds that there might be name confusion. Now, I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me that if a store is already in place, and a year later a new store arives with a similar name, wouldn't it be the new store that's violating the name recognition of the other one?

The full story is here, and just to clarify: statistically, the odds of the little guy winning in a situation like this isn't dependent on really how much money is involved, but mostly how much media coverage it gets. So my advice, as I have given in similar format on many occasions, applies to Ms. Buck as well: get on the phone and talk to any reporter who is willing to talk to you about this.
 

   

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

 
"Gentlemen. This lawsuit could seriously affect our ability to make people suffer at an even greater pace!"

The U.S. has moved to block a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. for alleged human-rights abuses at its Indonesian natural-gas operations, claiming the court action could hurt relations with Jakarta and undermine the war on terrorism.

The State Department said the action alleging the oil company knew of human- rights abuses by the Indonesian military guarding its facilities in Aceh province "could impair cooperation with the U.S. across the full spectrum of diplomatic initiatives, including counterterrorism."

The International Labor Rights Fund filed the suit with the U.S. district court in Washington last year on behalf of 11 villagers from Aceh who contend that they were victims of murder, torture, kidnapping and rape by the military unit guarding Exxon Mobil's gas field. Exxon Mobil has denied any involvement with alleged abuses.

In a letter to the district court, which was published on the plaintiff's Web Site, the State Department said the lawsuit would "risk a seriously adverse impact on significant interests of the United States, including interests related directly to the ongoing struggle against international terrorism."

As both the passage above and the full article it's from will point out, you'll notice that at no point has the U.S. actually stated their desire to block the lawsuit on the grounds that the allegations stated in it are in any way false. Only Exxon made that claim, which of course being the opposite of the allegations fits the definition of a civil lawsuit.

So, in other words, the U.S. officially has no concern whatsoever for the potential violation of human rights in the world... after all, a lawsuit that reveals them might disturb the delicate steps the U.S. is taking to make the war on terrorism legal- of which its components at various points included suspension of Habeus Corpus, military tribunals, disruption of free speech rights, loss of multiple privacy rights, and the ability to torture people to gather information.
 

   

 
Wait, run that plan by me again.

According to the latest Washington Post story, there is a rising of open debate about just how nice and friendly Saudi Arabia is to us in the first place.

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," said the briefing prepared by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corp. analyst. A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.

Now, as many have discussed before, this is an argument that does nothing but raise the question as to why it hasn't been addressed widely earlier on in the War on TerrorismT, let alone discussed in regards to just how obvious this allegation is. I mean, here we are starving and impoverishing Iraq for twelve years or so while the Saudis refuse to provide some of the most basic pieces of information we demand Saddam provides lest we bomb his civilians into the ground.

But what interested me was this little quote a bit later in the article:

The report concludes by linking regime change in Iraq to altering Saudi behavior. This view, popular among some neoconservative thinkers, is that once a U.S. invasion has removed Hussein from power, a friendly successor regime would become a major exporter of oil to the West. That oil would diminish U.S. dependence on Saudi energy exports, and so -- in this view -- permit the U.S. government finally to confront the House of Saud for supporting terrorism.

"The road to the entire Middle East goes through Baghdad," said the administration official, who is hawkish on Iraq. "Once you have a democratic regime in Iraq, like the ones we helped establish in Germany and Japan after World War II, there are a lot of possibilities."

Now, I'm not the smartest of individuals, I mean, I go to one of them fancy East-coast Liberal Universities and all, but does that sound slightly curious to anyone else?

"Once a U.S. invasion has removed Hussein from power." wait. That means accorsing to the views of many conservative anti-terror hawks, Iraq is the apparent staging point for taking over even more nations. The translated statement you just read is basically "once we take over Iraq and install leaders who are more inclined to give us cheap oil, we don't need to pretend we like Saudi Arabia any more. Golly! Now we can invade everyone else and take their oil too! Yee-haw!"

Now, granted the board of the organization that released this suggestive report includes both Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle, two men who basically destroy the credibility of any feasible political movement just by association with it, but frankly I can't avoid pointing out anything that actually says something like "linking regime change in Iraq to altering Saudi behavior" without mentioning how unbelievably frightening a concept like that sounds.

Update: Yes, I'm aware that Tom and I actually wrote almost the same idea about the same article using the exact same passages, within 15 minutes of each other. I'm honored to know I think like him. Now if only I could draw as well.
 

   

Monday, August 05, 2002

 
Well, this is cute

Apparently the new 'net trend is going to be web sites pushing fake services that are just believable enough to make Americans doubt the actual intelligence of their own consumer nation. And hey, I think I'm fine with making people think like that.

Hot on the heels of that site that tries to convince you the government has a record of every driver's license photo ever made, comes Tadoos, the site that promises payments of over several hundred dollars for having a corporate logo inked onto your body.

Past the fact that, without even flinching, one can tell this is obviously fake- (case in point, a web site promoting advances corporate sponsorship without once mentioning any companies involved, posing as a company that uses a "personal" web domain, a lack of example photos, no explanation of how they can verify you had a tattoo put on you, and of course, to a lesser degree, their privacy policy that admits in the end their site is a sham. Okay, that's an easy one-) yet I think it does serve it's purpose of asking how much longer it will be until something like this actually happens. I mean, right now, as cartoonist Keith Knight once brilliantly pointed out, we're forced to pay Nike and Tommy Hilfiger to wear advertisements for their products... how soon until some movie or music star with "coolness factor" brand logo worship just decided to take the next step and carve it into their skin?

Update: Thanks to all who pointed out that this has all pretty much happened already. Several readers have given me different links to people on eBay who are trying to sell their heads as advertising space.

In addition, thanks to the reader IDed only as "Dark Angel" for the fun fact that the Nike logo is, depressingly, the world's most-requested tattoo design. If by any chance the reader is (or at least looks like) Jessica Alba, please repond with your home address so I can come over and thank you personally.
 

   

Friday, August 02, 2002

 
This is officially the most awesome thing ever

Monkeys rescued an orphaned member of their troop from an Indian police station after its mother was shot dead.

The man was arrested by police for shooting a protected species, but the baby wouldn't let go of its dead mother.

Police took the body to their station, where the baby continued to suckle its mother.

Officers allowed it to stay the night, but around 30 monkeys laid siege to the station - gathering outside and on the roof.

Officers were surprised when some monkeys managed to sneak into the station and quietly take the baby away with them.

Later hundreds of local people carried the body of the monkey in a procession, chanting the name of Hindu monkey god Hanuman, before burying it on the banks of a river.

The link to entire story is here, but I think that just about covers it. There's so much awesome in one story that I can't even handle it. For god's sake, people, monkeys. Breaking into police stations. To rescue their babies.

Holy shit!
 

   

 
This just gets better and better

An update on the crazy antics of Katherine Harris, the woman who would do no good for the people during the 2000 election. It now seems that Harris mistakenly forgot to resign as part of the Florida law requirements to run for Congress, an act that would of course disqualify one's eligibility to run but I'm sure we can all guess that's just not going to happen.

Is anyone else staggered at how quickly she's decided to change her mind about strict election laws? Does anyone else think it's wrong that I want to drag her from a car and beat the shit out of her?

Update: Yes I corrected the typo now stop writing me about it you all know what I meant.
 

   

 
What's that? You thought we lived in a decent intelligent society? What are you, some goddamn fucking retard?

Say, here's a quick question. Say you lived in a neighborhood where three girls were sitting on a set of stairs outside their apartment building when all of a sudden a speeding van skipped the curb and crashed into them.

As you saw the van pinning the girls against the wreckage, what of the following actions would you and, for this example, let's say about four of your friends, do in this situation:

  1. Immediately run to the nearest phone and dial 911

  2. Urge your friends to help you try to pull back the wreckage to help the wounded girls

  3. Pull the driver and passenger of the van out from their vehicle and beat them to death

Well, as you can probably guess by which choice has a link in it, one of these actually happened. And it's yet again one of those heartwarming little common-folk stories that reminds all of us that we are a fucking pathetic excuse for an example of a term we have obviously bastardized in "civilized society."

That's right. As a result of an accidental albeit stupid incident that led to the injury of three girls, the two men who caused the accident were simply put forth to the bloodthirsty mob. As of this writing, no evidence has yet been weighed if the men tried to flee the scene, if they were driving drunk, if they were distracted. According to the article, as they pleaded for their lives, a group of men, cheering the violence on, smashed in the two drivers' heads with bricks until they died.

And as the article is also already pointing out, investigations are being made into the drivers' prior arrest record, because as we all know, that's relevant.

I am very sorry that this accident occurs, and my sympathy goes out to the three girls (who as of this writing are all alive and in stable condition) and their families. But this isn't a case about them anymore. The fact is, any case that could have involved them related to the two drivers, and they're both dead now. So with all due respect to the girls, the local police resources should be devoted not to filing accident reports, but finding and arresting a group of men who are all guilty of homicide.

And if you think this story is the finest example of how sad this country is, we haven't even gotten to the irony of what the legal outcome will be. Odds are not everyone in the group will be caught; odds are they'll plead temporary insanity and get at most a few meager years for killing two people with blunt weapons. And whenever the trial is over and they leave the courtroom with the trademarked "what's wrong, why are we even here, it's not like we did anything normal Americans wouldn't do" faces, odds are they won't even reflect that even if not guilty, they were just given the basic human decency of a trial that they decided someone else didn't need, even for a senseless accident.
 

   

Thursday, August 01, 2002

 
What?

"In the way they're kind of writing it right now out of the Senate Finance Committee, some people could spend their entire five years on welfare - there's a five-year work requirement - going to college. Now, that's not my view of helping people become independent, and it's certainly not my view of understanding the importance of work and helping people achieve the dignity necessary so they can live a free life, free from government control."

-George Bush, education president and husband of a teacher and librarian

More on how pound-you-head-into-the-table this is here.
 

   

 
Yes! Of course it should!

As expected, the brilliant Mark Morford at the San Francisco Gate addresses the recent story about the actions against the "big four" fast-food chains with his latest piece "Should America Sue McDonald's?"

And yet, the other part of you is probably rather embarrassed, I mean really, years and years of eating such garbage and when, really, does common sense kick in? And how dumb to you have to be? And whatever happened to personal responsibility? And what, these people are living in a cave without TV or newspapers? And has it really come to this?

The fast food titans, to be sure, are guilty as sin, depraved as Jenna Bush at a Sigma Pi party, the GOP-inbred cattle factories and industrial dairy and poultry farms and even the potato/French Fry industries all culpable and complicit and snickering at all the heart disease and epidemic obesity and rapidly declining quality of life of its duped customers. Hey, that's why they market so aggressively to children.

As meanwhile they cripple the USDA and kill every new attempt to regulate their business practices and oversee their nauseating farming and slaughterhouse conditions, working incredibly hard to positively spin all that negative PR that says their food is dangerous and can be seriously debilitating.

In other words, the elitist route is to argue that the Caesar Barbers of the world are just litigious idiots because no one's exactly holding a gun to his head to make him eat all those Whoppers, and he should know better because everyone knows fast food is pure fatty crap, when in fact the chains spend billions to dupe the working-class masses into believing it isn't.

I've addressed the same issue before, because as I said then, this idea is the doomsday excuse of every Dennis Miller/Howard Stern/Bill O'Reilly -style "Oh look at how funny I am because I've found the simplest answer to any problem" public figure when the previous tobacco lawsuits came up for the same reason.

Is it ridiculous that someone is suing tobacco companies for getting cancer? Is it ridiculous that someone is suing McDonald's for getting fat? Of course it is! No one's going to argue against that! When did some magical book somewhere say that every lawsuit filed, every complaint publicized, had to make perfect sense? The world doesn't make perfect sense. That's why massive corporations can market food products that are deliberately high in calories and saturated fat and shrug it off as stupidity of the consumers they hype it to. That's why the people who make Kool-Aid and cheese spread also make the most deadly and poisonous chemicals in the world, while drugs nowhere near as dangerous or addictive are banned as "gateway drugs." As George Carlin once said, "We live in a nation where nation where alcohol and tobacco kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, so we make a ban on artificial sweeteners because a rat died." As famously repeated from MAD Magazine, "we live in a nation where lemonade is made from artificial ingredients and furniture polish is made from real lemons."

So is the lawsuit ridiculous? Yes. That doesn't mean it's without merit. The O.J. Simpson trial was beyond ridiculous, that doesn't mean a guy wasn't on trial for murder. Likewise, aware or not, McDonald's is hurting millions of people a year.

The irony, of course, is just like the tobacco suit: the reason they're being sued isn't because of the plaintiff's case, it's because of the defense. McDonald's is being sued for the defense we already knew they would give, and would rally the "average American" around: that this is a stupid fat man who should have known better.

So, let's just get this perfectly clear. It's only the individual American's responsibility to not be an idiot. It's never the corporation's. That's what actually passes as a defense in these lawsuits. And the government's worried about what we're all smoking.

I have arguments over again with friends about drug laws: some are libertarians, and some, as I'll admit what with being a college student and all, just really want to do lots of drugs. Despite what my very liberal leanings might imply, I have never argued for full legalization of drugs. I think that yes, in a perfect world all drugs should be legal, and prostitution should be legal (to give better health access, and frankly better wages, for sex workers) and that people should have the legal right to do whatever they want to do to themselves and so on.

But the truth is that isn't going to work. at least not yet. Americans have not yet adapted to the most important aspect of the good society. There is a principle that can be found in philosophical writing as far back as Dewey and Emerson, though obviously not in this exact form. But for modern day purposes, here's a rough translation:

As a member of a society which succeeds only by community values, it is the obligation of every individual to not be a goddamned idiot.

And that basically sums it up. We have laws making drugs illegal because, honestly, people are goddamned idiots. And when they get together and form corporations, they become exponentially stupider. If cocaine was made legal tomorrow, then next week it would be sold on the store shelves and marketed to kids. Would we argue then that it's the consumer's fault? Or is the thought already in your mind about how outrageous and irresponsible it would be for a company to say "hey, great business concept, guys. Let's convince kids. to smoke crack!"

In a perfect world, we wouldn't nee drug laws. But in a perfect world we wouldn't need safety regulations, or OSHA, or the FDA, or the ATF, or any number of other regulatory agencies. But we do, and we have countless corporations like McDonald's and KFC and Big Tobacco doing everything in their power to render these agencies useless without actually rendering the need for them useless. That's why they're at fault, and that's why they deserve to be taken for every penny they have.

It's Marlboro's fault and McDonalds' fault that they allowed this to go on so long, raising the stakes, subduing the evidence, over and over again, until the prospect of a lawsuit made the mouths of your typical ambulance-chaser lawyer's mouth water more than their own products ever could. If they spent a fraction of their funds trying to teach Americans to be more responsible instead of feeding off the inherent irresponsibility of today's American, then I'd have a lot more sympathy. The food would probably be a hell of a lot healthier too.