October 18, 2003

That's it?

One of the issues I had about the argument over the infamous California initiative to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants was the apparent lack of major discussion about exaclty why people thought it was, you know, bad and stuff.

Forgive me if I was slow to have heard this, but I only found out today reading about the already-begun attempts to repeal the law that the apparent reason of fear was as follows:

Supporters of the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, say it will increase highway safety by requiring illegal immigrants who drive anyway to pass tests and buy insurance.

Critics say it increases the chances of terrorism by granting licenses to people who aren't in this country legally.

That's it? That's what's making people angry about letting illegal immigrants get driver's licenses?

So, let's get this straight: the benefits of licensing illegal immigrants include verifying they are qualified to drive a car, subsequent reduction of road hazards, identification of undocumented individuals for insurance and future taxation purposes, and increased effectiveness of the lower-class rung of the Fifth Largest Economy in the World™.

The hazards of this policy, according to people who dislike immigrants the law, is that it gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants who may be terrorist operatives.

Because, I assume, a license allowing an illegal immigrant the right to drive a car would in now way have any special indication that the driver isn't a citizen, because that would be impossible for the printing machines at the California DMVs to implement.

And man, it would just make terrorists even harder to track if they walked into a government office and had their photo taken and stored in a database along with an address and detail of their age and physical appearance.

But hey, what do I know. I'm just some kid who went to a college where absolutely no one under the age of 21 had a driver's license, because by god the only way you could possibly get one is to legally acquire it through the government, and now the sole exception to that rule has been created all thanks to those dirty, dirty immigrants.

Jesus Christ. Are people really this ignorant?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:57 PM

Wait... this was an option?

Via reader Charles Knoles:

The spirit of US President George W Bush has been trapped in a clay pot and tossed into a river in northern Thailand after being cursed by hundreds of farmers protesting US agriculture policy.

A photograph of the US leader was sealed inside a pot amid black magic mantra chants, then tossed into the Ping River on Friday by demonstrators after they rallied at the US consulate in Chiang Mai, a farm group leader said.

"This is a traditional northern Thai ceremony aimed at keeping his spirit down on the riverbed so he could not come and exploit our natural resources or suppress our (farming) brothers with his superior influence," Weerasak Wan-ubol, an executive of the Northern Farmers Alliance, said today.

The 300 protesters, claiming to represent 20,000 members from seven northern provinces, railed against imminent plans for a free-trade agreement between Thailand and the United States.

And here we were in the United States getting mocked for daring to emphasize our viewpoints during protests with puppets. Be warned though: our invisible sky-magic is stronger than their invisible sky-magic, according to certain U.S. generals.

(Full article here)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:26 PM

October 17, 2003

Why the lists were stupid

A few months back there was this meme with the blogs involving "the 10 best/worst Americans of all time." The concept was, hence my refusal to participate, insanely dumb, as proven by the inevitable act of all the right-wing bloggers naming Ronald Reagan as the greatest American and all the left-wing bloggers naming Rush Limbaugh as the worst, as if either of the two were, you know, even remote shitstains on history or something.

What did bother me was how predictable and nearsighted the lists were, even those of the left-wing bloggers, who on their "best" lists left out countless names I bet no one would have even thought of as truly great and beneficial Americans. Among that list of the unsung was Walter Cronkite, who I have maintained for years is one of the major reasons this country was not intellectually sunk into the ground during the Cold War era.

If you still need convincing, here's some of the latest from Cronkite in an interview about Bill O'Reilly and the Fox News Channel. Sometimes it helps to see just how great the greatest of journalists can be when lined up against the worst of the worst.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:05 AM


Look, I gotta admit, as a leather-clad cartoon character, Ann Coulter's pretty hot.

Listen, you people want Ghost of Hitler T-Shirts. There'll be nothing out of you, got it?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:57 AM

October 16, 2003

Please note improvements on torture technology

Having recieved several e-mails about it now, I'll answer reader wishes and hopefully sometime by next week devise new ways to make the beaver stop dancing.

You people are sick.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:54 PM

And now, a response in the form of brutal honesty.

Knowing from experience in daring to question the actions of Ralph Nader in 2000, I recieved the much-expected "How Dare You Be Mean To Dennis Kucinich" e-mail from Progressives For Kucinich yesterday. In the interest of emphasizing my complete lack of any personal hatred or moral disagreement with Kuncinich, I'm reprinting the e-mail in full, including the links to pro-Kucinich websites which everyone is more than welcome to go look at.

It's always about Electability, isn't it? Of course they're going to say that the lefty is "unelectable". Instead of taking acount all the clothespin votes (got this term from a textbook - sorry if it sounds weird, because it does to me) that most Democrats are willing to take to boot Bush, they simply tout the most charismatic candidate as the only "electable" one. First, it was Dean. Now, it's Clark, and not only that, Dean seems a bit too outspoken to be electable! But Ralph - even AL SHARPTON - being more electable that Dennis? That's new. That aside, most people have pretty much IGNORED Kucinich's sheer power to grab votes. After all, he hails from a swing district! Kucinich's issue-based campaigning seems to have been effective in grabbing votes and propelling him to high offices. Such as, say, Congressman, or maybe even President in the future.


Not only that, he has already gathered a lot of pretty heavy support. He's already built up a national grassroots movement (of which I am a part), which was pretty active last time I checked some two weeks ago (Other stuff takes up most of my schedule), and I'm willing to bet still is.

Just look at this place and see for yourself: http://www.wewantkucinich.com/

Having said that, I, along with my fellow Kucinich supporters, believe that Dennis Kucinich is VERY damn well electable. He has not only the virtue of being right on the issues, but also the ability to rally the populace for votes. We believe that THIS is the man who will replace George W. Bush in 2004.

Barnaby Yeh
MD Progressives for Kucinich

That done, a response in the form of brutal honesty:

This is ridiculous.

First off, I'll get this part right out of the way: I am NOT, repeat NOT, going to start e-mail or web-based pissing contests over specific presidential candidates. Unlike many others whose views I read and respect, I do not have a candidate of choice... yet. I have opinions about all of them; this week I delivered mine about Dennis Kucinich. Anyone interested in sending me any e-mails with glowing proxy reports about the qualities of the candidate they prefer can save time and stop typing them now. I'm not going to read them, post them, or reply to them. The petty bitching of countless Deanies and Clarkies over at Kos' site is one of the reasons I refuse to install a comments section here. I think a lot of you people don't realize how thin the line is between "supportive of a candidate" and "really fucking annoying."

Second, the MDPfK are wrong with their first paragraph. I do NOT think Kucinich is unelectable becasue he is the leftmost candidate. I think Kucinich is unelectable because he is hyper-passive, unmotivating, unfriendly, non-telegenic, and completely devoid of understanding of the basics of a national election campaign. And frankly, that's a hell of a lot more significant than how liberal you are.

Kucinich is "damn well electable" in the sense that my mailman is damn well electable- that being he is over the age of 35 and a natural-born citizen of the United States. Other than that, Dennis Kucinich has had over six months now to make any form of a modest attempt at improvement in his electability. On this, he has failed.

Bob Graham recently dropped out stating the blatantly obvious: he cannot win. He has no support and little funding. This is the same case for Kucinich. He has no support, trailing below in most key states even that of Ralph Nader three years ago. He currently has less than two million dollars to somehow get this message across. In other words, he's not going to get his message across.

In comparison, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark emboldened a party base and, by whatever methods, increased their constituency and funding. Kucinich has not done this anywhere near the levels of those two. These two are important because unlike the "will he?" and "he will!" waverings of John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, respectively, Dean and Clark shared with Kucinich the element of diddly-squat name recognition.

Contrary to MDPfK's assertions, I never said "Sharpton and Mosely-Braun are more electable than Kucinich;" I said that unlike Kucinich, the Sharpton and Mosely-Braun campaigns actually succeed at delivering their message. Kucinich is unelectable not because of his views- most of which I support- but because his campaign has done absolutely nothing to make me care about them.

In addition to the pre-controlled campaigns of Kerry, Lieberman, and in some respect Gephardt, Dean and Clark have in fact created and maintained improving campaigns. No other candidates have done this. The fact that the former five have is to me the greatest sign that is not the fault of the voters for not choosing to like Dennis Kucinich. It is the fault of Dennis Kucinich, and moreover his campaign staff. NOT Howard Dean, who has succeeded, and might I add well beyond anyone's expectations, at delivering and garnering support for his message.

"99.999% of the voters just don't get it!" is a piss-poor campaign slogan, and for Kucinich's supporters to deliver that tone will yield the same results that it yielded for Ralph Nader, only with numbers too low to be remembered afterwards.

This is NOT 2000 where the Nader argument was structured around the concept that the voters have no choice other than the moderate and mushy Al Gore.

I did not vote for Ralph Nader in Novermber 2000. I voted for Al Gore and I do not regret doing so. Likewise, I defended and continue to defend Ralph Nader for his choice to run for president in 2000. It is not Nader's fault that Al Gore lost; it is Al Gore's. As such I am not, as suggested by the linked pro-Kucinich cartoon, going to cast condescending blame on Howard Dean for daring to run a better, more effiecient, more convincing, and more likeable campaign than Denis Kucinich.

Like Ralph Nader, I support anyone's intentions to run, even if, like Sharpton and Mosely-Braun, they are aware of their inability to actually win. Their purpose is to deliver a message and contribute ideas to the debate. Sharpton and Mosely-Braun have brought issues into the debate with a combination of charisma on camera and rationality in their message.

The campaigns of Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, and independent organizations like MoveOn.org have shown the country, and the media itself, that there is a huge and growing constituency for change in this country. People are not lagging in the ether of nothingness for their generic expected Al Gore candidate to enter the race and represent such a vast range of non-Right-Wing Republican voters. They are proving that people want to see change, and want to have a candidate they identify with. For the Kucinich campaign to see this and not only refuse to embrace it, but outright blame it for its own failure in this election is, as I said in the beginning, ridiculous.

Short of a miraculous change of tone and method of delivery, the Kucinich message has driven straight into a brick wall. There is no groundswell of support in comparison to that for several other candidates. There is no surge in financial contributions. There is no revolutionary endorsement of viewpoints. The best way for Dennis Kucinich to deliver his message is to drop out, solidify his congressional re-election campaign, and maintain a position where he can actually attempt to enforce some of his beliefs. Quitting now and pledging to work with a candidate who has actually managed to get more than 3% support will be a greater influence for his ideas that they are now as well.

With either of those strategies, Dennis Kucinich has my full support. But he does not have my support anymore as a viable candidate for president because with only a year to go before the election he has proven he no longer is one. It's time for him to stop pretending he has a chance of winning and time to start working to strengthen the overall platform of a candidate who does.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:44 PM


Why I love O-Dub:

I don't care too much, but I do want to see the rat bastard Yankees go down in flames. Not because I like the Red Sox, but because the Yanks are the Dallas Cowboys of baseball. Which means they win a lot and they represent all that is evil.
I don't think I personally hate the Yankees themselves... I think it's more a direct hatred towards Yankees fans, who after four years living in New York I have found to be utterly friggin' intolerable around every time this year.

This pretty much concludes the annual allotment of discussion about sports here on xoverboard.com.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:01 AM

October 15, 2003


It's the Dennis Kucinich Rally for Victory! Enjoy. (Flash 6 required)

I just really needed to get off my butt and start doing some more Flash stuff, even if it's just tiny little gags for cartoons. I'll have a normal print one next week, probably.

And to stave off any upcoming attacks, I like Dennis Kucinich. I really do. In fact, among all the 2004 candidates he's honestly the person I agree with the most. He got my vote in the first MoveOn primary. But the problem is that Kucinich has done everything in his power to invalidate even the slightest notion that he's electable.

As Kos once noted on his site, the end of the MSNBC debate featured a hardball question attempt where each candidate was asked what policy they would have that voters wouldn't necessarily favor. Kucinich, reaching beyond his competitors, started listing them. If that's not a desire to drive a campaign straight into a brick wall, I don't know what is.

Kucinich is a good man who makes Ralph Nader look promising on a national campaign level. He needs to stop wasting money on a message that, unlike Mosely-Braun and Sharpton, he fails miserably at even modestly delivering in public forums, and commit himself to Congress so he can maintain an actual position of helping the country.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:03 AM

October 14, 2003

Hawaiian pizza will not be served

It's an option never considered, but it's crazy enough to work, folks. Maybe, just maybe, the crisis in Israel will be solved if everyone just got together and had a groovy beach party.

(via blah3)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:43 AM

October 13, 2003

Set, Match- Big Green

Via the Free D:

Remember that Anti-Drug commercial way back during the Super Bowl? You know the one that everyone hated and mocked for months. A 16-year-old girl finds out she's pregnant while a soft-spoken narrator asserts that marijuana led to her pregnancy.

Keeping to the usual trend of sensationalist, scare-tactic Anti-Drug commercials, it turns out that they misrepresented that too. Marijuana actually LOWERS the chances of pregnancy, as reported in this Reuters article. So theoretically, I suppose that smoking marijuana would be a great idea if you DON'T want a kid.

I'm sure the government will get right on those retraction notices.

I feel obligated to remind everyone, of course, that this "marijuana impairs your judgement" ad was run during the Superbowl, during a commercial break which also ran two seperate ads for that ultimate bastion of judgement-securing product we humans refer to as "beer." Oh, and I think someone did a strip about it too.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:33 PM

Subtlety, Texas-style

The Washington Post writes on the recent approval of the Texas GOP's redistricting plan, including an important bit about a Texas Congressman's office having been found circulating a memo that pretty much completely verifies that the Texas Republicans are deliberately aiming to fix the state's districts. No, seriously: the guy who wrote it, Joby Fortson, actually included in the memo the line "This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood." Golly, that certainly doesn't make the plan immoral and likely completely illegal at all, does it.

A copy of the memo's text can be found here. This space wishes the best of luck to Mr. Fortson, who will likely be entering the job market sometime tomorrow morning.

(Both links via Mefi user "pineapple.")

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:42 PM

Oh dear lord we're in trouble

Monkeys control machines with their minds.

You fucking heard me.

Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions have been harnessed to move a mechanical object.

In the new experiments, monkeys with wires running from their brains to a robotic arm were able to use their thoughts to make the arm perform tasks. But before long, the scientists said, they will upgrade the implants so the monkeys can transmit their mental commands to machines wirelessly.

The device relies on tiny electrodes, each one resembling a wire thinner than a human hair. After removing patches of skull from two monkeys to expose the outer surface of their brains, Nicolelis and his colleagues stuck 96 of those tiny wires about a millimeter deep in one monkey's brain and 320 of them in the other animal's brain.

Excuse me, I have to go run screaming into the street now.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:07 AM

This point is so good my head hurts.

Hesoid once again states something so brilliantly logical that you pretty much feel like a jackass for not considering it yourself:

According to the Bush administration, we should just ignore all of the bombings, sabotage and killings going on in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

We are building schools, restoring infrastructure, cleaning up the streets, etc.

What if, on Septemebr 11, 2001...someone had told us:

"Hey...things are not so bad in the United States. You have the world's largest economy. The most powerful military in the world. A thriving Democrcy, clean water, a good health system. Stop focusing on one TINY part of the United States [The New York/Washington D.C./Pennsylvania triangle], where a measly 3000 people were killed...and tens of billions of dollars in destruction was caused... by terrorist attacks using hijacked commercial aircraft."
What would have been the reaction of the Bush administration? What would have been YOUR reaction?

The next time some dimwit argues that things are great in Iraq, and we focus too much on the negative...remind them of 9/11. Ask them if THEY are too focused on the "negative" when they wax poetical and get maundlin about that event.

Then tell them to shut the hell up.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:25 AM

October 12, 2003

Weekend mailbag (Vol. 2)

Well, now that I'm done verbally tearing a person a new one for ridiculously insignificant and trivial reasons that likely only reflect myself as an asshole, remaining e-mails and interesting links. (I feel strangely refreshed, though.)

AGLoomis (no name identified) actually has an explanation for the ambiguous "Why?" post of the tortured kitten:

Apparently, making a tardy student stand out in the hall with a bucket of water in each hand is a traditional punishment in Japanese schools. It's frequently seen in anime and manga, regardless of whether it still is (or, indeed, ever actually was) done in real life. Now you know, and knowing, as I like to say, is half the Mandatory Educational Content Segment (TM). At the very least, you should be confused on a higher level and about more important things.
AGLoomis, when I do that I become filled with pent-up rage and take it out on people who don't like Kill Bill. But thank you for the explanation, as we somewhat now know what that horse was doing and why she spent that last year in college.

Jesse Beller asks a good question about Bono's inadvertent freeing of the F-word to public airwaves:

my question in this whole bono/fcc deal (and maybe this is race baiting on my part, but still...) is would dr. dre or 50 cent (or even eminem, for that matter) have gotten the same leeway from the fcc?
The answer, in this writer's opinion, is of course no freakin' way. White people started boycotting Pepsi because a scary black man said bad things before endorsing it. To be fair, though, remember that Jennifer Lopez got attacked too for using the N-word in a video- an issue of racism that on a rare occasion was completely devoid of caucasian involvement. The point is the double-standard that these cases prove: the notion of better advances for minorites exist because minorities are still placed under higher scrutiny... even if we don't know when we're doing it. That's my final thought for today. I'm Jerry Springer. Jesus.

LOADS of people sent me the link to Sci-Fi writers on Arnold's victory. So here you go, stop sending me this.

And I'm not going to post it yet because it's huge, needs text formatting, and maybe its own page, but I've gotta acknowledge reader "Deviant Ollam," who simply can NOT be using his real name there because if he did he'd have no time to write e-mails considering the number of women he would have to sexually service, for sending me a complete transcript of our beloved Bill O'Reilly throwing a tantrum on NPR. I'll do my best to put the whole thing up sometime soon.

Finally, once again I'm publicly thanking Tom Gevaert for the Chickenhawk playing cards. Because, despite the evidence I seem to supply, I'm actually a very nice person.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:20 PM

Weekend mailbag (Vol. 1)

There's a theme here, obviously, but this e-mail from Jonah Katz will elucidate:

I actually just came back from seeing a certain movie and signed on thinking, "Could someone on my small handful of blogs I check have been overwhelmed by that movie so much to post about it on its opening day?" Lo and behold, there was your post, articulating in all caps my current sentiments towards Kill Bill.

I had just seen Pulp Fiction for only the second time a few weeks ago, so I think I might have been anticipating this movie more than others, but wow. Kill Bill gave me such a confidently cool feeling that the lines of dialogue were resonating in my head as I drove home, and I still felt cool enough to drop an e-mail to you finally when before I thought I wouldn't bother. I'm sure you get tons of e-mails.

Not a ton, Jonah, but a few. And I point it out because in the eighteen months I've been doing daily writings on this website, amidst all the random right-wing lunatic rants and angered disagreements on abortion, Affirmative Action, the war, etc., making a post about Kill Bill resulted in the first time I ever recieved an e-mail where I was literally furious at the person who wrote it.

A few people wrote e-mails about my "review" in which I dared to express my actual feelings about the movie. I thought that the crucial points of my opinion were made clear from the get go. I shall hence repeat them for guaranteed clarity:

  1. Kill Bill is the greatest movie I have ever seen in my life.

  2. My support of this position is so great that I half-jokingly implied those who disliked the movie should be kicked in the head.

  3. The greatness of the movie is so profound that, to me, to suggest that one should not immediately get up and go see the movie should the opportunity exist suffers a level of basic intelligence and motor skills considered sub-normal for a healthy human being at said stage of physical and mental development.

So since most of you addressed this post with at least a precursory understanding of some of those points, most of you understand that it's really not necessary to expect, there never being one on this site before, a detailed review of Kill Bill. Most of you understood immediately that the message of sale was, no more, no less, go see the fucking movie as soon as possible.

So maybe that this was, as confirmed by readers, somewhat clear is why I was so annoyed by the e-mail from the reader that took not just offense, but outright indignation that I didn't write a review of the movie that met his satisfaction.

I'm not going to print the e-mail, but I swear to god it's a masterpiece of pretentiousness. It's the first time I ever recieved reader feedback where I actually didn't give a shit about keeping this person as a reader; I just wanted to tell them off. I got it on Friday, I had to sleep on it. Twice. So maybe it's just me over-reacting, but Jesus that's a long cooling-off period.

The e-mail assaulted my reaction to the movie, claimed I had little right to express joy for a movie I "technically have only seen half of," and that suggesting this movie was better than classics of early film and original Samurai cinema was, I shit you not here, folks, an insult to my representation of NYU Film School.

This finished with a comment indicating- oh hell with it, I'll reprint this part verbatim:

Please do not write back saying that post was only a joke and should not have been taken seriously. If it was a joke you should/would have written something in a normal tone after the "joke" part was done, such as "Seriously, though, it is a great film and you should all go see it." But you didn't, you took the route of the 13 year old pants-creaming fan boy and wrote it all in caps as if you want to shout that the Second Coming of Christ has taken place on celluloid, indicating that you were more serious than joking.
Now I'm really sorry for any readers who felt that, like for example Harry Knowles' site, I failed to truly write a detailed and thought-provoking review of a movie, because, you know, that's my job. The irony of this is twofold: first, Harry Knowles, for a rare occasion, did in fact write a fantastic review of the film, which I agree with almost entirely. Second, the entire basis of this e-mail is apparently to accuse me of not expressing my true feelings on Kill Bill; as stated above I feel I did just that. So what this really means, at least in my angered perspective, is that the reader failed to see that, and rather than ask outright accused me of not even possibly having that opinion, and that I was, literally, forbidden by his e-mail code of laws to use my actual fucking opinion as an excuse. Hence, my open response:

Hello, reader. Thank you for your thoughful e-mail complete with instructions on how to think about your e-mail. Please don't tell me how to analyze movies, please don't tell me how I'm "allowed" to respond to others' opinions, and please don't ever tell me how to write on my own goddamn weblog. But yes, it's more than ten or twenty minutes later and my original opinion still stands. If that doesn't meet your satisfaction please accept my sincere apologies. Other than that, I would recommend checking your own e-mails before sending them when you begin them by accusing me of "writing something ten minutes after seeing it." It might make people less angry.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:58 PM