January 30, 2004

And now, a plug.

The Mailman just brought me my advance copy of The White House Inc. Employee Handbook: A Staffer's Guide to Success, Profit, and Eternal Salvation Inside George W. Bush's Executive Branch.

It's written by the guys who do the political humor site Whitehouse.org, and it's hilarious. I'm only on page 5 and I had to write a post about how funny this book is. Order your copies now.

I'm not getting any affiliate commisions from hawking the book or anything, just fulfilling the purpose of review copies: giving your review of the book. The book is awesome. Go grab a copy. And a special thanks to Brian Yingling at Plume Books / Penguin Group for mine.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:11 PM

MoveOn

As I mentioned before, I thought CBS' decision to refuse MoveOn's ad during the superbowl wasn't as stupid as their actual excuse for refusing it: in that they didn't take "advocacy advertising." (Commercials, by definition, advocate something, like, you know, buying things)

In fairness, I think this Op-Ed by the MoveOn people gives the best rationale for why it's not just "CBS' right to choose what they want to air and not."

But even though we were willing to pony up the $1.6 million to pay for it, CBS refused to sell us the time, citing what it says is a 50-year-old policy prohibiting ads that take stands on controversial public policy issues.

CBS claims its policy is designed to keep the Citibanks and Microsofts of the world from buying time to tell Americans how to think. "It is designed to prevent those with means to produce and purchase network advertising from having undue influence on 'controversial issues of public importance,' " the network said this week.

Sounds fair, doesn't it? But what it really means is that if McDonald's buys an ad promoting its tasty Big Mac, no one can run an ad that says Big Macs are full of fat and unhealthful. Pfizer can run a spot saying it's "helping people in need" get medicine, but we can't air an ad saying that Pfizer lobbied to weaken the new Medicare bill to prop up drug prices. Halliburton has slick ads that stress its role supporting the troops in Iraq. But CBS would reject an ad that pointed to Halliburton's profiteering.

The fewer issue ads run, the more time there is for ads with mud-wrestling women selling beer and leggy models peddling fast cars. CBS execs think Americans love mindless consumerism more than anything else and that it's their duty to pander to this.

I have no idea if I'm going to watch the Super Bowl or not. It's not an issue of boycotting the MoveOn decision. I just really don't care about the actual game and/or sport and being part of the "I wanna see all the cool ads!" cult just isn't fun anymore.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:53 PM

Dear Mr. Eisner: you are screwed

In a move that unexpected only by certain species of beetle living under mossy rocks on the Galapagos Islands, Pixar has abandoned talks with Disney to extend their movie distribution deal. After 2005, Pixar is going solo.

Having canned most of the animation staff in the past few years, this means that Disney- the only company that ever originated from an animation studio- essentially no longer has an animation studio. (Disney's television series like Kim Possible are boarded and designed in the States but animation is shipped to Korea, hence the difference in style and quality.)

Disney is making deals with other studios, aiming to be basically a distribution center with the benefit of the last name of a man who, according to sources, is spinning in his grave at a velocity capable of affecting the rotation of the earth.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:19 AM

January 29, 2004

Biological changes over time related program activities?

Proving once again that the people who want to change the textbooks are the ones who read them the least.

Anyone find it amazing how the people who insist on God existing without any proof whatsoever demand disclaimers on textbooks about the proof of evolution? I'll support disclaimers on the science books if the bibles can all have "Warning: your results may vary" stickers.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:35 PM

Reminder

Democratic candidate's debate. Tonight. MSNBC. I think at 7:00 PM, check local listings. (Since, you know, the live debate might be on at different times. I'm dumb.)

Providing a reminder since I always needed them and this time I know about it and want to play it forward.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:24 PM

And now, back to America

Case in point for the previous post:

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a Florida law that bars gay men and women from adopting children, maintaining Florida's distinction as the only state that bans gays and lesbians from adopting.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, again showing his willingness to attack gay and lesbian Americans in order to appease his right-wing supporters, declared that he was "pleased" with the ruling.

I've established in previous commentary that my opinion of Jeb Bush is below even that of his brother. It's hard to emphasize that I think the guy is a subhuman monster, because most just take it as hyperbole in the "Bush is an idiot/Ashcroft is pure evil" sense.

But I'm serious about it. Jeb Bush is one of those few cases where I'm not using hyperbole of leftist rhetoric or anything like that. The man takes legitimate delight in adding struggle and torment to the lives of people he thinks are lesser than him.

(story found via Oliver Willis)

Update: More from Chris.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:15 PM

Meanwhile, in the sensible world

While the American government is sitting around discussing ways to prevent gays from having equal rights, Canada's government is... well... getting married.

Has anyone else ever felt as though the border between the U.S. and Canada is like the friggin' boom tube in Superman comics? Believe it or not, the two countries are actually connected to each other.

(Thanks to reader Cael)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:20 AM

January 28, 2004

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:15 AM

The primary and shit.

Well, clearly, Dean's in deep shit. Not super-deep shit, but let's say about up to his waist in shit. As I said last week after Iowa, Dean can't really be written off yet because he's got millions of dollars left to spend, and he can easily grab delegates from some of the Feb. 3rd states. Dean's only chance lies in getting his shit together and winning somewhere big next week like Missouri. He's got less than a prayer of doing that, but shit happens.

Kerry's doing leagues better than Dean right now, but Dean is still Kerry's first, last, and only major problem. Dean can afford to do all kinds of weird shit, wheras Kerry can't. Kerry needs money to keep his momentum and support up. How much? You guessed it, a shitload. Despite being the frontrunner, this puts Kerry maybe in ankle-deep shit. Which is nowhere near the level of deep shit Dean's in, but still... would you want to be ankle-deep in shit? Neither would I.

Edwards is hot shit right now. If there's a clear indicator for anyone, it's that Edwards is just about guaranteed to be the running mate of whoever actually wins the nomination. There's simply no reason for him not to be anymore. The only contender, as yesterday shows, is Clark, but Dean clearly won't ask Clark to be a running mate and Kerry needs the extra Southern-ness more than the extra military background. We all know that Kerry was in the shit.

Lieberman is for shit. "Race for third?" That's just bullshit. The campaign's over. Pretending it's gonna get better south of the Beltway is just insanity. Lieberman's only Southern chance is Florida, and I don't think he'll afford to make it there. The shit hits the fan for Lieberman next week.

Sharpton wants to make a stand in South Carolina next week; odds are he'll get a minimal round of actual support once Clark and Edwards come rolling through. After that Sharpton is shit out of luck.

Kucinich. Really, who gives a shit?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:08 AM

Well, that's a first

I got a warning e-mail from my hosting provider letting me know that I'm pushing the limit for bandwidth this month... luckily the month's got less than 100 hours left to it. There's really no point telling you this as a warning, since telling you when it actually happens will be when you can't, you know, access the site. So I guess you can only take the advance warning that come a day or two from now the site might go down for a day while I negotiate a better bandwidth plan.

Since I plan on doing some redesigning, I guess in the long run this is the best time for the site to go kerplooey for a few days. I might spend some time figuring out where heavy-bandwidth things can be tweaked and such.

Believe it or not, the bulk of the bandwidth isn't even the comics, it's the heavy text of the blog archives. Perhaps switching to weekly archives instead of large monthly archives is a first step. The graphics don't do a huge deal since they're mostly Flash, but here's a random fun fact: the beaver alone consumes over 100 MB a month of bandwidth. This means nothing, I just find it interesting.

The post about Dean vs. Bush's silly antics from a few days ago was what did it; on January 24th I logged over a gigabyte of bandwidth in a 24-hour period. January marked a new record for single-day visits, as well as single-weekend vists, not to mention the highest overall visit for the month since the site went daily in 2001.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:46 AM

January 27, 2004

The other results from Tuesday

So the Oscar nominations are out. Uma got shafted. I thought the entire point of that movie was to emphasize that you're not supposed to screw over Uma Thurman. When will Hollywood learn?

But hey, Miramax, great job there throwing all your support behind Cold Mountain. Great plan. Yep.

Oh, and apart from my snub-Tarantino outrage, this just came to mind as well: what's the deal with Russell Crowe movies? Why are they always nominated for Best Picture/Director, sometimes the actor statue for Crowe, and then ABSOULTEY NOTHING ELSE?

Is Russell Crowe that fucking magical that he literally turns everything he touches to gold? Or does he just have photos of Bruce Valanch? And what could Bruce Valanche actually be doing in which he'd have shame to a degree of not wanting them to be seen?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:46 PM

The results are in!

And it's General Wesley Clark by a huge margin, with .005% of precincts reporting.

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. - Wesley Clark won the initial votes cast Tuesday morning in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary, the first to be counted in a state primary this year.

Clark had been the only major candidate to visit two of the state's smallest hamlets � Dixville Notch and Hart's Location � where residents cast and count their votes in the early minutes of Election Day.

Clark won Dixville with 8 votes. Sen. John Kerry had 3, Sen. John Edwards 2 and Howard Dean and Sen. Joe Lieberman 1 each. Clark received 6 votes in Hart's Location. Kerry had 5, Dean 3 and Edwards 2.

There are no registered Democrats in Dixville Notch, population 33, and just five in Hart's Location, which has 39 residents. But state law allows independents to register with a party at the polling place and vote in its primary. Most of Dixville Notch's 16 independents and Hart's 14 were expected to vote in the Democratic primary.

Clearly, the voters were swayed by the Clark campaign, which promised to give the people of Dixville Notch, among other things, hobbies.

Oh, and by the way: "Dixville Notch?" Wow.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:57 AM

January 26, 2004

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:03 PM

Respec' fo da Beavah

Wampum has me as one of the eight finalists for their "Best Design" award thingie. To be given the opportunity to lose so greatly to Daily Kos is indeed quite an honor.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:42 PM

Right.

Ashcroft: war justified even without WMDs.

Even if weapons of mass destruction are never found in Iraq, the U.S.-led war was justified because it eliminated the threat that Saddam Hussein might again resort to "evil chemistry and evil biology," Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday.

Saddam's willingness to use such weapons was sufficient cause to overthrow his regime, Ashcroft told reporters, alluding to the use of chemical and biological arms against Iraqi Kurds in 1988 and during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Shorter John Ashcroft: Removing Saddam was necessary to guarantee we would never face the risk of him not having WMDs again.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:17 PM

'Course that's just his opinion, blah blah blah

Mark Morford nicely sums up the final stage of Dennis Miller's metamorphosis into self-serving self-mockery:

Miller is a familiar figure from his years on "SNL," HBO and "Monday Night Football," but he will be in a different role on his daily show -- that of a total suckwad right-wing prickmonkey who's just a sad and miserable and crusty shade of his former self. This is the Miller who has appeared at fund-raisers for Bush, ridden with the president on Air Force One, sat in the gallery at last week's State of the Union speech and was even talked about as a Republican senatorial candidate in California. This is the Miller everyone used to think of as cool and articulate and hilariously hyperintelligent and able to dissect relatively complicated issues with deliriously inspiring rants that were able to sub-reference N! ietzsche and Bela Lugosi and chaos theory usually all in one sentence. What a pathetic and moribund loss. What a sad blow to articulate thinking. What bilious and dank forces of right-wing fearmongering and neurosis and tax-break bullshit must've attached themselves like rabid leeches to Miller's seething soul to suck him so far over to the Dark Side. Dennis Miller, the new RushHannityStern of the Right. How sad.
As someone with two pre-"reinvention" Miller books/albums on his shelf, I'll again note how Miller's regression towards "Fair and Balanced" Land is even sadder than usual considering his legitimate intellect. There's nothing more insulting and depressing in this world than someone smart choosing to be an idiot for a paycheck.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:49 PM

Words fail me.

Hello, and welcome to my homepage. My name is Ulrich Haarb�rste and I like to write stories about Roy Orbison being wrapped up in cling-film. If you have written any stories about Roy being completely wrapped in clingfilm please send them to me and I may put them up on the site. If you have a site with stories about other pop stars being wrapped in cling-film mail me and we can exchange links.
I'm so very, very scared. Site here, via reader Sol Chrom.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:53 AM

Oh lord not this again

There was apparently a big fight last night when Atrios and Andrew Sullivan accused each other of cowardice with their weblogging: respectively, that Atrios rmained anonymous while Sullivan didn't have comments on his blog. To get right to the point, both of these accusations are ridiculous.

First, the simpler one: Atrios can do whatever he wants. He's not obligated to reveal his anonymity, and his integrity as a writier isn't affected in any way by it: Eschaton still maintains an archive where any questionable statement by Atrios can be fact-checked, and as Sullivan himself saw last night, the guy is a real, individual person who's willing to publicly defend his views.

Unlike "professional" journalists, who by definition have as their job being journalists, Atrios does his website (and very well, as if it needed to be mentioned) as a hobby. And frankly, between Fox News giving out Tucker Carlson's phone number "as a joke" and right-wing online psychopaths who called themselves "Emperor Dog Poop" or whatever going just to the limit of where you can call the police in terms of threatening people, there's a slew of reasons why Atrios might just not want to be bothered letting a bunch of assholes know where his family lives.

As for the comments, I really hate that this is still an argument. Weblogs aren't required, nor are their owners obligated, to have comments sections on their site. I don't, and I don't plan to, at least for the very forseeable future.

The biggest problem with comments is that you have to monitor them. Frankly, I just don't have the time to do that. Between Pandagon getting comment spam, Eschaton getting its fair share of trolls, and Oliver Willis's select handful of agitators who just want to mention their own websites as much as possible, you need a lot more time than I have to make sure everyone plays nice.

Cringing as I say this- in defense of Sullivan, the idea that everyone's complaining that he doesn't allow comments for them to go onto his own site and piss on his opinions is sort of a silly argument, isn't it? I'm very open in the fact that this is my site. I'm not going to open it up to people who just want to do whatever they want and then call me "fascist" or whatever if I delete their comment for being pointless. It's not worth the effort.

And it's not the self-centered "don't want debate" issue, either. I read all the e-mail I get, and I've posted good e-mails with contrasting opinions. I'm a frequent poster on Metafilter, which by far subjects everything you say to the emotions of the mob.

I'm sure I have opponents, but the lack of many anti-xoverboard e-mails I get kind of proves to me that most people on comments sections really care about their own opinions, not mine. I'm not going to entertain abuse of the one thing on this planet I have complete ownership and control of. Pollak, God Emperor of Pollak World, is a benevolent dictator, but your cries for open forum to ridicule his wisdom are falling upon deaf ears.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:50 AM