July 2, 2004

Words fail me.


US Secretary of State Colin Powell performs a version of the Village People disco hit song 'YMCA' at the conclusion of Asia's largest security meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday July 2, 2004. Powell took to the stage, dressed as a construction worker Friday, with other unidentified US diplomats to deliver their rendition of the 1970's hit song to an audience of Asia Security meeting delegates.

That's what it says, dammit.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:16 PM

This is just sad

Bid for information on lobbyists denied. Wanna know why?

The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating," wrote Thomas McIntyre, chief of the Justice Department's office for information requests.

They're really just not even trying anymore, are they.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:28 AM

I am a lesser person because I cannot do this.

Watch this.

There is absolutely no factual basis to any suggestion that this person is not more awesome than you. Just deal with it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:12 AM

July 1, 2004

Real scientists, please

Sure to be a right-wing headline for the next day or so, a group of political scientists have calculated that Bush will win the election:

Polls may show the presidential race in a dead heat, but for a small band of academics who use scientific formulas to predict elections President Bush is on his way to a sizable win.

That's the conclusion of a handful of political scientists who, with mixed results, have honed the art of election forecasting by devising elaborate mathematical formulas based on key measures of the nation's economic health and the public's political views.

Most of these academics are predicting Bush, bolstered by robust economic growth, will win between 53 and 58 percent of the votes cast for him and his Democratic opponent John Kerry.

Their track record for calling election outcomes months in advance has often been surprisingly accurate. In 1988, the models projected Bush's father, former President George Bush, would win even though Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis enjoyed a double digit poll leads that summer.

And in 1996, one model came within a tenth of a percentage point of Clinton's actual vote share.

Wow, that's pretty good. I guess they're completely accurate.

But one glaring error is what the forecasters are perhaps best remembered for: they predicted in 2000 that Democrat Al Gore would win easily, pegging his total at between 53 and 60 percent of the two-party vote.
In other words, they're remarkably accurate, except for when they're completely wrong. Well, clearly, they have an explanation for that.


The forecasters chalk up the 2000 error to Gore's campaign, which distanced itself from the Clinton record. All the models assume the candidates will run reasonably competent campaigns, said Thomas Holbrook, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
"Reasonably competent campaigns." Jesus Christ, they blame Clinton for everything. Some of you who took middle school science might have just noticed that a bunch of allegedly credible experts just explained that their experiment failed because the results weren't what they expected. If this actually was middle school science class, you might recall that a statment like that usually gets you left back a year.

So, let's recap. Bush will win the election, according to a formula that completely failed the last time it was applied. This is all blamed, however, on Al Gore being incompetent.

I just don't get science.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:36 PM

Okay, this really scares me.


They have the same barber. They have the same tailor. They have the same enthusiasm for watching people get beaten.

Developing...

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:25 PM

If you're at work, stop reading this site... and watching Fox News

In the midst of Fox News' six month of casually referencing Janet Jackson's nipple and how the dastardly CBS/Viacom Liberal Media Empire was corrupting the country's youth at least once every day to meet the quota, they decided that a really necessary graphic to discuss internet porn was a screenshot of an internet porn site. Because, people wouldn't know what internet porn looked like without a visual aid.

Apparently, protecting us from the boobies is still such a crucial issue that it overrides all other necessities in the Fox News censoring department- for example, the fully exposed shot of full coital penetration they decided to air on national television.

We'll be expecting to hear from the conservative right about how they'll never watch Fox News again in about..... (checks watch) never.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:04 PM

Us silly liberals and our over-reacting!

The conservative activist group Focus on Family decided to start circulating Michael Moore's home address.

But remember. Digital brownshirts- wee, ha ha ha. Funny.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:50 PM

June 30, 2004

Well, you learn something new every day

Reader Burt Humburg links to an audio archive of Mark Levine's radio show. Levine was the author of the brief delivered by the Black Congressional Congress during the 2000 Florida election dispute, as shown in the opening scene of Fahrenheit 9/11. Around the 45:00 mark, Levine talks about the reason not a single Democratic Senator signed the brief that would authorize a revote on the Florida electors. I don't necessarily agree with the logic, but it's an explanation that certainly is less damning the saying that 50 Democratic senators were "too timid." (It doesn't forgive most of them for being timid from that day on, either)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:16 PM

Andrew Sullivan is an idiot (includes extra swearing for being so much of a fucking idiot)

Sadly, No! caught Andrew Sullivan this morning creating new and exciting ways to make Fahrenheit 9/11 look like it's not a success. As you know, there were prior attempts with Bowling for Columbine to discredit the film by claiming that it wasn't a documentary. Apparently, since that argument was defeated on the technical grouns of being what film experts refer to as "a steaming load of bullshit," Andrew has jumped to plan B: "okay, it's a documentary, but so is some other random movie I pulled out of my ass for the sole purpose of creating, then winning, an argument with... well, nobody."

JACKASS BEAT FAHRENHEIT: Yep, the movie with all those hot young straight dudes shoving toy cars up their posteriors actually beat out Michael Moore at the box office. F9/11 wasn't the biggest grossing documentary. Jackass was. It was non-fiction, and about as informative as Mr Moore. And a lot more to look at.
As you may recall, we all shared an enjoyable experience last January when Bill O'Reilly decided that his book was a better seller than Hillary Clinton's, because he said so. Andrew Sullivan has decided that he has been, for the purpose of disliking Michael Moore, granted complete authority over the constuct of cinema. Good for him!

I'm suprised that there hasn't been enough credit given to Sullivan here. I mean, to think that, about three years after coming out all across the world, not a single member of the MPAA, Academy of Arts and Sciences, film critic, or Hollywood authority recognized Jackass for the documentary it is. And here, lowly writer Andrew Sullivan discovered this all on his own, unchained by the hinderances of research and basis. Fuck it, the man deserves a special Oscar.

Now, this may be difficult in the face of Sullivan's genius, but I think I have to disagree with him here on how classifying movies works. I don't have a film degree or anything, but-

Oh. Wait. I fucking do.

Gosh, I'll have to rephrase that. I have a film degree, and Andrew Sullivan is a hack blowhard. Guess what, Andy? You don't get to declare a film a documentary because you think a documentary means "filming people doing stuff." You see, it's kind of the definition of "genre." This is kind of one of the fundamentals of filmmaking I learned while at NYU... things mean stuff.

Let's just do a quick check on Rule 12. This is the Academy's guidelines for acceptable classification of "documentary-" in fact, this was the same guideline that anti-Moore wingers tried to claim was proof that Columbine wasn't a documentary.

1. An eligible documentary film is defined as a theatrically released non-fiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects. It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.

2. A film that is primarily a promotional film, a purely technical instructional film or an essentially unfiltered record of a performance will not be considered eligible for consideration for the Documentary awards.

The bolded section is why concert films are not documentaries. Or holding a camera on some guys riding in shopping carts. Or, in layman's terms, why Andrew Sullivan is a fucking idiot.

Much like Bill O'Reilly, I'm sure that Sullivan will go to sleep tonight flush with confidence that he is correct, the winner of an argument with guidelines established solely by him. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for how much work and concern he is projecting to make the point of how insignificant he finds Michael Moore. Yep.

Next week: Andrew Sullivan declares Fahrenheit 9/11 is clearly not the most successful documentary of all time based on the sales reports for the Pam and Tommy Lee sex video. The country shall, as expected, point and laugh at him for several minutes.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:41 PM

June 29, 2004

Point to ponder

Reader James Wartell made an interesting point in an e-mail he sent me. I'd like to extrapolate from what he said.

The Bush '04 website has that video up right now with the Hitler clips. John Kerry never endorsed the video using Hitler. MoveOn once had it, and retracted it and disawoved it when they found out about it.

In other words, between John Kerry, George Bush, and the liberal MoveOn.org, the only group that's actually promoting ads using video footage of Hitler is the Bush campaign.

The Bush campaign doesn't deny this- stating "We're using the video from MoveOn.org to show our supporters the type of vitriolic rhetoric being used by the president's opponents and John Kerry's surrogates."

Now, if not for the slight problem in that Bush's surrogates are the only ones using that vitriolic rhetoric, they might have an issue.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:02 PM

Oh dear lord that's too easy

TBogg notes that, in today's decision by the Supreme Court that the anti-pornography law for internet content is unconstitutional, the usual 5-4 decision swung in favor of protecting pornography not by Sandra Day O'Conner, but by a defection from the conservative side by... that's right... Clarence Thomas.

There are certain times when jokes write themselves. This is one of them.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:05 PM

Smoking Gun on Moore, Pt. 2

Continuing where my previous post on this left off, Ken wrote me back with some even more useful information: mainly, the voter registration form for the State of Michigan that Michael Moore had to fill out to register in that state. You will notice that there is no option for selecting a party. In other words, The Smoking Gun proved that Michael Moore was a registered Democrat... in 1992. Since he's not registered, or at least acts like he's not registered, to vote in that State, being a Democrat there doesn't really affect his statement of being an independent in Michigan.

So, with all due respect to the fine people at The Smoking Gun, at least half of their accusation against Moore is simply incorrect. Any evidence of Moore being the one responsible for being registered in New York as opposed to the Board of Elections would be appreciated to verfiy that they're not incorrect with the other half.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:44 PM

NYU RepreSENT! Wooooo!

Through e-mail and the MoCCA Festival I actually ran into a bunch of old affiliates from NYU this week. Roger J. Thoman was a former co-worker at NYU's Washington Square News, and would make a fine addition to the staff of any periodicals that might be perusing this website. Meanwhile, I also met up one more time with Graham Reznick, who I had film classes with. His senior film, The Woman Who Split Before Dinner, screened along with mine at the First Run Festival, so I can verify that lo, it is good. It would make a fine addition to the film festivals of any festival organizers that might be perusing this website. Finally, I am humorous and sensitive. I would make a fine addition to the romantic life of any Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders that might be perusing this website.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:26 AM

June 28, 2004

A little confused myself

The Smoking Gun has put up Michael Moore's old voting registration for New York, noting that he's apparently also registered in Michigan. I love TSG, and I'm not making any accusations here, but their post on the voting registration is a bit accusatory:

Michael Moore denied that the new documentary represents his de facto endorsement of John Kerry. "I am an Independent," the filmmaker told reporters. "I'm not a member of the Democratic party."

Which is not exactly correct.

New York City Board of Elections records show that Moore, 50, registered to vote in Gotham in 1992, checking off "Democratic" as his party affiliation (below you'll find a copy of his original registration form). He listed his address as the swanky Upper West Side building where he owns a multimillion dollar condominium (Moore's office is on West 57th Street). The filmmaker's New York registration remains active, though he has not voted since an October 2001 Democratic runoff election.

Now here's the good part: Moore is simultaneously registered to vote in Michigan, where registrants aren't even given the option of party affiliation (so he's not an Independent there either). According to Antrim County records, Moore registered last April from his lakefront spread in northern Michigan, where he reportedly splits his time, but has yet to vote in Michigan. He transferred his drivers license to Michigan from New York around the same time, though Moore has a Volkswagen Beetle registered from his Manhattan home.

We're sure this is some kind of innocent mix-up, that Moore forgot to cancel his New York registration before signing up in Michigan. Though, as a New York City voter, TSG can tell you it's hard not to realize you are registered, since a voter's mailbox is regularly bombarded with candidate mail, official voter guides, and Board of Election notices about upcoming elections and reminders about the location of your polling place.

Granted I'm on the opposite side of the right-wingers who are, if they haven't already, preparing to use this as the Item To Pretend To Be Outraged About of the Day, but that really reads like TSG is implying that Moore is committing voter fraud. They're certainly accusing him of lying.

To start- the Michigan thing. TSG puts up the New York voting records, but not anything from Michigan- where they note Moore most recently registered. Michigan doesn't have party selection. So if Moore is most recently registered in a state where you don't classify belonging to a party when registering, then how exactly is Moore not independent? You can re-register specifically to change party affiliation; it doesn't transfer when you move unless you check the box again.

Now, the trickier part: the New York/Michigan thing. I caught this only because it's somewhat related to personal experience. When I attended NYU, and lived in dorms in NYC, I registered to vote in New York. When I moved to a new dorm in September 2000, I registered at the end of August right after moving in. Come the November 2000 election, I was forced to use a paper ballot because my registration was not fully processed. I called up the Board of Elections, who confirmed via computer I was registered since you can file up to 30 days before the election. My old address at my old NYC dorm was still there. In other words, four months after re-registering, I was in the computer as a double registry. TSG's records only go to 2001, so lord knows how fast the Michigan-New York intrastate election system updates their computer.

And that leads to the final swipe at Moore that raised an eyebrow- "Moore forgot to cancel his New York registration before signing up in Michigan?" When I graduated in May of 2003, I re-registered in New Jersey after I moved back home. That was it. You don't call up your old BOE and tell them you moved... the BOE does that. At least New Jersey did it for New York; I would assume Michigan is as complimented by New York as New Jersey is.

I e-mailed TSG about this, again, mind you, not to accuse them of anything, merely to ask if they've got either Moore's Michigan records or an explanation for some of the fallacies in their theory. Who knows, I could be completely wrong here. But amidst all the other crap people want to sling at Moore, this really sounds like a reach. The worst-case scenario here for Moore is that he looks like a guy who doesn't know how to fill out forms correctly- we already established that in the opening scene of Bowling for Columbine.

Update: Reader Ken Hannan from Ann Arbor, Michigan sends this e-mail:

As someone ho has actually moved to Michigan I wanted to note to you that voter registration is just a matter of walking into the Secretary of State and proving your address. As long as you get mail here (and are of age, of course), you can register to vote. I never cancelled my California registration, but the first time I went to vote I did have trouble proving that I was registered in Michigan. It took several hours and personal visits to at least two different offices responsible for overseeing voting procedures, but I was finally able to vote. So I speculate that Michigan might not have the most up to date system for updating voter records. Not that this excuses Mr. Moore from actually getting out and voting, but that's a whole other affair.
For those of you counting, that makes three people who now have experiences with moving to different states and- gasp!- not having their information changed instantly when filing with the efficiency that is a government office.
Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:35 PM

Aforementioned more details

MoCCA Festival- well, to start, I didn't going in expecting massive financial profit, so I'm not too upset that with the table rental fee and the cost of printing all my stuff up I'm actually walking out of it, oh I don't know, a few hundred bucks in the hole. I handed out more copies of the book than I sold, and met a lot of great people. Which, honestly, made the whole event worthwhile.

I took a bunch of photos, and I put a handful of the better ones in the Miscellaneous section.

Thanks to Mikhaela, Ted, Bill, and Neil, who were great company sitting across from me the whole time. My table-buddy was Nate Powell, the ridiculously friendly and talented artist of Tiny Giants. And of course thanks to Tom Tomorrow for showing up unexpectedly and thereby instantly making the day more fun.

I'd also like to point out how great all the guys at Dumbrella are. I knew Andrew Bell from an old internship, but I met the rest of the guys at this event, and aside from being friendly and supportive, they're also really helpful. R. Stevens gave me some great and encouraging advice about not being published- that in some cases, it doesn't really matter depending on how you want to get your work exposed. The Dumbrella guys aren't published in a single paper, and their web presence makes them a force to be reckoned with. (The whole really talented thing helps too) Jon Rosenberg gave me a mini-comic. He's my bestest friend ever now.

And finally, a shout-out to Jake, Cheryl, and all my other... good lord... fans, who actually came to this thing to, among other things, hunt me down and buy crap. The fact that I was actually able to sign a baby's head is a testament to the fact that I am both a lucky man, and that you people will actually do anything I tell you if I put it on this website. Now, go burn things. Burn them all, laddie!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:54 AM

Megadittos, all of you

Apparently, Al Gore made a comment in a speech that the right wing has become a group of "digital brownshirts." Anxious to leap on this in the best mockery possible, a bunch of right-wing sites have now formed a webring declaring themselves "digital brownshirts."

Now, making fun of extremist Nazi analogies, as many readers already know, has sort of been a thing I do for the last few years- hell, my shop sells T-shirts that say "I'm worse than Hitler." I think we've already covered the fact that either side comparing someone to Hitler is just pointless and baseless.

But, to point out a small history lesson: the Sturmabteilung was a selection of Hitler loyalsists who, whenever necessary, would violently and unabashedly defend the actions of their Fuhrer or actions that would benefit him. They were a paramilitary organization- not actually part of the army, but men who proudly wore the brown shirts to signify their support of Hitler's military actions, and their hatred of all who would oppose the Fuhrer.

Therefore, in an attempt to mock Al Gore mentioning this, a group of unabashedly pro-Bush, pro-war members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have now decided to start all displaying the same uniform graphic on their website to attack Al Gore comparing them to a collective of right-wing, unwavering win-at-any-cost intolerants.

To which I can only say: Ummm, okay.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:14 AM

June 27, 2004

MoCCA

I'm back from two endurance-testing days at MoCCA, and I'm completely exhausted. I'll update with stories and pictures soon, but now, I sleep.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:33 PM