February 3, 2007

Question for the blogging braintrust

Tech help request for all you Movable Type users out there: is there a simple way to add a custom drop-down menu when writing a post that will correspond with placing an image in the post? (For example, selecting "cat" puts a picture of a cat in a pre-determined spot, selection "albatross" does that one, etc.) I tried installing CustomFields and it appears to have failed miserably.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:39 AM

February 2, 2007

Priceless, Pt. 2

The front page of the most-visited website on earth, 4:54 PM EST.

Transmitting rage

Update: 5:12 PM EST: Well, that went away right quick, didn't it?

Thanks, by the way to everyone sending in e-mails saying they're glad to hear they're not alone in what they think about all this. I've been linked to by a ridiculous amount of blogs this week and the resulting increase in e-mails is making it hard to respond to all of them, so please accept my apologies if I can't respond or if I can only respond with a simple "thanks!"

Also, since three people have already asked, feel free to steal the "Free Peter" image from a few posts down, as long as you don't hotlink it from my own site.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:53 PM

I get letters

Fan of the site Christian Tate writes in with the subject "From the desk of Mayor Thomas Menino:"

I hope you are abducted by radical muslims and your beheading is broadcast worldwide via YouTube, you fucking twit.


Just between you and me, I don't think he really works for the Mayor.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:06 AM

February 1, 2007

With the exact level of respect it deserves

Brilliance. Absolute brilliance.

Perfect hair forever!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:31 PM

Thomas Menino is an incompetent coward

Everyone bow your heads and pretend to be serious

I have never lived in Boston, and I have never supported a Republican for any elected office. But I would send money to a Republican opponent against Boston Mayor Tom Menino just to get him out of office if he actually dares to do something as cowardly and abusive-of-power as this.

A furious Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed yesterday to throw the book at the masterminds behind a guerrilla marketing campaign gone amok that plunged the city into bomb-scare pandemonium and blew nearly $1 million in police overtime and other costs.

As city and state attorneys laid groundwork for criminal charges and lawsuits, cops seized 27-year-old Arlington multimedia artist Peter Berdovsky, who posted film on his Web site boasting that he and friends planted the battery-wired devices, and Sean Stevens, 28, of Charlestown. Both were jailed overnight on charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.

"This is outrageous activity to get publicity for a failing show," said Menino, referring to the battery-operated light-up ads for the Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which sparked at least nine bomb scares in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

Menino promised to sue Turner Broadcasting Co., the Cartoon Network's parent company, and criminally prosecute Berdovsky and anyone else responsible for the devices, and to petition the FCC to pull the network's license.

Attorney General Martha Coakley was put in charge of the case and said the companies behind the promotion would be investigated. She said the felony charge of planting a hoax device could be broad enough to allow prosecution even if the stunt's sponsors did not intend a panic.

Menino is going on TV and insisting he's going to send a 27-year old artist to jail for not breaking any law, because his police department overreacted and wasted a million dollars feeding a media frenzy and terrorizing the population of his own city. That's a cowardly act of self-preservation, and were he not threatening the life of an innocent young man it would be laughable.

Let's get a few facts straight on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force sign fiasco:

1. Attorney General Martha Coakley needs to shut up and stop using the word "hoax." There was no hoax. Hoax implies Turner Networks and the ATHF people were trying to defraud or confuse people as to what they were doing. Hoax implies they were trying to make their signs look like bombs. They weren't. They made Lite-Brite signs of a cartoon character giving the finger.

2. It bears repeating again that Turner, and especially Berdovsky, did absolutely nothing illegal. The devices were not bombs. They did not look like bombs. They were all placed in public spaces and caused no obstruction to traffic or commerce. At most, Berdovsky is guilty of littering or illegal flyering.

3. The "devices" were placed in ten cities, and have been there for over two weeks. No other city managed to freak out and commit an entire platoon of police officers to scaring their own city claiming they might be bombs. No other mayor agreed to talk to Fox News with any statement beyond "no comment" when spending the day asking if this was a "terrorist dry run."

4. There is nothing, not a single thing, remotely suggesting that Turner or the guerilla marketing firm they hired intended to cause a public disturbance. Many have claimed the signs were "like saying 'fire' in a crowded theater." Wrong. This was like taping a picture of a fire to the wall of a theater and someone freaked out and called the fire department.

5. The FCC can't pull a private cable network's license, Mayor Hyperbole McFuckwit.

ToonZone wrote a great editorial summing up who is really to blame for all this (emphasis mine):

...Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey placed the blame on Adult Swim. "Scaring an entire region, tying up the T and major roadways, and forcing first responders to spend 12 hours chasing down trinkets instead of terrorists is marketing run amok," Markey, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt." The problem with this is that it was the paranoia of the police department that created the crisis, not Aqua Teen's creators down at Williams Street in Atlanta.

I am not blaming the Boston police for the problems caused today, but rather the city government and media's spinning of the story to create a sense of paranoia. The comments of Shepard Smith and his co-workers at News Corp provide a prime example of the media's hand in this story. Many of the Fox News interviews were with citizens who were "distraught" over the Aqua Teen advertisements. Smith explained the plot of the show, portraying it as something appalling. Now I understand that the media has the right to their opinions on a show like Aqua Teen, but I think that Fox's comments in particular only aggravated the situation. What most newscasters should have at least commented on is that this investigation was a result of pure paranoia. If you ask any teenager or young adult I am sure that most would be able to identify Ignignokt as a cartoon character at the very least. Sadly no one thought to do so, and at least one of the poor little guys was blown to smithereens by overzealous police.

The government's handling of this situation has proven incompetent at best. In the end the artist who created the ads was arrested, and Boston mayor Thomas Menino threatened to take legal action against Turner Broadcasting for a crisis he himself was largely responsible for. The long time to discover the billboards' true nature is by far the most disturbing part of this story, and I hope that in the future we can be more prudent about declaring bomb alerts. I am not saying by any means that we shouldn't investigate these incidents, but levelheaded thinking and careful research could save us all a lot of headaches.

The fact that Turner Networks is a big corporation doesn't mean I'm supposed to side against them just because they have a lot of "big rich suits" over there. They issued an apology and offered to help the clearly humorless police, and that's fine. But if they are really faced with fines or the ludicrous notion of FCC penalties, they should fight every single one of them and I'll be right on their side to defend them.

There is no excuse for blaming Turner Networks, Adult Swim, and especially a single 27-year-old, for the overzealousness of Boston's government and the news media. And if the mayor of Boston continues to use an innocent man as his scapegoat, it's evidence of a level of incompetence that makes him unfit for office.

Update: I was reminded of a strip I did a few months back about the ban of liquids on airplanes because of the same hysteria. Seriously, if people think this "lets terrorists know our weaknesses," then Bin Laden might as well bring on the Dr. Seuss hats.

Update 2: Hello kos people. This is actually the first time I ever got a front-page link from Big Orange. Please stop using a C in my last name. Other than that, hi there!

Update 3: I don't really have a third update, I just want to feel like Glenn Greenwald.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:26 AM

January 31, 2007

Quiet, Boston, I'm transmitting rage

This could quite possibly be the most hilarious thing that has ever happened, ever.

The suspicious devices which forced bomb units to scramble across Boston today were actually magnetic lights that are part of a marketing campaign for a television cartoon.

The reports forced the temporary shutdowns of Interstate 93 out of the city, a key inbound roadway, a bridge between Boston and Cambridge, and a portion of the Charles River but were quickly determined not to be explosive.

"It's a hoax -- and it's not funny," Gov. Deval Patrick said.

All of the devices are magnetic lights which resemble a character on the show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", on Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network.

WBZ has obtained a statement from Turner Broadcasting:

"The "packages" in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim's animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they mistakenly thought to pose any danger."

The last line from the Turner people is glorious in its directness and simplicity: dear people of earth, you are freaking idiots. We regret this.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:24 PM

January 30, 2007

Of course, of course

Count me in as a member of the "it's just an effing horse" crowd. Yes, it's a shame Barbaro got injured and had to be put down, and yes, that's without a doubt sports news. Even front page of the sports section news. I won't argue it's relevant; I agree it is. But it's not full-page op-ed obituary news. It's not front-page national news.

It's not even a heartwarming story, if you think about it. Someone took a horse, trained it to run fast, and during the course of exploiting its ability to run fast for the purpose of gambling, fatally crippled it. Yay, America!

And as far as its impact on the sport itself goes, given the horse was in pain and is now out of his misery, the great "tragedy" of this scenario, given most race horses only get a good year or two out of them in the first place, is that his owners are going to be deprived of making millions of dollars off his semen. Truly, a nation mourns.

Update: 'Nuff said.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:16 PM


Lindsay joins Team Penguin. w00tage.

Update: Wow. Okay, so not to be outdone, Amanda joins team... John Edwards.

I am totally assuming it was the site logo that did it. Yep.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:32 PM

Campus activists go (after) "Wild"

Via Pandagon, one of the best bits of news I've heard in a long time. And I mean it, because I actually having a side hobby of wishing Joe Francis would spontaneously explode. He's one of the few people that make me want to believe in Hell, just so he can go there.

Anyway, Congrats to students and faculty at Indiana University for kicking aforementioned famed sex offender Joe Francis and the "Girls Gone Wild" film crew off campus.

More significant is that the students proved they can be successful activists beyond stereotypical (and often unsuccessful) forms of protest. Instead of rallies and performance-art pageantry, they handled the situation sensibly and effectively: creating a MySpace group to highlight the numerous acts of exploitation on the part of Girls Gone Wild (in fact, this same week Francis, who I would like to again reference in this article about how he tried to rape the very woman interviewing him, Jesus Christ what a fucking monster, was sentenced to fines and community service after pleading guilty to filming minors performing sexual acts), and directly letting the owner of the bar where the next video would be filmed know that they'd be holding him accountable for any illegal activity (given the numerous instances of "participants" in Francis' videos claiming coercion under the influence, exploitation of minors, and in some cases rape, cutting ties with Rapists, Inc. seems like a wise business decision, wouldn't you agree?)

Kudos as well to women's groups at IU for dispelling in advance the typical lazy responses from Francis' supporters:

Carol McCord, assistant dean for the Office for Women's Affairs, said the tactics used by the workers of "Girls Gone Wild" were of the most concern.

"It's not that we are against women having the right to choose what they want to do with their bodies," McCord said. "If a woman chooses to go into the bus or about making pornography that's different to me than her being coerced when drunk and someone getting rich off of it. As an advocate for women, I want to make sure they have the right information about these people and their tactics."

Francis and his company have found themselves in legal trouble regarding several allegations against them, including using girls who were under the age 18 in their videos.

Extra points for not only refuting the notion that they're opposed to pornography, but highlighting that it wouldn't be a problem if GGW actually was porno: participants in pornographic films actually get paid as opposed to being handed a t-shirt after drunkenly signing consent forms.

It's unfortunate that often in these situations, purveyors of sexual exploitation (and according to some of the video series "stars," possible rapists) are defended in the form of baseless accusations that feminists and campus activists are simply "opposed to sex." It's even more disgusting that some would reach to claim getting drunk and being coerced into sexual acts is acceptable.

For some reason the victims of Francis' camera crew are always chastised to "take responsibility for their actions." Well this time the students of IU did. Now if only someone can make Francis.

(Side note: interesting on its own that Google seems to read between the lines, as every TextAd on the page links to resources about protecting your children and national sex offender registries.)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:14 AM

January 29, 2007


Latest comic - click here!

I was reading some right-wing blog the other day and they were spouting some kind of argument that "liberals want us to lose in Iraq" because it would make it easier for them to win elections. Except the war has absolutely failed and people still re-elected George W. Bush. I'm not cynical enough to just say it's because people are all morons, but I also don't buy the "devil you know versus devil you didn't" junk either.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:07 AM