Monday, January 30, 2006

Media, Politics, and Agita

"Democracy is the theory that holds that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." -- H.L. Mencken

First, let us lay the notion of a "Liberal Media" to rest once and for all. There have been books written on how the "liberal" media is a myth; I can destroy the myth in three paragraphs. To-wit:

1. When it was revealed many years ago that George H.W. Bush (the Republican president) had an extramarital affair with a diplomat, nary a word was mentioned in the mainstream media (MSM); certainly, the story did not "have legs" and wasn't pursued. When it was revealed not-so-many years ago that Bill Clinton (the Democrat president) had an extramarital affair with an intern, the story never left the lead spot of the network news nor the front pages of America's daily newspapers.

2. When it was revealed back in 1992 that, while in college, Bill Clinton had tried smoking marijuana (but never inhaled), the revelation became a source of much mirth and finger-pointing that dogs the former president to this day. When it was alleged in 1999 that Dubya was arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 ... well, nobody really seemed to care to pursue the story. (Footnote: Whether Dubya actually was arrested for coke possession or not is beside my point. What matters is that the story was briefly reported, but never pursued, by the MSM.)

3. The MSM in the United States is financed by its advertisers (i.e., big corporations). Big corporations are, by their very nature, extremely politically conservative. No one can seriously suggest that the advertisers don't exercise some editorial control over the MSM's news content. Indeed, most MSM outlets these days are owned by such huge conservative corporations. If a "liberal" viewpoint might alienate the corporate owners or advertisers, that viewpoint is quickly squelched; and if news breaks that might hurt the conservatives in power (and, by extension, the conservative corporations), there is every incentive for the MSM to bury it. The notion of a "liberal media" is simply propaganda designed to suck all credibility out of any news stories that the conservatives in power deem unflattering. So let's be adults, and face the truth here. Call the media whatever you like (and I frequently do), but it is NOT "liberal".

There we go. Three paragraphs, myth destroyed. "Mission accomplished" (another example of the "liberal media" abdicating its responsibility to be a government watchdog ... but I digress)

Now then ...

There was a story released last week that revealed some very interesting truths about the ability of voters of both political parties to keep facts from getting in their way, and indeed, to flatly ignore information that's contrary to their point of view. This research project involved monitoring the brains of test subjects (assuming, for the sake of discussion, that they had one) while they evaluated information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 presidential election.

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, [Emory University director of clinical psychology Drew] Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."

I was shocked -- shocked!! -- and amazed to read this. You mean that there's a reason why John Kerry (and, for that matter, Max Cleland and John McCain -- in short, anyone who opposed the Republican machine at any time in the past eight years, for any reason) is considered a traitor despite his military service, and Dubya (a draft evader) is considered a patriotic hero?

Thank goodness for that. Finally, an explanation. Not one that I particularly like, but an explanation nonetheless. So what we have learned is that, once the typical voter has made up his or her mind which candidate they prefer, no amount of evidence or -- heck, let's face it, TRUTH -- is likely to change their mind.

So, with that in mind, let us turn to another story from last week (which the right-wing blogs have been crowing about), in which we find that among those who have decided whether they would vote for potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008, those polled who have already decided that they will not vote for her outnumber those who have decided that they will vote for her, 39 to 29 percent.

This, despite the fact that most Americans couldn't tell you where Hillary stands on a single political issue. Seems people just flat don't like her. I guess a strong, intelligent woman who values the sanctity of her marriage and supports her husband, even when said husband is a confessed philanderer, doesn't make good presidential material. (Although, on the surface, you'd think this would be somebody the Republican "Family Values" party could rally behind, wouldn't you? But again, I digress ...)

From the way Hillary has been vilified by the "fair and balanced" hatemongers since before Bill Clinton first took the oath of office, you would think she had been discovered harboring Nazi torturers who escaped Germany after the Holocaust. (Although, now that we have a world leader -- Iran's new president -- who has publicly asserted that the "Holocaust" is really just a myth, I'm sure such torturers couldn't any longer be called "Nazis". I suppose these days we can call them "freedom-defending interrogators". But there I go, off on yet another tangent ...)

I had a fantasy the other day (no, not that kind of a fantasy, please), about a conversation I might have with one of these Hillary-haters:

"Hillary Clinton sucks! I will vote for ANYBODY in 2008, as long as they're running against Hillary!"

Why?

"Pardon me?"

Why would you vote FOR somebody, when their only qualification is that they're NOT somebody else?

"Well ... I just don't want her to be President, that's all."

Why not?

"Um ... huh?"

What is it that Hillary stands for that you oppose?

"Well, um ... I don't know."

So why are you so against Hillary?

"Well ... well, first of all, she's a bitch."

Why?

(exasperated) "Why what?"

Why do you think she's a bitch?

"Okay, listen. I just don't like her, okay?"

Why not?

"Listen, you ..."

Do you know Hillary? Has she done something to personally offend you?

(long pause) "Why do you hate freedom?"

(And the sad thing is, knowing what I know now thanks to that research study, I think a conversation with a Hillary-hater these days would probably proceed exactly along these lines ...)

posted by Gary @ 8:05 PM 7 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Special Guest Villain: "Infinitely Pie"

I don't post very often here, as you probably know (that is, if you are a regular visitor and have cursed my name for not posting more often). I'm not slacking off. I just want to make sure that I have something clever to say before I say it.

I know you don't want me writing on such topics as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ("Why IS that stuff so darned cheap, anyway? And how can something that cheap taste so good?") or traffic ("Today, for the first time, I achieved a milestone. I actually got through that stop light on the corner before it turned red!"). Let's keep it funny, and somewhat inspired.

So that's why I don't post very often. Inspiration is hard to come by.

Fortunately, different things inspire different people. And although I might not be inspired on any given day, someone else may be. This week's BlogExplosion renter is "Infinitely Pie", which is nothing if not extremely inspired. And out of the more than 13 bids I got for this week's rental, Pie's blog is the only one that conjured up the most original (and funny) notion of the Creation of the Universe that I have ever read.

And then her post from the day before contains random thoughts like, "Rabies seems like it'd be a fun disease." Now, I ask you, who else is going to come up with pearls of wisdom like that?

Best of all, Pie posts a new blog entry nearly every day. She's a lot more inspired than I am. Thank goodness for that ...

So, click here or on the sidebar thumbnail (yes, it IS an exceptionally dark thumbnail, isn't it? But still worth seeking out) and visit a truly original lady's truly original blog.

posted by Gary @ 6:00 PM 3 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"Dude, What The F*** Is Wrong With German People?"

By sheerest coincidence, I was thinking about a scene this morning from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The kids are surfing on the Internet, and stumble across a German scheisse video. (Just think "poo" and Cartman's mom, and you'll have all the information you need.) As they scream in horror and quickly click away, one of the kids exclaims: "Dude, what the f*** is wrong with German people?"

And then, this afternoon, I stumbled across this story, and asked myself the same question.

A convicted German cannibal returned to court on Thursday for a retrial to determine if his killing and eating of a willing victim amounted to murder.
Oooookay ...

The bizarre case of sexual fetishism and gory details of the crime have transfixed the public in Germany and beyond, while legal experts have argued over the definition of murder.
"Sexual fetishism"? Uh oh ...

He has admitted killing Berlin-based computer specialist Bernd-Juergen Brandes but had been spared a murder conviction and a possible life sentence as the victim had yearned to be eaten.
"Yearned to be ..." WHAT, now?

Surely I'm reading this wrong. Surely the victim chose the wrong person to say "bite me" to, or maybe this was a sauce-mixing adventure gone horribly awry. But no ... we're dealing with a guy who wanted to be eaten, as in consumed, for ... sexual gratification?

But wait, the story continues. Oh, joy.

Lawyer Harald Ermel acknowledged his client had a “fetish for human flesh”, but said he was no longer a threat. “Under the same circumstances he would never do something like that again,” he said.
Uh ... yeah, sure. Being arrested and tried for murder is a pretty strong deterrent for that sort of thing.

"Defense counsel?" "Yes, your Honor?" "Would you ask your client to stop rubbing A-1 Sauce on the court reporter, please?"

(Those of you with more delicate constitutions may want to skip the next paragraph ...)

In a “slaughter room” fitted out with butcher’s bench, meat hook and cage, Meiwes severed Brandt’s penis and they both tried to eat it.
They ... both ... tried ... to ...

... ick.

I have heard of lots of warped sexual fetishes in my 42 years. I have never in my life heard of anybody who ever wanted to CONSUME THEIR OWN PENIS. Sure, Ron Jeremy's porn career was built on his interesting ability to put his own in his mouth (or so I've heard) ... but to take a big healthy chaw out of it? Most men are far too attached to their member to want to be detached from it, let alone to make sashimi out of it.

But wait, there's more. (Of course there is.)

“Due to the consistency of the penis, this did not succeed, either raw or fried,” Koehler said.

Okay gang, listen up. I am a pretty darn good chef. I have studied cuisines from all over the world. I have put things in my mouth that-- (wait, that would be a very unfortunate metaphor for this discussion.) Suffice it to say that I have even eaten Cajun food. But I have never come across any recipes for "chicken-fried penis". Not ONE. (Not human penises, anyway. Or is the correct plural "penii"?)

Besides, perhaps I'm being too harsh on ol' Bernd-Juergen. Perhaps it wasn't chicken-fried at all. Perhaps a light pan-frying is all that a good "filet of trouser snake" requires. Obviously, though, "tenderness" is not necessarily a desired quality in this dish ...

When Brandt fell unconscious, Meiwes slit his throat, pulled out his organs and chopped off his head. The next day, he froze portions of his flesh, eating some 44 pounds of it over following months.
My only thought -- the only one that could do justice to this sort of thing -- is that by waiting until the next day to freeze his kitchen sidekick, Emeril here is just begging for some kind of sick, twisted parasite to infect his ... sick, twisted body. (Okay, it makes perfect sense now.)

I think we can all agree that both cannibal Meiwes and victim -- 'scuse me, sexual partner Brandes are, or were, a couple of truly warped individuals. And perhaps you may be thinking that because I took the time to bring this story to your attention, I must be a sick bastard as well. (And please leave my last name out of this.)

But remember, oh ye in glass houses: You read this entry all the way to the end, now didn't you? You sick f*** ...

posted by Gary @ 1:52 PM 15 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Special Guest Villain: "Blogs Are For Wimps"

I'm getting pretty good at this BlogExplosion "Rent My Blog, Dammit" thing. Basically, you sell that little 122-by-91 pixel space over in the sidebar to another blog for a week. They pay you in traffic "credits". If you're a good "landlord", you'll do a bit more work to help promote their blog (such as, say, this blog entry you're reading right now). If you're a bad landlord, of course, you completely ignore your renter and devote your energy to recycling your chewed pencil stubs.

I think I'm pretty good at this because none of my renters has received a "bad deal". Each one has gotten at least 23 unique click-throughs (meaning at least 23 different people have "clicked" on their blog thumbnail to read what they had to say) during their week. And I try to charge a fair price, which to me means you pay no more than three credits per unique click-through. (Some of these idjits charge -- and GET -- 500 credits for a mere handful of click-throughs. But I, on the other hand, have a conscience. I give value for value received. So nyaah.)

For this week's rental, I had nine applicants to choose from. One was a previous renter. Two of them had previously rented space to me. I could only choose one. ONE. Nuts.

With sincere apologies to my friend Melissa (whose blog "Jetting Through Life" deserves your attention, even if she doesn't get the coveted Parking Space of Honor this week), I have decided to go this week with the blog that I felt was the funniest, snarkiest, most-likely-to-replace-Howard-Stern-on-the-FCC's-hit-list-iest applicant. And how can you not like a blog called "Blogs Are For Wimps"?

"BR4W" (just pretend it's a license plate, and it becomes easier to type) doesn't play fair. It's a consortium of seven bloggers, each hitting-and-running with their own warped senses of humor, and generally laying waste to all that they touch. That's my kind of blog, dadgummit! (Plus, it makes me feel better that there are seven of them, and yet between them, they can only get one or two new entries up a day. That makes me feel a heck of a lot better that I, flying solo here, don't write new posts more often.)

It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you scream in orgasmic ecstacy. (Perhaps it will make you want to take some Ecstacy as well.) By now, you know the drill. Click here, or on the blog thumbnail over there on the right, and "Wimp" out".

posted by Gary @ 1:10 PM 3 comments links to this post

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Mother Of All Meme Posts

Uh-oh ... looks like I've been tagged. (WAIT - DON'T GO YET!)

I tend to avoid "memes" like the plague. I think it's supposed to be pronouced "meem", but as far as I'm concerned, you can pronounce it with two syllables, thusly: "Me! Me!"

Memes are like chain letters. Someone, most likely fighting a drunken stupor and squinting at their monitor through a cloud of marijuana haze, thinks it would be a good idea to make the lives of other bloggers a living hell. So they write a meme, then "tag" four of their soon-to-be-former friends to fill in this thing, add their names to the bottom of the list, send ten dollars each to each of the people above them in the list, and send it to four of their soon-to-be-former friends. Or something like that.

At least regular chain letters have the cojones to threaten you if you break the chain: "Pass this along within the next fifteen minutes to everyone in your e-mail list, or you will lose all your friends, become hideously deformed, contract terminal halitosis, and your dog will be run over by a bicycle courier on speed. And you'll have bad luck for the next six months."

Memes are much more insidious. It is simply considered to be the depth of discourtesy to ignore a meme when you've been "tagged" (i.e., covered with spray paint and abandoned) with one. And my oppressor - 'scuse me, my honorable tagger - Eric the "Blogging Boss" has seen fit to inflict one of these things upon me.

So, to ensure that this sort of thing will NEVER happen to this blog again, here is the Mother Of All Meme Posts. Let this be a lesson to all of you. (Just to make things interesting, one of the four entries for each question is absolutely true. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one.)

Thank you for sending this to me, Eric. And that chafing dish you got for Christmas that might have come from me? I want it back.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
1) Mad cow wrangler
2) Day trader in Enron stock
3) Stand-up comedian
4) Charmin quality-control inspector

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1) Dude, Where's My Car?
2) Manos, The Hands Of Fate
3) The Incredibles
4) Ishtar

Four places you have lived:
1) Inside my mom
2) Upstairs from my mom
3) Away from my mom
4) The seventh level of Hell (i.e., Las Vegas in August)

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1) "The Incredible Adventures of Bambi Big-Uns" (Playboy)
2) "Are You Going To Eat That?" (Food Network)
3) Anything with Paul Crouch and his epoxied-and-laminated wife (TBN)
4) "30 Minute Meals" with Rachael Ray (until she got married; she's not so damn perky anymore)

Four places you have been on vacation:
1) The sixth level of Hell (i.e., Las Vegas in July)
2) The fifth level of Hell (i.e., Chicago during a snowstorm)
3) The fourth level of Hell (i.e., the BVIs during the height of sand-flea season)
4) The third level of Hell (i.e., Los Angeles just about anytime)

Four websites you visit daily:
1) BambiBigUns.com
2) MSNBC.com
3) BillOReillyIsASwampCreature.org
4) IHaveNoLife.net

Four of your favorite foods:
1) Haggis
2) Tuna smoothies
3) A nice big hunk o' dead cow
4) Vegemite smeared on a chocolate-chip cookie

Four places you would rather be right now:
1) In a hot tub with Jessica Alba
2) In the studio audience of "Dancing With The Stars"
3) Baghdad, outside the Green Zone
4) Sailing the Mediterranean (with Jessica Alba)

Four bloggers you are tagging:
None. Do you hear me? NONE! Not a one! THIS MADNESS MUST BE STOPPED!

(Hey ... what's going on? My breath is getting worse, and I hear a bicycle courier crying outside ...)

posted by Gary @ 5:31 PM 15 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 05, 2006

TEXAS FIGHT, DAMMIT!



The Rose Bowl is over.

(2) Texas 41
(1) USC 38

Vince Young, the Longhorns' MVP, outperformed both of Southern Cal's Heisman Trophy winners combined. After 35 long years, the University of Texas are college football's National Champions.

HOOK 'EM HORNS!

posted by Gary @ 12:21 AM 4 comments links to this post

Monday, January 02, 2006

Whistling In The Wind

(I wish to digress from the usual rollicking humor you'll find here to make a political statement -- for all the good it'll do -- so please bear with me. And, if you're like me, if it appears the blogger's political opinion differs from your own, you'll tend to surf away -- but let me ask you to bear with me until the end, because this statement is not what it first appears to be. Your comments are welcome, because if anyone has differing viewpoints on this, I'd sure like to hear them ...)

Let's engage in a hypothetical experiment. Let us assume, for a moment, that first thing tomorrow morning, Osama bin Laden showed up at the entrance to Baghdad's Green Zone and said, "I don't want to be on the run any longer. You're going to get me eventually anyway, and I'm tired of living in caves. The humidity messes with my portable dialysis equipment and makes my beard all frizzy."

And let's assume further that all of the Muslim militant fundamentalists, who are currently shelling and suicide-bombing and generally wreaking havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan, lay down their arms and say, "You know, there's really no upside to this. How the hell could each of us who martyr ourselves end up with 71 virgins in Heaven, anyway? Where would those virgins come from? There just aren't that many alive on the planet, you know."

So, for purposes of this hypothetical, bin Laden and al-Qaeda and Zarqawi and all other Middle East militants have surrendered or walked away. And Saddam Hussein, as we know, has already been "neutralized".

Is anyone under the illusion that the Dubya Administration would, under these best-of-all-possible circumstances, withdraw our troops from the Middle East?

This is not going to be an anti-Dubya rant (that would be just too darn easy). But, like him or hate him, Dubya has shown that he has no intention of bringing our troops home anytime soon. There will always be militant threats against U.S. interests abroad. There will always be threats to Israel, or to Saudi Arabia, or to Kingdom Come that might impact American security or our economy.

Now, the reason I posed this hypothetical is because Dubya is quite unapologetic about ordering covert wiretaps, bypassing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which required intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant before eavesdropping on communications involving "U.S. persons." [link] In fact, Dubya is now on the offensive, saying that the fact that such covert (and illegal) activity was leaked to the New York Times has caused "great harm to the nation," [link] and the Justice Department is now investigating who could have dared to tell the Times about this illegal government activity. [link]

"My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important programme in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this programme is helping the enemy," Mr. Bush said. [link]

What I want to focus on is Dubya's turn of phrase: "in a time of war". The question here is, at what point might the war end? When the war against terrorism was launched after 9/11, Dubya admitted that we were facing an enemy without a specific location or identification, with no fixed timetable or measure of victory. In other words, this war was against somebody, somewhere, and could continue indefinitely.

Does it, therefore, strike anyone else as strange to use "in a time of war" as justification for keeping illegal governmental activities secret, when by the President's own admission, the conclusion of this war cannot be reached for the indefinite future? "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda," Dubya told the nation, "but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."

A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.
- James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822

Dubya is very incensed that covert activity, whether legally or illegally carried out, has been leaked to the press. He's concerned that it could affect national security, and certainly, that's a very valid concern. But it seems to me that just as "legitimate" privacy interests "must be balanced" against national security [link], so, too, must national security needs "be balanced" against our constitutional rights.

... the First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society.
- Justice Hugo Black, Associated Press v. U.S., 1945

If Dubya and his cronies are correct, and we cannot reasonably ask what our government is up to regarding its own citizenry (even in times of war) for the sake of "national security", then we have already become a fascist state.

We are waging war in the Middle East in the name of protecting and spreading the American style of democracy. But if the freedoms that make democracy possible can't be protected and enjoyed at home, then just what the hell are we trying to spread, anyway?

Other than, it would appear, a thick layer of horse manure that they're telling us is a bed of roses ...

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755

posted by Gary @ 8:19 PM 9 comments links to this post

Special Guest Villain: "Seawave's Soliloquy"

If you remember "Saturday Night Live" back in the '80s (when it was funny), you remember the segment "Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey". Mr. Handey had been doing way too much thinking on the toilet, and shared the results of his private meditations with us, with absurd results.

There is really no relation between Mr. Handey's "Deep Thoughts" and those of my renter this week, Seawave (so, come to think of it, I really don't even know why I mentioned him). But if you read some of Seawave's blog, you'll find some "deep thoughts" that will really make you think.

Check out just a couple of her posts, and you'll agree that Seawave is a loving, caring, deeply spiritual individual who isn't trying to push her belief system onto anybody else; she just wants everybody to be happy. And these days, we need an army of Seawaves to try to spread some non-sappy cheer and non-cynical love around. We will have to make do for now with just the one ... but when I want to peer into the soul of a lovely woman, I go visit Sea.

I'm proud to have her as my tenant this week. Click here, or jump on that annoying little "Rent My Blog" box in the sidebar, and prepare to have your eyes opened.

posted by Gary @ 1:38 PM 6 comments links to this post

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Location: Houston, Texas

Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.




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