Sunday, February 28, 2010

Surgical Assassination vs. Collateral Damage

I've been doing a lot of reading about the alleged Mossad assassination of a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel in January.

I've watched the available security videos and perused commentary from every conceivable perspective.

Sounds like a classic black bag operation.
Fighting terrorists is a messy business.

I'm reminded of the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack's character utters the following phrase:

When I left, I joined the army, and when I took the service exam my psych profile fit a certain... moral flexibility would be the only way to describe it... and I was loaned out to a CIA-sponsored program, and we sort of found each other. That's how it works.

In a perfect world, people wouldn't get drugged and suffocated in hotel rooms, but we don't live in a perfect world. And this approach seems extraordinarily preferable to Predator drones killing innocent women and children along with the intended target.

If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

Ross Douthat Makes Sense on the Health Care Summit

I don't think I've agreed with three sentences Ross Douthat has written since he moved to the New York Times roster of weekly columnists. Surprisingly, his commentary on the recent health care summit was so on-the-money I actually rechecked the byline.

Yep, it was Douthat.

Having watched large portions of the event as they unfolded, it took a great deal of effort to focus on Buddhist concepts like tolerance and equanimity as my primal side felt compelled to race to Washington and punch people in the head.

Douthat saw things similarly.

The first five hours proved the first point. Even with Professor Obama keeping a firm rein on the proceedings, the Republicans (especially Jon Kyl of Arizona, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Dave Camp of Michigan, all exceptions to the self-parodic norm) were able to demonstrate that you don’t need to mention “death panels” to critique health care reform. You can talk about the bill’s budgetary gimmickry, the burdens of its mandates and the risks involved in having Washington set prices, define benefits and (eventually) limit care.

In the last hour, though, President Obama finally invited the Republicans to offer their own ideas — beyond, yes, tort reform and interstate purchasing — for covering the uninsured. And the Grand Old Party’s representatives lapsed swiftly into platitudes and filibustering.

Yes! It was like a game of reverse-health-summit-musical chairs. Each time the melody stopped, everyone scrambled to ensure they weren't left sitting on the seat of accountability.


As the forum wound down, the participants complimented one another on having such a respectful and substantive conversation. (“Never have so many members of the House and Senate behaved so well for so long before so many television cameras,” Joe Barton of Texas remarked.) Afterward, some commentators acted as though our elected representatives were to be congratulated just for talking publicly about policy without falling on their faces.

No congratulations are in order. The forum exemplified why Americans have every reason to hate Washington right now. The first five hours revealed a majority party whose health care bill probably deserves to be defeated. But the sixth one exposed a minority party that deserves to lose as well.

It will probably be months before I again agree with Douthat, but I'm willing to give the man his due. This essay accurately adduces both the symptoms and the disease.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Spitzter's a Cad, But Doesn't Mean He's Wrong Here

Eliot Spitzer, in the New York Times:

"What happened in the last decade was a massive redistribution of wealth to people who did not create value, but simply moved assets around. You look at where we were in 1945 -- we were the only place in the world with skilled labor, with education, the rule of law, a middle class with the capacity to consume. Now we're not the center of the universe."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fun with Chat Roulette

If you turn your head, I win.

The Meat Solution

Isn't this the answer to almost every problem?

Dyson Animal Vacuum Sucks As Hard As The US Senate

Our original Dyson vacuum finally bit the dust, so I picked up the new Dyson D25 Animal model, the purple one with the ball.

I'm impressed. The fucker sucks as hard as the US Senate.

SMBC: Genes for Personality

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bruce Lee Would Have Loved This Awesome Cat Fight

Luxembourg-Sized Iceberg Splits Off Antarctic Continent

So an iceberg the size of Luxembourg has split off the....umm, what?

The size of Luxembourg?

I hope it heads right toward Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Glenn Beck.

Hell, if it's the size of Luxembourg, it could wipe out the entire Republican party.

Wouldn't that be precious? Decimated by a parliamentary representative democracy?

Image via Wikipedia

Sweaters for Bald Chickens

There seem to be a lot of bald chickens in the UK. Battery hens, specifically.

When the hens begin to tail off in egg production, usually at the tender age of one, they are typically turned into nuggets.

A Somerset craft club is instead putting some of the hens who have gone hairless into sweaters, hoping to give them to children as pets.

Because what British child wouldn't want to cuddle up with glabrous poultry in a pinafore?

Image via Chickenofeather's photostream on flickr

Health Care Summit Winner

Dick Durbin Gets It

I watched long stretches of the event yesterday, via Internet streaming or video clips, and truthfully, I needed to revisit some of the Buddhist concepts I've learned to keep me driving to Blair House to punch people in the mouth.

Violence Enhances Project Management Practices


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Green Screen - Nothing is Real Anymore?

Yes, it's problematic to actually go to Mars and shoot stock background footage for use in movies and television. Plus there's no Martian Cinematic Commission promising the moon to get an arc of Law & Order filmed on location.

Up is down. Left is right. Nothing I thought to be true actually is.

Woe is me.

New York State of (Crazy) Mind

I've spent some time on the train in NYC, so I've come to expect the unexpected. That doesn't mean I like it.

Via Oddly Specific

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Turning Japanese with Kirsten Dunst

Update 2/27 - Well, poo. They've pulled the source video. If anyone knows where to find it, drop me a note in the comments.

I can't say that I completely understand what's going on here, but I'm buying whatever it is Kirsten is selling. Some images NSFW.

Via BoingBoing

Popularity of Curling

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Monday, February 22, 2010

Max Blumenthal Tortures CPAC Crowd

Max is pretty amazing, check out how he handles the crowd - unflappable. He has a great back and forth with Andrew Breitbart, a Drudge protégé during the last few minutes. Breitbart can barely contain himself, Max is calm as usual, letting his victims hang themselves on camera.

Via AmericaBlog News

Shut Up, Loud TV Commercials

AmericaBlog notes that the UK Advertising Standards Authority recently ruled that several television commercials on ITV3 were "excessively strident" and breached the sound level code.

While there would be significant support in the US for regulating those annoying noise blasts that occur when programming pauses for commercial breaks, it seems sort of pointless to get our legislative branch involved in such a trivial matter.

There's a problem here that is easily solved with technology. Why aren't television sets equipped with a sound stabilizer that works the same way as a bathroom shower regulator that keeps a user from being scalded if someone flushes a toilet?

Simply limit the amount of sound increase permitted by viewer interaction. People who don't care wouldn't need to do anything, but those bothered by the sudden, rapid increase in commercial volume could easily configure their sets to maintain a modicum of decibel sanity.

What can I say? I'm a problem solver.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stupid Vandalism Tricks

Would-be vandals, here's a tip: Don't vandalize a building where more than 100 police officers are attending a law enforcement training class.

At least 40 of them will chase your ass down the street.

Chat Roulette - Well This Is Awkward

Via Geekologie

Penis Tree

Via The Daily Dish

Saturday, February 20, 2010

PETA, Letterman, and Snark

"PETA was outside the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last night protesting. They want the dogs to stop wearing fur."

- David Letterman

Batman Needs a Night Off

Ramblings of a Madman

Rachel Maddow at CPAC

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Real Men of Genius: Out of Touch Washington Democrats

Via The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, a commercial spoof that drives me to ask: You only had to fill a minute and thirteen seconds, and that's the best you can do??

Conservatives. We don't have any solutions. We just like to poke people in the eye.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ann Coulter's Continuous Fail

Via Talking Points Memo

Matt Taibbi: Wall Street's Bailout Hustle

Rolling Stone has posted Matt Taibbi's latest screed on the incestuous, co-dependant relationship between the banking industry and the governmental enablers that have given away the financial farm while simultaneously rogering the American citizenry.

It's infuriating, and Taibbi lays it all out there in the harsh light of reality. The cons. The schemes. The double-crosses. And the modern-day robber barons with egos so large that you would need dump trucks to move them from place to place.

On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America's pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman's role in precipitating the global financial crisis.

The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a "bailout tax" on banks. Maybe this wasn't the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.

Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. "In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines," he said, "I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative."

Translation: We made a shitload of money last year because we're so amazing at our jobs, so fuck all those people who want us to reduce our bonuses.

Literacy Test Challenge

Via Instaputz, a swipe at alleged racist and proven douchebag Tom Tancredo:


And then, something really odd happened, mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country. People who could not even spell the word "vote," or say it in English, put a committed socialist idealogue in the White House, name is Barack Hussein Obama.

I have an idea. Let's form two experimental groups, one consisting of Latino immigrants (who are, you know, required to pass a goddamn civics test before obtaining the right to vote) and the other of Teabagging aficionados. Let's see who does better on a "civics literacy test."

Chart: Choosing a Secure Password

Are you a teen? A douche? A geek? A pro?

The type of person you are directly influences your choice of password strength. At least this chart from Forever Geek wants you to believe that.

Don't be bringing that weak-ass dictionary attack-prone password into MY house, dog.

Buying vs. Pirating

Here's a handy infographic from Making Light via Boing Boing that details the absolute dearth of good reasons to buy a DVD versus pirating one.

I'm not supporting or condoning pirating media. It's illegal and wrong. But it does illustrate how an industry that's held their audience captive for so long finds itself struggling to survive once alternatives to their business model are available.

I always assumed that a company would stay in business only as long as it was able to provide its customers with a product or service that was deemed both desired and of value. If you don't deliver something that's not wanted, it doesn't matter what you charge - most people won't make the purchase. Similarly, if you offer a product for a fee that's perceived as too high, or not in line with other like items, you won't have many takers.

If I want to watch a DVD movie at home, I've already decided I don't want the hassle of seeing it in the theater, so convenience is key. Make me jump through hoops to get to the very content I've purchased, and you'd made me choose between enduring a grating sequence of events that benefits you, not me, or finding an alternative, as outlined in the graphic.

I used to buy stamps at the post office to mail bill payments. It was more convenient to do that than to drive around to the various entities and drop off a check, if they were local. As soon as electronic banking was available, my need to suffer the various indignities of the USPS vanished, as did my stamp buying, because there was an alternative. I doubt that I've stepped into a USPS facility more than five times in as many years.

Rather than beating me to death with an approach that seemingly ignores what I want and how I want it, try putting the customer first.

Sky Mall Kitties

While I don't fly nearly as often as I did before, this is still funny, although the fact that there are so many products tells the story of what kinds of people are on airplanes these days.

Via The Awl