Thursday, August 31, 2006

You've got pinkslips

Hundreds of RadioShack employees received a fairly nasty little piece of email Tuesday morning, as they were sitting hard at work. Turn out that the email they received was a notice letting them know that they were fired, or, as the email stated, "Your position is one that has been eliminated." The immediate concern, of course, would be that the incredibly impersonal firing could lead to some anger from the (now former) employees, who only wanted to be held and consoled as they were told by a direct supervisor that they should pack up their cubicles.

But don't worry, all you out there who think that they got a raw deal. The employees were actually granted pay for up to 16 weeks for hourly employees, and 36 weeks for those that were making close to six figures. In light of what could have happened after having been fired, these severence pays are actually relatively decent, and those numbers could have been diminished if something as simple and less-mechanical as a phone call had imparted the news.

That, and the company did announce that it was going to be letting people go in early August, thereby giving everyone that was still working there time to fret and worry about whether or not they were going to find their names on the chopping block. Besides, with RadioShack's stock price going up since the firings, you can rest assured that the Shack still wants to be "friends" with everyone they used to employ.

Of course, things could always be worse. All of the fired employees could actually still be working for RadioShack.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Line up at the counter

The world is certainly experiencing difficult times right now. The MSM is desperately scrambling to find what new story they can plug in now that it's become obvious that John Mark Karr only wants to be Jon-Benet Ramsey's killer. CNN can't figure out when to turn their microphones off during bathroom breaks, or how to cut the audio remotely. The return trips to the hurricane ravaged south for the President and others are turning into debacles.

And yet, there is a glimmer of normality to what's happening in the world. That glimmer is the recent report that the NFL is facing a steroid problem that would make Barry Bonds drool with childlike glee. See, even though the league has a drug-prevention program in place, and even though they are catching players (generally for things like marijuana, however), it's fairly obvious that NFL players are prone to wanting to "juice up" before big games. After all, this is a contact sport where being 225 lbs makes you tiny.

As the report points out, the average size of professional football players has increased dramatically in the last twenty years, and, when you look at the other prescriptions some of these players allegedly take, there should be a cause for concern. But why hasn't this been noticed when players make the spike in weight and strength from college to the pro levels? Is it really that common for someone to graduate college at 250, and then one year later weigh-in at close to 300 with an ability to lift twice what he used to?

Maybe this is why former (or, even, wannabe) pro football players sometimes find their way into the leagues of professional wrestling. After all, what other "sport" fully acknowledges the fact that a good portion of the talent is using steroids to some extent? Of course, keeping that in mind, all prospective NFL players should simply look towards Hulk Hogan and Rick Flair. Trust me when I say that nobody wants to turn out like that, and nobody thinks that looks good.

Ultimately, fans don't seem to really care if their favorites are juicing up or not, so long as they get to see the results of the carnage on the football field. And, with the potential for roid-rage, or players being upset at the other team for checking out their drug-induced mammaries, I'd say that the hits are just going to keep on coming.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Devil is in the details

It is widely known fact that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin committed some of the worst atrocities that the planet has ever seen. However, until recently, the world wasn't aware that the reason they did it was because of the big guy downstairs. Thankfully, all this can be brought to the light through the words of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's prime exorcist, as he declares that both Hitler and Stalin were possessed.

The Father goes on to say that every single member of the Nazi party was to some extent under the possession of a demon, and that, during the second World War, there were attempts at long-distance exorcisms orchestrated by Pope Pius XII. Of course, given that, according to the official rules (and yes, there are official rules in the Roman Catholic church for exorcism), the exorcist must be in the same room as the possessed, and the possessed must be willing to relinquish the spirit residing within them. Not really possible when you take into account the distance from the Vatican to Berlin.

Of course, Father Amorth has also found the devil in the writings of J.K. Rowling, because of the way magic is used in the books, and can certainly find more displays of Lucifer wielding humans to further his personal ends wherever he looks. After all, with two of the biggest criminals against humanity now being outed as merely possessed vessels for Satan and his ilk, what's to stop others from claiming that the devil also stepped into their skin? Are we going to see the GOP defending their recent racist comments by blaming possession? How about the Democrats claiming that Lucifer is responsible for their penchant for drink and women?

And really, is anyone going to be surprised if, a few years down the road, it turns out that GDub was possessed by a demon whose evil was only rivaled by its own stupidity?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Of the people, by the people, for, um...

In a recent study performed by the Rasmussen Reports, it turns out that a plurality of voters believe that the voting process itself is intrinsically flawed and unfair. Of course, the number of people who tend to think that has remained relatively constant for the last decade or so, with the only shift being which side of the partisan line people toe. After all, it should come as no surprise that more Republicans believe in the fairness of the system now, whereas more Democrats put their faith into it back during the Clinton years.

Really, what this one portion of the study shows is the tendency by people to want to blame something other than themselves or the group they're backing for failure. How often can you watch a sporting event and hear the fans of the losing team complain about bad officiating? And, vice versa, how often do those who support the winning team praise the job done on the field by everyone? Sure, there are always going to be those that don't fit nicely into the boxes, but there's enough instances where that holds true. People don't like losing, and they'll find whatever they can to take the blame for it.

But, when one simply looks as to whether or not the current process is fair, one really only needs to look as far as the presidential elections. Where else can someone lose and still win? The Electoral College is kind of like a disturbed version of blackjack, where you can still walk away with the top prize after the dealer's beaten you, if only you can get enough powerful friends to join your side. And let's also ignore every other election, rife with potential voter fraud, misplaced ballots, and candidates running on lies simply created to fuel their way into a posh Washington job.

So is the voting process flawed and unfair to the voter? Yes. Is there a better process out there? Probably, but nobody's figured it out yet. Should we be heading for the hills and worried that the sky is falling, just because (slightly) over half of those polled don't have faith in the system as it is? Not by a long shot. The process may be flawed, but it's the closest and best sense of honest representation that we currently have. There's not any reason to be concerned about how fair or unfair the system truly is, because there's nothing that can currently be done about it.

Really, we should just sit back and wait until 2008, where we can watch the losing party complain to the officials about the blatant holding penalty that they missed back in September.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 21, 2006

Welcome back to another awards post. Time to look at things deserving attention over the last week.

You Can't Do That on Television Award
This award goes out to Ann Coulter, for her recent appearance on Hannity & Colmes. During the conversation, Kristin Powers, who was filling in for Colmes, pointed out a few items with regards to the war on terror. Ann apparently didn't like the questions, and decided to leave the interview. Of course, her departure was not on camera, but you can hear her making it known she's going to leave.

Pass the Beans Award
This prize goes out to GDub, the great Decider. Apparently, he's a big fan of flatulence. This is all coming fast on the heels of even staunch supporters wondering about his intelligence. Maybe this is why he has so many problems meeting with foreign leaders.

Not on My Island Award
Some people in New York City are banding together in an attempt to stop Survivor from holding its new season with racially divided clans. New Yorkers are mostly complaining due to a perception of copyright infringement with the island of Manhattan.

You're Still Special to Us Award
We're handing this one out to Pluto, the little celestial body that apparently couldn't. Hey, you were a planet for awhile. The only other celestial body that can say that is Star Jones.

Heads I Stay, Tails You Go Award
Passing this one to Joe Lieberman, and not for his insistence to keep running in a race that he lost the primary. Nope, this time, the pro-war and pro-Bush Democrat is being noticed for asking for the resignation of "Gin" Rummy. Joe's apparently decided that his campaign is like Burger King, where he can have it his way, no matter how many times his way changes.

Calling it Like It Is Award
Once again, we have to end on something of an up note, and we're actually giving out this particular award twice. The first recipient is last week's good news winner, Jon Stewart, for the way he took apart GDub's August news conference, and highlighted some of the issues currently revolving around the President. The second recipient is Kristin Powers, for pointing out to Ann Coulter the truth regarding Osama bin Laden, as detailed in our first award of the week.

Thank you. Stay safe, and find good news.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Keep Your Church Off My State

It is well-established that there is a history in the United States concerning a separation of church and state. Whether or not this ideal is acted on in practice is a matter for debate, but the ideal remains. In fact, this line of thought is used by those fighting to keep the Ten Commandments out of schools, the Bhagavad Gita out of courtrooms, and any reference to God off of our currency.

But if you listen to Katherine Harris, running for Senate in Florida, everything about the concept of the separation of church and state is a lie. She points out that "God is the one who chooses our rulers" as proof of her belief that church and state are forever linked. Nevermind that in America we don't have rulers, we have elected representatives, and that part of the thinking behind requesting a separation between the two entities was for our Founding Fathers to attempt to avoid the pitfalls that had sprung up in the nations they originally emigrated from.

Of course, this is the same Katherine Harris who was highly involved in the Florida recounts of 2000 (the disputed ones that lead to GDub accending to the presidency in the first place), and who has lost numerous staffers over the course of her campaign because they can't keep up with the mistruths that she's speaking on the trail. This is the same woman who pledged to spend all of her own money on the Senate race, until she was down to her last penny, but failed to mention that she wasn't counting a large inheritence that would still net her an easy six figures, if not more.

The moral of the story is that Katherine Harris knows lies for the same reason that Paris Hilton knows music. They both hear them all the time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Handed a full house

Just enough articles in the news jumping out at me, so it looks like it's time for another round of Shotgunning the News:

Strengthening Iran
Today, The Guardian put out an article claiming that the United States "War on Terror" has served to strengthen Iran's position in the Middle East, and it's rather hard to argue the point. After all, before toppling Hussein, Iran was barely a blip on our cultural radar, and was definitely not a threat. However, because of the boondoggle with the way that Iraq has been handled, the Iranian government is gathering a following in their neighbor. This should be raising more eyebrows globally, given that, for decades, Iran and Iraq couldn't agree on much of anything, and now the Iraqis are looking to their former enemies for assistance. Of course, the recent failure of Israel to achieve verifiable results in the campaign against Hezbollah (including the current cease-fire which Israel is straining with raids) has also helped to bolster the position of Iran in the area.

The real question with regards to this whole mess should of course be the President and his doomed notion to "stay the course", but that seems to be getting missed overall. Nevermind that the last time the US launched a "war" on a concept, we're still struggling to achieve actual victory, and have quite possibly improved the status of those whose ideals we're fighting against. Maybe it's time we launched a "War on Democracy", just to see if that, like terrorism or the drug trade, will grow at the same rate.

Or maybe it's already too late for that.

Really Not Ready for Primetime
There are reports that early suspicions regarding Saturday Night Live cast members being released are being confirmed through internal memos. Of course, NBC is not confirming, or even commenting (aside from the non-confirmation) on the subject. However, if the reports are true, then this season's SNL could be missing some of its key players.

Wait a minute. Looking over the article, it mentions that these people were comedians. I could've sworn that SNL stopped hiring comedians decades ago, at least for on-screen bits (with exception, of course, to Tina Fey, who's damned funny).

Don't Stimulate the Japanese
Officials for a Tokyo subway are declining to allow an advertisement for Harper's Bazaar to appear at stops. That advertisement was meant to feature August covergirl Britney Spears, in her naked and pregnant (and airbrushed) glory. The reasoning offered for turning down the full advertisement was that it might be "overly stimulating". The ads will be modified to feature Britney covered from the elbows down.

"Overly stimulating"? Britney Spears? About the only thing she can stimulate at this point (other than KFed making a bigger ass of himself than he already has) is inducing vomiting. Which, if we remember back to Bush Sr., the Japanese really don't look fondly on. So I guess they've made the right decision.

JANE and Community Service
Have problems getting a date that's willing to go all the way? That's apparently the problem faced by a reader of JANE magazine, who has enlisted their help in losing her virginity before she turns 30. This may seem odd, as, judging from the photo, she's at least passably attractive, and attractive women have little problem finding someone to sleep with, generally.

Ah, but there's a catch. Apparently she's looking for someone who isn't a complete jerk, and would actually be willing to have something of a relationship before allowing her to dance the horizontal mambo for the first time. To really cap it off, she's going to let the readers of JANE decide the right guy for her. And to think, a few years back, if you wanted to find someone for yourself, you actually had to do things like go out to clubs, and ask your friends. Now, with this "contest" and internet dating, you can move closer to getting filled out like an application from the privacy of your own home.

Love is in the air, indeed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Greed leads to the Dark Side

While George Lucas is no stranger to the concept of merchandising in relation to the Star Wars universe, it does seem odd that, for a story that's "finished", there's going to be more new material, being spearheaded by Lucasfilm itself. As we close in on the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, we will soon be met with a cartoon series (basically Episode 2.5) and a new video game (Episode 3.5).

It should come as no surprise that Lucas is willing to keep the money machine rolling. Anyone who hasn't successfully purged Episode One from their brains knows that, when the cash starts coming in, artistic integrity can start to slip. While the original Star Wars trilogy is not amongst the best films ever made, or even the best films of their respective years, there is something about the classic storylines and character models that works. The fact that it was played on a somewhat low-budget scale with stilted acting performances somehow adds to the charm. And yet, when the time came to start everyone thinking about a revival of the universe (around, oh, ten years ago with the "special editions"), Lucas followed the money and made the original movies splashier and, oddly enough, less appealing. Of course, this is also a man who said that the original versions of the films would never be available again, and is now releasing them on DVD later this year.

Of course, Star Wars fans worldwide will, naturally, decry Lucasfilm and the fact that they are once again being exploited for their money, simply to receive a subpar product as the end result. However, even in the face of that, they'll churn over their hard earned dollars for the chance to get another piece of information about the "galaxy far far away", and will use information gathered therein to fuel even more late-night discussions over Funyuns and Mountain Dew.

Possibly one of the most irritating things about this whole mess is that, when you boil it all down, Star Wars was something of a morality tale. The Force was controlled by our emotions, and, well, positive emotions and actions led to walking the Light Side, while negative emotions and actions forced you down the Dark Side. In another blatant money grab, George Lucas is making himself more and more like Anakin Skywalker everyday. And no, I'm not talking cherubic (yet thoroughly annoying) Anakin from Episode One. I'm talking mopey and overacted Anakin from Episode Three. Lucas is only a few steps away from slaughtering Jedi children with his desire for the quick buck, and, regardless of what he's said on the matter, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Episodes 7-9 are shoved down our throats.

And somehow, like the well-trained droids that we are, we'll answer the call and pony up the dough. Because, when it's all said and done, nobody wants to be choked at a distance by George Lucas.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We're number one! Just don't brag about it.

Something strange is going on when your movie tops the box office lists in its opening weekend, and yet the people behind the picture are saying that it was still a fairly disappointing showing. And yet, that's exactly what the hype-driven Snakes on a Plane is currently dealing with.

Quite honestly, I never expected to find myself writing about SoaP. Not because I don't think that it could be (and, by most accounts, is) a fairly fun movie. Not because I'm above dragging out the (now over-used) line of Samuel L. Jackson's. Honestly, I never expected to write anything about it because, well, it'd be hard to talk about something for which the hype-machine has been working so much overtime for, and which I haven't had the chance to see personally yet.

However, when I see that it took the number one spot at the box office and people are still complaining that it didn't do well enough, I just can't leave it alone. True, it opened with around $15M, which is barely over what Talladega Nights pulled down in it's third weekend. True, it wasn't really faced with stiff competition, because, while The Illusionist is probably quite good, it's not going to appeal to a broad audience, and Material Girls and Accepted just look like drivel thrown onto film. But still, when the movie has been getting pushed and hyped from every corner of the internet (and some corners of the world outside of the blogosphere), and it still only managed to pull down $15M, you have to wonder if part of that may have been caused by people having been too heavily inundated with the viral marketing around SoaP.

Now I don't for a second think that Snakes on a Plane is going to be a failure as a movie, either on the big screens, or in DVD sales. Hell, if the movie's really as fun as I've heard, it's going to have a lot of longevity by fans of B-movies, much like Tremors. But everyone needed to pull back a bit about two months ago and let the movie build up steam on its own, as opposed to inundating the public with more messages about how utterly amazing it's going to be.

Overall, I think that the marketing that surrounded Snakes on a Plane showcased both what's good and bad about the internet. If it hadn't been for the online push, SoaP would've stood a risk of being one of those PG-13 films that appears in theaters and is out on DVD before people have really registered that it exists. However, by being ever-present, the internet may have actually fueled a certain level of dispassion towards the film, as people saw the hype and decided to see what their friends and relatives were saying about it, rather than bust down the doors of the cineplex to get their tickets at the opening show.

Still, I firmly believe that the movie will do well. Of course, I also believe that it's only a matter of time before we can each go out and purchase our very own SoaP soap.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 14, 2006

Sometimes ideas pop into my head, and refuse to be shaken loose. Sometimes those ideas bleed out slowly over days and days, as I attempt to make sense of them. Sometimes, those ideas forcefully release themselves. The most recent idea is of the later, and has prompted me to attempt something new for the Coffee-Soaked Fridays. Basically, this is going to be an attempt to summarize some of the more ridiculous items from the past week, some of which have already been covered.

Without further ado, I present the Coffee-Soaked Awards for the week of August14, 2006.

The Award for Most Futile Gesture
Surprisingly enough, this award has actually generated a tie between the celebrities taking out an ad hating terrorism, and the Presidential pardon of an actor convicted of moonshining decades ago. It was suprisingly neck-and-neck, but at first, it seemed that Kidman et al would take the award handily. After all, what better way to prove your dedication to democracy than to amass a list of Hollywood stars and get them to pony up the big bucks required for an ad in a newspaper. However, when you realize that GDub pardoned someone who had never served jail time, and simply wanted a (relatively minor) black mark expunged from his record, you can see exactly why this award had to be given twice this week.

The (Un-)Constitutionality Award
Domestic spying has been under fire since its existence was formally announced. However, it wasn't until this week that the program was finally declared unconstitutional, with a demand made for it to halt. After being under intense scrutiny, and with supporters clamoring over its necessity, this is a big blow to the surveillance program. However, GDub (himself a perpetual nominee for the award) solidified the victory for wire-tapping, by swearing to overturn the federal ruling. Chalk up another (possible) victory for the right to spy on our own citizens.

The "Duh" Award
The Academy Awards have been around almost as long as the movies themselves, and gifts to celebrities have often been a part of those awards, at least in recent years. Well, congratulations to the IRS for finally realizing that those gift baskets being doled out to the nominees and winners may not actually be out of nothing more than generosity and compassion. Nope, they may be given out because of hopes for financial returns and free advertising. Consequently, the IRS has decided to finally start taxing these items. Guess now the Oscar will have to be reward enough itself.
Coming in a close second is the federal judge who figured out (through hours of Holmes-ian reasoning, no doubt) that tobacco companies have been deceptive.

The Award for Excellence in Commentary
Not all awards can go out to people that have done bad and/or stupid things, and this particular award goes out to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. Why? Well, aside from his style of news delivery, and the way that he's drilled other news programs in the past for their own pandering on an issue, this week Stewart outright accused CNN of "fearmongering", possibly in an attempt to raise ratings, especially in the face of FOXNews and MSNBC. Here's hoping that Stewart continues to unabashedly cover what he feels needs to be covered.

The Pot and the Kettle Award
This award goes out to Justin Timberlake, for his attacks against Taylor Hicks, this year's American Idol. Justin, in a recent interview, made mention of the fact that Hicks is, in his own estimation, unable to sing, and, god forbid, might be gay. Oddly enough, these same comments have been said for years about Timberlake.

So that's that. An attempt at a new direction for Fridays, and we'll see if they take off. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Taking a stand

Congratulations, Nicole Kidman! And congratulations to the 84 others that signed the ad with you! You've taken a difficult stand in light of recent world events.

Wait a minute. Celebrities are getting together to take out ads in The Los Angeles Times decrying terrorism, and this becomes news? Even worse, they're getting pats on the back because of their views?

Come on, people. First off, did we really need celebritites to tell us that terrorism is bad? I would've thought by now that we could figure that little piece of information out for ourselves. Secondly, should we really be complimenting (or, at the very least, acknowledging) them for the statement? After all, terrorism is bad is kind of like saying that drinking too much can lead to severe problems. Am I right, Mr. Gibson?

Maybe I'm being a little hasty. After all, maybe what the world needs now is celebrities, sweet celebrities, as they tell us what is harmful and dangerous. And, gosh darnit, if Nicole Kidman tells me that terrorism is bad, then I have no choice but to blindly agree.

I mean, it's not like they told me that Northwest Airlines is delivering a bit of a slap in the face to employees who may be about to lose their jobs. Now THAT would be going out on a limb, which, by the way, provides an excellent vantage point for Dumpster scouting missions.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So much crazy in the world

Which is why I welcome you all to another round of Shotgunning the News. I think, at this rate, I may need to trademark that name...

AOL Takes a New Tactic at Being Invasive
America Online, which won a 12.8 million dollar settlement against pervasive spammer Davis Hawke last year, has decided that, since Mr. Hawke hasn't been seen since prior to the court date, they would take their settlement out of his parent's property.


Apparently, AOL, acting on a tip from an ex-girlfriend of Hawke's, believes that he buried a large quantity of gold behind his parents house. The money for the gold was gathered originally through a series of internet scams run by Hawke and his partner, and AOL has decided that they are going to take the money owed them through any means necessary. Even if they need to bring bulldozers into the backyard of an elderly couple.

The catch, of course, is that they have full permission to start this dig, even on the thin hint offered by someone who, it could stand to reason, may be upset that she herself didn't get a larger portion of the pie. Of course, everyone else who has been asked about Hawke's loot denies any knowledge. In fact, Hawke's mother is looking forward to AOL digging up her land, waiting to see them "make fools of themselves."

Maybe she's just looking to get some new landscaping done, and figures that America Online can help foot the bill. The problem is that she'll end up with a walkway made entirely out of unused AOL start-up discs.

Crazy Forever
David Copperfield has unearthed a secret on one of his private islands. If he's right, the islands may not be all that private for too much longer. Long story short, Copperfield firmly believes that he's found the Fountain of Youth. After claiming to see miraculous things happen to whatever touches the water, Copperfield is now supposedly having biologists test the water to see how it could affect humans.

My expectation is that, if this claim has any legitimacy to it, the first result found will be that generations will be forced to watch as national landmarks are made to "disappear".

And here I was hoping that Copperfield had finally succeeded in performing the act that most of us want so desperately to see; the one where he makes himself and David Blaine disappear. Completely.

A Uniter at Last
President Bush is apparently mad as heck, and he's not sure what to do about it. Apparently, he's not thrilled with what's happening in Iraq with regards to the political situation and the public support of the American presence. He also doesn't think that the Iraqis support the sacrifice that America has made to help their situation.

Of course, it can't really be argued that the Iraqi people needed to be freed from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. He was a toxic persona, who was able to singlehandedly poison his own nation (along with much of the region) while filtering money into his own coffers. But, after he was removed from power, the concept for how to repair Iraq was firmly kept in the hands of the GDub Crew, as they had their ideals and didn't take the time to learn what the Iraqi people may have wanted for their future as a nation.

That, coupled with the fact that, because we haven't left yet, we're viewed as occupiers and borderline imperialists, makes the Iraqis less willing to go along with our views. Also, the overall ineffectiveness in rebuilding the nation, where Hezbollah is already making great strides to rebuild the devastated portions of Lebanon, has caused the decline in public opinion.

Our President. Uniting people in their disgust with America.

It Depends on What Your Definition of "It" Is
Bill Clinton has jumped on the Russ Feingold bandwagon. Almost. Just a couple of days after Feingold declared that Joe Lieberman "doesn't get it", Clinton decried Lieberman's political views, especially on the war. He then jumped out of his way to make the logical leap that voting for Ned Lamont would not be, in any way, voting for terrorists.

Come on, Bill. We all know that you're used to taking direction from your wife, but there's been a few times where obviously you claimed your own ground. If you can stand up and tell Monica Lewinski that she needs to smoke your cigar, then you can tell Joe Lieberman the same thing. After all, Joe's apparently used to being submissive around Presidents.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Home field advantage?

So GDub is fairly confident that the government and the military is doing everything they possibly can to help keep the threat of terrorist attacks down to a minimum. Apparently, this goes so far as to claim responsibility for thwarting the threats in London. Nevermind that those attacks were stopped by the British police... after all, that's just one of those little details of truth that becomes so inconvenient when someone is spouting rhetoric.

Now, I'm not going to say that perhaps America didn't have a hand somewhat in stopping that plot, but it was by no means direct, and it certainly isn't because of the actions we're currently taking on the global stage. Our involvement comes from the fact that, since the attacks of five years ago, the world is overall more cautious about things, and therefore the police were looking more intently at items that may have escaped their notice in the past. The planet is a hot-spot for conflict right now, and everyone's more on guard.

GDub also went on to say that, while America is safer than in the past, it's not truly safe by any means. After all, according to our President, the terrorists actually have an advantage if and when they decide to attack our cities and people.

Wait a minute. Isn't the home team supposed to have the advantage? Doesn't the familiarity with the environment benefit those that exist within the environment? Shouldn't we know the geography and overall workings of our own land better than someone who may be intent on creating terror within our borders?

Is it possible that we're at a disadvantage when handling interior problems because our leaders are looking outwards, mostly focusing on the Middle East and Central America, and not watching closely what happens in the part of the planet that has the Atlantic Ocean to its east and the Pacific Ocean to its west? Just a thought.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sex sells

And, where it doesn't sell, it can land you the prospect of becoming a political intern.

Nobody ever said that political interns weren't forward thinkers, and, as another crop of aspiring politicians rushes out to Washington, we shouldn't be surprised that they're dressing in ways that will bring them notice. After all, with literally thousands of candidates vying for the ability to start learning the political ropes that could land them a high-profile job in public service (as opposed to being a postal worker), why not try and shake things up a bit? Why dress in the same suit and shirt combination that everyone else seems to be wearing? Be different, stand out, and catch that partisan eye.

But the caution is that you need to know who you're trying to intern for. For example, if you're hoping to land an internship with Ted Kennedy, dressing like a bartender would be a good place to start. Aiming for Russ Feingold? Dress a little crazy, but have some hippi-esque elements to your wardrobe. Rick Santorum? Start with a stick hidden somewhere in your person (you can probably guess where) and proceed from there.

Overall, it's probably a good thing that Bill Clinton isn't running with the gang too much anymore. Because we all know that the sure-fire way to get Bill to notice you is, well, to be a woman. Or be a half-man half-tree like Janet Reno.

Of course, these kids have to tread carefully, what with the midterm elections coming up. After all, who wants to groom their appearance carefully to get notice from Mark Kennedy only to find out that they're now working under the very different watchful eye of Amy Klobuchar? The times they truly are a-changing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hammering it home

The Republican party shouldn't be accused of waffling on issues any time soon, and they're taking steps to prove that they're going to stand firm, even in the face of the "well-known liberal bias" of reality.

Take, for example, Ken Mehlmann, former deputy to Karl Rove. In the fervor surrounding Ned Lamont's victory in the primaries over Democrat-cum-Presidential-lapdog Joe Lieberman, Mehlmann has decided to lump Lamont with Rep. John Murtha. After all, we all know that Murtha once said that America is more dangerous than Iran or North Korea.

Except we also know that he was quoting a poll of foreign nations, and what the global community thought of the U.S. In fact, the early stories that omitted that simple little detail have all been retracted and corrected. So what's next, Ken? Are you going to try and spin that Lamont is also behind reports that UFOs are being held in Roswell, NM? Or how about painting Lamont as a strong believer in the notions put forth by The DaVinci Code. After all, if you're going to paint him with one work of fiction, why not keep going?

Meanwhile, the President is taking his own tactic at staying the course. In fact, he's spun the near-bombings from London as proof positive that we need to continue fighting the war on terror, and that the American people should put their support behind the Republican party, because they are the only ones with a clear idea of how to fight said war. The problem is that, a few years back, America DID launch a global war on terror. Somewhere along the lines, we got waylaid, forgot to check GoogleEarth, and found ourselves wandering away from Afghanistan (where we knew the Taliban was holed up), and marched into Iraq, where we've been stuck ever since.

So, Mr. President, are we still expected to believe that the current way of handling this global war, which resembles more and more a war simply on Iraq and Co. every day, is the most prudent course? And is it ever wise to use potential terrorist attacks as proof that you're platform is succeeding?

I think somewhere along the way, GDub channeled Marvin the Martian, and he's currently waiting for an "earth-shattering kaboom." It would certainly explain a lot.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

So many questions

And just enough going on in the world that I am once again compelled to bring a round of shotgunning the news.

Living in Oblivion
Joe Lieberman, the man who lost the Connecticut primary even though he was the incumbent, and a former vice-presidential candidate is starting to receive supporters from across the country in his bid to run as an independant. The problem for Joe is that those supporters are Republicans.

Given that a lot of the reason that Joe lost the primary has to do with his being too supportive of the GOP and the President's policies concerning the war in Iraq, the last thing that he should want is support from the Republican party. And yet, he's quite obviously the type to stare blindly into the future, taking support from wherever he can get it. Of course, his campaign will make it doubly hard for the Democrats to keep the seat, but that's pretty much a hallmark of the Lieberman political career.

Just a note for Lieberman (not that I expect he or anyone affiliated with him is reading this). Just because someone gives you a kiss, it doesn't mean that you have to get into bed with them. And remain there, no matter what your friends say. Of course, it might not be a bad idea for you to look into what Samantha Bee of The Daily Show suggested... start your own Senate. At least that way you can't hurt more people.

A Bust is a Bust is a Bust
Recently unveiled in New York's Museum of Sex is a bust of Clinton. I know what you're thinking, because I wondered myself on the intelligence behind getting a bust of Bill, especially given his penchant for the ladies.

But we're wrong, because it turns out that the bust in the museum is, well, that of Hillary. From just below the, um, bust line. Created by the same artist, Daniel Edwards, who sculpted the naked statue of Britney Spears, there is now a mostly-unveiled sculpture of Hill's upper quarter. The artist felt it was important to "reveal her chest a little bit." Sen. Clinton hasn't had any comment as of yet, but Bill has probably been more attracted to the statue since it went up than he has been to his wife for a few years.

Biggest question raised by this has got to be, "Why does Daniel Edwards hate us?"

Muppets Behaving Badly
We're not quite sure if Jim Henson is spinning in his grave, or if he's reached a point where he's laughing hysterically.

Turns out that, over in Edinburgh, Brian Henson is staging adult-only shows, named "Jim Henson's Puppet Improv". Apparently, after a full day of doing children's shows, the cast decides to unleash their inner "Avenue Q" and turns out adult-themed shows prompted by audience suggestions. The younger Henson, who is also planning on ruining many people's childhoods by making a sequel to "The Dark Crystal", seems to believe that his father would adore the work, by saying that Jim had a darker sense of humor than most people believe.

This may actually be true, thinking back to some of the early episodes of "The Muppet Show". Let's just hope that Brian can keep the puppets from going too far into the realm of the wrong, and we're not assaulted with "Meet the Feebles: Live and Onstage".

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

True colors in primary hues

By now, pretty much everyone who has access to any form of media knows that Joe Lieberman, the incumbent Democratic senator from Connecticut, has lost his party primary to Ned Lamont. While he didn't lose by a ridiculously large margin, he still lost, and therefore will not find himself receiving the endorsement of his party as the campaigns work themselves towards November.

This normally isn't a huge deal, as, in most cases, losing the party primary will keep people from running anyway. They'll realize that, to better the chances of their party securing the elected position, it's not smart to split votes between two campaigns. Otherwise, they run the risk of Nader-izing the election.

Unfortunately for the people of Connecticut, Lieberman doesn't seem to understand that. Even worse, Lieberman is planning on forging ahead with his Independant campaign in spite of the fact that Democrats nationwide are throwing support to Lamont and begging Lieberman to accept his defeat with some measure of grace.

I mean, this situation is kind of like the New York Yankees deciding that they were the most likely team to win the 2005 World Series even after their defeat against the Angels. Or the Columbus Blue Jackets announcing that they were going to take home the 1998 Stanley Cup, two years before they started playing. Simply deciding that, even after losing, you'd be a more likely person to take home the big prize than the one that beat you is slapping reality in the face, and Lieberman, who has kissed up to the GOP while claiming to be a staunch Democrat, has slapped reality so many times recently that he's left a hand-print.

Is it possible that Joe Lieberman is the Rocky Balboa of politics? Is he a man who can suffer a stunning defeat only to come out victorious and heroic through perseverance?

Or is he a man on an ego trip, one that increases the likelihood that, in 2006, Connecticut will send a Republican to the Senate?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quantity over quality

Apparently, when you're a politically-slanted author, writing from an extremist position, and you come under fire for possible plagiarism and/or willful misrepresentation of citations to push your point onto the audience that will already support you, the best defense you can offer is to show just how often you use footnotes and endnotes.

At least, that's the case currently being presented by Ann Coulter. In a report by Media Matters, analyzing from themselves the endnotes presented by Coulter in her most recent book, they find numerous examples where Coulter simply twisted a quote to make it apply more to her point (1), where she made up a "fact" to support her views (2), and where she outright omitted information from quotes that would have dispusted her particular angle of attack (3). Of course, this being Ms. Coulter, and this being a day and age where the spewing of hate speech sells books (yes, I'm looking at Michael Moore and Al Franken as well as Coulter and her right-wing cronies), the publishing house is calling all charges levied against the book as being baseless and trivial (4). Why? Because, darnit, she knows when to make citations, and she has literally thousands of citations with her book (5).

I guess if it's good enough for Crown Publishing (6), it's good enough for me. Heck, it's nice to know that, so long as you have a lot of footnotes, you don't even have to verify their truth.

1. Coulter's points are often espoused by the Christian Right, National Socialists, and anyone else who feeds on the souls of infants.
2. "Fact" is merely a twist on reality as perceived by the majority of people. Therefore, anyone can make up a fact, convince people of it's reality, and act as though it's always been that way. See Wikipedia.
3. The angle of attack is approximately 35 degrees.
4. All your trivia are belong to us.
5. Citations make the man. Footnotes make the better man who can better manipulate reality (7).
6. Crown Publishing mainly supports the excessive use of footnotes and endnotes as proof of legitimacy because it lines their corporate coffers. And because they hate trees.
7. Footnotes do not need to have a base in truth to make a better man. Pearl Jam also does not need said base in truth.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Take two and call me in the morning

Those wacky German scientists, always experimenting with something new. Well, if their recent development holds up and can be useful for humans as well as flies and mice, then we may actually have something here. Basically, for all intents and purposes, the Germans are developing what they're referring to as an "anti-stupidity pill". This pill is purported to stop short-term memory loss, increase alertness, and other effects could be noticed if it turns out to be effective on creatures that can talk.

Just think of the possibilities. One pill, if it works, could allow you to remember where you set your keys down when you got home from work. It'll keep you from missing deadlines, because you'll be able to recall them before they pass. Your spouse will stop hating you for forgetting their birthday and your anniversary. Hollywood will be forced to take risks with entirely new stories, as opposed to remaking classic film and television into a new, watered-down form. Rob Schneider and Jon Heder will stop getting cast.

And, if this drug really works, then the first people who need it are in Austria. Why is there such a need just southeast of where the drug is being researched? They pay Paris Hilton $1m just to wave at people. Seems to me like medicating the Austrians might be a good way to stop this practice. It's really too bad that no drug in existence is strong enough to save us all from more Paris.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Welcomed as liberators

The United States just seems to be able to do no wrong in our global policy. After all, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Baghdad, where there were American and Israeli flags painted on the roads themselves. People were even spotted carrying flags for the two nations, and there were some dolls of GDub and Israeli PM Olmert.

Except for the fact that the flags were painted on the ground so that Iraqis could trample over the images, the flags were carried so that they could be burned, and the dolls were actually effigies with vampire fangs, but those are all insignificant details, right? And the secondary fact that some of the Iraqis view GDub as being as bad, and possibly worse, than Saddam doesn't carry any weight, does it?

Yeah, maybe the Iraqis don't really like us after all. Of course, how can you really blame them when our President didn't bother to take the time to learn that there were multiple sects of Islam within Iraq itself, and that the sects aren't necessarily the most fond of each other. In fact, when meeting with three Iraqi Americans who attempted to illustrate the point, Bush is said to have responded, "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!" Maybe the three meeting with the Decider didn't bring enough crayons of varying colors while illustrating their point.

Through the entire conflict, GDub has stressed the importance of bringing democracy to the region. Well, Lebanon held democractic elections. So did Iraq. And, to an extent, so did Iran. And yet those are some of the hotspots, and the largest military force is provided by another democratic country. Maybe democracy isn't such a good thing to spread after all. It's kind of like biting into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich only to crack your teeth on a nut, when you were pretty sure that it was the creamy peanut butter that had been used.

And finally, in whacko news, apparently Mel Gibson isn't an anti-Semite. This according to other movie stars, who, amazingly, still count themselves among Gibson's friends. They also say that he's a "different person" when he's drinking. Which means that alchohol turns him from Dr. Gibson into Mr. I-Hate-Jews. And when he's really on a bender, he becomes Mr. Why-Doesn't-Sugartits-Understand-Why-I-Hate-Jews.

I guess Hollywood really is a dream machine, where people can live their fantasy lives however they choose.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Time to get away

With wars still raging across the Middle East, what on earth is a Decider to do? Apparently, it's time to go on vacation.

For all you worrywarts out there, this isn't going to be one of his normal vacations. This is going to be his shortest summer vacation yet. Just goes to show that, when your war against Iraq is taking a turn for the worse, and the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has no immediate signs of a resolution, the best plan possible is to take a trip to your personal ranch, but only for nine days.

And he won't just be resting on his laurels this trip. Oh no, GDub is going to be working during his vacation. To underline just how much of his official duties he will be focusing on during the trip to his ranch, GDub told a crew of reporters, "For those of you going to Crawford, saddle up." He'll also be campaiging and attending barbecues. And if that doesn't scream presidential duty, then I don't know what does.

But don't fear, Washington. The Decider is going to spend time in our nation's capital this August, and attend to the office to which he was elected. He'll just be at the White House when he's not in Crawford (one trip now and another at the end of the month), or visiting Kennebunkport. And that important work he's going to be doing over the month of August? Well, it's going to be decent amounts of travel, while campaigning to help the GOP try to retain their majority in Congress.

After all, as Americans, shouldn't we come to expect that, when the going gets tough, the tough are going to bury their heads in the sand on their ranch?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Heartbeats and wizards and business, oh my

More Wednesdays, more shotgunning. Although, in light of world events as of late, I may have to start calling it "Shotfunning"... sounds less painful that way.

Anyways, first up we've got proof that, just like teenagers the world over, professional authors have just too much time on their hands, and obsess like drooling fanboys over other people's works. Specifically, the phenomenon that is Harry Potter has spawned two of America's top authors to plead with J.K. Rowling concerning her final book. John Irving, creator of "The World According to Garp", and Stephen King, creator of a whole pile of books meant to scare the pants off of people, have collaborated to beg Rowling to not kill of Potter in the final book. Mind you, she hasn't actually said who will die in the story, but she has made it clear that at least two main characters will see the final pages from inside the literary equivalent of a pine box. It seems a bit odd for King to be requesting saving a character, given that he carved his own career by liberally killing off characters left and right from his stories. Of course, he has yet to completely kill of his acting career. Maybe his next book needs to feature a celebrity who spouts anti-Semitic diatribes while engaging in a rampage against cops. King can play the gruff police chief.

Moving on, when is big business not really all that big? Apparently, when it shows up on the list of businesses that the White House has given grants to. In an effort to make themselves seem more small-business friendly, the WH has gone so far as to refer to companies such as the Associated Press, ExxonMobil and Microsoft as small business when talking about grants given to such organizations. Honestly, it's hard to think of many larger businesses that could have received government money. Of course, the companies claim that they were misrepresented by the WH itself, saying that they never referred to themselves with the designation of "small". This seems entirely possible, as I'm sure that GDub calls Halliburton a "Mom & Pop startup."

And what of GDub and his recent physical exam? Well, the man who launched a war that appears to have no end with Iraq, steadfastly refuses to encourage peace resolutions between Israel and Hezbollah, and who is constantly under fire for taking the democracy we call America into increasingly imperialistic directions somehow has a resting heart-rate comparable with professional athletes. Other items of note from the physical are that he's gotten a little fatter since his last physical (both in terms of weight gain and body fat percentage), that he rarely experiences acid reflux, and that his long distance vision is slipping. Well, in all honesty, pretty much everyone in the global community, doctor or not, could have told you that GDub's long distance vision was slipping. After all, he thought that Iraq would be a quick engagement, and he firmly believes (still) that Israel is right on the verge of wiping out Hezbollah and returning to the "peaceful" relations they've always had with the rest of the Middle East.

To quote Mel Brooks, apparently, "It's good to be the king."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sprucing up the joint

The future is now, and it seems that even the White House pressroom is making efforts to catch up with the rising tide of technology. Ever since the hiring of talking head Tony Snow as the official talking head for the White House, the press briefings have taken on an aspect leaning more and more towards entertainment, rather than simple information dissemination. With new plans in the works for video capabilities, it seems even more likely that the press briefing is going to become its own form of television.

True, the Bush Administration has utilized the available technologies more than previous administrations, running the gamut from video walls behind speakers to emphasize a point all the way to prepackaging videos for news organizations. But by adding video into the daily press briefing, it serves to reinforce the idea that the adminstration is not simply putting a PR spin on their activities, but that they're going to make that PR spin as glossy and shiny as they possibly can.

Just think. In a few short months, we can tune in to seeing Tony Snow talking in front of a video wall showing proud Americans supporting the President. We could hear the voice of "Gin" Rummy echoing over a flag blowing in the wind. There's the subtle chance that we could have Condi talking while superimposed into a Godzilla movie, as she battles the radioactive lizard into submission. And, with greenscreen technology, we could finally see the Decider in Chief strutting his way through a western ghost town, with pistols at the ready, just in case Dirty Kim Jong Il pops up with his gang of ruffians.

You know, this may not really be a bad thing, after all. Especially given that, given their actions recently and reactions to those actions, Lindsey Lohan and Mel Gibson may soon find themselves looking for new avenues to explore their talents. Where better than in the SnowBush White House, directed by Oliver Stone and produced by 20th Century Fox?

Who am I kidding. Stone would have far too many conspiracy theories bouncing around his skull to direct that picture.