Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hinky Pinky, or: A word for it

Not only is there a word for it, but it’s spawned a whole new area of academic study. Who knew?
A historian of science at Stanford, [Robert] Proctor points out that when it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.
Upside-down information relationships, or: Why the world gets dumber by the day.
He has developed a word inspired by this trend: agnotology. Derived from the Greek root agnosis, it is "the study of culturally constructed ignorance."
Agnots, or: Who you bang heads with at every large gathering of family or coworkers.
"People always assume that if someone doesn't know something, it's because they haven't paid attention or haven't yet figured it out," Proctor says. "But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what's true and what's not."
Confusing the truth, Making shit up, or: Obama’s Bill Hands ACORN $5.2 Billion Bailout.
As Farhad Manjoo notes in True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, if we argue about what a fact means, we're having a debate. If we argue about what the facts are, it's agnotological Armageddon, where reality dies screaming.
Agnotological Armageddon, or: Rightwing talk radio, rightwing blogs, rightwing think tanks, Jonah Goldberg, and every pixel on Free Republic.
We need to fashion information tools that are designed to combat agnotological rot.
Agnotological rot killer, or: Yeah, well, good luck with that.

[h/t Dave B. at Catboxx.]

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Being American means never having to say you’re sorry and … what was the other thing?

Joe Bageant, watching the presidential inauguration in Belize along with the local Garifunas, Mestizos, and Creoles, shares his thoughts about Obama’s speech.
Despite the comparisons to Martin Luther King, who never delivered a hypocritical speech or sermon in his life, Obama had his hypocritical moments. Such as, "We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.” That can be construed at least a couple of ways: It could mean that, “As six percent of the planet’s population we will continue to use more than a quarter of the world’s resources to consume needless techno-junk and pay for Madonna’s liposuction.” Or that, “As a nation, we will continue to grow stupider, more provincial and more oblivious as a people, simply because we have the firepower to do so. Expect no apologies.”
I prefer the latter interpretation. Now stupid, provincial, and oblivious wouldn’t necessarily be bad -- alone or in combination -- if only these traits actually made us a happy people. Clearly they don’t. Americans are never happy. We are in a permanent state of defensively offensive preemption against… what? Everything, apparently. We are armed to our over-bleached teeth, we ingest demon-shrinking pills by the millions, we wash them down with enormous quantities of booze, and, if we’re still conscious, we turn on the TeeVee to finish ourselves off with artery-clogging junk food and soul-killing pop culture.
Actually, when it comes to American apologies, certainly the Iraqi people are at the top of a very long list. But nations are essentially armed turf gangs and the most heavily armed -- America at the moment -- is no more likely to apologize to anyone than the LA Crips are for the latest drive-by shoot-up of a Blood Tupperware party.
That’s the only cheery thought for some Americans these days. We’re still the Crips, and we may still have a few more Blood Tupperware parties to visit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One minute you're playing the Sousaphone, the next minute the Sousaphone is playing you.

Reminder: Blogroll Amnesty Day is soon upon us!

Sator Arepo of The Detritus Review considers, among other things, almost metaphors.

Over at The Great Endarkenment, Chris cautiously celebrates the fact that We’re Back.

Reconstitution 2.0 reviews the ugly truth of Conservative economics.

And Buttermilk Sky tags her wonderful free-association inaugural commentary as national nightmare, over.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A smidgen of optimism

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am feeling a smidgen of optimism today. But that's as much as I'll allow because, after all, this isn't my first time at the rodeo. Nonetheless, I keep finding myself tearing up during the pre-inaugural festivities because OMFG!!!1!!11! the error era of Dubya and the Dickster is almost over.

Now, if the TeeVee airheads would just stop solemnly intoning about how our inauguration is such a wonderful object lesson for the rest of the world regarding the orderly transfer of power. I just hope the viewers in England, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, et al have a sense of humor about that. After all, they are much more orderly -- and certainly much more efficient and pragmatic -- than we are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

81 cans of Spam

Mr. Nearing reports: At the supermarket checkout, the guy in front of him, in his sixties and a few ounces shy of the morbidly obese category, is buying nothing but Spam. Eighty-one cans of Spam in all. Mr. N. can’t resist and jokingly asks the guy, “Stocking up the bomb shelter?” Spam guy responds, “Well, Obama has no experience. We’re gonna get bombed.”

Mr. N., who monitors Rush and Hannity and all those other wankers, makes the connection. “That’s right. Glenn Beck was talking about that the other day.”

Spam guy’s face lights up; he thinks he’s found a compatriot and leaves the store with a smile on his face. When he’s safely out of earshot, the teenaged cashier starts singing, We eat ham and jam and spam a lot….

Holy Hormel! Poor Spam guy. The cholesterol’s gonna kill him before any bomb does.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

To the victor goes the kitsch

Time‘s Ramesh Ponnuru emits some preternaturally high-pitched squealing over all the commemorative mugs, plates, coasters, lava lamps(!) et cetera celebrating Obama’s inauguration because, you know, Americans have never been known to buy stuff like presidential action figure dolls before.

In some of his supporters, we see the spectacle of secular-minded folk looking for a messiah.

Just knew that was coming, didn’t you.

But we risk looking like spoilsports or sore losers…

Yes, yes you do, especially when you obsess about possible record-breaking Port-O-Potty usage on Inauguration Day.

…and we can sympathize with the excitement over the first nonwhite President, even if we would have preferred that someone else had played the role.

Gee, Ramesh, that’s mighty white of you, but I’d like to point out that the presidency is not a role. It’s something called a high elected office. That might be where you got into trouble in vouching for Bush.

The Naughts are having fun with Ramesh over at Sadly, No!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Barking at the wind

You’d think they’d know better by now, but some conservatives are still pinning their hopes -- political, financial, otherwordly -- on sexual organs.

Larry Sinclair is going the Paula Jones route regarding presidential genitalia, except that he’s springing for the extra cost of Express Mail.
Dear Michelle Robinson Obama:

I am sending you this letter to express my disappointment in your involvement and active participation in the fraud that you and Barry Soetoro have committed and continue to commit on the American people….

I remember you making the following statement in your dig on Hillary Clinton over her husbands[sic] affairs, "How can you manage the White House when you can't control your own house."

Well I have enclosed a physical description of your husband’s genitals. I ask you to, publicly state that the enclosed description is not accurate. I also ask you to take questions concerning your personal knowledge of your husband’s sexual encounters with the murdered Donald Young, myself and other men over the course of your marriage. After all, you yourself repeated the call of your husband for openness and transparency. Then let’s be open and transparent.

Understand that I will include the enclosed physical description and this letter in the soon to be released book: BARACK OBAMA & LARRY SINCLAIR: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder?

Contrary to those obots [sic] claims; you are not a victim here, in fact you and I both know that you have actively engaged in the attacks and efforts to shut me up and you had full knowledge of the relationship between Barry and Donald Young and Barry's use of Donald Young to get information from me as to who I had told of Barry's 1999 actions.

I hope that something in your heart of stone might soften and you might in the words of Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing!"


Lawrence (Larry) Sinclair
"One of the other men in your husbands life."
What kind of pervert sends a letter to a woman demanding that she verify his description of her husband’s genitalia and (1) touts his forthcoming book in the letter, (2) signs the whole fabricated bit of attention-demanding extortion with Respectfully, and (3) puts his nickname in parentheses?

No word yet if Larry Sinclair is attending The Maneuvers Convention in DC, an event I am now fully up to speed on thanks to the excellent coverage of Concerned Women for America and the descriptive photo cataloging of Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth. [This is their official website, but be warned: sometimes the photos are not workplace safe. We owe Mr. LaBarbera a tremendous debt of gratitude derisive snorting for his unflagging research efforts.]
Washington Hotel Hosts Homosexual Orgy on Eve of Inauguration Festivities

As millions head to Washington, D.C. to participate in Inaugural events kicking off this Sunday, the Doubletree Hotel on Rhode Island Avenue has set aside a block of guest rooms and several conference rooms for a homosexual mass orgy. The invitation-only event called "The Maneuvers," booked at the Doubletree Hotel Washington for three days, is one part of the larger Mid-Atlantic Leather Conference being held at a nearby hotel.
Of course the dears at CWA and AFT are only concerned about the potential health consequences for everyone in the metro DC area....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rush Limbaugh’s To-Do List

Featured in Cracked’s 20 Celebrity Lives in Flowchart Form.

Follow the link to view some very clever flowcharts detailing the daily lives of Salvador Dali, Sherlock Holmes, Nicolas Cage, Tiger Woods, Nancy Grace, and some celebrities I’m too old to know.

Some things change... I mean, more things stay... Won't get changed again

The Atlantic has a nifty Then and Now statistical map that details the changes America has witnessed since George W. Bush took office in 2001. The map highlights the painfully obvious, eg, manufacturing-employment growth over the previous 8 years was -22.2%, as well as the, ah, cryptic, eg, the number of school groups visiting the NSA’s Cryptologic Museum more than doubled. Below is a detail from the stat map.

[h/t to Joey DeVilla at Accordion Guy]

The point at which I stopped reading

The modern political persuasion called Liberalism can be compared to a beautiful, seductive temptress. Alluring and destined to feel good for a while, but after a fling with this wily ideology one is left realizing that the intoxicating goddess was more like a cheap prostitute. This seducer of the mind and soul leaves one intellectually and spiritually bankrupt, and infected with a life long hatred of tradition, morals and values. The Liberal or Progressive ideology is definitely a feel good political philosophy. As the Bible so wisely warns us to resist the temptations of the flesh so must we resist the emotional temptation and seduction of modern Liberalism.

From “Seductive Ideology Takes Over Jan. 20th,” by David M. Huntwork #

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

People, do you want your fucking dots connected or not?

“I just can’t envision myself, you know, with a big straw hat and Hawaiian shirt, sitting on some beach,” the president said, adding, “particularly since I quit drinking.”

If I had known I was still capable of being appalled by Bush, I would have skipped his press conference. As it was, I was still reeling from the gibberish of this CNN segment, which obviously had been recycled from inspired by this AP story, “In Obama, Many See an End to Boomer Era.”

The upshot was this: The Baby Boom era is over because soon-to-be President Barack Obama uses a BlackBerry. Or something.

CNN also wondered about the prospect of intergenerational warfare. Obama, who is technically a Baby Boomer, is spiritually more aligned with Cuspers or Generation Jonesers and, well, fuck Social Security and Medicare and all that.

It also was confidently declared that “boomers have never been known for a whole lot of self-sacrifice” and they “have not and will not ever leave, ever go quietly into the night.” Post inauguration, it seems, the ready-response euthanasia squads get the green light should the Boomers bitch too much about their squandered entitlements.

Then Bush was on the TeeVee giving a press conference, apparently just to ground his heels in the wreckage. God he was appalling. This little gem of a diatribe was in response to a question about America’s lost moral standing over torture and harsh interrogation techniques.
Do you remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here? In press conferences and opinion pieces and in stories -- that sometimes were news stories and sometimes opinion pieces -- people were saying, how come they didn't see it, how come they didn't connect the dots? Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do. When people were hauled up in front of Congress and members of Congress were asking questions about, how come you didn't know this, that, or the other? And then we start putting policy in place -- legal policy in place to connect the dots, and all of a sudden people were saying, how come you're connecting the dots?
Sad to think that although more than 75 million Americans were born during the post-WWII baby boom, the Boomers have produced only two presidents. One was impeached and the other should have been.

What a waste.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Josephus the Plumber has arrived in Israel for his brief stunt stint as a war correspondent. For the first time since coming to national and international attention, Joe publicly discussed actual plumbing-related matters.
The people of Sderot "can't do normal things day to day," like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in, Wurzelbacher said. "I'm sure they're taking quick showers. I know I would."
In addition to establishing the causal relationship between sloppy lathering techniques and incoming missiles, JTP also ragged on Israel for not bombing Gaza more and faster and accused foreign correspondents of being unpatriotic and failing to protect their families.

Dude better skip the showers altogether.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

3,035 days late and a couple trillion dollars short

From the Dallas News, Dubya talks about his big plans for the Bush presidential library and institute at Southern Methodist University.
It's going to be a place of debate, thought, writing, lecturing. There will be fellows…. And it shouldn't be debate about me; it ought to be debate about big ideas. I'm talking about policy writings and discussions. And who knows – we may host debates. That would be pretty cool, sometime, to host a presidential debate. But by debate I mean discussion – and not typical Washington argument, but good, sound thought and the pros and cons of different ideas.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Meet me at Bornes & Nobel

Trademark infringement and intellectual property rights be damned -- I find this endearing. China is building a new shopping center dedicated to fake brands. Coming soon to the mall in Nanjing are McDnoald’s, Bucksstar Coffee, and Pizza Huh.

If there are any Nanjing mall developers out there, here are my suggestions (and I'm not expecting any royalties).

Monday, January 05, 2009

Things I Just Learned I Didn’t Know: Special Bush Legacy Project Edition

The pickings are getting slim content-wise over at the White House website. Curiously, the catapulted propaganda for privatizing Social Security is still up, perhaps in an act of ironic bravado. You’d think that would have been one of the first items scrubbed when no one was looking.

Maybe the website staff was too busy uploading and catapulting the final piece of White House propaganda, 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration Record [PDF].

The spunky PowerPoint style features lots of action verbs -- combat, strengthen, provide, protect, advance, transform, create -- and key items set ALL CAPS lest we gloss over them. However, there are no references (the White House don’t need no stinkin’ references) and -- exasperating in a document promising exactly 100 things -- no enumeration.

At first I read 100 Things with pencil and paper at the ready, trying to keep a thing count as I went along, but I soon gave up. I mean, would you count this as one, two, or three things?

Or would you, viewing the statement as one man’s wishful thinking about his epitaph, just disqualify the item for list inclusion?

More often it’s not the math that’s the problem but the reality. What can you do with these things other than laugh or cry or laugh and cry?

How can you read that last thing and not think of this….

I’m inclined to approve this thing for inclusion on the list since first-person testimonial is on file.

The testimonial is that of Chanley Painter, Miss Teen Arkansas-America 2001.
I have always believed one should remain abstinent until marriage. Not only are you protecting your heart, mind, and body, but also your future family from the life-changing and deadly affects of premarital sex. My Christian faith, the teaching of my family, and my positive role models are also main factors in my pledge of abstinence.

Being a part of the "Choosing to Excel" program has allowed me countless opportunities to reach out to youth in my community….
But how on earth do you evaluate this thing? If you took all the stupidity and arrogance contained in this statement and loaded it into the Large Hadron Collider, surely the first couple rocks from the sun would be destroyed.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Decommissioning Short Bus One

Click photo to enlarge.

The Point at Which I Stopped Reading

From Norm Coleman: Textbook Example of GOP Cowardice, by Extremely Extreme Extremist.
In the movie "Friday," Smokey (played by Chris Tucker) and Craig (played by rapper Ice Cube) are routinely harassed by Debo (played by Tommy Lister, Jr.). Debo takes their jewelry and their money throughout the movie, before Craig finally stands up to him and kicks his behind.

There are parallels to the movie and to today's Republican Party….