April 28, 2006


All the News That’s Fit to Stink

...I’ve been somewhat busy over the last week and a half, and haven’t found as much time to write as much as I would like to. I still found myself devouring the news like Augustus sucking down chocolate in the Wonka factory, and felt the need to be the opinionated jerk that I am. In turn, I figured that I’d try spouting off on a few things.
...Former crack dealer 50 Cent is upset that Oprah doesn’t have more rappers on her show and “caters to older white women.” Apparently it’s not enough that rap is getting only 24-hour coverage on MTV Jams, 12-hour coverage on MTV2, and that all the anchors on SportsCenter talk more ebonics than sports. 50 Cent—along with fellow rapper Ludacis—isn’t happy that he’s not getting similar coverage from Ms. Winfrey.
...It’s just so unfair that Oprah hasn’t come around and sacrificed all those silly middle class gals with purchasing power in favor of teenagers (who often get their purchasing power from their middle class moms giving them spending money), crack addicts, and gang members. Damn her.
...Apparently a graduate of the James Frey School of Creative Writing, Harvard teen Kaavya Viswanathan had her plagiarism discovered in her book How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, only to explain that she had “internalized” the words of novelist Megan McCafferty, of whom Viswanathan was a fan.
...This reminds me of the time that Vanilla Ice defended his theft of Queen’s classic song Under Pressure for his own hit Ice, Ice Baby by suggesting that adding an extra note somehow made it his own.
...It seems more like Viswanathan is yet one more person who wants to be famous and is willing to resort to any means necessary.
...When Men’s Health offers information on topics related to sex, they interview doctors, psychologists, and sex therapists. When Maxim offers information on sex, they go to former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss.
...Charlie Sheen couldn’t be reached for comment because he was too busy studying photos of commercial jetliners.
...Hoping to win the votes of those who get most of their political information from bumper stickers, T-shirts, and Sean Penn interviews, politicians all over the country are jumping on board the windfall profit tax bandwagon to “punish” Big Oil for the increased cost of petroleum products as well as the increased profits of oil corporations like Exxon-Mobil, which recorded a mind-blowing $8.4 billion in first-quarter net income.
...Sure, the windfall profit tax brought in less revenue than had been expected when it was implemented in the 1980s, and sure, it lowered domestic production by as much as 4.8 percent, but hey, it sounds good on those bumper stickers.
...Oh, and who exactly is punished by a windfall profit tax? Why, it seems to be the consumer—not the oil companies. Let’s consider this: Oil corporations are taxed—or fined, if you prefer—several million dollars; the money goes to the government; in order to recoup the money that was confiscated by the government, the oil companies charge more for their products to their distributors; the distributors charge the gas stations (or other retail outlets) more; the gas stations and other retail outlets charge more at the pump; the consumer pays more.
...So, the government gets rich, the oil companies just charge more to get their money back, and I still get fucked at the pump.
...Put that on a bumper sticker.

April 21, 2006


Bosom Buddies

You mean that he’s not really doing free door-to-door breast exams? No way!
...I’m not going to even bother paraphrasing this story because you have to read it verbatim to realize how completely stupid some people can be. Be sure to watch the accompanying video with Keith Olbermann, who added a few more interesting bits of information that weren’t covered in the text, such as the fact that the one victim thought that free door-to-door breast exams were normal, but a red flag didn’t go up until the dirty old man didn’t bother to don latex gloves to do the free breast exam as she was lying naked in her bed.
...As if it really needs to be said, the women in this story who thought that a little old man offering free door-to-door breast examinations might be legitimate, I have but two things to offer: 1.) You may very well be the dumbest people that America has to offer, and 2.) You have nothing to complain about; the dirty old man offered to give you a free breast exam, and you said yes. He gave you what you wanted.
...Now go smoke a cigarette and bask in the afterglow.

April 16, 2006


What Would Jesus View?

...This story isn’t so much controversial or thought-provoking as much as it is confusing.
...Television station WNEP in northeastern Pennsylvania has a tradition of airing the home-opener of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. This year’s home-opener, however, fell on Good Friday. That caused the station to rethink televising the baseball game and offer programming that was more appropriate for a day as holy as that which signifies the day when Jesus Christ was crucified.
...When asked about the potential for televising the game, station president and general manager C. Lou Kirchen said, “Good Friday is not an appropriate day for us to do that.”
...Instead of airing a blasphemous baseball game, WNEP opted to air more pious programming such as the tabloid show Inside Edition, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Primetime featuring an interview with noted Scientologist Tom Cruise.
...There’s no word yet on the station’s Christmas line-up.
Source: Fox Sports

April 12, 2006


Hot Air or Hot Air?

...I’ll be honest: I’ve been viewing the global warming push with much skepticism for a few years now. It has nothing to do with politics—it has to do with science.
...In 1998, the BBC covered a meeting of climatologists and astronomers speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Philadelphia in which the scientists explained that the cause of global warming was the sun and not necessarily the release of pollution.
...In 2003, the Harvard Gazette published a report about temperature change as far back as 1,000 years and how some interesting data were published in the April 2003 issue of the Journal of Energy and Environment. Tree-ring data, the study said, showed that temperatures were warmer from the years 950 to 1100 A.D. than they are now. From 800 to 1300 A.D., several sections of the planet were substantially higher in temperature than they are now.
...Reports like this one no doubt cause concern for those who have something to gain by advancing the global warming argument, especially in the way of scientific funding or political winnings. More over, of that group we can find yet another group proposing that the sole cause of global warming is pollution, requiring even more funding and more political appointments to help combat such an environmental scourge.
...The pollution push must be losing momentum, however, because we now have a new cause of global warming: Clean air.
...I thought that it was a joke when I was told about it, but lo and behold I found the BBC story detailing the evils of clean air, and how human beings have yet again helped to destroy Mother Earth. According to European scientists, too much clean air is allowing more solar energy through to reach the Earth’s surface. In turn, more water vapor is entering the atmosphere, further increasing the chances for a warmer climate.
...Add to that a decline of Soviet industry and clean air laws in western countries (yes, those of us in the west are to blame again), and you have a decrease in aerosols and tiny particulates in the atmosphere—aerosols and particulates which block solar radiation.
...So, let’s see if I’m following this new story correctly. Pollution is bad because it causes global warming; global warming is bad; humans create pollution; humans are bad. Clean air is bad because it causes global warming; global warming is bad; humans create clean air; humans are bad.
...Oh. The best part of this story is the final sentence of the first section: “But they say there is an urgent need for further research, particularly at sea.” Yes, there’s the funding that we knew would enter the picture somewhere.
...It’s looking more and more as if global warming has gone from a fight being waged by people who care about the Earth to a fight being waged by people who care about lining their wallets. For those scientists—and even us non-scientists—who question some of these outlandish claims by the funding-hungry climate theorists, it is said that they’ve been intimidated by their alarmist colleagues.
...Case in point: paleoclimatologist Michael Mann. Richard Lindzen of MIT recently wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal detailing the interesting case of Mann, who, along with co-authors, was asked to release the data behind his suggesting that the 1990s were the warmest decade on record with 1998 being the warmest year in the previous millennium. Representative Joe Barton of Texas asked Mann to elaborate on the data because the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that Mann’s work was some of the best on the subject. Mann refused to release the research data (which was paid for by tax dollars), but still had fellow scientists defend the data—if it even existed in the first place.
...Mann’s shadiness was met with support from the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, all of whom said that Congressman Barton was simply trying to intimidate the author. Asking for data is intimidation?
...If it is intimidation, Professor Lindzen mentions that it should have also been deemed intimidation by Al Gore in 1992 when Gore “urged” Lindzen and his colleagues to adopt the alarmist mentality via Congressional hearings, not to mention Gore’s plea to then-Nightline host Ted Koppel to engage in a witch-hunt to discredit the scientists who wouldn’t join the alarmist bandwagon. Koppel refused Gore’s request.
...Lindzen offers other examples, also, but these are more than enough.
...I like science and I like data. Unfortunately, because of the combination of stories of intimidation and the instances where everything and anything is named as a cause of global warming—and each “cause” requires more funding for research—I’m thinking that the data are suggesting that global warming has turned into more a cash cow than a crisis.

April 04, 2006


The People vs. Hollywood

...Last week the issue of celebrities and politics arose after Charlie Sheen offered his analysis of jetliner models and 9/11 conspiracies. Being that his area of expertise is reading scripts, a few of us wondered about Mr. Sheen’s knowledge of aviation and whether or not he was in a position to be an authority on the subject.
...Criticism for actors who offer their insight on current events and politics isn’t limited to just a few lowly bloggers, however, and this has producer Oliver Stone’s blood boiling. In an interview with Contact Music, Stone referred to media criticism of celebrities as “slander” and said that whenever actors speak about current events they’re told, “You’re an actor, a show-business director.” He called references to celebrities as “Hollywood whackos” an “easy and facile dismissal.”
...Aside from the humorous possibility that Stone is suggesting that calling someone an actor or director is slanderous—or is it?!—Mr. Stone seems to be validating one of the reasons that so many of us are critical of celebrity viewpoints in the first place: They assume that because they are the ones to say it that everyone must agree with them. If others don’t agree, those people are somehow preventing them from speaking or, in this case, engaging in slander.
...To be sure, many people give credence to everything and anything that celebrities say. Just a few days after the Charlie Sheen situation, a caller to C-Span’s Washington Journal used Sheen’s comments as some kind of “proof” that a conspiracy existed. The caller explained that since Charlie Sheen and other celebrities have expressed conspiracy theories, there must be something to it.
...Keeping this in mind, should we really be more skeptical of the people who worship the celebrities instead of the celebrities themselves? It’s a rather strange notion to suggest that because a person is a television or movie star that they’re experts in everything and have insight into things ranging from science to public policy. This “popularity-equals-enlightenment” idea doesn’t make any sense to those of us who lend credibility to extensive work in a given field. Questioning a celebrity’s credibility in a specific field—a field in which they might not have any expertise—seems to be far from slanderous, doesn’t it?
...The best way to put this situation into perspective would be to use the Charlie Sheen example—not to belabor the issue, but simply because it’s current. Those who view actors and actresses as superior in everything have routinely used the star’s celebrity status to justify the importance of that actor’s views. For example, the C-Span caller insisted that because Sheen was a star, he must know something that the rest of us don’t. On the other hand, when we look at people who view actors as nothing more than actors—not supreme gurus of everything—we find that they defend their views using information from people who are specialists of that particular field. Case in point: With respect to the 9/11 conspiracies, a magazine like Popular Mechanics, which specializes in science and more particularly physics, took each conspiracy and debunked it using data.
...Perhaps this is what Oliver Stone is failing to understand. Those of us who question the validity of things that celebrities say are not committing slander, and we’re certainly not preventing them from saying what they want to say. We’re asking how they came to their conclusions given their background as opposed to worshipping them for simply being famous.
Source: Contact Music

April 03, 2006


Politics in Action

...Local and state politics boil down to a basic concept: acquire as many tax dollars for your constituents as humanly possible. Some politicians hustle and kiss butt to secure the monies for various projects—often pork—but others hand it out even if it doesn’t exist.
...State Representative Keith McCall of Pennsylvania, who has previously come under fire for partaking in the legislature’s illegal pay raise scam, claimed to have delivered $1 million to a small town in Carbon County, not surprisingly only a few months before an election in which he’s running. The money was said to be for a new municipal building and fire station. Many of the townspeople were elated, but a local reporter smelled something strange (and no, it wasn’t the natural odor of the town).
...Newspaperman Bill White looked into the matter and discovered that the $1 million didn’t actually exist. The governor’s office told White that the money wasn’t appropriated by the state House Democratic Caucus (members of the caucus refuse to comment on it). The second possibility was that the money came from what is known as “walking around money.” Walking around monies (WAMs) are handed out by politicians to their constituents before the funds are actually agreed upon by anyone, usually a few hundred to a few thousand dollars at a time for public relations. Obviously a sum of $1 million isn’t something with which one walks around and hands out at will.
...McCall refuses to talk about the matter (similar to his refusal to discuss the illegal pay raise); the House Democratic Caucus refuses to talk about the matter; the constituents…well, wait a minute. Where do the constituents stand on this matter? This is where my concern grows.
...Let’s consider the case of Tom Delay in Texas. Delay, whose ties to the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff were well-known, was indicted and forced to step aside as majority leader. He still managed to win the primary for his district early last month.
...In the case of Keith McCall, my gut instinct tells me that a similar situation will occur. He’ll be competing against a challenger whose campaign strategy has essentially been that of asking the voters if they really want McCall after all that he has done. Some of the locals would be more than happy to answer in the affirmative.
...A few months ago, a local paper—basically a rag that is one step above a high school publication, but a wonderful way to gauge the sentiments of my neighbors—published a letter-to-the-editor which explained the author’s adamant belief that Representative McCall was a good man, and that his voting record should not be used against him.
...A politician’s voting record shouldn’t be used against him? That’s kind of like saying that a baseball player’s low batting average and limited defensive ability shouldn’t be used against him when determining whether or not to keep him on the roster, isn’t it?
...Is this what a representative republic is? Is it nothing more than a high school student council for adults where actions mean nothing and just liking the politician in question makes him/her a worthy candidate? Are we a country of voters who enjoy liars, cheaters, and thieves, but enjoy even more the suavity with which they do the lying, cheating, and stealing?
...I’m willing to bet that each of us knows a Tom Delay or Keith McCall, no matter the level of government about which we’re talking. Heck, I have three on my town’s council alone. This relates to the suavity situation, though. During the last election my town had an astonishing number of candidates, but the majority of the honest ones—basically the ones whom I would trust if I were next to them in a foxhole in the midst of a battle—didn’t survive the primary. Several of those who did survive—who ultimately became the present council members—were the ones who lack ethics and have a history of engaging in corrupt tactics. To their credit, they’re quite smooth with their crookedness.
...Representation indeed.