Monthly Archives: January 2004

Georgia Decides to Bring Back ‘Old Backwards’ South

David Galbraith on one of the stupider happenings in public education in America.

In 1848, in Georgia, it was illegal to teach a black person to read. Two years ago it was illegal to teach women in Afghanistan. Today Georgia is considering banning the word evolution from its school text books, making it illegal to fully educate anyone.

And my favorite quote from MeFi:

Without evolution, how can the white man be superior to the black man?

MeFi also linked to Evolution is a Fact and a Theory which is a fantastic primer on the difference between facts and theories – and how we non-scientific types get ’em confused.

Ikeaphobia

I must hear some version of this spiel once a month, generally from some self-consciously leftie male between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two desperate to prove his authenticity, present his down-with-the-people, fuck-the-Man bona fides. This despite the fact that Ikea was explicitly founded on the premise of providing well-designed furniture to the masses at affordable prices – a premise that the company still largely delivers on.

You know what? I’m done with it. If your life is mediocre, I promise you, Ingvar Kamprad didn’t make it that way. You did. And if you’re so desperate for your own soixante-huit moment that you can sit there with a straight face and tell me that you’re being oppressed by flat-packable pine furniture with goofy pseudo-Scandinavian names, I’d advise you to spend a few days working with child slaves in the Sudan, or something.(via Ben)

Slouching Towards A-List Bloggerdom

Survey inspired by Sam (he got it from Terrance who got it from Bejata):

1. Do you expect to receive a Valentine?s Day wish from someone special this year?

Not especially. I see V-day as just one more fabricated celebration to sell slave-made chocolate and overprice cardboard. Though I’m sure Ron and I will go out – if he’s not working.

2. What is the biggest fib you?ve ever put on a resume?

I list those two (1, 2) schlock-sploitation Ed Wood videos I did as independent films.

3. Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about your financial future in 2004?

Currently realistic. Ultra-realistic.

4. Which of the following would you most like to be, and why?

a. A famous artist or entertainer
b. A world class athlete
c. A wealthy business owner.
d. An influential politician or community leader

Artist/entertainer – because that can open up to everything else.

5. Have you ever engaged in a sexual act (including masturbation) at a place where you worked?

Well – I do work at home.

6. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? How many and where?

1. Left shoulder – solar icon. Had left nipple pierced – got bored with that – took it out. Currently trying to decide between an armband tat or a nice Celtic/Asian dragon on my right upper-arm shoudler. Not sure why the attraction to tattoos – maybe it’s a way to ‘mark’ myself. I feel like my aethetics/attitudes are conducive to the whole tattoo-ing culture – it’s fun to look like a neo-con with my clothes on and then a wild Kokopeiki.

7. What did you eat the last time you had a late night hunger craving?

Uncle Ben’s Rice Pudding. The whole damned box.

8. Do you know for whom you?ll be voting for president, either in a primary or the general election?

I was a big Dean-head. But I think he’s tripping up. A survey said I should vote for Kucinich.

9. The Super Bowl is this weekend. Will you watch for the game, the halftime show or the commercials?

I really don’t give a shit about the Super Bowl. The whole idea that the news is carrying previews of the commercials is so anti-news and obvious-marketing that it’s sickening. I don’t even know who’s playing this year.

10. If either were to come your way today, which would be more welcome; a check for $200 or two hours of hot, sweaty, butt nekkid sex?

Money. Black gold. Texas tea.

Michael Savage is a Big Dickhead

Does anybody else find this schlep irritating to the extreme (and yet I cannot look away!)?

He’s got a new book out where he gets is pantalones in a bunch about the Ten Commandments being removed from state and federal buildings.

Before you know it, you will not be free to express your religious beliefs in any meaningful way. Why? Once God has been chased out of the country, those who believe in Him are the next to go.

Religion does not belong in any state or federal statute or symbolism. If it was up to me I’d strike ‘Under God’ from ‘One Nation’. I’d take ‘In God’ off ‘We Trust’. And I’d’ve punk-slapped Congress when they so visibly sang ‘God Bless America’ after 9-11. Rip it out of the pledge of allegiance. You wouldn’t swear on a Bible in court – if your honest word is not enough – the fear of God ain’t gonna do jack shit. When religion enters into a nation’s symbolism it has the potential to crowd out the values expressed in it’s charter or constitution – or worse – be used to oppress those that believe differently.

The state should never ever dictate or promote any religion. It is simply too dangerous to fall into the hands of iditos. And with a crazed-bitch-Penecostal-dicksmack attacking anything that faces Mecca, it’s not a matter of if religious persecution of the non-Christian will happen – it already is happening.

Same thing with prayer in schools. You want your kids to pray? Have them pray at home. There’s no reason they should spend the few hours a day they have not in front of a television to learn something about their world – like maybe that some people different beliefs – or no beliefs at all.

Hell – burn the flag while you’re at it. If the destruction of a symbol degrades what it symbolized – then it wasn’t that strong in the first place. Symbols are the expressions of beliefs and ideals – not the supports of them.

At the basis of these fears is that if we aren’t indoctinated in a domineering, crime-and-punishment, carrot-stick, beatings-and-cookies belief system we won’t be able to tell right from wrong.

And chew on this: At the basis of Christianity is the steadfast belief in an imaginary friend who lets suffering and shit happen on the planet for no forseeable reason other than – that’s just the way it is and you have to have faith.

I have no idea where ‘beatings-and-cookies’ came from.

Spellbound

I know I’ll sound like a big sap – but there are a few movies I consider to be ‘truly American’. Not in that they are patriotic – but that they illustrate deeply fundamental values on what it means to live in this country. The myths and ideals of education and mobility and second chances and hard work. Spellbound, a documentary about the Howard Scripps National Spelling Bee is one such film. It follows 8 kids from all over the United States as they vie to be the best speller in the nation. Few films can conjure up the suspense of a parent-packed, ESPN-broadcast room where all attention is on one girl as she attempts to spell ‘heliaplankton’. Forget Hitchcock. Forget 24. You ache with these kids. And when they mis-spell a word and their faces fall – so do you.

But aside from all that – each kid is a fundamentally American story. There’s the girl whose mother smuggled her and her brother from Mexico and her father tends to cattle for 25 years – all so his daughter can have a chance to have an education and opportunities that he will never have. There’s a family from India that is amazed at the American idea of a Second Chance – an idea not represented in their homeland. There’s a girl from the hood in D. C. who has wisdom beyond her years in dealing with setbacks and sees education as the way out of the ghetto.

Plus, the movie is funny as hell. If you grew up a brainiac – you will love this film.

The want of a parent for their children to have a better life is probably one of the most moving emotions that Hollywood hasn’t managed to wrest from my heart. Probably because characters in standard Hollywood fare aren’t of a class of people that are working solely for the benefit of their children (usually they don’t even have children). These are parents and kids in all their painful awkwardness and stupendous glory. Some of the kids are just so gawky but you know that once the braces come out or the shoulders broaden they’ll look like real live adults (and the DVD has a follow-up on the kids and yes – the one girl turns into a total babe). You think to yourself Jesus! The one mother is just such an DORK! But when her eyes explode out of her head as her daughter spells a word right you can’t help but cheer with her watching her child succeed (as her husband does laps around the hotel because he can’t bear to watch).

But a big part of it that does make me teary-eyed (and yes – I’m misty as I write this) is watching parents having to watch their kids fail. Mom and dad watched my sister and I do lots and lots of ventures, music contests, school newspapers, endless auditions for plays and symphonies, business ideas, new jobs, new relationships, college… and have had to know that they can’t do it for us and that maybe, just maybe, a setback is what is going to make us just that more resilient (and their anger at those that don’t realize just how special my son or daughter is!). That’s what Spellbound is about. TThe parents help them and coach them and motivate them and support them but know that when they fail they have to do it out there – all alone – by themselves. And then, as my dad would say, “Come home, eat some food, take a nap and then go back up to Chicago and face the dragons again.” They can’t buy their kids this success – this thing they want for them so badly. As one mom says that she’s trying to be optimistic, ‘not pestimistic’ you laugh a bit at her malaprop but then you see the heart and determination she has for her daughter to grow up with a better education than her – and hopefully better opportunities.

Anyway – I don’t often say you have to see film. But this one you do.

Atom2RSS v0.1

atom2rss.gif
I started wondering if there was some way to convert an Atom newsfeed into RSS on the fly. I really like my FeedReader aggregator and Newsmonster seems to always reboot my machine (actually it’s probably the Java). So between calls today I hacked together atom2rss.php.

atom2rss.zip v0.1 super-alpha! It’s GPL, baby!

How to Be a Webcam Whore in 5 Easy Steps

Ever wanted to become a trashy internet cam whore, but you just don’t know how? Tired of earning money for things the honest way? If you’re shameless and conceited enough, then the exciting world of online prostitution may be for you. It’s hard at first, but don’t get discouraged. Being a cranky bitch and undressing yourself in front of a cam for middle-aged men isn’t as easy as it seems, so here are five simple rules to keep in mind when becoming an internet cam whore:

The Betrayal of Mary Cheney

New York Press columnist, Michael Signorile warns Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter that she’s pissing away an opportunity to bring same-sex marriage to the forefront and show her dad for the hypocrite he is:

Are you just another spoiled rich brat – the lesbian Paris Hilton – worried about getting a chunk of those 30 million Halliburton bucks should Dad?s heart conk out? [T]he next time you walk into a gay public place, be prepared for a chorus calling you everything from a quisling and a betrayer to a selfish, fiendish, nasty example of a human being. What is it like to know that your own family takes cash from people who think you?d be better off dead, and think you?re going straight to hell when that happens? History, Mary, will judge you by what you choose to do in the coming months.

Continue reading

No Child Left Unfried

The United States is the only country in the world where the execution of those
under 18 is officially sanctioned.

Lost in Translation

Just heard where this got a slew of Oscar nominations. I thought it was an alright film but nowhere near as stunning as others have thought. I think it was in Vanity Fair where a writer contended that the film was obviously a rich girl film made by a rich girl (Sofia Coppolla) where life is depressing when you’re affluent and have no dreams – except for binge-drinking in a hotel while rolling around in your panties – and others are simply co-stars in your carefully calculated pity party – with those silly Japs as the requisite Cosmo Kramers. Mr Cranky writes it to the point:

Who is Charlotte? What has she done with her life? Do we care? She begins asking these questions while tossing her dirty undies all over the furniture in her $300/night hotel room, begging us, the audience, to please care about the internal machinations of the poor little rich girl. You know, I’d have cared a hell of a lot more if she were staying in some rat-infested flophouse. Jesus, get some psychotherapy like everyone else, bitch.

And that’s why I think the film is ultimately unsatisfying… I know, I know – that some will say that it’s a ‘mood piece’ or it’s a ‘meditation on yackety-yack’ but that just means to mean ‘it’s boring as hell and ultimately unsatisfying’. I think my lower-middle-class/work-equals-worth upbringing has a hard time pitying the idle. That’s why I like the style of Pulp Fiction but, in the end, can’t waste emotions on such obviously self-destructive lunatics.