Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Islamo-teenpop menace

Sometimes when intolerance meets gullibility and they like each other a lot, idiotic boycotts happen. Such a grand union took place this week.

Andy Sullivan, a construction worker and Brooklyn native, has been one of the loudest opponents of Park51, the planned mosque and community center near ground zero. Founder of the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge -- under which construction workers vow not to work at the mosque site -- Sullivan has been a regular presence on television, known for wearing his signature American flag hard hat and talking tough about radical Muslims.

So it was quite a surprise this month to read that Sullivan has set his sights on a new target: Canadian teen pop superstar Justin Bieber.

Mosque foes recently started a boycott of Bieber after he made comments in support of the mosque project in an interview with Tiger Beat, a teen fan magazine, Sullivan told WYNC earlier this month. Now, his 8-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son have been banned from attending Bieber performances.

"I informed them, 'Hey guys, guess what? Justin Bieber spoke out for the ground zero mosque," Sullivan explained to Salon in an interview. "My little girl took down his poster and said she didn't want to have nothing to do with him anymore. These are my kids. They're living this thing."

Thus far it would seem to be a lesson on what really white people can do to alienate really pissy white people. Except that Bieber didn't really do anything.

The magazine does cover Bieber obsessively ("Justin Bieber Dodges Dating Selena Gomez Question!" and "Did Justin Bieber Grow a Mustache?" are two recent features). But I couldn't find any sign of an interview on Park51. There is, however, a post on the website purporting to describe a Tiger Beat interview. It reads in part:

In an interview with Tiger Beat, the pop sensation stressed that freedom of religion is what makes America great, and went on to say that those who oppose the Mosque are motivated by bigotry.

“Muslims should be allowed to build a mosque anywhere they want,” the singer said. “Coming from Canada, I’m not used to this level of intolerance, eh.”

Bieber went on to say that Muslims are “super cool,” Christians are “lame-o-rama,” and that the mosque will help “start a dialogue” with all religions about which Justin Bieber song is the most awesome.

“I was like seven when September 11th went down, and frankly I’m surprised people are still going on about it. Move on, already!” seems to specialize in softcore celebrity porn, but poke around a bit and you find this disclaimer: is a satirical website containing published rumors, speculation, assumptions, opinions, fiction as well as factual information

I was able to reach the proprietor of the site, who confirmed that the Bieber item is in fact a hoax. "[T]he fact that some people take it seriously is hilariously depressing," he said in an e-mail.

It's easy to make fun, and yes, I'm doing just that. And if this were mainly a matter of inconveniencing overexposed pop stars, who cares? Let's hear Ke$ha say something that offends conservatives.

But you see proof every day that there's no sales resistance, no bullshit detector. Even interviewed in places perfectly in tune with his closed-off worldview, Sullivan comes across as one part PTSD to four parts narcissism. But apparently he's a Voice that Matters on this subject, and he'll be able to dine out on it for years. Evidence that he and other anti-Moskers don't know what they're talking about is easily ignored.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pig in a blanket... OF LIES!

This cartoon was made by a Croatian--who later moved to Canada, I believe--back in the sixties. I have a feeling that there's some allegory of Eastern European politics intended here. The army scene and the fact that it ends... differently from the way a comparable American animation would are clues. But I'm not bending my head over it. Just admiring the look and feel of it. There's even an inventive spin on the Wile E Coyote dynamite gag.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Carol-free Friday Random Ten

Which is not to say that the selections wouldn't go well with spiked egg nog. Or the spike without the nog.

1. Sly & the Family Stone--Hot Fun in the Summertime
2. Tito Rodriguez--The Magnificent Seven
3. The New Pornographers--Crash Years
4. Roy Orbison--Ooby Dooby
5. Esquivel--Rosetta
6. They Might Be Giants--Whistling in the Dark
7. Patsy Cline--Imagine That
8. Ladytron--International Dateline
9. Don Byron--Tobacco Auctioneer
10. Nina Simone--Trouble in Mind

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Know thyself

Here's an interesting little exercise if you have a few minutes to kill. It doesn't really matter if you don't know much about D&D/role playing games in general. The questions are pretty comprehensible stuff regardless of your walk in life.

My results were as follows:

You Are A:

Chaotic Good Human Sorcerer (5th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 13
Dexterity- 10
Constitution- 12
Intelligence- 14
Wisdom- 12
Charisma- 11

Chaotic Good- A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment because it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Meaning that I'd be a magician, but that I'd want to keep supervision and red tape to a minimum. Sounds about right.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Been having trouble coming up with a decent blog post. So instead, we have this. Oh well.

Did get our first serious snowfall today, which was pretty.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tesseract now

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is a book that I remember covering in grammar school, but one that I'm not sure I ever read properly until this past week. That is, my class read it, and I may have taken a look inside, but I think I left the heavy lifting to the teacher reading aloud in class.

I was missing something, though. It's a book that can be read very quickly, having been written for older children. But this is a fictional world worth going to regardless of how long you're there.

Quick summary: Meg Murry's father is missing, which has caused her some what-we-now-call-"issues." Her little brother Charles Wallace--always referred to by his given and middle name--is a prodigy who seems backward to nearly everyone else. Eccentric neighbor Mrs Whatsit introduces both of them and neighbor boy Calvin O'Keefe to her friends Mrs Who and *pun alert!* Mrs Which. These three uncanny women send the children on a dangerous mission to another galaxy, which results in a family reunion.

A crude outline, and much can be unpacked from the actual story. As some have noted, the 1962 novel mines a vein of anticommunism that probably helped to sell it in many school districts. The planet of Camazotz is suffocated by an inhuman level of social planning. The total kind that Americans feared was going on behind the Iron Curtain, and not the Keystone Kops version that the actual Soviets generally had going. And one of the villains--in actuality a puppet--is the Man with the Red Eyes.

But of course the idea of free will and individualism being choked off existed before the Cold War and has survived beyond it. L'Engle is neither Ian Fleming nor Ayn Rand.

To some degree she is CS Lewis. Or at least she is wrote science fiction and fantasy within a Christian--and specifically Anglican/Episcopal--framework as he had before. In some ways the three seeming witches are the Holy Trinity in female guise. And Christ is mentioned by name as a "light for others to stand by" although he's on a list with Gandhi, Buddha, and Louis Pasteur. That's actually gotten L'Engle in trouble with some religios conservatives.

But above the political and aside from the religious, it may be in investing Meg with the hero's role that the book makes its greatest impact. Meg is superficially middle class, but she is also an outcast. She's ungainly. She has a great head for math but doesn't do well in school. She gets into fights with boys but isn't strong enough to win. Her being a witness to the adventure for much of the time may strike some contemporary readers as an example of how limited female characters were in the early sixties. But that's not what's going on. Meg is someone with a very low opinion in herself. She will save the day, but finding that capability in herself won't be easy.

So, better late than never?

Life is Vlieting


Sigh. I suppose such a giant couldn't walk among us forever.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Random Ten is Enigmatic

More to come.

(Did you think the header was lying?)

1. Marvin Gaye--Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
2. Arcade Fire--The Suburbs
3. Soul Coughing--Uh Zoom Zip
4. XTC--No Language In Our Lungs
5. Blossom Dearie--I'm In Love Again
6. The Beatles--Birthday
7. Magnetic Fields--Busby Berkeley Dreams
8. Sly & the Family Stone--Everybody Is a Star
9. They Might Be Giants--Letterbox
10. Patsy Cline--When I Get Thru With You (You'll Love Me Too)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making a scene

The artist who bills himself as Scott C is obviously something of a movie buff. And he's gone about immortalizing some of his favorite scenes at the site Great Showdowns. Not just any scenes but, as he puts it, "the struggles that make us stop what we are doing and sort of check things out… wondering what the eff." And as the cherry on top, he does all of this in an innocent, presentational style worthy of books for young readers. See, for example, this immortal scene from Babe Goes to the Dentist Marathon Man.

“Is it safe?… Is it safe?”

Scott C. provides the quote on-site.

Such awesomeness. Thank God I was bored at work today so that I could find this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savings account

On the (mostly fiction) writing front, I've made a couple of changes recently. These seem to be having a positive effect.

First off, I've transitioned from saving documents on floppy to preserving them on CD-R. Yes, up through most of this year I've been using floppy discs. In general it's an okay system. As long as something doesn't go wrong, that is. One thing that can go wrong is for the little metal or black plastic clasp to come off in the external drive. You never really feel safe using it after that, since once they come off they're always loose and jiggly. Even worse, sometimes these discs just up and decide they have to be formatted. Which they already are, or you couldn't have used them in the first place. But never mind that, they demand to be formatted here and now and everything you've saved on them gets lost. Doesn't happen that often, but I'm as glad to stop worrying about it.

The other thing I've started doing is to schedule an hour a day for writing. I figure out when I want to stop, and that tells me when I need to start. Then when I start, I keep going until the hour is up.

On paper, you can get as much done in two days working a half-hour each as one hour altogether in one day. And for some people maybe it does work like that. But for me, once start with under forty-five minutes, self-fulfilling prophecy kicks in and I think, "Ah, can't really get anything done." So you just do a couple of paragraphs. Or a couple of sentences. Or try to sketch the idea in Microsoft Paint. Committing to an hour, or something very close to it, allows me to build up a head of steam.

Or a head of lettuce. Maybe I should get some feedback on that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great names and Friday Random Ten

I just found out today that Lubbock's newspaper is called The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. I love that. Every city seems to have a Record-This or a Tribune-That. But calling to mind three tons of falling rock is something else. I've ragged on Texas before, but credit where credit is due.

1. The New Pornographers--Bite Out of My Bed
2. Nellie McKay--Do Do Do
3. Esquivel--Manicero
4. Finn Riggins--Shaky
5. Tom Waits--Down There By the Train
6. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--If You Call
7. The Beatles--Sexy Sadie
8. Brian Eno & David Byrne--Everything That Happens
9. Nina Simone--Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair
10. Pink Martini--Tuca Tuca

Friday, December 10, 2010

A little perspective

Speaking for myself, while I have some problems, none of them really compares to the possibility of carried off and eaten by a stork. Can't speak for everyone.

This must have been before they got into the business of bringing babies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good cleanish fun

Okay, so last night I do laundry. The place is just down the street, so I can walk to and from home a few times while attending to business. When the wash cycle is—I figure—about done, I get ready to go back to the laundromat. I notice on my bed there's a dirty sock, a pair of boxers, an undershirt. Even though I'm not washing more than my biweekly loads, for some reason it had a hard time all fitting in the laundry bag.

Well, as noted, the wash part of the night is just about done already. But I don't want to wait another two weeks when I do laundry again to wash this stuff. So I make a plan for afterwards.

When laundry proper is done, I fill up a big cooking pot with water. Water and suds from a high-powered dish detergent. I put in the stray clothes and let them sit for a while. Then I fill the pot with hot, soap-free water, for a rinse. A few minutes later, a second rinse. It's practically winter, so the heat runs constantly at night. I hang the clothes in the shower, and then find space on a radiator for them. Should be pretty much dry by the next day.

All part of my ongoing project to find the most ghetto way of doing everything. And to try it at least once.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Midnight (of the soul) snack

First the peanut butter, a proposed repeal of the 17th amendment to the US Constitution, so that Senators don't feel pressured to do things for their loser constituents.

Then the jelly, a Texas Tea Party attempt to oust the state legislature's Jewish Republican speaker because code word innuendo code word. Ever suspect that the big reason the Christian right loves Israel so much is that it's so fucking far away?

Find some white bread to bind these together, and Texas may never have to send a Hebrew to the Senate. That's just special.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Random Ten on a Friday and everything!

Technical issues resolved. Re-installed iTunes on the advice of a worker at the Apple Store, and it worked.

Busy day at work today. Probably busiest of the last couple of weeks. Mostly the afternoon, so I was going at a pretty fast clip, then stopped and went home. I guess that's the way to do it.

1. Brian Eno & David Byrne--Strange Overtones
2. Arcade Fire--The Suburbs
3. The Magnetic Fields--How to Say Goodbye
4. XTC--The Somnambulist
5. Blossom Dearie--I Wish You Love
6. Beck--Beautiful Way
7. Nina Simone--Sugar In My Bowl
8. Esquivel--Rhapsody In Blue
9. Tom Waits--Never Let Go
10. The Kinks--Mr. Pleasant

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

But seriously...

At this point Corvallis, Oregon shows every sign of being a class act.

CORVALLIS (Oregon) - Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil on Tuesday in support of an Islamic centre targeted by an apparent hate crime, after a teen who worshipped there was arrested for planning mass killings in Portland.

Ms Elizabeth Oettinger, senior minister of the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, said a number of religious leaders organised the event in a show of support for the Muslim community after the centre's office was set on fire on Sunday.

The authorities are investigating whether the arson was a hate crime, after Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested last Friday on charges of trying to set off a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland.

Mr Mohammad Siala, the centre's administrator, told the crowd: "With your support here tonight and standing by your side, we tell (the arsonists) that there is no place for prejudice towards anybody, regardless of the faith or race or nationality."

Pleasant, kind, and nutjob-resistant. You have done well.

Ad analysis

First, a look at the footage. Warning, curly-headed objects may be less cute than the appear.

A considered opinion.

There is so much wrong with that commercial that I don't even know where to start. Like adults should make major financial decisions based on what a kid thinks is cool? And the bad, shallow attitude! That kid reminds me of the bully that tormented me all through grade school!
Not a smart way to market.

Initially, I thought the opposite. It seemed to me a dramatic and persuasive argument. Then I realized it wasn't made by a ZPG group trying to push vasectomies and tubal ligations.