Monday, December 31, 2012

2012- The Year in Bastardy

While I know that the country is still mired in a lot of crap, I myself enjoyed a really good 2012. For starters, I received a promotion on the job, which was a welcome surprise. In my blogging endeavors, the big news was being invited to join the wonderful Rumproast team. Here at my personal blog, I cracked the 100,000 hits mark and the three year mark. I also had one of my posts featured in Tengrain's blog roundup at Crooks and Liars... it was truly shocking to see how the stat counter can be moved by such a link!

As far as my writing goes, I think the high point was coining the phrase posse conmantatus. If I had to pick a "most important" post, I'd have to go with my recapitulation of Dr Adam Sobel's "Secret Science Club" lecture on Superstorm Sandy. Throughout my blogging career, my lecture summaries have been the most challenging and most enjoyable writing "assignments"- thanks to the Secret Science Club, I have to bring my "A" game at least once a month. I also did a write-up of a great lecture by N__B earlier this year. As far as goofery goes, I'd have to go with the H.P. LOLcraft post. I still think that The Shadow Out of Time would make a great basis for a heartwarming children's story.

Bringing the blogging realm and real life together, I met the amazing Major Kong (his "Daily Kos" diaries are now on the blogroll), joining him and old blogging chum N__B for a beer in midtown Manhattan.

Personally, I can't complain about 2012, but I know that the economy is still bad, and I have friends who haven't had a good time of things. I sure as hell hope that 2013 is a better one for everybody, but I'm not exactly optimistic about Congress getting its act together and deciding that people actually need help. It would be nice to be surprised.

Wishing all of my readers a safe, happy, and prosperous new year... thanks for all of your support and friendship throughout this year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Been Working a Lot of Graveyard Shifts...

Lately, I have been working a lot of graveyard shifts, and I think I may be going a little batty. In a comment at Brando's blog, I invoked the specter of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer slashfic. At first, I proposed "Rudolph/Hermie" slash, but I had to double down on the disturbing antics by deciding that "Yukon Cornelius/Abominable Snowman" slash was even more transgressive. Now, at four in the morning, stuck at work while a biting wind blows fallen snow all around the building, I have decided to implement my fiendish slashfic scheme in order to while away the wee hours of the morning.

It goes without saying that this particular version of "Rudolph" is a Spankin/Ass production (I note that, hilariously, teh wikiwakiw00 uses a "slash" in "Rankin/Bass" rather than a hyphen, which leads me to wonder if there's any Rankin/Bass slashfic out there). Our present fictive abomination takes place in the interim between Yukon Cornelius' fight with the Abominable Snow Monster, and **SPOILER ALERT** their triumphant return after a tender reconciliation:

For those of you who value your sanity, you may wish to stop reading before I totally ruin Christmas specials forevermore...

Yukon Cornelius slowly came to awareness after a period of unconsciousness. The last thing he remembered was falling over a cliff while locked in a deadly clinch with the Abominable Snow Monster. He'd always thought that he'd die alone, his frozen corpse found by Inuit hunters or eaten by the small white foxes that patrol the tundra. To die locked in combat with an implacable foe would have seemed unthinkable... and yet he lived! Or did he? As he became aware of his surroundings, he noticed that he was lying on the softest surface he'd ever encountered. He briefly thought back to a fancy bordello in Nome that he had visited after a particularly rich haul of gold nuggets, and the feel of satin sheets and eiderdown comforters on his skin. He thought of the saucy tart* who had entertained him throughout the night- her brash laughter, bawdy jocularity, and smooth skin such a contrast to the furtive, shame-faced, rough men he'd coupled with in the mining camps. He thought even further back to his early days in the North Country, when his frequent jaunts to the barrel earned him the nickname Yukon Cornholius. How distant those days seemed! Wondering at this new stage of his life, lying on what seemed to be a luxurious rug, he dismissed the idea that he'd died and gone to heaven only because of the throbbing pain in his head. As his vision returned, he saw the dirty white pelt on which he'd lain, and realized that it was actually the pelt of the monster! His initial horror dissipated as he basked in the beast's fuzzy softness. As the beast came to, their eyes locked... Yukon was shocked to see that they weren't merely the eyes of a beast- there was some sort of reckoning behind those eyes. The Abominable Snow Monster's gaze seemed to become tentatively tender- all hostility evaporated from the creature's expression. Yukon looked at the newly toothless mouth of the beast, which gave the formerly ferocious creature a vulnerable look, and he thought back to a legend recounted around the campfires throughout the Territory- the legend of a old, retired prospector who, due to his arthritically cramped hands (permanently cramped as if they were gripping a pickaxe handle), and his toothless mouth, was reputed to be able to service a procession of prospectors in rapid succession- and he laughed out loud to think of his once-feared opponent as a docile playmate. He exultantly shouted, "BUMBLES BOUNCE! By thunder, I'm going to bounce this Bumble!!!"

Uh, I can't continue with this... I may be going nuts from working graveyard shifts, but going further would be a bridge too far. Sure, it's one thing to be transgressive, but this post is already Wronger than a Football Bat. Now, for a different style of transgression, I have to wonder what bronies think of Clarice the Reindeer (voiced in lovely fashion by Janet Orenstein):

Would Clarice be appealing to bronies, or would her fuzzy texture and lack of sparkles make her seem drab and wan? Could the bronies "clop" to Rudolph?

Now, to get away from the Bad Wrongness permeating this post, I have to confess that I am currently pissed that I am not the first person to realize that Han Solo is a ripoff of Yukon Cornelius- GAHHHH, even the odious James Lileks beat me to the punch here.

Now, lest you think I'm the only nutball here, here's more BAD WRONG FUN (NSFW language) takes on the red-nosed reindeer.

*The random number generator came up "57":

UPDATE: I'd be remiss if I didn't post ZRM's take on Yukon/Bumble slash: "Bumbles are Bottoms!"

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Amazing Grace

A recent story about a Florida pawn shop owner stopping gun sales in his shop reminded me a bit of the biography of John Newton, the man who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. A former slave-trader, Newton had an epiphany which resulted in his disavowal of the institution of slavery, from which he had profited (oddly enough, he seems to have been enslaved by a "bigger" player in the slave trade for a while).

At any rate, the "redemption" story is somewhat similar- a man involved in an unsavory trade has a "Road to Damascus" moment, and forgoes profits for a clear conscience. Unfortunately, he's "small potatoes" in the arms dealing world, he only stands to lose thousands of dollars in revenue. Tragically, the million-dollar players in the arms trade will continue to push their agenda and their weapons... and the body count continues to pile up.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Derive Job Satisfaction Any Way You Can!

Last night, I was working at a site which has been overrun by brown marmorated stink bugs- they seek the warmth of the office, and occasionally make their presence known by taking flight. Whenever I get an opportunity to smash one of the little buggers, I gleefully take it (they're invasive, there's nothing wrong in playing SMASHY SMASHY). When they are smashed, they release a scent which is often compared to that of cilantro. I think the smell is reminiscent of camphor... oddly enough, I don't find it all that unpleasant.

I was in sheer bliss last night, I must have smashed half a dozen of the little perishers. It's the little things that make you truly happy, even the little smashed things around the office.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Whoa, This is a Family Museum!

It's a shame that Accidental Dong seems to have gone the way of the Accidental Dodo... happily, I figure I can do my part to fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of the "dong".

Yesterday, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my sister, brother-in-law, and their two sons. In the "arms and armor" wing of the museum, they displayed the armor of Ribaldo the Dickhead, Duke of Cazzogrosso:

According to a placard, the helmet of this piece was removed for restoration work... one woulda thunk that someone on the staff of the museum would have realized what a boner neglecting to cover this dong-y dummy was. I imagine the person responsible is a real putz.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day Partings

My sister, my brother-in-law, and my nephews are heading back to Georgia after their somewhat spur-of-the-moment Christmas trip to New York. It's been a fun few days, even though I'm beat from juggling work with socializing. Oddly enough, I have today off, so I'll be able to catch up on some sleep.

New York City takes on a whole new atmosphere during the Christmas season... it's like the setting for a fairytale...

Today is also the Feast of St Stephen, which means that the bars will all be full in my neck of the woods (I live in the tavern district of my fair city). Sadly, though, I'll be working a split-shift on the 27th, so I won't be able to play the boozehound.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Have a Badass Christmas, People!

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I've been working the graveyard shift, which has largely entailed watching a white Christmas morph into a gray, slushy one as the snow which had been falling in the evening turned to a light rain. Oh, well, Dearest Joey sang "it ain't Christmas if there ain't no snow", but I remember more white Easters than white Christmases here in the NY metro area.

I've never hidden the fact that I love, love, love Joan Jett, so I'm posting her badass take on a Christmas classic to serve as my Christmas post:

Now, how's this for a Christmas surprise? I had no idea that Joan Jett recorded a cover of the Ramones' Judy is a Punk:

Of course, now that I posted a video for a Ramones cover, I feel that I must post the Ramones' beloved Christmas song:

Have a badass Christmas, everybody!

Monday, December 24, 2012

At Home He's a Tourist

Every once in a while, it's nice to experience one's hometown while in tourist mode. Even though my sister grew up in the NY metro area, she hasn't lived here for over twenty years. Her husband decided he needed to get out of his winter rut, so he took the family up to the Big Apple for a change of pace. Additionally, a Prestigious Bastion of Prestige is courting Boy B., my eldest nephew. We made plans to meet in the vicinity of The Cathedral of St John the Divine, and then head up to the campus of the aforementioned Prestigious Bastion of Prestige. The unfinished cathedral is pretty bizarre- it began as a Romanesque church, but a decision was made to complete it as a neo-Gothic cathedral. The nave makes a somewhat abrupt transition from a diaphanous, Gothic dreamscape tinted beautifully by huge stained glass windows into a dark, heavy Romanesque bring-down. Did I mention that the cathedral is unfinished? When one looks at the Western facade, one can instantly tell that the top of the tower is much newer than the rest of the facade, yet it still seems truncated. The northern side of the church really looks half-formed- one looks in vain for a transept that seems like it should be there, and some of the roof is covered with weathered plywood.

Just south of the church, the Peace Fountain forms a funky centerpiece of a nice little park which is surrounded by sculptures designed by schoolkids. The fountain itself has some delightfully disquieting features, such as a severed devil's/satyr's head and an archangel who seems to be getting disturbingly friendly with giraffes.

After our cathedral visit, and a quick swing by Morningside Park, we headed over to the campus of Columbia University. Columbia University is an extraordinarily pretty urban campus, and the neighborhood is disconcertingly quiet for Manhattan- there was very little automobile traffic, and the vibe of the community is more small town than huge city. Of course, we were visiting the area the Sunday before Christmas, while most of the student body was away on break, but the area is sandwiched by parks, so it doesn't ever really get too bustling.

We then headed over to Riverside Church, another stellar example of neo-Gothic architecture, before heading to Riverside Park and Grant's Tomb (to all the wags out there, U.S. Grant is interred there, along with his wife). My nephew Boy A. waggishly asked if Grant's Tomb was the Tomb of Horrors... I told him that it certainly is, if you're a Confederate sympathizer!

After our sojourn at Riverside Park, we strolled down to the Hungarian Pastry Shop where we split a couple of linzer tarts (one apricot-filled, one raspberry-filled) and a poppy seed hamentasch. I had an excellent "Hungarian coffee", flavored with almond extract and topped with a glob of whipped cream. As much as I love the place, it's a little annoying to discover that the cutely-painted menu behind the counter has absolutely no bearing on the actual menu. The sweet counter girls kept telling us "no, we don't have that" until they finally admitted that the whole menu was a cruel hoax perpetrated by a management that doesn't want to paint over the pretty colors.

After our coffee-break, we leisurely sauntered down to 97th and Amsterdam where we hit El Malecón, one of a mini-chain of Dominican rotisserie chicken restaurants (I usually go to their location on Broadway near 231st St in the Bronx). El Malecón never fails to deliver the goods- the chicken is perfectly cooked- crispy skin and moist meat, and served with a citrus/garlic mojo sauce. We ordered a whole chicken, an order of tostones, an order of mofongo, and an order of fried pork chunks. Sides of yellow rice, black beans, and a rich vegetable stew accompanied the main dishes, which we ate family style. The twenty-three block walk from Grant's Tomb was a prerequisite for such a delicious gut-buster of a meal. I parted from the family afterwards, because I had to get home to take a nap before working the graveyard shift. Their plan was to hit the Columbus Circle Christmas Market, then figure out their next move.

It was a good time hanging out with the family, and getting to a neighborhood that I don't often visit. I hadn't been to Grant's Tomb in about fifteen years, and I'd never been inside Riverside Church. I know it's not a Christmas song, but the most appropriate soundtrack for the day would have to be the Gang of Four's At Home He's a Tourist:

Maybe that should be a Christmas song...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Taking a Holiday Breather

I set this one up last night, before leaving work. Today, I will be hanging out with my sarcastic sister, her husband, and my two nephews, Boy A and Boy B. My brother-in-law needed to get the hell out of Dodge Georgia, and decided that a trip to NYC was in order. I figure we'll hang out, maybe hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (those crumb-bums hit the Museum of Natural History today while I was stuck at work). We also plan to hit Rolf's Restaurant, where Christmas goes insane. Since I'll be goofing off, I figure I'd post a Christmas video.

Here's The Season's Upon Us, the new single by The Dropkick Murphys... sure, they're from the Boston area, but I posted the Greatest New York City Christmas Song last year:

ZRM posted this one last week... I won't let that ruin Christmas for me.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Devil's Right Hand Man

I'm going to preface this post by stating emphatically that I do not believe in a devil. While the famous aphorism claims that "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist", I'd postulate that the greatest trick the authoritarians ever pulled was convincing the world that the devil exists. By creating a supernatural devil, the authoritarians have stifled genuine inquiry into the conundrum of the existence of evil, and have thrown spanners into debates about how to handle "evildoers". Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'm going to rip Wayne LaPierre, the Devil's Right-Hand Man, a new one... metaphorically, of course.

Wayne LaPierre's "press conference" (so-called, the bastard never took any questions from the press) was an unmitigated blend of mendacity and viciousness. I'm going to pull some nasty little bits out of the transcript of the speech to highlight just how mendacious and vicious his speech was.

The biggest cop-out in LaPierre's speech was his refusal to even acknowledge the role that guns played in the Newton, Ct massacre (and the numerous other mass shooting events that have plagued the headlines for the last few decades, including a murder spree that was transpiring even as he was speaking).

LaPierre started off by blaming gun control policy for the Newton shooting:

How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works? The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.
How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order. Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security.

Of course, the "gun free school" initiative is one facet of a multi-pronged initiative aimed at reducing gun violence among America's youth. Increased penalties for gun possession in the vicinity of a school won't dissuade a suicidal individual bent on taking as many victims with him as he can, but it is supposed to reduce the incidence of shootings resulting from grudges.

LaPierre then blamed actual demons in his speech, proposing a twelfth century cause for a twentieth and twenty-first century problem (has anyone ever heard of a mass halberding?):

The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can every possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school, he’s already identified at this very moment?

The real problem of mental illness cannot be chalked up to demonic possession- even proposing that is monstrous and counterproductive. As bad as healthcare is in the United States, our approach to mental health problems is positively cruel. Oftimes, mentally ill persons who have exhibited dangerous behavior are left untreated until they actually commit a violent act, and then are shunted off into a criminal justice system in which they are further victimized. Mentally ill individuals are more likely to be the victims of violence than to be the perpetrators.

LaPierre's next attempt at deflection of blame was to cite violent video games, movies, and music videos as inspiration to mass shooters:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like “Bullet Storm,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Combat,” and “Splatterhouse.” And here’s one, it’s called “Kindergarten Killers.” It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it? Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster. I mean we have blood-soaked films out there, like “American Psycho,” “Natural Born Killers.” They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day. 1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and they play murder -- portray murder as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior, and criminal cruelty right into our homes. Every minute, every day, every hour of every single year a child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders, and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And, throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize gun owners.

Oddly enough, the movies LaPierre cites are well over ten years old, and not the sort of movies that anyone under the age of thirty would remember. One of the video games he mentions is a poorly made amateur effort which was probably created with the express purpose of trolling Wayne LaPierre. As far as the "Mortal Combat" video games go, there haven't been a rash of kung-fu mass killings in recorded U.S. history. While violent video games may increase a player's level of aggression, in the absence of guns, it is virtually impossible to act out one's fantasies of mass violence. I have to confess that I used to meet up with a couple of friends of mine every week to chew bubblegum and kick ass drink scotch and play Halo, and that my foot had a tendency to "leaden up" when I began the drive home (until I reminded myself that there real consequences to real-world aggressiveness, though I defy you to tell me you don't want to speed when you listen to this)... We all have occasional untoward thoughts- the desire to smash the noggin of someone who cuts us off while driving, a desire to smack an obnoxious loudmouth- but guns allow us to act on these thoughts before we fully process how messed up they are. Guns remove a need for premeditation and lower the bar for violence. No matter how violent one's entertainment choices are, guns are a prerequisite for a mass-killing spree.

LaPierre then tells his biggest lie of his rant, a lie which has been repeated by news stations without a rebuttal- I'm highlighting the most mendacious part:

As brave and heroic and as self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms and as prompt and professional and well- trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable -- through no fault of their own, unable to stop it.
As parents we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It’s now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools. The only way -- the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

LaPierre flat out lies when he claims that no shooting was ever stopped by unarmed civilians. Also, most mass-shootings are not stopped by a "good guy with a gun", they tend to stop when the shooter commits suicide. Additional guns in an "active shooting event" would probably result in additional deaths- they are a destabilizing factor, and the addition of additional shooters would confuse the identity of the "bad" shooter.

I saved LaPierre's most monstrous statement for last- a heinous proposal that the U.S. register mentally ill persons rather than firearms:

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.
A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? The fact is this: That wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class -- killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation.

LaPierre basically wants to further demonize and victimize one of the most marginalized populations in the United States. Besides being a gross violation of Health Information Privacy Laws, LaPierre's proposal would only increase employment and housing discrimination (among other forms of discrimination) against the mentally ill. As brilliant artist and twitterer Spearhafoc poignantly put in in a Sadly, No! comment thread:

People in this thread brought up LaPierre’s attack on the mentally ill, but I haven’t seen mention of his call for a national database for people with mental problems.
I have Autism, OCD, and Depression. Apparently I belong on a national registry, but an automatic assault rifle doesn’t.

As far as the post title goes, if I don't believe in a devil, then why would I characterize Wayne LaPierre as the Devil's Right-Hand Man? I'll let the incredible Steve Earle answer that question:

I will be cross-posting this at Rumproast shortly.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Some Apocalypse, Huh?

So, today marked the end of a Mayan "long count" calendar, which was supposed to mark the end of the world. Yet again, the doomsayers dicked up. What went wrong with this new-agey take on eschatological yearnings?

According to Mesoamerican cosmology, the current age is characterized as the fifth age of the world (I'm going to take this opportunity to plug Earl Shorris' wonderful novel Under the Fifth Sun here... and I just found out the Mr Shorris died this year). The fifth iteration of the world began when the fourth world was destroyed by a flood. The third world was destroyed in a rain of fire, the second world in a series of windstorms. The first world was destroyed by an infestation of jaguars... this is the particular destructive event which is of most interest to me.

In order to ascertain the occurrence of world-shaking destructive events, one must look for evidence in the geological record. Evidence of the causes of mass extinctions can be sussed out... a thin layer of a rare element or igneous deposits suggesting violent vulcanism hint at events of world-shattering violence.

While evidence of worldwide floods, wildfires, and windstorms is hard to distinguish from evidence of localized floods, wildfires, and windstorms, evidence of a worldwide plague of jaguars should be relatively easy to find. In fact, there should be a thin layer of jaguar remains distributed worlwide in the proper geological strata. In the tradition of fine scientific illustration, I present to you an artist's representation of this "jaguar belt", so called:

While evidence of this worldwide jungle cat-astrophe has not yet surfaced (I am currently seeking donations to fund my research efforts- just leave a bag full of money in the hollow beech stump near the south end of the pond at Tibbets Brook Park in southern Yonkers), there is evidence that a large, rambunctious tiger knocked down trees over a large area of forest in eastern Siberia, this occurrence is known to researchers as the Tigriska event, but the foremost authority on the subject is being coy.

In the interests of full disclosure, my researches into the worldwide jaguar apocalypse would never have been possible without a firm grounding in the work of Professor Cezar Golescu, whose studies linking the indigenous peoples of the Americas to the lost continent of Mu have been invaluable. His knowledge of the Muvian calendar, a "fine watch of seventeen jewels", can help us puzzle out the failure of the current prediction of the end of the world.

In the meantime, there are other theories regarding the end of the Mayan calendar (hat tip to Thunder), or one could always ask the Mayans themselves. If you haven't made any plans for the weekend because you thought that the world would end, you can always read the Popol Vuh, the creation epic of the K'iche' Maya (Smut would chastise me if I didn't mention that "Popol Vuh" was also a spacey Krautrock group, or a Krauty spacerock group which had the same inspirational relationship with Mesoamerica as Hawkwind had with Melniboné). Barring that, one could always watch Patricia Amlin's gorgeous animated Popul Vuh, posted on this blog at an earlier date:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Right-Wing Perspective on Newton

In my last post, I broke the odious Bryan Fischer's take on the Newton school massacre down to its essence:

"The gun is good, the penis is evil!"

In this post, I will examine an entirely different right-wing perspective on the Newton massacre, that of the equally odious Charlotte Allen, a member of the thankfully rare right-wing Ladies Against Women... a successor to Phyllis Schlafly, who famously traveled around the country telling audiences that women should stay at home. In a piece posted at America's Shittiest Website, Allen blamed the shooting on the "feminization" of the Sandy Hook School:

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K-6 school), all the personnel - the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the "reading specialist" - were female. There didn't even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza's knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school's public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms. But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak - but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

Shorter Allen: "The gun is good, the penis is bulletproof!"

Of course, Allen ignores the obvious- if there had been one less man on site, none of those children would have been killed... but I digress. In Allen's world, the heroics of the three women who sacrificed their lives to save children is unimpressive. If there had been men on site, the shooting would have been thwarted by the manly, aggressive men... or husky manish boys.
You see, men are more bullet resistant than women... women have soft, succulent flesh that is easily penetrated... uhhh... IBIMB. Whoa, where was I before I was distracted by soft, succulent flesh? This reminds me, leg of lamb is on sale at ShopRite... Oh, yes, talking about Charlotte Fucking Allen and her lady-hatin' ways. Of course, getting back to the flesh for a moment, Pupienus Maximus would beg to differ with me about the ease with which men could be penetrated. Whoa, another digression... would a husky 12-year-old boy really be any more bullet resistant than, say, a Chunky Reese Witherspoon? As I seem to recall, Chunky Reese Witherspoon was not penetrated- maybe Ross Douthat would have had more luck with a husky 12-year-old boy... it is irresponsible not to speculate.

Getting back to the subject at hand, Allen's self-loathing misogyny denigrates the mind-boggling heroism of Mary Sherlach, Dawn Hochsprung, and Victoria Soto. In her desperation to blame anything but the bloodthirsty gun culture (which may soon claim more lives than our negligent car culture), she perpetrates a calumny against all women. To think that a man with a bucket, a fucking bucket, could have accomplished more than the three brave women who were martyred to gun nuttery, is ludicrous and vicious.

It would not be reasonable to assume that, in Charlotte Allen's twisted world, a penis somehow provides magical protective powers to its owner. I guess I'm not quite as much of a man as those in Charlotte's fantasies, I've never blocked a bullet with my cock... I do occasionally use it to crack walnuts, though.

Of course, the preceding post is firmly in the Bastardian tradition of coping snark. I tend to cope with stress and horror through snark and gallows humor- I like my humor like I like my coffee and my presidents, black.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fischer Speaks!

While Elton Beard"created that artform known as the "shorter", the Sadlynaughts perfected it (though Cerb always insists on getting out of the boat and bringing back some rancid, rotten mangoes to parse). Anyway, I'm going to try my hand at a "shorter".

Via Tengrain, here is the odious Bryan Fischer running his rancid gob about the Newton shooting:

Shorter Bryan Fischer: "The gun is good, the penis is evil."

Getting back to the embedded video, Fischer idiotically claims that "God has given us weapons". It's clear to me now that Bryan Fischer has always been a Zardoz worshipper:

At least the creep refrains from wearing a red diaper and hooker boots. Be thankful I know sod-all about Photoshop!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sillies, Only Liberals Need to Be Informed!

Have you ever read something by an author you generally respect that seems a little bit off? In a recent column, James Fallows posts a letter from a reader who is a gun enthusiast, and the result is a pissed-off Bastard. I'll post a couple of excerpts from this letter, then go on my tirade. Anyway, here are some selected bits from a concerned gun owner:

I have been getting in trouble with many of my friends for asking them to think about what is politically possible, actually effective and might find agreement among reasonable gun owners. Full disclosure - I am a gun owner myself but very much in favor of stricter controls.

It frustrates me to no end that no one on the gun control side of the debate knows anything about firearms, the differences between them, or precise ways to differentiate between them in law (or for that matter, in conversation). So all we hear are knee jerk cries to 'ban assault weapons'. And to hear that again after a horrible event in which an 'assault weapon' wasn't even used is just inane. It's like calling for a ban on convertibles after a truck accident.

Here's my problem with the focus on 'assault weapons': what people are really talking about are not weapons that are designed to look like military weapons- that's merely cosmetic and it always diverts the conversation. What they are really talking about are three features - the fact that these rifles are semi automatic, that they are designed to accept high capacity magazines and that they are often - not always but often - chambered for small, high velocity rounds, rounds designed to break up in the body and cause maximum damage.

Whether they have flash suppressors or a handle on top or look like an AK47 is absolutely irrelevant. There are other rifles that have some or all of the above features and not all weapons styled after 'assault weapons' do. It is critically important in this argument to be very precise.

Furthermore, many people still talk as though these weapons are fully automatic, which none of them are, at least legally.

Ya know, to hell with this clown... making a big deal about whether a weapon is fully automatic or semi-automatic is foolish- both types of weapons are meant to shoot large amounts of bullets in a short amount of time. In most cases, a semi-automatic weapon is even more dangerous than an automatic weapon, which is largely used in a "spray-and pray" fashion (the U.S. Army ditched its fully automatic setting for itsM16s in favor of a "three round burst" setting). Additionally, certain semi-automatic weapons can be modified to make them fully automatic. The distinction really isn't that important.

Anyway, what really chaps my ass is the one-sided insistence that gun control advocates have to be fully informed about the subject of guns when the opposition can engage in ignorant distortions and outright lying. Here we have Tealiban pastors blaming mass shootings on the teaching of evolution and gay rights initiatives. A former friggin' Republican presidential candidate blamed the massacre on contraceptive pills.

How about we make a deal, we liberals will learn about guns, and the conservatives will learn about the Theory of Evolution by Means of Natural Selection, the means by which different birth control methods work (this could save them a lot of embarrassment (and, by the way, George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina is a d-bag), and the facts about gay people and the development of their sexual preferences. While we're at it, they should also learn the facts about Anthropogenic Climate Change, basic Economics, and Comparative Religion... need I go on?

I think Mr Fallows should have told his "concerned gun owner" reader to stuff it. All ya really gotta know about guns is that the gun shoots death.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Surrounded by Reminders

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I worked the midnight to eight shift, then returned home to clean myself up and bust out the old suit and tie before heading down to Manhattan for my volunteer gig, and our annual holiday luncheon. I arrived at the dojo late, our first class (8 and 9 year old girls- the boys and girls have separate groups, which makes changing after swim class easier) was getting ready to leave (my counterparts Frenchy the Paisano, Handsome Al from Brazil, and the Moroccan George Clooney ran the class... it's nice to be part of an ensemble cast). As soon as they saw me, the girls mobbed me, and peppered me with questions: "Where were you? Why were you late?" I explained to them that I had to work overnight (this confused them, so I had to explain that certain jobs require around-the-clock coverage). I then showed them pictures of my workplace, and my precious kitties. I made sure that I spent some time talking to each and every one of them. I have to say, there is no group of human beings on the planet who are more loving and caring than a bunch of young children... our kids are good to each other, and good to us old geezers.

Our next class was our "under eight" group- I think the youngest ones are five. We split the rather large group up, and I reviewed o soto gari with my subgroup (we had a newcomer, who I paired her up with Charlotte, a tiny six-year-old bruiser who is really good about helping her partners), and I taught them o uchi gari. I was so proud to see them working together so beautifully. Afterward, we had them all line up for randori- as always, it was hilarious to see a bunch of Very Small Children throwing a bunch of big guys around. Again, I made sure I spent a little time with each of our students.

After class, we all assembled and had a nice semi-formal luncheon. The kids sang carols. It was a really nice day, but there was an undercurrent of melancholy... Sitting with the other coaches at an "adults only" table, we discussed the horrific event of the day before. Most of the victims were in the age range of the classes we taught. As much as I don't like to play favorites, the little kids are the most fun to teach- they have no preconceived notions, they are enthusiastic, they are affectionate. As much as I joke about throwing them around like they were boxes marked "fragile" and I was working in a WalMart Distribution Center, they are vulnerable. I can't even fathom wishing to hurt one of them.

Cherish the children... that's the takeaway... cherish the children.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Heartsick Man in a Sick, Sick Land

When the unthinkable becomes a damn-near weekly occurrence, something is seriously wrong with our society. Four days ago, ZRM put up a post which posed the questions:

Huh? How many times will a loosely-bolted-together near-human take an easily available weapon and large amounts of nearly-unregulated ammo to turn a random mostly-safe community space into a bloodbath of passers-by?

What the fuck does it take, Wayne LaPierre, you greedy intransigent gun-lobby whore? How many innocent people have to needlessly die?

Yesterday, he posted the follow-up.

Unfortunately, the weasels in the government and the media are unwilling to address the "elephant in the room", which is the easy availability of high-powered, high-capacity firearms in this country. The gun lobby is just too goddamn powerful for the lilly-livered lapdogs in the corridors of power to oppose... they merely wring their hands and whine, "It's too soon to talk about gun control. Think of the families!" These families just had their young children killed, talking about gun control won't make them feel any more grief. Eighteen dead children? What the hell does the ghoulish Wayne Lapierre care about eighteen dead children? Wayne Lapierre is raking in too much blood money to be concerned with eighteen dead children.

Of course, gun fetishists will insist that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, but that is a crock of malarky... as I noted in my last post about a mass killing, the gun nuts typically omit the first clause of the Second Amendment. In its entirety, the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Here is my proposal... call it "Second Amendment strict constructionism" to make Conservatives lose their shit: If you want a gun, you must be a member of a well regulated militia, and not a nutbag Turner Diaries LARPer bullshit militia. You would have to register your gun, and show up for periodic (monthly or quarterly) muster, receiving training, safety instruction, and an evaluation of your fitness to bear that weapon. No regulation, no arms. It's as simple as that. Having no regulation of arms is the unconstitutional position... "conservative" distortions notwithstanding.

Later this morning, I'm going to be surrounded by dozens of children the ages of the children who were killed in the Newton, Connecticut massacre. After our classes, everybody- children, parents, coaches, counsellors- will be assembling for a lovely party to celebrate the holidays, before the program goes on hiatus for two weeks. While I surely hope that the kids will be blissfully unaware of the horrors that unfolded sixty miles to the northeast, I will make a point of greeting each of them by name, and bidding each of them an individual farewell before we part. All the while, I'll know deep down that, even though my friends and I have been giving them the wherewithal to deal with bullies, the guy whose instruction will really be helpful if they encounter a really dangerous situation is Jerry, the track coach.

POSTSCRIPT: Riddled's Smut Clyde, in a comment at Snark Central, posted a depressing assessment of American society, one which I, sadly, cannot refute:

When there is a thriving market in weapons specifically designed for killing lots of people in a short time, when you have the industry and its lobbyists and its affiliated political movement encouraging the purchase of weapons and ammunition, then it seems odd to label the people who buy and use the weapons according to directions as “disturbed”. It’s a form of disturbance that is in tune with your society

I fear you nailed it, old chum... it's this sickness that makes me so heartsick.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Secret Science Club Post Lecture Recap: This Subject Sucks!

On Tuesday night, I headed down with my cousin to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the latest Secret Science Club lecture. This month's lecture was by Dr Mark Siddall, curator of Annelida and Protozoa at the American Museum of Natural History, professor of invertebrate zoology at the Richard Gilder Graduate School, and principal investigator at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics (confession time- I cut and pasted that clause verbatim from Margaret and Dorian's blog). Dr Siddall told us that he usually writes "The Leech Guy" on his nametag at conferences, because people invariably say, "Oh, you're the leech guy" upon being introduced to him.

The original title of Dr Siddall's lecture was Resolution and Independence, but changed the title upon finding that Wordsworth fans were underrepresented in the crowd... Dr Siddall began the lecture with a quick disclaimer, something along the lines of "if you're not grossed out, I'm DOING IT RONG!!!". He followed that up by asking if any of us had had a close encounter with a leech. Yeah, I have, I even brought a leech from Maine back to New York to give to a crazy friend of mine. I'm cool with the leeches.

Leeches belong to the phylum Annelida, the segmented or "ringed" worms (ringworm, as Matt Groening observed, is neither a ring nor a worm- it is a fungus. The annelids are divided into three sub-groups, according to their "hairiness". Polychaetes (sadly, most likely a paraphyletic group) have many chitinous bristles, Oligochaetes have few bristles, and the Hirudinea (the leeches, baby!) have no bristles. The Hirudinea and the Oligochates belong to the class Clitellata (no laughing!), they have a clitellum (I said no laughing!)- a "collar" which forms a protective egg sac. The Branchiobdellidans, which parasitize crayfish are thought to be the closest living relatives to the Hirudinea. Dr Siddall confessed to not being that interested in Oligochaetes, with some notable exceptions.

Leeches, like earthworms, are hermaphrodites, they possess both female and male reproductive organs. Leech sex is often rough, involving traumatic insemination in many species. Basically, sperm packets are "injected" directly into another leech's "skin", with fertilization of the ova taking place later. Oddly enough, those other beloved sanguivores, bedbugs, also rely on traumatic insemination. Yeah, they're even creepier than you think they are. It is thought that leeches have a terrestrial (as opposed to marine, sillies) origin- many aquatic leeches leave the water to deposit their egg sacs. Many leeches also exhibit parental care.

Many leeches have three-"toothed" jaws which produce a "Y" shaped bite (Dr Siddall joked, "if you get a leech bite, you'll be sporting a little "Benz" logo). Other leeches have a long proboscis which they insert into their hosts- many of these leeches feed on crocodilians, which have bony scutes which would hinder a "three toothed" leech. Not all leeches are sanguivores, some feed on other invetebrates or the eggs of fish and amphibians.

Leeches have been used medicinally for millennia. The height of leech "therapy" (often used to "balance" the "humours" of the body, was the early-to-mid nineteenth century (oddly enough). Leech collection proceeded at such a brisk pace that conservation measures had to be put in place. Leeches have re-entered the pharmacopeia- they produce anticoagulents which prevent the blood they ingest from clotting. German physician Georg Haasused ground-up leeches as an anticoagulent while researching dialysis- ultimately, a purified form of the anticoagulent hirudin was available to Haas, who employed it in dialysis. Hirudin has largely been supplanded by heparin, which is easier to "dose". Leeches have recently proved to be invaluable in extremity reattachment surgery- while arteries have thick walls and can be reattached fairly easily, stitching veins together is more difficult... Dr Siddall likened it to "sewing two wet soda crackers together". The leeches prevent blood from coagulating and maintain a positive blood flow into a severed extremity. Of course, leeches don't purify the blood, they just remove it and ensure that it doesn't coagulate. Leeches are one of two invertebrate groups approved for use as medical devices in the U.S. (maggots being the other). A lot of terrestrial leeches move like "inchworms"

Dr Siddall then regaled us with tales of his globe-trotting, leech-hunting adventures. Well, "leech-hunting" is a misnomer, because leeches hunt you. The key to finding leeches is to do everything you are typically told not to do- you take off your shoes and socks, roll up your pants legs, and hike through the jungle/wade through the swamp. Eventually, the leeches will find you... leaping leeches, some of them move quickly! Aquatic leeches tend to swim in a "sine wave". Here is an excerpt from NOVA Science Now in which the two hunkiest scientists in the world, besides those supersexy "Riddled" boys, go on a leech-finding expedition:

I am proud to say that I have met both of them, and they are both awesome guys.

One of the Dr Siddall's most memorable leech-finding (insert leechfinder general joke) expeditions involved trying to collect a leech which lives exclusively in hippo asses. On this particular trek, Dr Siddall was accompanied by a guide with a rifle. Hippos are dangerous, so Dr Siddall asked the guide, "If a hippo charges, would you shoot it with the rifle?" The guide's answer was terse, "No, this rifle is too small to stop a hippo. If you get bitten by a hippo, the rifle is to shoot you." As a trivia bonus, courtesy of the good doctor, hippos are an invasive species in Colombia, some having escaped from a menagerie belonging to druglord Pablo Escobar. Dr Siddall eventually found his hippo ass leeches when a dangerous hippo (it had been subdued while invading a village, then was tagged and released, but ended up back in a village, thereby demonstrating that it wasn't afraid of humans) was put down. Dr Siddall had pictures of the leech in its natural environment... I'll refrain from finding a picture to link. Another leech which was profiled in this part of the lecture was the giant Amazon leech, which is one of those "proboscis possessing leeches". The lecture also touched upon the recently discovered T. rex leech, a monster with a single jaw with really gnarly teeth, which lodges itself in the nasopharyngeal region to feed. Dr Siddall showed an arthroscopic video of a leech being plucked out from someone's nose (they can't be washed out, because they could be aspirated). He also showed a picture of a leech resting on someone's eye, than told the audience, "If you think this is gross, I can change the picture." His next "slide" was the same image flipped- well, played, doctor!

Perhaps the funniest moment of the night was when Dr Siddall (who periodically punctuated his lecture with exhortations to the crowd to buy drinks and to tip the bartenders generously) related a leech-hunting trip to the upper Midwest. The good doctor needs to feed the leeches he finds, so he stopped at an abbatoir to obtain a liter of fresh blood (since he was getting it straight from the source, he got a couple of additional liters on his arms). The leeches need to "feed" through a natural membrane, so Dr Siddall, accompanied by two female associates, went to the local pharmacy to buy three boxes of "sheepskin" condoms, afterward asking the ladies, "Do you think these will be enough?" PURE HILARITY...

I'm going to stop here, because I forgot to bring my lickle notepad to work. I will update the post to include the information about the different anticoagulents that leeches produce, and about the correct identification of medicinal leeches. There will be blood more...

Ya know, I may as well plow through the parts that I recall... I'll post the addendum, mainly about anticoagulents, when I get my notes.

Dr Siddall then touched upon the (mis)identification of medicinal leeches. The classic medicinal leech is Hirudo medicinalis (Dr Siddall touched upon the handsome colors that some leeches sport- it's possible that some leeches mimic the toxic spotted newt in order to deter predators- though Dr Siddall recounted an incident he witnessed in which spotted turtles ate leeches which had attached themselves to a large snapping turtle... turtles playing plover, who knew?).

Anyway, leeches typically have bacterial symbionts in their gut, probably to "crowd out" dangerous bacteria. The best known bacterial symbiont of the medicinal leech is genus Aeromonas. Different species of Hirudo leeches have different species of Aeromonas associated with them- Hirudo medicinalisis associated with Aeromonas hydrophila while Hirudo verbana is associated with Aeromonas veronii. In the U.S., many of the leeches sold as H. medicinalis are actually H.verbana (Dr Siddall related to us a call he received from customs officials who had found 750 leeches in a package which was being smuggled into the country from Turkey). It is critical to determine what species a particular "medicinal" leech is in order to determine which Aeromonas bacteria it harbors in order to determine what antibiotic prophylaxis needs to be performed.

I'll post an addendum about the anticoagulents when I get my little steno book... needless to say, there are three basic ones, each acting on the "clotting cascade" in different ways. There are some indications that leech saliva can have an anti-metastasis effect (hmmm... maybe I can just link to Dr Siddall's blog and blow off the update...). Some bastard in the audience asked Dr Siddall about the similarities between the anticoagulates produced by arthropods such as mosquitoes and those produced by leeches, and he wrote down the answer somewhere... I'll just say now that some of the chemicals involved are also related to toxins employed by certain snakes. After the lecture, said bastard asked about a study (which may be a piss-take) which seemed to suggest that garlic can kill leeches. Dr Siddall indicated that he may try to replicate said study.

All told, the subject matter of the lecture was certainly sucky, but the lecture was a grand slam. Truly, this lecture was one of my favorites... I'm a sucker for biological topics anyway, and Dr Siddall was not only the go-to guy about the subject, but he was used to playing to an audience. Once again, the Secret Science Club delivered the goods in spectacular fashion... Christmas came early, and it was bloody good!

Now, check out this NOVA FAQ for additional reading... it actually lists the anticoagulents produced by leeches, and the different mechanisms in which they work (whether they act on thrombin or platelets). It also mentions the chemoreceptors that leeches use to find that tasty, tasty blood. If I can't find my notepad, no big loss!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Twelve

If there's anything better than Nine Nine Nine, it's Twelve Twelve Twelve. How much better? It's Three Three Three better!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Secret Science Siren Song

Ah, who can resist the song of the sirens? Inexorably luring, ineffably beautiful, it draws us on. I've made no secret that I've been addicted to The Secret Science Club since day one. Today, I'm happy to say that my brillaint cousin Val will be joining me in the trek down to Brooklyn. Is she not her cousin's cousin?

My cousin Val is the elder child of my dad's youngest brother (dad was third out of eight kids)- she is considerably younger than myself. I first met Val when she was a baby, and I have to say, the first thought that came into my head when I saw her wasn't "Someday, I will have a beer with this beautiful baby." The fact that I will be going out for a beer with that selfsame baby is extremely cool. Being older and wiser (and beerier) than I was, I am now more likely to say, "I'd like to have a beer with that baby someday." As a matter of fact, there are babies that I'd totally have a beer with. Indeed, there are babies that I have had a beer with.

My cousin Val is beautiful- she wears the classic "family face". When she was a baby, she looked remarkably (and remark we did) like my older brother Sweetums did when he was a small child. When I look at her, I am reminded of numerous relatives... I can even see traces of faces of elder generations I know only from photographs. It's pretty amazing to see that classic look embodied in a thoroughly modern young lady. Even more importantly, cousin Val is also an exemplar of the family braininess and wit. Plus, she has always been really great about sharing her kayak with everybody when we trek up to Maine.

I'm pretty sure that my cousin, being a brainiac, will be thoroughly taken by the siren song of Secret Science. At any rate, it will be a late night... the sirens sing no lullaby.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Numbnut's Nog Nattering

One thing that I've noticed about Libertarians (so-called) is that they are hung up on the idea the tyranny can only come from an overreaching government (though most of them are notably silent when said overreaching is done by Republicans). Libertarians almost invariably turn a blind eye to the threats to freedom posed by corporations or wealthy private individuals. Conversely, Libertarians tend to portray attempts to regulate industry as attacks on liberty. For the latest Libertarian affront to sense and reason, nothing beats Kevin Williamson's bold resistance to the Eggnog Gestapo. Let's all put on our Liberal Fascist jackboots and tromp all over Williamson's post. The problems begin with the title, a Godwin's Law violation, and they don't get any better.

Here is a sentence that makes me want to burn my passport and move into a fortified rural compound:

The FDA dictates that U.S. nog have at least 6 percent milk fat.

Ah... the product standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are exactly analogous to the tactics of the dreaded Nazi Secret Police. I imagine that, in Williamson's "mind" (those square quotes are necessary), the Liberal Fascist Gestapo kicked down the doors of European Jews in order to mandate a minimum "white fish" quantity in gefilte fish.

Somewhere in the vast array of federal rules and regulations — the 10,000 Commandments — is one specifying the minimum of milk fat that eggnog shall contain. Did the men who fought at Lexington and Concord do so in order to set up a new regime that would manage their lives on this level? King George III would never have dreamed of such imperious behavior.

The men who fought at Lexingon and Concord fought to ensure that companies could foist adulterated and/or subpar products on the consumer. Any attempt to force producers to adhere to a quality benchmark is tantamount to tyranny. Why shouldn't the "masters of the universe" be able to pass off thin, watery pseudo-dairy products as genuine, traditional eggnog? The peasants aren't owed an explanation, they will get what they get and like it! Why should a "job creator" have to market their food products accurately? They should not be forced to label their seaweed extract nog as such... besides, seaweed extract nog is delicious!

King George III would never have dreamed of such imperious behavior. Is there nothing too trivial for the federal government to micromanage?

Is there nothing too trivial for an asinine Libertarian to whine about? Protip, Kevin, the adjective is Juvenalian, not juvenile- satire, UR DOIN IT RONG!!!

Not content to sit back smugly, enjoying the satisfaction of earning his wingnut welfare check for writing this bit of coprography (not to be confused with coprophagy, which is what Williamson's readers engage in), Williamson had to add to his screed:

UPDATE: And then there is this:

Annatto and turmeric (for color) The use of these two natural food colorings—which add a yellow tone—is technically forbidden in eggnogs under federal regulation (it might make revelers think the drink contains more egg than it really does). But eggnog makers pushed back, and that rule has been stayed—pending a public hearing—for the past 30 years! The FDA is now looking into it.

I shall now set something on fire.

I consume more much more turmeric and annatto than the average 'Merican, being addicted to the dubious cuisines of sinister foreign elements. I have no objection to the presence of such ingredients... unless such presence is meant to deceive the consumer. Williamson even admits this deceptive intent in his post: (it might make revelers think the drink contains more egg than it really does). Traditional eggnog recipes don't contain turmeric or annatto, they contain copious amounts of eggs. Dairy producers should have to market nogs with trace amounts of egg as "curry nogs" or "adobo nogs".

I suggest that, if Mr Williamson is sincere in his desire to set something on fire, he burn his computer... it would spare us his idiotic rants in the future, and it is sure to piss off some EPA or OSHA bureaucrat who would impose the tyrrany of clean air standards on patriotic Mr Williamson.

Cross posted at Rumproast.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hmmmm... This Seems a Little Weird...

So... yesterday I put up a fairly perfunctory post, then decide to check my stats, and I find that Thursday's post had more than one thousand hits:

The Beauty Industrial Complex and the War on Women...
Dec 6, 2012, 18 comments

WHA??!?!?!!?!? I knew something was up! Previously, I've only had two posts that broke the 1000 hits mark: my Frank Frazetta memorial seen mainly by horndogs who want to see dynamically-executed paintings of women with huge badonkadonks, and my overview of the female titans of SF&F and "gaming" culture (first person who claims Margaret St Clair was a "novelty girl" gets a men's 12 EEEE up their patootie). Something was going on, something catapulted Thursday's post to the number two spot...

I have to take this opportunity to thank all-around responsible netizen and GOOD GUY Tengrain for including me in this week's Crooks and Liars blog roundup. Wow, I feel like a little kid who received a pat on the head and an accolade from a friendly giant. Thanks to Tengrain and to the Crooks and Liars team for deigning to notice my little corner of the t00bz. I'm really grateful.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This is a Public Service Announcement

Gotta love Portland... it's been years since I've been there, but there's a lot to like: Beverly Cleary, Powell's Books, The 24-Hour Church of Elvis... now, even the "pigs" are "cool".

Portland resident, Sadlynaught, and lazy food porn purveyor Pupienus Maximus linked to a public service announcement by the Portland Police Department regarding travel to Washington State to partake in now-legalized pot use. Here's the helpful officer explaining the ins and outs of highs:

That's a really great public service announcement, but it needs more guitars:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Beauty Industrial Complex and the War on Women

Every once in a while, I read something which makes me feel all crabby and stabby. Today's rage inducer was an article in the local free daily which makes for perfect subway reading. The article in question was an entertainment section feature on pop singer Marina Diamandis, about whom I have posted before. Here is the appalling part of the article:

Also getting a big whatever was her label's decision in September to delay the release of the "Heartbreaker" video because, well, they didn't think she looked attractive enough.

She got a call from her manager saying the label didn't like it, she explains: "'They think you need some beauty work
,' he said. 'I said, 'I don't care if they think I'm ugly or not, they need to give me a budget if they want me to look botoxed within an inch of my life.'"

Not that she has a problem with that, she says. "I really don't mind. Everything on the album has been in the spirit of that plastic pop element."

The bolded text is what inspires this "stabby" feeling in me... if this woman isn't attractive enough, what hope does an ordinary looking woman have? Mind you, the entertainment industry also pressured a 25-year old who looks like this to get botox. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

Back in college, I remember telling my freshman "little sister" and her roommates, all nice normal girls, to dump all the "Cosmos"... these magazines only served to tell them that they was inadequate, but could spend tons of money trying to look like the made-up, airbrushed models who graced the glossy pages of the magazine.

It's gotten worse since then, of course... I mean, you can look like this and it's still not good enough.

I'm a little miffed that Ms. Diamandis didn't put her foot down about this. While she doesn't have a problem with this nonsense, she's not doing any favors to her fans. I think the first question that any female pop star facing this "attractiveness" dilemma should ask herself is, "What would Poly have done?" Alternately, what would Polly do?

Here's a video by the "insufficiently attractive" Marina Diamandis:

Here's the late, great Poly Styrene offering her take on the pressure to look good, living in a consumer society:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Sweetums' Birthday

As is my usual custom, I take an opportunity every December 5th to wish my older brother Sweetums a happy birthday. Sweetums has resided in the greater Zurich metropolitan area for quite a few years now. This year, I believe he'll be meeting with my brother Vincenzo for a kick-ass Christmas party. Happy birthday Sweetums, hope you and Vin can meet up in a few weeks.

Sweetums has the distinction of having pretty much written a guest post on this here blog, a distinction he shares with Ginger.

Happy Birthday, Sweetums!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Laughing So Hard, I'm Crying

In the annals of Poe's Law hilarity, no-one is better than Stephenson Billings. Well, Mr Billings has outdone himself with his lemonade-producing Deinonychus. This is the best Dromaeosaur hilarity since Raptor Jesus went extinct for your sins. Speaking of Raptor Jesus, here's a video of his first miracle:

Monday, December 3, 2012

You Know That Guy in the Commercials?

You may have seen some commercials featuring some guy who is purported to be the most interesting man in the world. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but that guy will have to settle for second place.

Yesterday, I got home from work around 10AM, slept for a couple of hours, then high-tailed it down to Manhattan to meet up with N__B and the guy who is more interesting than The Most Interesting Man in the World, none other than Major Kong. Major Kong is the guy who can set 200,000 pounds of metal moving at 130mph on the ground without breaking an egg in the cockpit. He's gone supersonic (and not in the J.J. Fad sense of the word). He's the closest thing to Santa that you naughty heathens will ever meet. He's a hell of a nice guy.

I have to say, I really dig the Major. He's brilliant, he's cool, he loves cats, he's had some fascinating life experiences, he's an all-round GOOD GUY. It was a pleasure and a privilege to sit down with him and Ned for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. I am, and I'm sure Ned would say the same thing, looking forward to future visits from the good Major. Now, when are the rest of you going to get your asses to the New York Metro Area?

ADDENDUM: Ya know, I totally muffed it by not referring to Major Kong as a Knight of the Air. I will perform penance for this oversight by watching Nena videos. IBIMBIYKWIMAITTYD

ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM: Watching the video for Nena's Leuchtturm for the third time in a row... did ever a cuter human being walk this planet?

Sunday, December 2, 2012


This post, a follow-up to last Thursday's post, is inspired by a comment posted by a delurking commenter (please post more often, Robert!) at the mothership. I will print the relevant comment in full, because it's awesome:

De-lurking, because oh for god’s sake…

I like that this Dennis Prager completely overlooked Asian-Americans in his summing up of groups who have given themselves over to evil. Modern public education? As a Chinese American, I can attest that Asians *love* public education. For us, it’s a major tool for social and economic advancement. And we haven’t failed to notice the fierce and caustic hostility that Republicans have for public education. That’s not all we notice.

We notice the Republicans’ racist assumption that African-Americans are stupid, and their conceit that all it takes to win them over is to serve up a bigger, flashier helping of bullshit.

We notice the patronizing and insulting attitudes that permeates Republican attitudes toward women. Do they really think that women are children, whose concerns about equal pay and equitable access to necessary health care can be waved away like Christmas wishes for rainbows and ponies?

We notice the suspicious and insulting manner by which Republicans treat Hispanics – despite the fact that many Hispanics have family roots in this country that go back for centuries, they assume that anyone with a Hispanic surname is an immigrant, and quite possibly an illegal one at that.

We noticed all that, and guess what? We voted for President Obama by a ratio of over two to one. ‘Cause we see all that, and, at the risk of trading in stereotypes here, we’re supposedly the “smart ones”. Ha ha! Maybe it’s a good thing we Asians have such a low profile – I don’t think I have the stomach to read some wingnut having a fit over some kind of “Fu Man Chu” influence, or some shit like that.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for your attention. Back to lurking.

I've bolded the part of the quote that I'll be riffing on in this post. Of course, the "Fu Man Chu" influence refers to the villain of a series of 1920's pulp "yellow peril" novels in which the eponymous Mandarin Menace attempts to take over the world by using "Fu Music" to enslave the youth of the unsuspecting West. Well, this... uhhhh... fiendish plot, if you will, is eerily similar to the PSY-ops being waged against the youth of America, which aims to drug their minds. Even now, Korean artists are trying to capitalize on the popularity of Gangnam Style to weaken our impressionable American youth by singing songs incomprehensible to most Americans:

I'm going to analyze this song with the same perspicacity as Keith Ablow brought to bear on Gangnam Style:

For Americans, at least, most of the lyrics of Largo al Factotum can't be understood, since they are in a foreign language. Here's a sample: "Tutti mi chiedono, tutti mi vogliono, donne, ragazzi, vecchi, fanciulle." Obviously this song, by a little fat guy from Pisser's Row or some place, is without intelligible words to some extent. It simply conveys you to a distant place, beat-wise, doesn’t try to convince you of anything. It doesn’t try to raise your emotions. It just is sort of like a drug. And that seems to be what most people want right now. Not reality. Not feeling. Not meaning. There’s something wrong with it… It’s the same as getting high, in miniature.

Oh, yeah, now that's some serious PSYchology- I can haz Fox gig nao?

POSTSCRIPT: I'd be remiss if I didn't note that PSY, the character played by Signor Park, is quite a bit like Figaro... both are slightly pompous, though lovable, scamps. Gangnam Style partakes in the spirit of the opera buffa. PSY is to Seoul as Figaro is to Seville- both are self-proclaimed men about town, beloved by all (in his video, PSY even interacts with donne, ragazzi, vecchi, e fanciulle). I think Rossini would "get" him, and wasn't Rossini a hell of a lot more savvy regarding human nature than Bill O'Reilly and Keith Ablow?

POST-POSTSCRIPT: I think O'Reilly is just jealous because his dance single didn't receive as many hits on Youtube (NSFW):