Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Stupid, it burns!

Two bits of stupidity from the last few days, both courtesy of MSM-types. (Stupidity certainly isn't limited to MSM-types, but they have the biggest platform, so we're more aware of it.)

First up is Peter King, a senior NFL correspondent for Sports Illustrated. In his Monday Morning Quarterback column this week he wrote the following stupidity:

I think the more football I watch, the more I think I was too hasty last summer when I said the NFL should go to a 17-game schedule. This year hasn't been any more injury-plagued than any other; but late in the season, when fatigued players continue to drop (three Dallas starters went out in the first half alone Saturday night), you get a different view of injuries and how they affect teams than you do in July. [emphasis added]
Okay, Peter, I'm glad this season has given you added perspective on how a long season wears down football players, making them more susceptible to injury. Why this occurred to you after the TWENTY-EIGHTH season you've covered the NFL professionally, and not after the prior twenty-seven seasons remains a mystery. Perhaps you've written without a helmet too many times?

Next up is Andrew Sullivan, currently blogging for his supper at The Atlantic. Reacting to the Bhutto assassination, he writes:
[G]iven the deep and broad forces behind Islamism, and given its record in actually trying to govern countries, it's worth reminding ourselves not to be too intimidated by religious fundamentalist losers. As Iran shows, it doesn't take too long for Muslims to see that mullahs can't run anything halfway competently.
Yeah, it's amazing how those Iranians got sick of the mullahs and threw them out of power so quickly. Oh, wait a minute, that hasn't happened. After almost 29 years, the mullahs are still safely ensconced as the rulers of Iran. I guess Sullivan missed that detail somehow.

The Stupid, it really does burn....

2007 Year-end Awards: Part 1

Okay, in the tradition of pretty much everything printed in America ever, here are The Kitchen Drawer's 2007 Year-end Awards! (I'm calling this Part 1 just in case inspiration hits again later. Elsewise, consider it an homage to Mel Brooks.)

Just like all of these kinds of awards, some of these will be blindingly obvious, some will be head-scratchers, and some will just plain stink. Also, they will all be announced prior to the actual end of 2007, meaning they may become completely irrelevant before the year is done. On with the show!

Consumer Product of the Year: Chinese lead This award is obvious, but we really have to pay homage to this new wonder product. Is there anything Chinese lead can't do? I mean, it can be used to make anything, although it's especially useful for making toys. (Note that this one is so obvious I don't even need to provide links to other stories. Yeah, that's right, y'all know what I'm talkin' about.)

Catchphrase of the Year: "Don't tase me, bro!" Yes, this is the only category where the choice was even more obvious than Consumer Product of the Year. Again, no links are necessary, but because I never get tired of the video, here's an embed anyway.



Really, he should have been tased just for his fashion crimes. [Clarification: I'm referring to the offending student's fashion cirmes. I'm okay with MC Hammer. His fashions were time & place appropriate, believe it or not.] Don't go showing your underwear like you're some sort of gangsta, preppy boy.

(I don't want to embed too many videos in this, but here's a great folk song version of the Catch Phrase of the Year: kinda has a Johnny Cash feel to it....)

Which leads me to:

Blogpost of the Year: Udolpho's "Another university student dealt with appropriately…" The opening 'graph wins the title all by itself:

I love these news items. Lefty student behaves like a jackass and gets tasered and hauled roughly away. People, the system works.

Best Post-Tasing Headline of the Year: "Tasering postpones Kevorkian appearance"

The only thing that could have made all of this better is if there had been Chinese lead in the Taser that started it all.

But there were non-Taser, non-Chinese lead stories this year, so on with the rest of it!

Sportsman of the Year: Clint Bowyer Some of you are no doubt asking, "Who's Clint Bowyer, and why should he get this recognition?" Well, Clint is a driver on the NASCAR circuits. This year he finished third in the Nextel Cup standings, but that's not why he gets this award. He gets this award for his 18th place finish at the 2007 Daytona 500. You don't think that's too impressive? Well, you're wrong. Bowyer crossed the finish line while his car was upside down, sliding sideways, and on fire! (Watch starting at the 4:05 mark.) Truly an outstanding effort!

Most Tiresome Story of the Year: The Beckhams come to America Look, you media assholes: No one cares about metric football in this country, and we're not going to care because some greasy Englishman gets over-paid to under-perform for an American metric football team. Not even if he's married to Anorexic Fake-Boobed Spice.

Financial Story of the Year: The Sub-Prime Mortgage Fiasco The one bright spot in this crisis is that at least a few of those responsible are being made to feel a slight pinch for their transgressions. But given that they'll get to keep their jobs, perhaps I should call that a slightly less dim spot. Perhaps the only man in New York City having a worse year is Isiah Thomas. Of course, Zeke gets to keep his job, too. All of which gets me to ...

Wisest New Saying of the Year: T-Rex's "Failure is just success rounded down." T-Rex is the cleverest dinosaur stomping on things today. This wisdom also comes on a t-shirt! That's how you know it's good. (Scroll down about 2/3rds of the page.)

That's it for now, but I do think a Part 2 will be coming in the next day or two. Feel free to suggest categories & winners.

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Tis the season!

Warning: This is not what you think it is....



And neither is this, although it's not as bad as the stuff above.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

For fans of depressing violence...

I offer up this story:

L.A. Gangs: Nine Miles and Spreading
by Peter Landesman for the LA Weekly

I have no comments at this time, but may have some later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lest I forget...

Callimachus linked to an interesting interview today. You can read the excerpt that Cal quoted to get something of a frame for the interview, or you can read the interview itself. (I highly recommend the interview, actually, but it is longish for a web article.)

In this interview, NEH Chairman Bob Cole converses with journalist Andrew Ferguson about Abraham Lincoln, and Ferguson's new book about Lincoln and his place in the American psyche. (Instead of linking to a biography of Ferguson, I've decided to link to one of his articles instead. The interview contains enough biography, and a search engine will provide more for the curious.) The interview has a few interesting points that I'd like to call out.

First, some humor:

Cole: In your book, you also talk about the collectors and buffs and the movers and shakers in the Lincoln world. It's not just about Lincoln.

Ferguson: Lincoln collecting literally began the weekend of his death. There were vendors selling square-inch patches from the sheets he bled on. The Victorians had these earthy obsessions—blood, hair.

Cole: The relics.

Ferguson: The demand for Lincoln's stuff is always expanding, even now. But the supply of really good Lincoln stuff—letters in his own hand, signatures, clothes that he wore, kitchen utensils from his house, and so on—is finite. So the definition of good Lincoln stuff expands.

The best example is the market for Lincoln forgeries. Since you need $4,000 to $5,000 to get a real Lincoln signature now, there has been—incredibly—a robust market in Lincoln forgeries. In the 1920s and '30s, there were some very good Lincoln forgeries, by a guy named Cosey, another guy named Weisberg, a couple of others.

So now you can spend a few hundred bucks to get a Cosey or a Weisberg forgery of Lincoln's handwriting. To one of these Lincoln collectors, I said, “I can't believe people are trading in this stuff.” And he said, “Well, you've got to be careful, because there's a lot of fakes out there.”

Cole: Fake fakes.

Ferguson: Fake forgeries. People faking Weisberg faking Lincoln.

Second, a point that had never occurred to me before:
Ferguson: A lot of people were “union savers.” Garibaldi created a union in Italy—Bismarck in Germany. The nineteenth century was an era of consolidators, statesmen essentially bolting together their fractious countries. You can see Lincoln as part of that trend, I suppose.
Somehow it had never occurred to me that Lincoln's acts could be thought of in that light. The analogy has its weaknesses, but it also has some strengths. I'm going to have to ponder that for a while.

Finally, and anecdote from Ferguson that contains one of the great truisms about America:

Ferguson: My own idea was to reconstruct the Lincoln Heritage Trail, which was an artifact that had been debunked and had fallen into disuse over the last generation. You still see signs for it, lost among the weeds, in various places in the Midwest.

I decided I would try and piece together this Lincoln Heritage Trail that my parents had taken me on when I was a kid. I tried to find a map. I looked on the Internet, asked everyone I could. Couldn't find anything about the Lincoln Heritage Trail.

Finally, I got a call from the director of tourism in Illinois. She said, “I've got your guy—the man who invented the Lincoln Heritage Trail in1961. He's still alive.” I called the guy up. Waxing eloquent, I said, “It's such an honor to speak with you, because the trail is really from a time when people cared enough about Lincoln and our history to try to honor the places he'd been, to touch the places he'd touched. . . .”

And there was a long pause. He finally said, “Uh, thanks. But, you know, don't you, this whole thing was cooked up by the marketing guys at the American Petroleum Institute? They wanted to get people in their cars buying gasoline.”

The thing had been a marketing scam. They had done it out here in the East, a George Washington Heritage Trail. There was a Hiawatha Heritage Trail. And the Petroleum Institute had put together this one for Lincoln. All to sell gasoline. When you scratch anything in America, there's a profit motive not too far underneath.[Emphasis added.]

I love commerce!

Monday, December 10, 2007

You may think this is funny, but it's not....

Local headline:

Grandmother arrested for carrying a gun and knife at Disney now out of jail
I'm sure everyone (all five of you) reading this thinks this was just good clean fun, but let me assure you, granny violence is nothing to laugh at. (And looking at the mug shot attached to the above story ought to scare you silly.)

I myself have been the victim of such violence. Once upon a time, I was viciously assaulted at The Magic Kingdom by a little old lady. She was trying to cut in front of me at the entrance to the park, and in the process bashed me with one elbow shot after another. (Let me set the mental picture. Me: 6'1", 200 lbs, about 27 years-old. Granny: 4' nothing, approximately 65 pounds, about 130 years-old. Clearly I was over-matched and out-gunned. I'm not sure if she was on the clear or the cream, but I'm sure she was on flaxseed oil.)

Fortunately the woman's children and grandchildren pulled her off of me before I was maimed too badly. To this day, I still have flashbacks, and frequently wake-up in a cold sweat following nightmares. Zoloft and counseling have helped, but I don't think I'll ever get over the PTSD. I just thank God that the security measures have been improved since then....

[Addendum: I know that my reader(s) will think I'm making up the above tale, but my wife witnessed the whole thing. Maybe you won't believe me, but how can you not trust her?]

[Second Addendum: I'm sure you're all going to think I'm riffing on this, but I'm really not. Respect my pain, damnit!]

Monday, December 03, 2007

Here's another reason why I have no respect for "International Standing"

Headline: Sunday's defeat likely to hurt Chavez's international standing

Yeah, 'cause no one likes a guy who fails to acheive dictator status....

Just to lighten the mood a little more....

The Shakespearean Insult Generator!

The Unbearable Lightness of Stupid Online "Journalism"

So, I clicked over to Althouse today, and there I discovered a link to a horrible piece of online ... what? Journalism? Commentary? I'm not sure.

In a post entitled "Did you watch that Democratic debate, you know, the rich-folks-only debate?", Althouse linked to an Eric Scheie piece at Pajamas Media about a debate that the Democratic candidates for President had last Saturday (December 1, 2007) in Iowa. Here's how Scheie frames it up:

I was honored that Pajamas Media asked me to write about the Democratic Presidential Forum being broadcast on HDNet, and without any hesitation, I said I’d do it, although I did allow that it might take me an hour or so after the debate was over to write my post. After all, I’d have to watch it first, right?
He then goes on to describe his problems in trying to access HDNet on his television. Long story short: HDNet is a premium hi-def channel, and Scheie doesn't get that channel. It turns out that to watch a premium hi-def channel, one has to -gasp- get an HDTV and pay for the premium channel! Before going off on an extended exercise in making stuff up, Scheie writes the following:

So, the Democratic Party — the party of the working class — is broadcasting tonight’s debate from an elitist network run by billionaire Mark Cuban that requires expensive equipment and high monthly charges to access.

What’s up with that? Is this a signal that despite the egalitarian rhetoric, that they’re actually the party of the rich and famous? Imagine the outcry if the GOP broadcast its debate from fancy network that ordinary people couldn’t access. There’d be cries that the Republicans were in a “gated community.”

Well I’d say this is a RATHER gated community! And I’m feeling locked out by their lack of inclusiveness. [All font and link choices courtesy of Mr. Scheie.]

Ah, now I see. Scheie apparently is either trying to be snarky or he's trying to make the point that the Democrats aren't really all that egalitarian. If he's only attempting snark, then the piece really has no point, and I don't understand why Pajamas Media would want to post something that pointless.

But Ann and several of her commenters seem to think Scheie does have a point. As Ann herself put it in the comments, "Oh, get out. How is this comparable to the show being on Fox? It's about access, not cootie-phobia." After that, I got involved, and a mini-flame-war ensued.

Many points were at issue, and you can decide for yourself how well I held my own on the minutia. But if the ultimate point is simply about access, and whether or not this debate provided access to the masses, then we have something substantive to discuss.

First, who decided to put this debate on HDNet? Well, it doesn't appear to have been the Democrats. Instead, that decision seems to have been made by the sponsor of the debate, the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum. Here's how the Forum bills itself:
The Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum is an element of Urban Dreams’ non-partisan Project V.O.T.E. (Voting Opportunities Through Education). Urban Dreams is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. It is the nation’s only presidential forum in which all candidates have the opportunity to answer essential concerns of African-Americans and Latinos. The non-partisan event began with U.S. Presidential candidate debates in 1984 and has figured prominently in the Iowa caucuses. It is recognized as the oldest, continuous minority forum for presidential candidates in America and one of the longest-running presidential debates in the nation. For further information, visit http://www.bbpresforum.org.in/
In other words, this isn't a debate sponsored by either the Democratic Party or the Democratic candidates themselves, but by a third party. So, the claim that the Democrats were being elitist by choosing HDNet is patently wrong. And refusing to debate for "the nation’s only presidential forum in which all candidates have the opportunity to answer essential concerns of African-Americans and Latinos" doesn't seem like a very smart move.

Now something I can't glean is this: Why did the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum choose to broadcast through HDNet, instead of through some other, presumably more widely accessible, avenue? That I haven't discovered, but I imagine it's because HDNet asked, and probably ponied up some expenses for the debate. (Writing to the Forum and/or HDNet would probably clear this up quickly, but I prefer to remain anonymous. If any non-anonymous readers would like to email them, I'd be happy to post your email and their answers here.)

Still, why limit access in this way to a channel that isn't as available as FoxNews, CNN, or C-Span? Well, here's the kicker: the Forum did NOT limit access in Iowa. According to the Forum's website:
The commercial-free broadcast will be simulcast on Mediacom’s ‘Connections’ channel in Iowa and surrounding states.
and
IPTV [Iowa Public Television] will be rebroadcasting the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, Monday, December 3, starting at 9:00 pm.
So, for Iowans the debate was widely accessible. Therefore by broadcasting on HDNet, the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum did NOT limit access for Iowan voters, which was the target audience of the debate.

In short, Democrats didn't decide to broadcast through HDNet, the Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum did. Further, HDNet took action to ensure that the debate would reach its intended audience in Iowa. If Scheie's point (and by extension Pajamas Media, Althouse, & various Althouse commenters) really is that the Democrats are being elitist by their choice of broadcast network, then he's wrong multiple ways.

PS: Discovering the above information required some hard research. Namely, I did a search on Yahoo! for “hdnet democratic debate” and the BBPF was the third site that came up. I haven't worked that hard for knowledge since studying category theory in grad school.

Update: God Lord, it's worse than I realized. I had missed Scheie's link to a Business Wire report about the debates. The BW piece lays out all of the access facts I did above and a little bit more:
Mediacom will make the broadcast available via Channel 22 - the Mediacom Connections Channel -- available to ALL basic cable subscribers throughout Iowa, and also available to Mediacom customers in northern Illinois, Minnesota, and southwest Wisconsin.
So Scheie's whole piece was not only pointless, but he knew it was pointless and wrong. So much for the New Media Model of Journalism. It would be enough to make one yearn for the editors of Old Media if we didn't know they were also a bunch of tools.

My, oh my, how I love shooting fish in a barrel!

Here.