Thursday, September 28, 2006

Drunkem Ranting

At what point in the generational transition from Da Greatest to Da Leastest did the values of the Enlightenment get thrown out the fucking window? Why isn't there rioting in the streets over the Decider publically advocating torture with a wink and a nod? For that matter, why haven't investment banks and hedge funds been burned to the ground over the wanton mismanagement of middle-class American pensions, not to mention the failure of the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living? Why hasn't ANYONE who means ANYTHING said, "You know, we could fight the War on Terror more effectively if we stopped throwing money at stupid shit, like the War on Drugs, and that would also give us a big PR bonus, since we wouldn't have to use seatbelt laws as a pretext to search vehicles and waste our patrolmens' time when they could be out tracking down real criminals. And we could, like, train them to distinguish Sikhs from bomb-throwing Islamofascists. And stuff."

I can't really blame Hugo Chavez for seizing the opportunity to get his anti-Bush freak on. If you handed me a microphone in a room full of world potentates, I'm sure I'd say something even more offensive. The demonification of Bush is perfectly pitched to strike right at the hearts of fuzzy-headed American liberals, who see Chavez's promise of "low-cost" gas to "poor" Americans as a gesture of solidarity with some cruddy 1930s suspender-sportin' "working man" instead of the crude political calculus that it is. Whussup w/ Danny Glover, anyway?

See, Venezuela and Iran HAVE petroleum reserves. In spades. We use WAY more than our share of oil. It is the economic underpinning of our economy. Venezuela has GI-FUCKING-NORMOUS petroleum deposits. The catch is that it's really, really hard to get to, and the capital investment of actually tapping that vast (and submarine) resource is so high that only a few select players can sit at the table. Venezuela's made sure that US oil companies won't be sitting in on that meeting. In the age of the "global economy" (police state, I'm just sayin') that rules out a lotta players. So who's left? A bunch of people who were hoo-hawing and high-fiving when Chavez made the "it still stinks of sulfur" comment. (And combining that rhetoric with the very humble traditional crossing-of-oneself-while-miming-kissing-a-rosary -- brilliant. Millions of otherwise noncomittal Catholics just started admiring your "spunk".) Too bad you shut down all the opposition newspapers and radio stations, Mr. Chavez, it would've played well.

My father and my uncle Bill actually went to Venezuela before the Chavez regime to look into some sort of hazily-described "mining venture". That's when I knew the Venezuelan government would fall to a populist socialist. My dad's idea of making money was simple and stubborn: save, save, save, buy some land, rent, rent, rent, save, save, save, sell, pleaseJesus, sell, profit. It worked. My uncle Bill, who was halfway between my father and uncle Palmer on the Family Integrity Black Sheep Scale, had a somewhat slipperier concept. He'd take a flyer, now and then. (Palmer, just to flesh the story out, once bought a decrepit hotel in the middle of downtown for ONE DOLLAR at a city auction, went in and strpiied out all the AC units, copper and hardware, sold his loot to the junkyard, and then turned around and resold the property at a necessarily hefty profit.) The point, I guess, is that if the least scammed guy in a family of scammers from MOODY, ALA-FUCKIN'-BAMA can get interested in a Venezuelan profiteering scheme, then where's the hope for us all.

OK, that was a totally bogus conclusion.

I guess my point is, bravo, Sr. Chavez, for successfully shaking your fist and encouraging your fair-weather friend in Iran to spout equally eyebrow-raising invective. I look forward to your economic policy meeting with the Iranian officials. You'll find it a whole lot more amenable right here in the US. Why? Because that's how capitalism works, bubbe, we don't hafta like you, but all the money is green.

Until China goes all-in, and then we're fucked.

Debra Lafave Should Totally Do Porno

OK, it's really old, but I've been outta Net for a few.

In the past couple of days (editor: weeks), male viewers of cable news networks echoed this sentiment: "I would hit it."

"It" being Debra Lafave, the stunningly gorgeous "child predator" and "deviant" who just waltzed out of her trial with no jail time. Perhaps the fact that she's a green-eyed blonde with beestung lips and a body that don't stop had something to do with it. Perhaps it was having savvy attorneys who knew that any jury containing at least one heterosexual male with at least 20/30 vision wouldn't convict her of murder if she were found bloody and laughing atop a pile of fresh corpses.

Pretty girls get what they want. That's the lesson this teacher taught her class, at least the ones who weren't selected for private tutoring. And that student, I'm guessing, isn't going to be scarred for life by the whole horrible trauma of sex with a beautiful, willing woman. Girls have to learn not to have sex with every boy who wants it. This is a much, much harder lesson than what boys learn: have sex with every girl who'll let you.

For a man, taking advantage of a 14-year-old girl is a selfish abuse of power that rises to the level of serious criminal deviance. For a woman, taking advantage of a 14-year-old boy is simply a selfish abuse of power. It may or may not be truly criminally deviant. Yeah, this is a double standard. Well, welcome to the real world, hippy.

And that's why, in this case, the system worked. A jury of her peers recognized that there was essentially NO VICTIM in this case, and they decided appropriately.

"But a haggard witchy 50-year-old with halitosis and dandruff and unspeakable personal hygiene wouldv'e been sent down for 25 years!"

That's because life is better if you are young and beautiful.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why The Hell Not

OK, I Laughed

The truth hurts.

Holy Fuck, MORMONS!!!!

So I'm googling about, and I read the excellent MeFi pot thread, and I thinks to myself, Self, I thinks, I wonder if my marijuana-related misdeeds are recorded somewhere in teh dim dank bowels of teh intarweb>? I type my last name and the word "marijuana" into Google. And I stumble acorss an intricately detailed, exhaustively documented, painstakingly researched family history.

Of Mormons.


Then I think, well, there must be plenty more folks sharing my patronym back in the old country. So it makes semse that some of us went West instead of South and ended up in a different perverse subculture. Still, it makes me wonder. Is my whole family's geneology on file somewhere in a vast warehouse in Salt Lake City?

So I google further and I find that yes, my whole family's geneology IS, in fact, online in a vast warehouse in Salt Lake City.

Jesus fuck.

I'm related to Mormons.

I'm not sure how I should feel about this. I mean, most of the Mormons I know are cool, not that I know many, 'cause they generally get eaten in these parts, at least as appetizers, if not as whole elaborate apple-in-mouth long-pig banquet dining features, like Unitarians.

It makes sense, though, because there is a very deep part of me that yearns for special underwear.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

President Macklin, Part Three

"So, sir," Frank began. "This is...unusual, and I..."

"Here's the deal, Frank." Macklin leaned forward on his elbows and watched Frank roll the joint. "My wife is a drunk, my Presidency is a wreck, the nation's foundering in debt, much of the world hates us, and I've had enough."

Frank licked the doobie and produced a lighter. "OK. So what else is new?"

"That's why I keep you around." Macklin sighed. "No, Frank, I'm really going to do something about it. I'm holding a press conference. Not tomorrow, I'll be hung-over and the speech isn't ready. But Friday. I want your help writing this speech."

Frank looked doubtful. "Friday. Not good. The press will shred us on the weekend chat shows."

"See? That's just what I'm sick of. All this posturing, all this jockeying for position, this trasparent manipulative fakery..." Macklin realized his voice was rising and he was flapping his hands. He reached for the proffered joint, hit it, and immediately doubled over coughing, almost knocking himself out on the edge of his desk.

"Easy, sir. Can I bring you some water?"

"Stop...with the sir....or I start calling you...'Smithers'," Macklin gasped, his eyes streaming. "Jesus Christ -- pot really is stronger now than it used to be. I thought that was just ONDCP bullshit. Where'd, never mind." He took a fortifying slug from the decanter and the burn worked magic on his raw throat. "Ahhhhhh. Here, Frank, have a drink."

"Do you have an ashtray?"

"Use the floor."

Frank pursed his lips and cast about for a piece of paper. As Macklin watched, absorbed, Frank folded the paper into an origami ashtray.

"That's the most useless skill I've ever seen demonstrated."

"It's useful right now, isn't it? I studied math in college and got into origami for a few months."

"It's an ashtray made of paper. That's like building a dam out of Jell-O."

"Or maybe like a taco salad? Hmm?"

"Only if you smoke it...wait, let's get back to the speech."

"Is this going to be like that guy in 'Network'? Do you plan to publically implode and take all of our careers with you?"

Macklin fixed Frank with the hairy eyeball. "I'm not a gravy train, Frank. And most of 'us' are guns-for-hire, anyway."

"I've always dreamed of a career in food service."

"Oh, fuck you. You'll have a think-tank gig within weeks. This is about principles."

"So this IS going to destroy my career."

Macklin paused and inhaled more gently. This hit stayed down. He exhaled and took a deep breath. "Yes, Frank, it might."

Frank took back the joint and leaned back in the chair, arms crossed. "OK, convince me this is worth it."

Sunday, September 10, 2006


How 'bout them Falcons?

And major kudos to Troy University (which I still think of as Troy State) for scaring the hell out of Florida State on Saturday.

Seems some prescient blogger was just writing about that very scenario....hmmm.....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Drug War Ads Counterproductive, GAO Says

Perhaps having the ads sandwiched between ads for Paxil and Cialis has something to do with it. Just Say No to cognitive dissonance.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sportin' Life

Hindsight being what it is, I'm regretting missing out on last weekend's Tennesse-Montana State-Florida State parlay, the proceeds of which probably could finance a private Caribbean isle. I wish I could remember which stuffed shirt opined on ESPN last week that he expected no upsets on opening weekend so I could point a virtual finger and snicker in his direction. SEC teams win at home against the PAC-10, period.

Sportswriters are among the lowest of the low, down there with international arms dealers and Gary Glitter. But one of my favorite parts of the almost-upon-us NFL season is Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column. I think I've mentioned it here before, but I felt the need to plug it again this season, despite the latest column's casual backhand slap to my state's (Troy University) Trojans and his indubitably crack-induced assessment of the Falcons (6-10? Bah.). His day job at The Brookings Institute leads to some interesting cross-pollination, and he is both refreshingly lucid in his football analysis and charmingly fanboy is his appreciation for pretty cheerleaders.

I second his motion for more TV time for NFL cheerleaders. They're down there on the sidelines all dolled-up and jumping around so people will look at them, no? The least we can do is oblige. Of course, that would mean we'd have to pay them more, and we all know that the only women in the country allowed to profit from professional football are players' wives and Suzy Kolber.

In this week's column, Easterbrook complains, " big-college football ... can choose many opponents, and increasingly choose cupcakes with cherries on top." He points to West Virginia, and looking at their schedule it's hard to argue with him. But I'll offer a counterpoint -- some of those cupcakes may turn into real competitors down the road. UAB, a cupcake squad if there ever was one, fought Oklahoma to a standstill for three and a half quarters last weekend in front of the largest crowd in Oklahoma football history. They lost, because of some guy named Adrian Peterson who'll probably win some trophy called the Heisman, but they made a LOT of people go, "UAB? Huh?" And tiny Troy gets to go on the road for a three-game slog through Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska -- that's some serious seasoning for Troy's players, and some serious money for a small school. This cherry-picking process can make small programs more competitive and show the nation players that might otherwise get overlooked, like UAB QB Sam Hunt, who came into the game fighting for a starting role and left as the undisputed team leader. So while I have a problem with the big schools being able to schedule ringers, it seems inevitable that if this continues some of these ringers are going to get up off the canvas and start punching back.

Speaking of punching, another ESPN Page Two column caught my eye. Replete with references to Fight Club and hot pants, Mary Buckheit's column is all atwitter over the UFC. She gushes, "Our generation is embracing a new breed of bout .... It's not hype or press conferences or fluff that gives birth to thousands of UFC fans. It's the reality of the whole thing. It's the hard-hitting mix of punching and grappling. It's the blunt competition and simplicity of a one-on-one fight. It's the brutal honesty of a fist, and the frank candor of a knockout. It's something we can wrap our minds around. Finally."

I look forward to her coverage of muay thai. Manly!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

President Macklin, Part Two (Fiction)

(This story is continuing only because Dave Miller was kind enough to express some interest. This is for you, Dave!)

The President was staring woozily at his speech's working title, "Fuck This Shit, Solve Your Own Goddamn Problems: An Act of Political Suicide" when he heard the beep from his desk.

"Do you have the weed, Frank?"

"May I see you in your office, sir?"

"Unless I've cunningly concealed myself beneath the desk, you may. C'mon in."

Macklin set the speech aside and went to straighten his tie, then remembered that he no longer gave a damn. Frank came through the door with a stack of files and plopped them into the overstuffed chair by the Oval Office door. One of Macklin's predecessors had gotten his knob slobbed in that chair, rumor had it. Macklin had never even sat in. He used it as a staging area for paperwork.

Frank was a tall, sandy-haired man with pretentious little spectacles that he wore on the end of his nose, making him look much older than he was. Macklin liked him. Frank had worked for him since Macklin was a rookie representative. It was Frank who'd taught him the ropes. Good assistants are to politicians like good caddies are to golfers, he thought, not for the first time.

Frank pulled a baggie out of his chinos and placed it on the desk. "Here you are, sir. I don't want to know."

"What's there to know? I haven't smoked pot since high school, ok, maybe since college. I just needed the stress relief, you know?"

"Sir, are you intoxicated?"

"No, Frank, I'm drunk. Knee-walkin', bitch-slappin', piss-yourself drunk. And I'm about to be high, too. Did you bring some papers?"

"I..." Frank sighed. "Let me run to my car."

"Good man, Frank. Prepared. Were you a Boy Scout?"

Frank turned at the door and made a face. "They don't like 'my kind' in the Boy Scouts."

"Scout leaders only bugger the straight ones, huh?"

Frank opened his mouth, shut it again. "I'll be right back. Shall I send the non-essential staff home?"

"Jesus Christ, there are still people here? Yes, yes, send them off. It's a special night, Frank."

Macklin turned to the rapidly depleting decanter and thought better of another swallow. He didn't want to pass out, just get good and wasted to work up the courage for what needed to be done. He stoppered the bottle and replaced it on the sideboard, then thought better of it and put it back on his desk. Frank might want some, and Frank was essential to the plan. Hell, once Frank heard the plan, Frank would NEED a drink.

He wrote a few more lines of the speech, then reread what he had written. It was no Gettysburg Address, but so far so good. It was quiet in his office. Depressingly so. A powerful man alone with his thoughts in this quiet office might begin to think very strange things. Macklin shook his head.

"Man, am I trashed. Need some music." In one of her few thoughtful acts, Ol' Sparky had bought him one of those whizzy Bose CD player thingies a few years ago. It was on a shelf, buried beneath stacks of position papers and spreadsheets. He dug it out and was trying to figure out how to work it when Frank returned.

"Make this play music." He stabbed fruitlessly at the little white buttons on the CD player thingie.

"Sir, let me." Frank interceded and soon the office was filled with a honey-voiced tenor singing Schubert.

"That's gay. Sorry, Frank. Got any good CDs?"

"Do you like metal?"

"I like old metal, like Sabbath and Priest and Metallica. I don't like that Cookie Monster stuff."

"I've got just the thing. It's in my desk."

President Macklin wondered briefly about his gay metalhead assistant. He'd known Frank for twelve years, almost as long as he'd known Ol' Sparky, and he'd never known the guy liked heavy music. Live and learn, die and forget it all.

Frank came back with a stack of CDs. "Pick one."

"Are you running a radio station out of your desk? Christ, Frank. Let's see what we have. Marilyn Manson. That's so yesterday. Candiria. Never heard of them. Dillenger Escape Plan. Great name. What do they sound like?"

"A garbage truck running over a pack of dogs. Repeatedly. Very growly."

"OK, maybe later. Aha! Put this in. I like this."

A moment later the opening strains of Megadeth's "Peace Sells, But Who's Buying?" shook the office. Macklin turned it down a bit, picked up the rolling papers Frank had left on the desk. "How do you roll a joint?"

Frank cracked his knuckles. "Shall I do the honors?"

"Be my guest."

(Be sure to tune in for next week's episode, wherein the plot actually advances and we get to the point of the whole thing! Yay!)

Can Bush Google?

Evidently not. Because the answer to the Iran problem is right under our noses.
The idea of a thorium-based nuclear reactor is anything but new -- the idea has been around since the dawn of the Atomic Age. But recent engineering innovations and better mining equipment and techniques make this alternative to a plutonium and uranium reactor cost-effective. Looking more closely, it's also a little accounting legerdemain factored in: the half-life of thorium is only 500 years (compared to 10,000 for some nuclear waste), and it is much less radioactive than uranium waste to begin with, so a significant savings comes when disposal costs are factored in. Plus, where is all this thorium? Turns out that most of it seems to be found in Australia, India, Norway, Canada, and right here at home.

So here we have a safer nuclear technology built on US (and Indian) patents and reliant on raw materials we and our allies produce. Why not offer this to Iran? They can't build missiles out of thorium, they won't have any excuse to stockpile uranium, and they'll have reliable nuclear power of a form that makes economic and environmental sense. Plus, the spent material from a thorium reactor is unsuitable for building nuclear weapons. Ta-da. Apocalypse averted.