Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gotta Love the Governator?

As much as I wish Arnold Schwarzenegger was not our governor, I have to admire his (Chief of Staff's) balls in issuing the following veto message to the California Assembly today:

Check out the first letters of lines 3 through 7.


This hilarity notwithstanding, my problem with the Governator remains: I don't like his schtick, but, at the same time, I can't stop occasionally falling for his schtick, as I might an old flame--which doubly irritates me because it highlights an obvious weakness of mine.

But, I mean, come on--can you blame me? How can you not smile at this Duke of Dweebs?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Pentagon Works in Mysterious Ways

I remember hearing about this back when I was in short-pants, but it still struck me the second time around, so I will share:

In 2003, [The Battle of Algiers] again made the news after the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict at The Pentagon offered a screening of the film on August 27, regarding it as a useful illustration of the problems faced in Iraq. A flyer for the screening read:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

According to the Defense Department official (Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict) in charge of the screening, "Showing the film offers historical insight into the conduct of French operations in Algeria, and was intended to prompt informative discussion of the challenges faced by the French."

The 2003 screening lent new currency to the film, coming only months after U.S. President George W. Bush's May 1, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" speech proclaiming the end of "major hostilities" in Iraq. Opponents of President Bush cited the Pentagon screening as proof of a growing concern within the Defense Department about the growth of an Iraqi insurgency belying Bush's triumphalism.

Huh. Oddly, I commend the honesty of the D.O.D. for acknowledging the quagmire that is Iraq, as well as for being concerned enough to consider playing a movie--all after being there for a little over a month.

And yet, it's hard to shake the fact that this should have already been common knowledge that prevented the war--if we're really baring our souls here, and I think we showing a mere movie really the way to drill this point into the minds of the military might? I would have a propensity for wisdom, open ears, an open mind, and a good education. Then again, educated soldiers tend to avoid war...

Hey, but what do I know? Maybe it is. I mean, who are the soldiers?

Let's get to know them:

The soldiers are a lovable and sacrificial lot, dusted with sand, wise beyond their years, and cleverly sliced out of the lower and lower-middle classes. Whether they are like you or not, they are the real everyman. They are the guys who go to see Another Scary Movie, the guys who go to see Next Next Friday, the guys who watch King of Queens and laugh.

Huh. Maybe movies are a good way to subtly teach them something, you know--while they think they're just being entertained by clowns during a reprieve from the grind. Except that The Battle of Tangiers is in black and white with subtitles! DOH! wtf?

So nobody watched it. Nobody learned anything! Or is that what the Iraq Veterans Against the War are all about?

Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain:

I want my business card to reflect that I am employed by the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.


Bonus Round:

Do you like Statistics? I do! I do! Check this shit out:

Troops in Iraq - Total 130,000 U.S. troops as of August 31, 2009. All other nations have withdrawn their troops.

U.S. Troop Casualties - 4,345 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army.

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

(statistics courtesy of


Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes when I'm really thirsty, I delightfully stumble upon a 7-11 and Gatorade that thirst to death.

Sometime life just works out that way, you know? Happy accidents.

Similarly, despite what those crazy leftists may believe, the U.S. military-industrial complex does not waste countless man-hours tending their various user-updatable wikipedia entries, in order to make war look temptingly awesome.

It's just a happy accident:

(to read more, click here)

I mean, could they make war look more like a totally sweet video game?
I'm in. America...fuck yeah!


There Truly IS a Museum for Everything!

Behold--The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.

If it isn't worth the drive to Big Rapids, Michigan, perhaps an audience with the Ferris State University Homecoming King and Queen is more your speed?

Too much


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Math Scores in the Shitter

"U.S. Math Tests Find Scant Gains Across New York"

The New York Times is reporting that scores across New York State--on one of the easiest math tests ever--indicate no improvement in what were already low math scores.

Goddamn Wall Street always has to bring down the little guys.



The Question About Obama

Is he America's Carcetti or is he worth a damn?


Friday, October 16, 2009

Thought of the Day:

You know things are bad when your dreams about time machines focus only on the past.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Do You Know When Things Are Better?

When corporations spend millions of dollars to tell you they are.

Who cares that you're 45 years old, living in the basement of your demented parents' foreclosed home in an abandoned subdivision threatened by a hurricane? Who cares that you eat oatmeal and stale crackers three times a day? Everybody still employed by GE had a smile on their face in that commercial where they told you everything is better now!!!! Lighten up!!!!! Get out there and buy something fun--like medicine for your bronchitis--with that unemployment check that never came! LOL!!!

Wipe that bloody drool off your chin, shattered human! Bank of America paid a lot of money to BBDO and the television networks so that they could tell you everything is okay. Who cares that they don't loan out money anymore, continue to speculate against you on the stock market, and now buy and sell securitized life insurance policies, gambling against their golf buddies in the health care industry.

Wait, what was that? Say that part again?

Wall Street investment banks are planning to buy and securitize life insurance policies of older Americans. A $1 million policy might be sold for $400,000, then bundled with other policies and sold to investors, the New York Times reports.

Duke law professor James Cox calls the development “bittersweet.”

“The sweet part is there are investors interested in exotic products created by underwriters who make large fees and rating agencies who then get paid to confer ratings," he told the Times. "The bitter part is it’s a return to the good old days."

The story says the plan could be good for Wall Street but bad for insurers, which set rates based on the assumption that policyholders will let their life insurance lapse before they die. If the policies are bought and securitized, insurers may lose money and pass on the loss in the form of increased premiums.

(courtesy ABA Journal)

Wait--what does that mean, exactly?
Well, [Wall Street's] new plan is to buy life insurance plans from elderly and sick people for cash. The example that the New York Times gives is someone selling a million dollar policy for a $400,000 payout, but the payout amount would all depend on the seller's life expectancy. These "life settlements" would then be bundled together to form bonds that can be sold to investors. The investors would start paying for the person's policy from then on. When the person dies, the investors collect on the policy.

Apparently, the faster the person dies, the more money the investors make. However, regardless of whether you die sooner or later, Wall Street firms will profit off of fees collected from creating the bonds and facilitating transactions. You could say that Wall Street is planning to "securitize" people's lives (or deaths, as it may be) into a kind of CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligation). And we all know how great that whole CDO adventure played out for Wall Street, right? What could be dangerous about creating a similar class of financial products with sick people's life expectancy as the focus?

Wow--things really are better! Now Wall Street is betting everything on the health care industry stealing so much of your parents' money that they have to sell their life insurance benefits right before they die.

It's like these guys are just begging to be called out on this, daring somebody to say something, to do something--like a serial killer leaving clues at the scene of the crime.

But the funniest part of all this hubbub (aside from all the other hilarious stuff I've thus far mentioned) is that these companies didn't think they could rely on you knowing that things are better because your life was actually better. I mean, are they going to start hanging out around my dinner table so I know when my food tastes good?

Just try to wipe this fucking beatific smile off my face, reality! I'm a paid actor in a television commercial and I am damn good at my job!


And now, back to frowning reality...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sweet Justice?

Drew Barrymore's directorial debut Whip It has only made $8 million since October 2. It cost $15 million to make, plus who know how much to market ($30 million?). That shit's gotta be hurtin' somebody right now--somebody who deserves a big fat spanking in the wallet, if you ask me.

Not that Drew's sweating it, though--because she knows knowledge is power, as well as two other things:
1. She'll make money on the deal no matter what, and the fact that the movie was even released is, sadly, a solid-gold testament to her skill as a director in today's Hollywood.

2. Every trapped suburban housewife/mother/daughter will ultimately suggest to her horny husband/father that they should rent it because she "heard it was pretty good"--and he will acquiesce because there are girls in it and there might be a locker room scene.
The problem is, as much as I'd like to laugh and soak up her failure like a glorious mountain sunset after a day of taming the slopes, I can't. Drew's right--when the dust finally settles, this will have no negative effect on her career.

Justice is such an elusive minx.


Rush Limbaugh as Speaker of the House?

Rush + Lindsay. Words cannot express...

Hahahahahahahahaha. It could happen:
The House of Representatives elects the Speaker of the House. Whoever receives a simple majority of the votes is elected and, after election, is sworn in by the Dean of the House, the chamber's longest-serving member. There is no requirement in the Constitution that the speaker must also be a current member of the House of Representatives to serve as speaker; however, every speaker elected has also been an elected representative.
Wait a minute--the Speaker doesn't even have to be a member of the House? The second warm body in line for the presidency doesn't need to be elected by the people?

So, in practical terms, if the Dark Side parlays Obama's gross inaction and Nancy Pelosi's appalling inefficacy into a 2010 simple majority in the House, they could presumably chose GOP ponyboy Rush Limbaugh to formally set the Republican Congress' agenda for the entire second half of Obama's first term? The half where we hope he is maybe actually going to start doing things?


Now, I'm not saying those immoral, philandering windbags would have the guts, the profound lack of intelligence, or the willingness to selflessly step out of line, but let's not forget these are the same fascinating people that plucked Sarah Palin from deserved obscurity.

In related news, check out this photograph of one of the most famous Speakers of the House, Henry Clay:


Get outta my nightmares, Lon Chaney!