Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why aren't you more frightened, dammit???

Just in case you forgot about the mortal threat to our precious bodily fluids, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, Rick Santorum (who has some free time these days, it would seem), et al are presenting "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" this week.

Do I even need to make a joke here?

I just want to hear some rhythm

In case you didn't know, Bruce Springsteen still rocks.

Suck it, emo music.

Patty Scialfa is also still hot, IMHO.

Today's extraneous history lesson

The largest nuclear explosion in human history occurred on July 10, 1961, in Novaya Zemlya, an island chain in the Arctic Ocean north of Russia. It was ten times more powerful than all the bombs dropped in World War II combined.

Just thought you'd like to know.

The Swedes are coming for you...

As I was embarking on a trip through the local IKEA store yesterday, I happened upon a scene that made the very red of my oh-so-American blood boil...

A Swedish flag, flying at the same level as the Texas flag. AND the American flag.

As we all know from my comments on a nutjob in Reno who committed criminal mischief, it is illegal to fly another nation's flag even with the Stars and Stripes.

As we also all know from my comments on how the War on Terror has made us all incredibly stupid, IKEA was recently the setting for an alleged-attempted terror attack by drunken joggers.

Now my crack investigation skills have revealed the following chilling information:
I can only conclude the following: Sweden is conducting a covert campaign to conquer and colonize America. We must fight IKEA at every turn--could it be possible that, if you assemble the parts correctly, a trained Swedish operative disguised as a helpful IKEA employee could construct, say, a tank?

Beware, America, for the TYLÖSAND conquest may be soon at hand! Can I get a "Hell ja"?


Truthdig has a great piece on the modern-day equivalent of blacklisting, now known in some circles as "Dixie-Chicking":
[A]ll hell broke loose after Maines’ on-stage comment made the media rounds. The Chicks lost most of their airtime on right-leaning country western radio; CD and concert ticket sales plummeted. Egged on by reactionary FreeRepublic.com bloggers and DJs, ex-fans destroyed Chicks CDs en masse during the ensuing “Dixie Chicks Destruction” campaign. Concerts were picketed by red-baiters who called the Chicks “traitors” and “communists,” although the group’s fans were divided, and some remained loyal. Worst of all, bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors were deployed at Dixie Chicks concerts. Under heavy security, the Texas trio confronted a 2003 death threat at a Dallas performance, after a letter threatened to shoot Maines in the same city where JFK had been gunned down 40 years earlier. For his part, President Bush appeared to egg on the Chicks’ persecutors, saying: “They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records.”
As best I can recall, most of the backlash against the Dixie Chicks was juvenile at best ("chicken toss" parties??? Grow up, folks.) A now-amusing comment from April 2003:
Apparently Maines didn't learn much after the September 11 attacks. The American people have become much more patriotic, and while there are many opinions about the war in Iraq, there are also many casualties for those that speak out on subjects that are considered by many as un-American.
Seeing as how America was founded through the ultimate act of protest (not that I'm advocating armed rebellion per se), it can hardly hurt to have a trio of singers state an opinion (one that has been rather, uh, vindicated by the ensuing 4 1/2 years of events, I dare say). Most of the complaints against the Dixie Chicks, judging from the documentary "Shut Up & Sing," centered on their lack of patriotism and/or their stupidity.

Well, as for their patriotism, as we all learned during the Clinton impeachment, this is a nation of laws, not men, so criticism of any sitting president is not the same as criticism of America. And criticism of America is not always a bad thing. As for the stupidity comments, I'll just say that (a) the Dixie Chicks are hella-good songwriters and performers, and (b) George W. Bush once said this:
My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions.
History will decide.

BTW, Ted Nugent is still a pussy.

Back after a spell

To quote Bob Schneider:
It took me some time I must confess
For a while there I was feeling less than my best
Now that I'm back in form, let me take a moment to reassure Natalie Portman: it's okay to be naked. Really.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A voice of reason on the animal shelter "debate"

Here's John Kelso on the city's animal shelter "debate":
[I]f you can't put up with the hassle of driving a few miles out to heck and gone to find the dog pound, you probably shouldn't be allowed to take a dog.
Yes, he's being sardonic, but he has a point. I am a bit confused by the public outcry going on now about the plan to move the city's animal shelter (yes, technically it's a pound, but I don't like that word) to a new location in east Austin, away from its present location next to Town Lake (hence the name "Town Lake Animal Center"). There seem to be reasonable arguments for and against the plan, but the city (i.e. the voters) already voted on it last November (although, to be fair, the animal shelter is the last thing listed on the last of seven propositions--volunteers at the shelter worried that the proposition wouldn't pass because of this hidden placement).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Take that, Vegemite!

And to think this was made by people trying to sell this product!

If you've ever tried this or Vegemite, you'll understand. Sorry, Australia, your food sucks (although Marmite is actually British--it still sucks).

Worst apology ever

I don't know what the hell this is or where it came from, but frathole apologies are hilarious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In memory of a friend

A close friend of my family from my childhood died Sunday in a small plane crash outside of Castroville, Texas. They believe she was flying (it was her plane), but the actual cause may not be known for a long time.

She and I had not been in touch for a long time. I had only seen her once in the past 15 years or so, almost exactly one year ago at my sister's wedding. She's just the kind of person where you know the world is a better place because she is in it.

At the very least, to the extent any consolation can come to those who remember her, she died doing something she absolutely loved (flying) with someone she cared about. Maybe, looking at the sum of a person's life and the people they touched while they were here, that is enough.

So long, Susan. I will miss you.

Favorite animated short ever

I just wanted to share this as well. It won't brighten your day at all, but it is a worthwhile experience.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I discover "brick films"

As discussed in today's WSJ, there is a whole world of short films starring LEGO's out there. I'm just amazed at how deep this one is:

Amusing impropriety

And now something altogether different

You've seen something cute, now see something strange: a donkey toting a pouch full of lambs.

The secrets of the universe may lie within this picture

I has a buffet

It may also lead to world peace. Seriously, how can anyone (not currently suffering from third-degree burns) be angry, sad, or moribund while looking at this?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Soldiers make better right-wing props when they don't speak

I wonder (rhetorical question alert) if it occurred to Rush Limbaugh, in the midst of his bizarre rant involving Iraq veteran Brian McGough and VoteVets.org, that McGough might actually, you know, respond? Not that it changes anything about how these douchebags bloviate. Here's what McGough said (h/t War Room):
I stood in the sand, snow, dirt, mud and dust of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I spent over a week on a side of a mountain in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. I received The Bronze Star medal for my actions during that battle. I crossed the border into Iraq with the first wave of the 101st Airborne. I sustained an open head injury on the streets of Mosul after a vehicle borne IED exploded next to the vehicle I was riding in. I have seen the aftermath of a real suicide bomber. I had loved ones who died in the 9/11 attacks. I have friends and colleagues who returned from the war in body bags. How dare you call someone like me a phony soldier and a suicide bomber?
Only someone truly, deeply evil can continue to smear someone like this. Apparently Rush will be on Bill O'Reilly's show soon.

They're trying to make our country better, dammit

Spouses of servicemembers are being deported. It seems like a no-brainer to me that people serving overseas shouldn't have to also be fighting immigration battles here. The counter-argument-that-wasn't that CNN offers from Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies is less than convincing--he pretty much just calls the idea another amnesty that's "ridiculous" or some equally unhelpful word. The soldier in question states it so bluntly that all immigration critics should be ashamed: "I'm trying to make this country--my country--better."

So let's lay this situation out. An individual volunteers for military service and goes overseas, most likely to Iraq or Afghanistan, to take part in "the defining struggle of our time." Back home, that person's spouse is facing deportation for one or more administrative reasons (note that the woman in the CNN report linked above came here "illegally" when she was five years old. Her children are most likely U.S. citizens, assuming they were born here.) These deportations are supported mostly by people who are not taking part in "the greatest force for liberation that humankind has ever known," and who do not stand to lose anything personally by supporting such proceedings.

This is, to put it as mildly as I am capable, bullshit.

To judge from his ever-so-brief Wikipedia biography, Mark Krikorian has never served a day in uniform (if I'm wrong, I'll take it back, just let me know). He argues here that there are no jobs that Americans "won't do," so there's no need to import foreign labor (i.e. for the shit jobs like scrubbing toilets that pay so little no American will do it). Again, I doubt he has ever scrubbed a toilet in his life. And lest this seem like an irrelevant ad hominem attack, keep in mind that this guy's whole argument boils down to knowledge of human behavior and human nature (i.e. "Sure, Americans will be happy to mow lawns and wash dishes for pennies an hour! How do I know? Uh, because I'm an American!") While there is a certain populist appeal to the idea that no work should be "beneath" Americans, it is the messenger I doubt more than the message. Show me that you are willing to do the heavy lifting, Mr. Krikorian, and maybe I'll start to believe you.

In the meantime, for fuck's sake stop deporting soldiers' spouses!!! Give them something to fight for, dammit!

Turns out this actually is against the law

CNN has a report on a veteran in Reno, NV who took offense to a Mexican flag flying above the U.S. flag over a local store, and took it upon himself to remove the offending flag (although from the video, it looks like he removed both.)

It turns out that it actually is against federal law to fly another flag higher than, or even adjacent to, the U.S. flag, except in certain circumstances. It's in Title 4, Chapter 1 of the U.S. Code (the collected, codified federal statutes). Section 7 provides as follows:
(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations. (Emphasis added)
The thing is, the U.S. Code does not seem to prescribe any particular criminal penalty for violating this section (although I didn't look all that hard.) I do know that one of my former law partners once defended a guy charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor in Texas (unless the damage is greater than $1,500), for doing the exact same thing here in Austin (i.e. tearing down a Mexican flag he deemed offensive). So please, don't go running around tearing down any non-U.S. flags you see.

I just can't seem to get all worked up about the Mexican flag, though. I do remember being bemused by people protesting the immigration issue with Mexican and other flags (although much of this may have been overblown.) Maybe it's my Texas heritage (we've beat 'em before, we can do it again, or something like that). Maybe it's a failure of patriotism. Maybe it's just that there are far, far bigger threats to the U.S. than the position of our flag on the streets of the Biggest Little City in the World.

Say it ain't so, Judge Kent!

I am troubled to hear of the various calls for the investigation and impeachment of Judge Sam Kent, a federal district judge sitting in Galveston, Texas. Not out of any particular affection for the man himself, as we have never met. Nor is it out of any particular interest in the rights of alleged sexual harrassers, although I am reserving judgment until I read more about what allegedly occurred. Rather, I will miss the opportunity to read some of the snarkiest, most inappropriately sarcastic rulings and opinions in the history of the federal court system. First off, the allegations: the Fifth Circuit has already issued a reprimand:
The reprimand against Kent says a court employee complained in May of sexual harassment and that an investigation led to other, unspecified complaints. The order issued last Friday didn’t say whether the 19 judges on the council determined the complaints to be true.
The list of ethical complaints beyond the harrassment is, uh, long.

If even a fraction of these are true, then investigation and possible impeachment are certainly appropriate. I merely want to take a moment to salute the man who singlehandedly, and quite facetiously, made the federal judiciary fun.

I now present Kent's greatest hits, as I see them.

  • In Smith v. Colonial Penn Ins. Co., Kent denied the insurance company's motion to transfer venue to Houston because of Galveston's lack of a major airport (and citing the convenience of both plaintiff and defendant in its motion), stating that "it is not this Court's concern how the Plaintiff gets here, whether it be by plane, train, automobile, horseback, foot, or on the back of a huge Texas jackrabbit, as long as Plaintiff is here at the proper date and time."
  • In Rep. of Bolivia v. Phillip Morris Companies, et al, a tobacco lawsuit inexplicably brought by a South American nation in Brazoria County, Texas, Judge Kent ordered the case transferred to the District of Columbia, noting that "[w]hile this Court does not [after reviewing a somewhat dated globe] profess to understand all of the political subtleties of the geographical transmogrifications ongoing in Eastern Europe, the Court is virtually certain that Bolivia is not within the four counties over which this Court presides, even though the words Brazoria and Bolivia are a lot alike and caused some real, initial confusion until the Court conferred with its law clerks."
  • In Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., Judge Kent granted one defendant's motion for summary judgment (dismissing the lawsuit before trial), noting the attorneys' general lack of preparedness:
    Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact -- complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words -- to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.
He may turn out to be an unethical sexual harasser, but dangit, he made judicial opinions entertaining. Justice Clarence Thomas can't even do that by accident.