Thursday, July 17, 2008

JibJab is Back

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Zombie Love/Zombie Hate

Brother Birney Jarvis shares this:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Driving Lesson

The Ground Rule Double: An Email Symposium

Re: Shocking Baseball Comment by Gayle

Ricardo writes:

We've been watching the All Star Game. Evan Longoria of the Rays hit a ground rule double to left, driving in the tying run. Gayle said, huh what. So, I explained the ground rule double rule exactly as either of you would have done, including how many bases runners can advance.

She didn't buy it. Thought it was a total fako cheat. "Why isn't it a home run?" She asked.

Well, that shocked me so much that I could not argue. After ponderation, I think she's right. It should be a home run. We must rewrite the record books.

And I respond:

Unless my memory is faulty, back in the 19th Century *what we call a ground-rule double* was a home run! And, okay, I stepped away from this email to Wikipedia and:

Originally, all batted balls that cleared the fence after a bounce in fair territory or on a fly were counted as home runs. The rule was changed by the American League prior to the 1930 season and was subsequently adopted by the National League on December 12, 1930.

So there you have the strength and danger of wikipedia. When it confirms what you think you already know, the conversation grinds to a halt.


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Former Student Writes About Having Cancer

Hmm. This story is several things, most of which transcend the idea of craft. But all its inspirational and prophylactic excellence aside, we must note: It's a good story. It's a good job. It's good work. It ain't no soggy Reader's Digest fodder. Through his the fear and discomfort, George kept doing his journalism.

By the way, you are not surprised to learn my favorite bit is his explanation of how did he First Learn:

To be specific, I touched my right testicle. How do I explain? To be honest, I must have been getting ready to masturbate. I don't know. Picture me shrugging my shoulders.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

News that Matters

Brother Michael Koppy loves folk to push their religious beliefs at him because he is so pleased with his rejoinder, to wit:

"I'm not superstitious."

And then he changes the subject. He says that this knocks them back on their heels because it is an effective shorthand not only for a general notion of his dismissal of the grounds on which religion presents itself but also the offhand contempt with which he regards those grounds. It suggests not only that he thinks religion is wrong but that it is trivial, at its foundations if not in its effects.

Now just speaking from the heart here, I must say that I am not religious but in some rather odd ways I am superstitious. Thus, I have not written of Little Oliver in a while because Little Oliver -- he who seemed doomed so short a time ago -- my friends, he *endures*.

And I don't want to jinx him, to upset the equilibrium by praising his health on Tuesday and then announcing on Saturday that he has finally lost control of his body's caboose and that we have murdered him as a result.

One does not murder animals, of course, or so our vocabulary tells us.

Anyway, his back legs do not work at all well, and sometimes it seems they are about to stop working at all, but a couple minutes ago he staggered over to the sofa on which he loves to curl himself and with a great and brave and desperate kind of bunny hop.... I will say no more.

Who knows what malign omniscience is listening?
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Got a Snark Jones

Brother Andrew Goodwin, who has taken a vow of chastity when it comes to blogging during this whole long hot month, noted the local proposal to name a sewage plant after Bush the Younger and wrote:

If someone doesn't say something witty about this I shall get sick from blog withdrawal.

He has laid a mighty challenge since it's hard to imagine a comment about the act that does justice to the act itself. That is, this is a diamond that needs no polishing.

But if Thomas Jefferson were alive, I think he would rejoice at the confirmation of the fact that there really are some truths which are self evident.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Literary Reference

I was talking to my Lady Wife about what snark is, so I wandered over to Wonkette to find some examples, and indeed one may say that the tide had gone out and the fish lay flopping in the mud and one had but to stretch out one's hand to fill the bucket.

Anyway, in the story about Charlie Crist's engagement I found this comment:

  1. wheelie says at 8:55 pm, July 3rd, 2008

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Republican male Governor, in possession of a good political fortune, must be in want of a wife.

There's the Wit the Greater to have written it, but there's also the Wit the Lesser to have appreciated it.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Tonight Jesse Helms Dines in Hell But Not (I Think) in the All-White Section

Jesse Helms is dead. That is *swell*. Breathing the same air he breathed always filled me with disgust.

Raised as a fundamentalist Protestant, I was one of those walking contradictions that sometimes spring from that peculiarly American soil. I was told that humanity was evil -- which I accepted as a proposition even though everyone I knew was kind of nice -- but as a good American boy I was filled with the notions of progress and the march toward earthly perfection.

Perfection is too strong. I believed in meliorism. I thought things inexorably inched forward. Then, about the time I was finishing up my degree at Duke while teaching at North Carolina State, my wife and I saw on the television the pustulant racist fish-faced Jesse Helms doing editorials for a Raleigh TV in which he was railing at (I still remember this phrase) BLACK WOMAN JUDGES.

And much else. But that is the phrase my wife and I recall. He was loathsome, and ignorance was the only prism through which he could have been seen as anything else.

You know the rest of the story. And so as I lost my Christian faith, I simultaneously had to accept that Christianity was pretty much right on about our collective heart of darkness, and I saw that progress was impermanent and anything but inevitable.

The truth is some scary shit, my friend.
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Next Stop Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

From one of the Poynter Institute's weekly emails, the one called E-Media Tidbits.

Posted by Amy Gahran 4:49:35 PM
Stupid Filter Tricks: OneNewsNow
Tyson Gay, world-class sprinter. Accept no substitutes.
Today, Mary Ann Akers reports in her Sleuth blog on that OneNewsNow, a site run by the conservative Christian American Family Association, has been having some issues with its filter. Specifically, when it published a June 29 Associated Press article about sprinter Tyson Gay, the site's automated filter substituted "homosexual" for almost every occurrence of "Gay."

...Which led to hilarious absurdities, such as:

"Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

"His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

"'It means a lot to me,' the 25-year-old Homosexual said. 'I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.'"

William Faulkner: The Past is Not Dead. It is Not Even Past.

Or words to that effect. Anyway, Brother John Higgins is recapturing the madness of his youth by putting on YouTube some episodes from his career on late night monster TV 30 years ago.

There is no more late night monster TV. The rise of cable, DVDs, movies on demand, horror parodies on the YouTube -- no need now (nor economic incentive) for the late Saturday night presentation of the cheesiest of the cheese from the catalog of Roger Corman or Hammer Films, interrupted as the movie drew toward its close by an ever-increasing number of cringe-inducing commercials produced by local talent.

Also, I suppose the Nerd Boys -- dateless, spotty, eager to laugh at rather than being laughed at, who were the core audience -- are all playing video games now.

But once every community had some variant of Shock Theater, with all its injokes and barely veiled contempt for the fare being broadcast.

YouTube, our little time machine. Thanks.
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Professor of Pop Closes Up Shop for July Holiday. I Sneak into His Blog and Take What I Want

The key word to me is "sentimental," though "narcissism" is good, too. Shall we change the world one navel at a time? (There's more of this, a lot more.)

Q9. In the 1970s and 1980s yours was one of the few – brave, if I may say so – voices arguing against a rose-tinted view of community media. What is your view now, in 2008, of the apparent explosion of creativity happening via self-made documentaries, music videos, mash-ups, social networking media like Facebook and MySpace, and – indeed, we ask nervously – blogs?

Nicholas Garnham: I was critical of community media both because in my view it over-emphasised the power of the media to change social conditions and because it took a sentimental view of community which has been carried forward into identity politics more generally. My view on new developments on the Web is similar. Yes in some areas where production and distribution have been made much cheaper it will encourage perhaps a wider range of participants in that particular form of creative practice. I am not against this of course, but I don’t see it as a great creative revolution -- much of it seems to be the expansion of a depressing individualist narcissism. Similarly with social networking media -- much of this is fashion and will wane. For the rest, so what? I know I am old-fashioned but I simply don’t understand the excitement.

Why I Start Each Day Reading Daily Kos

Markos was about to pony up his full allowance of $2,300 for Obama when O's fallback position on the FISA "compromise" and O's apparent disavowal of Clark's *specific response* to the suggestion that all good presidents should be blowed-up fighter pilots caused Markos to belay that order until Obama showed Kos just a little more starch in his grits.

Folk said OH NO, to which Kos replied:

Now I know there's a contingent around here that things Obama can do no wrong, and he must never be criticized, and if you do, well fuck you! I respect the sentiment, but will respectfully disagree. We're allowed to do that here.


Ultimately, he's currently saying that he doesn't need people like me to win this thing, and he's right. He doesn't. If they've got polling or whatnot that says that this is his best path to victory, so much the better. I want him to win big. But when the Obama campaign makes those calculations, they have to realize that they're going to necessarily lose some intensity of support. It's not all upside. And for me, that is reflected in a lack of interest in making that contribution.

I like Obama just fine, and we had an Obama for President sign on the front of our house 18 months ago (someone either stole it or destroyed it!), but I felt all during the primaries that the big difference between H. and O. was 1) electability and 2) connotation, not denotation: Policy-wise they look like pretty much the same person.

Obama's got my vote pretty much no matter what, but if criticism -- criticism with a dollar sign attached -- makes him a better candidate, it's okay to play that card.

God, I love to mix my metaphors.

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