Tuesday, February 27, 2007


No word from the non-partisan institute yet, and I'll be fair and admit that they surely have bigger fish to fry than me.

This Gore energy usage story has me riled up for reasons that I can't quite explain. I mean, I'm really hopping mad over it. So mad, in fact, that's I'm going to quote myself. From WHERE ARE MY KEYS, specifically.

I gotta tell you I'm getting pretty damn tired of the right's automatically demonizing individuals who disagree with them. I don't LIKE being told that because I voted for Democrats I am siding with the terrorists. It BOTHERS me to see Valerie Plame's career destroyed (plus a lot of good intel gathering apparatus) because Joe Wilson publically disagreed with the President. It ENRAGES me to see veteran after veteran dragged through the mud by people whose rich daddies kept them out of harm's way. And I'm furious to see Al Gore smeared over a non-existant issue because he agrees with almost all the scientists instead of the ones who work for Bush's oil companies.

And I think you guys, who are convinced that Fox News is fair and balanced but the New York Times is a far-left propaganda organ, have lost your collective grip on reality.

As individuals you're okay by me, but you are aligned with the most rattlesnake-mean political organization in this country's history.
They'll probably stop talking to me now. Maybe it's just as well... I'm giving myself agita reading this nonsense.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How Do YOU Know How Much Electricty Al Gore Uses?

Drudge picked up a story about Al Gore energy usage - it's ripped straight from a press release that can be found here, but I'll reprint it below. I was in bed, but I had to get up to write the following email. I'll keep y'all posted on any response I get.

Hi. I run a blog and I have a couple of questions.

1. Your source for statistics about the average household is obvious and I was able to look it up myself from your link. But where did you get the information on Mr. Gore's energy usage? Does the Nashville Electric Service supply this kind of information to anyone upon request, about anyone? Or did someone violate company policy? If so, why did you not identify them in the release as "an unnamed source?"

2. How many rooms does the average American household have?

3. While the average American household uses 10,656 kWh a year, it looks like in Tennessee that number is around 15,000. Why not compare the Gore household to other local households, considering they use 1.5 times more than average?

4. How do you respond to charges that while you claim to be non-partisan, you appear with this story to have a political agenda? And since you normally attack government waste and pork projects, why go after Al Gore, who does not hold a public office?

I appreciate your time and attention to these questions. The "blogosphere" has run with this story and having put it out there, it will be to your credit to add details where needed.

Original Press Release:

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2007

For Further Information, Contact:
Nicole Williams, (615) 383-6431

Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth”
Gore’s home uses more than 20 times the national average

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.


The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions.

My Latest Onanistic Blog Triumph

Let's face it, the title is redundant.

My last post concerned a discussion I've been having with Biga over at Biga's Rants about the President's attempt to go to war with Iraq while in no way attempting to link them to the 9/11 attack. I said it seemed like he had, he said Bush never did.

Even though I'm clearly wrong about this as far as he's concerned, Biga has devoted three or four separate posts to this subject, to explain to me WHY I'm mistaken. He has no idea how the public got the impression that Bush linked 9/11 to Iraq. Biga says the letter to Congress included that language because he was obligated to put in the whole paragraph, but anybody could see that last part didn't apply to Iraq. I responded that that seemed weaselly to me.

Finally this morning he wrote the final word on the subject.

What doesn't cease to amaze me is how people have hung onto this false charge for this long period of time. It is proved false over and over again yet it still persists. Just when you think it's going away some politician makes the charge again that keeps it circulating.
Here comes the fun part: I commented "Why are we arguing? I never said Bush linked Iraq to 9/11." And he must have reread the posts, because he admits I'm right, I never did say that. I merely said it seems that he did, and I don't understand why this is juxtaposed with that, and so on. So he's going to correct the post to say that I implied Bush had made the claim.

Heh heh.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The President Links Iraq to 9/11!

You can look at that title and say, of course he did! But actually there's been a tremendous effort on the part of the administration to make you think they said NOTHING OF THE KIND! HOW DARE YOU! And as a matter of fact, I just spent the better part of an hour trying to find the money quote, the moment in a speech where Bush DID say that Saddam Hussein or Iraq backed the 9/11 attacks.

In all those speeches, he never says it.

He says that terrorists attacked the United States, and we have to go into Iraq to fight terrorists, but he never quite links 'em up. You know how a movie is actually a series of still pictures that relies on your persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement? Same thing, only verbally.

Anyway, I had despaired of never being able to find the smoking gun when miraculously, I came across this. It's from the White House website!

Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate
March 18, 2003
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

The boldface is mine. I'm emboldening the text to point out that the stated reason we went to war with Iraq was because they aided the 9/11 attacks.

Whew! That guy's hard to pin down!

I read on the same right-wing site (Biga's Rants, see link on the right) that no one is claiming Al-Qaeda had anything to do with 9/11. I'm tired... anyone want to throw a few Cheney quotes my way?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Global Warming Doesn't Scare Me Like This Does

Last week I was making fun of the then-upcoming 1/2 Hour News Hour on FoxNews. Even before it premiered it got devastating reviews. People (okay, including me) cited it as proof that Neocons simply can't be funny. Of course, I hadn't seen it yet.

I just watched the first segment on the Fox News Website, and God help me, I fear it may have potential.

Look, the reviews are right. That first episode sucks. From that sadly imitative swooping crane shot to the c-list material (Dennis Miller would have turned these gags down, and he's in no position to turn ANYthing down) to the very obvious laugh track, the show is painful to watch. However, it's a pilot. The pilot always sucks. The trick when watching it is to look for the things that MIGHT work one day when they get their act together.

In this case, the male anchor. Didn't quite catch his name - Kurt Long? Ned Rice? I bet it's Ned - has pretty good comic timing. I watched him and thought, if he gets a funny joke, he'll hit it out of the park. And while that certainly didn't happen this time, law of averages says sooner or later he could. The female lead might be good too, but because it's a conservative show they probably don't believe women can be funny and they will save the good jokes for him. And the material wasn't all awful - a few of the jokes were serviceable. When the pressure's off, it could get better.

On the other hand, this is a comedy show produced by the creator of 24. Any really free writer will risk torture if he strays too far outside the lines.

I'm just saying... the pilot for 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN was pretty awful and that turned out okay. On the other hand, the pilot for COP ROCK... time will tell.

It's A Control Issue

It has been bothering me for a while, now, this insistence that Global Warming doesn't exist. Or it does exist, but it's not man-made. Or it is man-made, but the Earth will take care of it. I can see talking point memos decrying Joe Wilson or Al Franken, but a weather phenomenon? And they call us moonbats.

Cherchez l'argent, as the French would say if they were less hormonal. Follow the money. Admitting man's role in the climate damage would mean more regulation of industry. That would cause additional expense and lower profits. Conservatives hate Liberals for various reasons, but the big traditional one is our headlong dash to meddle around in private businesses.

And it's true, we never saw a corporation we wouldn't tax, a profit margin that we thought was too high, an employee who didn't deserve better treatment at the hands of his callous corporate bosses. And because of this, the second the democrats get in charge we raise the minimum wage, require OSHA paperwork, and in general we make it more difficult to run a business.

Conservatives hate regulation. They want businesses to be free.

What conservatives want to regulate, though, is PEOPLE. From fighting to repeal the popular Roe Vs. Wade decision, to making it harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy, to the DMCA which allows content providers to limit how you enjoy your entertainment products, the conservative regulatory agenda has a picture of you in the upper right-hand corner. A picture taken with a hidden camera on a street corner.

These are the people who are fighting for the right to tap your phone without asking, then imprison you without saying why! These are the people who are trying to REGULATE THE INTERNET! Maybe I should reverse those two sentences. Hmmm.

Anyway, so it's a choice between the party that wants to regulate corporations, (which is meddlesome and unfair), and the party that wants to regulate human behavior, (which is creepy and dangerous). Sorry, but I'm siding against corporations on this one. They can take the hit better.

Friday, February 16, 2007

5 Decades And Their Iconic Objects

Decade: The 1950's
Object: A Pit Barbecue
Why: The 50's was a reaction to World War II. Instead of traveling to foreign lands to commit the ultimate transgression of killing to save the world, men were called upon to make a home and raise a family. The pit barbecue is a place where men cook, not alone, and the brick enclosure represents a permanence.
Prominent Object which doesn't represent the decade: bongo drums. Sure there were beatniks around, but they were nowheresville.

Decade: The 1960's
Object: A Gun With a Flower In The Barrel
Why: You'll be hard pressed to find a decade in American history which had this much internal conflict. Yeah, there was that one with the Civil War, but the sixties actually posited, among other things, youth versus age, war versus anti-war, black versus white, witch versus mortal, electric versus folk, and God (Clapton) versus Satan (Jagger). Conflicted decade, conflicted symbol.
Prominent Object which doesn't represent the decade: black monolith - could have made the cut had it been a duolith!

Decade: The 1970's
Object: Puka Shell Necklace
Why: Like the fifties, the seventies was more a reaction to a turbulent decade than a decade itself. Having taken on society's greatest problems and failing to resolve them, we were content to retreat into trivia, novelty and silly pleasure. Do not forget that a disco remake of Beethoven's 5th symphony topped the charts during the seventies! Hence the necklace, which was jewelry and yet unattractive. It literally screamed, "leave me alone! Don't look at me!"
Prominent Object which doesn't represent the decade: mirrored disco ball - they were all over the place, but too fragmented to reflect anything meaningful.
Footnote: We went through the whole decade without a single good president.

Decade: The 1980's
Object: The Korg Synthesizer
Why: It is no coincidence that music in the eighties was so synth-heavy. The synth is a single piece of musical equipment which, when properly tweaked, can take the place of any other. It represents unlimited potential. And so in the eighties. Without a big trauma for ten years, people were ready to dream big. The stock market swelled as people committed their funds to make them even more funds. The gyms of America were overrun with flabby bodies of all ages, now realizing that they could be perfect. Cocaine, the meglomanic's drug of choice, flourished. We all wanted it all, right now.
Prominent Object which doesn't represent the decade: Rubik's cube. Don't be such a braniac, spazz.

Decade: the 1990s
Object: Blue Dress With Semen Stain
Why: Let's face it, aside from that impeachment unpleasantness, things were pretty good in the nineties. We had record economic growth, we weren't at war with anyone significant for any significant length, and technology was advancing pleasantly along. Things were going so swimmingly that we could afford to waste time on trivia like the president's sex life and treat it like a high crime. Idle hands! Come to think of it... never mind, the innuendo wasn't worth the space.
Prominent Object which doesn't represent the decade: Cell phone. But they ARE really cool.

Now of course we're rounding up another decade... any early ideas on what this decade means and what the object is?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

That Fox "Daily Show" Knockoff Is In For A Bumpy Ride

This weekend Fox News will premiere THE 1/2 HOUR NEWS HOUR, a pretend news cast. It's different from both THE DAILY SHOW and the other 23 1/2 hours of Fox News because the punchlines will be forced and belabored.

For an illustration of why an exclusively Republican comedy show is doomed, click on the title of this post. It's a release from the Minnesota Republican Party which cites quotes from Al Franken that you, a talk-show host or Republican candidate, can use against him.

Franken Jokes About Executing Karl Rove & Scooter Libby.
"The President’s father...has said that outing a CIA agent is treason....What it looks like is going to happen is that [Lewis] Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed....I don’t know how I feel about it because I’m basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed." (CBS’s "Late Show with David Letterman," October 21, 2005)
Franken To Karl Rove: "I Hate You."
"At a black-tie dinner in Washington last spring, Franken says, Karl Rove ribbed him for standing when the president entered the room. But Rove remembers it differently. Franken, he says, came over to him and said, ‘I'm Al Franken. I hate you and you hate me.’ Rove says he was taken aback." (Weston Kosova, "Live, From the Left, It's..." Newsweek, March 29, 2004)
Franken Hates Rush Limbaugh.
Q: "Do you really hate Limbaugh or is he just an easy target?" A: "Both." (Jennifer Senior, "Al Franken, Democrats' Favorite Comic Is Politically Incorrect," The Hill, August 25, 1996)

And my favorite:

Franken Plan To Reduce Debt: Blast The Elderly In Rockets Over Snake River And Put It On Pay-Per-View.
"Every Sunday, we put an elderly (or terminally ill-person) in a rocket, fire it over the Snake River, and put it on pay-per-view. The revenues go straight into reducing the debt." (Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat Idiot, Island Books, p. 139, 1996)

Before I saw this I'd have said that Franken's campaign is doomed. Comedy is only effective when it's true, therefore it is the opposite of politics. If the Minnesota RNC runs with this, it could change that equation. This could be the most hilarious negative campaign in history. And how could it happen? Because the people behind this memo are COMEDY BLIND.

I'm not saying you don't see this kind of thing coming from the left. Most of the outrage over Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh hinges on our not understanding when they're kidding and when they're not. Increasingly in Coulter's case I'd say she is; in Limbaugh's case he probably isn't. But only the farthest of far-right pundits are going to look at these quotes and say "he hates Karl Rove? That Franken is a monster!" The people who don't recognize the old switcheroo in RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT are going to run with this stuff, the rest are going to doubt their sanity.

It's easy to conclude that the right as a whole has no sense of humor, that they are the Margaret Dumonts and the Biff Tanners of the political process. It can't be true. They are half the country after all, and comedy sells. But extremism is almost always devoid of a sense of humor. And it isn't the centrists who put out this memo, nor are they writing a comedy show for Fox.

We have met the enemies of liberty, and ye shall know them by their inability to deliver a punchline.

It's a Man's, Man's Man's Man's World

Valentine's Day is over. The pressure is off.

Men don't understand Valentine's Day and never will. We barge in and take control of a lot of things but men are content to leave Love in the hands of the women. We delegate Love. Even romantic men, men who are praised as better than the common lunkhead in matters of the heart, don't really understand it. They're just applying the lessons they've learned from experience. "Oh, she likes flowers but hates tickets to the game! Oh, it's better if I write something on the card!"

There was a study done about perceptual differences between the sexes. It turns out that men are a little gradient-blind. Where a man will recognize red to purple to blue, a woman will see maroon to red to lavender to purple to violet to blue to midnight. Why this is, no one can say.

I think the same thing applies to all our senses, and certainly to our emotional lives. Women simply notice things that men don't, because they are more finely tuned. This failure to register is man's greatest strength as well as his weakness. We are able to barrel on through a lot of situations simply because they don't cross the no pain/pain threshold. And love, which is the most complex of all emotions, is beyond our limited perceptual grasp.

This is why men and women don't understand each other - we're looking at the same world, but it's an entirely different bunch of stuff. Therefore, it only makes sense to put women in the driver's seat when it comes to love - the road is twistier than we can possibly imagine. If you want a different metaphor, we give women the remote control to love, because we can only see 20 channels and they can see all 150. You put women in charge of Valentine's day, it's nice. When men run it, it's a Massacre.

Now that it's over, we can go back to steering the world; we'll crash into stuff and each other but we'll get wherever we're going a lot faster.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Me I'll Never Know

Is Googling oneself a form of onanism? For that matter, what about Googling "onanism"? The guy there to the right, that's me - the me who works at a law office in Wisconsin. Where else am I?

Keepin It Real - hat tip to Skot; this is the misshapen sister blog of a very young girl who hopes one day to marry Justin Timberlake. She stopped writing in 2004 and its possible that she's found out since then.

Daniel Krause - Me, but the me who is a drummer for Paul Revere and the Raiders. I bet he's learned to love county fair food!

Daniel Krause - Me again - now I am a sculptor specializing in iron plate metal and Chinese Buddhist figures.

Dark Meats - a band which I cannot quite bring myself to listen to.

Peter Krause - why NOT me?

Krause Publications - Specializing in geeky little magazines for geeky little collectors. Collect them all!

Keeping it Real! - Finally, "a groundbreaking faith-based sexuality education program." If they're expecting teens to avoid sex on the strength of rhetoric alone, I guess it would HAVE to be faith based, wouldn't it?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bush Derangement Syndrome Eats Its Own Tail

I conducted an experiment on conservatives today.

I ran across the phrase "Bush Derangement Syndrome" in a post on Where Are My Keys. The term was coined by Charles Krauthammer in 2003 to define conspiracy theorists who blame everything bad on the President. 9/11 was Bush's plan, Bush is personally causing global warming, Bush wanted New Orleans to sink because he hates black people. Fair enough in that context.

The context I saw it in today was discussing the Dixie Chicks and their Grammy: " They gave those awards to them for one reason and one reason only. BDS." I have seen this phrase evolving elsewhere too: If you believe that mankind causes global warming, or that there IS global warming, you suffer from BDS. If you think that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, you suffer from BDS. If you voted for democrats in the 2006 elections, it wasn't because you were for Democrats, you simply were expressing BDS. In other words, disagreement of any kind with the President is the product of derangement. There can be no other cause.

Which means, when you think about it, that America is currently two-thirds deranged.

I will admit that the blogs that make these arguments are the fringy ones. Michelle Malkin, for example, and a host of less famous extremists. So I invited commenters to explain to me... well, here's what I said.

My New Favorite Buzzword
Okay, I'm curious - What is the opposite of Bush Derangement Syndrome? What does someone who is not suffering from it believe?
The host generously broke it out into another topic. And for a change, I finally got what I wanted! Though he simplified the question to "what is the opposite of BDS called?", just look at the answers!

CAD: Clinton Adulation Disorder.
CSI, Cranial Sand Introduction
TAS, Terrorist Apologist Society
NFBL, Negotiate First, Blame Later
FLOW, Flip-flopping Liberals, Oops! War!

This is delicious... none of these jokes is an opposite! They are just DIFFERENT insults hurled at liberals. You either hate Bush, or you love terrorists. You're either deranged, or your head is full of sand. Strictly speaking, for example, the opposite would have been Clinton Derangement Disorder, or Terrorist Hatred Society.

A whole day to come up with these things and no one volunteered a kind word for the Big Fellah. None of them can bring themselves to say the opposite of Bush Derangement Syndrome is AGREEING WITH BUSH. They negate their own political spectrum! Obviously, this is a form of derangement.

It is a generally agreed-on opinion that the more you are like most folks, the better adjusted you are psychologically. In right wing world this position is reversed, like all other logic. Look at the attempt above to blame the war on flip-flopping liberals. For that matter, our President is the war hero -- people who actually FOUGHT in a war are cowards. Barack Obama would be FOR slavery! Freedom of speech is unAmerican. So for them, there is no disconnect between their distaste for the president being reasonable because they're keeping it to themselves; but for anyone to speak of it out loud is obviously insane. Or that crazy conspiracy theories about Clinton are probably true, but disliking Bush is grounds for stoning.

One last thing - maybe I'm putting too much thought into what is obviously just a buzzword. I shouldn't fall into that kind of escalation. Sorry, I meant surge.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Hunchback Of Cirque Du Soleil

Los Angeles is a place where at any time, someone you know may be appearing in a theatrical production; and you, as a friend, are obligated to be there to show your support. It was thus that Mrs K and I lit out for North Hollywood Friday to see the oddest production of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame that has ever been presented.

A theatrical company called Vox Lumiere (which includes my wife's voice teacher, who was excellent) has been formed using the gimmick of building shows around silent movies. So you get the silent movie with a soundtrack, but there are also dancers and singers, and soloists playing the characters on the screen. They don't look like the characters but they represent their inner lives.

As interesting an idea as this is on paper (or probably on word processor) it's pretty annoying in real life. Oddly too. I liked the music. I liked the performers, who were all energetic and precise, the way you have to be when you're syncing to another source. I even liked the set design and faux cirque-du-soleil costuming. What it amounts to though is a a movie and a stage show fighting with each other for my attention.

It was a lot like watching CNN, only the crawl at the bottom keeps expanding until it covers up Larry King completely, and you tuned in for Larry King. Or you love the crawl but that damn Larry King keeps trying to interview the crazy love-triangle astronaut while you're trying to read it.

Much of the time the screen is obscured by the white smoky spotlight on the Esmeralda singer so you can't see the original silent Esmeralda. And the silent screen has to be visible at all times because the show relies on it for the narrative thrust. The musical numbers are commentaries on the movie, which you can't see, or you're not looking at, and before you know it Quasimodo has kidnapped Esmeralda and you don't know when it happened or why the twisted little guy is on trial. On stage, by the way, he was played by a 300-pounds-of-muscle bouncer with extensive tattoos. Scary dude! Nice touch.

I suppose I should also add that the choreography was 90% emotionless calisthenics and 10% storytelling, but that's just my opinion and I don't know from dancin'.

Concept aside, can we now say that the Hunchback of Notre Dame is maybe not a terrific source for musical comedy? One Victor Hugo musical takes off and suddenly everybody thinks they can do it. Apologies if you have a dynamite score for THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, but maybe you should just shelve it and move on. You'll thank me.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Martha Stewart, Communist

Yesterday morning I watched a little breakfast TV, something I rarely do. Usually I'm doing this, blogging, instead, which is why I'm writing about it a day later. Anyway, the TODAY show had a Martha Stewart segment in which she cheerfully described her easy method for making heart-shaped boxes for Valentine's day. "I love these boxes and I just never seem to be able to find them," she said.

The real appeal of watching Martha Stewart is not that you get helpful craft tips. The appeal is spotting where the impossible part is. In this case it's Martha's heart shape. "You can download a template from my website," she said airily. They even showed a printout. Which was, naturally, about 7 inches square, the width of almost all home printers. The boxes she was putting together with just a hot glue gun, some wavy-edge scissors, and a little love, looked to be about a foot wide.

The Martha Stewart media empire is built on a foundation of lies! With a border of pretty azaleas around the edge.

But the appeal of crafts today is growing. MAKE magazine grows ever more popular. In it are designs and ideas for all kinds of things that you would normally buy. You can make your own skateboard! You can mod your computer case! You can re-jigger that vintage 1960's hi-fi to accept an iPod! You can build your own guitar. Even an electric guitar!

And yes, some of this is an empowerment movement. You're tired of having to buy a guitar from someone else, or you want a guitar with features that no one puts on them, off the shelf. What it amounts to is, Make is putting the means of production into the hands of the people. Martha Stewart, Make, and all the others, provide the subversive thrill of anti-consumerism. Same with YouTube. DRM? Screw you NewsCorp, we're making our own goddam TV!

There is a rising trend here. Who knows how far it may go, but on some unconscious level people are protesting the G8 summit without leaving their homes. Choosing to make instead of buy takes money out of the pockets of rich white guys worldwide. And I'm warning you now, they'll find a way to strike back. Soon as they notice, anyway.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Death Penalty: Three Arguments

  1. IT'S NOT A DETERRENT. Well, it is, but not a more effective deterrent than the alternatives. If we eliminated the death penalty today, would there be a rise in: "I think I'll kill my boss - what's the worst that can happen? Life in prison, right? Ha!" People who are killing other people rarely are considering the consequences.
  2. GOD SAYS NO. Most death penalty advocates in this country are religious people who will quote scripture at you. If you bring up the bible in this argument they'll say "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." It's from Exodus. Also from Exodus though are the ten commandments. One of them, and this is the word of the big fellah, is "Though Shalt Not Kill." Unlike the first quote, this is not a vague philosophical guideline. This is an unambiguous edict. It doesn't have some legal disclaimer on it, such as "Thou shalt not kill, except in cases of retribution or to avenge yourself on those who break the other nine commandments." Really, the guy is pretty clear on this one. Listen to him.
  3. IT'S ILLOGICAL. There is no message more mixed than this: Killing is the ultimate wrong; therefore if anyone murders another person we will kill them as an example to demonstrate how wrong we think it is. It's a much more severe version of the scenario where your parents try to get you to stop smoking by forcing you to smoke.
The death penalty, at its core, is nothing more than revenge killing. Try to look at it any other way and you run into these three reasons. And so you need to ask yourself if society should be in the business of revenge killing? Is that what society is for? No! It is not. Besides, a certain percentage, small but measurable, of the people we kill are innocent of the crime. We shouldn't tolerate something like that. Eliminating the death penalty is an easy fix we should put in place yesterday.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Flaunt My Disconnect From The Cultural Mainstream

In my continuing lifelong bid to become a FRASIER character, I have cultivated a disdain for sports. Take this weekend. I understand that annually there is a big block of time devoted to kick-ass commercials on one of the networks. I think the program is called the "Soup Bowl" or something. But since the flow of commercials is interrupted by a football game I refuse to watch it.

Seriously, every year I have this same conversation with someone in the office: "So Dan, you ready for the Superbowl?" "Who's playing?" (Bug-eyed response).

It's lonely in my domain. I was sitting at the computer balancing the checkbook, and periodically, out of nowhere, every other house on the block would erupt in shouting and clapping. Believe me, without context a thing like that can be pretty scary. Even weirder, you find yourself falling into patterns unconsciously. We have a big screen HD television. I was sitting in front of it, eating corn chips and salsa, which I never do outside of a Mexican restaurant. The difference is, I was watching ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE on HDNet. The chips were delicious by the way.

ANIMAL PLANET ran a program called Puppy Bowl III. They painted a pen to resemble a football field, including banners with sponsors' names, and put 15 energetic puppies into it. They chased each other around, chewed on stuff, and climbed all over themselves. Animal Planet put music and crowd noise over the footage. I have no idea how long it was on, but it's brilliant. In almost every way it is no different than the real Superbowl. The differences? No wagering because the puppies refuse to form teams; and you don't have to stop shooting periodically to clean up after the players.

That's right, they don't stop shooting at the Superbowl.

By the way, did I read that Prince performed at the half-time show, and Cirque De Soleil did a gig at the pregame? What the hell is that? I know they're trying to jack up their female viewership, but that's just nuts. They could have just put cameras in the locker rooms instead. You could call it invasion of privacy, but for the salaries those guys make I think they can afford to fork over a few fundamental rights. Men could watch and revel in the musky camaraderie; women (and gay men) could simply watch. The NFL saves tons of money in both salaries for talent AND airfare from Las Vegas.

In any event it's over for another year, and the huge cultural blind spot that's been lurking in my peripheral vision for a month is gone. I can go on to wondering what the hell everyone sees in Valentine's Day now.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I Think Gates Is A Little Cranky

Check out the interview with Bill Gates in Newsweek. Here he is, stumping for his company's flagship product which is coming out 2 years late to little excitement, and on the heels of the Zune last fall which met with similar ennui. Can you blame the man for being short with the press?

Are you bugged by the Apple commercial where John Hodgman is the PC, and he has to undergo surgery to get Vista?
I've never seen it. I don't think the over 90 percent of the [population] who use Windows PCs think of themselves as dullards, or the kind of klutzes that somebody is trying to say they are.

Okay, I wasn't at the interview, but he throws in an awful lot of detail for someone who hasn't seen the spot, doesn't he? He almost goes Dick Cheney on this guy!

And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you're really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There's not even the slightest shred of truth to it.

Oooooooookay. Wouldn't that last quote sound just perfect coming from Hodgman? I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Anecdote Redux: Fox Journalist Sex Tips

Before I start, let's savor that title. Almost senseless! At least it is without context.

It was a weeknight at Paoli's restaurant/karaoke bar in Summer of 2005. I was a regular visitor there on Wednesday nights, deliberately staying up late in an effort to reset my internal clock for the theatre manager gig. Monday and Tuesday, normal business hours; Thurs-Sat, late late nights. Plus it was an excuse to get out among people, something I have to force myself to do. I had recently learned that I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. If you can't make money selling pills for it, you may know it as "shyness." I don't take the pills but I'm glad it's a disorder. Sorry, tangent.

Anyway, I knew all the regulars there but that night it was crowded and there were a lot of new faces. Once of them stood out - a guy with a perfect tan, well-proportioned, white shirt, tie and slacks, great hair -- he looked a lot like 70s singer and talk-show host John Davidson. Still it's Los Angeles so you run into people who look like they belong on TV all the time. And he wasn't singing, just drinking. Plenty.

I had just sung something. I don't remember what, so let's say it was LEVON by Elton John. A pretty (and pretty drunk) woman had complimented me at some length with plenty of hair-flipping and arm touching. I returned to my seat, which happened to be across from the meta-Davidson, and he leaned over and said, "She's into you."

"Yeah," I chuckled, "it's a shame I'm married."

"You probably could have gotten her to go home with you."

Clearly the matrimony thing has gone by him. Having discarded that element from the conversation, which seemed interesting, I decided to follow my improv training and accept the offer. "Well, sure, that's easy for a guy who looks like you to say."

"No man, you're just not putting yourself out there right. For one thing, you gotta lose the glasses."

I told him I had contacts, but I liked the glasses because they make me look smart. He said women aren't looking for that. He said women want strong, decisive men. "When you talk to them, whatever you're saying you have to sound like you mean it." He also recommended less casual attire because suits are trustworthy.

Finally I said, "what do you do for a living, anyway?" He said he was a TV journalist for a Fox station in Arizona. He was in town all week for the Reagan funeral ceremony. It's then that I realized that he wasn't forcing romantic advice on me at all - he was teaching me how to seduce your way into a sexy anchor's chair.

I never saw the guy again - I checked out the station's website but they don't feature the field reporters. And I left early so I don't know how he fared romantically; or for that matter if he managed to sign a contract. But I treasure the whole incident because among other things, it demonstrates that Fox would spend enough to send local guys to Regan's funeral instead of just using pool coverage.

He's right though, I should wear contacts.