Friday, June 29, 2007

Start the Revolution Without Me

My previous post was jumpstarted by footage of a man grabbing a mic from a Fox News reporter, which I watched at work without sound. What I'm reading now is that the assailant was actually stealing an iPhone and the mic probably just looked like another cool gadget to him.

So he wasn't making any kind of damn statement at all, except "I'm stupid enough to attempt robbery on live television".

Skot's comment intrigues me - do bloggers share a distrust of news that the rest of the country doesn't? Well, I have taken most things I see on TV with a sack of rock salt (suitable for clearing snowy driveways) for a long time now. And WAMK has made no secret of the fact that he believes the MSM has a liberal bias. So yes, all bloggers share the view.

Something that fascinates me: Chris Matthews. If you're on the left, he's practically a neo-con. If you're on the right, he's a flaming liberal. No matter what he does, everybody thinks he's biased in the opposite direction. Matthews has a unique gift: whatever it is that allows people to blend with ease in various gatherings, he's got the opposite of that.

As far as the blogosphere, the entire news media shares that gift. No matter who you ask, the one thing that everyone agrees on is the news is lying to us and trying to force an agenda down our throats, but once in a while they throw our side a bone to appear balanced. An objective observer might note that this pan-spectrum jaundice suggests the media ARE fair.

But there are no objective observers nowadays, are there?

The Nexus of Politics and Acid

Even more so than usual, this round-up of political cartoons on Wonkette just slays me. All political cartooning is a kind of surrealist exercise; the Cartoon Curmudgeon demonstrates what happens when that is taken too far. Or, as he puts it:

It’s hard to define exactly how far is too far, but generally, it’s when the whimsical transformation you depict goes beyond “Ha ha, that animal is talking and wearing clothes” and hits “SWEET JESUS I’LL NEVER TAKE PEYOTE AGAIN I PROMISE JUST MAKE IT STOP”.


Take Back the Morning Show

Watch this clip on Fox Morning. During a New York man-in-the-street interview about those iPhones, another man in the street steals the mic and attempts to run off with it, screaming expletives. He's shortly subdued by Fox goons; the interview continues apace.

I'd like to think this means something. Not by itself of course, but after the recent incident on Joe Scarborough's MSNBC morning show where a reporter refused to read a story about Paris Hilton and even attempted to set the copy afire, could we be witnessing the long-awaited revolution that will not be televised? After years of news sliding from "the fourth estate" to "hey, we only give the public what it wants" is the pendulum about to swing back, perhaps made to do so by force?

It could happen, and here's why - what would you rather watch, another story about John Edward's hair or a violent, colorful argument about that story? The argument! It's a sure-fire ratings grabber, PLUS the news people can feel better about themselves filling the air time with it. You can say it's onanism, reporters reporting about reporting, but so what? Isn't it still better than a straight Britney Spears piece?

It's a ridulous path to the return of responsible journalism but at least it's a path. Next step - firing all sexy anchor people. Don't worry, they'll find work somewhere.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Attention Supreme Court!

There, you happy?

I Cannae' Change The Laws Of Physics!

(Title quote courtesy James "Scotty" Doohan - glad they found the ashes!)

Having grown up in California schools, I don't have a thorough grounding in science. But I recall hearing that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If this is true, we should all be very worried about Dick Cheney.

To recap, Cheney's claim that his office isn't subject to document disclosure rules because it is not a part of the executive branch has produced a novel proposal from Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who is introducing a bill to stop funding his office from the executive branch budget. The VP infrastructure pulls down about $4.5 million a year.

Maybe it's childish, maybe it's shrewd. But here's my problem. If Cheney isn't getting federal money, it's not like he's just going to admit this or obey that. He'll simply look for other ways to raise the money. He's already getting kickbacks from Haliburton - why would they give him any more? Because he's going to expand their market into new territories, like Iran. That's why.

If Dick Cheney is desperate, he'll go into Iran.

So the best thing to do is to back off and leave the guy be. Except then, he'll know that he can't be stopped. He'll know that he has unlimited power, and with that he'll do what he's always wanted to do - send troops into Iran.

If Dick Cheney is left alone, he'll go into Iran.

The action/reaction law I quoted earlier is often illustrated with billiard balls. You hit an 8-ball with a cue ball, then the 8-ball absorbs the energy and flies off. Think of us as a cue ball and and Cheney as the deadly asteroid in ARMAGEDDON. It takes more than a few accountants to stop him. It takes a nuclear device, a handful of recognizable American movie stars and a power ballad, and even then we can expect devastation. Bringing Cheney down is going to be ugly. And I don't wanna miss a thing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Uses For Ann Coulter

I never get tired of writing about Ann Coulter. After her dust-up with Elizabeth Edwards, it occurred to me that arguing with her is like beating your head against an adam's apple.

But the criticism got me thinking - what does Ann Coulter DO, exactly? She's a pundit, obviously, but not a serious one. She couldn't be put on a panel with Britt Hume and Juan Williams. She tells jokes. She's funny, in a 1/2 HOUR NEWS HOUR kind of way. So suppose she wanted a regular gig on a mainstream news show, instead of one of these once-every-book jobs she gets?

You know who has a slot for a gal like Ann? Keith Olberman.

The final story on COUNTDOWN is usually something involving light news, like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. Often he'll just bounce jokes with a BEST WEEK EVER regular or gossip columnist, like Michael Musto. Ann 'n' Keith would be a match made in heaven. First of all, Keith already has experience in that segment with Musto, a substanceless awkward person of dubious sexuality. Secondly he knows Coulter like the back of his hand, having frequently featured her as his worst person in the world.

Ann could spout off whatever crazy shit she likes because, you know, the segment is dessert. It's a throwaway. And Keith would let her, because it proves he was right all along. The ratings would shoot through the roof. Ann gets regular exposure, Keith grabs new ratings -- win/win!

I'm going to reference Monica Novotny, Keith's producer, here in hopes that someone on the staff Googles her name. Monnie, make this happen! It's a weird idea but nobody has anything to lose. Just don't let her in the same studio as Keith, because THAT might get ugly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meat is Murder -- Delicious, Juicy Medium-Rare Murder

I'm reading a piece on the podcast tonight about PETA, and their picks for the sexiest vegetarian celebrities. I think it's Carrie Underwood and Kevin Eubanks this year. Whatever.

Periodically I wrestle with the idea of becoming vegetarian, simply because I'm certain I'd lose weight. Meat isn't inherently fattening but limiting your dietary choices inherently is. The second you start questioning every snack over whether there is dairy in it, or wheat, you're forced to also think "is it worth the trouble to eat this?" Boom! There goes 10 pounds. Which, by the way, would put me within actuarial tables' opinion of what I should weigh.

A lot of people object to carnivorism on moral grounds. Either it's bad for the environment because you're artificially raising the population of cows and feeding them, instead of just making cow feed into human feed, or you're taking the life of a creature with a brain and a soul.

You are, you know. Can't be helped.

There have been studies which suggest that plants also posses intelligence. If you limit your diet to things without intelligence, you won't be sexy for long. You'll be food for one of those other things. It's the circle of life. Can you feel the love tonight?

Nice guy that I am, even I recognize that you gotta either kill or be killed. What you kill is a matter of choice; if I could afford it and it wouldn't clog up my arteries my choice would be Kobe cow about once a month. Well-done, with a horseradish sauce and a side of once-lively vegetables, and a red wine made from the life-force of happy central-California grapes. I'd savor the well-marbled deeply browned flesh of this animal for the full month until nothing was left but the bones, which I would happily give to my faithful dogs, who demonstrate their affection by not eating me instead.

Instead I cheerfully enjoy chicken, turkey, and lesser quality beef on a daily basis. Thus do I remain nourished and confident that I'm at the top of the food chain.

For now.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Secure, Undisclosed Locution

The Vice-President's office, it turns out, isn't part of the executive branch. Who knew!

This position, taken by Dick Cheney in reponse to requests that he turn over documents required by long established federal law, isn't flying. The panel on Fox News Sunday for example, mostly laughed it off. Even Britt Hume said it was "dumb." William Kristol thought it made perfect sense. He started the Iraq war, you know.

If people who work for Fox News disagree with Dick Cheney, then Cheney is wrong. I'm saying this because they all are risking a smear campagin, getting shot in the face or both.


Update: "Either Wednesday or Thursday my amendment will be on the floor, because the funding for the executive branch is on the floor. And I’ll strike the money for the Vice President’s Office. He can live off the Senate presidency budget that funds him up here. And that’s fine. But if he’s going to be funded in the executive branch, he complies with the rules that apply to everybody. He is not above the rules of the executive branch. " - Rahm Emmanuel

Harry Shearer pointed out on LeShow this weekend that Dick Cheney has spent his entire career attempting to restore power to the executive branch, making him perhaps the most selfless man in politics - he's the only politician ever to make his life's work giving power to others.

Judge: Not!

Woo hoo! The judge who sued a Korean immigrant couple for $54 million dollars because he claims they lost his pants, has lost his case. He has been ordered to pay the court costs of the defendants.

Look, judges are people too, and it's only natural that one of them will go nuts and freak out, once in a while. But its really nice to know that other judges will ignore professional courtesy long enough to dole out common sense decisions. I'm relieved, frankly. They came for our dry-cleaning shops, and I said nothing.

What the World Needs Now Is Dogs, Ugly Dogs

This is Elwood, a chinese crested/chihuahua mix and winner of Petaluma's annual Ugliest Dog contest. When I say he's a mixed breed, please understand this was acheived conventionally and not by using the same teleportation chambers as in Cronenberg's remake of THE FLY.

Elwood's tongue hangs out the side like that because he has no front teeth. Quoting Elwood's owner, New Jersey resident Karen Quigley:

"The breeder was going to euthanize him because she thought he was too ugly to sell," said Quigley. So ha ha, now Elwood's all over the Internet and people love him and adore him."
Indeed we do, ma'am.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blog: A Blogger Blogs About Blogging

I just finished an entry for my other (allegedly profitable) blog enterprise, BOX OFFICE WEEKLY. It illustrates a writing strategy I learned from doing improv - if you're stuck for an idea, introduce a random non-sequitor element and write your way out of it.

For readers of this blog, I also did it here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Marketplace of Ideas

In order to keep my threads tidy, I'm responding to my good friend WAMK here, in a new post. He writes:

What about the other part of my comment, about just turning off the radio, if you don't like what is on it, the same way the Left has told Conservatives to turn off the TV if we don't like the content.
Good question.

My answer, of course, is that you're right. Let the marketplace decide. Unlike many other liberals, I think Fox News is on the air not because of some right-wing conspiracy, but because it gets the ratings. Therefore, viva Fox! It's just a little odd to me, though, that AM talk radio skews soooooooo far to the right, when the polling suggests there's better money in balancing it out a little. Worrisome, but capitalism has built-in correctives for this. If I'm right, I suspect Michael Savage will give up the most market share the earliest, 'cause that guy's just NUTS.

I was kidding about giving us AM stations, but I'm afraid I have to admit that you're right; the left will often call for the silencing of opposing viewpoints, perhaps more often then the right does. Witness the periodic calls for Ann Coulter to be dropped from syndication whenever one of those hate-speech bon mots escapes her lips. The right's method for dealing with those who disagree with them is not to demand they be silenced; it's usually to attack the messenger and attempt to ruin their lives for speaking out. Cindy Sheehan questions our presence in Iraq? She's a crazy, evil, fame-whore who only wants attention. John Kerry runs against the president? He lied about his military record and can't make up his mind. Harry Reid? Grey, defeatist, wants the terrorists to win because his only passion is hating the President. And so on.

Neither side is better in how they treat their debate opponents. We all should be attacking the ideas and leaving the people alone. Personally I like having Ann Coulter around because I can point to her as a particular kind of right-wing crazy. Ann Coulter is a DNC recruiting poster. I know that that was exactly the kind of attack I'm decrying here, but she's gotten most of her best exposure from behaving like that so I'm just agreeing to play on her turf. And she's a solid competitor, being a transvestite and all. *snap!*

Incidentally, no one would really expect you to just turn off the news if you disagree with it. I mean after all, every single MSM outlet except Fox has a far-left liberal bias. Ya'll would get less media than the Amish.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Angry Liberal Blogosphere Problem Solved!

It's true that I am swimming around the Angry Liberal Blogosphere even as I write this, but I'm all about helping. That's just how I roll.

Crooks and Liars links to a panel on Fox News. (Note - there's actual video! I wonder if Fox knows yet that people can watch this stuff after it's been aired? Have they told Cheney?) The panel's general complaint, I'm reading, is that Democratic leadership in Washington is influenced by the crazy bloggers on the left, who take partisan talking points and repeat them endlessly until they take on the weight of truth. And as everybody knows, bloggers should repeat talking points GIVEN to them by the leadership of their party.

So bloggers, a group of elites made up of, oh basically anybody who wants to be one, is somehow unfairly influencing government by demading that they (let's call them "the citizens") be represented.

And the problem is only going to get worse, as more "citizens" feel the urge to express their "opinions." How can we stop this flood of left-wing blogs?

The answer comes in a report (.pdf) published by the Center for American Progress and Free Press. Did you know that AM Talk Radio has a conservative bias? Yes!

* In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.
So there's your answer. Give us more AM Talk stations! Maybe we can divvy 'em up roughly along the lines of the President's approval rating. Hell, even if we even do it by Congress's approval rating we'll gain 10%.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Your Freedom To Choose What I Want

In the course of my usual blog arguments this morning, a paragraph caught my eye. From an Investor's Business Daily editorial about Jimmy Carter, and his less-than-vicious statements about Hamas.

When one party has started a civil war, democracy isn't exactly the issue anymore. ...Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly points out that those who are elected democratically have an obligation to govern democratically or they aren't democrats. Hamas has blown its right to democracy.

Now understand I'm not crazy about Jimmy Carter, and Hamas is a bunch of war-mongering lunatics masquerading as a political party. But what the hell is this anonymous editorialist getting at here? I'll paraphrase: We, the United States, are the judges of whether your elections should count. The editorial doesn't dispute that the Palestinian vote was orderly and fair (well he does put "scare quotes" around that term, and later the word "won", but that's not the same as disputing) he merely disputes the RIGHT of them to govern since he doesn't like how they're doing it.

Democracy is a messy business, and if you are going to encourage the people to choose their leaders, you better be prepared for them to do it. We have been trying to cram Democracy down the sandy throats of the Middle East for a long time now; if we tell them "you need to pick a leader we LIKE" then we're selling defective product. And they don't exactly love doing business with us now, effendi.

The editorial also says "No one in the West is obligated to support an international terrorist organization just because it "won" an election. The proper response is to cut it off until it renounces violence." I agree with that. If they want our help, we can demand that they act a certain way. It's hypocritical to demand non-violence out of Hamas, but not unreasonable. If they have something we want, we can change our behaviors too. Fair exchange.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turtles All The Way Down

TV Producer Joel Surnow has plenty to answer for. First of all, he's responsible for Fox News' 1/2 Hour News Hour, a show which is to comedy what Fox News is to accuracy. But even worse, he has warped one of our greatest legal minds.

The Canadian Globe and Mail reports from a legal conference in Ottawa this week, and passes along the following account concerning panelist Justice Antonin Scalia:

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said.

Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so... So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

That really fired up the panel, and made for a plenty lively discussion, you betcha.

Presumably the eccentric Justice S. was being provocative by citing a fictional character from Surnow's 24 to prove his hypothetical points, but he's running into the same problem that all pro-torture advocates face. It's a logic thing that Scalia is familiar with, because he used it himself in a decision he wrote.

In our favored version, an Eastern guru affirms that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger. When asked what supports the tiger, he says it stands upon an elephant; and when asked what supports the elephant he says it is a giant turtle. When asked, finally, what supports the giant turtle, he is briefly taken aback, but quickly replies "Ah, after that it is turtles all the way down."

Yep, it's basing your conclusion on unproven assumptions. To support torture you have to assume that it's your only way of getting the information, that your subject HAS the information, that he'll tell the truth only if you torture him, and that he's even the terrorist you thought you had in the first place. If not you're committing cruelty on someone for no reason. And if you don't have a problem with that, you're a Nazi. (Reducto Ad Hitlerum for illustrative purposes only.)

It is amazing to me how conservatives, who are so opposed to change, are willing to drop traditional pre-ratings code film mores as their guidelines. Look at any good-versus-evil movie. Star Wars - who tortures, the rebels or the empire? The empire! Marathon Man - who tortures, the method actor or the evil Nazi dentist? Dentist! Saw, Saw 2, Saw 3, Hostel, Hostel 2, Touristas, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original and remake) who tortures? The EVIL people!

Up until Jack Bauer, the hero is the one who avoids torture. Scalia endorsing torture is like Nixon growing his hair long and smoking weed because it looked cool in Easy Rider.

My Blog is Worth...

You know that picture of George Washington to the side - yeah, the field is editable. I wish I'd figured that out months ago... I could have attracted investors.

Actually what I wish is that investors hadn't figured it out.

The thing that steams me is it's supposed to take its value from web traffic. Since I have virtually none (hi Skot! hi MD!) I'd expect the figure to be zero, but how come I can change it myself? I'll never trust George Washington again. Just one more Washington I'll never trust again, I suppose.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Catch Phrase Of the Day

The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215 in Runnymede. In honor of it, today's catch phrase:

Nobody puts Habie in the Corner!

Attention T-shirt companies - rights are available. But they're goin' fast.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Document Dump: RNC Fundraising Letter

If you saw my previous post, but you never get this kind of mail, you may enjoy these.

The RNC Asks For My Help

First of all, understand I'm thrilled. I get junk mail from the Democrats ALL THE TIME asking me for money, but they have never, ever asked for my opinion. But today in the mail, direct from 310 First Street in Washington, this came from the RNC.

Dear Fellow Republican,

You are among a select group of Republicans who have been chosen to take part in the official 2007 CENSUS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Enclosed is your new 2007 GOP CENSUS DOCUMENT, which was assigned and prepared especially for you as a representative of all Republicans in your voting district.
(There follows a registration number and voting district code, which I must assume are unique to me. After all, they used my nickname "Fellow Republican" at the top of the letter. How did they know?)
Your answers will be used to develop a NEW BLUEPRINT for the Republican party for the next 10 years, a BLUEPRINT to rebuild our party from the grassroots up.

But, because it is cost prohibitive for the Republican Party to print and mail an official REPUBLICAN PARTY CENSUS to each and every one of the 62,000,000 Republicans nationwide, your answers will represent the views and opinions off ALL Republican voters living in your voting district.
The four-page letter goes on to paint a grim picture of recent Republican history. I'd quote more but I don't think we need to air that dirty laundry again here! Along with it, a kind of survey, asking for my opinion to help guide them as they build their new platform. I can answer yes, no or undecided to the following questions, among others.
  1. If Democrats try to gut the USA Patriot Act and other important laws that promote the safety and security of all Americans, should Republicans in Congress fight back?
  2. Should we do everything we can to stop Democrats from repealing critical border and port security legislation?
  3. Should President Bush's successful income and capital gains tax cuts be made permanent?
  4. Do you support President Bush's initiative to allow private religious and charitable groups to do more to help those in need?
  5. Do you agree that sowing the seeds of Democracy and freedom in the Middle East is a worthy goal?
(I wonder why they capitalized Democracy but not freedom? Odd.)

Anyway, I'm so pleased that they're really willing to listen to us now instead of TELLING us what to think. And I'm pleased to not be hit up for money! Oh oh...
6. Will you support the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?
There follows a series of amounts with $100 helpfully flagged as enough "to mail 250 more Census Documents to registered Republicans". Like me. I was going to send $350 but then I realized that's what I got back as a tax rebate that one year, so it didn't seem right somehow. Instead I'm sending nothin'.

I suppose I should fill out the survey, but I don't want to gum up the works by giving them my opinions, so I'll keep that to myself too. Although I gotta admit, knowing that my answers will be counted as representative of ALL Republicans in my district... it is pretty tempting.

Friday, June 15, 2007

You Can't Get Any More Independent

"(Party head) John Orman called Tuesday for Sen. Joe Lieberman to resign, saying his advocacy of a military strike against Iran could explode into a global conflict. "He has crossed the line," said Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University. "His unilateral warmongering could lead to a new World War III."
- the Connecticut Post

The punchline is that John Orman is the head of the Connecticut for Leiberman Party, which only has one elected member at the moment.

Why The Next President Will Be A Democrat - A Shallow Analysis

The President has abysmal poll numbers, his opponents, Congress, are doing even worse. You might think this means that people hate Democrats more than the Republicans. And it might. However, there is a bigger-picture conclusion.

What people are hating most, it seems to me, is politicians. Congress has come in, promising change, and when it became clear that there weren't no change a-comin', the poll numbers dropped like King Kong. We, the people, are emitting a collective shout: "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!" Same president, same congress, same senate, all taking us in a different direction than they were elected to.

Ideally at this point, all the incumbents would be voted out in 2008, but we both know that ain't gonna happen. Everybody hates Congress except THEIR congressman, and they may even hate him but not as much as the guy running against him. But the President? He's up for retirement. And we're going to want the candidate who is most unlike him to take his place.

And at the very basic level, it would most likely be someone who looks different because we're afraid of real change, and we recognize if we put a genuine outsider in the position they would just be chewed up by the system. Therefore, either a white woman or a black man. Hillary or Obama. Fred Thompson won't make it, because he LOOKS like the status quo. That's how he's made his living. Guiliani? White guy. McCain: sorry, who?

Condaleeza Rice would certainly qualify if she was anti-war and if she was running.

Of course it's a long way to the elections. But let's face it - how likely is it that people will start to like politicians during a campaign season?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quote of The Day

Republicans: They’re like even stupider versions of Democrats, if you can imagine such a thing.


See link for context - they're talking about Peggy Noonan's discovery that the Bush Administration doesn't really care about their base much at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Harry Turtledove's Birthday

It's coming up this Thursday, June 14th. But WHAT IF he had been born today, June 12? How would things have been different? Would I wait two days to do this gag?

Conspiracy Theory

I'm at work, and the computers are running slower than the plot of Pirates of The Caribbean 3. Our IT guy says we're the victim of a denial of service attack. He believes it's the work of firewall companies or security software publishers.

Normally I'd laugh at that kind of talk, but it rings true here because we are a Mortgage Lender company. Who the hell directs DOS attacks at people like us? Not 13-year-old Norwegian hackers - it wouldn't be funny enough. Disgruntled borrowers possibly, but people who refi homes are more mature than that, by nature. They might do it as a strategy but not as a nasty prank.

No one attacks this place unless they have something to gain, and the most obvious gain would be sales of stuff to prevent further attacks. Right? Or am I magic-bulleting this thing to death?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Let The Smear Campaign Begin

Colin Powell, on Meet The Press:

Powell: I’m going to support the best person I can find who will lead this country for the eight years beginning in January 2009.
Russert: Of any party?
Powell: The best person I can find.

Yeah, I always knew he was crooked. He should have made a better case to the United Nations. And I got a guy here who worked with him, who says he was never an actual General!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sanity And Combs Follow Up - Free Sample

It's hardly necessary, but just in case you didn't believe me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sanity and Combs: Freebies From Pharma!

Wired magazine goes all in-depth on the practice of getting doctors' attention by giving away stuff. For example, USB Flash memory sticks to promote an Alzheimer's disease drug.

" much of the merchandise handed out generously in past years -- Prozac mouse pads and gym bags, Zoloft coffee mugs -- promoted drugs with recently expired patents, which are now sold generically."Nobody can make money on the generics so they aren't going to pay to sell something," Carlat says. "Only three of the SSRIs (a class of antidepressant) are still patented."

I'm of two minds on this phenomenon. I think I'll go with the pros first. It's nice to be able to take free samples of a drug before you commit money to it. And when I was running theatres, I hosted a few screenings sponsored by drug companies. To this day I have a note pad with the Paxil logo on it. Nice. And the pens! Oh, the pens.

Giving free stuff to doctors makes them happier doctors, and happy doctors make less mistakes, unless they're happier because you gave 'em booze.

Two downsides: the obvious ethical problems the arise when Diet and Exercise can't sponsor a weekend golf trip while Glaxxo can. And my pleasure at getting free samples is mitigated by sitting in a waiting room, watching salesman after salesman walk in to talk to the doctor while my appointment time stretches to two hours late.

By the way, since I've been off anti-depressants for a couple of months now you can assume my opinions aren't clouded by them. If they can make a drug that combats shyness, it's only a matter of time before they make one that targets your distaste for big pharma. Keep a close eye on the reservoirs.

(And no, nowhere in the article does it say that they gave away any combs. If you were me, would you be able to resist that title? Hell no!)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Topics Of Discussion

We are deployed in Iraq right now to protect Iraqis. Most Iraqis are Muslims. Muslims are Islamists, who want all Christians dead. So why are we in there again?

I cn has wrt bowt LOLcats, but do not want! 2 late! I is bhind yr curve, exploitn yr memes.

Bush tackled immigration and now EVERYBODY hates him. He could have stuck with gays and done pretty well. What was he thinking?

My wife was working in San Diego last month - there is a weather phenomenon there called "May Grey" in which every day in May is overcast. Here in L.A. we call it "June Gloom" because I guess summer starts a month later the farther up North you are. So Skot - is there a word for it in San Francisco, like "Aug-ust Fog?" Or do you bother, because it's all year round?

Is it just me, or is Warner Todd Huston overreacting?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Spin Zone

Bill O'Reilly talks to Carl Bernstein, the author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hat tip to Atrios! All quotes verbatim, of course.

O'REILLY: Did she break the law?
O'REILLY: OK. Good, I like this. How did she break the law?
BERNSTEIN: She broke the law if, indeed, she perjured herself.
O'REILLY: Well, you just said she did break the law.
BERNSTEIN: No. The special prosecutor determined that she did not. So he did not file the charge.
O'REILLY: So you think she did. But the special prosecutor, Ken Starr, said no.
BERNSTEIN: That is co -- you know what? Let me be really straightforward. I don't think she broke the law. I think there was a time that she did not tell the truth.
O'REILLY: Under oath?
BERNSTEIN: You know, I wasn't in the room.
O'REILLY: I got it. And I read -- I read your whole book top to bottom.
BERNSTEIN: It's time to sort it out.
O'REILLY: I have to tell you, I still don't know what to make of the woman even after -- even after reading the book. That's how complicated this woman is.
BERNSTEIN: That's terrific.

No Mass Debating In Public

I think it's over for a while, the 10-candidate gang-debates. I have managed to not get a single second of any of 'em first hand. Instead I have deferred to WONKETTE's liveblogging, which has resulted in a hundred variations of the phrase "shut up old man! Shut UP!"

It's not that I'm not civic-minded. It's just that these debates are worthless. If you're interested in politics you do yourself a disservice by watching them. Here's why.

Nobody gets enough time to articulate a real position. With all those people on stage, the pressure is on to give a good slogan, look sexy doing it, and move out. Not only that, but even within those constraints.... Ron Paul has had a thing on his website called the Talk Clock, which graphs which candidate gets the most speaking time. You know who has won consistently? Wolf Blitzer.

"Raise you hands" doesn't count as debate. Strictly speaking nothing on the debates does, but this is ridiculous.

Debates force branding. I'm the anti-poverty candidate! I'm the anti-immigration candidate! This is what you walk away from with these guys when you should be learning which one is the Manchurian candidate. And you shouldn't elect someone because of their pet issue - you should elect them on their ability to balance all issues against each other.

Dennis Kucinich. Adorable and hopeless and as McSweeney's pointed out, "strong to the finich", this man will never be President, even in most alternate universes. Why is he taking time away from viable candidates like Mike Gravel? (Substitute Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee in there if you're Republican.)

Sooner or later, some Democrats will debate on Fox News. And it's just going to be awful. If Obama is on screen, they'll caption it "William Jefferson, D-LA". The set will be dark and creepy, they'll cut to a Natalee Holloway update whenever Biden makes sense, and Britt Hume will ask "raise your hands - when did you stop beating your wife?" causing nothing but perplexed looks. And they'll use the footage on the 1/2 Hour News Hour, somehow finding a way to make it even LESS funny.

The real candidates aren't participating. We all know it's going to be between Al Gore and Fred Thompson anyway, so who are these people? Potential VICE presidents, that's who.

No matter what anyone says, the winner will be decided based on charm. Or tie, or haircut. Parenthetically, Elizabeth Edwards says that John doesn't use any product in his hair, not even conditioner. With savings like that, he can afford to splurge on the cut!

It's over a year away from the election. By November '08 most of these people will be suffering from suspicious dioxin poisoning. Why bother with them now?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fun With Commenters

"Can't see how all the day is a good one for the Dem's, considering Jefferson's recent headlines," says GWK in my previous post. Interestingly, I hadn't actually said that; I had said it was a bad day for Bush but a good day for DEMOCRACY.

Maybe that's the problem with Bush and the boys - they can't tell the difference so they attack both. You listening, Rove? Only one is your political opponent; the other is what you oughtta be protecting.

Special Prosecutor Rides Scooter

As often happens, it's a bad day for the Bush administration and a good day for Democracy. Let's recap: The 2nd Circuit court has ruled that the FCC was arbitrary and vague in assigning fines to Fox TV when presenters on the Billboard Awards show used the word "fuck" in their acceptance speeches; this means that they can fine people for violations but they have to be consistent about it. Unfortunate for a government which might like to selectively silence individuals without being too vocal about their reasons.

On the other hand, Scooter Libby has been sentenced for his role in obstructing the Valerie Plame investigation. In this case it wasn't about public cussing, it was about undermining the intelligence gathering community. I know they're both important; but in one you have to be embarrassed in front of your kids and in another, people die and the terrorists gain ground.

Libby faces 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, even after the letters of support from almost everyone who worked to get us into the Iraq war. Who didn't petition for the Scootster? Dick Cheney! The very guy Libby lied to protect. Pwned, Scooter! Yes, Karl Rove is conspicuously absent as well, though perhaps he submitted his appeal in the form of forged xeroxed fliers from Democrats.

Free speech and opposing opinions have proven vexing to this President, as they do to all presidents; but Bush has taken gone farther to slap down his naysayers than any other president in history. "I listen to the Generals on the ground," he says - of course he does, otherwise how would he know whom to fire? It's a dumb strategy, because it simply doesn't work. Or rather it works for a while, but it eventually leads to a pissed-off cadre of former employees seeking revenge. And maybe I'm wrong, but I like to think that today maybe Scooter may finally regain his hitherto faulty memory.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New, Improved Instant Karma

I was on a sixties jag this weekend. It started Friday night when TCM ran HEAD as part of its UNDERGROUND series.

HEAD, you probably know, was the Monkees vehicle. Columbia threw some money at Bob Rafaelson to crank out a spinoff picture. The movie industry was in a complete shambles then, and there was even less predicting the market than usual, hence the desire to turn hit TV shows into movies. At the same time, the Monkees themselves were becoming radicalized, irritated that they were thought to be talentless actors instead of real musicians, so they were looking for street cred.

The resulting movie is a plotless psychadelic mess, but one of the great ones. Where the TV show was anarchic but harmless, the movie is disturbing. It opens with the Monkees crashing a bridge ribbon-cutting ceremony chased by Indians, Cops, and assorted others, and Mickey jumps over the side of the bridge, comitting symbolic career suicide. They keep up the nervy assault on their own careers throughout with flash-cuts to Mai Lai massacre footage, atomic bombs exploding, and a running meme about them being trapped in a box. Artistic restraint? Television itself?

The darkness undercuts that wacky Monkees humor, and the humor undercuts the message, if there is one. Like I say, a mess. Still good cameos from a gigantic Victor Mature (about 30 feet tall, in a golfing ensemble), Frank Zappa, Annette Funicello; some decent music, and four skinny, appealing lads who now all hate each other.

The movie was released about 4 months after the show was cancelled. A little market research birdie told Columbia that nobody wanted to see this movie; most of the promotional material failed to mention the pre-fab four at all. Rafaelson and co-writer Jack Nicholson went on to turn out a little movie called FIVE EASY PIECES and the industry thus took its first tremulous steps back out of the wilderness. HEAD grossed in the mid-five-figures.

Hungry for more summer of love fun, I spent time listening to THE TECHNICOLOR WEB OF SOUND, an internet radio station that specializes in 1967-1971 - the music and the ads. It's dated but fresh because they play obscurities aplenty. They have the entire Carrie Nations catalog in rotation - that's the group from BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, and they're better than you'd think. The music of that era was ballsy, experimental and muscular. They didn't care what it sounded like as long as it didn't sound like something from 1965. The late seventies-early eighties had a similar vibe, and then the grunge movement had the same idea only that mostly sounded like the psychadelic era without the expanded mind aspects.

TechWebSound also plays commercials that many of the artists may wish had never been uncovered. "Jefferson Airplane for Levi Stretch Jeans!" is one of them. The Moody Blues performed several jingles for Coke. Actually, EVERYBODY worked for Coke at some point, which to me suggests that Coke has its tentacles in deeper than I've ever imagined. It's fascinating to hear advertising adapting to psychadelia and turning the love generation's ideals to its own ends.

For the record, I was around seven years old when this stuff was big, so my nostalgia for it must be wired directly to the primitive lizard part of my brain. I should be nostalgic for the mid-seventies, because that's when I first had sex. But man, the seventies? I spent a whole decade trying to escape that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Thanks To the Commenters

It's more fun to crank this stuff out when people write back to disagree with you. My most frequent commenter has been my ol' pal Skot; and I want to welcome "Madeline's Dad", a man who takes his identity from his very fatherhood. See him as WAMK under a few recent evolution-based threads.

Less frequent, but memorable commenters have included a guy from Reason Magazine Online who wrote to discuss the orgins of "jump the shark"; a kid who ridiculed me for being all emo, and a Film professor who was pleased that I noticed the deeper undercurrents of STARSHIP TROOPERS. I love you all, except the emo kid, whom I will kill if we ever meet.