halloween 2009

(Cover illustration by Chris Ware via The Jailbreak)

there are monsters

Via my friend N, something in the spirit of the day.


were we've been

Via Erin O'Brien, comes this intriguing bit of cultural archeology. It seems that back in 1961, one Chris Kendall broke a fall by grabbing for a hot stove and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of the resulting burn. Here, in its entirety, is the sum total of all the paperwork generated by this medical encounter:

And oh yeah, fuck Joe Leiberman.


bonus post

Because it's almost Halloween. Or something.

yet another great moment in advertising

There seems to be an almost never-ending supply of stuff like this. It's dispiriting.



This photograph is from Midway - Message from the Gyre, a series of photographs by Chris Jordon of dead albatross chicks on Midway Atoll. To quote from the introduction:
“These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.”
Follow the link above. Look at the pictures.


paul haggis resigns - very publicly - from scientology

Director Paul Haggis has apparently been a member of the Church of Scientology for something like 35 years. It appears that he has had a recent epiphany and has tendered his resignation from the church in a very blunt letter to national Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis.

His letter has been made public online over a period of days in four parts here (note that it isn't until the third part that readers discover that the writer is Haggis):

As anyone who watched Tom Cruise jump up and down on Oprah's couch knows, Scientology (AKA, The Church of Xenu, alien emperor) actively courts celebrities, having a "Scientology Celebrity Center" in L.A. dedicated to pandering to their egos. They also have a history of aggressively attacking those who dare to speak out against them. While I'm not a big fan of Mr. Haggis as a filmmaker, his heart has always seemed to be in the right place and I respect his going up against them so publicly.

It will be interesting to see how the "church" responds.

Update: The letter can now be found in its entirety here.

an open mind

(via scanners)



Now this is how it's done.


my first computer

Well, not that exact one, obviously, but one just like it.

It's a Commodore Pet. It had a funky calculator-like keyboard and a built in B&W display and a cassette drive (for loading and saving programs). It had a version of Basic in ROM and initially there were no pre-written programs for it at all. You were expected to write your own. I had the expanded memory version with a huge 8 kilobytes of RAM. That's 8192 bytes. (The computer I'm using to write this post has over 4 billion bytes of RAM.)

Back when I bought my Pet, the other popular choice was the Apple II. In retrospect, I probably made the wrong decision.

Wouldn't be the first (or last) time.

(photo via nerviosismo (except for the red marking, of course))


a post in which i simply paste some stuff matt taibbi wrote

From late last week:
Good News on Wall Street Means… What Exactly?

It’s literally amazing to me that our press corps hasn’t yet managed to draw a distinction between good news on Wall Street for companies like Goldman, and good news in reality.
I watched carefully the reporting of the Dow breaking 10,000 the other day and not anywhere did I see a major news organization include a paragraph of the “On the other hand, so fucking what?” sort, one that might point out that unemployment is still at a staggering high, foreclosures are racing along at a terrifying clip, and real people are struggling more than ever. In fact the dichotomy between the economic health of ordinary people and the traditional “market indicators” is not merely a non-story, it is a sort of taboo — unmentionable in major news coverage.
No one mentions here that this is a carrot-and-stick story — the stick being that ordinary people have been robbed of the interest they should be getting in CDs and ordinary bank savings accounts by the various bailout programs and lending guarantees, which have brought the cost of capital down to nothing for the big banks, and punished those people who have been doing the right thing all along by saving. The Fed lends its money to Goldman Sachs and BOFA for free, why does anyone have to pay Grandma a high rate for her CD or her bank savings?
And there's his iconic description of Goldman Sachs from his astonishing Rolling Stone story as a:
“great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Keep that in mind when thinking about the $23,000,000,000 (yes, that's billions) in bonuses Goldman is on track to be paying its employees this year.

Not Matt Taibbi, but a lot more on the extent to which Goldman essentially runs our economy for its own gain from Glenn Greenwald here.

And okay, as penance, I promise no more political posts for at least a few days. Not only because you're probably tired of them, but because it's just so damn depressing.

balloon boy a hoax?

OMG, who could ever have seen that coming?

birthday again

Hard to believe it's been a year.


is it real or is it the onion?

Headline today:

Neighbors thought dead man's body was part of Halloween display

Answer here.

(Now of course this one is pretty easy, in that if it were actually The Onion, I probably (well, certainly) wouldn't have posted it. But out in the wild, maybe not so easy. Not sure if that says more about The Onion or something else.)


baby baby baby

Oh, those crazy French.
(via fubiz)


balloon boy

Balloon boy, balloon boy balloon boy, balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy, balloon boy, balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy. Balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy; balloon boy; balloon boy; balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy.

Balloon boy:
"Balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy, balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy. Balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy, balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy balloon boy."
Balloon boy!



As a fan of Luis Buñuel, I thought I had put this DVD in my Netflix queue:
It turns out I wasn't paying close attention and had inadvertently put this DVD in the queue:
For the love of all that is holy, do not make the same mistake.

Trust me on this one.

quote of the day

From Wordsmith.org:
Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.

- Robert Orben


"don't go easy on them just 'cause they're cute!"

This is a trailer (with subtitles) for the Japanese animated series Cat Shit One.

As one might imagine, it's generated a lot of comments along the lines of "OMG, that's so wrong!" But apart from the characters, it's imagery that is so common in movies and, especially, video games (think Call of Duty or any of the Metal Gear Solid series) that it's otherwise hardly worth mentioning.

So I wonder, how come cute anthropomorphic animals torturing and killing each other is so much more disturbing to so many people than imagery of the same things done by and to actual (or even CGI) human beings?

Just askin'.



There's probably already an entire social anthropology literature dealing with the implications of the internet and the emergence of social media, but once you have the graph below, why bother?

(via m,appeal)


things change (unless they don't)

Late last month, Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing set off something of an internet brouhaha when he blogged the Ralph Loren ad below (with the brilliant title, "Ralph Lauren Opens New Outlet Store in the Uncanny Valley") as an example of a particularly egregious Photoshop disaster. As it made its way across the internets, it also became the latest in a long series of examples of the way that companies that market products to women promote entirely unachievable standards of feminine "beauty."

Ralph Lauren's response? A legal threat, via a DMCA takedown notice to Boing Boing's ISP (which wisely declined, based on the position that this was classic fair use). Cory Doctorow followed up with a post in which he said, in part:
So, to Ralph Lauren, GreenbergTraurig, and PRL Holdings, Inc: sue and be damned. Copyright law doesn't give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this, we will:

a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;

b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and

c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models.
This story was fresh in my mind when I came upon the ad below from sometime around 1969 or so (based on the reference to Hello Dolly).

(Click the image for a more readable version.)

And a detail from another ad for the same product:

Somehow, I'm guessing that in these days of anorexic chic, Wate-On probably isn't exactly flying off the shelves (if it's even still available). How many of today's young (and not so young) women can even conceive of being too skinny to be popular?

So yeah, things change. But the one thing that seems to be a given is that no matter what the standard of beauty du jour, there'll always be big bucks in convincing women that they don't quite measure up - unless of course, they'll just buy this product (whatever it happens to be).

Update 10/14: Oops! From the Comments (even though there's only one comment):
Missy said...

My biggest LOL of an otherwise crappy day came from the subjective personal pronoun in the first line of your post.

Xeni Jardin has spent a LOT of time trying to quash those damn trans rumors... geesh, why'd you have to get all passive-aggressive?

So, sorry Xeni (I guess).



(via expo7000)

"shinji did what to asuka?" said the civil war soldier

one nation under cthulhu

Now this is more like it.

(Click the image to fully appreciate the Great Old Details.)
(via PZ)


one nation under god

If you've been pretty much anywhere on the internet today, you've probably seen reference to the rather astonishing piece of inspirational "art" pictured below. But to truly appreciate the almost unimaginable surreality of it, you have to go check out the original here (it'll open in a new window). Move your mouse over various figures to discover their symbolic meaning. Be sure to check out the folks around Satan in the lower right corner. When you can't read anymore without risk of your brain melting, come back here.

Now go here and repeat the process. I guarantee you'll feel much better.

Update: OMG, be sure to check out the Civil War soldier (at the far left) in the second link (anime fans only).


what have we become?

Digby describes a story she saw today on CNN. There's really nothing I could add to this:
I just saw one of the most disgusting stories on CNN that I have ever seen: they are actually debating whether or not we should let illegal immigrants die now.

They tell the story of a young man who was brought here by his parents at age 14 and has been working ever since then. He has kidney failure and needs dialysis, which he has been getting as a charity case up until recently. Now they are cutting him off and unless he can find a private clinic that will take him he's in big, big trouble.

The reporter asked him why he should get treatment since he isn't a citizen, (at which point I'm screaming "because he is a human being!") and he showed her his pay stubs going back to when he was 15 --- which showed that he's been paying taxes just like the higher orders.

Then the reporter calmly said, "he has about eleven days and then he'll die." Wolf Blitzer asked the reporter to keep us posted on what happens, so that's good.

It appears that it's now perfectly acceptable to debate whether or not people should die for lack of care in the richest country in the world. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Once a society accepts torture, it's only a matter of time before it drops this pretense about every person being precious entirely. Now we can get down to the nitty gritty and start talking openly and honestly about which people deserve to live and which ones don't.



(via Dockera)

why do the republicans hate america?

Back in the heady days of The Decider, anyone who dared question the wisdom of any Bush/Cheney policy was immediately accused of hating America and supporting "the terrorists." When Natalie Maines said in London that the Dixie Chicks "do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," they were denounced by Republicans for criticizing America on foreign soil, boycotted by country music radio stations, and were the recipients of numerous death threats.

But now that we've got a scary black man in the White House, the rules seem to have changed. A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Palin appeared at an annual conference of investors in Hong Kong and criticized Obama for his economic policies, his campaign for healthcare reform, and for not acing more like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (seriously). According to a report by AFP, two of the Ameican delegates left early, one stating, "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer."

So, here we have a private citizen (just like Natalie Maines) dissing the president's policies (just like Natalie Maines) on foriegn soil (just like Natalie Maines). I'm sure we can expect the outraged howls of Republicans to start any minute now.

Hmm... crickets.

But that's just one example. In light of the conservatives rejoicing at Chicago's failure to win the Olympic bid, over at Daily Kos, autoegocrat puts recent news into perspective:
Here's what these people have rooted against so far:
  • Bill Clinton freeing American journalists from North Korea
  • Marines rescuing Americans from Somali pirates
  • Rescuing American automobile manufacturers
  • Health care for all Americans
  • An American city hosting the Olympics
Can we call them anti-American yet?
Can we?