Cigarette Legislation

June 11, 2009

Am I alone in having mixed feelings about the new cigarette legislation? I mean, isn’t it good that smoking won’t taste as good, will have fewer poisons, less nicotine? Yet…isn’t it also a little uncomfortable when a government comes along and tells you it will legislate and regulate what you do with your life? Which: have you ever had that smart, well-arguing friend to whom you espouse whatever innate libertarian belief you hold then the friend just shakes that belief right out of you?

A challenge I’d like to see: do the reverse – prove that this legislation, which will probably save lives plus cost the government less in health care, prove this legislation is bad. Like most libertarian arguments, in the abstract they seem solid but when you start to touch and feel these arguments, your hand grasps nothing, like a beautiful cloud. (And I say that as a guy who, if pushed, would probably still claim to be a libertarian – or maybe at least would claim to be most comfortable in the company of libertarians.)

Comments

June 10, 2009

Do you think comments on the websites of, for example, newspapers are indicative of a representational cross-sample of readers of that newspaper? Or are the comment boards merely a gathering space for the more deranged and grammatically-challenged denizens of the web? For example, this Holocaust shooter, von Brunn, his personality has grabbed my attention. So I found this artcle profiling the guy’s ex-wife. Then, unavoidable, the comments section. The top comment (3:51pm) is this:

Youle are sooo retarded!!! and soo is CNN! do you actually the majority of the holocaust happened, 6 million did not die not even close! thare is no evidence but some i witness accounts, and we actually know some holocaust survivors lied for a reason i can not understand. the diery of Ann Frank is suck a lie you people make me hit the the floor every time, THE BOOK WAS WROTE IN BALL POINT PEN, this means its a fake because they didint have ball point pen back then. thare is no blue gas on the walls of the alleged gas chambers but thare is gas on the walls of the delousing chambers ware they killed the lice so the jews could be free from lice, why would hitler spend millions of his money gassing people and building camps when he could put a bullet in their head??? why do we have pictures of jews swimming in the concentration camp??? why do the nazi’s let the jews play soccer and play music, dance and make plays?? why is israel useing illegal bombs against palistinions and getting away w

So you know how racists are often, you know, idiotic? And portrayed as such? So if you are filled with vile conspiracies against everybody who isn’t white, and you are going to pen these racists screeds on whatever newspaper comment section you find, why not do a little spell check first?

Also: interesting to note this particular racist worries about the Israeli use of “illegal bombs” and in this little tangent we then witness how it can seem that everybody really is out to get you, because they hate you.

Which is all to say: let’s be honest, sometimes it can seem like pretty-much any persecuted group feels like there are enemies everywhere. And if you are a gay opening The Advocate, you know what I mean. GOP and listening to Rush, ditto. (And everybody can be demographically sliced in some way that makes them minority, FYI.) And it can feel, even to members of said persecuted group, that some in the group are a tiny bit paranoid. Then – WHAM – all paranoid fantasies become totally justified. Which just really kind of bites, doesn’t it?

Just sayin’

Right Wing Extremism (the Faces Of) – Updated

June 10, 2009

Holocaust denier James Van Brunn blazed into the Holocaust Museum and started firing. A guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns, has been killed. Details will keep coming. Reporter Jeffrey Goldberg called Mark Weber, the director of leading Holocaust denial organization in America, to ask him if he knew James Van Brunn.  And to find out what he thought of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

Weber said that the shooting is a “terrible and stupid and criminal thing, and any reasonable person would condemn it.” He said he knew of Van Brunn because “people have sent me things from him, but that’s all I know about it.”

I asked him if his far-right organization, which sponsors conferences and magazines that deny key aspects of the Holocaust, has created an atmosphere in which white supremacists feel compelled to attack Jewish targets. He got angry and said “every movement and organization has insane people in it. What was this guy’s point? I can’t even figure that out.”

The trial of Scott Roeder is about to begin. Roeder, of course, on behalf of Jesus, killed Dr. Tiller because the doctor provided abortions.

Surely this is being noted elsehwere but: remember that homeland security report on right-wing terrorism that outraged the conservatives? Two right-wing inspired acts of terrorism in as many weeks. I’m excited for the apologies. Just as I’m excited to hear them apologize for inciting Tiller’s murder.

Two right-wing acts of terrorism in as many weeks. Have you noticed how those on the right worry about violence in hip-hop lyrics and video games lead to actual violence but actually calling for violence against people like Doc Tiller is the work of what Mark Weber calls the “insane people” who find a home in every organization?

UPDATE: Props to Fox News’ Shep Smith for calling out those on the right who got all frothed-up about that homeland security report warning of extremist acts of terror. Video here.

Vote Gavin Newsom or the Tree Gets It

June 2, 2009

You can’t beat this. San Francisco’s top bullshit artist, Gavin Newsom, has promised to plant a tree for every one person to follow him on Twitter. So if you don’t let Gavin appear popular on Twitter, we’re all going to die of global warming.

Bruno (Thoughts On)

June 1, 2009

Gawker, of all places, today offers a great post inspired by (in reaction to) that wonderful, gut-burstingly hilarious Bruno stunt on heterosexualist jag Eminem. (Video here)

Its worth reading in full, but to highlight, the question is reduced to: Is Bruno good because

If ten yukking teenage boys go to see the movie and four emerge thinking “Hey, maybe it is really dumb to dislike people just ’cause they’re gay,” then that’s four minds changed. Sure the six others still remain, but it’s a step in the right, weary direction for the war of attrition. That Sacha Baron Cohen, the man behind the hotpants, does play fast and loose and over-the-top with stereotypes is just the sort of agitprop tool that effective satire has to use, right? Something subtle and ruminative won’t, by and large, have the same impact

Or problematic because

the Bruno character isn’t so much debunking the stereotypes and peccadilloes of Gay People as it is just making it easier, more appropriate, codified almost, for people to laugh at them. Doesn’t a movie like Bruno kind of, for those who want to see it that way, reinforce an idea that gay men are silly, frivolous, outrageous mincers who are vain and shallow at best and sex-crazed and oblivious at worst?

Personal take: remember the hysteria PC institutions like the ADL over Borat singing songs like “take the Jew by the horns?” saying that those of us with eyes to see can recognize the satire but many just sing along, joyfully reinforcing stereotypes? This is the same lineage of those who worried about the bad taste (!) of Swift’s endorsement of cannibalism. Satire exaggerates and in so doing reflects back so many of our own absurdities. Plus – bonus! is funny. To worry about people “not getting it” is a dash of arrogance, isn’t it, and besides, clearly something like Bruno nudges humor that would have been unthinkable into the warm embrace of that most coveted demographic: the teenage male mainstream – and isn’t that not just funny, but good?

Google Ambitiously Waves

May 28, 2009

When conducting the day’s web compositions, Microsoft products are like a crowbar to the maestro’s arm. IE, to cite the most glaring example, simply stops. Sorry, says IE, but we’re going to take a minute and relax. You didn’t really need to access that page anyway.

Of course, if you want to complain about how the web works, really, you can pick anything. Microsoft breaks, is buggy, and the company doesn’t care because they rule the world. Apple is shiny and cool, but just as corporate, which is annoying because they so pretend not to be, and plus the build walls around everything, which really goes against this whole internet thing. Google does neat things, but they steal all our information, which could fall into the wrong hands and comic book style villainy could ensue. Ditto Facebook. (Aside: try to find a complain about Firefox. The best I can do is to say that I love AdBlocker but worry this could unethically deprive ad-dependent sites of their lifeblood.)

Which brings us to Google Wave. As TechCrunch reports, this is a product that could revolutionize things (it will merge IM and email, it will attack the other social networks by allowing you to instantly click into a person’s profile to follow their threads wherever they might go, it visualizes streams of conversation and ideas, it lets you get all wiki about everything, and it will include functionality added to HTML 5 standards). This last – this HTML 5 standards – is where things get interesting. See the whole internet thing is shifting: new languages, new ways of disseminating content, new ways of finding what you want. And everything open: no walls. And this is how Microsoft could fall. Information is the barbarians at the gate, Microsoft the Emperor entertaining the senate while all around everything crumbles. Google: keep being interesting and please don’t give all my information to the next dark regime.

Court Reax

May 26, 2009

So many temptations now that the CA Supreme Court has upheld prop 8. The emotional response is the easiest, and perhaps the most satisfying: lash out at Republicans, mega-churches, Jesus worshippers, Karl Rove, Bakersfield, Orange County, folks who voted Obama and Yes on 8. Emotionally driven, rage-filled reactions are absolutely my favorite kind of reaction.

In our anger, though, we should try to keep a calm, a focus. The question before the court was about law, interpretation of law. Is prop 8 valid? Said the court:

In considering this question, it is essential to keep in mind that the provisions of the California Constitution governing the procedures by which that Constitution may be amended are very different from the more familiar provisions of the United States Constitution relating to the means by which the federal Constitution may be amended. The federal Constitution provides that an amendment to that Constitution may be proposed either by two-thirds of both houses of Congress or by a convention called on the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, and requires, in either instance, that any proposed amendment be ratified by the legislatures of (or by conventions held in) three-fourths of the states. In contrast, the California Constitution provides that an amendment to that Constitution may be proposed either by two-thirds of the membership of each house of the Legislature or by an initiative petition signed by voters numbering at least 8 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for Governor in the last gubernatorial election, and further specifies that, once an amendment is proposed by either means, the amendment becomes part of the state Constitution if it is approved by a simple majority of the voters who cast votes on the measure at a statewide election.

It seems clear that the justices found as they should, as the law here makes clear. The rage, then, should be at the folks or organized and passed prop 8, and the efforts should be towards repealing which, if history is any guide, will happen sooner than any of us think.

Lexicon Update: Gaysted

May 26, 2009

Scene: a smoky bar, San Francisco (Mission), late

Two guys, mid 20-s, drunk, pool sticks in hand. Guy 1 rubs the shoulder of Guy 2, both laugh, then guy 1 twists the nipple, through the shirt promoting an indie rock band, of Guy 2.

Guy 2: Dude, you’re gaysted.

Gaysted

Function: adjective

Etymology: heterosexual male hipster communities, United States, 2008-9. See “gay panic.” See “Apatow, Judd.”

1 a: while drunk, one male affectionately touches another male. Feelings of affection and confusion merge though the boozy haze. Characterized by an unquenchable drunken appetite. (Slang).

PE

Weeds Ad

May 20, 2009

Amazing ad for the new season of Weeds:

Stream New Wilco Album

May 13, 2009

For what one assumes will be a limited time, you may stream the new Wilco album here. Look for the obligitory indie-rocker tune featuring Fesit.

wilcothealbum