Monday, July 31, 2006

Massachusetts governor apologizes for 'tar baby' comment

Who uses a term like tar baby these days anyway? It seems like a fairly useful term once you go back and see what it actually means, and certainly would apply to the Big Dig. But much like I had never considered the "Eenie Meanie Minie Moe" rhyme as anything racist, I had never considered the term "tar baby" as anything but a racial slur until I found out its entymology after Tony Snow used it recently. So I have to wonder how a politician could be oblivious to the fact that it is used as a slur, and if he knows it's used that way why he wouldn't just avoid it.

However, having said that, I wonder why on earth anyone would be outraged by the term's use either. Clearly, there is no way what Romney said could be in anyway interpreted as a racial comment. He was obviously using the term a different way. So why would anyone be bothered by it? Some words have multiple meanings. I think getting upset by the term in this case actually hurts the cause of trying to eliminate it when it is used offensively.

Actually, though, I'd rather people just spend a lot less time being offended by the words of others. Particularly people they don't even know. If you want to be offended, you're not going to have a very hard time finding something to offend you. But just as the world would be a better place without people using offensive language in the first place, the world would be a better place without people who have nothing better to do than be offended all the time. I honestly can't think of a single thing that someone I don't know personally could do to offend me, and I don't understand why so many people give other people such power over their feelings.

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Friday, July 28, 2006


It's a BOOB!

Help, help, I might see a breast! Or at least the side of a breast. If you think this cover is gross, or icky or inappropriate ("think of the children!"), maybe you should just lock yourself in your house and not come out at all. Anyplace a woman can bring her baby is an appropriate place to breastfeed. Seems like a lot of people have the idea that it's their right to not see certain things when they venture out into public. The list of things that people can reasonably expect not to see in public is a lot smaller than some people realize. You may see a woman breastfeeding, or two men kissing or holding hands, or a someone wearing tight clothes, or someone wearing white shoes after labor day, and there's nothing wrong with that!

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Monday, July 24, 2006

remnants of rhyme still resonate with racism

This reminds me of the Playstation ad from a few weeks ago that everyone thought was racist, though I didn't see any racism in it. At least with this one, I can see the connection, though I still don't think it's racist in the slightest. I guess in the back of my head somewhere, I had some idea of the racist origins of the rhyme, because it didn't surprise me at all when I read the explanation, but I', 33 years old and I don't think I've ever heard anyone use this rhyme as anything even vaguely racist or mean spirited. So I think any attempt to connect the ad, which doesn't even use the formerly racist parts of the rhyme anyway, to the original rhyme are a little silly. Sure, you can make that connection, but why bother? There's no reason to, unless you just like to be offended, or like to be mad about things. And if you're seeing racism in an ad that is very cleary about choosing from a variety of beers, then you're going to see it in a lot of places where it just doesn't exist, and will probably lead a pretty miserable life.

"It’s a choice campaign...It has nothing to do with race, color or creed,” [vice president and chief marketing officer Bob] Sullivan said.

Which is clearly evident to anyone with a functioning brain. Maybe if people would stop wasting time whining about things that are clearly not racist, we could spend more time and energy focusing on eliminating all the places where real racism still exists.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Broadcasters Piss Me Off - Golf Edition

So I'm flipping around this morning and I notice the British Open is on, so I figure I'll watch for a while and see if Tiger Woods is still in the lead. They're talking about the bunkers, and how fine the sand is. Then they cut to some video of a guy holding a handful of the sand and letting it run through his fingers. Apparently to show us how fine it is. Then the idiot says, "the grains are so small you could pick one up with a pair of tweezers." First of all, I doubt that I could pick up a single grain of sand with a pair of tweezers, and secondly, even if I could, that doesn't show how fine it is. I know these guys have to talk a lot to fill the time, but you'd think they could give just a little tiny bit of thought to what they say.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

House Protects God in Pledge of Allegiance

Well, I could easily get sucked into the stupid debate about whether we need "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance (we don't), or why on earth Congress is wasting time on something when they probably have more important things they could be working on. But instead, I wonder why we even have a Pledge of Allegiance at all, and further why we all but force little kids to say it everday. The whole notion of pledging your allegiance to the government everyday seems incredibly totalitarian, and definitely unAmerican.

If we actually had this debate, I have no doubt that most of the "Under God" crowd would angrily assert that of course we need a pledge, and suggest that if you're unwilling to pledge your allegiance to America, you must be a terrorist or something. But, let's face it, the pledge of allegiance isn't very important. If it was so important, shouldn't people be doing it on their own? But I don't know of anyone who ever does the pledge except when they're at some public event with some kind of opening ceremony. At my stepson's graduation recently, they said the pledge, but I can't remember the last time I heard it before that. Probably the last time I went to a school related event.

And even if the pledge was a wonderful and necessary thing for people to express their allegiance to a great country, why is it the main place it's used in schools? How many of you really understood what you were saying when you first learned it back as a kid? I'm sure at least half thought it was 'invisible' instead of 'indivisible.' And if we're making kids say it, who don't even understand what they're saying half the time, and probably don't care, either, doesn't that seem like some kind of indoctrination? Which to me, again seems unAmerican.

So I say we get rid of the pledge altogether, then we can get away from the stupid "Under God" debate, and move on to some other silly debate, instead.

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Numbers cut through blogging hype

I think it's pretty obvious that the number of different reasons for blogging is pretty close to the number of bloggers, but one thing in this article I did find strange.

A study by social networking site MSN Spaces...
emphasis mine

Isn't trying to find out about blogger by studying MSN Spaces kind of like trying to find out something about drivers by studying people who ride mopeds? Does anyone use MSN Spaces? I honestly didn't realize that anyone did.

Ok, so I realize maybe the study was just done by MSN Spaces, and they weren't only studying MSN Spaces users. Though, it's still pretty suspect, since to take the survey, one would have probably had to have some connection to MSN Spaces somewhere. Maybe Yahoo 360 can do a similar study, then we can find some real answers.

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Quote of the Day

Yesterday, actually, I saw this on FARK.

For those bitching about the government funding research, you do understand the irony of posting such a complaint on the internet, right?

Unfortuantely, I'm sure they don't. Or don't care. For anyone apologizing for Bush anymore, it's not about making sense, it's just about defending his decisions at all cost. When you poke enough holes in one argument, they just switch to a different one (see: Iraq War for good examples). Which is why they never even seemed to bother with Bush's excuse for using the veto to "protect human life." Even his followers knew that one was bullshit, so they went straight for the "government shouldn't be funding research, anyway" line. Unfortunately for them, if that's their argument, that ship has sailed. The government does (and should) fund research. There are a lot of good reasons for it, most of them already detailed much better than I could do, so I won't get into it here, but to argue that this veto is good because the government shouldn't be funding research anyway kind of misses a lot of points.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Veto risk threatens stem-cell funding

So, out of all the crap to come out of Congress in the last 6 years or so, this is what our President might use his first veto on? Instead of building a wall at the border, why don't we just put up a big sign that says, "Now entering Stupidland."

At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars and the opportunity to take the lead in cutting-edge scientific research that could lead to cures for Parkinson's disease, spinal-cord injuries, heart disease and other conditions.

But, on the other hand, we may offend some people who don't understand (or worse, just disregard) science.

As with the abortion debate, where the "pro-life" crowd shows that they really don't have any interest in actually reducing abortions (since they're pretty well opposed to all the things that might do that, like birth control, sex education, etc.), but rather in forcing their beliefs on everyone else, they miss the boat here again. If they're really so concerned about the "human life" that is being wasted with stem cell research, where is their program to find wombs for all these embryos? Surely if they are too precious to be used for research, they are also too precious to be sitting around in a freezer forever, or even worse being discarded. And shouldn't they be looking for laws against IVF as well, since that's where these embryos come from. And shouldn't a President who feels so stongly about the issue that he would veto this bill be leading the charge in trying to free these poor embryos from their frozen prison?

Seriously, though, I get so annoyed when people take some supposed moral high ground to oppose something that could help people, and hurts no one. I realize they claim that the embryos are the ones being hurt, however, they take no action outside of opposing the research that indicates that they truly believe the embryos are so important. It's frustrating to have to argue against a position that doesn't rely on any sort of logic.

I'd really hate to see Bush break his no veto record though. I suggest instead that he have his cabinet declare Congress 'quaint' then attach a signing statement to the bill that says people with diseases can fuck off and die, then he can stage a photo-op where he pisses on Christopher Reeve's grave.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Electrocute Bill Keller! No, hang him!

I was going to post something responding to this article, but then I remembered that Pete Shinn guy from a few days ago and realized that these Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers people can't possibly be real, and I don't want to get made fun of all over the internet for taking seriously something which can't possibly be real, so I'll just leave it alone.

Link via Brilliant at Breakfast

Posted by 3 comments

Civilian casualties

A quote from this story stuck out to me -

President Bush rejected Lebanon's calls for a cease-fire in escalating Mideast violence on Friday, saying only that
Israel should try to limit civilian casualties as it steps up attacks on its neighbor.

The tone of this really pisses me off. It's not - "Ohmigod, they're killing civilians!", it's - "Hey, we're behind you, just try not to kill too many bystanders, ok?"

I don't really want to get into the particulars of this situation, it just makes me wonder when did we decide that killing civilians was ok, as long as the end is justified? We do it too. How many times have we heard about the "regrettable" loss of civilian life in Iraq, or more likely the unfortunate "collateral damage" that inevitably accompanies air strikes.

Yes, the terrorists have to hunted down, the insurgents have to be caught, Hezbollah has to be eliminated, but when did we decide that any action in pursuit of these goals was forgivable? Maybe we should conduct criminal operations in the US the same way. FBI gets word that there's a fugitive in some semi-public area or holed up in a house in a neighborhood. We could call in an air strike. That would mean zero law enforcement casualties and a high liklihood of success. So we might off a few civilians, but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

Again, I'm not suggesting that we don't go after the bad guys overseas, just that we need an attitude adjustment. Our leaders have made the decision that American lives are more important than foreign lives, regardless of their innocence. Why else would we use air strikes in dense urban areas? Speed is a factor, sure, but limiting US casualties is the main reason we hear. We need to find ways to limit US casualties without trading the lives of civilians.

Hat tip to Shakes

Posted by 7 comments

Caprica (TV series)

I just happened to run across this, and I know I have some Battlestar Galactica fans as readers, so I was wondering if anyone else had heard about this. Sounds great if they do it as well as Battlestar Galactica.

Posted by 4 comments

Monday, July 10, 2006

And the award for most embarrassing post ever goes to...

Some pro-life idiot named Pete. I almost feel bad for laughing at him, since he's obviously a little slow.

Link via The Disgruntled Chemist.

Posted by 21 comments

Battlestar Galactica

I love science fiction, but for some reason, I never started watching the new BSG, even though I was a fan of the original. That was a mistake. John downloaded the first two seasons and I recently watched them all. This is probably the best show on tv right now (ok, I don't have HBO, but still). I'm a big Lost fan but BSG is now holding the coveted #1 spot on my tivo season pass list. There's so much to like about this show, I'll just make a list (Spoilers ahead)-

The reimagining - I know this was controversial, but it was genius. The humanoid Cylons, the Cylon origin, even the female Starbuck, it all works, and it fits together better than the original. And it gave them the latitude to create a new storyline for the whole series that they can now reveal bit by bit. In that way it's somewhat like Lost, you know there's something going on, you don't know exactly what it is, but you get bits and pieces through each episode.

The writing - It's been consistently good and sometimes great. It's as much character-driven as it is plot-driven maybe more so, which I think is usually a hallmark of great storytelling. The storylines are fresh and unpredictable, and often very exciting. I was literally shaking with nervous anticipation during the conflict between Adama and Kane. They strike a good balance between action and drama. They deal with tough issues, not just mirroring current events like prisoner abuse, but also dealing with problems you would expect to arise in a situation like theirs - military/civilian conflict, press freedom, rebellion.

The characters and actors - As mentioned above, the characterization is great. You really care about these people. I had a lump in my throat when Starbuck told Adama that she had passed Zak when he really shouldn't have passed. It felt like a real moment. And the way the relationships change. The fact that Lee lets go of his anger when he finds out that Zak's death wasn't his father's fault. The way the relationship between Adama and Roslin goes from rocky to mutual admiration. Sharon's realization that she's a cylon and her suicide attempt. It's all good. It would be easy to use a lot of stock cardboard science fiction characters, but for the most part they avoid that.

The special effects - They look great to me. I like the gritty look, which makes sense and I never find myself taken out of the story by some jarring effect. I also don't see them using the special effects gratuitously. But it does look awesome when Galactica is firing full throttle fighting off hundreds of Cylon raiders. I like the way they have a lot of very retro tech. No lasers, just bullets and nukes. About the only thing they have that we don't is the FTL drives. I think it adds to the realism. It makes it easier to identify with them.

The season 2 finale - Well, it's definitely different. I like it so far. As I said above, I think the strength of the series has been it's writing and characterization, I don't feel it's a formula-driven show. So, this breaking of the formula is ok with me as long as they stay true to the characters and keep the story interesting and original. I like the idea of Kara organizing a Cylon resistance on New Caprica (when are the webisodes supposed to start?) And the idea of the fleet running on a skeleton crew trying resist from outside. I think this could ultimately be a good thing for the series. Showing that they can do different things relatively early in the series gives the writers more room to work in the future.

All in all, great tv. As good or better than anything on the networks. If this is the kind of quality the SciFi channel produces, I'll have to start watching more of their shows.

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Bush on Global Warming

I know this is old news but what the hell, posting has been pretty light around here.

Bush a few weeks ago -

I have said consistently that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over where it's man-made or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing that -- the technologies necessary to -- to enable us to achieve a couple of big objectives: one, be good stewards of the environment; two, become less dependent on foreign sources of oil, for economic reasons and for national security reasons.

He just keeps on stoking the non-existent controversy about the roots of global warming, but nevertheless, the rest of his quote actually makes sense. Politically we ought to stop arguing about the causes of global warming. Even if the current warming trend were just some naturally occurring spike, the steps we need to take to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere are things that we should be doing anyway.

Why would we not want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, release less pollutants into the air, develop cleaner, renewable energy sources, and use the energy we have more efficiently? Of course, it would help if Bush actually believed what he was saying. He clearly doesn't really care about environmental issues, and we're not taking any substantial steps toward energy independence.

Posted by 6 comments

Soccer Sucks

Now that the World Cup is (finally) over, I can say that I've watched enough soccer to last me the rest of my life. Not that I watched a lot of it, just as much as I could stand without dying from boredom. If this makes me some kind of ugly American, or stupid redneck, those are labels i'll gladly wear, so long as it means I don't have to ever watch soccer again.

I tried this year, as I did whenever the World Cup was here in the US 8 or 12 years ago, to watch with an open mind. I honestly tried to see what it is that the rest of the world sees in this game. And I failed miserably. No offense to anyone who likes this crap. I know a few of the few readers I have left really like soccer. If someone can watch 90 minutes of nothing happening and enjoy it, I say go for it, but I can't do it.

The game I watched the most of was the Italy vs US game. I figured that was the best chance I would have of actually enjoying a game, since it was the US, it was a big game for them, and Italy was supposed to be pretty good (which was apparently true). So, when I turned it on, it was already 1-1, and I figured with a score like that, maybe it would be a good game. Maybe the US actually was a pretty good team. So, as I watched 2 or 3 people get thrown out of the game for things that I could only term as incidental contact and not understanding what the hell is a foul, what constitutes a yellow card, or a red card in this silly game but knowing that what I saw was definitely not worth either team having to play the game shorthanded, my resolve wavered but I kept watching. Then, when I found out how the US had scored their only goal, I almost gave up watching at that point. But I soldiered on, and was seemingly rewarded when the US scored a goal to take a 2-1 lead. I have to admit, it was somewhat exciting, and my disdain for the game was almost conquered. It was quickly restored a minute later when the goal was disallowed. And it was further cemented when the reason for the goal being disallowed was, as best I could understand the crappy explanations, that someone got in the way of the goalie, so he couldn't see the shooter. Now, maybe something was lost in the translation, and maybe there was some more serious infraction, but in a sport where goals are so incredibly rare, you'd think they wouldn't be so quick to take them away. Anyway, I kept watching, but not with the same enthusiasm, and when the game ended in a tie, my previous opinion of the game remained unchanged. Boring sport with no action, as likely to end in a tie as not. At least it wasn't a 0-0 tie, I guess.

I watched parts of other games here and there both before and after the game above, but never saw anything compelling enough to catch my interest and make me crave more. I never even managed to see a goal scored live. But I guess that's not surprising since they're so rare anyway. So, in four years when the world is excited again over the World Cup, and everyone is prediciting that soccer is on the verge of becoming a mainstream sport in the US (again), I'll be happily ignoring it (or at least as much as ESPN will let me ignore it). Call me when (real) football season starts. Until then, I'll be following another slow game that still manages to be exciting from time to time. Go Mets!

Posted by 10 comments

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sony's racially charged PSP ad

I've seen a lot of controversy over this ad today, but I don't see what the big deal is. I don't even see how it is "racially charged." Sure, it shows two distinct races in conflict, but it doesn't make any statement about one being any better than the other, it doesn't say anything about anyting that I can tell. It shows contrast between two colors, which is good for Sony, since they currently have a black product and are coming out with a white one. And I absolutely don't put it past Sony to have forseen the controversy, but that doesn't mean there's any reason for it. To anyone who finds this ad racist, I would ask how exactly is it racist? How does it discriminate, or imply that either race is better or superior in any way? Just because the white woman is grabbing the black woman? Is that all it takes? I seriously hope not, because that's fucking ridiculous. Please, someone point out some nuance that I'm missing that makes this racist, because I just don't see it.

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