Saturday, April 08, 2006

Two of the Worst Ideas Ever... Seriously, EVER

Techeblog has a list of the strangest gadgets out there -- and I mean out there -- and these two are my favorites. And by "favorites" I mean "who on Earth would buy this?"

First is a $601 laptop bag made of synthetic human skin, complete with ink and piercings. (There's one member of the Duke lacrosse team who'd probably like that, actually.)

Then there's the $900 LCD screen in a car headlight, so you can show DVD's to...uh... no one?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Let's Hope They Don't Read Books

"Now the other issue I brought up was the issue of the terrorist surveillance program. You bet the President has spoken out about its unauthorized disclosure, because what its disclosure has done is shown al Qaeda, our enemy, the play book. This is an enemy that watches us very closely. This is an enemy that adapts and adjusts when they learn information about our tactics. And it's important -- it's important, as we carry out this war on terrorism, that we don't do anything that could compromise our nation's security."

-- Scott McClellan, White House Press Briefing, 4/7/06


"He had become fascinated with the ability of the National Security Agency to intercept phone calls and other communication worldwide. If they got the key phone calls, future terrorism might be stopped, certainly curtailed. Bush summarized his strategy: 'Listen to every phone call and close them down and protect the innocents.'"

-- November, 2001 meeting between Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, recounted in Bush at War, by Bob Woodward, published in 2002. Presumably, either Bush or Musharraf was Woodward's source. The surveillance program was already underway. (And note that the President said "every" phone call, not "non-domestic" phone calls.)

A Modest Proposal

If enough of us stipulate that we will never, ever take a cruise... and that even if we do take a cruise, we will never, ever do it on Iggy Pop's cruise line, do you think we could force them to stop advertising?

The Iqua Snake

No, sadly, it isn't a Taiwanese sexual technique. It's a bluetooth speakerphone, available in two styles, that attaches to your car's headrest and gives you high-quality talk and long battery life.

On The Lot

"Fox announced Thursday plans for On The Lot, a new competition reality show from Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg that will feature aspiring directors and filmmakers vying for a DreamWorks studio development deal. "

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Who Pays Less in Taxes Than the Average Illegal Alien?

The following companies paid zero taxes in at least one of the years 2001-2003:

Pitney Bowes
Reebok
AT&T
Prudential
NCR
Unisys
ITT
Pepco
Consolidated Edison
Toys R Us
Verizon
John Hancock
Wachovia
Marriott International
Metlife
Sara Lee
3M
JPMorgan Chase
Boeing
Wesco International
Lexmark
Allstate
General Electric
Pfizer
Lehman Brothers
Dillard's
Brunswick
Ingram Micro
SBC Communications
Sysco
Time Warner
American Express

Source: AFL-CIO

"I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information" -- Bush 9/30/03

"Court documents: Libby testified that Bush OK'd intelligence leak"

Free Dog or Cat Food From Purina

Among the many amazing bargains to be had from Antirebate.com: a free 6 lb. bag of Purina One Natural Blends dog or cat food just for registering. Details at

http://www.antirebate.com/index.php?c=2053


Amazing Race & Lost (SPOILERS!)

My heart broke at the end of both.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Vieira to Replace Couric

In Vieira, NBC is said to be "ecstatic" to have found someone whose eye makeup is even more hastily and heavily smeared than the departing Couric's.

If the Oscars Were Smart, They'd Have This Guy Do Scenes From All the Nominated Films

When You Look Into the TV Lobster, the TV Lobster Looks Into You


In the Beginning, He made the Tit Lobster, and He saw that it was good.

Then came the terrifying Furry Lobster, the scary Giant Lobster, the comforting Plush Lobster, and the to-serve-man RoboLobster.

Now, finally, a TV Lobster. No, not a Lobster that enjoys an alternative lifestyle... an actual 10" LCD TV with a plush lobstery shape around it. Oh, they call it a crab, but I think we all know it's a lobster trying to pass.

(The company also makes cow, pig, dog, zebra and other animal TV's if you're so inclined.)

George Mitchell: the Cleverest Criminal of Them All

Soapbox alert:

I am so sick of people questioning George Mitchell's impartiality, insofar as his ability to lead the investigation into baseball's steroid scandal.

How dare anyone question George Mitchell's integrity? Here's a man who has proven his commitment to this nation over and over again for decades. He has served the country and the world with honor and without scandal. He has even declined Supreme Court appointment and personal glory to do what he felt was greater service to his country.

And he was, perhaps more than anyone, responsible for brokering peace in Ireland with the Good Friday accords.

And people think he did all of this, while batting away the Jack Abramoffs and the petrodollar lobbyists and the pharmaceutical companies, thinking, "Ah, but someday, it will all pay off, when I've lulled them all into complacency, and they let me get into a position where I can help Barry Bonds."??? To what? To protect a few million dollars in Red Sox and Disney money?

Gimme a break.

As the New York Times pointed out, as a board member of Staples, it is also to Mitchell's financial advantage to produce a long report.

Baseball needs an enema, and the owners and broadcasters know it. It is to everyone's advantage to clean house, to be extra tough on anyone who broke the rules, and to make the game family-friendly (and advertiser-friendly) again. With the appointment of a stand-up guy like Mitchell, it looks like they're serious this time.

And on a side note, every time Barry Bonds or his defenders claim he's a victim of racism, it's an insult to genuine victims of racism... including Hank Aaron, who back in the day suffered through the ugliest kinds of racial taunts imaginable with dignity and self-control I never could have mustered.

Immigration and King Kong and Unanswered Questions

I have to admit, I'm as confused about this immigration debate as I think a lot of you may be.

I see Republicans treating "amnesty" like a liberal invention, even though I thought it was one of the few good things Ronald Reagan ever did. I see the President doing flip upon flop upon flip. And meanwhile, I find myself in a head-on collision between my morals, my principles, and my humanity.

First of all, illegal is illegal. Let's not use words like "undocumented" because it just cheapens the debate. I think the law is the law and everyone should obey it. And if I were someone who was forced to leave the country because his visa had expired I would be plenty pissed at someone who simply decided to stay regardless.

But if someone is here -- however they got here -- you can't make it a crime to help them if they're injured or sick. You can't deny these people medical care or services or an education. You can't turn twelve million people into Morlocks.

If not for the sake of decency, how about for the sake of not having people with untreated contagious diseases running loose in our cities? How about for the pure selfishness of it all? Surely Republicans can identify with
that.

But it goes beyond that. Living in Los Angeles as I do, I see the immigrant population as an important, vital part of this city. And as a U.S. citizen, I see their tax dollars as an important part of our revenue stream. So I would be very unhappy -- as would our Social Security recipients -- if they all went away tomorrow.

One question no one ever discusses, and I would love to see Bill Frist or some Republican answer it:

If this bill to deport twelve million people becomes law, how
exactly does that happen?

Seriously.

Are we really going to be okay with watching
twelve million people rounded up on live television? Parents yanked from their screaming (U.S. born) children? Rounded up and put into boxcars, live on CNN?

Okay, so I think we all agree that will never ever happen. America will not stand for it. Ever. So can we once and for all agree we'll never implement that "solution"?

Okay, good, we're done with that nonsense.

Now, let's deal with this other part of the discussion. The "jobs Americans won't do."

The next time some idiot goes on about Peter Jackson's
King Kong being "King Long" and how that first part of the movie was wayyy too long, and why did there have to be allllll that set-up?

Just remember that in 1933, the audience didn't need to be told what things were like in 1933. They had just
walked in from 1933.

Today's teens need a lot of set-up to understand why a woman would be so desperate, so poor, so hungry that she would get on a ship full of ruffians bound for Skull Island. Or why a filmmaker would need "money from backers" to finish a film, instead of a camcorder and Youtube.

Conversely, imagine what 1933 Americans would say if they heard there were twelve million jobs "Americans refuse to do."

Wow.

Even when I, Mr. 2006 Guy, hear that, I have to scratch my head. Because I know there a lot of Americans out of work.

I think "jobs Americans refuse to do" is code for "jobs that don't adhere to OSHA standards and that don't pay minimum wage."

If we have jobs like that in America, then maybe we should export those jobs somewhere else. Like, for instance, Mexico. Maybe if we helped them build up their economy, fewer of their workers would want to come here. And Mexico would become a better trade partner for us.

And goods that can't be made for a decent wage in America, shouldn't be made in America.

Man Without Country

Oh, how I wish I were one.

The thing I hate most about American Idol country night is the hopelessness of it. I mean, as each song ends, you know you have nothing to look forward to but another damn country song.

I know there are people who love country music, but for me it is the musical equivalent of watching a conveyor belt. Most country songs begin where they end and end where they begin, as if someone were turning the crank on some awful music box. (Bad rock songs, too: Listen sometime to Heart's "Even It Up" and try to guess whether you're in the first minute of the song or the third minute.)

Anyhoo, on to the slog of last night's show.

Why didn't Taylor sing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!" or something that would have let him show his happy side? That was a terribly joyless experience.

To my uneducated ears, it sounded like Chris and Ace sang the exact same song. Only Chris sang it without looking and sounding like a gigantic pussy. As usual, Chris and Katharine were the highlights of the evening, and Kellie was close behind.

After Kenny Rogers, wearing Charlize Theron's face, stressed that it was super-important for Bucky to enunciate every word or the point of his song would be lost... I didn't understand a fucking word Bucky sang. Not one. It's as if he sings with a mouth full of chaw and squirrel. Everything but teeth.

Unfortunately, one of my favorite songs was on the show last night, and it was mangled by Paris. "How Do I Live?" is such a beautiful song, and until last night I would have told you it was singer-proof. I mean, all you have to do is sing it. But unfortunately, that demented Oompa-Loompa decided to scream it, and the results were hideous.

And before you ask how I can love "How Do I Live?" when I supposedly hate country music, I would point out two things:

1. "Hating country music" is a gross generalization. I actually like some country music.

2. "How Do I Live?" was written by Diane Warren from the down-home holler of Van Nuys.

Geico Confusion

Okay, so I seem to remember that Kelsey Grammer was the voice of the Geico lizard or gekko or whatever, and then came the actors' strike, so they got someone else.

And then they went to the caveman thing, which I didn't understand. And then they went to the silent gekko sleeping with the kids in the back seat, keeping them safe (which I thought was pretty effective).

Then they went back to the caveman thing.

And now the gekko seems to be a cockney chimneysweep or bootblack, and I have no idea why or what he's saying. Or what it has to do with insurance. They still sell insurance, right? Or is it just purely a company about reptiles now?

Douchebag Brian Doyle

A few weeks ago, I called Department of Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Brian Doyle a douchebag.

Well, now that he's been arrested and charged with 23 felony counts for trying to seduce a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl over the Internet, I must amend that to "alleged douchebag."

Tom Delay Quits

"Every time he does that, an angel gets his wings."

-- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 4/4/06

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bikini Sudoku


Finally Sudoku makes sense to me. Who cares about lining up numbers? I wish to line up women in bikinis.

You can actually line up anything you want thanks to this magical Sudoku puzzle, which fetches its images from Flickr with any tag you wish. I chose bikinis. You can pick whatever you like.

Studios Make Movies Available for Download

Thirty bucks. No Mac. No Firefox or Opera. No burning to a DVD. No copying to an iPod or PSP.

No thanks.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Net Neutrality

Get to know those words: Net Neutrality.

I've written about the concept before. Now, as the bill involving that idea makes its way through Congress, the mainstream media have done a horrible job of covering it. No one is explaining what it is and why it matters to you.

Trust me, this really matters to you.

Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, surely you must know that the only reasonable way to "run" the Internet is to leave it the way it is: one price for all-you-can-eat.

That's what "net neutrality" means. All the websites you wish to visit, all at the highest speed you can get. Like it is supposed to be now.

The telcos want to change that. They want to get into the act, charging more for high-speed sites and services. As soon as the telephone companies are able to "tier" the Internet, the way they do with cable, Internet service will become as expensive and as monopolized as cable. This is a land-grab by the telephone companies. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (There are already allegations they're futzing with VOIP packets in some markets.)

They envision a day where you'd be free to go to a Yahoo or Ask.com website, but it'll be slow because your ISP has made an exclusive high-speed deal with, say, Google. Believe it or not, they call that "leveling the playing field." George Orwell would be proud of doublespeak like that.

The only reason we have companies like Google is because everyone has equal access to everything, which spurs innovation. Do you know anyone who feels the Internet's creativity and growth needs to be slowed and stifled just now? Neither do I.

Read the news (especially on News.com), and follow the words "net neutrality" closely. This bill affects your day-to-day life like few pieces of legislation in our lifetime.

Best Football Stadium Name Ever

"Duff Beer KrustyBurger Buzz Cola Costington's Department Store Kwik-E-Mart Stupid Flanders Park"

Woo Hoo!