Stewie Shining

Just a couple of fun links to pass on:

The first one is to a site like Burger King’s Subservient Chicken except it stars Stewie of The Family Guy fame and you get to boss him around. Well, you get to try. Some suggestions: Tell him to sleep, flirt, squeal like a pig and sing.

The second link demonstrates the importance of context. This pretend trailer presents The Shining as a heartwarming tale of a boy’s search for a father. The problem is that it works so well, if you had never seen The Shining, you’d be in for a rude awakening after renting the DVD.

“There is a sniff of politics in the air”: George W. Bush

—in a closed door session with congressional Republicans, Washington, DC, May 16, 2002.

Sometimes I have to admit I am dumbfounded. The man we call President is a blithering idiot and only a few of us seem to notice. Great numbers adore and respect him and I feel I must be the odd one instead because I fail to recognize his greatness.

I sometimes think this administration is daring us to fault them. Bush should have been criminally charged for at least one of a number of reasons, including: graft, cronyism, misrepresentation of facts leading to war, elitism, murder, allowing torture of combatants and non-combatants alike, support of big polluters, smear campaigns, violations of international law and other stupid actions.

Is it just me or is Bush more Teflon coated then 100 Ronald Reagans collectively could hope to be?

Criticisms of his administration are inevitable, yet they flaunt their invulnerabilities. It’s like they’re playing a grand game of “Catch Me If You Can” and they’ve got the powers of invisibility and immunity. How else can you explain the many Bush quotes that scream INEPT while simultaneously screaming UNTOUCHABLE?

Here are just a few of the misspeaks he’s made,  that seem to me to toy with our petty insignificances:

See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.
—Social Security “conversation,” Greece, New York, May 24, 2005

[T]he American people now are beginning to realize we have a serious problem when it comes to Social Security. And that problem begins with people like me.
—remarks at the Republican National Committee Gala, Washington, DC, May 17, 2005

A submarine could take this place out.
—comment to his tour guide at the Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, AR, November 18, 2004

With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I’ll reach out to everyone who shares our goals.
—Washington, DC, November 4, 2004

I’m mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not.
—during the final 2004 presidential debate, Tempe, AZ, October 13, 2004

I went to the Congress last September and proposed fundamental—supplemental funding, which is money for armor and body parts….
—Erie, PA, September 4, 2004

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
—speaking to top Pentagon brass, Washington, DC, August 5, 2004; reported by Reuters.

I kind of like ducking questions
—at the Associated Press luncheon, Washington, DC, April 21, 2004

I’m sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn’t yet.
—responding to the question of what lessons had been learned from 9/11, press conference, Washington, DC, April 13, 2004

In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn’t serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences.
—appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, February 8, 2004.

I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.
—Fox News interview with Brit Hume, September 22, 2003.

We want those objections heard, of course—every citizen needs to hear a voice.
—Summerhaven, AZ, August 11, 2003.

Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace.
—Washington, D.C., July 25, 2003.

I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.
—aboard AirForce One, June 4 2003

You’re free. And freedom is beautiful. And, you know, it’ll take time to restore chaos and order….
—responding to a reporter who asked what Bush’s message to the Iraqi people was, Washington, DC, April 13, 2003

I’m the person who gets to decide, not you.
—reacting to a reporter’s statement in the lead-in to his question that “we’re headed to war in Iraq,” Crawford, TX, December 31, 2002.

One of the problems we have is that enough people can’t find work in America.
—Bentonville, AR, November 4, 2002.

You need to listen carefully to the debates that goes on in our nation’s capital. You see, some of them are—goes on with people trying to get to the nation’s capital. Some of them, they talk about the government’s money.
—Manchester, NH, October 5, 2002.

We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.
—Trenton, NJ, September 23, 2002.

…[T]here is a value system that cannot be compromised, and that is the values that we praise. And if the values are good enough for our people, they ought to be good enough for others, not in a way to impose because these are God-given values. These aren’t United States-created values. These are values of freedom and the human condition and mothers loving their children.
—interviewed by Bob Woodward, Crawford, TX, August 20, 2002.

I’m the commander—see, I don’t need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.
—interviewed by Bob Woodward, Crawford, TX, August 20, 2002

I read the report put out by the bureaucracy.
—referring to his own Environmental Protection Agency report to the United Nations on global warming, June 4, 2002.

We hold dear what our Declaration of Independence says, that all have got uninalienable rights….
—addressing community and religious leaders in Moscow, May 24, 2002.

Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are the power plants, which send tons of admissions into our air.
—Wilmington, NY, April 22, 2002 (Earth Day).

Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of “Hop on Pop.”
—Penn. State University, April 2, 2002.

But there needs to be a focused, coalition effort in the region against peace.
—discussing the Middle East, Crawford, TX, March 30, 2002.

I don’t intend to read it all.
—referring to the education bill he had just signed, Hamilton, OH, January 8, 2002.

This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way. We’re making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end.
—Washington, DC, April 10, 2001

They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it’s some kind of federal program.
—St. Charles, Missouri, November 2, 2000

After all, religion has been around a lot longer than Darwinism.
—reported in George Magazine, September, 2000

It’s almost sad the way Bush can accidentally speak honestly. If he really knows the subjects he’s covering, you would think he would make far fewer mistakes. Unfortunately he often comes across as unprepared and uninformed. If Rove truly is his puppet master, why is Rove so (grudgingly at times, for sure) respected?

I wouldn’t want to spend even one moment in Bush’s head. I’m sure doing so would drive me insane. I feel he’s warned us for years not to take him seriously but too many still do. Why? On what planet would a buffoon like him be elected president twice?

Select quotes borrowed from The Dubya Report collection which has many more for our (amusements?).

Once We Understand Mercury…

MESSENGER is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury, the least explored terrestrial planet. Understanding Mercury and how it was formed is essential to understanding the other terrestrial planets and their evolution. Mercury has been visited by only one other spacecraft, Mariner 10, so we know little more than its average density (the second greatest of all the planets), the composition of its atmosphere (thinnest of the terrestrial planets), the fact that it posses a global magnetic field, and its extreme variations in temperature. MESSENGER will serve to lift some of the uncertainty about this innermost planet of our solar system.

Here’s a cool time-lapse movie of the Earth as seen from Mercury-bound Messenger during it’s recent gravity assist swing-by.

Also Accessed Here

Mercury is Messenger’s destination mostly because NASA needed a foreign point to fly to in order to show us that the earth is, in fact, round.

I think I saw my house!

Comprising 358 frames taken over 24 hours, the movie follows Earth through one complete rotation. The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth – farther than the Moon’s orbit – when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.

Messenger will approach the planet in early 2011 and proceed to make 3 flybys. These flybys will allow refined experiments to be designed and implemented, as it were, on the fly. It will settle in to Mercury’s orbit and carry out extensive measurements for one full Earth year.

A Nation Poised To Grieve

Katrina is a catastrophe in both natural terms and emergency response terms but there might yet be another way to mark the event as scandalous: The dignity of the dead and their rights to be duly counted. Remember, this is the administration that prohibits news coverage of coffins returning from Iraq.

Col. Terry Ebbert, New Orleans homeland security chief (and someone who likely deserves much of the blame game’s pointed fingers) spoke of the fear that as many as 10,000 may be dead and for the moment seemed to doubt it:

“Some of the catastrophic deaths that some people predicted may not have occurred… Numbers so far are relatively minor as compared to the dire projections of 10,000.”

Ebbert said the search for the dead will be done systematically, block-by-block, with dignity and with no news media allowed to follow along. “You can imagine sitting in Houston and watching somebody removed from your parents’ property. We don’t think that’s proper,” he said.

I’ve had this fear from the moment reporters started asking for estimates of the dead; the fear is that the toll will be misrepresented by homeland security and the administration. Mostly because I realize that a number in the thousands, much less ten thousand, will guarantee greater instances of blame and recrimination.

These people did not die noble deaths like the 9/11 victims and their fates will not inspire a retaliatory invasion of a foreign nation (but then neither did 9/11). These people did not evacuate like they should have. In reality they are embarrassments for too many in authority and antithetic to an administration seeking good news from Iraq and the economy. A memo from Michael Brown to FEMA employees before they arrived charged them to “convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public.“ It’s too late for that now but is this a foreshadowing of the “good news” to come?

Lack of preparedness for a major hurricane, subsequent levee breaks and several days taken before rescue operations began has done little to convey positive images. Thousands upon thousands dead will do even less to inspire positive responses and forgiveness from a nation poised to grieve. The area hurricane Katrina devastated was huge. It will be amazing that only a few hundred died but something tells me the toll will be correspondingly low.

I hope I’m wrong and that each fatality will be counted with cause and time of death documented and disseminated, but who can we trust to see it through?

Someone fears the toll from Katrina.



From The Obvious To The Obvious

From “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center” to “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees” the Bush administration is showing remarkable ability to miss everything between easy clues and outright revelations.

Are they really this unimaginative? This stupid? Unlikely!

In both cases they were given sufficient warnings like:

The federal government should consider aviation security as a national security issue, and provide substantial funding for capital improvements. The Commission believes that terrorist attacks on civilian aviation are directed towards the United States, and that there should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that they pose.”
Gore Commission final report, February 12, 1997

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project—$10.4 million, down from $36.5 million—was not enough to start any new jobs.

There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:

“That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.”

The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006. But now it’s too late.

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, “The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana’s coast, only to be opposed by the White House. … In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana’s chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need.”

Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, “the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be.”

Earlier I made a comment to the effect that looters were basically saying, “What can I steal for myself during this tragedy” and I wanted to clarify the presumption that they were acting like criminals. Stealing medicine, food and clothing in order to survive is understandable. Yet from the beginning I noticed videos of looters taking other things.

Law enforcement efforts to contain the emergency left by Katrina slipped into chaos in parts of New Orleans Tuesday with some police officers and firefighters joining looters in picking stores clean.

At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.
While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.

Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat-screen television.

Officers claimed there was nothing they could do to contain the anarchy, saying their radio communications have broken down and they had no direction from commanders. . . .

Inside the store, one woman was stocking up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up their own carts.

“It must be legal,” she said. “The police are here taking stuff, too.”

While these rubes were having the shopping experiences of their lives, others were drowning. How many could have been saved if the looters were concentrating on saving lives instead of portraying contestants in an un-filmed episode of “Supermarket Sweep“?

If these are examples of what society will resort to when laws cannot be enforced, it is shameful. I cannot imagine being in a situation where jewelry or a clothes dryer would be so easy to steal but I hope that I would pass the opportunities by. Someone’s insurance may cover it but the principle is what counts. You don’t act like that during a situation like this one. Not if you’re a decent human being.


“Oh No He Di’ent?” And Other Responses We’re Sure To Hear Next

The man who brought you rap for Jesus (“Jesus Walks”), Kanye West, went on record yesterday in support of gays during an MTV interview and that’s got to be a good thing overall but I couldn’t help but laugh during one part of the story. (I’m sorry but “yo” is as silly an expression as “yea” to me and very nearly as silly as “behold”, but you probably would’ve had to have been there.)

Realizing that “gay” has become an antonym to hip-hop, West contended that hip-hop has always been about “speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.” He proceeded to clarify: “Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.’”

Certainly the term “gay” has come to represent any thing that isn’t hip and it is one of my least favorite popular expressions (I literally cringe when I hear someone use it.) It is a glib, pedantic, chronically over-used term and I am in total agreement concerning its negative effects on a hip-hopping-abbreviated-expression-seeking generation. Using the term “gay” in the pejorative sense is just another way to show what little command of the language you can achieve, and must only be appealing to small-minded, barely-motivated faddist followers. If your expression skills still are primitive, chances are you’ll find pleasure in rating something as “gay” but you’ll seem childish to me for doing so. As much as I hate to do this I must say that it is gay to use the term “gay”, okay? As desperate as that was, I needed to get my opinion across. Capeesh?

West says that when he was young, people would call him a “mama’s boy.”

That’s certainly the quickest and one of the most brutal ways to discover how hurtful labels can be. Though why do we need to experience repressions first-hand before we accept that they are wrong? Can we not use our imaginations?

“And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, ‘cause it’s like I would go back and question myself,” West says on the show, “All Eyes on Kanye West,” set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET)

According to West, he changed when he learned he had a gay cousin.

“It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I’ve been discriminating against gays.’”

Sadly it has become cool to say something is “gay” and there’s a reason for that. When you have no respect for something you have no regret for reducing it to a one syllable put-down. Others consider your rash assessment and too often find it succinct and enviable. Soon all of your friends are saying “gay” this and “gay” that and if someone hears it who happens to be gay, mores the pity. Eventually they’ll get the message that everything “gay” is, by definition, bad. Everything! Even gay sympathizers must stop and wonder, for once and all, if their reasoning abilities are reprobate.

We help to popularize slang-terms and use them to communicate complex opinions and positions, as if any of them could ever prove adequate. One isn’t likely to seem articulate for offering mono-syllabic grunts of derision for the things s/he despises. Yet the myriad of feelings and fears we carry onward are each, all too often, summed up for us with that one cretinous epithet “gay” and it isn’t nearly good enough for any of the purposes it serves.

Props to Kanye for having the courage to take a stand, even when that stand could then take away from his ends.


Introducing “THE SCENE”

I found something interesting last night and just wanted to share it. It’s a net-only available show called THE SCENE, a fictional story that concerns the lives of several bootleggers and members of one of the most powerful ripping groups in the business. The files they provide, used to create DVDs and CDs of movies and music, are made available quickly (to beat the competition, otherwise their efforts are next to useless) and though this is a scripted account of the peer to peer world and the often shady characters who build it, it feels like an expose. What they do is illegal yet someone has to provide you that cheap copy of Episode 3-Revenge of the Sith or The Incredibles. THE SCENE depicts how it happens.

Created by jun group entertainment, a fresh episode debuts about every 3 weeks and 11 episodes are now online so there’s plenty to catch up on. All episodes of THE SCENE have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in over 70 countries around the world, and this is only the first of several planned shows, all intended to be free for downloading. Each episode is approximately 20 minutes long and several links are made available to procure each one. All totally free!

If you’ve ever wondered how the underground world of piracy works, this is your chance to see it from the inside. Well, just like you’re seeing it from the real inside.


Look at me! I’m so hot. I’m the shizznit.
Look at me! I’m cheeky, sassy, brassy and disdainful. Look, look, look at me!

I’m sniffy, snippy, snooty and snotty. Look at me!

Ha ha, I am seriously all that.

I’m biggity, spunky, a saucy monkey: A know-it-all who’s genial. I’m indomitable and lovable and full of myself. Wouldn’t you be? Look at my smile! Look at the confidence I exude. Look at me!

LOOK AT ME TONIGHT ON TV!!! Look, look, look at me!

He’s A Real “Down To Earth” Kind Of Guy

I know it’s Les’ and not my usual post subject (I’m actually still trying to figure out what my usual post subjects are) but I wanted to pass on this recent Jesus sighting. It’s a Google map of his image or at least it seems to be an actual result of light and shadow and not a photo-shopped piece.

Peruvian Sand Dune Photo

And here’s a close up of the same image.

It just goes to show that if Google can’t find Jesus for you, he can’t be found at all.

Thanks For Coming Out Of The Closet

It isn’t easy, I know. We’re a tiny segment of the population and even if we number greater than it seems, it’s difficult to know how many of us there truly are because too many are happier remaining uncounted and lack the boldness to admit what they are.

That you had the courage to be counted speaks volumes of your valor and daringness.

We are not so different than they are. We seek meaning in our lives too. We strive to be perceived as morally sound and ethically correct. They speak of our unnatural practices but we know they have scores of their own. They have tortured us throughout history because they believed our ideals and passions differed from theirs. We have constantly been branded as abominations and they have always supposed that we are against regularity and normalcy; defiant of the natural order intended for the world. In truth we are the same as they, or at least equally valid.

It’s true that some of us have a wild streak which is manifested in higher than average rates of co-mingling. We like to think that we are adventurous and broadly accepting. We pride ourselves on being knowledgeable conversationalists and often treat others with more courtesy than they afford us. We constantly willingly engage in discussions concerning the lifestyle and the last thing we each hope is that this differing viewpoint is mysterious. In fact, most of us don’t even consider it a style of life. We simply are the way we are; no labels or apologies should be necessary.

Because of the misperceptions we’re saddled with, it is extremely important that we fight this immense and repressive ignorance with honesty and pride. Life isn’t as easy as it should be when you’re an atheist, but you’re a better person for admitting it.