Go Find Havoc

Havoc the Dog

The gist of this article is, some poor lady is trying to find her missing dog and a bunch of people are being self-important dicks about it.

Being thorough and organized will get you nothing but grief in a world where people just don't give a shit about anything. If you are so dead-set on making the posters for the missing dog go away, go find the missing dog or shut the hell up.

There are some things that are, in fact, annoying. Clutter is annoying. But someone else's pain should be accommodated and handled with a little more sympathy.

There's Got to be Some Downside to Having a Woman President, Right?

The reason why we can't have nice things? It's all Obama's fault and so on and so forth.

Bill O'Reilly has given us another classic quote for the ages. His assertion that there HAS to be a downside to have a woman serve as the President is just a preview of how insane this country is going to become when a woman actually does start running for President. Oh, wait. We've already seen how that played out.

The country will become crazy, and maybe that's what we need. Maybe we need more of these unethical commentators to throw out insane opinions and rant and rave in public like this. Maybe we need to reinforce the tribal and cultural differences between us all by spewing bullshit every day and every night like it's actual information. I hope that enough old people can hold on just long enough to see their whole world crumble again, just like it did when Mitt Romney shambled off with one slipper, confused and beaten by that black man in the White House.

O'Reilly has entered Peggy Noonan territory. Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

The Northern Lights in Great Britain

Now the Northern Lights are showing up ONLY in foreign countries. Thanks Obama!

The Republican Party is Run by Crazy People

How do you do things like this and not see a backlash from the voters? This is insane.

A Democratic bill designed to make numerous improvements to services for veterans failed in the Senate Thursday, a victim of the partisan gridlock and election-year acrimony that dominates the chamber.

On a largely party-line vote, 56 to 41, the measure didn’t the 60 votes it needed to clear a procedural hurdle.

Republicans inserted an amendment into the bill that had nothing to do with Veteran's benefits. They wanted to tack on legislation related to sanctions against Iran. And if that sounds like foaming-at-the-mouth crazy, that's because it is. When it comes to legislation designed to alleviate the suffering of Americans, the Republican Party will stop at nothing to derail legislation and run a knife into the ribs of the American people.

What's in the bill?

The $21 billion bill, which was written primarily by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who chairs the veterans committee, would improve veterans’ access to health care services, and expand educational and job training programs for vets. It also aims to reduce the giant claims backlog the Department of Veterans Affairs currently faces. 

Sanders argued that “we still have a very long way to go” to meet the needs of older veterans as well as the thousands of service members recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. “

“Please do not inject extraneous issues in here for totally political reasons. I think that’s unfair to American’s veterans,” Sanders said during a floor speech this week. “Let’s not kill this bill because of the same ol’, same ol’ partisan issues that we face.”

Just fucking crazy. That's all they are. Just fucking crazy.

Keith Olbermann is Still Gainfully Employed

The substance of this article doesn't surprise me at all. Keith Olbermann still has a job? Really?

That's the shocking part. Good for him. I hope he's having fun and I hope the ratings are good. He is too talented to be on cable, though. Forget Jay Leno--put Olbermann on late at night. How bad could it be?

Abstract Number Eight January 2014

This is the last of the January abstract paintings.

Suede The Wild Ones EP Cover

The single or EP cover for Suede's The Wild Ones single is a study in texture and composition. It is remarkably well done and suits the song and the attitude of the band perfectly.

The Embarrassment That Is Thomas Friedman

How is it that this even made it past an editor? Does Thomas Friedman even submit his work to an editor anymore? How embarrassing:

With Russia growling over the downfall of its ally running Ukraine and still protecting its murderous ally running Syria, there is much talk that we’re returning to the Cold War — and that the Obama team is not up to defending our interests or friends. I beg to differ. I don’t think the Cold War is back; today’s geopolitics are actually so much more interesting than that. And I also don’t think President Obama’s caution is entirely misplaced.

The Cold War was a unique event that pitted two global ideologies, two global superpowers, each with globe-spanning nuclear arsenals and broad alliances behind them. Indeed, the world was divided into a chessboard of red and black, and who controlled each square mattered to each side’s sense of security, well-being and power. It was also a zero-sum game, in which every gain for the Soviet Union and its allies was a loss for the West and NATO, and vice versa.

That game is over. We won. What we have today is the combination of an older game and a newer game. The biggest geopolitical divide in the world today “is between those countries who want their states to be powerful and those countries who want their people to be prosperous,” argues Michael Mandelbaum, professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins.

You are not going to read three lazier paragraphs than that on a major newspaper's editorial page. 

In the first paragraph, Friedman falls over the phrase "there is much talk" and doesn't identify the source of the talk. In almost every single case, it is the talk of neoconservatives who constantly bray for war. We'd be in five wars right now if it wasn't for the fact that we have a President who ignores a lot of this "talk" and concentrates on creating stable relations and not starting new wars. In the second paragraph, we are treated to a simplistic version of History 101. And, in the third, Friedman phones it in because he can't be bothered to make a more trite statement about basic human ambition than the professor.

If Russia sends troops into Ukraine, there's almost nothing that anyone can do. Ukraine is within the sphere of influence of Russia and an introduction of troops would challenge the nationalism inherent in everything Vladimir Putin does. Friedman sucks his thumb and tries to balance the crazy talk against pragmatism. The only leverage anyone has is with money and the Russians are calculating the costs of sending troops into Kiev in order to restore a friendly government.

How the New York Times ends up paying Friedman for his analysis is the question of the age. What is the value of an opinion so childlike and obvious? Is it the substance or is it simply about a brand that is practically worthless to anyone who can think rationally?

Abstract Number Seven January 2014

How Does Jonathan Martin Come Back to Football?

I have a hard time seeing how this can work:
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said during a conference call Tuesday he expects to meet with offensive tackle Jonathan Martin soon.
The two originally were supposed to meet in November but the league and Martin’s lawyer quickly decided that wasn’t the correct course of action because the league was still conducting their investigation on Martin, the Dolphins workplace and fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito following Martin allegedly being bullied by Incognito.
“I was precluded from talking to him while the investigation was going on,” Ross said, via Yahoo! Sports. “Now that we got the report, the lawyers are trying to arrange the meeting, which should take place relatively soon, I believe.”
Martin has said he wants to return to the football field next year, and he is still under contract with the Dolphins.
Martin can't set foot in the Dolphins locker room unless and until everyone and everything associated with Richie Incognito is blown out the back door with a pressure washer. And that might not be a bad thing--invalidate contracts, ask the NFL for draft or salary cap assistance, and put on a brave face in light of all the bad publicity. How is it that Ross hasn't already done this and started looking to all of the avenues available to him as far as rebuilding his team?

My question is--can Martin handle the NFL anymore?

Thirty Million Dollars for a Townhome

Zillow says that this townhome is being sold for $30,500,000 and that your estimated mortgage on this house would be about $118,000 a month.

As much as I 'd like an end unit, no thanks, Zillow. No thanks.

Start Your Own Company and Rip Yourself Off

I am wholly sympathetic with the idea that artists are being ripped off and that 21st Century technology companies like Spotify and Pandora and whoever else are simply run by a more bloodthirsty version of the people who used to run record companies, but there's something equal parts ridiculous in holding a concert (which some jackass is going to bootleg and give away free) and complaining about something no one cares about.

Fans are the problem now, and artists don't want to say that. They can't say it. But fans who go to Wal-Mart or Amazon.com and buy music or stream what they like and then do nothing to support artists are what's driving the real destruction of music as an actual business. Fans have to pay attention and get smarter. Fans have to use things like Bandcamp and Kickstarter and things like that to directly support artists who create and sell music. Going to shows--that's great. You gotta go to shows, too. But you also have to hit the legit stands and buy stuff that benefits the artist.

I laughed when I saw Mike Mills on this list, by the way. Apparently, he isn't signed to a big label anymore. If so, props to him, but none of the companies actually making money are paying attention. They won't until artists figure out that they need to start their own big company, rip themselves off, and put those fuckers out of business. This is what the lean times look like. Nobody with an actual deal making money is ever going to protest against Spotify or complain that artists are being ripped off. This is a cutthroat world and the only ones still happy are holding an acre of money behind their back.

Abstract Number Six January 2014

Abstract Number Five January 2014

The Fatwa Against Going to Mars

Even though Islam has no central authority, someone is going to take this the wrong way:

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- The Oscar-nominated film "Gravity" traces the harrowing tale of astronaut Ryan Stone after a mission goes horribly wrong. She's lost in space and struggles to try to make her way back to Earth.

"Gravity" is just a film. Imagine a similar real-life scenario: Would there be any chance of survival?

That's a concern for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments, or GAIAE, the United Arab Emirates' religious watchdog, for anyone who wishes to travel to Mars. The GAIAE has issued a fatwa, or an official Islamic ruling, to warn Muslims against a Mars mission.

So far, the UAE has supported space travel. Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments teamed up with Richard Branson's Virgin group to create Virgin Galactic to provide spaceflights for tourists, starting this year. But a mission to Mars, it seems, is one step too far.

Religion should not have anything to do with who goes to Mars and whether or not they will be punished for following their dreams. My opinion is that there won't be any actual "one way" trips to Mars because people will get there and, once bored, will suddenly pine for home and plead for a "rescue mission." The general consensus will be, "let's go get the poor sucker who didn't know what he or she was in for." And then, a trillion dollars later, some confused person will breathlessly tell us what it was like to go on a one-way trip to Mars and come back.

Or something stupid like that.

1,300 Samples

Popular music is chiefly about disguising theft. Hiding who you stole what from is how an artist can thrive in the music business.

Sampling used to be a big issue in music but it has all but disappeared because artists developed a great deal of sophistication about how to steal something without being caught or held legally accountable. Lawsuits and negative articles and bad reviews used to accompany the sampling artist on the road to infamy. Now they just tweak it a bit and change the tone and get away with it. Perhaps that's why everything sounds horrible all the time.

We Have Abandoned Europe and Korea

I have no idea what Michael Densch is saying here:

But there is significant U.S. Army presence in Europe and Korea. If we had to choose, we could more safely draw down further on the continent than we could on the Korean Peninsula. Aside from a possible land war in Korea, most of our strategic pivot to Asia is in response to possible Chinese naval challenges which do not require much ground power.

Significant? Really?

We were forced to gut those forces in 2006 in order to support the Iraq War. We pulled thousands of men and women out of Europe and out of Korea in order to deploy their brigades to Iraq, and we did it again and again and again. In effect, we abandoned any pretense of defending these places and now our military budgets will rely on air superiority and deterrence.

Now, all is not lost. We have a lot of support personnel in those places now, not so many trigger pullers in either Germany or Korea. I have driven through the empty Army posts of Germany--Heidelberg is closed, Mannheim is closed, and Baumholder, which used to house numerous units is a ghost town. Everywhere you went in Germany, everything was being scaled back and reduced in order to deal with cuts and reductions.

Baumholder, Germany. A single U.S. Army convoy is staged among numerous abandoned buildings and parking lots.

The cuts proposed by Secretary Hagel are just deep enough to trigger a backlash from Congress. This is how it is supposed to be--the Congress will determine how big the force will be, not the Secretary of Defense. This is a necessary fight. The fact that Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina all have relatively weak Senate delegations is significant. Which do you think will go first? Fort Drum or Fort Gordon?

The military will not be stronger after these cuts are carried out. Force reduction never results in better quality. Good troops will be forced out, bad ones will stay in, training will become a joke, and we'll be left with a hollowed out force. Experienced combat Veterans will disappear from the ranks, forced out by zero-defect bean counters. The next war will catch us asleep at the wheel, and there won't even be wheels left. I remember hundreds and hundreds of old vehicles with dry-rot tires and shot transmissions, parked end to end in perfect order and all but abandoned. There will be fat times for contractors who are dedicated to the removal of outdated military equipment.

I believe that the Air Force will do quite well in the next few budget cycles. Deterrent weapons will come back into favor because we won't have a land army to fight with anymore. Maybe we should pour some money back into NASA as well. 

How Could You Ruin a Band No One Cares About?

Neutral Milk Hotel

You cannot make fun of this. It makes fun of itself.

The fundamental mystery of Jeff Mangum himself, both of what kind of guy he must’ve been to make the album and where he’s gone in the 15 or so years since, has never been separate from my identification with and custodianship of his artifact.

Over the years, I’ve conjured him as both an ever-present astral guide and a total nonentity, some archaic force that was never a real person. He is not, simply put, someone I thought I’d ever see live. Indeed, he’s someone I’d understood precisely in terms of never seeing live, of existing only in sound, as much so as Nick Drake, if not for quite the same reasons.

So seeing him at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, surrounded by a ragtag cohort of devoted sidemen and -women, ranging in age from what looked like 16 to about 75, amounted to the reverse of the “Santa isn’t real” trauma. It was beyond weird; it was grotesque to see this man embodied in a room with all of us, subject to the same conditions we were. I imagined him eating dinner and taking a shit backstage, or someone shooting him or a light falling on his head.

He came out in a baggy multicolor sweater, green military cap and long grey hair and beard, wearing the aura of his absence and sudden reappearance well, somewhere between a sage and a lunatic. When he launched into “Two-Headed Boy,” with no opening remarks, thousands of rapt voices sang along, announcing the fruition of some hipster birthright. I doubt there was anyone in that crowd – a magnified version of the crowd dancing on the table at those college parties – who didn’t know every song by heart. Our voices became both a celebratory chant and a sad wail, the sound of us freeing a ghost we’d cherished all through our teens and twenties.

As one song followed another, each as masterfully performed as the last and no piece of the canon left out, the concert became the ritual of us ceding back to Jeff what we’d allowed ourselves to believe was ours. I left feeling lightened, like part of my personality was gone, and I wondered how much was left.

I mean, how do you mock this? You can't. It is so miserable and self-unaware as to be ridiculous on purpose entirely for the purpose of deliberately trolling everyone.

Neutral Milk Hotel was a thing? Really? I still don't believe it.

CNN is a Badly Mismanaged Media Outlet

First of all, Larry King was never really good at being on television. He was, when he was in radio, one of the best radio talk show hosts in America, practically owning late night and well within his limits in that medium. On television, he was adequate but never incisive. He never asked the question you wanted to have answered and he fawned over guests that should have been handled by a better interviewer. CNN should have replaced him a full decade ago.

Piers Morgan is a newspaperman from England--which is eerily similar to being a fox assigned to make sure the hens are completely safe and accounted for in a tawdry henhouse. To be a newspaperman from the British Isles is to be wholly without ethics or accountability, and that describes Morgan perfectly. He was entirely out of his element on American television.

That's why Morgan is eminently qualified to be the editor of the National Enquirer and not much else. This is not about Americans rejecting a pompous Brit--we love the Brits when they're pompous and we embrace the good ones for decades. Morgan simply should not be on television. He needs to go home and admit that he was a phone hacking, ethically-challenged pseudo-journalist and beg the British people to let him be a weekend presenter on a channel no one watches.

His opinions really didn't matter. No one is expecting to tune in and see an incisive debate on American gun control anyway. Why would you tune into an opinion show on CNN and expect a hard right wing viewpoint every night? This did not sink him. His intelligence did not work against him. His inability to become a television news channel broadcaster doomed him.

CNN made a terrible choice in hiring him. They made an ever worse choice in waiting to see if he would catch on. The entire management team at CNN is exactly who you'd want running a money-losing fiasco.

Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Harold Ramis was an exceptionally talented actor and director.

Alec Baldwin Has No Idea What a Jackass He Really Is

Let me just put this out there--being a liberal does not mean Alec Baldwin gets a pass for being remarkably bigoted and ignorant. He actually wrote this:

I met with Nick and others from two LGBT organizations. We talked for a while about the torment of the LGBT life many of them have lived while growing up in traditional Hawaiian families. Macho fathers. Religious mothers. We talked a lot about words and their power, especially in the lives of young people.

One young man, an F-to-M tranny, said, “Are you here to get dry-cleaned, like Brett Ratner?” Meaning I could do some mea culpa, write them a six-figure check, go to a dinner, sob at the table, give a heartfelt speech, beg for forgiveness. I thought to myself: Beg for forgiveness for something I didn’t do?

I said, “No. I don’t want to get dry-cleaned. I don’t want to be decontaminated by you, Karen Silkwood–wise, scrubbed down. I want to learn about what is hurtful speech in your community. I want to participate in some programs about that. Or underwrite one. And then, like you, I just want to be left alone.” [emphasis, mine]

So, if you're trying to demonstrate how you're not bigoted, why would you insert the phrase "an F-to-M tranny" into your description of someone who works on behalf of gay rights? Why would you use the term "tranny" like that? Labels used like that are designed to belittle and demean people. It doesn't matter if the person was born a woman and now lives as a man--their dignity is more important than calling them a wink-wink tranny.

Alec Baldwin does not understand the culture and lives in the past. He doesn't understand the terms he applies to people as he looks down on everyone else in disgust for clearly identifying him as a bigot.

The sooner he makes good on his promise to leave public life the better. Let the assclown go.

Abstract Number Four January 2014

Abstract Number Three January 2014

This is abstract painting number three for the January, 2014 series. The sparkly stuff is not glitter; it's some additive in the paint that shows through.

The Rule of Law Returns to Ukraine

Yulia Tymoshenko, once known as the Gas Princess and the President of Ukraine, has been allowed to leave prison alive and return to Kiev. I don't know if she has a chance at being re-elected--or restored--to power, but the woman who best exemplifies a gentler form of corruption in that part of the world was able to bring some semblance of victory to the efforts to throw Viktor Yanukovych out on his ass.

With the world watching the Olympics in Sochi, this has to blow the mind of one Vladimir Putin.  President Obama should send John Kerry and a billion dollars to this woman and make plans to host a state dinner in her honor in the White House. By then, she will have dyed her hair back to completely blonde and she will be ready for the world stage again.

Long Overdue

Melvin Morris deserves to be honored with the Medal of Honor. His actions warranted the medal that he didn't get and this review is long overdue.

Not Everyone Can Render the Proper Respect

Don't hit the play button; the video is not embedded here.

The Wisconsin National Guard needs a new team of soldiers to render honors at military funerals.

Apparently, some young female Specialist with a social media account decided to play around with photos and images and act in a disrespectful manner. Her company commander is more than equipped to deal with this, and she should join everyone in the photo above in finding other duties. They should not be allowed to perform any more ceremonies because they don't have the common sense to understand that, when you pose like this, it makes the military look bad.

Ceremonial teams practice with empty caskets and that's what you see above. They screw around to relieve the tension or the boredom of doing the same thing over and over again. They practice the funeral ceremony until an NCO tells them they have practiced enough. This is not a major scandal; it's a dumb one. What's different now is that everyone carries a phone that can snap photos or videos that can go online. This means that all of the stupid things we used to do years ago remain lost to the ages because there are no photos; everything these clowns are doing is recorded, archived, digitized, and stored forever.

Somewhere, out there in Wisconsin, is a soldier with enough common sense not to be in the picture you see above. Let that soldier render the honors and let the rest find something else to do.

Bonehead Live

Now, this is a reason to let them put pictures on Twitter.

Are You Dumber Than Andrea Peyser?

Have you heard? Al Gore is fat.

Andrea Peyser is convinced that because it has been cold, there is no global warming.

Forget about trying to explain how climate change has nothing to do with whether or not the weather is unpleasant right now--you just cannot get past the fact that some people are stupid on purpose. If the climate all over the globe has been thrown for a loop and if things have begun to fundamentally shift in varying directions, then the data would seem to indicate the climate is changing. The permafrost in Alaska is melting and the glaciers in Europe are disappearing. This was the summer to be in Greenland. Oh, and the jet stream shifted, making the world's climate shift with it.

Why any of this is about Al Gore is beyond me. There really is no debate--it's well past time to start thinking about alternatives to turning the planet into a greenhouse where everything begins to shift and change in response to human activity.

Peyser is proof you can get a job in the media--at America's most ridiculous newspaper, The New York Post--and know nothing at all.

Team of Rivals is Not a Good Book

Whenever I see a list like this, I know there's going to be disappointment.

The inclusion of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is annoying. She is a celebrity historian with a history of getting away with plagiarism, and her work is fairly known to be tainted and lacking of academic credibility. If you flip to her bibliography, read those books instead.

I've never accepted her thesis about Lincoln having a team of rivals. Lincoln was weak politically and these were the men he drew into his fold in order to marginalize them. He used this strategy to get himself re-elected and accepted their counsel only when it conformed to his own needs. Lincoln was an intellectual who pretended to be less intelligent and sophisticated than he actually was in order to disarm his opponents and allow himself to drive his own agenda.

Goodwin worships at the altar of bipartisanship and the need for our political leaders to make deals with their opponents. This is what we called High Broderism in response to the many columns that the late David Broder would write about Democrats who just couldn't kneel before Republicans and beg for mercy (no one ever accuses a Republican of not being "bipartisan" enough because they're being "principled" instead of pragmatic).

Lincoln's 'team of rivals' were venal and corrupt men who did their level best to lose the Civil War. Their policies sentenced hundreds of thousands of men to death because of their incompetence. This was not a magic team of A-listers who helped save a country. The country wasn't saved by anything other than the fact that there were more boys in Blue from the Northeast and the Midwest who could walk long distances and not run away when shot at. They outlasted their opponents. The 100,000 southern men who deserted the Confederate Army had more of an impact on the direction of the war than anything decided in the White House. The war was not won with bipartisanship and friendly table banter between Salmon Chase and Edwin Stanton. It was won because there were more men on one side who carried rifles and stood where they were told.

The Art of Runic Cipher

Kiss me.

That's what one Viking said to another, in code, with runes. And, in the process of figuring all of this out, we find a universal truth in communication and in human interaction--nothing changes. Simple emotions and sentimental ideas worked a thousand years ago and they work today.

The Jötunvillur code is actually fairly easy to understand. The complexity comes from not having a complete picture of how to break it out:

It's a substitution code that can be easily broken if you know the sounds of the letters. This is one of the most common ciphers, and it's not uncommon to find these forms of communication in old or ancient texts. I think what made it difficult to break was the fact that we don't converse in the language anymore.

Do Not Speak of the Dead

Never speak of the dead with someone who didn't bring it up in the first place.

In the case of American athlete Bode Miller--who qualifies more as a brand than anything else because of how long he has been competing in the Winter Olympics--it is wrong to press him and force him to speak of his dead family member. If Miller were to bring up the subject, it's fine to ask him questions about it but only in the context of what he has mentioned.

American media outlets are shameless and staffed by idiots. A producer should have cut away or brought Christin Cooper back onto the subject without causing Miller additional grief.

I get that NBC is probably not making as much money on the Olympics as someone hoped, but, come on. Quit trying to manufacture stories.

Lady Gaga and the Slow Loris

If you're like me, there are two things that caused me to panic about this article.

One, what's a slow loris and how do I avoid it? This is a slow loris.

Two, why is anyone still making music videos? I don't get that, either.

Curling is Easy to Understand

Each and every time they hold an Olympics, we are treated to the humiliation that the sport of curling must undergo because it is one of the easiest things in the world to make fun of.

Curling is a real Olympic sport. Men and women use heavy stones that are pushed and released on ice. Two team members help guide the stone with fancy brooms. The object is to politely destroy your opponent. It's like every other sport except that it's very polite and does not really require a referee.

See you again in four years.


This was not Snowmageddon. This was a lot of snow that fell on us and inconvenienced us but not much more than that.

What you're looking at is a picture snapped while on a long walk. It clearly shows that the second round--the five and a half inches--that fell after we got fourteen inches fell so hard and so fast that it overwhelmed the trees. Lots of them lost branches last night. The forest has been culled.

More on the way? So what. A week from today, they tell me it will be sixty-one degrees.

That Man Should Write a Book

I believe that I have already said this, but John Lydon is the sort of fellow who should write books.

Tom Perkins is Trolling Everyone

The people who founded this country never intended for most Americans to have the vote. Tom Perkins is aligning himself directly with the Founding Fathers; he's the most Tea Party-ish dude since there was a Tea Party. All he needs is a tri-corner hat and a wig and some breeches.

Of course, as America evolved into a country where people could get a fair shake and own something and have a voice in how they were governed, people like Perkins felt that we had gone too far. His proposal, to use wealth as a means of influencing voting, is inherently racist. Racist to the point where the people who give him a forum to speak are complicit in allowing a man who should be mature enough to know better that all he is doing is trolling the country and advancing ideas so reprehensible that they and he should be mocked and humiliated. It is an outgrowth of the idea that people should pay a poll tax or be driven screaming from their homes by bands of terrorists for being the wrong sort of people.

The world of Tom Perkins will put armed guards around enclaves of the rich, and children will surround the walls and starve and die in the gutter. Throughout South America, you have these compounds. There are slums and then there are the slums where the extremely poor can look up on the hills and see the mansions of the rich. Perkins wants to turn America into a banana republic or a phony democracy and have a belly laugh at the plight of others. Our media is far too incompetent to point that out.



The Hindus An Alternative History

a particularly ridiculous man:

“YOU NOTICEE.” In strident, upper-case pidgin-legalese, the man—a belligerent Indian enemy of “westernization,” a strutting Hindu fundamentalist with a record of suppressive activism against books that “hurt the sentiments” of Hindus—addressed a legal notice to Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School (and a woman who knows more about Hinduism than the man in question could ever hope to learn in this benighted lifetime or the next).
The man, Dinanath Batra, hurled various sections of the Indian Penal Code at Prof. Doniger, accusing her of having outraged his feelings, and those of his co-religionists, in her book The Hindus, published in his country by Penguin India. His accusations, in effect, characterized the book as hate speech. About 70 times in his short legal notice , Mr. Batra intoned the hectoring phrase “YOU NOTICEE,” as he charged Ms. Doniger with being “a woman hungry of sex” (for her highlighting of the sexuality inherent in Hindu mythology), with having “a shallow knowledge of the great Hindu religion” and a “perverse mindset,” with hurting “the feelings of millions of Hindus by declaring that [the] Ramayana is a fiction,” with holding “the flag of beef eating and cow slaughter in ancient India,” and—my favorite, in which Penguin India is conjoined as “noticee”—with intending, through the book, “to cause fear and alarm among the Hindus that their religion and religious beliefs are not safe any more and can be trampled with and denigrated, distorted & insulted and hence you have intended to induce and incite them to commit offences against the State and against Public Tranquility.”

Dinanath Batra is just another Bill Donahue, in other words, and less eloquent when he pulls things out of his ass.

Doniger's book doesn't represent any kind of a threat to the appreciation for Hinduism.


Mayor Skillet

Mayor Skillet is an old short story that I wrote in 2012. For some crazy reason, people are checking it out like crazy on Amazon.

Go here and get it for free if you have a Kindle.

Sid Caesar 1922-2014

Sid Caesar is dead. He was the Charlie Chaplin of television.

A Show That Predicted Our New Reality

A decade ago, ESPN weathered the controversy over the show Playmakers. It represented ESPN's futile effort to become a real broadcast network. It was fiction--it was a piece of art, to be honest with you--that tried to give ESPN the credibility it had frittered away by showing ridiculous trash sports for years. To go from filler programming like Australian Rules Football to a scripted drama that was on par with the shows on entertainment television brought ESPN a great deal of praise.

The problem was, the praise and the ratings weren't enough to get the show renewed. It was really controversial and it broke new ground. It showed the inside-baseball stuff about football that people regularly consume on Deadspin and on a number of other websites. The NFL begged ESPN to kill it and ESPN is, if nothing else, a whore for the three major professional sports leagues and the NCAA.

People need to understand the three biggest problems that the NFL is facing right now--concussions, racism, and homophobia. These issues could come back and cause the league to collapse under the weight of endless lawsuits. Playmakers was an excellent example of how a show with artistic and commercial qualities was able to reflect this reality back at society and inform while entertaining. How many shows actually ever do that well?

What people don't get is that the younger players have moved beyond sexual orientation because they have lived in the culture as it is, not as it was. We are a long way away from the normalization of sexual identity and orientation--call me when Tom Cruise and John Travolta have their badly-needed moment of clarity and honesty. The older part of the NFL--the players who have been around for a while, the coaches and the front office personnel--still live in a world where institutionalized homophobia is how Jesus would have wanted it.

ESPN failed to see the value in being a patron of the arts instead of a splayed-out whore for a collection of billion dollar franchises. That's why I always laugh when I see comments from ESPN's ombudsman. Really? A critic on the payroll? Give me a break. ESPN will never search for its soul.

Rand Paul Forgot He Was a Republican

Senator Rand Paul is running for president as an alternative to the tired old bags of wind who have spent their careers pretending to be outraged by things no one cares about. He represents the segment of the population that twists in the wind and follows all of the latest fads.

You won't read anything more naive than this:

We are told that these intrusive and unconstitutional measures are necessary to protect us from the forces of international terrorism. We are told that a surrender of our privacy rights is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sleep safe and secure in our beds.

We reject this premise. We are committed to a safe America, but we do not accept the notion that a surveillance state is necessary to safeguard the lives and liberty of American citizens.

These assurances of the necessity to give up a little privacy for the sake of safety are made all the less convincing by the fact that, after more than seven years, the NSA has been unable to provide any evidence that the collection of telephone metadata from Americans has led to the prevention of even a single terrorist attack.

There can be no justification for the preservation of a domestic surveillance program that has utterly failed in its stated goals.

The stated goal was to protect America, and, for the last seven years, the "homeland" has been protected quite well, thank you very much. Paul knows exactly why he has to identify with that "seven" year benchmark  (Obama! Benghazi! Republican Primary Voters!) because we're really talking about a thirteen year program and not the Obama Administration alone. It was September 11, 2001 that stampeded the country towards surveillance but, really, we have been subjected to far more surveillance from the commercial world than the government world. It was due entirely to the futile efforts of Senator Russ Feingold that there even was limited scrutiny of the Patriot Act (Feingold was rewarded with electoral defeat, thank you very much), and there was virtually no fuss when the act was renewed.

Democrats who questioned the Patriot Act or the war with Iraq had their patriotism questioned again and again. Rand Paul benefits from the fact that he has virtually no Congressional record and he revels in that fact. On the big questions, he has nothing that drags him down. He does have a desire to be President. The problem is, if he was the President, he'd realize that the law is controlled by Congress and that the Executive has to defend America and accept blame for everything that happens without being able to adapt and adjust to the lawlessness of our enemies.

Paul wants you, the American people, to hate Obama for all of the surveillance that's been going on. In this effort, he aligns himself with the privacy radicals who want the focus to be on the government and not on the private companies that routinely violate the privacy of Americans for commercial gain. He simply cannot accept the idea that the Congress writes the laws and that this Congress is too dysfunctional to pass laws that will safeguard the privacy of the American people. The lack of adequate Congressional oversight caused this problem but you'll never hear that spoken out loud--they need to look at everyone who conducts surveillance, up to and including the very platform on which this is published.

You are far more likely to have your privacy abused by a traffic cop than anyone who works in the U.S. intelligence community.

Intelligence gathering is about social relationships and analyzing the importance and relevance of what is found. This is done by combining as many different disciplines as possible. We routinely take photographs of large areas of the world. Who is complaining about the voluminous amount of imagery captured every moment of every day? If your complaint is about how we are caught up in cell phone metadata collection, why are you silent about the fact that you are inevitably photographed from above when you travel overseas? Privacy extends to being free from all forms of surveillance, not just telecommunications.

Privacy advocates are eager to condemn the easiest thing in the world--no one wants to be faced with the fact that their phone has been tapped and now someone knows how stupid/racist/boring they are in real life. They don't rail against video surveillance; they don't complain about the GPS chip in their phone or the incredibly complex financial surveillance being carried out by credit card companies that track and analyze every single purchase. This is disguised as fraud prevention, but doubles as marketing research. It's impossible for a person to drive through any major American city without being tracked by speed cameras, traffic flow cameras, or security cameras.

To me, it's just another thing where people need to grow up. The only real threat that exists is if someone in law enforcement were to use surveillance information to abuse their power. We do not have anywhere near enough oversight of law enforcement because we don't have a functioning Congress. You are far more likely to have your privacy abused by a traffic cop than anyone who works in the U.S. intelligence community. A traffic cop has to meet a quota and that's why they'll harass you and prevail. An intelligence analyst has to produce a product based on whatever mission they're assigned; if they don't produce, they won't get promoted. No one is going to advance their career by writing reports about Joe Blow in Ohio and his endlessly self-absorbed conversations about why he needs a better girlfriend and a newer phone. I hate to break it to you, but you're boring; we're all boring unless we're part of an organization that is structured in such a way as to facilitate an attack on American interests.

Rand Paul wants to score points but he will develop institutional amnesia if it ever comes to pass that his Congressional efforts have thwarted the intelligence gathering apparatus of this country. If his rhetoric goes against conventional wisdom, he'll rely on the useless media establishment to help him paper over being on the wrong side of history.

Paul has no solution. He wants to condemn one specific thing so he can damage the Obama Administration and better position himself for a primary against a similar bunch of forgetful Republicans. Instead of a lawsuit, come up with a law, Senator. Put your staff to better use. Sponsor legislation to change the laws you don't like. If there is an attack on American soil, it will be Obama's fault, thanks to our confused and inept media, and that's the way it should be. Pointing out that the Congress has shamefully abandoned its responsibilities won't ever be accepted as truth.

Chasing Relevance

Radiohead are branching out into the world of games and creativity, trying to find a place where they can keep music relevant by existing in the world of apps and personal devices.

Due to the fact that music is almost completely dead and killed off, at least someone is trying to maintain a level of creative interaction with fans. If this keeps Radiohead relevant, all the better. A band cannot just put out music and live in an insular world anymore. There has to be an adaptation to the technology of the day that rivals that of any previous experience.

Kentucky Sinkholes and Fancy Cars

This is a photo of the interior of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. So far, eight vintage cars have fallen into the sinkhole that has opened up under the museum.

I've been to this museum, and what makes it special is that their exhibits are always changing because Corvette owners loan their cars to the museum. There's a tremendous amount of pride in these restored and maintained vehicles. More than a few people are hoping they were able to safely remove everyone and everything from the museum floor after this was discovered.

The New Look For NBC News is a Disaster

I was scrolling through the NBC website (on a Safari browser) and this is what nbcnews.com looked like to me.


What a disaster. Trying to make this look like Windows 8 or something out of a click bait wannabe site will probably cost someone their job. Or jobs.

Could it be possible that more than one person designed this? Holy crap. Groupthink.

Always Flatter the Elites

John Oliver made the sly mistake of thinking that there are elites who want to hear the truth. As a comedian, he has no obligations to flatter people or make them feel better--he has an obligation to do the thing that he believes is funny.

Condemning a vastly wealthy group of people who control a critical industry is gutsy enough; having the balls to walk into a room and tell them face to face is legendary. When Stephen Colbert spoke truth to power, they condemned him for it and he ended up reasonably successful and far more influential than any of the columnists who regularly embarrass themselves by regurgitating conventional wisdom day after day.

Shirley Temple and Her Reviewer, Graham Greene

Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85. She was the original child star, and she was famous forever. I mean, literally, forever. She went on to have a life that did not resemble that of your garden variety Mileys or Britneys or even your Shias and your Drake Bells. She did have one thing in common with the modern Disney Channel stars--she was an early, and wildly inappropriate, sex symbol.

Graham Greene famously had a hand in revealing why so many sweaty, nervous clergymen loved her::

In 1937 Greene was a film reviewer for Night and Day magazine. In a review of the Shirley Temple vehicle Wee Willie Winkie, he wrote: "Her admirers – middle-aged men and clergymen – respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire."

Twentieth Century Fox sued on behalf of Temple, then aged eight, on the grounds that Greene had implied she played deliberately to "a public of licentious old men, ready to enjoy the fine flavour of such an unripe, charming little creature", Cavalcanti wrote. He added: "Thanks to vigilant, quick-witted friends, Graham was warned that the Americans producing the film had introduced a writ of libel against him, meaning that not only would the backers of Night and Day pay a large fine, but he, Graham himself, faced a prison sentence. The only solution was to find a country without extradition. They chose Mexico and our poor Graham went away very quickly indeed. Very likely Shirley Temple never learned that it was partly thanks to her that, during his exile, Graham Greene wrote one of his best books."

The trial was held on 22 March 1938. Greene had left for Mexico on 29 January and did not return to Britain until May. The judge, who fined the magazine a crippling £3,500, lamented it was a shame Greene was out of the court's reach, said Cavalcanti.

Greene's career was not destroyed, but Temple's film career eventually fell apart when she got older and stopped trying to find quality material. She knew what it was like to go from world adulation to a relative normal life with children and tremendous personal accomplishments. She was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and then to Czecheslovakia and was a Republican who gained enormous benefit from being associated with California politics and Ronald Reagan.

Shirley Temple was one of the most famous people in the world during the 1930s and 40s. Fame did not destroy her.

Time to Write Poetry

If Obamacare has arrived in your life and if it has given you more leisure time, I guess you need to make the Republican Party happy and start writing poetry:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Sunday said Democrats are pushing poetry as an alternative to holding a job.

During an appearance on Fox News, he referred to the results of a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that finds millions of American workers might move away from full-time employment because of benefits offered through ObamaCare.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), say that the law allows workers to alleviate themselves from “job-lock” — staying in a job that’s otherwise unwanted or disliked, simply to collect healthcare benefits.

Media reports say Pelosi fired back at the Republican interpretation of the CBO report — that ObamaCare kills jobs — by saying the workers are now able to leave jobs to “[follow] their aspirations to be a writer; to be self-employed; to start a business.”

Gowdy honed in on the remarks, saying they are part of a larger effort to smooth over flaws with the healthcare reform law and its rollout during an election year.

“What the liberals and the Democrats want you to believe is, ‘Well, but you’ll have time to write poetry,’ ” Gowdy said. “Well, that’s great until you try and buy your grandkid a birthday present or you try and pay the heating bill.”

Robert Frost never had a problem buying farms or giving presents or teaching people how to write. Why do Republicans hate the Humanities? Why do Republicans hate Americans like Robert Frost?

When a person has more free time to begin writing poetry and living a life of leisure and art, their quality of life skyrockets (unless they have no talent, of course). No one really believes that we will see a new poet laureate emerge from the ranks of those employed solely because they couldn't otherwise afford health care but we could see a happier society based on things that make Republicans shit their pants. Well worth it, in my opinion.

Royal Hypocrisy

Morrissey continues to use the platform he was given by music to advance his agenda on social issues. And that's a good thing in my book. He could have cashed in years ago and lived a much more comfortable life. Instead, he notes the royal hypocrisy of supporting things on one hand while blowing away defenseless animals with the other.

I never mind it when Morrissey does things like this. People swoon and then ignore what Paul McCartney has to say about being a vegetarian; why is that? He has tens of millions of fans and how many of them ever stand up and say, "thanks to Paul McCartney, I'm not a meat eater anymore." How is it that one of the most famous musicians in the world can be such an advocate for something and be almost completely ignored when it comes to that issue? It's as if they have a blind eye for it as long as he plays enough Beatles songs.

Morrissey has been far more influential, although trying to pick the most persuasive vegetarian is a task that will likely get you thrown out of your next party.

Jets and Buzzbombs and A-Bombs and All That

I don't have a real problem with focusing on an effort to preserve the cultural treasures of Europe. The film Monuments Men is an attempt to tell part of a story that begs for a look at the context of the history that surrounds it.

The V2 rockets that were hitting Allied-held territory and Britain were far more important than old paintings and churches and things of that nature to the men trying to liberate Europe. These weapons were terrorizing millions of people even though they rarely hit their targets. They were part of the group of "miracle weapons" that the Germans felt would turn the tide of the war. Chief among them were the V1s and V2s, the ME-262 jets, and the development of a possible Atomic bomb by German scientists in the Black Forest region.

You can say whatever you want about secret weapons, but if the Germans had developed a series of A-bombs, no amount of skullduggery would have saved the artworks and no one would have been able to defeat Germany. They would, of course, have poisoned themselves in the process of destroying the advancing armies with a series of A-bomb detonations, but still. The French and the American 7th Army raced each other to Haigerloch for one reason and one reason only--they were afraid that the great German scientist Werner Heisenberg and his team had been able to succeed in building a working device.

Clooney should have made this movie:

Operation Alsos was an Allied effort commanded by the Russian-American Colonel Boris T. Pash. He reported directly to General Leslie Groves, commander of theManhattan Engineer District, which was developing atomic weapons for the United States. The chief scientific advisor to Operation Alsos was the physicist Samuel Abraham Goudsmit. Goudsmit was selected for this task because of his knowledge of physics, he spoke German, and he personally knew a number of the German scientists working on the German nuclear energy project. He also knew little of the Manhattan Project, so, if he were captured, he would have little intelligence value to the Germans.

The objectives of Operation Alsos were to determine if the Germans had an atomic bomb program and to exploit German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, materiel resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the US. Personnel on this operation generally swept into areas which had just come under control of the Allied military forces, but sometimes they operated in areas still under control by German forces.

Berlin had been a location of many German scientific research facilities. To limit casualties and loss of equipment, many of these facilities were dispersed to other locations in the latter years of the war. The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) had mostly been moved in 1943 and 1944 toHechingen and its neighboring town of Haigerloch, on the edge of the Black Forest, which eventually became the French occupation zone. This move and a little luck allowed the Americans to take into custody a large number of German scientists associated with nuclear research.

To me, it's the better story. Who wouldn't like to see a movie about the real Heisenberg? The Atomkeller is an old beer storage cave under an impressive church. The scale of the thing is ridiculously small--you could barely put a restaurant into the place. But who knows what would have happened if Heisenberg had been given more time and resources?

Clint Eastwood is Still a Badass

America's enduring image of Clint Eastwood will not be that of him talking to an empty chair in hopes of electing Mitt Romney to the Presidency. That's because Clint Eastwood is an American badass:

Hollywood actor-director Clint Eastwood delivered an unexpected star turn when he saved the tournament director of this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from choking during a dinner on the eve of the golf event.

Eastwood, 83, noticed a "look of panic" on the face of tournament official Steve John as he tried to swallow a piece of cheese during a function for tournament volunteers at the Monterey Conference Center in California on Wednesday night.

Immediately, Eastwood stepped in and performed the Heimlich maneuver, the Carmel Pine Cone reported in Friday's edition.

There are few, if any, 83 year old men who could move quickly enough to give someone a pat on the back, let alone save their life with the Heimlich maneuver. Wow.

Conan Lets Himself Have One

Both Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel opted to heavily counterprogram the exit of Jay Leno (did Letterman put on a new show? Who cares?). The fact that they are treating Leno's "exit" as a non-event should indicate just how much love there is and how badly Leno will want to get back on television as soon as possible.

Tim Armstrong For President

America Online's very own Tim Armstrong is looking like a safe bet to be the Republican nominee for President in 2016. He's got guts, savvy and brains. Plus, he's thumbing his nose at sick babies and Obamacare and he's passing the savings on to you. When he cuts the 401K plan of his employees, he's sticking it to the government and he's telling the Feds that the retirement needs of his workers isn't coming out of his massive compensation package, no sir.

Armstrong could literally run for any office in the land as a Republican and win primary after primary before losing a general election when matched up against a squid or a potato or even a hot and bothered howler monkey. He is the worst CEO in the tech world right now and he's presiding over the destruction of a company that still makes people scratch their head and say, "they're still in business? And the Blockbuster Video is gone? Wha?"

The Big Day Out is a Bust

I'm willing to bet that there are dozens of Australian money men who will come back next year and leap at the chance to lose $8 million (AUS) dollars on a touring festival most bands can't be bothered to come and play.

There's a real hole in Australian music right now. Who's the number one Australian band in the world? When was the last time you could point to someone like INXS and say, 'they're the biggest' and not have people throw things at you? By default, you'd have to go with AC/DC and then the Little River Band. The problem is, these are acts from the 1970s. After that, you could make the case for Jet, Wolfmother, and a few others but then you're wandering out in the bush. Kylie Minogue? Where are we going with this?

If the Australian music industry was healthier, more people would come to see bands at a festival. Or perhaps not--maybe the weather was a factor this year.

Six Seasons and a Movie, Bitches

So far, NBC has cancelled Sean Hayes and they've cancelled Michael J. Fox.

All I have to say to that is this:

Twelve seasons and a theme park? Why the hell not?

NBC News Is Copying Windows 8

You are certainly welcome to correct me if I'm wrong, but NBC News has decided to copy Windows 8 and present the news as a grouping of tiles.

This is probably where the "web" is going. However, isn't Windows 8 a complete and utter piece of shit? Haven't they added a feature that allows you to turn off the tiles specifically because people fucking hated that function?

Can I just be baffled for a moment and wonder how to turn my site into a failed operating system interface?

Bernard Butler Can't Get Thrown Out of His Own Band

Can he?

I would be really sad if Bernard Butler got thrown out of his own band. Having said that, I can't wait to hear the new music.

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Mike Gordon is a xenophobe from Albert Lea, Minnesota. Normally, these posts go on another blog, but I'm putting it here because it shows how this whole debate over immigration reform is going to go. The nutty Mike Gordons of the world are probably going to win because they have tribalism and hate on their side. Don't bet against ignorance in modern America.

The crux of Gordon's argument is us vs them. He fears that reforming immigration will lead to his personal joblessness. For, you see, Gordon is either a day laborer, a lawn maintenance worker, a dishwasher, or a cabbage picker who makes a darned good living. These are the jobs that so-called illegal immigrants enter into in order to join our economy. Many of them stay in these jobs out of economic necessity or a fear of trying to move up. Our economy would collapse without these workers; they are the most exploited cohort of our population.

Here's a rundown of the benefits of fixing this system. There are many, many Republicans who agree with the White House. They know that reform would boost the economy. They know that the inherently conservative and family-oriented Hispanic population of immigrants would vote Republican more than they would Democrat. They know that the demographic numbers would favor them heavily if they were to abandon the lost cause of hating the poor. They know that they're being hypocrites because if you keep people in fear of being deported and keep them working from slave wages, they can't form unions and receive higher wages.

None of the crazy shit Gordon has to say really applies because he's using facts to make the case that this massive "they" out there is going to take all the jobs. In a majority of cases, no, not at all. In some cases, sure--they could very well take your job. But, if they did, it would be because your employer doesn't value you as an individual.

How is that the fault of the people who would benefit from immigration reform.

The Lions of Heidelberg Castle

The ruins of Heidelberg Castle are legendary for their detail and their hint of what used to be. Here is a piece of that, showing two knights standing next to two lions.

The First World Problems of a Privileged Class

Wait a minute--you mean things are spartan and ramshackle in today's Russia? Really? I am shocked.

While some are calling them first-world problems of Western journalists sent to cover one of the world's greatest events, complaints about unfinished or underprepared hotel rooms in and around the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are pouring in online. 

In the past 24 hours alone, more than 26,000 tweets have been sent using the hashtag #SochiProblems and the Twitter account@SochiProblems has more than 53,000 followers as it retweets some of the stories and photos.

On Wednesday, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams even addressed the issue in a news conference.

"It's a bit premature to say it's been a failure. They have delivered 24,000 rooms," he said. "Surely there have been some issues, but we are really doing our best."

Everything you are seeing about the Sochi games could come down to one question--what did you think was going to happen when you awarded Russia the games in the first place? 

If you pick a poor, corruption-riddled country to host the Olympics, you're going to get a cut-rate, falling down, cheap-assed venue in which to hold the games. The International Olympic Committee should bear the brunt of this abuse, not the poor Russians of Sochi who have had this pushed upon them by their scandalously corrupt government. The IOC is the problem. If you choose to look the other way and accept a bid from a country where billionaires go to jail for nothing, reporters die unexpectedly, and where the government is run for life by a thug, this is exactly what you're going to get.

It's not that these are "first world problems." You would find many of them anywhere, including the United States. It's that you have them in a country where there is no rule of law, no recourse for the aggrieved, and no respect for life or liberty. It's one thing to laugh at the fiasco. It's another thing to appreciate what it must like to live there.

Say Something Before You Cheat Your Fans

Whatever credibility the Red Hot Chili Peppers might have had before today is pretty much gone.

The time to tell people that the NFL is making you play to a pre-recorded backing track is before you actually go out and pretend to play your instrument. The time to own up to their demands is before you make a joke out of your band. This isn't Top of the Pops. This is music played live before people, and if the NFL is that way, don't play for them.

Say no next time.

I mean, how hard is it to have integrity at this stage of the game?


Yeah, I kinda messed this up.

The BBC Does Not Know What the Breitbart Kidz Are All About

Oh, wouldn't it be nice if someone at the BBC knew something-something about how the American media works:

Syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro writes that Mr Hoffman's death reflects moral decay in Hollywood: 

His self-inflicted death is yet another hallmark of the broken leftist culture that dominates Hollywood, enabling rather than preventing the loss of some of its greatest talents. Libertarianism becomes libertinism without a cultural force pushing back against the penchant for sin; Hollywood has no such cultural force. In fact, the Hollywood demand is for more self-abasement, less spirituality, less principle, less standards.

This blurb comes at the end of a compilation of reactions to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It attempts to show some "balance" where none is really needed. If you want balance, why would you go to a known click-bait troll like Ben Shapiro? He is an acolyte of the late Andrew Breitbart (whose sudden death I greatly admired and cheered) and functions solely as a manufacturer of misplaced, phony outrage. His audience consists of anyone crazy enough to think President Obama presides over a communist government full of Muslim Brotherhood commandos. 

Adding his reaction to your list does nothing to advance the discussion. Shapiro has no credibility. If you're going to do a rundown of media outlets, why would you taint your list by including one that advances discredited theories and features the rants of crazy people (The Huffington Post notwithstanding, of course)?

I mean, I had a bit of a shock there. Shaprio is now credible and thoughtful? How did that happen? But, in this case, he uses the tried and true tactic of linking morality to Hollywood. If he had been paying attention, he would know that Philip Seymour Hoffman killed himself with drugs far away from the trappings of Hollywood in a simple apartment in New York City. He had nearly finished filming his parts for the last of the Hunger Games movies, which do a better job than any recent series of films to demonstrate ethics and values. 

Hoffman was simply not a part of the "lefty" Hollywood culture. He was a New York actor, which means that he purposefully rejected the conventions of celebrity and tried to live a decent, ethical life away from the bubble of Hollywood. You can argue all you want about the morality of living in a city teeming with drugs and trying to be an artist, but, come on.  This was a man who walked his children to school and caused himself great pain for his art. He was prolific and worked exceptionally hard and never, ever phoned in a performance or pulled a Bruce Willis on people.

Morality has nothing to do with addiction science. The most moral and upstanding people in the world suffer from addictions; when Shapiro makes his point about "lefty" Hollywood culture being responsible for this, he further destroys any possibility that he might have an ounce of credibility. 

U2 Are Irrelevant

When you put out bad records (and Pop, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and No Line on the Horizon certainly qualify as bad albums for U2), you drift into irrelevance.

Here's the real reason why U2 are irrelevant. Five years between albums? Just go away already.

U2 have released exactly four albums since 1997 (Pop, All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000), How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2005), No Line on the Horizon (2009)). I'm not counting the disastrous Million Dollar Hotel project--that would be unfair. That's absolutely pathetic in terms of artistic achievement. This reveals a sense of entitlement and self-indulgence that can't be explained simply by touring endlessly and grossing tens of millions of dollars by playing every stadium in the world. 1980-84 gave us the first four U2 albums; that's how long they take between albums now.

I'm probably in the minority, but I think they should have joined R.E.M. and packed it in. Am I excited about their new album? No, and who else is? It will have a bombastic single, moments of polished brilliance, and then it will sink into oblivion. What's the point of it all anymore?