Worth Every Penny




Okay, then:

A photo of an Irish potato taken by a world-famous visual artist has sold for more than $1 million.


The photo of the potato against a black background was taken byKevin Abosch, a visual artist who has photographed Malala Yousafza,Yoko Ono and others.


While Abosch usually gets half a million dollars for his portraits, the photograph of the potato stood out to a European businessman who purchased it after seeing it at the artist’s Paris home.

Let's be kind and say that it's a good photo; it's a really, really good photo of an unwashed potato. Having said that, I have tons of photos I'd sell for much, much less. Indie bands? Need album covers? I got 'em coming out of my ears.


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Nothing Sexist About This Remark, Is There?




Oh, heavens. A woman forgot to stop and think about how offended John Podhoretz would feel if she spoke in public like she cared about this country. I'm surprised he doesn't have a quick backhand ready for such times as these.

Add this to the pile. Podhoretz is a high-ranking nutcase. Maybe he doesn't write his own headlines. But he sure looks like the kind of fellow who isn't going to put up with lady talk he doesn't agree with.


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Maryland Restores the Franchise to Felons




I wholeheartedly support this. Restoring voting rights to felons should be a national issue. Taking away the voting rights of convicted felons appears where in the Constitution? Hmm?


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John Krasinki's Bomb






It's nice how they're calling 13 Hours a Michael Bay film. It's actually a John Krasinski film directed by Bay, and it's a bomb:

Making a movie about Benghazi is a difficult task. There’s a phenomenally interesting story to be told about the deadly 2012 assault on the diplomatic outpost that captures the drama of the attack itself alongside the complicated politics of post-revolution Libya, the idealistic motivations of the diplomatic personnel who got caught up in the tragedy, and the clandestine machinations of American intelligence services on the ground. Telling that story would be a monumental challenge, requiring a filmmaker with a gift for subtlety, a talent for weaving complex stories together, and a sophisticated understanding of the raw politics that still envelop Benghazi like so much concertina wire.

But we didn’t get any of that. Instead, we get Bayhem.


Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a bad movie. And I’m not just talking about the filmmaking, which is bad in the way that most Michael Bay movies are bad – it’s loaded up with frenetic camera work, neck-snapping edits that make it impossible to follow the action, and gratuitous war porn. If you were unfortunate enough to have seen “Pearl Harbor,” Bay’s other steaming pile of reductive patriotism, you may remember this shot, in which the camera trails a Japanese bomb as it spins toward an American warship. “13 Hours” features that exact same shot, only this time the camera follows a Libyan militiaman’s mortar shell on its way to murdering an American security agent.

The moral lesson here is--what? Don't make a film without a movie star in it? That you can't attack the Clintons and get away with it? Krasinski can't open a film? Or that Michael Bay has not held on to any of the box office magic he used to have (remember when these were films that came out in the summer--and now we get one after Christmas)? This should have been an early summer release. They should have dropped it on Memorial Day or the 4th of July weekend.




I think you have to divorce the art from the politics in order to succeed. A film like this could have been as successful, if not more successful, than American Sniper. Very similar milieu, very similar kind of a subject. The only thing missing was a performance that would have rivaled Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Oh, and the fact that Clint Eastwood wisely eliminated Chris Kyle's outspoken wingnut politics from the finished product and focused on his PTSD and his relationship with his wife, which was done in such a way as to make her a central focus of his life without relegating her to a supporting and nurturing role.





If Bay had found two actors who could have pulled off something remotely similar, we'd be talking about something else right now.


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This is How I See the Road Ahead




I was commenting on Facebook when I realized I should be putting something on my crappy blog that no one reads:

"The argument for Clinton is that she's the Democrat most likely to make progress on progressive priorities because she's the Democrat who best understands both the issues and how unbelievably difficult it actually is to get anything done in a divided political system. Sanders can talk all he wants about political revolutions, but no one seriously doubts that the next Democratic president will face a Republican House, a 5-4 Republican majority on the Supreme Court, and a country that mistrusts government action." 


So, in other words, she's the only adult in the room? 





How is any of that a bad thing? Knowing she's the only person running who sees things as they are as opposed to what she's going to promise to people and then have to lie about later? Hillary has to lie because this is a country made up of toddlers, bullies, and people tired of lame attempts to categorize a broadly diverse electorate.





We are not going to get the House back any time soon. We are going to experience a blinding level of partisan obstructionism if she wins the election. The mere fact that she's running is proof that we don't have a choice this year. We have an obligation to put her in office and to keep hammering away at all attempts to destroy Obama's legacy.





I don't understand Ezra Klein at all. He's against Clinton. But there's nobody else. There is no one running who understands the reality of American politics, circa 2016, better than she does. I mean, full stop. This is what we face--oblivion or an annoying habit of trying to get as much as possible within the confines of a heavily divided political climate. Grow the motherfucking fuck up and just accept the fact that everyone self-identifying as a Republican is living in a batshit crazy fantasy world where they can magically make the government do things it does not do and never has done.



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Alan Rickman 1946-2016




No, dammit, no.

Alan Rickman, one of the best-loved and most recognizable British actors of his generation, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, his family announced. Rickman, who was 69 years old, first attracted widespread attention in 1985 playing the Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s stageplay of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Rickman went on to play many memorable roles, such as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies and Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Rickman developed a specialty for playing pantomime villains; in addition to the terror ringleader Gruber, he also found acclaim as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and as Rasputin in a 1995 HBO production. He is survived by his wife, Rima Horton, whom he met in 1965 and married in 2012.

Alan Rickman was a criminally underrated and under-awarded actor. Why he didn't have at least Oscars on his mantle is a question for the ages. He was better--by a wide fucking margin--than virtually anyone who dared to act with him.

Goddamn it.

Hideous and Cheap




It would appear that the Chinese took down this statue of Mao because it did not do him justice. Someone working as a monolithic statue contractor fleeced these poor businessmen out of their hard-earned cash and put up a monstrosity. The thing was hollow at the base, allowing teenagers the chance to hide underneath and make fart noises. Was all of that scaffolding part of the plan? Goodness.

Very undignified. Next time, chip in for the solid foundation.

You're Not Buying Anything




And not just because David Bowie died. No, the Humanities are in decline because people have stopped engaging with the culture beyond a technical interface. Books, films, music--the blockbusters remain but the artists scratching out there on the edges are further and further away from making a living in the arts.

Out of all of these things, there's only one thing I haven't purchased in the last year, and that would be a lottery ticket. I don't know why people fall for a regressive tax. And what would you do with all of that money? It would ruin your life in a matter of months, which has been proven time and again.



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Chris Hughes Destroyed Something Awful




Wah, wah, wah:

I have some difficult news today: I have decided to put The New Republic up for sale. I bought this company nearly four years ago to ensure its survival and give it the financial runway to experiment with new business models in a time of immense change in media. After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic.


Over the past few years we have made good progress in reinvigorating this institution. Our readership has grown younger and more diverse, largely as a result of our digital strategy. Our journalism has been widely recognized as impactful, impassioned, and more relevant to our nation’s challenges than ever. As a business, we have launched a brand marketing studio called Novel, built a flexible and fast mobile website, and developed our own content management system. We have made it possible for The New Republic to survive and begin to flourish in its second century.


Yet I will be the first to admit that when I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate. When I bought The New Republic, it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and I believed that an institution as old and important as it should survive and evolve in an era where its values were still relevant and needed. This place stands for some of the best and most important elements of liberalism: a belief in the role of government to correct free markets, in the power of representative democracy to hold the elite accountable, and in America’s responsibility to be a force for good in the world. These values have sustained and animated not just me, but this tireless and dedicated team over the past few years.


 As it currently stands, the value of the New Republic is about fifty bucks and dropping. This kid turned a terrible, racist, bigoted magazine into a dumpster fire. The Germans have a word for making something bad into something worse, and it could very well be Müllcontainerfeuer.

Chris Hughes trying to fix something is a Müllcontainerfeuer. Chris Hughes setting $20 million dollars on fire in order to wreck the New Republic is something I can get behind. Kudos to him. A horrible publication had it coming.

Allen West Just Threatened the President of the United States




Read it for yourself:

We the American people have no other recourse than to resort to civil disobedience. We have no representatives in Washington DC who will stand and the Supreme Court has failed us as well.


You have embraced violent protest movements in America such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. We are not lowering ourselves to that despicable progressive socialist “rules for radicals” model.


We, the people, are just telling you “No.” We will now be sending you emails and social media posts as well as calling OUR White House to say one word, “No.”
And if you persist and take the same course of action as Xerxes, we will give you a two-word response, Molon Labe.


This is your final year as president of the United States so let us come to an agreement: you leave us alone and we, the American people, will let you stay and finish your term.

That's a clear threat. It's impossible to miss the implied threat contained in that statement. And while it is typical of the overheated rhetoric around guns and gun control, it's amazing to read such things from a man who served in the United States Congress. This is not just some nut with a website. This is a man collecting a pension from military service and his term in office. He's as far on the teat as you can get and he still says such things? Wow.

I think the Army should call him back to active duty and review these statements. West should be subjected to UCMJ action. And, as if this needs to be said, he is mentally ill if this is what he truly believes. I suspect that, once questioned, West would plead innocence and claim it was all being done in order to raise funds or something along those lines.

Story Prompt




They drained a canal in Paris and this is one of the things they found.

A boombox, in the water, ruined for now but could it be restored? Could someone with a pair of fifty pound bags of rice dry out the components, flush out the mud, and wipe away the neglect? Could this thing be saved?

It wouldn't be practical (that's a lot of rice to use on an electronic device. That much rice could feed a lot of hungry people. But so could break dancing.

Break dancers feed the soul. They take the performance aspect of the Humanities into the streets and they move around, they take the music that works for their routine and they create something new. A breakdance team with the ability to draw people in can perform on the street for a few hours and make some cash. People can't help but throw money at breakdancers nowadays because it's so rare to see artistry like that. Instead of dressing up like a superhero, a select few of the elite breakdancers can turn everything you know on its ear and make a sheet of cardboard look like a glass floor.

Was there a rivalry that put this boombox at the bottom of the canal? Which faction and which group went to war and accomplished this battle task? Above all else, the boombox goes in the water or we don't win, they said. War is over if boombox goes in the drink, and you have to want it to make it happen. That's cold. Throwing someone's boombox in a canal is like cutting off an arm by accident.

I can imagine a jealous lover throwing the boombox in the canal. Love me, or lose me forever. If you're going to choose the boombox over me, guess what? It's already on the bottom of the canal.

Was there regret for throwing this thing into the water? There's little chance for regret after a prank like this. Waste of a good boombox, man. Waste of a good boombox.

Of course, they're going to pop this thing open and it'll have an Electric Light Orchestra cassette in it. Goddamn, I'd have thrown that thing into the water. Maybe I did when I was in Paris years ago and forgot. I hope they don't find my fingerprints. This is exactly the sort of crime that can be pinned to me because I've never been saintly about such things.

Sovereign Citizens




This is actually part of the strategy of the sovereign citizen movement--take everything that the Federal government has in terms of handouts and put nothing back into the "coffers" of the government.

The Bundy family represents the most successful sovereign citizen outfit in America. They should be prosecuted as a syndicate or a crime family because this is part of a systemic effort to avoid taxation and the paying of fees in order to profit from Federally owned resources. To the Bundy's the fact that the Federal government gave them a "loan" is just part of the scam. They spent that money and laughed about it. They will not pay it back, of course. That's for suckers.

You're the sucker because you weren't smart enough to get a loan that you won't pay back for your "kin" or family.

Hypocrites? No, they're not hypocrites. They hate the government and they're not shy about taking money from it in order to "cripple" it because they don't have any shame. They'll take every penny they can get and whatever else. They don't care about fraud and they don't recognize the courts or official looking papers in the mail. They thumb their nose at it because they've already abandoned any pretense of living like regular citizens.

The worst thing a local cop or deputy sheriff will ever run into is not necessarily an armed criminal. It is a sovereign citizen who is armed has no intention of complying with lawful orders. Yes, they're one and the same thing, but anyone who self-identifies themselves as "sovereign" triggers a lot more alarms than a common criminal.

Blue Alps




This was taken in the Tyrol region. I needed some wallpaper that was bluish and alpine looking.

Linderhof in Winter




What happens when you go see someone's old palace and their magical fountain is covered with a bunny hutch? You take pictures and hope the food is good somewhere.

Abandoned Castle







A pair of black and white shots from the early 2010s, taken at yet another abandoned castle in Germany.

Yeah, Elections Matter




Paul Krugman says what needs to be said:

[...] some widely predicted consequences of Mr. Obama’s re-election — predicted by his opponents — didn’t happen. Gasoline prices didn’t soar. Stocks didn’t plunge. The economy didn’t collapse — in fact, the U.S. economy has now added more than twice as many private-sector jobs under Mr. Obama as it did over the same period of the George W. Bush administration, and the unemployment rate is a full point lower than the rate Mr. Romney promised to achieve by the end of 2016.


In other words, the 2012 election didn’t just allow progressives to achieve some important goals. It also gave them an opportunity to show that achieving these goals is feasible. No, asking the rich to pay somewhat more in taxes while helping the less fortunate won’t destroy the economy.


So now we’re heading for another presidential election. And once again the stakes are high. Whoever the Republicans nominate will be committed to destroying Obamacare and slashing taxes on the wealthy — in fact, the current G.O.P. tax-cut plans make the Bush cuts look puny. Whoever the Democrats nominate will, first and foremost, be committed to defending the achievements of the past seven years.


The bottom line is that presidential elections matter, a lot, even if the people on the ballot aren’t as fiery as you might like. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


But...but...I didn't get the public option so now I'm not going to vote and that'll make the Democrats sorry they ever pissed me off. And then, something something, I'll get what I want and everything will be the way I want it.

Seriously, though--if you're disappointed in President Obama, I understand why. It's hard to live in a world where you don't get everything you want right now. But, if you're a functioning adult, I don't see how you can be unhappy that we're living in a country where gas is cheap, unemployment is down, and people have health insurance. I seem to remember times when this was just not the case and it sucked for a lot of people. Yes, things still suck. But they don't suck as bad as they could and they suck because people aren't voting for their economic self-interest. If you live in Kansas and Kentucky, I feel for you, but you brought it on yourselves.