Monday, April 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

From David Frum, formerly of the National Review:

In America today, the Eisenhower Republicans are called Democrats. And the Republicans are the people who gave Eisenhower hell from the right–when they weren’t too busy worrying about fluoridated water and the invasion of the body snatchers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Week in Food

The list keeps growing: the Islamist group Revolution Muslim hates Israel, Western imperialism, South Park and now....Triscuits.

I am sure since all of you learned of the existence of the Double Down (the KFC cheese bacon sandwich served between two pieces of fried chicken), you've been thinking, "What can we do to make it even messier and more unhealthy?" It's simple: just add donuts. Repeat: add donuts.

When your mother said, "eat your vegetables," I don't think this was what she had in mind.

Ach, Scotland, the laund of beasts to bewaur: the kelpie haunts the waters; the Big Grey Man prowls the Cairngorms; and in the Highlands roams the mighty haggis.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Week in Idiocy

If you're a regular Internet user, the chances are at least 50/50 that you've seen examples of The Downfall meme: a clip of the scene in the movie in which Hitler realizes his military situation is hopeless with the real subtitles replaced with ones showing Hitler to be reacting to something else: so far there have been clips with Hitler as Hillary Clinton realizing she's lost the nomination to Obama, Hitler outraged that he's been banned from Xbox Live, Hitler reacting to Sarah Palin's resignation, and countless others.

Well Downfall producer Constantin Film has decided that these parodies constitute copyright infringement (even though parody, as I understand it, falls under fair use and the popularity of the meme probably got people who had never heard of Downfall to rent it from Netflix). The company asked Google to remove all the Downfall meme clips from YouTube. Google surrendered even faster than the French did to the real Hitler.

In the spirit of the occasion, I give you the Downfall video on fair use created by Brad Templeton of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

He's filed an action against its removal, so it should be around for a while.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The philosophy that governed financial regulation for the past eleven years is now being applied to parenting:

Christine Yablonski and Phil Biegler of Westford Mass are "unschooling" their children: no textbooks, no tests, no required subjects. And no parenting: the kids have no rules and no chores. They are part of an increasing trend.

Favorite quotes:

From another family profiled in this story: "Hygiene was one of the last things to go as far as being relaxed in our parenting style."

Shaun Biegler, 13, whose last formal schooling was in first grade: "I was never really into some of the stuff I had to learn in school."

Neither Shaun nor his sister Kimi currently intend to go to college.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Week in Insanity*

In an effort to combat crime stemming from cross-border drug traffic, the Arizona State Department of Repetitious Redundancy has passed a law making it illegal to do something that was, well, already illegal: specifically, immigrate to this country illegally. The law directs police to investigate immigration status if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant. Now police in a state that's in the top ten for criminal activity can spend less time on silliness like rapes and car thefts and investigate people who are doing things like picking produce, working in restaurants, listening to loud Latino hip-hop or speaking English poorly.*

In other news, the Recording Industry Association of America would like to scan every computer hard drive in the country. The idea is to use programs modeled on antivirus software. Instead of a message that says, "We've detected malware, click here to initiate a full system scan), you'll be getting messages that say, "We've detected a copy of Laura Viers' July Flame in your 'Music' folder. We're erasing it this very moment."

Presumably no one is dumb enough to voluntarily install such software (although if Oprah told her fans to do it, they probably would), but strangely the RIAA thinks people will. Here's a quote from their proposal on the Electronic Frontier Foundation blog Deeplinks:

There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers...these include [consumer] tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).

And then there's this beauty:

points of entry into the United States are underused venues for educating the public about the threat to our economy (and to public safety) posed by counterfeit and pirate products. Customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States.

So ideally (from the RIAA's point of view), when we return from trips abroad customs lines will be even longer and slower as officials ask us if we burned songs to our iPods while we were out of the country, or check our luggage for DVDs and books that aren't licensed for U.S. distribution.

Since I buy books on almost all my trips, I'll have to make sure the next time I go to Mexico my return flight isn't routed through Tucson: with reading material in Spanish in my luggage, they might just assume I'm an illegal immigrant.

*Apologies to Salon for the similarity to "The Week in Crazy," but no other title fit. Seriously.

**Is it just a coincidence that Sarah Palin has no scheduled speaking engagements in Arizona for the rest of the year?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain....

As a native of the state that provided the most violent resistance to the Civil Rights Movement and that's the birthplace of the American Taliban, I'm weirdly relieved when some other member of the Union out-crazies my birthplace.

Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key and State Senator Randy Brogdon are in favor of starting a state militia to "defend against federal infringements on state sovereignty." Now even I will admit Oklahomans have suffered at the hands of Washington: the $1.5 million that Oklahoma received to help pay for school lunches must have been a bitter pill to swallow. And that $17 million for broadband in the Western part of the state? I'm sure someone in Tulsa is protesting by self-immolation as we speak.

But you would think the Confederate History Month resolutions that have been in the news would have reminded Key and Brogdon that armed resistance to the federal government has been tried before, and it didn't go that well.

Admittedly this hasn't even reached the planning stage, but Key is fairly confident a bill will be introduced in the next legislative session.

Nor have proponents of a militia clearly explained how the militia would defend Oklahoma against federal intrusions.

I suppose they could start by shooting mailmen delivering Social Security checks.

(Hat-tip to David Harnden-Warwick for this news story)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

After Long Silence....

I'm back to posting, with the intention (sigh) of doing so on a more regular basis. My neglect of this blog was a pity, since the last couple of months were a great time to snark about the absurdity of American life: we've had shrieks of socialism! in response to a Republican health care plan that is a bonanza for private insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

And the conservatives who aren't totally distracted worrying about how they're going to look in those Chairman-Mao gray suits we'll all soon be forced to wear are panicking that the country will soon be defenseless. After all, Obama just negotiated a treaty with the Russkies that will leave us with only enough nukes to destroy all life two or three times, instead of the usual eight or nine. The treaty also has the shocking proviso that we'll only use nuclear weapons against countries we don't like,* so you can see why there's cause to believe the Republic is in its final days.

To compound Republican disappointment, they held a leadership conference in New Orleans this week.: I imagine some party donors found Bourbon Street a little tame compared to what they're used to.

In other news, Pope Benedict apparently doesn't consider raping children defying the doctrine of priestly celibacy. **

*Watch out, France.
**Maybe it's a variation on the college student belief that oral sex isn't really sex: if it's only with kids it doesn't count....

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