31 May 2007

The Court, The Thief, and the Past

The makeup of the Supreme Court has changed. I wouldn't begin to refer to it in the recent past as a liberal court or a conservative one, but one that was evenly divided down the middle, with a couple of justices who could only be counted on to surprise. Personally, I'd like a very liberal court, but perhaps it was in the best interests of everyone in the country to have a court that most resembled us.

Since Bush came into office and has been able to get two justices on it, the makeup has changed dramatically, and you could almost hear the audible cry of relief from the Christian conservatives and the far right. I wouldn't want to unfairly characterize Justices Alito and Roberts, but since they've voted predictably and in unison for everything I thought they would I'm just going to assume they're both jackasses. Even Scalia (who's kind of a nut job) occasionally will surprise you. He's no parrot, just someone with his own set of beliefs, however woefully misguided.

The Last Woman Standing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seems to have had enough. In today's New York Times there is an article about how she has taken to orally dissenting from the bench. This goes against her generally quiet, follow the rules type of demeanor, but according to a friend of hers, this shows how she feels that the court has become politicised with it's recent changes. Not like anyone who has been paying attention to the court recently would have thought otherwise, but it's nice to know that she's grown a pair, so to speak.


One of the world's biggest spammers has been caught. Seems that Robert Alan Soloway has been hacking into other peoples' computers and using them to send out spam that advertised that he could send out advertisements, etc. He's considered one of the top 10 spammers in the world, according to the AP. I don't know what kind of punishment is appropriate for this guy, but whatever it is, I hope it's annoying and tedious.


I found these a week ago, and just thought they were amusing, so I've been holding on to them. These are apparently real ads from yesteryear. It's too bad that irony has pervaded every facet of existance, because honest things like this are so much funnier when they are unaware of themselves.

Courtesy of Ads of the World.

29 May 2007

Video shoot today

I'm in the process of shooting a demo reel for my friend Pearl Pistol, a burlesque performer. Cieslak and I went downtown with her today for some shots in the loop; we have a location shoot tomorrow, and he and she will finish up this Sunday.

Some pics. You can click on them for larger views.

28 May 2007

Who the fuck is Ron Paul? (Part 2)

Okay. When I first wrote about Ron Paul, the dark-horse-no-chance-in-hell-of-getting-nominated-by-the-Republican-Party presidential candidate, I mostly viewed him through the perspective of those writing about him, i.e. bloggers. I think I may have given him an unfair characterization. While he is a Republican, he's of the old school small government type, not the Jesus hates terrorists kind.

He performed admirably in the Republican debate, and he has this way of talking that makes me tink that he actually means what he is saying, always scary to see in a politician.

Here he is on Real Time with Bill Maher. It's worth a watch.

27 May 2007

Wow, someone sure fucked up

As reported by everyone else on the interents, there is a website called georgewbush.org. It's not a Republican site, it's a parody site operated by some Daily Kos contributors. Apparently they were receiving emails intended for the Republicans but were sent to the wrong address, and some of them are quite revealing.

Actual quote from one email:

> >May I request that you or someone on your staff send directions
> >regarding
> >what Counties can and cannot do as it pertains to newsletters and phone
> >banks usage for federal candidates. There is a great deal of ignorance
> >out
> >here and many counties are violating the campaign law as I understood it
> >
> >from you. God help us if the Democrats find out.

All of those emails, including lists of black voters in Florida (possibly/ probably listed in an attempt to keep them from voting) are available here

The Latest Thing to Fear

"He told The Independent on Sunday: "These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.

"The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it - as happens in a number if diseased states - then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA - Parkinson's and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of ageing.""

He's talking about sodium benzoate. It's added to many, many sodas to prevent mold. A scientist at Sheffield University has been studying it, and has found some alarming results.

In addition:

Apparently when mixed with vitamin C (as it is in some beverages), it creates benzene, which is a carcinogin.

Scary. Another reason not to drink pop.

Tres Cool!

That's a TV. Really.

What Is This World Coming To?

Courtesy of Gizmodo.

Bird Poops on Dubya

I say, give that bird a medal. How come there wasn't any Secret Service guy pushing W. out of the way to take the hit?

FDA Miiiiiiiiight Allow Marijuana Research

75% of People Disagree With the Administration About It

But it's not the war. It's the use of medical marijuana. Pretty much everyone thinks that it should be available for cancer patients and people suffering from, geez, about a milliona ailiments, if not for packing up the bong. Amazingly, the only Schedule I drug that researchers can't look into. That's right. Cocaine? Heroin? That's cool. Just not pot.

The good news is that the FDA is one step away from finally allowing scientists access to cannabis. A U.S. Department of Justice judge just submitted a report with the go-ahead. Now the FDA has to say yea or nay.


On another marijuana note, I found an interesting article on a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, as reported by NORML, that says that marijuana use doesn't adversely affect decision making. Don't tell the potheads abot this.

26 May 2007

I'm a Vegetarian, but...

...I can appreciate enthusiasm for some good fried chicken, especially if it's from Harold's.

25 May 2007

No More Chimps! But Lots of Babies! Plus, Kids Walking to School!

It only took me minutes to find a few things to bring up today. Such wackiness. Let's begin, shall we?


A Win and a Loss

The National Institute of Health has discontinued using chimps for medical research. Now, this doesn't mean that that they are releasing the ones that they already have, but it does mean that they aren't going to either breed or purchase more. The NIH has said this is because of the cost of upkeeping the animals (over half a million dollars per chimp per lifetime, which can surpass 50 years in captivity), but I'm sure that it has a lot to do with animal welfare organizations busting their chops for decades about it.

I feel that this is one of those grey areas where it's hard to take a side. On the one hand, experimenting on chimps is akin to experimenting on the mentally retarded, as far as I'm concerned. I'd read an argument likening it to that, seeing as how chimps are about as intelligent, and have been shown to show the same anxieties and fears.

On the other hand, it will make advances in science more difficult, because we are losing that which are closest to us genetically, which is of course why it is so wrong. It gives me a headache thinking about it, but I'm glad they're putting it to a stop. There's still about 500 chimps in captivity, and I'm wondering what is going to happen to them.


Menstruation and Fox News

So, there's a new birth control pill on the market that eliminates menstruation, Lybrel. Let's be clear before I get into this any further: I'm a man. Therefore my opinon about women's choices involving their bodies is only my own, and I'd never hold it over anyone's head (or uterus ). It's your bodies.


On the one hand, I support birth control. I'm not going to get really into that discussion here, but that's where I stand. But this is a pill that stops menstruation. Now, I'm only speculating here, but does it seem wise to tamper with a natural cycle in the human body, as uncomfortable and inconvenient as it is? I've heard arguments that a woman's period is dangerous and unnecessary, but again, I tend to think that our bodies know what's best for us. But like I said, only my opinion, don't get mad at me, you do whatever it is that you feel is right. It just makes me think of antibiotics, though. With judicious use, they are a great boon. But overuse has led to new, more powerful strains of what they were supposed to prevent. What will happen if women interrupt a million year old cycle?

More to the point, though, is this crazy ass clip from Your World with Neal Cavuto (not my world, Neal, maybe yours) on Fox News. It's an argument between Mary Alice Carr of NARAL and Leslee Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse. Well, it's more like Carr is explaining in measured terms the use and benefits of birth control (including reducing the number of abortions out there), while Unruh keeps yelling, "I want more babies!" Watch how Carr is trying to keep her good grace and composure while Unruh acts like an imbicile and Cavuto smirks.


Another Reason to Move to England

And now something to make you smile after all of that ethical garbage. In England they are having a Walk to School Week. In the town of Brighton and Hove someone had what I think is a great idea. They blocked the road to traffic, put up fake grass, plants and flowers, and had crazy characters dot the path to school, making it exciting for the kids to walk to school.


Courtesy of Treehugger.

24 May 2007

The Lonely Island--"Just 2 Guyz"

Our Children Get Stupider--And We Encourage Them

Kid in a high school science fair wins first prize by disproving evolution by means of a paper towel and epsom salts. And this was ostensibly a science fair.

And we wonder why other countries look down on us.

Democrats Cave

So, I don't get it. The American people, almost all of them, 7 out of 10, are against the war. The Democrats are against the war. But the spending bill that Bush wanted will be passed now, with no timetable, funding the war at least for another year. And what do we get out of this? Pelosi and Co. have done a good job up until now making clear that the only way that legislators can help and this war is to deny funds to continue it. No one wants the soldiers being underfunded (the Bush Administration was doing a good job of that on their own--who needs Kevlar or armored Humvees?), but short of the president changing his mind, we've got no other option.

And now this.

It's bullshit.

23 May 2007

Why I Didn't Vote For Al Gore Before...but I might now.

Do you remember way back in 2000? Waaaaaayyy waaaaaaaaay back before 9/11 and hybrid cars and Pirates of the Caribbean (the movies)? I didn't vote for Gore in that election, I voted for Nader. I didn't vote for Gore for a number of reasons.

Before you start pointing fingers at me and blaming me for Dubya, let's make this clear. I live in Chicago. Illinois is a Democratic state (at least in Chicago), it always goes democrat, so I wasn't worried if my vote would sway the state. If I lived in Ohio or Florida, it'd be a different story.

The Gore of those days is not the Gore of today. Like many, many Democrats, he never had a firm stance on anything. Now, I can appreciate this sometimes as someone who examines both sides of an issue, and doesn't make pig-headed decisions, but you can't run a campaign that way. It inspires no faith at all if you can't say that you know where your next leader stands.

My opinion on Dubya is pretty clear, but as many critics of his have agreed on, he can stay on topic (even if his topic should get him impeached and jailed). Gore then would meander all over the place, never showing that he could lead when he couldn't even take a firm stance on anything. Kerry, who I also liked, had this same problem. Clinton had the same problem, too, but was fortunately running against an unpopular president and a baboon, respectively.

That was Gore then.

Gore now isn't the same guy. He's a man with issues (in a good way). He's always been a man of integrity, but now he is willing to show it, to stand up for it. And good for him, I say, and more to the fact good for us, beacuse without Al, we wouldn't be having this Green Rennaisance that we're having. No one would be giving a shit about hybrid cars or recycling, except for residents of California and Greatful Dead fans.

There's a big article on him in Time. You should check it out.

God Hates Statues, or Pointing Fingers at Others

It seems to me that every time we hear of a flood or earthquake or terrorist attack, the blame lay on the 'sinners.' "It's because people are gay/ voting Democrat/ listening to rock music/ fornicating without permission from the church." God hates everyone that we do.

Well, lightning struck a statue of Jesus this week in Colorado. I'm assuming by that rationale that God either hates statues or Jesus, I can't figure out which. It reminds me of an event in the 1960's...It was during the whole "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus" debacle. Seems that a radio staion in Texas was broadcasting anti-Beatle sentiments, and the tower was destroyed by lighting. Now that's funny.

This reminds me of the late (not late enough) Jerry Falwell. I don't know if you saw Christopher Hitchens on Hannity and Colmes (and I can understand if you, like me, would rather have your prostate checked than watch Fox News), but it's really funny.

Bill Maher had a lot of things to say, too. I usually consider him a blowhard like Dennis Miller, but I have to admit, I thought this was amusing.


Talk about last week's news. I just want to remind everyone that he's gone.


22 May 2007

Today in the World of stuff

Found a great headline on Digg. "Creed's Stapp arrested for assault; his crimes against music go unpunished " Seems that one of the few creatures on this Earth more insufferable than Bono himself has gone and got himself arrested for assault after coming home drunk and throwing a bottle of Orangina at his beauty queen wife. What would Jesus do, Scott? (He'd probably have a better band, for starters)

By the way, is that the most narcissistic photo you've ever seen?


Rove, Lying, and Voter Fraud

File this under the catagory of, "Yeah, that's what I figured." Have you been paying attention to the whole voter fraud thing? Probably not. Here's the deal. Republicans are notorious for trying to deny minorities the ability to vote, citing voter fraud as being especially prevelant in areas where people vote Democrat (Jim Crow never died, he just got politically correct). The last election, the one that Kerry folded so quickly on, hinged a little bit on what the Republicans called voter fraud. There wasn't that big of a stink about it, but when people are contesting votes in states that were as close as Ohio, every one counts.

Where am I going with this? A supposedly non-partisan non-profit group called the American Center for Voting Rights began a 'civilian' investigation into what those dastardly minorities were up to. The Justice Department was ordered to make it one of their top priorities. When a bunch of the attorneys came up with the fact that there really wasn't any voter fraud at all. Then they got fired.

Then Gonzales got caught.

It appears, like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that Karl Rove was behind the whole thing. What a non-surprise. Every time something pops up on the political landscape that attempts to manoever the Republican party into a more favorable position of power, but claims to be distinct from the government, well, it's always this bastard. What, Valerie Plame is unmasked by a newspaper columnist Hmmm....whose work is that?

Ever heard of Cardinal Richelieu?

So, it looks like the American Center for Voting Rights has just vanished, according to Slate. Kind of odd, don't you think?

Rove is running out of fall guys. I can only imagine the books and movies that will be about this guy in the years to come. He's like Kissinger, I'm just waiting for him to win the Nobel Peace Prize.


Electric Cars For a Midlife Crisis

Why are electric cars only sought after by grad students, vegetarians and Al Gore? Because they don't appeal to the real car consumer: the 40-something man going through a mid-life crisis. Electric cars aren't something that men purchase to compensate for their thinning hair and expanding waistlines. That's what a Corvette is for.

Until now.

There's a company out in Silicon Valley called Tesla Motors that aims to change all of that. Rather than a bunch of guys from Detroit or Japan, Tesla (named after Nikola Tesla, who basically gave us all of our technology for the 20th century) Tesla is run by a bunch of computer guys, who figured they could do a better job of making an electric car than GM, who royally fucked the whole thing up.

The cars don't look like those pink bunnies, by the way. Those were made by Tesla Motors for shits and giggles, I guess.

This is what the car looks like.

I don't go for sports cars, normally, but that's pretty cool. All electric. 0-60mph in 4 seconds. 250 miles per charge. And you can charge it from a solar station you can install in your house.

Now that's cool.

21 May 2007

Who the fuck is Ron Paul?

As a part of my daily web rituals, I check out Digg, which is kind of like del.icio.us, a place to bookmark pages and show off the odd or interesting things you've found. For the last couple of weeks, I've found that almost every day there is something about Ron Paul.

Who the fuck is Ron Paul?

Today this is what is up there, Ron Paul Goes On the Offensive. It's from a site called Prison Planet, a website by a conspiricy theorist and 'Constitutionalist' named Alex Jones.

Looking for mentions on the New York Times website, I found this one about his wealth, one on a debate that he's barely mentioed in, and this one also about the debate. "The three apparent front-runners had plenty of opportunities to make their case, but the lesser-known candidates had to jostle for attention. Nobody really managed to steal the show and display graveltas, the ability to steal a debate with outrageous, curmudgeonly statements the way former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska did in the recent Democratic debate in South Carolina. But Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who calls himself a paleolibertarian, came closest. His reedy voice and excitable manner stood out in what was otherwise a blending chorus of deep monotones."

His internet supporters seem rabid. Almost like LaRouche people (not that he's as crazy as LaRouche, as far as I can tell). He's been mentioned in U.S. News and World Reports as being the most searched term on technorati.com.

Watch out for this guy. He seems like the longest of long shots, and I'm not a supporter, but it will be interesting to see how the internet affects this election.

As far as I'm concerned, another rich old white guy? Yawn.

17 May 2007

Jesus Cro-Magnon Christ.

No, not him. Check this out. You know those Geico caveman commercials? I find them pretty funny in 30 second doses, but ABC has a show premiering about them. A SHOW. I'm not making this up. They are basing a TV show on a commercial for car insurance.

I wish I was making this up. See the horror for yourself.

What Goes On.

So, apparently R. Kelly is insane. We all knew that he was a pervert. We all knew that he was a mad filmmaking genius. But the man now thinks that he is the Martin Luther King, Jr. of his generation. And he said this in an interview, so all of us could see what goes on inside that head of his. It must be an exciting place to live.

The Scientologists have pissed off the BBC. Seems that the Beeb has been making a documentary about them, and they responded by making a documentary about the BBC. Uh-huh. The producers of the programme (like the spelling?) respond.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They might be putting bathrooms in CTA stations. On one hand, a good idea when you've really got to go and options are limited. On the other hand, homeless people using them as apartments. Maybe it'd keep drunk frat boys from pissing between cars.


Elijah Wood is going to be playing Iggy Pop in a movie. Honest.

12 May 2007

Looptopia, or a Tale of Underwhelment

Is underwhelment a word?

Last night was Looptopia, a downtown festival of sorts. It was supposed to be providing all sorts of amusement from sundown to sunrise, from museum tours to dancing to music to theatre. Someone got the bright idea after seeing several cities in Europe try the same thing.

I was joined by Cieslak and Katherine and a friend of hers from out of town (others had made plans and either cancelled, ditched, or showed up after I had left. They had varying degrees of interest in the event, but the reason they were with me was to try and bring a little birthday cheer to me.

Now, there were events going on all over the Loop as promised, and some events did stretch until dawn, but all in all, a giant time and money wasting disaster (for the city, not me...it was free).

Some problems.

The Loop is a big place. having events all over it meant walking blocks to get to the next thing. It meant getting lost while looking for this and that. It meant knowing exactly where you were going, or you would be wandering around for ages looking for crowds. "Is something going on there? There's a bunch of people over there."

Things ended at 11-midnight. Not everything, but anything you'd want to do, or at least anything I wanted to do. I suppose I could have stuck around watching movies at the Siskel Center, but I wasn't in the mood. After most things closed, everybody rushed over to the few remaining events, making it impossible to go to anything (the line utside the Goodman stretched down the block).

The music sets were brief. If you're going to have live music at an event that lasts all night, you either need lots of music, or longer sets. Every time I wanted to see music, it was over by the time I got there.

No food. No booze. Two things that contribute to enjoyment of festivals is food or booze, or both. There was nowhere to eat at except for McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts (much to Beth's delight), or Corner Bakery (I had the crappiest sandwich there).

The streets, amazingly, weren't blocked off. You had to wait for traffic lights. When you are inviting a hundred thousand people downtown, you need to block off the streets, or at least some of them. When the sidewalk is being used for performance space, you need to give people room to see them, and if everyone's smushed against a wall trying to see what's going on, well, you lose them.

More events that are worth attending. Much of what was offered was of the type that you'd show up, note was happening, and leave for the next thing.

The idea was good. The execution was dismal. And their website was down, the website advertised in banners all over the Loop. When you can't even keep your site up? You've got problems.

07 May 2007

My new bike

This isn't my actual bike, just a pic of the same model/color. I've got a generator on mine with lights that work! Very excited about this.

I got it from Working Bikes, a co-op in Chicago. Here's the deal. Show up Wednesday or Saturday at noon. Better yet, get there at 11:45. If you are later than noon, there's only going to be girl's bikes left. When I went there with my friend, there was about ten or twelve people besides us waiting for the doors to open. Once they did, everyone ran in the place and started grabbing. It reminded me of being a kid, and going with my parent's to get a Cabbage Patch doll. Madness. I stepped inside the door, and it took me no more than ten seconds to find the one I wanted.

The bikes are refurbished older models, fixed up with parts from other, donated bikes. Got an old one sitting in your basement? Even one that's busted up? Bring it down. I was given a bike a couple of weeks ago by a friend that wasn't worth fixing up, according to the guys at the bike shop (who were being honest), but the guy at Working Bikes was pleased with it ("We can totally use this," he said).

It's down on Roosevelt and Western. Get there early, because all of the good ones go in twenty minutes.

Today's Oddness.

This is more of an excuse to write than anything else, but I'd like to show off all of the things I've been reading about or seeing for the last week.


Firstly, Spider-man 3 (technically there's a hyphen in there, and always has been, which I find charming and quaint).

Not the greatest movie in the world, but certainly one of the most expensive (estimates put it in the $250-300 million mark). I'm not going to sit here and rehas the movie for you, but here's my thoughts on it. FOr a movie that cost a quarter of a BILLION dollars, it's remarkably consistant with a single man's (Sam Raimi) perspective. It's got long periods of non-sequiter events, dance numbers, musical numbers, melodrama, men crying (the most men I've seen crying in a movie since Lord of the Rings)...I mean, it's like they let Raimi do whatever the hell he wanted, and I for one would rather see extended periods of silly noodling than nonstop explosions. I admire that a movie as sloppy and wacky as this was able to be released.

And I'd like to point out that when good Spider-man becomes bad Spider-man, he gets emo hair. It made me laugh. Oh, and Bruce Campbell has a great scene, too.

Mike Gravel

Now here's a character. I just read an article in Salon about this guy, who's running for president. I don't know how I've never heard of the guy, and I don't think that I'll be giving him my vote, but I think I'll be paying attention to him. Salon refers to him as Grandpa Simpson running for President, which made me laugh. Gravel was senator from Alaska for a number of years, a really, really liberal iconoclast, who is pro-gay, pro-choice, anti-war, and oddly supportive of putting that fucking pipeline though Alaska (seems that that's the kind of thing you have to support if you want to be a politician in Alaska). I just want him in the debates to see him mix things up a bit, like when he asked Obama who he'd like to nuke.

Here's Gravel at the debates: