Saturday, September 27, 2008

Safe For Work Porn

I'm posting this on the weekend, so you won't have to determine whether it is in fact safe for work.

Friday, September 26, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Four

An unexpected blogging hiatus this week cannot deter me from my football picks! The need my bad picks, I told myself, like McCain needs an international crisis. Who am I to deny you the medicine for what ails you?

(Home team in caps.)

San Francisco (+5) over NEW ORLEANS
Maybe I'm turning into a Bay area homer with my picks, but I can't resist taking the 49ers on the road. They've already endured the insanity of playing up in Seattle. The only thing marginally frightening about playing in New Orleans is a broken levee or two. Offensively, New Orleans has an edge -- with the belated arrival of the Reggie Bush-era. But, because the 49ers actually field something that resembles a defense, I don't think the different is as big as you might immediately think. I'm not overly confident in this choice, since despite its statistical strength SF's defense is still giving up quite a few points, but it's one I'd regret not stepping out on.

Arizona (+1.5) over NEW YORK JETS
This game may very well tell us whether the balance of power has shifted to the NFC, after years of AFC domination. It's hard to say for sure, but Arizona's defense actually looks to have some spunk to it. Certainly more fire so far than Miami's. Consider this: the fact the Jets have played only one team with a legitimate passing attack (San Diego), they rank 21st in passing defense. Boldin and Fitzgerald could drop them a few more spots down before the week is through.

CINCINNATI (-3.5) over Cleveland
I'm not giving Cleveland anymore credit. If they can't get anything going there, Anderson is going to be another highly-paid backup QB. I didn't watch a second of their game last week against Baltimore, and still can't fathom how they were beaten so badly. A lot of what ails the Bengals will be solved if they can keep Chris Perry on track. That inability of that defense to prevent a big play at a big moment, though, has been a downfall for years. If anything can shake up Cleveland, if but for a week, it's this game. Braylon Edwards owners, don't give up on him just yet.

Green Bay (+1) over TAMPA BAY
Tampa Bay is a capable team. But they really shouldn't be favored in this game. Losing to Dallas last week should not be a big set-back for Green Bay. They're still the class of the NFC North. They're still loaded offensively. And Dallas was clearly had its A-game going. Not to mention Ryan Grant was still not 100%. From what I understand, he's nearly there now. With a play-action option comes the deep threat that is Greg Jennings. The only problem with Green Bay, so far, is its defense. The playmakers on each of the teams they've faced have gashed them in a bad way. With that in mind, Earnest Graham owners, take heart. He should bounce back from his horrible showing in Chicago.

CAROLINA (-7) over Atlanta
I can't figure out this Carolina team. They have played a hell of a schedule so far, and come out 2-1. Not bad. But the numbers have not been sources of confidence. Not to mention their atrocious record of covering spreads at home. That said, I think this is the week Delhomme and Steve Smith really get to shine, and Michael Turner gets reminded once again that running against Detroit and Kansas City is a very different thing running against a quality defense.

TENNESSEE (-3) over Minnesota
This should be a really fun game for people like me who love defense over offense. The balance of Tennessee's defense so far is almost as shocking as the imbalance of Minnesota's. I foresee good games for Bironas and Longwell here.

JACKSONVILLE (-7) over Houston
Jacksonville's offense should basically come in with the same game plan as last week against Indianapolis. Run. Houston has been woeful so far -- giving up around 170 yards p/game on the road. I'm really intrigued to see if Slaton can pick up where he left off last week, against a worst defense. But, even if he does, like last week, it just won't be enough. I see Houston playing scrappy, keeping it close for two-and-a-half quarters, and Jacksonville's two-headed running attack wear them down.

Denver (-9) over KANSAS CITY
Buffalo (-8) over ST. LOUIS
Not much to say about either of these game. Both Denver and Buffalo have their problems, but KC and St. Louis, both with newly installed backup QBs (because, yeah, Bulger was the cause of that trainwreck) seem as capable against them as Sarah Palin was when interviewed by Katie Couric.

San Diego (-7.5) over OAKLAND
I'd love to take Oakland at home. Not because I'm a fan -- but only because it would add another level of fun to the whole drama playing out here, between owner & coach, fan & owner, organization & media. Really, it's a delight. San Diego, however, is going to beat the holy hell out of them this week -- and for a brief moment, we'll remember how bad they are on the field.

Washington (+11) over DALLAS
It seems like a no-brainer to pick Dallas, I know. I really should, too. It just seems too easy to do so. As good as they are, Dallas still is pretty bone-headed. And I really could see them somehow sleep-walking into a divisional game after a big win last week. Plus, I grew up a 'Skins fan, and even now that I've grown out of that phase of my life, I can't yet go against them against the 'Boys. (BTW ... I read Boys Will be Boys this week. Brilliant book. Buy it. Check it out. Steal it. Whatever. If you're a fan of football, you'll love this book.)

Philadelphia (-3) over CHICAGO
Chicago's defense is no slouch, but Philadelphia's is something to behold. I like the Bears, but I see Orton making one too many mistakes here, and giving a weakened Eagle offense just enough leverage to get by. This is, however, a bigger game for the Bears. A statement game, saying that the opening win against Indy wasn't a fluke. (My hypothesis: it wasn't a fluke -- Indy is actually that mediocre right now.) It pains me, but I might have to sit Westbrook for this one. This is probably the game I'm most excited about this week.

PITTSBURGH (-5) over Baltimore
Parker out. Big Ben's nursing a gimpy shoulder. Pittsburgh offensive line exposed by Philadelphia last week. Baltimore, against all odds, actually looking good on both sides of the ball. But in the end, I've picked against Pittsburgh way too many times, only to see them defy my expectations. Plus, it's Flacco's first encounter with a Pittsburgh crowd. That doesn't bode well, no matter the injuries for the home team.

Last week: 6-10
Season: 23-23-1

Friday, September 19, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Three

(Home team in caps.)

TENNESSEE (-5) over Houston
The Chris Johnson-era (or, maybe even more precisely, the Albert Haynesworth-era) of the Titans would seem to hold a lot more promise than the Vince Young-era. I'd like to see Young back out on the field and doing well. I'm not enjoying his collapse. If Houston can get anything going on the ground with Slaton & Green, this one could prove interesting.

Arizona (+3) over WASHINGTON
It's weird to think, but I actually trust Arizona more than I do Washington. Plus, Boldin is playing out of his mind right now. Go with the hot hand.

Carolina (+3.5) over MINNESOTA
All hail Gus Frerotte and Bernard Berrian, saviors of the Twin Cities! Yeah that makes sense. Remember how I said last week Jacksonville was a formerly underrated team that is now overrated. Minnesota is just instantly overrated. Hope you're in Barry Sanders Five, Adrian Peterson, 'cause he'll be counseling you on putting up amazing numbers for a crappy-to-mediocre team for most of your career.

ATLANTA (-5.5) over Kansas City
I hope there's a good NASCAR race on instead for those of you stuck with this one. Good week to start Turner & Norwood, though, if you have them in your fantasy league. The Chiefs' run defense is non-existent.

NEW ENGLAND (-12.5) over Miami
The Patriots are back, apparently. At least this is what ESPN tells me. My first reaction to this line was, "No fucking way." My second reaction was, "Well, maybe." My third & final reaction, "It is Miami, after all."

Oakland (+9.5) over BUFFALO
I like Buffalo a lot. And I think they win this game. I just think this line is a little inflated. I don't think Buffalo will ever go up enough that Oakland will feel compelled actually to start passing the ball. If they continue to grind it out with Bush and McFadden (I know, it depends on McFadden's health), Oakland should keep this one reasonably close. Enjoy the Raider sideshow, Buffalo -- it'll take your mind off your own issues.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-13.5) over Cincinnati
This week, two friends of mine have been negotiating a trade: Wes Welker for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Neither are putting up stellar numbers. Despite the fact the Bengals are 0-2, I still see more upside for Housh. Just not this week.

CHICAGO (-3) over Tampa Bay
Brian Griese returns to Soldiers Field. The drama! How did this not make primetime? Fortunately for fantasy owners, Joey Galloway is likely out. So, you won't have to deal with the heartache/headache that is the decision whether he's worth starting.

DENVER(-5.5) over New Orleans
Another fun one in Denver. I really could see this going either way. Possible let-down game for Denver. And who knows what you're ever going to get with New Orleans. Denver's defense is really awful, so Brees & Bush could make enough plays. But Denver's offensive attack is scary. I think they're a little like the Bengals from a few years ago. Watch out your knees, Jay.

SAN FRANCISCO (-4) over Detroit
This game represents, in full, why I want to move away from the Bay Area. Well, that and the $2000 rent. This comes down to the 49ers defense. They can't stop the run: but Detroit has nobody to run. The 49ers have a pretty good pass defense: and Detroit has a trigger-happy QB prone to throwing untimely interceptions. Oh, and while I'm dishing fantasy advice, Gore should have a nice week.

SEATTLE (-9.5) over St. Louis
You really have to feel for Seattle sports fans this year. So many of them hoped this would be a nice send-off year for Mike Holmgren. I never quite understood the optimism, or the random Super Bowl picks by a few national commentators. Their offense's shining star right now is Julius "I peaked way too soon" Jones. The defense should win this one, possibly with another couple of TDs. If you got 'em, start 'em.

Indianapolis (-5) over Jacksonville
One of the hardest games this week to pick. Jacksonville is still without Jerry Porter (surprise, suckers -- a number two receiver, at best, anyway), their remaining wide-receiving corp is comprised mostly of number three receivers, their offensive line is in disarray, and I'm running more on a Sunday than Jones-Drew and Taylor combined. BUT ... Indy's offensive line is possibly in even worse shape, they're without Bob Sanders, and Marvin Harrison couldn't win a footrace with Jeff Saturday. So, I don't know. Indy still has Manning. Manning hates to lose. And I can't imagine they start 0-2 at their new building.

Cleveland (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
I basically see Cleveland's offensive problems being parallel to Cincinnati's -- they can't get much worse, but they could get a lot better. Not necessarily to the heights they've been in the recent past. But to a level they win games they should win. For examples, games against Baltimore. The question I've yet to hear is how much longer before Brady Quinn makes an appearance -- in a game, not on the cover of Out.

PHILADELPHIA (-3.5) over Pittsburgh
Philadelphia is one ugly botched hand-off away from being the most impressive team in the league. More importantly, I'd like to thank the three people who drafted ahead of me for allowing Brian Westbrook to fall into his allotted spot on my fantasy team roster.

GREEN BAY (+3) over Dallas
This is a wonderful way to cap what should be a great Sunday of football. You might not like Dallas, but they put on a hell of a show, don't they? (Not to mention, they make great material for a book.) It didn't hurt them last week, but Ryan Grant's hamstring injury could this week. The euphoria of the moment, playing Dallas at Lambeau during primetime, could be enough though to make a young man forget his pain. That and some of Favre's old painkillers. More than anything else, I'm not sold on Dallas' secondary, and Green Bay still has the best wide receiving corp in the business. Slow T.O. at all, a bit like Philly did in the second half on Monday, and you're golden.

New York Jets (+9) over SAN DIEGO
San Diego is the hard luck story of the first quarter of the season. I know they got screwed, but it's not as though they didn't have a chance to stop the two-point conversion. Of course, San Diego has no defense, so this is obviously asking too much. The worst thing about the Denver game ending the way it did is that for the rest of the week we only heard about the referee, and not Antonio Cromartie. Cotchery, Coles, & Stuckey have to like their chances anytime they find themselves anywhere near him. Hard to see how Favre doesnn't pick San Diego team apart?

Last week: 7-7-1
Season: 17-13-1

Wall Street: We're Saved From Economic Doom!

.... or are we??

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good Question

From Steve Benen:

Let's also not lose sight of the broader pattern. McCain thinks the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country. He's been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia. He's been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both. He's been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq. He's been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq. He's been confused about Iran's relationship with al Qaeda. He's been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi'ia. McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to "President Putin of Germany." All of this incoherence on his signature issue.

I'm curious. What do you suppose the reaction would be from the political establishment if Barack Obama had made these mistakes over the course of the campaign? What would reporters, pundits, and Republicans have to say about Obama's ability to lead a complex world in a time of war and uncertainty?

I think an intellectually honest person would agree that if Obama had made these same mistakes he'd be labeled "clueless" on foreign policy. So, why the double-standard?
Good question.

Of course, we know the answer. As we rehearsed a few weeks ago, McCain has an adult perspective on these matters. Free pass for the adults when they flub details.

6 A.M. Anger

Why the fuck would a landlord put a smoke detector that repeatedly screams a high pitch, dog-depressing beep when the battery is a low in a place that a tenant cannot easily get to it without a 30-foot ladder? WHY? WHY???

"My problem child"

I caught the History Channel's excellent documentary From Peyote to LSD when it first aired back in April, and have since then, from time to time, thought that I should look and see if it is streaming online anywhere. As luck would have it, it is.

Normally, I'm the first to laugh at the idea of middle-aged white guys embracing shamanism. I worked for one of these guys last year. The mental image of him shirtless, with no doubt expensive paints adorning his pot-belly (with the all the significance squiggly lines can convey), is burned into me in such a way that I can only describe it as horrific. Be that as it may, the peyote cult is still really fascinating. If you agree, or if you want your disbelief challenged, this documentary is a brilliant way to spend 90 minutes of your life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

George Saunders Will Save Us

Man, that post last night was kind of depressing. Apologies. It'll never happen again. Until it happens again.

In the meantime, we still have George Saunders to keep us sane.

So, when Barack Obama says he will put some lipstick on my pig, I am, like, Are you calling me a pig? If so, thanks! Pigs are the most non-Élite of all barnyard animals. And also, if you put lipstick on my pig, do you know what the difference will be between that pig and a pit bull? I’ll tell you: a pit bull can easily kill a pig. And, as the pig dies, guess what the Hockey Mom is doing? Going to her car, putting on more lipstick, so that, upon returning, finding that pig dead, she once again looks identical to that pit bull, which, staying on mission, the two of them step over the dead pig, looking exactly like twins, except the pit bull is scratching his lower ass with one frantic leg, whereas the Hockey Mom is carrying an extra hockey stick in case Todd breaks his again. But both are going, like, Ha ha, where’s that dumb pig now? Dead, that’s who, and also: not a smidge of lipstick.

A lose-lose for the pig.

There’s a lesson in that, I think.

Minor Details

I find myself dwelling tonight on the minor details of memory. Instead of sleep, I recall the bench where, each morning, I come with the dog. She likes to sit here, and does not seem to mind my company. The benches here at that hour are generally wet with dew and/or the spray of the sprinklers. We sit here, sometimes for up to thirty minutes, and occasionally watch the fog sneak above and below, and sometimes between the highest and lowest points of, the nearby bridge that connects Oakland to Alameda.

If a cloud can be construed to appear vaguely as something lifelike--a cat eating a dog bone, a dog with a boner, or a man peeing onto a leaf--then fog is a bit like its Golemesque cousin. Its lifelike qualities are more than appearance. It feels organic in a way that we would probably not allow other atmospheric phenomenon. Fog seems in a way closer to being "real"--or, at the very least, hiding something real.

In popular imagination, fog is the precursor to doom that clouds rarely are, despite the fact clouds are far more likely to bring destruction. Maybe this is because of fog's immediacy, its closeness, the fact that we can sometimes touch fog and shudder at the ghostly fingers we imagine on the verge of meeting ours.

Not long ago, I found what fog is hiding. I took a long drive along the northern California and Oregon coast. At some point, I forget where, I encountered a beach unlike one I'd ever encountered. The sand was littered with death: driftwood, vacated shells, dried seaweed, and the trunk of a tree. The ocean was situated behind a smoky layer of coastal fog, peeking through occasionally, and then hiding again as though a shy child. It all smelled and sounded like a beach, but it looked as though the staging of the apocalypse.

If in fact history did end there that day, inside the fog, and everything beyond it been a hellish nightmare, much would be explained.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"It got to the point of ejaculation.”

Bill Simmons mentions this in his Friday column, so I would imagine you're likely to hear more about the public-masturbatory exploits of former 49er & Cowboy Charles Haley over the next couple of days. Because the site Kissing Suzie Kolber will almost certainly receive a substantial uptick in its traffic, on account of people Googling "Charles Haley penis," I thought I'd just post a direct link for the chosen few who frequent this here den of ill repute.

UPDATE: Another great Charles Haley story has come to my attention via a friend of Silentio, about a reporter who just happened to cover football in San Francisco and Dallas during Haley's decade-long reign of terror. I really regret not going to journalism school.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

NFL Predictions: Week Two

I totally forgot to blog about my Week One picks. You'll have to take my word for it that I went 10-6. I missed on Jacksonville-Tennessee, New York (Jets)-Miami, Pittsburgh-Houston (STUPID!!!), Detroit-Atlanta, San Diego-Carolina, and Indy-Chicago. To be fair, I shouldn't be credited with getting the New England-Chiefs game right, but it reverted to a Pick 'Em on Yahoo when Vegas couldn't get enough people to bet on Kansas City (even after they were getting nearly seventeen points). I'll take it though.

From here on out, I'll post weekly picks on Thursday. Feel free to abuse me on my stupidity before and/or after the games have been played.

(Home team in caps.)

DETROIT (+3) over Green Bay
I'll concede that I'm pretty iffy on this pick. I liked what I saw out of Aaron Rodgers on Monday -- so much so that I ditched Carson Palmer and picked him up instead. But, I think they've a few things working against them this week. Not only are they coming off an emotional win, Ryan Grant is nursing a tweaked hamstring, and I think Detroit is due a couple more TDs than they could manage last week against Atlanta. They're a bad team, sure, but that offense should be better they showed.

New Orleans (PK) over WASHINGTON
New Orleans won the best-played game last week, so they should be rewarded at least a little bit of credit. Washington, on the other hand, is due nothing after their stink-bomb performance against the Giants. Even without Colston, I think New Orleans has enough offense to pull it off on the road.

CINCINNATI (-1) over Tennessee
How can I do this? Cincinnati was absolutely awful. They didn't get shell-shocked like the Raiders, but I think they might've been worse. Whereas Tennessee beat the Jags into the ground. And it's not as though playing at Paul Brown Stadium is a huge advantage for the Bengals. BUT ... they have a certain something whenever it comes to playing Tennessee. Palmer could very well make me regret not having him on my fantasy team this week. Plus, who knows what Tennessee will get out of Haynesworth, who apparently rubbed dirt on his concussed brain last week and finished the game. We saw last year what happens to the Titans when he's not in. (I'm avoiding saying anything about Vince Young, because I think Jason Whitlock deserves the final word for now on him. The great thing about Whitlock's column is that it demands you think about it, rather than begging you to agree or disagree instinctively. That doesn't happen too often in sports writing.)

KANSAS CITY (-3.5) over Oakland
I foresee a full-blown meltdown in Oakland after this game. Kiffin is the first coach fired this season. Damon Huard will shock us all with his efficiency, and may very well fool somebody in your fantasy league to pick him up.

CAROLINA (-3) over Chicago
We'll know if Chicago's defense is for real again after this game. Carolina's offensive unit is just a lot more with it right now than Indy's -- they held their own against a dinged up SD defense, but one that is still pretty good. Two in a row on the road from Orton is asking too much. If Carolina wins this, the rest of the NFC will immediately pay attention. Steve Smith's return awaits.

New York Giants (-8.5) over ST. LOUIS
Wow. St. Louis was spectacularly bad against Philly. I don't think they will be THAT bad this week, since the Giants likely don't have the same kind of firepower as Philly. But, it won't be pretty either. St. Louis fans, stay home so your city isn't stuck with this one on their tv! As a Bay Area fan, I know all too well the evil that is the shitty sold-out NFL game.

Buffalo (+5.5) over JACKSONVILLE
Now, I'm not all-in with Buffalo. (Unlike my friend up in Buffalo who sees them winning TWO Super Bowls this year, to make up for the sins against them.) Seattle, though, is set to be VERY bad. Buffalo did to them last week what you're supposed to against bad teams: beat them within an inch of their life, and be sure to take out their remaining wide receiver. Jacksonville, on the other hand, looked lost in week one. Granted, they always look kind of lost against Tennessee. But they gave off the vibe of a team that used to be underrated and very quickly became overrated. Kind of like Nicole Kidman as an actress. Give them a couple of weeks without their starting offensive line, Jones-Drew's requisite six weeks to get going, Jerry Porter's lifetime of unrealized potential, and they'll be back among the ranks of underrated soon enough. Just in time to take Buffalo's place.

MINNESOTA (+2) over Indianapolis
Indy fans, I know you're saying, "He just hates us." But you have to believe me, I really wanted to take you in this game. But, consider this. Minnesota had a shot to win on Monday in Green Bay, despite Tarvaris Jackson's horrible performance and a fairly underwhelming defensive display. What happens when they're playing at home against a really dinged up team whose timing is way off? It's really hard to see Indy go 0-2. But, if there is a year for it to happen, it is this year. If Indy scores ten points early, though, Minnesota's toast.

San Francisco (+7) over SEATTLE
God, I hate that I'm going to be stuck with this game on Sunday afternoon. Anyway. I saw today that Peter King is picking Seattle to win this one 40-17. Now, I can see picking Seattle to win. They're playing at home after all, and a contest between two shitty teams can often be settled by the home-field advantage, but 40-17!!!! How in the hell will Seattle score 40 points? Is Julius Jones going to have a career day? -- if so, that's 150 yards and two TDs. Where do the rest come from? San Francisco is pretty bad, true. And, yes, they're still starting Jack Quinn's Bar & Grill. But they weren't as bad on Sunday as a lot of people say. Well, okay, strike that, maybe they were -- but why does Seattle's badness get a free pass? Maybe I'm just responding to King's prediction here. A TD win over SF doesn't seem unrealistic. But, screw it. I'm sticking with it.

TAMPA BAY (-7) over Atlanta
ARIZONA (-6.5) over Miami
HOUSTON (-4.5) over Baltimore
Nothing to say about any of these three. I'll be stunned if Tampa Bay doesn't cover. Considerably less so if Arizona doesn't against Miami. And legitimately haven't a clue about the third one. Flip a coin -- it'll probably be more interesting than the game.

DENVER (+1.5) over San Diego
I know they were playing Oakland on Monday, but Denver actually looked really good. See my rationale for picking Buffalo for why I think this shouldn't be counted against them. San Diego is without their defensive leader. LT has a bum toe, and will soon have a sore thumb from biting it to suppress his tears. Philip River is in frat boy grudge mode against Cutler. I think they're due for self-combustion in Denver, thus continuing their streak of being awful in September and scaring us all in December.

NEW YORK JETS (-1.5) over New England
I think I'm supposed to pick New England to overcome adversity and piss off the whole of America by still being good even without Tom Brady. I'm not seeing it. The Jets weren't great last week, but they were serviceable. Plus, they'll be pumped up for this game in a way that nobody is against Miami. No storybook ending for New England and its "I'm not a QB but I played one for the New England Patriots" QB this week.

CLEVELAND (-6) over Pittsburgh
This is probably the pick I'll regret the most. I never pick Pittsburgh to win, and they always do. But, Cleveland HAS to be better than they played last week. Don't they? I think I'm hearing "No" from the majority of you. Well, at the very least, they want to repay the Steelers for thumping them in Cleveland last year. Yeah, that's my justification for this stupid pick.

DALLAS (-7) over Philadelphia
This game is so good. It's just too bad that it's stuck with those ass-hats from ESPN calling it. They will destroy what is otherwise a perfect match-up. I'll be cheering for Philly, but think Dallas is just too complete a team right now. A little concerned about Barber's health. But not enough to think they don't cover.

Sarah Palin ♥ Rapists

I know it is sexist to criticize Sarah Palin's actual policies. She is irreproachable. So, I won't say this as a criticism, but merely as an observation.

Sarah Palin loves rapists.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Renewed Mind is the Key

This is just stunning. Absolutely stunning.

John McCain ♥ Pedophiles

Why does John McCain want to protect children from knowing the difference between good touches and bad touches? What does John McCain have to hide here? I understand the need to shore up his credentials with the crucial NAMBLA constituency, but this seems a little too open. Or is America ready to make this a truly historic election, between a black man and a pedophile?

My friends, I think not. As a friend of Silentio just said to me via IM, Obama's most suitable response to this is (in light of the duplicitous turn McCain has decided to take his own campaign): "John McCain: Wrong to be in a room alone with your prepubescent daughter. Wrong for America."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness of life

Reformed Maverick

This is well, good, and hilarious .... but, where Brando's fall from grace was greeted by laughter, McCain's fall may well be greeted by an inauguration. Give the people what they want, I guess.

Now, we can laugh at this all we want, but as has been the lesson of this blog for years, The Onion is right:

Smiling Now Primarily Used To Communicate Anger

The smile, a facial expression traditionally used to convey joy, pleasure, or amusement, is now mainly used to suppress rage, according to a five-year study released Monday by the Countenance Institute. "More than 85 percent of smiles are involuntary responses to mounting anger," the study read in part. "In addition, the length and intensity of these smiles directly correspond to the amount of anger the smile is concealing. A smile that lasts less than two seconds represents just a passing annoyance, while a smile of four to eight seconds indicates a genuine hatred for its target." The study noted that individuals smiling for more than one minute while nodding and baring their teeth are most likely preparing to kill the person they are smiling at.

Friday, September 05, 2008

“I’m a radical, but I hate radicals. I’d forget the revolution over a glass of wine.”

There's a really fine article in The Believer about the life & times of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. If you don't know what that is, you're in good company. In the '20s, Haldeman-Julius set up shop in Girard, Kansas, and through his insanely popular "Little Blue Books" mail-order business contributed to the town's bizarre notoriety as a hotbed of socialism and radicalism.

Initially called “The Appeal’s Pocket Series,” individual titles sold for twenty-five cents. From the beginning of his publishing project, Haldeman-Julius made an effort to promote controversial rationalist and sex-education writings not available from other outlets. At a time when many working-class Americans didn’t finish high school—let alone attend college—his books aimed to inform, provoke discussion, and promote independence of thought. Many of the books were public-domain reprints of classics, which included “all the famous authors from Aesop to Zarilla”—though he also hired freelancers to write original books, often on political or how-to topics. Protofeminist Margaret Sanger, for example, was recruited to write about birth control (a taboo subject at the time). Sherwood Anderson contributed short stories, and Theodore Dreiser penned How the Great Corporations Rule the United States. Scores of lesser-known writers weighed in on various other topics, from Great Pirates and Their Deeds to How to Make All Kinds of Candy. An atheist himself, Haldeman-Julius made it a point to publish excerpts from sacred books as well as tracts on skepticism. “I am against all religion—I think the Bible is a dull book,” he later wrote. “Yet I print the Bible, and in the face of an appallingly low annual sale I keep the book in the series. I do this out of stubbornness. I am determined, because I know I am prejudiced against the book, to give it more than a fair chance. Could supporters of the Bible ask any more of one who does not like it?”

There's more where that came from in the article, you crazy radicals!

A Tip of the Hat

I'm late linking to this, but I've only recently come out of blogging hibernation. (That's right, if you haven't noticed, tell your friends, Silentio is open for business again. The whore is ready for one and all ... at the same time.) My friend Adam has co-written a splendid post on The Dark Knight slamming the argument that the movie is a paean to militaristic neo-liberalism, insisting instead that the anarchic Joker is the true hero. Also, this is one of the few instances where the comments supplement a blog post and make it even better.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the Radio

Slavoj Žižek is in town this weekend, and found time for an interview on KQED. Really timely stuff -- on Obama, Batman, Kung-Fu Panda, flash mobs, and even Burning Man. For those interested, it can be heard here.

Wednesday Apocalypse Watch

First, a little mood music.

"We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point," said senior scientist Mark Serreze at the data center in Boulder, Colo. "It's tipping now. We're seeing it happen now."

NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally added that within "five to less than 10 years," the Arctic could be free of sea ice in the summer.

"It also means that climate warming is also coming larger and faster than the models are predicting, and nobody's really taken into account that change yet," he said. (courtesy, LA Times)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How To Survive The Republican National Convention

If you're like me, you are a glutton for punishment and will inevitably find yourself watching some of the Republican National Convention this week. Now, we each have our own reason for subjecting ourselves to this -- morbid fascination, liberal hope to understand, etc. -- but none of us will be able to survive without proper precautions. In addition to copious amounts of alcohol and/or mind-altering substances, one also needs an appropriate soundtrack. You will need something that will at first blush harmonize with and be approprite to the drone of the speakers, and thus not immediately overwhelming, but will ultimately turn everything on its head and make the time you invested in watching not an entire waste of time. The drugs and alcohol will do most of the heavy lifting here, but appropriate music that does not kill the buzz helps. Tonight, I'm experimenting with La Monte Young's Eternal Music. Feel free to join me:

Part One

Part Two

This is What American Democracy Looks Like

(via Rushkoff) I have to first mention that I’m wasn’t at the DNC protests nor am I going to the RNC protests. I’m staying in DC doing media support and jail support from afar. I went to NYC for the 2004 RNC protests and I was, in the following order, beaten with a nightclub, wrapped in a giant orange net by the cops, set on fire (swear I’m not making that up), beaten again, arrested, put in a cage, hit by a cop car. So I’m taking it easy this time around.

The protests at the DNC are being organized under a couple of different umbrella groups. Broadly, it includes everything from progressives to anti-authoritarian radicals, with a lot of students and youth under 30 and vets.

The conditions were pretty poor. The police had also erected a mini-Gitmo of free-speech zones–protest pens–into which to corral the bulk of demonstrators and any kind of activity was almost immediately curbed. The other major problem was that there was effectively zero press coverage, even among liberal bloggers. I spent my week seeing liberal blogs excitedly gush about what was going on inside the convention and rail about Republican radicalism of the last eight years while I was cradling a phone in my hand listening to friends tell me stories of being beaten up a couple of blocks away.

That lack of coverage in a lot of respects really emboldens the police and allows them to get away with just about anything, aside from it absolutely impoverishing our ability to engage in a reasoned analysis of how power works and whether the Democrat vs. Republican frame actually depicts anything even close to reality.

And, speaking of police brutality, it’s pretty notable that they’ve been consistently targeting press. There was a documented incident where an ABC news producer was knocked down and arrested trying to get footage of delegates and donors. The police also detained and seized the equipment of the Glass Bead Collective (a well-known indymedia group). There was also the knocking down and detainment of a Code Pink member–probably the worst bit was seeing her get shoved down, the footage then cutting to her being interviewed by journalists, and then the cop walking up and grabbing her in the middle of the interview and dragging her off.

But that kind of one-time sensational pushing doesn’t really capture the full scale of what was going on. Marches were immediately surrounded by walls of police, people were told to leave, and then they weren’t given any exit to leave and those who tried were arrested. There was a 100+ person mass arrest after the police simply decided that a large group of people milling about looked “suspicious” and were carrying rocks (which were never found, naturally), a convergence space was raided, and vehicles were simply stopped and searched and equipment was seized.

My connection to this is that I’m part of DC Students for a Democratic Society, which is part of the national Students for a Democratic Society organization. We’ve become known for an event called Funk theWar, which is a Reclaim the Streets style event–we like to call it a Militant Mobile Disco, and we’ve been called “suburban terrorists” by a couple of right-wing writers, which is offensive as we all live in DC. A good chunk of people in my chapter and a lot of people in SDS went to the DNC and are also going to the RNC protests.

I have to note though that this hasn’t stopped with the end of the DNC. In the Twin Cities, where the RNC is taking place, there was a massive raid on a convergence space with all inside (several hundred) detained in handcuffs (including a four-year-old) for hours simultaneous to a raid of three private homes around the area and then a raid on the base of I-Witness Video, a documentary outfit that specializes in recording incidents of police brutality and proved instrumental in getting people’s charges dropped after the 2004 RNC. The police called the whole thing a “criminal enterprise” and a handful of individuals have been charged with “conspiracy to riot”, but no evidence has actually been found as far as anyone can tell.

I’m gonna cut this short because I’m going on a bit, but I think one really important thing comes out of this and this is really what I feel like you’d be interested in: What the police are doing here isn’t stopping the demonstrations. They’re getting us to change the frame of discussion. Since these raids started, we’ve all switched from talking about the war, about capitalism, about the system, and about what we want in place of all this. We’re now talking about police brutality and we’re all getting a certain amount of titillation out of that. But it effectively completely sidelines why my friends are out there on the streets and why they’re willing to risk being beaten and arrested. Police action against doesn’t just shut down our march or cast a chill over organization activity–-it helps us forget why we’re fighting and that scares me more than anything else. I saw the same thing happen to the anti-globalization movement after 9/11 hit and I hope we’re strong enough this time around to inoculate ourselves against this sort of attack.

The last paragraph strikes me as off the mark a bit. The police action may "sideline" why the protesters choose to on the streets, but it actually illustrates all too well why more of us should be on the streets. Police violence is not a distraction. It is, in fact, the very embodiment of that against which the protesters fight. Here is exemplified the violence that sustains and perpetuates the status quo; when its ever-present gestures of defense are betrayed as aggression and projection of power at all costs. We are distracted most when it is ignored.