31 January 2009

The beginning of the end for print journalism in 1981

David Brauer recently posted on a video that's going around. It's a 1981 TV news story about an electronic edition of a newspaper. A text-only version of the San Francisco Examiner took two hours to download. Incidentally, that's how long it still takes for my parents to look at a website with their dial-up on the farm.

I read the New York Times on my computer everyday. For free. I read pretty much all of my news on-line. For free.

Why is the print journalism industry tanking? Continue reading this post >>

Strib tackles Facebook, boobs, and babies

Here's the first line from the story in today's Strib:
A recent Facebook controversy, in which some photos of nursing mothers were yanked from the social-networking site because of their potentially "pornographic" nature, is the latest reminder that our country's sexualized notion of breasts remains, shall we say, front and center.
And yes, Star Tribune, we shall say boldly: front and center! Trust me, there are a number of lines in this article that are quite funny, particularly when taken out of context (which I will do in good time).

But the breast-feeding debate is interesting. Emily and I have had it a few times. Emily's family takes breast-feeding pictures. I have seen pictures of Emily's mom breast-feeding, and once, I saw Emily's aunt pull out the boob for a feeding. My family doesn't really partake in that. My sister breast-fed my nephew for awhile, but there was always a blanket.

I guess, for me, I'm not offended or disgusted. I'm just always surprised. We'll be looking at Emily's baby pictures, and I'll be going along, innocently: How cute! Baby Emily is being held by her grandparents! There's Baby Emily crying! Oh, Baby Emily is being held by her mom. How sweet! Wait. What's that? Oh, dear lord. Boob!!!

I understand the benefits of breast-feeding, and I support the act. And I guess I'm willing to get past my boob-shock if it's more comfortable for the mother and child to do it unencumbered by a blanket. I suppose it's just a matter of what you're used to, and maybe, some of these people need to just get over it.

And now, let's indulge my immaturity. The article's funny lines (which are mostly quotes from people):
  • "However ... why would I want to flop out a milk jug and show the world? 'Hey, look at me. I got a jug, and I'm feeding my kid. I dare ya to say something.'"
  • "None of us wants to show you our big swollen boob."
  • "You try having a small person sucking on you six times a day."
  • While a bit of unidentifiable flesh is fine, a nipple or areola (the darker circle surrounding the nipple) falls into their definition of "obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit." [I'm envisioning some Strib copy editors debating if people know what areolas are.]
  • "But it's not like it's a normal nipple. It's a big, swollen, wet nipple."
  • She didn't like seeing women "completely naked from the waist up," with babies nearby but not latched on.
  • "These women are not putting tassels on their boobs."
  • "I don't want to see your saggy, stretch-marked breasts."
Continue reading this post >>

Colbert takes on Papa Bear

I've just been going through this past week's Colbert Report shows on-line. This is too good not to post:
Continue reading this post >>

30 January 2009

You can take the boy out of Iowa...

As of late, my fellow former Iowan, Ashton Kutcher, has been displaying some not-so-gosh-darn-nice Midwestern hospitality toward his neighbor, who is building some obscenely large mansion right next to Ashton's obscenely large mansion. And get this: construction has started at 7 a.m. and it is loud and Ashton has been losing sleep.

Because Ashton views himself as a role model, he has responded to the conflict in the most mature way, which is to say that he made a video where he calls his neighbor some not-so-nice names and wrote death threats toward his neighbor on his Twitter page. Oh, and then he posted the video on the internet for all the world to see:


And here are a few highlights from his Twitter:
  • I'm gonna kill my neighbor!
  • this ass clown has another thing coming!
  • holy moly I'm gonna lose it!
  • Jack ass 7am building a god damn fort next to my house f'in up my view and noise polluting the entire f'in nieghborhood with pounding steal
  • this SOB owl feces cougar placenta jack bone dick!
The internet: democratizing global communication for the good of humanity! Continue reading this post >>

29 January 2009

Milton for modern times

For a variety of reasons, I've been thinking a lot about the last lines of Milton's Paradise Lost lately. In the scene, Adam and Eve are leaving Paradise. They have fallen, and they look ahead to see chaos and uncertainty:
They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,
Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces throng'd and fierie Armes:
Som natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
I know it would have been hard for me to get through it without a Gina to guide me, but if you want to understand humanity a little better, read Paradise Lost. Continue reading this post >>

28 January 2009

Veggies too sexy for primetime

NBC has rejected this PETA ad to air during the Super Bowl:


PETA has listed the reasons NBC gave in their rejection:
  • licking pumpkin
  • touching her breast with her hand while eating broccoli
  • pumpkin from behind between legs
  • rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin
  • screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy)
  • asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina
  • licking eggplant
  • rubbing asparagus on breast
I guess PETA wins this one. All the media and consumer exposure without the Super Bowl ad rates. Continue reading this post >>

CBO reports coming out of the wazoo

Think Progress recently reported on the fake Congressional Budget Office analysis that was floated around last week as a criticism to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The supposedly leaked analysis claimed that it will take two years for a bulk of the proposed infrastructure funds to be spent, negating their immediate help to the economy.

Of course, conservative partisans and otherwise decent members of the media jumped on the fake report, because in politics, things like facts and reality aren't particularly important. It's better to just be right, regardless of reality. Or at the very least, stir things up with a little controversy.

Nonetheless, our watchdog friends in the media managed to mention the fake report 81 times as though it were fact. Think Progress has documented each mention. My favorite comes from the always colorful Glenn Beck of Fox News:
81) GLENN BECK: We had the numbers from the non-partisan, radical hatemongers, what a bunch of racists over at the Congressional Budget Office. They say, according to the CBO, only $26 billion. Just over 3 percent, will be spent in this emergency, quick get the money to the people, stimulus package this year. Three percent. [Fox News, 1/26/09]
Oh, and the CBO has issued its actual report. It estimates about two-thirds of the proposed investment money will be spent in the first 18 months after the legislation is passed. Continue reading this post >>

27 January 2009

The Catholics are revolting

There is a revolt going on in the Archdiocese of Boston. I caught this story on the ABC World News yesterday. Here's the gist:
In 2004, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said it would close St. Frances X. Cabrini and a dozen other churches in the area because of financial problems and a shortage of priests. While most churches closed their doors, parishioners from St. Frances X. Cabrini sneaked in and took over. Four other churches from the Boston area archdiocese are also holding vigils.

... The archdiocese stripped the church of sacred objects, but 100 St. Frances X. Cabrini congregants operate what they say is a fully-functioning church, complete with rosary groups, Sunday school for their kids and, most provocatively, Sunday communion with wafers blessed by anonymous, sympathetic priests.
I was raised to be a devout Catholic in a rural Iowa parish, and I feel compelled to say that a large number of my childhood memories revolve around my experiences at Immaculate Conception in Charles City. I went to the Catholic elementary school, served as an altar boy, sang in the choir, received all the sacraments (with zeal!), went to the National Catholic Youth Conference, ate at many pancake breakfasts, etc. I mention these things to say that, even though I left Catholicism and became a non-believer in college, my upbringing in the Church will always remain a part of me, and I have many fond memories (as well as a few not so fond memories).

But, I digress.

What fascinates me about this revolt going on in Massachusetts is that, in the hours and hours I've spent thinking about the Catholic Church, I never really thought of it as being so thoroughly undemocratic.

It was a constant worry of our parish that we'd lose our priest or be forced to share one with another church, but I don't remember anyone contemplating any kind of action like these vigils. The Diocese would do what it wanted to do with little accountability to its members, and that was that.

I can't think of many Catholics who would tolerate such treatment from their government, so why do they tolerate it from their religion? Continue reading this post >>

Logic and emotion in decision-making

Jonah Lehrer makes sense and scares the hell out of me:
Ever since the time of the ancient Greeks, we've assumed that humans are rational creatures. When we make a decision, we are supposed to consciously analyze the alternatives and carefully weigh the pros and cons. This simple idea underlies the philosophies of Plato and Descartes; it forms the foundation of modern economics; it drove decades of research in cognitive science. Over time, rationality came to define us. It was, simply put, what made us human. There's only one problem with this assumption: it's wrong. It's not how the brain works. For the first time in human history, we can look inside our brain and see how we think. It turns out that we weren't engineered to be rational or logical or even particularly deliberate. Instead, our mind holds a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotion. Whenever we make a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when we try to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence our judgment.
Lehrer's new book How We Decide elaborates on what we think when we make decisions. Continue reading this post >>

26 January 2009

Wasting Time: Sweet Obama Inauguration Photo Edition


At first glance, David Bergman's panoramic picture of the Obama inauguration doesn't look to be anything special. What's the big deal? My little Canon can take panoramic pics, right?

Wrong.

This photo has 1474 megapixels! I don't really know what that means, but it is badass!!! (Thankfully, for people who care to know, Bergman explains everything on his blog.)

When you look at the full-screen version on Gigapan (and you must), you can zoom in to see faces in pretty stunning detail. I anticipate spending hours looking for the following: celebrities (Oprah!), nose-pickers, people asleep (Yeah, I'm looking at you Justice Thomas.), and other amusements.

It's like political Where's Waldo? (Find Congressman Eni Faleomavaega from America Samoa!) Continue reading this post >>

Coming up...

I've been relying too much on posting videos and other non-me-generated content lately.

I'm working on a post about porn and feminism and another about the Academy Awards, as I've now seen all the best picture nominees! (If you have strong opinions on any of these, you should comment or send me a note. I'm still a bit undecided.) I still plan on seeing The Wrestler, as well as a few of the others through Netflix.

Hopefully these posts will be up very, very soon. Continue reading this post >>

24 January 2009

Gitmo's World

Oh, Daily Show:
Continue reading this post >>

23 January 2009

Ellen and Gladys

This is a bit long, but so hilarious. Ellen DeGeneres receives advice from an old southern woman. I wanted to type out the funniest quotes, but I don't want to ruin your viewing pleasure. Watch the whole thing -- it gets better and better:

Thanks to Anna for sending the link my way! Continue reading this post >>

Obama/Lost Fan Fiction

Meg Favreau has sketched a few short excerpts of Obama/Lost fan fiction. Funny stuff. Here's the opening excerpt:
EXT - THE ISLAND - DAY

BARACK OBAMA, HURLEY, and CLAIRE are running through the jungle. All are sweating, out of breath, and wide-eyed. Obama leads the group, determined.

OBAMA: Come on!

The group crashes through the trees and brush, frantic. Finally, we see what is chasing them: the smoke monster.

HURLEY: What is it? What is it?

Obama stops and turns to look at the monster. Close up on his face.

OBAMA: It's the economy.

CUT TO title: LOST
Read all three excerpts here. Continue reading this post >>

21 January 2009

It's here - finally

Continue reading this post >>

19 January 2009

Remembering MLK

(Photo: Bob Adelman/Magnum Photos)

This photo was taken in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. After high-powered hoses were turned on them, the peaceful protesters realized that they could withstand the blasts of water when they joined hands. Continue reading this post >>

Spicing up the morning commute

I am typically not one to post advertisements on here, but I'll make an exception for this T-Mobile one because I dream of taking part in a choreographed dance in a public space. My ideal would be a Target or a K-Mart, simply because I think the cast of characters would be funnier.

But London's Liverpool Street Station would do:

Can you imagine if this was commonplace? Like this happened this morning on your way to work? Wouldn't that make the day start off better?

Maybe Henry will start doing choreographed dances with me in the morning. Continue reading this post >>

17 January 2009

Bittersweet

The compilation of Dave Letterman's "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches":

I have to admit: a small part of me will miss this guy's antics. I wish he just had his own TV show or something. A job where he is visible but unimportant. Continue reading this post >>

4 days to go...

Apparently time travel and Sawyer are both going to play a big part in the new season. Continue reading this post >>

16 January 2009

Single ladies unite


There were quite a few comments to this video, claiming that the little girl was going to grow up to be a "slut" because she learned this dance. I guess I just don't buy it. She'll probably just grow up liking to dance.

(Sidenote: There are hours, and I mean HOURS, of video of a young Emily and her sister tumbling around the living room while watching dance competitions on TV.) Continue reading this post >>

15 January 2009

They came from the deep

Emily has been obsessively watching YouTube videos of underwater creatures that disgust her. I don't know why. But she has found some doozies.

"Pure evil" is the description I've heard of this gigantic jellyfish:


I am generally grossed out by octopi, but this is mind-blowing:
Continue reading this post >>

13 January 2009

Jason Jones goes to Pundit School

There's been some talk that the Daily Show is going to struggle without Dubya to kick around anymore. I think a lot of people miss the point that most of the Daily Show's satire is focused on the media, and the propensity of 24-hour cable news networks to create drama for the sake of ratings.

Case in point, last night, Jason Jones went to Pundit School:
I think the Daily Show is going to be just fine. Continue reading this post >>

12 January 2009

Minneapolis schools don't serve peanut butter, Universe falling apart

Bob Collins took the lead on bringing this tragedy to the light of day, but I simply can't stand by without adding my voice to this incredibly, incredibly grave situation.

This morning, Minneapolis Public Schools (my good friend and occasional employer) proudly announced that they aren't affected by this King Nut salmonella hoopla. Yay! Great! How are they sure they aren't affected by it?

THEY DON'T SERVE PEANUT BUTTER!!! TERROR!!! EXCLAMATION MARK!!!

Now, my thinking is that they want to avoid hurting the poor souls who are allergic to peanuts, but what sadness that there aren't any peanut butter sandwiches. What great, great sadness for the children of Minneapolis. This almost makes me want to support school vouchers, so these innocents might transfer to a school where the hearts of youngsters are full of the creamy (or crunchy) goodness of peanut butter.

I can say no more on this issue for right now. My heart is too heavy. Continue reading this post >>

Burgled!

Emily and I were roused this morning by the Minneapolis Police. Apparently, someone in our building found a man and a woman had broken into our storage closet in the basement and were rummaging through our belongings. Not surprisingly, the couple high-tailed it out of there before the police were summoned.

I imagine the Bonnie and Clyde pair were sad they had gone through all the work of breaking through the door of our locked closet only to find some empty boxes, suitcases, Christmas decorations, and a container of my childhood memories. In fact, given the last item, the duo, in addition to being destitute, may now need therapy.

So, no harm, no foul. The door can be replaced, the lock re-affixed, and life goes on.

Still, it's weird feeling that they rifled through our stuff, even though none of it is particularly valuable (at least to other people). There is a certain amount of violation of the trust: you don't touch my stuff, I won't touch your stuff.

I suppose I should just be grateful that our most prized possession was upstairs with us. Safe and sound and dreaming about squirrels. Continue reading this post >>

Happy Monday

My friend Charlie led me to this video, and now I give it to you:
Continue reading this post >>

10 January 2009

Just like notes from Mom!

Recently, I've been digging on this site called PassiveAggressiveNotes.com. I think it's pretty self-explanatory. Catch a few of my favorite entries here and here and here. Continue reading this post >>

Oil on the mind

I was recently reminded that rural Iowa dreams often involve engines. Continue reading this post >>

09 January 2009

Henry is not as unique as I thought :(

I was just wandering through some of Andrew Sullivan's blog, and I thought this video he recently posted apt given my little rambling about Henry yesterday:

Continue reading this post >>

08 January 2009

Meet Henry

Emily and I adopted Henry from the Coon Rapids Humane Society last June. At the time, Emily was gung-ho and I was skeptical. When we adopted him, I never thought I could be one of those people who talk about a cat as if it was a person (and a unique little animal-person, at that).

But here I am, writing this post.

In no particular order, here are some of Henry's favorite activities:
  • Sleeping.
  • Looking out the window (preferably at birds or squirrels).
  • Enacting a morning routine. As in, he will sit on us in bed and lick us until we wake up and feed him. Then, he promptly eats about two kernels of his food and goes about his day.
  • Cleaning himself. The sound of his licking is surprisingly/disturbingly loud.
  • Eating anything that looks string-like. In December, he ate part of a large rubber band, prompting me to closely monitor his bowel movements for a week. (My life is exciting.)
  • Listening to Philip Glass music. Okay, this isn't actually Henry's thing, but I love to turn on the soundtrack from The Hours really loud and watch Henry. It makes him seem so intensely dramatic. (Again, my life is exciting.)
  • Killing inanimate objects. He has a particular disdain for ribbon. If there is a ribbon in our apartment, Henry has at least tried -- and most likely succeeded -- to kill it.
  • Pooping on the wall. Okay, he only did this once, but it was hilarious. It prompted me to add "poop-waller" to his list of nicknames. (Yes, I know it should be "wall-pooper," but I accidentally said "poop-waller" once and thought it to be funnier than "wall-pooper.")
Continue reading this post >>

What do Kim Jong-il and Steve Jobs have in common?

I was talking to Emily last night about Steve Jobs and the speculation around his health and Apple's subsequent fight to keep the rumors down.

Emily had a funny/insightful observation: "It's like he's the dictator of some small, isolated country or something."

(Update: The links are fixed!) Continue reading this post >>

06 January 2009

Why don't I go skiing?

Oh, now I remember:

Continue reading this post >>

Visual definition: Uninspiring

Terry McAuliffe is officially announcing that in two days he will be officially announcing his bid for Governor of Virginia. May the least provocative candidate win!



Bonus: A new drinking game. For every rhetorical cliche that Terry utters in a completely unconvincing, uninspiring way, take a drink! Continue reading this post >>

At least he's still mild-mannered...

From David Willis at Shortpacked! (Click image to enlarge):

(Hat tip: Brauer/MinnPost) Continue reading this post >>

Statistics

When you start a blog, it's pretty reasonable to assume that you're obsessed with yourself. And not only that, but you're really obsessed with what other people think of you. (I actually don't think this instinct is that perverse.)

Therefore, there are these little pieces of HTML that can be embedded into your blog. Then, you can go to a website, login, and see all this free, handy information about how many people have visited your blog, what they looked at, where they are from, how long they visited, and of course, this is all in the hopes of trying to decipher how much you are loved.

Anywho, as of this morning, this is the chart of visit length to this blog:
I'm really having trouble figuring out what is more heartbreaking:
1) The nearly 60% who spent less than 5 seconds here. An amount of time in which very few emotions can be felt, and the one jumping out at me is revulsion.
OR
2) The nearly 9% who, supposedly, spent more than an hour looking at less than 500 words of writing. I assume (hope?) there is some glitch in this free little stat counter. Continue reading this post >>

05 January 2009

Ticket sales

Why was it the Vikings had so much trouble getting people to buy tickets to their little game?

Oh, yeah. Continue reading this post >>

Winning and losing

I imagine that if I were running for US Senate, had spent millions of dollars (none if it was mine!), and felt that there was a 20% chance I might win if I continue my bid for a few more weeks and spend a few more million dollars (again, not mine!), I'd be pretty damn tempted to continue as well.

But.

At this point, aren't both sides simply convinced they've won, regardless what the actual, you know, votes say?

Oh, and here's a preview of the news story when we actually know who will serve in the Senate: (Insert name of winner) was sworn in as US Senator from Minnesota today, following (Insert number) months of a contentious recount and legal battle. Sen. (Insert name of winner) thanked his supporters for their perseverance, praised the election process in Minnesota and vowed to work across party lines to help heal any wounds remaining from this controversial election. (Insert name of loser) said he was disappointed that not all votes were properly counted, but vowed to continue to fight for the principles of the (Circle "Democratic" or "Republican") Party. Continue reading this post >>

04 January 2009

The parable of the blind man and the snow drift

WCCO reported on this story a couple days ago. Apparently, a blind man in Wilmar was recently stranded on a sidewalk covered by a snow drift. His guide dog didn't know what to do, so the man called the police on his cell phone.

Incidentally, this could be a parable for my life right now. Minus the cell phone. Continue reading this post >>