Can Plaxico Burress Come Back?

Michael Vick showed that a player can go to prison/jail/detention and come back in top form and win games in the NFL. Is Burress tough enough? Did he wow them with a great workout? All well and good. His debt to society is paid, give him a chance.

And when I say, give him a chance, I mean, give him just that one chance to show that he isn't a violence-prone headcase. Give him a chance to prove himself. And if he screws up, cut him.

I wonder if he has a clause like that in his deal. Any of that headcase stuff, and his money is gone, something like that.

This is What We Call Desperation


President Obama's enemies are so desperate to find something--anything--they can criticize him for, they're willing to go to great lengths to manufacture outrage. No one is sitting around, grousing about who got picked to do what when it comes to the "egghead agencies." That's a slight, and a term, that only the most deranged Washington insider would truly care about.

I guess you could look at the President's decision to name a Republican to run the National Endowment for the Humanities as, well, what, exactly? Who cares? It's the National Endowment for the Humanities. It's  not the Department of Defense (he picked a Republican to remain in place when he could have named someone else) or the Ambassadorship to China (he picked a Republican). It's not as if he picked a bunch of cronies to run things. Well, he did, but at least his cronies aren't doing the same heckuva job as old Brownie was.

The Weekly Standard has a cover story on the absolute outrage and incivility of picking former Republican Congressman Jim Leach to run the NEH. A cover story--and the online edition runs to three grueling pages of snark and would-by putdowns. These putdowns fail, miserably. Talk about throwing punches that never land. I'm sure it will be poured over by the enemies of the President, desperate to find some relief from the partisanship and incivility. Sadly, they will find little else but Prius jokes and delusions of adequacy.

To suggest President Obama's choice to run the NEH smacks of anything other than, hello? Bipartisanship? Well, it shows how desperate they are to land a punch or make the case against the President. This is what flailing and FAIL looks like, up close.

Here's what Leach had the temerity to say:


And how desperate is Andrew Ferguson to make his case? Well, he conveniently leaves out the fact that the conservative movement in America has never been shy about warmly embracing racist jokes about the President or questioning his citizenship of the United States of America or citing the fact that he believes in Socialism. The Republican Party has even gone after him for criticizing slavery, if you can believe that. The hate groups are real, and nothing could be more ill-timed than this feature. Given that the proven links between the thinking and ideology of  Robert Spencer, Anders Breivik, and Pamela Geller, well, good luck snarking that one away.

He ignores the fact that there has been a rise in racist extremist groups in the United States, beginning in 2009. Can Andrew Ferguson read? Have a look at what the Council on Foreign Relations has to say.

They have attacked this President for everything under the sun, including the mustard he uses, killing too many terrorists, and the fact that his wife advocates breast feeding with a demented glee that would shame any American. 

Ferguson, clearly, is not a detail guy, either.

Economics As a Factor in the Late Adoption of Technology


Well, if that's not the worst headline I've ever written, I don't know what is.

The ever-dreadful Helen A. S. Popkin trots out some elitist cheap shots at people who use Internet Explorer version 6.0 and passes it off as something snarky or funny (and, remember, snark on the Internet is worthless):


What Popkin is trying to push out there runs along this vein:


Now, what might throw this model for a loop? Well, consider this.

If you are unemployed, what are the chances that you're going to go out and buy a new computer? Very slim. And if you live in a rural area where there's virtually no broadband available, what are the chances you were all that concerned about owning a modern computer in the first place? Even more slim, I suppose.

So, maybe, just maybe, those folks who are still using Internet Explorer 6.0 live in an area where there is limited access to (somewhat expensive if you're unemployed) broadband. And, if that's the case, why mess with a browser that works when all you're doing is a handful of online tasks anyway? You're not looking at videos or playing online games or reading much news with a dial-up connection. You're doing E-mail and not much else.

Also, think about this. How many people still have Windows XP loaded on a computer? Ding, ding, ding! I do. I still have my 2005 Dell Inspiron laptop and I still have Windows XP on it. Why? Because it works. Theoretically, I could still have IE 6.0 on it, but I don't. I have IE 7.0 on it and Firefox (previous job requirements had me using IE exclusively for work from home, don't ask).

And why do people like me have Windows XP on machines? Because Windows Vista bombed and didn't work. Windows XP is still a very popular operating system. And what works like a champ with Windows XP and doesn't run very slow? Why, Internet Explorer 6.0 does, if it's set up right and if you're using dial-up.

You see, not everyone lives in an area where there are jobs, money, consumer goods, and rampant waste of perfectly good resources. You'd be surprised what people throw away these days. And you'd be surprised how resourceful people are when they're broke and don't have much. This is not ageism, or a bias against rural folk we see in this article--it's outright elitism. What a shame. But, it shows how ignorant people are of how Americans are being forced to live in this economy.

Sneer if you wish, but some of those people using IE 6.0 might be a hell of a lot smarter than you think.

How smart do you think the people who built that tower you see pictured above were? They were Germans living here in Central Europe hundreds and hundreds of years ago. What education did they have? What skills did they have? Well, they knew how to follow a plan, assemble stones, cut them, level them, balance them, and align them in such a way as to put them up and have them standing today, even after this particular castle was brought down by siege implements. Do you really think there's anyone around today who could build something like this with primitive tools by hand and not have it fall down?

Who's stupid now?

Virginia Heffernan is Way Out of Her League

Why not have the "digital and pop" writer take on the specifics of President Obama's efforts to accomplish something that Heffernan probably doesn't care about and compare his efforts to those of Mariah Carey?

Doesn't that make sense? Of course it does.

Only someone who isn't savvy about the shit-sandwich collision of our popular culture and our politics would fail to understand her very astute comparisons. Carey went on television and tried to sell cheap consumer goods; the President of the United States went on television and tried to tell the American people about the current impasse with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives over the raising of our debt ceiling.

You see, he's shilling something. He's just trying to sell something. And, because someone made her include a random factoid about Marshall McLuhan, she gets to look all serious and smart and stuff now. This is the media, people. They cobble this nonsense together and you better shut up and marvel at how smart she is for pointing out that selling consumer goods is exactly the same thing as giving the American people specific information about public policy issues.

They're the same thing in the minds of people who just don't have any clue about anything. Who doesn't get that? Someone at the New York Times said, ah, what the hell? Let Heffernan get something into the paper today.

It's not like our media is making a concerted effort to explain why our country is balancing on the edge of a precarious drop into disaster and ruin, financial and otherwise. It's not like there are three wars, economic catastrophe, and millions of Americans without jobs or hope.

If you have a cushy gig writing bullshit for a paper that still has a functioning payroll, why not roll the simplistic comparisons off the screen and into the howling cacophony of static and misinformation? Facts are such bogus, boring things, you know. It's too bad Heffernan couldn't work up something better--like, I dunno. How Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are just as bad as the Republicans and Democrats are, and how all four of them are basically the same thing whenever they end up in Vegas. Something brilliant like that.

Our substance-free culture has amused itself into dust.

MSNBC is Crass and Tasteless

What should have started out as a simple story of human courage in the face of an unbelievable tragedy was cheapened by the headline on the front page of this story:


Whoever wrote that should apologize. What a terrible joke to make at the expense of the victims in Norway.

I love a good joke, but context is everything. That this would appear on the front page of a major news website is a travesty. There are simply no really safe or decent jokes you can make about a woman who has a projectile embedded in her skull as a result of being a victim of a terror attack. "They make'em tough?" They are people. Whether they are tough or not, it's nothing to joke about.

The American media establishment is rife with this kind of amateurism and insensitivity. In order to get traffic and get people to click on links, they obfuscate, lie, and mislead and dump content wherever they can.

In the case of MSNBC, it's hit or miss most of the time and it's usually just content from other sources. Someone decided to be flip and make a joke at this poor woman's expense. I guess it's okay to do that if the person who is being made the butt of the joke is a person of color or is from one of those foreign countries no one cares about or understands. If MSNBC had said this about a blonde, blue-eyed American, forget about it. The outrage would drown out the courage of the victim.

For about a decade now, we have been bombarded with images of shattered, bloody people who have been the victims of terrorism, both domestic and otherwise and who have been the victims of acts of war. Have we become utterly immune to the horror?

Will Cowboys and Aliens Be Another Green Lantern?


It certainly looks like it.

I know people love Harrison Ford, but, please. He just does not have any range as an actor anymore. This film started off with a wonderful pedigree and a great idea, but, somehow, the whole thing went south.

A Desperate Move to Stay Relevant


I hope Tiger plays well. The issue here isn't really whether he wins this tournament or not--it's staying relevant and visible. For Tiger to slide in the rankings and drop off the radar means the end of what little endorsement money is coming his way. By competing, he gets face time on camera, maybe a media-friendly interview spot or two (he really needs to be more available and forthcoming with the golfing world's media), and he needs to play well.

If he blows through a few holes, quits, and says nothing, he might as well sit down for the rest of the year and plan a "comeback" next season.

John McCain Rails Against the Hobbits in the Tea Party



These are the same people who didn't rally to his cause and elect him President in 2008. They hadn't figured out who they were or what they stood for, but they knew they had to wreck America to get what they want (which is attention) so they called themselves the Tea Party and made McCain their whipping boy in absentia.

Why wouldn't he denigrate them and associate them with The Lord of the Rings? He's getting ready for 2012 in the only way he knows how--by appearing not to run for President, he expects to be drafted at the convention. We have now had a Lord of the Flies reference and a Lord of the Rings reference in the span of about a day. The Republican Party is running on four flat tires and nothing but fumes right now.

McCain is realpolitik; the Tea Party is fantasyland. It's that simple.

But, there's a broader lesson to learn here. When a major politician makes an analogy to the Lord of the Rings and uses the word "hobbit" in any context, plural or otherwise, run. Run away, fast.

Butch Davis is Fired Before Being Found Guilty of Anything


I thought that you had to get caught doing something wrong, have the matter proceed from an investigation to a conclusion, and then arrive at an official finding BEFORE you could get fired from a contract position as a coach. North Carolina has decided to skip due process and fire this man. Someone has been listening to legal counsel, and, apparently, you don't have to worry about due process anymore.

What I believe it does is, it all but guarantees that he'll have a chance to sue the school and walk away with millions. If not, oh well. It's not like college football is a pure-as-the-driven-snow business anyway.

Harry Belafonte Continues to Tell the Truth About America


You don't have to agree with everything that Harry Belafonte says to understand that what he's trying to tell us about America is, essentially, true. This story is more about business and economics and race than it is about the entertainment industry.

People of color in the United States are poorly represented in the popular culture. Great strides have been made since Belafonte first appeared on the scene, but with those strides has come some serious setbacks. It gets to the heart of what we want our culture to be--open, tolerant, fair and equal--or what we'll tolerate, which is the continuation of a rather stilted and profit-oriented situation in the entertainment industry that simply won't allow people of color to have a seat at the table.

You Should Probably Think About Leaving the Cop Car Alone


It won't take the police long to find and arrest these people. Their buddies can probably turn them in on Facebook.

What hath Twitter wrought?

Nobody Really Cares About Truth in Advertising Anymore


I would say that that is an exceptionally misleading image of Julia Roberts. Here's how she looked, with makeup, on April 23, 2011, at a promotional event when Roberts knew for certain that she was going to be photographed. And, let me add, the lighting at celebrity appearances can be much harsher than usual and it can distort images. Nevertheless, here's how she appeared:



And now, zoomed in on her face (I took the photo from a random website, as is, and I did not adjust color or contrast or detail).



Julia Roberts is a beautiful woman. This is not a knock against her. But that Loreal ad is ridiculous.

Riot on Hollywood Boulevard

It used to be that people would riot in Los Angeles over things like racism or injustice. Now, they riot when a deejay tweets something.

Intolerance is Prevalent in Europe


Inflammatory speech, you say? Well, I think they ought to take a look at this sort of thing as well:


Really, Chancellor Merkel. Did you think that your proclamation that "multiculturalism has failed" would be ignored by hard right, xenophobic elements in Europe? Here is a mainstream national leader in Europe who is, essentially, making their case for them.

This thinking has taken hold in Europe. There is a tremendous amount of unease with immigration, which, for all intents and purposes, is human migration and cannot, under virtually any circumstances, be stopped. Europe has seen tribal migration and displaced populations since before Roman times. Why people cannot understand that this is something driven by economics--food, shelter, jobs, dignity, et al--and not by a sinister attempt to "take over" someone else's country is beyond me.

That's a Load Off My Mind


Apparently, you can blog and get away with it now.

Here I've been thinking, as soon as someone finds my blogs, that's it. It's over. I'll never work again. They'll see my drawings or my comments about society and culture and they'll draw a red line under my name and then, well, then they won't even let me buy stuff at the mall anymore.

Blogging should not ruin your life. Well, it should expose you to ridicule so that you can learn to deal with it. But it should not be the thing that sends you into the unemployment line.

Miss Munroe is lucky. Most school districts would have rolled over and gotten rid of her. Perhaps they discovered, through her blogging, that she was good at what she does and that she cares? Maybe that's why they let her come back? Who knows?

When the Debt Ceiling Battle Went Lord of the Flies On Us

"Piggy" from Lord of the Flies

Elections have consequences. What will the legacy of Speaker John Boehner be? It will be the "Lord of the Flies" moment when he couldn't keep his caucus in line.

Who plays "Piggy?"

These Are Terrible Times For Chinese Billionaires


A terrible screenshot, but I work with what I can work with.

The "powerwall" over at MSNBC is a blogging nightmare. How do you blog that stuff? Why would I link to it? Letting people vote LOL, WIN, OMG, or FAIL is like asking what flavor of stupid you want for dinner.

If these really are tough times for Chinese billionaires, then think of how hard things must be for the Chinese millionaires out there.

Why Is Crystal Harris Still Talking?


The story of Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner is a perfect metaphor for the collision between old celebrity and new celebrity. Here you have a social climber using a national icon for that leg up into the world of fame and entertainment. And what she did was crass and ridiculous.

Does Crystal Harris think she's going to have a career now? For being the woman who cheated on, lied to, and humiliated Hugh Hefner? How does that translate into being worthy of attention?
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The Most Important Story in the World

Lost in the shuffle of world news, global events, and whatever else is what's going to happen soon in Durban. When the leaders meet in November, the decisions they make there will have far-reaching consequences for the entire world. Abandoning the Kyoto Treaty and looking for a pragmatic way forward is probably the most important, but least understood, story this year.

How Did Facebook End Up Being This Stupid?


Yes, I'm still glad that I have been able to avoid the Facebook problem. Which is, of course, how did I end up on Facebook? No thanks.

I wonder if this one is banned as well.

Yeah, It's That Bad Out There


They withheld his name, of course. When a man dies with a sex toy lodged in his throat, the police release his name almost automatically. When a man tries to fix his own hernia with a butter knife, suddenly that's not for public record.

The Inexcusable Hatred of Patrick Buchanan



Sort of makes the jaw hit the floor doesn't it?

Pat Buchanan enters oblivion. He is in the twilight of life and all he can muster is hate and vitriol on a scale which, in a decent society, would earn him a place in a mental health facility or a nursing home somewhere, and not a place on television. What does it say about a society where someone this ignorant can have a privileged spot on talk shows and on news programs? He ought to be screaming his incoherent ramblings into the gaping maw of a dumpster behind a liquor store.

At some point, our media has to answer for why they continually put people like this out there to spread nothing but hatred and ignorance. The fact that Buchanan was able to turn his throwaway column into controversy certainly helps him maintain an income and a presence as a commentator. It's exactly the kind of thing that drives hits to websites, translates into embedded videos and outraged blog posts, and it keeps the next Breivik fat, dumb and happy with the reassuring rhetoric of a spitting, vile old bastard with no claim to human decency.

The Income Gap Widens


Would it shock people to learn that the income gap between whites and blacks and Hispanics is getting larger and larger, especially during these tough economic times?

I don't know what's sadder--the fact that this simply isn't news or that we've become accustomed to news like this. How about, for a change, we see the opposite?

You're Not Supposed to Say Anything Bad About Children


This story opens up a big can of worms. Are you supposed to celebrate a lifestyle that is "child free?" Are you allowed to use Facebook while doing so? And how did we get to be so self-centered in the first place?

There's nothing wrong with a woman who decides that she does not want to have children in her life. This is not really a post-feminist idea--it's a lifestyle choice that is perfectly acceptable. Plenty of men decide not to have children--where is the criticism? There is none, of course. A man who decides not to have children is a man who...decides not to have children. There really isn't a term for it. A woman who decides not to have children becomes a demon-spawned hellbeing of immaculate evil. Or whatever those commenters are saying right now.

One of the things that has helped propel the stand-up comedian and filmmaker Louis CK into the public consciousness is his absolute lack of any fear when it comes to performing material that decries children and childrearing. He actually calls them "stupid babies." And people eat it up.

Listen to how honest Louis is in this clip (it's Not Safe For Work, by the way):



The reason why is that our culture has had several decades now of exalting children to a near-mythical standard of purity and goodness. We elevate children to a status that blocks out the sun. This makes us blind to the fact that children are, well, children, and they're no more important than adults.

G. D. Spradlin 1920-2011


One of the greats. A true talent and a real gentleman.

Moderate Those Comments, Please


There's a very nice story about Heather Matarazzo and her long-time girlfriend Caroline Murphy. They plan to marry in the state of New York in the near future, and it's the sort of story that I normally wouldn't blog about because how many times can you say, "congratulations," and "that's wonderful."

I'm only putting this up because of the single comment at the bottom of the story:



Just the one "thumb's down?"

So Long, Congressman Wu


They got to him fast. I thought he was going to hang on until Friday in the late afternoon. To see him go out on a Tuesday is just another sad indication as to how troubled this Congressman was.

And that's the end of David Wu.

Historical Analogy Goes Awry


This is the statement of a mainstream politician in modern Germany. And people think there aren't issues with extremism and intolerance in Europe?

We tend to assume that the police will be accountable in America. In Germany, you have a member of the ruling party (well, the party that has enough clout to keep Chancellor Merkel in power) who doesn't believe a policeman should have to wear a name tag.

A name tag.

What does that tell you about accountability and transparency and the rule of law?

Robert Spencer, Anders Breivik, Pamela Geller




Robert Spencer, Anders Breivik, Pamela Geller. Is there a point here? Yes, because Anders Breivik was a fan of the writings of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Why does this article fail to mention Pamela Geller when discussing what Anders Breivik did in Norway? Why does it fail to mention the link between Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer:

Stop Islamization of America and Park51

Geller and Robert Spencer co-founded Stop Islamization of America.[5] In May 2010, they began a strong campaign against the proposed Park51 Islamic community center and mosque, which Geller has referred to as the "Ground Zero Mega Mosque".[26][27] She claims that Park51 is viewed by Muslims as a "triumphal" monument built on "conquered land". She also appeared on a number of cable news shows speaking out against the proposed Islamic community center and mosque.[12]
Geller has also advocated against Islam elsewhere. She argued that the Dome of the RockFirst and Second Temples.[28] Geller also published an article defending Radovan Karadžic, indicted for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the Siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica Massacre; the article argued that the Muslims were not murdered but committed suicide to embarrass their enemies.[29] In addition, Stop Islamization of America has sponsored ads which carry messages such as "Fatwa on Your Head?" and "Leaving Islam?" in several cities including New York City and Miami, pointing readers to a website called RefugefromIslam.com.[12][30] Geller said the ads were meant to provide resources for Muslims who were afraid to leave the religion.[30] in Jerusalem, one of Islam's holiest sites, should be removed because it was built on the same site as Judaism's former

I mean, all of this is public knowledge. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were heroes to Anders Breivik. And Anders Breivik cited Panela Geller and Robert Spencer in his writings.
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They Probably Shouldn't Have Done This For the Lulz


This is the kind of thing that gets entirely the wrong kinds of people interested in your chat room hijinks. I can imagine a healthy combination of Federal and State law enforcement being involved here, and I can envision the perp walks that remove kids from the homes of their parents. In many cases, though, this could involve sociopaths who subsist on stolen credit card scams and bilking schemes, things like that.

It's wonderful to be smart about the Internet. It's another thing to suspect that the incompetent Feds won't find you. They will, if they're serious about doing so.

Harrison Ford Has Another Movie to Sell


Pretty much the only time anyone does a fawning, sycophantic profile of Harrison Ford is when he has a movie to promote. Any other time, well, forget it.

Ford's movies make a lot of money. What else is there? I can't remember the last time that I actually wanted to see a Harrison Ford movie. As in, actually went out and saw it because he was in it. The films he's made over the last decade are forgettable. Absolutely forgettable.

I hope there's something good about Cowboys & Aliens. I hope he isn't a piece of wood in it.

Years ago, I figured out something. If you put Michael Caine on one side, and Harrison Ford on the other, which one of them would be more compelling and real?

Michael Caine.

The difference between them is rage. Caine has the acting chops to show the kind of rage that a leading man and an actor should possess. Sean Connery, Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Al Pacino, and Mel Gibson had (and perhaps still have) that rage as well. Think about how unfair it is to compare Ford to the actors that I've mentioned. It's unfair as hell because he hasn't done anything that could top the work those actors have done.

Harrison Ford doesn't have anything that can compare. He has a lot of profitable, popular films that showcase his everyman talents. Beyond that, what is there?

The Only Party That Knows How to Govern is the Democratic Party


Paul Krugman demolishes the argument here.

Saying "yes, the Democrats would behave this way, too," is ridiculous. During the Bush era, the Democrats consistently negotiated to get the best deals they could. At no time did the Federal government default on its debt, shut down completely, or leave people scrambling with nothing. At no time did our troops go without weapons or pay and at no time did America suffer the kind of scares it has in the last year from the machinations of a Republican Congress that is paralyzed by a vitriolic minority.

The Democratic Party has governed. It has made tough choices, upset a lot of supporters and adherents, and has kept things working. Checks arrive for Social Security recipients; Medicare continues unabated. The basic functions of government continue. Our economy is suffering and, while I disagree with many of the decisions being made right now, the adults really are in charge right now. And the children are desperately trying to grab the wheel and drive the family car into the ditch.

The only way for the Republican Party to defeat President Barack Obama is to destroy the American economy. There really is no other option; there aren't any candidates, there are no ideas, and no one wants to do the hard work of governing. The Tea Party will not allow governance to occur in this country. There is but one single-minded goal--destruction. And once the economy is destroyed, the Republican Party knows that the American people will throw the President out of office.

Destroying the American economy is a bit "un-American," don't you think?

Congressman Wu, It's Time For You to Go


This is the moment of steely defiance and bravery for Congressman David Wu. In a matter of days or hours (perhaps a week, who knows?), this defiance will lead to a Friday announcement that he has resigned from Congress. There's a moment where the person at the center of this sort of firestorm realizes that staying in power is much worse, financially or personally, than simply resigning.

Congressman Wu hasn't reached that point.

He is, of course, the laughingstock of Congress and has been for a while:


Makes you pine for the simpler days of Anthony Weiner, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Oregon Live says he won't run again. Well, why not resign now and hold the seat? I mean, where's the issue here? The man is certifiably nuts. And this is nothing new for Wu. He's done this sort of thing before.

Did Breivik Have American Ties?


If so, then these ties should not be dismissed as incidental. Christian fundamentalism is every bit as dangerous as any other kind of fundamentalism, especially when we consider that anyone blinded by ideology can kill just the same as anyone else.

There really are apologists for this sort of thing. They are just as insane as Mr. Breivik, whose surname will become the kind of Norwegian curse that Quisling became after World War II.

As I mentioned earlier, the Germans (and the Europeans, as a whole), are very focused on home-grown fundamentalism and home-grown would-be terrorists. They also know that the only reason why Breivik wants any kind of a platform is so that he can reach cult-like status amongst any possible followers or adherents to his beliefs. He should not be given any kind of a platform. What that would likely lead to are sympathetic attacks.

The possibility that others might follow Breivik is a real one. Europe has a problem, and this man just poured gasoline on the fire.
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