The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'satire'
The jihadist terrorist raid on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the murder of ten of its staff (including the editor and several renowned cartoonists and columnists), and the subsequent manhunt and police raids have been all over the news for the past few days; the horror that this could happen in the middle of Paris, in a satirical magazine already under police protection, was palpable. I'm not going to recap the details of the events; one can find comprehensive accounts in the press. This post is more about the reaction. (On the events of the day, suffice it to say that my condolences are with the families and loved ones of those who were murdered, and I condemn the criminals who perpetrated these acts; also, the best way to defeat terrorism is to refuse to be terrorised.)
The aftermath of the attacks drew a unified display of solidarity; all over the world—at Paris's Place de la République, at Trafalgar Square, in Martin Place in Sydney (the site of a recent siege by a clown with pretensions of being a jihadist terrorist), and elsewhere, people gathered with candles and signs. (There were some notable exceptions; the authorities in Tehran—totalitarian Islamists, albeit of a form deeply hostile to the Sunni jihadists involved in the attacks—clamped down on protests, presumably afraid that they might turn into an Iranian Spring.) One sign which soon emerged read Je Suis Charlie, a statement of solidarity with the victims. Soon, this sign had spread around the world; banners with it, in Charlie Hebdo's distinct headline typeface, in white on black, made it to T-shirts, banners on official buildings, the pages of newspapers of all stripes, and even Apple's French homepage.
One can understand the sentiment—you have attacked all of us, it says, but we will prevail, and you will not win—though those expressing it might not want to see it tested to its logical conclusion. Charlie Hebdo was not a cuddly, friendly or broadly loved publication; it was satire at its most scabrous, a tourettic court jester speaking truth to power and then dropping his pants and farting in its general direction. Its cartoonists and writers lampooned all targets without fear or favour, often calibrating their attacks to be deliberately, bluntly offensive; the offence, in their case, was part of the message, namely an assertion of the freedom of the secular, democratic Republic. The upshot of this is that a lot of the institutions now claiming to be Charlie look somewhat absurd; newspapers publishing Je Suis Charlie signs but carefully avoiding reprinting the offending cartoons, for example, are not particularly Charlie. Government buildings bearing banners identifying them with a viciously irreverent satirical publication look somewhat ridiculous. As for Apple's claim, one only has to look at its Disneyesque curation of the App Store to answer that question. Had Charlie Hebdo submitted an app containing the sorts of content that is their stock in trade, would Apple have ever approved it? Apple is not Charlie.
But death ennobles; tragic, spectacular death, even more so. In 1997, another death in Paris transformed a ditzy socialite into a saintly, virtuous figure, forever beyond mortal reproach; and now, the same phenomenon threatens to ossify Charlie Hebdo in a similar pristine marble. Though while its editor and cartoonists may be dead, Charlie Hebdo is not dead; the surviving staff have committed to producing an edition next week; money from a variety of sources (among them, Google and the Guardian) will help push the print run, normally around 60,000, to a million. The problem is, what comes after that: neither having been ennobled nor being universally loved is particularly healthy for a satirical publication (readers of a certain age might recall the genteel dotage of the English satirical magazine Punch as an example of this).
I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so. #JesuisAhmedAhmed is Ahmed Merabet, the French police officer who was murdered by the jihadists.
Second Livestock, something which purports to be a company using virtual reality with “animal-centric design” in animal husbandry, allowing chickens to live happy and fulfilling “virtual free range” lives in efficiently small, tightly-packed spaces, much like the urban office workers who will eventually eat them:
The enclosures are built to provide a comfortable and healthy home. Omni-directional treadmills provide livestock with the freedom to move freely in the virtual world. Each enclosure has independently filtered air to keep communicable diseases and parasites from spreading throughout the facility. The birds are fed a diverse, organic free range diet.
The small and lightweight Animal-Computer Interfaces are designed to fit comfortably and allow chickens a full range of motion.
The design of our facilities allows them to be located anywhere, even in urban centers. It is even possible to retrofit an empty office building. After all, Second Livestock is modeled on human activities such as the layout of the common corporate office. A networked grid of cubicles with internet access is not far removed from the enclosures we build for our chickens. However, our chickens likely get more exercise while on the job.Second Livestock is, of course, not (yet) an actual product, but a social experiment by an associate professor from Iowa State University, intended more to start a discussion about the social implications of technology.
We Need You Now (More Than Ever), a video by Danish artists Wooloo, in the style of We Are The World-style celebrity charity ensemble records, sardonically imploring the Catholic Church to dip into its vast wealth and bail Europe's economies out:
This video is being screened until 17 November at the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art at Röda Sten in Gothenburg, along with Chilean artist Fernando Sanchez Castillo's Pegasus Dance, an amorous ballet for two riot-control water-cannon trucks set to a languid waltz:
Twitter account of the moment: Authentic Wm. Gibson, which features “synopses for William Gibson novels that are definitely 100% real, but only in a timeline with greater authenticity than this one”:
Aberdonian widower's annual indulgence (London train, bespoke fitting, a man's careful att'n to his body) spoilt by Savile Row's move to UAE
Whale oil based lubricant favored by Nipponese sensualist cult doped w/ spores of mycotoxin secreting fungus by radical evangelical Koreans.
Pigeons wearing anklets w/16kb of homemade mem & a low power LED flasher random walk the nodes of an underground network in occupied Tehran.
Unclassifiable mega-storm decimates swaths of Boston-Atlanta Metro. Axis. NJ residents vote by fax. World transfixed by S. Korean pop video.It seems to capture the peculiar obsessions of William Gibson, the gonzo near-future geopolitics and micro-specific fashions and obsessions, quite appositely.
There's an article in the New Yorker about the US television show Portlandia, a sketch comedy show satirising the foibles of White People in bourgeois-bohemian enclaves (like the titular Portland, Oregon, which seems to be the Berlin of America or something), and the relationship between the two creators of the show, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (better known to some as a member of the legendary Pacific Northwest riot-grrl band Sleater-Kinney):
“Portlandia” presents a heightened version of the city’s twee urbanity: a company sells artisanal light bulbs, a hotel offers a manual typewriter to every guest, and a big local event is the Allergy Pride Parade. The mayor, played by Kyle MacLachlan, becomes an object of scandal when he’s “outed” as the bass guitarist in a middle-of-the-road reggae band. (The real Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams, who is openly gay, plays MacLachlan’s assistant on the show.) Armisen and Brownstein, wearing anthropologically precise wigs and outfits, portray most of the main characters: bicycle-rights activists, dumpster divers, campaigners against any theoretical attempt to bring the Olympics to Portland, animal lovers so out of touch that they free a pet dog tied up outside a restaurant. (“Who puts their dog on a pole like a stripper?”) Many characters recur, and, because they often seem to know one another, their intersections from sketch to sketch give the show the feel of a grownup “Sesame Street.” This childlike vibe has an edge to it, however; as an Armisen character explains at one point, Portland is “where young people go to retire.”
But the most palpable affection onscreen is that between Armisen and Brownstein, who have an unusually devoted platonic relationship. They met in 2003, when Sleater-Kinney was playing in New York City, and Armisen invited the band to an “S.N.L.” after-party. When Brownstein showed up, she found him wearing a Sleater-Kinney button with her picture on it. Their paths had probably crossed before: Armisen started out his performing life as the drummer in a Chicago punk band called Trenchmouth, and he was married for six years to the British singer and songwriter Sally Timms, from the Mekons. Brownstein says that she and Armisen likely slept on some of the same couches when both were touring. (“If you were in an indie band in the nineties, you slept on a lot of couches.”) After that party in New York, Brownstein and Armisen began building a friendship, but, given that they were living on opposite coasts, they decided that they’d have to work on something together. As she put it, when you’re not dating somebody, “it begins to seem kind of weird if you’re flying around the country to see him.”
Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, “Sometimes I think it’s the most successful love affair either of us will ever have.” Both claim that it wouldn’t work if they were romantically involved. “It would be colder, because we’ve both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way,” Armisen says. “Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I’ve ever had—that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don’t become obligatory. I’m not thinking, I’m doing this because you’re my girlfriend; I’m just thinking, I love Carrie.”
A few seasonal links for today and tomorrow:
- The mythological trainwreck that we call "Christmas", with its ill-fitting pieces of Middle Eastern and Nordic folklore, was discussed here last year. Now, some people going by the name of Cannabis Culture (read into that what you will) have another element to add to this; namely, the claim that the legend ot Santa Claus comes from Lappish shamanic rituals involving hallucinogenic mushrooms, with Santa's red and white costume having nothing to do with the Coca-Cola logo and everything to do with the colouring of the amanita muscaria mushroom, which may be found growing under fir trees.
- A Norwegian crafter named Jonas Laberg made a 10kg marzipan pig, as a present for his friends' daughters. The finished product looks horrifyingly detailed:
- The Graun's Zoe Williams has a piece on the supposed Christmas tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, which she contends is one of those things that only happens on TV (much like adults playing with cats, she writes), and does a Twitter survey, confirming this; with one heartbreakingly poignant exception:
In 1973, Helen was 16 and having a relationship with a girl at school, but they hadn't come out for a whole load of reasons, most of them to do with it being 1973. "In those days, we were like outcasts, so nobody knew, it was a great secret. A few of my friends were really homophobic. We went to this New Year's Eve party, where people were all goading each other to kiss. So we did. It was brilliant, everybody was cheering, we were pretending it was a joke. It was probably one of the best kisses I've ever had."
It didn't make it any easier to come out, though. "We never came out, we split up two years later, the pressure became too great. Most of it on her, because her family had mapped out her life for her, she had to get married. And I did what was expected of me, when I was 18. I got married as well. I had three kids."
- Christopher Hitchens may be gone, but an unpublished essay he wrote about Christmas has surfaced: Forced Merriment: The True Spirit of Christmas.
I once tried to write an article, perhaps rather straining for effect, describing the experience as too much like living for four weeks in the atmosphere of a one-party state. "Come on," I hear you say. But by how much would I be exaggerating? The same songs and music played everywhere, all the time. The same uniform slogans and exhortations, endlessly displayed and repeated. The same sentimental stress on the sheer joy of having a Dear Leader to adore. As I pressed on I began almost to persuade myself. The serried ranks of beaming schoolchildren, chanting the same uplifting mush. The cowed parents, in terror of being unmasked by their offspring for insufficient participation in the glorious events…. "Come on," yourself. How wrong am I?
One of my many reasons for not being a Christian is my objection to compulsory love. How much less appealing is the notion of obligatory generosity. To feel pressed to give a present is also to feel oneself passively exerting the equivalent unwelcome pressure upon other people... Don't pretend not to know what I am talking about. It's like the gradual degradation of another annual ritual, whereby all schoolchildren are required to give valentines to everybody in the class. Nobody's feelings are hurt, they tell me, but the entire point of sending a valentine in the first place has been deliberately destroyed. If I feel like giving you a gift I'll try and make sure that (a) it's worth remembering and (b) that it comes as a nice surprise. (I like to think that some of my valentines in the past packed a bit of a punch as well.)
- ‘Yes we know it’s Christmas’ say African musicians as they finally record a response to Band Aid:
“Just because we don’t have Boney M or Christmas advertising in September doesn’t mean we are oblivious to it,” said Gundane who went on to suggest that Africans were a lot like the Irish. “They made it through disasters like the potato blight and the invention of the Protestant church without forgetting Christmas – why did they think we would forget it?”
Gundane said he hoped that his involvement with the song would turn him into an expert on British politics and economics in the same way ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ had turned Geldof and Bono into the world’s leading experts on Africa.
- After some UK department store apparently used a godawful twee-folk version of a Smiths song in one of its Christmas ad, the inimitable Rhodri Marsden decided to one-up the horror of it with his own Christmas-themed Smiths travesty. Behold: Heaven Knows I'm Christmassy Now, to be a mainstay of Christmas mix tapes in years to come.
Margaret Thatcher is still alive, but sooner or later, she will go the way of all historical figures, and when she does, it's likely that she will have the first state funeral of any British Prime Minister since Churchill. As part of their repudiation of socialism in all its forms, New Labour pledged a state funeral for the Iron Lady, who arguably vanquished socialism as Churchill did Nazism, and it's unlikely that the Tory-led coalition will argue (though some Lib Dems may sputter and fume theatrically about it, especially if a punishing election is approaching).
Now a petition has been set up for Thatcher's state funeral to be privatised, in what the petitioner says is an appropriate tribute to her legacy and philosophical principles:
In keeping with the great lady's legacy, Margaret Thatcher's state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders. The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former PM deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded.And here is some commentary from the Grauniad's Sunny Hundal, suggesting that the stakeholders in the funeral could sell memorabilia, such as photographs of Thatcher with her close friend and ideological compatriot Augusto Pinochet, that the proceeds from the television rights could be used to build a private memorial library, and that, when Tony Blair's time comes, the exercise should be repeated.
This Saturday is the Victorian state election. For those wondering what's going on there is a summary here:
State politics is a strange, sad, almost cute realm, where those ambitious, energetic people gather who are, on the one hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed in federal politics, and on the other hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed at anything else either. Oh the dilemma of the state politician: caught so exquisitely between the pincers of their dual incompetencies. But then, that is the life they chose when they decided to make no useful contribution to the world for their entire lives.
The combatants provide a fascinating study in contrasts. For example. John Brumby graduated from the elite Melbourne Grammar in 1970, whereas Ballieu graduated in 1970 from Melbourne Grammar, which is quite elite. So the sharp ideological differences began early on... And then of course there is the difference in their choice of parties. Whereas Brumby chose Labor because of its strong commitment to social justice, Baillieu chose the Liberals, because he believes in a just society.
What is important to focus on is the potential consequences of voting Green, which have been spelled out for us by trained investigative journalists from the major newspapers, who "went the extra mile" to unearth and expose secret Greens policies by cunningly visiting their website and then sniffing a bunch of glue. Basically, the Greens’ policy platform consists of three major planks:And here is a profile of the inner-city seat of Richmond (where your humble correspondent last lived in Melbourne), which the Greens are hoping to take (though, with the Tories putting them last, that may not happen). It's interesting to see that all the candidates are fairly socially liberal; the religious parties have given up on this seat, and even the Tories are running a gay bar proprietor as their candidate, and jumping through a lot of hoops to balance appealing to affluent small-L liberals in the city whilst not alienating their conservative core:
So we’re not saying don’t vote Green, we’re just saying, think long and hard about just how stupid you are.
- Forcing everyone to be gay
- Murdering old people
- Criminalising electricity
McFeely is not your average Liberal candidate, being an openly gay man from a working class family in Scotland. He also runs one of the best-known gay venues in Melbourne, the Peel Hotel in Collingwood, though the Liberal party website just refers to it as a 'busy Collingwood hotel' and also skips over issues of his sexuality. McFeely previously came to prominence in 2007 when he won a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruling granting his hotel an anti-discrimination exemption so that he could exclude heterosexuals. This infuriated radio talkback callers, most of whom wouldn't have actually wanted to visit the hotel in a pink fit. He is opposed to gay marriage (because of its religious connection) but supports civil partnerships, and in 2006 tied the knot with his partner of 18 years at the British Consulate in Melbourne. McFeely briefly withdrew as candidate after a dispute with Liberal headquarters over his campaign, including a dislike of the photo that the Liberal Party suggested he use. The Liberal Party finally relented, McFeely the only Liberal candidate with a non-standard photo.
Synergon ("Where dreams come to die") is a role-playing game based around the soul-crushing tedium of a large corporate workplace. Players create employee characters, who belong to one of several departments, such as Accounting, Legal, Marketing or IT, each with special attack/defense abilities. Non-player characters one interacts with are known as "frenemies", and may attack one in various ways. Throughout the game, employees exercise a variety of abilities, including Acting Productive, Accusation Of Incompetence, Call Meeting, Twitter Gossip and Crawl Under Desk. Notably absent is whatever business function the company ostensibly performs; that remains a McGuffin, irrelevant to the petty politicking and small-stakes trench warfare that actually takes place. Some excerpts from the materials:
Alignment: Some employees are nicer than others, but there’s really only one alignment here. It’s called the do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-it-to-5p.m. alignment. Call it “neutral,” for short. Of course, we all feel a little lawful or evil from time to time, but the urges come and go.
Day: Made up of 8 soul-sucking hours. A night of prime-time TV is able to put employees into torpor deep enough that it basically hits the “reset button” in the brain. Each employee chooses 1 status to eliminate at EOD regardless of how many hours or days of the effect are left. At EOD, employees regenerate 10% of maximum MP and 15% of maximum AP.And here is some context:
Synergon is supposed to simulate BLARPing. LARPers (or Live Action Role Players) are a group of people who get together to act out roles, usually in a vaguely medieval or fantasy setting. You may know them as those-guys-that-hit-each-other-with-foam-swords. BLARPers, on the other hand, are Business Live Action Role Players, and they play make believe every day in the office.
The comparison between LARPers and business people quickly becomes apparent when considering how many people in the business world are just making things up as they go along. They often don’t have any expertise in the area they’re responsible for, but they feel that the right amount of zeal and showmanship can make up for any deficiency. You know the ones; they’re in every office, acting, not working. They don’t know what they’re talking about, they just know they’ve heard all the words before.
Ich Werde Ein Berliner is a Stuff White People Like-style blog only purporting to unmask the hidden rules of being a member of the "Elite German People" (the word "German" is used there in the way Christian Lander uses the word "White") who populate the hipper parts of Berlin, ostensibly for the benefit of the numerous auslanders moving to Berlin for its creativity, edginess and bohemianism. The blog presents a tour of the various hipster leks, arms races and balancing acts for demonstrating one's cultural bona fides as a Berliner (and that one is not one of the Wrong Types of Germans), subtly underscoring the contradictions and absurdities beneath their surface.
There are, for example, entries on personal transport (summary: two wheels good, four wheels bad), techno music, obsession with
Japan China, the 10% of (mostly bourgeois professional) Germans who model themselves on Americans, café culture (one thing one can't argue with there) and the semiotics of soft drinks, audio-visual media (apparently not having an interest in it is considered by Berliners to be a sign of deep sociopathy), the precarious balancing act of Berliner irony and Berliners' relationship to other German cities (apparently Cologne is not so much a mecca of underground electronica as a boringly bourgeois provincial town inhabited by orange-tanned, Ed Hardy-attired "guidos"; Munich, meanwhile, exists solely so that Berliners can slag it off for its conservatism and boringness) and the inevitable ordeal of family Christmases ("One good rule of thumb is - the more artiste, urbane, and bohemian a German person appears, the more remote and redneck his family background will be. For example, all those cross-dressing, Ketamine-addicted, full-body tattooed gay skinhead minimal-techno deejays (so, roughly 20% of the population of Berlin), stem from (remote rural towns in south-western Germany).")
(via Ian W.)
The Economist rationalises the "outdated and illogical" map of Europe:
Belgium’s incomprehensible Flemish-French language squabbles (which have just brought down a government) are redolent of central Europe at its worst, especially the nonsenses Slovakia thinks up for its Hungarian-speaking ethnic minority. So Belgium should swap places with the Czech Republic. The stolid, well-organised Czechs would get on splendidly with their new Dutch neighbours, and vice versa.
Germany can stay where it is, as can France. But Austria could shift westwards into Switzerland’s place, making room for Slovenia and Croatia to move north-west too.* They could join northern Italy in a new regional alliance (ideally it would run by a Doge, from Venice). The rest of Italy, from Rome downwards, would separate and join with Sicily to form a new country, officially called the Kingdom of Two Sicilies (but nicknamed Bordello). It could form a currency union with Greece, but nobody else.
Here's Jeremy Deller's say:
This poster (by one Liam Gillick), believe it or not, was not intended to be sarcastic:
Meanwhile, the great satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe's take:
The Independent has a pretty apt cartoon about the general election campaign that has just begun in the UK:
Veteran Australian pop satirist New Waver has a new album, Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody, out.
New Waver's usual stock-in-trade in the past has been a relentlessly bleak neo-Darwinian pessimism, extrapolating the principles of neo-Darwinist evolution into a viciously competitive world, seen from the loser's perspective, and resulting in records like The Defeated and Darwin Junior High. Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody veers from this theme into an examination of the modern post-industrial age, casting a jaundiced eye over Richard Florida's concept of the "Creative Class" from the unaffordably gentrified inner north of Melbourne.
In the thesis of Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody, several phenomena of the past few decades (the shifting of industrial production to China, the move to a post-industrial economy and the rise of DIY art/music and internet-based user-generated content lowering the barriers to artistic creativity) have created a glut of "artists", with exhibitions and indie bands and bedroom music projects all over the inner suburbs. Artists have, as many have observed, congregated in undesirable suburbs hollowed out by deindustrialisation (at least in Melbourne; in Berlin, the collapse of Communism had the same effect), attracting hipsters, trendies, yuppies and ultimately the wealthy, aesthetically conservative haute-bourgeoisie, by then the artists having been forced out by rising rents. (In the words of a famous graffito in 1990s San Francisco, "artists are the shock troops of gentrification"; though it may make more sense to think of them as a sort of baker's yeast, whose job is to make the bread rise and then perish.) Meanwhile, the ease of creating (and copying) art, and indeed any sort of intellectual products, in the digital age has led to a rise in supply exceeding demand; not only is it harder to survive making art, but it is harder to get people to devote time to looking at your creations.
As with many of his previous recordings, New Waver expresses this thesis through the medium of cover versions of popular songs, assembled using General MIDI files. The opening track, Lugging For Nothing turns Dire Straits' anthem of the rock'n'roll dream on its head; in New Waver's acerbically realistic reworking, the people to be envied are the tradesmen, high-school drop-outs and cashed-up bogans, doing lucratively uncopiable physical work and spending their money on material luxuries. Like neo-Rousseauvian ignoble savages, impervious to the siren song of cultural engagement, they're happy to take the money of those afflicted by it (by renting them rehearsal rooms and such), while aspiring musicians infected by the rock'n'roll dream pack into small rooms and toil doing shitwork to pay off records and tours. The idea of cultural enagement as a parasitic replicator reemerges behind Media, I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life, which recounts the lot of the culturally engaged, struggling to afford to rent enough space to store their record collections and spending their spare hours discussing music and arthouse films on social websites; it is not difficult to square this with author Greg Wadley's well-documented interest in evolutionary psychology and conclude that the culturally engaged are the victims of parasitic memes, deprived of the chance to live a comfortable existence in a McMansion in suburbia, watching junk TV on their plasma screen and listening to whatever's on the radio by the terrible compulsion to impoverish themselves playing in bands, exhibiting art or otherwise trading time, wealth and effort for arbitrary signifiers of status, all the while helping to reproduce these memes.
Other songs touch on different, but related, themes; Party Like It's 1979 (a Prince cover, of course) looks at the resurgence of retro-styled indie music genres, from White Stripes-like garage bands to post-punk ("Fleetwood Mac's probably the most influential band today", "I got some classic rock released six months ago, some psychedelic folk, some white guys playing disco"), and the fetishisation of the vinyl format, reframing it as a cargo-cult commodity fetish, a subconscious belief that imitating one's idols will bring one their fame, wealth and sexual success. Inner City Drug Use, one of New Waver's older songs, is Queen's You're My Best Friend rewritten about the dependence on coffee, and My Memory Stick Weighs A Ton (a cover of a song by Melburnian 1980s post-punk turned suave crooner Dave Graney) about the glut of media produced by those who can be loosely categorised as "white-collar", and the declining likelihood of any of those items finding a willing audience. The closing track, The Cars That Ate Melbourne returns to the uncultured bogan "other", and this time to their habit of cruising around the inner cities in souped-up cars with blaring stereos; it does this by combining a house/commercial-dance beat, car engine noise and a porn dialogue sample; it is somewhat reminiscent of New Waver's 1990s commercial-dance track, "We're Gonna Get You After School".
The standout track, in my opinion, is "Hey Dude"; here, New Waver has taken the famous Beatles song and turned it into a missive from property developers and landlords to artists, hipsters and the creative classes, urging them to take a sad suburb and make it better by putting on exhibitions, opening cafés, organising events and looking hip, and reminding them that they carry investments on their shoulders. As commentary on gentrification, it is perfect. For what it's worth, there is a video here.
Consistent with its thesis, Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody is not being manufactured on CD or offered in shops (though there are rumours of a limited-edition memory-stick release), but is available for free downloading from New Waver's website. Which is not at all a bad deal for what will undoubtedly be one of the most apposite pieces of social commentary committed to the format of music this year.
Artificial Flight and Other Myths (a reasoned examination of A.F. by top birds), a satire of arguments against the possibility of strong artificial intelligence:
Current A.F. is limited to unpowered gliding; a technical marvel, but nowhere near the sophistication of a bird. Gliding simplifies our lives, and no bird (including myself) would discourage advancing this field, but it is a far cry from synthesizing the millions of cells within the wing alone to achieve Strong A.F. Strong A.F., as it is defined by researchers, is any artificial flier that is capable of passing the Tern Test (developed by A.F. pioneer Alan Tern), which involves convincing an average bird that the artificial flier is in fact a flying bird.
There are religious birds who believe God made Bird in His own image, and while I do not share in most of these beliefs, I do think there’s something to be said about the motivation behind creating Strong A.F. Perhaps, as we are the only creatures on Earth capable of flight, we want to push forward past our current capabilities, perhaps even augmenting our own flying capacities if independent A.F. is an impossibility. This could be interpreted as noble, but I would argue that there’s very little utility in replicating what nature has essentially perfected. Why spend millions on an artificial flier when there are so many birds out of work?
(via Boing Boing)
The Buffalo Beast has published its annual list of the 50 most loathsome people in America; the 2008 list, whilst undoubtedly going over the heads of many non-Americans in places (I didn't get some of the references), has nuggets of righteous vitriol:
20. Joe the Plumber
Charges: The Che Guevara of bald, pissed off white men. In a lot of ways, Samuel Wurzelbacher really does represent the average American—basing economic opinions on unrealistic expectations of personal future success, blaming his failure to meet those expectations on minorities and old people, complaining about deadbeats getting his taxes when he isn’t actually paying his taxes, and advertising his own rudimentary historical and mathematical ignorance by warning of creeping socialism in a country whose highest income tax rate has dropped by half in thirty years. “Joe” indeed symbolizes the true American dream—to become undeservedly rich and famous through a dizzyingly improbable stroke of luck. As American folk heroes go, Wurzelbacher ranks somewhere between Hulk Hogan and Bernie Goetz.
10. Bernard Madoff
Charges: Normally, the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowments, and is responsible for two suicides so far. Here’s a tip, Bernie: If you’re running the biggest scam since the Catholic church, handling billions of dollars, and all it takes to get busted is that some of your marks ask for their money back, you really should take some of that money and set up an escape plan. Still, he gets some credit for making Mort Zuckerman look like a jackass. The real villains here are Christopher Cox and the SEC, who investigated Madoff eight times, the last time specifically on suspicion of running a Ponzi scheme, each time “finding” no wrongdoing, which begs the all-too-familiar question of the last eight years: Satanically corrupt or grossly incompetent? Either way, Madoff was finally brought to justice… by his kids.
1. Sarah Palin
Charges: If you want to know why the rest of the world is scared of Americans, consider the fact that after two terms of disastrous rule by a small-minded ignoramus, 46% of us apparently thought the problem was that he wasn’t quite stupid enough. Palin’s unending emissions of baffling, evasive incoherence should have disqualified her for any position that involved a desk, let alone placing her one erratic heartbeat from the presidency. The press strained mightily to feign respect for her, praising a debate performance that involved no debate, calling her a “great speaker” when her only speech was primarily a litany of insults to city-dwellers, echoing bogus sexism charges when a male Palin would have been boiled alive for the Couric interview alone, and lionizing her as she used her baby as a Pro-life stage prop before crowds who cooed when they should have been hurling polonium-tipped javelins. In the end, Palin had the beneficial effect of splitting her party between her admirers and people who can read.
(via Boing Boing)
The latest in the line of "Stuff (group) Like" blogs is Stuff Geeks Love, which mentions things like "zombies", "Libertarianism", "cancelled TV shows" and "sex", and shines a revealing yet harsh light on stereotypical "geek" obsessions:
Comic book geeks are especially prone to faux boycotts. Every week hundreds of comic book fans declare that, because of some perceived outrage, they will never buy anything from DC or Marvel again. And the following week they proceed to do so because otherwise their runs on titles will be incomplete and because what else are they supposed to do? They’ve been reading X-Men since they were nine and aren’t going to stop now! Within weeks of the “true fan” declaring that he’ll never buy another Marvel comic again he’ll proudly declare victory for Marvel when an issue of their current “event” comic sells a few dozen more issues than an issue of DC’s current “event” comic.
It’s not surprising geeks have affection for zombies; these creatures are arrested in their existence, unable to change or grow. Geeks feel a oneness with them. And although zombies are frightening to look at, they don’t seem on the surface to be a serious threat, but their numbers and sheer tenacity make them possibly the most sinister killers of all. This is another thing geeks like to think they feel a oneness with; the underestimated lethal threat. Also, zombies desire, above all else, brains.
Geeks enjoy being Libertarians for two reasons. First, it allows them to be Conservative without having to belong to one of the two mainstream parties that the regular sheep are part of. Second, it gives them a political party that is just as self-absorbed as they are. Conservatives don’t care if you think they’re selfish pricks. Libertarians wonder why you don’t admire them for it.
Having a show canceled also has another upside for the geek. If it’s no longer in production, all those meddling writers, producers, actors, and studios can’t “mess it up” for him by having things happen on the show that blatantly contradict the obvious “right way” things would happen, were the geek in charge. It saves him the later trouble of having to declare he’s going to boycott the show (he won’t) because someone on the show did something that was “totally out of character”. It puts the show into a little snowglobe the geek can cradle and protect from the cruel outside world. The geek and his friends now own and control it and it is finally where it belongs, in the hands of the “true fans”.
According to a recent mailout from Chris Morris fan list Cook'd And Bomb'd, Morris' latest project, a comedy about Islamist jihadists in Britain, has been cancelled by Channel Four. The good news is that Warp Films, the independent arthouse film branch of the IDM/electronica label Warp, has picked it up, provided it attracts independent funding. To wit, Morris is asking people to pledge to donate £25, which might give them a chance to be an extra in the film:
Following rumours in the press and online Warp Films can confirm that Chris Morris' comedy about british jihadis is being made by Warp Films as an independently funded cinema feature. The script has been written by Chris in collaboration with Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain and is now ready to shoot. Production will begin as soon as we are fully funded. To that end we are running a number of investment schemes including donations which give you the chance to be in the film.
mail enquiries to: email@example.com
Please pass this on to ten people"
The makers of Stuff White People Like bring us two more slightly uncomfortable satirical glimpses into race and class in today's America: firstly, Stuff White Trash People Like (including the likes of "boxed wine", "NASCAR", and "High School Sweethearts"):
#1: AmericaAnd then there's Stuff Educated Black People Like (like "Getting Dressed Up", "Conferences" and "Poetry Slams" and "Moving To Atlanta").
Budweiser, fake tits, the V8, Little Debbies, the Fourth of July, all you can eat buffets, Viagra, yeah, America invented all that shit. Not enough for you? Tell you what, every other country that’s been to the moon raise your hand.
That’s what we thought.
If America’s not the best country ever, then why did Jesus invent it? See, you can’t argue with that logic.
"Your outdated ideas of what terrorism is have been challenged," an unidentified, disembodied voice announces following the video's first 45 minutes of random imagery set to minimalist techno music. "It is not your simple bourgeois notion of destructive explosions and weaponized biochemical agents. True terror lies in the futility of human existence."
According to a 2007 CIA executive summary, the terrorists responsible for masterminding the attack are likely hiding somewhere in Berlin's vast labyrinth of cafés. Though officials said they didn't know if any of those involved in carrying out the plot were still in Chicago, several dozen local performance artists and interpretive dancers have been brought in for questioning.
Hayden said the CIA is working closely with the National Endowment for the Arts to cut off all grants that may serve as funding for the group. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has begun monitoring any large purchases of gravy, tinfoil, pig's blood, and barbed wire in hopes of preventing another aesthetic tragedy.
A new study from the University of North Carolina suggests that Iraqi citizens experience sadness and a sense of loss when relatives, spouses, and even friends perish — emotions that have until recently been identified almost exclusively with Westerners:
Iraqis have often been observed weeping and wailing in apparent anguish, but the study offers evidence indicating this may not be exclusively an outward expression of anger or a desire for revenge. It also provocatively suggests that this grief can possess an American-like personal quality, and is not simply a tribal lamentation ritual.
Psychologists and anthropologists have thus far largely discounted the study, claiming it has the same bias as a 1971 Stanford University study that concluded that many Vietnamese showed signs of psychological trauma from nearly a quarter century of continuous war in southeast Asia.
"We are, in truth, still a long way from determining if Iraqis are exhibiting actual, U.S.-grade sadness," Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist Norman Blum said. "At present, we see no reason for the popular press to report on Iraqi emotions as if they are real."
(via Mind Hacks)
Art movement of the day: Neoconservative Realism:
In addition to the prints, Birk has made a number of paintings, including The Liberation of Baghdad, seen here. The paintings are more satirical and ironic, and many are based on paintings of the glories of war in Napoleon's time and from Russian socialist images of battlefield glories.
The Liberation of Baghdad, says Birk, is about "what we were told would happen -- happy, joyfully liberated Iraqis welcoming American troops as we free them from the shackles of oppression."
(via Boing Boing)
The latest project for Chris Morris, the satirist who brought us Brass Eye and Nathan Barley, looks set to be a fictionalised TV special about Islamist suicide bombers in Britain:
A casting sheet describes seven characters aged from 17 to 38, with one billed as "the sort of guy who'd protest against cartoons in a bomb belt" while another is "insanely intense, bright, very focused, blind to anything he's not focused on, small seething boffin".
Morris has taken a keen interest in Islamic terrorism and was recently spotted at a terror trial taking copious notes. He was also seen at a seminar on al-Qaida.Morris also mentioned a while ago that he is working on a second series of Nathan Barley. (Which, IMHO, should be more interesting than The I.T. Crowd, a rather dull and obvious American-style sitcom dressed up in computer-geek garb, and with all the bite of Hey Dad!).
Australian cartoonist and philosopher Michael Leunig confesses the extent of his involvement in the vast left-wing conspiracy against the values decent people hold dear:
Anyway, we are a homogenous group, all more or less identical, and we meet every Thursday night in a secret fairy dell that lies within a beautiful ferny glade in the old-growth forest - the moral high ground you might say, where we practise preaching and the double standards for which we are famous. We hug trees and skip about celebrating atheism and moral cancer, and indulge in the sublime pleasure of gleefully ignoring the human rights abuses of terrorists and certain fascist regimes. We achieve this state of rapture and denial by drinking chardonnay and losing ourselves in reminiscences about the '60s when we were all promiscuous hippies living on social welfare, smoking dried banana peel and making snide jokes about Vietnam War veterans.
Like normal people, leftists now have to get up in the morning and earn a living, seeing as the fascists have come down so hard on social welfare fraud, and this is the cruel reality. The good old days are gone and increasingly, leftists are to be found working in ordinary, proper jobs. For instance, it may surprise you to consider that a leftist appeaser could be feeding your mum tenderly with a little spoon in the dementia ward right at this very moment.
The remarkable thing is, that you wouldn't recognise them as classic anti-war leftists because mostly they don't look or sound like those educated, twee, dinner-party feminists - the ones who are often singled out by the rankled commentators as typical annoying leftists. At least not as far as I can discern, and I wonder if perhaps these new lefties I'm discovering have committed identity theft. They just don't seem like sickening, repulsive leftists.
Raging with stale conviction against the "moral cancer" of the left is like lashing out at the wind - apart from being futile, there's something forlorn, emotionally wacky and phantasmagorical about it. The only authenticity to it lies in the faint smells of guilt, personal resentment, eros-envy and bad liver.
2. Drug-filled condoms in schoolsIt's rather telling about the mindset of the American Right (or the author's depiction of it) that the cocktail of caricature loony-liberalisms feared to be unleashed by the Democrats' ascendancy includes such things as mandatory abortion and homosexuality, Islamic fundamentalism, atheism, belief in evolution, and replacing road transport with public transport.
6. Withdraw from Iraq, apologize, reinstate Hussein
13. Freeways to be removed, replaced with light rail systems
16. Comatose people to be ground up and fed to poor
20. Jane Fonda to be appointed Secretary of Appeasement
21. Outlaw all firearms: previous owners assigned to anger management therapy
23. Ban Christmas: replace with Celebrate our Monkey Ancestors Day
Meanwhile, the copyfighters aren't rejoicing just yet; the Democrats (i.e., the Party of the Lesser Evil) have a long history of closeness to Hollywood (which, for all the Republicans' pro-corporate ideology, was a bit too Godless and liberal), and look set to put a MPAA shill in charge of internet policy.
(via Boing Boing)
Earlier this week, a nutter obsessed with the Columbine massacre gunned down a bunch of people in Montreal, killing one, before being shot dead by police. Afterwards, his online journal came to light, being hosted on a site named Vampire Freaks, which seems to be something like DeadJournal crossed with MySpace, with extra Goth. In other words, unlike the Columbine killers (who were erroneously associated with the Goth subculture despite not being part of it), Kimveer Gill vociferously identified himself as a Goth.
Before this leads to reprisal attacks (the torching of industrial clubs, assaults on Goths, punks, hessians, Hassidim, ninjas, or random chromatically-challenged individuals by clueless rednecks), an important distinction must be made. The enemy are not Goths but Gothists. Goth is a subculture of peace, and explicitly prohibits violence against the innocent. Gothism, however, is a militant, intolerant ideology committed to the annihilation or subjugation of all jocks, preppies, "normals" and "mundanes" across the world, and the ushering in of a global reign of darkness. The vast majority of Goths do not subscribe to the extremist beliefs of Gothism, and indeed consider it to be a false ideology, a sick perversion of the tenets of their subculture. It is clear that peaceful coexistence with Gothism is impossible, and this ideology must be uprooted and neutralised before it causes any more damage; this is something which we will need the cooperation of moderate/liberal Goth leaders in achieving.
Having said that, Goth community leaders should be more outspoken in condemning atrocities carried out in the name of their culture, and the Goth community needs to take action to prevent its marginalised youth from being radicalised by the agents of Gothism.
A new advertising agency in the Netherlands has started offering advertising on zoo animals and hookers' thighs. The agency instoresnow.nl also offers advertising iin religious establishments and huge floating billboards off popular beaches. Unfortunately for those willing to buy, the agency doesn't actually exist, but is merely a satirical project by a design student, Raoul Balai:
"I was getting sick and tired of advertising everywhere," Balai told reporters. "But I don't want to preach, and I thought satire would work better."
Prospective customers phoning his fake agency are kept on hold and bombarded with sales pitches until they give up.Not all are amused, though; an Amsterdam zoo has threatened Balai with a defamation suit after Balai's site showed fish at the zoo inscribed with the brand name of a frozen fish company.
An interesting article about the history of Chinese Maoist propaganda poster art, and the contemporary artist Wang Guangyi, whose work includes the "Great Criticism" series, juxtaposing Maoist poster imagery with Western lifestyle product brands.
(via Boing Boing)
A town in Oregon has banned animal mascots from its baseball games after a 7-year-old was severely traumatised by witnessing the horror that is the Furries on the Internet:
"He's deathly afraid of Tig now ... We even had to throw out all his Disney tapes. Just seeing the animal characters on the box would make him start crying."
"The librarian called me and said that Jefferey wouldn't stop crying, and that there was some disgusting website on the computer he had been using. When I arrived at the library and saw the computer, I was ... sickenet. I can say without a doubt that it was the most disturbing, depraved thing I have ever had the misfortune to witness."Richmond, Oregon's local ISP has now blocked all websites relating to the Furry subculture, and the city council has unanimously passed a resolution changing the name of the local baseball team, retiring the popular tiger-suited mascot and requesting all visiting teams to leave any animal mascots behind.
Just as proponents of "Intelligent Design" are rallying against the theory of evolution, their counterparts in linguistics are pushing the (strictly scientific, mind you, and not in the least religious) theory of "Wrathful Dispersion":
The opponents of Wrathful Dispersion maintain that it is really just Babelism, rechristened so that it might fly under the radar of those who insist that religion has no place in the state-funded classroom. Babelism was clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 19); it held that the whole array of modern languages was created by God at a single stroke, for the immediate purpose of disrupting humanity's hubristic attempt to build a tower that would reach to heaven... Wrathful Dispersion is couched in more cautiously neutral language; rather than tying linguistic diversity to a specific biblical event, it merely argues that the differences among modern languages are too perverse to have arisen spontaneously, and must therefore be the work of some wrathful (and powerful) disperser who deliberately set out to accomplish a confusion of tongues.
One cynical observer has likened WD to Scientology, which "is a religion for purposes of tax assessment, a science for purposes of propaganda, and a work of fiction for purposes of copyright."This article, of course, is a parody. However, this site appears to be all too sincere, and offers up pearls of wisdom such as:
The Tower of Babel scenario of the Biblical account in Genesis 11 posits that all people spoke the same language before the Lord confused human tongues. Up until the nineteenth century it was common knowledge that the pre-Babel tongue was the language of the Bible, Ancient Hebrew and the language of Adam and Eve. ven in colonial America, Hebrew was so revered that the first dissertation in the New World, at Harvard College, was on Hebrew as The Mother Tongue. The Continental Congress nearly made Hebrew the language of the new republic, as much to break away from England as to reaffirm America's status as the new Promised Land.Actually, the claim that Hebrew almost became the US national language is a myth.
And it goes on from there, going into things from the white-supremacist tenets of Darwinism to Noam Chomsky being the connection between Godless non-Edenist linguistics and rabid anti-Israelism, not to mention the "proto-world" fallacy of assuming that languages remain largely static.
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.
Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.
Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics. "Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."Also in The Onion: this infographic of new ecologically-friendly biofuels, including the likes of "EcoCoal - bituminous, geologically occurring combustible that comes in a nice green container" and "Hydro-Quasi-Solarization", in which two naturally-occurring hydrogen atoms are "fused" together, releasing roughly as much energy as the sun.
A militant Islamist group's website recently published a report saying that the CIA has opened a facility for training agents to impersonate muezzins and infiltrate mosques:
The CIA opened its first muezzin school at a deserted army airstrip in Virginia in 1989, with the school being specially equipped with six minarets from which its agents could practise, the report said. It added that the CIA was now capable of producing up to 100 qualified muezzins each year.
Unbeknownst to them, the original story was a piece of satire, published by British satirical website The Rockall Times in 2001. Apparently the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who republished the story almost unchanged, either did not notice the satirical content on the rest of the site or wrote it off as authentic reportage of the corruption and decadence of British society.
A 500 year extension would let Disney track down Shakespeare's heirs and buy all rights to the Bard. No matter how much the heirs wanted, the deal would pay for itself in no time. Every school that ever wanted to perform or study Shakespeare would have to send a check to Disney. Every newspaper or magazine or radio show that wanted to quote the Bard would have to send one, too. So Disney asked, and Congress gave, and the World Intellectual Property Organization followed Congress's example. Disney paid off Shakespeare's heirs, then used the Shakespeare profits to buy all rights from the heirs of Dumas, Dickens, Twain, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker and more. Once most of the films in every other studio's library were subject to Disney's copyright, they went bankrupt or became divisions of Disney.
Then Jimmy Joe Jenkins's DNA proved he was the primary descendent of the translators of the King James Version of the Bible.(via bOING bOING)
The voice of Australia's much-vaunted silent majority, Andrew Bolt, now has a blog. (via Ben Butler)
Hold on - let me get this straight. Suddenly we're meant to feel sorry and apologetic for young women who use their sexuality as a tool and as a result become burdened with unwanted children? Suddenly we're meant to embrace potential terrorists and rapists simply because they're from a "minority group"? Never mind that our "homies" (street slang for homosexual pickpockets) are thieving money from the middle class average Australians to give to the depraved, like a posse of horrendous, drug-addled urban Robin Hoods - after all, they're "strugglers"!
As we enter a glorious new era of Australian politics, remember that the public's faith in John Howard and the conservative Coalition proves beyond doubt that the people of this country have had enough of violence, greed and stupidity. No more following the wannabe Islamic liberals of this nation into the proverbial vegetarian cafe of angst, and being peer-pressured to order soy lattes of hate. By putting our faith in a courageous Government and our beloved American allies, we are standing together and saying "No!" to conflict.
The Rockall Times (named after the windswept North Atlantic island of Rockall) is a sort of British version of The Chaser, with stories like Bin Laden video fails to wow critics ("The Times said it "lacked intellectual rigour", the Telegraph slammed bin Laden's performance as "lacklustre" while the Mail on Sunday used stills from the performance to illustrate the dangers of predatory, swan-roasting Albanian paedophiles."), Suicide bomber decimates London radio station ("Playlist destroyed, one dead") and Clairvoyant channels John Peel's tribute fury:
"Has my legacy taught them nothing?" Peel allegedly said via his Romany conduit this afternoon. "Everyone knows Teenage Kicks is my favourite single. Unfortunately, I've heard it 317 times since 2pm last Tuesday and it pains me to say this I'm beginning to go off it a bit. There are thousands of records you could play to pay me tribute not that I entirely deserve all this, mind, it's all a bit embarrassing from Beefheart to the White Stripes. Or the Fall. I really like the Fall."
Unsurprisingly, the world of politics has not been slow in eulogising Peel's legacy to popular culture. When asked whether Peel's championing of Progressive Rock, Belgian Techno, Grindcore, Gabba, Lithuanian speed garage and world music had influenced their formative musical tastes, every MP we quizzed replied "Er... yes, absolutely. Did I mention how much I like Teenage Kicks by the Buzzcocks?"
The latest cult sensation from the Russian pirate DVD underground is Dmitri "the Goblin" Puchkov, a former cop who has gotten into satirically redubbing Hollywood films with "improved" dialogue. Puchkov's version of Lord of the Rings, for example, has become a Russian crime thriller, with the good guys as bumbling cops and the Orcs as mafiosi:
Frodo Baggins is renamed Frodo Sumkin (a derivative from the Russian word sumka, or bag). The Ranger, Aragorn, is called Agronom (Russian for farm worker). Legolas is renamed Logovaz, after a Russian car company famed for its Ladas. Boromir becomes Baralgin, after a Russian type of paracetemol. Gandalf spends much of the film trying to impress others with his in-depth knowledge of Karl Marx, and Frodo is cursed with the filthy tongue of a Russian criminal.
(via bOING bOING)
A vintage Jack Chick tract that railed against the evils of Dungeons & Dragons remixed into a sardonic critique of the goth subculture. Quite astute.
Satirical Christian webzine (yes, there is such a thing) Ship of Fools has a feature titled the 12 Days of Kitschmas, bringing a choice selection of tacky Christian-themed consumer goods; from unrealistically fair-skinned holy figurines of several varieties to flashing cross mobile-phone covers (I bet everyone in the cool cliques in Bible-belt high schools has one of these) to this artfully deceptive Lord of the Kings jigsaw puzzle, seemingly designed to nudge its young recipient into permature teenage Satanism; and who can go past a nail in a cardboard box:
COMING SOON! A 7-inch screw in a cardboard box, to remind you of what George Bush and Tony Blair are doing to the Middle East! Meanwhile, get your nail in a cardboard box for just $8.99
(via bOING bOING)
In today's Onion: Mom Finds Out About Blog:
"God, my links alone contain unlimited fodder for Mom's neuroses," Widmar said. "She'll have access to not only my life, but the lives of all my friends who have web sites. She'll have the names of all the places in Minneapolis where we hang out, which she can--and will--look up. With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is fucking serious."
Seeing his blog through his mother's eyes, Widmar said he knows there's no way the site can remain unchanged.
"The clock is ticking," Widmar said. "I've gotta act fast. At this very minute, she might be reading about the time I did Ecstasy last summer. If Mom finds that entry, I can pretty much count on our conversations for the next year being centered on the dangers of drug use."
I'm fortunate that my mum doesn't show any interest in my blog; I've shown it to her, but she never payed much attention to it (perhaps because I don't write about my everyday life here and she doesn't have a dictionary of cultural references at hand to decode what it's actually about). Except for the time she tried to talk me into pimping her home movies on my web site.
(Another reason why blogs, without some sort of authentication mechanism (think LiveJournal's friend lists), are unsuitable for private discourse.)
The Onion's commentary about current directions in trademark law: Tanzania loses name to tanning salon chain:
"It was easy to establish that my client's company had a greater vested interest in the Tanzania brand name," said Yeltzer's lawyer, Ben Knowles. "Tanzania, the salon chain, is a rapidly growing business, adding nearly 50 locations each year. Tanzania, the African nation, is lanquishing under a debt of $7 billion."
"When you come to a Tanzania location, you know you're in for an out-of-the-ordinary tanning experience," Yeltzer said. "Our salons are famous for their casual but professional atmosphere. Last year, four million customers visited Tanzania Salons. Can the country of Tanzania make that claim?"
Why wait for the redesign of Mt. Rushmore? Get your Texas Air National Guard George W. Bush Action Figure now!
Comes with detailed uniform (as imagined by base commander), sealed discharge papers, Coors Light keg, and "licensed to chug" bumper sticker... Winning bidder will be notified of upcoming GWBANG accessories; pile of dried branches, action pretzel, overstuffed bags with "$" printed on them, blindfold, bible with real, highlighted passages, and earplugs.
This week's Onion has some good bits on the front page, such as "Last Great Party Of Life To Result In First Child", and the following classic:
WASHINGTON, DC -- Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed H.R. 2093: the Economic Equality Initiative, with the express purpose of shooting it down "just for kicks" Tuesday. "H.R. 2093 will level the economic playing field, spreading the wealth among the rich and poor," said Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX), visibly fighting back snickers. "We must pass this bill to stop the fat cats from getting fatter while the average Joe struggles to make ends meet. Also, I'm the Queen of Bavaria." Following 10 minutes of uproarious laughter, the congressmen stepped out of the chamber to smoke cigars lit with a bill that would allocate $115 million to clean up hazardous waste sites.
The front page of today's Onion has the following observation on the differences between the sexes: Woman Masturbates To Concept Of Commitment:
PORTAGE, MI--Soaking in her bathtub Tuesday, area resident Linda Marston, 32, pleasured herself over the thought of a long-term committed relationship. "Mmmm... oh, yeah, baby... I want to settle down with you forever," moaned the never-married Marston, as she gently massaged her clitoris with two fingers. "Oh, God, yes... two kids, maybe three... and a house in the country. Big swingset in the backyard." Several hours later, Marston masturbated again to the idea of loving someone unconditionally through good times and bad.
Add to your reading list: The Ironic Times; sort of like an all-headlines version of The Onion, with barbs like "Playing Violent Video Games Said to Improve Children's Visual Attention Skills Reading books hurts skills, and should be discouraged.", "Bush Promotes Thinning of Forests: It will mean `fewer trees for bad guys to hide behind.'", "Iraqi Oil Flowing Again. Water, electricity to follow.", and "Smithsonian Photo Exhibit of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Moved Downstairs, Behind Cafeteria; Photos judged "too beautiful" for originally planned display.". Though they seem to have an obsession with mass nudist gatherings, for some reason. (via Anthony, who's doing a good line in right-on political headkicking)
WASHINGTON, DC--With the nation safely distracted by the NBA playoffs, Congress passed the terrifying Citizenship Redefinition And Income-Based Relocation Act of 2003 with little opposition Monday.
Andy Guthridge of Savannah, GA, is among the estimated 240 million Americans unaware of the sweeping package of civil-liberties curtailments, voting-privilege re-qualifications, and mandatory relocation of the working poor to the Dakotas. "Man, I was so glad to see the Lakers finally get knocked off," said Guthridge, who was glued to TNT while the bill's passage aired on C-SPAN. "Shaq and Kobe and the rest of those dicks have had it coming for a long time."
Meanwhile, in the same issue of The Onion, Bassist Unaware Rock Band Christian:
"Jack's amazing," Rolen said. "He writes all these super-heavy, Metallica-influenced tunes like 'My Master' and 'Blood Of My Father,' but then he'll turn around and write a killer love song like 'Thank You (For Saving Me).'" "Actually, Jack writes a lot of songs about chicks," Rolen continued. "'Your Love,' 'When You Return,' 'I Confess'... I don't know if they're all about the same girl or lots of different ones, but one thing's for sure: Jack loves the pussy."
"At the audition, [drummer] Greg [Roberts] said Pillar Of Salt was going for a Believer-meets-Living Sacrifice sound," Rolen said. "I didn't know jack about either of those bands, but I knew I could play bass like a motherfucker, and that's what got me the gig. Afterwards, I asked Greg what Living Sacrifice sounded like, and at the first practice, he gave me a tape. It's not Slayer, but it rocks. He's given me some other stuff by Whitecross, Third Day, and Stigmata. I've always prided myself on knowing metal, but these guys put me to shame. They must really have their ears to the ground to know all this music I've never heard before."
In today's Onion: '90s Punk Decries Punks Of Today:
"Those so-called punk bands they listen to today? Sum 41? Good Charlotte? The Ataris? They're not punk. Back in the day, man, we used to listen to the real deal: Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX, Green Day. Those guys were what true punk rock was all about. Today's stuff is just a pale, watered-down imitation. There's no comparison."
"I saw some kid wearing a Sex Pistols T-shirt the other day--he couldn't have been more than 9 when the Pistols did their Filthy Lucre reunion tour," Tolbert said. "I was like, 'You can listen to the music, you can wear the T-shirt, but I was there.' I had fifth-row seats at that goddamn stadium, man, right up front, close enough to see Johnny Rotten's wrinkles. Did you see an original member of The Clash play during Big Audio Dynamite II's last tour? Did you see two of the four original Ramones play at the KROQ Weenie Roast in '95? You did not, but I did. I swear to God, they're like a joke, these people."
And then, the front page has the following useful wardating tip:
SPRINGFIELD, MO--Wanting to add something special for new love Danielle Welter, Andy Mansfield, 24, burned three personalized tracks Monday onto his standard new-girlfriend mix CD. "Danielle loves that No Doubt song 'Running,' so I threw that on there just for her," Mansfield said. "And she doesn't really like rap, which [previous girlfriend] Erica [Hollings] loved, so I took off [Salt-N-Pepa's] 'Whatta Man' and replaced it with two Aretha Franklin songs, because Danielle loves the oldies." Mansfield said he expects Welter to love the mix "even more than Erica did, maybe even as much as Christine."
I recently picked up a book titled Jennifer Government, by a local author named Max Barry, after seeing it mentioned on bOING bOING. It's ostensibly a satire of globalisation, in which the world has become corporate-America-as-seen-from-Australia (complete with everyone speaking with Californian accents), everything is privatised, and the government's only remaining role is to prevent crime (for those who can pay the bills, anyway). Which sounds like an interesting premise; pity that the book didn't make the most of it.
The book is let down by a lack of psychological realism. Had the author populated the universe with plausibly rendered people, rather than cartoonish stereotypes, these premises could have been a very good springboard for an exploration of the human condition in the age of corporate hegemony, of extrapolating globalisation to its dystopian conclusion and exploring the myriad consequences of the way things are going. However, Jennifer Government has all the psychological realism of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Characters have next to no inner life, and are guided by the most one-dimensional motivations (greed, for example, or parental responsibility; all these things one can assign a short name to and employ by the book).
IMHO, a better treatment of the same idea is K.W. Jeter's Noir. Curiously enough, while Jeter's premises (the dead being reanimated to work off their debts) are more outlandish than Barry's (people's surnames being changed to their corporate employers' names), Noir requires less suspension of disbelief, because the scenarios and events therein have plausible psychological motivations, as opposed to happening by fiat of the author.
Not that Jennifer Government isn't entertaining, in a throwaway sort of way, just that it takes an interesting idea and squanders it, using it as little more than a McGuffin and/or a comedic prop. An amusing thriller it may be, though it falls short of being the sort of speculative fiction I expected.
The Onion looks at Appointed by America, the new Fox reality TV show to determine the ruler of Iraq:
"Get ready, America, because you're about to choose the man--or woman--who will lead Iraq into an exciting democratic future," said Fox reality-programming chief Mike Darnell, introducing the show at a press conference. "Will it be Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the exiled Iraqi National Congress? Or General Tommy Franks, commander of the allied forces? Or maybe Roshumba Williams, the Macon, GA, waitress with big dreams and an even bigger voice? Tune in Tuesdays at 9 to see."
Added Perkins: "So long as Hitch can learn to keep his mouth shut about Christianity being symptomatic of the 'savage and ignorant prehistory of our species' and whatnot, I'm sure he'll cause no trouble that a few cups of black coffee and a night in the drunk tank can't solve."
After regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it was only a matter of time before Blair and Bush turned their attention to France. The detested Jacques Chirac, a past friend of Saddam Hussein, refused to disband his force de frappe weapons of mass destruction; the coalition acted in preemptive self-defence; though it was a pity about the Louvre.
The toppling of the Chirac regime was the inevitable application of this ideology. It was not imperialism. Washington had no desire to stick around when the cameras had already been directed to a new rogue. It was rather adventurism. American foreign policy did mergers and acquisitions, not management. They could topple but, as they found in Kabul and Baghdad, they had no clue about rebuilding. They just wanted to make a point. Upset Uncle Sam and you will lose your power, your palace, your art treasures and bring death and destruction to your cities.
Tony Blair cheered the fall of France. He, too, had his reasons. He had longed to see M Chirac with a bloody nose. Since 2002 he had supported Americas new coercive diplomacy and grown hugely popular as a result. Not since Palmerston had nations quaked when a British leader said he had no plans to attack them. Now Mr Blair might be Americas chosen candidate for president of Europe. Anyway, Britain was in bed with America and could hardly climb out now. Washington would not like that. Mr Blair would not want a nasty hole at the end of The Mall, would he?
The Onion has a great war-time issue, with stories like U.S. Forms Own U.N., Bush Bravely Leads 3rd Infantry Into Battle, Dead Iraqi Would Have Loved Democracy and Local Mom Whips Up Some Of Her Famous War Pie; and more.
British satirical outfit Bremner Bird and Fortune (who appear on Channel 4; for the Australians in the audience, that seems to be sort of like SBS only with more of an edge) have some good video clips about current events. I particularly recommend "Blair & Campbell Autocue", which has Tony Blair fumbling through a speech freshly delivered from Washington. (via MeFi)
Chinese political dissident Wu Chong has declared that he's proud that his T-shirts were used in the Global Weekend of Protest. The 45 year old former University professor, who is serving a 10 year sentence was delighted to learn the T-Shirts he makes in the prison sweatshop had been screenprinted with anti-war slogans, such as "No hoWARd" and "There's a village in Texas that's lost its idiot", and worn in rallies in London, Madrid and Sydney.
"I'm honoured they chose my T-Shirts to find against injustice." He said he thought that the choice would have been based not just on the competitive price of his T-Shirts, but the quality of his stitching. He noted his labour camp had some of the strictest "quality control incentives" in China.
Claire Thompson, author David Foster Wallace's girlfriend of two years, stopped reading his 67-page breakup letter at page 20, she admitted Monday.
"One thing I found annoying was that you had to read all the way to the middle to figure out what things on the first page of the letter were talking about," Thompson said. "For instance, he kept referring to somebody named The Cackler without explanation until page 11, at which point I finally found out that The Cackler is my friend Renée--essentially forcing me to read the whole first 11 pages over again. And then there are all the footnotes. I always felt he overused those in his valentines, too."
"Maybe I'll pick it up again," Thompson said. "I'd sort of like to see how it ends. Then again, knowing David, it probably just leaves a whole bunch of loose ends untied."
You've heard the Nu Marxists bleating about how Bush is just like Hitler? Well, here's proof that it's not at all true:
HITLER: A brilliant orator.
BUSH: May be dyslexic.
HITLER: In his younger days, organized the Beer Hall Putsch.
BUSH: In his younger days, drank a lot of beer.
HITLER: Preceding government discredited by economic crisis, hyperinflation, riots between Communists and Fascists.
BUSH: Preceding government discredited by extramarital blowjob.
HITLER: Survived several assassination attempts.
BUSH: Choked on a pretzel.
HITLER AS A MOVIE CHARACTER: SAURON!
BUSH AS A MOVIE CHARACTER: Forrest Gump.
(from Where is Raed?'s comments)
London - Urging his nation to "see the big picture" and not focus on one issue, British Prime Minister Tony Blair today explained that unflinching support for President George W. Bush is particularly necessary now if Great Britain is ever to become the 51st U.S. state.
Blair, however, insisted the advantages of becoming another star on the U.S. flag are too great to ignore. "As Americans, we will finally be able to lift the yoke of cross-Atlantic condescension," he said. "We will finally be able to say we won the Colonial Rebellion. We will be able to once again look in the mirror and say, 'We are a superpower.' And we will be able to declare that we 'saved our own butts' during World War II."
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today told investigators he is not developing nuclear or biological weapons, but instead has been doing research for a book on weapons of mass destruction he hopes to see published next year. Hussein, whose palaces were recently searched by the United Nations as part of an ongoing investigation, said he always been strongly opposed to such weapons, and believes he was a victim of weapons of mass destruction during his childhood.
Another amusingly apt Onion piece I missed earlier: One Look At My Music Collection Will Show You How Much I Respect Women.
Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I haven't really made as many connections as I'd have liked. If I could just get a woman to see my CD collection, I know she'd realize that I'm not like the other guys. I can really understand the female experience.
Bush on North Korea: We Must Invade Iraq:
"For years, Kim Jong Il has acted in blatant disregard of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons, and last week, he rejected it outright," Bush told reporters after a National Security Council meeting on North Korea. "We cannot allow weapons of mass destruction to remain in the hands of volatile, unpredictable leaders. Which is exactly why we must act quickly and decisively against Saddam Hussein."
Gill called the discovery "a powerfully compelling refutation" of secular scientists' long-held assertion that dinosaurs lived on Earth millions of years before humans. "The fact that no human remains were found anywhere in the vicinity of the site of the skeleton serves as proof of the tyrannosaur's ferocity and huge appetite," Gill said.
Also from the Onion: Ghost of Christmas Future Taunts Children With Visions of PlayStation 5.
"I like to appear in the living room with a PS5 hooked up to 2016's most popular TV, the 4'x8' Hi-Def Sony Titania," the Ghost said. "Then, I'll say in my best spooky voice, 'Jimmy! Behold what your kids will be playing while you're slaving away at an office job to support them!'"
A Republican initiative that went unopposed by congressional Democrats, the revised Bill of Rights provides citizens with a "more manageable" set of privacy and due-process rights by eliminating four amendments and condensing and/or restructuring five others. The Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms, was the only article left unchanged.
"We're not taking away personal rights; we're increasing personal security," Ashcroft said. "By allowing for greater government control over the particulars of individual liberties, the Bill of Rights will now offer expanded personal freedoms whenever they are deemed appropriate and unobtrusive to the activities necessary to effective operation of the federal government."
(via The Onion)
Freddie the Lobster: Just Wait 'Til I Get These Fucking Rubber Bands Off. (The Onion)
The Onion draws another spot-on sketch of human despair: Goodwill Toy Section Most Depressing Thing Ever. (I think "Goodwill" is the US equivalent of the Salvation Army Family Stores or something like that.)
"The toy area has its own distinct odor: sort of a musty, mildewy, plastic, sour-milk, baby-vomit, metallic, rotting-cloth smell," Robichaud said. "It isn't quite the smell of evil--just despair."
20% of Area Man's Income Spent Ironically (the Onion)
A lot of people have linked to this recently (GJW/Jimbob and Jorn are two), but it's somewhat frightening how much of this Onion article from January 2001 has come true.
Falco! That venerable British institution, Punch magazine, looks likely to close its doors for the final time. Punch previously closed down in 1992, but was revived by Mohammed Al-Fayed (yes, that one) four years later. After six years of disappointing circulation, Al-Fayed pulled the plug on its life-support system, and it looks like this is the end.
And here is an article by a former writer, charting its decline over the past decades. The article suggests that Punch was a victim of the rise of television and the decline of satirical magazines. Though you'd think that with the rise of web-based humour, a revitalised heir to Punch might be able to carve out a niche for itself.
(I have fond memories of reading Punch in the school library in the late 80s. The publisher's attempt to go for the youth market was evident; they kept profiling people like Stock-Aitken-Waterman, or going on about which club Patsy Kensit or someone was seen at. All this probably led to the formation of magazines such as Oldie, which eschewed all the yoofist stuff and undoubtedly bled Punch's circulation. Though the pre-shut-down Punch did have the classic cartoon caption contest, something the relaunched one sorely lacked.)
In today's Onion: Pope forgives molested children for their misdeeds:
"The pope has shown great love and compassion, much as Jesus did when he ministered to tax collectors and whores," said Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. "Despite all they have done to jeopardize the careers of so many priests--to say nothing of imperiling the priests' immortal souls--the church embraces these underaged seducers and tempters with open arms. The pope's words and actions prove that the church is willing to put an end to the suffering and let the healing begin."
"There was a lot of concern when she was cast in Dr. T And The Women ," Braterman said. "[Director Robert] Altman is known for his subversive, countercultural views, and [co-star] Richard Gere is a passionate advocate for Tibetan independence. It was a dangerous situation to put her in, but by keeping Tara's trailer far away from Richard's and by frequently pulling her off the set for premieres, press junkets, and racy pictorials for Stuff magazine and Maxim, we managed to shield her from any potential indoctrination."
"It is just so unfair," Pressly said. "Because of her control-freak handlers, Tara will never learn of the joys and rewards of political awareness. Since my own awakening last year, I feel so much more full of knowledge and awareness, and I think celebrities should use their fame to educate the public about important issues. Like, for example, did you know that women in Pakistine have to be buried alive with their dead husbands, whether they want to or not? That is so wrong."
There's a new Chaser online; among the stories: Psychiatric patient successfully reintegrated into homeless community, World awaits 'Iraq Wars II: Attack of the Clone', and the somewhat off-colour Images of baby Christ arouse US bishops.
"Scottie was always up for coming over to my house and teaching me how to use a hopping casino coin or a stiff rope," said best friend and fellow magic aficionado Andrew Welch. "Now, he just wants to go to parties. He's all, 'Is anyone having a party this weekend? We should go to that bar we went to on New Year's Eve. There were cute girls there.' God, Scottie, get a life."
According to a Department of Health and Human Services report released Monday, McDonald's meat from antibiotics-injected livestock is now the primary source of antibiotics for U.S. children, particularly for uninsured youths from low-income households.
"Every day, food scientists are discovering new antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemically engineered substances to inject into the nation's beef supply," Lugar said. "And with Americans working longer and longer hours just to make ends meet, people can't afford to waste time sitting around some waiting room until their name is called. Unlike a doctor, our fast-food providers can deliver a full spectrum of antibiotics in minuteshot, fresh, and with a smile."
The Onion in fine form: Countries Who Met Over Internet Go To War. And then there's Sullen Time-Travelling Teen Reports 23rd Century Sucks:
"They still had pizza, which was cool," Geremek said. "But kids were into splicing their DNA with beetles, so they get, like, these temporary mandibles shooting out of their foreheads. It sounds like it would be pretty cool, but it actually looked kinda gay."
Howard screws refugee kids; G-G turns blind eye. (The Chaser)
"So some children got screwed, did they? Ah, that takes me back to my days in the Anglican Church," Dr Hollingworth reminisced before sweeping the entire matter under the carpet.
The Chaser has more articles online. Of particular note: "Harry Potter fans warn against dangerous effects of Bible", "CAMP X-RAY 'INHUMANE': Ruddock asks for brochure".. and don't tell me that Ratcat have reformed. (If so, wonder what they would sound like; would they just playing their 1990-vintage skater-pop hits on the nostalgia circuit for all the mortgaged new parents who used to be into them when they were kids, or have they jumped on the mook/rap-metal/big-yellow-shorts bandwagon and tried to reach out to a new crop of suburban teens?)
From The Onion: Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities, finding the Judeo-Christian Deity to be an illegal monotheopoly. Of course, whether or not it'll actually happen is another matter; didn't the defendant contribute heavily to the Bush campaign?
And there's also this amusing look at student radicalism.
Ever wondered what ultra-violent young malchicks do when they grow up and reform? How about writing an advice column... (via Found)
Your little malchick is doing a yumyumyum bit of the ol' in-out in-out and I don't see why you are so oh-oh-oh about it. It's nature, baboochka, remember it? You can teach him about Bog and the Good Book all you like, but when a malchick sees a fine devotchka, he gets a pan-handle and he wants to do some lubbilubbing with her. At least he's not a gloopy prestoopnik, always in trouble with the millicents and being dragged off to the Staja. Let him and his little ptitsa do the in-out in-out. Next you'll be all razdraz about him smoking a cancer.
The Onion's back in fine form, with pieces like Area Man Not Exactly Sure When To Take Down American Flags:
"I don't want to be the first to take one down and look like an ass," Wenger said. "When I put the flags up, I was saying, 'I support America.' If I take them down, some people will probably think I'm saying, 'I no longer support America.'"
And then there's this ever-helpful collection of Dating Tips:
- Ladies: Your date's salary divided by your own equals the base you should let him get to on the first date.
- If you are overweight and socially awkward, consider "online dating." You can go on a dragonslaying adventure instead of to a movie, play games on Pogo.com instead of dancing, and masturbate instead of having real sex.
s,San Francisco,St Kilda/Byron Bay,g: The Onion: San Francisco is my favourite market. (Beware of the evil text-obscuring Flash ads though.)
Media watch: The Onion: "Ringo Next"; the Chaser: Yoko Ono slams Beatle death as derivative.
The Onion in classic form: Man Dies After Long And Painful Battle With Life.
The Onion has this particularly incisive piece of social commentary: If I Don't Get My Medium-Rare Shell Steak With Roasted Vegetables In The Next 10 Minutes, The Terrorists Have Already Won
Do you want the blood of our forefathers to have been spilled for nothing? Well, if you can't bring us the entrees we need to rebuild our strength as a nation in the next five minutes, you might as well move to Afghanistan and join in one of their American-flag-burning rallies. Because that's what you're really doing.
The Onion is back in full form, with pieces like Freedoms Curtailed In Defense of Liberty:
"Now is not the time for such divisive, destructive things as dialogue and debate," McCain said. "Now is not the time for, 'My opinion is just as valid as yours,' and 'What are my country's leaders doing and why?' and 'I have a question, Mr. President.' Now is the time for one thing and one thing only: The defense of the American democratic ideal. Any and all who disagree with this directive, or who have different ideas about how it should be accomplished, should learn to shut their mouths."
And Everybody Browsing At Video Store Saying Stupid Things is quite good too.
The new Onion, the first since 11/9/2001, is in, and it's not the terminally ironically detached Onion of yore; no sirree, this is a patriotic, flag-waving, God Bless America-singing Onion, for now at least. Don't expect anything as blasphemously flippant as "Terrorism matches obesity as top killer of Americans" (no, for that you have to go to that scurrilous convict rag the Chaser). The "hijackers surprised to find selves in Hell" story reminded me of a Weekly World News piece about great villains like Lee Harvey Oswald being tortured in Hell.
This week's Onion has some good pieces, such as God Finally Gives Shout-Out Back To All His Niggaz, and Plan To Get Laid At DragonCon 2001 Fails,
"I imagined some girl and I talking about the new Lord Of The Rings movie," Melcher said. "Then I could say, 'Oh, I have the trailer on my laptop back in my hotel room if you want to see it."
Though a distinct minority, some females were present at DragonCon. "There was this one girl dressed up like Black Canary. She had the boots and the fishnet stockings and everything," Melcher said. "I couldn't really talk to her, though, because there was a pretty dense crowd of guys around her at all times."
not to mention this gem: Oh, Girls Are No Good At Genocide.
The Khmer Rouge picked Pol Pot because they knew he'd be good at murder and torture and all that other boy stuff. A girl probably would have planted flowers in the killing fields.
The Onion: Family of Five Found Alive in Suburbs:
Upon discovery, the family was rushed back to civilization. Attempts to reassimilate the Holsapples into metropolitan living with a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and dinner at a nice Peruvian restaurant were met with resistance. "When we got to the museum, the family became quite agitated," psychologist Dr. Allan Green said. "Jay kept calling all the modern art 'weird' and Meredith said, 'If we wanted to look at art, we could just go to Deck The Walls at the mall.'"
Upon arriving in Buffalo Grove in 1993, the Holsapples befriended the locals, called "suburbanites," and soon adopted their ways entirely, from the mode of dress to the food they eat. Meredith Holsapple described in great detail the suburban settlements called "sub-divisions" where great emphasis is placed on maintaining lawns, watching televised sports, birthing children, listening to Top 40 music, and collecting stuffed animals.
From the most recent Onion:
NEW YORK-- An English as a Second Language textbook focuses predominantly on food-preparation vocabulary, night-school student Eduardo Reyes reported Monday. "I must admit, I would like to learn how to say more than, 'I have diced the onions,' and, 'Did he want scrambled or over-easy?'" said a disconsolate Reyes, speaking through a translator, following his first lesson. "I had hoped to learn words for the different parts of the body so I can pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I have instead learned much about the grilling of chickens."
The Onion's in fine form today: Lowest Common Denominator Continues To Plummet:
In a Syracuse University study conducted last month, reruns of Happy Days, a show derided by 1970s critics as "targeted to third-graders," were deemed "beyond comprehension" by 75 percent of present-day third-graders. The surveyed students expressed frustration with the show's characters, some of which exhibited more than one trait. "Fonzie rides a motorcycle, but he also likes girls," one subject said. "I don't get it." The test group also took issue with Happy Days' "boring," non-fatal motorcycle crashes and confusing lack of gunplay and/or graphic nudity.
Ironic-Kitsch-Appreciation Subculture Excited About New Britney Spears Novel (new Onion)
A church in Canberra, alarmed at those wicked Harry Potter books seducing children away from the truth of Christianity, has distributed a leaflet to its members about the dangers these books pose to children, and their contribution to the rise of juvenile devil worship in America. Unbeknownst to them, the text of the leaflet was taken from a piece in the Onion.
According to the latest Onion, teen-goth idol Marilyn Manson is now going door to door, trying desperately to shock Middle America.
"I just stood there thinking, now there's a boy who tries way too hard," Binford said. "I mean, come on: Homoerotic sacrilege went out in the late '90s."
Also, Alessandra Coletti, the 22-year-old mezzo-soprano sensation, who is said to be the finest opera singer of her generation, is control, is completely unknown amongst members of her generation.
New Onion: Vacationing Woman Thinks Cats Miss Her:
Hoping to ease the pain and loneliness of her asocial, predatory pets, Davrian has left numerous long messages on her answering machine, claiming that the cats will appreciate hearing her voice. She also wrapped one of her sweaters around a pillow before leaving so Buttons and Bonkers would 'have a bit of me to snuggle with,' unaware that the cats' motivation for 'snuggling' is to maintain body temperature, not to feel emotionally connected to their food provider.
From the Onion, this update on actor and professional Australian Paul Hogan's dynamic career:
Continuing nine years of such efforts, Australian actor Paul Hogan pitched a Crocodile Dundee Saturday-morning cartoon to Fox Family Channel executives Tuesday. "In Crocodile Dundee & His Outback Gang, Dundee would travel the world in a hot-air balloon, having adventures with his outback pals Kenny Koala and J. Wellington Wallaby," Hogan told the executives.
Also, corpse reanimation technology is still 10 years away, according to mad scientists from Stanford and MIT.
In America, public transport carries the same sort of stigma as welfare, which this Onion article plays on:
"Expanding mass transit isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity," Holland said. "My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It's about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road."
The campaign is intended to de-emphasize the inconvenience and social stigma associated with using public transportation, focusing instead on the positives. Among these positives: the health benefits of getting fresh air while waiting at the bus stop, the chance to meet interesting people from a diverse array of low-paying service-sector jobs, and the opportunity to learn new languages by reading subway ads written in Spanish.
Not the Onion: Iranian Transsexual Unhappy With Experience As Woman
Brutal Truth Toys revisited: Ant farm teaches children about toil, death: (The Onion)
Billed as "the fun way to teach your kids to accept their miserable fate stoically," the ant farm retails for $14.95
"At some point, the Playscovery Cove ants become cognizant that their hierarchical structure has been stripped away, rendering their already near-meaningless existence totally futile. There seems to be a breaking point at about the 22-day mark when the dejected ants begin to die off en masse."... the ant farm enters what is known as the "death-pile phase." A spot is chosen by the worker ants to deposit their dead, and the burial mound steadily grows as the few remaining ants devote more of their time to gathering and burying others.
Kid Rock starves to death. MP3 piracy blamed. (The Onion)
An all-star fundraiser CD featuring Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and Korn was similarly scrapped when an individual known only by the user name PimpKracker69@aol.com acquired a promotional copy and made it available to millions of fans over the Internet.
AOL Time Warner buys France (Salon, imitating The Onion):
With its population of nearly 59 million people, its natural resources of coal, iron ore, bauxite and potash, its history of fine art, literature and incomprehensible literary theory, and the exciting film stylistics of Gerard Depardieu, France makes an ideal counterpart to Time AOL's content, analysts say.
"Nasal learners often have difficulty concentrating and dislike doing homework," Panos said. "They also frequently have low grades in math, reading, and science. If your child fits this description, I would strongly urge you to get him or her tested for a possible nasal orientation."
Panos said nasal learners do best when they are encouraged to use odor-based recall techniques in testing situations, and are allowed to organize and prioritize items by scent. The biggest challenge now, she said, is to "educate the educators."
In today's Onion: Affluent White Man Enjoys, Causes The Blues
The Onion in fine form: Giant Cockroach In Bathroom `A Harrowing, Kafkaesque Experience,' Grad Student Says.
Slightly tongue-in-cheek Salon article proves that Borges wrote about the Web:
What are the "infinite stories, infinitely branching" of his character Herbert Quain's book "April March," if not hypertext? What is the purpose of Ireneo Funes, the paralyzed young man unable to forget any aspect of anything he has ever seen, if he is not to represent search engines burdened with memories of long-inactive links? What is TlÃ¶n, the virtual world in "TlÃ¶n, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" that gradually overtakes the real one, if not the cyberspace for which the physical world is rapidly becoming a quaintly antiquated sketch?
All-too-realistic Onion article: Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying
Cameras were installed on school grounds, enabling authorities to more closely monitor the activities of all students for suspiciously nonconformist behaviors or modes of dress. All entrances to the school are now locked and accessible only by intercom or specially coded key card, preventing the sort of open, comfortable learning environment that might encourage students to express themselves. The soothing presence of armed patrols, coupled with high fences surrounding the grounds, reassures jocks that they can feel free to once again torment the school's geeks as they did before April 20, without fear of reprisal.