Archive for January, 2011

Been There Drew That

Check out what The Hill‘s Kris Kitto is saying about the new Congress:

Boehner stands to become a prime target for those who make a living caricaturing and cartooning the nation’s politicians. The first challenge for those artists is to introduce the new House Speaker to a population that may not know him well. To do that, several political cartoonists say, they will rely on the few qualities that have already stood out: his Technicolor tan, perfect hair and free-flowing tears.

Uh.. Hello!? Tell me something I haven’t cartooned!


A nice little short story. Spread the word to help him find them.

Today I’m listening to: J5!

Money, Motorcars, and McDermott

Tell me this isn’t the coolest custom license plate you’ve ever seen. Go on — tell me. LIAR! You can read all about it — and how The Man told the guy he couldn’t use it — at Jalopnik.

I’ve been saving bunches of links and stuff recently, and now it’s time to let it all out. So strap yourselves in, people!

Reagan and Palin and Politics

I’m severely guilty of giving Palin more attention than she deserves, and I really am  trying to cut down. But this whole thing in Arizona.. First of all, about her “blood libel” video — read this breakdown by Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post. Also, why am I apparently the only one who is totally weirded out by her constant frowny-face lip-clamp shtick every five seconds?

As Kessler notes, her quote from Reagan was bizarre at best, since he was arguing against social programs trying to cut down on poverty and crime that tends to rise with it. And speaking of Reagan, check out Frank Rich on some things about Reagan’s administration that Obama should remember, now that he’s read the biography.

Reagan made no promise whatsoever of a balanced budget in the document that codified Reaganomics, his White House’s 281-page message to Congress in February 1981. The historian Gil Troy has calculated that spending on entitlement programs more than doubled on Reagan’s watch. America slid into debtor-nation status, and Americans “went from owing 16 cents for every dollar in national income in 1981” to owing 44 cents per dollar in 1988.

I keep hearing about how Tea Partiers will get all furious when they realize that their conservative candidates don’t deliver on reducing the defecit or curtailing the debt. But I expect that they will give them a pass — as they did for Reagan and Bush and Bush Jr — because Republicans give them the kind of patronizing ideologically-correct speeches they want to hear. So it doesn’t matter what they actually do.

Tim Robbins totally needs to re-make Bob Roberts. Maybe a sequel, about Bob’s son?

Loughner and McDermott

Obviously I don’t have much to say about the shooting in Arizona that hasn’t been said already, except for two things. First of all, look at the man’s rap sheet. “Mr. Loughner and a member of his family had at least nine contacts with law enforcement between 1994 and 2010.” Now you know that if he were a black man, then when he got stopped on the day of the attack, the police would have called in a SWAT team and searched every inch of his car. Also: Hurray for Wal-Mart! (Where he bought his glock ammo.)

Number two: It may be unfair to connect Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck to Loughner’s actions. But what about Charles Turner Habermann? You’ve never heard of him, have you? He’s the one who threatened to kill US Representative Jim McDermott.

“You let that [deleted] [deleted] [deleted] know, that if he ever [deleted] around with my money, ever the [deleted] again, I’ll [deleted] kill him, okay,” Habermann said, according to a sworn FBI affidavit on file in federal court. […] “I’ll round them up,” he added. “I’ll kill them. I’ll kill his friends, I’ll kill his family, I will kill everybody he [deleted] knows.”

The article notes: ‘He said Democratic members of Congress were “stealing” money from “the wealthy” and giving it away to “losers.”’ Now tell me this guy hasn’t been influenced by Beck and Palin constantly demonizing taxes and government programs that help children in poverty. Go ahead; I’m listening. Is this blood libel, too, Sarah?

And Byron Williams. He wasn’t influenced by Glenn Beck, either, right? Don’t get me wrong — folks on the left need to check themselves for hyperbole and broad-brushing, too. We need to avoid demonizing our ideological opponents, just like everyone else. But the evidence does not suggest parity, or anything close to it. Show me the Rachel Maddow viewers who are making death threats to John Boehner or The Cato Institute.

Also: Read this.


Did you know John Lennon owned a Ferrari?

He owned the Ferrari for only a few months before selling it. By that time, he had already purchased a Rolls-Royce limousine which he had painted in a psychedelic color scheme. He also owned a Mini Cooper at the time.

Today’s music stars get money for cars (and other stuff) by turning their Twitter accounts over to corporate ads! I swear I’m not making this up.

In hawking the Toyota Sienna, rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted that “these homies know the deal” […] “I can see great upside and great risks for a brand putting their message on Twitter,” says Debbie DeGabrielle, chief marketing officer of Visible Technologies […] “But if you’re Toyota, will Snoop Dogg talking about 22-inch wheels drive away your women buyers?”

Yes, of course. That’s the concern — driving away women buyers. Not the pathetic and soul-crushing sadness that comes from a supposedly “keepin’ it real” rap star like Snoop selling his soul for a Toyota minivan. (Also: Did you get the clever “drive away” double-entendre there? See what they did?)

Hey, look! The Birthday Dog turned two years old.

And now for something completely different: It turns out US schools aren’t so bad after all.

My research team at Duke looked in depth at the engineering education of China and India. We documented that these countries now graduate four to seven times as many engineers as does the U.S. The quality of these engineers, however, is so poor that most are not fit to work as engineers; their system of rote learning handicaps those who do get jobs, so it takes two to three years for them to achieve the same productivity as fresh American graduates.

As for standardized tests like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to compare the US with other countries?

As well, the tests compare select populations of small countries such as Singapore and Finland, which each have about 5 million people, with the U.S., which has 310 million. These countries achieve the top rankings on the PISA list. Compare these countries to similar-sized U.S. states, however, and you find that some of those states, including Massachusetts (population 6.5 million), produce the top students.

Next item: IceCube explained!

From the Stop Saying This file: I’m really sick of people using the word “random” when they mean to say “assorted” or “unrelated”. Random means random, dammit!

And I’m also ready for people to stop using tired — and depressing — clichés like “Livin’ the dream!” and “Another day in paradise!” when I ask them how they’re doing. If your life isn’t paradise, or you’re not living the life of your dreams, then change your life. (Funny how I get annoyed looks and scornful responses when I use negative hyperbole to suggest what we need to improve about the world, but it’s become standard for people to use positive hyperbole to suggest that their lives aren’t satisfying enough.)

Oh yeah! My article on Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei is Today’s Featured Article on Wikipedia. Yay!

Go fans! Did you geek out like me and wet your pants when a goban appeared in the new Tron movie? Did you say “Oooo, I wanna study that board position so I can see how they’re playing? Well, here it is, courtesy of the American Go Association.

And finally: Did you enjoy Into the Wild (the book or the movie or both), as I did? Then perhaps you will enjoy these Charlie Rose interviews with Jon Krakauer and Emile Hirsch and Sean Penn and Eddie Vedder.


Did you know that Dr. King praised Nichelle Nichols for her Star Trek character Uhura, saying it was the only positive, intelligent portrayal of an African-American on TV at the time? And that it was the only show he would let his kids stay up to watch? And that her name comes from the Swahili word for “freedom”? It’s true!

Today I’m listening to: Malcom Kipe!

The New Congress

I’m not sure how this inspired the following comic, but it did.

Reference video #1:

Reference video #2:

Reference video #3: