Archive for January, 2008
Hey, check it out – two Simpsons posts in a row!
This one comes with a big tip o’ the hat to Lee Salz, who sent me one of the best sites I’ve seen in ages – Simpsonizeme.com. Just give it a 640×480 picture of your face, and it will draw you as a Simpsons character. To wit:
For the Penn grads out there (and anyone who’s ever visited the Penn campus, I guess), check out this screen shot from this week’s episode of The Simpsons, entitled “That 90′s Show.”
For the uninitiated, that button in the background is a representation of Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen’s Split Button, which sits in front of Van Pelt Library at the center of the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.
Penn grad in the art department, I take it?
(Hat tip: Zach Klitzman)
As any prime time TV junkie can tell you, the never-ending writer’s strike has caused another resurgence in the game show and reality show genres of television. Most of it is crap, of course, but my wife and I have become fond of a little game show called Don’t Forget the Lyrics, hosted by Wayne Brady.
The basic premise of the show is simple: a contestant is asked to pick one of two songs in a given category. The band (Ricky Minor and the band, of American Idol fame) plays the song and the contestant sings along, karaoke-style, with the words on a screen. At some point, the band and the lyrics stop, and the contestant must provide the next line of the song from memory. If they get it right, they win money. If not, they go home.
The first few rounds are typically easier – only three or four missing words, typically somewhere in the song’s chorus. That way, even if they don’t know the song well, contestants still have a decent chance of moving ahead. Later on, as the prize money grows, the lyrics get more obscure.
Got it? OK. Now look at this:
The song is KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty.” The lyric the contestant was given was “Shake, Shake, Shake, _____ _____ _____.” The yellow text in the middle of the screen is the contestant’s attempt to fill in the blanks.
Here’s the thing, though – look at the very top of the screen. The song title is displayed as follows: “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.” So basically, the answer is right there on the top of the screen, while the contestant is asked to offer a guess.
I know the first few songs are supposed to be easy, but isn’t this a bit much? At least she got it right…
Last Friday, January 18, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 12,099.30. This past Friday, January 25, 2008, the DJIA closed at 12,207.17, a gain of 107.87 points. No big deal, right?
Except during the week, it got as low as 11,644.08 and as high as 12,481.60. That’s a swing of 837.52 points, or almost 7%, in just four days (Monday was the Martin Luther King Day holiday). Wednesday’s swing alone was almost 600 points.
Lesson learned: today’s stock market is not for the feint of heart. Also, don’t panic. It will all work itself out in the end…
What else is there to say, really?
I tend to view blatant homophobia, as well as most other kinds of bigotry, as some combination of ignorance and stupidity. I feel like the vast majority of society has gotten past these hangups, and tends to view folks who still walk around hating others as the exception, rather than the rule. To be sure, there are still nuances around the edges of prejudice that we need to work through, but as far as institutionalized or formalized hatred, I think it’s at least on the rapid decline, if not altogether eliminated. Call me optimistic, call me naive, just don’t call me late for dinner…
Anyway, the folks at the Westboro Baptist Church are doing their best to test my theory. Check this out:
“You cannot live in defiance of God,” [Shirley Phelps-Roper, spokesperson for the Church] said. “He got on that big screen with a big, fat message: God is a liar and it’s OK to be gay. Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there.”
So what they’re saying here, I think, is that it’s not only wrong to be gay, it’s wrong to pretend to be gay as well. I’m no expert, but even if you’re in the “homosexuality is a sin” camp, you would think that God would be able to tell the difference.
Although I guess if you take this ridiculous logic to its ultimate conclusion, it’s possible that Mr. Ledger is in pretend Hell, serving his eternal sentence for his pretend sins.
But wait, there’s more:
Started 1955, the Topeka, Kan.-based church has conducted over 34,000 peaceful demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle, according to their Web site, GodHatesFags.com. The organization runs various Web sites, including GodHatesAmerica.com and others that condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Muslims, Roman Catholics and Jews as well as certain nationalities, according to Wikipedia.
“God hates fags,” [Ms. Phelps-Roger] said. “The wrath of God has been revealed before the eyes of this nation with the death of Heath Ledger. . . . This nation worships the dead almost as much as they worship their filthy sex acts. America is doomed.”
The article also says the group is known for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. So many people to hate, so little time…
So there you go – ignorance and stupidity, or evidence of systemic intolerance? I’m hoping that folks like Jason and I are the majority now, and the disgust/disbelief we have for people like this reflect our society’s norms. Who’s with me?!?
It was a productive Martin Luther King Day for the Gaffe Machine, as two prominent political figures were caught doing embarrassing things on Monday. And since one of them involves sleeping, my Google Analytics stats are already showing search queries about it, so I figure I better mention it here.
Here’s Bill Clinton falling asleep during an MLK Day church sermon while having the misfortune of being seated right behind the pastor:
Then there’s Mitt Romney, who took a picture with a bunch of African American kids (get it? MLK Day and he’s with African American kids? Subtle, huh?) and said “Who has the camera?” followed, rather unfortunately, by “Who let the dogs out? Whoo! Whoo!”
Just for the record, I don’t think either of these things are a big deal at all. As I mentioned when I coined the term Gaffe Machine, I think our media-glut, youtube-enabled, short-attention-span culture takes life’s little embarrassing moments and spins them up into center stage, double spotlight productions. Those who seek to embarrass these men will use these clips for that purpose, but they don’t say anything (positive or negative) about the men themselves.
Two quick political points to report:
First, these two pages are fascinating to compare. To summarize: Hillary Clinton has raised almost $91 million in this campaign. Barack Obama has raised over $80 million, Mitt Romney – $63 million, Rudy Giuliani – $47 million, John McCain – $32 million. Mike Huckabee? Just under $2.5 million. Only Dennis Kucinich, Duncan Hunter and Mike Gravel have raised less. And this is the guy who won the Iowa Caucus!
Second, this story just made me laugh and laugh:
A mailer from [Texas congressional candidate, Dean Hrbacek] contains a photo of his head attached to an image of a different body that makes him look thinner.
The photo is presented as a true image of [Hrbacek], a Republican former mayor of Sugar Land. In reality, it is a computerized composite of Hrbacek’s face and someone else’s slimmer figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee.
Campaign manager Scott Broschart acknowledged to The Houston Chronicle that the image is a fake. Hrbacek has been so busy that he had no time to pose for a full-length photo for the mailing, Broschart said.
“He may appreciate that we took a few pounds off him,” Broschart said. “I think the voters … are more concerned with the issues as opposed to pretty photo shoots.”
Yes, the issues. Like, for instance, can we trust the candidate to be truthful with us when his own campaign brochure contains a doctored photo of the candidate himself. Or the issue of what else he’ll decide to fake because he doesn’t have time to do it the right way. Maybe some congressional votes?
I mean, seriously, I’m sure being a Congressman is a tough job. But can’t we find 435 people who can get the easy stuff right, and then judge them on how they handle the hard stuff? Is it really that hard?
This is a couple of weeks old already, but I still find it fascinating:
A pair of twins who were adopted by separate families as babies got married without knowing they were brother and sister, a peer told the House of Lords.
“They were never told that they were twins,” he told the Lords. “They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation.”
Here’s the most surprising part: I didn’t even know Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher were dating, nor did I know they were British.
If you commute on New Jersey Transit as I do, it’s not unusual to find more than half the train sleeping on their way to work. Or so I’ve heard, anyway, because I’m typically part of that crowd.
Anyway, the other day I got on the train and fell asleep and had a strange dream. I dreamt that I was on the train and couldn’t fall asleep, despite being exhausted.
The strangest part of a dream like that is waking up when the train reaches the city, and sorting out in my foggy state of mind that my inability to sleep was just a dream, which meant I not only could fall asleep but had done so quite successfully.
You know, now that I think about it, I better go get some sleep right now as well. Unless, of course, this blog post is just a dream I’m having…