Thursday, June 30, 2005

A vacation worth lampooning

Starting this morning, in the interest of exploring red states other than my own, I am trekking to Arkansas (it's a McGibboney thing). I'll be there visiting family until Sunday. In the meantime, as always, feel free to explore the rest of my catalog if you need an Ian fix. But after that, get outside, ride a bike, make love or any combination of the three.

And, by all means, let me know if I begin to type with an accent. I understand how annoying stuff like that can get. Later for now!

Something completely different

An anecdote from my actual life

One year for homecoming, I had two dates. I have no photographic proof of this, but believe me when I say it happened.

The time frame: October 1996. I was a junior in high school. The week before, I had come upon my first homecoming date in an odd way. At the football game immediately preceding homecoming week, we were playing our crosstown rivals on their home turf. Both teams were playoff bound, thus making it a very well-hyped and well-attended event. Our fans, too massive to avoid spilling out of the stands, were clasped to the fence as if they wanted a shot at the cheerleaders standing on the track just feet away. I was the head football manager, fortunate enough to have a perfect view of both the game and the cheerleaders' asses.

At the end of the fourth quarter, our team was down by two points. Stuck on our own 10-yard line with barely two minutes left to play, we seemed done for. We could already see and hear the condescending "YEE-HAW!" jeers of the rival teams' fans. On the sidelines, we gritted our teeth at the thought of these hicks holding a celebration bonfire or pig roast or hayride or whatever it fuck it was these yahoos did when they won.

Fast forward about 80 yards, because this is a date post, not a football post. After a miraculous offensive drive downfield, we kicked the winning field goal. Our side went nuts while the hicks grew silent. Indeed, such was the celebratory mood that several dozen students stormed the field, apparently ignorant of the fact that we still had three seconds left to play. Close call. Whew. Well, after we managed to burn up those three seconds and preserve our one-point victory (and thus retaining the Cypress Trophy hoarded each year by the showdown's winner), I was running around, hugging everyone in sight (along with everyone else, smartass). Before I knew it, I found myself in the arms of a girl. She was a friend of a friend, someone who had randomly stormed the field.

"Hey Ian! I have something to tell you, but you know, I'll do it Monday," she said. "I'm too nervous right now."

"Hey, babe, whatever it is, you got it!" I told her, and she smiled really big. Looked like I had two reasons to celebrate that night.

So that's how I got my first homecoming date. As the week went by, I spent lunch days with her and we got to talking. Her name was Cassandra, and she was a freshman in a group of girls with whom I often hung out. Not bad looking, but not quite the model I had seen in the haze of stadium lights and my own rose-colored victory glasses. Still, we made arrangements to meet at the dance.

The night of the dance, I rode with my college-freshdude brother and his girlfriend, who was my age. This wasn't by choice, but having no car myself it was my only gameplan. Real suave stuff. So I get there, only to find that I can't find Cassandra. I mingled my way through the throng, hoping to spot her before my friends started to doubt the existence of my date. Finally, I located her, waiting in line with her friends for pictures. I don't know if it was the darkness of the strobe-lit gym or her apathetic reaction when seeing me or what, but something suddenly made her unattractive to me. I got that very chilling feeling people often get when they realize that they're stuck in a bad situation. Still, I was cordial and tried my best to have fun.

But as an agonizing hour went by, I found myself barely able to dance, laugh or even talk. To this day, I still don't know what went on, though I strongly suspect some internal drama between her and her friends. All I know is that, after a while, I drifted off. Just like that. If she wasn't going to have fun, then I was going to find my own way. After some time, Cass came up to me, gave what had to be my least-romantic first kiss ever, and said she was leaving. She did not offer a hug.

Not long after, I ran into my best friend and his date, who had come separately. His date--way too hot for him, I thought with a smirk--had a friend named Crystal. The attraction was instant. She was a blonde, blue-eyed beauty. Like me, she was fun and outgoing. Like me, she also had a date. He was some tall doofus who was neglecting her. So we told him that we had known each other for a long time--the perfect excuse for us to "reminisce" with a little sensual slow-dancing. By the end of the dance, she and I were clearly attached. We made a date for the following weekend. I told her I had to go and wait for my brother outside.

I stood outside, enjoying the cool (for Louisiana) October air, a teenage boy reveling in my dual-datery. I couldn't wait to tell my brother--well, actually, I found out I could wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. True to form, he was working on his own timetable. I called it, "Colin minutes." Aggravating.

After a while, Crystal comes out. We were both pleasantly surprised to see each other. Before we know it, we're making out, mere feet away from the vice principal. Right at that moment, my brother pulls up. Nice. He was proud of me. I still get shivers from thinking about that kiss. From then on, Crystal and I were always up for sharing that awesome night on the phone. We spent much time at school and weekends together. For the two weeks we went out, it was magic.

The morals of this story?

1) Big brothers can be real dicks sometimes.
2) Lafayette High is much better than Acadiana High.
3) Bob Dole never really had a chance in 1996.
4) Having two dates in one night rules. If at least one is fun.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More white-girl news

Breast Implants Becoming Popular Gifts for Girl Grads

John Stossel takes an in-depth look into teen boobies

When she was 18, her parents had bought her a Jaguar for graduation. She didn't want a car. They told her: "OK, you can trade it in for new breasts." She did.

When I graduated from high school, I got dinner at Piccadilly.

I don't understand why we give high-school graduates big gifts in the first place. I can certainly understand it in cases where overcoming adversity is involved, such as with an adult or someone overcoming a learning disability. But the rest of them don't deserve jack. I mean, come on! You're SUPPOSED to graduate high school! In 2005, you barely have a shot without a diploma. Why people get cars or fake tits for it is far beyond me.

Parents, if you truly want your kids to learn a valuable lesson from graduating high school, make it this: in life, you have to WORK for things like cars and fake tits. Or, if you must be that generous, then at least make the car a Pinto or the implants cheap water balloons. Make them too embarrassed not to work. It's the American way.

Jennifer envied Lulu's new look. "Look how much confidence she has. Like, look at my shirt and look at her shirt, like, you know," she said.

"Like, I totally wish I had Lulu's name too because, like, Jennifer's too hard to say!"

Jennifer thought she could get Lulu's confidence by getting breast implants herself. So, she did. Six months later, Jennifer says her new breasts have changed her personality. "I am a loving and caring person, and I'm outgoing, but the way I used to dress and my body language didn't say that. And now it does," she said. "I feel like a different person. I have so much confidence, I like, do and say as I want, like, I don't hold anything back anymore."

So much for what's inside. Seriously, though, I sympathize, because I have a parallel in my own life. When I was 13, I was suffering from low self-image, so I got contact lenses, brushed my hair for once and began wearing nice clothes. It helped immensely with my happiness and I became more outgoing. Stuff like that matters when you're a shallow 13-year-old. As for these technical adults, I don't have a clue...

Who paid for Jennifer's new look? Her parents. "This is a gift of love from us, and we see a difference in her," Jennifer's mom, Doreen O'Brien, said.

A difference in her, heh-heh, heh-heh! Really, what else am I supposed to say? Aside from, the real gift of love would have been to teach her that stuff like this is superfluous to happiness?

The gift of breast implants costs about $7,000. "But I don't think you can put really a price on your child's happiness," she said.

Actually, I think you can. I distinctly remember my parents saying to me as a teenager, "Ian, you can indeed put a price on happiness. Here's a twenty. Now get happy."

Now 19-year-old Catherine Houtrids wants implants too. She was about to have the implant surgery when I interviewed her.

Yes, her last name is Houtrids. If there's a better made-for-porn name than that, it's fake.

Another girl told us she thought the girls' surgeries were OK since their parents could afford it. "They have the money to do so and the means to do so and there's really nothing wrong about giving their child what they want," she said.

I've had the same thought about drugs.

Kara, who had had a nose job — told us she understands why implants would make a girl more confident. "I had plastic surgery. So I know that it made me happy inside," she said.

Because nothing screams "I care about my inner beauty" like a nose job!

You know how they used to tell us in school that we were the future leaders of our country? Is anyone else scared as hell about the thought of this generation one day handling Social Security?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cheaply produced clip post

For those of you who have forgotten or are too new to this site to remember, I used to write columns for my college newspaper. From time to time, I shamelessly pimp them here just in case Jon Stewart or somebody equally cool stumbles upon this site and decides, "Hey! Let's hire that kid!" I can dream, can't I? I don't have much else to do. Hear that, Jon? :)

Stem cells: nerves of steel (10/20/04): Depending on whom you ask, stem-cell research is either mankind’s best hope or a one-way express rocket to Hell. The stem-cell extraction process, to most people, goes like this: scientists grow fetuses in a secret lab at UC-Berkeley, assisted by a harem of hippie sluts. Babies are then extracted feet-first from the womb and positioned to allow for maximum wailing while a doctor takes a large kitchen knife and slices the fetus like an orange. After exchanging high fives, the doctors slip the remains into a meat grinder. And voila!

Yay! A column on porn! (10/6/04): For every porn-loving rapist, there are a million people who enjoy the same images and live decent lives. You're sitting next to one, if in fact that doesn't also describe you. Show me someone who has never viewed pornography and I'll show you a liar.

Veterans versus veterans (9/1/04): If you rearrange the letters in “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” you get “That far-r.w. beef, it rots on U.S. TV.” Makes sense, really.

Bush's selective service (3/3/04): The National Guard’s slogan is “You Can!” But if Bush’s service records prove anything, it’s that "You Don’t Have To!”

Cajun Brass 1, Cajun Music 0 (4/20/05): Another excuse given by UL officials was that the band was banned under the same provision that prevents beggars from soliciting money on campus. I suppose there’s a profound difference between bums and the credit card people who prowl campus, seducing unsuspecting freshmen with free t-shirts. To campus officials, it’s apparently more acceptable to ruin students’ credit than to expose them to the sounds that define this area.

Milk carton dictators (4/16/03): Osama bin Laden, by the way, is the leader of the terrorist faction al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the plane hijackings. That was just in case anyone forgot about him, being that Bush has not mentioned his name in public since July 2002.

Bush: macho cheese (6/11/03): Believing that Bush is, or ever was, the definition of a macho fighter pilot requires the same stretch of imagination I had when I played Ghostbuster. Unfortunately for Commander Maverick, imagination is not the nation he is leading.

Make love, not headlines (11/27/02): Her name was Jennifer, and she was a drop-dead brunette beauty of 19. She was a native of Tallahassee and a freshman at Florida International University. Our attraction was as instant as it was intense. Before the sun could completely sink behind the distant edge of the water, we were in her private enclave, ready to give new meaning to Florida’s political reputation as a “swing” state.

Newsies or floozies? (2/16/05): Journalists rely on the five “W”s in order to give the best-possible information: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Given recent events, however, another “W” seems to have arisen: “whore.” By taking bribes from the subjects of their articles, several journalists have recently hurt the already scarred face of the media. Who is to blame for this trend? Yet another “W”: George Bush.

My will be done (4/6/05): If, by happenstance, I am in Florida at the onset of incapacitation, I request to be whisked away as soon as possible, preferably to a state without such an insane governor. Someplace like California.

More at the sexy site

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Caption Contest

"All-you-can-defeat" edition

--OBVIOUS: "Care for some crow, Mr. Bush?"
--The one time "eat" and "pussy" can be put together in a completely asexual sense
--The empty plate was a metaphor
--"When I see an exit strategy, you see some food on this plate!"
--The lunch lady bristled at Bush's call for pieces in Iraq
--"Buffets is where chicken wings take dream."
--Bush had to amble farther down the chow line for egg on his face
--Bush took too literally the soldier's taunts of "Ciao, Mr. President."
--Gearing up for Operation: Sneeze Shield
--"Blue trays? Ma'am, this is Red Country!"
--"I'll have the budget cutlet."
--"Wow! The chow sure has changed since I didn't go to Vietnam!"
--A credibility gap always existed between Bush and the troops
--Some suspected Bush was here only for the oil on his salad
--"Well? Aren't you gonna toss the pizza?"
--"Lieutenant Dan! Ice cream!"
--"Ah came in early to beat the insurgent lunch rush! Get it?"

Milking the nipple of justice

Alberto Gonzales, like his Torquemadic predecessor John Ashcroft, has deflected attention from the idiocy of his Justice Department's platform by screwing with the nude statues of justice. Specifically, he's taken down the blue sheets that had swaddled them for the past few years.

I suppose that signifies a new phase in the GOP-controlled Justice Dept.: we're going to be even more nakedly partisan than ever before.

Still, here's to continued clumsy and ironic photo-ops!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Saturday news pellets

(Note: I originally intended this to be an audio post. But since things never go my way, it never showed up. So here's my second choice, words! My apologies in advance to any illiterate readers.)

Welcome to Not Right News, I'm Ian McGibboney. Here's what happened last week, TODAY!

--This week, the House of Representatives passed a Constitutional amendment that would ban desecration of the American flag. The amendment would apply to all forms of flag burning, unless you wrap yourself in it first.

--Congress also approved a law this week requiring all Internet sites that feature any trace of sexual conduct to provide certified proof that the models involved are over 18. The law caused the immediate termination of numerous sites, among them The Gaping Maw, Rate My Boobies and

--In world news, Iran has a newly elected leader. In world not news, he's a right-wing theocrat.

--Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday after making headlines with his comment that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay were similar to Nazis. He did so in front of an assembly of Senate Republicans, who responded with a mass finger-wagging.

--Presidential adviser Karl Rove told the Conservative Party of New York that conservatives knew best in responding effectively to 9/11. But in the interest of national security, they have yet to divulge their plan.

--Billy Graham announced Thursday that he is embarking on what he calls his "last crusade." I hate to break it to you, Reverend, but Indiana Jones beat you to it by about 67 years.

--Jennifer Wilbanks, the infamous "runaway bride," told reporters this week that "I feel guilty," which makes her the first out of Michael Jackson, Robert Blake and Scott Petersen to say so.

--In movie news, "Batman Begins" opened predictably big at the box office. I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't yet seen it, but...Batman also ends.

--In personal news, yesterday's newspaper classifieds listed an open position for which I applied two weeks ago. That can't be good.

For Not Right News, I'm Ian McGibboney. When life hands you a lemon, pucker up.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cell Who Thief Lag

Was that anti-flag-desecration bill passed yet again? Or do I need to get rid of these old newspapers clogging my workspace? Probably both.

The anti-flag-burning amendment is the Republican equivalent of the Equal Rights Amendment, except for the equality aspect. It's been around forever (I think Betsy Ross learned how to read on its text), and every once in a while is brought out by the GOP so that they seem like patriots and make the Democrats look like America-hating jackasses when they inevitably vote it down.

Yep, this old standby of the hot-dog-and-apple-pie right* has won approval yet again by the House of Representatives. They sure love passing this thing, being that they've done it six times since 1995.

(*--I apologize to any hot dogs and apple pies I may have offended. I am a huge fan of both, as long as the hot dogs aren't dinky.)

Having grown up reading my grandfather's American Legion magazines and seeing Libyans burn American flags on CBS News, I never was one for flag burning. In fact, you could almost say there was a time when I would have supported this amendment. Shocking, I know. But an article in my high-school newspaper would change my mind as a freshman.

Ironically, the article was written by a conservative student regarding a recent flag ceremony in which students had caused a lot of ruckus. The writer was imploring that we need to show more respect, because the flag grants us all these rights and stuff. Which is, of course, incorrect--the flag doesn't grant rights, the Constitution protects them. Still, asking for decorum during a flag ceremony makes perfect sense to me.

One clinching passage in this editorial would change my view on the flag for all time. "How much freedom do you have in this country? The flag even gives you the right to burn her. That's right!" So I thought about that, and it occurred to me that the principle behind it had to be the coolest thing ever. Just imagine, a country so free that one can burn its flag in protest! It's enough to make you not want to burn the flag!

More importantly, I saw for the first time that allowing something doesn't force you to do it--a distinction that would refine my views on abortion, marijuana, gay marriage and gun rights, among countless other issues. I learned that a free country isn't limited to what Ian McGibboney chooses to do. Unfortunately, too many otherwise-educated people still don't understand the difference between legalizing something and being forced to do it.

The problem with banning flag desecration is that it opens the floodgates to more exceptions to the First Amendment. And that would set a dangerous precedent for those in power who already view the Bill of Rights as an annoying obstacle in the fight to preserve security.

As far as laws go, the flag-burning amendment would make a mockery of the Constitution. Compare the amendment's purpose with other amendments: the Bill of Rights covers speech, personal protection, state power and privacy. The subsequent amendments protect races and classes of people, shape government and lower the voting age. Pretty major stuff. And now flag burning? Are we bored?

To see footage of the Congressional debate, you'd think that this amendment was to key to preventing another 9/11 and is the only way to honor the dead. But as always, that's merely a smokescreen. Since 9/11, patriotism has risen, they say. As far as I'm concerned, that's bullshit. I can't think of a time when Americans weren't by-and-large patriotic. What we saw after 9/11 was a more blatant showcase of flagarama, well-intentioned but verging on the edge of jingoism. More and more people flew flags than ever, and uttered "God Bless America" as if it were a password. I realized that this explosion was more than sincere patriotism when flags got bigger, more adorned and more windshield-blocking. I also noticed the lack of understanding of flag protocol, as people somehow got it in their heads that flying a flag until it was faded and disintegrated was some badge of honor. But as I learned from reporting on a Boy Scout flag-retirement ceremony, there's so much more to it than that.

For one thing, there are times when a flag HAS to be burned. It's the standard retirement procedure. After being cut up along the stripes and union, the flag is then burned and/or buried. I wonder if the new amendment is going to be used against the Boy Scouts?

Too many people see the flag as they should the Constitution. But the flag is a symbol; the Constitution isn't. Watching someone burn the flag doesn't give me any rush, positive or negative, any more than most protests do. But if I saw anyone burn the Constitution, I'd be really upset. I don't doubt I'm the only one who feels the same way. So why no amendment banning the burning of the Constitution? Plug in all of the reasons that people offer for the flag amendment, and they all work. It's a winner!

Amendment XXVIII
You know this document, the one you're reading? Don't burn it!

Now that's an amendment I'd be proud to flaunt. But only if we must make exceptions to free speech. Personally, I'm fine with leaving well-enough alone.

The Tokyo Rose of Louisiana?

Riding the slippery slope, neocon style!

Tuesday was garbage day, so I was inspired to trek to the local library. There I found Michael Savage’s latest book, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder. No, that title isn’t a joke! The text, on the other hand, is. Reading Savage’s book, I realized that his content is not all that different from the epithets and accusations hurled at me on a daily basis.

Through 210 pages of trash, Savage (nee Weiner) offers wit and wisdom on the level of a broken Magic 8-Ball with Alzheimer’s disease. Then again, what else would you expect from a man who is described on his book’s sleeve as “to the right of Rush and to the left of God?” Here are a few choice cuts from the book that has me wondering just what the hell happened to publishing standards:

On the real enemy: “Leftist ideology is the driving force behind the enemy within our country.”

On why the War on Iraq failed: “Politicians in Washington who, seeking to placate Peter Jennings and Katy ‘Koran’ Couric of our Jazeera TV, refuse to allow our military to do what must be done in Iraq.”

On why it’s okay to condemn Muslims for the acts of a few: “What kind of religion would specialize in worldwide terror unless a viral infection of vindictiveness lurked within? All of the evidence points to the fact that such hatred must dwell within the minds of Islamists.”

On why it’s wrong to condemn Christians for the acts of a few: “There is absolutely no basis for the ‘Christian terrorist’ label assigned by the media to Timothy McVeigh.”

On Kinsey’s true intentions: “To justify his numerous perversions and, in turn, to open up the so-called sexual revolution.”

On gays: “It wasn’t enough for them that there’s more gay freedom today than anyone—homo or hetero—could have imagined...How much freer can you be than doing thirty men in a bathhouse with no consequences or public outcry?”

How he would know about that: “I walk among the people. One day recently I had my lunch and took a long walk around San Francisco. One of my favorite places to stop is a little-known urban park called the TransAmerica Redwood Park.”

On what he’d say to me if we met: “For far too long you have lived in a cage where liberal ideas—and only liberal ideas—are expressed. It’s entirely possible that you never meet or listen to anybody outside of your small circle of liberal thinkers. And if there is a dissenting opinion raised, which is very rare in your cloistered environments, the person offering that opinion is laughed at as being an eccentric throwback to a more primitive time.”

Which brings me back to here. I maintain this blog as a repository of diverse political commentary, and Goblin Slayer and his compadres ensure that the debate never disappoints. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But the fun hardly stops here! Over at our other friend's hangout, Aldaynet, we get together a few times a day and weigh in on relevant issues hurl feces at each other. The main players in this saga are myself, Goblin, Tom Alday and guys named Ethan and Eric. Our standard MO is to discuss whatever issue has struck Tom's fancy (the word "asshat" is usually involved). Over the course of several dozen comments, the thread inevitably devolves into a circular discussion of how much I hate America and am just "an unemployed political hack journalist" who "sympathizes with the enemy."

Now, please understand that it takes a lot for me to involve myself in such tedious personal attacks; I usually stop long before the name-calling or when I feel like I've made my point as much as I can. But lately the vitriol has continued at a brisk pace, and I will not stand by idly while my neocon detractors zoom down the low road. Witness this recent missive from Goblin Slayer (who denies any Michael Savage influence), with shitty spelling intact for posterity:

You should also remove your two-faced “tribute” articles to “friends” that are serving in the military right now from your blog. You are the Tokoyo Rose of Louisiana. I can’t wait to hear your take on the Flag Desecration Ammendment. Maybe your hatred for the country will ooze out there, too.

(A quick side note: despite her reputation, Tokyo Rose--at least the incarnation known to most Americans—was an American stranded in Japan who took the job to avoid starving to death. She read the copy she was given with sarcasm and was genuinely surprised when brought up on charges of treason. She was pardoned in 1977 by President Ford. Not exactly the point Goblin's trying to make, but I aim for accuracy.)

But that fun bit o’ libel apparently doesn’t satisfy Goblin, who continues the conversation with Eric:

* He feels he “deserves” to be famous and rich. Just because.
* He despises Christianity. You know, those Crusades were rough on him.
* He believes government is what makes a country, not the people and its capitalistic motivation.
* He feels that he is “entitled” to my stock portfolio, even though it was trusted to me from my immigrant father. You see, I don’t “deserve” that money.
* He hates that I can lawfully carry a weapon and defend myself without having to depend on the police to help me. He would rather me be a victim of a crime and blame that crime on the rich instead of the perp.

Keep in mind, he made these assumptions based on a comment I made about Gitmo needing to be investigated. Not that I'm surprised, because the slippery slope is just too stimulating to pass up. Even so, I’m impressed on a consistent basis how much clairvoyance these guys get from just a few political comments. Perhaps they could market it to the rest of us.

These types are seriously convinced that anyone to the left of them is a terrorist on par with Osama bin Laden. That observation alone should preclude anyone from taking them seriously. Equating liberalism with terrorism is one of the most disrespectful and irresponsible things that one can do in discourse.

Sentiments such as these make it all the more crucial that the Democrats discontinue their efforts to reach out to these people. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will make them change their minds about anything. And I'm certain that there's far fewer of these extremists than their forcefulness might suggest. So why appease them? That's exactly what they want, and they'll laugh at the Democrats the whole time.

So be aware of these popular neocon rhetorical tricks. This kind of speech speaks far more about those saying it than those they wish to attack.

Thanks a lot, Blogger!!

Once again, what should be here has been irrevocably lost. I had just spent hours writing what I thought was a really excellent and smart post, and made damn sure to back it up in light of the last few times this happened.

Alas, when I hit "publish," it said the post could no longer be found. And with that went my backup cut copy. Instead, all I could pull up was the draft that I had started with hours before. It was all I could do not to punch a hole in my wall. Seriously. What is the point of writing if you can't rely on the technology not to erase the entire goddamn thing in 1/32,000,000th the time it took you to write it?

As it was, I had accidentally posted the rough draft last night, which looked weird and screwed up my template. But I was not able to see this for some reason, despite numerous refreshes. The post is apparently jinxed. God hates me.

So please be patient. The post will be rewritten within an inch of its life. It's worth it, I think. But I stress that one should never rely on Blogger's text box with anything even remotely valuable. That "recover post" function is a cruel false ray of hope. Until Blogger makes it worth a damn (perhaps with an auto-save function), then they shouldn't have it in the first place.

There, I feel better. Not really.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Everything's pushing up roses

In their ongoing (and ironic) barrage against the media, conservatives often ask:

"Why don't they ever report the GOOD news about Iraq?"

I've always wondered about that myself. After all, you never see, "99,997 troops not killed today." What is it exactly that makes journalism so obsessed with the dark side? As the old saying goes: if you see the glass as half-full, then you're an optimist. Journalists not only see the glass as half-empty, they also examine the odd fingerprint smudges on the glass and wonder how many strains of listeria are dog-paddling in the water. I, for one, refuse to take this negativity lying down! I'm long past tired of seeing the mainstream media painting a critical picture of Iraq in a deliberate attempt to undermine our great Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush! Though I could list any number of the plethora of negative news sites out there, I'll focus on one that has the audacity to feature such headlines as these:

--House readies more war funding
--Search continues for parts of crashed Harrier
--Corps admits it moved too slowly to uparmor Humvees
--DoD plans to expand Guantanamo detention center
--No drawdown in Iraq likely soon, general says
--Gunny convicted in lover’s murder
--Memorial service scheduled for corpsman killed in Iraq

So, you ask, what vehemently un-American propaganda outlet would dare undermine our troops' confidence by running such downbeat stories as these? The New York Times? The Washington Post? The Los Angeles Times? The San Francisco Traitor-Tribune? Anti-Bush Hippie Weekly? What news outlet is next on Karl Rove's anti-war blacklist? Click here to check out the latest rag to not Support Our Troops.

War is ugly. News should be pretty.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Extreme Job Guide

The following was inspired by a job-hunting guide I obtained from the UL Alumni Association, as well as my own experience. Presenting the official and unabridged Ian McGibboney Extreme Job Guide!

Where to look

Experts suggest signing up with a major job-search engine. Think hard about this. Do you really want to subscribe to a service whose point it is to get you to not need the service anymore?

Throughout the job hunt, you might find the following kinds of letters useful: application letters, prospecting letters and thank-you letters. These help get your foot in the door and establish rapport. Networking letters are especially good for looking like a desperate leech.

Networking, networking, networking! Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Spending lots of money at Kinko’s

Keep in mind that employers take notice of creatively written cover letters. Personnel people go through dozens of these each day, so you have to make sure your message stands out from the crowd! With that in mind, cover letters should follow a strict business-letter format, no more than two or three paragraphs long, surrounded by one-inch margins and printed on heavy white or off-white paper.

What to put on a resume: your name, contact info, education, work experience, skills and school activities. Remember how they told you in high school that you should focus on one or two things and do them well rather than joining every organization and doing nothing? Well, it works the exact opposite way in college! Isn’t that funny?

If, even after careful consideration, you find your resume lacking, just copy a sample from a resume book. Hey, it worked for Christina Applegate in “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” And just look at her now!

In today’s technologically driven workforce, resumes are often scanned into a database wherein employers can search specific skills at the touch of a button. A list of keywords at the top of your resume will help facilitate this process. That is, if you really want to work in a place where you’re nothing more than a goddamn search term.

If you receive an acceptance letter, congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. If you receive a rejection letter, reject it.

That important first time

If you are a budding professional, chances are you’re fresh out of college. One important thing to remember is that the working world is very different from the academic setting. In college, you were probably in a relaxed and diverse setting where exchange of ideas and debate with professors and other students were encouraged. This is poor training for the business world, where bosses do not want to be challenged, ever. You do as you’re told, you dress as you’re told and don’t rock the boat. Also, there’re fewer babes. The working world sucks, which is why they have to pay you to work there.

What you wear will make all the difference for your first impression. Sure, this is even shallower than high school; but in the business world, shallowness is celebrated. Get used to it! Men should wear navy-blue suits (with or without stripes), a white shirt and a contrasting yet conservative tie. Women should wear a conservative dress or pantsuit in a tasteful pastel. Clothes should not be wrinkled or mismatched; at the same time, you don’t want to look better than the interviewer, because you don’t want to piss them off. Strike a balance.

Your interviewer might ask you a hypothetical question, such as what you would do in a specific situation. By doing this, they are attempting to gauge your ability to work in their particular setting. Your first instinct might be to offer up an innovative solution or to apply procedures in a unique way, thus showing your mettle and get-go. Don’t. This is actually a test to see how high you hold yourself up to the established hierarchy. The correct answer is, “I’m with whatever you say, boss.” Remember, you’re a fucking peon.

In a job interview, you may find yourself facing illegal questions. These include such irrelevant yet possibly influential inquiries regarding your marital status, arrest record and personal life. You have the right to refuse answering such questions as, “Are you old?” “Are you white?” and “Good God, are those real?”

Actually having a job

You might find that your new position isn’t quite what you expected, perhaps realizing that the job title overstates its actual duties. Looks like somebody’s being punished for puffing up their resume!

Management always respects someone who is prepared for any situation. Make sure they catch you searching online for a new job.

If your dream job escapes you, remember that you can always find work posing as those happy entry-level workers you see in job-hunting booklets.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Caption Contest

"No education without desecration" edition

--WAY TOO OBVIOUS: "A, B, C, D, F, I mean, E, F..."
--"No Child Left Behind," huh? So what's with the black kid, George? Is his place behind you some kind of subtle statement? And don't even get me started on that girl's hidden face!
--Once again, Dubya sends the subliminal message that only the white guy's vote counts
--Why does this picture bring to mind the "three-fifths" rule?
--Bush, worried that the kids present would "bust a cap in my butt," wrote them up for not wearing the required school uniforms
--Where's an eraser when you need it?
--Thanks to a little-known rider making NCLB retroactive, Bush had to take the IOWA test to avoid pulling a Billy Madison
--"Presenting Irony Week on Password!"
--They're not smiling, they're laughing. What else can you do in the face of such unreal legislation?
--"Let's see...if Brain A departs from reality at 12:30 p.m. at a rate of 100 miles per hour, and Brain B departed years before at twice that speed, then at what point will test scores multiply at exponential speeds in order to meet stratospheric demands by 2006? Show your work."
--"Students of America, you're about to receive the best education ever on how NOT to repair our embattled public-school system."
--Never has the term "fill-in-the-blank" been so apt
--When you think of the need for education reform, you think of George W. Bush
--He shoots! He TEST SCORES! (This caption courtesy of Tom Alday)
--Bush got in his last game of desktop Tic-Tac-Toe before NCLB officially went into effect (the kid won)
--What does it say about Bush that he seriously looks like the least-educated person in this picture?
--This isn't really a caption, but I want to reiterate how much I absolutely fucking HATE "No Child Left Behind." It's the reason I'm not a teacher, frankly. Were it not for its unrealistic standards, which virtually no school system I'm aware of has any hope of meeting on schedule, I could have been hired as a teacher for the next academic year while undergoing certification. But not this year! Now I would have to do (and pay for) the courses on my own with no guarantee of employment, something I cannot do in my current situation. And they wonder why they can't attract people to the education field. All right, rant over. Because I don't want to close a caption contest on this note, I'll end with this one:
--"Now, now, Mr. President! No note-passing during gratuitous photo-ops!"

Happy Father's Day

Dubya owes his daddy BIG....

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mr. Bill: "To Shell with it"

SNL icon Sluggoed from Louisiana coastal campaign

From Yahoo! via

"Saturday Night Live" icon Mr. Bill is saying a resounding "Nooooo!" to further appearances in a public awareness campaign aimed at saving Louisiana's wetlands.

In recent months state residents have watched as Mr. Bill, the animated clay character famous for his 1970s appearances on the comedy show, lent a hand to ads for the America's Wetland campaign.

But now Mr. Bill's creator, Walter Williams, is yanking his character from the campaign, saying he believes it is selling out to big oil companies the very people accused of having a hand in destroying wetlands in the first place.

Look at the license above. What does the shape of the capitol resemble? Besides that, I mean. An oil derrick, of course, which should surprise exactly no one. In Louisiana, everything's about the oil bidness, even environmental campaigns. Have you ever seen those commercials with birds flying and other pleasant natural footage, followed by some petroleum conglomerate saying, "At Drillerxxonvron Corp., we care about what we rape?" I think they started here.

Williams said Shell Oil Co. is using the campaign to which the company donated $800,000 as a public relations move to masquerade as a green-friendly business. The last straw, he said, came when TV spots featuring Mr. Bill showed up in Shell-sponsored kiosks at tourist centers throughout Louisiana.

"If they had taken the Shell stickers and logos off that would have been fine," Williams said.

I once bought a table-hockey game that had Shell stickers on it. They're EVERYWHERE, much like Sluggo to Mr. Bill. NOOOOO!!

The campaign was kicked off two years ago by former Gov. Mike Foster to sell Americans on the idea that Louisiana's wetlands need billions of dollars in federal help.

That may be the first sentence I've ever read beginning with the words "The campaign was kicked off two years ago by former Gov. Mike Foster" that didn't make me want to tear out my hair.

Louisiana should be happy when it can get such a visible name and face for its most serious environmental issue, a character that can reach across demographics to send such an important message. From all accounts, the promotion was successful and will continue with existing Mr. Bill material. Still, I applaud Walter Williams for taking a bold stand against the co-opting of his campaign by oil interests. If only the state would do the same.

When even Mr. Bill snubs you, that's not good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The best years of our lives?

Saw the following post on some Free Republic board upon which I accidentally stumbled:

"This is a country founded in a covenant with God by people who had to flee Europe to do it....He has intervened in our affairs before, such as in 1776, 1861 and 1980."

And I would add 2000 to that list.

posted on 03/18/2004 4:37:18 AM PST by proud American in Canada

(Being that this comes from an Ann Coulter fetish thread, this is actually the least vomitrocious entry.)

That's the neocon lesson of the day, kids: God is not only an ugly American, but his all-time moments involve 1) the creation of our nation, 2) the Confederate rebellion and 3) the elections of the two least intellectual and most damaging presidents the United States has ever had. Even the most athiest progressives surely give the Big One more credit than that.

Sometimes I find myself wondering if I have it all wrong. This is not one of those times.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Dean of Scream

I've put it off long enough, so allow me to weigh in on the Howard Dean "scandal."

So the Republicans are mad that Howard Dean took potshots at them?
So the Republicans are indignant that Dean is being overly emotive?
So the Republicans laugh that Dean's going to cripple the Dems in 2008?


Maybe it's time the Democrats stop taking advice from the party most hellbent on destroying it!

Actually, scratch that...the Democrats should sincerely solicit as much advice as they can from the Republicans. That way, when they accuse Dean of being too passionate when just last year they were chastising John Kerry for being too stiff, the GOP will look more like the desperate jackasses they are.

Come on, Democrats. Do you really think people like Tom Alday would be in such an uproar over Dean if he posed no threat to GOP power? Is anyone really fooled into thinking that the GOP is truly interested in helping Democrats field the best candidate? Come on now! They're not offering criticism because they care about the party. They're doing it because they think know that the Dems are probably going to give the drop-Dean idea some merit.

The Democrats better not take this lying down. Nothing's a better gauge of Democratic success than neocon fury.

Michael Jackson gets off on pedophile charges

Wait a minute...should I phrase that differently?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Caption Contest

"Nontraditionally elected heads" edition

--Watch while I drink this water and make him sing!
--"You're not Saddam..."
--While both were leaders, only one could lead this waltz
--"Mr. Bush, make no mistake; you deserve much more than a slap on the wrist."
--Karzai followed through on his duty to keep Bush's hands off the stem-cell bill
--"So, President Karzai...I hear you're at war?"
--During the photo-op, Harmid subtly guided Bush's hand toward the resignation papers
--Confusing today's hot stories, Bush mistook Karzai for a military recruiter
--Karzai: "I look in his eyes, yet I see no soul."
--"Is it Harmid in here?"
--"Mr. President, I just stopped by to remind you that Afghanistan is still the core of the War on Terror. That's A-F-G-H-A-N-I-S-T-A-N. We're by Pakistan."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Class of 1997 still missed

BAKERSFIELD, CA--Teachers at Bakersfield High School said Friday that, just as they promised eight years ago, they have never forgotten the Class of 1997.

"I still remember the last day of class that fateful year," recalled English teacher Debbie Bender, as she held back tears. "I pledged to the senior class that I would really miss them. And guess what? I still do!"

Bender then ticked off some of her favorite Class-of-1997 anecdotes, including Nicole Dobbins' first-place win at District Rally in English; the eternal bonds of friendship that formed between Rebecca Malan, Stewart Gonzales, Lang Nguyen and Carlos Rosser as they toughed out AP English; and the 1997 annual Key Club Fish-Dinner Fundraiser, which she wistfully remembered as "a huge success."

"Yes indeed," Bender concluded, "The Class of 1997 was known for its heart, its patience and the friendships that made it undeniably unique. I told them never to be strangers and I wished them nothing but the best in life. Today, as they stand well past the threshhold of the future, I want them to know that there will never be another bunch like them. And while we say that to every outgoing class, I want the Class of '97 to know we really meant it that time. And still do."

Study: ignorance bliss

MANHATTAN, KS--Ignorance, a popular mental coping mechanism, really is bliss, according to a new study by Kansas State University.

"Long considered a negative aspect of the human condition, ignorance has been shown by this study to be the best mental strategy for dealing with today's world," explained Thaddeus Cullen, Professor Emeritus of Psychology. "Our findings illustrate that deliberate mental blocking of such complex issues as politics and religion have a positive effect on one's health."

Among the statistics: those who say they "don't watch the news" were 76 percent happier than those who "are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore"; people living in secluded rural areas were far more likely to "love America" and were less likely to fret over "the state of the world" than their urban counterparts; and Republicans were a whopping 95 percent more likely than Democrats to be "self-satisfied" and "blindly patriotic."

Additionally, Cullen said, ignorant people are more fertile, yielding an average of 3.3 more children than those deemed non-ignorant.

"We found that subjects deprived of such elements as reproductive education and safe-sex resources were far more likely to create lots of babies," Cullen said. "Thus, we can only conclude that the sex lives of such parents are far more fulfilling.

"The study declares that those with a working knowledge of the complexities of life are measurably less blissful than those who choose not to think at all," Cullen concluded.

Informed of the study's findings, Democratic Party leader Howard Dean visibly bristled.

"I'd rather not know that, thanks," Dean said, sticking his fingers in his ears.

Color Me Badd still wanna sex you up

NEW YORK--Fourteen years after topping the pop charts with their album C.M.B., Color Me Badd still wants to sex you up, the band said Friday.

"Hey, beautiful lady, I need you tonight, lovely, lovely lady," said lead singer Bryan Abrams in a statement. "I wanna make you feel alright, yeah. I can't deny, baby, I wanna love you down. Even after all these years of obscurity."

Further adding that Color Me Badd would make love to you "until we drown," Abrams advised that secrecy would be essential in consummating the union so many years in making. "Disconnect the phone so nobody knows, yeah. And make sure to turn off your ringer, now that you carry cell phones at a rate unheard of in 1991."

You declined comment, other than to recite an indecipherable chorus of "Aw, tick tock, get um, stop stop."

Popular weekend-night DJ wants weekend off for once

ASHEVILLE, NC--Citing a lack of social life, Paul Kosar, a top-rated weekend-night disk jockey at Classic Rock 104 WQNS in Asheville, said he wishes he could have the weekend off.

"Just wanna say hey to all of you PAR-TAY-ERS tonight!" Kosar said as he started off his "Friday Night Frolic," the top-rated midnight show in the Asheville radio market. "Whether you're cruisin' to Jack of the Wood or gearing up to catch some tunes at the Orange Peel, or are just kickin' it at the house, we got some rockin' tunes for you tonight! Stay tuned for some Zep, Skynyrd and some sweet advice from Paul the Party Man! All coming up!" Kosar then pushed the button activating the commercial feed, as he has done every Friday and Saturday night since his hiring in March 2000.

Kosar admitted that his reputation as a top party guy is tempered by his schedule. "Here in Asheville, I'm the voice all classic-rock fans associate with partying, late nights and good times," he said. "But what most people forget is that I spend every weekend projecting that vibe from this tiny, dank, windowless, poorly lit booth. I don't know how I do it, honestly." Kosar then took a call, mustering up his best party voice. "Paul the Party Man! PAR-TAY!! WOOO! How can I help YOU?"

"Paul duuuuude, I just LOVE your show, man," the caller said. "You are Mr. Friday Night! I bet you get all the chicks! Play me some ELO, duder!"

"YOOOOOU GOT IT, MAN!" Kosar replied cheerfully before switching into the song "Calling America."

"At least someone's got it, man. I don't," he muttered off-mic, before dropping his head in his hands.

Also in the news:

--New South still Old South
--God Republican
--Employment update: help not wanted
--Health report: Yellow Pages need to drink more water

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cheney visit: look on the bright side

Trust me...that title is not mine!

This letter appeared in yesterday's issue of The Daily Advertiser. It brings to mind a comment I received yesterday on Aldaynet, from Lt. Eric of the 31st Keyboard Division:

"Times are tough, my friend; but that’s never a reason to give up. Think like a Conservative and your optimism will always give you the power to pull through."

He's talking about my difficulty finding a job in Louisiana, the paradise of the Republican no-conomy. Man, I bet his advice solves my problem tomorrow! Woo!

I guess it's easy to be optimistic these days when you're a conservative. This "can-do, can-screw" attitude seems to be catching, as seen in this letter referencing our lucky city's recent visit by oil baron Dick Cheney:

I read the Sharon Pangle Baker letter about the high cost to taxpayers for Vice President Cheney's visit to Lafayette. I agree whole heartily [sic]. That amount of money could have been used elsewhere. And we had to sweat in our cars while the traffic was backed up. Boy was I mad.

Were you mad that you were sitting in traffic or because you read the letter?

First, for that wasted money, I think we should make all elected officials stay in their office and never go anywhere. How dare they go out and visit their constituents. Are you kidding? Once elected they need to stay in their offices and save us a lot of money. No overseas trips either (think of the savings). They can do all their business by sitting in their offices and reading the local papers about what is going on with us common folk. There is no need to make direct contact with the people who voted for them. You must think of the savings.

This is where the sarcasm sets in--the depressing, conservative kind of sarcasm, where you think the person's actually making a valid point until you realize they're making a joke of it. Ha ha, etc. It is funny, though, to imagine Ah-nuld repeating the mantra, "Teenk ov da SA-vinks!"

Secondly, for the traffic jam, I didn't like to have to wait for anyone else. I think that along those lines we should not have to wait in traffic each time there is an event in the Cajundome or Cajun Field. Close those venues so we don't have to wait for anyone. And I don't want to wait for funerals, either. Most of the time I don't know those people. I should not have to wait!

I'd agree with his point if the Cajundome and Cajun Field were accessible only to those who had $2,000 to burn on a photo and a plate of food. And if the line to do so extended miles out of the way during peak traffic hours. Alas, those facilities are open to the rabble--er, public. So no.

Then finally, the sun came through the clouds. I thought, WOW this is a great event. The vice president of the United States is coming to see Lafayette.

I guess sitting in Lafayette traffic, surrounded by smoke-belching 1980s cars and 700-percent humidity, will do that to a man's sense of cause-and-effect.

- to speak to some of the people here about OUR concerns, about roads, about taxes, about social security, etc. What a great opportunity for us, now that I can see the bright side. What an honor for our city. [emphasis mine, of course]

Who's "OUR?" You're the guy stuck in traffic on your way to not see this guy!

Then I also realized that I had air conditioning in my truck, turned it on, and all is cool!

Phil Gremillion

I think this letter highlights exactly what's wrong with much of the electorate these days: they're presumably good people, making an honest day's living and doing their best to be optimistic. At the same time, they continue to con themselves into thinking things are better than they really are, and if they keep voting Republican then everything will fix itself! But then things get worse, and the only coping mechanism is more self-rationalization. For example, I'm tired of hearing people proclaim GOP support by lying to themselves that the job market is strong because "I have two jobs!" Forgetting that, in a better situation, they'd earn enough at one job not to need the other. But that's a small price to pay to be exploited by such an important man! Some people apparently feel honored to be common.

At what point does optimism become blissful ignorance?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Welcome Independent / Verm readers!

Yesterday my blog was mentioned in not one, but TWO local newspapers.

The first was a mention in The Vermilion, the first post-Ian issue. Their new liberal columnist, David Coy, seems to be ready to take the reins. Cool.

The second mention was a bit of a surprise. The Independent, an independent (natch) weekly in Lafayette, did its latest cover story on the blog explosion. They featured a trio of local bloggers, including two friends of Not Right, timshel and howyamoman'dem?

I guess I can say this publicly now: timshel himself, "Ricky Prado," is actually Karl Schott, a guy I've known since 4th grade. We wrote on our high school's newspaper together for a year, which was the year Clinton won re-election. I once mentioned here how I had a friend who was the only one out of 11,000 people at a local hockey game who cheered at the news that Bill had taken Louisiana. He was that guy.

I'd lost touch with him after high school, but then saw him again when I met Murph, himself an expatriate Cajun in L.A. (and, ironically, the first one to notify me of the mention). Like Murph, Karl/Ricky is a great guy, and I only wish he still had the time to continue his top-notch blogging. Alas, the bastard had to go get a life. Mwehhh. Seriously, we miss ya, man. You just added to your legacy by being showcased as the leadoff blogger in the cover story even though you're blog-dead. Awesome!

The second blogger is the one that all Not Right readers look to (or should) for authentic Cajun recipes, howyamoman'dem? Named for the standard Cajun checkout-line greeting, "howyamoman'dem?" is run by Chrissy Lemaire, another Cajun expatriate in San Diego (What boat did I miss?) who is appalled by the non-authentic Cajun culture out there. Come to think of it, Cajun culture is indeed one of the most easily and consistently misrepresented cultures out there. I can't even do it properly, and it's in my blood! At least in a quarter of it. Anyway, Chrissy knows how to do it right. Check her out whenever you're hungry.

The third blogger is one I'd read before, through the Lafayette, LA listing (a listing I highly recommend if ever you need a LAFF RIOT), the less-political, more melancholy Portrait in Linen. It's the diary of a 31-year-old mom and the kids she homeschools. A nice entry to round off a diverse listing.

Then there's me and the others who merited a sidebar mention, in quick descriptions that would do TV Guide Channel proud:

Not Right About Anything is Ian McGibboney’s blog on the state of the world from a slightly left-leaning worldview.

"Slightly?" They're generous.

Crabwalk is the highly entertaining blog of Rayne, La., native and award-winning Dallas Morning News journalist Joshua Benton. Lots of emphasis on indie bands, media coverage and humorous links.

Oh, so he's "highly entertaining," while I'm just "blog?" What kind of passive-aggressive shit is that? Actually, it's probably true.

Seriously, though, it's a great honor just to be nominated. I would have mentioned phizz as well, though maybe the world isn't ready for the guy I call...hmm, maybe he's not ready to be outed just yet. And don't forget Manda at Shrimp Porn, which should have gotten in for the name alone. On the pachydermic side, they could have mentioned The Conservative Cajun and The Manning Report, if both of them hadn't quit blogging to become full-time Alan Colmeses to my Sean Hannity (with the ideologies reversed, of course). And I'd be amiss if I didn't mention the blog by the Independent's resident cartoonist, Greg Peters. So I'll be amiss. Just kidding! Here's Suspect Device.

Of course, this is only a partial list of what's out there. You should always check out all of my links. To "learn something," as the kids say nowadays.

Oh, and did you notice that the Independent actually mistyped my address? Classic. I totally endorse that, because I have a strong sense of irony. But seriously, kudos to the Ind for one of its strongest issues of the year. I suggest you check it out. Unless you're coming here from there. In which case it's pointless.

Top 10 observations about online job hunting

1) They ought to call it!

2) It's a sad commentary on the state of our nation that the media category is typically lumped together with arts and entertainment. Look, I don't search media jobs so I can find "fashion models wanted," okay? How about lumping together "writing" and "media?" That way, I can not find jobs all in one fell swoop.

3) Too many of these jobs are entirely arbitrary to their categories. I'm finding Navy jobs under "writing." Is that Bush's employment plan?

4) On a Louisiana job site, the only job under one category was in MANHATTAN. What?

5) Based on the help wanted, everyone in south Louisiana is either a nurse or an oil driller. They ought to tell college students that at freshman orientation.

6) Truck driving is the industry of the future! Sign up to get your CDL today!

7) It's a little discouraging to see sites like Monster offering memberships. Isn't the whole point of a job site to help you get a job so that you don't need the service anymore?

8) Regarding job fairs: one is going to be held in New Orleans in July. They are urging you to dress in your finest suit or jacket. Repeat: in New Orleans. In JULY. Are we so pretentious as a society that we will adhere to outmoded dress codes even in a place where clothes should be optional for half the year?

9) At least one job engine offers only six-figure positions. I figure, why not give it a shot? It can't be any more daunting than the rest of these sites.

10) Some guy asked me on Aldaynet if a poor person ever gave me a job. I told him no and, in this economy, neither has a rich person. But thanks for playing.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Something you don't want to see in the mail when you're an outspoken liberal blogger

When I saw this in my mailbox yesterday afternoon, I immediately felt my heart race and my fingers tremble. "I finally did it," I thought, my mind whirring over exactly what blog picture for which I was getting sued. Rarely do I not make it to the front door before opening my mail; but had I not torn this open right in the driveway, I don't think I'd have made it that far.

Alas, the letter concerns this lawsuit against Lexis-Nexis, in which the bulwark search engine is being accused of stealing the content of freelance writers. One party involved in the class action suit is the parent company of my employer, so I assume that my content for that newspaper is being stored there. I wouldn't know, because I can't afford Lexis-Nexis. But apparently some people are looking to get upwards of $1,000 for each piece of purloined writing. Not me, of course. That would have required luck and foresight, two things that left me years ago.

I'm divided on this issue. On one hand, I think writers (especially freelance ones) need and deserve all the compensation they can get for their work. On the other hand, I worry that search systems will now be compromised; as a researcher, I see the value in having such a comprehensive database. Still, after reading the long history and details of this class-action lawsuit, I don't find it frivolous.

In any event, I'm not getting sued, so I'm happy.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Caption Contest

X-rated "Deep Throat" edition

--OBVIOUS: "Watch me deep-throat this microphone!"
--W. Mark Felt did his best in "Jerry Maguire 2: All the Agent's Men," but his catchphrase "Follow the money!" didn't catch on
--After reading Bob Woodward's latest books, Felt wondered why HE was the one who insisted on anonymity
--A sad reminder that, at one time, the FBI got its intelligence right
--"I hold in my hand a list of all of Nixon's deleted expletives"
--Getting older and finding fewer and fewer movie roles, Alex Winter resorted to starring in "Deep Throat 3: Dick's Bogus Journey"
--"Pssst, CBS News? Here's one memo you WON'T get wrong!"
--In an attempt to boost ratings, CBS News hired the guy who named himself after a porn movie. Fox News rejected him, saying that they already filled their quota of whores
--"Hal Holbrook? Hal Holbrook?"
--The most important source of the most important news story of the 1970s has only ONE microphone on him? Yes, Watergate set journalistic standards for decades to come.

Have you SEEN me?

Want to know why this case is sweeping the national news?

You're looking at it.

I do hope they find her. Along with all of these other kids.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Amateur Psychology with Ian

Relax, everybody. America is not sliding to the right. I think the reason everyone thinks so is because the people in power (in both the political and the corporate spheres) are the ones who most want us to think we are now a neoconservative country. But in reality, they are just the ones who want power the most and who have the biggest stake in maintaining the illusion that they are who everyone wants.

Consider the classic Type-A personality. You know the type. This describes that person who, when you were in school, joined every club and very aggressively sought positions of leadership in those clubs. The person who worried that every insignificant action was going to work against them on some phantom "permanent record." The person whose only priority in college was to network, network, network! The person whose graduation sashes somehow validated their existence. They were so ambitious they ambitionized themselves right into a plummeting spiral of chain-smoking, alcohol and/or religion while watching "Wall Street" as a documentary, absent of any satirical irony. Michael Douglas is their Michael Moore.

So what kind of person becomes inclined toward such self-actualizing (and self-destructive) behavior? One root is insecurity; in many cases, these people are children of hyper-expectant parents. I once knew a kid who got grounded for six weeks for making a B, for example. A grade of 94 in those days. In cases such as these, the parents are generally very successful people who are used to a particularly high plateau of achievement. The flip side of this are lower-income parents who want to live vicariously through their children. In both circumstances, the parents have decided that 1) their child is going to be successful at any cost and 2) that by "success," they mean one primary definition: wealth and connections.

The latter is generally where the problems begin. When parents stretch the universal parental hope (that their children can support themselves and their families throughout life) into an extreme push for material comfort, the younger generation often has little option other than to satisfy those expectations. The result is that a genuinely gifted student in a creative endeavor is stuck going to business school (or other practical profession), often due to the parents' stake in paying tuition. They are led to believe that what they want is idealistic or otherwise wrong, and thus devote their lives to accruing money. What good is satisfaction in doing one's trade or craft if it can't buy you a nice home in a gated community with a couple of SUVs to boot? Because, you see, real happiness lies in dressing in a suit every day, going to work, then coming home and changing into another suit so you can attend a pricey gala and get sloppy drunk with the same and like-minded people with whom you spend 100 hours a week working.

It is at this point of realization that a prospective student/worker can take one of two broad paths: 1) they can ascend the corporate ladder with gusto or 2) they can choose to do what makes them happy, even if they have to make certain sacrifices. Granted, there's no shortage of people who find true happiness in working their way up in the business world at all costs. But I would guess there's fewer of these people than most would imagine.

Those that do take the corporate-ladder path out of a sense of calling are generally the ones who prize the tenets of unfettered capitalism: accrue as much capital as possible, develop a strong work ethic, network, etc. Doing this in its purest form also requires an attitude of self-centeredness, an every-person-for-themselves attitude. These are the people who don't mind stepping on toes, working the interoffice political system and caring only about the bottom line. The people who think "putting food on the table" is the be-all and end-all of human life, even if they they can already hire servants to do the actual food-putting on the table.

What kind of person is most likely to take on this Type-A attitude? Precisely the kind of person who believes in the ideal of all Americans as bootstrap-pullers and thus don't want to pay even a dollar to help anyone else, unless it comes tagged with a picture in the local high-society pages. The ones who think the only reason people are poor is because they're lazy, stupid, black or any combination of the three.

In other words, conservatives.

In my experience, I find that extreme Type-A personalities are (almost to a T) inclined toward conservatism. This is not to say that all conservatives are this way; far from it. I am friends with many conservatives, none whom exhibit these traits. Likewise, I know several Type-A liberals with whom I am not friendly. It's not an attractive quality no matter what the political belief.

Nevertheless, conservative belief leans toward authoritarianism--in other words, control. Someone has to be in control of others, and under the conservative model it is the one who holds control who has the best position. This can be seen in many conservative/religious families, where the father is the ultimate head of the brood (and in some cases abuses that power). Everyone adhering to this mold acknowledges the power and respects it. Some wish to be controlled. Others covet the power, whether out of awe, insecurity or revenge. And this is where the real world comes in.

Recent years have seen the worldwide acceleration of right-wing leaders and machines to power. They have not gotten there out of luck or (entirely) corruption. In most cases, they are elected or chosen because they resonate most with the people. This consensus allows them to crush opposition, saying that "this is what the people want."

But not so fast. People do not swing in political theory as much as the experts would have us believe. Indeed, much of the public will cheerfully admit to wanting to jump on whatever bandwagon seems cool or will make them popular. This has been the case for centuries, and for what I credit entirely with the concept of women feeling like they must hurt to feel beautiful. In political terms, this means that enough people are swayed by the loudest or most emotionally resonant message to turn the tide in an election. Whoever is offering up the most popular message at any given time is going to win. This is true in both the political and the public spheres (in which promotion is generally based on how much ass one kisses as a peon).

All of this is coalescing as conservatives ascend the ranks of power both in private industry and in politics. Because they want it more, and because they think their survival and social standing depend on it. More than anything, they know how to get what they want and they spare no shame in doing so.

So what can liberals, progressives and moderates do? Well, first off, we can be thankful that we are not so deeply insecure as to require power to be validated. The left has the lion's share of creative types, social workers, teachers, blue-collar workers and enlightened corporate employees. People who make a difference without letting the need for work and money override their humanity. Liberals within the political and corporate-ladder systems can steal a page from the conservative playbook and assert themselves more. Liberal-leaning people should never feel insecure; indeed, we are the ones who advocate the best-possible conditions for everyone. Our current dilemma is in broadcasting that to others and ourselves. Current events prove, however unfortunately, that the loudest and most aggressive voice gets the ear. We need to seize that voice and make it our own. In other words, work that Type-A personality in our favor (or, even better, somehow reduce our society's reverence of this trait in favor of a more humane success strategy). We cannot, and should not, let success and political triumph go only to those who feel entitled to it. Because they are the ones who are least deserving of it.

We have the right ideas and attitude. We just have to want it more.