Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Somebody slap this person!

Tonight, while looking through a file cabinet full of high-school stuff, I found this gem. As I recall, I originally found it in a desk (probably during speech class my junior year). While I always enjoy finding a bizarre point of view stuck in some bizarre place (toilets and bus stops especially), this one made my day because of its unsettling resemblance to our report-card font at the time. Being that it was unattributed, it may very well have reflected the view of our local school board.

Bold words bolded by me. For extra fun, read this with a Phil Hartman voice...

Physical Punishment is Good for You!

I think that physical punishment should be reinstated in schools for the good and well being of all. Especially for the teachers. I think that this method would really enhance our educational system.

One reason is that it would give the teachers a constructive way to chanel their stress. This in turn would allow the teacher to devote more time to the students because he or she is not so angry that it impairs their teaching ability. Giving them a more constructive class with less trouble.

Another point that I would like to make is that physical punishment would allow the students more study time. You see, if a student is in detention they are not doing anything and after the so-called punishment in question they are in to much pain to do anything except study.

The last point I would like to make is that physical punishment is a tradition. And traditions should not be broken. It has been used in the educational system for generations. It is an institution in itself. They used it on me as well as my ancestors.

Therefore we should promptly reinstate physical punishment in schools because, it relieves stress, it will allow the students more time to study, and it is a tradition. In turn I believe that it will enhance the total learning environment. I should know they used it on me and how I turned out.

With the influx of New Orleans students now pouring into Lafayette schools, I might possibly change my mind about this. But for now, I'll stick to my typical convictions and let the final sentence of that missive speak for itself.

A bad week to be a week

--Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans Monday, causing catastrophic damage to the flood-prone city and leaving thousands homeless. The hurricane garnered the attention of the national media, who seemed disappointed that Katrina never showed her boobs. This disappointed the national conscience, which suddenly cared about Louisiana for a few days. The storm also left the Louisiana Superdome with several holes in its roof, proving once again that nothing ever goes right for the Saints.

(Seriously, though, millions of residents are left without homes and vital services, and some remain stranded atop their homes. If you can help at all, please do so. Chances are, these are the same people who have needed our help for a long time.)

--Televangelist Pat Robertson came under fire last week for suggesting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. He first denied ever saying that, then apologized just hours later. Pat, if you continue to flip-flop like that, man, you'll never make it as a presidential candidate! Oh, wait a minute...

--A Belgian nun was reprimanded by her church after a photo surfaced of her dancing with a young boy at Catholic World Day. After all, women aren't supposed to be priests.

--In other nun news, officials in Taiwan have halted a safe-sex campaign featuring a nun holding a condom. Turns out the image itself was a form of birth control.

--A college women's lacrosse team came under fire after several of the players wore flip-flops during a visit to the White House. The young athletes responded by criticizing the informal style of rods the critics had shoved up their asses.

--A recent report from the American Enterprise Institute found that a majority of working Americans said they felt "satisfied." But they didn't say with what.

--And finally, the world's oldest woman died in the Netherlands Tuesday at the age of 115. She is now the youngest person to be dead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Let's talk, Garry

Sometimes people really disappoint you. Above: one of those times.

Fortunately for Garry Trudeau, he hasn't had to hunt for a job in decades. This is also true of most people giving out employment advice these days. Consequently, their job advice should accompany the warning label, "Best if used by 23 Mar 1986." More power to them for being indispensable career-wise, but they should at least acknowledge the disconnect.

College professors often do the same thing. They've been studying and teaching their material for so long that they make terrible instructors for first-timers. While most make an effort to bridge the divide, a handful don't succeed or even try. I can't say I blame them--I, for one, would probably not be the best at explaining editorial writing to teenagers--but knowledge should never be a brick wall to communication.

This kind of disconnect plagues couples as well, specifically those whose every movement, from bowel on up, is guided by the fact that they are but half of a whole. These are the people who never go anywhere without their significant other (itself a ridiculous term), use "we-mail" and whose every social moment revolves exclusively around other couples. They are the former good friends who fade out of your life forever, if you continue to do anything other than attend dinners with other couples to talk exclusively about couple shit. Ironically, this hyper-attached behavior often causes the couples to resent one another because of their ferocious mutual clinging. Hey, relationships are a wonderful thing; I've had 30 or 40 myself. But they should enhance the individual as well as the whole. Until that day happily rolls around, couples would at least do well to remember that not all single people hate themselves.

The above three examples are part of what seems to be a rise in smug behavior in the past few years. Whether intentional or not, more and more people are retreating into their own view of things, the result of which is that people sometimes come off as backhanded and/or condescending.

A few examples:

A 7th-grade classmate, referring to a comment I made about thrift: "When people get rich, they buy new stuff, man."

A 12th-grade classmate, referring to college scholarships: "That's why you get rich parents to pay for you."

Spoken by an upper-crust student from New Orleans, freshman year: "How can you eat college food? I'm used to always eating gourmet meals. This confuses me."

The standard reason for not understanding/getting/achieving something: "You must not want it enough."

A common reply when you're broke, hungry and looking for work: "Then why don't you just get a job?"

A "reassurance" given by every career counselor: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

And, probably my favorite of all time, the answer to why decent people deal with so many setbacks: "Well, the good must suffer for the bad."

If any of these phrases or their representative attitude describe you, then be grateful of your success in life and cut the rest of us a break. We're trying, too. Life is not a balanced game.

Monday, August 29, 2005

One more update

Conditions in Lafayette have cleared up. In fact, I just took a bike ride, and noticed the humidity was almost nonexistent. Go figure that it takes horrible weather to make it feel good around here.

I just saw a live air-cam of New Orleans, and the Superdome looks like a giant rusty hubcap. Sections of the outer roofing have vanished, and much of the city is submerged, gutted or both. Though the aftermath doesn't appear as apocalyptic as some predicted (it never does), this is still as close as it's come in a long time. Hopefully we'll soon know how we can contribute to the cleanup effort.

If anybody has some information on how locals can help, don't hesitate to post it or link to it here.

Knock on wood

In response to all of the e-mail and phone calls I'm getting, I want everybody to know that everything here in Lafayette is fine. We had some rain earlier, and it continues to be windy and dreary as hell, but the effects of Hurricane Katrina here barely match any typical rainstorm. We are the lucky ones in Louisiana at the moment; when even the Weather Channel people are largely sticking to reporting from Mobile, Alabama and Gulfport, Mississippi, you know things are bad in the Big Breezy.

Reports are that the Superdome has suffered minimal structural damage and that its working power source is capable only of basic lighting. That can't be good. But given the impoverished conditions in which many of these people live, the Dome is probably not much worse than home. I can see it now: Saints owner Tom Benson, sitting in Texas somewhere, his throat cracking from gloating, "See? TOLD YOU I need all that tax money to build a new stadium!! Bend over, Blanco!" But I digress.

I also caught firsthand storm footage of the French Quarter on the Weather Channel, shot through a windshield. You couldn't pay me enough to drive there right now! Where do they get those people? And wipers that strong? I could use a set.

I'll be back later. Keep in touch.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina Kissmyassa

As I write this at 12:07 a.m., Lafayette is still a calm place, weather-wise at least. While running my usual bike route Sunday evening, I saw the pleasant blue sky chased away by dark storm cover. I sped home, feeling a couple of raindrops on the way. In the time it took me to check my e-mail, eat dinner and shower, the black clouds fled and left a perfect sunset sky. The weather outdoors continues to feel good, which in south Louisiana means only one thing: it's about to get nasty.

We've had (and are still experiencing) a glut of accidental tourism from those living in less-fortunate places, but all in all the traffic isn't any worse than the usual mess. Cars from everywhere line my street, their riders seeking refuge in the Hub City. Apparently, my neighbors have lots of friends--or at least they do now!

As for myself, I'm holed up in suburbia with my parents, sister and a ton of canned food and frozen pizzas, which will work out great--assuming that the electricity doesn't go out. I've talked to my brother on the phone (he lives about five miles away) and he's hunky-dory as well. So we're cranking up the REO Speedwagon and riding the storm out.

So, again, I'm all right as of now. Unless you're reading this on Thursday, in which case something is probably wrong. But I'll attempt to update as events develop. So stay tuned, and keep the fine people of the Superdome in your thoughts.

UPDATE: If you're feeling withdrawals from the usual Monday Caption Central (and I know you are), then head to phizz. He's got a great pic for laying down some captions.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Katrina is coming...look busy!

Hurricanes are nature's way of saying, "Get out of the South." But for those of us who do not heed the warning, expert preparation can be the difference between surviving the storm and buying the farm. Below are some useful tips on what to get and what to do. Happy hurricane!

The most important tip is to hoard stuff, just like you did with Y2K (except that, this time around, it probably won't be a conspiracy-theory-based total waste of time). Below, a list of top essentials you'll need:

1) Food. Non-perishable foods such as canned vegetables, dried fruit, beef jerky and whole-grain oats are your best bet. If possible, stock up on McDonald's food beforehand; it's the tastiest nonperishable and indestructible foodstuff ever invented.

2) Water. Buy lots of bottled water, because it's the trendy thing to do. For the budget-minded, filling up your bathtub prior to the storm is an excellent alternative; if nothing else, that will nauseate you enough not to want to drink for the duration of the storm.

3) A generator. This awesome little contraption powers your entire home--not bad for a glorified lawnmower engine. The catch? It runs on gas. With fuel costs being what they are, perhaps cold baths aren't such a bad idea. Nevertheless, many households keep one of these around in case they need to run essential appliances. At least one person in Louisiana died in 2002 after running a generator indoors, so keep it outside, genius.

4) Batteries. You'll also want a more portable source of power. Batteries will help you stay up to date on whether or not you are, in fact, currently getting hit by a hurricane. Consequently, you'll want a battery-powered gadget such as:

5) A transistor radio. Remember those? You had one back in 1992, before you threw it out for that Ultra Mega Home Plasma Stereo Theater System. Sucker!! And that CD Walkman's not going to help you either, bro!

6) Holy books. If you're a Christian, for example, the Holy Bible will guide you through the turmoil with such soothing stories as the Great Flood and the Seven Plagues.

7) Something else to do, for god's sake! As fun as it may seem to be cramped up with your family in the hallway, trust me, the novelty wears off after a few minutes.

8) Tape for your windows. X-shaped sections of tape across panes of glass will prevent 100-mile-per-hour winds from shattering your windows. Well, actually they won't. But a bunch of Xs across your home will send a message to the evil spirit Pressurus that you have alcohol and porn to keep you busy while your windows get shattered.

9) Fear. You'll definitely want this if you want the full hurricane experience. In order to carry as much fear as possible, you'll want to leave behind rational thoughts, such as the fact that hurricanes happen every year in the same areas and that said areas still contain 100+-year-old structures. Additional fear can be found via radio reports and The Weather Channel, the ultraslick Fox News of the barometric set.

Some further tips:

--Do not evacuate when everyone else does; this causes panic and congested roads. Wait until everyone has already left and police have closed the roads. The streets are empty then.

--While you await the storm, research legendary hurricanes from times past. This should put you a mood of hysterical paranoia perfect for taking precautions.

--Watch KPSE News-5 for the latest-breaking developments. Pulse TV is the only station with Doppler-Pulse Radar 5000, the only technology that allows you to truly see the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico! Our friendly weatherman Rob Tamarillo will keep you tracking and keep you laughing with his first-rate weather broadcast! Stay tuned.

--Hope that the hurricane reverts to a mere tropical storm. Those things are harmless.

--Continue to track the coordinates of the approaching hurricane. Remember, a watched pot never boils.

--The actual wrath of a hurricane is best enjoyed from the comfort of an expansive set of patio doors. It's so awesome, dude!

--Be sure to praise God if the storm steers away from you; at the same time, have the good grace not to thank God for destroying the other place.

--Finally, contemplating a move to California is not a bad idea. Even with their earthquakes, mudslides and forest fires, Californians still pity us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A latent cry for help

Well, yesterday heralded the annual LEDA Job Fair, the six hours a year during which Lafayette has job openings. Dozens of area businesses in a variety of fields set up shop, from radio conglomerates to nursing to the other thing in between. Dress for success, they said, and bring your resumes! This Job Fair was an unparalleled opportunity to network with the movers and shakers in the heart of Acadiana!

Needless to say, I didn't go. I overslept. Also, I don't currently own a dressy pair of shoes that would make me a qualified employee; for most classier occasions I wear black sneakers. In other words, I lack the basics, just have black Asics.

Also, I had other pressing issues. Lacking sufficient funds, I sat down the night before and counted out all my loose change, which exceeded $30 (hey, I'm a pack rat). I really needed to deposit that at the bank before I made another move. So that was part of my reason for missing the Job Fair.

Except I didn't do that, either. I needed the change to pay off library fines for books and CDs that were two days overdue. So I figured it was also crucial to clear my good library name.

I still haven't returned them. Because I had to drive over to my new newspaper beat where I was reassigned just yesterday (a 50-mile drive!). Not only did I have to navigate new roads for the first time (I mean literally--not referring to the town New Roads), but I also had to figure out directions to a friend's nearby house afterwards so I that I could write the story without driving 50 miles back. Stress City, with speed traps to boot.

Can you see where this is going? While I was driving, my contact lenses scratched my eyes so severely that I quickly had to turn back home. Explaining to my editor that I didn't have time to make the meeting because, "My eyes hurt and I had to stop at a gas station," was exciting in ways I can't even begin to explain. So now I have to do the story today. Needless to say, I got home this evening with one thought: "missing accomplished." I haven't felt this frustrated since I tried to measure Dick Cheney's ego with only a protractor and a tire-pressure gauge.

Fox News covered the entire event. Today's headline? "IAN IS LAZY, SHIFTLESS."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

An example of unfortunate placement

Presenting the September 2005 issue of Reader's Digest! Laugh more and live longer, just like Johnny Carson! And don't miss 49 other great jokes inside!

Also in this issue: jokes about gas prices, ads for Fen-Phen and "Humor in Uniform" anecdotes by Cindy Sheehan!

Same stories, different sentences

--In an attempt to curb the spread of HIV, a politician in Uganda is offering free college scholarships to all female virgins in his district. Though male students do not qualify for the scholarships, they will be offered female virgins.

--The final wave of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip evacuated Tuesday, as Israel ceded that portion of the West Bank to the Palestinians. The evacuation is part of prime minister Ariel Sharon's plan to settle Arab/Jew hostilities for .0003 seconds.

--Iraqi officials continue the process of drawing up a new constitution, with Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis clashing over key points. Gentlemen, if I may offer some input...if you're going to emulate the current American model, then just write anything! Because it's not like you'll ever follow it anyway.

--Following a barrage of protests, Australia's Parliament House lifted its ban on the word "mate" after only one day. As for the House ban on Kangaroo Jack, well, that's permanent.

--Today is the first day of the rest of Eric Rudolph's life sentence.

--The Whirlpool Corporation announced Monday that it has purchased Maytag for $2.7 billion. A high price, sure, but dates for that lonely repairman don't come cheap.

--A fisherman in Massachusetts recently found a sleeve full of credit cards dating back to 1966. He tracked down their owner and returned them, but only after he purchased some new Beatles records and a gear hi-fi.

--A Belgian soccer team lost 50-1 after its goalie skipped the game to attend a rock concert in Brussels. According to substitute goalkeeper Charlotte Jacobs, "At half-time the score was 27-0. But after half-time we were able to recover. We had to stomach only 23 goals and we scored once ourselves--" Wait a minute...there was actually a substitute goalie?

--In license-plate news, a Washington motorist was questioned in May for his tag reading "C9H13N," which is the chemical formula for methamphetamine. In light of the investigation, state authorities have removed all road signs alluding to "SPEED."

--Synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog died Aug. 21 at the age of 71. Funeral selections will include "Requiem," "Ave Maria" and "She Blinded Me With Science."

--Finally, this is Not Right's 400th post! And the first post ever to say that.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Caption Central

"Watch me racist car" edition

--Before driving through New Orleans, this car was a 2005 Bentley
--The first-ever Gimp Car
--The car didn't have a number because none of its crew knew how to count
--These tires Don't Tread
--The ghettos aren't the only things with bad hoods
--Only whitewall tires are good enough for this fine automobile
--That chain's really been demoted since the Good Old Days
--Is there any significance in the fact that the wheels are yellow?
--White (door) power!
--When you're God's most gifted creation, you don't need a nice car to validate you (at least that's what Honest Bob tol' me)
--"No thanks, ah'm just gonna crash here tonat"
--Hey, something had to be done with Strom Thurmond's limousine
--No mirrors needed because racists are backwards to begin with
--The Demolition High drama department presents The Dukes of Hazzard!
--Crash test this, dummies!
--Jeff Foxworthy's new special is him just pointing to this car
--Like the car? You should see his computer!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yep, I'm gay

Yes, you read right! I am officially coming out of the closet. I am unequivocally gay.

Before last night, it never occurred to me that I was a homosexual. Although I'm far from homophobic, I still never fingered myself as gay; in fact, I've been pretty preoccupied with the ladies since I was 13. Who knew that all of that was just a distraction from my real desires? This is no doubt shocking news to all of my girlfriends. Sorry, ladies.

So what prompted my sudden change of hard? According to one of James Dobson's spinoff cults, boys as young as five years old exhibit distinct symptoms of budding homosexuality; these highly uncommon traits reliably predict future sexual proclivities. At first I doubted this, recalling that at age five I preferred Transformers to trannies. But that was before I dug up this picture of myself from my fifth birthday and noticed my staggering resemblance to Ellen DeGeneres (who is also from south Louisiana). Then I realized something was amiss.

As conservatives assert, gayness is a disease, one you choose when you are a young child, long before you have any clue as to the true nature of sexuality. Flawless reasoning, indeed. So who can doubt child-friendly focus groups like Focus On Your Child when it comes to child gaydar?

Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include:

1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.

As a small child of five, I was indeed "different." I preferred drawing to duck-hunting, schoolwork to sparring and Voltron to vagina.

2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.

Nothing screams "future man" like boys who enjoy tussling with other boys!

3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.

Well hey, somebody had to be the woman when my brother and I played house!

4. A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.

After your 12th birthday, of course, it's the other way around. Once you're finally a man, you must put away such childish things as your wrestling tights, toy robots and baseball bats. Because if you don't, you're obviously a pipe smoker, if you catch my drift. So remember, tee ball before 12, tea parties after 12! At left, notice me at 11 1/2, straddling the line.

5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”

Because there's no better gaydar than a 5-to-11-year-old male bully. Anyone who can see the gayness in everything from school to lame TV shows would certainly be able to gauge it in their tormented peers! So remember, parents and teachers, bullying must continue unabated--for the sake of the children!

6. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

This rule extends (but is not limited) to the following tendencies: listening to songs by female artists; talking to those of the feminine persuasion; entering into geopolitical discussions involving countries populated by women; nurturing as opposed to ass-kicking; and having his toy robots have conversations as opposed to manly fighting.

7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl.

I dressed up as a woman once, at a party; but I was 16 by then, so there was no fear that I was anything but a raging heterosexual.

In summation, I gotta say that FOTC had me pegged down pretty accurately. Hell, they seemed to know more about what I felt than even I did! Who knew?

Let the religiously and socially mandated self-loathing begin...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Another book retort

Just how terrible are today's Democrats? They apparently wanted George W. Bush to win the 2004 election!

Such is the simple thesis for the latest volume of crankatansky critterature to not grace the Not Right shelf. This didn't make the just-released 2005 List of Banned Books, though maybe it should have. Then again, being on any list with America: the Book is too good for Left Out!

You know that old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Well, sometimes you can. Think about it; in these partisan times, seeing the names of Ann Coulter or Al Franken on the cover of a book is a pretty good indicator of what you're going to get. If you buy Guns and Ammo, you can expect to see guns and ammo. If you get a Playboy, you can expect to see some ass. Low-Rider Magazine? Low-riders! And ass. Bill O'Reilly would disagree (just ask Al Franken), but I aim for a smarter audience. So buckle up, because it's the law.

Left Out! by Joshua Frank has a lot going for it, including a dark blue cover and easily readable words. Its binding is superior for a paperback book and its content is set in an aesthetically pleasing typeface. The back cover offers praise, saying that the book "will unnerve many progressives who nurse at the teat of The New York Times" and that the author "dissects the stinking corpse of Kerry's defeat..."

So much for my review of the cover. Delving into the actual book, I realized just how wrong my initial assessment was; the cover is, in fact, very misleading. A more appropriate title for this book would have been, Why Howard Dean Sucks.

Frank himself, the featured of the four authors contained within, has written for such publications as Earth First! Journal, the namesake mouthpiece of the eco-terrorist group to whom Ted Kaczynski once gave his endorsement. So consider yourself warned: this isn't your garden-variety Republican Party primer. In fact, quite the opposite.

The essays generally take on the tack that, while Republicans are pond scum, the Democrats are even worse. Why? Because they're supposed to be so much better. I can understand where that anger comes from. As for how the Democrats are so much worse than the GOP, that I don't understand. In my early days of writing for The Vermilion, I used to get letters to the effect that I deserved to be fired because I didn't toe the Democrats-are-evil line enough. My answer to that has always been, you don't get unity from the left by having every splinter group tear all of the others apart. I'm no Democrat, but I understand that alliance isn't always a bad thing. Indeed, political alliances are all about compromise and nuance, as Jeffrey St. Clair clearly doesn't understand in his essay "Howard's End? The Demise of the Democrats":

These days the creaky curators of the American left paint their opponents as maniacal demons. Hitler is the reflexive metaphor for any Republican. All the corroded left seems to know is the politics of hysteria.

Virtually the entire piece reads like this. It goes in depth as to how Howard Dean is not only not the best hope of the Democrats, but is in fact a disgusting hypocrite with the best of them. Included as explanations are such anecdotes as the following, which is best described as "psychotic analysis":

Like George W., Dean was never his mother's favorite child, which may explain his tendency to throw political tantrums. These are the guys you really have to watch like a hawk.

Yes, that's right: St. Clair actually compares the disastrous Bush regime with Howard Dean's infamous scream. Clearly, perspective is not this book's strong point. St. Clair's overall point is that Dean is a scumbag because he is a hypocritical elitist, which by the author's standards is apparently defined as "anyone who hasn't lived like the Unabomber their entire life."

Dean gets similar treatment from Frank himself, who says that even though Dean is the hope of the Democratic Party, he is still basically worthless:

"[H]e may well be the whistleblower of the bona fide Democratic establishment that was unknowingly working in favor of Republican interests." But four pages earlier, he accused Dean of being "an insider hell-bent on weakening the party, further explicat[ing] that he and his party in fact helped reelect George W. Bush." So essentially, Frank's argument boils down to these points:

1) Dean represents the best of the Democratic Party;
2) Dean destroyed the Democrats;
3) The Democrats deserve to be destroyed because of Dean;
4) Dean enabled the Republicans;
5) Republicans deserve to be enabled if Dean is the best they can do;
6) For the Democrats to survive, they need more people like Dean

Is your head pulsating with pain yet? Mine is. But let's press on because these guys didn't write these essays just for their health. Indeed, I don't think the concept of "health" came up at any point during this book's writing. But I digress.

"Dean was Never Anti-War" calls out Dean on his support (or, at the very least, his lack of initial activism against) the Iraq War; "Defending Zionism and War Profiteering" examines Dean's supposed (if loosely defined) extremist alliance with Israel in a context differing very little from a David Duke screed; chapters trashing Dean's environmental and business records as governor of Vermont; and an unflattering look at his positions as a presidential candidate. Other Democratic politicians such as Wesley Clark, Paul Wellstone, Bill Clinton, John Kerry et al. are similarly savaged (albeit to a lesser extent), the point being that no one with a "D" next to their name is ever going to be good enough for the authors.

This is precisely where the premise of Left Out falls apart. While the book carries the critical message that no politician is innocent and that all citizens should be informed of their transgressions, it carries it with the underlying theme that there is no hope. Though the authors hardly let Republicans off the hook, they pursue the Democrats with a particularly lusty zeal. Nowhere in the book do the authors come up with real answers to the problem, which is perhaps the one thing that would legitimize the points made within. As it stands, the book just seems like a Green Party third-party screed (except that they show no love to the "Gangrene Party" either). We get it, the two-party system is corrupt. Now what? Those of us who join in the call for a more progressive government await the answer to that question, the very one the book supposedly set out to answer in the first place.

Putting the "spat" in "dispatch"

--A French firefighter was recently charged for starting the very blazes he had made local headlines for extinguishing. Pressed for comment about the hose police found in his house, the fireman said, "How dare you talk about my daughters that way!"

--Researchers at Harvard Medical School announced Wednesday that young children who eat french fries have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. But scientists reassured consumers that, by then, they'll be too flabby to notice anyway.

--According to a new survey, nearly 70 percent of Americans expect to work well after retirement age. Many of them cited the poor economy and the fact that George W. Bush hasn't retired early.

--Scientists in Singapore have developed a urine-powered battery that they hope to use in disease-detection biochips. Once powered, the machines will diagnose you as a bedwetter.

Researchers hope the batteries eventually catch on as an alternative fuel source. But that will never happen, because urine-based batteries are too impractical for most everyday appliances. Not to mention how disgusting the batteries would be to change! So why research them at all? This news item brought to you by Halliburton.

--Oil workers in Beijing are ending their marriages after Huabei Oilfield Company announced its intention to rehire workers who divorced. In a related story, gas now costs way more than an arm and a leg.

--Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy attacked Supreme Court nominee John Roberts during confirmation hearings Tuesday, accusing the judge of being too extreme for the Court. Roberts denied the charges, asking what was so wrong about liking coathangers.

--A fisherman died on the eastern-German border after an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim his rod from a fish that had yanked it away. I don't see what the big deal was about that fishing pole. Duh, he was right next to Poland! Why didn't he just get another one?

--In license-plate news, police in the UK are testing tags with built-in microchips that, among other things, would allow drivers to pay tolls with a scan of their plate. The tags are endorsed by law enforcement officials, automobile associations and the Federation of Credit-Card Thieves with Screwdrivers.

--Finally, actress Eva Longoria was hit by a falling pole while filming her show "Desperate Housewives." Her head was treated, and her character is expected to resume giving head in no time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

As un-American as Mom

Who knew that a concerned American citizen, wishing only to speak to the president about her deceased son, would suddenly become the pariah of the right and the symbol of everything wrong with this country?

Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey died last year in Iraq, set up a tent outside of Bush's ranch in Crawford 11 days ago. Despite attracting innumerable attention and notoriety, Sheehan claims that her main goal is still merely to talk to Bush about Iraq. Her opponents, however, dismiss her actions as a desperate political ploy.

In their quest to discredit Sheehan, the right has coldly exploited some unfortunate facts. Sheehan's husband has filed for divorce over the affair and his family has spoken out against her. Her legitimacy has also been questioned because of endorsements by such luminaries as David Duke. But these facts only illustrate the point the Bushes constantly make when apologizing for their ties to the bin Laden family: you are not necessarily the company you keep.

Even if the worst allegations were true (which they aren't), so the hell what? Nothing that has happened in the past changes the specifics of what's happening now. The facts are this: 1) Cindy Sheehan lost her son in Iraq and has traveled to Texas to find out why, even at the cost of her reputation and her family; 2) Bush has not indicated he cares enough to go outside and speak to her; and 3) critics on the right are suddenly demonizing this woman to no end. How dare she criticize the president! So much for supporting the troops and their families.

Indeed, Cindy's vigil has highlighted a sentiment generally unspoken in the mainstream media, that Bush is willingly out-of-touch with those whom his policies impact the most. On Aug. 11, UPI quoted Bush as saying, "I've thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is, get out of Iraq now." What do you mean, you heard her position from others? What, George, are you afraid to talk to this woman yourself?

Yes, I am fully aware that she's spoken to Bush before, and that the genial 2004 encounter has been used as "proof" that Cindy has changed her tune. But as far as I can tell, such encounters are often clouded by emotion, and people have a right to change their minds. In both cases, Cindy is clearly motivated by her love for her son, and now she has had time to think it over.

Additionally, Sheehan has shown that her resolve extends beyond that of a simple political tantrum. In her days at Crawford, the woman has endured worldwide attention, the inevitable counterprotests and even physical threats, such as the partial destruction of her cross memorial and gunshots fired her way.

Yes, these guardians of morality have actually broken out the firearms! She and other protesters were startled by gunfire from a man who claims to be "getting ready for dove season." This man was not arrested on the spot and roundly condemned, proving that the Second Amendment, but not the First, applies in Crawford.

No one travels thousands of miles, camps out in a tent for days and braves bullets, media blitzes and angry protesters for the sake of a whim. Cindy has had time to think and plan out her effort, and has shown that it'll take a lot to derail her. Actually, a simple way to derail her would be to give her the presidential audience she's requesting. But that would be too unsatisfactory for Dubya, who'd rather keep his echo chamber unspoiled. Real men don't give in, you see.

Whatever intentions Cindy Sheehan has with her vigil, she deserves credit for exposing the neocons for what they truly are at their core: smug, sheltered, uncaring, hypocritical and brimming with snarky hatred for the rights and feelings of real Americans. Who knew that the Big Tent of the GOP would feel so threatened by a small camp?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Passing the holy plate

Are your Pro-Life bumper stickers overtaking your car's paint? Do your fishy ornaments find themselves with less and less places to swim? Do you live in a Southern state that issues only one license plate? Then are you in luck! Christian License Plates is here to serve all of your car-linary needs! Get it? Plates? Cars? Ah, skip it...

These are not your everyday, garden-variety "JESUS" plates. No sirree Billy Bob! Why settle for the generic store-brand cereal when you can have the name-brand cereal with all of the flashy graphics you've come to associate with the all-time master of humility? Let's take a look at some of the floor models!

If you can read this, you better repent, because you're way too close to survive the collision!

Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight!

And the same old political rhetoric, forever and ever...

It IS kind of a versatile name, isn't it? Praise, swear, etc.

Gee Potsie, I just love this hep new rock-n-roll! It's gear!

Looks great with dead bugs splattered all over it'll be GAY!

"Suspect's plate is seven zero X-ray seven, state of Matthew..."

It's not skateBOARD, it's skateLORD!

My kid beat up your honored parents

2 Timothy 1:7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Why, it's practically a direct endorsement of George W. Bush!


I imagine that these are also available in the form of those tacky shirts that a more religious version of Jean Teasdale might wear. Oh wait! They are!

Caption Central

"Cumbersome birth control" edition

--As a swing voter, Alicia had enough of in-your-face political tactics
--Modeling is a business where you really have to put your nose to the grindstone
--Your average Fox News viewer
--This machine is offered by a faceless corporation
--Every conservative's dream woman: tight body, barefoot, reticent and silent
--Hey! Elbows off the cradle!
--Introducing the first butterface churner
--When the glass ceiling just isn't enough...
--For some reason, Katherine kept driving the wrong way
--The first-ever public glimpse at Bush's rose-colored simulator
--Karl Rove's wife prepares for yet another session
--It's just a birthmark!
--"No Child Left Behind" now requires every student to pass an eye test while taking their school portrait
--Once you go black, you hurt your back
--Presenting the new GOP sex education...deterrent
--Today's Photo Daily Double: "What happened to voters in 2004?"

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Direct my spambox

Sometimes living off the commerce grid really has its benefits. It's like being the only sober person at the end of a wild weekend party; you laugh at how pathetic it all is, but at the same time you wonder why people still do it!

Example 1: I often receive envelopes in the mail marked, "Urgent Information Regarding Your College Loan!" The letters appear to be from legit financial institutions and implore that I begin paying off my debts in diligent fashion. My parents also receive mail to that effect, saying that they really need to refinance my loans so that they can afford to cover my debt-ridden ass.

As long as these companies are buying my name from the university (whores), they should also spring for the info that NOT ONCE HAVE I EVER TAKEN OUT A COLLEGE LOAN!! I had a full scholarship for most of my college career. Nice try, guys.

Example 2: I receive an "official" letter from PayPal urging that I update my account information as soon as possible before they delete it. The e-mail offers a link to an "official" site where you can conveniently plunk down your account number and all of your presumably unchanged information. Just to update it, you know. Wink wink.

Right. I've never used PayPal in my life. Where do they even get this stuff? And even if it were real, why would such a reputable company extort you like that? "Update now or forever hold your peace." Really sound business model you got there, Rockefeller!

On a side note, why do spammers send out messages with the subject "re: your inquiry"? Assuming this is a reply e-mail, which is standard business/professional practice, shouldn't the subject read, "re: my inquiry?" And why would anyone label their e-mail, "my inquiry?" How weak is that? "Gee, Dithers, I deign to think we should honor his inquiry. It's right there in the subject title!" But I digress.

Example 3: On an almost daily basis, I get letters and e-mails from the University of Phoenix Online, DeVry and similar ilk compelling me to "get the degree you need to get ahead!" Now, we could debate the merits of online education to begin with, but that isn't the point here. The point is that I ALREADY HAVE TWO DEGREES! So far, they've gotten me ahead--at the head of the unemployment line. Perhaps most ironically, these online universities most likely got my name from the college where I spent seven years in the first place.

If I haven't spelled it out for you enough, spammers, just remember these points:

1) I have only one (and relatively small) loan. I know its terms cold and I pay it off diligently. And it has nothing to do with school.

2) Marketing online or diploma-mill degrees to college graduates is generally a ridiculous idea. But it's the spam paradox at work: only the people who are dumb enough to actually ponder the question, "Is your lack of a high-school diploma holding you back?" would unquestionably accept a fake college degree.

3) I barely have enough connections in my hometown, so if you think I'm fooled by a "personal" letter from Princess Toadstool of Stankonia (email: imaprincess@654ertpego.xz), then you need a lesson in reality. Might I suggest DeVry University Online? I can even recommend some student-loan offers!

I fear for those who aren't as sure about these things I am. Spam is getting more and more sophisticated. Look out.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Aren't summaries supposed to be short?

If you're like me, you're afraid to be seen with Bernard Goldberg's new tome, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. At the same time, however, you're curious to see who made the cut and why. Well, worry no more! Philip Dhingra has personally graced Not Right with his condensed version of the book, in which he does the dirty work for us.

What's the catch? Well, Dhingra's a big fan of the book; why he basically ruined any reason for buying the book is anyone's guess. On the other hand, I have no such qualms and am thus offering my own condensed version of Dhingra's condensation. The listed names offer a telling glimpse into the pit from whence right-wing ideology ferments.

Because the numerical list seems based entirely on what Goldberg was (or wasn’t) thinking at the time, a better way to showcase his list is to divide it into Stereotypical Categories. What follows are my categories, Goldberg's names, Dhingra's comments and my replies:

Obvious Satans of the Earth

1) Michael Moore--He doesn't deserve to be talked about. Which is why he’s at the top of the list.

3) Ted Kennedy--How can he have a conscience if he was against the Iraq War? He should be pro-life like the pro-war crowd!

4) Jesse Jackson--While he is a great orator, his focus is on provocation. As opposed to demagogues like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly, who are civilized.

6) Jimmy Carter--is getting improper credit for being a champion of human rights. Yeah, not enough.

20) Howard Dean--has maintained a rambunctious and angry attitude toward Republicans. As opposed to John Kerry, who is too conciliatory and stiff.

37) Al Franken--In an interview Goldberg had with Franken, Franken sounds like an idiot by randomly yelling the word "Liar." Aww, look who’s mad!

Indeed, Goldberg’s personal feuds pepper the entire list. Anyone who has read (or has even heard of) Goldberg's previous book Bias knows that the author has a long-standing grudge against CBS, alleging that the channel is liberal because they fired him or something. Goldberg shows his own bias against the major networks (particularly CBS) on his list, starting strong and then branching off into a weird game of "Seven Degrees of Dan Rather":

12) Dan Rather--He has bias, and either he doesn't know it or he won't admit it. Actually, he does and he did. But does that make Bush’s sketchy military records any less important?

13) Andrew Heyward (Pres. of CBS News)--not owning up to the phony Bush story;

14) Mary Mapes (former producer for CBS's 60 minutes)--aired the story!

We get it, Bernie; you hate CBS! Obsess much? Oh, the list goes on and on!

46) Barbara Walters--is doing more harm to journalism by also interviewing celebrities and asking dumb questions. Whereas Fox News interviews politicians and asks dumb questions.

52) Markos Moulitsas--dailyKos is possibly the busiest political site on the Internet, but it's also a center for pessimism and defeatism toward the United States. Or at least the Bush White House. Same thing, right?

53) Ian McGibboneyjust kidding. Even Goldberg can’t hang with me.

55) David Westin--He is partly responsible for blurring the lines between entertainment and news by putting fake journalists on air (see next entry). The next entry is not Jeff Gannon, as one might suspect.

56) Diane Sawyer--How can Diane Sawyer claim the title of journalist, when she does a shallow interview with Britney Spears? Who supports the president!

Judicial Activision

7) Margaret Marshall--overturned an age-old tradition of marriage being an exclusive sacrament between males and females. The worst court decision since the end of that slavery tradition.

16) John Edwards--made big bucks winning a case that used more emotion than science, which in no way resembles the basis behind “Intelligent Design.”

22) Michael Newdow--got a court to make it illegal to say the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Which everyone immediately obeyed.

40) Scott Harshbarger--built a child-abuse case against a day-care center's owners using solely testimony from forty children. Yet we’re supposed to believe the couple of owners?

A Day at the Racists

30) Latrell Sprewell--Sprewell's arrogant comments in public show just how spoiled some professional athletes have become. Said the rich and famous author who throws tantrums against CBS News.

47) Maxine Waters--is obsessed with race. Well, yeah, she's in the Congressional Black Caucus.

57) Ted Field--has helped spread rap music. A vaccine has yet to be discovered.

67) Randall Robinson--a major proponent of slavery reparations [but] slavery was a long time ago. So don’t forget about that interest!

79) Harry Belafonte--criticized Colin Powell as kissing-up to Bush and the white establishment. Why can't blacks be conservative? Because conservatives are the white establishment, duh!

Schoolhouse Crock

50) John Vasconcellos--worked with California schools to pioneer the doctrine of "self-esteem." [...] education in America hasn't improved. Uniforms, vouchers and No Child Left Behind—now that’s education reform!

68) Katherine Hanson--a hysterical feminist, Goldberg’s catch-all epithet for any woman with an opinion.

72) Ward Churchill--not so much [for] his incendiary comments, but rather the academic community that gives extremists like him tenure. Which I believe he had before his comments?

Left-Coasters and Other Celebrity Freaks

81) Tim Robbins--He also says he's about peace, but he's also mean to people. People like Goldberg, who hates Tim Robbins.

83) The Dumb and Vicious Celebrity (ex: Linda Ronstadt, Martin Sheen, David Clennon, Janeane Garofalo); 84) The Vicious Celebrity (ex: Alec Baldwin, Wallace Shawn, Sean Penn, Janeane Garofalo);
85) The Dumb Celebrity (ex: Cameron Diaz, Fred Durst, Kate Hudson, Janeane Garofalo)--I think Janeane’s cute too; but still, three separate spots?

91) Barbra Streisand--How can such a beautiful and talented singer have the heart to bash Bush? Because she has a heart. There's your answer.

95) Courtney Love“Ho.” He would know.

96) Eve Ensler--Her play is silly for its over-use of vagina-related content, […] making Goldberg feel un-hip for not liking the play or its message. I suppose he drives a big truck too.

99) Matthew Lesko--He promotes dubious methods on how to milk the government for "free money." He is a symbol for self-centered free-riders. Only the Bush neocons are supposed to know those things!

Of course, Goldberg is nothing if not Fair and Balanced. He also admits that several right-of-center figures are also Screwing Up America, though apparently in the sense that they're representing the right a little too honestly:

21) Roy Moore--judges should not partake in activism or loose interpretations of the law. Not that blatantly, anyway.

25) James Koppjustifies murdering an abortion practitioner. He should not play God. That’s Bush’s job.

44) Dennis Kozlowski--his company is a conglomerate that acquires little companies and streamlines them by shutting down plants and firing employees. Besides, he was too obvious about it.

45) Ken Lay--fraudulently generate[d] millions of dollars from 1996 to 2001. Deserves to be slapped on the wrist, hard.

61) Michael Savage--has given conservatives a bad name by making cruel personal attacks and for getting caught by a live mike.

66) David Duke--has run for US President twice as a Republican, which itself is embarrassing enough.

70) Jimmy Swaggart--goes too far in his criticism of homosexuality by mentioning in a sermon that he would kill gay men. He should know that real bigots just do it.

100) Rick and Kathy Hilton--deserve blame for raising Paris Hilton. Agreed.

And, last but not least, the one summary that puts Goldberg’s entire manuscript in perspective:

8) Paul Krugman--Goldberg is unable to find a quote of Krugman's that is hysterical or extreme, so Krugman's flaw is that he consistently argues against Bush's policies without sounding foolish. So his flaw is that he debates without sounding foolish? For whom is that a flaw?

In his criticism of those who are screwing up America, Bernard Goldberg forgot one important name—his own.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Where no news is good news (and all news is bad news)

We start off today's news with four items I forgot to touch on in the last few weeks. Call them, "Not Quite Not Right News":

--A San Antonio man was arrested July 25 after reporting the theft of his marijuana. In addition to his stash, the man also reported missing his plasma TV, his "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" DVD and his common sense.

--Friends of a 31-year-old single man in Utah erected billboards advertising his singlehood. After fielding numerous calls, his friends are expected to narrow the field down to a respectable seven wives.

--A Kansas high-school student was charged with battery after he vomited on his Spanish teacher. Though accused of planning the incident, the student claimed he was just trying to say, "Olehhhhhhh!"

--Atkins Nutritionals, the company behind the famous low-carb diet, filed for bankruptcy July 31. And why not? Money is very high in carbohydrates and fattens wallets.

Now for some newer news...

--The Labor Department announced Aug. 5 that 207,000 new jobs had been created in July, the strongest growth in five months. What they didn't announce was that those jobs suck.

--An Oregon high-school coach was placed on probation for licking the bloody wounds of his athletes, which he said served to clean the cuts. Yo, coach, everyone knows that licking cuts is wrong! You're supposed to piss on them.

--In license-plate news, cheerleaders in Ann Arbor, Michigan were able to track down a hit-and-run offender by chanting his license-plate number as a cheer. "Give me a Y! Give me a G! Give me a T! Give me a 6! Give me a 2! Give me another 6!" How about I give you a pen?

--On Aug. 7, WWII veterans and Japanese survivors met on the island of Tinian to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. Many opposed the peaceful summit, saying that there is no need for a balanced view of history. These critics were later offered jobs by Fox News.

--Finally, a man in Seoul, South Korea died of heart failure after playing 50 straight hours of computer games. Apparently he had only one life left.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Talking turkey with Texans

As amazing at it might seem, I am not typically one to fire off a letter to someone about a column they have written. Whether the writer is fan or foe, I'm usually content to let the author's opinion speak for itself.

But occasionally, I'll read a column that is so out-there that my opinion of it bursts out like an alien from Sigourney Weaver's stomach. Usually this happens the 55th time I read yet another conservative cliche.

The piece in question is entitled, "More reasons to distrust Hollywood" and I originally found it here. It was written by Tyler Nelson for the August 4 issue of The University of Houston Daily Cougar. Immediately after reading it, I tracked down Nelson's e-mail address and sent him a cordial rebuttal. Excerpts from both his column and my reply follow:

A new book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, by Bernard Goldberg, confirms my observations. (I'll spoil the end, the world's ambassador Michael Moore surprisingly was No. 1). A good percentage of the individuals in Goldberg's book are celebrities who live in Hollywood. That part didn't amaze me. What did amaze me was what a lot of the celebrities said. Most of their political commentary and advice contained a lot of four-letter words that I can't write in The Daily Cougar.

For example, look at Janeane Garofalo. She has starred in several movies and is a regular commentator for the dismal Air America network and several other liberal cable shows. She so cleverly stated, "Our country is founded on a sham: Our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, 'Oh my God, you're insulting me.' That you can have a gay parade on Christopher Street in New York, with naked men and women on a float cheering, 'We're here, we're queer!' -- that's what makes my heart swell. Not the flag, but a gay naked man or woman burning the flag. I get choked up with pride."

The book you a selective compilation of extreme personalities designed to lead the reader into thinking that everyone who makes movies or lives in southern California feels this way.

But like with any other place or profession, Hollywood (and, by extension, show business) is packed with people of wildly diverging views. If you need any proof, consider that the same conservatives who lambaste Janeane Garofalo or Barbra Streisand for offering their political views are the same ones who praise Charlie Daniels and Charlton Heston for doing the same. That's a lot of ideological room.

Wow, that right there tells me why Hollywood is hurting the left. Americans hear things like that and want nothing to do with these celebrities; their values are nothing alike. But when they have a political mouthpiece like Howard Dean running around saying things just as ridiculous, it doesn't look good for any politician who aligns with Hollywood.

If celebrities voice views you don't like, then vote with your dollars and don't attend their movies or watch their shows. They have free speech rights as much as you and I, and chances are their views are not any more extreme than thousands of others who share the same views, but without the soapbox. Even so, they never claim to represent anyone but themselves. In most cases, it is books such as Bernard Goldberg's that do far more to advance these messages than any of their own promotional efforts.

To me it doesn't really matter what some celebrity thinks or says about President Bush or the war on terror. They look stupid talking about issues they clearly have no idea ab[o]ut. What bothers me is that these celebrities get so much air time to ramble on about their political views, not because any of them have advanced political science degrees but because they have a pretty face or are the new big thing in the entertainment industry.

You also chide celebrities for talking about politics even though they don't "have advanced political science degrees." By logical extension, does this mean that no one without an advanced poli-sci degree can discuss politics? That leaves out a lot of people, including most political commentators. And, for that matter, most of the Bush administration and Congress. And, as far as I can tell, Bernard Goldberg. But those that do have the credentials are obviously limited to talking only about politics, right? Maybe the idea does have merit; I wouldn't mind not having to hear Bush talk about war as if he has a clue about combat.

If the Democrats are smart, they won't touch any Hollywood celebrities with a ten-foot pole during the 2008 presidential election, especially after the outcry over moral values in 2004. As Hollywood has consistently proven, celebrities don't know a thing about the moral values of most Americans.

The book, and your column, are not about helping the left as you both claim. It's no secret that the right is not interested in helping the left. Indeed, pretending that you do care is the height of condescension. Still, I always enjoy reading the latest conservative op-eds. Unlike Goldberg, I would never dream of silencing those with whom I disagree. Neither should you promote such a flawed premise.

--Ian McGibboney

And yes, I did link him here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Not Right special report

UPDATE: Hat tip to Kyle at Zac Attack for the picture

You can believe me when I say I never watch television news, because I literally had no idea that Peter Jennings was even sick, let alone dying. This seriously shocks me. I really thought he was going to be an anchor forever. His voice ranks near the top of my favorite cadences of all time. I'm stunned and saddened to see him exit so soon.

The picture on the left is taken from a textbook from 1966. Of course, the kids' hairstyles and clothing give that away all by themselves. But as you can see, Peter's been around longer than his appearance and relevance would have suggested. Even in second grade (when I got this book at my school's clearance sale), I remember thinking how far he had come.

Jennings' departure abruptly ends an era of legendary broadcasters. Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings were practically the only network evening-news names that I've ever known, and over the space of seven months they've all gone. While I understand that all good things must end, it's still been abrupt. Brokaw retired, conservatives ran Rather out on a rail and Jennings died of lung cancer. These men were often considered the "liberal elite," which in today's media environment means that they were somewhere to the left of Fox News. I will miss all three. Not because I think they're liberal paragons, but because their respective absences make the current for-profit cable-news model all the more glaring. That's a cancer of a different kind.

On a related note, I see that broadcaster Shana Alexander also died back in June. She was the liberal debater on 60 Minutes (against James Kilpatrick) in the late 1970s. She was the inspiration for Jane Curtin's Weekend Update persona on Saturday Night Live, whom Dan Aykroyd would often call an "ignorant slut" because he couldn't really call her on what she said.

With karma like this, Bill O'Reilly will live to be 130.

I hope they find her, but damn...

Here's an approximate snippet from a conversation I had recently:

Friend: I can't get enough of the Natalee Holloway case. It's so sad!
Me: It is, but I personally think they're giving way too much coverage to her over all the other missing people.
Friend: But it's a big story.
Me: It's a distraction. People are so interested in this that they don't care about the more important stuff that's going on.
Friend: I'm not distracted! I know all about the new Senate appointment.
Me: You mean, the Senate having to approve a new Supreme Court justice.
Friend: Yeah, that's it. I always get that confused :)

Who isn't distracted by a pretty white girl? Answer: not Greta. Sheesh.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Here, there and underwear

--King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died this week after 10 years of ill health. He has been replaced by 80-year-old King Abdullah. See you next week!

--CNN suspended Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore at James Carville on "Inside Politics" and subsequently walked off the set. Oh, and because he's a CIA-agent-outing douchebag.

--The Irish Republican Army announced that it would renounce its armed campaign, provided that Britain reduces its martial presence in Northern Ireland. This monumental decision is expected to pave the way for the IRA and the 401(k) to coexist in peace.

--In entertainment news, comedian Charlie Murphy confirmed this week that The Dave Chappelle Show is no longer in production. Murphy cited Chappelle's recent "spiritual excursion" to South Africa as a major factor in the star's decision. Rick James? Now he's Mel Gibson, bitch!

--Authorities extended Martha Stewart's house arrest by three weeks on Aug. 4, but wouldn't say why. Some speculate, however, that the extension was just a consolation prize to Homeland Security since they haven't caught anybody else.

--A new book is out entitled, Why Do Men Have Nipples? If you ask me, co-author Billy Goldberg seems only too excited to answer that question.

The book, co-written with humorist Mark Leyner, examines such medical phenomena as chattering teeth, diseases on toilet seats and morning breath. Do you suppose they worked on the book over lunch?

"Now Mark, let's talk about why beans make you fart--yes, waiter, I'll have the fondue, thank you." "Hey, Billy! Traces of ringworm are often found on toilet seats! Yeah, I'll have the spaghetti."

--In license plate news, Florida has reported great success with its new John Lennon "Imagine" specialty plate. It's particularly popular among those who lease their cars because they believe in "no possessions."

Florida residents can personalize the plates as well. The most commonly requested combo? "BYE JEB."

--In world news, rampant poverty in Niger has left record numbers starving. When pressed for comment, George W. Bush said, "Then why don't they just eat?"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Here's a picture of me crying

This picture appeared in my 11th-grade yearbook, and it was where I always signed friends' copies. This was taken on the sidelines during a playoff game when our football team was losing halftime. How good was the opposing team? They had 120 players, for one thing. Also, their two main offensive stars later went on to college glory and, in at least one case, the NFL. Our team had two current NFL players and a guy who has appeared on The Drew Carey Show. Bastards. But I digress. We lost 49-6, after the other team put in their ninth-string players and (I suspect) some of the coaches' smaller pets.

Though half of our team was crying on the sidelines, the photographer singled me out because I was special. I've always been what you call an emotional person. Not in the drama-queen, stupid-shit sense, but in the things-that-really-matter-to-me sort of way. At 16, high-school football meant everything to me. I worked for the team for two years before playing on it my senior year, and it took up as much time as school did (Indeed, the head coach would tell years later that I often did more than he did). So when I cried, others cried with me. Teenage intensity, you know. There's nothing like it.

Why do I bring this up, nine years later? Because I can still vividly remember that particular night: how I felt, the general vibe among the team, the hostility of Baton Rouge, etc. It took a lot to make me this openly emotional in front of thousands of people. What amazes me now is that I was able to muster so much emotion then, considering all that's happened in the ensuing nine years:

--At least 17 people I knew and loved dying, including most of my role models;
--The Neocon Revolution and its contempt for due process;
--9/11 and the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq;
--Losing a high-school classmate in Iraq and having numerous friends and relatives abroad;
--The ongoing job hunt that has left my friends and I groping at virtually nothing (and often at odds with our families);
--Being disillusioned in general with the supposed "American Dream."

I miss crying over high-school football.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Proverbs, P.I.M.P. style

--A country that allows Ann Coulter to be a bestselling author and pundit is one that truly lets anyone speak.

--We drive on parkways and park on driveways. We also drive to the park.

--I once met a girl whose perfect man had a huge gut, scratched himself a lot, smelled funny and whose only hobby was watching infomercials on late-night TV. I asked her out. She declined, saying I wasn't good enough for her.

--"Slim chance" and "fat chance" mean the same thing. Which is, of course, "no chance."

--Politicians are often criticized for being hypocrites. On the other hand, James K. Polk and Jimmy Carter, two presidents known for their ideological purity, were also criticized.

--"Seven" does not have seven letters. Fifteen, however, does.

--Conservatives often demonize what they call the "left coast" for its largely liberal politics. As opposed to the east coast, who are all "New England liberals." And the midwest, which is owned by Big Labor. And the beltway of Washington D.C., where politicians are out of touch with the mainstream. And the South, which is the breeding ground for such evil men as Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Edwards. And Austin, Texas, which is granola country. Now what was that about a sea of red?

--I read that the GOP funneled money into Ralph Nader's campaign. They probably called it Green fees.

--We often hear about our "friendly neighborhood" restaurant/grocer/minimall/etc. Do you have that in your neighborhood? Mine has houses.

--In 1991, Van Halen released "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge." Come to think of it, that title has one doozy of an acronym! I wonder if Eddie noticed.

--I once wrote a column that was all lies. Honest!

--There is actually an Independent Party. Its members are oxymorons.

--One night, a couple of years ago, I visited a friend at his apartment complex. I parked next to his apartment, a place from where he assured me that no one ever got towed. Half an hour later I saw that I got towed. He said that was the first time in his year living there that he'd seen that happen. With luck like that, I should have gone out and bought a lottery ticket. Alas, I had no ride.

--The Republican Party used to be the Party of Lincoln. Now they're the Party of the Lincoln Navigator.

--If Washington D.C. is the brain of America and the midwest is the "heartland," where does that leave the colon?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Shameless self-promotion

In the past couple of days I have learned a few life lessons:

1) Sleeping until 5 p.m. is a lot like doing drugs: it feels good at the time, but then you wonder where your time and ambition went. Then you do it all over again.

2) Even after partying on a Saturday night, I still have the ability to come home and write an in-depth post comparing Reaganomics to beer.

3) While the news muse might strike me on Sunday, that doesn't mean anyone's going to read the results.

4) But your teenage sister might read it, and then try to write some of her own, which she will demand you read at 3 a.m. And then she will petition the local public-access channel (where she is a certified camera operator) to film the newscast with her friends.

So never forget to read Not Right News. Because the children, not us, are the future.

Caption central

"Finishing-school alumni" edition

--"Xanax allows you to feel free of worry. Ask your doctor if Xanax is right for you."
--Okay everyone, on the count of three, raise the corners of your lips! That's how you "smile"
--This was not the reaction Jeff Gannon hoped for when flashing the Republican Women
--They backstab each other with Stepford knives
--Thirty years later, the Barenaked Ladies didn't look any better
--Pictures like this are poignant reminders of how generations have declined
--They weren't laughing with Laura...
--Even Edward Scissorhands wouldn't touch this Bush
--"American Beauty II" got horrible reviews
--This photo screams "1990" more than most pictures taken in 1990
--In retrospect, Laura thought, maybe they smiled a little too much at the mention of 2008
--Bush's Social Security comedy routine killed with the crowd
--Laura's audition for the Ronco-infomercial audience went well
--"Oh Laura, you're such a library card!"
--I can't think of any more captions. It's like I've become the inside of this woman's head!