Tuesday, November 29, 2005

HDTV can KMA

I'd like to opine for a moment on high-definition television (HDTV). Today's Vermilion reminded me of the decade-old FCC mandate that all television stations must broadcast in HDTV by 2007, and that they should make efforts to cease analog broadcasts as soon as possible. Keep in mind that I love technology and that the HDTV picture is what I call "killer." But what I resent is being told I have to buy this technology if I want to continue to watch television (not that I really do anyway, but the principle remains).

“There are going to be some people who might get left in the dark when we turn off the analog, but we are going to turn off the analog one night and start broadcasting digital on Channel 10 the next day,” said Rodney Evans, chief engineer at KLFY-TV 10.

I like how the article paints the issue as a threat that you'll never see this particular local station again, if you refuse to switch. Not that I really care, because I stopped watching that channel six years ago, as did a lot of people; I'm surprised Vince Vaughn hasn't joined the news team yet. In any case, it's ironic that any news station would issue a thinly veiled threat that you must change your television. Some of our local news anchors look miserably pockmarked enough without having to additionally watch the disintegrating follicles of their Champ Kind hairlines in high-definition resolution! Barbara Walters and Mike Wallace must HATE this idea! Fortunately, as the article states, most stations across the country aren't switching quite as fast, because somehow most Americans have not yet thrown out their filthy old sets in favor of the new ones, just because!

Frankly, I don't see the big deal about HDTV. Unless you plan on watching Star Wars or The Matrix on DVD all the time, the technology seems pointless to have, much less be required to own. HDTV exists for three reasons: action movies, porn and profits, which is fine with me. But if you think I'm going to surrender my 2003 Sansui all-in-one unit that fast, you're nuts. My previous TV was a 1980-model Zenith with screw terminals, so you can imagine I'm not exactly a fad man when it comes to idiot boxes. Furthermore, the 1980 TV still works flawlessly, having outlasted a number of subsequent models that my household has owned. And being that I've caught cell-phone conversations on some of the higher UHF channels, I intend on keeping it just to see what's going to happen on those airwaves once analog TV goes the way of The Famous Teddy Z.

True fact: my Zenith has manual tuners for each channel, so you can literally tune in to stations much like a radio dial. Back in the mid-1990s, armed with only a basic-cable connection, I was able to get free ESPN by tuning between channels 6 and 7. This was during the period that ESPN was no longer a basic option. I also caught (cough) a couple of pay-per-views for free. Good times. Perhaps they're on to people like me; between HDTV and any TV made after the Reagan era, the airwaves just aren't fun to explore anymore. What good is technology if it doesn't let you explore the perimeter? That's why radio is so much fun.

The mandatory switch to HDTV is like discontinuing tires for all vehicles made before 2000, because hey, look at all these great new cars you should be driving! Well, screw you. Maybe people like the cars they have. Or maybe we resent being asked to pay for extremely expensive replacements when most people can barely afford to keep what they have consistently fueled and who aren't all that impressed by 700-function trackballs or GPS plasma screens telling us that we're lost (we already know that, thanks).

The so-called "free market" zealots who are clearly disillusioned about the current commercial viability of HDTV need to reconsider the shutting down of one of our most-trafficked avenues of cheap propaganda, analog television. If they shut that down, how else will they reach the minds of those moronic enough to fall for this obvious scam?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hear it, then fear it

this is an audio post - click to play
--Saddam Hussein's trial was postponed Monday so that the defense could replace three of his lawyers, two of whom were killed. In legalese, that's what you call "a good start."

--Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California resigned Monday after being indicted for accepting $2.4 million from defense contractors. The reputation of the Republican Party has been tarnished by the scandal, with party leaders promising that future bribes will be a lot better than that.

--Ben Franklin Elementary School in New Orleans resumed classes Monday, the first public school in the area to reopen since Hurricane Katrina. Students were happy to be back in their New Orleans school, which doesn't say a lot about schools in Baton Rouge, Mississippi and Tennessee.

--Snowstorms plowed the central United States throughout Thanksgiving weekend, causing major problems in South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas. At no point was rapper Snow harmed, because he hasn't been on the road in quite a while.

--New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson admitted this week that he had not been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in 1966, as he had long claimed. Prompted by this admission, George W. Bush announced that he in fact had been drafted in 1972--by the Dodgers.

--Actor Pat Morita, best known as The Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi, died Thursday at the age of 73. Karate Kid Ralph Macchio was unavailable for comment, as he is currently obscure.

--A top Indian actress is under fire in her home country for alleging that premarital sex is not always forbidden. She could possibly face jail time, where she is expected to reverse her stance on sex rather quickly.

--A Nevada man was arrested after stealing and reselling $200,000 worth of Legos. Apparently he aspired to collect the most expensive piece of all: the cell block.

--Shoppers all across the country lined up early on Black Friday to begin the holiday shopping season. Long lines, cops and pushy people: it's like Mardi Gras, except with more violence and you don't want to see the boobs.

--Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey announced this week that they are officially over--as a couple, I mean. They've been over for some time now.

--Two Congressmen riding in a military vehicle were injured when it flipped in Iraq this weekend. In a related story, more than 2,000 American troops are still dead.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Caption Central

"Brain Drain" edition

--Wow...they DO share a brain!
--Though Bush's head is typically up Karl Rove's ass, sometimes he understandably gets his ends confused
--That's so 2004, Ian! The real "mandate" in the Bush administration
--Talk about, "In one ear and out the other!"
--"Hold still, Turd Blossom! Ah'm trying' to see mah brain!"
--Where air and head collide
--"Where's your other hand?" "Between two pillows." "Those aren't pillows!!"
--Unfortunately, "Bush's Brain" also uses "Bush's Barber"
--Their ties to Big Oil aren't their only questionable ties
--Bill and Ted reference: Bush and Rove prepare to morph into Dick "Station" Cheney
--George: "Psst! Check out the rack on row two!" Karl: "Cleavage has no effect on me because I live only for power and profit. The only rack I enjoy is Iraq!"
--Are there enough dry-cleaning chemicals in the world to wash those dirty suits?
--"Lonely at the flop, isn't it?"
--The first-ever co-winners of the annual Republican Smug-Off
--"Use Metamucil, and you too can be regular for the rest of your life!"
--"Hold still, Karl. You have a flake of conscience behind your ear."
--Bush and Rove await the keynote address at the new Exxon-Mobil Niagara Falls
--Bringing new meaning to "right-hand man"
--Hell

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wave Buy-Buy!

Can one both shut up AND sing?

Heard over Thanksgiving, during the Mariah Carey halftime show:

"I'd like to see the Dixie Chicks up there; they're so talented. I mean, I agreed that they had to be banned a while back, but afterward they just disappeared. Why would they do that?"

It was all I could do not to say, "Because of ignorant fans such as yourself." Man, tearing out your cheeks with your teeth really hurts. At least I could temper that urge with a smile, having witnessed yet another example of the self-defeating principles that define the shut-up-and-sing crowd. And then I ate cake.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gee, thanks!

Ah, Thanksgiving! What I'm thankful for today:

--That the Detroit Lions have never been to the Super Bowl, thus sparing the Saints the title of the Chicago Cubs of the NFL.

--That there's only one month left in this godawful year.

--That I really like turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

--That only two of my friends died this year.

--Caring and supportive people.

--The Internet.

--John Tesh, for illuminating the fact that half of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home ("a sign of our times") and that the "quarter-life crisis" is an expanding psychological phenomenon.

--Lafayette drivers, who make me feel immensely better about myself.

--Bicycles.

--The idea that the grass can conceivably be greener somewhere else.

--Not having to care about gas prices since September.

--Realizing that the coolest people in the world are too cool to be called cool by the "cool" people.

--Hooters. That place has awesome trivia.

--Being able to view life from the sidelines and realizing that most things are fluff

--Being able to overhear someone's ridiculously shallow idea of a problem and being happy that I don't have to give the first damn about it.

--No-smoking areas.

--People who can be funny even when the rest of the world demands misery.

--My incredibly naive notion that things still can change for the better.

--That, in spite of everything, there are still Americans who get what this nation is all about (and know that this ain't it).

--That things aren't worse.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Shopping Afterbirth Day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy JFK assassiversary

I visited Dealey Plaza and the Schoolbook Depository museum in Dallas in the summer of 1994, when I had a splitting headache and possibly food poisoning. An unforgettable experience nonetheless. As I write this, I have a splitting headache and possibly food poisoning. Coincidence...or conspiracy?

In any case, the big question that always comes up on this day is,

"Where were you when you found out John F. Kennedy was shot?"

Personally, I think it's time we retired this question. After all, as of today the JFK assassination happened 42 years ago. And this question's current relevance far surpasses what one would expect of a question that no one under 42 years old can really answer.

On the other hand, I suppose I should share my tale of where I was when I found out. I was young then, but I believe it was my parents' den. My dad had bought a book called Kennedy by Reg Gadney, a photo-and-text chronicle of the thousand-day Camelot presidency. The book's back pages, showing stills from the infamous Zapruder film and packed with exceedingly graphic description ("Blood spray filled the rear of the car...Two lumps from the president's head had split away..."), particularly caught my attention and stayed with me. Ah, 1988, the year I first lost my national innocence.

Okay, so the story sucks; but hey, I was negative-17 years old in 1963, so give me a break. I do recommend that everyone take some time to remember the life and times of the best president we had before his time. John Fitzgerald Kennedy's ideals and vision ring as true today as they did in the early 1960s. Let his lessons never be forgotten. That silly question, on the other hand...let that be forgotten.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Caption Central

Featuring the Photo of the Decade...ANY decade!

(All credit for this photo goes to Jason Reed of Reuters, who deserves at least a bonus in his next paycheck)

--"Don't push, Mr. President! Pull!"
--Bush gambles his credibility for what's behind door number three
--I call this piece, "Shit, Faced"
--"Wait, I thought you said I was opening for Usher!"
--What Bush will look like when the G-2-force winds of reality finally hit him head-on
--"Yes, me worry!"
--"Did I ever show you my Joe Pesci impression from Home Alone?"
--Bush failed in his first-ever attempt to get a handle on something
--I'm sure anyone would have been more than happy to show Bush the door
--"Show us the next item up for bids, George!"
--"Hey, George! Can you look even stupider than usual?"
--Bush is so shady that even his shadows are two-faced
--The reason that Special Olympics torches aren't really lit
--"Look at me! I'm King Midas!"
--As much as he hated to do it, Bush just had to come out of the closet
--2009: Bush gets confused on his first night closing the Crawford Banquet Hall
--Irked by press accusations that he is "off his game," Bush attempts to leave a press conference but is thwarted by locked doors, prompting him to respond, "I was trying to escape." No, this isn't a joke; it's actually the true story behind this picture! Irony is truly dead.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The return of Not Right News!

This itself should be news

this is an audio post - click to play

click to listen (it's bad because I was trying not to wake anyone up)

--Actor Robert Blake was found liable Friday for the 2001 death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, who was shot dead while Blake searched for his gun in a restaurant. He will have to pay $30 million to her family, giving him a whole new reason to find that gun.

--Wildfires continue to sweep southern California, with flames rising as high as 30 feet and causing voluntary evacuations of nearby neighborhoods. Pat Robertson blamed the fires on "pro-death culture," saying God was mad at California for killing Nixon and Reagan.

--Congress postponed the renewal of the PATRIOT Act Friday, with top Republicans arguing that they need more time to "really digest the changes." This new view of the act is a departure from the party's previous stance, "Choke on it!"

--On Wednesday, an L.A. cabbie discovered a pouch inside his cab containing $350,000 worth of diamonds. The cabdriver returned the pouch to its relieved owner at Los Angeles Airport--at least that's who the kid at the counter said he was.

--A new poll shows that 42 percent of Americans now believe the U.S. should butt out of foreign affairs. The other 58 percent are clearly ignorant of foreign affairs.

--Authorities recovered video from the laptop of a boy charged with killing his girlfriend's parents. The footage reveals that he and a friend were planning to murder again. But remember, guns didn't do it. People did it.

--San Francisco athiest Michael Newdow was back in court this week, arguing for the removal of the motto "In God We Trust" from American currency. Doing this would require Washington D.C. to pull in all of our money and burn it. Except this time to remove the motto.

--A man in Orange County, California, has sued Match.com, alleging that the personals site uses employees as "date bait" to foster continued renewals. Representatives for the site wanted to tell the guy to get a life; but then he wouldn't need Match.com!

--The chief astronomer for the Vatican said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in the science classroom. Oh, like astronomy belongs in the Vatican?

--U.N. secretary Kofi Annan said that he was disappointed with the foreign-aid response for the recent Asian earthquake, calling it "weak." George W. Bush responded to the allegation by saying, "Of course you're weak."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Prattle Hymn of the Republicans

Remember the wonderful Aughties, the decade that brought you Abercrombie, Jessica Simpson and Napoleon Dynamite, not to mention the zany Age of Terrorism? Now you can recall the best of the unforgettable music and politics of the decade with a new CD: "Bush Was Right" by The Right Brothers!

These Right Brothers attempt to reinvent the airplane with a single that breaks all the rules of the left-wing-dominated pop-music chart. Remember, it's not just music--it's TRUTH DISGUISED AS MUSIC! Bask in the patrotic dance-floor fervor of your youth with such rockin' lyrics as:

Freedom in Afghanistan, say goodbye Taliban
Free elections in Iraq, Saddam Hussein locked up
Osama’s staying underground, Al Qaida now is finding out
America won’t turn and run once the fighting has begun
Don’t you know that all this means…
Bush was right! Bush was right!

Normally, you'd have to pay $100, $1,000, or even $10,000 for all the GOP ass-kissing that you can now find here on one CD! It's yours for the special low price of $2.99 (or 99 cents for the mp3). And thanks to the wonderful tax cuts we're all enjoying, you have no excuse not to buy it! Call within the next hour and you'll receive a free bonus gangsta-rap track, available only through Not Right:

Do Tha Right Thang
by JC and the Watts Coalition

In Y2K and again in the 0-4
Tha OGs of the GOP won in the polls
They captured the hearts and won the right seats
Pump your heart red with our phat beats

G-to-the-Dubya Bush is gangsta lean, yo
He's a terrorist-murderin' machine, ho
Strapped to the cup with fly flight gear,
Mission accomplished, fools, have yo fear

Bush is a hero for cutting our rate of tax
And for weathering the 9/11 attacks
Courage pouring through that New York bullhorn
Not with us? Terrorist, better feel our scorn

So they say proof was weak for the war in Iraq
Yellowcake? Hidden weapons? No need for attack?
But you're just wack, Bush don't hesitate
For Iraq to be saved, we had to devastate

So what if we shrunk our role in Afghanistan?
Even the jarrest of heads understands
That Saddam Hussein waits for no foe
Bye bye, bin Laden! We'll waste another mofo

Being a badass president is no small task
Bush is smart, ain't got no time to ask
For help--That's a sign of illin' weakness
And why waste the military's sick sweetness?

So what if Bush polls at 38 percent?
Kanye is wrong, declared 50 Cent!
The fact is that truth can be unpopular
Bush'll drop a storm on the haters' Doppler

Shock and Awe is the way of the USA
Slack jaws and DeLay run the world today
If you're not on our side, you can say goodbye
We'll own the world in the blink of an eye

(c) 2005 Mephistopheles Records

This offer not available in self-respecting stores. Operators are standing by to take your PATRIOT Act-mandated order call. Act now!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Linktastic!

I see that The Vermilion did not publish my letter on John Hinson's bigoted column in today's issue. If they had, it would probably have appeared here. However, new liberal columnist David Coy has written a rebuttal of his own, a literal Dear John letter. Nuts. Now you see why Lafayette bothers me!

What's wrong with Lafayette?

Phillip has pretty much captured how I feel about my hometown right now.

I frankly don't see why half of the city has not yet engaged in a mass exodus. The job market sucks, our university has recently been ranked near the cellar academically, our leaders seem to be falling off the deep end, urban sprawl is applauded, drivers suck and people in general seem nuts (or, at least, unfriendly). Numerous friends of mine have been lucky enough to move; others insist that south Louisiana is paradise and that nothing else compares. Having traveled from Los Angeles to Miami and everywhere else along I-10, I'd have to disagree. But then, Lafayette has one of the highest rates of people returning home in the nation (I recently read that somewhere...probably in the phone book). But of the ones I know who have returned, it's usually more due to poverty or loneliness than because of some cultural epiphany they had while away. The ones who do have the epiphany usually stay where they are.

I suppose a big part of this feeling is that I am no one's idea of a Cajun. I don't have the last name, don't have any kind of accent and definitely chucked any vestiges of Cajunspeak a long time ago; I don't say "tee-tiny," "cher" (pronounced "sha") or even "y'all." I'm also a lot more, shall I say, not cliquish than the general population. Until recently, I worked in several small towns in the area, and in two years I established rapport with maybe six or seven people, almost none of whom were from the area. Around here, family and business connections really matter. I think my dad said it best: "Sure, south Louisianians will give you the shirt off their backs...if they've known you for 30 years."

The result of this good-ol-boy network is that, for example, many drivers will plow their vehicles through traffic, blissfully ignorant of traffic laws and causing a danger to the rest of us. Why? Because they know someone who will fix their ticket.

I have friends who will not look when they cross the street because they figure they'll just sue if a car hits them. People who have never left a 50-mile radius of their hometown declare with authority that they live in paradise. Our school board actually has a law requiring students to say "ma'am" and "sir." Kids in some areas still get whipped in school, often for something as trivial as not referring to a teacher as "ma'am" or "sir." Our high schools didn't fully integrate until 1970, and my mom's senior yearbook really plays up that racial tension. A college classmate of mine was scolded for having the nerve to wear dress pants to a public meeting (as opposed to a skirt).

In the workplace, I have been reprimanded for refusing to engage in illegal and unsafe practices to cut corners. Employees of one company wear t-shirts proudly proclaiming that their workplace is "100% UNION FREE!" People accept decrepit streets and horrible urban sprawl as facts of life. The local media is basically one corporation with several faces. For some of our community leaders, their seemingly sole qualification is the ability to accrue lots of money. So many intelligent guys I know have chucked college because it's more lucrative and reliable to work on offshore oil rigs. Anyone over 23 and still single is likely to have their sexuality called into question.

In the last four years, nearly every 24-hour store and 100-year-old family business has been wiped out by places like the Wal-Mart Supercenter, and yet everyone still shops there. At the University of Louisiana, nearly every single expanse of grass larger than a cubicle has been built on, sometimes at the expense of century oaks that are in the recruitment brochures. At least once a week, trucks roam our streets spraying toxic pesticides into the air. Upper-crust families would rather put their kids in a drug-infested private school than in a good public school. When the Katrina evacuees first came here, our officials had to go on the radio and breathlessly announce that no, no one's carjacking anyone at Wal-Mart...yet. If something new and unusual comes to town, such as a semipro sports team or an oxygen bar, it's best enjoyed quickly before it goes defunct from the inevitable lack of interest.

The saddest part of all of this is that probably 90 percent of local residents don't even realize that these things are not normal elsewhere. I myself was shocked to realize how people in other areas live, work and prioritize. If this is what you choose for yourself, fine; but the self-righteousness of the area really needs to stop. Confine that pride to the festivals and the local performance scenes--those deserve the acclaim. (Also, I cannot fault the many genuinely decent people I know and love here. I just wish there were more like you.)

I invite my Lafayette readers (or anyone who is familiar with the area, such as the expatriates) to offer their own theories on the subject. I was once the biggest apologist for this area, but as I get older I realize that more and more people are sharing my current view. What do you suppose it is?

To paraphrase a very old PR campaign, I love Lafayette...but I really don't believe in it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Caption Central

"Playing pretentious" edition

--A grim fairy tale, indeed
--Look! The butcher, the baker and the quagmire-schtick maker!
--Guys...Corporal Klinger joined the army first!
--You know, the Manson Family started out like this
--Putting the "mad" in "madrigal"
--Their sign was written in uppercase letters to show their undying devotion to Capitalism
--The College Democrats won first through fifth prize with their frightening Halloween motif
--Young Republicans model the latest government-issue troop armor
--What Shallow Hal saw when he visited the White House
--Why can't the guy with the Nixon mask be wearing the burqa?
--The truck behind them provided a quick getaway in case military recruiters approached to ask them to put their money where their mouths are
--Unfortunately, the chickenhawk costumes were all sold out
--Is that guy directly behind the poster really trying to look like Rush Limbaugh? This isn't really a caption; I just want to know!
--Because it was cold, the boys had to wear jeans over their pink tutus
--Seriously, guys..."May the fairy tale continue?" What book are you reading?!!
--And they all lived nappier ever after

The bad side of bigotry

Continuing our all-John Hinson weekend, I present to you a letter I wrote to The Vermilion regarding his racist column. My reply's pretty long (and that's after I spent an hour editing it), so I can only hope they print it in full. But I trust them.

Take our country back...from bigots

I always bristle whenever John Hinson appeals to Americans to "take our country back." What he's saying, of course, is that WHITE Americans take back the country. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his Nov. 9 column, which ranks among the most irresponsible pieces that he, as well as the Vermilion, has ever published.

Not once in his column does Hinson explain what is so bad about people of other races settling in the United States. He obviously sees nonwhites as an intrusion on "his" country, which his ancestors "rightfully" claimed generations ago. What he fails to realize is that American culture is far more complex than that envisioned by his white-supremacist view.

Hinson blames America's problems on such bizarre scapegoats as world cuisine, hip-hop music and cultural studies. Personally, I LIKE all of those things! This country would be boring if everything conformed to a bland, whitebread snapshot of some fictitious era. Every aspect of American culture (be it music, literature or food) owes its existence to multiculturalization. Think about that the next time you listen to a pop song or eat a peanut-butter sandwich.

Viewing the United States as a nation with a single "national" culture is absurd. Even the idea of one white race makes no sense, considering the conflicts between the British, French, Spanish, Germans and Irish that marked colonial times. Contrary to Hinson's view, I'd argue that most white people are happy mingling with those of different ethnicities and cultures. This is what separates them from the racist whites who claim to speak for all of us.

Why should it bother anyone if a group of citizens chooses to speak their native language? Has life become an action movie where foreigners inexplicably speak English amongst themselves? We've already seen the peril of pushing one national culture: south Louisiana was settled by French Canadians, who were exiled from Nova Scotia because of cultural differences. Once here, they found themselves disallowed from speaking their own language and from following their own customs. Because of this forced assimilation, the Cajun culture nearly went extinct. And yet, this is exactly the sort of thing that Hinson advocates!

Hinson's choice of words further reflects someone blinded by his own bigotry. America is "growing darker?" Our country "is looking more like Mexico or Africa?" These are rhetorical devices straight out of a 1920s minstrel show. We should have buried this kind of insulting commentary with Strom Thurmond.

The Onion, the famous satirical newspaper, once published a white man's response to Hispanics becoming the largest minority in America: "Wait, there's still plenty more of us then there are of them, right? Phew." Yes, John, this facetious comment rings with truth: white America still holds most of the power and almost all of the federal leadership. If you're looking for the causes of our nation's problems, the White House might be a better place to start than Chinese restaurants.

Ian McGibboney

Saturday, November 12, 2005

He has a dream, too!

Meet John Hinson. He has written the conservative political column at The Vermilion since January 2004, after our friend Nick graduated and moved on to greener pastures (to help drill oil out of them).

Hinson's columns are dry affairs that are balanced almost to a fault; indeed, a typical pattern for his work is to weigh both sides of an issue, until the final paragraph when he chooses the right-wing side without explanation. He is also prone to making obscure allusions that can make for a frustrating read without Wikipedia nearby (such as when he praised Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) without mentioning the sad reasons why). A relentless paleocon, Hinson constantly argues that the United States would be much better off if we honkies just erected an iron fence and reclaimed "our" country. So you can just about imagine how he feels about the Dubya Doctrine:

It is one thing to be wrong, but it is another thing to be wrong and be the President. The War in Iraq is wrong for America, wrong for Iraq, and is not going to get any better as long as we are there. But hey America, you don't mind paying for the rest of the world's problems, right? (10/20/04)

Hinson first made waves at UL for his compelling letters, which offered a telling glimpse of what was to come. Since becoming columnist, however, his output has been noticeably subdued for mass consumption. That's saying a lot, considering some of the statements he has made in print:

The first thing you would have to accept for real change was that the goal of Brown vs. Board of Education was about the rights of blacks to attend local schools, not so much to "integrate" schools. (4/20/05)

Your place as a professor is to educate in the classroom, not to inject your positions onto the school paper. I see no gain you can win by addressing me... (To a professor who dared to criticize him, 4/13/05)

While some see the [anti-gay-marriage] amendments as going in the wrong direction (all other civil rights movements have been liberating a minority), I personally see the amendments as a necessary evil [sic] to maintain one of America's core institutions. I just do not think condoning homosexual liaisons can somehow benefit the greater good. (9/29/04)

My favorite argument to women who support [abortion] is, "Do you have a penis? (No.) Then how can you argue that this 'bundle of cells' is you?" (2/4/04)

I cannot imagine taking, for example, the cynical, satirical, and often tactless approach of Ian McGibboney.... Let me just say from the numerous people I have had come up to me with "death warrants" for him that he is not winning hearts... (2/2/05)

My IQ does not go up automatically by simply being around minorities. (7/21/04)

Hinson's latest column makes that last statement painfully evident. "Minority" is his favorite word in the English language, it being present in nearly every column he writes. He uses it in a variety of ways, including derisively (when talking about race) or sympathetically (when feeling bad for those poor ostracized white Christians). This week, Hinson culminates all of his anti-immigrant and anti-color-minority sentiment into one vituperative column that speaks for itself. For brevity's sake, I'll excerpt only the topic sentences of each paragraph. If you can stomach that, then you deserve to go here.

Immigration has been the lifeblood of growth for our nation....What will happen if the United States continues on its current path of unregulated borders and essentially open immigration?

America’s demographics are changing. Growing darker and more diverse, America is changing rapidly. From an almost 90 percent white population in 1950, to 69 percent in 2000, the white population is shrinking year by year....

Indeed, citizens of four states now will find that they are no longer the majority in their states but another member of a now majority-minority....

American culture is changing. Hip-hop and rap, even gangster rap, can be heard booming from the speakers of white Americans. Every year, we celebrate Black History Month, study Chicano history and dine at Chinese, Korean and Japanese restaurants. English is no longer the only language needed to succeed in America....

Even the most concerted of efforts to meld these newcomers into the American psyche are failing because there are simply too many people coming here and few with any loyalty to their new country....

Our future looks bleak and is looking more like Mexico or Africa, not 20th-century America. However, is this all inevitable?


Should we be concerned? Or is America lost already?

If America is lost to him, then maybe we shouldn't find it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Today is Veteran's Day

Or, as it's known around the Bush White House, Friday.

(Speaking of the White House, our local mall is holding the Halliburton Chili Cookoff from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Talk about a four-alarmist recipe!)

See last year's (updated) tribute to my family in uniform.

Yum yum

Given my bird-like eating habits, I am the least-qualified person in America to write a book about food. So of course, you know I'm doing it!

Eater's Digest: The Picky Eater's Guide to Food

Growing Up...Slowly

In many households, the ultimate punishment is to be sent to bed without supper. For me, the worst punishment was to eat supper. It wasn't that my parents couldn't cook; indeed, as of this writing they know approximately 326 different ways to cook ground beef. Vegetarians have been known to evaporate outright at our dining-room table. Of course I'm kidding; we hardly ever ate at the dinner table--at least not all at once. But I digress. My parents can cook, but one thing will never change: I am a very picky eater. They knew this and parented accordingly:

"Ian! It's getting late! Get in the house!"
"But Mom, I don't want to!"
"Well, fine. But if you're going to stay outside, I'm going to bring you out some of what I cooked!"

And, just like lightning, I was inside. I was a very obedient--and very skinny--kid.

Cajun food is my enemy

You can probably imagine the grief that I have gotten every day of my life, having to explain that I don't eat most Cajun food. This is not as superfluous as it sounds; the Cajun and Creole people are generally some of the nicest and most inviting folk you will ever meet, especially when it comes to mealtime. How do you tell a sweet old Cajun lady, who probably spent 28 hours catching, cleaning and cooking the spicy sea creature that she is about to serve you (and would cause excessive salivation on the tongues of 99 percent of humanity), that you don't eat seafood, thank you?

If you are unfortunate enough to not like seafood or spice, don't place yourself in this situation. In fact, don't come to south Louisiana at all. The only reason anyone is thin here at all is because guilt trips burn a lot of calories.

A really disgusting anecdote involving peanut butter

Something didn't seem right about that peanut butter, though I couldn't quite pin it down immediately. Was it the peanut oil sitting neatly atop peanut shavings? Was it the fact that I had remembered seeing a jar very much like this sometime around the debut of Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight?" Was it that generic peanut butter actually crossed my mind as something appetizing to eat?

If you like what you see, know that there's plenty more where that came from. If you think it's amateurish, it's because I wrote most of it several years ago and haven't revised it yet. That's my excuse :) The best is yet to come.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sweet Jesus!

Vatican says evolution, fish can coexist peacefully

From The Australian:

THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.

Excuse the pun, but what the hell? I'm extremely (and pleasantly) surprised that the Catholic Church would take this stance, especially in these days of increased fundamentalism. Applause all around! Still, I have to wonder why they did it.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

Saying that last "if" is big is like calling the Grand Canyon a divot. Everyone knows that the Catholics and their more fundagelical cousins, the Protestants, have been at each other's throats ever since Martin Luther wrote U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." This is not likely to help matters. Not that it bothers me personally, of course; I decided the first time I saw a Neanderthal skeleton (and realized how rapidly viruses mutate) that evolution is real and can sometimes happen while we watch.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator."

This idea was part of theology, Cardinal Poupard emphasised, while the precise details of how creation and the development of the species came about belonged to a different realm - science. Cardinal Poupard said that it was important for Catholic believers to know how science saw things so as to "understand things better."

This seems like a decent notion, and probably the one most Christians believe: that God set the universe in motion, and it took off from there. Not quite the Big Bang, but hardly a sound argument for so-called "Intelligent Design" to be taught as science in our schools.

His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the "intelligent design" view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.

How these statements get interpreted in America is yet to be seen. Evolutionists will probably applaud the Catholic Church, while Creationists will simply dismiss it as insignificant or papist drivel (forgetting that Pope Benedict XVI is every conservative's wet dream of a pope). In other words, I don't expect too many American minds to change either way.

Throughout school, I learned all about various ancient mythologies--Greek, Roman, Mediterranean, Asian, African, etc., each one having a legend of the origin of the cosmos and of life. We treated these as, at best, amusing stories. I got dirty looks in 7th grade for suggesting that, in later centuries, our own creation beliefs might be thought of the same way. But honestly, how do the literal interpretations of the Bible--and the drive to give equal educational footing to said legend--differ any from what other cultures believed? As far as I can tell, they're all equally unproven with empirical evidence.

So should we teach creationism? Sure. Teach it along with every other creation theory, perhaps as a comparative history course. At worst, it will reinforce the fundies' assumptions of superiority; on the other hand, framing the stories in related contexts might just open a mind or two along the way. And while in science class, go with what at least seems promising in the scientific realm--the theory of evolution.

On that note, here's a comic strip I doodled on the subject. I had previously done a version of this during a boring college class a while back, proving that ideas do evolve. Enjoy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grokster file-sharing killed

Libraries, tape recorders next

From AP, via MSNBC:

WASHINGTON - Grokster Ltd., which lost a Supreme Court fight over file-sharing software used for stealing songs and movies online, agreed Monday to shut down and pay $50 million to settle piracy complaints by Hollywood and the music industry.

The surprise settlement permanently bans Grokster from participating, directly or indirectly, in the theft of copyrighted files and requires the company to stop giving away its software, according to court papers.

For the sake of avoiding redundancy in how I feel about file-sharing, I refer you to a column I wrote about file sharing in 2004, Ian pockets another $25. I even talk trash in it. But don't read with without sending me a quarter first. I won't stand for this commie-pinko idea of "reading for free."

"It is time for a new beginning,” Grokster said in a statement issued from its corporate headquarters in the West Indies.

See? Grokster is already on its way to being a competitive corporate criminal. No American company sets up their corporate offices in the West Indies unless they're looking to skirt a 1040 or two. (cough)

Grokster’s Web site was changed Monday to say its existing file-sharing service was illegal and no longer available. “There are legal services for downloading music and movies,” the message said. “This service is not one of them.”

I've never used Grokster, nor have I used any file-sharing service since about 2001, when the government began pressing down on Napster. Nor do I condone illegal activity. But I've always found the reaction to file-sharing somewhat suspicious. But then again, I'm rarely sympathetic to corporate behemoths when they try to play victim.

The head of the Recording Industry Association of America, Mitch Bainwol, described the settlement as “a chapter that ends on a high note for the recording industry, the tech community and music fans and consumers everywhere.”

When was the last time that anything good for the recording industry was even remotely good for music fans? The RIAA is a tapeworm in the intestine of the music industry. For example, note the use of the word "consumer," because that's all the average music fan is to the RIAA. Money in their pocket. A notch in Billboard.

It was unclear whether Grokster can afford to pay the $50 million in damages required under the agreement. The head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Dan Glickman, said the entertainment industry will demand full payment unless Grokster satisfies all its obligations under the settlement.

This isn't even about money for them. It's about power, and crushing anything that denies the sacred RIAA a buck or two. If only there were a way to pay the artists while bypassing the RIAA...hell, I'd pay twice as much for a CD.

Grokster’s decision was not expected to affect Internet users who already run the company’s file-sharing software to download music and movies online, nor was it expected to affect users of rival downloading services, such as eDonkey, Kazaa, BitTorrent and others.

Of course not. File-sharing, legal or illegal, is here to stay. You cannot declare war on technology that has existed for almost a decade; it's almost like, well, declaring war in terrorism. You might get a few, but ultimately not enough to justify the spent resources. Especially not if you're wasting so much time and money on a relatively trivial issue.

Glickman said Grokster will send anti-piracy messages to existing users, and the company is forbidden from maintaining its software or network. “Without those services, the system will degrade over time,” Glickman said.

Just like those big, ugly anti-piracy FBI seals that now come on new CDs? Those emblems look like the brainchild of a demented John Ashcroft. Fortunately, not a single CD I own is marred by that monstrosity. Why? Because I quit buying them years ago. I've bought one non-compilation CD since 2000, and that was Brian Wilson's "Smile," which didn't have the warning label. I see the logo mostly on albums targeted to younger audiences, a depressing symbol of the corporate-and-fear-based society we've turned into (and are pushing on our young people).

Grokster lost an important Supreme Court ruling in June. Justices ruled that the entertainment industry can file piracy lawsuits against technology companies caught encouraging customers to steal music and movies over the Internet.

--Consumer lawsuits against negligent corporations = "frivolous lawsuits"
--Corporate attacks on anything with the potential to deprive them of a buck = "the beauty of the free market"

The decision, which gave a green light for the federal case to advance in Los Angeles, significantly weakened lawsuit protections for companies that had blamed illegal behavior on their own customers rather than the technology that made such behavior possible. [...]

The Supreme Court noted as evidence of bad conduct that Grokster and Streamcast made no effort to block illegal downloads, which the companies maintained wasn’t possible.

Imagine what this means for gun companies! So much for, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Just when the NRA thought they'd conquered the planet...

It will be interesting to see the effect of this decision over time, as corporations realize they have stabbed themselves in the foot in their lust to prosecute teenagers. After all, this decision goes against the increased protection for businesses that was the centerpiece of the Bush "tort reform."

In the meantime, I'm going to continue taping songs off of the radio and borrowing CDs and books from the public library...while I still can!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Caption Central

"Screening out the riffraff" edition

--My successful Pictionary doodle for "smokescreen"
--"Good evening, Republicans of St. Louis County. Ah can't see ya!"
--Bush made damn sure the drones kept on working
--Remember, guests, at this juncture you are required to applaud
--The brave man at the lower right was thrown out shortly after gesturing his honest opinion of Dubya
--Animal House: "BOOO!! He's worse than Flounder!"
--"Phew! I thought they said this was a beggar's banquet!"
--"Save some yellow cake for me."
--The Bulimics' Convention grew more innovative each year
--This was clearly not in Texas, as Bush wasn't already there
--...But it might have been in Louisiana
--At the auditions for "America's Next Supreme Court Justice"
--"White men with bad hair...ah feel your pain!"
--"Pray for Tom Benson."
--"If you ask me, Coleman, Dubya got framed."
--"Look! It's Will Forte!"
--This sports bar specialized in hot-air ballooning
--How Republicans define "theater of war"
--The virtual-surreality simulator was later deemed too frightening for public consumption
--Talk about a shadow puppet!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Can't spell "effort" without "F"


At least after audioblogger gets its shit back together...grrr...

I'm in one of those moods right now where everything seems too difficult to justify any effort on my part. Case in point, audioblogger screws me over yet again on a time-sensitive audio post. Thanks for nothing, you unreliably worthless technology! I am, by default, frustrated. I feel most days like I'm bringing my A game to C-level goals with a final grade of F. Everybody has days like that. Well, Bill Gates probably never does. It's been at least two decades since he thought to himself, "Man, if only I could afford to upgrade this computer." Hell, he's so rich that he could buy a solid-platinum hairbrush with bristles made of bald-eagle feathers. Theoretically, anyway, if he actually brushed his hair. But I digress.

After coming off a really anemic week here at Not Right, I was left wondering where everyone went. Flamingo Jones theorized that it's because everyone's just so sick of politics and depressing news. I questioned her wisdom, because I don't feel like I've been that relevant lately. But I think she does have a point; with all of the feces that have hit the fan lately regarding Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Bush's approval rating somewhere in the great depression of the 30s, as well as the ongoing fallout from the hurricanes and Scalito galore, there isn't a whole lot of role-modeling going on. Not that I'm the greatest fan of role models in general (the few I have are mostly fictitious), but it has to be disheartening to see that our elected and appointed officials are really this bad. It's like discovering, for the first time, the fallibility of your parents. It's really an upsetting thing, even if we did know it to at least some degree before.

And, contrary to what many on the right would have us believe, this ever-strengthening chain of bad news is not cause for celebration for us. We are not happy that our leaders are corrupt crooks, or that they out CIA agents. It does not give us glee to anticipate the swift justice that we hope is served for every indictment. At least not at Scooter Libby's level anyway. Rove, Bush or Cheney in trouble might merit at least a house party. We'll cross that bridge when we burn it.

So I can definitely understand why people would feel worn-out and frustrated about the state of things in general. I know I am. We'll just have to keep plugging away, I suppose. What else can we do?

On an unrelated note, on this day in 1987, I ate my last-ever corn dog. I went to Western Sizzlin that night and ate one, came home, woke up in the middle of the night and threw it up right on my mom, whose birthday was the next morning. I spent the entire next day heaving anything that came near my digestive system. I missed school that day and thus never learned how to spell "Mississippi," which is the whole reason this was supposed to be an audiopost in the first place. Later!

@#$% Blogger and its "upgrade." It sure as hell needs it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not heard at hurricane shelters

--"Mmmm, food! I haven't eaten in days! Wait, this is a government handout? Never mind."
--"Man, we sure are lucky to be living in the Astrodome, just like Barbara said."
--"We were more prepared than you Ninth Ward folks because we Cajuns are better people."
--"I blame Kathleen Blanco for Katrina. Bobby Jindal would have just parted the floodwaters."
--"Does this radio catch Rush?"
--"Oh, damn...I hoped I locked the door before I left."
--"Why don't our leaders stop crying on TV? What are they trying to do, embarrass us?"
--"I cried when I lost my home until I realized Tom Benson had lost his stadium."
--"You know what we need? A good lecture on bootstrap-pulling from GOP pundits."
--"We've taken up enough headline space. No point in pestering Congress for more money to keep our economy and our schools running."
--"It's our fault for having a marsh coast instead of beach."
--"God, did Michael Brown ever look bad in that FEMA outfit! I wanted to vomit."
--"President Bush cares about us. He even rolled up his sleeves to show his commitment to our well-being."
--"Who needs a job? I could just lie on this cot forever."
--"In this arena, we are all one people...looters."
--"Mission accomplished!"
--"This tragic incident proves that the government really, truly cares about Louisiana."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Zeroing in

Blogging is a fickle medium. Well-crafted posts sometimes get no traffic while one-sentence (or even no-sentence) afterthoughts generate tons of commentary. I don't know why this happens, nor does it particularly dismay me. But I am interested in the cyclical nature of blog traffic, which I have learned is entirely unrelated to content of said blogs.

This post celebrates my favorite entries from Not Right that drew exactly zero comments. When choosing these, I thought back to entries of which I was particularly proud and was thus freaked when no one ever noticed them. The following list comprises posts that I still find relevant and/or otherwise engaging, regardless of date (for space's sake, I've left out hitless regular features, such as Caption Contests, Not Right News and highly topical blurbs). Feel free to take a second look (or a first look, as it were) at these greatest misses from the past:

Why I Hate the Pledge of Allegiance (9/28/05)

Even as a four-year-old in Head Start, I had the say the pledge on a daily basis. This was the same year I learned (via flashcard sessions) how to pronounce and define such words as "word" and "learn." The hardest word I dealt with that year was "together;" how, then, could I possibly understand such concepts as "allegiance" and "indivisible?"

Red Tape, Redefined (2/24/05)

This is the only column to make the list (though hardly the only to garner no comments), because I think it actually works better as a blog entry than as a column. They cocked up the spelling in the Vermilion, which appropriately tempered my enthusiasm for this column.

A Military Funeral (9/10/04)

The war death of Joe Thibodeaux, with whom I graduated from high school, led to one of my most-trafficked posts ever, resulting in off-site e-mails that continue to trickle in even now, more than a year later. As you might expect, not all of these notes have been good, though most are supportive and apolitical in nature (similar posts also continue to kick up a shitstorm). Despite the resonance of the original post, my subsequent coverage of Joe's funeral and procession went virtually unnoticed. And that's a shame, because I think this post better exemplifies the sacrifice that so many of our soldiers make, and focuses more on the man himself than on the war and its sad ramifications.

An Anachronism in Athens (8/13/04)

The ever-speedy nature of the blogosphere can lead to some embarrassing mishaps. As much as I hate to pick on Newsweek, they dropped a bomb with this graphic. Amazingly, it appeared online for only a few minutes before being changed. I broke my arm patting myself on the back for catching that while I could. As a bonus, catch the caption I added to the picture for a bit of electoral optimism. Ahh, 2004. Such an innocent age.

Nixon Disgrace Turns 30 (8/9/04)

Okay, okay, I can understand avoiding this one. But still, it's a pretty good Nixon portal if ever you're unfortunate enough to need such a thing. And everyone needs a picture of Nixon with Elvis.

Brit Loses Stereo For Playing It (8/5/04)

What can I say about this one? If a blog post can't get play with the tantalizing subheading, "The following is a story about vibrating furniture, the Olsen twins and sexually frustrated white guys. Well, okay, vibrating furniture, mainly. But it's still a pulse-throbbing read," then what hope do we have as a civilization? This entry deserves a look alone for its quoting of a bureaucrat named Ian McGibbon (who is not me), and also for the hyper-optimistic Onion-lite piece I tacked on underneath. "Crime and annoyance down in 2005?" I think they're actually up.

War is Hell (7/22/04)

Somebody's gotta have something to say about the U.S. Army introducing a line of rations that soldiers hydrate with piss! Bush-era capitalism at its most apt.

A Parable for Modern Warfare (6/17/04)

In the early days of Not Right, I blogged a lot of old compositions I had written, thrilled that they now had a theoretical audience. This entry is a skit I wrote pretty much on a whim, equating the Iraq War (a mission then considered "accomplished") to a gas-station robbery:

CLERK: Didn’t you say you were here to liberate the merchandise?

ROBBER: Yeah, that’s what I’m here for.

CLERK: Well, then, how come you didn’t take any of that stuff? (Long silent pause. Then, in an accusatory voice:) It’s all about the gas, isn’t it?

ROBBER: No, the gas is just gravy. I’m really here because I care about the people who have to pay to get their food from you!

CLERK: Is that why you shot them all dead?

ROBBER: For their own good! But hey, you saw that one guy hug me and kiss me on the cheek. He’s happy that I have expelled you from the store!

That's all for now. Look for "Zeroing In--Part 2" in about a year. That is, unless you let me down by reading my work. Vicious fiends!