Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tilting at the LSU windmill

Jason Dore is an opinion columnist for the LSU Reveille. His Aug. 30 column, "UL(L), there's no reason to hate," is the latest word from Red Stick on the UL-LSU rivalry. An excerpt:

ULL's hate of LSU is deep seated and long-heeded. Since its inception, ULL has played second fiddle to LSU, the state's flagship university. ULL supporters have long complained of the Louisiana Legislature's regular practice of doling out much more funding to LSU than other state universities. This funding, combined with LSU's flagship status and prowess in athletics, turned LSU into a world famous institution while ULL struggled to be put on the academic and athletic maps.

I do hold some sympathy for ULL. I grew up attending ULL athletic events as I am a native of Lafayette. I even once sported the stereotypical Lafayette hairdo, spiked hair and frosted tips. But the fact of the matter is LSU is not at fault for any of ULL's perceived shortcomings in funding. There simply isn't enough money to go around. We have far too many state institutions of higher education to fund anyone properly, even LSU. Louisiana would be much better off with fewer colleges.

Admittedly, there are some LSU fans who strongly dislike ULL. All LSU baseball fans remember the heated LSU-ULL baseball games of a few years ago. Many LSU fans have also been openly suspicious of ULL alumna Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Sufficiently spurred, I e-mailed Jason the following response:

Jason,

I just wanted to drop you a line regarding your Aug. 30 Reveille column on the UL-LSU rivalry. Like you, I've been following the give-and-take over the recent LSU-bashing in the Times of Acadiana. To me, the exchanges represent everything good and bad about UL-LSU relations. I attended UL Lafayette from 1998 to 2005, earning two degrees. While there, I wrote a political column for the Vermilion, in which the topic of Louisiana higher education often arose. With that in mind, I offer you a few points of clarification:

1) We're UL or UL Lafayette, not ULL. That name is used almost exclusively by LSU fans, as a term of condescension. We wouldn't even have "Lafayette" in our name were it not for LSU politics, so it's an especially sore point.

2) The UL-LSU rivalry is more about politics than about football. Tiger fans harp endlessly about how this weekend's game is going to prove whose school is the best. But all it proves is whose football team is better (and better-funded). And, frankly, we all know the answer already. But a university is more than its football team, a fact that too many LSU fans have forgotten.

3) That said, however, UL's football team is the best it's been in a decade. While all that may mean to LSU is that it'll take more swings of the fly-swatter to stop us, we still take pride in our progress. We're not LSU, sure, but who in our situation could be? Suffice to say, your 2002 blowout was against a very different UL team. I still don't expect the game to be close, but Tiger complacency could make all the difference.

4) Governor Blanco has not been the boon to UL that you think. In fact, she strongly supports LSU's flagship status. I'll quote her directly: "[UL] should be encouraged to compete…but what we want to see is LSU being among the highest-ranking academic universities in the nation." As for UL, she said, "All the minor universities are able to compete nationally" (LSU Reveille, 2/5/04). She then had the nerve to speak at the UL Alumni Spring Gala and talk about how she was helping UL become a school on par with LSU! I fail to see how Blanco's governorship has helped her alma mater at all.

5) Your attempt to paint LSU as a victim of UL hatred is negated by the extreme hate by numerous LSU posters on tigerdroppings.com. LSU fans have taken this rivalry to an inappropriately personal level. I know Susan Gonzalez personally, and it's hurt to read letter after letter calling her stupid, an LSU reject, etc. It's clear that nobody slinging this mud has the slightest clue who she is. Calling for her head is ridiculous, and makes for a weak argument. You could jump on her for getting the Mike the Tiger issue wrong, but that doesn't change the point she was trying to make (that LSU has taken less of a budget hit than the other schools).

6) UL is not jealous of LSU. We do not want to be another LSU; what we do want is a somewhat level playing field for all schools. The deck has been stacked against every non-LSU state university since the days of Huey Long. To say that LSU is where it is today strictly on merit is to ignore decades of political corruption and economic inequity. While every state school has its own strengths (and, in their own way, top LSU), the state does not foster such growth.

7) While I'm admittedly not the biggest fan of Lafayette, it's a lot more diverse than you give it credit for. Even LSU fans at Tiger Droppings concede that Lafayette is a more vibrant community than Baton Rouge. I spent lots of time in both places as a kid, and I'd agree that Lafayette is better.

8) "Louisiana would be much better off with fewer colleges?" Just on principle, that's a reckless statement to make. But it also shows insecurity on LSU's part. As it is, Louisiana's flagship system is set up to ensure that only one university truly succeeds, while the rest fight for scraps. That doesn't work as a society and it doesn't work as a university system.

Hope this clears things up.

--Ian

Monday, August 28, 2006

I knew it!!!

Charges dropped against JonBenet Ramsey suspect

BBC--The case against John Mark Karr was dropped after forensic tests found that his DNA did not match that discovered at the scene of the crime.

However, Mr Karr is still in police custody, following a request that he be taken to California to face child pornography charges dating back to 2001.

All right, all right...I know I'm only contributing to the spread of this whole non-story, when so many more crucial issues need to be addressed. But I can't help it, because John Mark Karr intrigues me. Much like with last Friday's local mall shooter, I wonder what would compel a man to do something so drastic--in this case, take credit for a very heinous crime that he obviously did not commit. He must have known the DNA wasn't going to match--chromosomes are pretty hard to fudge. Also, he was supposedly in Alabama during the whole ordeal. And Alabama's far away from Colorado in about a million ways.

So what's this guy's deal? I'd really like to know.

Karr has a history of what could diplomatically be called a "thing" for children. Most pedophiles try to keep it a secret; and though Karr's cover was blown stateside, he found educational employment in Asia. Basically, the bastard got away. What, then, would compel him to "admit" that he strangled JonBenet Ramsey? That's like O.J. Simpson confessing to the murder of Robert Blake's wife!

It definitely wasn't for prison cred. Child molesters are the least-respected people in the world; that's especially true in prison, where such "chesters" are repeatedly beaten and doused in urine and equally vile humors. And even Karr himself must realize that his pencil neck would be snapped before the bars slid shut.

Are we, as a society, so obsessed with fame that some will admit to stuff like this just to get attention? If infamy was Karr's motive, then he certainly got it. He will forever be known as the guy who lied about raping and killing a six-year-old girl, and was enough of a heel to almost pull it off.

Incidents like this make me pine for the upcoming '00s edition of Trivial Pursuit. In a sarcastic kind of way.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mall shootout kills 2, scares 100,000

LAFAYETTE--Two people died Friday at the Mall of Acadiana after a man shot his ex-girlfriend and was killed by a police officer as he fled.

Sherika Broussard, 21, of Breaux Bridge was at work inside the Victoria's Secret store's stockroom at 5:30 p.m. when Nathan O'Neil Jr., 21, of Lafayette entered with a handgun and shot her to death, according to Lafayette police spokesman Cpl. Mark Francis.

Francis said the incident was just further evidence of the increase in violence the city has seen in recent months. "Lafayette is changing," Francis said. "We're starting to see more and more of these serious types of incidents week after week."

This incident mirrors one from last year in which a man shot his girlfriend to death as she worked at the front desk of a local Microtel. Because of these two high-profile homicides, residents are asking, "What's happening to our city?" And all it took was two isolated incidents over 17 months to shock much of Lafayette into crime awareness!

As sad as this incident is, some of the comments being made about it are even worse. They smack of the vindictiveness and scapegoating that punctuate local debate. Granted, some users had the good sense to call others on their ignorance. But with this kind of talk, I'm surprised the board is as reserved as it has been:

violent crime IS on the rise in Lafayette. I don't need to be politically correct, I do put a lot of blame on the influx of people from the New Orleans area.

The police can't say it because it would get them in some kind of political quagmire, the mayor can't say it...but a private citizen can say it, "Glad to have the bad apples from N.O. here in this lovely city...thanks a million". I'm not saying the shooter was here because of Katrina, I'm just saying it's a fact that since then our crime has gone way up... Look at New Iberia's violence problem on the West End...and so on.

The problem isn't that people from New Orleans are here. As if the West End of New Iberia was such a great place before Katrina? "Remember pre-Katrina, when the skating-rink riots were safer?" Give me a break!

First off, the shooter was a Lafayette resident and his victim was from Breaux Bridge, just a few miles away. They were not Katrina evacuees! Second, the roots of crime have existed here for a very long time. Despite some improvement in economy and (debatably) in schooling, Lafayette remains a place with a high poverty level and lack of education. Along with the unspoken pressures of society, they can be a combustible combination.

Louisiana, like many other places in the United States, places a special emphasis on couplehood. Many people here would rather be in an abusive relationship than none at all, and so they give themselves the illusion that things can work out if only they keep at it. This results in some relationships rising to levels of psychotic obsession, when they should have died at birth.

A lot of these couples are together because they feel like God wants them to be together. Of course, God Himself could appear from the clouds and say, "Get the hint! He's bad news!" and they'd consider that just another hurdle to clear in the relationship. There's just no consoling some people...until it's too late.

The obsession doesn't always end at the breakup, as this incident shows. In a pro-family place such as ours, being single is often lower than death on the Scare-Me-Meter. It takes only two or three tries to find someone who has been continuously in relationships since they were 15. Easily romanced? No, probably just deeply insecure, thanks to a lifetime of being told that individuality is to be shunned.

I've had many friends who have broken off long-term relationships, and most react by becoming catatonic. Not because they necessarily thought they should stay with their ex, or because they miss the good times, but because they literally don't know what to do. They're so used to making every move with this other person, that sometimes all they can do is cower in a corner and bawl. Or they go the opposite extreme and become an incredibly bitter and irrational person, prone to random outbursts. And it isn't a short-term thing either; some cases last months and even years this way. It hurts almost as much to witness as it is to go through.

Too many people here aren't taught to have fun on their own. You aren't raised toward independence, but rather interdependence. If you aren't in a relationship, you're doing things as a group. Go alone to a big event--even a football game--and you'll sometimes be made to feel like a loser.

The shootist didn't want to be a loser. Nope, he couldn't deal with that.

The sooner we figure out the root causes of crime, the sooner we can begin to treat them. This is a much better solution than to live in perpetual and misguided fear.

That's what I assumed when I brought my ten year old cousin with me to grab a cookie cake. We'd be safe. It's the mall for crying out loud. Well, I'm crying out loud now. What the heck is going on with society?

The same thing that's been going on with society for decades. It's just that you finally noticed.

I imagine a lot of people are now scared to go back to the mall. But come on! The mall is not any worse now than it was five days ago. This is the only fatality the Mall of Acadiana has incurred in its 27 years of existence. That's saying something, considering that the mall was, at one time, in the middle of nowhere and was much less gentrified.

The shooting was a personal spat (albeit an extreme one), and a repeat performance is not likely. The only people who have to worry about the mall are workers who have psychotic partners. Granted, that's probably quite a few of them; but as a single consumer, I'm not concerned.

Perhaps some sort of random violence will occur. However, most murders are premeditated and happen among people who know each other. As for the random nut who shoots up a mall or other public venue, well, that could happen anywhere at any time. Are you going to stop all of your activities and pull your life to a screeching halt? And then live 60 safe years before slipping in the bathtub?

Fear is a killer, too.

Think they're seeking an editor?


This ad appeared in the Aug. 23 Daily Advertiser. Apparently this supplement is supposed to be in today's paper, but I'm not sure. I'm afraid if I buy it I'll go back in time, and I'm tired enough of this year already. Looks like Superman really can bend the space-time continuum, like he did that one time to rescue that feisty journalist Lois Lane. Maybe he was trying to tell her to pick a new career. Who knows?

They claim it's the biggest employment section of the year. Considering the typical size of the Lafayette CareerBuilder, they could stick this thing between the comics and the TV listings and still make that claim. Snap!

Miss a day. Miss a lot.

In other timely news:

They just thought he was crazy at the time.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fun with dumb!

The following quotes are taken from the MySpace page of RightWingClothing.com:

The College Republicans I ran at my university had at least 200 members alone! And that's 10% of the entire student body so we definitely were spreading the message!

Fuzzy math, Jack! If your party got 10 percent of the black vote, that would be spreading the message!

Yay! Anyone who does not support this country and it's beliefs can move...their's other countries that aren't as lucky as we are to live in the land of the free! I think Bush is awesome and I loved seeing him in one of his rallies last year before the elections. He's such a real person and is highly qualified to lead this country!

Bush really speak's to someone like me, because their's no better man to re-present this country. We are the best country in the nation and if you don't live hear then you are missing out on hour excellent school's! If you don't agree, then you should just go to some other country like California!

i think that we represent the fire in the heart of America today, to not be swayed in morals or freedom by shows of violence by tryannical leaders.

I had a fire in my heart once. But I took some Pepto Bismol and knocked that sucker out.

But seriously, I understand what you mean by not being swayed into freedom. Thank God we have a man in the White House who'll never sway us in either freedom or morals!

For me being Hispanic, I get alot of negativity from other family members and mainly the people in the MECHA club on campus for being a Republican. They all seem to think that if you are Latino, then you should vote as a liberal. I'm sorry, but I do not see myself that way.

Instead, I see myself as the Clarence Thomas of Latinos. I know my place, and my place is with the party that thinks I'm a burden and that I should leave. Can't understand why that upsets my family...

yup im sectary in eastend young republican club of long island since there are very few young reb. there are only 11 memebers and hopefullly more next year!!!!

butt with my troshas speeling, I should attrakt plenty moore...of coarse, 11 is plenty now cuz I cain't count pass 10 to bigen with...but im a sectary, so i all I haf ta do is right good!

I can't wait for college in a few years. First club I'm gonna join is a Republican one. Then I'm gonna devote hours to BLASTING the pinko-commies right back to Roger Baldwin.

In the meantime, I'm gonna start high school, where I can get in my weapons training and actively enjoy doing everything my parents tell me, like all good Republicans! I wonder if the Young Republicans make you buy your own rifle or if they give you one.

Hell ya man. Same for me. First thing im doing is joining the Berkeley College Republicans - which is a hardcore group. Blasting pinko-commies is about the funnest thing to do.

Because nothing screams "Dedicated Republican" than a lifetime of saying, "I went to Berkeley!"

It's a good time to be a conservative in America!

The problem is being anything else...

not just mtv, rolling stone too.i had the misfortune of picking one of those up once. every other sentence is anti-bush.Its ruining the minds of the kids of America. (from a guy named "I rev up on old people!!!")

It had all these "words," and there were little white spaces between each one! What the hell?!! You know, it's people who can read who are plunging this once-great nation down the tubes.

Liberals are actually the minority. You just hear more about them because they always have something to say! There's a radio talk show host here named Rush Limba (I don't think I spelled his last name right) and I heard him say that once... about Liberals being the minority... WE JUST NEED TO SPEAK UP!

And if there's any better argument for right-wingers to speak up, it's Captain Quick over here...

Word! We need to quit being the silent majority becaue the longer we do, the more level-headed people we lose to the liberal, false propoganda machine. We must have a stronger voice!

That's one deafening 'silent majority'...

Amen to that! And watch me turn my co-students around!

Yeah, and watch them turn right back around after you tell them they're going to Hell!

YEAH SCREW LIBERAL PUSSIES

Those who talk about it the most, do it the least...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Humans just got 10% more significant

Pluto Plutarsky kicked out of Faber Galaxy

BBC--Astronomers have voted to strip Pluto of its status as a planet.

About 2,500 scientists meeting in Prague have adopted historic new guidelines that see the small, distant world demoted to a secondary category. The researchers said Pluto failed to dominate its orbit around the Sun in the same way as the other planets.

The International Astronomical Union's (IAU) decision means textbooks will now have to describe a Solar System with just eight major planetary bodies.

Pluto, which was discovered in 1930 by the American Clyde Tombaugh, will be referred to as a "dwarf planet".


So there you go...they demote a planet just like that! "Well, you were a world from 1930 to 2006, but now you aren't!" Poor Clyde Tombaugh must be spinning in his grave over that one. We didn't give him even 10 years in the box before we reversed his claim to fame as the only guy in our lifetime who found a planet. Well, at least until 2003, when they found something else Pluto's size and named it after the damn year. Where's the creativity in that? The soul?

Next thing you know, they'll decide that Earth isn't a planet either. Scientists will elevate it to its own "superplanet" status; it'll be like the United States of planets. And then the Bush administration will declare war on Mars.

Considering current religio-political trends in this country, I wouldn't be surprised if this decision never catches on; after all, the basis of Pluto's planetary demotion is that it doesn't sufficiently orbit the sun. And it took the religious right long enough to accept the whole orbit-the-sun thing in the first place.

But as always, I'm mostly worried about the children. When I was in third grade, we learned the order of the planets by memorizing the following sentence:

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Or, as was technically true between 1979 and 1999, My Very Eggheaded Mother Just Served Us Pinot Noir.

What the hell are kids going to learn now? My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nutrasweet? Given current corporate trends in education, that's not a bad guess. But I suppose that's better than the other proposal, in which three new planets--Ceres, Charon and 2003 UB313--would have been added. Can you picture that nightmare of a sentence? My Very Expansive Mother's Church's Just Served Us Nine-Piece Chicken 2night? Perhaps this was the lesser of two evils after all.

Good luck and godspeed, Pluto. Thanks for 76 years of entertaining us between Halley's Comet sightings. And you can keep your name! Probably.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LSU talk is BS

The following is a letter I sent to the Times of Acadiana. In the Aug. 16 issue, guest writer (and friend) Susan Gonzalez capped off a series of articles on UL college preparation with a tongue-in-cheek blurb entitled, "Five reasons why I hate LSU." I can't find it online anymore, but the tips broke down to this:

1) Don't wear LSU stuff on campus.
2) You can't bleed purple and gold. Only UL red.
3) We're nicer than LSU is toward opposing fans at our football games.
4) LSU swims in money, while UL had to slash all Friday afternoon classes.
5) If LSU is going to mistakenly refer to us as ULL, then we'll call them by their full name, LSU-BR A&M.

Even though the article was devoid of any real hatred, and actually highlighted some very real issues in the rivalry between the two schools, it led to some bitter, bitter, bitter vitriol from Tiger fans:

I think the real reason that Susan is upset is that she was probably turned down by LSU admissions and was left to flounder at ULL. Obviously, she still can’t make the grade since she’s a fifth-year student.

We’re doing ULL and every other state school a favor when we decide to host them. That’s right, when ULL comes to Baton Rouge on opening day for the slaughter, they’re assured at least a $400,000 take. Not a bad tradeoff huh: take an ass-whipping and leave with $400,000. [...] ULL fans should be thanking Skip Bertman for allowing your athletes on our campus.

To allow your newspaper to participate in this continuous assault on LSU by the hard core ULL supporters, who are a small minority of the local population, seems ridiculous.

I only hope for your sake the next time you go to a doctor he didn’t graduate from ULL, because do you know what they call a doctor that graduates at the bottom of his class? They still call him Doctor!!!!!!

Nice, huh? Well, you know me; I can't stay quiet about this! My response to all of this is below. Check out Nick's take as well.

LSU must be pleased to have such thoughtful commentary emanate from its midst. Does Tiger Fever affect the part of the brain that regulates civility?

First off, it’s unfair to personally attack Susan Gonzalez. She is a friendly and intelligent person, and not a Louisiana native. She’s here because she wants to be, just like most Ragin’ Cajuns.

I spent seven years at UL, earning two degrees. With my grades and scores, I could have easily attended LSU. But I simply preferred Lafayette over Baton Rouge. Both cities and both schools have distinct personalities, so that only made sense.

Second, we’re not jealous of LSU’s football team, though LSU seems to be resentful of ours. What compels LSU fans to salivate at the prospect of beating UL? We all know who has the larger fan base and the state’s support. I can only assume that the Tigers’ pathological need to crush UL stems from some insecurity. Imagine what would happen if UL ever did beat LSU in football; I wouldn’t want to work the suicide hotlines that night!

But even if LSU beats UL 222-0, I doubt it’ll devastate UL fans. Why? Because our football team is just one aspect of UL pride. We’re also proud of our other sports (which beat LSU on a regular basis), our academic programs and our social activities. On the other hand, I can’t remember the last time ANY argument for LSU wasn’t 90 percent about the football team.

Finally, the LSU community does itself no service by allowing such a mean-spirited and condescending attitude represent the Tigers. It doesn’t change our minds, but does reinforce our resentment toward the state bully.

Tiger fans say that UL is no LSU, and it isn’t. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

Ian McGibboney
Lafayette

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Public service pronouncement


Because I'm busy practicing my love today, I don't have much for the blog. But I'd like to take this opportunity to be the very last hip Louisiana blogger to promote the awesome Rising Tide Conference in New Orleans from Aug. 25-27. Due to numerous factors (some bad, some good), I won't be able to attend. I'm mad. So mad, in fact, that I'm pumping my fists in righteous anger! Just like anyone who is fed up with government incompetence in New Orleans should be.

After all, why on Earth would any blogger (or anyone else with a heart) want to miss three days of serious discussion (and serious fun) with all the cool people with whom we all keystroke on a daily basis? And to cap it all off with a full day of service to help revive the Big Easy? It's a wonderful cause, and I hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend. Hopefully, Rising Tide will serve as a companion piece to Spike Lee's documentary in reopening the world's eyes to what south Louisianians have seen all year.

The Tide is high. Ride it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Caption Central

"Snake on a plane" edition

--John Mark Karr's capture has made the world safe for the continued sexualization of wealthy prepubescents
--Worst Mormon missionary. Ever.
--Authorities did not handcuff Karr, figuring that embarrassment alone would keep him in line
--He would have been caught 10 years ago, but he redshirted
--He looks like the type who favors blue-eyed blondes, if you know what I mean
--If mistakes make the best teachers, then this guy must have been Merlin
--"I've got cold cream in my pocket. Really, what are they gonna do?"
--A barf bag would be redundant
--A pasty, skinny white guy going to prison for child molestation and murder? Bet he begs for the death penalty!
--Prompted by Karr's arrest, airports will increase scrutiny of all white men
--Evidently, he practiced his strangulation technique on his own neck
--Karr further damaged his credibility by asking for a box of Ramses
--A true hands-on teacher, Karr teaches his kids to say, "loser"
--Meanwhile, media students have learned to say, "distraction"
--America wants to block Mexican immigrants, but they let in this guy?
--Karr has made an entire nation feel sorry for child-exploiting Colorado millionaires. Have you no soul, man?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Return of the rules

Rule #30: Bias blarney

Allegations of liberal bias in the media would be far more legitimate if they didn't come from Ann Coulter or other people barely to the left of Mussolini.

After all, I wouldn't say there was a deliberate conservative bias in the mainstream media (though there is a distinct corporate one). Anyway, who would be swayed if I did? Of course, I'm not counting Fox News, the Washington Times and Newsmax as "mainstream media"--they're all run by professed conservative titans. And you don't have to be in the middle to know that.

Virtually nobody, left or right, thinks the mainstream media speaks for them; so why should we lend special credence to people like Michael Reagan when they say their extreme voices aren't being heard? Especially when such an allegation appears in one of their nationally syndicated columns?

The problem with such an allegation is that it comes mainly from one side of the political spectrum. And because that side has most of the money, there's a lot of economic pressure on the press to overcorrect this (nonexistent) bias. Soon enough, it'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

MAD Magazine once joked that half of its readers complained that it was too liberal, while the other half found it to be too conservative. In a way, that's the true mark of a balanced publication--if it pisses off everybody, it's a good source. Figures a humor magazine would be the first to get that right!

Simply put, everyone has their turn in front of the journalistic firing squad. Clinton had his, and now Bush is having his. Okay, bad example. Still, if your idea of biased news coverage is truthful reporting of your party's shenanigans, then you are the biased one.

Rule #31: Groomed to be a bride?

Singlehood is not a disease. Just because TV portrays singles as neurotic novelties desperately searching for someone to complete them doesn't mean that we're all looking for sympathy. Plenty of singles are happy with their status, just like plenty of married people are happy with theirs. And most of the unhappy singles probably wouldn't be that way if people weren't trying so hard to sympathize with them all the time.

There are two types of single people: those who like it and those who lip-sync Match.com commercials. This is a very important distinction, so proceed with caution. Even though you mean well, saying "Don't worry. Your prince/princess will come" is the wrong approach. It makes confirmed singles squirm and it only makes lonely people feel worse.

Some people find it nice to not have to factor another human being (or pet) into everything they do. It's nice to not have to seek approval from another person, or have to make arrangements for a babysitter or kennel, every time they wish to step outside. If a friend of mine wants me to hang out with them, it's as easy as brushing my teeth and walking out the door. I don't have to explain to anyone who I'm going to see, or why, or hear that I shouldn't be hanging out with that person, etc. I know, I know...it's hard to keep from crying!

Even happily married people will admit to feeling neurotic from time to time over having to rationalize the most trivial of actions. Why are your shoes in the middle of the floor? Why do you sigh like that? Hey, don't roll your eyes! I want to know why you stopped for a Gatorade before you came home and didn't tell me!

And it isn't about hedonistic freedom, either. Most singles are not sleeping with every person they meet. Most are not painfully lonely either, given that singles tend to have lots of friends or are happy to be alone. Occasionally hanging out with friends, going out to work and running errands gives people like us all the human interaction we need. If that special one comes around, great. If not, then at least we've carved out our own quirky lives. Better to be true to yourself than to be miserable trying to be what someone else expects of you.

So don't cry for us, America. Well, at least not over that.

Rules archive

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time to play "Guess the Mess"


As humans, we're more alike than different. Can you match the following scenes of complete annihilation to their respective locations?

1)

2)

3)

4)

a) Kabul, Afghanistan
b) Baghdad, Iraq
c) Beirut, Lebanon
d) New Orleans, Louisiana

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dumb developments, developed dumb


--A flight from London to Washington was diverted by fighter jets Wednesday after a 59-year-old woman allegedly suffered a fit of claustrophobia. She had brought matches and cold cream onto the plane, resulting in her arrest for lamest terrorist act ever.

--Newly released tapes of emergency calls made during the 9/11 aftermath reveal what one reporter described as, "communication confusion." The tapes are particularly notable for an 18-minute gap of silence as George W. Bush just sat there!

--President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has made waves worldwide with his new personal blog. Though the blog is available in several languages, love is not one of them.

--The International Astronomical Union announced that a new reclassification of the solar system would recognize a total of 12 planets. This change would serve the dual purpose of making humans feel even more insignificant while giving the Bush administration three more chances to deny global warming.

--A suspect in the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey was apprehended Wednesday. The arrest went smoothly, given that Patsy Ramsey died two months ago.

--Three Mexican fishermen were rescued in the faraway Marshall Islands after spending an alleged nine months adrift in a broken motorboat. Their voyage was verified by three Minutemen in another boat who pushed them the whole way.

--Federal agents arrested a major Mexican drug kingpin Wednesday, while he was deep-sea fishing off the coast of Baja California. He was charged with not being adrift in a motorboat for nine months.

--A judge in Ohio ruled that two high-school athletes will be allowed to play football before serving 60-day sentences for causing a car accident with a fake deer. The judge said that the ruling will teach them a lesson about athletes in the real world.

--Snakes on a Plane, the new Samuel L. Jackson thriller out today, is expected to post huge box-office figures. Talks are already under way for an even scarier sequel, Cold Cream on a Plane.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I said it first

--Politics is like a circus; there are lots of elephants and donkeys under the big tent, performing large-scale illusions. And the wage slaves shovel the shit once the show is over.

--I've never met anyone named Betty. Have you?

--It's not really MySpace; it's FoxSpace. And Rupert Murdoch is definitely not your friend.

--If a Gmail employee shot up their workplace, would that be considered "going postal?"

--A local blog with a single post was recently updated after two years. That was nice. I love comebacks.

--The more people say they speak for others, the more they don't.

--Do you suppose Jerry Garcia's grateful now that he's dead?

--Whenever an actor who appeared in a period film or series dies, I like to assume their character died at the same age. It brings much-needed closure to my world of fiction.

--If a picture's worth a thousand words, then why are preschool books so insipid?

--People often say that everything happens for a reason. But they never tell you why.

--Blogger is now moving to a Beta version. Personally, I prefer DVD.

--Thorny First Amendment issue: is it illegal to shout out a request for "Fire" at a crowded Pointer Sisters concert?

--Ronald Reagan was the third-best president of the 1980s.

--Is it possible for a Christian band to go to Hell for making bad music?

--I really hope there's an afterlife. I've got a score to settle with Martin Van Buren.

--Eve was framed. I've had the same thought about the tree.

--When Kate Moss acts upon instinct, is she said to be going with her gut?

--The heartland is much like an actual heart; it pumps all the good blood to outlying areas.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Caption Central

"Tasshole" edition

--Introducing our off-keynote speaker...
--Bush gets another degree of detachment from reality
--"Yo, beer man! Sorry, just a reflex from college"
--Bush shows us in what year his ideas are stuck
--"College is important. Especially the Electoral College."
--"It took me this many votes to be president!"
--Events like this almost make "No Child Left Behind" look good
--Has this man ever earned a degree?
--Worst. Gospel Choir. Ever.
--Bush shows the graduates how many will find jobs in their field
--"We have something in common. I coasted through college too!"
--Bush dresses like the GOP will look in November
--"Raise your hand if you made all C's!"
--"I'm gonna take a cue from my pal Mike Brown and roll up my sleeves."
--"These gowns are very much like the Wal-Mart vests you'll all be wearing soon."
--"I may not be a doctor, but I am your master!"
--As for the Louisiana Gulf Coast? Still waiting...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Liquids, humans banned from planes


WASHINGTON (PIMP)--In response to the recently thwarted terrorist plot in the United Kingdom, airlines across America have banned all passengers from carrying on liquids or liquid-based products. These include all beverages, lotions, hair sprays, eye drops and even lipstick. But in a late-breaking development, Homeland Security has expanded the alert to include the wettest items of all: human beings.

"The human body typically ranges from 55 to 70 percent water," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. "They are thus highly volatile catalysts for liquid-based bombs. Humans are incredibly efficient at secreting liquids in the form of sweat, tears, spit and urine. For decades, we’ve neglected the threat that these humors provide, and in fact airlines have even abetted such spills by providing personal bags for release of gastric acids. It's time to crack down on the human menace."

In addition to the threat posed by personal effluence, Chertoff cited a litany of chemical elements contained within the human body with harmful potential, including carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.

"When people refer to themselves as 'ticking time-bombs,' they're more right than they know," Chertoff continued. "Combine that with the general stress involved in the flight process, and it adds up to peril."

Homeland Security is also investigating other dangerous human attributes. While agents have long known about the drug-smuggling potential of various orifices, they are now focusing upon previously overlooked dangers.

"Reports indicate that the 9/11 hijackers used hand-held letter-openers and similar sharp objects," Chertoff said. "Because of their portability and versatility, hands are the single most dangerous appendage on a terrorist. We simply cannot take chances by continuing to allow hands on planes.

"And then there’s the biggest liability of all," he continued. "The brain is where all terrorist plots come together, and is the source of other flight bugaboos such as hysteria, motion sickness and flight-attendant harassment," Chertoff continued. "Why we've allowed such a deadly weapon in our airplanes for so long is puzzling indeed. As of today, all passengers will be forbidden to bring their brains on flights.

"In essence, human beings are responsible for 100 percent of in-flight terrorist activity," Chertoff concluded. "Banning them from coming aboard the plane significantly reduces the chance of a disastrous voyage."

In addition to human beings and liquid, a variety of items are now banned on commercial aircraft. These include, but are not limited to: seat belts, because of their ability to strangle; seat cushions, lest terrorists attempt to escape to high seas; magazines and video screens, because of their distracting qualities; steering controls and gauges, because they allow terrorists to control the aircraft; aisles, due to their easy-access route to the cockpit; life jackets, because of their ability to blow up; pillows, because we cannot afford to be soft on terror; and oxygen, due to its highly combustible qualities. Crashing a plane into the ocean will now incur a heavy fine. And, in light of recent cinematic developments, snakes are definitely not allowed on a plane.

The ban on carry-on liquids is expected to remain and, if successful, will eventually cover liquid-crystal watches, any movies with "water" in the title, Magic 8-Balls and jet fuel. For safety's sake, restrooms will no longer have water or chemical solvents in the toilet. Some airlines have already announced plans to remove restrooms altogether and replace them with up to 24 coach-class seats.

"Terrorists are always one step ahead of us," Chertoff remarked. "If we ban one substance, they'll find a way to fashion an explosive with another. The key is to ban as many elements as possible. We're currently looking into blueprints to build a stone plane, to eliminate the effects of collisions. We're also exploring the merits of an all-uranium plane, because radioactivity weakens evildoers. I saw that in an issue of Captain America."

Aviation experts are also researching ways of removing potential nuclear threats from existing aircraft, such as atoms. "That might take some time," Chertoff admitted.

Airports nationwide are accommodating the latest terror-alert upgrade by effecting certain operative changes. Starting Monday, they will no longer offer video listings of flights. Under the new "Listen Up!" system, passengers will be told only one time where they are flying and when. This is expected to curb terrorists' abilities to know where they are going. Screens currently allotted for this purpose will now air a 24-hour feed of Fox News.

Even flight schools are being shut down. "We cannot afford the terrorists the chance to learn flight in a professional capacity," Chertoff said, advising all prospective pilots to "apprentice with an established pilot. Network, network, network! Or better yet, join the military. They need every warm body they can get."

These changes affect even Air Force One. Under the new, tighter regulations, George W. Bush and his staff will no longer be able to carry onboard the nuclear briefcase, a.k.a. "the football." Said a top official, "This is a good idea, regardless of terrorist risk."

Because the new regulations will also apply to pilots, all planes will come supplied with fully functional automatic pilots. Even without humans or cargo, planes will continue to fly regularly. In anticipation of the profit loss caused by such a ruling, Congress has appropriated $300 billion to the major airlines to finance the automated flights.

Chertoff calls the sweeping changes a victory for American security. "After the British successfully thwarted a suicide mission through existing security measures, we assumed that we needed even tougher rules," he said. "These complete bans are the logical extensions of the Bush administration’s previous changes. It was only a matter of time before we banned absolutely everything aboard an airplane. By doing all this, we’re telling the terrorists that they’ll never disrupt our lives."

Britney renews library books, uh, vows

MSNBC--Is Britney Spears ready to Oops, Do It Again?

The pop star is preparing to renew her vows to hubby Kevin Federline, according to In Touch Weekly. The two got married in September 2004 in a rushed ceremony, reportedly attended by only 20 or 30 friends, nixing an elaborate affair that was being planned by her mother for a month later.

I've heard of renewing vows after decades of marriage, or even after five years. But two years? Hell, I'm still wearing the same blue jeans I wore to her wedding! But if that's the trend now, then I'm late in renewing my love for this blog, which is now two years and two months old. Sorry, baby! I love you. And I know I tell you that every five minutes, but I don't want you to forget. I love you. Please don't leave me for another button-pusher! I love you, baby. Wanna get me a beer?

Seriously. Are Britney and Kevin fed up with the staggering lack of coverage of their life? After seeing this video, I would presume that Brit would want to hide for awhile. Then again, she is "country," as she so proudly proclaimed.

I blame a Louisiana upbringing for this. Somewhere between the wedding chapel and the DMV, she got confused as to what needed to be renewed every two years. She's probably waiting by the mailbox for a sticker to slap on her ass.

Of course, it could be that Britney is simply addicted to weddings. Side effects include nausea, drowning in money, stuffy noses, glitterrhea, sequin rash and pregnancy. Consult your doctor if you develop attention deficit disorder, in which you suffer whenever there's a deficit of attention to you.

I've always believed that it isn't how you get married; it's how you stay married. My grandparents were married in a small house, and they lasted 53 years. On the other hand, you have Jennifer Wilbanks and her bridal bacchanalia leading straight to Greyhound. Somehow, pomp doesn't equal stamina.

I love you, blog. Love you! No, I'm not insecure! I just love you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman is Loserman

Sometimes I wonder what circumstances would compel me to vote Republican. I'd say a gun to the head, but that usually just reinforces my advocacy of gun control. I'd say a kick in the nuts, but that just reminds me of their bully mentality. I'd say being tied to the railroad tracks, but seeing as how the GOP has slashed Amtrak funds, I doubt I'd get hit anyway. Then I ask myself why I'm worried about these things if I'm voting. So far, I've managed to vote in relative privacy, in a booth next to a table full of septuagenarians who have my back in case there's a throwdown.

But I can think of one situation in which I might actually go GOP: a John McCain-Joe Lieberman presidential race. Granted, McCain lost my respect a bit by clinging to the administration that turned his P.O.W. experience into political R.I.P., but he still has signs of life. I can only hope that I don't have to ever face this situation; it's like having to choose between freezing to death or burning alive. Fortunately, current midterm trends are showing that such a compromising situation will probably never happen:

AP--Three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman fell to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut’s Democratic primary Tuesday, a race seen as a harbinger of sentiment over a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,500 U.S. troops.

Lamont, a millionaire with virtually no political experience, ran on his opposition to the Iraq war. He led with 52 percent of the vote, or 144,005, to 48 percent for Lieberman, with 134,026, with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

What gets me is that Lamont beat Lieberman based almost entirely on an anti-war platform. He didn't have Lieberman's experience, political clout or anything else that should have justified such a strong showing in the primary. But this is exactly why Lamont's victory is so important--because it shows that people are increasingly resistant to war as a political asset. True, it's only a Connecticut primary, and other races haven't yet made that point. But it's a start.

Joe Lieberman is the George W. Bush of the Democratic Party: a hyper-religious sort who doesn't exactly electrify the room with either his stature or his commanding oratory. Additionally, both are deeply committed to their respective causes: Bush to the GOP agenda, and Lieberman to, well, the GOP agenda.

Consequently, Lieberman is very popular with Republicans. I still can't decide if that's "bridging-the-bipartisan-divide" popular or cynical, "let's pretend we like this guy to tank the butt-kissing Democrats" popular. All I know is that I don't buy the line about Lieberman needing to win to gain bipartisan favor. The Democrats are in enough political traction already; uniting behind their most Republican figure would only deepen the wound.

To be fair, though, Lieberman would bring a much-needed trait to the White House: open-mindedness. While Bush leads with a "my way or the underfunded highway" mentality, Lieberman is more than happy to fold to the opposing party.

In any event, Lieberman is not giving up. He announced beforehand that, were he to lose this primary, he would re-enter the race as an independent. Now that's devotion to public service! Or political expediency. Either way, he clearly knew he was done for among Democrats.

The only reason I suspect the Democrats put up with him as long as they have is because they would otherwise look like fools for cheering the guy at the 2000 convention. Even I found that difficult six years ago, and that was before Bush so drastically lowered the bar for linguistics. Lieberman as Gore's running mate was a true case of, "anybody but Cheney." I guess they thought they had it all sewed up in 2000. Hopefully this primary showing will mark the beginning of the undoing of the damage.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Great moments in fair-and-balanced journalism

From the University of Louisiana Vermilion:

For such a loaded question, they sure relied heavily on the smug-white-Louisianian demographic. You'd think they'd find at least one Lebanese student or something. At least then, the editor-in-chief would have to find more creative ways to inject himself into the paper's coverage.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Estate-tax cut cut by Senate

But poor people still pay the price

WASHINGTON - A Republican election-year effort to fuse a cut in inheritance taxes on multimilllion-dollar [sic!] estates with the first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade was rejected by the Senate late Thursday.

Republicans needed 60 votes to advance their bill, which links a $2.10 increase in the $5.15 federal minimum wage over three years to reductions an estate taxes next decade. Passed by the House last Saturday, the bill got a 56-42 vote, four votes short of succeeding.

The GOP strategy put Democrats in an uncomfortable position. Either they could vote against the bill — thus rejecting a minimum wage increase — or they could vote for it — thus agreeing to cut taxes on multimillion-dollar estates. Most rejected the bill, blocking a GOP victory months before the election.

Note to fellow progressives: the next time a conservative accuses the Democrats of playing politics with the economy, throw this in their faces. Or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, print out the article, crumble it up and shove it into their mouths.

The Republicans knew an estate tax wouldn't pass, because no one is buying that "death tax" crap anymore. The estate tax affects only the bracket of earners that, in saner times, no one with an income less than Paris Hilton's would give a damn about. For these people, a cut in the estate tax is a luxury, so it's not like they'll die if they don't have it. On the other hand, an increase in the minimum wage is the last thing any CEO wants, so tacking this on to the minimum-wage hike would either ensure the bill's failure or (if passed) temper the hit to the plutocratic wallet. It's a win-win for the right.

Democrats, on the other hand, look like jerks no matter what they do. If they vote for the increase, then they appear to have caved in to the interests of the elite (and deprive the tax base of a significant revenue source). If they don't vote for the wage increase, then they appear to not care about the working poor. Lose-lose. The GOP knows this, which makes this bill rather ingenious. Pathologically evil genius, but genius nonetheless.

This action speaks volumes about why the Republicans roll on to victory after political victory: it isn't because they're right, but because they frame the debate in ways such as these. It's rhetorical gerrymandering!

Of course, if the public would wise up to such politics, then all of this would be a moot point. While we wait for this, I'll be in the corner holding my breath.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Religious war: beyond belief

Between the Israel-Lebanon conflict and the Mel Gibson incident, the topic of anti-Semitism is inescapable. What apparently is escapable is subtlety in this debate.

Lately I've made some remarks regarding the Israel-Hezbollah conflict that suggest compassion for the innocent people of Lebanon. And though Mel Gibson underwent the blurts of truth that always accompany drunken rages, I am willing to believe that he really wants to reach out to Jewish groups in the aftermath (if there's no hope for Mel to redeem himself, what chance does the rest of the world have?). Those who take these stances are sometimes accused of being anti-Israeli, with all of the bigotry that implies. That's the kind of cheap shot that weakens honest debate on what's going on right now.

Lots of conservative bloggers have icons on their sites proclaiming that they are "a proud friend of Israel." I suspect that this sentiment is similar to that of pro-lifers, who frame the debate to appear as if they alone support birth. It sounds fair enough--few Americans of any stripe actually want to see Israel vaporized--but the underlying message is somewhat uglier: "I support Israel in all of its actions, no matter how atrocious. Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This attitude makes it tricky for anyone to criticize Israeli politics without being branded as an anti-Semite.

As a student of world history and political science, I understand that lots of great nations exist due to questionable circumstances. Like, say, Israel and the United States. And most other countries, for that matter. While I support any sovereign state's right to exist (including both Israel and Palestine), I refuse to support any unfounded (or otherwise tactically dubious) invasion of another. I don't support Israel's invasion of Lebanon any more than I support the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Does that mean I deny the need for action or hate the aggressors? No. I fail to see how questioning a military decision of a country is the same as hating said country or its people.

I am against religious fundamentalism, period. Religious clashes are always the bloodiest and most severe anyone can ever fathom. They go on for thousands of years, and the only result is that the sense of calling grows stronger and the hatred grows even deeper. Who knows how many millions of lives have been wasted over what amounts to differences of opinion?

Every religion in the world (save for perhaps a few joke sects) believes that they know the proper path in life. Everyone thinks they are not only right, but are secure enough in that belief to die for it.

Much of the friction in the world comes out of a simple misconception: that the other person consciously practices a false system of beliefs. The following exchange could be said by any human being on Earth regarding another:

"That person does not practice the same denomination and/or degree of faith as myself. Because I believe in the One True Path, that puts the other person on the wrong path. What would compel someone to believe something that I know is wrong?"

The answer of course, is that YOU know that it's wrong. And you KNOW that it's wrong. Just like everyone else in the world.

Such a mentality is disastrous and does nothing to bridge the gap. For what it's worth, I don't care what you are if it floats your boat and you aren't hurting anybody. Sure, Tom Cruise might seem bizarre to a lot of us with his behavior; but I don't doubt that he really believes in his heart that Scientology is the right way to go. Israel? Fighting for survival in what they see as the promised land. Suicide bombers? They don't do it because they want people to think they're nuts, folks. Quibble all you want about how wrong they are or how ridiculous it all is, but don't you dare presume that it isn't genuine to them. This fallacy is what allows people like George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden to turn religion into a cynical political shootout.

As hard as it must be for anyone to concede that others believe differently from them (and thus aren't on the heavenly track like they most certainly are), everyone on this planet must come to terms with theocratic differences before we get wiped out because of them.

Judaism is not the problem. Christianity is not the problem. Islam is not the problem. Fundamentalism is the problem. When someone's beliefs are so radical that the need to be right overtakes any actual lessons of the faith, the whole world suffers. And that is definitely the wrong path for anyone.

Guess I gotta talk about Mel Gibson


As everyone on the planet now knows, Mel Gibson was arrested Friday morning for drunk driving and used the opportunity to do a passionate Rodney King-style verbal beatdown on a Jewish police officer. Some entertainment pundits are spelling this as the end of his career.

Yes indeed. Because of this incident, Mel Gibson will no longer have any clout in Hollywood ever again. This highly shocking arrest (and the unexpected bigoted tirade that followed) will derail his career where Passion of the Christ, his previous remarks and his socio-political stances never could before. Arrests have been the death knell for Hollywood stars for decades; after all, who wants to see a megastar performer once they've been behind bars? No one, that's who!

Because of Friday's events, Gibson will probably lose most of his huge fanbase and will now have to cater to his die-hard loyalists, conservative Christians. After all, no moviegoer would ever dream of purchasing a movie ticket unless they agreed entirely with every star's personal agendas. So this is actually good news for Republicans, none of whom have seen a movie in years.

If Mel Gibson ever wants to work in this town again, he'll have to finance his films himself. This will no doubt prove devastating to him, as self-funded films are typically a risky bet. He'll most likely have to produce and direct his own work as well, and we can only imagine how that will turn out.

Mel may own Malibu, and the movie industry, and the GNPs of most small countries, but that doesn't mean anything when Johnny Law comes to direct! Wait, yes it does. What was my point again?