Monday, July 31, 2006

How much more can we take?

This Modern World today is pretty good. Go read.

In looking for a link to that comic, I came across Tom Tomorrow's blog, where he points to a column in the New York Post that just floored me:

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

This is a column in a major American paper wondering if our best interests lie in committing something very akin to genocide. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth
thy little ones against the stones.

-- Psalm 137:9

David Letterman is gay!

David Letterman brought up Ann Coulter's recent accusations against Bill Clinton for being gay. Remember that Letterman has a child with a woman he's not married to. He must be gay, too, then.

In an interview this week on CNBC, conservative pundit Ann Coulter claimed that Bill Clinton is a homosexual. And while the former president admits he once told Coulter that he’s gay, it was simply a polite excuse to explain why he wasn't hitting on her bony ass. Bill Clinton, only gay when it comes to evil, crazy, bitches.

I've never done this before, but here's the clip from You Tube:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What would it take?

I've read on a few blogs (sorry, forget where) the idea that there is nothing a conservative can say that is so over-the-top, so vile, and so outrageous that it will get a conservative pundit kicked off the air. I'm starting to think that's true. Case in point: Ann Coulter

This week, Coulter suggested Bill Clinton was gay. Why? Because he was "promiscuous." So, it seems, having sex with a lot of women means ... you like dick. Setting aside that ludicrous idea, do you think we will see Coulter saying that Newt Gingrich is a screaming queen? After all, for five years, he was screwing an aide twenty-three years younger than himself while he was married to another woman.

It gets worse. Later, she called Al Gore a "fag." That's not my paraphrase. That's what the (arguably) number-one Republican pundit called a former Vice President of the United States on national television. A fag. Can you imagine the uproar if something similar happened to George H. W. Bush? Or if someone called Alberto Gonzalez a "spic?" The right-wing media machine would be calling for the deaths of whoever said it, as well as the deaths of those in charge of the network where it was said. Well, more than they do now, anyway.

This is, of course, the same woman that called the venerable Helen Thomas an "old Arab," and has called for the bombing of the New York Times building. And yet, she's still on the air.

I wonder if we'll be hearing her call Joe Lieberman a "midget kike," next.

Video of Coulter's fag joke and her outing of Clinton is at Crooks and Liars.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The amazing powers of the gay

Continuing the "How is religion different from a delusion" thread from the other week, comes this poll from WorldNutDaily. Apparently a number of Jewish rabbis are saying that the recent Israel-Lebanon conflict is a punishment from G-d because of the World Pride parade scheduled two weeks from now.

It's not like the Mideast hasn't been a pressure cooker for decades. It isn't as if there haven't been, oh, a few wars here and there or anything. It's not like there aren't a couple of wars going on right now in the Middle East. No, the rockets and bombings are the fault of the queers.

Such is the power of teh gay. Know it. Fear it. Wear Ultrasuede.

The nutty part is that the WorldNutDaily-ers go right along with it. Only 30% of them were willing to say in the poll that either the violence is not a punishment from above or that they did not know. The largest grouping, at 30%, said that the violence was definitely due to YHWH being in a pissy mood because of all the rainbows. For fuck's sake, what can you do with these people?

Actually, I think this could be a good thing. Demand money from local government or else we will schedule a Pride parade in your town, bringing down the Wrath of the Almighty™ upon you. We could make a killing.

(Via Pam's House Blend)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Identify this movie!

If I told you I was watching Corwin's Quest: Uncut tonight, what would you think: porn movie or Animal Planet special? Or do I just have a dirty mind?

Monday, July 17, 2006


(I was originally just going to append this to my previous post, but I think it may wind up being longer than the original, so I'm giving it its own blog post.)

David left a comment below which makes some good points. I'm going to respond here rather than in the comments because I have better control over the formatting.

1. Unskippable ads

I'm only going on what I've read elsewhere here. The EFF has a legal response they presented to the Copyright Office that lists nineteen movies. The text says consumers were unable to "fast-forward" through the ads, but the title of the document is on "unskippable" material. So it's not clear if they mean the chapter skip function also doesn't work. Sixteen Candles apparently has such ads. This article at says the author purchased a DVD and was unable to fast-forward, chapter skip, or main-menu-jump past the four ads on it, but doesn't say what the title was. Finding Neverland apparently has an unskippable Pontiac commercial on it.

I've often wondered if the versions of all the DVDs out there are the same. Whether, say, the editions of a movie sold to Blockbuster for rental have more or different promotional material on them than the ones consumers can buy. That wouldn't be difficult; there are so many collector's editions, special editions, widescreen vs. 4:3 editions, that making another one for commercial applications would be trivially easy.

2. Ownership

I disagree that it's about ownership. Once I buy a DVD it's mine, for me to do with as I see fit. The studio retains no ownership over my DVD. What they do continue to hold is the copyright over it. But I think that if I want to burn the DVD to my hard drive, edit it, and watch an edited version, I should be allowed to do so. Similarly, if I want to tear annoying commercials out of a magazine I buy, cut recipes out of the newspaper, or even read a book backwards, I should be able to do so.

3. Our viewing of Showgirls

David says that our viewing of Showgirls was different than the CleanFlicks case because we wanted a "lighthearted" evening of entertainment. But then, I ask, why shouldn't a Mormon family be able to do the same (though I am loathe to agree with their decisions of what is acceptable)? We were only able to skip the rape scene because people had seen the movie before and knew it was coming up. What if we wouldn't want to have seen it in the first place? Or what if a parent has no problem with his kid seeing the boobs and splasheriffic sex, but thought that the violence of the rape scene was inappropriate for a 17-year-old? (Aside: considering our society's screwed up attitudes towards sex and violence, this seems to me to be a more sensible way of approaching these matters, rather than taking out the sex and leaving the violence.)

What bothers me about this ruling is not that it means fundamentalists will be making decisions for me about what I can and can not see, but that it actually reduces choice. There was no deception involved in the CleanFlicks case. Everyone renting one of these movies (if "renting" is even the right word) knew that they were getting edited movies with bits cut out. They chose to accept the judgment of CleanFlicks of what was and was not appropriate to cut out. But they went into the relationship with eyes wide open.

4. Copyright

The quote of copyright law is a good one. I always forget that part of the derivative works aspect of copyright law is to protect the reputation of the copyright holder. On that basis, the CleanFlicks decision is probably a good one. If anyone is going to edit a movie to take the naughty bits out, the studio should be the one allowed to do so. Which relates to the next point David brought up:

5. Artistic merit

I daresay that just about every movie CleanFlicks edited had already been edited by the studio to bring it down to standards so that it can be shown on TV. So the argument that editing these movies devalues the artistic integrity of the artist doesn't really hold. I don't even know how much input the director even has in such decisions. Two commenters in the second Slashdot article I think put it best:

I understand where the movie companies are coming from in terms of copyright... they don't want people taking a DVD, adding additional clips/features/menus/etc, and selling that for a profit. Then again, I don't really understand why they have an issue with that. They're getting just as much money from each DVD sale, so it's not like they're losing any business. In fact, they're probably gaining business from those people who wouldn't normally buy a certain movie due to violent/sexual/etc content, but will if they get an edited version of the movie.

As for the directors and producers that claim their artistic vision was impeded upon, they sure don't have an issue with those movies being modified in the exact same way for broadcast on network TV. One of the Slashdot posters says:

-- TheFlyingGoat

And another reminds us about this argument ultimately boils down to:

So if we are to argue that, if you bought something you have the legal right to do whatever you want to it (Fast Forward through commercials, play on a Linux box, rip to a hard drive), then you cannot allow Hollywood to start acquiring new rights for their so-called "artistic vision". Otherwise, you will find yourself unable to fast forward through scenes (or commercials) because that would violate the "artistic vision" of Hollywood.

-- Brian_Ellenberger

6. My ultimate point

The point that I'm basically trying to make is that the digital age has fundamentally changed the way that we view and consume media. (Cue mental image of Godzilla eating a library.) It makes things possible that have never been possible before, and makes things feasible that were uneconomical before. Take for example, the recent Internet fads of Google Video and YouTube. Of the twenty YouTube "top rated" videos right now, eighteen are obvious, flat-out copyright violations, one is so avant-garde I can't tell if it's a video or a seizure, and two might be original works. Google Video is a bit better, of the twelve videos they currently have listed as "Popular," five don't seem to be copyright violations, four almost certainly are, and I can't tell about three.

The media world is changing. We need to have a discussion about how our laws and customs will change alongside it. I am of the opinion that copyright law has changed beyond anything the founders of our country ever intended, and that, in some aspects, it no longer serves the public interest. But, unfortunately, that is a discussion that we as a society are not having. And that's the problem.

In looking up some of the links for this post, I came across this blog entry over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, where Scott Lemieux basically says the same thing that I'm trying to, only more succinctly.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


David blogs about the ruling against CleanFlicks, which deals with the legality of sanitizing movies without the blessing of the movie studio. He makes some good points. This was also discussed once on Slashdot, and again. I want to chime in here and explain why I think this ruling is wrong.

OK, maybe not why it's legally wrong, per se, but why it's bad. I'm not going to shed a tear for CleanFlicks. Seeing a self-righteous moralist get his comeuppance is always something that I take a perverse pleasure in (unless it's me). But this wasn't a case of CleanFlicks downloading a movie, editing it to take out the naughty bits, and selling thousands of copies. Rather, they are a Netflix-like service that loans you edited movies to watch. As I understand it, for every copy of a movie that they edited, they bought a legal copy of the movie. The studios weren't deprived of a dime. Piracy really isn't an issue here.

Rather, the whole issue is is about control. Who controls what we can watch, under what circumstances, and what choices we have regarding it.

You see, I've basically done the same thing that CleanFlicks did. When David, Jon, Billy and I saw Showgirls (and much fun was had by all), by general consensus of the group, we decided to skip over one unpleasant scene in the movie. Zip, we basically went by it as if it weren't there. David says, "If they don't want to watch [a movie] as it was released, then they shouldn't watch it at all." Except that's exactly what we did. If we didn't want to watch a movie with a violent rape scene in it, we didn't have to rent one, but we did, and we wanted to watch the movie without that scene. In this case, we were the self-righteous moralists.

There is of course the legal issue that CleanFlicks was a for-profit venture, and that there were copies being made. Nevertheless, I still think that this ruling is bad for consumers, because it allows someone other than me to decide what I may and may not watch. If, instead, we wanted to hire someone to hold the remote control and fast-forward through the unpleasant scenes in the movie, I suggest that would have been our right to do so, as well. There actually is a service that basically does that, albeit through technological means. It's called ClearPlay, and they, too are being sued by Hollywood. (The lawsuit may have been made moot by a 2005 law; I'm not sure.)

If you think fast-forwarding through a movie scene is different from a copy with the scene edited out, and that this will always be possible, you may be wrong. The next generation of DVRs may not be able to fast forward through commercials. Not because they can't, but because you will not be allowed to. Someone else will decide for you what you may and may not skip. It has also been suggested that digital TV users not be allowed to change channels during commercials.

DVDs already have this feature. Frankly, it pisses me off when I watch a DVD and have to sit through the "opinions expressed in the commentary on the disk are not the opinions of the idiot movie studio" warning, then the movie rating screen, then the FBI warning saying they'll come kill my family if I copy the movie, then the Interpol warning saying the same thing, and then the fucking Interpol warning in fucking French. All of these are unskippable. But maybe it's OK because those are legal warning? Well, no. I understand that Disney is fond of putting unskippable advertisements, sometimes ten to fifteen minutes long, in front of a DVD. How long until some studio decides that an obnoxious product placement should be unskippable?

Copyright started out as a way to ensure innovation in creative works. It is not a natural, innate right of a person. It is intended to ultimately benefit society, not the artist. It was limited in scope and in time. You were expected to live out the copyright on your works. Now, copyright has been extended to the point where an artist's children may not live long enough to see his work enter the public domain. It has not changed to keep up with the changing nature of our now-digital world. And I think that's to the detriment of us all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Oh wow, some writer at PlanetOut was really feeling his Wheaties this morning.

"God's Rottweiler" growls at same-sex marriage

Pope Benedict XVI lived up to his "Rottweiler" nickname this weekend when he chewed into same-sex marriage and Spain's Socialist government.

Like the tenacious dog breed he's been equated with, Benedict indicated that having sunk his teeth into Spain's newfound secularism, he's not about to loosen the bite...

He savaged marriage equality before even getting off his papal plane from Rome. Questioned on the role of same-sex marriage in society, the pope told reporters: "According to human nature, it is man and woman who are made for each other and to give humanity a future."

Critics have been swift to point out that an old man who's experienced neither relationships nor much life outside the church is unlikely to be the most qualified adviser on the subject of love and marriage. Regardless of this screaming anomaly, nearly 1.5 million devotees turned out to hear him.

Bitchy queens: 1, Man in a white dress with a funny hat: 0

Monday, July 10, 2006

No, seriously

  1. Right-wing, pro-life nutjob finds the Onion.
  2. Pro-life nutjob find Onion article, "I'm Totally Psyched About This Abortion!"
  3. Pro-life nutjob blogs a response to the fictional author of the Onion piece, not realizing it's satire.

The scariest thing is these people are allowed to raise children.

(Via Curly Tales of War Pigs, via Pharyngula, via ... oh I give up.)

UPDATE: It gets even better.

UPDATE #2: ArchPundit points out in the comments that this guy just keeps digging himself a hole.

UPDATE #3: Bang, bang, bang; he just keeps going! Not only that, apparently, the whole thing was a "joke" from the get-go. I guess the stupid "intellectual left" just couldn't understand his vast , right-wing wit. Also, all the thousands of comments he's been getting for the past few days, from all over the country have now been purged from the site. No sign of them remains.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I have these little tiny snails in my aquarium. They came free with some of the plants, I think. Buy one red wendtii crypt, get ten million snails free! They're harmless, and may actually help to keep the tank clean, but I still pick them out when I can. I never really knew where they were all coming from until the other day. This explains it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What makes a delusion?

I don't grok religion. I don't know why, it just slides right off my brain like it was non-stick coated. I don't mean I don't understand certain religious beliefs, I mean I don't understand why anyone has those beliefs. Generally, religious people have the religion they grew up with, which says to me that it's an emotional thing, a comfort thing. In other words, people believe and behave the way that they do because they are used to believing and behaving that way.

I think we can all agree that the Heaven's Gate cultists were nuts. They killed themselves so their souls could go to another planet on board a UFO that was hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet, for crying out loud. But are the Raelians similarly nuts? The head of that religion believes a 25,000 year old alien named Yahweh communicated with him directly in an encounter he had with a UFO in 1973. The beliefs of the Raelians really aren't all that much more outlandish than the beliefs of Scientologists, with their beliefs in extraterrestrial past lives.

As of 1999, 47 % of Americans believed that the Antichrist was already walking the earth (a Jew, of course, according to Jerry Falwell) and 45% believe Jesus will return in their lifetimes. So, basically, half of all Americans think the end of the world is imminent. Are these beliefs really any different from what mainstream fundamentalist Christians believe? The Heaven's Gaters believed that their souls were rising up somewhere to be taken to an extraterrestrial paradise. Falwell's crowd thinks that they will be taken up into a supernatural paradise. What is different between the beliefs of the Gate-ists and the Rapture-ists? Is it just the ubiquitousness of their belief system?

Religion requires belief in shadowy, ill-defined worlds of things that can never seen, never be experienced. Things that aren't actually there. Some of these beliefs, apparently, are things to be respected; some are not. If my friend comes to me and says, "Dude, I totally saw a unicorn last week," I am expected to disbelieve him. If he says, "Dude, Jesus totally rose from the dead two thousand years ago," there are those that say that, if I do disbelieve him, I will be punished for all eternity. Yet, ultimately, why are these two things different? If anything, the latter case is worse. I can judge my friend's character based on how well I know him, and whether he has a tendency to say outrageous things, so I should be able to judge whether it is reasonable or not to believe that he actually did see a unicorn. When he talks of Jesus, he's just repeating something he was told by others. All religion is hearsay.

My sister is finishing up her psych rotation, and told me a story about a woman that is absolutely convinced the voices in her head will not stop unless she returns to the small town of her birth and marries the priest that baptized her. Obviously she belongs in the psych ward. But why don't the majority of Americans that believe in angels belong there right alongside of her? If I told you that there was a leprechaun in my garden, you'd lock me up. If I told you an angel had visited me in my garden, there are a lot of people that would sit down and politely ask what he had to say.

There's a lot more spinning in my head, but I'm going to end this now before I ramble on and bore you, gentle reader (too late). More later.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

One is the loneliest number

There's an article in today's NY Times about how the social circles of Americans are shrinking to include family, a spouse, or sometimes no one at all. It says that about 25% of all Americans have no close confidants at all.

The article's pretty short, go read it; it won't take long. But I was interested to see this paragraph:

The study "should provide a wake-up call to our society," said Bill Maier, a vice president and psychologist in residence with Focus on the Family, the evangelical Christian group. "We're missing out on deep, meaningful interpersonal relationships."

Focus on the Family. One of the most virulently anti-gay, not to mention, anti-gay-marriage organizations out there. On one hand complaining about the fact that we aren't forming "deep, meaningful interpersonal relationships," but on the other hand, fighting against the ability of gay Americans to form healthy, stable, and long-term relationships.

There's something ironic in there, but I just can't quite put my finger on it.