Archive for January, 2011

James Dobson wants guys to be more “aggressive” with his daughter

January 28, 2011

Why hello there, zombie-lady.

Richard Land is this radio talk show guy who went and had James Dobson of Focus on the Family on. Some poor intern at People For the American Way listens to all of these shows and excerpts the really funny parts. Just recently, they found this:

Land: You know, it’s true because boys have learned – first of all, they’re not encouraged to be aggressive; they’re encouraged to be passive and be perpetual boys – and so they’ve learned, in a culture that is training women to be sexually aggressive, to just stand and wait.
It’s why so many of our young people aren’t getting married – I know girls like this, women like this in the twenties and thirties who desperately want to get married.
Dobson: I have one of them. I have a daughter who is the catch of the century – I mean she is a wonderful, beautiful girl and she loves people, she loves the Lord and there are no guys out there.
I mean there are very few that are not tainted by the sitcom kind of attitude toward men where they’re just fools …
Land: They’re adolescents. They’re middle-aged adolescents. I have a daughter as well who would very much like to be married.

OK, I get the hint! I will aggressively date both of your daughters! Finding James Dobson’s daughter’s picture (above) was easy, but I have to say that maybe the fact that I found it at a website called LadiesEncounter.com has something to do with the fact that she’s not married. Her name is Danae, and here is a short description of the lecture or whatever she gave for that group:

Cups are made of fine china, stoneware, ceramics, plastic or paper…it’s what’s inside them that counts.  Danae Dobson, Christian author and speaker, spoke about what spills out of our cups in her lesson “Don’t Bump My Cup.”  She revealed how situations from receiving a harsh word to a crisis reveal what is inside of a person.

She sounds very fascinating! I would love to spend an evening with her discussing how we are all just like little cups. Awesome!

Anyway, I learned that Land was referring to one of his two daughters, and I don’t know which one it was and I’m not even sure if the people with the corresponding names are his daughters, so I’ll just lay off them, I guess. Even I’m not that mean.

My e-mail interview with Betsy Rothstein, the brilliant mind behind FishBowelDC

January 26, 2011

Subject: WHY AM I BLOCKED?

Josh: Please unblock me immediately. Thanks.

Betsy Rothstein: who are you? Why should I care?

J: Unblock me right now please. Thank you!

B: Listen…asshole. Answer my questions and I might consider it. Anyone who acts like a jerk on the site can and will get blocked and I owe you zero explanation.

J: My name shows up in the email so you know who I am. And you want comments is why you should care. Now please unblock me RIGHT NOW. Thanks!

B: No. I don’t have to do anything. Tell me where you work, who the hell you are. You clearly don’t know how to behave properly.

J: I already told you who I am. Now UNBLOCK ME RIGHT NOW because it is very important that I am able to comment on your blog!

B: look. I don’t care. Go away.

J: I WASN’T ASKING I WAS TELLING.

B: oh really. Go to hell. I’m TELLING you that too.

J: Yeah, whatever, just unblock me right now. Do it to it.

B: You don’t get to order anything.
We don’t want you on the site. Final.

J: Lots of people want lots of things. That’s not the issue. The issue is that you immediately unblock me. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

B: the issue is you have zero rights here. Got it?

J: No. You are incorrect. You will immediately unblock me. Thank you.

J: Look Betty, I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot here. The truth is that if you review my comments, you’ll find that I’ve been nothing but supportive of your work and have only offered encouragement. I do this because I truly believe you are a candle in the darkness of Washington politics bringing truth and freedom to us all – no matter what everyone else says about you. So I implore you to please unblock me. Thank you for your courteous and quick responses.

Toy Story 3

January 26, 2011

I’ve decided to give myself this project of writing up these timestamped reviews of movies nominated for best picture for the Oscars. This way readers can talk about them at parties without having to actually watch them. They are all guaranteed to be 100% accurate, so don’t bother fact-checking or anything. Think of these as Cliff’s Notes, except they’re for people with a fear of movies instead of the illiterate. You can trust me.

0-5 Minutes:

A train is transporting people across the desert to the nearest concentration camp. But it’s been hijacked by a man with an inoperable tumor on his gargantuan head, and Tom Hanks is trying to thwart his plot so the gypsies can be exterminated on schedule. A fight ensues, the gypsies are frightened, but they’re all saved at the last minute by Wernher von Braun. This is all going to turn out to be someone’s dream or something.

OK, it was a flashback. Close enough. When he was a child, Andy used to summon the power of his dark Lord Satan in order to bring his inanimate toys to life. In exchange, the devil took the lives of 6 of Andy’s unborn brothers and sisters, prompting his parents to see a fertility doctor to find out what was going on with all these miscarriages. They received no explanation.

Cut to a montage of Andy growing up with crippling agoraphobia with his “toys” as his only companions. As he went through adolescence, he developed persecutional delusions in which his toys were secretly conspiring against him. And so he locked them up in a box indefinitely without charges.

Andy’s fears, though the product of a damaged and paranoid mind, were of course well-founded. The toys really were plotting Andy’s demise. Fortunately they are awful at being terrorists and the plan to kill him with a cell phone-activated IED failed.

5-17 Minutes:

Tom Hanks in Toy Story 3

Tom Hanks is going by the pseudonym Woody. He is the Muqtada al-Sadr of the toy insurgency and announces that soon Andy will implement a prisoner transfer from Block one-one-three-eight. Andy’s mom botches the transfer and puts all the toys but Woody before a firing squad. Woody accidentally rescues them at the last minute while dumpster diving for used coffee filters.

18-21 Minutes:

Woody is a staunch reactionary who fears change. He tries to rile up the insurgents for one last terrorist attack, but nobody really has it in them anymore. Andy’s mom continues the prisoner exchange.

21-31 Minutes:

Andy’s mom brings them to a free love commune in the middle of a rave party. Lotso is the big pimp who will get you “anything at all.” He also preaches on the subjects of eternal salvation in exchange for loyalty to the Sunshine Day Care Commune and their anti-authoritarian ethos.

Due to his right-wing views on private property, Woody decides to ditch Lotso’s commune to go to college with Andy in order to help him show vulnerable female art majors that he’s in touch with his childhood and sensitive and shit. He hitches a ride with yet another garbage reciptical, this one pushed by some Mr Magoo looking motherfucker. Dude loves to hump him some trash. After he escapes, he’s kidnapped by a rival faction of the insurgency.

32-40 Minutes:

Back at the commune, the gang discovers the forced labor part of their daily routine. They are beaten mercilessly, and Lotso hangs the slowest worker at the end of every workday (weekends off). They petition the toy leadership for a redress of grievances, but von Braun goes rogue and tries to install wiretaps without a warrant in the leadership council’s private money laundering headquarters. He is discovered like the Watergate criminal he is.

40-46 Minutes:

Lotso steps in on Buzz’s enhanced interrogation and brainwashes him. It turns out that Mrs. Potato Head is a Remote Viewer and she experiences seeing Andy back at their old home. She finds that Andy really does love them, and that the only path to salvation is through His Divine Light. But since she and the others did not believe until they had seen, Lotso declared them all not blessed. Buzz is now in the Black Sleep of the Kali Ma, and he keeps the dissidents under 24 hour suicide watch.

47-53 Minutes:

Barbie disapproves of Ken’s role in Lotso’s Stalinist purges. Lotso explains that the newcomers must withstand a prolonged hazing period and that only with seniority will they rise through the ranks into the Butterfly Room. More force labor and torture is implied.

Meanwhile, Woody finds out how to get back to his personal lord and savior Andy on 4chan. Before leaving, Woody’s new friends do a LOST-style flashback to Lotso’s dark and sordid past, from before he rose to power at Sunnyside.

54-75 Minutes:

Woody is recruited by the CIA and goes on a covert operation to go to Sunnyside and terminate the command of Lotso with extreme prejudice. Together the insurgents carry out a tedious and uninspired plan to reverse Buzz’s brainwashing and escape from the compound. Eventually Darth Vader throws Emperor Lotso into the garbage.

76-87 Minutes:

More dumpster diving / trash humping, followed by what is supposed to be – I’m guessing, judging from the sappy music – an emotional ‘goodbye’ scene.

88-93 Minutes:

Andy violates his court orders to stay away from small children in order to scare a little girl named Bonnie with his demonic “toys.” They both share a little bit of psychotic delusion time together anthropomorphizing small pieces of plastic. Bonnie guilt-trips Andy into giving her the cowboy toy he wanted to keep for himself. Of course, Bonnie will later grow up to be a high-powered Hollywood agent.

THE END

I am very surprised that this was marketed as a children’s story, considering its extremely dark and disturbing subject matter. Shame on Pixar. Will nobody think of the children?

Similar:

Killing dogs for God in South Carolina

January 26, 2011

So in South Carolina, this kid brought his devil-worshipping dog to his aunt’s house, where she then did the responsible thing and made sure it couldn’t harm any children. At least that’s one way of putting it.

Another way of putting it would be that some crazy lady tortured and killed her nephew’s dog because it chewed on her Bible. From CBS:

A Spartanburg County woman has been charged with felony animal cruelty, accused of hanging her nephew’s pit bull with an electrical cord and burning its body after the dog chewed on her Bible, authorities said Monday.
When questioned by police and animal control officers, Miriam Smith told them the female dog named “Diamond” was a “devil dog” and she feared it might harm neighborhood children…

In case you were wondering, the article does have a picture of what a chewed up Bible might look like. And you should know that this is not the actress Miriam Smith who appeared in films like Capote and television shows like The X Files. I’m sure she would never do such a thing.

But this Miriam Smith apparently would and did. She called the pet a “devil dog.” I would bet that she used “devil” as an adjective a lot. And the problem is that nobody ever questioned her on it. She’d make some offhand comment about how this dog or that cat or the palmetto tree over there is possessed by the devil, and nobody would say something like,”Hey, what the hell are you talking about? You don’t seriously believe in demon possessions, do you?” Or, if they did, she just shrugged them off as just another demonic possession to be hanged and burned later.

But just maybe if enough people did respond that way instead of “respecting her beliefs” and saying nothing, as if it’s normal to believe in devils and demons in 2011 (and yes I do see the irony in referring to a Jesus-based dating system), then maybe Miriam Smith would’ve felt just a little bit less comfortable with the idea that her beliefs were acceptable, and tragedies like these could be avoided.

Nobody who reads this should be allowed to vote

January 26, 2011

Let’s all listen to this nice young man explain why only “virtuous” people should be allowed to vote, if we’re even going to bother with that old voting thing anymore. If we keep letting just anybody vote, we’re all going to die of cancer. Or something.

Stuff

January 24, 2011

News regarding drinking

January 24, 2011

I am going to start brewing my fist batch of beer today. It’s a pale ale called chinook. I don’t really know what chinook is, but it sounds vaguely familiar. That would be a great advertising slogan: “Drink Josh’s Chinook Pale Ale! It’s vaguely familiar!”

I’ll be joining an esteemed community of people who also brew their own beer, and this community includes one heroic gentleman named Raul Cano. He is a biology professor who had recently discovered some 45 million year old yeast encrusted in amber in Burma. Earlier he had also made similar discoveries in North and Central America, and he resurrected the microbes within it. Now he is taking the obvious next step and making beer with the ancient yeast. Apparently it tastes like Blue Moon.

In other ethyl alcohol-related news, there’s this (!):

This is going to be market tested in Panama, which is where the company with the brilliant minds who came up with this product is located. Hopefully soon it will make its way to the US and I won’t have to make it so obvious when I drink straight from the bottle. And it’s recyclable too, I guess! Here’s some awesome PR spin reported by Time:

Scottish Spirits mentions – well, merely suggests – that the drink “is the perfect size to be shared between three people who can mix it with other things like cola.”

Haha! That is adorable! Yeah, I’ll share this can of whiskey with two other people and then mix it with Pepsi! Maybe later we’ll do our taxes and plan for retirement! We definitely won’t each be sneaking a can in each jacket pocket the next time we go to the movies, popping a lid every time there’s gunfire, I’ll tell you that much! Not that I’d know anything about that, of course.

Here’s why Ricky Gervais is awesome

January 19, 2011

REPOST: Martian Jesus

January 13, 2011

A recently released picture of the Martian surface has ignited some controversy in the most widely circulated newspaper in the UK (“Has Jesus Christ Been Spotted On Mars?”). The question mark in the headline apparently means they’re not quite sure if there was an alteration of the Martian surface in order to make it sort of kind of look like Jesus:

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Jesus had 3 visible boobs.

Some possible explanations:

  1. After his resurrection, Jesus flew around the solar system to preach at organisms on other worlds. He couldn’t find any, so he decided to make a self-portrait on the surface of the planet to which humans would probably first travel. It was too much work, and Jesus gave up after a few years.
  2. Jesus was really a giant Martian buried underground, and when he punched his way out of his burial-place (like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 2), he left behind an outline of a vaguely human-ish figure on the Martian surface.
  3. Intelligent life on Mars which has since gone extinct heard about Jesus on Earth by being very quiet and listening in on the Middle East region 2000 years ago and then just decided to alter the surface of their planet to make it look kind of like a human, just for the fuck of it.
  4. Mars is a big planet on which erosion happens. There are no oceans on the surface, so that leaves a lot of possibilities for geological features which might kind of sort of look like a human. Since we’ve evolved in a way to recognize faces, it is not surprising that we would sometimes mistakenly perceive a face. There’s even a name for this phenomenon.

I wonder which is the most likely.

If it really were a face, then it should look that way from all angles. For example, here is a rotated picture of a human face which is still easy to identify as a human face:


Even though this is not how we normally see other humans, it is still easily recognizable as a face. And here’s a rotated shot of the same photo of the Martian surface:

Unless you’re already looking for Jesus here, you won’t see it. You have to want to see it. That should have given pause to whichever Daily Telegraph editor OK’d this story. On the other hand, ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue ad revenue…

Obama pals around with William Daley

January 10, 2011

Obama's Chief of Staff's friends pal around with terrorists

Last week Barack Obama announced that William M. Daley would be replacing Rahm Emmanuel as the White House Chief of Staff. And yeah, that would be the brother of current Chciago mayor Richard M Daley. Their father was Richard J Daley, who was also a mayor of Chicago.

The older (dead, actually) Richard Daley was mayor of Chicago from 1955 until 1976. Right in the middle of his tenure in office was the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which attracted lots and lots of anti-war protesters, whom in turn attracted lots and lots of police officers who then proceeded to beat up and throw tear gas at the demonstrators. Punching Dan Rather in the stomach was also a popular pastime at the convention.

A year later, also in Chicago, was the Days of Rage direct action demonstrations led by the Weatherman Organization where young people smashed windows, trashed fancy cars, and crippled one of Daley’s corporation counsels. And one of the people who led the riots in Chicago was BILL AYERS.

ATTENTION REPUBLCIANS: This is yet another connection between the Obama White House and Bill Ayers! I mean, sure, maybe it just shows that Obama is on the opposite side of 1960s radicals since he’s now appointing one of their main targets to a high government position. But whatever! It’s another name to add to the blackboard, right?

African-American Jim

January 6, 2011

One of the literary controversies that’s always left me the most befuddled is the reaction to Mark Twain’s portrayal of racism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Critics of Twain’s portrayal of racist characters as… well, racist, have for a long time been trying to either censor or water down some of the language used. And now it looks like they have to some extent succeeded. From Reuters:

Twain scholar Alan Gribben said he decided to reissue the 19th century classic “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” replacing the slur with the word “slaves” in all 219 places it occurs in the text because the original offended many readers.

Here’s the thing though: If you read that book and your conclusion is that Twain is saying that Huck and his dad are awesome for saying “nigger” all the time and that Huck and Tom should be admired for keeping Jim in bondage when it’s no longer necessary to do so as if it’s part of some really cool game – and by extension that Twain is saying that slavery and Jim Crow laws are wonderful – then you’re not just wrong, you’re borderline illiterate. Someone who comes to that conclusion might be able to mechanically read actual words on a page (probably moving their lips in the process), but totally fails when it comes to deriving a larger comprehension of the words they’re reading. And if you’re worried about the children who might not pick up on the completely obvious moral of the story, then that is the problem of the parents and teachers of said children and not of the rest of us who know how to read.

So either this Gribben person is missing the whole point of this book or he’s catering to those who do, as if they somehow matter. I would lean towards the latter, but either way, the term “Twain scholar” should not be applied to him. And in censoring the book in this way, Gribben’s actually whitewashing late 19th century racism. Replacing “nigger” with “slave” ostensibly makes the racism of the characters Twain is portraying and attacking less offensive (although Roger Ebert disagrees on that point). But what interest should we have in making those who believe in inherent racial inequality more likeable? Why is that a priority for literary critics, or anyone, for that matter?

This is really the most insidious way of attacking good satire that those who would censor it have. They draw on the good instincts we all have against stupidity and racism and then use it against the target of the work in question. But what other choice does an author have? How can you attack racism without actually portraying it in a character?

That’s where all of this starts to get ugly. You have to wonder what it is exactly these “many readers” are offended by. If it’s just the actual word “nigger” devoid of any context at all, then they’re borderline-illiterate morons who have no business dictating how books should be published. But it also could be that they do understand the larger context and just don’t like Twain’s message. It’s not exactly subtle, after all. That’s just not how the guy rolled. They want a friendlier, happier, most nostalgic view of Reconstruction in the south and this book is depriving them of that fantasy. So they’ll try to water it down and censor it even if they have to bend over backwards betraying their true feelings to do so.

Fortunately we’re not all dumbed down enough to let this slide. The Librarian of the Year is speaking out against it (In other news, there is such a thing as a Librarian of the Year), along with other actual scholars who aren’t as stupid and/or sensationalist as this horrible Alan Gribben person.

Pakistani politician assassinated by his own bodyguard over blasphemy

January 4, 2011

Salman Taseer was the governor of Pakistan’s most populous state from 2008 until he was shot and killed today. The main suspect is Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, an elite security guard who police say was angry at Taseer over his opposition to Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation. Here is the law in question from Pakistan’s criminal code:

Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
-§ 298

§ 298 then elaborates into some of the details, and there’s also more in § 295. The punishments vary from a fine up to death. It’s strange that there’s such a wide range since none of the specifics seem like they should be crimes at all: drawing Mohammed or defaming him, proselytizing for the wrong version of Islam, defiling the Qu’ran, stuff like that.

The death penalty associated with blasphemy in Pakistan has never actually been carried out. So when ignorant people like Qadri get worked up over efforts to reform these kinds of backwoods laws, they’re not necessarily looking for the government to actually execute people accused blasphemers because, after all, they never did. What they get out of it is a society where vigilantism and witch hunts are within social norms. You won’t automatically attract ridicule by making an offhand comment about how the Ahmadiyya should be persecuted because the law and the government are on your side, after all. But if they’re not, then it’s just that much more difficult to popularize an intolerant point of view.

Neo-Nazis take over a German village

January 4, 2011

OK, so this is incredibly frightening! Der Spiegel has this report about a village in what was once East Germany called Jamel. It was known as the home of a notorious neo-Nazi leader (Isn’t it illegal to be a neo-Nazi in Germany?) and now lots of his co-fascists have moved in as well. There are lots of Nazi graffiti and attack dogs and target practice in the woods and children praising Hitler on their way to school and burning down the houses of non-believers and other Nazi stuff like that.

It’s actually a lot like this fascinating documentary I just recently watched. Or Idaho.

The article follows a narrative of a couple who moved there because they wanted to get away from the city life of Hamburg. They didn’t realize what they were getting into, and now they’re practically the only normal people in town. Worse still, it’s pretty isolated and the local, state, and federal governments have basically given up and ceded the village to neo-Nazi rule by thuggery.

Stuff

January 4, 2011

We get spam

January 4, 2011

WordPress does a pretty good job of filtering out spam comments. We get lots of them at the BEAST, many of which are pretty funny because they’re awkwardly worded (“I very much enjoy this content, please continue,” etc.). But this one I took note of was weird in both its approach and the actual product/service it was trying to sell.

I don’t want to link to it because that would kind of defeat the purpose of having a spam filter in the first place, but here’s a screen shot of where you end up when you follow their link:

Do you see what they did there? They took that ever-popular “For Idiots” tagline used for that series of introductory books to every subject imaginable and avoided copyright infringement by substituting “For” with “4.” But unlike the books, calling their perspective customers idiots isn’t an appeal to self-depreciating humor; it’s just accurate. This product truly is for idiots – I’m sorry, “4” idiots.