Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Mr. Obey, who made that iconic Obama poster that's been parodied to hell and back (a trend previously featured in this space), not always very successfully, is thrilled that he's made the cover of MAD Magazine.

Also via Boing Boing.

New Olympic Sport

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Shallow? Yes. Petty? Yes. Funny? Hell yes!

Via Boing Boing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Dead, But Maybe I Wish I Were

Moving, to paraphrase Babs Bush, rhymes with "witch."

Saw that on Bartcop, thought maybe it might give people a chuckle.

So I got all the heavy lifting done, now I need to find space to store all my junk.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Without Further Comment

Via. Also via.

Separate, But Equal

It's been about 15 years (good lord!) since the inception of the trading card game or the collectible card game, and in that time we've had fantasy games like Magic: The Gathering, sci-fi games licensed from Star Wars and Star Trek, a pirate game where the cards are actually precut foam and you punch out the pirate ships, and (god forgive me) pogs. All of these are built around the same idea: take the roots of the trading card hobby and let the hobbyists play games with the cards they've collected.

Well, apparently someone looked at the industry and noted that no girls were playing, because none of the various strains, like Magic or Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! (yes, it's misspelled if you leave off the exclamation point) had horses. So they made one.

Let me introduce you to Bella Sara. Let that sink in for a moment. Someone believed that there was a significant niche in CCGs that hadn't been filled, i.e., girls, and decided to fill it with "something that girls will like," i.e., horses. Now, I'll be the first to tell you that horses are awesome, but I have recently come to the conclusion that liking horses is gendered, and furthermore, is considered absolutely necessary in order to appeal to girls. I will bet you that any toys marketed to girls that don't have to do with dressing up will have horse accessories. Barbie has horses. My Little Squamous Horror Pony is nothing but horses. There's nary an equinous being in Masters of the Universe, but its spinoff She-Ra had all kinds of horses. And now apparently the fact that Magic has all kinds of unicorns and winged horses and various horsey cards, and I'm sure there are similar things in Yu-Gi-Oh! has escaped notice and they're marketing a CCG to girls and of course it's all about horses.

And this is wrong on all kinds of levels. Not every girl likes horses; girls aren't going to buy anything you try to sell them just because you slapped OMGPonies!! on it; and just because it has horses doesn't mean boys are going to shun it.

But toy manufacturers believe all that, especially the last sentence. That's probably why the only horsey toys ever sold for He-Man were robot horses, and in fact why He-Man rode a frakking green tiger into battle because horses aren't sci-fantasy barbarian hero enough. Toys marketed to boys in the 80s show a marked lack of horsiness (and animals in general), whereas the 80s are the heyday of My Little Pony (and Pound Puppies, come to think of it).

I don't know when or why horses became "girl stuff." It was probably the 80's, if not earlier. Considering that cowboys were hot in the '50s and '60s, and cowboys are deeply entwined with horses, you could say horses were boy's stuff then; but they were also girl's stuff, since (among her menagerie of animals) Supergirl had a steed, Comet the Superhorse (possible squick warning!). Perhaps the fact that cowboys revolved around both horses and handguns made the genre acceptable to boys.

I've ranted long enough. Precisely why horses are girls' stuff should probably be left until later, and likely enough to someone with a different education than myself. But this is the Internet; if you had to know what you were talking about, it'd be a lot less crowded!

Just FYI: I first heard of Bella Sara on FSTDT, where someone was going on about how messages like "Believe in yourself!" were the work of Satan, probably because such things take Jesus out of the big chair.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Reason For The Season

Today is Columbus Day, a day when we citizens of the United States celebrate the discovery of our continent -- and maybe a couple others, too, but who cares? -- with a solemn day of having to wait another day for our next Netflix delivery.

And why, you ask, O my darling and O the delight of my eyes?

Well, I'd tell you a story, but why should I, when someone else has done an amazingly accurate yet concise summation of the political and socioeconomical forces at work behind this amazing discovery, without which we would not have this great nation of ours -- and a couple others, beside -- and doubtless without which we would all still live in the lands of our forefathers and yes this whole sentence is a question simply because I asked why?

Via Pharyngula.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jebus Cripes on a Cracker, People

I have been reading Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert's investigative piece in Salon, Sarah Palin's Radical Right-Wing Pals.

Back in the early '90s, when Sarah Palin was elected to the Wasilla City Council, she was mistrusted by local secessionists, led by Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll, who thought she'd been hand-picked by Democrats to rubber stamp the city's tax hike proposals.

Apparently, she learned to trust their judgment, because

he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. “We were telling her, ‘This is probably what’s going to happen,’” he said. “‘The city is going to give this many people raises, they’re going to pave everybody’s roads, and they’re going to pave the City Council members’ roads.’ We couldn’t have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true.”

Oh, boy, real prognosticators, here.

All right. I hereby predict that in the coming four years, in this next president's term, whoever that may be, the following things will happen:
  • The federal government will try to collect taxes through the IRS;
  • Someone, somewhere will be shot in suspicious circumstances; and
  • A (male) Republican congressional leader will get caught trying to have sex with something he really shouldn't
If these three things come true, you can thereafter trust my political judgment implicitly.

These predictions that Mr. Chryson made are so broad and so general that they hardly seem noteworthy. Some people got raises? Good for them! Was it certain people who got raises, while others didn't? That might indicate cronyism. Did certain peoples' roads get paved, while others didn't? That might indicate corruption. But if you mean to say these things, you ought to be well-enough versed in your talking points to get those across in an interview.

In this case, Mark Chryson seems merely to be suggesting that because he told Sarah Palin that the city government would attempt to fulfill the functions of government, she initially doubted him but soon came to see the wisdom of his words. In other words, Mark Chryson makes it look like Sarah Palin is dumb or gullible, and while I'm certain that's not the case, it still makes for bad publicity.

An Oversight On My Part

I must admit I haven't made much mention of Making Light here on the Gyre. I have come to think it was a severe oversight on my part, and hence I am blogrolling it.

I have just got done reading Teresa Nielsen-Hayden's post about Melanoma and Narcissicism. It is, of course, about John McCain and Sarah Palin. I think Teresa has many good points, but there's one I want to point out. Quotha:

I’m going to bring up a touchy subject: the early reports suggesting that Trigg Palin is the son of Bristol rather than Sarah Palin. That was a nasty episode. Whose fault is that? Sarah Palin’s, first to last. She didn’t give birth to Trigg all alone in a cave. There have to have been multiple witnesses to the labor and birth. None of them could step forward without violating patient privacy. All Sarah Palin had to do was give a couple of them permission to say they’d been there, and that she was the mother.
Now, I have further problems with this whole mess, and I think leftblogistan has a responsibility for the utter depravity with which they slavered over these rumors that cannot be excused by saying Palin should have released her maternity records. That feels too much like victim-blaming to me; but this is problematical because Palin is not a victim:

But she didn’t do that. Why not? IMO, because it made her look like an injured party (she obviously enjoyed that, and got loads of mileage out of it), and drew attention away from the rest of her problems. The other consequence of leaving the story in play was that seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got dragged through a cubic mile of mud, then paraded in front of the RNC on primetime television as a Moral Example. It’s fatuous to claim it was Bristol’s choice. Even grown men who have the law on their side would think twice before crossing Glorificus Palin; and Bristol is her resourceless minor child.

I agree that Palin is such a narcissist with absolutely no empathy for other people that she would gladly subject her daughter to all this publicity and pawing-over just so she'd look like a martyr.

I suppose that if I had grown up being taught to glorify a martyr, I would jump at my chance to appear as one myself.

Let me borrow an image from the McCain campaign: Did you know John McCain was a fighter pilot in Vietnam? No? Not surprising, seeing as the only word linking "McCain" and "Vietnam" is "POW," but the image stands. If we cast President McCain as a fighter pilot, are we reassured that his copilot, the one who helps him fly the plane of state from the back seat, is a spotlight-hogging ham with a martyr complex and a fistful of grudges?

Go, as they say, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In Case You Were Curious

I used to watch this. I used to love it. My parents are nice enough not to have thrown out all my boy-dolls action figures yet. I was devastated when my local TV network stopped showing it.

I saw some more action figures in a store a while back. These weren't mint-condition original-run toys, these were new-made using the original dies. Someone retooled an entire factory to run these things off. I guess we children of the '80s are indulging our nostalgia now that we have actual consumer power. NBC just premiered a remake of Knight Rider in which Kitt can turn into all sorts of Ford vehicles, I shit you not he turned into a pickup truck just to ride the rails into a subway station for the climax of the pilot. That's about all I cared to watch, thank you.

And yes, in case you're still curious (in order of appearance): Adam, Cringer, He-Man, BattleCat, the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms, Orko, Trapjaw, Mer-Man, Beastman, and Skeletor, over an indeterminate background and then Castle Greyskull. I only had to look one of those up. I'll let you guess which one.

You better believe this is going under White and Nerdy!

Two Things Orlando Has

The bad news first:

Orlando has the Holy Land Experience, which is a theme park run by The Bible Network that sounds like it was ripped off of a classic rock'n'roll album (are you ... experienced?). It features such things as wandering Roman centurion tour guides, reenactments of stories from the Bible, awful musical groups (including the Holy Land Experience Singers and Last Adam), and cheezy things like the Crystal Waters (a lit-up fountain performance; presumably a holy and blessed lit-up fountain performance), an amazingly plastic-looking Ark of the Covenant which isn't killing anybody or anything (boooo-ring!) in a Wilderness Tabernacle that also includes a menorah (which I thought came later), and an animatronic John Wycliffe. When you have hundreds of employees reenacting the Biblical patriarchs and White Jesus, why spend money on a robot philosopher that needs maintenance, says the same thing over and over, and can't answer questions?

The good news next:

Baby ant-eater!

Holy Land Experience via Morgan.
Baby ant-eater via Cute Overload.
(Which is not to say Morgan's never sent me anything good, just that this was egregious enough to post and barf over.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pam Spaulding, I Frankly Wasn't Disappointed

Some people got drunk and spoke their minds in front of a digital camcorder, and of course now it's up on YouTube and Pam Spaulding has mentioned it on Pandagon. The twist is, this was recorded somewhere in southeastern Kentucky, and so Pam clucks her tongue at the Bluegrass State in general and cites this video as a prime example of "why Appalachia may never be fertile ground for Barack Obama voter base growth."

I respect Pam's work on LGBT issues, and her work on black issues, and her work on Taser abuse, and I certainly respect her ability to wade into the fever swamps and pull out idiocy for us to mock on Pandagon. I certainly can't understand what it's like to have a marriage that my state won't recognize. But I do resent it when Pam holds the whole of Kentucky responsible for the drunken comments of one of its citizens.

This isn't the first time she's done it, either. Earlier this year, when Barack Obama failed to convince the majority of Kentucky Democrats to vote for him, Pam summarized the outcome of the primary in a post titled, "Clinton wins Kentucky, race chasm proven again." Now, I'm not expert enough to discuss the merits of the "race chasm" theory, but the associations in the title would suggest that Pam doesn't have a good opinion of Kentucky. This was borne out in the body of the post, when Pam describes Kentucky Dems as "working-class, less educated whites" who are "unwilling" to vote for Obama.

Now, as then, Pam refers to these drunken residents of Kentucky as "working-class, ignorant voters."

She follows up her post about the YouTube video with a much longer post of recent race troubles in her home state of North Carolina, which is curious since she chose to open the piece by clucking her tongue at Kentucky in the manner of a disappointed nanny. Since she led with "Kentucky couple get plastered and say something dumb," and makes no mention of North Carolina in the title, despite having roughly four times as many column-inches full of North Carolina jerks, she obviously believes that Kentucky racists outweigh those of North Carolina.

But we're* not the only state in the nation with race problems. A Florida teacher recently busted out the n-word. Mell Kuhn, mayor of Arkansas City, Kansas, won a trophy for his profoundly racist turn in blackface and drag. Virginia recently dumped George "Macaca" Allen, but it hasn't hurt his career any.

But apparently those faults are owned by the individuals in question. Florida isn't at fault for its teacher's comments. Kansas as a whole is not asked to denounce Mell Kuhn. Virginia did the right thing by voting Jim "Boots" Webb into "Macaca" Allen's seat. Kentucky, by contrast, is full of "working-class, ignorant voters" who are too dumb to realize they are the subjects of a "GOP f*cking over."

Pam, I do deeply respect all of your work. But you haven't shown a whole lot of understanding of Kentucky, and in fact it seems that you are ready to dismiss the whole state because two facts came together. First, there are racists in Kentucky. Second, Kentucky didn't vote for Obama. Ergo, you are ready to give up on the Bluegrass state and wash your hands of the whole deal. You've shown that you'll take any opportunity to raid the cookie jar of excoriation towards Kentucky. Well, I've caught you with your hand in it again, and I must say, you may think Kentucky can do better, but you certainly haven't exceeded my expectations.

*Disclaimer: I am writing this from Tennessee, where I now live and work, but I was born and bred in Kentucky. Make of that what you will.

POSTSCRIPT: I do notice that it's the woman in the video who's the Hillary voter and who repeats that tired Barack Obama is a Muslim! meme that gets called out first by Pam, and then commented on. She does note, after she posts the video, the two equally-drunk men who say "she likes them n----s" despite her protestations of "Black's got nothing to do -- ," albeit without any comment from Pam about the exchange. Is what we have here, perhaps, lingering feelings about The World's Biggest Racist, a/k/a The First Black President, Bill Clinton?

It's A Mighty Important Question



Hat tip, Pharyngula.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dear Clients: Help Me to Help You

Dear Clients:

I know that love knows no bounds, no obstacles, and the very word "no" (or at least it should).

I am all for helping you with your situation, in which you believe you were fired because you are dating a young woman who works for the company you're doing construction work for. I am very sympathetic to your plight, believe me.

But please, please, please do not consistently refer to the woman who stole your heart as "my little girl." It does not help me maintain my equilibrium while you're complaining to me that The Man done you wrong, that you keep saying "I'm dating this little girl over here."

I would be much obliged if you would find another appellation for your belle.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.



Please Restrain Your Musical Genius

So you've spent a long day in the studio, recording your latest magnum opus for your latest record. It's a rockin' song, it stands on its own two feet, and it does what it needs to do and ends before people get bored.

Then the label calls. They've heard some of what you're doing with this song, and they like it so much they want to put it out as a single. That's great, it's a wonderful song, but it's a minute too short to be a single.

What can you do? Adding a verse is right out; it'll disrupt the perfection of the song. It doesn't work at a slower tempo; you'd have to slow it right down to snoresville to get another minute out of it. Anyway, your studio time is running out, you gotta get this done today.

And then you get a bright idea. All you have to do is repeat the chorus and fade out over a (long, excruciating) sixty seconds, but to keep people from being bored, halfway through, you kick it up a key. Walla! Musical perfection.

... Except not. Such a cop-out is apparently known as the Truck Driver's Gear Change, and some people want you to cut it the heck out. It seems as though the worst repeat offender is Michael Jackson, but no genre is safe, except perhaps "that hippity-hoppity stuff all the young coloreds really like these days" [/John McCainOld Man on the Front Porch].

Via Pandagon.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes

The Smithsonian has recently discovered a couple dozen photographs taken in and around Dayton, Tennessee in June and July, 1925, many of which concern principals in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

That's John Thomas Scopes, up top there. What I find most interesting, however, are the photographs of the town and its environs.

View these photographs on Flickr.


Linda's female cat, Mischief.

Now, Dad always referred to any cat that was annoying him as "mischief," so I was inclined to view the dubbing of the little, grey girl-kitten with this same title as asking for trouble. She hasn't been violent or aggressive through all the years Linda has had her; indeed, she's inclined to disappear when irritated or confronted with changed circumstances, like a puppy, only to reappear, none the worse for wear, a few days later. Either she lives in the wild, or she finds a cranny to hide in somewhere in Linda's basement.

Thursday night, after the debates, Mischief tracked blood into Linda's kitchen. It wasn't hers, which has left us with the mystery of just whose blood it was.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Who Can Remember That Bygone Era of January, 2008?

Captured live in the wild, over at DailyKos:

Michigan was the one HUGE vulnerability in the Kerry State firewall that Obama has working for him, due primarily to the fact there was no primary there.

Oh, I should hope you remember the Michigan primary, buddy. That's the one where you threw a big old tantrum 'cause your fair-haired boy kept his name off the ballot and so no one voted for him.

That's one of the ones our Party Leaders weren't going to seat, then they seated them at 50%, with the votes split evenly between Obama and Clinton.

So you're right: There wasn't actually a primary in Michigan, because the Democratic Party Leaders deemed it null and void with their smoky-room, closed process and arm-twisting at the Rules & Bylaws Committee in June.

I don't see how screwing over the Michigan and Florida voters is going to work in Obama's favor. Even if Obama didn't know what Donna Brazile and the other DNC poobahs were doing, he benefitted from it, and has emerged as the front-man for the entire Democratic Party. He's going to get the blame, well-deserved or entirely undeserved, and I don't see how that's "working for him," Mr. or Mrs. Kossack.

Exactly how is Obama working to overcome the resentment of Michigan voters who may blame him for stealing their primary votes? Serious question, here. It's a vital insight to what kind of president Obama will be, if he ignores how people are unhappy with him.

Via lambert at Corrente.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Terry Pratchett and the Epic in the Mundane

Excessive verbiage warning! Shorter me: Terry Pratchett rawks here read his latest book.

Please read this essay on Terry Pratchett and Discworld by Donna Royston.

Just to sum up for those who have (or won't) read the essay, Ms. Royston examines Pratchett's ouevre in depth by considering three books, The Color of Magic, Interesting Times, and Making Money.

At the end of Color of Magic, she argues, Pratchett presents us with this beautiful and epic image of Rincewind dropping off the Disc, over the Rim and into the void. She then says that Pratchett willfully turns away from the terror inherent in that beauty and finds joy and freedom elsewhere in his stories. While he does use fear and tension to great dramatic effect in the later books, he also begins to turn away from the bounding scope of that first book to focus on the infinite space bound within the nutshell of Ankh-Morpork.

Pratchett has said that Rincewind is his least favorite character, simply because Rincewind runs away from everything. While this invariably drops him further in it, to the point that in The Last Hero he comes and volunteers rather than suffer the indignities of the interim, it also has the effect of widening the scope of the story. In hiking his way across the Disc, Rincewind creates lots more land and people that Pratchett has to come up with and detail. Given the physical limits of his books, that pretty much means he's got less time to spend on each location.

We can see him tiring of this forced lack of detail as the books progress. Perhaps what Pratchett likes most of all is coming up with an engaging character and letting him or her loose on the world. He likes to play with the Discworld. Once he got tired of Rincewind, he wrote about Granny and Nanny and Magrat; Vimes and Carrot and Colon and Nobby; Ridcully and Ponder and the Bursar. In his last few books, written in the last 5 years or so, his established characters have started to take a back seat to the new ones. In Monstrous Regiment, Vimes and the Watch hang around the wings, and we see them through Polly's eyes, which amounts to seeing them again for the first time.

In addition, he's limited the scope of his books. A number of novels written since the late 90's have taken place wholly within Ankh-Morpork and its surroundings; these are mostly the Watch novels, although Moist von Lipwig gets as far as the brassica fields near Pseudopolis before his parole golem catches up with him, and no farther. Having so much time to detail the city, then, has allowed it to grow and develop. There's a street map of Ankh-Morpork now. The clacks, which seemed to come out of nowhere between one novel and the next, have revolutionized the city, and also provided one more vector for a threat to its Hegemony. Ankh-Morpork has grown from a parody of Lankhmar and Greyhawk into a pastiche of New York, London, and Hong Kong, even as its citizens become more real and empathetic. The stamp-collecting craze in Going Postal has a visceral enthusiasm behind it, as the Ankh-Morpork mob becomes something other than a threat. Pratchett introduces new characters, no matter how briefly, and makes it easy to connect with the ones you're supposed to be sympathetic with, and to despise the bullies and petty people. Even the time-travel gimmick of Night Watch becomes something more than a mere gimmick, because it ties well-established characters together. For instance, we finally know how Reg Shoe came to have his particular brand of social activism.

In any less capable author's hands, this focusing-in on the lives of a few people might become petty and trite, as their problems and the solutions they find utterly fail to shake the foundations of Pseudopolis. Pratchett has a gift for making us really care about the widow's mites that are at stake in Making Money, and he really makes us root for the little person whose problems may not matter to the Great A'Tuin, but really can spell the end of the world for the people involved.

Pratchett has achieved a level of mastery that few other authors have reached before him. He is a fitting role model and hero for every aspiring writer and dreamer in the world. Hopeful authors could certainly do much worse, and little better, than follow in his footsteps, even though they hardly ever leave the banks of the Ankh anymore.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This cute little fawn was apparently rescued by C-section after its mother was fatally struck by a car.

Via Cute Overload, who got it via the Daily ... you gotta be kidding me ... The Daily Mail.

I guess even right-wing isolationists have hearts.

I'm Dreaming of a Mars Snowfall

I'm dreaming of a Mars snowfall
It's never been observed before
Where the craters get scarred
And Phoenix tries hard
To see snowflakes on the ground

I'm dreaming of a Mars snowfall
With ev'ry photo sent along
As long as NASA says go
And may all your regolith be white