Archive for the Cinema Category

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS HEMSWORTH

Posted in And now the snorting starts, Cinema, Why do people in other countries talk funny?, سكارليت جوهانسون on March 10, 2014 by paulboylan

Stay away from my wife.

In this frankly fictitious interview,  international celebrity Chris Hemsworth, known far and wide as the star of Thor and The Avengers, stopped by for a little chat.

PEOPLE OF EARTH:  Stay away from my wife.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: What?

POE: You heard me. Stay away from my wife.

HEMSWORTH:  I don’t know your wife.

POE: Then I guess it won’t be too difficult to stay away from her, will it?

HEMSWORTH:  I certainly hope so.

POE:  Me too. Me too.

 

 

 

 

 

THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH

Posted in And now the snorting starts, buffo, Canada, Cinema on October 27, 2012 by paulboylan

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HEADLINE – Chicago prepares for NATO summit

Posted in amusant, And now the snorting starts, おかしなふるまいの, अजीब, buffo, Cinema, greannmhar, Headline, Headlines, Is that really Ellie Goulding?, 재미, αστείος, ανόητο άτομα, kluchtig, lächerlich, Movies, News, neşeli, скарлетт йоханссон, Occupy Mordor, Paying Attention, photograph, Photography, Politics, Rage Against the Machine, snaaks, Stupid People, مصارعه, مضحك, مضحکہ خیز, خنده, خنده دار, سكارليت جوهانسون on May 17, 2012 by paulboylan

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MUNCIE, Indiana –  Chicago police are preparing as best they can for protests against the pending summit of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) that begins tomorrow.

“NATO sucks!” shouted Jason Rabinowitz, a protester protesting NATO policy.

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“We don’t understand,” said Raj Hempstead, President of NATO.  “We know the price of popcorn is ridiculously high, but does it really warrant rock throwing and people lighting themselves on fire in protest?”

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 “Look, we will lower the price.  We’ll lower the price of all movie theater concessions. Like Milk Duds.  We will lower the price of Milk Duds.  Just please stop yelling,” Hempstead said.

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NEW FEATURE – “OMFG” (this week: Battlestar Galactica – Blood and Chrome)

Posted in Art, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Cowboys and Aliens, Film, Mad Men, Missile Defense, Movies, music, photograph, Photography, Television, TV, USA! USA! USA! on March 22, 2012 by paulboylan

Every now and then something comes along that makes you stop and say OMFG.

This is one of those times.

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OMFG!!!

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BEYOND THE GRAVE – Interview with Ned Kelly

Posted in Australia, おかしなふるまいの, Celebrity, Cinema, Cowboys and Aliens, Crime and Punishment, disembodied heads of the rich and famous, пицца, good guys and bad guys, greannmhar, IN MEMORIAM, 재미, kluchtig, lächerlich, скарлетт йоханссон scarlett johansson, Review, snaaks, The Great State of Montana!, Uncategorized, مضحك, مضحکہ خیز, Why do people in other countries talk funny?, 滑稽, מצחיק, خنده دار on January 14, 2012 by paulboylan

Famed “Bush Ranger” Ned Kelly returns from the dead to participate in a frankly fictitious interview where he reveals the issues he cares about most.

PEOPLE OF EARTH: Mr. Kelly –

NED KELLY:  Call me Ned, cobber.

POE: Okay. Ned. It is a true pleasure and a real thrill to be speaking with you today.  I don’t mind saying that you are one of my all time biggest heroes.

KELLY: (Laughs, phlegm rattling in his bronchia, followed by a small cough) Hero? You don’t know anything about me, do you?

POE:  Actually, I know quite a lot about your life.

KELLY: Don’t come the raw prawn with me. You ain’t even Australian.

POE:  True, but I’ve spent time drinking heavily with Australians.

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KELLY: Oh, okay, that explains it, then.

POE:   Ned, on 28 June 1880, in Glenrowan –

KELLY:  I don’t want to talk about that.

POE:  What? What else is there to talk about?  That’s when –

KELLY:  I know what happened. I don’t want to talk about it.

POE: But the shoot out, the armour you made and wore, it is legendary.

POE: It was possibly the most important moment of your –

KELLY:  Yeah, yeah. I’m sick and tired of hearing about it and I don’t want to discuss it.

POE:  Well, then what do you want to talk about?

KELLY:  I want to talk about the film.

POE:  What film?

KELLY: The one with Mick Jagger.

Mick Jager

POE: Ah… eh… what?

KELLY: I want to talk about that awful film where Mick Jagger played me.

POE:  What about it?

KELLY:  Awful film. Jagger was terrible.

POE:  Yeah, okay, so?

KELLY:  Jagger was nothing like me.

KELLY:  Know what I want? I want that movie made again, with a different cast.

POE:  Do you have anyone in mind?

KELLY:  As a matter of fact, I do. I want Daniel Craig to play the role of Ned Kelly.

POE:  Daniel Craig?

KELLY:  Or Johnny Depp.

POE:  Johnny Depp?

KELLY:  Yeah. Did you see him in Ed Wood?  Incredible performance.  Me and my mates were shocked he wasn’t nominated for the Academy Award. Fucking tour de force.

POE:  Mr. Kelly –

KELLY: Or a Golden Globe, although, between you and me, I suspect that show isn’t really on the up and up.  I think the fix is in, if you know what I mean.

POE:  Thank you so much for –

KELLY:  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Ricky Gervais.  That munter is comedy gold, he is.

POE:  I thank Ned Kelly for spending quality time with us.

KELLY:  That was quality time?

POE:  Next time, my guest will be Mary Watson, and I will finally get to ask her what animal she would be if she could be any animal at all.

New Feature – FORGOTTEN MEDIA …………… First up – THE CORE

Posted in Astronomy, Cinema, End of the World Knock-Knock Jokes, Fire and Ice, Isnt nature wonderful?, photograph, Photography, Pop Culture, Review, Science, Science Fiction, The Wrath of God, سياسة on January 7, 2012 by paulboylan

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Let’s face it: most of what is created to tempt us into wasting time and spending money, with the hope of being entertained, is crap.

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It wastes our money. It insults our intelligence. Books, movies and television are engendered more often than not with the foundational assumption that the consuming public is composed of people with very low Intelligence Quotients and very, very low standards.

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When media executives think of us, this is what they see.

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And so much of it is fraudulent.  How many times have you seen a movie preview, grown excited by the prospect of a new movie, only to discover that the preview previewed a movie that doesn’t exist, like emphasizing characters and plot points that are incidental in the actual movie?  It happens all the time.

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I often encounter media, the excellence of which surprises me.  I’ll watch a television show, read a book, listen to a radio play, watch a movie and ask myself “why didn’t I hear about this sooner?”

When I look into it, I often find out that virtually no one has seen or heard of what  just surprised me.

I call it Forgotten Media – popular entertainment that wasn’t popular enough to make it into the popular conscience.  And there is a lot of it.  I was thinking that my legion of blog visitors might be interested in knowing more.

Today, quite by accident,  I saw a movie entitled The Core.

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The Core is a science fiction adventure film, and one of the best I’ve ever seen.  The plot is based on the simple question “what would happen if the earth’s core stopped rotating?”

If that question doesn’t create both interest and terror, then you probably don’t know how important the question is.  Simply put, all life on earth is possible only because our planet has a molten iron core that spins in the opposite to the earth’s rotation.  So if the earth rotates from right to left (east to west) the earth’s molten iron core spins left to right (west to east).  

Not all planets do this.  Mars doesn’t do it, which is why it will never be possible for humans to live on Mars.

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Never gonna happen.

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Here is how it works:  the earth’s molten core, spinning in the opposite direction to the earth’s rotation, generates a huge magnetic field that surrounds the earth like a force field.

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This force field prevents solar radiation from hitting the earth and killing every single living thing on the planet.

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So, if the earth’s liquid iron core stops rotating, it would cause the earth’s magnetic field to collapse, allowing solar radiation to hit the earth. And if that happens, everything from the smallest microbe to the largest blue whale dies.

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Very early in The Core, the main characters learn the earth’s core is slowing down, and the rest of the movie is a race against time to save the planet.

The cast – put together by the best casting director in the business, Tricia Wood – includes Aaron Eckhart, Hillary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci and Alfre Woodard, with a stand out performance by D.J. Quails as a computer hacker whom the US government  asks to “hack the planet” to keep the whole thing secret to avoid worldwide panic. 

The Core is directed by Jon Amiel, who also directed another of my favorite forgotten movies, Tune in Tomorrow.
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So what you have here is a well-written, well-acted, well-directed adventure film that nobody but me has seen (and maybe a few of you) and, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do.

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Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions – and Ray Gun Girls

Posted in 3D, Antique surgical instruments, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, dada, Droit de Suite, Droit Moral, космическая девушка, космическая девушка space girl, Fair Use, Family and Friends, Fire and Ice, Free Utilization Doctrine, French Impressionistic Knock-Knock Jokes, Fritz Lang, German Reformation Knock-Knock Jokes (1520-1553), Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Isnt nature wonderful?, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, morbidly obese French revolutionary philosophers, morbidly obese gymnasts, Nichola Tesla, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Post Modern Knock-Knock Jokes, Research and Development, Review, Romance Language Knock-Knock Jokes, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stoats, Sumerian Knock-Knock Jokes, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wilhelm Scream, TV, Uncategorized, USA! USA! USA!, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on March 11, 2011 by paulboylan


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By now you know I kind of dig Space Chicks.

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In addition to writing substantively on the historical, sociological and geopolitical aspects of Space Chicks, my purely scholarly passion led me to become the worlds leading authority on subject.

Professor Boylan presenting a paper on Space Chicks at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2006

When I first determined the importance of Space Chicks as a pop culture phenomenon,  I soon observed that there is an important Space Chick subset that is best described as “Ray Gun Girls.”  Simply put, a Ray Gun Girl is a girl often, but not always, wearing a space suit in close proximity to a ray gun, often, but not always holding the ray gun.

Like Space Chicks in general, Ray Gun Girls first appeared on the cover of pulp magazines.

And when Space Chicks migrated from pulp novel covers to film and television, Ray Gun Girls began showing up there, too.

In all honesty, most Ray Gun Girl images are fetish driven manifestations of arrested male adolescent wish fulfillment, amounting to little more than soft core pornography.

However, as the years went by science fiction matured, and Space Chick images began to include strong, capable women who were fully realized heroic figures as complex and detailed as any male hero. As this happened, the images of Ray Gun Girls also evolved into something more serious and less sexist.


To me, the entire phenomenon is really quite fascinating. I don’t have the time or inclination to explore in this blog why there is such a driving interest to depict women holding ray guns.  The psycho-sexual implications alone would fill more space than I have to work with here. However, it is worth noting that the Ray Gun Girl concept is distancing itself from sex object utility and is increasingly being seen as a sign of feminist empowerment.


I’m taking the time here to provide you with the opportunity to judge for yourself.  Below is a gallery of Ray Gun Girl drawings and photos representing only what I was able to download in a few minutes before I gave up and went on to more serious business.  Nevertheless, this incomplete sample is the most comprehensive collection of Ray Gun Girl pics anywhere on or off the internet.

I present them in the order my computer imposed due to file title.

[If you don't see any gallery below, then you need to go back up to the top and click on the link entitled something like "The Ultimate Ray Gun Girl Gallery."

I take no responsibility for any offense that may result from anyone accessing and scrutinizing any of the photos in that gallery.]

The Ultimate Ray Gun Girl Gallery [ Mädchen mit Waffen I'm Weltraum ]

Posted in Art, Astronomy, Avatar, おかしなふるまいの, Brave New World, Cinema, космическая девушка, космическая девушка space girl, Internet Fun!, 스타게이트유니버스, Missile Defense, скарлетт йоханссон, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Post Modern Knock-Knock Jokes, Research and Development, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Sports, Star Trek, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, the snows of yesteryear, The Wrath of Khan, Travel, Why do people in other countries talk funny? with tags , , , on March 11, 2011 by paulboylan

To access an image, click on it. When it comes up, click on it again to see it in its full size.

DID I MENTION I DIG SPACE CHICKS?

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, космическая девушка, космическая девушка space girl, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Getting it Right, Hapax Legomenon, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, Mad Scientists, Nichola Tesla, Photography, Politics, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Review, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, The Wilhelm Scream, Travel, TV, Uncategorized on July 4, 2010 by paulboylan

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Of course I have. Over and over again. Since I came to this place I have freely expressed my appreciation for space chicks.  I have written scholarly critiques of new media, expressing dissatisfaction with this television program or that new film because the program or film didn’t have enough space chicks. Conversely, I have expressed my approval when a program or film featured the proper quantity of quality Space Chicks.

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But what, academically speaking, is a Space Chick?  Is it merely a woman in space?

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The first woman in space.

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Clearly not. The media has depicted many women in space, not all of whom can be properly classified as Space Chicks.  And, where life has imitated art, only one female astronaut can be properly considered a Space Chick.

Allow me to elaborate, elucidate, pontificate and fabricate (but just a little):

As I’ve discussed earlier in this blog, pulp magazines acted as the vehicle through which science fiction entered popular culture.  These pulp magazines – published from the 1920’s through the 1950’s – embodied the motto “sex sells” and so habitually featured women on their covers.  For example:

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1950

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With this marketing heritage it was only natural that pulp science fiction magazines would feature, as often as possible, images of women, often scantily clad.

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A Space Chick who apparently likes lollipops.

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These were the original Space Chicks – objects of amorphous adolescent male fantasy.  And, as objects of early 20th Century amorphous adolescent male fantasy, these space chicks often needed rescuing from monsters.

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Film, and eventually television, adopted the pulp magazine formula and expanded upon it. In the same way that producers began insisting that any science fiction project include aliens, they also insisted that Space Chicks be part of whatever awful film or television show they were going to finance.

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But something happened that differentiated Space Chicks from their non science fiction counterparts. Space chicks were often depicted doing more than simply needing rescue and being more than merely sexy.  The Women of Tomorrow were shown to be, not just desirable, but also fast, strong, smart, capable and brave as any man.

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Cinema and television imitated the pulp formula and began depicting Space Chicks that were not just sex objects, but also intelligent, confident and professionally accomplished -little realizing that they were part of a social and political revolution.

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When humans actually began poking a tentative finger into outer space, life imitated art.  The Russians were the first to put a woman into space.  Long before they did, they tried to let their people, and the world, know what to expect.

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Make no mistake: this is a Space Chick.  We can’t see the rest of her, and her space suit is undoubtedly too bulky to determine the attractiveness of her physical charms, but her mascara, eye shadow, false eyelashes and lipstick tells us that she is ready for action.

Reality did not meet this expectation.  The actual first woman in space looked like this.

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There is a rumor that persists to this day that she was really a man in a wig.

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In any event, she was no space chick.  The United States did better, but none of the women NASA put into space can be characterized as Space Chicks. Even zero gravity – which one would think, like beer, would make women more attractive – tends to make things worse.

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Lesbians seem to adore this photo. I have no idea why.

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There is one exception – Mae Jemison:

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She is more than pretty.  She is a medical doctor. She is strong, smart, capable and brave enough to ride in the space shuttle – a crapshoot against disaster every time its engines ignite. But even more important for the purposes of this essay, her cuteness survives zero gravity. Click on the following link to see what I am talking about.

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Mae Jemison

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That isn’t just a picture. It is a pose. But that isn’t what makes Dr. Jemison a Space Chick.  What makes her a bona fide Space Chick is that, after actually going into space, she appeared as a minor characer on Star Trek!!!

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Dr. Mae Jemision is the only women who is a media space chick AND a real world Space Chick!

How cool is that?

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MEET KAREN (again) [UPDATED]

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Brave New World, Cinema, Family and Friends, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Headline, Humor, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, Paying Attention, Science, Small Town America, Television, The Wilhelm Scream, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on July 3, 2010 by paulboylan

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About a year ago, I asked all of you to go to a website devoted to the American cable television show Mad Men and vote for my dear friend, Karen, so that she could appear on that television program.  This is Karen:

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Sister of my spirit.

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Please note the ankle tattoo. I will NOT entertain discussion of her “tramp stamp” so don’t even ask.  I’m looking at you, Barnes and Bondi.

I was at our favorite sushi bar the other day with Karen, her husband Gerald and their daughter Laney.  Gerald looks like this:

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Gerald is possibly the most interesting person I know, and I know a lot of interesting people.  He is the guy who wrote a program called Ethereal now known as Wireshark, a network protocol analyzer.  If you don’t know what that is, then you can’t say you know what is really going on.

Gerald and Karen’s daughter, Laney, looks like this:

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So we are sitting there chatting, catching up on stuff, when suddenly, and without warning of any kind, Laney gasps and says:

“I swallowed my tooth.”

Laney is very, very young, and is losing her baby teeth. Well, at the moment she was chewing on and swallowing a bit of California Roll, one of her lose teeth dislodged and went down with the food.

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The culprit.

Laney was very unhappy, but soon was eating with gusto again.

But Karen was not satisfied.

“That is Laney’s first baby tooth. I am going to get that tooth,” she said to me, her words oozing with ruthless determination. “You know me,” she said. ” I am going to get that tooth.”

The visual image was, well, rather disgusting.  Karen saw it on my face and attempted to reassure me.

“I am going to use gloves,” she said.

Using gloves was not really the point.  The concept of Karen rooting through Laney’s – well, you know – was the image that was revolting me.

“Well, okay,” I said. “But I want pictures so I can post them on my blog.”

“Okay!” Karen said.

So, stay tuned!  Pics on the way!

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UPDATE

Karen succeeded . Here is the tooth:

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Karen assures me that she “soaked it in bleach” but – from my perspective – that isn’t really an important point.

When all is said and done, that tooth has a heck of a story associated with it.  And although the details may be a bit unsavory, it really is an amazing story. And isn’t that what all of this is about?

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HEADLINE – TESTICLE FESTIVAL HUGE SUCCESTICLE

Posted in 3D, And now the snorting starts, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, buffo, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Food, Fritz Lang, Globalization, greannmhar, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headline, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, Is that really Ellie Goulding?, Isnt nature wonderful?, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, kluchtig, lächerlich, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Nichola Tesla, скарлетт йоханссон, Our animal friends, Paying Attention, photograph, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Rotwang, Science Fiction, Small Town America, snaaks, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, The Great State of Montana!, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, مضحك, مضحکہ خیز, Website of the Week, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny?, מצחיק, خنده, خنده دار, سكارليت جوهانسون scarlett johansson on June 15, 2010 by paulboylan

Photographer: Karen Combs 2010

Photographer: Karen Combs 2010

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OLEAN, MO. – The Olean Festival Commission has declared this year’s Testicle Festival to be most successful testicle festival in the 17 years that Olean has hosted a testicle festival. “Attendance this year broke all prior attendance records,” said Gunther Haas, the primary organizer of this year’s Testicle Festival. “People traveled from as far away as Henley to participate in the testicle themed festivities.”

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Good, clean testicle related fun.

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In addition to the many testicle related food items being offered, this year’s Testicle Festival featured a Testicle Festival Parade, a Testicle Festival Pancake Breakfast, with testicle shaped pancakes and free testicle shaped balloons for the kids, and a testicle eating contest.

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A number of testicle-themed rides and educational exhibits also contributed to this year’s Testicle Festival’s unprecedented success.

“We got a roller-coaster called the Testicle Express that is sure to give a thrill,” said Travis Jode, Honorary Mayor of Olean’s 17th Annual Testicle Festival. “And for the kids we have a giant testicle you can walk through and learn all about testicles.”

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But the one thing that sets this year’s Testicle Festival apart from all other testicle festivals was the variety of testicles offered for consumption.

“Bull testicles are great,” said Sue Ellen Plavin, this year’s Testicle Queen.


“But you can get bull testicles at any testicle festival.  That’s where we’re different.  At the Olean Testicle Festival you can enjoy all sorts of testicles ranging from goat and sheep and pig and turkey to more exotic testes like squirrel, possum and frog, which I can tell you are simply delicious.  And I hear tell that somewhere around here you can score some kangaroo balls,” Plavin said and smiled. “I bet you can’t get kangaroo ‘nads at the Russelville Testicle Festival. No siree bob.”

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Good, clean testicle related fun.

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OKAY, SO I WAS WRONG ABOUT STARGATE UNIVERSE

Posted in Art, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, космическая девушка, Fiction, Getting it Right, Joseph Bleckman, Op Ed, Pop Culture, Review, Stargate Universe, Television, TV, Uncategorized on May 8, 2010 by paulboylan

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I just watched the latest episode of Stargate Universe, entitled “Sabotage.” If you haven’t seen it, you must. It was one of the finest pieces of science fiction I’ve ever seen.

My personal relationship with art is centered in recognizing balance.  In my view, all art embodies at least two kinds of balance: the first is the balance of the genre it is part of; the second is the balance unique to the particular work itself.

In general, the evolution of science fiction as an art form has been a struggle to achieve artistic balance.  The early science fiction of Jules Vern and H.G. Wells was beautifully balanced, partly because Vern and Wells were not science fiction writers. They were authors who used science fiction as a story-telling delivery mechanism.  It was the story that was important to these writers; science fiction provided the structure to tell those stories.

These early science fiction stories also benefited from the fact that so few people could read and write. Those who could were automatically better educated and cultured than those who could not and, consequently, Vern, Wells and those like them were part of a “high art” literary tradition.

Such status was short-lived. Industrial societies depended on mass education that included reading and writing, which became common even among the uneducated and uncultured.  And it was these great unwashed masses that began both writing and reading science fiction.  Through pulp magazines, Sci Fi moved from high culture to popular culture.

And what a load of crap gushed forth – garbage written by amateur hacks with no story sense and poor vocabularies, using science fiction as a means of adolescent male masturbatory  wish fulfillment that really couldn’t get very far past rocketing off to a place they might encounter space chicks needing rescue from bug eyed monsters.

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In other words, this pulp rubbish lacked artistic balance and focus.  If “ray guns are cool” is the reason a story is written, and if the writer lacks the talent, skill and educational foundation to reach beyond their fingertips, then the story is going to suck.

I believe that has changed.  Kim Stanley Robinson and John Birmingham are proof that SF has changed for the better.

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Robinson and Birmingham are serious artists who, like Vern and Wells, use science fiction frameworks to tell stories that resonate beyond mere fantasy escapist wish fulfillment. Their work is artistically balanced in the same way any good novel worth reading and remembering achieves artistic balance.

Science Fiction cinema followed the same progression from early greatness  - e.g., Fritz Lang’s early silent work -

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From Metropolis


to adlolescent escapism – e.g., the Flash Gordon serials -

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to artistically balanced, nuanced good works that are cinema first and science fiction second – e.g., 2001, Alien and 12 Monkeys.

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The same is true for science fiction television – from high art of the Twilight Zone –

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to the idiocy of the Adventures of Buck Rodgers -

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to the retooled, reimagined excellence of Battlestar Galactica.

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This new video excellence was only possible because the popular audience is older and smarter, and cable television makes it possible to reach a smaller, smarter audience and still be profitable.  Battlestar Galactica was not just an artistic success – it was a commercial success.

And nothing succeeds like success. All commercial successes spawn imitations. Those behind Stargate Universe want to repeat, if not exceed, the BSG‘s commercial success and they concluded the way to do it is to imitate BSG‘s artistic success – i.e., focusing on story, plot and character and complex themes that resonate emotionally and intellectually.

Which created a different balance problem: too much focus on story, plot, character and complex themes is just as bad as too little.

Stargate Universe‘s first season suffered from this imbalance, resulting in slow, ponderous, boring television.  For me this imbalance was so annoying that I actually watched the show only because I was hoping to witness some of the more boring characters die and the slowest, most ponderous story lines end.

Which is why this last episode so delighted me. It is a demonstration of perfect balance between plot, character, theme, special effects and action. It isn’t boring in the slightest and when it was over I wanted more and cannot wait to see the next episode.

I so hope this isn’t an aberration. I so hope this is a sign the series as finally found its voice.

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REMEMBERING THE 2000 COMMERCIAL ACTORS STRIKE, PART 2

Posted in 3D, Art, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV on December 27, 2009 by paulboylan

In Part One of this series, we encountered “Hello, Meteor!” – a commercial the Discovery Channel  (TDS) made during the 2000 commercial actors strike.  “Hello, Meteor!” garnered critical and commercial acclaim.  This success encouraged TDS on to assign more of their non-actor office to star in other commercials, including the now classic “Hello, Mosquito!” shown below.

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REMEMBERING THE 2000 SAG COMMERCIAL ACTORS STRIKE

Posted in 3D, American Decline, Art, Artists Rights, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Berne Convention, Brave New World, Cinema, dada, disembodied heads of the rich and famous, Droit de Suite, Droit Moral, Early Elizabethan Knock-Knock Jokes, Evil Smiley Face, Fair Use, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Free Utilization Doctrine, French Impressionistic Knock-Knock Jokes, Fritz Lang, German Reformation Knock-Knock Jokes (1520-1553), Getting it Right, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Hubris, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, Isnt nature wonderful?, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, Mad Scientists, Moral Rights, morbid obesity, morbidly obese French revolutionary philosophers, morbidly obese gymnasts, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Our animal friends, pandemic, Parody, Paying Attention, Photography, Politics, Pop Culture, Post Modern Knock-Knock Jokes, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Romance Language Knock-Knock Jokes, Rotwang, satire, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, South Korea, Space, Sports, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stoats, Stupid People, Sumerian Knock-Knock Jokes, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wilhelm Scream, The Wrath of God, Travel, TRIPs, TV, Uncategorized, Victorian Era Knock-Knock Jokes, Website of the Week, Weird Stuff, West Korea, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on December 23, 2009 by paulboylan

If you are anything like me, then every so often – when the winter wind blows clean and fresh from the north – you are overcome by nolstagia for the halcyon days of the 2000 Screen Actors Guild Commercial Actors Strike.

Ah, those halcyon days! – when men selling things on television had to do without actors because actors who acted in television commercials wanted more money for their labor, but the major studios wouldn’t give them more money.  And so they went on strike.


Commercials got made and were broadcast without professional acting, and sometimes the results were simply wonderful.



The Discovery Channel used accounting and technical employees to act in a series of commercials that have since become legend, the first of which I feature below.

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AHHH!!!   THE ATMOSPHERE!!!!  AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

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WHAT AMERICANS SOUND LIKE

Posted in 3D, Art, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV on December 21, 2009 by paulboylan

As I’ve often mentioned (purely as a matter of pretense), I often lecture to non American audiences. With minor exception I lecture in English.

The noted internet social analysis and general media maven, Joseph Bleckman, sent me this link that shows what non English speakers hear when they hear Americans speaking.  It isn’t a very loving or kind parody, but it is pretty funny.


AVATAR: THE 3D WAS ANNOYING

Posted in 3D, Avatar, Cinema, Hate Crimes, Photography, Uncategorized on December 20, 2009 by paulboylan


I just got home after seeing Avatar with my son.  Was it the best film I’ve ever seen?  No. Will I see it again?  Very much yes.

I can’t stop thinking about this film – and that, for me, is a sign I’ve seen something meaningful.  With minor exception, it is honest and deeply experienced emotion that separates Cameron’s science fiction/fantasy films from every other film within that quasi-genre.  Avatar’s main character is a shattered man, a soldier who lost his legs in battle and really has nothing to live for.  Something that cannot be described in words happens when we see him wake up in his avatar for the first time.

No animated characters – computer generated or otherwise – have ever expressed so much honest emotion or engendered so much audience identification as the creations Cameron has given us.  As I said, I can’t stop thinking about the film, and I am anxious to see it again.

But, even so, the 3D was really, really annoying and was a gimmick the film could have done without.   It has to do with how human binocular vision works to focus on things close and far away.

In the real world, everything is in focus. We shift our focus continually by moving our eyes back and forth – closer together for objects close to us, and farther apart to focus on objects farther away.  Try it yourself. Hold up a pen a foot from your face. Look at it, and notice that, while the pen is in focus, everything else behind it is blurry. If you shift your focus to something farther away, the pen in front of you will become blurry.


To work successfully, 3D movies must show everything in focus. We, the viewers, shift our focus, creating the illusion of depth.

2D films don’t do that.  The camera replaces our eyes and focuses on whatever objects the director wants us to see, leaving the rest blurry and out of focus.

Foreground, clear; background, blurry.


Accomplishing clear, universal focus in any shot takes a whole lot light – which cost money – and special lenses – which cost even more money.  Sometimes a really clever director shows off by creating clear focus for all objects within a certain shot, but it is so rare that every time it happens it is noticed as exceptional.

Orson Wells did it in Citizen Kane. In a very famous scene  Charlie Kane is typing in the foreground – his form totally in sharp focus; in the background – far off in the distance – Hezekiah (Joseph Cotton) enters through a door, and he is in sharp focus, and stays in focus as he walk forward towards the camera.


The technology to accomplish this did not, at that time, exist. Wells did it using a split screen. He shot himself typing using perfect light and sharp focus. After that, Wells shot Joseph Cotton walking towards the camara. Then Wells joined both pieces of footage side by side to make it look like it was happening in one shot.

An even more spectacular example is this scene from Citizen Kane showing three different people at three different distances from the camera – all in sharp focus:



But, as already pointed out, this sort of sharp focus throughout a shot is hard to do and is rare, so rare and expensive that even James Cameron couldn’t do it. It is apparent that Avatar was shot like a conventional 2D movie and that converting it to 3D was clearly an after thought.  The scenes devoid of computer magic were shot like any other movie – which means focus shifts within shots. Close things are clear, the background is blurry, unless it comes into focus because someone enters the room, or for some other reason.

Close, in focus; background, blurry.

When 2D is converted to 3D, the viewer keeps trying to shift focus from close to far like they would do in the real world, but the blurry backgrounds stay blurry, and that can be – and was – really annoying.

But most of the movie is fully computer animated, and that means everything can be in focus to allow the viewer to shift from object to object enough so that the 3D is far less annoying, and even enjoyable, enhancing the experience.

Was Avatar the best movie ever made? No.  Will it change the way movies are made?  Not likely. Was the story original? No, but it was a story worth telling and wonderful to watch being told in such spectacular fashion. I am definitely going to see it again.

But when I do I am going to see it in 2D.

I’ll let you know what happens.

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RESTAURANT REVIEW

Posted in Art, Avatar, おかしなふるまいの, अजीब, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, buffo, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, greannmhar, 재미, αστείος, ανόητο άτομα, lächerlich, Life, Mad Men, News, neşeli, скарлетт йоханссон, смешной, Op Ed, Photography, Pop Culture, Review, Small Town America, Smiley Face, snaaks, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Television, The Matrix, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, مقاطع‏ ‏سكس‏ ‏مصارعه, مضحك, مضحکہ خیز, 滑稽, מצחיק, خنده دار, سكارليت جوهانسون on December 17, 2009 by paulboylan

Last Saturday my wife and I ate at Ming Tu’s – a restaurant located at 1158 “L” Street in Downtown Sacramento.  Ming Tu’s serves Asian” inspired” food in a casual setting.

Not affiliated with Ming Tu in any way whatsoever.

Many people have eaten at Ming Tu’s.  Some of them have written reviews that can be found at http://www.yelp.com/biz/ming-tus-asian-diner-sacramento.  For example, Karina of Elk Grove writes:

“I’ve been here twice – with coworkers and with friends.  The food is definitely an Americanized version of Chinese food, but far better than Panda Express. Love their Mongolian beef over brown rice.”



Moo N of Sacramento writes:

“I work a couple of blocks from here so I have had opportunity to eat here often.  Each time I have eaten here, I have been quite happy.  The teriyaki chicken with rice is my fave and I love the fried rice too!  I love rice so if you do too you should definitely partake :-)”



My dining experience was a little different from Katrina’s and Moo’s. My meal was not as good as theirs. So this is going to be a negative restaurant review.



Over the years I’ve written plenty of restaurant reviews, may of them negative, and when I write a negative review I spend a lot of time describing what I ate and how it was served. Then I complain a lot.


I feel this is a special case. The usual descriptions of the food and service and the usual complaining just wouldn’t be enough to properly express how I feel about this dining experience. So I’m not going to describe the food or the service. I’m not going to make fun of the owner’s funny accent. I am not going to mock the handicapped busboy.  Instead, I will simply describe what I did after I left Ming Tu’s.



After I paid the bill and my wife and I left the restaurant, I immediately walked to a nearby church and prayed that God would reach down with His mighty hand and, with a fist of divine fury, smite Ming Tu’s, crushing it down to the bedrock, destroying it utterly.



I know what you are thinking. You think I over reacted.  You are thinking: “Aw, come on, Paul. The meal couldn’t have been so bad that you would call upon the Creator of the Universe to smite those responsible. “



If you are thinking this, you are wrong.  You weren’t there. You didn’t pay good money for really bad Chinese food. It was so bad that I felt, and still feel, within my rights as a God fearing Christian to call upon the power of Almighty God to send down destruction upon Ming Tu’s and punish all those responsible for my mediocre dining experience.



Now you are thinking: “Okay, Paul, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the meal you were served wasn’t very good.  Is that sufficient reason for calling for divine retribution? Isn’t being served a bad meal at a restaurant a trivial reason for calling upon the divine power of God Almighty to smite those who displeased you?”



Not at all.  And if you think that, then you probably are not a Christian.


Or you might be a Socialist.


A Socialist Atheist, that’s what you are, if you think there is anything wrong with me asking God to smite anyone I don’t like or destroy any business that has provided less than acceptable service.



Every day, ordinary people from all walks of life call upon the power of the Lord to avenge them – often for seemingly trivial reasons. My own Aunt reads the Bible every day and goes to church every Sunday – and every single day she prays to Baby Jesus that her neighbor die of a heart attack.

Her neighbor is a liberal who plays that jazz music much too loud. And he voted for Obama. Who is a secret Muslim.


But I digress.  My point is that it is perfectly okay to call upon the power of God to right any wrong, no matter how trivial the wrong may appear. The Bible shows us that God responds in dramatic ways to correct what seem to be trivial wrongs.


For example, in 2 Kings 23-25, the prophet Elisha, who had a bald head, cast a “curse unto God” at a bunch of young boys who were making fun of Elisha’s bald head.  Now, you non-Christian, socialist liberal secret Muslims will say that what those kids did was no big deal.  Well, God didn’t think so.  In response to Elisha’s curse, God sent two female bears to kill forty-two of those boys.



So Elisha called upon the divine power of the Creator of the Universe to punish a bunch of boys who made fun of him. I am calling upon that same power to smite a restaurant that served me a lousy meal.  I honestly don’t see the difference. I fully expect to see a big hole in the ground where Ming Tu’s used to be when I next drive or walk by that place.



I’ll let you know if it happens.


INSULTS FROM THE LAND DOWN UNDER

Posted in Art, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Fiction, Globalization, Mad Men, music, News, Photography, Pop Culture, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Television, The Matrix, Travel, TV, Uncategorized on December 10, 2009 by paulboylan

I have been flamed (but not defamed, as you will see).  Over at the the Blunt Instrument, one of my favorite blogs, a gentleman who goes by the name of Greybeard said:

Mr Boylan: you Sir, are a vulgarian and a snob.

 

Now, isn’t that the nicest way of calling someone a jerk you have ever seen?  It is beyond cool. The gentility and elegance of that insult lifts it beyond cool to the rarely achieved level of cugat (as in “that is soooo cugat, dude!”).

SNEAK PEEK: JAMES CAMERON’S AVATAR

Posted in Astronomy, Avatar, Cinema, космическая девушка, Pop Culture, Review, Rotwang, Science Fiction, טילים on December 5, 2009 by paulboylan

PEOPLE OF EARTH has been granted a preview of James Cameron’s new film Avatar, the first block buster, high budget studio film shot in 3D.

James Cameron

Cameron’s prior films –  including Terminator, Aliens, the Abyss and True Lies – have been some of the biggest money making movies in cinematic history.  His prior film, Titanic, remains the largest grossing film of all time, earning a mind-boggling $2.8 billion.

Made a lot of money.

POE was offered a sneak preview of Avatar on the condition that no “spoilers” were provided to POE’s readers.  So I won’t be describing the film’s plot or revealing the surprise Hollywood dance routine ending, so I will restrict my review to one subject:

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Space Chicks, man!  This movie is all about Space Chicks!

Alien Space Chicks with tails!

So, go for the 3D.  Stay for the Space Chicks.

And for you ladies out there who, perhaps, are not as interested in Space Chicks, this film – like so many of Cameron’s prior films – is all about relationships – which makes it a chick flick.

A chick flick with Space Chicks!  What on earth could be better?


MISSING BABY FOUND

Posted in 3D, Art, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, Website of the Week on November 5, 2009 by paulboylan

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Little Shannon Dedrick’s disappearance caught the world’s attention.

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7 month old Shannon Dedrick

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The world breathed a collective sigh of relief when, today, Shannon was found in a box under the bed of her baby sitter – who had apparently abducted the infant.

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I am glad the ordeal is over for Shannon’s parents, but someone has to point out that their child is an alien.

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resized_Shannon_Dedrick

That isn't drool.

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Little Shannon is clearly a human/alien hybrid.  I am the last person on this or any world to so much as imply that there is anything wrong with that.  At one time some stygma might have attached to parents who gave birth to an alien baby, but recent high profile celebrity adoptions have removed much of that stygma.

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As a consequence, caring for an alien baby has become quite fashionable.

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Shannon’s parents must realize that raising a human/alien hybrid is a challenging, but ultimately rewarding endeavor.

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Every child is a special gift from God.

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For example, Shannon’s remarkably large head indicates that she will be telepathic.

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resized_Shannon_Dedrick

Knows what you are thinking.

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Telepathic children are unusually challenging because they know when daddy says “no” that he really means “yes” and when mommy says “just wait until your father gets home!” mommy really doesn’t mean it.

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Nothing but trouble

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As an alien/human hybrid, little Shannon is likely to develop the skill to levitate.

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Extra care is required.

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Like telepathy, the ability to levitate will be a job skill that employers will appreciate, but in the beginning, the parent of an alien/human hybrid must exercise extra care, such as making sure windows are closed at all times.

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Not good.

So, we are all glad baby Shannon is back, but her parents need to pay attention to her special qualities.

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HALLOWEEN AT MY PLACE

Posted in 3D, Art, Artists Rights, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Berne Convention, Brave New World, Cinema, Droit de Suite, Droit Moral, Early Elizabethan Knock-Knock Jokes, Evil Smiley Face, Fair Use, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Free Utilization Doctrine, French Impressionistic Knock-Knock Jokes, Fritz Lang, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Headline, Headlines, Hubris, Humor, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, Mad Scientists, Moral Rights, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Parody, Paying Attention, Photography, Politics, Pop Culture, Post Modern Knock-Knock Jokes, Research and Development, Romance Language Knock-Knock Jokes, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Sumerian Knock-Knock Jokes, Tasmania, The Wilhelm Scream, Travel, TV, Victorian Era Knock-Knock Jokes, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on November 3, 2009 by paulboylan

Culturally speaking, the United States has contributed two things to the world – popular barbecue and Halloween.

Why not both at the same time?

By “popular” I mean widespread.  No people on earth have popularized cooking outdoors over live fire the way we Americans have. For a more serious discussion, please click here. l


Considered good eating in Perth.

By “Halloween” I mean an unabashed annual celebration of the spooky.

Other cultures celebrate death.  They do it in China. They do it in Mexico.  But those celebrations are essentially spiritual and/or religious.  But not Halloween.  Halloween has nothing to do with the spiritual. It has nothing to do with religion.  It has everything to do with fun.

Every year on October 31st – when the wall between the worlds is thinnest and most easily crossed – kids and adults dress up in costumes and, when it gets dark, they go door to door essentially begging for candy – which they receive in large, monstrous handfuls.

This completely non religious festival is becoming part of the international scene.  American style Halloween is now celebrated all over the world.

Halloween in Costa Rica

Halloween in Costa Rica

Halloween in Singapore

My favorite expression of this spread is Sandra’s haunted balcony in Hamburg, Germany.

It makes sense that the Germans in particular would embrace Halloween.

Admirable Teutonic exuberance.

But I digress.  I am here to tell you – to show you – what Halloween is like here in Northern California in the small town where I live.

Blackula1

For me Halloween began with a knock on my door early in the morning.  My neighbor and his son came by to ask is they could install a portal into a dimension of evil in my front yard.  My lawn was destroyed when my home was remodeled, so I figured, heck, when would there be a better time to have a portal into a dimension of evil installed in my front yard?

A hole was dug.

digging the hole

The device was installed.

adjusting the device

While my neighbors tinkered with the field densities between the universes, a flock of wild turkeys strolled down my street foraging and decided to spend some time on a roof at the end of the block.

roof turkeys 1.0

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It was a good omen.

I decided to carve a pumpkin, but the pumpkin bin at my local market was somewhat bare with slim pickings left.

pumpkin dregs

Nevertheless, I was able to find a reasonably decent pumpkin and was able to exercise the minimal artistic talent every American is born with and which is useful only for carving faces in pumpkins.

awaiting darkness 3

The dirt from the hole that housed the portal into the dimension of evil made a couple of fine impromptu graves.


awaiting nightfall

All we had to do was wait for darkness and some unsuspecting Trick or Treaters.

trick or treat

Actual Trick or Treaters who came to my door.

I went out and bought candy to give away to the little boys and gouls who would come to my door that evening.

DSC00324

In addition to the usual treats, I included in my selection the very finest fake glow in the dark sour worms I could find.

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The perfect Halloween treat.

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And then it was time to get our collective freak on.

kids 4

The device in my front yard worked nicely.  I had a switch inside the house that triggered the device whenever someone rang the door bell, causing much shouting and the occasional scream.

DSC00317

It was a most satisfying Halloween.  But I’m beginning to wonder if that portal is going to harm the value of my property.

 

WHY I TEACH (IN FRANCE)

Posted in American Decline, Artists Rights, Barry Goldwater, Berne Convention, Brave New World, Cinema, Droit de Suite, Droit Moral, Early Elizabethan Knock-Knock Jokes, Fair Use, Family and Friends, Free Utilization Doctrine, French Impressionistic Knock-Knock Jokes, Fritz Lang, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Hubris, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, Mad Scientists, Moral Rights, Nichola Tesla, pandemic, Paying Attention, Politics, Post Modern Knock-Knock Jokes, Romance Language Knock-Knock Jokes, Rotwang, Sumerian Knock-Knock Jokes, Travel, TRIPs, TV, Victorian Era Knock-Knock Jokes, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on October 6, 2009 by paulboylan

As many of you know, I am more than just an attorney.

In addition to being an amateur gas dynamics engineer, cheese fermentation expert and an antique podiatry tool enthusiast, once a year I travel to France to teach negotiations to law and business students at the University of Poitiers.  I am leaving at the end of this week to do it again.

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On first impression, it seems like a bad idea.  It takes a few weeks to prepare my lectures.  My classes last two weeks. Together, this means I must put my legal practice on hold for a month or more.  The University of Poitiers pays me a little for my efforts, but it doesn’t make up for the income I lose during that month.


In addition to an income drop, I feel a profound sense of isolation when I am in France.

I don’t speak much French (my students are from all over the world and my classes are taught in English).  Poitiers is off the beaten path for English speaking people, which means that, for the most part, my time in France is very lonely. Sometimes I find myself asking directions to destinations I know just for the interaction.

"Excuse me, Miss, but I cannot locate the train station on my map."

And then there is the weight problem.  Every time I teach in France, I come home weighing 10 pounds more.


French food tastes great and, frankly, when I am there I eat a lot of it.


You have no idea how good it is.

So why do I do it? Why not teach closer to home and avoid loneliness, jet lag, weight gain and income loss?  Well, I tried that but I didn’t like it very much because my American law students were just too darned lazy.

The L1 class I taught at Harvard

Over these years I’ve experimented with many teaching methods.  I’ve discovered that the best way to teach negotiations is through lectures combined with exercises where groups of students practice negotiating.  This method works extremely well to teach negotiations theory and practice.  However, my American students constantly complained about it. They grumbled about the effort the exercises require and repeatedly asked: “why don’t you just give us the answers?”


None of my foreign law or business students ever asked for easy answers. None of them ever complained about the amount of effort it takes to learn how to negotiate effectively.  All of them are in class on time and participate enthusiastically – and they do it in a foreign language: English.  A big reason why I go to France to teach – and am willing to experience sleep deprivation, weigh-gain, income loss and isolation – is because I prefer teaching non-American students.  I wish it weren’t true, but they are just better students.


There is another reason why I travel so far to teach. I believe that the American Empire is in decline. In addition to being an amateur gas dynamics engineer, cheese fermentation expert, antique podiatry tool enthusiast and a teacher, I am also a student of history – and history shows that the great empires of the world declined and atrophied when their governments became so corrupt that they became unable to solve even simple problems.  It happened to Imperial Persia. It happened to Imperial Rome. It happened to Imperial China. It happened to Imperial Brittan.


And it is happening to us.  Lobbyists for special interests are so influential that our local, regional and national elected officials cannot get anything meaningful done.  For example, there is no question that our health care system needs fixing. We spend more for less than even some Third World nations. But there is no chance our health care system will be fixed because there are too many people making money off of the system, and they are using this money – billions and billions of dollars – to pay lobbyists to buy politicians who work hard to keep thing exactly the way they are.


The same is true for any number of important, pressing problems. Name it: if it is important and pressing, nothing will be done about it.  There will be plenty of talk and maybe a law or two will be enacted, but nothing will change and the problem will definitely not be remedied. Our political system is corrupt, the corruption cannot be fixed, and so we have no chance of effectively solving the important problems facing our nation.  Our standard of living is falling. Our international power is slowly slipping away.


However, where we are falling, I believe that Europe [lead by France, Germany and Britain] is rising.  I am included in the faculty of one of the oldest and best universities in Europe.  My students will be decision makers in business, law and government. In my own small way, I am trying to influence these new Masters of the Earth.  When they are voting on treaties and drafting trade agreements that will affect American lives, I want them to remember Professor Boylan and, hopefully, judge Americans more kindly than they would have if not for my example.

I realize this sounds simplistic, even hubristic, probably illusory. But it is why I do it.

And so, once again, I will be tolerating the many indignities of international travel.

I will rent a car in Paris and make the 3 hour drive down the A-10 past Orleans, past Tours to Poitiers. That night I will have dinner (salad, duck, a glass of wine and profiteroles for dessert) at Le Serrurier, my favorite café.

Let the weight gain begin.


“YOU LIE!”

Posted in 3D, American Decline, And now the snorting starts, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Bigotry in America, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Fritz Lang, Getting it Right, Globalization, GOP, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Tasmania, Television, The Great State of Montana!, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, USA! USA! USA!, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on September 29, 2009 by paulboylan

JOE WILSON AND THE AMERICAN WAY

I want to talk to you about Joe Wilson, the guy who heckled Barak Obama by yelling “you lie!” when the president was addressing a joint session of congress.

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He looks retarded, but he is more than that.

He looks retarded, but he is more than that.

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The liberal media has expressed extreme outrage over this incident, accusing Wilson of being everything from a boorish idiot to a racist.

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Victim of the liberal media

Victim of the liberal media

Don’t let that outrage fool you. What Wilson did is no big deal – especially when viewed through the lens of American history.  A congressman yelling “you lie!” at the president during a presentation to congress is not only a trivial event, the event itself fits well within the American traditions of political free speech.

The American Way

The American Way

To begin with, allow me to remind you what it means to be an American.  More than anything else, being an American means having the constitutional right to speak your mind.  Many Americans take this important freedom for granted.  But those outside our great nation know how special and precious it is. During the great wave of immigration that took place near the beginning of the 20th Century – the time my Greek ancestors came to this country – immigrants wrote home saying that the streets of American cities were “paved with gold.”


In a literal sense this wasn’t true.  But to people escaping tyranny, oppression and poverty, the freedoms and opportunities that came with merely walking on American soil were priceless.  Where they came from, no matter how hard they worked they could never hope for a better life for their children.  In America, men and women who are willing to work hard can shape their own futures.  In their homelands, these immigrants could be arrested and imprisoned for saying the wrong thing.  But in America they could argue in the streets and express their opinions freely.


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What the liberal media wants us to forget is that the right of free speech includes the right to get angry.  When Joe Wilson interrupted the President of the United States by shouting “you lie!” Citizen Joe was merely exercising his rights as an American and was taking part in a tradition that spans our nation’s noble history.

The American Founding Fathers were notoriously cranky, rude, angry men who openly hated each other.  Benjamin Franklin hated Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine hated George Washington. George Washington hated all French intellectuals – who, in a very real sense, gave birth to the American Revolution.


Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr hated each other so much they fought a duel – and Burr killed Hamilton with a bullet that pierced Hamilton’s liver.  Thomas Jefferson – the man given credit with drafting the American Declaration of Independence – made loud, unmistakable noises simulating flatulence – often using his hand and armpit – every time he encountered his political rival John Adams.  Adams never hesitated to accuse Jefferson of “preferring the company of young boys” and of stealing the design for the swivel chair from Nathaniel Swivel, a Boston furniture maker and brewer.

Nathanial Swivel

Nathaniel Swivel

As our republic grew and matured, so did the salty nature of American political discourse.  Martin Van Buren – our 8th president – and the first American president born in the United States – won the 1832 election in a landslide.  But the Whig Party (now defunct) despised Van Buren and refused to recognize his legitimacy.  They spread rumors that he was born in Holland and that he was secretly a Quaker.

Quaker

Quaker

In conjunction with this rumor campaign, the Whigs engaged in a rhetorical attack utilizing misleading vocabulary. For example, Winfield Scott – a Whig Party organizer – gave a speech in Buffalo, New York accusing Van Buren of vague charges that no one understood but everyone believed.  Scott is quoted as saying:

“In addition to the many crimes Martin Van Buren has committed against the American people as a whole – nay humanity – perhaps most disturbing, if not revolting, is the indisputable fact that Van Buren is a notorious masticator.   Reliable sources close to Van Buren – if that is his real name – confirm that he masticates at least three times a day, often in the presence of his wife. As monstrous as this may seem, Van Buren has also been known to vacillate on numerous occasions.  I put it to you that, not only is Van Buren a vacillator AND a masticator, he vacillates WHILE he masticates! The man has practiced vacillation and chronic mastication ever since he was a small child in Holland!”

These Whig tactics worked: the public turned against Van Buren, with many refusing to shake his hand for fear of where it may have been.  Whig congressmen and senators began pelting Van Buren with rotten vegetables whenever he spoke publically. The threat of violence became so pronounced that Van Buren would carry two loaded pistols whenever he addressed congress.

Packing heat

More recently, Republicans unhappy with Franklin Delano Roosevelt – a polio victim confined to a wheel chair – accused Roosevelt of being born in Norway and of secretly being a Free Mason. They would yell “cripple!” and “gimp!” during Roosevelt’s State of the Union addresses, pretending that they were sneezing.

He killed and ate this child.

He killed and ate this child.

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So, when seen through the lens of history, Joe Wilson’s yelling, “you lie!” at Obama during the the President’s State of the Union Address, or Arizona Governor Jan Brewer jabbing her finger into the President’s face while yelling at him, or even a reporter heckling Obama during a press conference, it really isn’t very important.

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Maybe it was tourettes.

This never happened when a white president was giving a speech.

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This would never happen to a white president, and never has.

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Perhaps they feel free to disrespect him because he isn’t white, so he can’t really be the president, so they don’t owe him any respect.

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 It is just part of the American way.

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HEADLINE – Ugandan gorillas join Facebook

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Fritz Lang, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Website of the Week, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on September 27, 2009 by paulboylan

Endangered Ugandan gorillas join Facebook, MySpace

By Rhappi Khanasta, Ass. Press Writer – Sat Sep 26, 10:53 am ET

KAMPALA, Uganda – Around 340 mountain gorillas — nearly half of the 740 remaining worldwide — have joined Facebook, Myspace and Twitter in an attempt to live it up before the end.

“I figured, what the hell?” explains M’bitah, a male silverback weighing 400 pounds (180 kilograms) who lives in Uganda’s lush Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. “Maybe I can hook up with a willing female and have a little fun before I am shot, killed and eaten,” M’bitah said.

Despite their size — a male silverback can reach over 7 feet (2.1 meters) — the gorillas are threatened by poachers who kill them for meat, farmers and charcoal-burners who encroach on their habitat, and the indiscriminate bullets of rebels on the run.

“We Mountain Gorillas will probably be eaten into extinction within a year or two,” said Kampanga, a female adult mountain gorilla. “But I just got friended by five people on Facebook and 28 people responded to my tweet about scratching my stomach,” she said. “How cool is that?”

“We support efforts to include gorillas within internet based social networks,” said N’kita “Ernie” Ruzigandekwa, President and former Treasurer for the Ugandan Bush Meat Advisory Board, a nonprofit, corporate sponsored interest group that promotes eating gorillas. “The Ugandan mountain gorilla is an elusive creature that is much, much easier to sneak up on when concentrating on updating their Facebook profile,” Ruzigandekwa said.

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MY FAVORITE HOMOSEXUALS

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Fritz Lang, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Website of the Week, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on September 16, 2009 by paulboylan


Today I couldn’t help but notice homosexuals all over the place.

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I noticed three homosexuals while I watched television as I made coffee for my wife. I saw half a dozen more as I drove my son to school. I saw another two or three in the supermarket where I stopped to buy milk on my way back home. And, when I parked outside my house, I waved to Ted, my gay neighbor, as he was leaving his house to go to work.

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My gay neighbor, Ted.
My gay neighbor, Ted.

We chatted a bit and both agreed that the weather was fabulous for this time of year.

It wasn’t always this way.  At one time, not so long ago, I could go for months without encountering a homosexual or even noticing one on the street. Other than Richard Simmons, you almost never saw one on TV.

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Richard Simmons. Very gay.
Richard Simmons. Very gay.

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But things have changed.  The media today seems jam-packed with homosexuals – both real and imaginary. For example, on the television show Will and Grace, Eric McCormack – a fine, upstanding heterosexual actor – plays the part of a homosexual lawyer.

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Eric McCormack: not gay.

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While on the television show How I Met Your Mother Neil Patrick Harris, who is gay, plays the part of Barney, who isn’t.

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Neil Patrick Harris: totally gay.
Neil Patrick Harris: totally gay.

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(Harris also played the part of Doogie Howser, which disturbs me.  Somehow I cannot accept that Doogie is gay.)

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What the hell?

What the hell?

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It wasn’t always this way.  In the old days, you could go your whole life without noticing a homosexual.  You could be in the middle of a crowd without realizing you were surrounded by them. Your best friends could have been gay – and probably were – but you would never have known it because they did everything they could to look, sound, dress and live like heterosexuals.  And they were pretty good at it.  Some – like Senator Larry Craig – got married and even had kids just to avoid anyone knowing they were gay. You gotta admire that kind of effort.

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Republican Senator Larry Craig.   Gay - with children.

Republican Senator Larry Craig.   Imagine the effort.

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But now it seems that more and more homosexuals go out of their way to appear “gay” by embodying gay stereotypes.  I see lesbians every day with short hair, often wearing bandanas on their heads, dressed in flannel shirts, wearing extra-long baggy cargo/plaid/khaki shorts and walking in Doc Martins or Birkenstocks.

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(If you are a woman and I just described what you look like, and you are not gay, I’m sorry, but it isn’t my fault: you look like a lesbian).

Every day I see effeminate, lisping, mincing, fastidious, fashion-forward, musical theater loving guys who “simply adore” Betty Davis, and who go out of their way to demonstrate that they throw like a girl. (“Here! Catch!  Don’t I throw like a girl?”)


But I am not one to judge.  I mean that in a literal sense.  I tried it, and I was a terrible judge.  I couldn’t really accept the whole “innocent until proven guilty” slogan.  I mean, if the accused might be innocent, then why were they in jail?  They must have done something wrong, right?  When I found out judges are supposed to be “impartial” I realized I am not one to judge.

Not as easy as it looks.

Not as easy as it looks.

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Neither am I here to debate the issue.  I am not here to say whether the advent of open homosexuality is good or bad.  The last thing I want to do is get involved in a argument over whether homosexuality is a naturally occurring condition – like red hair and freckles – or a mental disease like acute schizophrenia that can be treated with intensive psychotherapy or drugs or even institutionalization.

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As far as I am concerned, both positions have merit, but I don’t want to get involved.

In all honesty, there is a limit to my ability to embrace this brave new world.  I feel I speak for many heterosexuals when I say that there is a certain “ick” factor associated with the concept, if not the practice, of homosexuality.

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We heterosexuals are trying to keep open minds, but we are wired this way and cannot help finding the picture below sort of unsettling on a visceral level.

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And let’s not forget the problems inherent in the persistent argument that the gay lifestyle is an abomination in the eyes of God.  I mean, Leviticus 18:23 really complicates the whole discussion, doesn’t it?

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Repressed homosexuals

Repressed homosexual (the one holding the signs).

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But I digress.  The point I am trying to make is that there are lots of homosexuals out there and I might as well point out the ones I like.  Here is a quick list of the homosexuals I approve of:

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Ellen DeGeneres:


Ellen is American’s Gay Sweetheart.

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She is smart.  She is funny.   She replaced Paula Abdul on American Idol.

When you see Ellen it is easy to overlook that she prefers to have sex with women.


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Karl Rove:

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Karl is one of my favorite homosexuals because he defeats the gay stereotype that male homosexuals are fastidious, well groomed and fashionable.  He does this by being fat and sloppy.  Snap! You go, Karl!

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And, to give balance to this column, my least favorite homosexuals are….

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Elton John:

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Elton hasn’t had a hit for years and that thing on his head is clearly a toupee.  Come on, Elton: spend the money.

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Rosie O’Donnell:

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I detest Rosie O’Donnell.  She is a loud-mouthed, annoying, pompous, self-important, corpulent idiot.  She discredits all homosexuals – especially the fat, ugly ones.


Well, that’s it for my thoughts on homosexuality.  I think I’ll have a beer and watch High School Musical. That show is totally gay.

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SARAH PALIN AND THE GOP RENAISSANCE – Part 3

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Barry Goldwater, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Fire and Ice, Food, Fritz Lang, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hapax Legomenon, Harvey Eisner, Hate Crimes, Headlines, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Nichola Tesla, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Rotwang, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Website of the Week, Weird Stuff, What are you sick or something?, Why do people in other countries talk funny? on August 20, 2009 by paulboylan


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It has been a while since I’ve appeared here. During my absence I’ve paid close attention to the increasingly hostile national debate that is now focused on health care reform. The way the topic is being debated reinforces my belief the Republican Party is poised for renaissance and that Sarah Palin is key to the GOP’s rebirth.

As I’ve said, I am not addressing these comments to everyone out there who considers themselves conservative Republicans.  As I’ve explained previously, over the last 30 years the term “conservative Republican” has become warped and twisted to include people that hold positions contrary to what the GOP has historically championed.

Considers himself a conservative.

Considers himself a conservative, and is probably a registered Republican

Let me make it simple:  if you believe that Barak Obama can’t be president because he was born in Kenya, or if you think Obama’s health care reform proposals are similar to anything Hitler did,  then stop reading.

Yeah. You. Stop reading. It will only make your brain hurt.

Yeah. You. Stop reading. It will only make your brain hurt.

Go watch Glenn Beck on Fox.

Proof there is a flaw in the First Amendment.

Proof there is a flaw in the First Amendment.

Enjoy yourself.

But stop reading this. You lack the intellectual and/or emotional capacity and/or stability to join the effort to fix what is broken and to help guide the GOP back to national prominence.

I am writing to conservative Republicans who, like me, reluctantly supported Obama because a McCain win that included Palin as his Vice President was too horrifying to event think about.

I am writing to you out there who are watching with equal horror as crazy people disrupt town hall meetings – and then are interviewed on cable news.

I am here to tell you not to worry. The screaming crazies are part of a chain of events that will transform the GOP from its current status as a “rump” political party into a new and stronger national force.  And Sarah Palin is the key to this rebirth.

But before that can happen, we need to admit some basic truths – like the undeniable fact that crazy, stupid people have taken over the GOP.

Crazy+Christians+Protesting+Academy+Awards+BHeKb7Xyebql

Ronald Reagan invited them in.

We need to recognize that this was a mistake.

Republican candidates lose votes every time some middle-aged fat, poorly dressed woman screams “I want my country back!” at a nationally televised town hall meeting or some wild-eyed attorney (who is also a dentist and real estate agent) demonizes Obama by comparing him to Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler and calls for the army to revolt against our national government.

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She really said that (the one in the middle).

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When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, he did so with the hopes of pleasing social conservatives/fundamentalist.  He succeeded.

They flocked to McCain/Palin rallies where they did what they always do at their local school board meetings, city council meetings and county board of supervisor meetings – they screamed and shook their fists in anger.  They demonized their opponents.  They proudly proclaimed their intellectual, educational and worldly ignorance.

Palin encouraged this because she was and is, essentially, a small town politician. She did what she knows, and that included saying and doing really dumb things, and then lying about it.  She pretended to be moral when her record revealed entrenched corruption.  She exploited her Down Syndrome baby because that plays well to small town crowds.

Small town crowds just adore retarded babies.

Small town crowds just adore retarded babies.

Plays GREAT in Wasilla!

A photo op at home!

A photo op at home!

Possibly the most exploited child in America. I'm not saying they should be ashamed of him or hide him. I am saying they actively exploited that poor kid.

Possibly the most exploited child in America. I'm not saying they should be ashamed of him or hide him. I am saying they actively exploited that poor kid.

I take that back. These were the most exploited children in America.  Remember: marriage is a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.

I take that back. These were the most exploited children in America. Remember: marriage is a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.

But it did not play well to the national American audience.  McCain, to his credit, tried to manage the damage, but it was too late. Palin gave the crazies a reason, a platform, a place to do their crazy political thing in front of the whole world.

And that is why McCain lost. Although he is a true conservative, he had no choice but to choose Palin as his running mate because the GOP is dependent on the lunatic fringe’s money and support in the same way a drug addict is dependent on his or her supplier.  But when moderate conservatives saw the lunatics screaming at Palin rallies, McCain lost the moderate vote, which lost him the election.

Don't think it didn't hurt.

Don't think it didn't hurt.

Dont think it doesnt still hurt. Dont you understand? The GOP left us no choice.

Don't think it doesn't still hurt. Don't you understand? The GOP left us no choice.

Palin’s resignation as Alaska’s governor freed her to reach out to the crazies who support her.  In essence, she is forming a new political party.

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Traditional conservatives should welcome this.  The crazies need a place to go – and stay.  They are welcomed to exert local and regional influence, but, if the GOP has a chance of returning to national prominence, the crazies cannot be allowed to hijack  the national debate.

Palin will continue saying outrageous things that the media cannot resist reporting.

Each time this happens, more and more screaming crazies will join her organization. Close to the next election, Palin will approach the GOP leadership – probably at the national convention – and try to make a deal. She will offer money and support in exchange for influence behind the scenes on the national stage.

We need to say no.  If we accept the deal, we will be repeating the mistake Reagan made, which will alienate the moderate votes we need to regain the White House and majorities in congress.  We need to say no when the devil comes again to our door with promises of power in exchange for just a little bit of our soul.

Yeah, its a little like this.

Yeah, its a little like this.

It won’t be easy. Politicians often cannot resist the lure of easy money or the promise of guaranteed votes. But if our Republican leaders can resist this temptation, then the GOP will again become the voice of and for the American majority.

Film Review: DISTRICT 9

Posted in Cinema, Review on August 15, 2009 by paulboylan

DSC00679

I haven’t been around here for a while, but something just happened that compels me to update this blog: I saw District 9.

I cannot say anything about it other than “go see it.”  You will be glad you did.  I will pay money to see it again, and that hasn’t happened for a while.

If you don’t usually like science fiction, go see it anyway.  This isn’t your typical science fiction movie any more than Citizen Kane is merely a movie about an old rich guy who died.

I predict it will be the surprise run-away hit of the summer – not because it is a great movie, but because it is an utterly unexpected pleasure.

Hes not a hero. Hes not the savior. Forget what you know. Hes just a man whos circumstances went beyond his control.

He's not a hero. He's not the savior. Forget what you know. He's just a man who's circumstances went beyond his control.

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MOST OF THE RUMORS ARE FALSE

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Uncategorized, Website of the Week on July 14, 2009 by paulboylan

Coming soon.

One of my regular readers – who goes only by the name “Penelope” – recently wrote:

“I bet your getting a good laff  writing about me in the valley smear laff it up jew boy I heard that the departement of justise is gonna file charges against you for getting fired for lying to elected officials! ha! they are on there way to arrest you right now I heard that you are cheating on your wife with oriental illegal aliens who dont speak english we should send them back where they come from along with all the other illegal aliens who wont speak English and welfare cheats and homisexual liberals I hope your afraid because of the stuff I heard about you from reliable sorses like my neighbors and other reliable sorses like my other neighbors and other people who know things about you that they heard from reliable sorses”

Penelope’s comment highlights a growing problem: what do you do when you hear rumors, especially when you hear them from people you trust, who probably heard them from people they trust, and so on, and so on?

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As Penelope’s email shows, there isn’t much you can do when confronted by a rumor other than spread the rumor and, if you spend most of your day on the internet, it is pretty easy to spread a rumor farther than ever possible before.  But what is an average individual supposed to do?

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An ordinary person really can’t do much to verify or disprove a rumor – especially the kind that is either started or spread by anonymous people on the Internet.  I, on the other hand, am not an ordinary person.  In addition to having webbed toes, I am fortunate to be an attorney with the skills and the connections needed to round up answers and get to the bottom of things – which means I can verify rumors.

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dr_strangelove

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So, as a service to a community that has been very good to me, I investigated some of the more prevalent and persistent rumors currently floating around and have determined whether they are true or not. I want to start with something personal, and then go on to rumors of a more general interest.

Rumor No. 1:  I am Jewish.

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Superficial similarities.

Superficial similarities.

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This rumor is false.  I really have no idea how it got started or why it continues to spread. People keep sending me emails arguing that the Holocaust was a “Jew plot” to discredit the Nazis. People call me to complain about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Complete strangers walk up to me on the street to ask me when the next Barbara Streisand movie is coming out.

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We all know each other.

We all know each other.

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To set the record straight, I am not Jewish: I am Greek Orthodox, a faith that prides itself on being the oldest continuous version of Christianity.  Despite some similarities – e.g., Greeks have big noses, are notoriously cheap, are smarter than goyum (i.e., non-Greeks) and control the media – Judaism and Greek Orthodoxy have very little in common.  And then there are the goat sacrifices – which I would rather not get into right now.

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Hilarious at parties.

Hilarious at parties.

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Rumor No. 2:  The words “Butte County” mean something obscene in Latin.

Knows what it means.

Knows what it means.

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This rumor is false.  “Butte County” has no Latin meaning whatsoever.  The word “butte” is French, meaning “a small hill or mound of earth detached from any mountain range”  Coincidentally, “Butte County” mean “socially embarrassed potato” in Swahili.

The persistent rumor that “Butte County” is a foreign obscenity can be traced to a printing accident that took place shortly after Butte County was founded in 1850.  Butte County’s first Clerk,  the legendary Earnest H. Sockmender, ordered stationery that mistakenly read “Butt County.”  The mistake wasn’t discovered until 1853 when famed actress and exotic dancer Lola Montez was performing at the Yellow Foot Saloon in Biggs.

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Lola Montez

Lola Montez

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Rumor No. 3  Glenn County was founded by an insane polygamist wheat farmer who used a private militia to force the Colusa County Council, at gunpoint, to “let go of” the land that eventually became Glenn County.

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The Battle for Glenn County.

The Battle for Glenn County.

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This rumor is false.  Dr. Hugh J. Glenn – the prominent California wheat farmer and amateur dentist that Glenn County is named after – was not insane.

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Rumor No. 4:  Glenn County Superintendent of Schools, Arturo Barrera, is really a woman.

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Arturo Barrera

Arturo Barrera

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Despite my very best research and investigative efforts, I can neither confirm nor deny this allegation.  Barrera’s bodyguards – who seem to be with him 24 hours a day – make it impossible to get close enough to perform the examination necessary to either confirm or disprove the rumor. However, I’ve eaten with Arturo, and I can tell you from first hand experience that no woman can devour a bucket of fried chicken that fast or that vigorously.

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The next few rumors are relatively recent, and seem to be part of an attempt to explain why the Glenn County Superior Court decided to remodel a courtroom scheduled to be closed, and then spent more money in attorney’s fees than the remodeling cost trying to keep the remodeling details secret.

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Rumor No. 5:  Retired Glenn County Judge St. Evans killed a guy and hid his body in a “man-sized safe” for a time period longer than the one recommended by the Judicial Counsel. The “remodeling” was a cover story created to explain efforts to remove the evidence.

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Dont go in their closets.

Chambers of Mystery.

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This rumor is false and, frankly, it offends me that anyone would repeat it.  It is simply unbelievable that any judge would kill anyone (except for those two judges in Los Angeles) and violate the Judicial Council’s standards for body storage/disposal (again, except for those same two judges in Los Angeles).   Also, hiding evidence of judicial misconduct doesn’t explain the decision to install high-tech infrared remote controlled automatic window shades.

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Rumor 6: The Orland judge’s chambers remodeling project cost so much money because they are building a trans-dimensional portal that will be used by evil insectoid aliens to invade the earth and use people for food.

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It would look a lot like this.

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This rumor is seductive, lulling the listener into believe it because it explains so much.  People wonder why such a large amount of money was spent to remodel a room so tiny, but a trans-dimensional portal could easily fit in that tiny space with room to spare.  The large amounts of money spent trying to keep the project details secret is also explained by the need to prevent humans from finding out about the plan before it is too late to stop it.  Even the high tech electronic automatic window shades are explainable because it is well known that insectoid alien monsters – hungry for human flesh – are notoriously light sensitive.

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Dislikes direct sunlight.

Dislikes direct sunlight.

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However, no matter how tempting it is to believe this rumor, I cannot confirm it, and it is my firm opinion that it is probably untrue.

In closing,  I want to say that I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords and would like to take this opportunity to remind them that, as an attorney and lobbyist, I can be helpful in rounding up others to serve as a food source during their stay on our world – and I am willing to do it at a very low hourly rate.

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Such a deal, eh?

Such a deal, eh?

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THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF INTERNET “NEWS”

Posted in 3D, Art, Astronomy, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, music, News, Op Ed, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Space, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Website of the Week with tags on May 20, 2009 by paulboylan


The author (front) and his brother, Dave (back).

The author (front) and his brother, Dave (back).

y Paul Nicholas Boylan,
Columnis

People of Earth, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that very soon virtually everyone on earth will be able to easily and cheaply access the Internet.

Even really, really poor people.

It is happening so fast no one can keep up or predict where or how it will end.  Computers and telephones with wireless connections to the World Wide Web are spreading even through the poorest parts of Africa – even though there is no electrical infrastructure there. The people who live in those retched places are using solar energy to power their small, inexpensive internet devices.  And that means people from Port-au-Prince to Benghazi can watch television reruns on Hulu, watch weird videos on YouTube and look down upon their huts and refugee camps using the satellite images from Google Earth.

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Now for the bad news. Even though we are entering a brave new world promising incredible access to information, a lot of the information available is absolute junk.  This true especially for the news.

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IH071413

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The problem is found in the system itself.  Every major newspaper and every major Internet service provider offers a news page where anyone can browse the headlines for free.  Google has a news page.  Yahoo has a news page.  Microsoft has a news page.

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But there just isn’t enough news to fill those pages.  Our opportunities to find news on the Internet are growing faster than the news itself.  There just isn’t enough happening that is newsworthy to post on the Internet for you and me to read.

In the past, during the golden age of journalism, great newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times and the Weekly World News pledged to report “all of the news that is fit to print.”  Please read that promise carefully:  all of the news that is fit to print.  That implies that not all news is suitable to be put in a newspaper.  Some stories are just too trivial or too stupid to make it past an editor.  Traditionally, only the most interesting, most helpful and/or most topical stories made it into print.  In other words, quality mattered.

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It isn’t that way any more.  In this new age of fast information access, quality has lost its meaning and importance. Now quantity is king.  Electronic space, millions of times larger than all of the newspapers that have ever been printed, needs to be filled with something.

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Think about it.

The results are simply bizarre, and – truth be told – a little frightening.  When the quality of information loses its importance, the quality of thought and reason suffers.

For example, just yesterday I read the following headline on the Google News website:

“NAVAJOS LARGELY UNSCATHED BY RECESSION”

I want you to think about this headline.  It basically reports that the group of Native Americans more commonly called Navajos – who are perhaps one of the poorest people in the United States, suffering from lack of education, lack of health care and double digit unemployment – are not really being affected by the recent economic down turn.  And why? Because they are already dirt poor, that’s why.

 

The news article quoted some idiot who explained why the Great Recession isn’t really being noticed on Navajo reservations:

“Most Navajos own their own homes, tend not to invest in the stock market and have long had difficulties borrowing money, distinguishing them from millions of other Americans who’ve suffered from rising mortgage payments, sinking 401(k) retirement accounts and stricter terms from lenders.”

If you are not totally amazed at the abject stupidity of this “news” then perhaps I can help you understand by suggesting a headline that would be equally stupid for exactly the same reasons:

“RECENT STUDY SHOWS DEAD PEOPLE HAVE FEWER HEALTH PROBLEMS”

Navajos are not affected by the Great Recession for the exact same reason why dead people don’t get sick: because they are already in such bad shape that it just doesn’t matter.  Swine flu isn’t a problem for people who have died for the same reason unemployment isn’t a problem for people who already don’t have a job.  

You know what else impoverished Navajos aren’t affected by? The increase in swimming pool maintenance fees and the rising price of caviar.

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Lucky Navajos!

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The fact that our banks won’t lend any money doesn’t matter to people who could never get a loan anyway. Reporting this kind of stuff as “news” is like reporting thathpigs are born small but grow big.lIt isn’t news. It is an observation dressed up and presented to look like news.

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It gets worse.  Not only are stupid things reported, but also stupid people are actually allowed to make the news itself.  For example, yesterday I also read the following headline:

“STEELERS LINEBACKER HARRISON WON’T VISIT WHITE HOUSE

Here is what happened: President Obama invited Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers to the White House.  Linebacker James Harrison refused to go because Obama “would probably have invited Arizona if they had won.”

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Harrison is the one in the air.

Harrison is the one in the air.

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Excuse me? Is he kidding? No, he is not kidding, and that is exactly what is wrong with this “news” article.  He is one serious intellectually challenged American style football player. I mean, what the f**k.  Seriously, what the f**k? Is there anything inside his cranium at all?

Mr. Harrison – if I may address you personally – please try to understand that being angry with the President because Obama would have invited the other team if they had won is just as stupid as a man divorcing his wife because, if she had not agreed to marry him, she would probably have married someone else.

Oh hell. I sincerely hope Harrison doesn’t read this, because if he does, he is going to agree and divorce his wife. I do not want to be responsible for that or anything like it.  I am sure they are a happy couple. I mean, I bet Harrison’s wife takes advantage of his lack of mental acuity to do just about anything she wants.

“Hey, honey, who is that in our bed making love to you?”

“No one, sweety. You are dreaming.

“I am?”

“Yes, you are.”

“Okay!”

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Harrison thinking.

Harrison thinking.

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But I digress.  The point I originally wanted to make is that his stupid reason for not visiting the White House is just a stupid reason. It isn’t newsworthy.  Yet it has engulfed enormous space on the internet.

Navajos that are “lucky” because they are condemned to hopeless poverty and stupid football players aren’t newsworthy.  At best that is information devoid of usefulness or meaningful content.

Welcome to the Information Age.

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ZippyT.Pinhead writes:

” ‘Welcome to the Information Age?’ That is a terribly weak last line for an essay that is marginal at best.”

Zippy, I am forced by self-honesty to agree with your opinion that I ended the essay poorly. However, as for your assessment that the essay itself was somehow not up to scratch, I offer the following in rebuttal:

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hailey young

HEADLINE – POLICE APPREHEND BIGGEST SERIAL KILLER

Posted in 3D, American Decline, Art, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World, Cinema, dada, disembodied heads of the rich and famous, Droit de Suite, Early Elizabethan Knock-Knock Jokes, Evil Smiley Face, Family and Friends, Fiction, Fire and Ice, Food, French Impressionistic Knock-Knock Jokes, German Reformation Knock-Knock Jokes (1520-1553), Getting it Right, Globalization, Hate Crimes, Headline, Headlines, Humor, IN MEMORIAM, Internet Fun!, It's not what you think, Joseph Bleckman, Life, Mad Men, morbidly obese French revolutionary philosophers, morbidly obese gymnasts, music, News, Op Ed, Our animal friends, pandemic, Paying Attention, Photography, Pop Culture, Pycho-Social Trauma, Rage Against the Machine, Research and Development, Review, Romance Language Knock-Knock Jokes, Science, Science Fiction, Small Town America, Smiley Face, Stargate Universe, Steampunk, Stupid People, Sumerian Knock-Knock Jokes, Tasmania, Television, The Matrix, The River of Time, The Wrath of God, Travel, TV, Victorian Era Knock-Knock Jokes, Website of the Week, Why do people in other countries talk funny? with tags on May 1, 2009 by paulboylan


By Rhappi Kanasta, Ass. Press Writer – Thu Apr 30, 9:59 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – Police believe a 72-year-old insurance claims adjuster arrested earlier this month is the biggest serial killer in the city’s history.

“This guy is huge,” Capt. Denis Cremins said. “When we say we caught him laying around the house, we mean “around” the house.”

The suspect weighs over a metric ton and is so large that his arrest required two specially trained SWAT units just to put him in improvised handcuffs originally used to restrain emotionally unstable, bipolar hippos at the Los Angeles Zoo.

“We trained in Iraq, so my men are familiar with morbidly obese perpetrators,” Denis said. “But this is way beyond my experience.  How could he let that happen to him? He should be ashamed of himself.”

Serial killers often over-eat, said FBI profiler, David Carr. “It really is a big problem and it can lead to clinical depression. Without counseling and medical intervention, a serial killer’s uncontrollable appetite for fast food eventually interferes with their predatory activities, and when that happens suicidal thoughts are not uncommon” Carr explained.

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Source for headline:  http://largest-ever-serial-killer-captured.html

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