Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vacancy on "The View"

(Thanks to the Huffington Post for this.)

Sherri Shepherd is apparently a new host for morning hen-fest "The View". She had already said she didn't "believe in evolution, period." Then she gave her views on another scientific
puzzler:
The vacant Sherri Shepherd

The next day, she offered an explanation for her breathtaking ignorance:

The still-vacant Sherri Shepherd

So either this co-host of a television show is extremely ill-informed, or she gets discombobulated when someone asks her a question on TV.

I wonder how much ABC is paying this stupid woman.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Heroes of my alma mater

More super-brave shenanigans from law enforcement, this time from my alma mater, the University of Florida.

21-year-old student Andrew Meyer was at the microphone yesterday confronting guest speaker Senator John Kerry when University police began hauling Meyer away. He repeatedly asked why he was being arrested, but if he was answered, I couldn't hear it on the video.

Video: Kyle Mitchell
Kerry ineffectually offered to answer Meyer's question, but the situation continued to escalate until a half-dozen police had the student pinned to the ground and then tasered him.

Video: Clarissa Jessup
Yay, brave thugs (two of whom are taking a little compulsory time off).

As in other similar incidents, it looks like the tasering happened after many, many police had their subject pinned to the ground, and were uncomfortable with what he was saying.

Cops don't appear to like it when they are reminded that citizens have rights. It's a more extreme version of the familiar "hand blocking the camera lens" manœuvre favored by the truncheon trade.

Meyer was released today.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The holy month of Ramadan™

It's like it's part of the trademark: it isn't "Ramadan" or "the month of Ramadan", but "the holy month of Ramadan." According to Wikipedia, Ramadan is characterized as a month of fasting, charity, and self-accountability, a turning away from worldly affairs to focus on one's personal relationship with God.

Enter Lars Vilks, Swedish cartoonist, who depicted Muhammad's head on the body of a dog.

Photo credit: Björn Lindgren/Scanpix
"We announce in Ramadan, the month of giving, a reward of $100,000 for whoever kills this criminal and infidel," increased to $150,000 if he is "slaughtered...like a sheep." So says the leader of an al-Qaeda group in Iraq. A reward of $50,000 was offered for the editor of the newspaper in which the cartoon was printed.

What better time than "the month of giving" to give a reward for a criminal act?

Here we go again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Again with the mourning...

Last year, I took exception to the maudlin celebration of death that accompanied the fifth anniversary of the events of 9/11, down to the moments of silence and the playing of Taps over the intercom at work.

Well, it happened again today ("Patriot Day"), Taps included.

How long did we commemorate Dec. 7, 1941, with special ceremonies on that day? Did the British whine about particular dates while they were being bombed during WWII? These 9/11 commemorations have now lasted longer than the entire Second World War.

A familiar ring

"We have adopted a plan, which we have worked out in coöperation with the South Vietnamese, for the complete withdrawal of all US combat ground forces.

"As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.

"I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program."

President Richard Nixon, 3 November 1969

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Britney is the new Anna Nicole

Not that I care, but I ran across a clip of Britney Spears' big comeback on tonight's MTV Video Music Awards.

With a body I can only describe as "flab-tacular", Britney strolled tentatively around the stage like she was demonstrating a dance routine for elderly strippers. She looked like one of those figure skaters who decides not to go for the higher-degree-of-difficulty moves after all.

She's not ready to resume her career. She needs to stop partying with bimbos. She needs to learn how to be a good parent.
She needs to get fit and healthy. She needs to wear underwear. She needs someone smart to advise her.

She needs Madonna.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mos Def is an idiot

Mos Def was one of the two panelists on Bill Maher's "Real Time" last night. Mos Def is mos' def' an idiot.

He thought that the English monarch in power during the time of the American Revolution was "the Queen". He claimed not to believe that men landed on the moon. He claimed to believe in Bigfoot. He played the part of an inarticulate black man railing at whitey. (But he had done his reading on
François Dominique Toussaint "Louverture" Bréda enough to claim the Louisiana Purchase for the Black Man [I'm not saying he doesn't have a point here]).

The more entertaining points were made by Professor Cornel West, always an animated and passionate figure, but a bit of a loony, and more of a media figure than a professor these days.

Maher apparently misspoke at one point: when trying to show solidarity with the Black cause, he stated that he had been on more than one occasion the "honorary white man."

Anyway, I like to see the First Amendment exercised regularly, so it was all-in-all a good show.

Coffee, tea, or...puritanical humiliation?

Curvy commuter Kyla Ebbert was told by a male Southwest Airlines flight attendant that her clothing was too revealing.

Photo: ABC News
At first, she was asked to take a later flight, then a compromise was reached where she eventually ended up covering herself with a blanket.

So, a "family" company like Southwest is offended by everyday sexuality? Where do they think families come from?

And anyway: just because a woman turns (part of) a man to stone doesn't make her a witch.

Kyla, you're welcome to fly in my neighborhood any time.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lord of Iowa

"Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary."

Bill Richardson has taken some heat for the comments he made about Iowa's spot on the political calendar.


I'm sure he meant to say, "for reasons related to Lord": Milton E. Lord, that is, director of the University of Iowa libraries from 1930 to 1932.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oswalt acts alone

Patton Oswalt is the one comedian most likely to make me actually die laughing.

When I saw him opening for Aimee Mann several years ago, I was in danger of sounding like I had whooping cough.

Here's a more recent clip.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Keywords: flimsy, entrapment, who cares?

This whole Senator Craig story about airport bathroom hookups seems pretty flimsy. Not a word was spoken, yet the cop somehow knew that tapping one's foot in a restroom stall means "I am looking for gay sex," rather than "I hope I finish in time to catch my flight."

Now, which one is the gay one?

I am usually overjoyed when a conservative, gay-hating, family-values Conservative hypocrite is caught with his pants down, but this story is just odd.

12:00 PM - Cop enters stall, noticing that not all stalls are occupied.

12:13 PM - Cop notices Craig standing outside his stall, fidgeting. Cop implies that Craig had targeted him for sexual mischief. Cop doesn't seem to think that all the stalls could have filled up in the intervening 13 minutes, and that Craig may be fidgeting because he has to go. He reports that Craig looks through the crack between the door and the stall, from three feet away.

12:15 PM - Cop notices person in stall to his left departs, and Craig enters the stall, placing his bag against the door. Cop writes, "My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall." My experience has shown that there aren't too many choices about where to place one's bags in a cramped restroom stall.

12:16 PM - Cop notices that Craig taps his right foot. "I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct." I recognize this as a signal that a person is fidgety, anxious, musical, trying to keep their foot from falling asleep, or Fred Astaire.

Cop moves his "foot up and down slowly." He doesn't say whether he does this because he is signaling his interest in gay sex, but by including it in the report, he implies something of the sort, in which case: entrapment, anyone?

Eventually, Craig moves his right foot far enough to touch the cop's left foot. According to the cop's report, he doesn't move his foot out of the way, which I would do reflexively if someone encroached in my area of the stall. So why didn't the cop move his foot?

12:17 PM - Craig somehow contorts his body so that he swipes his left hand along the right side of his stall, slightly under the divider, palm up, fingertips showing on the cop's side of the wall. Cop doesn't mention whether this is some sort of signal, based on his vast experience of lewd behavior.

12:19 PM - Cop goes in for the kill by flashing his badge under the stall with his right hand, and pointing with his left hand towards the door. More contortions, apparently. Craig, speaking for the first time, says, "No!" but the cop is insistent, and Craig leaves the stall "without flushing the toilet." How suspicious, apparently, that after four minutes of fidgety behavior, Craig has not yet relieved himself, or not enough to warrant flushing the toilet, or just left in a hurry because a cop ordered him to.

The cop again notices that not all the stalls are occupied, proof that Craig had singled him out for lewd behavior. The cop then informs Craig that he is under arrest. The charges? "Interference with Privacy" (for peeking through the crack between the door and the stall from three feet away) and "Disorderly Conduct" (hard to see how the statute applies in this situation).

The report doesn't say that Craig ever uttered a word before being shown the badge, and doesn't say that Craig engaged in any lewd behavior. Craig's mistake was in pleading guilty in hopes of making the situation go away. He may have been guilty, and may have intended lewd conduct, but from the police report, I'd say that it would have been pretty easy to get the charges thrown out.

Paul Hipp does an excellent audio noir recreation of the police report here.