When Geeks [ Attack | Make Gifts ]

We’ve seen this part before, which is the bit about the guy who makes a computer keyboard out of an old typewriter as a gift for his wife, as she finds manual keyboards easier on her hands than the new electronic kind. What we missed the first time around was another of this guy’s projects: The Humphrey Room Inconveniencer. I’m so very sorry this idea didn’t occur to me in college, and that I didn’t do it to Mike back when I had a pass key.

There’s just no way to describe this that does it justice

Some German guy has written a number of stories about Roy Orbison wrapped in cling film. In fact, there’s no way to describe it at all, so here’s a sample:

It always starts the same way. I am in the garden airing my terrapin Jetta when he walks past my gate, that mysterious man in black. ‘Hello Roy,’ I say. ‘What are you doing in Dusseldorf?’ ‘Attending to certain matters,’ he replies. ‘Ah,’ I say. He apprises Jetta’s lines with a keen eye. ‘That is a well-groomed terrapin,’ he says. ‘Her name is Jetta.’ I say. ‘Perhaps you would like to come inside?’ ‘Very well.’ He says. Roy Orbison walks inside my house and sits down on my couch. We talk urbanely of various issues of the day. Presently I say, ‘Perhaps you would like to see my cling-film?’ ‘By all means.’ I cannot see his eyes through his trademark dark glasses and I have no idea if he is merely being polite or if he genuinely has an interest in cling-film. I bring it from the kitchen, all the rolls of it. ‘I have a surprising amount of clingfilm,’ I say with a nervous laugh. Roy merely nods. ‘I estimate I must have nearly a kilometre in the kitchen alone.’ ‘As much as that?’ He says in surprise. ‘So.’ ‘Mind you, people do not realize how much is on each roll. I bet that with a single roll alone I could wrap you up entirely.’ Roy Orbison sits impassively like a monochrome Buddha. My palms are sweaty. ‘I will take that bet,’ says Roy. ‘If you succeed I will give you tickets to my new concert. If you fail I will take Jetta, as a lesson to you not to speak boastfully.’ from the first such story

It’s our site. We’ll do encore presentations if we want.

Accordian Guy also enjoyed the Fox Smackdown, and has a transcript and a Quicktime versionto boot:

Fox News: We were noticing all the snow in Washington, boy it’s really coming down! I hope that doesn’t put a crimp in anybody’s plans. Look at that gorgeous shot of the White House… Judy: Well I, I have a feeling that maybe it should put a crimp, or at least something should put a crimp in the plans of the White House to have such a very lavish inaugural at a time of war. Fox News: Really? Judy: Yes. What I’ve noticed is the worse a war is going, the more lavish the inaugural festivities. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, during a time of war, of course as you know, he had a very modest inauguration and a very tiny party where he served chicken salad, or where chicken salad was served. And that was when we were winning a war. Fox News: Right, but, well, no, I, look, I mean, the President has, has addressed this, hasn’t he, he said that this is a, I believe the quote was that we’re celebrating, we’re celebrating democracy, we’re celebrating a peaceful transfer of democracy. What’s wrong with doing that? Judy: Have you noticed any peace or any transfer of democracy in Iraq? If you have, you’re the first person to have seen it. Fox News: Well, I’ve noticed the elections coming up, and, to be honest… Judy: They don’t seem very peaceful. Fox News: ….I didn’t want to argue politics with you this morning. Judy: Oh really? I thought I was allowed to talk about what I wanted to talk about. Fox News: You certainly, you certainly have that right. Let me ask, let me ask you this: what, I mean, what — what should they have cut back on? I mean we… Judy: How about $40 million. Fox News: All right, well… Judy: May I say something? May I say something? Fox News: Sure. Judy: We have soldiers who are incapable of protecting themselves in their humvees in Iraq. They have to use bits of scrap metal in order to make their humvees secure. Their humvees are sitting ducks for bombs. And we have a president who’s using $40 million to have a party. Fox News: What would you suggest for the inauguration? How would you do it? Judy: How about a modest party? Just like FDR. I’m sure you’ll agree he was a pretty good President with a fine sense of what’s appropriate and what’s not. And during a time of war, 10 parties are not appropriate when your own soldiers are sitting ducks in very, very bad vehicles. Fox News: Well, don’t you think that the President has, has given his proper respect to our troops? I mean yesterday, as far as I can tell, the festivities opened with a military gala, they ended with a prayer service. There does seem to have certainly been a tremendous effort over the past couple of days and more than that to honor our troops! Judy: Well, gee, that prayer should sure keep them safe and warm in their flimsy vehicles in Iraq. (emph. added) I’d rather see that money going to them, rather than to a guy who already is President, for the second time. Quinn on the ropes. The lesson to be learned: don’t shoot off your mouth when your brain is full of blanks. Click to see the video. Fox News: All right, well, Judy Bachrach, I think we’ve given you more than your time to give us your point of view this morning. Judy: Thanks for having me on.

Lists, via McSweeney’s

There are several, but here’s the best one:

THINGS I’D PROBABLY SAY
IF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WERE JUST
A WEEKLY TV SHOW AND I WERE
A REGULAR VIEWER.
By Eric Maierson “Now, see, you can’t just go and do something like that. That would be illegal.” “Boy, someone’s gonna get fired for that.” “Wasn’t that the one who made all the mistakes? Why is she getting promoted?” “Come on, in real life you’d never get away with something like that.” “They really expect us to believe that?” “Am I the only one confused here?” “Does this make any sense to you?” “Why is this still on?”

Wherein we jump on the Carson-encomium bandwagon

Or, at least, wherein we point you at someone else’s tribute. David Edelstein at Slate gets it right, and smacks down the McNews for their absurd reduction of Carson’s style and legacy:

Sometimes it’s easier to begin an appreciation by saying what a person emphatically was not. Consider this passage about Johnny Carson from an editorial in USA Today, which is wrongheaded on nearly every count:
But what made Carson so unusual wasn’t just his success, but how he achieved it. His monologues were not biting or cynical, as is often the case with today’s TV. His conversations with guests put the focus on the interviewee, not the interviewer. He didn’t win laughs at the expense of others, like Jay Leno does in his “Jaywalking” segment, which shows people unable to answer easy questions. If anyone was the butt of Carson’s humor, it was Carson himself.
You’d think that Carson was some sort of egoless saint of television, when at his peak he was precisely the oppositeÑwhich is why, of course, so many millions of us watched him so faithfully and took the news of his passing, at age 79 from emphysema, so hard.

Dept. of Absolutely Stunning Admissions

Sony admitted it was wholly wrongheaded in its digital music strategy, and that it had let Sony Entertainment stifle innovation from its Electronics division — which is precisely why they’re not even an also-ran in the portable digital music market after having invented the whole notion of portable, personal music in the eighties:

Sony admits MP3 error
Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo
January 21, 2005
SONY missed out on potential sales from MP3 players and other gadgets because it was overly proprietary about music and entertainment content, the head of the company’s video-game unit said. Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, said he and other Sony employees had been frustrated for years with management’s reluctance to introduce products like Apple’s iPod, mainly because the Sony had music and movie units that were worried about content rights. But Sony’s divisions were finally beginning to work together and share a common agenda, Mr Kutaragi said at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo. “It’s just starting,” he said. “We are growing up.” Sony officials have rarely publicly said the company’s proprietary stance was mistaken. Mr Kutaragi, who has long been viewed as a candidate to lead Sony, was unusually direct in acknowledging Sony had made an error. Sony’s music players did not initially support MP3 files and only played Sony’s own Atrac format. Sony’s technology innovation had been “diluted”, Mr Kutaragi said “We have to concentrate on our original nature – challenging and creating,” he said. Once the powerhouse of global electronics, with success exemplified by its Walkman, Sony has lost some of its glamour lately, losing out in profitability and market share to cheaper Asian rivals. Mr Kutaragi – known as the “Father of the PlayStation” for making the game machine a pillar of Sony’s business – said the new PSP, or PlayStation Portable, handheld will grow into a global platform for enjoying music and movies as well as games. The Associated Press

One for the Legal Department

Hey, Frank, dig this:

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the “jury pool from hell.” The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence. Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, “I’m on morphine and I’m higher than a kite.” When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed. Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. “I should have known something was up,” he said. “She had all her teeth.” Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: “In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you’re probably guilty.” He was not chosen. The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother’s girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin’s client was found not guilty. CNN

On the other hand, this bit is incontrovertibly from the Magnolia state

Boing Boing points us to this MP3 of the outgoing voice mail message at the Mississippi State Tax Comission from yesterday.

You’ve reached the Mississippi State Tax Commission. On Monday, January the 17th, the State Tax Commission offices will be closed in observance of Robert E. Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Tax Commission offices will reopen on Tuesday, January the 18th. Office hours are from 8 until 5. Thank you, and have a safe and happy holiday.

We can’t verify that the message itself is real (though the accent is authentic), but we have verified that yes, Robert E. Lee’s birthday is also a state holiday, and is observed concurrent with MLK’s birthday. What better way to honor the progress we’ve made than by honoring a man who fought to preserve slavery on the same day we honor Dr. King?

So. Fucking. Proud.

Crossfire’s final insult

Frank Rich points out what a fucking joke the program’s swan song was:

NEW YORK One day after Tucker Carlson, the co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” made his farewell appearance and two days after the network’s new president made the admirable announcement that he would soon kill the program altogether, a television news miracle occurred: even as it staggered through its last steps to the network guillotine, “Crossfire” came up with the worst show in its 23-year history. This was a half-hour of television so egregious that it makes Jon Stewart’s famous pre-election rant seem, if anything, too kind. This time “Crossfire” was not just “hurting America,” as Stewart put it, by turning news into a nonsensical gong show. It was unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly, complicit in the cover-up of a scandal.

There’s more.

Lying Piece Of Sack Of Shit Bitches, and the Press That Lets Them Get Away With It(*)

Slacktivist is, as always, more polite than the Heathen, but that’s no surprise. The president lies; that’s also no surprise. He lied about Iraq, and he’s lying now about Social Security now, which even the SSA itself says will be fine until at least 2042 (more on this here). Fred says:

George W. Bush lied. And George W. Bush doesn’t care that he lied. And he doesn’t care that you know he lied because he knows that more people will believe his lies than not, which was what yesterday’s forum on Social Security was all about.

Fred also points us to a decidedly more Heathenesque quote, from Kevin Drum, who is angry at both the President and our lapdog press:

What should a responsible press do when faced with a president who baldly lies over and over about stuff like this in a blatant attempt to scare the hell out of people? Somebody needs to figure it out, because people like George Bush have no incentive to stop lying if the press lets them get away with it.

Word.

(* With apologies to Fishbone.)

Stuff We Couldn’t Possible Make Up, Not That We Would, Because We Don’t Hate You

Atrios gives us a rundown of the planned inaugural ceremony:

The inaugural ceremony will include performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, the U.S. Marine Band and mezzo sopranos Denyce Graves and Susan Graham. Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss., who performed on the Lawrence Welk show, will sing, “Let the Eagles Soar,” a song written by Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Emph. added.) MSNBC

When we told Rob about this, he said, and we quote:

G A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A

Dept. of People Who Speak Truth

MSNBC has an interview with Desmond Tutu that’s well worth reading. A few choice excerpts:

I still can’t believe that [Bush’s reelection] really could have happened. Just look at the facts on the table: He’d gone into a war having misled people–whether deliberately or not–about why he went to war. You would think that would have knocked him out [of the race.] It didn’t. Look at the number of American soldiers who have died since he claimed that the war had ended. And yet it seems this doesn’t make most Americans worry too much. I was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., [during the election campaign] and I was shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the deja vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here [during apartheid]–vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view. [. . .] It’s unbelievable that a country that many of us have looked to as the bastion of true freedom could now have eroded so many of the liberties we believed were upheld almost religiously.

And on religion:

I keep having to remind people that religion in and of itself is morally neutral. Religion is like a knife. When you use a knife for cutting up bread to prepare sandwiches, a knife is good. If you use the same knife to stick into somebody’s guts, a knife is bad. Religion in and of itself is not good or bad–it is what it makes you do… Frequently, fundamentalists will say this person is the anointed of God if the particular person is supporting their own positions on for instance, homosexuality, or abortion. [I] feel so deeply saddened [about it]. Do you really believe that the Jesus who was depicted in the Scriptures as being on the side of those who were vilified, those who were marginalized, that this Jesus would actually be supporting groups that clobber a group that is already persecuted?

Word.