The Discovery Channel’s list of the greatest Americans has some interesting problems. As one friend put it: “I’m inclined to distrust any list of ‘great Americans’ that puts Oprah Fucking Winfrey more than 50 spots ahead of Nicola Tesla.”
Here’s a list of people simply not on the list at all: Jim Henson, Dr. Seuss, D.W.
Griffiths, Eugene O’Neill, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur
Miller, Edward Albee, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim.
To put that in perspective, the list does include Madonna, three Bushes (Barbara, George H. W. and George W.), Mel Gibson, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Pat Tillman, and Dr. Phil, for the love of God.
We have been alerted to this hilarious column wherein Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten has a bit of sport with PR flack Elizabeth Hillman at the Discovery Channel. A sample:
Have you seen the list of 100 people nominated to be the greatest American of all time, as chosen in an online poll?
It’s a hoot. It’s going to be the basis of a month-long series on the Discovery Channel in June, featuring runoff elections where the public will finally choose a winner. I decided I owed it to history — the history of American humor — to phone a Discovery Channel spokesperson for comment.
Me: So, are you happy with the 100 nominees?
Elizabeth Hillman: Well, we were pleased at the number of people who voted. The results are not for us to judge. This is who America chose. This is the pulse of America.
Me: America seems to have a dangerously erratic pulse. For example, there seems to be a bit of a bias toward recent times, since more than half of the nominees are currently alive or were alive in the last five years. Does that trouble you? Or are you just relieved that Lincoln made the cut?
Elizabeth: Ha-ha. Well, I’m fascinated by the diversity of opinion!
Me: Not only are both George Bushes on the list, but Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, too! Whereas, say, James Madison is not. So, basically, Laura Bush and Barbara Bush are deemed to be greater Americans than the person who wrote the United States Constitution. What philosophical statement do you think the American public might be expressing by this decision? Do you think the statement might be, “We are as shallow as a loogie on the sidewalk?” Or, “We are self-involved, self-congratulatory, parochial-minded nitwits with a ludicrous ignorance of our own national history?” Which one?
HOWTO make a Guinness popsicle. We’re late. Sorry.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sun is doomed. In case McNealy hasn’t noticed, we remind the public that there’s already a pretty hot-shit, widely supported, powerful Unix-based laptop on the market with access to both regular office apps and everything the Open Source world has to offer.
“Sometimes, I wonder what horses might be doing right now.”
This is weird, but kinda cool. You can drag her, too.
Fred “Slacktivist” Clark has been reading and dissecting the Left Behind series on Fridays — he refers to it as “Pretrib Porno,” after the nutbird faction of Christianity these books represent.
Among the literary failings he’s uncovered is a staggering lack of imagination. The world of LB involves a sudden, literal rapture — meaning that every true-blue Christian and child below the age of accountability was suddenly and bodily whisked away to heaven. By Fred’s reckoning (which he freely admits may be off, as he doesn’t agree with what Jenkins and LeHaye clearly think of as “real” Christianity), literally billions (Fred figures 37% of us) of people have suddenly vanished, including everyone on earth who orders from the kid’s menu. The scale of such an event is hard to internalize or understand, sure, but when you’re reading a book about such an event, you sort of expect the author not to suffer this sort of failure of imagination — but J & L fail here miserably. He’s got a character in a hotel trying to relax with CNN on, but he makes no mention of what’s on CNN. Fred puts it this way:
Whatever the precise figure of the disappeared, however, we can safely assume that it included hundred of thousands, if not millions of young, attractive white women. Buck is watching CNN. Think of it: Millions of missing white women, all at the same time. What would CNN do? Would they cover them all? Or maybe just the blonde ones?
We freely admit that in the past we’ve disparaged gimmicky add-ons like Hertz’s NeverLost system as yet anther tool to transfer money from marks to cons. However, our recent business travel experiences have showed us the error of that assumption. The NeverLost system works astoundingly well, and even manages to recover pretty rapidly if you make a mistake and get “off route” on your way to some location. (When that happens, it figures out where you are and plots a new route based on your current location.) It also keeps track of locations you’ve asked for during your rental (not unlike your browser’s history), so going back to the client site (e.g.) is a true no-brainer even if it’s twenty twisty miles away.
We’re not sure we’d use such a thing at home much, but in a strange city, having trustworthy navigation aids on hand is remarkably freeing. NeverLost actually interfaces with Yellow Pages info, so you can search for damn near anything. Need a mall? No problem. How about an office supply shop? Done. True, Hertz costs a bit more than the other guys, and NeverLost is only available on midsize cars and up — and adds $9 a day to your bill — but flexibility and convenience are frequently hard to come by on business trips, and NeverLost manages to deliver both with aplomb.
Atrios reminds us how openly hostile some in the GOP are to good science, extending even to the point of intimidation.
YouWhores.com, presented with neither evaluation nor comment. In fact, we’re posting it blind, on account of Dan saying so. We haven’t even clicked it. Somebody visit, and tell us what it is.
Take a gander at the Moscow that never was, artist’s renderings of unbuilt Soviet architecture.
We should do our cooking in one of these.
Turdblossom’s been in the news today for some pretty nasty comments about half the country made yesterday — and which the White House has fully supported:
“Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”
Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others.”
“Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?” Mr. Rove asked. “Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.”
In other words, more “libruls hate America and want our troops to die” bullshit. From the President’s chief advisor. With the full support of said President. Jesus.
Anyway, Atrios’ response:
For the record, my motives aren’t to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I’d ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment them safe.
BoingBoing points us to this fine archive of “54”-era New York night life shots. It’s not safe for work (unless, presumably, you are or work for Ian Schrager), but there are some gems (marked safe or not):
- Fashion mogul Halston, gay/red-baiting pit-bull for McCarthy Roy Cohn, and 54-owner Steve Rubell (SFW)
- Tim Leary, clearly in his element (SFW)
- Brooke Shields and Mariel Hemingway, looking oddly demure (how old was Brooke?) (SFW)
- Bill, Ron, Mick, Keith, and Jack (SFW)
- Patti Smith and bullwhip-storage pioneer Robert Mapplethorpe (SFW)
- One we we think ought to be captioned “Lick you? Sure, but I’m not putting down my drink or my cigaratte.” (NSFW)
- Porn star Annie Sprinkle, an amputee, and a lot of Crisco (Profoundly NSFW)
It’s worth paging through all of them. New York was like a different planet then, apparently.
Accordian Guy points us to this excerpt from a broadband tech support call (576Kb MP3). It’s in Quebeqois French, but we’re pretty sure we know what it means. And for some reason, it’s funny as hell. Truly, the suckiness of tech support is a universal truth that binds us all together. In hell. (NSFW if anyone around you speaks French, natch.)
From Fred, who finishes with:
I don’t accept these new rules. Here’s what I believe:
I believe that torture itself is dishonorable. I believe that failing to condemn torture is dishonorable. I believe that condoning the practice of torture empowers our enemies and puts American lives at risk. And I believe that by embracing the immoral, counterproductive and utterly un-American practice of torture we make America more closely resemble the kinds of infamous and evil regimes we ought never to resemble in the slightest.
I believe that those who defend the practice of torture lessen America. I believe that the condemnation of those who condemn torture lessens America. I believe that Joseph Darby is a great American and that Jeremy Sivits is not.
But I can’t believe that we’ve fallen so far that I actually have to say all these things. I can’t believe that we have reached the point where statements like “Torture is bad” and “It is good to condemn torture” are seen as controversial.
A United States Senator spoke the truth. He condemned evil and called it un-American. And then he was forced to apologize.
Flag-Burning Amendment Advances in House. Which justice was it that noted that the freedoms the flag purportedly stands for extend even to those who may hold it in contempt?
We’re pretty sure we don’t need to point out where a nation is going when it feels the need to alter its Constitution in order to prevent some kinds of political demonstration and, in the process, restrict what can be done with private property.
Laura Lemay points out the worst esoteric computer language yet: l33t. Sample:
// "Hello World" by Stephen McGreal.
// Note that the views expressed in this source
// code do not necessarily coincide with those of
// the author :o)
iT 41n't s0 7rIckY.
l33t sP33k is U8er keWl 4nD eA5y wehn u 7hink 1t tHr0uGh.
1f u w4nn4be UB3R-l33t u d3f1n1t3lY w4nt in 0n a b4d4sS
h4xX0r1ng s1tE!!! ;p
w4r3Z c0ll3cT10n2 r 7eh l3Et3r!
Qu4k3 cL4nS r 7eh bE5t tH1ng 1n teh 3nTIr3 w0rlD!!!
g4m3s wh3r3 u g3t to 5h00t ppl r 70tAl1_y w1cK1d!!
I'M teh fr4GM4stEr aN I'lL t0t41_1Ly wIpE teh phr34k1ng
fL00r ***j3d1 5tYlE*** wItH y0uR h1dE!!!! L0L0L0L!
t3lEphR4gG1nG l4m3rs wit mY m8tes r34lLy k1kK$ A$$
l33t hAxX0r$ CrE4t3 u8er- k3wL 5tUff lIkE n34t pR0gR4mm1nG
s0m3tIm3$ teh l4nGu4gES l00k jUst l1k3 rE41_ 0neS 7o mAkE
ppl Th1nk th3y'r3 ju$t n0rMal lEE7 5pEEk but th3y're 5ecRetLy c0dE!!!!
n080DY unDer5tAnD$ l33t SpEaK 4p4rT fr0m j3d1!!!!!
50mE kId 0n A me$$4gEb04rD m1ghT 8E a r0xX0r1nG hAxX0r
wH0 w4nT2 t0 bR34k 5tuFf, 0r mAyb3 ju5t sh0w 7eh wAy5 l33t
ppl cAn 8E m0re lIkE y0d4!!! hE i5 teh u8ER!!!!
1t m1ght 8E 5omE v1rus 0r a Pl4ySt4tI0n ch34t c0dE.
1t 3v3n MiTe jUs7 s4y "H3LL0 W0RLD!!!" u ju5t cAn'T gu3s5.
tH3r3's n3v3r anY p0iNt l00KiNg sC3pT1c4l c0s th4t, be1_1Ev3
iT 0r n0t, 1s whAt th1s 1s!!!!!
Richard Dawkins rants good in re: the intellectual bankruptcy that is ID theory. He closes with this gem:
You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.
BoingBoing points us to an open letter to the Kansas school board insisting that they also give classroom time to the Spaghetti Monster theory, on the grounds that it’s got as much going for it as ID.
It includes vi.
Atrios points us to Howler, who express pretty solidly our feelings on Durbin being forced to apologize for speaking truth to power:
Indeed, the lunacy of the flap about Durbin shows the disturbing point we’ve now reached; if you’re a Democrat, a “firestorm” can quickly spread around you if you make remarks which are perfectly accurate. In this case, a Democrat actually did say something that’s about as mundane as “the sky is blue.” Have you read that FBI report–the report which Durbin was discussing? No one would associate the conduct it describes with the nation described in our civics texts, with the country you were taught to believe in as school kids.
Durbin asked an obvious question: If you’d read that report, would you ever have thought that it was describing American conduct? Or would you have thought what Durbin said–that it must describe an evil regime, the type we have long denounced? The answer to that is perfectly obvious–and so is the state of our fallen culture, the culture being trampled under by the Russerts, the McCains and the Wallaces.
But we’ve now reached a miraculous point in the crumbling of our discourse. We’ve reached the point where citizens are mocked by major scribes for wondering if we were lied into war–and where United States senators are told to apologize for denouncing the conduct described in that report. But then, lunacy has spread throughout our discourse over the course of the past dozen years. And your fiery “career liberals” have known to be silent. They looked away again and again. Now we see what that has bought us.
Remember: If you’re troubled to think that we may have been lied into war, that makes you a “wing nut” to today’s “mainstream” press corps. And if you think that FBI report sounds un-American, you need to apologize to the Senate! McCain, Russert, Kristol, Hume, Wallace? They’ve turned their backs on sanity itself. Everyone has to fight this spreading press culture–and you have to ask more from those who kept quiet while this culture of insanity was born.
For years, we’ve threatened to make something like this, but four bucks is a bit too much for a joke. (Via BoingBoing)
Robert Love was Hunter Thompson’s editor for many years at Rolling Stone. He shares a bit of his experience in this CJR piece.
Back to back brilliance! Giblets, Fafnir, and the Medium Lobster provide us with some much-needed balance by explaining how our little gulag problem isn’t nearly so bad as Hitler, Satan, or Galactus:
Galactus, Eater of Worlds:
He eats whole worlds — with people on em an everything! Where would you be if Galactus ate your world? Nowhere that’s where — or just floatin in space feelin real sad on accounta you don’t got a world. How many worlds has the US ever eaten? Maybe, yknow, like one. Well that’s nothin for Galactus… he eats worlds all the time. “So delicious Fafnir,” says Galactus. “Mighty Galactus cannot devour just one.” As of this writing Amnesty International remains completely silent on the issue of Galactus. [Emph. added.]
One can’t be too careful when deliberating over the shifting and byzantine web of confusion and doubt that is so-called “climate” “change.” Whom should we believe: the unruly mob of every reputable climatologist on the planet, or the selfless sages at Exxon-Mobil? Uncertainty abounds, even among higher beings like the Medium Lobster. We must examine all sides of the issue, take input from all corners: from the side of science, and from the side of oil industry whores paid to lie about science. Someday, somehow, between these complex and opposing points of view, we may just find an answer.
There is, of course, more.
We live, it should be noted, in a world where an image search for “six-legged puppy with two penises” can legitimately produce something other than the null set.
From Slacktivist yesterday:
In any case, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging today. I’ve got to go to a funeral, place an ad in the paper, argue with a cyclops and then take my friend Stephen to a whorehouse. (Happy Bloomsday.)
Now that the autopsy has, once and for all, shown everyone just how stupid and wrongheaded the whole “save Terri” thing was (and don’t get us started on Frist stating she was making eye contact — with, presumably, some other part of her brain than the visual cortext, which was GONE), Jeb Bush wants a prosecutor to look into indicting Michael Schiavo on the grounds that maybe he took to long to call the ambulance.
Fifteen years ago.
What. The. Fuck?
TMFTML points us to this gem by Mark Lawson on the end of Fleet Street:
Because the service marked the death of an address rather than a person, both congregation and celebrants seemed uncertain of the appropriate tone. As Murdoch walked past, one old journalist muttered ‘Christ, I’m close enough to kill him’, words which can seldom have been heard in an Anglican church since Thomas Becket.
Firefly lands at SciFi, which will show the original episodes in the right order, something Fox didn’t deign to do in the first place.
Just fucking read Truth and Consequences, on Durbin’s speech.
For reasons we think best not to disclose — but which have nothing to do with dipsomania — we’re spending this year’s Bloomsday in a warehouse full of Jack Daniel’s.
Oh: “Yes I said yes I will Yes.”
Play With Me. (Quicktime, interactive.)
John Phillips has been called to testify before today. You pretty much have to show up when this happens, no matter what. Except John is an astronaut, and is, um, in orbit, so today he’ll provide the first ever Congressional testimony from someplace other than Earth.
(Yes, it’s a bit of a stunt. No, that doesn’t make it less cool.)
So the Senate has passed a resolution apologizing for not doing more about lynching during segregation. You’d sort of expect this sort of pro forma gesture to go through without a fight, and in large part it did — except some senators refused to co-sponsor said resolution, and a few forced the Senate to pass it on voice vote instead of a “let’s see how everyone voted” roll-call vote, presumably because they think it’s bad politics back home to be seen as anti-lynching.
Kos and Atrios led with this, and eventually pointed to a list of those refusing to co-sponsor or publically vote in favor. Guess what? All three of the states in which we’ve lived are represented in this cowardly, craven, ridiculous, shameful group (the only one NOT from MS, TX, or AL is Lamar Alexander). They are:
- Shelby (R-AL)
- Cornyn (R-TX)
- Hutchison (R-TX)
- Cochran (R-MS)
- Lott (R-MS)
- Alexander (R-TN)
We’re not surprised by such behavior from the likes of Shelby, the Texas delegation, or Rent “Wish Strom had been President” Lott, but Cochran and Alexander are genuinely disappointing.
Eighty-One Guys, All Of Them That Guy.
(Thanks to Mrs Heathen To Be, who graciously doesn’t point out that we’re actually (almost) several of them.)
Jacko joins OJ and Robert Blake in the elite club of “obviously guilty celebrity criminals acquitted for nebulous reasons.”
No word yet from the Cruise camp on how vitamins will cure whatever the hell is wrong with MJ or the jury.
(Alt.snarky.headline: “Pedophilia, like spousal murder, now legal for celebs in LA.”)
Due to our current employer, we have learned a great many things about RFID technology in the last eight or nine months, most of which have actual practical applications, or at least the potential therefore.
However, the piece of information concerning RFID equipment we learned today, we’re pretty sure, has no application or interest beyond the immediate, and that is the answer to the question “How much RFID equipment can you get into a 2002 Hyundai Elantra sedan?”
We totally need a remote controlled Nessie for our float trip.
Really, you can.
FreeKatie.net. Act, before it’s too late.
(Bring it, Xenu.)
Certain former Heights-area restauranteurs have pointed us to this product, in the event some of you Heathen feel that your back door isn’t quite pale enough. Or something.
We did not ask what said restauranteaur was shopping for when she found this. We are also not making a joke on her possible distastisfaction with her current Shade (caps intentional and amusing to no more than two or three people, tops).