Friday, March 26, 2010

Pathetisad Cowardice

I don't know which is more pathetisad about the whole incident at Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother's home; there's just so much to choose from. Among all the other ridiculously juvenile bullshit the Political Fruitcake Contingent has been getting up to, from all sides of the arena. The Tea Party's stunts are probably the most visible, but it looks like everybody's decided to appoint a Token Asshat now.

There's the bit that some piss-brained idiot(s) cut a propane gas line on a back porch grill and left it leaking with a nasty letter, apparently in hopes of starting a fire. Then there's the fact that the jerks hit the wrong house instead of the one belonging to the people they wanted to play Big Badass with. Then there's the trifling little cretins who posted the (wrong) address on two Tea Party blogs and encouraged people to "drop by and express their thanks" for Perriello's support of health care reform. Then there's Danville Tea Party leader Nigel Coleman, who posted the address, stating “This is Rep. Thomas Stuart Price Perriello’s home address… I ain’t holding back anymore!!” and followed that up with “Do you mean I posted his brother’s address on my Facebook? Oh well, collateral damage.”

Nice way to play, aphid. I hope his neighbors on either side, who might also have suffered had a fire or explosion happened, come hunt you down with ball bats and tire irons.

Great. A pile of grade school bully opportunists are trying for their 15 minutes by taking out their angst via terrorist tactics, and they don't even have the integrity to care about hitting people who have nothing to do with their claimed source of ire. Even if they did, he's hardly the sole cause of the country's various messes. And they're committing an act of cliche and packaging it as patriotism.

To Coleman and the rest of you pathetic jackasses - and that means everybody and anybody who've resorted to rat bastard behavior; the Reps, the Dems, the Libs, The Tea Partiers, the Hot Pink Shoelaces Party, whatever:

You're a bunch of cheap, muck sucking cowards, the lot of you, and you're liars and incompetents to boot. You don't give a shit about freedom, rights, or changing the government for the better, you just want to show your scabies-riddled asses and prove you can hurt something. You're sad, you're weak, and you're an embarrassment to anyone with an ounce of brains or character.

And you, whoever you are that put this one up - you're crawling on the bottom right along with them. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ok Go does Rube Goldberg

Lots of Win running around this week! On today's installment of  People That Don't Suck, we present Nerd Pride repping FTW.

Ok Go, the guys who brought you Music For Treadmills, went all techie again with an extra video for This Too Shall Pass. Except this one's on serious caffiene - they hired a pile of Berkley and MIT Supernerd Engineers from Syyn Labs to help design and build a ginormous two-story Rube Goldberg machine:

There's a rundown of the machine's floor plan on the Ok Go website, and a shorty in four parts "Behind The Scenes/Making Of" thinger there and on their Youtube channel.

Comments Hiccup Fixed. Again. We hope. Load trebuchet!

Greetings, Programs!

Since Disqus seems to keep FUBARing, it has been sacked. And bitten by a moose.

I installed Intense Debate, and will import the Disqus comments as soon as ID gets their Blogger export back up and running. Contrary to the name, this does not mean people have to immediately haul out the heavy siege gear and start taunting people with ridiculous accents - unless you just wanna see whose trebuchet is bigger!

Just lemme know, I know where we can score a couple pianos . . .

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tea Party antics, or "If you spit on people in pre-school . . .

. . . they call your parents and make them take you home."

So who dropped the ball and let the bratty kids run loose at this past weekend's Tea Party "Kill The Bill" rally in Washington?

For all the people who keep saying "But the Tea Party's not like that!":


You may not be, or you may know of some TPers who aren't, but the overwhelming visible (stop, go back and read that last word again real quick) majority are painting a landscape mural of pugilist, nihilistic, bigoted bullies with anger management issues who are more about using propaganda rhetoric to shout down anyone who isn't carrying a pitchfork and a torch than actually fixing anything that's busted.The occasional "let's have us a hangin'!" nutjob might not make you look so bad if the rest weren't cheering her on and getting out the popcorn and 3D glasses.
Yeah, I know, there are plenty of people I've said I wanted to beat the crap out of/feed to piranhas/sell to a slave brothel in Singapore, but I've never gotten on a stage in front of a large crowd of pissed-off lemmings with guns and Patrick Henryed them into helping.

Also, when you have (alleged) people like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Sarah Palin (does she really need a ref link?), Rick Scarbough, and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) repping you to the public, you can't rationally expect the groups they espouse hate for to not tar you with the same brush. Frank Crumit said it best:

Quick word to the media: guys, you're not in pre-school either. The words "nigger" and "faggot" are nasty, hateful, small-minded efforts to insult and reduce people to a bigot's cartoon bad guy. When you use little asterisks to spell them, as if they're too scary to see as a whole word, you're throwing power to them and the people who use them as weapons, and it makes it seem as if the entity reporting on the incident should be ashamed of acknowledging that the words are a fact of the occurrence. You may be stuck with it as company policy; go show your editor this gripe about it and maybe you'll get a story opportunity out of it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Epic Wins - Baby Zoo Animals

On today's installment of Epic Win (a subsidiary of Things That Don't Suck), we bring you massively cool Baby Zoo Animals!

The slideshow is kinda long (246 images), but it's worth it. Got a few critters you don't see as much of, like  mongoose, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, pangolin, snow leopards, and a species of goat-antelope I've never seen before called Sichuan takin. And as far as I'm concerned, every one that makes it here successfully is one step closer to being able to preserve endangered species, when wild habitat is being compromised to the point of non-viability all over the world.

Speaking of which: Gana, the gorilla at Muenster Zoo in Germany who lost her infant Claudio to a heart defect (has been reported as an intestinal infection by some papers) in 2008, has a new baby who is doing well. Gana got international attention for her mourning of Claudio, keeping his body and trying to coax a response from the dead infant. This is actually normal for wild gorillas, and given that she had rejected her first baby, was a significant change in behavior. Here's to smooth sailing with her third child!

Gana with baby, who may be named Claudia after her brother and "godmother", German television personality Claudia Kleinert.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Texas -"It's Gonna Be A Whole Other Country"

Warning: Wiki links ahead. Wikipedia has it's flaws and hiccups, but most of the articles on their own have a bigger list of related links than I can post here without making Kitteh scared.

Texas' tourism motto may be prophetic given the growing pile up of shenanigans, from Repent Amarillo's branching out to a boycott of the entire city of Houston to the Board of Education's vote to remove Thomas Jefferson from high school teachings on the Enlightenment. They replaced him with John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas, and also voted in favor of a standard that wants to put Jefferson Davis in the same moral box as Abraham Lincoln, and effectively rewrite the last several decades of race relations and civil rights. It's a gear up from an ongoing overhaul that has previously removed such figures as Thurgood Marshall, Anne Hutchinson, and César Chávez from the material as people who didn't do anything significant or effective enough to deserve mention.

Texas Freedom Network has running details of their coverage of the meeting, including a pesky little problem of the Second Amendment being more appropriate to cover the First Amendment rather than just letting the First speak for itself. While the personal stance of the reporter is seriously obvious, I have a hard time thinking it out of line or completely uncalled-for:
11:21 – Board member Barbara Cargill wants to insert a discussion of the right to bear arms in a standard that focuses on First Amendment rights and the expression of various points of view. This is absurd. If they want students to study the right to bear arms, at least try to find an appropriate place in the standards for it. This is yet another example of politicians destroying the coherence of a curriculum document for no reason other than promoting ideological pet causes. Republican board member Bob Craig of Lubbock is suggesting a better place for such a standard. But the amendment passes anyway. The board’s far-right faction is simply impervious to logic.
11:30 – Board member Pat Hardy notes that elsewhere the standards already require students to study each of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. No one seems to care.
11:33 – Bob Craig tries, once again, to talk some sense into these folks. Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the original standard’s focus on the rights of “petition, assembly, speech, and press in a democratic society” unfairly emphasizes the First Amendment over others. She suggests taking that out altogether if the Second Amendment isn’t included. Board member Ken Mercer argues that the right to bear arms is too important not to include here. But it IS included in the standards. The purpose of the original standard is to have students understand the rights to free expression in a democratic society. The right to bear arms is not relevant to that purpose.
11:40 – We wonder why they wouldn’t include the freedom of religious expression in this amendment instead of the right to bear arms.

Also on today's list of Things That Make Me Go "Are you high?" is this statement from board member David Bradley:

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

I've got $20.00 for the charity of your choice (unless it really sucks) that puts Texas' secession and re-formation as the Theocratic Republic of Texas within the next 10-20 years, unless the sane Texans all gang up and vote some of these guys in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

RePant Amarillo!! Erm, Repent Armadillo!! Waitaminnit . . .

Is anybody besides me tired of a bunch of fruitcake ("fruit-CAAAAKE!") nutjob control-freak brain dead spoiled brat bullies with delusions of sanity playing Holy Vigilante? Answer is yes, there are plenty of us who are way past annoyed with the troglodytes that make up the ranks of "spiritual warrior" groups like Repent Amarillo, who are taking a page from their Westboro Baptist Thinger (I'm not calling them a "church") predecessors and proactively amping up the hate rhetoric.

If someone wants to believe in their own backyard that anyone who doesn't comply with their personal beliefs or morality is filth and needs to be punished or taken out of the picture, mazel tov - they can stew all they want. Apoplexy has been known to be it's own reward. But when they give themselves a prophetic injunction to enforce that belief on everyone else, and ruin other people's livelihoods and personal property, and even intrude into their home space, it's even more unacceptable than the idea of doing a vinyl graphic wrap of on the statue of liberty.

On the whole, I'm not sure which element of RA's website is more ridiculous -the gunshot sound effects, the silly VTOL .gif, or the fact that their dog tag-ified symbol is a Texas Star pentacle. It's also hilarious that their harassment of Amarillo's Unitarian church appears to have entirely backfired on them.

The thinking human people of Amarillo are fighting back, and even if you don't live in Texas, you can show your support by joining the linked groups. You can also tag the folks who are going the "humor as a weapon" route. I applaud RePant Amarillo in particular - you guys are made of Epic Win! Also thanx muchlys to the people who have started circulating RA's "warfare map" as a guide to show support of the businesses, churches, and other places RA and their "street team" group Raven Amarillo are harassing. Again, if you don't live locally, you can still let these people know that they aren't standing alone by contacting them, or even helping the retail stores counter lost revenue by maybe shopping online.

While you're at it, it's wouldn't be out of line to drop a condolences card in the mail for Christ, and maybe some nice chocolate. I feel bad for the poor guy having to put up with these freaks trying to trash his rep.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Agora 2009 Review

Update: the US release of Agora is available for $15.49 as a pre-order on Amazon, for an Oct. 9th release date. Go grab a copy - people in the industry have said "the film is too intellectual for the American audience" and so on, etc. I believe what they're really saying is that plus "we're too afraid of the Rabid Right to show it in our theaters". If your town didn't get the movie, the next best way to challenge either of those premises is to speak up in sales figures. $15 bucks ain't bad, guys, to send a message that we're not all a bunch of brainless troglodytes who let anti-intellectual hardline evangelicals do our thinking for us.

They give a 126 mins as the run time (Spanish DVD is 126 mins), and there are deleted scenes in the US release. So while the main feature may have been edited, both releases look to have the same edits. Optimism!


Hokay, been waiting since last October, but I finally got hold of Agora, the Alejandro Amenabar film about Hypatia and the events that surrounded the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 391 A.D.

If you have no idea who or what any of that is, go hit the links, then come back here. Gonna pop out real quick.
(hops in time machine, goes back to the pre-Caesar LoA, plasters "Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate" signs all over the damn thing)

Right, that should do it. Buncha savages in this town.

Now, back to the film. What I have is the Spanish release DVD, with the English audio track option. I'll make the main video available to anyone who wants a copy, on the grounds that they swear on the continued existence of their brains and/or gonads to buy tickets to see it in theaters if possible, or buy the DVD if/when it comes out where ever you are. I'll also accept buying an import DVD if that turns out to be the better option.

Whaddaya mean, "if" and "better option"? Because although Agora does finally have an American distributor, none of the theaters I've spoken with in NC/SC, including some indy film houses, are expecting to get it. Common consensus seems to be that it'll only be a limited release, that none of the theaters around here want to deal with the controversy they had back when Last Temptation of Christ came out, and that even the limited release version may be heavily edited. Even the original script tweaked some history, namely portraying Hypatia as an atheist/agnostic, ostensibly to placate the Christian entities who are protesting the film. Last I heard the entire film was still banned in Italy. Silly Pope; sit down, shut up, and eat yer popcorn.

I find it ridiculously ironic that the whole progression of historical events that the movie is based on were largely set in motion by a flock of fanatics who wanted to wipe out knowledge they didn't approve of, and here, 1600-odd years later, people are still trying to repress knowledge by objecting to a presentation of the events. Yes, the Christian mob and it's power-seeking thug leaders get a bad showing. That would be because they deserve to - at that point in history, Christianity had already been perverted into something Christ and anyone decent who sat at his feet to learn would have been appalled at. I mostly blame Paul and Constantine, but they had help.

Quite honestly, almost everybody gets a bad showing at some point or other in the film. Greed, fear, arrogance, manipulation, and senseless violence all get their place in the whole disaster. Agora also has a few technical weak spots, but they don't detract from the excellent overall enough to warrant not watching it. Even if you couldn't care less about this particular knot in history, the movie is worth seeing merely for the visual recreation of 4th century Roman Egypt, and Rachel Weisz' performance of a woman who was an exceptional person for any age.

Quick nod to that: got a personal interest in promoting the movie. Too many people have never even heard of Hypatia, and non-pagans should mark her as much as PHAs. She was a philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and astronomer in a day when many women couldn't write their own names, and weren't even officially, on the books, considered to be people in the way men were. Hypatia was one of my teenage talismans against the people who told me "women aren't good at science or math" or "women just can't think at the same level men can" or "boys don't like bookworms", etc. and so on.

Here's a bit of footage from the film; this is my edit, not one of the teasers or trailers that's out. None of it is really a spoiler if you know anything at all about the story. I picked these scenes to show the awesome visuals and atmosphere I mentioned, and to hint at Weisz' handling of a character who was, in Amenabar's words, "in love with the sky".

"Just take the important ones . . . "

How the hell do you choose what to save for posterity?

Homework: you have fifteen minutes to decide what written works you'd rescue, grab them, and haul ass for your life before some insane bastard who worships ignorance wastes you and them. What do you take? Since we don't know what all of our options were then, thanks to the aforementioned bastards, let's let modern stuff qualify. Also suspended for the purpose of the exercise is our good fortune of having mass printing and widespread data storage.

Clock's ticking - run.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Update on Iowa Wiccan Altar Squabble

A student at Drake University wrote an excellent guest editorial on the situation in Guthrie Center, Iowa that I mentioned in the previous post.

An excerpt from the article:

"If Halferty thinks that learning about any valid religion is "terrible," he is thus prohibiting entire fields of knowledge from being accessed. If one reflects on reasons why anything should not be talked about in school, the only reason Halferty has is fear - and nothing is more degrading to knowledge than fear of it."

Hear hear! Sanity and fair-mindedness, and expressed well. Kat Fatland's parents and professors better be damn proud of her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

School Officials Stick Up For Wicca

In the middle of a student's shop project turning into a full-blown controversy that's resulted in a teacher being sent home and a petition against witchcraft, two school officials in Iowa are calling for the public to be more educated about Wicca.

Superintendent Smith and Principal Thomas deserve thank yous for their handling of Mr. Halferty, and their statements to the media. Comments can be sent to them here, or by the email addresses on the Guthrie Center schools page linked above.

Here's hoping they can turn this into an opportunity for public education. It wouldn't be a bad idea to send energy or ask whoever you personally ask for help to watch over this situation, especially the Wiccan student. Seventy out of a total 185 students signing a petition against him, and parents calling in saying they're worried about Satanism and "sacrifices" make me think the rest of his time in school is going to be a rough ride.

Send those comments, guys. The more people in authority positions know they have support, the more they'll be willing to stand up for fair play for all belief systems. I called the high school office number to confirm the best way to communicate, as the superintendent's office number is "temporarily out of service". The office supervisor was tickled that someone wanted to thank them, said she would also pass it along, and that she appreciated hearing from a pagan about it.