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29 November 2008

Saturday Shuffle

Deity (live) - Ministry
Rock You Like a Hurricane - The Scorpions
Gimme Shelter - Sisters of Mercy
Ring of Fire (live) - Social Distortion
Explosivo - Tenacious D
Supersonic - Bad Religion
Invasion of the Octopus People - Invisibl Skratch Piklz
Hypnotize - Audioslave
Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
Elephant's Graveyard - Strike Under

28 November 2008

Death by Commerce

Seriously, WTF?
Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down

By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – A Wal-Mart worker was killed Friday when "out-of-control" shoppers desperate for bargains broke down the doors at a 5 a.m. sale. Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers shouted angrily and kept shopping when store officials said they were closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

..."This crowd was out of control," said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming. He described the scene as "utter chaos."

...Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said.
"They kept shopping."
"Savages" doesn't begin to describe this bunch of rabid animals.

While out-of-control crowds have claimed lives the world over, there's just something so quintessentially "us" about this particular horror. If you want a picture of Americans at their stereotypical worst, you simply cannot do any better than hordes of holiday shoppers enraged that a little thing like a person's death is thwarting them in their quest for a bargain big-screen TV.

But that's afterward.

Wal-Mart set this whole situation in motion.*** You lower prices in order to attract people and couple that with quantities that will, in no way, meet demand, prompting everyone to try and be first to get one of the fifteen or twenty items you have in stock. You further stir the pot by opening up at dawn or earlier so people are waiting through the wee hours in cars or the cold to get their crack at the merchandise. Mix in a couple THOUSAND people (as was the case, here) and you have the nerve to say this?

"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top
priority," said Dan Fogleman, a company spokesman.

I defy anyone to point out where "safety and security" entered the equasion.

To be sure, accidents happen. Certain jobs have certain risks. Flying planes, fighting fires, law enforcement, etc., all have inherent dangers you must accept to do the work. Retail, however, is NOWHERE on that list.

Large crowds were not a side-effect in this situation; they were the expressly intended goal and any legitimate prioritization of "safety and security" demands exterior crowd management, not just having enough cashiers on hand to take the money.

Whatever the case, Mr. Damour is still dead. And for what? A $300 laptop? An $800 HDTV? Matching a quarterly profit forecast?

Merry Christmas, indeed.

***As did every other retailer who follows a similar "Black Friday" strategy. They ALL roll the same dice; Wal-Mart--and it's employee--were just the ones to lose, this time around.

22 November 2008

Saturday Shuffle

Lorca Not Orca - Coil
Into the Sky (live) - Switchblade Symphony
Welcome 2 The Party - Kid Rock
I Keep Coming Back - The Afghan Whigs
Melon Yellow - Slowdive
Talking Loud and Saying Nothing - James Brown
Coming Down (Butchered Mix) - The Cult
Bombers - David Bowie
Misdirected Hostility - 311
Down Under - Pennywise

19 November 2008

How not to plead poverty

Not a good sign:
(CNN) -- Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."

He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, asked the three CEOs to "raise their hand if they flew here commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up. Second, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up."
Talk about twisting the knife.

Everyone knows corporate jets are a drop in the bucket compared to the dollar figures being thrown around for this rescue loan; at this point, these reps are clearly going out of their way to embarrass the Detroit Three CEOs. This sort of turn shows there's some serious pent-up anger that we're seeing. Maybe it's a grudge over the autos' obstinancy over fuel standards after the Summer of $4=/gallon. Maybe they finally have a target they feel they can afford to kick hard enough to appease constituencies still smarting over the AIGs and the like.

Either way, things are NOT looking good for Detroit and Michigan's one-state recession.

17 November 2008

UAW Prez needs a wheelbarrow

...just to move around with balls this big:
Auto Workers Union Rules Out Concessions To Help Detroit Bailout

Ron Gettelfinger, the union president, said at the weekend that "the focus has to be on the economy as a whole as opposed to a UAW contract"...

..."We're here not because of what the auto industry has done", Mr Gettelfinger said during a rare press conference. "We're here because of what has happened to the economy." The union represents blue-collar workers at assembly plants, as well as several parts suppliers.
I tried crafting a thoughtful response for quite some time, but the most effective counterpoint I came up with was:

Are you shitting me?

Ronnie, WE'RE here because of what has happened to the economy.

YOU'RE here because of what the auto industry--management and union--has done, and you should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting otherwise.

With years of fat contracts and SUV-centric business plans, management and labor both fiddled while Detroit burned. I still have a ring-side seat and even I'm torn on a Detroit Three bailout. I'm no economist, but I can easily see the economic devastation that could result as a major automaker collapse cascades to workers, suppliers, vendors, etc.

But that doesn't mean I should be on the front lines, alone.

It comes down to fiscal solvency and, contrary to Mr. Gettelfinger's whiny finger-pointing, union contracts are an inextricable part of that.

Suck it up, Mr. G.

If my tax dollars are going to go towards saving your ass, you damn well better be prepared to get your pocketbook pinched, first.

Best. "Humor story." Evar.

From out of the mouths of the Onion-ers. Read ALL of it:
God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule

NEW YORK — Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs.

..."I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

15 November 2008

Bedlam is dreaming of rain...

As is Santa Barbara, and Sylmar, and the rest of Orange County...

Saturday Shuffle

Before I Sleep - Mazzy Star
Mardy Bum - Arctic Monkeys
Starfuckers, Inc. - Nine Inch Nails
I Am Legend - White Zombie
Mama Kin (live) - Guns 'N Roses
Voodoo Lady (live) - Ween
Black Moon Creeping - The Black Crowes
A Little Bitter (live) - Alice In Chains
Transmission - Joy Division
Love's Secret Domain - Coil

13 November 2008

And she kept a straight face...

How she didn't simply burst into flames at the podium trying to float a whopper like this, I don't know. From those fine folks at CNN:
At a press conference earlier Thursday, Palin said that she and her fellow Republican governors were ready to put aside "extreme partisanship" and act if Washington fails to provide the leadership America needs.

She told them not to "let obsessive, extreme partisanship ... get in the way of doing what's right."
What happened to her opponent "palling around with terrorists" and "not seeing America the way you or I do?"

The gun-totin', nonsense blithering poster girl for hyper-partisan mendacity is now calling for the powers-that-be to leave such hackery by the wayside. Amazing what difference a week--and a sound, electoral drubbing--can make, isn't it?

Feel free to offer the patron saint of Joe Sixpack some free advice.

12 November 2008

Word of the Day

Financiapocalypse

Kind of sums everything up, doesn't it?

Don't know if they invented it (sounds like a Colbert or Daily Show-ism) but I'm appropriating this from those magnificent SOB's at Jalopnik.

Some things are just too good not to steal for tags.

08 November 2008

Is it Christmas, already?

From ThinkProgress:
In a new Rasmussen poll out today, Republicans overwhelmingly say that they want Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as their presidential nominee in 2012. Sixty-four percent of GOP respondents said that Palin would be their top choice in 2012.

In the same poll, 69 percent of Republicans said that Palin “helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency,” even though exit polls found that 60 percent of voters felt that she was “not qualified to be president if necessary.”
Just a wild guess, but I'm thinking Democrats would overwhelmingly agree.

I realize that it's largely just familiarity that causes people to come up with a name when prompted, but, even so, you really have to wonder what these folks were seeing over the past two and a half months.

Saturday Shuffle

The Night (live) - Orchestra Morphine
Terrible Lie (live) - Nine Inch Nails
U Not Like Me - 50 Cent
Smash It Up (Part 2) - The Damned
Zip Code - The Black Knights
Blitzkrieg - Metallica
Morning Bell - Radiohead
Get To The Gone - Static-X
Forever - Kid Rock
We've Had Enough - Alkaline Trio

04 November 2008

Election Night Live

11:00 - President-elect Obama. (297-139)

10:58 - John Stewart: "Should Obama win this election tonight, America has lived up to it's creed; on a world stage, it's a show country, not a tell country, living up to its promise."

10:18 - John Oliver: "I'd say the next president is inheriting a giant shitburger."

10:00 - And with Iowa going into the Obama column, we leave Anderson Cooper and David Gregory behind in favor of Stewart and Colbert.

9:50 - Blitzer: "The popular vote is nice, but the electoral vote makes all the difference."

Winning over the majority of people is "nice." Amazing system we have, here.

9:26 - Scarborough just called Ohio for Obama on MSNBC. Boom goes the dynamite.

9:09 - GOP strategist, Alex Castellanos on CNN: "If the GOP can't defeat a lunatic like Al Franken, we're in real trouble." Indeedy.

The Franken Watch in Minnesota begins...

9:00 In the EC, it's Obama - 174, McCain - 49. More than halfway...

8:31 - Kay Hagen knocks out Liddy Dole. ANOTHER pickup. That "godless" ad was the gift that kept giving.

8:30 - Sununu? Suno-no. Double "heh."

8:28 - Pennsylvania. I hear a door closing, Johnnie cakes.

8:22 - FOX is desperately trying not to call Pennsylvania for Obama. Heh.

8:17 - The odious Susan Collins looks to keep her Senate seat in Maine.

8:13 - Dana Bash. STILL looks like an alien.

8:11 - Grant Park in Chicago is getting crowded. CNN is saying 70K are expected to descend before Obama hits the stage, with 500K to 1M by the lakeside.

8:00 - BO up 77-34 in the electoral college.

7:58 - Leave it to Anderson Cooper to call up the explanation for the "0% reporting" voodoo. We [heart] AC360.

7:47 - South Carolina called for Johnnie Mac with 0% reporting. I know that the Vermonts and SCs weren't exactly tossups, but this mad dash to be the first to call something makes for some mighty odd reports.

7:45 - MSNBC rolling tape of McCain on the plane. The man is looking VERY old, indeed.

7:13 - Jessica Yellin via hologram?

"Help me, Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope."

Just when I thought we'd hit a high water mark in these overdone greenscreen effects. (and by "high" I mean low).

7:00 - Vermont called with 0% reporting? Just looks weird.

6:50 - There are people who shouldn't be shot in close up on HD widescreen; James Carville is one of them.

And away we go...

Vote.

'Nuff said.

03 November 2008

On the election's eve...

Uploaded without comment:
A Comment on Responsible Voting, and a Protocol for a Useful Vote

By Greg Graffin

Bad Times, 1/97

Voting is a privilege. As such it requires responsibility. Irresponsibility when coupled with licence can lead to social tragedy. If one is to feel good about his or her vote, it is necessary to have an agenda to use as justification, and also to adhere to some sort of ideological protocol for casting a particular vote. Too often in the past, our generation has voted and formed opinion based on self-serving interests. I know what is good for me, and I don't really care about what is good for others, I will vote for the candidate or issue that benefits me the most is a common way of thinking. This is an example of the simplest possible voting convention. It doesn't require much worldly knowledge or social concern, it is simply a selfish desire for personal gain. This will probably typify most people's thinking on their way to the polls this year, as it has in years past. But it does not make for a better society. Voting offers us a way to responsibly improve society. If you don't care about such a goal, then voting isn't a privilege for you, its just a routine behavior that happens every four years, or worse, a way to implement evil policies that further degrade the lives of the careless and powerless. If you don't care about improvement, you better hope that those who do go to the polls advocate your interests.

Societal improvement is a somewhat nebulous concept because change is rarely teleological and it rests in the whims of the populace. Most people think that a candidate who wins an election can make the world a better place. This has rarely happened in history. It is the people, or the ruled, who make the world a better place by behavioral changes, and the ruler is usually only a by-product of this collective phenomenon. The process of voting, because it demands sharing of information, requires people to gain knowledge about their world. It offers an opportunity to question whether they accept the tenets of their representatives and of their society. When this occurs, people get informed, people can communicate their distastes, and their hopes. They feel useful and acknowledged by their fellow citizens. And through communication comes action, and eventual abatement of the stigmas that cause suffering and misery. An informed person is a content person. An informed society is a strong society, supportive of its citizens, aware of, and compassionate to those less advantaged. Finally, an informed vote is a responsible vote. It goes far beyond the election in question. The knowledge is carried through the life of the possessor, and it shapes the way that person views his/her position in society and communicates with others. All of this is a contribution to a better community and a more meaningful election.

AN UNORTHODOX PROTOCOL FOR CASTING A MEANINGFUL VOTE:

1. Determine whether you care about the general well-being of society (If you do not, skip to step 7, if you do, continue on)

2. Determine whether you are a privileged citizen (If you are not, then proceed to step number 6, if you are, read steps 3, 4, and 5 only)

3. Examine not how well you will fare if a given issue is voted into law, but how poorly the under-privileged will suffer (no matter which laws pass a vote or who is voted into office, you will probably always still be better off than the people you fear you'll become, namely the under-privileged).

4. Create an ideological balance-sheet that details how much better you will fare, as a percentage of your current comfort level, versus how much worse the under-privileged will drop in their current comfort level (for instance, as a very banal example, a mere 2% drop in your current income, could provide a tremendous relative rise in an under-privileged household's income).

5. Vote for the issue or candidate that promises to balance the disparity between the privileged and the under-privileged classes, even if it doesn’t make you richer or if it provides a small compromise in your day-to-day comfort.

6. Vote for the issue or the candidate who will make your life better.

7. Abstain from voting

Finally, remember voting started out as a way for concerned citizens to play a role in creating a society that was good for all. Over time it evolved into the monstrosity it is today which is no more than a vehicle for selfish partisanism, and worse, a voice for those who want the law to preserve and increase the disparity between needy and privileged.

This unfortunate turn of events has made us a hostile, hopeless people. We should remember that history is relevant, and can help us gain a perspective on our current situation. NO civilization persists without a strong sense of social welfare. The British empire expired once its subjects learned that through unity and enlightenment of the underprivileged came a new power structure and a new sense of national community, one strong enough to turn away any possible oppressors. We are headed in the same direction as the failed British empire as our privileged class increases in wealth yet shrinks in population, and our underclass grows in population and shrinks in wealth.

Your vote is meaningless if it merely bolsters the selfish desires of a small privileged minority of citizens. A meaningful vote depends on the passage of issues or election of candidates that help to create a better scene for everyone, not merely the rich elite, and not merely provisional support for the poor. If you follow these guidelines, we will have a less polarized, more enthusiastic underclass, and a less greedy, more compassionate upper class; and the quality of our social fabric will be drastically enhanced.


01 November 2008

Morons for McCain: Home Stretch Edition

Via the NYT:
“John McCain! Not Hussein!”

So goes the latest popular chant on the campaign trail with Gov. Sarah Palin, demonstrated at a morning rally in central Florida.

After the rally in Florida ended, two of the people leading the chant explained why they did so.

“Because it rhymes,” said Shirley Mitten, 64, a volunteer at a pregnancy center and a resident of Brooksville, Fla.

She said she does not know if Mr. Obama is a Muslim. “He says he’s not, but we have no way of knowing,” Ms. Mitten said.

Her husband, John A. Mitten, 64, took credit for starting the chant. “I was trying to get it going!” he said. “I just do not want Obama to be elected.”

Mr. Mitten said he could not trust Mr. Obama because of his past association with William Ayers, the 1960’s radical, and because of his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. He also pointed out that Mr. Obama’s father was a Muslim.

The middle name Hussein, he said, added to the suspicion. “I guess Obama was named after Saddam Hussein,” he said.
The anti-Muslim subtext to this sort of crap stopped being subtextual a long time ago. Doesn't seem to bother Palin a bit, though. Her next word of admonishment to her raving fan base will be her first. Even principle-challenged Johnnie Mac seemed to hit a personal breaking point as far as this particular smear goes. Guess Moose-olini, here, is still looking for hers.

As ashamed as I am that there are still ignorant bigots like this wandering around the United States in 2008, in the event Tuesday's election goes as I hope it will, knowing they are will make it just that much sweeter.

Saturday Shuffle

To Live Is To Die - Metallica
Gangster of Love - Talking Heads
Just A Little Heat - The Black Keys
Love Plus One - Haircut 100
Jenny I Read - Concrete Blonde
The Day The Clown Came To Town - Maschina
Ballad of a Lonely Man - Mike Ness
My Empty Room - Queensr├┐che
Heroin - The Velvet Underground
The Hardest Button To Button - The White Stripes

Bonus video shuffle:

(EDIT: Original acoustic vid removed. User-made replacement below...)

Jenny I Read

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