Tuesday, March 31, 2009

That's it! Fried chicken!

Does the new mailer from KFC seem a little. . . well, tacky?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Misguided moral crusaders vs. the First Amendment - Round 2

To honor Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's veto of House Bill 353, the Jack Thompson-sponsored bill which would have codified the ratings of the private Entertainment Software Rating Board into law, it seems appropriate to link to this list for reference of the seven ways the mainstream media gets the facts wrong on gaming - distorting and ignoring facts, building hysteria and outright making things up in an attempt to stir controversy and play the part of the moral crusader. (And few have proven more prominent or more fitting for this feature than Fox's Glenn Beck, pictured above. Don't worry - you won't have to watch him pretend to cry in the article's clips.)

The Top 7… hated habits of the mainstream media (GamesRadar)

Technically the whole title is a single noun

The new trailer for "Where the Wild Things Are" (watch one of the HD ones if you can) is one of those rare trailers that crackles on your monitor. It looks like a triumph of visual effects and emotion, and it's directed by Spike Jonze to boot. Glad to see they seem to be retaining the spooky, heartfelt raggedness of the original picture book. Remember that only about a year ago we thought they were considering reshooting the whole thing for mass appeal, so this is no small deal.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Republicans submit response "budget" without any numbers

"I can haz respect?"

In the continuing Washington stupid-off:

President Barack Obama told his Republican critics that if they don't like his budget, they should propose their own. They submitted a proposal of sorts, but came under fire for their lack of specifics.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Republican plan didn't include any numbers.

The Republicans could be serving as a check against the new administration by providing reasoned, intelligent alternatives to his plans, but in their continuing quest to look as stupid as possible they released what amounts to a 19-page pamphlet with "tax cuts" scrawled across each page in crayon.

Apparently they didn't think anybody would call their bluff when they decided to start complaining about big government the day Obama took office. They claim to be working on a real budget - I bet it'll be cute.

EDIT: Apparently they were, in fact, stupid enough to claim to be handing over a budget with no numbers.

Picking out child terrorists before. . . uh, before they're even terrorists

Seems the existence of terrorism can be used to justify just about anything. The United Kingdom has never been content with leaving all of the creepy evil to the terrorists themselves (case in point: the ridiculous "let your paranoid fantasies run wild!" posters London police put up recently), so this is hardly a surprise. Nevertheless, the level of government misconduct that's being tolerated in the name of "terrorism" is continually sobering. Witness the new UK program that's fingered up to 200 children as potential terrorists:

The programme, run by the Association of Chief Police Officers, asks teachers, parents and other community figures to be vigilant for signs that may indicate an attraction to extreme views or susceptibility to being "groomed" by radicalisers. Sir Norman, whose force covers the area in which all four 7 July 2005 bombers grew up, said: "What will often manifest itself is what might be regarded as racism and the adoption of bad attitudes towards 'the West'.

This program is more of a counseling and Muslim outreach sort of thing (working with local imams and whatnot), though it's pretty scary that teachers are being trusted to identify future terrorists based on what they say and write (what other opinions will be off-limits?), and that the government is behind it, if the "slippery slope theory" can once again be held to be true:

"Why, Masoud, do you remember that picture of a bearded man shooting a car you drew in seventh grade? That's why airport security is hassling you today."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Webcomic Goodness

Wow, talk about a standard to shoot for. It's nerd humor to be sure, but the intricacy and creativity involved intimidates and awes me. Good job, Creebobby.

In related news, I've posted my new comic. It's. . . thrilling.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Fuhrer's Law": The Bush Memos and Treason

A provocative article deserves a
provocative image, dontchathink?

What a doozy today. In perhaps one of the most significant stories of our lifetime (their words and mine), new details have come to light about the memos written by John Yoo while serving as a legal advisor to President Bush and the Executive Branch. Alternet's Naomi Wolf puts it most simply (and alarmingly):

In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo's memos outlining the destruction of the republic.

The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.


The memos are a confession. The memos could not be clearer: This was the legal groundwork of an attempted coup. I expected massive front page headlines from the revelation that these memos exited. Almost nothing. I was shocked.

John Yoo (a man who, incidentally, is eligible for war crimes trial) was instrumental in helping to consolidate presidential power and rationalize some of the most extreme breaches of justice and U.S. law perpetrated by the Bush administration over the last eight years, among them the justification of torture and limitation of habeus corpus, presidential power to override the fourth amendment through domestic surveillance, and worse. Constitutional scholar Michael Ratner explains:

What Yoo says is that the president's authority as commander in chief in the so-called war on terror is not bound by any law passed by Congress, any treaty, or the protections of free speech, due process and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The First, Fourth and Fifth amendments -- gone.

What this actually means is that the president can order the military to operate in the U.S. and to operate without constitutional restrictions. They -- the military -- can pick you or me up in the U.S. for any reason and without any legal process. They would not have any restrictions on entering your house to search it, or to seize you. They can put you into a brig without any due process or going to court. (That's the Fourth and Fifth amendments.)

The military can disregard the Posse Comitatus law, which restricts the military from acting as police in the the United States. And the president can, in the name of wartime restrictions, limit free speech. There it is in black and white: we are looking at one-person rule without any checks and balances -- a lawless state. Law by fiat.

I won't dignify the allegations of treason made later, mainly because I don't have to - they stand completely by themselves. What was done here was treason, pure and simple - a lawless, irresponsible administration laying the groundwork for the systematic elimination of checks and balances in America. Though the Department of Justice later rejected Yoo's assertions that Congress had no check or balance against the president, history has shown that President Bush proceeded in these areas as if Yoo's memos were valid legal counsel. Ratner puts it best:

"This would be the president making war against the institutions of the United States."

Further Readin':

The memos and summaries on Wikipedia
Salon's Gary Kumiya on the torture memos
Mark Mazzetti, New York Times on interrogations

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama and the Ring

(click the image to enlarge)

Well, I already wrote about the news involved, but this cartoon by Terrence Nowicki, Jr. makes its point far more quickly and dramatically than any analysis. Hint: Read the writing on the ring.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One simple rule to understand Shakespeare

From venerable time-waster TVTropes.com:

[I] was once told in all seriousness, by a college English lit professor who specialized in Shakespeare, that any time you're reading Shakespeare and encounter a word that you don't know or that doesn't make sense in context, you should assume it's slang for something sexual. It's actually the most useful trick for understanding Shakespeare I ever learned.

Dang, that's one perceptive prof.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Real Playskool People

This video by Keith Loutit is a full-scale video of real people and real vehicles in and near an Australian beach, but I prefer to think of it as the best stop-motion video of all time. It might even make me finally come around to this style.

(via my dear and glorious leader BoingBoing)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Prez Blocks AIG Bonuses


“All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multimillion-dollar bonuses,” said Mr. Obama, who called the issue one of “fundamental values.”
Well, "values" unless you're one of those "self interest, cronyism and hedonistic accumulation are inherent positives" free-market-without-freedom types.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama Administration ditches "enemy combatant," but keeps everything else

Earlier this week, the Obama Administration released a brief announcing that it would drop the term "enemy combatant" in dealing with terrorist suspects, without otherwise making any substantial changes to the previous (read: Bush) policy regarding "terrorism." The "new" rules?

According to the release, the U.S. can still detain prisoners who have provided "substantial support" to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. An administration who wanted to make more than a token attempt at coming out on the side of civil rights might have bothered to be more specific. The miniscule addition of "substantial" is hardly a dramatic change.

Note that according to principles of due process, people have the right to be informed of the specific charges against them, followed by a speedy trial. Time will tell if these alleged terrorists and terrorist collaborators will receive trials, and not the Queen of Hearts-styled trials ("sentences first!") we've been getting.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon sums up Obama's platform nicely:

Barack Obama has perfected a three-step maneuver that could never even be attempted by a politician lacking his rhetorical skill or cool cynicism.

First: Denounce your presidential predecessor for a given policy, energizing your party’s base and capitalizing on his abiding unpopularity. Second: Pretend to have reversed that policy upon taking office with a symbolic act or high-profile statement. Third: Adopt a version of that same policy, knowing that it’s the only way to govern responsibly or believing that doing otherwise is too difficult.

The new brief makes a token attempt at proving Obama's authority to violate habeas corpus on Constitutional grounds but still falls flat. "Po-TA-to, po-TAH-to. . ." We didn't even hear very much about Bush's violations of due process, and that's when people hated him. Do we really think that that's gonna change?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Real Floating Faucet Illusion

This neat "floating" tap is a real construction in Aqualand de Cadiz, Spain. Lateral thinkers should be able to guess how it's done - the rest of you can hit the preceding link.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Golden Half-Digested Comedy Bits

This isn't a video blog, nor is it a particularly commercial one - I posts what I likes and hope my readers resonate in some small way. Here's some of the peripheral stuff I've been doing lately:

This video of Elmo and Ricky Gervais shooting the breeze is wonderful. Something about Ricky poking the cutesy Muppet in the stomach and talking about "drugs, child abuse and the Holocaust" reminds me of the wonderful unscripted Fozzie/Kermit moments that came with The Muppet Movie.

My new comic Planet Techno is up. It's as close to what I had in mind as any of my strips so far.

Fans of The Office might want to check out this Fan Video. Or this one which does a bang-up job of recontextualizing the show as a modern horror film.

So very true, Aquaman.

I enjoyed the graphic novel Watchmen, so watching this short clip of the opening credits and trying to catch all of the references (both in-universe and relating to the story's alternate history) was a pretty sublime experience. Some disturbing imagery warning.

Finally: Obama's elf. Just watch it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Androgynous Vocals Through Pitch-Shifting

I put together a little video detailing how one of my favorite songs changes entirely when you vary the pitch. Check it out:

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Jibberwooky - Old Poetry Wot I Did Write as a Middle-Schooler

The Jibberwooky:

'Twas blurgid, and sturvy-gig,
And other freakish things,
Did gyre and gimble,
In the purple haze,
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

"Beware the political extremists!"
My father did say
"With their migwist and murping froth!"
Said he: "Watch out for lurking hippies!
Calooh calay, oh snicker-snack!
Hit the road Jack, and don't you come back!"

'Twas zlippish, and fargle-foom,
And zippa-dee-doo-dah-dee,
The jibberwooky didst promise
To leave me alone,
Lest I continue with poetry,

Sunday, March 08, 2009

(Dick) Cheney's Descent: Conquer the Armies of Hell

"Dick Cheney's going to hell, and it's not for a family reunion!"

So goes my tagline for this simple flash game, whose appeal comes mainly from its premise and outlandish bosses (the Grinch and Windows OS among them). Cheney gets progressively more devilish (outwardly, I mean) as he fights through the ten levels of hell in a quest to become its new ruler, cackling madly as he wastes an undead army. It's good to see he's still keeping himself occupied.

I would have called it "Cheney's Inferno," but then it'd only have nine levels, wouldn't it?

Cheney's Descent (AddictingGames and Comedy Central)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Moral outrage is reserved for the weak

Well, we always suspected that Wall Street was populated by selfish douchebags, but you can leave it to The Daily Show to chronicle the sheer depths of their douchebaggery. Case in point: business writer Joe Nocera's journalist Rick Santelli's enraged Wall Street outburst in response to the idea that President Obama might give some of the $2,000,000,000,000 of bailout money to private citizens:

"This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage [who] has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise your hand!"

Wall Street Pitsters: "Boo!"

I guess bureaucratic failure trumps individual shattered lives. What follows is an aggravating rundown of the helpless posturing of a group of people with the self-righteous belief that they and only they really deserve that two tril.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I love Neko Case's new cover art

I'm not familiar with Neko Case's solo work, and sometimes I honestly forget whether she's the one in The New Pornographers or Broken Social Scene (though both are great bands to be sure - confusing her with Leslie Feist is inexcusable). Still, I know good cover art when I see it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Google Image Searching For Metaphysical Concepts

How well does Google Image Search handle concepts? Click the following images to enlarge.

A Google Image search for "the human soul":

Does it match your mental image? Outer space, religious rites, creepy shapes and exactly one almost certainly unfunny cartoon.

A search for "regret":

I'd be depressed if my world was perpetually dimly lit and monochromatic.

Finally, I'm quite disappointed by the results for "truth":

And speaking of Image Search, here's somebody I hope never to meet:

No More Warp Zones For Me (Super Mario-themed Tee)

After playing Super Mario: The Lost Levels earlier (gad, what wonderful torment), I decided to put together the t-shirt design you see below and put it up for sale at Zazzle.com. This is business so I'll keep it short.

The image (note that Blogger adds the border - you can click the image to see it full-size):

Aww. . .

It's available in men's tee (choose the size yourself) and lady's tee (again, various sizes available). I put quite a bit of work into this so I hope you enjoy it!

(Feel free to take the image for yourself, though please don't sell it on anything - I made my own warp pipe image in order to avoid using copyrighted material.)