Saturday, August 31, 2013

Too Hot For Oblivion

I will very likely need CNN's Elizabeth Landau to sketch this out for you better than I can, but here goes. The perception of a black hole is that it just sucks in everything it gets its hands on. According to a study recently published by Science, not so much. It's true that if you go past the event horizon, that's the ballgame. But getting sucked into the gravity well, not necessarily, and that 'not necessarily' may have played a part in how the Milky Way got formed.

As I'm reading this, Landau asks you to think of a sink drain. You pour cold water down the drain, it's going to, well, go down the drain. The same is true here; cold gas goes through the event horizon. But now try and pour steam down the drain. A little bit, the odd droplet, might find its way in somehow, but really just about all of it is not going. That also happens here; according to the research, led by Daniel Wang at Massachusetts-Amherst, in order for matter to get sucked in by a black hole, it must lose both heat and angular momentum. In order for the black hole to eat, it generally has to spit 99% of the matter back out. That's the heated matter, and it, well, creates heat in the area around the black hole. The bigger the black hole, the more matter is processed, and the more matter is processed, the more is rejected, and the more matter is rejected... the bigger the resulting galaxy.

So basically, we are as watermelon seeds. If watermelon seeds were hot. And the universe was wet and sold by the pound and regularly smashed by washed-up comedians. This analogy got away from me in a hurry.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Still On Syria

The other day, I ran through the various options and concerns and issues regarding potential military action in Syria. In doing so, I noted that the United Nations route was basically out of play, as Russia had stopped it up. Going in alone, though, just the United States acting on the matter, is a bad idea, even if the action is limited. Historically, that tends to not turn out well; matters are often made worse. Any action we take would need allies, even if only for the purposes of optics. France wishes to go, but that's not enough.

By far, the best option- the only option, really- if you were looking for a sufficiently-sized coalition without the UN's involvement is to go to NATO, as happened in Syria. But doing so requires unanimous support from all 28 NATO countries, and after the United Kingdom, a NATO member, declined to involve themselves, that was it for that option. NATO has officially opted out.

Unfortunately, I think that's settled the matter. The decision has essentially been made for us. It can't just be us and France. The question is not should we go in. Something SHOULD be done. This SHOULDN'T, morally, be allowed to continue. That's not the problem. The problem, the question, is CAN something be done. Can this situation be made better with our involvement, or is this somehow still the best-case scenario in comparison to what would happen if we acted. Can this be done without Iran firing at Israel and Russia firing at Saudi Arabia and everyone involved in the Middle East shooting at everyone else in a redux of World War 1.

The answer, much as I hate to say it, appears in the absence of NATO to be: no. No, it can't.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Astronomy For $200, Alex

It'll be a Sporcle quiz today, and I'm going to make it simple on you.

You're going to get a list of 88 constellations by their English name. Your task: supply the official name. You've got 12 minutes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Syria

So it appears that the United States is likely to engage in airstrikes in Syria, in response to a recent chemical-weapons attack in Damascus. Predictably, there is much consternation from those who don't think the evidence is in yet or even that it was Assad's doing, despite the gut-wrenching video of civilians gasping for air (a video I don't even have the heart to link to), or the fact that the UN inspections team investigating on Assad's invitation was targeted by sniper fire, a development that usually does not equate to an inspected party that anticipates a favorable result. From those who have just gotten done with a decade of war in Iraq, are still not done with a decade-plus of war in Afghanistan, and who are simply weary of war and have no interest in being the world's policeman. From those worried- and Assad, for all his wrongs, has chosen well in stoking this particular fire- that any American military action in Syria, no matter how small, will trigger region-wide chaos and suck the United States into yet another quagmire. By those who can't understand what exactly Syria has to do with the United States at this moment in time. From those who would prefer a humanitarian response, in defiance of the fact that the only humanitarian response that has had any effect so far has been for Syrians to run for their lives.

They've been met, though, by those who have seen the video, and all the previous videos of the last 2 1/2 years, and simply cannot take it. By those who know that something must be done to save those Syrians that remain because Assad will not stop on his own and will not listen to anything but violence. By those who have watched the world look on with seeming apathy while a nation tears itself apart. By those who feel this to be a place where America must stand up for its ideals of freedom from oppression. By those who cannot understand why the world has waited as long as it has, and who have repeatedly been calling on President Obama to do what it appears he is about to do. By those who feel that the United States should not wait for another nation to take the lead, as they are all waiting for us.

The polls say we shouldn't go. Yet at the same time, the polls say we should.

What do you do?

There is no good solution here. There is no easy or obvious solution, and those that think one exists are oversimplifying the situation. There is no way Obama gets out of this issue without taking heavy fire. If he goes, he's a military-industrial-complex goon who's throwing his Nobel Peace Prize in the garbage while gearing up for The Next War. If he stays out, he's a heartless monster who's just standing by while a nation dies horribly, and will continue to be such until he gives up and goes in, at which point he's a warmonger. There's no in-between, no nuance, no shades of grey. He will be denounced as one, denounced as the other, and denounced as both.

The denunciations, I believe, are overblown. The issues, however, are not. All of the concerns are valid; none can be dismissed. And the avenues through which something can be done are rather few. A UN solution is out of the question, as Russia has stonewalled UN action the entire time and has in fact been in Assad's corner, and with US-Russia relations rather frosty, convincing Vladimir Putin to back off would be a tall task. Wanting another nation to take charge has seemingly been ruled out, as this appears to be an issue that everyone wants solved, but everyone wants it solved by someone else. Congress seems divided and not along party lines, but are citing the War Powers Act of 1973 as a reason to seek their approval first (though Presidents always seem to ignore it). And this leaves aside the issue of money. We are in a sequester, after all, but is money really a matter of import to those who can't stand to watch Syrians suffer any longer?

It's another one of those days they don't tell you about when they ask you to run for President. If you don't act, many will die. If you do act, fewer may die, but the risk is run of many more dying than would have died otherwise. Any option for 'nobody dies' involves going back in time and making the entire affair not happen in the first place. All options are bad, all options end in misery.

So what would I do?

I don't know. I'm just glad I don't have to make that decision.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Correction (To Something Someone Else Messed Up)

Yes, folks, it's true. Neil Armstrong is dead. An American hero, in fact a world hero, has been laid to rest, as you may have heard across social media today.

There's just one thing, guys. He died last year. I don't suppose this is a 'rumor', because it did happen and all, and he is really dead, but it's a case of you not paying attention. I know that when someone's been out of the public eye for a long time and they're getting up there in years, it does start to get a bit hazy in people's minds as to whether they're still alive or not. And that's understandable. You can't keep track of everybody. I do ask, though, that:

A) After a certain level of notoriety, you maybe at least make an effort to note when the person has died, and
B) That you double-check a bit first. Of course, B would not have helped here for many, as the original culprit that started this all was a faulty app ABC was using. What happened was they wanted to mark the anniversary of Armstrong's death by tweeting a previously-written article from last year. In the process, though, they linked it to a more recent video, which altered the timestamp on the article. Now they had an article that made it look like Armstrong had just died.

I could get on ABC for not fixing that prior to posting, but it seems like the kind of error that you wouldn't even notice or be looking for. I'd most likely get caught out for the same thing; I'll own up to that. At least they know now, and hopefully something like that won't slip through the cracks again.

I can very much get on them, though, for the piece "Twerking: A Scientific Explanation". And "Hottest Pregnancy Trend? Twerking".

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Thing That Someone Thought Was Actually A Good Idea

Hitler wine.

In Italy.

For sale in a grocery store.

With swastikas and 'Mein Fuhrer' on it and everything.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I Guess You Had To Be There

Kenny Rogers, born in Houston, Texas, is a 2013 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kenny Rogers Roasters, Kenny's restaurant chain, is being advertised at the home stadium of Cardiff City, located in Wales.

Kenny Rogers Roasters has one location in Ontario, California. That is its only location in North America. Or Europe. Or Africa. Or South America. Aside from Ontario, the bulk of the locations are in Malaysia and the Philippines, with five locations in Jakarta, Indonesia; one location in a Beijing airport terminal; and 'coming soon' messages for Brunei and Bangladesh.

Cardiff City is owned by Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan.

Kenny Rogers Roasters, originally focusing on roasted chicken, now offers a menu that consists of primarily salads and healthier fare. Actual roast chicken can be found topping the salad and flavoring the pasta. It cannot be found as a dish in and of itself.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Chosen-seki

It seems rather unlikely, although it's been mentioned before here in passing, but there is a North Korean community in Japan. The organization representing them calls itself Chongryon, as opposed to the Mindan, which represents the South-aligned. There was a time, once upon, closer to the time of the Korean War, when it was much harder to discern whether North or South Korea was the superior nation, and both were represented in Japan when it came time to pick a side. Both were something of a backwater; neither's leadership was exactly stellar. Japan recognized South Korea as the only legitimate government on the peninsula in 1965, and over the years, the pressure on the North-aligned residents- the Chosen-seki- has gradually kicked up, with South Korea's high court issuing a ruling barring them entry to South Korea in 2010.

But a community still exists. It has schools and everything, prominently displaying Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il''s pictures in classrooms, though students, of which there about 9,000 in the country, have taken to wearing Japanese outfits instead of Korean ones so as not to get harassed on the street, and the pictures have been removed from elementary and middle schools. These are now the targets. As Eric Talmadge of the AP reports, Japan is currently considering legislation aimed at making a high school education affordable for everyone through public subsidies, but Chosen-seki schools- and only Chosen-seki schools- are specifically excluded from the legislation. They've already been excluded from legislation waiving tuition fees. The Chongryon has long drawn funding directly from North Korea, but with that country increasingly worried about itself, the cashflow to the Japanese outposts have dried up and schools have slowly closed, and this kind of legislation can really do damage.

This actually isn't to say that all of the Chosen-seki agree with North Korean policy. Many don't, but feel an obligation to follow in the footsteps of their parents who did. Otherwise, they would have formally become Japanese citizens. (Japan, like almost all nations outside of the Americas, does not confer citizenship at birth; Koreans in Japan lost theirs in 1952 when Japan abandoned a territorial claim to the Korean peninsula.)

These kids today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike. What Day Is It, Mike?

Uh oh! Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is. Heh? Anybody?

(sigh) "TED Talk day."


Today we check in with Margaret Heffernan, speaking in Budapest in March, about the dangers of "willful blindness": knowing that a problem exists in your community and deliberately ignoring it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

3 Dimensions Of Hell

It appears we're going to talk about 3-D printers again. Hey, why not. They're fun, you can make almost anything with them (sometimes drawing controversy in the process), you can angrily refute the notion that you can make almost anything with them, it's still early enough in their lifespan that you can still speculate wildly about what might happen after all the kinks are worked out.

But we haven't yet talked about what happens when the stupid pieces of junk don't freaking work.

When a 2-D printer doesn't work, you get a faded picture, wrong colors, our printer here likes to print stuff all wavy. When a 3-D printer doesn't work, you all of a sudden have abstract art. People working with 3-D printers have created a Flickr group, 'The Art of 3D Print Failure', to not only chronicle the messes, but also to explain what happened and to learn from the failure. Because 3-D printing is really not all that easy. To print a 3-D image, you first have to create one.

Or one can just laugh at what happens when the request is made for a cube. Or a skull. Or Walt Disney.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shows That Aired In The Post-Super Bowl Timeslot

It's well-known that the very best timeslot a television show can possibly get is the one right after the Super Bowl. You are absolutely deadlock guaranteed a vast audience that hasn't bothered to change the channel after the game. Networks know this, or at least have come to learn this over the years. Which leads to a big decision: who gets it. You have one hour, tops, and you had better make it count. Most of the time it will be used to give an existing show a needed push, or a new show the network is high on and wants to see get off to a fast start. Other times it'll simply be given to one of the network's marquee shows, which stands a very good chance of having a Super Bowl-themed episode ready for the occasion. But the timeslot's not going to be thrown away, at least not if the network is smart.

It took them a bit of time to get smart.

So what has it been used on? (Shows running Super Bowl-themed episodes in bold.)

I (Packers over Chiefs), the only Super Bowl to be simulcast on two networks: Lassie (CBS), Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (NBC)
II (Packers over Raiders): local programming, then Lassie (CBS)
III (Jets over Colts): G.E. College Bowl (NBC)
IV (Chiefs over Vikings): Lassie (CBS)
V (Colts over Cowboys): Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament (NBC)
VI (Cowboys over Dolphins): 60 Minutes (CBS)
VII (Dolphins over Redskins): The Wonderful World of Disney (NBC)
VIII (Dolphins over Vikings): local programming, then The New Perry Mason (CBS)
IX (Steelers over Vikings): NBC Nightly News
X (Steelers over Cowboys): Phoenix Open Golf Tournament (CBS) (won by Bob Gilder)
XI (Raiders over Vikings): The Wonderful World of Disney (NBC) (particularly fitting, as the game was in Pasadena and Disney also presented the halftime show)
XII (Cowboys over Broncos): All in the Family (CBS)
XIII (Steelers over Cowboys): Brothers and Sisters (NBC; the first pilot in post-Super Bowl history)
XIV (Steelers over Rams): 60 Minutes (CBS)
XV (Raiders over Eagles): CHiPs (NBC)
XVI (49ers over Bengals): 60 Minutes (CBS)
XVII (Redskins over Dolphins): The A-Team (NBC; had premiered the previous week)
XIX (Raiders over Redskins): Airwolf (CBS; pilot)
XIX (49ers over Dolphins): MacGruder and Loud (ABC; pilot)
XX (Bears over Patriots): The Last Precinct (NBC; pilot)
XXI (Giants over Broncos): Hard Copy (CBS; pilot, and before you start wondering, no it's not that tabloid show; it's a short-lived drama that went by the same name)
XXII (Redskins over Broncos): The Wonder Years (ABC; pilot)
XXIII (49ers over Bengals): Brotherhood of the Rose (NBC; this was part 1 of a made-for-TV movie)
XXIV (49ers over Broncos): Grand Slam (CBS; pilot)
XXV (Giants over Bills): Davis Rules (ABC; pilot)
XXVI (Redskins over Bills): abbreviated 60 Minutes, then 48 Hours (CBS)
XXVII (Cowboys over Bills): Homicide: Life on the Street (NBC; pilot)
XXVIII (Cowboys over Bills): The Good Life (pilot), then The John Laroquette Show (NBC)
XXIX (49ers over Chargers): Extreme (ABC; pilot)
XXX (Cowboys over Steelers): Friends (NBC)
XXXI (Packers over Patriots): The X-Files (FOX)
XXXII (Broncos over Packers): 3rd Rock From The Sun (NBC)
XXXIII (Broncos over Falcons): Family Guy (pilot), then The Simpsons (FOX)
XXXIV (Rams over Titans): The Practice (ABC)
XXXV (Ravens over Giants): Survivor: Australian Outback (CBS)
XXXVI (Patriots over Rams): Malcolm in the Middle (FOX)
XXXVII (Buccaneers over Raiders): Jimmy Kimmel Live (pilot), then Alias (ABC)
XXXVIII (Patriots over Panthers): Survivor: All-Stars (CBS)
XXXIX (Patriots over Eagles): The Simpsons, then American Dad! (pilot) (FOX)
XL (Steelers over Seahawks): Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
XLI (Colts over Bears): Criminal Minds (CBS)
XLII (Giants over Patriots): House (FOX)
XLIII (Steelers over Cardinals): The Office (NBC)
XLIV (Saints over Colts): Undercover Boss (CBS; pilot)
XLV (Packers over Steelers): Glee (FOX)
XLVI (Giants over Patriots): The Voice (NBC)
XLVII (Ravens over 49ers): Elementary (CBS)

As for this season, the game belongs to FOX, and they've long since announced the show that will air in the timeslot. It's been known since May that the timeslot is going to New Girl. They intend to run one of their newer comedies right after New Girl, but which one that will be is still up in the air. The hope is, clearly, that whatever they pick will take off like Family Guy and American Dad did when they were paired with The Simpsons in Super Bowls XXXIII and XXXIX.

Of course, as you can also see, running a pilot doesn't always work. Take Brothers and Sisters, which ran after Super Bowl XIII. It was one of three new comedies set in frat houses that year, all launched in response to the success of the movie Animal House, and none of which lasted past the first season. One of the others, CBS's Co-Ed Fever, was a one-episode wonder, airing at a special time for its premiere and getting cancelled before it could move into what was to be its regular timeslot. The failure of Brothers and Sisters can be encapsulated in an incident that occurred when actress Mary Crosby, who would later go on to be better known as the one who shot J.R. on Dallas, appeared on Hollywood Squares for the week of March 12-16, 1979. Host Peter Marshall, at one point, said that Brothers and Sisters was airing "on another network".

Crosby had to correct him, as they were both on NBC.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rapid-Fire Book Club, 4th And Long Edition

Today's bookstore run had me in Books & Company in Oconomowoc. Why there? I had my eye on a specific title for once.

Namely, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies by now-Oakland Raiders punter and reigning Best Writer In The NFL, Chris Kluwe. (In case you forgot, the Vikings cut him.) Not that I could possibly have forgotten to go get it; Kluwe seems to have a thing for retweeting darned near everyone who notes that they've read it.

Alongside that came Zipper Accidents And Other Cringe-Worthy Events, courtesy of the Bathroom Readers' Institute. I'll typically buy almost anything they put out, so that was a foregone conclusion.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Live By The Poutine, Die By The Poutine

I don't believe we really need to rehash that much the birther movement, the long-running struggle to somehow prove that Barack Obama isn't a US citizen by birth and therefore ineligible to be President. For the record, yes, that movement is still alive, even if cable news is sick of covering it and at least one member of Congress has conceded that, even if the argument has merit which it doesn't but even if it did, the matter was effectively settled last November with Obama's reelection.

Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, would like to be President in 2016. Technically, he hasn't declared yet- nobody declares this early and everyone denies it if you ask- but there are some people early on in an election cycle who are clearly, obviously going to run and the only reasons they haven't announced yet are, A, there's a midterm between now and then that can always muck things up yet, and B, officially announcing introduces a bunch of structural hassles they don't want on their hands yet. So for now, the obvious candidates engage in kabuki theater like traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire even though the offices they hold have nothing to do with those states, putting out memoirs that double as statements of their political platform, even trips overseas to politically sensitive regions ideally including visits with high-ranking officials.

In Ted's current bit of campaigning-not-campaigning, he released his birth certificate. Something that makes no sense unless you're running for an office with residency requirements that include being a natural-born citizen and unless a previous campaign for that office made a big deal of it gee don't you just wonder what that could be. In releasing it, though, an interesting development occurred: laypeople learned that Cruz is Canadian-born, in Calgary, and has dual citizenship.

Now, this is not a disqualifier. Cruz was not born on American soil; however, he has at least one American parent, born in Wilmington, Delaware (his father was born in Cuba), so even though he wasn't born on American soil, he's still got American birthright citizenship. The thing is that Canada also has birthright citizenship as of 1947. So Cruz could run for office in Canada next time out if he really wanted to. The Consititution is silent on dual citizenship, but legal scholars are in general agreement that it ought not to be an issue.

Legally, at least. But Cruz, whose Tea Party credentials depend on shows like this, has suddenly found himself on the defensive from people figuring that if Obama shouldn't really be President, neither should Cruz. Honolulu was one thing. John McCain's brief issue of being born in the Panama Canal Zone was one thing (it was under US control). Calgary's another. Everyone knows that Calgary is not and never has been anything resembling American territory.

This is still not a fight that's really worth having in my book. But it's a consistent one. Failure to follow the rules that you yourself set down has ended its fair share of political careers over the years. It's why, for example, family-values Senator Larry Craig was brought down over soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. So whatever damage Cruz may take from this politically, he has nobody to blame for it but himself.

Not that he won't probably try.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Random News Generator- Botswana

The connection to the key country today's rather loose, but let's do this anyway. On July 31st, Zimbabwe held their latest presidential elections. It should surprise nobody to learn that Robert Mugabe won. It should surprise even fewer people than nobody to learn that potential reformist Morgan Tsvangirai, who had wrestled a power-sharing agreement from Mugabe after the last contested election in 2008, was this time completely denied. Because this is Zimbabwe we're talking about, where the concept of free and fair elections is regarded as 'oh, how cute, he thinks we have those'. On Friday, Tsvangirai bowed to the inevitable and dropped his opposition to the result.

Botswana's role in all this is that they got out in front in decrying the election as unfair, running against the grain of much of Africa, which is largely going along to get along, and which is loaded with heads of state who have no business saying anything themselves considering how they got into office. Botswana wouldn't be one of them; their elections are considered fair and the nation stable, with the caveat that the place is such a one-party state that the opposition doesn't have a prayer anyway. Don't tell the Zimbabwean media that, though; their response to Botswana's allegations was headlines such as "Shock As Top Tswana Analyst Says Botswana Elections Worse than Zimbabwe’s", and Mugabe has, as is usual, dismissed the West's complaints as just not understanding Africa.

Mugabe effectively controls the Zimbabwean media, just in case you hadn't guessed.

Today, Botswana backed down from their allegations... according to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. They're the only ones I can find who've said such a thing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

He Really Has 16 Orders From Dubai

There is a hunters show in Fort Worth, Texas, that needs a bit of my attention, due to one particular product on display. It's referred to as the Couchbunker, and it looks like a normal couch, except that it has a gun safe hidden inside of it, and also, more notably to me, the cushions are bulletproof.

As creator John Adrain explains, "Hopefully you never need the panels, but we never know the situation we're going to be in. If there's a home invasion, you can take one of the cushions, and hand it to one of your children or your spouse to protect them. We make them with arm straps, so you can hold the cushion with one hand and fire with the other hand."

There is one instance I know of where a bulletproof couch has actually been necessary. That instance was in the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, when John and Sarah Connor were caught in a gunfight that involved not one, but two Terminators. John and Sarah Connor have every license to bulletproof whatever they damn well please, because they are fighting Terminators. You are not fighting Terminators. You are not a fictional  I can guarantee you, with 100% certainty, that a cyborg sent from the future to kill you is not going to bust through your front door. And if one does... well, really, good luck getting into that gun safe in time.

Also, doesn't it require both hands to properly aim and fire a gun?

Friday, August 16, 2013


You know what we haven't done here in a while? A science experiment. I don't recommend doing this at home, though, or at least not without parental supervision and I'm guessing they're going to say no, because the experiment is how to make an egg explode. Maybe ask your science teacher about it and see if they'll let you do it at school. (If you ARE a science teacher, well, lucky you, because here are some worksheets to hand out afterwards.)

Dammit, HowToBasic.

Okay, let's do this for real now. You're going to need an egg, of course, but also a beaker, a match, some zinc (and who doesn't have zinc laying around?), and some hydrochloric acid. And, of course, some sort of facial covering and gloves. You'll first need to empty the egg out by poking holes in both ends with a pin and then doing whatever you have to do to get all the liquid out. A common method for doing this is blowing the egg. That means putting your mouth to one of the holes and literally blowing to force out the liquid. Little bit on the icky side, that.

Now. With the acid in the beaker, drop in the zinc, and it will give you hydrogen gas (as explained here in method 3). Place the egg on top of the beaker and allow it to fill with gas. After a suitable interval, remove the egg and put a lit match to it. Wait for boom.

Steve Spangler demonstrates.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

They Can Tell From The Pixels

One of the cornerstones of North Korea's foreign policy, such as it is, is to threaten annihilation of their enemies with long-range missiles unless they're given what they want. For a long time, really right up to the death of Kim Jong-Il, that worked. However, the strategy doesn't seem to be working as well for Kim Jong-Un. A pattern of gaining concessions from the West only to go back on any promises made and then making more demands, repeated again and again, has just about exhausted Western patience, which caused a particularly tense standoff last year.

Part of the credibility of the threats comes from North Korea's existing arsenal and the ability to successfully fire it. And there's no question that there is at least some ability to get something done on that front, as they put a satellite into space last December and a launch can't be bluffed. But something you don't intend to launch can easily be bluffed. A Klingon bat'leth looks threatening as hell, but actually try to use one in a fight and you'll find rather quickly that it's ridiculously unwieldy. Which brings us to a report doubting the authenticity of at least some of the North Korean missile arsenal, in particular the missiles being used in parades displaying the nation's military might.  Among what they and others have noticed:

*Varying placements of assorted parts from missile to missile, when theoretically all missiles in a given line ought to look identical.
*The same missiles being paraded every year, with different serial numbers painted on them.
*The appearance of "undulating skin", as opposed to the sleek, smooth skin needed for something trying to get airborne. Undulation would cause a missile to wobble in flight and knock itself off-course or even self-destruct.
*The fact that two types of missiles, the Hwasong-13 and the Musudan, have never actually been launched.
*A recently-announced line, the KN-08, being outed as just a bunch of Hwasong-13's.
*The sudden disappearance, perhaps purge, of Pak To-Ch'un, manager of North Korea's weapons and missile program. Earlier this year, North Korea backed down from threats to test a Musudan.
*The missiles not fitting the launchers they were carried on for the parade. (Launchers that, it is further noted, appear to be made in China.)

So that's a pretty substantial body of evidence. Again, there's little doubt that at least some of what North Korea has on hand is in fact real. They were able to put a satellite into space. So there's clearly something there. But it's considerably less something than is being advertised. The question is, how considerably, and how much extra leeway does this give the West.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Developing Situation In Egypt

It is far beyond my resources as a lone blogger on an entirely different continent to try and keep up with rapidly-evolving events of major importance, which is why my policy here is not to try and to instead just give the basics and then direct you to someone who can carry you the rest of the way. That's what's going to be happening here.

There have been sit-ins in encampments in Cairo supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The military has today moved in to forcibly break up those encampments, sparking violence not only in Cairo but elsewhere in Egypt as well. At this posting, the death toll appears to be 149, but don't get married to that number as it's going to go up; it has been all day. Among the dead is Sky News cameraman Mick Deane. Interim vice president Mohamed El Baradei has announced his resignation in protest of the violence.

A liveblog can be found at Time. I suggest you head there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Water, Water, Not Everywhere

Namibia is largely a desert nation, aside from small patches of green in the north. It's desert right up to the Atlantic coastline. As a result, water, and food, are always in short supply. But there is supposed to be a rainy season in the (Southern Hemisphere) summer, November to March, that keeps at least something growing.

Rainy season didn't come.

It didn't come last year either.

Namibia is now experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. According to UNICEF, 778,000 people, a third of the country's population, cannot at this moment count on consistent access to food. 105,000 of those people are under the age of five. The livestock can pretty much forget about being fed. Outside aid groups are complaining of underfunding; internal aid groups... well, they may be slightly ill-advised.

Global climate change is blamed.

Meanwhile, in the American Southwest, also known for its scarcity of rain, city governments are taking increasing action against grassy lawns, which many residents, originating from rainier areas of the country where lawn watering isn't an issue, brought with them. Grass lawns require water, and aside from looking nice and being soft, there really isn't too much of a practical purpose to them. Las Vegas has banned new developments from having grass lawns. Austin, Texas has banned watering before sunset. Several cities, including Los Angeles, are offering rebates to anyone who rips up their lawn; Las Vegas has had a rebate program in place since 2003.

Not that every homeowner wants to do so. The New York Times quotes Los Angeles homeowner Betty Humphrey as saying, “It’s getting to the point where kids live in apartments, and they don’t even see grass, except in magazines... I don’t want to end up like New York or Chicago, with no grass."

No, but you also don't want to wind up like Namibia, with no water.

Monday, August 12, 2013

How To Rob A Gun Shop

1. Do not rob.
2. Do not rob a gun shop.
3. Seriously, do not rob a gun shop. It may seem tempting, with all those guns in there, but you know full well the clerk is armed and knows how to use every gun in the building.
4. Odds are the other customers are armed too.
5. The guns in the gun shop are not loaded, because of anyone that might try to rob the gun shop with its own guns.
6. If you try to rob a gun shop with a gun, you will be lucky to live to see trial.
7. That all established, the way to avoid that fate is to not rob the gun shop with a gun.
8. That does not mean you should rob a gun shop with a baseball bat. The clerk will still pull his gun on you.
9. Oh, and the knife that you have on hand? Do be mindful of the saying about bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Red Sky At Night, Taylor Delight

I am just home from the Taylor Swift concert at Soldier Field in Chicago.

How was it? Kinda like this. And this (yes, that's about how close I managed to get). And this. That ought to about sum it up. It was thoroughly entertaining and I absolutely want to do it again sometime, but it was completely and utterly disorienting due to the production Taylor put on, the screaming from the fans, the mass sing-along for every single song that at times threatened to actually drown out Taylor, the elaborately-produced signs in the crowd, the flashing lights on many of those signs, the color-changing glowsticks that were being sold at merchandise booths, the costumes people showed up in (one showed up as a Lego brick- a red brick, of course), all combining to form the most fun full-on assault on the senses I've ever been a part of.

On a side note, free confetti at the end.

The downside is that I am now totally wiped, sore all over, I managed to get myself a pretty good sunburn, and trying to make any sort of a large post today would be an exercise in madness. So I need something easy and quick. Luckily, I have it, because someone made a map of the world in which every country is referred to by its full name in that country's language of most common use. (So instead of 'United States', it would be 'United States Of America'.)

I'm gonna go sit down now. Hoo boy, what a show.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Seriously? We Have To Do Racism Again?

Apparently we do, because this summer is being really awful about it.

On I-95 in Richmond, Virginia, near the state capitol, a group called Virginia Flaggers has announced their intention to fly a 15-foot-wide Confederate flag. According to their announcement regarding it, "The flag will serve to welcome visitors and commuters to Richmond, and remind them of our honorable Confederate history and heritage."

Honorable. Honorable Confederate heritage. Really.

As founder Susan Hathaway told the Richmond Times-Dispatch back in March, when Virginia Flaggers was protesting the decision by the Museum of the Confederacy not to fly a Confederate flag out front, "It's a symbol of my ancestors and what they fought for and what they gave their lives for in a lot of cases... We feel like it's dishonoring them to put some kind of shame on the flag and make it something that has to be hidden."

Dishonoring what the Confederates fought for. Really.

I don't know what other root causes might be underlying as to why people might take this side in an argument such as this. Perhaps they don't want shame on their bloodline and feel an obligation to defend their ancestors. Perhaps it's too much to bear to contemplate the possibility that their home side lost, or that their forefathers may have backed the wrong horse. Perhaps it's a sunk-cost thing, where that kind of realization, especially after putting so much effort into backing the wrong side, would mentally destroy them. We've covered that here. Maybe it's straight-up racism.

But maybe people genuinely don't know. I don't know how they wouldn't, but people in the United States have been shown to not know some surprisingly simple things. So fine. Let's go over what, precisely, the Confederacy fought for and what their heritage is, and determine exactly how honorable it is.

An easy way to do that is to read each Confederate state's declaration of causes of secession. In other words, their declarations of independence. The explicit reasons that they gave for leaving the Union, and therefore, what, exactly, they would go on to fight for. Virginia did not create one, but four of the other Confederate states- South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas- did. They're far too long to reasonably repost here in full, but we'll take a few excerpts.

Here's how Georgia begins their declaration. This is their We The People equivalent.

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

They come right out and say it at the start: slavery. They're leaving because they want to keep their slaves. They go on to say it and say it and say it to the point where it is almost the sole and only topic of the declaration. Later on you see this:

A similar provision of the Constitution requires them to surrender fugitives from labor. This provision and the one last referred to were our main inducements for confederating with the Northern States. Without them it is historically true that we would have rejected the Constitution.

Translation: Georgia's dressing down the north for ignoring the Fugitive Slave Act and stating that without the right to keep slaves, they never would have joined the United States in the first place.

Let's see about Mississippi, shall we?

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

Well, that doesn't exactly leave much to the imagination, now, does it?

 South Carolina, your turn.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.
The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."
This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.
The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

Once again, this is about the Fugitive Slave Act. Continuing:

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

Why, they say that like it's a bad thing. Texas, you're up. Why are you seceding?

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them? 

Gee, I believe I might be noticing a trend here.

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States. 

There you go, folks. Slavery. Right from the horse's mouth, it was about slavery. That is why the Confederacy came into existence. That is why the Confederate flag was flown. That is why Confederate soldiers fought and died, and that is the "heritage" the flag commemorates.

As for Virginia itself, they do still have an ordinance of secession to look at. These are much shorter and a little more boilerplate, so we can post it in its entirety:

AN ORDINANCE to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United State of America by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.
The people of Virginia in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under said Constitition were derived from the people of the United States and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States:
Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying and adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
And they do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.
This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day, when ratified by a majority of the voter of the people of this State cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.
Adopted by the convention of Virginia April 17,1861.

The oppression of the Southern slave-holding states. I'm not sure how much more explicit it has to be. There's no nuance. There's no ambiguity. There is absolutely no getting away from it. You fly a Confederate flag, whether you mean to or not, you are displaying little else than a cloth-laden declaration that human beings ought to be kept as property. That is its history. That is its heritage.

Some kind of shame, indeed.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Planes, Waves and Homeless Feels

Hawaii has the largest homeless population in the United States, showing (PDF) 45 homeless individuals per 10,000 population, higher than any of the other states (though well below Washington DC's 133 per 10,000). Not all of that population, though, is actually their own. Being isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means it's possible for someone from somewhere else to travel to Hawaii, and while they're there, run out of money and have no means to return home, stranding them on the island. Which is surprisingly easy to do given Hawaii's high cost of living. On the mainland, you can still potentially call someone to drive you home. On Hawaii, you're simply trapped. Only 42% of those who received assistance from a Hawaiian shelter or outreach program last year are considered lifetime residents; 11% had been in Hawaii for less than a year.

Which leaves the Hawaiian government with the problem of what to do with them. The answer has largely been, do the same as the others. There's a proposal on the table, though, to make a quicker fix to the issue: pay for a plane ticket to send the out-of-staters home, where they presumably are more likely to have someone to support them, and which would be cheaper than having to devote more money to their care. Bill author Suzanne Chun Oakland is looking for $100,000, which she figures would cover tickets for 100-200 people. So it's never intended to be a cure-all, just an alleviation; in fact, it's just part of a larger piece of legislation.

On its face, sounds reasonable enough. But the proposal is drawing objections from the state Department of Human Services, as well as groups on the ground dealing with the homeless. There are two objections, really. The first objection is in the optics: they'd really rather not tell someone, in essence, to go be poor somewhere else; a plane ticket would only shift the problem rather than solve it and there's no guarantee . It looks very similar to like-minded programs on the mainland which have collectively been derided as 'Greyhound therapy'. The second objection comes from the potential for abuse from out-of-staters who, it's feared, would just buy a one-way ticket in, blow through their cash, and expect the state to pay their way back. Because it IS Hawaii, after all.

The second objection, I get, because some people are awful, though that could be fixed with assorted anti-abuse safeguards. The first objection, though, while understandable given those similar mainland programs, I think really does need to take into account the difficulty of entering or exiting Hawaii. You can hitchhike out of, say, New York if you really had to. You have three ways to leave Hawaii: plane, boat or swim. It's over 2,500 miles from Honolulu to Los Angeles. You are not swimming 2,500 miles. You are not kayaking 2,500 miles. Homeless people do not own Cessnas and Cessnas that aren't actually business jets can't cover that kind of distance anyway. Good luck covering that distance without some sort of formal organization. And money. So this isn't really the same situation as a homeless person on the mainland. It requires a different approach.

The question is, is this it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Art Patronization 101

Okay, folks. Listen up. When you go to an art museum, you may note velvet ropes. Or regular ropes. Or something made to act as a rope. Or a glass case containing the art. Or at the very least a bunch of Do Not Touch signs all over the place. You see them all, right? Awesome. You see, art can be very, very fragile, and if you touch it with your stupid monkey paws, you might break the art, and then people will be very angry with you because it's not like museum art is all that replaceable.

Now I want you to listen very carefully.

When it says do not touch... DO NOT TOUCH. Lest you become the subject of a headline such as 'American Tourist Knocks Finger Off 14th Century Statue'.

(While we're here, Art Patronization 102: artists prefer to get money for their art before they die. The price might go up after they die, but they'd prefer the money now so that they may continue to create art. This is why Kickstarter works. Kickstarters like, oh let's see, this little campaign right here, run by Strip Search contestant Amy T. Falcone.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Short Paparazzi Anecdote

On FX, there was a program called 'Dirt'. It starred Courteney Cox as the editor of a tabloid magazine and lasted two seasons, from 2007-08, and was cut short by the writer's strike. Being FX, the tabloid in the show was pretty much what everyone imagines a tabloid to be: full of ruthless, unscrupulous madmen with zero concept of celebrity privacy. They were the protagonists.

In researching the role of her character, Cox traveled to the London offices of The Sun (if you didn't know that paper's reputation already, that should give you an idea). It was a rather educational visit, not to mention unnerving.

At one point, an editor asked Cox if she wanted to see what she'd been doing during her past few weeks in Europe. She was then shown pictures of her vacationing in Sardinia, pictures of her leaving her London hotel an hour prior, pictures of her arriving at The Sun, "even a shot of me opening the door to The Sun five minutes earlier."

Maybe not the wisest thing to show someone who will be portraying your industry in a TV show.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Bunch Of Bull

Back in 2011, we spoke here about "tradition" and why it's not always a good thing to base your behavior on. Sometimes the tradition is perfectly harmless, sometimes it's quite admirable, but sometimes the tradition is downright stupid and people's only real justification for doing it is that they've been doing it for years. One example cited in that article was the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Originally done out of the need to herd bulls from a corral to a nearby bullring for the day's bullfighting (a needless tradition in its own right), it now, while still serving that purpose, is known as one of the world's foremost examples of gratuitous testosterone poisoning. As said back in 2011, people commonly root for the bulls to run their horns through as many drunken idiot tourists as possible before the same is done to them in the bullring later that night.

But as weak an excuse as it is, tradition is still an excuse, and there is at least some sort of justification for running the bulls in the first place, however weak that may be.

Cambridge, Ontario, you have no such excuse. 'Community fundraiser' is not a sufficient excuse to sign people up to be chased by bulls for no good reason. You want to raise funds for the community? Hold a bake sale.

America, you have absolutely no excuse. Even Ontario set up a bloodless bullfight to tie the thing together. You're just treating it like a thrill ride. There is no point. There is no tradition. There is no justification other than 'dude you should totally do that'. There is no reason to get chased by bulls in ten different cities nationwide, the first of which is Petersburg, VA on the 24th.

I don't know about you, but I recall that humanity evolved and adapted so that we wouldn't have to be chased around by wild animals. I think that's a pretty good gig. I'd prefer not to do anything to screw that up.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

This Is Your Fault

If enough of you watch a ridiculous TV movie just because it is called 'Sharknado', they are going to air Sharknado again. If you keep watching it, they will keep running it. They will make a sequel as well. If the TV movie gets numbers that are downright historical for the network, they will start considering putting it in actual goddamn theaters.


Friday, August 2, 2013

On A Potential Sochi Boycott

The upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are increasingly becoming a frontline in the battle over LGBT rights. One report one day will say that Russia will not enforce the anti-LGBT laws on their books during the games, and then another report the next day will say that they not only will but that LGBT athletes will face the risk of arrest. There are increasing calls to boycott the Games in protest, with concerns not exactly assuaged by a warning from Russian minister of sports Vitaly Mutko that athletes are to be prohibited from advocating LGBT rights while in Russia.

And on top of all that, the same guy making a push on these laws, Vitaly Milonov, is now accusing Lady Gaga and Madonna of violating their visas by not only speaking out in favor of LGBT rights during concerts they performed while in the country, but by having the concerts at all, claiming that their visas were only for cultural exchange purposes and did not allow "commercial concert activities", meaning they were not permitted to make money holding the concerts. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

Do you boycott? I personally would say no. Boycotts have happened before, but all that happens in the end is your message stays home with you, and the Games just go on without you, and the medals get awarded to the very nations you're protesting against. Do you discredit the Games; devalue them? No. Olympic gold is Olympic gold no matter who's going after it. All you do by staying home is forfeit, the same as if you'd broken a leg and pulled out of your event. Do you hold an alternative event? Go ahead, but nobody but you cares.

In 1936, Spain attempted to put together the People's Olympiad in response to the Olympics being held in Nazi Germany. It never happened; the Spanish Civil War happened first. In 1980, nations boycotting the Moscow Olympics held an alternate event (well, for the track and field athletes, anyway) called the Liberty Bell Classic in Philadelphia. There's a very good chance this is the first you've heard of it even though some of the times and distances beat those marks set in Moscow. Why haven't you heard of it? Because everyone was paying attention to Moscow. The Soviet Union carried on and happily won all the medals the United States essentially gifted them, but they certainly cared, enough to revenge boycott Los Angeles in 1984, and those nations held a more comprehensive event called the Friendship Games, spreading hosting duties over nine countries. Again, this is likely the first you've heard of it. Who cared? Certainly not the United States, which proceeded to merrily romp to gold after gold, whoop it up all Games long, and not give half a damn what the Soviets thought of it.

The African-led boycott of Montreal in 1976 did, to be fair, seem to have an effect on those Games, however, it should be noted that those Games were a total disaster on nearly every level with or without Africa's involvement due to the drugged-up East Germans and, shall we say, bungling incompetence on the part of Montreal, up to and including the part where the torch went out due to rain and a worker relit the cauldron with a cigarette lighter. Pinning the failure of Montreal on the boycott is overselling it, and even then, Montreal did bring some notable images such as Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10, Shun Fujimoto's powering through a broken knee for the Japanese men's gymnastics team because he still had to complete the rings, Bruce Jenner's performance in the decathlon, and an American boxing team that included Sugar Ray Leonard and both Leon and Michael Spinks.

The real effect it has is on the athletes themselves. They didn't get a vote on where the Olympics would be that year. Many if not most of them are only ever going to go to the Olympics once in their entire life, they train and work and sweat and sacrifice so much time to get that one shot, and to take that shot away because you don't like where the Olympics happen to be this time, because of political factors that they have nothing to do with... we're basically taking their dreams away and forcing them to like it, perhaps even to speak out in favor of it. Perhaps some of them will. But many of them just want to compete.

As a nation, if even one athlete wants to go, even if it's only that one, we go. We send that one athlete, we give him the flag and give him all the support the nation has at its disposal. But the athletes are the ones who have everything at stake here. So it ought to ultimately be their individual call. If an athlete wishes to boycott, then abide by their wish. If it is feasible to do so, you might even leave their spot on the team blank (though you can't do this for all events; they may have teammates that don't wish to be dragged into a boycott with them and those spots will need to be refilled). But if an athlete wishes to travel to the Games, send them, support them, root for them, and allow them every opportunity to make the ultimate Olympic protest: beating the enemy and taking their medals. Nothing will tick them off more than that.

Besides, one of them might decide to risk forfeiture of their medal and make like Tommie Smith/John Carlos gesture on the medal stand like in Mexico City. (And believe me, the IOC would rip that medal out of their hands so fast.)

As for you the fan, I would request that whatever an athlete decides to do, do not judge them for it. It's a very tough decision you'd be asking them to make. They're the ones who would be asked to pit their dreams against their morals. They're the ones with everything on the line, not you. Don't pressure them into going. Don't pressure them into not going. We should not act as Margaret Thatcher acted towards Sebastian Coe 1980, placing the full pressure of the British government personally on his families (Coe went and won a gold and a silver), or as Jimmy Carter acted against the American team, where he threatened to revoke the passport of anyone who went to Moscow. We stand back, we let them make up their own minds, we support those who stay home, and we support those who go.

But we go.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Big Brother Is Still Filled With Terrible People

The day that I posted yesterday's compilation of Big Brother bigotry, a second clip popped up regarding additional comments made in the house. I would leave it alone, except that the clip focuses squarely on one particular contestant, Amanda Zuckerman. What's so special about her? What's special is that Amanda is being given a friendly edit by the Big Brother producers. The comments of fellow contestant Aaryn Gries have been well-documented, but Amanda's comments, while seen on the live feeds, have been not only whitewashed in broadcast, but things have been edited to make it look as if she is actually a voice of reason, attempting to make the comments stop.

For those of you only watching the CBS broadcast: here's your voice of reason. Once again, viewer discretion advised. Again. I hate myself for continuing to pay attention to this.