Archive for November, 2011« Older Entries |
[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 29, 2011 by admin in HolidaysTuesday, November 29th, 2011
Parents, face it. If you cut off your good-for-nothing radical kid this Christmas, you’re only punishing CAPITALISM ITSELF.
How can Santa bring you presents,
if you don’t know what you want?
So, you did your best to raise your precious snowflakes to be eager little capitalists. You clothed and fed them for eighteen years, then you sent little Justin and Ashley off to the finest schools your burgeoning debt and education loans could buy. And how do they repay you? They major in political science or philosophy, start THINKING and stuff, and before you know it, they RUN OFF TO JOIN THE OCCUPATION. Well, don’t give up the fight. If you disown your precious snowflake NOW, you’re doing two things to help them win their silly war against the fear and consumption driven world we lovingly crafted for them. First, by cutting them off, you’re just encouraging them to embrace their anti-consumer follies even more, running the risk that they’ll discover that money isn’t everything. Yup. Crazy as it sounds, some people ENJOY a modest lifestyle, and this peasant-like “every day’s a gift” attitude can be contagious. Second, by not spending thousands of dollars on them this Christmas like you always do, the OCCUPATION HAS ALREADY WON. Your “punishment” only punishes CAPITALISM ITSELF. So as crazy as it seems, the best way to prevent your youngster from running off and becoming some kind of vagrant, park-dwelling commie is to HELP THEM DO IT. That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of Holiday Gift Ideas for Occupiers. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 27, 2011 by admin in MusicSunday, November 27th, 2011
That’s a lot of prepositions and dates for a single overlooked band, but these guys were replacing nipples with other body parts in their videos WAY before Lady Gaga and Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er.
One thing I love about the demise of the major record labels and the explosion of indy releases over the last decade is that just when I think I’m caught up on things, I run across some bizarre pop treasure that leads me on the YouTube equivalent of Wikiphilia. You know, when some quirky video or song by some under-recognized artist leads to discovering an entire new world, i.e., the world of bands with 307 video views. This happened the other day when someone sent me a link to the creepy but clever Sexy Results video (NSFW, if breasts with mouths aren’t safe where you work) by Death From Above 1979. Although Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Vi$$er had eyes for nipples in the video for Evil Boy , and Lady Gaga had zippers in Born This Way, that Death From Above “mouths for nipples” video pre-dates both by more than a year. So they have that going for them. But what they also have going for them is a fairly unique sound that’s surprisingly full, in spite of basically being driven only by a heavily-effected bass, drums, and vocals. The band’s playlist is hard to sort out since they seem to mix various projects’ material when performing live, but comparisons to Daft Punk are inevitable in the case of material from their project MSTRKRFT. Though frankly, I find DFA and MSTRKRFT’s tunes in possession of the soul that a lot of Daft Punk’s material seems to lack. And the DFA material itself is a little harder to categorize, since it meanders from tunes that sound like a more martial, less poppy White Stripes to almost sounding like early Wire. Death From Above 1979 is apparently reuniting this year after a 2006 breakup, so it will be interesting to see what they put together. Although they were touring much of this year, there has been no news of a new release, and unless you’re in Brazil on December 3, you’re not likely to catch them live any time soon. But what you CAN do in the meantime is check out the extensive back-catalogs of their various members’ projects. That’s how I discovered the slightly Daft Punky MSTRKRFT, as well as the quirkily charming Girlsareshort, whose CD Earlynorthamerican has fun tunes like the title track and Ex Degenerate (those are both YouTube links). More vids below. Read the rest of this entry »
The U of M jet fighter flyovers on football Saturdays are more fun than a clown on fire, and probably comparable in price, depending on the clown.
This is what football stadium
flyovers look like in other countries.
I live in a town that is home to one of the best college football teams in the country. Although I’m not a huge football fan, I still guess that’s kind of cool. Although sometimes I think the local university may have its priorities screwed up; whenever I look at the largest college football stadium in the country, I remember the time a few years ago when a friend of mine was tutoring one of the team’s star players, and he broke down crying in the second session, because he literally couldn’t read.
But that’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about jet fighters. For at least the last two years, the university has commissioned US military jet flyovers for games. I guess it’s really invigorating to have these thunderous machines of destruction fly over the stadium at halftime. That must be why the Israeli military does nightly machbusting flyovers of Palestine. They just want to INVIGORATE the families and children that live there. But what does all this invigoration COST, I wondered. So I did a little research. It appears that a conservative estimate of the operating cost per hour of an F-16 (the jets in question) is about $3,000-$5,000 (source, PDF). So today, when those four jets “invigorate” the entire town, the base cost could easily be about $12,000-$20,000.
This made me curious about two other things. The first was, how far could a typical gas-guzzling SUV drive on the amount of fuel these jets consume? There is of course no scientific source for this kind of comparison, but we did our best. GM cleverly doesn’t have to rate the mileage of its H2 Hummer because of its GVWR, but if you average the figures here, you come up with exactly 10 miles per gallon. Likewise with the F-16′s fuel consumption, the figures are highly technical, not broadly advertised, and are influenced by things like altitude, airspeed, and whether or not the craft is in afterburner mode or not. The range of consumption though is 55,000-90,000lb/hour, so we averaged that to 72,500. One pound of standard F-16 fuel is about 6.85 gallons, so in an hour, the jet could use 10,583 gallons. That of course means the fuel the F-16 uses in one hour could take a Hummer 105,830 miles, which is about five times around the Earth, or half way to the moon. Your choice. Your results with the Toyota Prius will be a little different, you’d be able to go 582,065 miles, so you could go to the moon and BACK, and still have enough gas to drive around the Earth almost six times.
The second question was WHO THE HELL PAYS for this? We have an inquiry in with the university, and local news sources say it’s all part of a “military appreciation event”, which includes a pregame tailgate for Michigan “Gold Star” families, university staff, and student veterans. But we suspect in the end it’s your tax dollars.
[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 14, 2011 by admin in Popular MediaMonday, November 14th, 2011
The teen heroes of the last year’s best alien invasion film “Attack The Block” will probably save the Earth, but they’ll have to ask mom first. And thanks to the massive marketing budgets of “Battle: Los Angeles” and “Skyline”, their working-class heroism has gone largely unacknowledged.
I have a suggestion for the makers of alien invasion schlockbusters Battle: Los Angeles and Skyline. I think they should surrender enough of their grotesquely immense profits to the makers of the REAL winner of the past year’s alien invasion movie invasion – Attack the Block – that it at least breaks even at the box office. I mean, I’m not going to be as mean as Roger Ebert about it, but as excellent as “Saving Private Ryan”, “Blackhawk Down”, and “District 9″ were, there’s no need to spend 70 million bucks chopping them together haphazardly into ANOTHER film, wasting thousands of people-hours of solid acting, dynamic camera work, and expensive consultations with the military, only to turn out a heartless war movie sprinkled sparingly with aliens. And “Skyline” – in spite of its inventive alien visuals and the potential in its “human brains as energy” premise – seemed to share two of the greatest weaknesses of “Battle”. If you’re going to hire a bunch of actors and make them act a bunch, at least let them act like people someone will CARE about. In both films, I think many viewers probably CHEERED the demise of key characters not only because they were fundamentally unlikeable, but also because it meant the movie would end that much sooner. At least in films like “Independence Day” you got to see absurdly gratifying moments like Will Smith dragging the alien through the desert cussing. If you haven’t seen “Attack The Block”, put it on the top of your list. It’s probably one of the most fun alien invasion films since Mars Attacks! It was produced by the same people that brought us “Shaun of the Dead”, and is a gratifying 88 minutes of stylish visuals, amusingly engaging action, and meta-ironic social commentary. All taking place in a single working class flatblock of South London. Hilariously, for the film’s American release, Sony Pictures came close to adding subtitles, concerned that American audiences wouldn’t be able to understand the characters’ South London “Jafaican” accents. Thankfully, they left well enough alone; the street slang banter of the kids as they battle the aliens is about half of the genius of the film. You owe it to yourself to watch “Attack” the next time you’re looking for some humorous adventure in your sci-fi, and we ALL owe it to the film’s creators to at least help them break even. This little flick is a gem. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on November 9, 2011 by admin in PoliticsWednesday, November 9th, 2011
We are 99 percent sure this will happen. Put on your tin foil hat for a moment, and you will be too.
A few days after September 11, 2001, I was sitting talking with my nephew about the recent attacks on the US. Saddam Hussein was already getting lippy, and we joked that the Bush administration would use the Trade Center attacks as a pretext for invading Iraq, which seemed fairly preposterous at the time. We had a little cynical laugh that day, but a little over a year later, we weren’t laughing so much. Since then, I’ve found my tinfoil hat to be quite a stylish addition to my wardrobe. I put it back on recently when the alleged Iranian assassination plot made the news. I was having coffee with a friend, and before hearing any analysis about how looney it all sounded, we pondered what THIS could be the pretext for. Aside from that prepositional ending just now. One of the few figures that said it WASN’T looney was John Bolton, devoted Bush policy wonk and a key figure with the New American Century gang, the think tank that designed the bizarre and aggressive foreign policy implemented under Bush. I didn’t think much more of the fishy assassination plot until a few other things happened, inspiring me to do some superficial research. So make your own little tinfoil hat – it’s easy – and follow me for a moment down Conspiracy Lane. In six months, look back at this and maybe laugh, or maybe go “yeesh, that’s creepy”, but in either case I’ll bet you didn’t know about one of Libya’s greatest resources, which we’ll get to below. But first, a little refresher on recent events. Right around the time this kooky assassination plot was fed to the media, Libya was being torn apart by rebellion, and this of course was a handy way to get rid of another troublesome despot and his Prince-inspired wardrobe. So NATO pops in and does a bunch of the heavy lifting (or dropping, in this case), Gaddafi is hunted down like a dog, and conveniently killed before he can be brought to any kind of real international justice. This all is conveniently great PR too, it makes it look like America is supporting the “Arab Spring”, even though it’s already almost winter here. Almost at the same time, Obama announces the troop drawdown in Iraq, and while people are still jibber-jabbering about THAT, suddenly the IAEA releases the toughest report on Iran to date regarding their nuclear intentions, and Israel and Obama simultaneously start using the familiar “all options on the table” euphemism, which of course means Israel might strike Iran. So what does Libya have to do with Iraq, Iran, Israel, and the US? Well, the typical line of thinking of a paranoid conspiracist is that we’re going to “take Libya’s oil”. But that’s dumb, we’ll get the oil we need no matter what. It’s not like we suck oil out of Iraq and ship it to the US, we get it from a global cartel, and we’ll continue to get as much as we need until we have to fight China for it or something. Besides. Libya has something much more valuable in the middle east. Water. LOTS of water. In fact, more fresh water than the Caspian Sea, according to this source, and Gaddafi already did most of the work of making it accessible. We just have to stoke things up enough in the region by withdrawing from Iraq – which the media is already suggesting will encourage an Iran/Iraq Shiite uprising – let Israel get all testy and do some airstrikes, put some more Al Quaeda flags on government buildings in Libya, and VOILA! We have a full-blown occupation of Libya, a fantastically located place for US bases, with ALL THE WATER we need to whet our little war whistles. But wait, there’s a special bonus! It’s an election year coming up! How often do we elect a new president in the middle of a war that started the same year? To the best of my knowledge, never. Welcome to Occupy Libya. We are the 99 percent sure of this.