Editorial & Opinion

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Jack U. Abramoff

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 9, 2012 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Friday, March 9th, 2012

If the Jack Abramoff Fan Club ever elects a president, it will probably be Jack Abramoff.

Jack U AbramoffThe other day I snagged a copy of Jack Abramoff’s Capitol Punishment from the local library. I was going to buy it, but something inside me resisted the idea of putting money in Abramoff’s pockets, even if it was the paltry royalty from a single book. I have been fascinated for several years by the way DC insiders developed such profound amnesia when Abramoff’s corrupt lobby empire imploded in 2006, especially the way George Bush essentially denied ever knowing him while in almost the same breath he commuted his pal Scooter’s sentence  before he even served time. I’m only about half way through the book; one of the benefits of today’s information overloaded world is that for almost any topic of interest, there’s probably a film version, a book, and in the case of Jack Abramoff, 1,240,000 Google search results. Rapidly wearying of Abramoff’s “I’m just a regular guy from Atlantic City and Beverly Hills who got into Brandeis because Sugar Ray Robinson was a friend of the family” style of storytelling in the early part of his book, I opted to watch Casino Jack and the United States of Money and Casino Jack back to back for additional color. The former seemed to be a fair take on Abramoff’s career arc, and includes shocking video footage of things like Karl Rove with hair. The latter – although liberally spread with cheese at points, was worth a look, if only to see Kevin Spacey pull one of the more amazing acting feats imaginable. If you’ve ever enjoyed Spacey’s startlingly accurate impressions of people like Jimmy Stewart and Al Pacino, you REALLY need to see him execute the subtle twist of Spacey playing a character doing the impressions. In exloring some of Abramoff’s background – which I was only superficially aware of prior to recently – a vague obsession brewed within me. I’m certainly not here to re-indict him; for one thing, he actually served time, which is a little unusual for a figure in his former world. And for another thing, the hypocrites like John McCain who helped put him away should probably be in jail themselves for the rest of eternity merely on the basis of their crimes against basic human integrity. No, the disturbing thing is that on some level I actually found myself liking the guy. Not because I was falling for his “bad guy making good” routine, but because his story is such a classic example of tragically flawed heroism and a dramatic display of the Jungian Shadow at work. As an example of the latter, his recent involvement with efforts to raise awareness about DC corruption – like writing for United Re:Public  – come across with a lack of fire that suggests he’s really just playing the repentant crook role as well as he played the nuclear-powered lobbyist role. One is easily left with the sense that inside all the bluster and larger than life stories, there’s a fairly genuine guy. A fairly genuine guy who believed in everything he ever did. I’m left with a lot more understanding of the weaknesses of human character that enabled the man to do the things he did, but also the feeling that the only person that will ever really love Jack Abramoff is Jack Abramoff. Read the rest of this entry »

SOPA DE MIERDA – An Open Letter To The Entertainment Industry

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on January 21, 2012 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Including a simple recipe for self-destruction: one part MPAA, one part RIAA, one part Washington, and three parts greed and ignorance.

I’m sorry movie and music industries, that you’re so goddamn stupid that since you can’t figure out how to make money with one of the greatest technological achievements in human history, you want to destroy it. No really. I feel bad that the mostly white, fatass males that run a multi-billion dollar industry that pays most of the hardworking working people struggling to get into it a pittance in comparison to their own incomes can no longer lounge in ease by the pool with a bevy of hookers. I’m also sorry that after buying Led Zeppelin IV on vinyl, cassette, and compact disc, that I copied it a few times for friends and personal use, and I’m sorry that after buying the “theatrical release” and multiple “director’s cuts” of Blade Runner on VHS and DVD, a friend gave me a copy of the Blu Ray version. Hang me. I’m sorry that when confronted with the terrible loss of revenue you’ve created with your own fucktardedness, the only solution you see is to grease the already slippery palms of Washington and lose even MORE money on doomed strategies. Because you know what? This little soup you’ve been cooking, this “SOPA DE MIERDA” as I like to call it, is probably going to be the last dish of crap you try to serve us. You see, there’s this OTHER recipe for entertainment we can ingest, and it’s been simmering nicely for a while now. It’s called INDEPENDENTLY PRODUCED MEDIA. We have the same tools you have now, and aren’t as greedy as you are. We can make more money than you ever paid us DOING IT OURSELVES. I mean, aside from all the great indy bands and films that have sprung up triumphantly in the wreckage of your business model, there’s USER GENERATED CONTENT. Let’s face it. Who wouldn’t rather watch funny cat videos for a hundred twenty seconds than watch crappy retreads like Cars 2, The Hangover 2, and a Conan the Barbarian remake for a hundred twenty MINUTES? Watching most of the movies your hallowed industry churns out these days is like a weirdly recursive cinematic bulimia, where one is forced to eat and re-eat the same meal over and over. I’m sorry, movie and music industries, when you’ve completed your grandiose acts of self-destruction, I won’t miss you.

Is It Wrong To Pee On Dead People?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 13, 2012 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Call me old fashioned, but I think this debate was framed all wrong.

Desert Storm
Let’s face it. LOTS of things may have
contributed to this despicable act.

I’m so (ahem) relieved that world leaders have finally taken a stance on that whole peeing on corpses thing. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai’s heart seems to be in the right place; I think most of us would agree with his assessment that peeing on dead people is wrong. And I guess it was pretty big of the Taliban to not take offense over the whole affair, but I imagine that whatever public statements were reported by the press omitted the part at the end where the spokesman muttered “Hell. We do it to YOUR guys ALL THE TIME”. Call me old fashioned, but to me the weirdest part about the global dialogue about the appropriateness of urinating on the dead was the way it was framed in the first place. I mean sure, pissing on someone – whether they’re alive OR dead – is just plain rude. But isn’t it even RUDER to KILL them? So there’s that. But having accepted that you’re going to put a bunch of men in killing suits, and then having trained them for several years to get into a calculated frenzy to kill OTHER guys in killing suits, what do you expect? Imagine you’re one of these soldiers. You’ve just spent months in the desert with a small band of comrades who are the only thing between you and certain death at the hands of ANOTHER small band of comrades – whose biggest ideological difference with you is really just that they want to kill you – and you finally achieve the goal. Which is of course not getting killed, and often involves killing the other guy in terrifying night time conflicts where half the time you’re more worried about not getting your family jewels blown off by an IED, or not killing your pals in the dark by accident than anything else. Face it. A person is pretty pent up and stressed out at this point, and has been driven beyond any sense of rational human behavior. What are they supposed to do? Re-enact some cheesy scene from an old war movie, and hold the guy dying in his arms while he says something quotable for his Wikipedia page? The absurdity of this whole debate about peeing on dead soldiers led to a heated argument with a friend of mine. We were talking about warrior conventions, and he said something about how Klingons – the quintessential expression of the warrior spirit in Star Trek films – would probably find few things more dishonorable than urinating on their dead comrades. I pointed out that there were numerous incidents in the Star Trek sagas that specifically highlighted the Klingon’s lack of concern for what was done with their lifeless bodies. But then my friend asked “In any of these instances, was someone trying to PEE ON THEM?” I had to concede on that one. If you know a Trekkie who can answer that question with any authority, drop us a line. But in the meantime, I have an idea that will help avoid the sticky question of whether or not it’s appropriate to pee on someone after you kill them. How about we don’t kill each other in the first place. And heck, for good measure, let’s also just generally agree to not pee on each other either. Unless of course it’s someone like Kim Jong Il, who – now that his body will be lying in state for ETERNITY – stands a pretty good statistical chance of getting peed on. Which reminds me for some reason of the video below Read the rest of this entry »

Dissociated Press Says Au Revoir

[ 3 Comments ]Posted on April 10, 2011 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.

It’s not the end of the world. But it
may be the end of Dissociated Press.

In part due to an incredibly light response to last week’s How Am I Driving? question, I’ve decided to go on an extended hiatus. But this is definitely not “goodbye”, this is more like “au revoir”.  After nearly three years of daily articles about Popular Media, Music, Politics, Lifestyle, Clean & Green issues, and my continual spewing of unsolicited opinion, I’ve simply become too busy with other projects. I’m nearly finished with a book called Why Everyone Should Wait Tables For Two Weeks, I’m working on a small “start up lab” called Amusing Enterprises (not much at that link as of this writing), and perhaps most exciting for me personally, I’m working with two partners on a long-term self-improvement “information product” that will involve seminars, books, DVD’s, and web content. Creating and maintaining a site like Dissociated Press is a blast, so I will almost certainly be back before long, and there’s a good chance that when I do return, it will be with a new brand, and some development partners (contact me if you’d like to be one of them). The name Dissociated Press is clever but too quirky, and doing this alone is just too much work for one person over time. Not to mention the fact that the era of the “web magazine” is at such an interesting juncture. While “dead tree edition” barely has had a chance to become a useful phrase, I think we’ll be seeing another shift that even makes sites like Salon, Wired, or Slate look archaic. Which is a nice segue into another little plug. The tablet and the mobile device are clearly the platforms to watch, and an old acquaintance of mine is light years ahead of many on this. He’s working on a startup called “Defrag”, which he’s calling an “Interactive iPad Magazine of Global Culture”. Learn more about the venture on his Kickstarter page. So as I said, this is not goodbye, it’s au revoir, and ’til we meet again, here’s a little song to keep us in each other’s hearts ….

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How Am I Driving?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on April 2, 2011 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

While I take a week off, let me know what you think. And just for fun, you can even CALL, at (530) 763-3477. That’s (530) 763-DISS.

Yup. That’s a real phone number.

The motorcycle helmet was starting to feel heavy on my head as the waist-high weeds gave way to the bumper of the car, and the random locust buzzed through the non-existent windshield. “NOW?!?” I shouted, with sweat dripping into my eyes. I glanced over quickly as my brother grinned and yelled “GO FOR IT!”, and with the accelerator jammed to the floor, I flipped the wheel fast and hard to the left, sending the battered Hillman sedan flipping sideways. As a ten year old, few things are more exhilarating than feeling yourself catapulted up in an arc that soon has you upside-down, then right side up, then hanging from your shoulder harness sideways wondering if the sputtering engine is going to blow up before you figure out how to get out of the car. This is part of how I learned how to drive, and explains a little bit about my approach to life. I never did bother to get a drivers license. Even some of my close friends assume I lost it years ago in a drug-induced tragedy involving dozens of children and senior citizens or something. The fact is, I just think cars are stupid, so I don’t have one. I tend to apply this eager and ignorant approach to a lot of things. You learn a lot that way. And that’s part of the approach I’ve applied to this site for a couple of years. I’m enough of a nerd to know how to generate site traffic so that I can generate ad revenue – a business model that has wrecked the web, in my opinion – but almost three years ago, I thought I’d try something different. I thought I’d just try writing actual content, and see if it slowly drew an audience. The result? Well, it has sort of drawn an audience, but only about 10,000 unique visitors a month. If you know how these numbers work, you know no-one’s getting rich here. So I’m taking a few days off to ponder the direction of the site. I’m trying to finish a book, develop another venture (not much to look at right now at that last link) as well as working on a couple of other projects related to personal development or novelty ideas like this or this. So now’s your chance to tell me how I’m driving. I don’t usually LIKE comments, it just means I have to moderate them, and fortunately the only people that have commented much over the last few years were shills like these or Glenn Beck viewers like these or these who think they’re e-mailing Glenn Beck. So let us know what you think. If you’re new to the site, you can always check out our Best of 2010 or 2009 to get a feel. We’re trying to make this easy for you; you can contact us here, or leave a comment, or for maximum amusement, CALL US at (530) 763-3477. That’s (530) 763-DISS, by the way, and that’s a real number. If we get any juicy messages, we’ll post the audio files when we come back in a week. Oh, and to really show your love, you can always donate via PayPal. We’re not profitable, but we’re not non-profit either, so don’t get excited about your tax break. Read the rest of this entry »

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