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1

John Cage in a Bell

Self explanatory, really.

3

Go personal hygiene products

I was thinking about the functions of personal hygiene products and how kind of weird they are. These two would definitely top the list of my current favorites…

How about you?

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Piling on Santorum

No, not like that. Yikes, get your minds out of the butt-butter gutter, would you? I’m talking about Ricky-boy’s fifth place finish in New Hampshire yesterday — just behind Newt Gingrich. (And believe me: nobody wants to be just behind Newt Gingrich, least of all Rick Santorum.)

It’s a tough, uhh, pill to swallow after a virtual first place tie in Iowa last week, and even tougher when you factor in how Romney, a Mormon, also earned 45 percent of the Catholic vote, while Santorum, a Catholic, earned a mere eight percent.

So there’s that.

There’s also this: a video of Santorum getting booed during a Q&A session in New Hampshire last week after a convoluted tête-à-tête about marriage rights:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

His personal beliefs aside, I actually think Santorum conducts himself rather well during the affair, remaining reasonable and open to discussion despite the pointed nature of the questions. On top of which, his interrogator — who had already been munching on word salad up until that point — totally pussies out when Rick responds with the “totally wacky” counterexample of, (basically), “Hey, if two men should be allowed to marry, then why not three men, if being happy and not hurting anyone are the main criteria for marriage?” (Totally wacky, right??) Anyway, the reason I mention the video is not because, against all odds, Santorum isn’t wearing a sweater vest in it, but because it’s basically yet another long-winded example of his (and many other people’s) easily encapsulated view that marriage is an inviolable biblical construct between a man and a woman, end of story.

Or, to put it another, catchier way:

There are two major problems with this vaguely clever bon mot, however:

1) Most inviolable biblical constructs were violated long ago. Behold, a fantastic infographic from r/atheism Redditor and brilliant pseudonym selector, jesusonadinosaur

Why don’t you ever hear anyone defending these thousand-year-old traditions! Rapists deserve a new toaster too, don’t they?

2) While I guarantee that I’m not the first person to bother pointing this out, it’s worth reiterating that, even if you only tote such rhyming signage as an approximate illustration (rather than a literal indication) of your interpretation of Genesis, by explicitly advertising such views vis-a-vis the first man and woman on earth, you are simultaneously implicitly supporting incest. Don’t look at me like that: it’s a simple fact that, if Adam and Eve really were the first and only people around at the time, then their children would have had to have a ton of hot brother-on-sister sex in order to populate the planet. But hey, I’m not here to judge. If you want to embrace incest over homosexuality, go right ahead. Hell, you’d certainly be in good company, since God himself obviously subscribes to the adage that, “If you can’t keep it in the pants, keep it in the family.” He could have avoided the whole debacle if he’d just kept breathing life into clay after creating Adam, but I guess he thought it was more important to take a day off instead. Remind you of any other powerful bodies…Congress??? 

1

Carey Price’s puppy-dog eyes: A Habs fan’s lament

Holy Jesus, it’s a sad time to be a Montreal Canadiens fan. The team is in shambles, fights are breaking out in practice, our interim head coach can’t speak French and Francophone protesters are up in arms, our captain has been injured for several months and now appears to be re-injured and we can’t win a jeezeless game. Our record is 16-19-7, and we are 12th out of 15 in our division. Yuck.

It’s also a sad day to be Carey Price. Last night his former backup goalie-turned-rival-turned-usurper came back for his first game in Montreal on the opposing team, the St. Louis Blues, and got a pretty sweet shutout. He was also named first star of the game and got a standing ovation from Montreal fans.

I am fascinated with the dynamic between two young, talented goalies on the same team (the Washington Capitals from 2009-2011 come to mind with Varlamov and Neuvirth battling for the starting role until Varly got sent packing to Colorado). Montreal had an interesting couple of years with all the back and forth between Price and Halak. And even though Halak got unceremoniously shipped off to St. Louis, it still sucks to be Carey Price. Montreal fans like to turn on, well, anyone and everyone, when shit gets bad. And although Carey Price has not been near our biggest problem so far this season, he isn’t as hot as he could be. To say that people have high expectations for him would be an understatement –one of his early nicknames in the Montreal media was Jesus Price. The poor guy also has the saddest eyes of any goalie I’ve ever seen. He looks like a kicked puppy.

 

What’s it going to take for this team to turn it all around? I have no idea. Firing the General Manager would be a good start. They will probably all get turned into paraplegicstomorrow night when they play the Bruins, so does it even matter? Still, I refuse to bear the indignity of not making the playoffs. That would be too much for my sad little Habs fan heart to take

Interjection by Ben: Not making the playoffs will break your heart? Honey, try being a Raptors fan.

2

Ol Dirty Bastard was Gangster as Fuck

See here and especially here.

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Class consciousness is

Jeez….

As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronic’s Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensationreports English news site Want China Times. It’s not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven’t lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things.

The most recent This American Life has a long segment on the working conditions at Foxconn (and companies like it). Worth a listen.

Also relevant: Jia Zhangke’s movies. He gets to the human in the bleak reality of being a worker in the new China. ‘Specially Still Life, though I’ve heard The World is also good.

2

Feel the Huntsmentum!

Brendan somehow scored tickets to the Jon Huntsman gala in New Hampshire tonight, so we’re going to drive up to Manchester and sit in a bar surrounded by Republicans for the evening. I’ll have a full write-up tomorrow, but can I just mention that it’s a bit weird that the Google auto-fill for “Jon Huntsman” suggests “Jon Huntsman daughters”? I mean, that’s a bit weird, right?

It is.

Anyway, it should be fun. If I remain sober (unlikely) I’ll try to interview some people. If I get drunk, I’ll just harangue everyone. Priorities!

1

Service to kill for

Freedom in a can!

Apparently, all it takes these days to be pardoned for murder is a little Pledge — and no, I don’t mean a pledge saying that you won’t do it again; I mean the actual cleaning product.

According to MSNBC,

Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has pardoned at least four convicted killers who worked at the Governor’s Mansion, including a man who was denied parole less than two weeks ago.

[...]

In the executive orders Barbour signed, he wrote each “proved to be a diligent and dedicated workman.”

[...]

The former inmates are David Gatlin, convicted of killing his estranged wife in 1993; Joseph Ozment, convicted in 1994 of killing a man during a robbery; Anthony McCray, convicted in 2001 of killing his wife; Charles Hooker, sentenced to life in 1992 for murder; and Nathan Kern, sentenced to life in 1982 for burglary after at least two prior convictions.

You can read the article for the details surrounding each of the brutal murders, but trust me when I say that it only exacerbates the redonkulous-ness of the situation — especially when you factor in the information that, under Barbour, Mississippi has also executed nine murderers in the last six years. But hey, what else would you expect from a Republican, right?

Oh…

Democrats were quick to condemn the pardons, though past governors from both parties have granted some sort of early release to the inmates who lived and worked at the Governor’s Mansion.

“Serving your sentence at the Governor’s Mansion where you pour liquor, cook and clean should not earn a pardon for murder,” Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, posted Monday on his Facebook page.

[...]

Barbour’s three predecessors, dating back to 1988, gave some type of early release or pardon to a total of 12 Governor’s Mansion trusties. All but two of them had been convicted of murder. One was serving time for forgery and another for armed robbery and aggravated assault. [emphasis my own]

I don’t know what “trusties” are (sounds like a low-end adult diaper brand), but anyone following Barbour’s career over the years shouldn’t be surprised. From Radley Balko’s two-year-old Slate article on a similar subject:

Over the last two years [2007-2009], as reported by the Jackson Free PressBarbour has pardoned, granted clemency to, or suspended the sentences of at least five convicted murderers, four of whom killed their wives or girlfriends. Those four are:

  • Bobby Hays Clark, who in 1996 shot his ex-girlfriend in the neck and beat her boyfriend with a broom handle. Clark, who had a previous aggravated assault conviction, was sentenced to 38 years. Barbour pardoned him last year without notifying the family of Clark’s victim.
  • Michael David Graham, who in 1989 shot his ex-wife point-blank with a shotgun while she waited at a traffic light. Barbour suspended Graham’s life sentence, and he was released.
  • Clarence Jones, who stabbed his ex-girlfriend 22 times in 1992. She had previously filed multiple assault and trespassing charges against him. He was sentenced to life in prison. Barbour pardoned him last year.
  • Paul Joseph Warnock, who in 1989 shot his girlfriend in the back of the head as she slept. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1993. Barbour pardoned him last year.

Barbour also pardoned William James Kimble, convicted and sentenced to life for robbing and murdering an elderly man in 1991.

None of these men were pardoned because of concerns that they didn’t receive a fair trial or could be innocent. Instead, all five were enrolled in a prison trusty program that had them doing odd jobs around the Mississippi governor’s mansion. Responding to backlash when Barbour suspended Graham’s sentence, a spokesman for Barbour told the Free Press, “Historically, Governors have reviewed cases like that of Michael Graham, whose conduct as a prisoner earned him the right to work as a trusty at the Governor’s Mansion, where he has performed well and proven to be a diligent workman. The Governor is giving him a chance through an indefinite suspension of his sentence to start a new life away from Pascagoula and Jackson County, pending his future good behavior.”

Yeah! Fuck the murdered! Why should I have no life just because they don’t, right?

Take us home, Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps:

“I have sympathy and empathy for the victims,” Epps said. “I’ve been a crime victim, but the point of the matter is this is just something that happens.”

Almost makes you want to break in to song…

I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the floors I mopped
Which is why you pardoned me
And I gladly stand UP next to you
Since I’m no longer in jail-y
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I luv this guv
God Bless that Barbour, Haley!

0

But what does Todd Palin think?

Hey, everyone, guess what! Todd Palin announced his super-official Republican Presidential endorsement today! You know what that means? It means that our Very Serious press corps is all over this story like white on rice, or brown on rice, or yellow on rice. It really depends what kind of rice you’re eating! (Hint: this rice makes you go blind, bleed internally, and is not FDA approved):

Sarah Palin’s husband is endorsing Newt Gingrich for president, Todd Palin told ABC News today.

But Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and John McCain’s 2008 Republican running mate, has yet to decide “who is best able to go up against Barack Obama,” Todd Palin said.

Palin said he has not spoken to Gingrich or anyone from the former House speaker’s campaign. But he said he respects Gingrich for what he went through in the 1990s and compared that scrutiny in public life to what Sarah Palin went through during her run for the vice presidency.

Todd Palin said he believes that being in the political trenches and experiencing the highs and lows help prepare a candidate for the future and the job of president.

He did not criticize any of the other candidates and said his “hat is off to everyone” in the Republican race.

THIS IS NEWS, PEOPLE! BREAKING NEWS! Where to begin?

FIRST OF ALL, we’re talking about Todd Palin. He is Sarah Palin’s husband. In that capacity he has gone snowmobiling, fathered 16 children, and , uh, lived in Alaska. Maybe he caught some fish, too, I dunno. Anyway, so this is obviously a very big deal, know what I mean? It would be like asking Pat Nixon who she endorsed, except that her endorsement, by virtue of being delivered from the grave, would carry a little more gravitas, even if it was anonymously sourced, due to an aide’s “inability to speak about the matter on the record, since Pat Nixon is dead and the endorsement was revealed to a shaman deep in the Ecuadorean rainforest, who then communicated it via a translator while both were high on peyote and firewater.” Or something. You get what I’m saying. This is a big deal. Todd Palin just endorsed Newt Gingrich, y’all. Wise the fuck up.

SECONDLY, this? “[Todd Palin] respects Gingrich for what he went through in the 1990s and compared that scrutiny in public life to what Sarah Palin went through during her run for the vice presidency” — this might be the most important statement from an American politician since the Monroe Doctrine. THAT WAS IN 1820, PEOPLE! WE’VE GOT A JUGGERNAUT ON OUR HANDS! Clearly, what Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich endured in their time in the public spotlight was shameful, shameful. I mean, people HELD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR SHIT! That’s insanity! What kind of country do we live in, a communist one?

Didn’t think so, librul media.

THIRDLY, “hats off to everyone” in the Republican field? Even Mitt Romney? That guy’s practically a socialist. I’ll excuse it, because it’s Todd Palin, and as mentioned, he just delivered the 21st century equivalent of the Emancipation Proclamation, but by golly if I’m not a bit flummoxed. Flummoxed, I say. Mitt Romney will be the death of the Republican party, the American way, apple pie, moms, fetuses, and God Him or Herself. Okay, Himself (what am I, a lesbian?), but you get the picture. At least, I hope you do. Todd Palin is the picture, and he just caught fifty pounds of salmon with his bare hands, strutted up to the cold Alaskan beach front with his shirt off, and endorsed Newt Gingrich for President. Now is not the time to let your guard down, even if he did take his hat off for Mitt Romney.

FOURTHLY, another excerpt:

Gingrich’s ability to overcome the obstacle and still move up in the polls showed his ability to campaign and survive, according to Todd Palin, who said Gingrich is not one of the typical “beltway types” and that his campaign has “burst out of the political arena and touched many Americans.”

Do you know what I think of when I think about the phrase “beltway type”? I think about Levi Strauss, and Lee, and Calvin Klein, and Osh-Kosh-b-Gosh. I think about jeans, because when I wear jeans I wear a belt, and the “way” to be the “type” of person who wears “belts” is to wear jeans. But I never see Newt Gingrich in jeans. Have you ever seen Newt Gingrich in jeans? I have not. Oh, sure, maybe he’s worn them once or twice, but certainly not enough to be called a “belt” “way” “type.” I mean, the guy’s a former Speaker of the House, lobbyist, and current Presidential candidate. If that’s what a “belt” “way” “type” is, you can sign me right up. It’s better than wearing jeans, that’s for sure.

LASTLY, Sarah Palin. I’ll tell you what, I admire her restraint. The Republican field this year has been a little bit like a game of hot potato. It’s smart not to commit to a candidate too rashly. It would be embarrassing, after all, if she bet all her money on the Romney potato and the Santorum potato exploded into a slick, white mash. She has to show caution and resolve. She has to act Presidential. If she’s going to go around the country pretending to run for President for the rest of her life, after all, she may as well know the part. What I’m saying: hedge your bets, Sarah. Choose wisely!

The end.

(via)

0

Tastes-Like-Ass Burgers

For me, one of the most entertaining and disgusting parts of Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Super Size Me, came at the very end when he compared the decomposition rates of various McDonald’s items with a “real” hamburger and fries.


Which is why I wasn’t that surprised today to come across a piece from the National Post (from 12/29/11) showing nutritionist Melanie Hesketh’s one-year-old McDonald’s cheeseburger looking little worse for the wear after 12-plus months of open air exposure.

Whenever Melanie Hesketh’s kids get a hankering for junk food, all she has to do is point to the kitchen counter.

That’s where she keeps an unwrapped cheeseburger that turns one on Thursday, and it looks pretty much the same as the day it came off a McDonald’s grill.

Mould, maggots, fungi, bacteria — all have avoided the tempting meal that sits in plain view.

“Obviously it makes me wonder why we choose to eat food like this when even bacteria won’t eat it,” said Ms. Hesketh.

The meat patty has shrunk a bit, but it still looks edible and, with a faint but lingering greasy, leathery odour, she said it “still smells slightly like a burger . . . it hasn’t changed much.”

Gross, right? Yeah, totally — but perhaps for reasons having little to do with McDonald’s. Enter SCIENCE!!!1!

According to a 2010 article by J. Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats,

The problem with coming to that conclusion, of course [that McDonald's hamburgers don't rot], is that if you are a believer in science (and I certainly hope you are!), in order to make a conclusion, you must first start with a few observable premises as a starting point with which you form a theorem, followed by a reasonably rigorous experiment with controls built in place to verify the validity of that theorem.

Thus far, I haven’t located a single source that treats this McDonald’s hamburger phenomenon in this fashion. Instead, most rely on speculation, specious reasoning, and downright obtuseness to arrive at the conclusion that a McDonald’s burger “is a chemical food[, with] absolutely no nutrition.”

As I said before, that kind of conclusion is both sensationalistic and specious, and has no place in any of the respectable academic circles which A Hamburger Today would like to consider itself an upstanding member of.

Read the article for all the juice-free details, but the bottom line is, after 25 days:

Turns out that not only did the regular McDonald’s burgers not rot, but the home-ground burgers did not rot either. Samples one through five had shrunk a bit (especially the beef patties), but they showed no signs of decomposition. What does this mean?

It means that there’s nothing that strange about a McDonald’s burger not rotting. Anyburger of the same shape will act the same way. The real question is, why?

Well, here’s another piece of evidence: Burger number 6, made with no salt, did not rot either, indicating that the salt level has nothing to do with it.

[...]

by the end of 2 weeks, both the regular burgers and the Quarter Pounders ended up losing about 31% of their total weight and are pretty much stable.

[...]

the burger doesn’t rot because it’s small size and relatively large surface area help it to lose moisture very fast. Without moisture, there’s no mold or bacterial growth. Of course, that the meat is pretty much sterile to begin with due to the high cooking temperature helps things along as well. It’s not really surprising. Humans have known about this phenomenon for thousands of years. After all, how do you think beef jerky is made?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy a Slim Jim.

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