Before watching Obama's speech last night, I was on the phone with my mom. My mom does not like Barack. She is not a Barack supporter. She is one of those Hillary supporter's you hear about that don't want to vote for Barack for some crazy reason or another. "He's an empty suit," she says. "Change? What does that mean? It's all empty rhetoric," she says. "No, it's not because I'm a bitter, bitter woman," she says.
I think Obama might have overheard our conversation, because about halfway through his speech, he said this: "So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President."
He then proceeded to run down a laundry list of specific policy positions that embody his idea of "Change." Because I am an obsessive one-issue voter, I zoned in on this part of the speech:
"[I]n ten years, we will
finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East."
More empty rhetoric, or actually possible?
Let's look carefully at what he said. He is not promising to eliminate our dependence on oil, or even our dependence on foreign oil. He is specifically pledging to eliminate oil imports from the Middle East.
(Quick aside: I suspect in the next day or so we'll see a clarification that says he wants to eliminate oil consumption equal to that of current Middle East import levels, as opposed to any type of import embargo from these countries. Stay tuned.)
"Last year, the United States imported about 10 million barrels of oil a day, of which about 20 percent came from the Persian Gulf states."
To eliminate Middle East oil imports, we would need to reduce imports by 2 million barrels of oil every day. Guess what? We don't need any new untested technology, or to all buy electric cars, or to start bike commuting. This is completely achievable through increased fuel efficiency standards alone.
The average American uses 500 gallons of gas every year to travel 12000 miles, or an average of 24 miles per gallon. A reduction of 2 million barrels a day, at 42 gallons per barrel, translates into a per-American reduction of about 110 gallons. 390 gallons to travel those same 12000 miles yields a fuel efficiency of 31 miles per gallon.
Obama could have said, "In 10 years, we will end our dependence on oil." Period. Al Gore said something similar recently (he actually called for an end to dependence on all fossil fuels, not just oil). That is an honorable goal, and a desirable goal, but in the real world, it does not appear to be an achievable goal.
In fact, here is someone saying that he set the bar too low. Here's another that says he set the bar too high. That makes me think he got it just right.
Hey, did you know that The Colbert Report is better than The Daily
Show? It's true. No use arguing about it now - especially since I'm
the one with the blog, so mine is the opinion that matters. Anyway: as
part of my daily ritual of bathing myself in all things Colbert, I came
across this picture. You The Daily Show sycophants might also
recognize another former correspondent in this photo, taken in their
Second City days.
["Dear Prudence" is published every Thursday on Slate.com. For the original column, click here.]
Dear Prudence OC, When I married my wife, our wedding
vows sure didn't cover this. In 2005, she and I were both arrested for
shoplifting for drug money (obviously, we both had drug problems) and
were given probation. I took that opportunity to clean up my act. Now
I've been sober for three years and have put my life back into some
semblance of order. It hasn't been as easy for her. She has continued
to indulge in this behavior (she told me very candidly she didn't want
to stop) and managed to get arrested again on a shoplifting charge a
year and a half ago. I thought that would be her wakeup call, but I
guess not. On our eighth wedding anniversary, my wife was arrested for
felony shoplifting again! She is looking at a minimum of one to five
years in prison. Her probation has been violated this time, so if I
bail her out, she'll be immediately rearrested. I am confused as to
what to do now. Should I wait for her or start consulting divorce
lawyers? Would it be wrong to start seeing people while she's locked
up? I love my wife deeply, but five years is a long time, and by the
time she gets out we'll both be almost 40.
It seems to me that your mind is made up. The options you present are consulting divorce lawyers, or just skipping that part and going right to the dating (it's not like she's going to walk in on you while you are with someone else, amirite?)
So, was she still shoplifting to finance her drug habit? Did she do these drugs in the house? While you were around? I'm just sort of confused. If someone I lived with was doing drugs in the house, I'd like to think I would have done more than shrug my shoulders, wait for her to get arrested, and then start dating other women. Whatever - if you are looking for a rubber stamp to divorce your wife, go for it. I bet you are a real catch.
Dear Prudence OC, My husband and I have recently begun
taking classes in order to join the Catholic Church. We have met many
kind and friendly people in our parish, but one couple in particular
has made us feel very uncomfortable. They are very "huggy" in an
over-the-top way. We have tried turning hugs into handshakes and
standing back when they hover over us, but they don't seem to be taking
the hint. Alarm bells are starting to go off, as the wife patted my
husband's rear end at a recent luncheon and the husband stood so
uncomfortably close to me that I had to keep backing away from him. We
are in our 40s and this couple is in their 70s! They are long-standing
church members and we are newcomers, so we don't want to be rude or
make a fuss. She is my church sponsor but hasn't once made any effort
to help lead me on my spiritual journey. This whole issue is making us
want to throw in the towel and find another church. How do we tactfully
bring these issues up with our priest without sounding like we are
complaining or trying to rat out geriatric philanderers?
Holy shit, you have to take classes to join the Catholic Church? You'd think that the pedophilia and social backwardness would have been enough of a barrier to entry without a goddamn class to take. Anyway: you've made quite a leap from hugging and the occasional ass-pat to geriatric philanderers. Is this a church thing? Is a hearty handshake with eye contact considered second base to you people?
I would suggest chilling the fuck out. And, as a side note: if you need advice on how to deal with someone's inappropriate touching, isn't a Catholic priest the last person you would want to ask?
Dear Prudence OC, I am a first-time mother of a
6-week-old baby. Last night, when I went to watch a movie on our home
computer, something much saucier came up on the screen--porn. I went to
our browser history and found that my husband had been looking at porn
quite regularly for weeks. I confronted him, and he admitted to four
weeks' worth--when our baby was only 2 weeks old! He apologized and said
that he was embarrassed and knew it was wrong. I'm shocked, disgusted,
and feel betrayed. I'm up with the baby all night, and he's having a
party downstairs. But maybe I should just chalk it up to "boys will be
boys" behavior. Having just had a child, our intimacy is, of course,
compromised, but it's not going to get much better after this
discovery. Do we need counseling, or do I need to chill out?
-Mother of a Newborn Against Porn
If you looked at my browser history I bet your head would explode! Your husband is a liar, natch. He has not suddenly discovered the world of online pornography in the last 4 weeks. By any chance, is that how far back your browser history goes? It's not a coincidence - he's just only copping to whatever porno you can prove.
Side note: I think the exclamation "--when our baby was only 2 weeks old!" is my favorite part of any letter I have answered to date. Why is this detail pertinent? Do you think that, when your husband was looking at pornography while there was such a young child in the house, his perverted brainwaves were radiating outwards and infecting the still-developing brain of your child?
Back to the issue: I'll give you the same advice I gave to the last letter - Chill. The. Fuck. Out. Chillthefuckout. You've been pregnant for 9 months, and then the baby has been there for 6 weeks. During that time you've probably let him see you naked, what, 3 times? Maybe?
Have you seen the show Generation: Kill? You should watch it. These guys are out in the desert, getting shot at, sleeping 4 hours a night if they are lucky, and do you know what they do with their free time? They have sing-alongs and jerk it. It's called a combat jack. And that's it. That is all guys care about. Your husband? He's been in the desert of baby, getting shot at with your pregnant craziness for the last 9 months. All he wants to do is have a sing-along and a combat jack. Don't take that away from him. Hey, at least he's not out chasing skirts, amirite?
Dear Prudie OC, My mother and I were involved in a
car accident about a month ago. Mom was seriously injured and fractured
her ribs. She is at home recovering, and I have been working from home
to look after her. We have no other family nearby. Friends and
acquaintances have been kind enough to visit often to cheer us up as
well as offer help and support. However, I am unsure how much I am
expected to entertain these visitors given the circumstances. Prior to
the accident, if anyone unexpectedly arrived at my home at lunch- or
dinnertime, I would have offered them a meal and served drinks and
snacks. I haven't been doing that, and I feel guilty that I am unable
to entertain and feed visitors who have to come to show their support.
Am I rude if I don't offer lunch or dinner to visitors who arrive
Sorry, I'm not answering this question until you make me a sandwich.
Okay, fine, you get advice, but only a little. If you aren't eating, then it isn't rude. If your are fixing dinner for yourself or your mom, ask them if they'd like some. Also: don't send questions like this to Prudence. Send them to Miss Manners. She's the best.
The old one was okay, but it was too difficult to update. I take new pictures all the time, and I wanted them to be available without the tedious work required to make the old one work. This nicely coincided with my recent re-interest in social networking and cloud computing (by which I mean that I signed up for Facebook and thought it was neat).
Now, the pictures on the photography page will change whenever I upload new ones. Search by tag and see a slideshow, or click on an individual thumbnail to get a larger image.
A thousand humble thank yous to new Obscure friend Mark Carey at MT-Hacks for the Flickr Photos plugin that generates the thumbnails, and to Dan Steingart who wrote the PHP script that generates the tag cloud.
The democratic process has been taking some hits lately. One wonders if it can survive.
True democracy relies on decisions that are made through the will of the people. The first, and most famous blow came in 2000, when popular-vote winner Al Gore was denied the presidency by a 5-4 poll of a much smaller electing body. Such failures at the top of our society have a trickle-down effect. The results have been seen in Kenya, Georgia, and now, on ObscureCraft.
The vote to name Rose's kitties ran down party lines. A 5-5 split. Buffy and Willow, or Nine and Eleven? The electorate was undecided, and what could have been a decisive vote was cast for Oprah and Gayle as a third-party candidate. The decision was then sent to the ObscureCraft Supreme Court, Honorable Judge Rose presiding.
Buffy and Willow? Nine and Eleven? Which way would the court decide? The decision is in. And in what amounts to the most unbelievable disregard for the democratic process this commentator has ever seen, the kitties are now named... Q and Z.
Naturally, you are all outraged by this miscarriage of justice. First of all, these are not even names. Cue and Zee are at least names. Q and Z are Scrabble tiles. And sure, they may be worth 10 points each, but is anybody ever really happy to see them? Give me an H or a W anyday of the week.
I take a certain amount of blame for this debacle. After all, the answer was right in front of me. The correct choice of kitty names was obviously Ellen and Portia.
(I'd say more about this picture but I'm afraid of attracting the wrong kind of Google search traffic.)
I encourage all those who are outraged to petition their local congressman for congressional hearings on the matter, or, failing that, to take part in the new ObscureCraft poll on the right.
I don't want to come across as a stalker, but Simon Pegg and I should probably be best friends. We have so much in common! He likes zombie movies. I like his zombie movie. He's British. My wife likes British accents. And I can't go anywhere without getting into fake gunfights.
This show proves, much like Seinfeld did, that sitcoms can be great as long as the com is good, no matter how stupid the sit. Two strangers in need of a place to live meet, and pretend to be a couple so that the landlady will rent them a "flat". As far as premises go, it's not particularly compelling.
And Spaced would not have been as good if it was on American television. Nothing on American TV looks, sounds, or feels anything like it. The guys behind this show are incredibly pop culture literate, and they filter all their geekiness into every frame. Where would something like this be on the air in America?
Anybody can make jokes about Star Wars, though. Star Wars jokes are easy these days. There has to be something more. And this show has it in a cast of characters that you get to know in a relatively short amount of time. They only made 2 British-sized seasons of the show, meaning you get barely 8 hours of screen time with the cast. Spaced makes the most of its short run time with incredible economy. Consider this scene, which introduces the character of Tyres. The music, dialogue, editing, and direction tell you everything about the character within 30 seconds.
This brings me to my favorite part of Spaced: the way it looks. The combination of shot-on-video cheapness and the incredible cinematic direction of Edgar Wright creates the feeling of something made by a very well talented group of friends, rather than a professional television production. A group of friends that I should hang out with. But I'm not a stalker or anything.
Now that the Olympics are over, it is time to turn my attention to more pressing issues. It is now time to get everyone I know to move to Texas. The first friend I've decided to separate from the herd is Jim. I realized today that the time to make my move was right when I heard this story on NPR today on my way home.
TOP TRUCKERS COMPETE IN HOUSTON
"Nearly 400 professional truck drivers from all over the country are in Houston. They're competing in the annual Truck Driving Championship."
Jim, Texas is the kind of place where they talk about Truck Driving Championships on NPR. National Public Motherfucking Radio has stories about truck driving.
And the event itself is everything you can imagine. There are cheerleaders. For trucking. And den mothers. What do the den mothers do? I have no idea. But they got some.
Truckers compete in eight - yes, eight - different classes of trucks. Straight truck, 3-axle, 4-axle, 5-axle, Twins, 5-Axle Sleeper & Auto Transporter, Tank Truck, and Flatbed.
And don't be late, or else you'll miss the Parade of Equipment at 8 am sharp on Saturday!
The closing ceremonies aren't until Sunday, but I hereby declare the Olympics over.
Michael Phelps is done swimming. Misty May and Keri Walsh are done playing volleyball in their skimpy underpants. And Usain Bolt has... well... bolted (couldn't help it) into and out of our lives. Last night, I was subjected to another 2 hours of platform diving at THE WATERCUBE (TM) before we finally got to some games I could be interested in. And by then I was too tired to read the matchup of China and USA in the women's beach volleyball gold medal match as an allegory for our inevitable conflict fighting over the last remaining scraps of oil under the desert in the Middle East.
So, with the closing of my interest in this Olympic games, so too comes the shuttering of the Obscure Olympic spotlight. We end our travels with Lin Dan, the Bad Boy of Badminton, and, as far as I can tell, all around douchebag.
During the gold medal match in men's singles, Dan, who is the number one ranked player in badminton-crazed China, put on a show against his opponent; a show of bratty petulance, that is! Oh snap! He was constantly delaying the game, insisting on a change of shuttlecock (hehe), pointing and gesturing at the line when he disputed a call (which was frequently), pumping his fist and screaming in Chinese, and overall showing up his opponent.
I'm not against showboating in general. In fact, when done right, a proper amount of showmanship can add to the enjoyment of an event (yes, I'm still talking about Usain Bolt - he is amazing!) But watching Lin Dan play badminton turned me into Joe Buck.
Lin Dan's poor sportsmanship on the court is only rivaled by his asshattery off the court. Want to find some examples, other than the fact that his blog had two different pictures of himself putting cologne on in front of a mirror? Honestly, you do not need to look very hard.
Lin's most recent public bust-up was with South Korea's Chinese coach Li Mao in January. During a defeat to Lee Hyun-il, Lin threw his racket in Li's direction after protesting a line call awarding a match point to Lee. Lin refused to apologize for his outburst, saying Li was insulting him in Chinese."
"In April, Lin was forced to deny on his blog newspaper reports that he had punched his coach Ji Xinpeng in training."
"Lin has also had some famous public spats with the Athens champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. It has been written before: Lin Dan is Chinese for John McEnroe."
This last fact is not accurate. Lin Dan does not translate as John McEnroe. It actually translates as "I'm a spoiled douchebag who thinks the fact that I'm good at what is, ultimately, a pretty retarded sport makes me better than you, and I live in a country that reinforces this inflated view of myself." (It really is amazing how much meaning the Chinese language can pack into each word.)
Despite my distaste, Dan is huge in China. He is, after all, the best player in China's most popular sport. He is dating the number one female player, and an entire generation of Chinese girls is absolutely dewy for him. This only confirms a sneaking suspicion I've had: Chinese people are all jerks.
One of the problems with having friends who are very Internet savvy is that, anytime I discover something cool floating through the series of tubes, I run the risk mockery. "Wow, Jesse, you just found this? I already looked at, was sarcastic about, and dismissed this internet fad 6 months ago. Here's something else you might find interesting. It's called fire, it's the latest thing."
My friends are jerks. But I will, nonetheless, continue to stumble through this barren Internet landscape and run back to show you all anytime I find some particularly shiny rock. Today's shiny rock? This:
There are "artists" kicking around the nets that post original work in this format, but composing an original piece in Mario Paint is an exercise in futility. Who with any ability to actually write a piece of music worth listening to would use this as their medium? And who would want to listen? No, the true Mario Paint geniuses are the ones that interpret popular music in this limited format.
I call it the Karaoke Effect. Nobody wants to hear assholes in a bar sing an original composition. It would be terrible. But I'd rather watch four drunk girls stumble through Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" than actually listen to the real thing. The same is true with these songs: most of the best Mario Paint compositions are based on terrible, terrible music. Take On Me? What is Love? And yet, the same song composed with toy boats and power-ups from the Mario series is hypnotic.
Even better? Every once in awhile at the karaoke bar, a really good singer shows up and actually gives a performance that can be enjoyed on its merits.
This may surprise you, but this website does not take up all of my free time. I have other creative pursuits. One of my recent endeavors was the development of a graphic novel about a Jamaican superhero with super speed. After a lengthy process, I finally hit upon a name for my hero's alter-ego that reflected both the nature of his super power and his country of origin.
Well fuck me in the ass, cause it turns out Usain Bolt already exists. That name may go down as maybe the best aptronym of all time, rivaled only by Chuck Long and Thomas Crapper.
Bolt completely demolished the rest of the field in the 100m sprint, the winner of which is dubbed "The World's Fastest Man." The video is on NBC.com here, and I demand that you watch it, despite the fact that you'll probably have to install a plugin, watch a commercial, and otherwise go through the type of pain that makes me loathe to watch any non-YouTube internet clip.
Incredible, right? He runs maybe 70 meters, looks to his left, looks to his right, realizes he is way out in front of the field, and starts slowing down. He stretches out his hands and begins soaking in his victory. He pumps his chest. And he still hasn't crossed the finish line yet. And despite the showboating, the premature celebration, and the fact that he is slowing down before he even finishes the race, he destroys his own world record time.
What is the parallel here? Michael Phelps finishing a freestyle race doing the doggie paddle? Maybe a marathoner running the last half mile backwards? Or an all-around gymnast doing a floor exercise consisting of nothing but cartwheels? Actually, it's all those things, except they would have to be named Michael Swimmer, Jack Runsfar, and Courtney Flips.
Rowing is not a sport. Neither, for that matter, is weightlifting. They are exercises. If rowing and weightlifting are sports, then running on a treadmill, using a stress ball, and Dance Dance Revolution are also sports. At least in weightlifting, though, there is the chance of doing horrible, horrible things to your arm.
In teams of two, rowing does at least acquire a modicum of sport-ness. In addition to repeating the mechanical motion of rowing that can be perfected on a rowing machine in the gym downstairs in my apartment complex/Olympic training facility, you must also work as a team to make sure that your rowing motion is synchronized.
However, this goes entirely out the window when the two rowers are twins. Why, you ask? Because of the scientifically documented fact that identical twins have a psychic link with each other. Look at this picture! It is terrifying. There are two of them, and they can read each others minds.
If there were triplets, would all three of them be allowed in the boat? Or would they be allowed to rotate a fresh rowing triplet in each time? How would you even know? Maybe... they are doing it right now...
"The identical twins, best known in the tech world for being two-thirds of the Harvard-founded startup that foisted an intellectual property lawsuit upon Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg..."
Two-thirds? TWO-THIRDS? I know what's going on here. Identical twins always like to use the fact that they are identical to switch places in class, have sexual intercourse with each others girlfriends, and then they can both deny paternity in court when she has a baby (I saw it on Law and Order). You cannot trust identical twins. You cannot even trust that there are only two of them.
Sure, I could, with a very little amount of research, determine that the third party to the lawsuit, along with the Winklevoss twins, was actually Divya Narendra, and the three all claim that they were Harvard students with Zuckerberg when he stole their code and business plan for a social networking website. Maybe that would be more reasonable than assuming that the unnamed individual was a mysterious third triplet that they trade off with during rowing meets.
This isn't about being reasonable, though. It's about teaching a lesson: you can never trust identical twins. Just as Mark Zuckerberg.
I can already hear the complaints now. "Ridiculous!" you say.
"How can you call the great Dmitry Sautin obscure?! He's only won the
most career medals of any diver in Olympic history!" And I won't
dispute that. In fact, I'll raise you one: not only is Dmitry Sautin
the most decorated diver in Olympic history, he is the most decorated
athlete in Olympic history who was ever almost stabbed to death in a street fight.
factoid was revealed to me during last night's Olympic broadast as
Sautin and his partner prepared for a dive in the men's springboard
synchronized diving competition, which I dutifully watched. Cynthia
Potter, the Olympic diving color commentator (and all-around bitch,
if you ask me) was highlighting the various injuries that Sautin has
suffered during his career as a diver. These include "...a knee
injury, chronic back pain, stab wounds to the stomach as a teenager, shoulder problems..."
Wait, what? Back that up for me please, dear.
stab wounds are unrelated to diving, obviously," Potter helpfully
added. She then went on to explain why the next dive, perfect to my
untrained eye, was actually perhaps the worst she had ever seen in
competition, and the two divers should be kneecapped before being
allowed to continue and sully the majestic sport of synchro diving. (I
might be exaggerating, but only a little).
So, how does one go from a blissful life as a world-class diver to a knife fight in the streets of Voronezh?
"Back in 1991, when he was 17, he became embroiled in an argument with the son of an official of the Soviet communist party."
Oops! But surely someone associated with the Soviet communist party wouldn't overreact to a simple argument, would they?
"His adversary pulled out a knife and stabbed the unarmed teenager four times in the stomach. Sautin
almost bled to death and spent two months in [the] hospital but the following
summer he was competing at the Barcelona Olympics and winning his first
Surely he had put all his serious medical trouble behind hi...never mind.
"In 2001 came news that he had been the victim of a botched hospital operation in Moscow two years previously. He
needed the operation because treatment for a back injury had left him
with an infection but during the operation, a local newspaper quoted
him as saying, 'they forgot to take out the dressing and sewed me up
just like that'."
Phil Dalhausser is an American beach volleyball player, and one of the most intimidating people I have ever seen.
He's 6 foot, 9 inches tall. He shaves his head to intimidate his opponents. His nickname is The Thin Beast. If they ever make a beach volleyball-themed horror movie, surely this man will be the killer, dispatching his victims by spiking a volleyball through their skulls.
His playing partner, Todd Rogers, is also his coach. The dynamic on the sand comes across as that of a man and his loyal pitbull who he has trained to ruthlessly tear out the throats of intruders.
During the match, we were told by the announcer that Todd Rogers as "unleashed the Beast", referring to instruction to Dalhausser that he should hit every serve as hard as he can and not worry about landing them in.
The Beast was unleashed. I winced every time their poor over-matched opponents from Argentina received one of these monstrous serves. I could almost feel the sting on my own arms.
During a typical match, you will see one defender block while the other steps back from the net. However, neither Argentinian player seemed willing to go to the net and attempt to block Dalhausser. They backpedaled furiously as he approached, the glare from his intimidating bald head blinding them as he attempted to lodge the volleyball in their faces with each mighty strike.
The only way he doesn't win a gold medal is if he kills one of his opponents with a spike on the court, or turns on his partner and tears him limb from limb in front of a horrified worldwide audience. Even then, I imagine him storming the podium, ripping the gold medal from the unfortunate winners, and screaming with rage as Chinese authorities attempt to subdue him with high-powered rifles and horse tranquilizers. Hmm. Now I kind of hope he loses.
Three things I loved from the Olympic men's trap shooting final yesterday (other than the fact that I was actually watching Olympic trap shooting):
1. The incredibly satisfying cloud of pink dust that explodes whenever a target is hit. It's reminiscent of, but not exactly like, the cloud of blood I imagine explodes from a duck when shot in a similar fashion.
2. When a shooter breaks open his shotgun after each shot, the empty shell launches itself out of the barrel. So often has the shooter performed this motion that he nonchalantly swats the shell out of midair directly into a disposal bucket next to him without a second glance.
3. Michael Diamond.
His introduction to my consciousness could not have been more jarring. As I idly chatted with the Suze, ignoring the (until now) droning commentary of the announcing team, some part of my brain was thankfully still listening, and caught this nugget.
"...punched her and pulled her hair..."
Wait, wha? Who did who to what in the what now? Thank Jebus for the rewind button.
Prior to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Australian shooting champion Diamond was accused of assault by his then-girlfriend and, tragically, lost his gun license for six months. The charges were eventually thrown out due to lack of evidence.
There is no worse fate for an Olympic-caliber shooter than to lose is gun license.
I imagine poor Michael Diamond sitting in his Australian home, going out to the trap shooting range he set up in back of his house. He pulls, the trap goes flying, and he pretends to shoot at it with the rifle he no longer has. Koalas and kangaroos, meanwhile, roam free over his property, mocking him in his unarmed state. He goes back into his house and watches the Die Hard trilogy, sobbing softly at all the sweet, beautiful gunplay.
A shooter without his gun... oh, so many penis metaphors to choose from! I am crippled with indecision. Luckily, the female half of the broadcasting team was there to put it all into perspective for us:
"I know Michael Diamond, and I was not surprise when these charges were dropped. But those six months of lost training without his gun license really hurt his ability to perform on the field."
99 times out of 100, I wouldn't take a second look at a game of water polo being played on my television. I probably wouldn't even stop flicking channels if I saw two chicks fencing. And if I saw a game of handball going on, I might stop long enough to say "what the fuck game is this?" before switching over to TNT for another episode of Law and Order.
But now is that special, 1% of the time when they slap a country next to each player's name, give out medals, and call it the Olympics. And that is a magical combination that makes me care about who wins a women's beach volleyball match between China and Greece (go Greece! WOOOO!)
And it isn't just the sport, either. While I hesitate to call myself unpatriotic, I do not usually react well to flag waving that isn't done by Steven Colbert. But last night, some American swimmer not named Michael Phelps was competing in a 400m medley heat, and when he qualified for the final, I was genuinely excited. The Olympics turns me into a flag-waving, French-hating, Arab-waterboarding American asshole.
And for two weeks every 2 years, it feels kind of good.
Bus wreck in Texas kills 13. Most or all of the people on the bus were from the Vietnamese Martyr Catholic Church. More of God's will, or just a bus accident? Or horribly offensive and heartless to bring it up when these people are still dealing with a tragedy? You decide.
The story of the young man who was stabbed to death while on a Greyhound bus is horrifying, without qualification. To me, there was a particular detail related in all the news accounts that has left me uncomfortable:
"According to reports, McLean had been listening to music and texting friends
and family, his cheek pressed against the window of the bus..." [emphasis mine]
It was this simple detail that brought the scene into a much sharper focus than I ever wanted to see it. I have assumed an identical posture on pretty much every bus, plane, or train ride I have ever taken. I think about riding home late on New Jersey Transit after a business trip, head against the window, headphones on, half-asleep and dead to the world...
I think I would find it particularly difficult to get comfortable now.
There are those, of course, that do not feel the same empathy for the fate of this young man. As always, where you see a tragedy, others see opportunity:
"An animal rights group has posted an ad on its website comparing the
recent stabbing and decapitation of a young Winnipeg man to how humans
kill animals for food.
"...'PETA's ad...is meant to spur people to think about the terror and pain
experienced by animals who are raised and killed for food. The group
aims to demonstrate that animals -- just like humans -- are made of
flesh, blood, and bone and deserve protection from needless killing,'
said a statement on PETA's website, also posted Wednesday."
Looks like someone at PETA's PR department was wearing their Bad Idea jeans on Wednesday.
"Hey, you know that 22-year-old kid that got beheaded by a psycho the other day? I was just thinking... we could exploit that for an ad campaign!"
Still, PETA gets a pass on this one, because they only got the silver in the Horrible Exploitation of a Tragedy derby this week. The winner? These guys:
"A fundamentalist church group from the U.S. has announced it plans to
picket the funeral of Tim McLean Jr. in Winnipeg, declaring, "God is
Led by pastor Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas issued a release saying they would picket McLean's funeral this weekend. Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said about seven church members are expected to come to Winnipeg.
"What we're doing is trying to connect dots," Phelps-Roper told Sun Media last night.
"We're trying to get you to see that your rebellion against the
standards of God, your disobedience to the commandments - your idols,
your false gods, your filthy ways have brought wrath upon your head,"
That's right, Canada! You think you are so fucking great with your gay marriage, legalized marijuana, national healthcare, gun control, low crime rate, and hockey. Well, now you are in for it. You see, hurricanes don't reach Canada, which is God's usual method of punishing sin. Instead, this time He had to be more creative. And boy was He ever! This is truly some of His finest work.
Remember Canada: from now on, anytime something bad happens anywhere in your country, it's His doing.
Obama sez: Drilling = fail, keeps ur tires inflated for gas savings bonanza! McCain sez: LOL, what a joke, drilling FTW!
So, is Obama out of his mind? Can proper tire inflation really save as much oil as we could get from all the proposed offshore drilling?
Recall from the previous Word Problems article you most likely didn't read that, at peak production (which would be anywhere from 10-20 years from now under any reasonable scenario), drilling from both the offshore sites and ANWR would pump about 2 million barrels of oil into the market every day against the 20 million barrels we use.
Now we have our benchmark, time for the hard part: how much oil could we really save with proper tire inflation and regular tune-ups?
This isn't research I'm prepared to do. Thankfully, the good folks over at the Department of Energy have done it for us on this website:
Properly inflating your tires is good for an additional 3% on your vehicle's fuel efficiency. A properly tuned engine is good for another 4%. A clogged air filter could be a 10% hit. And even the wrong motor oil can give you a 2% improvement.
Taken together, these car maintenance conservation techniques could save a worst-case driver 15%. Here, I'll throw a dart at a dartboard and call it at 5% improvement for the average driver.
The savings from tire gauges and car maintenance is slightly smaller than the 10% increase in available oil from the potential drilling, with one little caveat. Inflate your tires now, and you get the savings now. Start drilling right here, right now, and the savings don't start for a decade.
(Can we pause here so I can laugh at the spectacle of politicians insisting that Congress return from vacation to vote on drilling? Yeah, that 5 weeks is really going to make a difference moving forward with an energy plan that has a 10-20 year lead time. Does this bullshit really fool people?)
Unfortunately, it looks like this oil drilling talk is starting to take hold. According to recent surveys, 70% of Americans are in favor of more drilling. While I don't think it will solve any problems, and may result in an environmental disaster in the Gulf and/or the Alaskan wildlife refuge, that really is an environmental question, not an energy question.
Looking at it through the prism of achieving energy sustainability, and putting aside any environmental concerns: I say let 'em drill. Drill to your hearts content, motherfuckers. Drill in the Gulf, drill in ANWR, drill for oil in Teddy Roosevelt's head if you think it's there. Because, eventually, there won't be anymore places to drill for oil in, no more magic beans that would solve everything if mean old Nancy Pelosi would just let the American people have them. The excuses will run out, and the price of gas will be as high as ever. And then maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to make some progress, instead of this childish horseshit.
The spot: Two businessmen pedal up a hill on a gray morning. Another sits alone on a bus. A woman walks down a street past a man strapping on his helmet as he prepares to ride his Vespa-style scooter. A worker at a gas station is changing the price for petrol to 8.75 Euros. Now, a BMW powers up the street past the cyclists, bus rider, pedestrian, and scooter driver. All turn their heads to watch it pass. In voice-over we are told, "In Europe, high gas prices are nothing new." It then goes on to tell us that BMW offers four models with a fuel economy of 28 MPG or higher. The BMW then pulls into the parking lot for the Munich BMW Research and Innovation Center.
I've previously taken issue with a pair of insurancecompanies mocking the efforts of bike commuters in the face of high gas prices. BMW has taken this line of reasoning to its logical extreme.
Bike commuters? Pathetic. Bus riders? Losers. Pedestrians? Lame. And look at this fag on his Vespa! He's even wearing a helmet!
See, BMW understands the dangers of high gas prices. They really do. The danger is people will stop driving cars. Instead, they'll walk, or take mass transportation, or ride a bike. Or maybe they will drive a car, but it'll be a highly efficient scooter, or plug-in hybrid instead. It sure as shit won't be some gas-guzzling sports car.
28 miles per gallon is nice (it's better than I get in my car), but it doesn't come close to the 50 MPG per person on a city bus, or 70 MPG on a scooter, or the, uh, complete lack of fuel consumption walking or biking.
So why show these modes of transportation at all? Why bring up all these more fuel-efficient modes of travel in a commercial that purports to be all about fuel efficiency? Because, obviously, it isn't REALLY about the fuel efficiency. It's that these people not in cars are pathetic. Those guys in suits and ties on bikes look silly. The guy on the bus looks like he's one more bus ride from hanging himself. And the guy on the scooter looks like a douche, with his bright white scooter standing out from the background.
This ad is still all about appealing to the car-centric American buyer.
Last night, without warning, I was attacked by a cougar. Don't worry, I'm alright. The whole terrifying event was caught on film. Don't believe me? See for yourself.
Also caught on film? This and this.
To see more of the adventures of me, Kevin C-J, and the Suze at karaoke, click here.
PS: I just got around to listening to the most recent Bill Simmons podcast recorded before the trade deadline, where he spends 20 minutes on the phone with his friend and they talk about how the Red Sox would not trade Manny. At one point there was a 2 minute long exchange that went more or less like this:
7 players who have appeared in All-Star games, and 3 future Hall of Famers changed hands, but that's not what makes it the best trade deadline ever in Major League Baseball.
Only one thing really matters. Yes, the Yankees acquired a Hall of Fame catcher. Yes, the Angels got better and will now win the World Series. Whatever.
The only thing that matters is Manny Ramirez is no longer on the Red Sox. He's gone. Manny being Manny (read: Manny being an immature douche) is over. But more importantly, the utter torment and pain he has inflicted on my precious Yankees has finally ended.
Here is what Manny Ramirez has done against the Yankees for the last 3 years (167 at-bats):
a .407 batting average, a .772 slugging percentage, 17 home runs, 46 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .510. If you project that out to 500 at-bats (a typical season total), that translates into 50 home runs and 140 RBI.
I didn't know those numbers until I looked them up, but I didn't have to. I know from watching the games that ManRam absolutely creams us everytime he plays us, the same way you can tell who is winning a fight without counting punches. One guy looks fine, and the other guy is bleeding from the nose and mouth and part of his ear is missing. The Yankees never came out looking fine.
If I was a Red Sox fan, I would be furious. Manny owns the Yankees so hard, he should change his last name to Steinbrenner. And you gave him away, and along with it any chance to continue to compete with your arch-enemies. Jason Bay? Playa please. He was only an All-Star cause Pittsburgh had to have a representative by rule. You might as well have traded Manny for Pedro's midget.
And now he's gone to the National League, never to be heard from again.