's war on productivity, April.

It's a so-so Friday in Chicago. It's not nice enough to sneak out of work or call in sick, and it's too nice to be busy at the office. However it is just right to be at the office and dicking around on the internet. I assume this will be the same next week as well. Let us help you in this quest:

1) The New Yorker is currently doing a three part series on global warming, the first part of which is now available online. They sent a reporter up to parts in or near the North Pole to interview various scientists and what their research is yielding. They make their case by bringing in as many different types of evidence as possible. An excellent article.

2) South Park Character Generator. This is too much fun. Creating sketches of yourself and your friends will easily eat up too much of your time. Feel free to create little images of yourself and post image links in our comments section (I'm curious what you all look like out there). Here is what I look like:

The left image is what I look like right now; the right one is what I hope to look like this weekend.

You have to love this man for not only drawing each image himself, but also for including a Beers Jersey among the available shirts to wear. I mean this with no irony and complete sincerity – if you do not know where the Beers Jersey is from you are almost certainly a terrorist who hates freedom. Or at the very least, you shouldn't be at this webpage; you should probably be off exploring high-end avant-garde erotica instead.

2.5) Have you all heard about this South Park Conservative movement thing? Evidently the National Review crowd is pushing it (there's even a Jonah Goldberg quote on the cover). This isn't new – the episodes defending Starbucks and shrugging at the rain forests are from several years ago. I wonder if the book points out how hard they've hit up Mel Gibson and The Passion.

3) Speaking of ganging up on "the ruling liberal elite", the new chapter for the softcover edition of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank is available online. I wanted to do a "Best of 2004: Books of the Rural Midwest" column, as Frank's book and Gilead were the two books I finished and immediately flipped back to the first page and reread last year. Excellent stuff.

Entitled "What's the Matter with Liberals?", the extra chapter mostly goes over the 2004 election, and how the choice of Kerry and the disastrious campaign he ran played right into the Right's hands. To put it another way, as Hitchens said months before the election: "John Kerry [was a bad choice] because the Republican Party is a machine designed to beat prosperous liberals from Massachusetts."

Frank delights in beating up the Clinton era campaigning, with all the playing to the center, trying to sneak the affluent class out from under the Republicans, and useless advisors out-of-touch with anyone not writing them a check. I think this chapter, and the book itself, is mandatory reading for those on the left. It's consoling to think that Americans were too dumb, or racist, or that (my favorite I hear) Kerry's campaign "was too smart" (!), but consolation will only get you so far, and tough love is often better.

And he's funny as hell, in that perfect chicagoan way (I think he wrote most of the book while living here). And an addictive writer. The highest recommendations. Read away!

Beards: or how beat out the New York Times.

Did anyone else notice that the New York Times now has a Thursday Style section in addition to their Sunday Style page? I still think that Sunday section is one of the weakest things they do, but somewhat entertaining because they are always at least a year late reporting "up and coming trends" to the professional class.

For instance? January of this year brought us an article on mommy blogs, something that may have been news back in 2001; the first Thursday Style Section brought us an article on Corporate Suit attire coming back (read the first paragraph here for an excellent thought on that). But an article today really takes the cake: Men are growing beards again.

But you, faithful readers, already knew that, because you followed our very own Competetive Mustache Growth Series from last year. I'll let you in on a little in-joke at ginandtacos: people are always finding us from google searches on such things as "how to grow a beard"and other facial hair inquiries – we've even gotten some emails from teenagers and foreigners along the lines of "I want to grow a beard, can you give me any advice?" (our advice is usually "don't shave").

Though the article is exactly what you expect it to be, one part of it is worth the blockquoting and discussing:

The beard is also a blatant and almost primal expression of masculinity. For a study published in the journal Psychology in 1973, eight young men were photographed in four progressive states of beardedness. The photographs were shown to a panel, who were asked to rate the men on a variety of attributes. The responses linked longer beards with masculinity, dominance, self-confidence, nonconformity and liberalism.

That was 1973; it's probably time to repeat the survey.

Oh my. I couldn't agree more about the need for a new survey. We'll take care of it here – list off the attributes you associate with each of the following pictures in the comments section:

If there is demand, i can dig out a picture of Ed with a goatee from a long time ago, or the unfortunate beard I grew during a drunken winter in Spain two years ago (the less said the better).


Two weeks ago, during the Terri Schiavo ordeal, everyone in the Christian right was a doctor. They were able to assert, based on their years of medical training, an authoritative medical opinion based on some chain emails and video clips. Amazing.

But wait! Now they're all lawyers too! My god, where do they find the time to get all this training? In explaining how Senate filibusters are actually a tool to discriminate against "people of faith" at a rally this weekend, the multitalented Dr. Dobson stated that filibusters….wait for it…..are unconstitutional. That's right. Just because it's explicitly enumerated in the Constitution doesn't mean it can't be….unconstitutional!

I'm in awe of the number of fields of inquiry that have been mastered by this man. So, in summary:

  • 1. America is apparently a land in which the most persecuted group is…white Christians
  • 2. Being a glorified used car salesman of a televangelist makes you an expert in law, science, education, medicine, and basically anything else that you think will rile more supporters into sending you a check

    Noted, and duly.


    Note to students plagiarizing research papers: if you decide that it's a good idea to hand in a paper that consists of copying-and-pasting a Wikipedia entry, make sure you take out the html tags interspersed throughout the text before handing it in.

    Ask anyone who knows me well – I love a good scam. I respect a clever thief. But conversely, there aren't really too many things I tolerate less than someone who's too lazy/stupid to put some thought and effort into their cheating.


    Hey, remember her? Yeah. Probably not. You won't hear her name again until the 2008 election, when the Republican hopefuls' diaphragms will practically be exploding with the desire to repeat it every 15 seconds.


    In the meantime, enjoy the Do the Schiavo page, which collects random folks' best efforts at capturing the beauty and dignity that exemplified the whole ordeal. It's easy. Cock your head, make a stupid face…..and hold it for 15 years.


    What percentage of midwestern kids who consider New York City to be some sort of ideal, Mecca-like destination are getting 100% of their information about it from watching "Sex and the City"?

    All of them. Well, we can count "Friends" and "Seinfeld" too.

    Let set a few things straight for all the "God, NYC is so fuckin' awesome, I'm totally moving there" crowd. Public service is always our #1 priority.

  • "Rent Control", a phrase with which you are familiar entirely because of Sarah Jessica Parker, is something that all 10 million people in New York are fighting to get. There is a long, long waiting list and midwestern transplants are not at the top of it. Here is an excellent article by raging conservative Paul Krugman explaining why A) rent control is retarded and B) you're not going to get it.
  • You are not the only person who came up with the idea of moving out there to get a non-job such as housesitting, being a DJ, tending bar, walking dogs, being a professional shopper, etc. With a million people moving there a year with these ideas in their head, the odds are strongly in favor of you, like those who went before you, waiting tables for a wage that will not meet your non-rent-controlled rent (see above point for a refresher on why you will not be getting the rent control Ms. Parker told you about).
  • The people you meet in NYC will be, for the most part, the exact same mixture of assholes, hipsters, nice people, intelligent people, and morons that you will meet in any other city. One advantage you will notice is that your friends in NYC will most likely be poorer and underemployed.
  • Not having a car is not a catch-all solution to economizing your cost of living. No one has a car there, we already know that. And we also know that this fact comes nowhere close to offsetting the cost of MetroCards, cabs, deliveries, and higher costs of everything. The first time you go to a $10 movie or saddle up to a bar for a $5 bottle of Pabst, the economics will start to make sense to you.
  • After a year passes and the novelty wears off, New York (a city which I honestly like very much) will have all of its illusions washed away and you will see it for what it is: dirty, stuffed to the gills with people, expensive, and home to some of the most pervasive poverty west of Calcutta. Just like any other city.
  • Whatever friends or acquaintances you have in NYC are not going to be able to change any of these facts for you. Knowing someone is not a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for all of the negative aspects of the city.
  • Whatever skills you may posess will be irrelevant in a city where a few million other people have the same skills.
  • When you slink back to the midwest, we will know exactly why you are doing so. Any attempts to play it off as a choice you made, rather than one that was made for you, will demean us all.

    In short, I love New York City and all the people I know there. At the same time, I am choking back bile at this point from listening to people who grew up in Palatine talk about how it is a paradise that will solve all their problems. If you're bored, lonely, and unhappy, you'll be the same when you get there. The difference is that you will be much poorer. New Yorkers are not, contrary to their own opinions and glamorization in the media, the finest people on Earth; they are merely the most numerous.


    And not only will everything be for sale, it will all be for sale on eBay.

    The newest fad on my favorite ol' lawless economic free-fire zone is selling one's name (search "change name" to yield dozens of auctions). Yes, just in case selling blood is too dignified for some of our white trash, the option to let a winning eBay bidder legally change your name (or, for less money, your middle name) exists.

    Yes, this is an actual seller. The winning business will use him to target area retards.

    In the case of one man, he is auctioning off the family name….and a leading bidder was his brother, who wanted to keep the family name intact. I really think that this is how all family disputes will be settled in the future.

    To show just how delusional "clever" these folks are, note how many auctions pitch this to potential bidders as a great advertising opportunity. OK. Hold on.

    First of all, how much advertising benefit could there honestly be from changing some hillbilly's name from Cletus Johnson to AutoZone Johnson? It's not like the bidder is getting a chance to re-name David Letterman. These are people whose names appear on lawsuits and paternity tests more than in newspapers (police blotters and "missed connections" ads excluded). Secondly, is this desperation cash-raising move really worth the chance that someone is going to bid and change your name to Penis Loving Cum-Dumpster?

    This is truly the economic decision made by someone who has so completely given up hope on having a future – let alone a good one – that such potential costs are not considered.