RFNPR: STANLEY CUP FINALS EDITION

Posted in Random Facts on May 29th, 2010 by Ed

What has two thumbs and is heading to the airport for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals? This guy.

Goal horns are common in North American hockey stadiums.** The tradition arises from the fact that early 20th Century refrigeration technology required phenomenal amounts of water to maintain an ice surface, so arenas were located on lakes or rivers. With each home team goal, ships passing or docked nearby would blow their foghorns. Fans got accustomed to it so when the technology improved and stadiums moved inland, they brought the horns with them.

Now that is a Random Fact of No Particular Relevancetm.

**(Note: some inferior teams made up of little bitches, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, substitute a train horn or worse. For shame.)

NPF: MYSTERIOUS MAGNETS

Posted in No Politics Friday on May 28th, 2010 by Ed

Sometimes after my ex-band would have a bad show – playing in front of 3 people or something – I'd often say in mock defeat, "Fuck it, let's give up and become rapping clowns." What is the point of trying hard to be creative and do things that have merit, meaning, or both when America has already proven that you will be A) exceedingly famous and B) wealthy beyond your wildest dreams simply by pasting on some cheap costume makeup and rapping about things of interest to the average adult WWF fan? One almost has to admire the simplicity and brilliance of Insane Clown Posse. You know, the "Fuckin' magnets, how do they work?" guys. If they've been off your radar for a few years, it will please you to learn that they went Christian.

Here is a photo album of Juggalos shot by a very good professional photographer. I picked out a pair to convince you to click through. Come on, it's Friday. You're desperate for things to do that are not work.

I can barely wrap my head around such things. You know those ICP tattoos are still going to be there in 20 years, right? I suppose, however, that when you drop out of high school at 15 and lay around a trailer all day watching a black-and-white TV with a coathanger antenna and tending to your 28 year-old mother's meth lab, this sort of fantasy world for the illiterate must look pretty appealing.

That is no excuse, though – I repeat, none – for a Juggalo funeral complete with an infant casket decked out in ICP decals. Click here if you dare to hear the mother's take on her baby's death (hint: it had nothing to do with the Xanax and weed she consumed during the pregnancy).

We have failed. I'm talking about mankind. As a species, we have failed.

The entire purpose of this entry is to make you feel better about yourself…and about your hillbilly relatives for that matter, about all of whom you can at least say, "Well, at least they're not juggalos."

THE RIGHT HONORABLE PINKO

Posted in Rants on May 27th, 2010 by Ed

It's a sad commentary on the ideological breadth of American politics that people accuse the Democratic Party of being Marxists, socialists, or any equivalent thereof. Granted, most of the people applying those labels haven't the slightest idea what they mean – Commies are the bad guys in Red Dawn, right? – but regardless of the proper term there is little doubt that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are indeed leftist zealots…in America, anyway.

The fact remains that American politics is slanted so far to the right that our "liberals" and "conservatives" are unrecognizable to most of the democratic world. To some extent this is an artifact of the two-party system (Thanks, Duverger's Law!) in comparison to multi-party systems. The latter tend to keep some of the crazy out of the major parties by providing electoral incentives to small parties. Countries like Italy, for example, have proportional systems that practically beg for minor parties to form. We also have a far more extreme brand of Christianity intertwined with our politics; many countries are highly religious but not many countries have Southern Baptists. The end result is that the Democratic Party is a socialist conspiracy in the U.S. but would barely qualify as a mainstream conservative party elsewhere. The Republicans would be a fringe nationalist party in most of Europe or Asia…and we have an active splinter group trying to drive them further to the right.

Take a look at the new British PM David Cameron. He is:

1. Pro-choice
2. About as far left on the environment as any American liberal
3. Candid about his limited interest in religion ("I believe in God and I try to get to church more than Christmas and Easter, but perhaps not as often as I should, but I don't feel I have a direct line.")
4. Open about the fact that taxes can't be cut during fiscal emergencies ("I don't think it's sensible today to write a Conservative budget for 2009 or 2010, with specific pledges on tax reduction.")
5. Opposed to capital punishment
6. A supporter of the National Health Service (which even Thatcher couldn't touch)
7. Staunchly opposed to far-right proposals for National ID cards, describing them as ineffective and in violation of basic human rights

Sure, there's a healthy dose of economic conservatism – free market this, deregulation that – to remind voters that Cameron is in fact representing the party of St. Margaret. I'm not arguing that he is not a true Conservative. The point is simply that British Tories are as liberal, if not moreso, than the average American Democrat. Given how completely the Democrats have surrendered on New Deal economic liberalism to basically reinvent themselves as the party of Reaganomics Lite, one might be hard-pressed to point out the significant differences between that party and the British Tories. David Cameron wouldn't simply be a liberal in the American context, he'd be a member of the loony left. No death penalty? Not a churchgoer? Pro Choice? Someone get a rope, we've found a witch.

It must be nice to live in a system in which even the conservatives are inclined toward common sense. As easy as it is for political elites and activists to browbeat the Democrats into moving further and further to the right with every election, it's no wonder that our conservatives are absolutely bonkers and the Democrats are barely able to call themselves centrists. That Barack Obama is a pinko commie Marxist socialist to much of this country proves that Americans will repeat anything they hear on AM radio and that our party system has the ideological diversity of an NRA meeting in Abilene, Texas.

DOUG GILES RETURNS FOR A SECOND FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on May 26th, 2010 by Ed

This is where I usually do a quasi-witty intro. Today, I've got nothing for you. This is honestly the worst opinion column I have ever read. It reads less like an opinion column than the final Facebook post of a lone wolf militiaman before he sets out in his weapon-laden 1988 Ford Econoline van to kill as many Latinos as he can find. It's part suicide note, part ransom note, part plea for psychological help, and part woefully failed attempt at humor. Doug Giles, who previously took an FJMing with a column that I naively thought represented the nadir of the English language in print, is still giving this writing thing a try for some reason. After you read this masterpiece of satire ("Mexico's Calderon Condemns the Country that Keeps His Haggard Land Afloat") you will join me in wishing that Doug would take up a career more suited to his skills and personality, such as working in a prison, being held for observation and psychiatric care, or wrapping his lips around the barrel of a gun and trying desperately to think of a reason not to pull the trigger.

This is…not good. I warned you.

Y’know, there’s nothing like being chastised by the president of a parasitical border nation whose trespassing citizens are wreaking havoc on our soil.

"Y'know"? Some 14 year old girls called, Doug, and they want their Livejournal post back. They called me because Doug Giles is not allowed to receive phone calls from minors pursuant to the provisions of Suzie's Law and an out-of-court settlement in the matter of Girl Scouts of America v. Doug Giles in a Clown Suit.

Mexico’s Presidente Felipe Calderon carping about our country’s laws on our turf this past week in D.C. is like a fat tick complaining about the dog he’s sucking the life out of. Hey Felipe, haven’t you ever heard the maxim “beggars can’t be choosers”? Evidently not.

Mexico is sucking the life out of the U.S.? Do you understand how illegal immigration works, Doug? They come here and do shit work for peanuts to subsidize the price you pay for produce. I do not think you have properly conceptualized the tick-dog relationship. If the ticks risked their lives to reach your dog so they could clean the caked dung out of the fur around his butt for $1 an hour, that would be a good analogy. As it stands, it isn't.

One must hand it to Calderón for having the cojones to condemn the country that’s keeping his gaunt nation buoyant. I wouldn’t have had the courage … or stupidity, or indecency … to do that.

Oh, don't sell yourself short, cubby. You're plenty stupid. Plenty.

Matter of fact, if I were president—or better yet, King of Douglandia

If this little hypothetical makes you cringe, you may want to get a drink before tackling the rest of this column. Doug thinks this is really, really clever and he's going to clutch it to his chest and break into a dead sprint like his ass is on fire and the nearest water is at the end of the column.

and Douglandia happened to have milked, oh … let’s say … $21 billion last year from the prosperous border country to our north

Curious about this oddly specific figure, I did more research than Doug Giles has done cumulatively in his life – which is to say I googled "Illegal immigrants $21 billion." It turns out that this is the amount that they sent out of the country as remittances in 2009. So "milked" is a strange choice of words given that A) they earned the money, mostly by B) doing horrible shit-work for which American businesses actively recruit illegals they can pay in change and Jarritos. As far as I'm concerned – and this is where Doug and I differ – someone who works 10 hour shifts cleaning slaughterhouses for $4/hr can do whatever the hell they want with the money. Mail it to Mexico, blow it at a casino, put it in the bank, set it on fire…once you've cleaned the rendering tank at a ConAgra slaughterhouse you make the call.

all the while my residents were:
- Creating chaos in our generous neighbor’s land by the exportation of tons of drugs to their kiddos,

Mexican illegal immigrants make your kids smoke pot. If there were no illegal immigrants, American kids would not have drugs and hence would not do drugs.

- Kidnapping and killing their citizens

This is just an epidemic. And again, without illegals this would not happen.

- Trashing their ranches and national parks,
- Disrespecting their laws and flag,

Is "disrespecting" a law the same as violating it?

Nothing is quite as sad as watching an adult deliver any variant of the "Flag-burning should be illegal!" argument. It indicates a failure at some stage of one's emotional development, the one that teaches you that symbols only mean what we decide they mean. In practice, it doesn't bother me much when people, legal or illegal, "disrespect" the fifty cent made-in-China piece of plastic bearing the pattern of the American flag. People who venerate an object are modern descendants of the barbarians who made offerings to please the sun.

- And spawning political turmoil in our over-gracious buddy’s government

Yes Doug, it is Mexico's fault that you're bursting a blood vessel in your neck over this issue and flying into a pant-shitting rage over the shocking idea that the people who pick your tomatoes for a buck an hour might not be in this country legally.

I wouldn’t dare open my stupid mouth

Oh, I doubt that. Wait for it…

and complain about the Constitution and the cops of the nation my civilians happen to be violating if I were invited to be speak in said nation.

Swish. Nothing but net. Giles 1, things that doubt Giles 0.

Yep, if my crew caused all this crap in another country and I were asked to address the land that folks from Douglandia were pillaging, my speech would be very short and very sweet:

Can you pretend that you've been invited to speak in Edlandia and work that short/sweet magic here? Because every word of this is like rolling a giant boulder up a steep hill. I pray for a merciful death in lieu of reading another sentence. This is like watching Uncle Larry get ripped to the tits on peppermint schnapps at Thanksgiving and deliver one of his patented monologues about the coloreds or the vaccine-autism link or the Jews or free energy suppression or the children he stabbed in Vietnam.

It would mirror Borat’s sentiments toward the USA, and I would say, “Hello. My name is Doug from Douglandia. I like your country. It’s very nice. Please forgive what my gypsies have done to your land and people. I will discipline them upon my return like I did my sister when she tried to sell her sexy bits.”

Giles: "Ha ha! I saw a movie once." And what are the odds that TownHall readers (average age: 97) have seen anything released after Serpico?

After that gratitude-laden speech I would pass out patriotic Frisbees celebrating their land to all in attendance and offer free airfare passes on Douglandia Airlines to our few quasi-decent resort destinations to all the pusillanimous politicians who were aiding and abetting the raping of their nation by my criminal constituents.

Reading your column, Doug, I can't figure out why Mexico's president did not react this way or offer anything but obsequious gratitude to the American people. Why, he should have been giving Obama a reacharound as he addressed the crowd. Free trips to Cancun, everyone! Why? Because Mexico needs to repay us for that demeaning work that our businesses pay its people to do!

Yep, after my broke joke nation had received billions of dollars I sure as heck wouldn’t be complaining about the land I was milking (at least not to their faces).

"Broke joke." Hey, that rhymes! Radical, dude. Gag me with a spoon.

Are you ready? It gets a little unhinged at this point. Yes, even compared to what he has already said.

Matter of fact, on second thought, I would have gone the biblical extra mile with the violated country after my brief lecture. Indeed, after my gracious speech and the distribution of parting gifts, I would have pulled out my Butt-Smacker magnum-sized lip balm and commenced to literally kiss the backsides of everyone in attendance in gratitude for not building a wall between our nations so huge it could be seen from Pluto.

Read that again. I've got nothing. Literally nothing. This reads like he is shouting it to a police negotiator over a bullhorn right before he starts executing hostages. And just to be clear, he is literally suggesting that Mexicans should be kissing our asses. I wonder why they don't like you, Doug.

Upon my return to my dog-eared land-of-no-opportunity, I would immediately dispatch squadrons of maids and trash picker-uppers to go and clean up all the mess my people had made trashing the countryside when they “migrated” to the great northern feeding grounds.

YES, DOUG. IF ONLY MEXICO WOULD SEND SOME MAIDS AND "TRASH PICKER-UPPERS" TO THE UNITED STATES. IF THERE'S ONE THING MEXICO HASN'T SENT HERE, IT'S MAIDS AND PEOPLE TO PICK UP OUR TRASH. Does this guy know what an illegal immigrant is? Does he know which people are the Mexican ones?

In addition, I would immediately capture and incarcerate those criminal miscreants who had made it to the Land of Plenty and acted untoward to such a benevolent place, as their bellicose behavior could possibly cause the faucet to shut off on the multi-billion dollar chunk of change we were getting from our benefactors.

Doug Giles is a shining example of our benevolence – as if I needed to point that out. And I wouldn't worry about that faucet shutting off. The only thing that will stop the flow is to pay Americans minimum wage to do the work immigrants do. And we know that is about as likely to happen as Doug Giles reading a book that has more words than pictures.

Yes, that’s what I would have done if I were Calderon, but then again, my mother raised me right.

Aside from his obvious and crippling anger issues and assorted other mental problems, does anyone else get the impression that Dougie wrote this column in about 10 minutes? The last three or four paragraphs scream "past deadline" like nothing I've seen since the last time I degraded myself by reading Andrew Breitbart.

I know Intellectual Chernobyl doesn't have much in the way of journalistic standards, but even with that in mind I am shocked that they ran this. It quite literally reads like a transcript of an unstable person coming unhinged and screaming at passing cars. Even Teabaggers who agree with Doug about his substantive message here (which I believe is "MEXICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANS! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!") aren't going to read this incoherent dreck. The author they do read, Glenn Beck, is the Tiger Woods of hate speech. In comparison Doug Giles is like a suburban golf fanatic who bends his clubs in half and punches out a caddy after failing on his 15th attempt to get out of the sand trap.

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THE INNOCENCE OF A CHILD

Posted in Rants on May 25th, 2010 by Ed

On my last visit I noticed that my 8 year-old nephew had done an "If I was President, I would…" assignment that was proudly pinned to the wall as one commonly does with a child's school work. It was as excellent as I would expect from him, starting with a guarantee of solar powered jet packs for everyone (CAVEAT: Except for Bad Guys) before noting that "taxes should be cut 75% and everyone should get everything they want."

Adults love this kind of thing. There is something inherently amusing, perhaps even heartwarming depending on how much one likes children, about watching kids respond to things they don't completely understand with their imaginations. It's the reason people always ask small kids how old they think Daddy is. Knowing full well that they lack this information and probably do not grasp the concept of age very well, we nonetheless laugh heartily when the child says "Daddy is seven" or, alternatively, "Daddy is 200."

There is quite a bit of this going on when a teacher gives second-graders an assignment such as this one. Kids don't understand politics and we know their responses will lie somewhere among cute, funny, and incomprehensible. It is very easy, therefore, to read my nephew's response and chuckle. "Ha ha! Kids say the darndest things." Unfortunately, this is usually the exact same response that voting adults give to similar, albeit more specific questions. Minus the jet packs. Adults rarely bring up that part.

The fundamental problem with our government's balance sheet, which as we all know is deeply in the red, is that decision-makers respond to electoral incentives, which in turn means that they are responsive to constituent preferences (although the degree to and conditions under which they are responsive is hotly debated in political science). And constituent preferences make absolutely no sense collectively. Everyone wants more stuff from the government, lower taxes, and a balanced budget. Come to think of it, throw in a damn jet pack while we're at it. If we're making shit up, we might as well go hog wild.

The following data are from a handful of recent polls. Note that they are not all from the same poll, but each is based on a nationwide random sample:

  • "Do you think Congress has done enough to help create jobs, or don't you think so?" (CNN/Opinion Research Feb 12-15)
    14% Has done enough
    84% Don't think so
  • "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the budget deficit?" (USA Today/Gallup March 26-28)
    37% Approve
    61% Disapprove
  • "Which of the following comes closer to your view of the budget deficit? The government should run a deficit if necessary when the country is in a recession and is at war. OR, The government should balance the budget even when the country is in a recession and is at war." (Bloomberg Nov. 2009)
    30% Run a deficit
    67% Balance the budget
  • Making the expiring Bush tax cuts permanent (CNN/Opinion Research Apr. 9-11)
    60% Favor
    33% Oppose
  • So, there you have it. Welcome to your new job as President, kid. "Create jobs" somehow (without spending money), keep cutting everyone's taxes, and balance the budget while you're at it. Oh, by the way, don't touch any entitlement programs. This collection of preference is nowhere near as eloquent, colorful, or amusing as the policies expressed by my 8 year-old nephew yet they manage to communicate the same idea. The only difference is that adults have a lot of rationalizations that purport to make this possible; for example, we can cut taxes and balance the budget by "cutting spending", usually on something like "earmarks" or "welfare" or some other $100 million chunk that means absolutely nothing in the yawning chasm of a multi-trillion dollar deficit. And some people express wonder that we keep borrowing, year after year.

    Pardon me for being subjective, but this is a lot less cute when eligible voters do it. I prefer the apple-cheeked eight year-old version. It allows me to plausibly claim that he will mature, something that the average American will not do in adulthood and probably skipped in adolescence.

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    ONLINE EDUCATION IS THE FUTURE, OR: ANOTHER REASON THE FUTURE WILL SUCK

    Posted in Rants on May 23rd, 2010 by Ed

    Over time I have come to believe that there are only two facts that are inviolate in the context of discussing social, political, or economic issues. First, the preface "Now, I'm not a racist, but…" invariably indicates that an individual is about to say something staggeringly racist. Second, when free market enthusiasts attempt to sell an idea with the promise that it will "democratize" something – bringing broader access to a previously exclusive good, service, or market – two things are about to happen. A small group of people are going to get obscenely wealthy, and they are likely to do so as a direct result of a much larger and less exclusive group of people getting bent over and unceremoniously screwed. I'm tempted to paraphrase Hermann Goring's quote about culture ("When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning") but in reality I do nothing so aggressive when the siren song of democratization is sounded. Instead I try to figure out who is about to be ground up in the wheels of techno-libertarian "progress." In the case of the shining promise of online (ahem, "non-traditional") classes democratizing higher education, the mill grist happens to be me, people like me, and the students we teach.

    When I first read DIY U, with its "Are you shitting me? Jesus, you're serious, aren't you?" subtitle Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, I knew nothing of author Anya Kamenetz but I was willing to put my life savings on her being affiliated with either Cato or Fast Company. Sure enough she turned out to be a Fast Company Imagineer or whatever they call their practitioners of this brand of sycophantic free market leg humping:

    The promise of free or marginal-cost open-source content, techno-hybridization, unbundling of educational functions, and learner-centered educational experiences and paths is too powerful to ignore.

    That is an actual quote. Is it not self-evident that once we are all learning from "open-source content" (like Wikipedia!) the educational experience will be improved? This kind of bluster is par for the course for the magazine that spent the nineties promising us that the unregulated market would bring us to economic nirvana. Life was going to be one long technogasm laden with "innovation" and unfettered prosperity for all; we would all be wealthy once The Internets let every Tom, Dick, and Harry buy mutual funds. But I digress.

    Being at the bottom of the academic hierarchy offers me unfair perspective on the changes that are sweeping higher education, and the reader will of course note that I bring some bitterness to the conversation given that most of these democratizations involve me getting paid $1000 per course for 16 weeks of work without benefits or any commitment beyond semester-to-semester temp labor. Would that this transition in academia from stable, albeit not particularly highly paid, tenured employment to the just-in-time Labor Ready model that is replacing real faculty with adjuncts/part timers be forced upon us without the patronizing mantra about how this is all for the good of the students.

    Online courses are, for lack of a better term, shit. No one who has taken or taught one can claim in earnest to have learned more than they do in traditional courses. Few could honestly claim that they learned anything at all. When the author of DIY U describes a model of students "cobbling" together a self-guided degree consisting of "course materials readily available online," I cannot convince myself that the Yale-educated author believes that even as she is paid handsomely to type it. Perhaps 1/10 of a percent of undergraduates are mature and motivated enough to effectively direct their own course of study. What Kamenetz describes feels more like replacing the 12-course tasting menu at El Bulli with a trip to Old Country Buffet and calling it a wash. The idea that anything meeting her description would qualify as an education is prima facie ridiculous and requires no further discussion.

    The real benefit, though, is that it will let more people go to college because everything will be cheaper. The adjuncting wave of the early 1990s was supposed to make education cheaper. It didn't. Now online courses are supposed to be making education cheaper (price being conflated with accessibility in this line of argument). Despite spreading like wildfire in the last decade – from dedicated online schools like University of Phoenix to the best (and worst) brick-and-mortar schools – the price of higher education only increases. So who benefits from replacing tenured faculty with adjuncts if not the students? If students aren't getting cheaper or better education from online courses, why are colleges so eager to establish them?

    The answer, as anyone on this side of the looking glass knows, is that it's cheaper – for the university. Adjuncts are cheap, desperate temp labor who don't complain. Online courses have essentially no overhead and are taught in the vast majority of cases by – you guessed it – adjuncts or graduate students who, if they finish the long trek toward a Ph.D., can look forward to taking a paycut to hop on the adjunct treadmill. These changes are not in the interest of students. Nobody sincerely believes that. They do not make education cheaper or better because that is not their intent. The goal is simply to make education more profitable. Universities like that. State legislatures (when the schools in question are public) like it even more.

    Online education or the kind of choose-your-own-adventure college experience described in this book has a place. This role has been filled historically by community colleges, the primary clientele of which has always been adults who need work-related training. If, as a result of creeping credentialism, some low-level county government bureaucrat or State Trooper needs a 3-credit course in such-and-such to qualify for the next step up on the pay scale, then online classes are clearly a good option. They make sense because no one cares what is or is not learned in this instance. Passing the course is merely a means to a very specific end in the career path.

    Over time, though, universities noted the profit margins inherent to this kind of business model. What was good for community colleges could be good for Big Ten U. or Private East Coast College. Like adjuncting, online courses have become a pandemic, especially at poorly funded, lower tier public institutions (Eastern State U., etc). Online courses are moneymakers, and thus of great interest to institutions that are chronically short on money. The proliferation of "Online MBA programs" you see on billboards and TV commercials represents nothing more than financially strapped and savvy institutions reacting logically by combining a highly profitable program in which no real learning takes place anyway – unless one counts Jack Welch books and management platitudes as learning, which I do not – with the lowest-cost delivery method. If anything colleges do can be described as profit-maximizing, this is it.

    These changes are coming, and higher education in a decade or two will probably look quite similar to what Kamenetz and her supporters envision. I have neither doubts nor illusions about this. But I insist that we call it what it is. It is a lot of highfalutin language being thrown around by administrators to justify cutting costs – and not the costs to students. It is the replacement of tenured faculty with a permanent Ph.D.-holding underclass barely cracking the poverty line and undeserving of pesky expenses like benefits or offices. It is a way for state legislatures to continually slash higher education funding while rationalizing it as a good, or at least value-neutral, deed. It is a way to make changes that promise short term rewards to a group of decision-makers who will be long gone before the true costs – cohort after cohort of "college graduates" with even fewer useful skills and less useful knowledge than the already substandard ones churned out today – become painfully clear. It is a way, like everything else the think-tank conservatives and market acolytes sell to the public as a means of reducing costs or democratizing something, to make it more profitable. Not better, not cheaper, and not more accessible. Only a mind that conflates "better" and "more profitable" can continue to promise the former with a straight face.

    (Read about the spread of adjuncting, including a copious literature review and arguments for and against, in this paper, appropriately entitled "Does Cheaper Mean Better?").

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    NPF: THE MOST RIDICULOUS COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER NAMES

    Posted in No Politics Friday on May 21st, 2010 by Ed

    This seems to be a popular series, what with the preference, even among intelligent people, for sophomoric humor inherent in names that sound funny. So let's keep the balls (foreshadowing) rolling with a journey through the pure, unadulterated awesomeness that is college football player names. Perhaps it is because there are so damn many college football players, but this group is stellar. I could throw a dart at a room full of college football players and be guaranteed of hitting someone with a name that sounds like a bodily function or contains a slang term for the male genitals.

    Since amateur athletes don't appear on trading cards, this week's installment will have to be sans pictures but I have included links for verification. That last part is important, as you're going to be quite convinced that I'm making these up. Without further ado and in no particular order (although I do think #1 is the best):

    10. Jerrod GoochIn some but not all social circles, "gooch" is slang for the skin between one's scrotum and rectum. You know. The taint. So, in essence this is Jerrod Taint.

    9. De'Cody FaggLet's overlook the bleedingly obvious for a moment and ask what in the hell that random apostrophe is doing in his first name. I don't think anyone named "Fagg" needs additional elements of his name working against him, but this appears to have been some kind of late 1980s fad (see: Sen'Derrick Marks, Cha'pelle Brown, Al'Darius Thompson). This name was a headline writer's dream, allowing chestnuts like "Fagg Sustains Injury" or "Hurricanes Secondary Unable to Contain Fagg."

    8. I-Perfection HarrisWhat the fuck.

    7. Craphonso ThorpeTo think that someone actually sat down and intentionally named a child "Craphonso" is mind boggling. And his middle name is Ja'Won. There's that goddamn apostrophe again. Was this some kind of late 1980s contest to see who could make up the dumbest name and saddle their unfortunate child with it?

    6. Kyle SackriderGay escort? Gay porn star? Male stripper? The career options are literally limitless for young Kyle. Aim high.

    5. LeQuantum McDonaldWhile many college athletes have only token interest in their academic work, McDonald made the honor roll and received his Bachelor of Science degree in LeQuantum Physics.

    4. Ray Ray McElrathbeyAnyone named "Ray Ray" must have a last name that rhymes or sounds phonetically pleasing when paired with the alliterative first name. Something tells me that "McElrathbey" could rhyme with Ray, but I haven't the slightest goddamn idea how to pronounce it. So that remains unconfirmed.

    3. Damarius BilboWhile it is widely recognized that one does not simply walk into Mordor, Damarius Bilbo simply walks into Mordor whenever the hell he wants, along with his friends Samwise and Frodo.

    2. Barkevious MingoI don't understand this world anymore.

    1.5 Lucious PuseyDeadspin found this guy a few years ago and began a relentless campaign of mocking his name, and they were right to do it. They kept it up until he not only legally changed his name to Lucious Seymour (I'd have gone with Lucious Seymour Pusey) but he went Wolverine on the responsible writers. "When i make it to the league i will shoot a middle finger at y'all and say fuck all my haters. I am the realest." He did not prove to be the realest.

    1. Jim Bob CooterThis is like the perfect name. It is peak hillbilly, peak Southern, and peak juvenile. It is also the name of a man who would crawl through a bedroom window uninvited, disrobe, and get into bed with a woman he does not know. Congratulation, JBC. You are creepy and worthy of our derision in like nine different ways.

    Which deserving gentlemen did I forget?

    AMERICAN HISTORY, TEXAS TEABAGGER STYLE

    Posted in Uncategorized on May 20th, 2010 by Ed

    I've been (slowly) compiling a "Texas Board of Education version of American History" post for the past two weeks. Not only did the rockstars over at We Are Respectable Negroes beat me to it, though, and they did such a good job with it that I have to concede. So for the first time in the 10 year history of this website, I am simply going to provide you with content from another source. I have nothing constructive to add to this masterpiece. Rather than blockquote all of this and make it more difficult to read, I'll point out once again that all of the following content is from WARN. Enjoy.

    The Essential Dates and Events of U.S. History as Approved by the States of Arizona and Texas

    1607– Jamestown founded. Capitalism, which can trace its roots to the Bible, is now firmly rooted in the New World.

    1660-1800Triangular Atlantic trade continues to bring wealth and prosperity to America while giving opportunities to new immigrants.

    1776–War for Independence against the tyrannical, evil British empire. Colonists suffer oppression that is unprecedented in human history. Minutemen singlehandedly defeat the evil British Empire in 1783.

    1788–The United States Constitution is signed as a document to stand for all time, inspired by God, and never to be changed.

    1803-1848–America continues to expand westward into empty territories. American settlers make the land bloom with the help of friendly Indian tribes.

    1823–America guarantees the freedom of all countries and people in the Western Hemisphere with the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine.

    1848–Mexico, in an act of friendship following their humiliation at the Alamo by the great Republic of Texas, gives their territories to the United States.

    1860s-1900s–The Gilded Age of prosperity. American capitalism provides opportunities for all people to grow wealthy, secure, and happy. Liberals and Progressives begin working against American freedom and capitalism by forming unions, demanding unfair compensation from their employers, limiting the rights of children to work in factories, and imposing restrictive regulations for the “safety” of employees. Many brave men die fighting Communist influenced unions as they riot in America’s cities.

    1861-1865–Civil War fought because of an overreaching, tyrannical federal government and its desire to limit the freedoms of all Americans. 620,000 people die including many brave and noble black Americans who fought on the side of the Confederacy. Northerners and Southerners eventually find common ground through Redemption and move forward as brothers and sisters in the USA.

    1865-1870s–Democratic terrorists called the Ku Klux Klan begin a reign of terror in the South until brave Republicans defeat them.

    1906–Using the Antiquities Act, Theodore Roosevelt establishes the National Park System. In one bold stroke Roosevelt establishes Socialist policies that steal land from the American people.

    1913–More Socialism and class warfare ushered into the U.S. with the federal income tax system.

    1917–America enters and wins World War 1 singlehandedly because the French are cowards.

    1929–Great Depression begins. Tens of millions unemployed because of FDR’s failed economic policies. His New Deal introduces the nanny state, prolongs America’s economic collapse, and weakens the economy until Ronald Reagan renews America.

    1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.

    1941-1945–America enters and wins World War 2 singlehandedly because the French are cowards. Out of necessity, the United States drops atomic bombs on Japan.

    1945-1965–A high point in U.S. history, as freedom and prosperity reign over all Americans.

    1950–Senator Joseph McCarthy fearlessly highlights how America is infiltrated by communists from Russia and China. Big Hollywood and the liberal establishment are brought to their knees by his brave efforts.

    1954–Brown v. Board of Education removes the parental right to send children to the schools of their choice and with the company they desire. A dangerous and unconstitutional era of activist Supreme Court decisions begins.

    1955-1968–George Wallace and Martin Luther King Jr. lead a Civil Rights Movement to ensure that all Americans are judged by “the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”

    1964-Barry Goldwater ignites a revolution in Conservative thought and values that resonates to the 21st century.

    1968–The cinematic classic The Green Berets starring John Wayne, America’s greatest actor, debuts.

    1971–America largely withdraws from Vietnam on the cusp of victory because it was weakened by The Gays, The Women’s Movement, and “The Counter-culture.” The French are cowards whose failure forced the U.S. to intervene in Indochina.

    1973–Roe vs. Wade, the worst legal decision in the history of the Supreme Court is decided.

    1974-Phyllis Schlafly, pioneer for the rights of women, takes a stand against evil Leftist feminists who want to ban motherhood, force mothers to work at jobs outside the home, join the military, become lesbians, and receive advanced educations which they do not need.

    1974–Nixon forced to resign by liberal conspiracy.

    1980–Ronald Reagan, America’s greatest president, restores American providence by ushering in a new era of economic prosperity, cutting the federal budget, and corrects the unfair federal tax code in order that the hard work of the richest Americans is justly rewarded.

    1989–The Berlin Wall falls. Ronald Reagan wins the Cold War singlehandedly.

    1992-2000–Democrat president Bill Clinton in office. His reckless personal behavior and irresponsible foreign policy choices weaken America internationally. The U.S. economy is almost destroyed by his tax policies. His wife Hillary Clinton furthers the march towards Socialism by advocating for free public health care and to destroy the insurance companies that drive us economic growth.

    2000–George Bush elected in a landslide.

    2001–Terrorists attack America on September 11th. Because of Bill Clinton’s policies, a weakened border, a lax immigration policy, rampant multiculturalism, and the Democrats’ weakening of the military, America is left open to attack.

    2003–Dr. King’s vision is finally made real. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court strikes down the reverse discrimination policies of the University of Michigan. Freedom rings across the land.

    2003–The country of Iraq, a rogue state, part of the Axis of Evil, and led by the dictator Saddam Hussein–a co-conspirator in the 9-11 attacks–is liberated by President George Bush.

    2008-Arizona war hero John McCain introduces Sarah Palin to the world.

    2008–Barack Obama is elected. America is in a Constitutional crisis as Obama is unable to prove that he is a U.S. citizen.

    2008-the present. Brave Americans begin joining Tea Parties and 9-12 freedom groups. Millions of their members march on Washington DC.. Freedom fighter James David Manning, places Obama on trial in absentia for treason and sedition.

    2008–Sarah Palin, mother, governor, author, actress, comedienne and role-model begins here meteoric rise to political stardom. She ushers in an era of robust, common sense approaches to political problems tempered by real American values.

    2010–Barack Obama remains President although his rule is illegitimate. Brave patriots such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh continue to lead the people’s resistance against his tyrannical rule.

    2010-Patriotic legislatures in Texas and Arizona lead the battle against racial quotas and ethnocentrism as they draft legislation to defend all of America from an unending and unfettered stream of foreign invaders.

    TO BE CONTINUED…

    ATROPHY

    Posted in Rants on May 19th, 2010 by Ed

    I had a rare and perhaps unprecedented experience on Monday morning at the tail end of a three-day visit to see my sister's family (including two nephews and a niece). I taught a two year old to describe The Scorpions' legendary hit "Rock You Like a Hurricane" as "epic butt rock."

    Oh wait. I do crap like that all the time.

    What I do not often do is watch any of The Today Show. You know, the Matt Lauer thing. They presented an investigative exposé on an issue that I must admit had not previously been salient to me: retailers re-selling underwear that has been returned (potentially used) by customers. While this seems pretty vile, it is not exactly America's most pressing problem – although I should try telling that to someone who gets crabs and enough yeast to open a Pinkberry from a pre-worn thong.

    What struck me about this footage is not the shock value or relevance of the subject but the fact that a fluff factory like The Today Show actually did some pretty good investigative journalism here. They discussed, documented, confronted, and reported. If the lightweights on a morning show can do it, surely the hard news folks at the networks are capable of doing so as well.

    It is often tempting to blame the lack of useful journalism among the mainstream media on a lack of brainpower or the failure of journalism schools to teach useful skills. But the problem is simply a lack of interest in doing real investigative reporting on political or economic issues. They'll do exposés on dirty thongs and answer the tough questions like "What is the best value in shampoos for normal to dry hair?" but they take a pass on the heavy lifting. An investigation of Victoria's Secret retail practices could easily be an investigation of the Dickensian third world sweatboxes at which their products are made. But it isn't. In-depth reports on toy fads or ridiculous moral panics (Rainbow parties! Back-masked Judas Priest lyrics! The piggy flu!) could easily be reports about the Air Force's reprehensible practice of using automated drones to hunt and kill Pakistani terrorists civilians. But it isn't.

    I'm not sure which is more pathetic: a media that lacks the ability to do its job or one that lacks the interest. Yet ultimately viewers of The Today Show and anything else on TV bear responsibility. Hard news is inversely related to ratings, so we are locked in a downward spiral of more garbage fueling the desire to see more garbage.

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