Archive for December 11th, 2006

Headline Of The Day

From the NYT Letters section:

The Train Ate My Pants.

3 comments December 11th, 2006 at 11:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Great Headlines

To The Horny Manatee Born

Oh my. My softball buddy Anders tipped me off to this, from tomorrow’s NYT (he can see the future too!):

The skit, as scripted for the Dec. 4 installment of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” was about absurdist college sports mascots that the host and his writers would like to see someday.

Among them were “the Boise State Conjoined Vikings,” who had been born locked at the horns, as well as something Mr. O’Brien called “the Webcam manatee” — said to be the mascot of “F.S.U.” — which was basically someone in a manatee costume rubbing himself or herself provocatively in front of a camera (to the tune of the 1991 hit “I Touch Myself”). Meanwhile a voyeur with a lascivious expression watched via computer.

(…)

At the end of the skit, in a line Mr. O’Brien insists was ad-libbed, he mentioned that the voyeur (actually Mark Pender, a member of the show’s band) was watching www.hornymanatee.com. There was only one problem: as of the taping of that show, which concluded at 6:30 p.m., no such site existed. Which presented an immediate quandary for NBC: If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it.

In a pre-emptive strike inspired as much by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission as by the laws of comedy, NBC bought the license to hornymanatee.com, for $159, after the taping of the Dec. 4 show but before it was broadcast.

By yesterday afternoon hornymanatee.com — created by Mr. O’Brien’s staff and featuring images of such supposedly forbidden acts as “Manatee-on-Manatee” sex (again using characters in costumes) — had received approximately 3 million hits, according to NBC. Meanwhile several thousand of Mr. O’Brien’s viewers have also responded to his subsequent on-air pleas that they submit artwork and other material inspired by the aquatic mammals, and the romantic and sexual shenanigans they imagine, to the e-mail address conan@hornymanatee.com.

(…)

“We couldn’t have done this two years ago, three years ago,” Mr. O’Brien said. “It’s sort of this weird comedy dialogue with the audience.”

(…)

Now, by clicking on “tour,” visitors to the site are drawn into a netherworld of mock-graphic images with titles like “Mature Manatee” (with a walker of course) and “Fetish” (a manatee in a bondage costume) as well as dozens of viewer submissions, including “Manatee & Colmes,” a spoof of “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox News.

(…)

“We don’t want the entire show to be ‘Late Night With Horny Manatee,’ ” he said. “Though, of course, it will become that eventually.”

Can never have enough hot manatee-on-manatee action.

December 11th, 2006 at 09:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Weirdness

We All Will Be.

Great Thomas DeFrank story in yesterday’s NY Daily News, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

For a wounded President locked in a lethal downward spiral ever since his reelection, it was the cruelest week of all.

(…)

In 72 hours last week, a bipartisan commission harshly repudiated Bush’s Iraq policy. Incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told senators the U.S. isn’t winning the war. Then a British journalist snarkily asked at a White House press conference if Bush weren’t “in denial” about Iraq.

For good measure, a new poll found only 27% of Americans back his Iraq policy, a new low. And a moderate GOP senator termed the policy “absurd” and possibly criminal.

(…)

Yet Bush is described by another recent visitor as still resolutely defiant, convinced history will ultimately vindicate him.

“I’ll be dead when they get it right,” he said during an Oval Office meeting last week.

(…)

Outside Republican sources report that except for isolated pockets of realism, the West Wing bunker hasn’t yet absorbed Bush’s diminished power.

“The White House is totally constipated,” a former aide complained. “There’s not enough adult leadership, and the 30-year-olds still think it’s 2000 and they’re riding high.”

One White House assistant insisted to a friend last week that the election was merely a repudiation of Bush’s execution, not his policies.

“They don’t get it,” a GOP mandarin snapped. “The Iraq report was their brass ring to pivot and salvage the last two years, and they didn’t grab it.”

Among their many other dubious achievements, Bush and his inner circle will be remembered as the administration that elevated denial to high art. I am especially impressed by the quote I emphasized, in which Bush essentially gives himself permission to live out the rest of his life believing that he’s a brilliant visionary and not the most petty, destructive and toxic president this country has ever had. He can now go to his grave believing that he is simply a misunderstood genius who will be vindicated by distant history.

This alone makes me hope for an afterlife, and that Bush’s punishment for his crimes will be to watch from below as history reveals the true measure of his awfulness, and he becomes universally regarded as the gold standard case study of How Not To Be President. To watch helplessly as his image morphs from heroic-but-flawed Decider to Nixonesque cartoon villain and buffoon. Of course, all this watching would be in his spare time, when he’s not busy “entertaining” the vengeful shades of his many victims.

10 comments December 11th, 2006 at 02:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Spreading Freeance

In case the administration’s attitude towards media and the electoral process leaves you with any doubts about Bush’s commitment to democracy…

Some people suppose that President Bush’s freedom agenda was buried last Wednesday by the report of the Iraq Study Group. In fact, history will show that the administration largely smothered its own baby, even before Iraq’s descent into civil war propelled the resurrection of James Baker and other “realist” friends of Middle Eastern dictators.

Evidence of that conclusion could be found in Washington on the same day Baker delivered his report, as administration officials, members of Congress and business executives gathered for a glittering dinner in honor of Mehriban Aliyeva, the visiting first lady of Azerbaijan.

…[Azerbaijan] is at a tipping point politically. Aliyev, who inherited power from his father(…) has teetered between installing his own dictatorship and promising to liberalize the political system along Western lines.

For a year after Bush’s soaring second inaugural speech, in which he pledged “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation,” the president seemed to be trying to act on his words in Azerbaijan. Through a letter and State Department envoys, he urged Aliyev to hold free and fair parliamentary elections and promised in return to “elevate our countries’ relations to a new strategic level.”

Unfortunately, Aliyev called Bush’s bluff. He staged a vote in October 2005 that even the sympathetic State Department said was marked by “major irregularities and fraud.” Days before the election he arrested hundreds of political opponents or would-be rivals, including one of his most pro-Western ministers, Farhad Aliyev.

Last April Bush received President Aliyev at the White House anyway, praising his cooperation with Western energy interests but saying nothing, at least in public, about the rigged elections or political prisoners. U.S. officials argued at the time that it was necessary to ease American pressure on Aliyev because of the risk that he would be driven into the arms of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin has been aggressively courting the autocrats of Central Asia while trying to build a de facto Russian monopoly of the region’s energy resources.

Aliyev drew a predictable conclusion: that he could be both a dictator and an American ally as long as he delivered energy and security cooperation. So Azerbaijan is pumping oil to Europe, and has promised gas this winter to pro-Western Georgia. It is allowing the U.S. military to use its airspace, and it reportedly hosts CIA monitoring operations of Iran. Meanwhile, Aliyev’s government is systematically attacking the country’s pro-democracy forces, while favoring Russia’s Azerbaijani allies. The losers are the very “democratic reformers” to whom Bush said: “When you stand for your liberty we will stand with you.”

(…)

On Nov. 24 Aliyev’s administration closed down the country’s only independent radio and television station, ANS. The network was charged with “unauthorized broadcasts of several foreign radio programs” — i.e., the Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and the BBC. Two Russian television networks controlled by Putin’s government continue their broadcasts into the country unhindered. U.S. officials who protested the shutdown were told, improbably, that it was the result of excessive zeal by licensing authorities.

Despite this provocation, the Bush administration offered its full cooperation for the visit of Aliyev’s wife, a member of parliament who is building her own political career. The trip has received saturation coverage by Azerbaijan’s remaining, state-controlled media, which portray it as proof of the close ties between Aliyev and Bush. And no wonder: The day after that gala dinner, Mehriban Aliyeva was received at the White House by First Lady Laura Bush. Did the subject of political prisoners such as Farhad Aliyev come up?

Sadly, less than two years after the freedom agenda was born, the very idea of such principled pressure from the Bush White House has become ludicrous.

Not that any of this is the least bit surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Democracy is nothing more than a prop, or a useful buzzword to Bush and the Republicans. By using Freedom and Democracy as rationales for his antidemocratic policies, Bush can cynically and dishonestly accuse his critics of being anti-democracy – and what kind of sorry excuse for an American could be against democracy?

I think this tactic is losing effectiveness, most likely due to the obvious lack of democracy in Afghanistan in Iraq. Now all we need is for the general public to realize that Republicans in general, and BushCo. in particular, are actively hostile to democracy. It’s almost as if they find the will of the people frightening; I can’t imagine why.

6 comments December 11th, 2006 at 12:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Politics,Wankers

Monday Media Blogging

Way back when, during (IIRC) the very first season of Liquid Television on MTV, I caught the very tail end of a very intense and spooky cartoon, which was set in a dystopian future and involved some kind of insane race around a vertical track. I was impressed and fascinated, and waited in vain for this cartoon to re-air, or resurface in an MTV compilation, but it never did, and I was never able to find out anything about it.

Until recently, when I took a shot in the dark on YouTube, and lo & behold, there it was. It’s called “The Running Man,” and it can also be found as part of a 1987 anime compilation called Neo-Tokyo (which also appears to have a version of Heart Of Darkness/Apocalypse Now, but with robots).

Judge for yourself whether or not I was easily impressed back in the day (it’s in two parts, because it was about a minute over YouTube’s 10-minute limit):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KP4czrq0cI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df-4MHbvqnQ
Freaky!

December 11th, 2006 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Monday Media Blogging

Giant Microbes! Jurassic Shrimp! Yeti Crabs! Eeeek!!!

Apparently the ocean gets a census too, I guess so that it can be more effectively gerrymandered in 2010…

This year’s update, released Sunday, is part of a study of life in the oceans that is scheduled for final publication in 2010. The census is an international effort supported by governments, divisions of the United Nations and private conservation organizations. About 2,000 researchers from 80 countries are participating.

Ausubel said there are nearly 16,000 known species of marine fish and 70,000 kinds of marine mammals. A couple of thousand have been discovered during the census.

(…)

Highlights of the 2006 research included:

–Shrimp, clams and mussels living near the super-hot thermal vent in the Atlantic, where they face pulses of water that is near-boiling despite shooting into the frigid sea.

–In the sea surrounding the Antarctic, a community of marine life shrouded in darkness beneath more than 1,600 feet of ice. Sampling of this remote ocean yielded more new species than familiar ones.

–Off the coast of New Jersey, 20 million fish swarming in a school the size of Manhattan.

–Finding alive and well, in the Coral Sea, the type of shrimp called Neoglyphea neocaledonica, thought to have disappeared millions of years ago. Researchers nicknamed it the Jurassic shrimp.

(…)

–A single-cell creature big enough to see, in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal. The fragile new species was found 14,000 feet deep. It is enclosed within a plate-like shell, four-tenths of an inch in diameter, composed of mineral grains.

–A new type of crab with a furry appearance, near Easter Island. It was so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation, Kiwaidae, named for Kiwa, the Polynesian goddess of shellfish. Its furry appearance justified its species name, hirsuta, meaning hairy.

Check out the photos here and here, or start at the census’s main page.

2 comments December 11th, 2006 at 12:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Science,Weirdness


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