Thursday, June 30, 2005

Land of the free, home of the medicated

Americans love drugs. They love to be medicated. That is the reason pharmaceutical companies are pushing the envelope, trying to find newer, sillier and more contrived than ever medical conditions which would be generic enough for a large segment of population to believe they are afflicted with. For example, check out what I saw on the idiot box today. It is called "Restless Legs Syndrome". Not only is it a disease, but it even has a foundation. Well, at least there is a website purporting to belong to a foundation. If you feel an overwhelming urge to keep moving your legs, you may have restless leg syndrome. Well, let me tell you something. I have restless leg syndrome. I have had it all my life. And you know what I do when I feel like moving my legs? I bloody well move them, thats what I do. I move them like theres no tomorrow. I even burn calories while doing that. It makes me healthier. But see, Americans would rather be medicated than be made to move their legs. "Why do I have to move my legs, can't I just take a pill or something", is their thought process. Medications make them feel like victims. And everybody likes to feel like a victim. 'Cause, if you are a victim, you are eligible for Compassion. And Compassion, like its whiny brother Pity, is an underrated emotion. Thats why they have all these syndromes, which cater to wannabe victims.

But the big papa, the grand daddy of all these syndromes is the Munchausen syndrome. What is it, you ask? I'll tell you what it is, and you damn well not have anything sharp lying around you, cos you might want to stab yourself in the eyes when I do. Munchausen's syndrome is a condition, according to this website, "an extreme and severe form of factitious disorder, a psychiatric condition in which a person feigns physical or psychological illness for emotional -- rather than financial gains". So what they are saying is, there exists a fictitious disease called "Munchausen syndrome" which makes a person want to believe he has a fictitious disease. You see why you were warned about the sharp objects? You can thank me later after you take your medication.

All these diseases have one reason for existing. That is to get people addicted to them. Its all about the addiction, baby. And you know what the greatest travesty in this country is? Medical marijuana, that magical, gentle, invaluable, valueless herb, which, if there were a God, would probably have been his best gift for the human race, is now banned, even though it actually helps people in pain. Think about that. So, next time you watch tv and you think you have the medical condition they are trying to sell you, you know what to do. Just move your goddamn legs.

A full circle in Iran

Hmmm .. Let's see ....
1979, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cohorts-in-arms seize the US embassy in Teheran, taking hostages.
1981, Republican homeboy Reagan campaigns on the issue of American hostages and wins the election. Minutes after he is sworn in, the hostages are released.
2002, Republican asshat George "President" Bush delivers Axis of Evil speech which includes Iran, later inviting any nations interested in jihadist endeavours to "Bring it on" in order to boost his dropping sperm count.
2004, An indignant Bush insists he really meant "Bring It On" just as a metaphor and now would nations please stop bringing it on?
2005, Same abovementioned Bush gives Iranian voters the finger, who, having been taunted by the big infidel dog one time too many, vote in the same Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president out of spite.

Mahmoudsan (just cos Ahmadinejadsan sounds too contrived) also happens to be an extremely hardline pro-nuclear nutjob. Kinda like a mid-eastern version of our great leader this side of the Atlantic, except I'm sure he has a lot less brush to clear on his ranch. Seems like everything's come back a full circle and America and the world and everyone and their uncle are safer.

New Hampshire, the eccentric state Part II

A man was arrested for hiding inside a ladies' portable toilet, letting women do their business (for lack of a less offensive word, since we are talking about the fairer sex) all over him . You know, when I use one of those things, I'm not sure either whether to just perch on the edge or just dive in, torso, head and all.

This happened along the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire along a stretch of the road I've been along numerous times. Its a pretty isolated stretch of highway too. Well, to be fair, the guy was from Maine, so I guess this lets New Hampshire off the hook. But still, dont get too cocky Hampshireans, I'm watchin ya.

The State department exploits .... Bono?

courtesy ThinkProgress.

The US State department shamelessly used U2's Bono to falsely trumpet the administration's achievements for the HIV pandemic in Africa. This is what they say :

"Bono, lead singer of the Irish band U2 and longtime activist for aid to Africa, echoed Geldof’s praise for President Bush as he told an American television interviewer June 26, “[Bush] has already doubled and tripled aid to Africa .… I think he has done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. 250,000 Africans are on anti-viral drugs; they literally owe their lives to America.”

Except Bono never said that. What the State department did is clip together parts of Bono's statements from two different interviews to give the impression that this was what he wanted to convey. And, the most hideous aspect of the thing is, they actually extracted the first part of this statement from one where he was, if not actually criticizing, at least being cautiously skeptical about Bush, not fawning all over him as the State department's website seems to depict.

"Question: Which of the G8 leaders do you think remains the toughest nut to crack?

Bono: The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels he’s already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he started from far too low a place. He can stand there and say he paid at the office already. He shouldn’t because he’ll be left out of the history books. But it’s hard for him because of the expense of the war and the debts."

See what they did? That is blatant dishonesty. And this is is the State Department for crying out loud. But I guess, when the moral rot starts from the top, it spreads to everything below as well.

Memorabilia : My S & G moment

I am walking the streets of Greenwich village in downtown New York City with my buddies on a chilly winters midnight. Nicely buzzed from an evening spent being intimate with a number of different brews. Gazing above, I see the name of the road we are walking on "Bleecker Street", and realize hey this must be the Bleecker Street Simon & Garfunkel sang about in their song. And even though the song is about how each of us, even in the midst of crowded humanity, is still a lonely soul inside, I feel at harmony with the other strangers walking beside me on this little street.

Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank
Like a shroud it covers Bleecker Street
Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep

Voices leaking from a sad cafe
Smiling faces try to understand
I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand
On Bleecker Street

A poet reads his crooked rhyme
Holy, holy is his sacrament
Thirty dollars pays your rent
On Bleecker Street

I hear a church bell softly chime
In a melody sustainin'
It's a long road to Caanan
On Bleecker Street
Bleecker Street

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bush's tired speech

Juan Cole points out what was wrong with the President-Appointee's speech last night. Bob Somerby weighs in with his critical dissection. After the speech on CNN's post- speech analysis, Paula Zahn showed some balls in pointing out that the President's mention of 9/11 multiple times during the speech made no sense whatsoever since the connection between 9/11 and Saddam exists as much in reality as do the voices in the President's head. David Gergen, while agreeing with that in principle, correctly pointed out that it doesn't matter if there is no goddamned connection, the lobotomized idiots on the Right are still gonna hungrily lap up whatever patriotic swill Bush throws at them with gusto. Even a New York Times editorial today, surprisingly, slams the president's speech, saying

"Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq."

The new WTC tower

New York has unveiled the design for a new WTC tower that is even taller than the previous one.

"The building, which has been dubbed "The Freedom Tower" by Pataki, will remain 1,776 feet, symbolizing the year the United States declared its independence."

Supporters of the tower claim that the deadly combination of the term "Freedom Tower" and the numerical significance of the height of the tower in footage will most certainly be instrumental in defending the tower from any possible future terror attacks. Critics, mostly scholars from the American Institute of Common Sense, or A.I.C.S, are pointing out that the immense height of the tower will ensure its visibility even from the Middle East and thus enable disgruntled middle-eastern citizens to aim lasers at American employees working in the tower, thus causing a distraction and reducing productivity.

In related news, The Onion looks forward to 2056 AD when America will commence construction on the 5th WTC tower.

Multiculturalism : Mankind's only hope.

Alexandra Mack blogs about the "Bring your kids to work" day at her workplace, talking about how she used the opportunity to give kids an insight into life in India. Indsight agrees with her point, as do I, that if more people had a better background of where their fellow world citizens are coming from, there would be less problems in the world. Of course, it would not eliminate bickering and disagreements, but, in order to solve any problem, understanding the root cause of it is half the battle, and trying to understand the cultural aspect behind why someone disagrees with you is the first step towards resolving your differences. An awareness of other cultures also allows people to empathize with other cultures and undermine dehumanization of people of another culture. For example, if more people in the US and the western world had a better knowledge and awareness of the people of Iraq and looked upon them less as just some turban clad critters far far away from everyday life, that would probably make it more difficult to casually list their deaths as "collateral damage". However, multiculturalism faces a backlash in almost every country in the world. No matter where they come from, people always have an innate sense of superiority of their own culture with respect to other cultures. Here in the US, there is a serious movement against multiculturalism, carried on by the Republican Party and spearheaded by conservative talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and others. Its basically a kind of pseudo-white supremacism, where they do not want to taint their culture by even educating their kids about other cultures. A similar situation exists in India as well, with the Shiv Sena, which is a hard right Hindu fundamentalist organization, rallying against any kind of western influence in Indian society. But, as Ms Mack observes, if you start instilling an appreciation of other cultures in children from an early age, they would grow up to be more understanding world citizens and be more resistant to intolerance. As I have realized at this point in my life, the kind of upbringing one has as a child has a tremendous influence on the choices one makes and the life one leads as an adult.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mission Unaccomplished

Tonight, George "President" Bush will address the nation. He will stand up on the podium, slightly tilt his head while focusing his beady eyes into the distance, and generally try to give the impression he is about to say something extremely serious and profound. He will read, feigning gravity, from the typewritten notes, often attempting to embark on a devil-may-care extemporizing adventure, only to come gasping back to the safety of his notes when his words start turning into incoherent blather. A somewhat human smirk will occasionally straighten his otherwise twisted simian features as he tries to convince a largely skeptical America of future peace and prosperity, not withstanding the current hopelessness pervading the land. He will invoke the magical, but now meaningless words of September the 11th, freedom, democracy, supporting the troops, good and evil in order to rouse jingoistic fervor among those in the country who are now on the verge of recovering from the brainwashing of the election year. He will try to deceive, spin and paint a rosy portrait of things that are so blatantly, obviously irrevocably fucked, because he knows in his heart this is all he can do, all he has control over. For, slowly, surely, the grip he has had over the country is slipping. Even his loyal minions, the brainless cretins who voted to hand over the country, the world and their collective souls over to this most unholiest of holier-than-thous are starting to question him now. And so, the dice will fall, sanity will make a comeback and our great leader will dissolve into a murky puddle of wasted legacy. It will all start tonight.

Larry David's still got it

Check out Larry David's hilarious sleepless tirade at the Huffington Post.

"I like how they keep saying the science isn’t in on global warming. They just don’t know. No proof. But, of course, it’s in on God. Lots of proof on that. Tons of empirical evidence."

The BTK killer confession

I watched this yesterday on CNN's "Newsnight with Aaron Brown". It was a court video of the BTK killer, reciting in grisly detail how he murdered a number of people in Wichita. The most chilling thing about it was his matter-of-fact manner, almost akin to one you would see in a surgeon narrating the details of an operation to his interns. I am usually not that easily freaked out, but the cool, calm, detached, remorseless way in which this man was talking about how he committed those murders just got to me, and I did not, could not watch the entire thing. Try reading it if you can.

Useless Vitamin C

Your mom was wrong. Mine too.

The Book Mill at Montague

I spent two years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting a masters degree. Amherst is a sleepy little New England hamlet in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by rolling hills and farms. You know, all the good stuff. To the north of Amherst, there is a smaller village called Montague, which has this amazingly picturesque unused grist mill, which is now used as a book store. Its called the Montague Book Mill and it is the stuff of picture post cards. It is also my favorite bookstore in the world. I actually discovered it by accident.

It was the summer of 99, me and a buddy of mine decided to spend a weekend biking the rural roads around Amherst. So, accordingly, having cajoled / flicked a couple of bikes from the Indian room-mate community in Amherst, we started off on our quest. We decided we should take state highway 63, which goes north and just follow it till it either meets the Arctic ocean or our legs give out, whichever occurs first. This is a very picturesque country road which rambles along hills and forests, meadows, stud farms and the occasional babbling brook. After getting out of Amherst, we settled down to a nice rhythm of pedalling and wheezing, since both of us had not biked, probably since time immemorial. We passed Mt. Toby, presumably named by someone who wasnt really giving it his best shot. A short distance later, there appeared a small side road with a sign on it saying "Guru Ramdas Ashram". Guru Ramdas Ashram in the middle of nowhere in western Massachusetts? You gotta be kidding me. The road then came to an intersection, where, I learned later, one of my roommates had almost had an accident with a car coming from the other direction, him spinning around in his car and coming to rest facing the opposite direction. There, we saw a sign pointing to the left, saying "Montague". We hadn't really passed a single village till now, and we could have done with a nice cup of coffee, so we took this road and made our way to this enigmatic village. Montague is a very nice very small village containing, as if it were a rule in western Massachusetts, a church, a small general store, a post office and a small central grassy commons. Nothing more, nothing less. We kept biking and finally, came to a small turn in the road and a sign that said "The Book Mill". This sounded interesting, and so we followed this sign and reached the place. The Book Mill is perched on the banks of the SawMill river. There are the ruins of a small dam which was used to power the former grist mill. Inside, there are lots and lots of books at amazingly budget-friendly prices, which you can either browse through, sitting inside the bookmill, or on a deck outside, while listening to the sounds of the rushing water. Its also got a cafe, as well as a dining area. But, the real asset of this place, apart from its picturesqueness, is the books. So, if ever you are in western Massachusetts, make sure you visit this place. Its worth it.

Update: Here are a couple of pictures I found of the Sawmill river as seen from the Book Mill.

Tom's anti-psychiatry Cruisade.

You know, I usually give a free pass to celebrities to say and do as they feel, because cmon, they are celebrities, who gets hurt if they shoot their mouth a bit, its all in the noble cause of entertainment. But here I draw the line. The American Psychiatric Association is criticizing Tom Cruise for saying, although not in so many words, that psychiatry is a legal form of quackery, and rightfully so too. He's spoiling a lof of business for them. Cos you know, the only people actually likely to take Tom Cruise's advice on these matters would also be the people who would most probably benefit from psychiatric help. Such a vicious cycle life is.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Poor downtrodden Scottie

I wonder about Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary. I wonder if he wakes up every morning thinking to himself "God, I wonder how much bullshit I'm gonna have to come up with today". I wonder if he takes some special training classes in creating and serving bullshit. Or is it that he's done it so frequently by now that it doesnt take any extra effort? But the press is kinda ganging up on him now. Its like a pack of wolves, you know. Courage in numbers. Or is it pack of hyenas? Courage when the prey is injured? Anyways, one of the above. They havent been so nice to Scottie lately. They've been asking questions and stuff. Not only that, they've been following up. And not only that, they've been pretty persistent. This is kinda new for poor old Scottie. Reading the transcripts of the past few press conferences he's had, I wonder he hasnt sliced his wrists yet.

The banyan tree in the village center.

I just discovered an Indian grocery shop near my apartment. It claims to be a purveyor of groceries and hindi movies. However, when I went inside, there seemed to be a lack of both groceries and movies in the shop. The strange thing was, even though the vague little shop seemed to have very little utility value as a place where things could be purchased or rented, there were an inordinately large number of Indians hanging around the place ... Some were loafing around chatting to other Indians, some were wandering around talking on their cellphones, presumably with other Indians, some were just walking around in circles like disoriented zombies. No one was buying anything. I guess the shop has attained the status occupied by countless banyan trees in countless village centers in rural India as a place of congregation for displaced Indians in this part of the world.

Doing my part to clog up Pennsylvania's miserable highways.

So, the other day during my morning work commute, I'm stuck in traffic in a portion of the expressway usually not prone to traffic logjams. The traffic is at a standstill, and I'm saying to myself, "There better be an accident that caused this or i'm gonna get pissed". Well, what to do, I'm not a morning person and can get really cranky. So, as I move along, I gradually see police cars on the other side of the expressway and I realize that what I'm witnessing is a "gaper delay", basically caused by idiots on one side of the divided lane expressway gaping at an accident on the other side. Now, there are very few things that piss me off more than gaper delays. My view is, yeah sure, we are all human, go ahead, indulge in gaping, everyone likes to see an accident, but cant you make sure you are maintaining your speed while doing it and not slowing down in the process? I mean, how difficult is it to take in the sights and still keep moving at a fast clip? So, I resolve to do my part and not be tempted to gape. As I approach the accident, my conscience takes a time out and I say to myself, "Hey I can gape as long as I dont dawdle right? Right?" My conscience, who is busy playing solitaire or something says uninterestedly, "Yeah buddy go for it". So, trying not to dawdle, I try and observe the accident. I cant see jack. All I see is police cars. Where the hell is the good stuff, says I. Then, I spot some movement in the undergrowth just beside the expressway, and I spot the tail end of a car just visible in the bushes. Ah, so thats it, someone went off the road I realize. And then, I also realize goddamnit, I have dawdled! During my investigative pursuits, I had slowed down almost to a halt. Cursing myself, my conscience and George W Bush (just cos) I speed back up and resume my journey to work and life.

Moral of the story : As far as possible, try not to have an accident, but if absolutely unavoidable, take the precaution of positioning yourself such that you are easily visible from the opposite lane.

Honest Howie dissembles

Howard Kurtz, self described media scrutinizer and whiner extraordinaire, was busy dissembling sunday morning on CNN's "Reliable Sources". Parroting the Republican line, he was complaining that Dick Durbin's remarks about Gitmo being a national disgrace, didnt get any press, while the press jumped on Karl "Spawn of Satan" Rove's remarks about treasonous liberals. Ok Howie, this one should be easy enough even for you to comprehend. For one, I myself have seen more press on Durbin than Rove. Secondly, as the Rude Pundit lucidly points out, while Dick Durbin, when he says anything, only speaks for himself, or the state of Illinois at the most, when Karl Rove opens his mouth, he speaks as the Grand Puppetmaster of the White House, plus his words were officially endorsed by the White House too. So you see, what Karl Rove says has more import in the real world, and hence, when bullshit issues from Karl Rove's piehole, that bullshit needs to be taken more seriously than bullshit issuing from elsewhere.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The world progresses, America regresses

Japan today unveiled its new high speed train which will run at a speed of 360 kmph. In related news, the US is dismantling the only inter-city passenger rail company in the country by starving it of funds. Can the government get any more fucking short-sighted than this?

Idiots with books

Why is it that every fucking half-wit who gets any exposure at all in the main stream media for some bullshit they've done, regardless of how inane it is, gets to write a book about it, as well as get paid for an interview with some media whore? If this keeps up, whats to stop just about any jackass from trying to appear on the media just so he / she can profit out of it?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Condescending Douchebag-In-Chief

Everyday the Chimp finds new ways to make me throw up. The latest one is where during a speech he condescendingly says the following about the Secretary of Energy who is standing beside him, who is an MIT PhD " Now I want you to pay careful attention to this -- he's the PhD, and I'm the C student, but notice who is the advisor and who is the President".

Well, Mr President, I kinda have the feeling having oil money in the family had something to do with it.

Bush for life?

This would probably be my worst nightmare.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Karl Rove, brilliant lunatic

Joel Achenbach suggests Karl Rove has an ulterior motive in spewing his latest nonsense. The Rude Pundit weighs in with his own unique perspective.

Nothing that is said means anything anymore

This is officially the end of the era of meaning. It was a good era while it lasted. In this era, people only opened their mouths when they had a valid point to present. After the point was presented, this point would then be mulled over, digested, and then either accepted or a counterpoint presented to refute it. Nowadays, there are no points to be made. Only invectives to be hurled. And, hence, there is no substance to the discourse. The air has become so saturated with inane rantings that no one has the patience or the inclination to even consider a point as being worthy of discussion. This is one way in which the Republican party has succeeded in getting its way in recent days. By encouraging its radical members to go out and spew forth nonsense and poisoning the discourse. Now, there is no outrage left for anything anyone says. Now, everything that is said is just a prelude for an apology. And, this is how the republicans have avoided having a discussion about everything that has been going wrong. That is the brilliance of this new generation of Republicans and Karl Rove in particular. Since they know if, were anything to be legitimately discussed, they would not stand a chance, they have destroyed the very concept of discourse by rendering utterly meaningless anything that is said. And the end of discourse means the end of democracy as we know it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Freedom, fries and flag burning

The war in Iraq (as they claim to now) was designed to free the Iraqis.
"Freedom is on the march", says the Chimp-In-Chief.
Even French fries have now been freed of the tyrannical rule of the French government by renaming them Freedom fries.
And here, at home, the government is deconstructing freedom by attacking the first amendment.

Thank God for the mosquitoes.

It is June and the fireflies are back. The key to enjoying fireflies is to keep your gaze fixed at the center of the firefly scene. Then, using your peripheral vision, you will see the pulses of light all around, shimmering and dying rhythmically like hundreds of tiny synchronized electronic switches.

The mosquitoes are back too. Its weird but I love the mosquitoes. Most American cities are extremely sterile places, soaked in chemicals which disallow the flourishing of any kind of life except human. The mosquitoes remind me that the suburbs are still relatively chemical free and can still sustain life. Long live the mosquitoes, says I.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Chicken full of bones

Took one of my American colleagues to a neighbourhood Indian eating joint for a buffet lunch, he tried goat curry, got a mouthful of bones, and got pissed off. Reminded me of the time I was in India when I had gone with a couple of friends to a restaurant, where, as we went through the menu, we spotted "boneless chicken ... 50 rupees " and just below it, "chicken full of bones .... 40 rupees".

Proudly proclaim "I love torture"

I dont get it. What is with these banners proclaiming their love for Gitmo? I mean, this has to be the most brain dead idea of all time. What are these people trying to say anyways? That they love torture? That they absolutely adore the idea of imprisonment without trial? I mean, what is the point they are trying to make here? Is this just a half-assed attempt to blindly defend the administration regardless of the true meaning of what they are really defending?

New Hampshire, the Eccentric State

New Hampshire is odd. It doesnt fit the mold. Geographically, New Hampshire is in New England. Kinda sitting on Massachusett's shoulders and hanging on to Vermont's belt buckle. But New Hampshire is curious in the sense that the people of New Hampshire, while mentally still connected to the rest of New England, seem as if they are trying too hard to assert their own new identity. Like a youngster trying to break out on his own by rebelling against his parents.

When I started working in New Hampshire some 4 years ago, I did not have an apartment of my own, so I was put up temporarily in a motel. So, I got to go out to eat every night for a month, meet and get together with the crazy natives of New Hampshire. One day, I met this guy who was belting scotch, and I joined him at the bar. I wasn't really interested in conversation, just wanted to eat, get drunk and go back to the motel. I could tell this guy was itching to have a word with me. Finally, he decided to Just Do It, and collared me. For the next hour I got subjected to some hardcore Jesus-talk. Luckily, by the time he got me, I had already downed 2 big ones and so was in a nice hazy frame of mind, and was just able to keep nodding my head rhythmically at his preaching. Finally, he was done with me and he left. I then adjusted my neck, took it out of nod mode and looked around to check if I was still in the same place I was when I had started drinking. Pretty much everyone in the bar was looking at me with sympathetic eyes. The bartender, told me, "Yeah, he does that everyday". I said "Well, shouldnt you have a sign or something outside that says "Beware of crazy evangelists"?

The next day, same place, and its time for Crazy Heartbroken Stranger to show up. I dont know if I instill a feeling of comfort or fraternity in my fellow humans, but this guy started up as well, And not only was he pouring his heart out to me, he was also belting scotches-on-the-rocks at the same time. And, this was a dangerous combination. I told him I was new in town, and he offered me to show me around the town. It was 9.00 at night, and in a less inebriated frame of mind, I would have reconsidered his offer, but as it was, I needed some fresh air. So, off we went in his Mitsubishi Eclipse burning rubber. Everything was pretty much a blur to me, but the one thing that woke me up out of my stupor was a loud bang coupled with a vicious boneshaking, and that was when I realized he had just backed his car, pretty forcefully, into a wall. I realized I had to part ways with this guy in order to stay alive, and so I asked him to drop me off at my motel, which he did. He wanted to get together with me again, and I took his card and never called him back. Consequently, I am still alive.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Daily Show nugget of wisdom

I am addicted to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It is, quite possibly, the best show on the tube, period. Apart from being brilliantly satirical, in this age of media sloth and reluctance from the media for engaging in actual journalism, Jon Stewart (and his team of writers) shine through as the lonely purveyors of truth. Of course, their fondness for beaming a glaring spotlight onto the failure of the media, who is actually responsible for bringing us this truth in the first place, is an added bonus.

So, anyways, this is from Thursday's show, which I watched on saturday, since it is frequently difficult for me to keep my bodily functions running till 11:30 at night, so I just tape the show. So, Jon switches to a shot of President Smirky defending the Patriot Act (which, btw, is a post 9/11 bill designed to let the government enter your bathroom without permission, take a picture of you fornicating with the toilet paper roll and using it to imprison you in a jail cell without any toilet paper), saying in his characteristic smug, self righteous way, "The Patriot Act has worked well, and now it is going to expire. Does it make sense for something that has worked well to expire?". To which, Jon Stewart then narrated the fictitious conversation Smirky must have had the same morning with his wife during breakfast about an expired milk carton, saying "This milk has expired? Does it make sense for this milk, which has served us so well to have expired?"

In addition to being a satirical masterpiece, it is also a brilliant and inventive way of explaining that the Patriot Act, while (maybe) having had some use right after 9/11, has now outlasted it's utility value (like the expired milk carton) and thus, should not be renewed, and that Smirky's argument that anything that has served us so well till now should be renewed without questioning its utility value for the future, is just plain bogus.

Insane American middle-aged bicyclists

So, I was biking on the Struble trail yesterday, a nice little trail along the banks of the Brandywine creek, minding my own business, when I spot a couple of middle-aged American bicyclists in front of me, one perceptibly older than the other, both doing a leisurely pace. I was on a faster rhythm, so I biked up to them, announced "On your left" as is customary, and passed them. Well, I dont know if the idea of a brownish colored young prick from a strange country passing two native sons of the soil was distasteful to them or what, but the next thing I know, after having biked a couple hundred feet, the two, having shed their leisurely pace, go barrelling past me. One of them, the younger one, feeling the need to impress me with his bicycling prowess, started doing a kind of zigzag jig on his bike with the other guy, presumably an older relation of some kind, looking on proudly. "Look at my boy", he must have been thinking to himself, just a split second before his boy zigged a bit too much, zagged all over the trail and finally collapsed in a humongous mound of red, white and blue flesh and fabric. Now, I am as big a fan of watching other people take a fall as the next guy, but I am not vindictive. So, quietly, with a straight face, I moved on, allowing the two comics to pick up the pieces of their lives and shattered pride.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Greatest American

While killing time in downtown Philadelphia today, I happened upon a Discovery Channel open house taking place on Market Street. Discovery Channel has this new program running, "100 Greatest Americans", and it is currently taking votes from Americans to vote for the top 25, then the top 5, and finally, the greatest American in history. So, there was this country fair type booth with free t-shirts and popcorn and all, trying to induce people to vote for their favorite guy right there, all the while also plugging the actual program as well. The jock in charge also had people coming up to the stage and talking about their picks for the greatest American into a microphone. I was wondering whether I should add to the chaos, but finally, recognizing that I would much rather defecate on Market Street in public view than engage in public speaking, I killed the thought.
But, if I had gone up to the mic, this is what my contribution would have been like: First of all, anyone except George Bush would be fine with me. No George Bush. Please. Ok, now that I've established that, lets move on. Greatness for me is of two kinds : One is greatness of personal accomplishment. The other is greatness of contribution to humankind. And these two greatnesses are totally different and cannot be compared with each other at all. If the first type of greatness were to be considered, I would say my candidate for it would be Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong, who has conquered cancer and chemotherapy and after that, gone ahead and won 4 Tour De France titles, is, I think my favorite for great personal accomplishment. And I speak from the viewpoint of an avid bicyclist, who knows what kind of stamina and physical prowess you need to go on marathon biking runs.
The other kind of greatness, with respect to contribution to mankind, I would say, my favorite would definitely be Thomas Alva Edison. Well, do I even have to elaborate? The man who made electricity a household item. Where would we be without electricity? Who knows. At least not on my laptop typing these words, for sure. So there are my two picks.
But, it was probably good for me that I did not go up to the stage to voice my opinion, because I doubt the jock, who was already pretty irritated, no doubt from the heat and from having to talk to countless people he obviously had no tenderness for, would have allowed me to have my say.

Some classic rudeness

I was reading the Rude One's first blog, and it moved me so much my beer took a wrong turn into my nostrils. Heres the Rude One arguing for rudeness to be a part of political discourse :

"You get nowhere by standing on the street corner and declaiming that Bill O’Reilly is unfair to guests or that Donald Rumsfeld is evil. You make a clear image by listing all the kitchen utensils with which Mr. O’Reilly should be sodomized. It may be a no-spin zone, but it ain’t a no anal violation zone."

Iran votes for hardliners out of spite

Granted, these are just views of one individual, and they might have done it anyways, but this makes Bush's statement that the Iraq war has made the world safer kinda fall flat on its face.

Quote of the day

"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish." -- Author Unknown

courtesy The Raving Atheist

Friday, June 17, 2005

Give Amtrak the fucking money it wants.

I feel sorry for David Gunn, the president of Amtrak, I really do. It cannot be a pleasant gig, where every year you have to basically go begging to the US congress for money to keep your company afloat. But more than David Gunn, I feel sorry for the poor moronic souls in the heartland of the country who, on the basis of some misguided patriotic urge or religious zeal or whatever it was that made them abandon common sense to vote for George Bush. The guy who they thought they would like to have a beer with. But, while I empathize with these simple folks, there is a part of me that wants to drive up to each and every home in Virginia, the Carolinas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and every other jesus loving state of the United States of America, knock on their doors and lovingly give every single citizen the finger. No, make it two fingers. Because, you know, the Northeast, after Amtrak is gone, will take a plane to wherever it wants to go. Sure, airports will be more crowded, roads will be more clogged, the collective blood pressure of the populace will explode, killings over road space will probably occur, but they will have alternative means of getting about. What will happen to you now, you poor creatures of the hinterland? What will you do? Do you feel betrayed? Your republican congressmen sure do. Thats why they are crawling about on all fours trying to get your beloved jackass of a president not to destroy Amtrak. Cos', apart from your horse buggies and your shitty tractors that go 5 miles an hour, really, what other means of transportation do you really have? And it makes me (just a part of me that is) really really happy that if, Amtrak does survive, all the trains that go through your crappy little redneck villages will be gone, but those in the Northeast will still remain. Chew on that.

But why is the little nutjob in the white house doing this? Take a look at the rest of the world. Europe, Asia, practically everywhere else in the world, governments are innovating their railroad systems. It is practically obvious to anyone other than President Bunnypants that while it is always good to keep oil company executives fat and satisfied, the future of transportation HAS to be railways. NOT cars. Railways. So, Mr President, stop treating Amtrak like an illegitimate offspring and fucking give Amtrak the 1.8 billion they want. Give them fucking 10 billion if they want. How in the world, Mr President, can you spend 300 billion in an illegitimate war, which will probably go on forever, eating up what meagre government spending you can afford, and not give Amtrak the measly 2 billion it wants for a year? Chew on that.

Jeb Bush, vindictive little prick

Jeb Bush with his fellow right wing thugs, after hounding Terri Schiavo's husband and trying to rape the American judicial system, apparently is still not done.

Torture is ok, as long as you are well fed

Speaking of loony republicans living in a bizarro parallel universe, heres Rep Hunter from ... California? Really? Anyways, this guy tried to condone torture by reciting the prisoner menu at Guantanamo Bay. No, really, the entire menu. His point was, and I'm guessing, that as long as the prisoners are well fed, they can be safely made to vomit it all back up and wallow in it without having any guilt pangs.

Portable toilets on the expressway

I think the practice of hauling portapotties on an uncovered pickup truck along a busy expressway at rush hour needs to be discouraged. And for the following reason. If I am gripping my wheel, staring tensely at the portapotty on the pickup, expecting, at any moment, to hear a flushing sound, and a man come out of it and climb back into the driving seat of the pickup, all the while doing 80 mph, I am obviously not giving a lot of attention to the road and its hapless denizens at that particular point in time. While no official records exist of how many fatalities occur every year due to these killer toilets cruising the streets of America, I am sure they must be considerable.

The birthgiver is raving mad.

Well, its finally happened. We've finally managed to push Mother Earth past her breaking point and now she's trying to shake us all off her back. What with all the earthquakes in south east asia and now in california, I get the feeling that mommy feels we have outstayed our welcome. I dont blame her. But mommy, at least hold on till we find a new apartment.

Racial Medicine .... so what?

Seems as if America is caught up between the antics of the bigoted and the politically supercorrect. So it seems that some types of medicine act differently in different races of humanity, and as usual, there is a section of populace that finds this abhorrent. We have this sociologist saying "Race is too crude a measure. We should be looking at the individual and his and her biochemical makeup, not whether he or she is Black or White.", while not really disputing the findings. First of all, why in the name of sweet fancy Moses is a sociologist opening his mouth at all? Isnt it a medical issue? Since when did sociology take precedence over medicine? And, till we can pin down the relation between effects of particular types of medicine and biochemical makeup, wouldnt it make, you know, just a teeny bit more sense to take what we know right now and save a few lives?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The quack retracts

So Bill Frist, official surgeon, WingnutVille, is now saying he did not make any diagnosis on the Terri Schiavo case. And now, it is time to close the case and move on. See Bill, thats what happens when you fuck up. Fuck-ups have a habit of coming back to bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More on the Terri Schiavo Circus Finale

Heres a nostalgic moment from the quack Bill Frist, provided by Eschaton and ThinkProgress. Another case of ideology triumphing over facts.

The Terri Schiavo Circus Finale

So, finally, it turns out that Michael Schiavo didnt have anything to do with Terri's collapse into coma after all. What a surprise! I think what Michael needs to do now is to go on network television, preferable at prime time and give a big fat Fuck You to all the conspiracy theorists at Faux News and other wingnut organizations who kept uttering baseless allegations against him. I wonder if Sean Hannity will talk about this tonight. I'm guessing not.

Make more babies

The VHP, India's rightwing hindu organization, is asking Hindus to make more babies. This is to counter the increase in population of the muslim community. How is it going to solve anything? Who knows.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Neil Cavuto is a big fat idiot

Hilarious prose by the Rude One on Neil Cavuto of Faux News. And while we are on that topic, heres a bizarre column by the abovementioned Cavuto comparing making fun of fat ppl to being racist against Blacks or Hispanics. Now, while I dont condone porkophobia, I do want to point out that for one, ppl are not born fat, they choose to be fat (regardless of excuses about slow metabolism and what not), and second, I dont remember any part of history when fat ppl were forced to plow fields for their masters because of their obesity. But I guess, Neil Cavuto feels a pang of compassion because he himself is self-admittedly porky. Just imagine if he were Black or Hispanic or Asian.

The nutritional value of Howard Dean

A nice bit of analysis by Billmon on Howard Dean's statements about the Republican party only caring about white christians. In summary, what the democrats have to learn is how to choose their fighting issues wisely.

Jesus in the Zoo

The red states are gradually losing it. Apparently christianity is threatened by letting kids know that hindus have elephant gods. And, the way to combat this threat is by adding a creationism disclaimer. Yes, the battle of the fairy tales. Way to go, 21st century.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Perishable water

So this bottle of water advises me to consume it within 45 days of being sold. Or bad things will happen to me apparently. If this water they are selling is so perishable they probably should'nt have filled it from a goddamn spring.

Kick off

Lived for 3 years in New England but never ever heard the famous Boston accent. And, today, finally, in the middle of Cheesesteakville I hear the damn thing. I think it was worth the wait.