The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is it @#$% Christmas vacation yet?

I can't help but wonder if I'm the only person who graduated elementary school (barely) who laughed when they read this headline. Probably.

More headline fun: While I have no love for store clerks, I would never think to give someone a reward for killing one. That would be wrong. Mostly.
Centinel 3:23 PM # | |

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm ghost like Swayze

SNL has been less than good over the past few years, but I must say that this short is one of the best I've ever seen on the show. So, props.
Centinel 1:11 PM # | |

For the Record,

I wish to categorically state that I have not killed anyone recently, nor do I have any specific plans to do so.

However, if I should run into Michael Bolton, hey, target of opportunity.*

*This is meant as a joke. We here at Centinel do not condone the killing of anyone except those killed in self-defense. And, you know, capital punishment -- we don't really have a problem for sending multiple murderers to the chair/gas chamber. Of course, we also define self-defense rather broadly. Bombs dropped on Iraq, for example, would meet that broad standard. So, for that matter, would a bomb dropped on Anna Nicole Smith's house . . . I mean, have you ever watched her on anything? Despite their 15-year rehabilitation tour, I seem to recall that Commies are pretty bad, too, so it's alright to kill them. Nazis, gang members, and the ACLU are all threats to your well-being, so it's probably alright to kill them, or at least maim them. Now that I think about it, we're not so much opposed to killing per se. I think we will address these matters on a case-by-case basis in the future.**

**Killing Michael Bolton is still probably wrong. Well, if he's not singing at the time, that is.

Soylent Green is people, yo.
Centinel 12:30 PM # | |

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing. Nobody listens - and then everybody disagrees.

Rarely does Congress overflow with the milk of human kindness less than during the holiday season. With session about to close, the GOP is trying to bumrush through all the lickspittle legislation that they couldn't get passed during the normal school year. Subsidies for chinchilla farmers? Just tack 'em onto the military appropriation bill and let that boondoggle remora take a free ride to enactmentland. Meanwhile, the Dems are hollering bloody murder because the GOP is trying to enact its agenda instead of, you know, taxing the rich and giving it to the poor, or as they refer to it "Investing in Our Future," because, let's face it, when your looking to invest, you really want to put all of your resources in the non-performers.

What amused me this morning while listening to NPR, however, was the way the parties are throwing around the indignity during the debate on reaffirming the Patriot Act. Both parties were riding the Constitution like a worn-out thoroughbred all the way to the finish line in an impressive show of blowhardedness (the quality whereby legislators say pointless or untrue things in a very sanctimonious way).

Sen. Kerry, in a vain attempt to regain the limelight, first stated that he and his cronies couldn't reaffirm the Patriot Act because of certain violations of the Constitution, in their view. Well, gee, Senator, hasn't this legislation been thoroughly vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court since its passage after 9/11? Think of the money we can save now that the Senate Democrats are the final arbiters of what is or is not constitutional. Hell, we can just go ahead and get rid of the entire U.S. Supreme Court.

Not that the GOP was much better. Sen John Cornyn (TX-R) had the unenviable position of suggesting that civil liberties were unimportant if our lives are threatened by terrorists. Look, I like security as much as the next guy, but even I get a bit nervous when U.S. Senators start suggesting that civil liberties are tradable commodities.

I suppose I shouldn't complaint too much. After last week's ice storm on the East Coast, a little hot air might be welcomed.
Centinel 7:09 AM # | |

Monday, December 19, 2005

And who are you, the Disco Plumber?

I sometimes miss important events and trends, so I need a question answered -- Is there some sort of hygiene problem associated with plumbers? I mean, are plumbers particularly poor bathers (which would only be the slightest bit ironic, if at all)? Specifically, do they smell worse than other professions or the public at large?

The reason I ask is that I'm driving into work today on I-"KillMeNowBecauseIHaveToCommute8,000MilesADay," when I come up on this somewhat large-ish, nicely painted plumber's truck with this stirring motto painted across the back: "Our Plumbers Don't Smell Bad . . . and They Show Up On Time, Too!"

I don't believe I've ever had a problem with my plumbing (knock on wood), so I've never had to seek the services of a plumber. Is this a problem endemic to the field? If not, couldn't the company come up with a better motto? Because, while I believed that plumbers smelled rather like the general public before I saw the truck, now I have this creeping suspicion that plumbers smell "like a used diaper filled with Indian food."

The implications of the motto aside, aren't there other benefits that plumbers could be touting? I say this because most companies that decide to come up with their own catchy slogan end up celebrating "features" and not "benefits." This is important to everyone, whether you're selling your plumbing services to a jaded public without the benefit of consulting someone who knows a bit more about advertising than, say, an amnesiatic badger, or whether you are selling your soul to a potential employer -- don't focus on features, kick the benefits.

For example, if you were selling a car, don't say, "V-12, 40,060hp" because this is not only random gibberish from people who like cars more than girls, but it is also a feature, not a benefit. The benefit would read, "Is faster than a rocket-propelled weasel" and/or "at top speeds, the wind will peel your eyelids off your skull." Now you're talking to me.

I suppose this would translate the "Our plumbers don't smell" to "One whiff of our plumbers won't melt all of your nostril hair." Still, I think if I was knee deep in raw sewage in my foyer, I wouldn't really care about the whiffiness of my savior. In fact, although I'm not in advertising, I would suggest leaning toward something like, "Will take care of your plumbing problem quickly and cheaply."

OK, that doesn't sing. How about, "Nobody takes care of your shit better than us"?

I'll keep working on it.
Centinel 2:34 PM # | |

Good evening, San Diego. I'm Veronica Corningstone. Tits McGee is on vacation.

I'll let this press release from UCLA regarding a study done on the political orientation of major news outlets stand on its own merits. A friend of mine thought it amusing that the release characterized the "discovered" liberal bias as "surprising," but I don't think that's what the adjective was meant to convey. What was surprising was that the most liberal of the 20 sources investigated was the news pages of the Wall Street Journal, and that NPR is no more liberal that what is considered the "mainstream" media.

That said, I found the methodology of the study to be innovative. Often such studies are based on some bizarre quantification of what is or is not liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, etc. By basing its qualifications on the ADA scores of sitting congressmen, the study is actually using a rough approximation of the standards used by most politicos. Few of those in politics use the writings of Burke or Goldwater or some random political scientist or political commentator to define a person's politics. Usually, they work off a broad understanding of what is or is not conservative, liberal, etc., and they base the rest off where the person stands vis-a-vis the parties or, often, a particular legislator. Don't know where to stand on the Medicare prescription drug benefit? Well, where did Sen. "Red" Ted Kennedy come down? Not sure about a bill touted by the press as "conservative" is any good? See if Sen. Olympia Snowe voted for it. If she did, then you can be sure that the bill isn't worth a cup of warm spit.

Perhaps someone should put together a mondo database using something similar to the ADA or ACU's rankings. That way we could start ranking everything by it's political leanings. We could finally know if Jesse Jackson is to the left of Karl Marx (the answer is, "yes, but he's still to the right of Howard Dean"), or if Feddie is to the right of Ghengis Khan Tomas de Torquemada (the answer is "generally yes, but Ghengis Torquemada was better on capital punishment"). I'm not sure what use such information would be in the long run, but I feel that way about most the information coming out of the news sources in the studied media outlets.
Centinel 7:18 AM # | |

Monday, December 12, 2005

Desperation is a stinky cologne.

I've been watching the "Tookie" Williams clemency scramble with a detached interest. More of an "Mmmmm" than a "Wow!" or even a "really?" I have a hard time getting worked up about a former gang-affiliated bad guy who's going to take the big sleep for killing four people. (BTW, if you are going to go by the name Tookie in the 'hood, I imagine you pretty much have to look like this.)

What I couldn't seem to figure out is why there are people who are out there spending precious P.R. time fighting this (deservedly) losing fight. OK, so the people are Snoop Dogg and Jamie Foxx, but wouldn't even their time be more of a benefit to humanity if they were doing roadside clean-up. Of course, all of this grandstanding is keeping both the aforementioned from recording new music and/or comedy, so I suppose their is some public good being filled here.

I still don't know what the hell the deal is with saving the Ol' Took (no relation to Peregrin), but I do recognize the tactics being used. The pro-Tookers are basing their whole argument on the following premise: Tookness was a "really bad guy" -- the founder of the Crips (false) -- who has come to realize the error of his ways (false: he still refuses to accept responsibility for his crimes), and who now writes books encouraging the kiddies not to, you know, thug life, and to presumably eat their vegetables. Oh, and I think I heard mention 5,000,000 times somewhere that the Tookster was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (which, I believe, requires a $30 registration fee and proof of Earth citizenship).

This is a redemption story, a bad boy sees the light tale, a morality play dreamed up by people in Hollywood who have no morals, this is, for those of us familiar with little league sports, the Most Improved Player Award. That's right, you remember the MIP -- it was usually reserved for the most dysfunctional player on the team who had no skill whatsoever, yet played with heart. The idea is that we are willing to reward improvement, so perhaps going from "really bad" to "almost human" is enough to save the Tookman from the smell of sulfur and the felling of flames tickling his buttocks for another few years.

I respect the MIP move. I utilized it in college to get one of my few passing grades. In archery. See, on the first day of class, the professor announced that there would be a letter grade bump for the MIP. So, naturally, I tanked the first couple of weeks and then magically improved every week there after until I had scored my MIP. And therein lies the rub. The best way to be a MIP is to REALLY SUCK at the outset and improve to average. This doesn't mean much to you or I, but it makes for an interesting argument for Tooker T. Washington.

So there you go people. If this little scam had worked, the lesson would be clear: if you're going to do a crime, do it BIG so that you can show improvement in the 40-odd years it will take your @#$% death penalty case to come to fruition. Don't just kill your parents, but strangle a few kittens in the process. Maybe beat up a nun. The whole idea is to set a low bar here so that your "improvement" will be impressive. You don't even have to use it exclusively with crime. Every company, church softball team, and surgical team needs an MIP. So aim low.

Hell, it's worked for me over the past 30 years.
Centinel 3:00 PM # | |