Friday, December 31, 2004

Greetings from ~tcl

I just want to wish everyone a happy and safe new year. I'm finally moved into my new place, my 'puter is set up, and I will be back to posting on a regular basis this weekend.

Go out, have fun, get drunk, drive fast, take chances!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Pictures of the tsunami

Hey all.

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have posted some incredible pictures of the tsunami that struck Thailand, India and elsewhere on my picture blog, Convoluted Perceptions. Go check them out. In 3 days I have had over 4,000 hits, and the videos are sucking up about 10 gigs of bandwidth a day, so view them now, while you still can. I have about 10 - 15 videos total, so email me if you want a copy sent to you via email, or if you'd like a compress file with all the photos I have collected.

And while you're at it, here's an excellent point brought up by Bob Harris:



Writing from Tasmania, which is a great place I'd love to write more about and surely will someday. But I just don't feel like it right now.

I wish I knew how to do more to help the people who need it right this minute. I wish I knew how to get my government to behave without its usual level of shameless self-absorption and shortsightedness.

$35 million. Swell.

The death toll is rapidly approaching six digits -- imagine 30 September 11ths, if you wish, with all the sudden speed, chaos, and complete wreckage of human life that entails -- with the number of affected people surely ten times that high. And the richest country in the world, the one which believes itself to be singular among nations (thus ironically fulfilling the notion before the neurons have even cooled), can only muster a few dollars per life destroyed.

What's $35 million?

The amount it takes to fix up one park in Pittsburgh.

It's exactly one new school in Montclair, New Jersey.

It's what Dick Cheney put in his own back pocket by ditching his Halliburton stock.

And it's one four-thousandth of what the U.S. has spent invading and occupying Iraq.

Tens of thousands of dead in a dozen countries on two continents, after a disaster so large it literally changed the map of Indonesia and completely obliterated the southernmost tip of India.

Survival infrastructures are simply gone now in many places. Famine and pestilence are likely to take at least as many lives if the rest of us fellow humans don't do enough to help right now.

$35 million. George W. Bush is telling the largest Muslim nation on Earth that the massive destruction in Aceh is worth less than the United States spends on occupying Iraq every day.

Obscenity.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

It's a family name

What were his parents smoking when they named him? What was he smoking when he changed it? Is he a big Tom Clancy fan? I wonder if he changed his last name to Constant. Or is that too much geek humor for Christmas morning?

(Nexus...)

SANTA FE, N.M. - Just in time for Christmas, Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon got a gift from the state Court of Appeals: a name change. The Albuquerque resident's new name will be Variable.

The appeals court ruled this week that a state district judge in Bernalillo County didn't provide sufficient reason for denying Mokiligon's name change application.

The three-judge panel issued a formal opinion in order to clarify the standards that district courts must use in such cases.

While some states require petitioners to show good reasons for name changes, New Mexico doesn't, the court said.

That means it's up to the court or a third party to come up with objections that override a petitioner's right to a name change.

Typically, those can include an unworthy motive, the possibility of fraud, or a name "that is bizarre, unduly lengthy, ridiculous or offensive to common decency and good taste," said the appeals court, citing a Colorado ruling that there must be a substantial reason to deny the petition.

In Mokiligon's case, state District Judge Linda Vanzi found that the name change "is offensive to even the broadest accepted notions of common decency and good sense, and is otherwise contrary to the public good," according to the opinion.

But the district court never held a hearing — Mokiligon was told by mail he was denied — and didn't provide factual support for its decision, the appeals court said.

"Thus, there appears to have been no showing of wrongful or fraudulent purpose, and the name 'Variable' does not appear obviously offensive," Judge A. Joseph Alarid wrote.

Mokiligon, who represented himself, had filed seven petitions since September 2003 for name changes, and all were dismissed.

He said in his handwritten appeal that his right "to a name of my choosing" had been violated.

"My name is mine to define," he said.

The court cautioned in its opinion that Mokiligon must stick to Variable as his legal name, and that he must use it "unless or until he changes his name again through a recognized legal process."

Mokiligon could not be reached for comment. (That's because his name is Variable now! You just said so!!)

B.S. [Week 1] ~TCL's View



[Blog Spectrum - WEEK 1]

Question: What is the biggest threat to America?
Answer: Americans.

The Cunning Linguist Writes:

This is a good broad question to start us out, but it's a bit vague; personally, I think that we can group our biggest threats into 4 categories. Political, Social, Economical and Military (ideas for later topics, Casual?) That being said, I wrote this because I feel that the greatest threat to our lives, and or way of living, is ourselves.

We are a nation divided. It should come to no surprise to you if you even glance at the newspaper. Both parties spew animosity and hatred towards each other. We have not made much of an effort to work together, united as Americans, instead of seperated by affiliation. We need to put the election to rest, retire the bitching and the gloating, and focus on something productive. For starters, we could pay more attention to life outside of the US. Let's be honest; when it comes to foreign affairs, we would rather watch Survivor - Africa than the BBC. This is made painfully obvious when you turn on the television.

Watch your local evening newscast. Out of the 45 minutes of actual news, perhaps 3 - 5 minutes are dedicated to world events. We are being sheltered from all the bad things that happen elsewhere. Collectively, we are like small children who put their fingers in their ears when it's time to go to bed. "Lalalalalala! If I don't hear it, then it's not true!" We don't want to see the dead soldiers. We don't want to see innocent civillian hostages being beheaded. We don't want to see suicide bombings. Well, we're told that we don't want to see them, anyway.

Because of this report-only-the-good-things mentality that the press has adopted, and the listen-to-only-the-good-things mentality we have adopted, we tend to miss it when other countries voice their opinions about America. Here's some examples of how the general population of the planet Earth views the US of A. I didn't cover all the continents, but here's a smattering for you.

Canada:

According to a Harris Interactive Poll, most Canadians, like most Europeans, are clearly able to differentiate in their attitudes between different aspects of the United States, its government and its policies. Substantial majorities of Canadians hold negative views of President Bush (by 67% to 17%), of U.S. policy in Iraq (by 65% to 21%), and of American foreign policy since 2000 (by 60% to 15%). (1)

Unsurprisingly, American perceptions of this country are generally much more positive than the perceptions of Europeans and Canadians. Majorities have positive opinions not only of the American people but also (by 54% to 22%) of American values, American food (by 76% to 9%), the quality of life in America (by 72% to 15%), and of the American system of government (by 59% to 23%). (2)

"In 1981, only 8 percent of Canadians had an unfavorable view of the United States. Now, 45 percent have an unfavorable view," said Michael Adams, a veteran pollster and philosophical proponent of the view that the two societies are diverging. "There has never been that kind of lopsided skew." (3)


Europe:

At least seven in 10 [people] in France, Germany and Spain said they have an unfavorable view of the U.S. president. Just over half of the French and Germans said they have an unfavorable view of Americans in general, and about half of Spaniards felt that way. (4)

[Germany], America's staunchest ally on the continent during the Cold War, has strongly opposed the drive toward war [in Iraq]. In June of last year, 61 percent of Germans had a favorable opinion of the U.S. That number plunged this year to 25 percent.

In France, where respondents last year held a 63 percent mostly favorable view of the United States, the number has fallen to 31 percent. Similarly, in Italy, the favorable opinions fell to 34 percent from 70 percent.

Only those in two nations - Poland and Britain - held views toward America that were more favorable than not. But that support has sharply diminished over the past year. Poles, who have long embraced the United States because of family ties and as protection against stronger neighbors, held a view that was 79 percent favorable of the United States last year. The new poll places that positive view at only 50 percent.

Last year, 75 percent of Britons had a generally positive view of the United States. This year, that number fell to 48 percent, while negative views more than doubled.

The United States did not fare any better with other partners in the anti-Iraq coalition. The Spanish, for example, held a 74 percent unfavorable opinion of the United States, and 79 percent of them opposed Bush's policies, even as that country's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, hews tightly to Washington's strategy. (5)


Mexico

A majority of people in Canada, Mexico and five European countries have an unfavorable view of the role that President Bush plays in world affairs, Associated Press polls found. The AP polls were conducted by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

Only in the United States did a majority of those questioned, 57 percent, have a positive view of President Bush's role.

Just over half in Mexico and Italy had a negative view of Mr. Bush's role. In Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and in Canada, two-thirds had a negative view. (6)



Middle-East:

In Zogby's 2002 survey, 76 percent of Egyptians had a negative attitude toward the United States, compared with 98 percent this year. In Morocco, 61 percent viewed the country unfavorably in 2002, but in two years, that number has jumped to 88 percent. In Saudi Arabia, such responses rose from 87 percent in 2002 to 94 percent in June. Attitudes were virtually unchanged in Lebanon but improved slightly in the UAE, from 87 percent who said in 2002 that they disliked the United States to 73 percent this year.

Those polled said their opinions were shaped by U.S. policies, rather than by values or culture. When asked: "What is the first thought when you hear 'America'?" respondents overwhelmingly said: "Unfair foreign policy." (7)


Arab Attitudes Toward the US: June 2004/April 2002

Country - Favorable/Unfavorable

Morocco: 11/88 (2004) vs. 38/61 (2002)
Saudi Arabia: 4/94 (2004) vs. 12/87 (2002)
Jordan: 15/78 (2004) vs. 34/61 (2002)
Lebanon: 20/69 (2004) vs. 26/70 (2002)
UAE: 14/73 (2004) vs. 11/87 (2002)
Egypt: 2/98 (2004) vs. 15/76 (2002)

In five of the six countries we measured in both 2002 and 2004 (Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt) there was a decline in the US’s favorable ratings. This decline was most significant in Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. Only in the UAE was there a slight increase in the positive rating. (8)


Poll Chart (9)





As you can see, we rank pretty high on more than a few shit lists. Now, I know that you've probably seen these floating around over the past few weeks, but I reposted a few of the transcripts (10) to further exemplify my point. I've edited them down quite a bit, but you can see original, unedited transcript with the link I included (I didn't do a Michael Moore edit, I promise.) Or, you can watch the quicktime movie (11).


From the November 30 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes:

COULTER: Conservatives, as a general matter, take the position that you should not punish your friends and reward your enemies. And Canada has become trouble recently.

It's -- I suppose it's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there
. The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam. And now after this election, you have the blue-state people moving up there.
[...]
COULTER: There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent of the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol.
[...]
COULTER: They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.
[...]
ELLIS HENICAN [Newsday columnist]: We share a lot of culture and a lot of interests. Why do we want to have to ridicule them and be deeply offended if they disagree with us?

COULTER: Because they speak French.

COLMES: There's something else I want to point out about the French. Is it's fashionable again on your side to denounce the French.

COULTER: We like the English-speaking Canadians.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:

CARLSON: Without the U.S., Canada is essentially Honduras, but colder and much less interesting.
[...]
CARLSON: We exploit your [addressing Canadian Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish] natural resources, that's true. But in the end, Canadians with ambition move to the United States. That has been sort of the trend for decades. It says something not very good about Canada. And I think it makes Canadians feel bad about themselves and I understand that.
[...]
CARLSON: Canada needs the United States. The United States does not need Canada.


From the November 30 edition of CNN's Crossfire:

CARLSON: Canada's essentially -- essentially a made-in-Taiwan version of the United States.
[...]
CARLSON: Doesn't that tell you something about the sort of limpid, flaccid nature of Canadian society, that people with ambition come here? What does that tell you about Canada?


Now, as I said before, I won't base my opinions of a political group because of a few lone nutjobs. Unfortunately, people like these have powerful voices, and everyone around the world has CNN. If all you hear are cocky, self-important individuals voicing negative comments about anyone/where/thing that isn't America, then logic dictates that that is the mindset of the typical American.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. But we see stories about Islamic funtamentalists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Sudan and even Holland. They're everywhere! How can we tell the normal Muslims from the radical Muslims? Maybe it's just easier to be distrustful of anyone who wears a turban or a ghutra.

See? It's that easy. Apathy is commonplace. We'd rather complain about our problems than solve them. We'd rather stick to our ways and bicker, than open our minds and find a common ground on which to form a foundation for a stronger society. Other countries see this, they see our arrogance and smugness, the way that we flaunt our authority. It's not just that we're uneducated about foreign countries. It's because we're uneducated, and we have no desire to learn. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are our own greatest threat. We've been THE superpower for about 50 years now. With that title comes all the heat. If we don't start protecting our best interests outside of our borders, instead of focusing inward, and if we don't stop carelessly and flippantly burning our bridges, we are going to find ourselves very alone. And who will protect you when you're the enemy? All empires topple. It's inevitible that someday, ours will too.




Sources
Harris International Polling (1)
Axcess News Network (2)
The Concord Monitor (3)
MSNBC (4)
International Herald Tribune (5)
CBS Newsl (6)
The Washington Post (7)
Zogby Internation Polling & The Arab American Institute (8)
Zogby International Polling (9)
CNN Transcripts (10)
CNN / FOX News Video (11)

*****

Come on over to Blog Spectrum and check out the rest of the debate, along with the commentary!


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Once again, no material.

-13 degrees oustside on my way into work this morning. NEGATIVE 13!! Yet, people are still driving on their cell phones and wearing short-sleeved shirts. Sometime I don't understand this bass-ackwards state. Work should be voluntary anytime it drops below single digit weather.

Here's a few more strange news stories for ya. I'm too unmotivated to actually write today, here's some more interesting news.


Paris Hilton gets banned from the New York Daily News!
(linky...)

Some of the reasons given for her bannation: She's a racist, an idiot, a total bitch, a bad tipper, snobbish, greedy, shameless, hypocritical (appearing in the "Vote or Die" campaign, and then forgetting to register to vote), dates abusive men, and is as dumb as a bag of hair. Well, shit. Who didn't know this? I think I'll follow suit. No more Paris Hilton on this site. Just like I promised not to post anything political after the election. Yeah.....

Hilton-ism of the day: "Like, I work every single day. ... I really work my butt off."
***

Nothing funny about this story, except for the title: Woman killed by Tomatoes.
I was expecting to read about a poor woman who was killed by an errant tomato at a comedy club. Turns out it was just an allergic reaction.
***

Man struck by lightning... 5 times.
(linky...)

Jorge Marquez says he is cursed and that lightning follows him, reports Terra Noticias Populares. Mr Marquez, who works as a farm worker in San Manuel, was first struck in June 1982. He told: "I feel like something very cold enters my body or as if I'm a hot iron being immersed in cold water." He said that in the first time he was struck he had his hair burnt and his fillings all flew out from his teeth.
***

Mexico bans indoor nudity!
(linky...)
***

The coolest urinals on the planet!
(linky...)

Includes the female urinal, a urinal on the International Space Station, as well as the Taj Mahal and others. Here's my favorite. It's almost too nice to pee into.



***

So they mounted a camera on an eagle...
(Linky...)

Check out some of the video. It's pretty cool, especially the dogfight with the buzzard.

***



That's all for now. Good stuff coming tomorrow, I promise. No, really.



Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bombay the Hard Way

Quite possibly the funniest news story I have seen in some time. I highlighted the better parts for you.

Linky...

NEW DELHI (AP) - It was a private act of two hormone-charged teenagers that lasted 2 minutes and 37 seconds on digital video.

But offered for sale on the Internet, the fuzzy images of the 17-year-old girl having oral sex with her high school sweetheart has sent shock waves through urban India, exposing the growing friction between the conservative middle class, its increasingly Westernized progeny and modern technology.

"It came to me as a surprise that kids are having sex so soon," Barkha Dutt, who hosts the country's most popular television talk show on social issues, said in an interview. "Even we are not aware of how much things have changed."

India may be the birthplace of Kama Sutra, the 6th century sex manual, but sex today is a generally taboo subject. Premarital sex is not widely condoned, and public displays of affection draw frowns.

Caught in the scandal's stinging sweep is Avnish Bajaj, the Indian-born American who heads eBay's Indian subsidiary Baazee.com, where the video clip - shot by the schoolboy himself using his cell phone camera - was put up for sale.

Arrested last week under an ambiguous Indian law on cyber porn, Bajaj was freed after posting bail Tuesday, but his U.S. passport remained confiscated.

Bajaj's arrest triggered a diplomatic spat between the United States and India and a threat by eBay executives to reconsider doing business in a country that would toss one of their top managers in jail as a scapegoat.

"This incident has certainly given us pause and raises concerns about the safeguards that are in place for businesses operating in India," said Henry Gomez, an eBay vice president in the United States.

"This situation is one of concern at highest levels of the U.S. government," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington.

Bajaj set up Baazee.com in 2000 and sold it to San Jose, Calif.-based eBay, the Internet's leading auction company, for about $50 million in June. The Harvard-educated executive has since headed the Bombay-based subsidiary.

The sex clip was recorded weeks ago and passed on by the bragging schoolboy to three of his friends and eventually made its way to video disc sellers in New Delhi. It did not draw much attention until an engineering student at a prestigious Indian college listed it for sale on Baazee.com.

Now the girl's parents have sent her off to Canada. The 17-year-old boy, the son of an affluent businessman, is now in a juvenile detention center. He went to Nepal to escape the media glare and was arrested at the airport when he returned to the capital on Sunday. A judge on Tuesday ordered him held until Jan. 4 for questioning to try to determine how the video clip reached the man who tried to sell it.

The controversy over the clip - it's the talk of urban India, an obsession of newspapers and talk shows - is typical of a society in transition, said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, the director of the think tank Center for Social Research.

India's recent economic boom has created unimaginable wealth among the tech-savvy urban population, who live in a globalized world dominated by the Internet, international brands and Western lifestyle with its relatively liberal sexual values.

Kumari says urban India is being pulled apart by these new values and its own centuries-old social conservatism.

"It is this transition which is resulting in a lot of confusion," Kumari said.

Observers like Kumari think a variety of people share the blame for grossly amplifying this sex scandal - including the authorities who arrested Bajaj and the boy, who remains unidentified because of his age; the teenagers' parents, who weren't aware of their children's activities; and teachers, for sidestepping sex education in schools.

Many are outraged by the arrest of the schoolboy, who along with the girl attended one of the capital's best known private schools, The Delhi Public School.

"What are we trying to say here?" asked Dutt. "What do we believe is wrong? Was it that he had sex? Was it that he sent out the clip? Which part is the disturbing part?"

Of greater concern to many in the business community is Bajaj's arrest under the Information Technology Act of 2000. The law makes a criminal offense of "publishing, transmitting, or causing to publish any information in electronic form, which is obscene." But it also says an Internet provider or Web site manager can't be held responsible if he acted diligently to remedy an electronic offense after learning of it.

Baazee.com maintains it yanked the sex video listing as soon as customer service managers noticed it, and Bajaj had traveled to New Delhi to cooperate with authorities.

Pawan Duggal, a cyberlaw expert, said Bajaj's arrest has serious implications, especially when Internet usage in the country is rapidly growing and foreign investors are increasingly looking to India for e-commerce opportunities.

"Ultimately we have to see bigger picture. We want to increase Internet penetration. (HAH!) All this will only happen if you allow service providers the freedom," he said. "The law needs to be more industry friendly and more pragmatic."



Internetional scandal! Teenage sex! Illegal pornography! Exile to Canada! INTERNET PENETRATION!! Let the good times roll!


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Stupid people will believe anything.

I've been a fan of Get Fuzzy for years, and I got a good laugh out of this particular strip. If you don't find it funny, then you're the person it's directed at.

Link to comic...



Sunday, December 19, 2004

I was bored

So I made an assortment of banners for the blogs that I visit. I hope everyone likes them.
To the owners of the blogs: If you don't like the banner, let me know, and I will take it down, or make a different one. If you have any ideas for an alternative design, drop me a line, and I will come up with something. Feel free to use these banners for yourselves as well, but do me a favor and host them yourself, so I can save precious bandwidth.





























And to the few people who are still stuck with a plain text link; don't worry, punkin. I'm working on it.

Don't forget to check out Blog Spectrum on Monday for the beginning of the beginning. Also, please vote for Convoluted Insanity for the "Snarkiest Blog of the Year" award. I have no chance in hell of winning, but it's the first time I have been nominated for an award for this site. I know how you people are with clicking on links, so you can just lie, and tell me you voted if you want.

Until later!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

BoB Awards

Hooray! Someone nominated me for the Best Of Blog 2004 Awards in the category "Snarkiest Blog." You would be my hero if you clicked on the link below and left a comment at the bottom of the page, nominating me for this prestegious award. Voting ends on December 24th, so go do it now!

Click here to vote for Convoluted Insanity! Otherwise I will kill and eat this kitten.




You don't want that, do you? Now go vote for me!

Blog Team Spectrum... AWAY!

Well, after putting up yesterday's post, and chatting a bit with The Casual Observer, he kindly invited me to join the Blog Spectrum.



(Info taken from Blog Spectrum)

The Blog Spectrum is a group blogging experiment. Each week the Blog Spectrum team will address one issue at a time, as posed by The Casual Observer. Participants will go into as much (reasonable, no Jordan stylings please, that means under 5k) detail as needed to address their point.

This is a civil effort, with many broad points of view (Liberals, Libertarians, Conservatives, Moderates, and all the rest); we are not going to be indulging in word games when responding to other’s posts and we will cite our sources if we are stating something as fact.

This is an *issues* forum, not a Bush fans vs. The World steel cage death match!


Blog Spectrum is going to be more of a think-tank for ideas and issues, and hopefully it won't turn into a Fark-esque message forum, rife with flame wars and malice. I'm pretty excited about it, and since there is at least one person representing each political view (I signed on to take a liberal standpoint, just because I like a challenge), I'm cordially inviting you to take a peek. I put up a Blog Spectrum link in my sidebar, along with links to the other Blog Spectrum members.

Just in case you're wondering, Convoluted Insanity won't be changing at all, and I'll still be posting up the same type of material that I always do, with the same frequency as well. So have no fear, fellow bloggers. I'll still be holding down the fort. You might even see a new post from me on Daily Traversal, since I have been slacking hard-core lately (getting things packed to move in the middle of the Christmas season is not an enjoyable task). You might want to check out Convoluted Perceptions in the next few days as well. I'll be putting some new photos online. A busy beaver, that's me!

Cheers!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Nazi punks fuck off!

I got an email from The Casual Observer (who ran across my blog somehow) informing me about a post of his. The post in question (for those of you too lazy to click on a link) is about a company in Phoenix, Arizona called T-Shirt Hell. TSH is a company that specializes in selling T-shirts with various slogans across the front. Some of their stuff is funny, some is kind of lame, and some were made strictly for shock value. According to their FAQ, they started up in 2001 with 10 designs, and since then, have been featured in the New York Post, various magazines (mostly porn, soft-porn and tabloid) television shows, and they even sued Ozzy Osbourne when he attempted to rip them off.

Anyhow, Casual was browsing through their online catalog, when he ran across a few designs that offended him. The designs are displayed below, and if you're easily offended, then you should have looked away 2 sentences ago. Too late!







Not exactly PC, are they? Now, before I go any further, let me ask everyone who is reading this 2 questions.

1) Does this offend you?
2) Would you ever buy one of these shirts?

Now, I don't like racism (although I am always game for a racist joke), and I personally wouldn't purchase any of the above shirts. I'm not a big fan of getting stomped by a bunch of pissed off black people. Besides that, I know the value of tact. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I was offended by seeing them; truth be told, the 4th one made me chuckle a bit (Captain Lowbrow, that's me). But seeing those shirts made me wonder, what type of a person would buy one of those shirts, and wear it? I could only think of 3 types of people who would do such a thing.

1) A white supremacist.
2) Someone who is into S&M, and likes getting his ass kicked.
3) Someone who bought it as a gag gift, never intending to wear it.

How do you feel about T-Shirt Hell? Would you boycott the store, based on those (or other) offensive products? Or would you still do business with them if you wanted to get a non-white-power shirt? They have a disclaimer on their site that says "We design our shirts to amuse ourselves. We don't care if you're offended by them. Regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or sexual preference- you are all fair game.". Their company name makes it fairy obvious that these are not the run-of-the-mill Gap shirts you are buying.

Personally, I wouldn't boycott them, because they are just exercising their First Amendment rights. But how, exactly, does Freedom of Expression fit into that equasion? According to The National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, protected expression includes such non-verbal expression, such as wearing a symbol on one's clothing. But that's not the problem. The problem is being offended. And that's more of a judgement call than a legal definition. What is offensive to a judge in rural Alabama may not be offensive to a judge in California. What is offensive to a priest, may not mean a thing to an atheist, and vice versa. If I may draw a parallel for you:

You think gay marriage is gross. But you're not gay. So why should it matter to you if gay people get married? Perhaps homosexuals think that hetero sex is gross. I know for a fact that Dan Savage, noted gay sex columnist feels that way, and has said so on many occasions. How would you feel if hetero marriage was outlawed? You've got to try and see both sides of the issue. Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes, and all that.

Freedom of Speech applies to speech that you don't like. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand that concept (see my article about the PTC, Beth Robbins or numerous other posts for more instances of this), and try to outlaw anything that pushes their buttons. And that can lead to a dystopian society.

Read it!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Subscribe to it!


Now how do you feel? Did that change your mind at all, or do you feel the same? Do you think this is artistic expression, or barely concealed hate?

Let me throw a wrench into the works for you. White Power Music and Distribution is a label for such bands as A Mighty Lion Roars, Racist Redneck Rebels (their songs include "Oh My God - I Married A Nigger" and "Whatever Happened To That Dear Ol' Klan Of Mine?") and Panzerdivision. Aside from the sidebar quotations twisting the words of Benjamin Franklin and Friedrich Nietzsche in an attempt to justify their bigotry, and the Frosty the Snowman picture on their banner (he's dreaming of a White Christmas, no doubt), it seems to be your typical racist record label. Klan Kountry Music, German Oi bands and the rest of the shit that 14 pissed off rednecks in Mississippi listen to.

However, on the bottom of their main page, they have a banner linking to T-Shirt Hell. So does their streaming station, Aryan Radio. Now, you can't order custom t-shirts from T-Shirt Hell, so everything they make is in-house. That means that White Power Music and Aryan Radio are not responsible for the designs. They just found something that fits their cause, and linked to it. T-Shirt Hell is profiting from their prejudice. I highly doubt that their marketing team went out to all the Klan meetings, pushing their product, but the Klan (or a related group) is definitely endorsing them.

What do you think T-Shirt Hell should do? Does Free Speech cover Free Enterprise? If this was your company, what would you do? Would you take money from a hate group? I'm just trying to generate some conversation, and see where people stand on this issue. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

As I said in a post the other day, "I hate the KKK, NAMBLA and the Religious Right. I think that they are comprised of sick, demented and shallow-minded people whose sole focus is to spread hatred. BUT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO. You'll never see me hanging out with skinheads, but if the government decides to try and disallow them from holding a meeting, or having a public rally, well, you may see my face in the crowd when they protest."

I'm going to stick by those words. This isn't exactly a skinhead rally being banned by the government, but it's a similar situation. As much as I dislike the message, I'm going to side with T-Shirt Hell on this. I'm not going to boycott them. I won't purchase those particular shirts, but I'm not going to judge their entire company based on a few offensive items. They have shirts poking fun at Native Americans, homosexuals, Republicans, Democrats, rape victims and Christopher Reeve. So they're equal-opportunity pricks. Heh.

For a similar story, I recommend reading Skin Deep, a 2002 story about the first neo-nazi music festival in Colorado. It was published in Westword, Denver's alternative newspaper. It deals with the public and legal problems that various venues faced after booking the show. Regardless of what the message of the festival was, these people are still paying clients. Once again, money vs. morals. Also, thanks to Casual Observer for letting me know about this. Although I ended up disagreeing with you about boycotting the company, it was nice to have a new topic to discuss and research (thanks for letting me look up court cases?!? For fun?!? What kind of a nerd am I?), as well as post about.





Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Convoluted Insanity (a primer)



con vo lut ed
adjective.
\Con"vo*lu`ted\, [Latin. convoltus, past participle of convolvere, to convolve. See convolve.]

1) Having convolutions.
2) Folded in tortuous windings.
3) Intricate; complicated: convoluted legal language; convoluted reasoning.

in san i ty
noun.
\In*san"i*ty\, [Latin. insanitas unsoundness; cf. insania insanity, F. insanite.]

1) The state of being insane; unsoundness or derangement of mind; madness; lunacy.
2) Relatively permanent disorder of the mind.


I started this blog in June of 2004. This is actually my 4th or 5th blog, but it is the only one that I have continuously updated, and actually posted to on a daily basis. I tried a few other services like Diaryland (too much like a 14 year old girl's diary), mblog (now defunct), Live Journal (didn't like the layout) and blogdrive (again, didn't like the layout). Finally ran across Blogger, and learned some basic HTML. The end result is what you see before you. Pretty sad, ain't it?

This blog has no set agenda; that is to say, it's not strictly a political blog, or a news, picture, humor, tech or music blog. I have many different interests, and I like to post about many different things. Sometimes I read a news story that makes me laugh my ass off, and I'll share it with everyone. Some days, I've had it with people, and I rant about everything under the sun. Maybe I'll pick up a new CD and decide to write a review on it, or a blog that I come across. Sometimes I just put up the random flotsam and jetsam that my mind produces.

I also have a very haphazard style of writing; I'll start on an entry in the morning and work on it sporadically throughout the day. I usually have between 3 - 5 partially finished pieces at any given time (for instance, I have been working on this post for 2 weeks now.) That tends to make things seem a bit disjointed when reading it. And that, boys and girls, is why I chose to name this blog Convoluted Insanity.


Some Very Uninteresting Things About Me

I am an ordained minister. Really.
My family is German.
Everyone in my family speaks German.
Except for me. Dammit.
Everyone in my family has been to Germany.
Except for me. Dammit again.
For some odd reason that I think my father should fully explain to me, my first, middle and last names are all the same as very famous Nazis. Worse yet, they were all rumored to be gay (not that there's anything wrong with it.)
I slip obscure and not-so-obscure references to TV shows, movies, books, pop culture and inside jokes into my posts. If you didn't get something, Google it. If you still don't get it, then it probably wasn't that funny.
I was born at Longitude -87.97601, Latitude 41.96880.
I live in Colorado, but I don't like to ski or snowboard (a felony offense out here).
I live in Colorado, and I really don't like the Nuggets.
I live in Colorado, and I really, really don't like the Broncos.
I live in Colorado, and I fucking hate the snow.
I am not a liberal, but for some reason, people label me as one. I've even been called "dangerously liberal", so watch out! I may tolerate you until you can tolerate no more tolerance!
I think sports suck, but when I was younger, I played baseball, American football, football (soccer, Yank), tennis, basketball and competed in a triathalon.
I am a music snob. I think it pisses people off, but they listen to Metallica and Green Day, so screw 'em.
Even though I know it is a grammatical faux pas, I like to interject my sentences with side-notes (kinda like this), and I do it way too often (as you can tell.)
I play guitar, bass, program music on my computer, and am a decent drummer. But Baby Jesus cries when I try to sing.
I never run spellcheck. I'm too impatient to skip over all the intentional misspellings (like chrissake, wtf, and heh) that I use.
At one point, I owned 5 ferrets, 2 cats and a chinchilla. Then I fixed my stove (simmer for 25 minutes, top with garlic butter, serve warm.)
I play devil's advocate sometimes, and post about things I don't believe in, just to try and get people pissed off.
I'm hard up for something to write; normally I wouldn't post something as cliche as an FAQ. It's like running a "Best Of" episode.
My personality type is INTJ (Introversion, Intuitition, Thinking, Judging).
I religiously watch The Simpsons, and actually go through withdrawl if I don't see at least 1 or 2 shows a week.
I try to slip at least 1 Simpsons quote into every post. It's due to my nerdish leanings (didja catch it?!)
I am an encyclopedia of useless information.
This annoys my friends and co-workers to no end.
My very first job was in a butcher shop owned by a family of chinese people who illegally crossed into the US from Mexico. The head butcher knew 3 phrases in engrish. "Gaddammudafuk!", "Come heah boy" and "Cleeoopdadispraycayce" (rough translation: "Clean up the display case"). He would usually yell one of those phrases before throwing knives at me.
I owned a motorcycle before I owned a car.
I don't like alcohol.
I over-analyze and second-guess everything I do. It gets really annoying. Or does it?
I really hate kids, especially yours.
"Drizzle" is a really funny sounding word. Say it.

No, I am not high right now.
I don't have a political affiliation, because there is no "Common Sense" party.
I laugh at things that people find offensive, and have the ability to find humor in any situation, regardless of how fucked up it is. And it's all because of video games and rap music.
I think organized religion is for people who are too weak to control their own lives, so they rely on higher beings to make their decisions for them.
I'm not sorry if that offends you. If you don't like personal opinion, then you should click that Next Blog button in the corner.
I am, by nature, an optimist.
It gets harder to be one every day.
Ethnically, I hate people as a group (caucasians included), but I like individuals. Some people think that's racist. They're just stupid Jews.
Sometime I use very subtle, tongue-in-cheek and somewhat acerbic humor... *cough*
Because I work for a medical company and am subjected to 3 seminars a month dealing with blood-born pathogens and contagions, I am obsessively clean.
I always carry around a backpack filled with books, food, cd's, clean socks, winter hat and various small objects. It's either because I was in Scouts, or because I have OCD.
I find learning to be extremely fun. Really. I would rather read a textbook on Greek Mythology or leaf through an encyclopedia than watch reality-television. Or Drawn Together. Yeech.
I am still surprised at how many people don't read unless they are forced to.
It is wrong to judge a person based wholly on their sex, religion, age, race, sexual orientation, handicap or physical appearance. It is, however, ok to make fun of them and point and laugh. You can do it to me, too.
I am eligible to receive medical marijuana. Party at my house tonight!
I constructed this list in a hard-to-read manner, and I was too lazy to fix it.
I can't come up with a good way to end this post, so I'm just going to trail off..........

Monday, December 13, 2004

Q: What do you call an epileptic in a lettuce patch?

A: A seizure salad.


Here's a list of famous people who have epilepsy. A few of them surprised me.

* Grover Cleveland Alexander
* Alexander the Great
* Aristotle
* Napoleon Bonaparte
* Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac
* Buddha
* Julius Caesar
* Truman Capote
* Lewis Carroll
* Agatha Christie
* Ian Curtis of Joy Division
* Dante Alighieri
* Leonardo da Vinci
* Charles Dickens
* Danny Glover
* Georg Fredric Handel
* Margaux (Margot) Hemingway
* Sir Elton John
* Jack Lemmon
* Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
* Abraham Lincoln
* James Madison - President of the United States
* Michelangelo
* Sir Isaac Newton
* Alfred Nobel
* Peter the Great
* Pope Pius IX
* Edgar Allan Poe
* Pythagoras
* Socrates
* Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
* Vincent van Gogh
* William III of England
* Neil Young

No point to this post, I just thought it was interesting.

Q: What's the difference between an epileptic Oyster shucker and a
prostitute with diarrea?

A: The epileptic oyster shucker shucks between fits.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Thoughts, quips and arbitrary contemplations

More topics, news stories and bullshit from the last few days.


Why Models Are Not Real People:

Super Model Gisele Bundchen, Reneges on “Lost Dog” Reward Offer; San Bernardino Couple Arrested, Released, and Talking to Media
(story...)

A young San Bernardino couple is going public with questions about supermodel Gisele Bundchen's "no questions asked" $5000.00 reward offer, which remains unpaid more than two weeks after the couple returned Bundchen's dog only to be arrested at gunpoint, handcuffed and held in custody. Although cleared by the police, the couple has no explanation from Bundchen of why they were treated like criminals and denied the reward.

“My friends and I found the dog running in the street where it was almost hit by a pickup truck” said Janelle, we picked it up and took it with us to keep it safe. As soon as she could get back to Hollywood, six days later, Janelle made sure to go to the neighborhood where the dog was rescued. There she saw the anonymous reward posters, which Bundchen, reportedly on the advice of Paris Hilton, had plastered all over the neighborhood. That evening Janelle and Paul, along with their 18 month old son gathered up Vida and brought her back to Los Angeles where they arranged to meet with the owner and exchange the Vida for the reward. Instead, after returning the dog in good condition as promised, Paul and Janelle were suddenly arrested at gunpoint by three detectives, thrown to the ground and held their while 18 month old Schyler, their son, screamed with distress and fright. Transported to the police station still in handcuffs, Paul asked officers “what have I done wrong”? Two hours later after questioning, Paul and Janelle were released and told by police that they had been cleared of any wrong-doing. In subsequent conversations with authorities, Paul and Jenelle were told that the owners of the dog had made a theft complaint, apparently failing to tell police about published reports that Vida had run away from home before, and even after police cleared Janelle and Paul, Bundchen was refusing to pay the reward. Attempts by Paul and Janelle to get an explanation from Bundchen were rebuffed, until they hired attorney Frank Edward Harrigan III of Claremont, who made contact with Bundchen’s agent, Ann Nelson at IMG and has since been in discussions about the matter with attorneys for Ms. Bundchen.

From the day the dog was missing the police may have known how to find Janelle and the dog, but they made no attempt contact her. Also, one press report initiated by Bundchen’s press operation, however, explicitly stated that Bundchen suspected “dognappers” in the disappearance of Vida. The “hefty” reward offer was a clever trick, a ruse and a deception, from what we have read perhaps suggested by Ms. Hilton. Now that the police have verified Janelle and Paul acted innocently, Bundchen and her people still don’t want to honor the reward or even apologize to Paul and Janelle for what they went through, including a car chase in which someone apparently associated with Bundchen terrorized Janelle by chasing her car around the Hollywood Hills the day she learned of the reward.


Look, Paris "Cum dumpster" Hilton in not capable of creating a clever trick, a ruse OR a deception. I highly doubt that she even knows what those words mean. The only clever trick she knows is the "Magical Disappearing Penis" illusion. Too bad there's no "Magical Disappearing Paris" illusion. Really, isn't it time for her to turn back into a pumpkin or something? As for Gisele, she's fap material, and nothing but. I mean, she is pretty good looking, but really, who wants to deal with a bitch like that?
14:57, 14:58, 14:59...




Reading Material:
I just finished the Dean Koontz novel "By the Light of the Moon." I've noticed something about his books. 9 times out of 10, the lead character is wealthy in some way, shape or form (probably so that he doesn't have to worry about coming up with money), and he/she is a good person at heart. They like animals, dislike violence and are generally very selfless. That's all fine and good, but seeing as how I own 97% of his books, it get REALLY old. How about a change of character every so often? The lack of imagination makes all your stories run together. Criticism aside, "Dark Rivers of the Heart" is still one of my favorite books of all time.


This Week's Search Engine Queries:
Nfsu2 save file pizza
METH PICS STRANGE
what is insanity
confessions socialist-libertarian
el chubby's hot sauce
pictures of Klaasbuur
link:MBQP8YWgksgJ:ogrish.com/ (5 hits in 2 days. 1 hit each from Vermont, Florida, Morocco, Italy and Sweden. WTF?!?)


Google Stats:
#1   -   Convoluted Insanity
#1   -   Ekupes
#1   -   link:MBQP8YWgksgJ:ogrish.com/
#2   -   Convoluted (just behind the definition from Hyperdictionary.com)
#4   -   The Cunning Linguist
#20 -   Insanity


Apologies and Retractions:
This goes to Jesse at The Jesse Factor. When I listed posted about the blogs I frequent, I said he was a "right-wing conservative". Whoops. Apparently he took a bit of offense to that label, as he sees considers himself to be an "atheist libertarian who supported Bush on views." So, my bad. People tend to label me as a liberal, just because I have a few liberal views, but I think it's mainly because people on the right use the word "liberal" to brand someone who doesn't agree with their line of reasoning. Kind of like the whole J. Edgar Hoover/Communist blacklisting. "I don't like you, so you're a liberal/communist/hippie." No wonder liberals like to be called "progressives" nowadays. Anyhow, my apologies to J for making that assumption, for I have made an ass out of u and... umption?


Thanks:
To everyone who commented about this site and left me feedback about why they come here. My ego has been stroked, and now my keyboard is sticky.


What's the Deal?
What the hell is the big attraction to Maddox? I set up an online petition to support him, because some ultra-prude woman made a petition to rid the internet of his filth. If you'll scroll down to my post about the PTC, you'll see that I am very pro-free-speech, and so naturally, seeing someone bitch that their UNSUPERVISED children are being morally corrupted by a website kinda irked me. Anyhow, one of the 10 year old Maddox worshippers found the petition I made and told all his grade-school friends about it. Now, the petition is filled with lots of witty and intelligent comments, as proven by the following gems:
"Beth Robbins raped my children and spit on my dog! Then she pooed in my yard because my website linked to the best page in the universe"
"All hail Maddox,for we are the lamb and he is the shepherd.The shepherd of Ass-kicking."
"Beth loves it doggy style in the ass!"
"Maddox is Amazing/God"

For a better idea of the type of people who visit his site, go check out the comments that were left on Amazon.com, after Maddox slammed Bill O'Reilly's book.

Now, I have nothing against Maddox, I personally enjoy his writing. And I get about 10 hits a month from people doing a Google for "nomaddox". But goddamn, I'm glad I don't have a following of 1 million grade-school pirates like he does. I prefer visitors who don't use internet slang like "teh" and "RULZ!!!11!!1one1!", or fanatically follow the every word of someone they have never met before. But I guess you can't choose your fanbase. Just make sure to finish every last drop of that grape Kool-Aid, kids. I am now preparing to be deluged with hate-mail from his minions. Hopefully I won't get shot 5 times in the head (is it too soon to make a Dimebag Darrell joke?)

Fun Sites:
Ugly Christmas Lights. Horrible displays of Christmas decorations gone wrong.
Subtly Simpsons. Explanations of quotes from The Simpsons, with humor derived from subtleties of language, esoteric allusions, or just plain wit.
The Official Ramen Homepage Mmmm... Ramen.
Road Rage Cards. I could use a few of these. Especially these two:



New Blogs of Interest
Cry Now ~ Laugh Later She visits me, I visit her. It's a good tradeoff
Life in This Girl's Army Authored by Sgt. Lizzie in Iraq who "got her happy ass blown up" by an IED attack on her vehicle.
Mastermind of the Design. AWESOME blog layout. I'm jealous.


That's all for now.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Things you never knew about Christmas

   Christmas is a festive time of year. Until you turn 12. Then it becomes a gigantic pain in the ass. Christmas is one of my least favorite times of the year, simply because something bad always happens. Every year, for the past 5 or 6 years, some stupid shit has occured right around this time of the year, leaving me broke, unable to buy presents for friends and family, and stressed beyond belief. This year, it's moving. I have to be out of my place by December 29th. Hooray! I sure hope it snows!

   Personal problems aside, Christmas has become something that is more hassle and worry than fun and excitement. Everywhere you look, there are small groups of lonely, angry little grinches, running around and complaining about how the holiday offends them. Non-religious people bitching about nativity scenes at the state capitol. Christians complaining that their rights are being infringed upon by having to remove said nativity scene. Epileptics having fits (pun intended) because of the flashing lights on the Capitol building. The mayor taking down the "Merry Christmas" sign in front of Denver City and County building, replacing it with "Happy Holidays", and then replacing it with "Merry Christmas" 2 days later. Taking down the nativity scene. Putting the nativity scene back up. Now, Mary now wears a burka, Joseph has a skull-cap and dreidl, and the 3 Wise Men bear gifts of beef-free Gardenburgers for the Hindus, tinfoil hats for the Scientologists, and bitter self-loathing for the Catholics. This is all set underneath a bodhi tree for the Buddhists.

   There. Now, are we all equally represented? Is there anyone else offended? Have we all lost the will to enjoy Christmas? Good! Now, go back to protesting the St. Patrick's Day Parade, or renew your efforts to ban Halloween. Will no one be happy until... no one is happy? Have a Valium and some nog-based beverage, and chill the fuck out. Christmas is for children anyway. Any sort of religious meaning tied to this holiday is erroneous, and mostly made-up. Let me prove it to you.


The Truth About Christmas

   Christmas wasn’t always a day of celebration, in ancient Persia it used to be a day of chaos, where the rich and the poor would change positions in their social order. The rich would be robbed blind, houses set aflame, and anarchy would rule the streets. The poor would commit murder; thievery and general mayhem were permitted, and the rich weren’t allowed to do anything to stop this.

   The history of a Christmas festival dates back over 4000 years. Ancient Midwinter festivities celebrated the return of the Sun from cold and darkness. Midwinter was a turning point between the Old Year and the New Year. Fire was a symbol of hope and boughs of greenery symbolized the eternal cycle of creation.

   The term "Xmas" instead of "Christmas" is Greek in origin. The word for "Christ" in Greek is "Xristos." During the sixteenth century, Europeans began using the first initial of Christ's name - the "X" of "Xristos" - in place of the word "Christ" as a shorthand version of the word "Christmas." Although early Christians understood that the "X" was simply another form for the name of Jesus Christ, later Christians, who had no knowledge of the Greek language, mistook "Xmas" as a sign of disrespect. Eventually, however, "Xmas" came to be both an accepted and suitable alternative to the word "Christmas."

   Many of today's Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ Child was born. The Twelve Days of Christmas, blazing fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals or parades complete with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, holiday feasts and church processions are all rooted in the customs observed by early Mesopotamians. Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of the New Year. The Mesopotamians worshipped many gods, the chief of whom was Marduk. Each year as winter arrived, it was believed that Marduk would battle the Monsters of Chaos. In order to assist Marduk during his struggle, the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. They called this celebration Zagmuk, and the festivities lasted for twelve days.

   The King of Mesopotamia would return to the Temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The tradition called for the King to die at the end of the year and then return with Marduk to battle at his side. To spare their King, the Mesopotamians utilized a "mock" king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all due respect and the privileges of a true king but, at the end of the celebrations, the "mock" king was stripped of the royal garments and then put to death, thus sparing the life of the real monarch.

   The ancient Persians and Babylonians celebrated a similar festival which they called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places within the community; slaves would become masters and the original masters were obliged to obey the former slaves' commands.

   In Scandinavia during the winter months, the Sun would disappear for great lengths of time. After thirty-five of such dark days, scouts would be dispatched to the mountain tops to await the return of this life-giving heavenly body. When the first light was espied, the scouts would hurry back to their villages bearing the good news. In celebration, a great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Huge bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the welcome return of the Sun. In some areas, people would tie apples to the branches of trees as a reminder that Spring and Summer would eventually return.

   The ancient Greeks held ceremonies similar to those of the Zagmuk and Sacaea festivals. The purpose of this feast was to assist their god Kronos, who would battle against the god Zeus and his army of Titans.

   Members of the pagan order have always celebrated the Winter Solstice; the season of the year when days are shortest and nights longest. It was generally believed to be a time of drunkenness, revelry and debauchery. The pagan Romans called this celebration Saturnalia, in honor of their god Saturn. The festivities began in the middle of December and continued until January 1st. On December 25th, "The Birth of the Unconquerable Sun" was celebrated, as the days gradually lengthened and the Sun began to regain its dominance. It is a general pagan belief that the Sun dies during the Winter Solstice and then rises from the dead. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!", the Roman celebration would include masquerades in the streets, mangificent festive banquets, the visiting of friends and the exchange of good-luck gifts known as Strenae, or "lucky fruits." Roman halls would be decked with garlands of laurel and green trees, adorned with lighted candles. Again, as with Sacaea, the masters and slaves would exchange places.

   Saturnalia was considered a fun and festive time for the Romans, but Christians believed it an abomination to honor such a pagan god. The early converts wanted to maintain the birthday of their Christ Child as a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment, as was the pagan celebration of Saturnalia.

   As Christianity spread, however, the Church became alarmed by the continuing practice among its flock to indulge in pagan customs and celebrate the festival of Saturnalia. At first, the holy men prohibited this type of revelry, but it was to no avail. Eventually, a decision was made to tame such celebrations and make them into a festive occasion better suited to honor the Christian Son of God.

   According to some legends, the Christian celebration of Christmas was invented to compete against the pagan festivals held in December. The 25th was sacred not only to the Romans, but also to the Persians whose religion of Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that period in time. The Church was, however, finally successful in removing the merriment, lights and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and transferring them to the celebration of a Christian Christmas.

   Christmas means "Christ's Mass" and is the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth and baptism. Although December 25th is generally accepted as being the time when the Christ Child was born, the exact date has never been chronicled with any degree of accuracy. There is neither scriptural nor secular evidence to establish the exact moment. One thing is relatively certain, however, the event did not take place in December. Since the child was born when shepherds were "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (Luke 2:8), it is unlikely that shepherds in Israel would have been sleeping outside with their flocks during the month of December. In Winter, the herders would have led their sheep outside only during the daylight hours; the nights would have been far too cold. It is known that during the very early Christian centuries, the birth of the Christ Child was not celebrated in any manner.


   So, there you have it. All of you (insert religious, political or social label here) idiots are bitching and moaning about how your precious feelings are being hurt, and it's all over something that is a LIE! Use Christmas as a time to get together with family, have fun with friends, buy worthless plastic toys for your children, only to have them break 2 days later, or relax at home by yourself. Go out and look at some pretty lights, or go to church if that's your thing. Eat fatty foods and regret it the next day! But stop it with the complaining already!

Happy Festivus! Now, let's all gather around the pole for the Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them." ~Mark Twain

Oh yeah, today's beef is a good one. Mostly because it is about something that I am VERY vocal about. The First Amendment. For those unaware, the First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Think about that for a moment before continuing on with this post...


"I may disagree with what you say but I will defend until death your right to say it."
--Voltaire


Did you think about it? Hopefully you did, because I am going to talk about a very, very stupid group of people who are not only attempting to do something incredibly frightening, but they are actually succeding at it. They want to restrict what you see on television, including cable services. No, it's not the FCC. It's the Parent's Television Council (PTC). And if you haven't heard of them, it's not surprising. They're a relatively small faction of religious extremists. That is not an overblown statement either, that is a stone-cold fact. They try to hide behind the guise of morality, but it's a very transparent cloak. So, fear not, constant reader (or Blog Explosion surfer!) For I, in my indelible wisdom, shall tune you in, and explain to you the horror that is the PTC.

"Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day."
--Thomas Jefferson

A Few Facts About the PTC

The PTC was founded in 1995, and claims to be a nonpartisan group (which is utter bullshit. The definition of nonpartisan is: Based on, influenced by, affiliated with, or supporting the interests or policies of no single political party) that is interested in restoring television to its roots as an independent and socially responsible entertainment medium (their words, not mine.)

The PTC is currently headed by Brent Bozell, who claims to be "one of the most outspoken and effective national leaders in the conservative movement today. Mr. Bozell is Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Committee (CVC), an independent multi-candidate political action committee that has helped elect dozens of conservative candidates over the past ten years.

So much for that claim of nonpartisanship, eh?

"Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason…
There can be on right of speech where any man…[is] compelled to suppress his honest sentiments.
Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

--Frederick Douglass

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Brent Bozell, man of morals.


"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."
--Thomas Jefferson

Brent Bozell is an incredibly close-minded ignoramus whose only goal in life seems to be the supression of ideas and opinions that do not conform to his own. Hell, the guy even won a Disinformation Award recently. In case you are a WWE fan, Brent Bozell is the man (and I use that term lightly, because a REAL man wouldn't have bitch balls like this guy) who tried to get them tossed off of UPN back in 2000. When that didn't work, he went after the advertisers, and succeded in getting a few of them to pull out. Very shady and underhanded, Mr. Bozell. Very shady indeed. Of course, after the WWE caught them spreading lies about their orginization, they sued, and the PTC ended up slinking away, tail tucked between their legs.

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
--Salman Rushdie

The PTC has many "star-studded" supporters in the entertainment industry, including Steve Allen, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dr. Delores Tucker (the woman who, with Tipper Gore, tried to ban hip hop in the early 1990's), Pat Boone and Tim Conway. Obviously a board of individuals who are very tuned in to what's going on. I mean, if Billy Ray Cyrus believes in something, then I should too!

Now, you may be aware of a lot of the brouhaha in the news regarding Michael Powell and the FCC. Since the now-infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction during the Superbowl last year, Michael Powell has been on a personal crusade to censor anything and everything that is even the slightest bit risque, in the name of decency and to appease the vocal minority that constantly complains about the filth that is TV and radio. But what many people aren't aware of is the impact that the PTC is having on this issue.

Let's look at some statistics, shall we?

Indecency Complaints to the FCC:
Year: 2000 - Complaints received: Under 350.
Year: 2001 - Complaints received: Under 350.
Year: 2002 - Complaints received: 14,000.
Year: 2003 - Complaints received: 240,000.
Year: 2004 - Complaints received: 1,068,767 (as of late November).
Percentage of complaints filed by the PTC for 2003: 99.8%
Percentage of complaints filed by the PTC for 2004 (excluding the Superbowl): 99.9%

That means in 2003, there were only 480 complaints filed by people who are NOT affiliated with the PTC. 480!!!

LISTEN UP, PEOPLE! A very small, very vocal minority group is deciding what is best for YOU. These Christian conservatives are attempting to hijack the Bill of Rights, and change it to suit their beliefs. If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, then just imagine what is next on their list of things to burn (video games, books, movies, the internet, satellite radio...) Their list of "approved" television shows include, but are not limited to: 7th Heaven, Joan of Arcadia, American Idol and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Their list of "The Worst Shows on TV" include That 70's Show, Fear Factor, CSI and Will and Grace (no doubt because it features homosexuality, and that's just NAAAASSTY!)

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded faith."
--Thomas Jefferson

Freedom of Speech is something that too many people take for granted. Our society has become so anal retentive, so fixated on the possiblity that we might offend someone, that we are taking radical steps towards insuring that no one has their feelings hurt. Here's what I have to say about that.

GROW A FUCKING PAIR, YOU WHINEY BITCHES!

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
--Eric Arthur Blair

You preach about tolerance and celebrating diversity, but you fail to realize that by attempting to ban certain types of speech, you are supporting intolerance and suppressing diversity. You can't get 100% of the people to agree with you about any given subject. What is offensive to one person is not necessarily offensive to another. I find Rush Limbaugh to be offensive. But I also recognize that he has the right to say what he wants, no matter how much I disagree with his opinions. But that's the difference between us. I actually DO celebrate diversity, whereas you celebrate it until it becomes TOO diverse for you to wrap you small minds around. I hate the KKK, NAMBLA and the Religious Right. I think that they are comprised of sick, demented and shallow-minded people whose sole focus is to spread hatred. BUT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO. You'll never see me hanging out with skinheads, but if the government decides to try and disallow them from holding a meeting, or having a public rally, well, you may see my face in the crowd when they protest.

"We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still."
-- John Stuart Mill

Giving media power over to activist groups like the PTC, whose roots lay heavily in religion, isn't as good an idea as it makes itself out to be. Here's why. We live in an era where the media has a huge influence on what we think and do. If one group controls the media, it distorts the message to suit it's own purposes, and thereby becomes propaganda. Yes, propaganda. Look at the parallel: Bush is using religion to rally the American people towards his cause, which is a cleaner, more sterile America. You can't be offended if there's nothing around to offend you. On the flip side of the coin, Osama bin Laden is using the same type of propaganda to recruit new members to his cause. Death to Westerners. Because the West is comprised of people who are immoral, depraved infidels. Both people are twisting religion to suit their own causes, and the weak-minded people follow. Do you think that's an unfair comparison? What about Russia? Germany circa World War 2? Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that "I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work." Yes, Herr Hitler used religion as a stepping stone to attempt to create what he felt was the Lord's work. Hell, propaganda has been used throughout human history from the time of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire to the Reformation. The only think that has changed is the way that propaganda is presented.

"I find that the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise."
--Thomas Jefferson

I strongly urge you to contact these people, and let them know how you feel. Start complaining to the FCC about the shows that are on the PTC's "Best 10" list. Tell them that you think what they are doing is WRONG. Tell them to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Let these people know that you can't be bullied by them. Do you really want to pay $60 a month on cable, only to have wholesome PAX-type programs shown? Here's how to contact the PTC:

By email: editor@parentstv.org

By snail mail:
Parents Television Council
707 Wilshire Boulevard #2075
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Phone: 213.629.9255


You can even use their own form to file a complaint against them! Nice!

Something else I found on their site that was a bit disturbing to me:

"You can put your TV in the garage, avoid movies altogether, and use earplugs to spare your hearing from the sounds of hip-hop or heavy metal, but these forms of entertainment will still change your life through their influence on everyone else in society. Though you may struggle to protect your own kids from music that encourages violence or drugs or irresponsible sex, you can't possibly protect them from all the other kids in your community who have received full exposure."

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning."
--Frederick Douglass

Are you fucking kidding me? If you actually have to put your television in the garage and wear earplugs to keep out The Devil's Music, then you need to lock yourself in the basement and NEVER COME OUT. We don't need idiots like this interacting with the rest of society. Statements like that are not only foolish and asinine, but they are incredibly dangerous. If you can't even handle other people's music, then I weep for not only you, but your poor children as well. They are going to grow up so maladjusted that it will be a miracle if they make it to age 20 without killing themselves. By blocking off any sort of outside stimulation, you are making them weak, brainwashed clones of yourself.

Children will hear and see these things that you are trying to hide from them. In fact, because you are trying so hard to keep them from discovering them, they are more apt to go off the deep-end when they are finally exposed. A repetitive mantra of "Sex is bad, sex is bad, sex is bad, sex is bad" will only pique their imagination, and make them want to see what the big fuss is about. And suddenly, you have a pregnant 14 year old on your hands. Same goes for drugs, alcohol, music, movies, television and anything else that you deny your child access to. Whatever happened to "Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child?" What happened to "If you don't like it, change the channel?"



"Freedom to speak... can be maintained only by promoting debate."
--Walter Lippmann

I would like to cordially invite Mr. Bozell or anyone affiliated with the PTC to visit my site, and engage in some intelligent, thought-provoking debate with me, or anyone else who wishes to join in. I have sent a email inviting them to drop by and defend themselves, and their position on censorship. I can't promise to clean up my language, because millions of people have died so that I have the right to use 4-letter words, and it would be insulting NOT to use them. But I am capable of debating without hurling insults. I am capable of opening my mind to outside stimuli. I can, and have changed my mind about things before. I am, by no means, dedicated to a narrow, simplistic view of the world. I would LOVE to talk shop with anyone out there who is interested in... what's the word? Oh, yeah. THINKING.

So, to Mr. Bozell and the rest of the PTC, I leave you with that offer, and these words of wisdom from a great man:

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."
--Woodrow Wilson

Come debate, sir. Let's see what type of a person you really are.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Threat Advisory Chart

I was doing a GIS today, and I decided to look for the Department of Homeland Security Threat Advisory Chart. I found a lot of different variations, some of them pretty funny. Here's a few of my favorites. Please excuse the horrible photoshopping job.





By the way, have you stroked my ego yet?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Why the hell are you here?

No, seriously. Why are you visiting my site? And if you're a steady reader, why do you keep coming back? What about this site interests you? I'm just curious, because I seem to have about 10 - 15 "fans", and frankly, I can't figure out why. As you can tell from my profile picture, I am one sexy bastard, but that can't be the only reason you come here. So do me a favor. Leave me a comment and let me know what you like about this site, as well as what you hate about it (I have thick skin). How'd you initially make your way over to Convoluted Insanity? What kind of posts do you enjoy more? The rantings? The humor? The observations/news stories? I'm not going to change how I write to pander to you, I'm not your monkey. I'm just interested to see why people visit.

In turn, I am going to let you know about the blogs I hit on a daily basis, and maybe get some more traffic for them, thereby increasing my blog karma. Or some new-age shit like that. Anyhow...

Convoluted Perceptions: It's my picture blog, and it kicks ass. Visit now! Diddy mao!!

American Blogger: I found him a while back, and I just kept visiting. He recently redesigned his site, and I just now noticed that he took me off his links list, so to hell with all the nice things I was gonna say about him. Heh.

My So-Called Strife: He loves everything Kitsch, and I grew up in the 80's, so we both have the same tastes in cheesy horror movies. He's got a very humorous and snarky writing style, and he likes to take pictures of the yuppy Texans around him and poke fun at their half-caff-no-foam-soy-milk-latte-drinking asses, and their oogly, inbred mouth-breathing children. And not childish fun, either. He puts thought into his ridiculing. He's also one of the only people to religiously update his site, sometimes 2 - 3 times a day.

Shut Up Ed: He was the first person I heard of to get kicked off of Blog Explosion. His writing is crude, offensive and fun for the whole family. He reminds me of someone I used to work with who would say the most outrageous and incredibly rude comments, and then laugh when a co-worker got a shocked look on his/her face. Fucking priceless. If Maddox had a brother, then Ed would be him. That was intended to be a compliment, by the way.

The Jesse Factor: I don't know why I go to his site. He's an atheist-Libertarian, Bush-voting, liberal-hating, shit-talker. But he's a very intelligent and opinionated person, considering how old he is. I know people twice his age that are twice as dumb. And even though I may not agree with what he says politically, he's got a brain, and he uses it, which is admirable to say the least. He kinda reminds me of me when I was 14 years old. Whatever the case, I dig his site. I just wish he would activate his comments option, because there have been a few times that I would have liked to debate with him. I suppose I could sign up on his message board, but that'd be another login and password I'd have to remember, and I am a lazy, lazy man.

SeeTwist: My dad's blog. Politics, cartoons and news stories of interest. I've posted a few times on his site, and I did a TERRIBLE job of trying to design his blog, but there's good stuff on there anyway.

Political 8-Ball: This guy had an awesome idea for a blog. He would pick a topic relating to current events, like "Are all Terrorists Muslims?" Then he would consult a Magic 8-Ball for the answer, and then try to defend that point of view with news articles and facts, even if he didn't believe in the answer he was giving. It was a really nifty premise, but unfortunately, he posted once in late September, and then disappeared. Bummer.

Daily Traversal: I've been a guest writer on this site for the past month during NaNo (well, I slacked for the last part of it...) It's a collection of links from around the web; some news, some techie stuff (People still use *nix! Hooray!) and some general strangeness. I think I found his site in a Fark.com Gmail Giveaway thread or something. Me Likee.

/Filthy/Garlic/: He took the time to fancy up his title with forward slashes. I admire that type of dedication. Heh. I dunno, he's got one of those "I'm a dick, so fucking what?" attitudes that I tend to like in a blogger (use MORE fucking curse words, people!!), and he posts about whatever interests him. But he likes sports, and seeing as how I'm always talking shit about them, I'm rather surprised that he still comes here.

Observational Pissings: I really like what Trufflepig writes about. He takes time to research his rants, and they are always well written, thought-provoking and injected with rabid humor. I look forward to reading his stuff whenever I visit. Good chit, mang.

News Bits: I've found all sorts of nifty pieces of information on this site. It is what the name implies. Bits of news from all over that are of some interest.

in10sity: An aspiring stand-up comedian from NYC. I've actually laughed out loud (Not LOLed) reading some of the things he writes. It's usually observational humor, but every once in a while he puts up hilarious stories (he did one recently about a Spanish test that was muy picante) or quippy one-liners.

The Gerbil Wheel: More ranting, usually on the same subjects that I talk about. He works in a bookstore, and having worked at Media Play before, I know what kind of hell that can be. I like the name Rabid Gerbil as well. I had a gerbil named Tungsten when I was 13 that bit me on my thumb and wouldn't let go. Fucking rodent.

Fiat Lux: Latin for "Let there be light". I think she found my site, and we traded links. A general interest board.

The Licorice Diaries: She's from Colorado Springs, and she likes my bitching. She has some pretty good gripes on her site as well. I simultaneously wish she was, and thank god she wasn't my mother. =)

PIMPeration: PIMP stands for Politics, Issues, Movies, Pop culture. He's got some neat stuff hidden throughout his site.

Kingdom of Love: Lotsa links, and music stuff. Sites that regularly host MP3's. Not many people out there are musically diverse enough to quote The Kinks, and also post about MF Doom. The blog is on hiatus until January, but that seems to be the blogger cycle.

Aaafter Effect: More randomness, kind of like a mix between interesting links, and a personal journal. I don't know why his stuff intrigues me, it just does.

Island Dave's View v2.0: Marijuana activist, liberal, technogeek, Fan of Floyd. For some reason, he reminds me of Jimmy Buffet. Go figure. He's another person that updates his site multiple times each day. I like his bong, too.

Hanzi Smatter: Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters (Hanzi or Kanji) in Western culture. It's kind of like a reverse engrish.com. Some of my favorites are the guy who got "Green Rice" tattooed on his arms instead of "essence", "Exile Husband Retrievable Arrow with a String Attached to It", and Lebron James' Nike shoe, "Extinguish Fire but With Base". I'm glad I'm not one of those people who got "Bean Curd", thinking it was "Pure Love"

Jace's Musings: The drummer from my former band, Blackbird Down (not Blackhawk, goddam it!! BIRD!!). He's been in as many bands as he has had blogs. Let's see if he can keep this new one going. Oh, and Jace, good luck with your new group, The Siren Project. That Polish lead singer is HAWT! I'd ask her out, but the Germans and the Polish have a bad history, and it wouldn't work out. Heh.

A New York Escort's Confessions: She found my site somehow, which makes me all tingly. She's a twenty-something escort from New York (or a fat, balding 45 year old man who gets off on fucking with people), and somewhat obsessed with Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame. Pretty funny writing, and the occasional fap material. =)

Submission: Another 20-something female/45 year old man. Becca got sick of shitty relationships, and decided to enter the world of BDSM, and blog about her experiences. Tasty.

Memoirs of a Lawnmower Man: Someone else who has disappeared from the blog radar. He used to post techie stuff, and he liked the same type of movies as I do (Bonus: He lives 7 miles from where they shot the movie The Frogs), but he hasn't posted in quite some time now. In fact, his final post was a link to this site, and the enormous post-election bitch I posted. Where you at, man?

Welcome to My World: She likes DJ Shadow and other great music. It's unpossible to dislike anyone who is into Shadow. Too bad for me that she just got married (a few years ago). Asian women are smoking, especially when they like good hip hop AND video games. Don't worry Steve, I'm not moving in on her. =) I think she got the link to my site from American Blogger. She posts good trip blogs (she just got back from the Merry Old Land of Oz with her man), and likes to use ellipses...

I also visit a few other site that are located in the Progressive Blog Alliance blogroll, like Susannity!, Daily KOS, Mouse Musings, Pesky Apostrophe, BlogOsphere ZoO, Now Then, Hammer and Nail, The Monkey Diaries and a few others, as well as larger blogs like Drudge Report and Slate. My apologies if I forgot to include you on my list.

There you have it. Go check some of these sites out, and let 'em know how you found them. And leave me a comment, tell me how you like my stuff. I desperately seek attention. Heh.



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.