Category Archives: Uncategorized

Campaign season: Brunch in America

It’s brunch again in America. Today more urban singles will wait in line for eggs than ever before in our country’s history. With wait times for tables at about half the record highs of 2008, nearly 2,000 long-term couples will split a carafe of bloody marys made with locally-sourced ingredients than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will tweet a picture
of their eggs benedict, and with upload times at less than half of what they were just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to people liking their pics. It’s brunch again in America, and under the leadership of Vice President Joe Biden, our country is hipper and funnier and has more twitter followers. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago.
 
 

Story About Evan: Episode II

Kyle continues what promises to be the greatest work of literature in the entire human canon:

Evan effortlessly guided himself through the plane’s rear cargo door, switched off his jetpack and came to a soft landing. A few moments later President Bartlet came spiraling through the same entrance and crashed to a stop next to Evan. Bartlet frantically removed his jetpack as the heavy cargo door shut behind them.

“Let’s never do that again,” the President said, pushing himself up off the cold metal floor.

“Maybe next time I’ll invite the House Speaker instead. He’s good at jetpacks.”

“Hmmph. Here.” Bartlet handed Evan a holster. “You almost left this with the raptors down there.”

“My lightsaber!” Evan exclaimed. He fastened the holster around his waist. “Thanks, Jed.”

The President—eager for Evan’s validation and trust because Evan is such a cool guy—smiled.

“No, thank you for having me, Doctor Captain Executive Editor Mintz, Esq.”

The two proceeded through the plane toward the control deck. They passed the petting zoo, the Treasure Room, the Additional Treasure Room, an onboard replica of the Starship Enterprise’s main bridge that was also a ball pit, the Animorph petting zoo, and finally made it to the heavy blast door separating them from the control deck.

Evan tapped on his communicator.

“Stephen,” Evan began, “it’s me, Evan. Open up the bridge door so we can come in and talk about how I was just riding raptors around with President Bartlet.”

There was no response.

“Stephen, I’m going to keep GETTING LOUDER UNTIL YOU OPEN THIS DOOR.”

“Evan, look,” President Bartlet said, quickly tapping Evan on the shoulder.

“WHAT?”

Evan turned around to see a familiar, sinister figure emerging from the onboard Executive Washroom that was reserved for Evan and Evan only.

“What are you doing here?”

“Using your bathroom, Evan,” a high-pitched, nasally voice replied.

“Look!” Bartlet shouted, pointing toward the knocked-out body sitting on the floor of the bathroom. “He’s knocked out the pilot and left him sitting on the floor of the bathroom!”

Evan upholstered his lightsaber and activated the blade.

“Nobody mistreats my talented staff of sports writers slash airplane pilots but me!”

President Bartlet cowered in a corner and called his intelligent, liberal-minded cabinet for encouraging words as Evan and the mysterious yet oh-duh-I-wonder-who-it-is figure prepared to do battle.

“You couldn’t defeat me back in college,” the small man said, snorting with laughter. “My scouter says your power level is pathetic.”

Evan made a serious face. Suddenly the air around him became charged with static and the clouds passing outside darkened to pitch. The scouter fixed to the stranger’s face beeped frantically as Evan’s power level climbed over 9,000.

“Auuuuuggggnnnhnnnn,” Evan said. “Aaaaauuuugnnnnnnnhh!”

He charged toward the intruder, lightsaber in one hand and a drawn fist in the other.

“GET OFF MY PLANE, LEEBRON!”

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 75,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Osama bin Laden’s death was a victory for Twitter

Last night, President Obama announced that U.S. special forced had killed Osama bin Laden in his home in Abbottobad.

Americans rejoiced and such. But let us not forget the real winner last night: Twitter. If there were ever a collection of pseudo-wit and self-indulgent snark, it was last night’s Twitter feeds. So check out this slideshow of my Twitter posts and enjoy all the awful jokes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

pdf: Osama bin Laden tweets

Of course, the real Twitter victory occurred long before the announcement, when an IT guy in Abbottobad live-Tweeted an odd military mission:

After all of this, I still hold by my original prediction: Osama bin Laden is dead and we have his body, and he’s an alien, and he was killed by a meteorite from an incoming meteor the size of Manhattan Island.

I was sampled for a song that Davers made

Well, looks like I finally made it big in the music industry, despite my total lack of any singing ability or musical talent whatsoever. Davers sampled my first, and so far only, video blog for his music remix thing called “Something Something Love.”

 

Anyways, I’m the talking part that is sometimes in the background and sounds about two semitones deeper than my normal voice. Listen to it, I guess. It isn’t awful, though is certainly a bit different from most music heard in the popular spheres these days. Which is why it is important to hear, to broaden your own personal horizons about music and explore the world in which we all live, merely by listening to a few minutes of remixed music. Specifically, music that features my ranting as a sample.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 64 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 99 posts. There were 130 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 100mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 17th with 3 views. The most popular post that day was BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates the V2C.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were slate.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, savektru.org, and rawstory.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mary jane watson, mad men font, dolores umbridge, umbridge, and pepper potts.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates the V2C August 2010
102 comments

2

Mad Men Font Fail… or was it? July 2010
26 comments

3

Pepper Potts v. Mary Jane Watson May 2010
1 comment

4

Burn Down Linda Thrane August 2010
72 comments

5

CORRECTED/EDITED: The home is for Ping’s Parents. Does Leebron expect to lose the KTRU battle?: A tale of two houses August 2010
15 comments

Did Rice fear the KTRU sale would fail like the Baylor Medical School Merger?

Why did Rice keep the KTRU sale so secret? This secrecy has been one of the most frustrating parts of the sale saga and been a specific target of ire from KTRU supporters.

If there was a concern about KTRU’s profitability or contribution to the university, then the administration should have discussed it. If Aribtron rankings were below an acceptable letter, then KTRU should have been alerted and given a chance to grow the audience. If a sale was inevitable, then KTRU should have been given time to build a proper Internet and non-broadcast operation. Instead, Rice kept all plans of the KTRU sale silent — a plan first established long before what Rice originally claimed instigated the sale.

Rice and UH seemed to go to extreme ends to keep the sale secret. Starting back in March, UH Chancellor Renu Khator questioned when the universities could go public with their acquisition plans. However, UH VP of university advancement Michael Rierson urged: “Total silence pls”.

In April, an e-mail to UH officials from the sale facilitators at Public Radio Capital warned that drawing out the negotiations risked “the likelihood of one of the ‘campus constituencies’ causes a problem for Rice, which could disrupt the transaction.”

And all throughout the negotiations both schools attempted to keep any direct mention of KTRU out of any public documents, replacing the call letters “KTRU” with those of the hypothetical station “KUHX.”

Indeed, there was no mention of KTRU at all in the public agenda for the UH board, even in potential violation of Texas’ Open Meetings Act.

And when the local media finally found out about the, what did Rice and UH do? They put an embargo on the story in a desperate attempt to keep the plan secret until after a UH Regents meeting. As the Rice Thresher explained:

Richard Bonnin, Director of Media Relations at UH, corresponded on Aug. 16 with B.J. Almond, Director of News and Media Relations at Rice, regarding an embargo with Kever. Under this agreement, the two universities would provide information for Kever’s article so long as she postponed its publication until the purchase’s approval in the Aug. 17 public meeting of the UH Board of Regents’ Finance and Administration Committee.

 

This is one of the many e-mails explaining the embargo and hopes for secrecy

 

 

 

 

But why would Rice want to keep it secret? Why would Rice not want students, alumni, and Houstonians in general to be able to comment to the UH regents before their meeting, as Linda Thane discusses in her e-mail? Wouldn’t Rice and UH want the board to be able to make a fully informed decision, complete with community input?

 

Alas, no. Rice seemingly had its fill of that.

 

 

After the long conversations, the rhetoric, and the town hall meetings that were the norm under the Call to Conversation, the Vision for the Second Century, and the failed Baylor College of Medicine purchase, why would Rice suddenly change its track? The answer is rather simple. Rice didn’t maintain secrecy in spite of its previous experiences. Rice maintained secrecy because of them.

 

The beginning of the end for KTRU was February 2010. Apparently, Rice had removed KTRU from the market, only to later put it back in early 2010 with the help of Rice’s broker Greg Guy of Patrick Communications and Public Radio Capital’s Director of Acquisitions Erik Langner.

This guy was Rice's broker for selling KTRU

 

 

With KTRU back on the market, Rice actively tried to rush the sale as quickly as possible. The reason? They had learned their lessons from the failed Baylor College of Medicine purchase and did not want to be distracted again.

Apparently, Rice’s strategic objectives had become distracted by the hospital deal. The long, drawn out discussion had gotten in the way of a quick KTRU sale. So this time around, rather than let anything hamper the $10 million deal, Rice was just going to rush through.

Perhaps Rice no longer had a taste for public discussion after the protests to the BCM merger. To quote the Thresher’s coverage:

Vardi, a Computer Science professor, believes the atmosphere of open discussion encouraged by faculty and students in the past year allowed those involved to make better-informed decisions.

 

Indeed, the faculty and student uproar on the sale did contribute the plan’s failure to some degree. And it is not too difficult to understand that Rice would not want that to happen again.

 

But if the BCM deal had gone through, would Rice be too busy facilitating that merger to sell KTRU? Or maybe Rice would have no reason to want to rush it, and could have initiated a public discussion.

Seeing Rice discuss the KTRU sale in this context raises questions about the long-term effects that the failed BCM merger will have on the school’s management style. As the Houston Press pointed out when it announced President Leebron as its “Educational Turkey of the Year,” if Rice had just let the discussion happen, then KTRU supporters would not have a position nearly as sympathetic.

Now all you have to do is make sure you and your administration pull off the deal in the worst way possible, so you look bad, your students and alumni are pissed, and everyone involved, including the city’s main newspaper, looks bad.

If Rice had merely discussed the deal in public. KTRU supporters would not just have been allowed some grand catharsis and chance to explain themselves, but also an opportunity to publicly plan the future of KTRU. They could have negotiated for proceeds from the sale to fund a strong online presence and ground operation to promote music in Houston. But instead, KTRU just got screwed and Rice ended up looking bad.

Burn Down David Brooks: 10 Politicians Braver than Lindsey Graham

Today, in one of their sometimes entertaining and sometimes enlightening dialogues that plays like a network commercial designed to fill space between New York Times articles but you just know ends with them doin’ it (or at least Brooks trying and Collins turning him down), Gail Collins and David Brooks discussed immigration reform. In this, Brooks refers to Sen. Lindsey Graham as “the bravest politician in the country, bar none.”

This political discussion is a deviation from his traditional wanna-be philosophy grad student TA columns  that set him apart from other middling, sane Republicans whom he joins in his “you ever notice how people in red states drive like this, but people in blue states drive like this” even though he’s never actually lived in a red state. However, it maintains that same essence of his usual work of not being traditionally disprovable, yet eliciting a stream of contrary arguments.

Thus, here is my list of 10 politicians braver than Lindsay Graham, which I compiled while in the bathroom after copyright class.

1. Oliver Queen

Its like if Batman were liberal

Political position

Mayor of Star City

Who is he?

Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, is a superhero. Much like Batman he has no real powers, but some awesome technology and a lot of money. Unlike Batman, he is not a cryptofascist, but rather a traditional liberal. He began expressing his political opinions as a newspaper columnist. In 1979 he ran for Mayor of Star City but lost. However, he runs again after the events of Infinite Crisis and is elected mayor .

Why is he braver?

Because without any superpowers, he routinely fights and defeats people with superpowers, such as a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot. Also, he stands up to Superman and Batman, ensuring that the Justice League not only protects the planet and universe from the biggest crises, but looks after the weak and downtrodden on earth.

So when is the last time Lindsey Graham stood up to a giant, radioactive, North Korean robot?

2. Congressman John Lewis

He represents Hotlanta

Political Position

Representative from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District

Who is he?

Quoteth Wikipedia: John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Lewis, a member of the Democratic Party, has represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 1987. The district encompasses almost all of Atlanta.

Why is he braver?

Lewis helped organize non-violent sit-ins, boycotts and protests during the civil rights movement. Specifically, during the Selma to Montgomery marches, police attacked him and beat him in public, leaving scars that you can still see today.

At the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech, Lewis’s own speech included the line “Which side is the government on?” (though that line was cut so as to work with the Kennedy Administration).

However, despite being beaten by government officials and questioning they’re dedication to civil rights and being silenced, he did not fight or resort to violence, but joined the system that seemed to attack him at every turn and tried to change it from the inside.

Perhaps his most amazing moment, Lewis received and accepted an apology on live, national TV from a former Klansman who had personally attacked and beaten him.

3. George Washington

Political Position

Really?

Who is he?

Really???

Why is he braver?

I’d like to point to one specific event to illustrate Washington’s bravery. In 1791, congress imposed an excise tax on Whiskey. Considering that they had just fought a war over taxing things, many people refused to pay. While the tax protestors were called to appear before U.S. district court, most didn’t and instead rioted, resulting in the Whiskey Rebellion. As Commander-in-Chief, Washington led a ragtag militia group into the rebelling areas of the country. There was no large standing army at the time and Washington very well may have been marching into a trap of armed tax-dodgers.

Now that takes balls. But what Washington did next was even ballsier. Instead of fighting, Washington addressed those who refused to pay by giving a speech. Before staring, he pulled out his reading glasses so he could read his notes, commenting: “My eyes grow weary in service to my nation.”

The crowd broke down in tears and the violent rebellion disbanded without a shot being fired. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln subdued the Confederacy merely with the opening lines of a speech. That’s basically what Washington did.

Now, the facts of the case are somewhat hazy. But there was a Whiskey Rebellion and Washington did march in with a tiny army and ended the rebellion without a single shot. But it doesn’t matter whether the story is true, Judge Blogreader. Its a good story.

4. Unnamed President in the X-Men cartoon

I'm sure there is some sort of Gender Studies paper to be written about how the woman president doesn't have a name.

Political Position

President in Marvel Universe Earth-92131

Who is she?

Though unnamed, she served President before the election of anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly to the office of President.

Why is she braver?

During her time as President, the United States began to confront the reality of mutants, for better or worse. On the worse side, the Mutant Control Agency came to be as a private, yet government-supported, organization created with the supposed purpose of voluntary mutants registration. However, this registration information was actually given to the Sentinel program, which then hunted and captured the mutants.

Upon learning about this program, the Unnamed President immediately shut down the program.

In the face of a rising class of superhumans, a growing and at times justifiable fear among the populace, and political pressure, the Unnamed President accepted the help of the X-Men, even though they had just attacked the government installation that housed the Mutant Control Agency, and shut down the discriminatory program.

She did not give in to fear. She did not give in to cowardice. She did not give in to bigotry. Brave.

5. Arnold Vinick

Baaaaaa, bum bum bummmmmm. baa baa bummmmmmm, ba bum ba bummm (da na na na).....

Political Position

Republican Senator from California

Who is he?

On the West Wing, Vinick ran for President and was defeated by the Democratic candidate Matt Santos. Also, I think he served as a surgeon during the Korean War. Then someone killed a chicken, but it was actually a baby.

Why is he braver

I’ll point to one specific moment that was especially brave. In the West Wing episode King Corn, all the candidates are arranged to speak before the Iowa Corn Growers. While nearly all candidates are told to support ethanol, and nearly all oppose it, only Vinick has the guts to tell the corn growers than ethanol is a bad idea. I can’t find a video online, but its a great scene.

6. Christian X of Denmark

I remember a time when royalty had mustaches. Also, I wonder if he's related to Malcolm X.

Political Position

King of Denmark from 1912-1947 and the King of Iceland from 1918-1944.

Who is he?

As King of Denmark, engaged in conflict with the cabinet concerning reunification of Denmark and other territories after the Treaty of Versailles. Also, he had a mustache and apparently was a jerk.

Why is he braver

While his brother the King of Norway went into exile during Nazi occupation, he remained in the capital as a sign of support to those opposing the Nazis. During this time, he used his powers of being a jerk to fight the Nazis.

For example, on the King’s 72nd birthday Adolf Hitler apparently sent him a really long birthday telegram. The King merely replied with a “My best thanks, the King.” In response, Hitler recalled the ambassador from Cophenhagen and expelled the Danish ambassador.

Furthermore, during the Nazi occupation the King would routinely go on daily horse rides around Copenhagen, without any guard. Supposedly, while on these rides, he would wear the same Star of David that Jews were forced to wear. Brave.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether the story is true (I’m recounting it from having read Number The Stars in 5th grade), its a good story.

7. John F. Kennedy

Ich Bin Ein Rich Playboy

Political Position

Friend of Frank Sinatra, also President or something

Who is he?

JFK originally starred in a TV show about him and his brother as children before one of them would later become president. Kennedy was inspired by the plot and entered politics, laying out his plan for his administration in the feature length film JFK, which led to the spinoff film Thirteen Days. To ensure his continuation after his planned assassination, he had himself cloned. His clone would later go on to date the clone of Cleopatra in the illustrated documentary Clone High.

Why is he braver

While JFK served on PT-109, the boat was attacked by a destroyer and literally cut in half. To seek help, Kennedy swam between tiny islands, carrying people who were injured or couldn’t swim well, all the while fighting off crocodiles and sharks.

To summarize: JFK is brave because he fought a shark.

Again: Kennedy fought a shark and won!

Once more: The President of the United States fought a shark and won.

I believe it looked a little something like this

Or this!

8. Sean McBeath

More Sean McStupid. amirite?

Political Position

President of Martel College

Who is he

Sean is tall and worked for the Thresher but then didn’t but then did and also was President of Martel College or something.

Why is he braver

As part of its traditional letters asking for $$$ donations, the Rice annual fund sent out letters apparently on behalf of the college presidents, including their signatures. However, Sean did not cooperate and instead the Rice Annual Fund used a fake, machine-generated version of Sean’s signature without his permission. Sean, and the Thresher, stood up to the administration, which falsely used Sean’s signature and likeness for monetary gain.

Other college presidents had their signatures faked, too. But only Sean stood up for himself. Brave!

9. Brady Tyson

Political Position

Editor-in-Chief of the Rice Thresher

Who is he?

I don’t know too much about him

Why is he braver

In the Sept. 16, 1948 issue of the Rice Thresher, Tyson wrote the following editor to Strom Thurmond:

The Honorable J. Strom Thurmond:

In the opinion of many of us the recent contest in Harris county was marred by the injection of the racial question into the campaign. Full-page ads that mentioned States’ Rights only as a shield to prevent Federal legislation against segregation were used. Inflammatory points were arefully enumerated. The ads threatened “Negroes in your churches, in your schools, in your colleges, in your swimming pools, in your beauty shops,” unless Thurmond and Wright were supported.

Such support can only eventually hurt the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats. The Christian sense of the people of the South, will, at last, become disgusted by such a hate campaign and will react against the States’ Rights Democratic party. If such a campaign is pursued it will only mean that in the eyes of the people of America those of us who stand for States’ Rights must stand also for segregation; whereas I believe the facts to be that many of us who support the States’ Rights ticket are convinced that segregation is morally wrong, and as such must be eventually eliminated thru education and a return to the principles of Christian brotherhood.

Very truly,

BRADY TYSON

Editor The Thresher

This letter got picked up by national news. At a time when Houston, not to mention Rice, still discriminated against blacks, this guy had the balls to call out Thurmond on his unabashed racism.

Thurmond wrote back:

To the Editor:

While the segregation issue is of vital importance to the South, anyone who is familiar with the States’ Rights issue know that it is not the fundamental question which has aroused the patriotism of Southern leaders. The matter of segregation is merely one of the many fields in which the State is supreme under our United States Constitution. Among other questions are those of police power, control of the ballot, and regulation of all internal matters.

Opinions as to segregation vary in the South as elsewhere. I, myself, believe that sep-aration of the races is necessary in my own State for the welfare of both white and colored. But I am firmly convinced that this question is one for decision by the people of the separate states, and not Constitutionally under the authority of the Federal Government.

I hope this answers your questions.

If you publish my reply, please be kind enough to convey to the people of Houston my sincere appreciation for the confidence they showed in the cause of the States’ Rights Democrats in their Harris County referendum on August 28th.

With kindest regards and best wishes,

Very truly,

J. STROM THURMOND

Governor

Tyson, you’ve got balls.

Also, I’d like to give an honorable mention to some random Thresher EIC from the 1920s who wrote in the Thresher a defense of integration both nationally and on campus. I don’t have the actual article on hand, so I can’t write about it. I do recall that most of the letters in response were basically “WOULD YOU LET A NEGRO DATE YOUR SISTER WAWAWA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

10. Vaclav Havel/Nelson Mandela/whatever

Whatever, you know the deal with these guys. Thats 10.

Burn Down the Yoko Ono Wishing Tree

Last Friday, right around the corner from my apartment at 18th and 8th, there was the Yoko Ono wishing tree, in a little exhibition in the bike lane on 8th ave.

I Wished for Heat Vision

I Wished for Heat Vision

For those who do not know, the Yoko Ono wishing tree is a tree, and you write down a wish on a strip of paper and tie it to a branch on the tree.
I confronted such a tree in Washington DC a little over two years ago and wished for heat vision.
I still do not have heat vision.
Fuck you Yoko Ono.

PS: Yoko Ono ruined the Plastic Ono Band
PPS: I’m trying to put The Mathletes’ song “Yoko Ono Wishing Tree” on here, but it won’t let me upgrade to put on music files.

Burninating Down Blog

In the news: Chinese woman finds a snake with an evolutionary mutation. A snake with one arm.

A snake with one arm, due to a genetic mutation

A snake with one arm, due to a genetic mutation

This may seem like some freaky image from pre-Eden, but we’ve all seen it before.

Check out all his majesty…

Well, fiction is becoming reality through the lie of evilution. Next up, X-Men

Consummate Vs, consummate!!!