Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lemme hit my swag

So, after a couple years of plaintive emails from revolving flacks at Goliath after I left LFP, I was like, "Sure, I work for MeFi Mag. Send me your stuff and we'll see about reviewing it." They've got a new mag, called Wallpaper which is about fine art poster work.

They sent me the first two issues, too late for the Sex issue, and they're about Tattoos and male nudes. And not some classy black and white Mapplethorpe male nudes — more like hung, flaccid dudes just, you know, hangin' out.

I'm thinking I might send them to The Whelk to review. He likes giant wang, right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So white they're clear

Zaheer Ali, in Are Poor White Kids Invisible?, talks about the pathologizing and marginalization effects of treating poverty as a proxy for race — "disadvantaged," etc.

Monday, December 19, 2011


As we all remember Dear Leader today, we should touch on some of his greatest hits:

Orchestrating mass dancing to LMFAO's Party Rock showed the great cultural currency of the DPRK.

And who can forget North Korea's dialectical sexuality?

But really, it was Kim Jong Il's Livejournal and IM logs that gave us the most personal portrait of the man.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Outro for Romenesko

Jim Romenesko's been the soul of Poynter for about a decade now — that is, until they decided to axe him. As per always, the story is a bit more complicated than its lede, and Romenesko gives his side here.

On centrism, action and Greece

Gene Lyons on how Bogus Centrists ignore reality in order to position themselves as above the fray. He notes that nearly all the positions advocated by the centrists are, in fact, the same as Obama's, giving the lie to the idea that it's both parties failing now. (There are genuine left critiques of Obama, but nearly none of the so-called Third Way proponents actually grasp them.

David Brin on Frank Miller's fascist fantasy of Sparta and how the #OWS kids are better for democracy. Brin outlines how Miller's become the Riefenstahl of comics, ignoring historical truths to cast ultimately caustic heroic myths. (It's good to know that I'm not the only comics fan who loathed that movie; the book was better but still requires a profound ignorance of Greece.)

MetaFilter's excellent post on the UC Davis debacle gives an interesting tidbit of information: Their chancellor, Linda Katehi, attended Athens Polytechnic during the 17N (or November 17) uprisings, which have become a national holiday. It's the date that students at the Polytechnic defied Greek tanks, and the spark that ultimately ended the military rule of Greece. That her shame comes on the same day hopefully has an ironic resonance for her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

interest in professional fasting has markedly diminished

A Hunger Artist, by Franz Kafka.

Short, and another reminder he wasn't a one-hit wonder. In maybe 1200 words, he manages to limn the popular reaction to poverty and still give a sensual, ironic portrait of starvation (and artists).

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What's in your honey, honey?

A great piece of investigative journalism from Food Safety News finds that the vast majority of honey sold in the US isn't honey or has dubious origins. Lax governmental oversight and huge profits for Chinese honey counterfeiters, along with cagey anti-consumer stonewalling from "Big Honey" mean that unless you're schlepping to the farmer's market, you probably don't know what you're getting and could be sweetening your whiskey with heavy metals.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

We're number one!

We're the top featured magazine one Magcloud's entertainment section! They like us, they really like us! Go pick up your back issues!


The Death Issue, October 2011

By MeFi Mag in MeFi Mag

48 pages, published 31 OCT 2011

Death is universal. No matter what path any of us take through life, we all get there in the end. And along the way, most of us have to cope with the deaths of others. How we deal with those deaths is a big part of what makes us human. This issue spans the gamut from professional to personal observations on death, from sober to touching to humorous. Using words, photos, paintings, drawings and a graph or two, we explore the final journey.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fixed in Italian and vice versa (or, "It's a black thing, Tom Selleck.")

Who are you?

Costumes from last night:

—Matching mimes
—Hobo clown
—Drug lord
—3 Black Swan
—3 Racist Against Native Americans
—Sexy Cop
—Sexy Kevin Garnett (with a dinosaur hat)
—Accidental "Carrie"
—Jimi Hendrix
—Lenny Kravitz
—Accidental Terrence Trent D'Arby
—"World's best catch"
—Stu (Hangover 2 version)
—Accidental Zach Galifianakis
—Some kinda skinny tie pirate
—Sexy pirate
—Two Luigis, one Mario
—Two sexy devils
—Sexy burglar
—Jareth and Sarah Williams
—Bag of Ruffles
—Bald guy from Far East Movement
—Tyrone the Crack Head
—Sexy bunny
—Sexy bunny (Playboy version)
—Sexy cat
—Sexy witch
—Some kinda Charlie Sheen thing I think

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pig Americans

At Von's, the Cool Ranch Doritos are buy two, get two free. So, of course I bought them. Four bags of sweet delicious artery clogging evil. We have an obesity problem here in America, here in my house. And the solution is three simple words: "You fat fuck." It's truth in advertising. If the sign had said, "Buy two, get two free, you fat fuck," I still would have bought them, but I wouldn't be halfway through the first bag right now while I watch Burn Notice reruns. Americans need someone to call us on our shit. Sure, I want to eat healthy, but last night I had one of those XXL chalupas. I assume they're named after the size sweatpants I wear. I bought it because of the hypnotic power of Brian Wilson's beard and was immediately disappointed by the floppy mass of bean sludge and weird-ass spicy nacho sauce. I needed the fat fuck warning, apparently. I was too stupid to extrapolate from "xxl," I actually needed Brian Wilson to say "This will be amazing for three bites and then vile for the rest, you fat fuck. Also, didn't you pack a sandwich? Eat that."

Nearly every ad for food in America would be improved by those simple words. Unlimited pasta bowl at the Olive Garden, you fat fuck. Carl's jr. "“We believe in burgers. Big, fat, juices-running-down-your-arm kind of burgers, you fat fuck." Boom. I have solved obesity. You fat fuck.

When I got out of Von's, sitting there in the spot across from where I'd parked was a Hummer with its lights on. I actually thought I'd left my dome light on. But not only were the lights on, they'd left the Hummer running. Left it running with the lights on, this is why gas is $6 a gallon. And I'm trying to put my groceries away and fumbling with the keys, and those lights are right at face level because it's a pig American Hummer, this dinosaur that stalked the McMansions and drill, baby, drills of the late American Oil Era. Between that and digging the library book I needed to return (The Oxford History of Prisons, totally dry but recommended), it took me a good five minutes to get out of the parking lot, and the whole time, that monster is chugging away, going nowhere. You fat fuck.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The lemon's long tail

A few months ago, I posted a complaint about a thin bit of anecdotal sub-journalism by Nicholas Martin. In it, Martin complains that his daughter can't open a lemonade stand in a park, or at home, without getting permits for commercial food prep. Or so he says.

I pointed out that the laws were unlikely to be enforced — the same thing he was told by the person he says he spoke to — and that they have a broader purpose that supports the public good, and that complaining that the zoning laws technically prevent food stands is pretty weak sauce.

Martin, having apparently just gotten around to googling himself, complained in my comments. Because I know that literally no one reads comments on months-old entries unless they're googling themselves (or tapirs, which has been my number one search term for about a month), I've decided to move it up here, out of fairness to Martin. (If anyone else has comments they think I missed, let me know).

Nicolas Martin said...
There is nothing misleading about my piece, which you could have verified by contacting me. Through some painless googling you could also have discovered that the Consumer Health Education Council has been around since the 1980s.

Since the piece ran there have been several incidents of lemonade stands being shut down by authorities. But more importantly, the regulations prevent adult entrepreneurs from offering services and selling products. Unfortunately, there are reactionaries who oppose the liberalization of consenting economic activities among adults.
7:10 AM

Josh said...
Well, there was plenty misleading about your piece, which I verified by reading it.

And just because the Consumer Health Education Council has been around since the 1980s doesn't mean it's not astroturfing, a phrase that's been around since the '80s.

In fact, the first result of a painless google search is Sourcewatch's article on the American Council on Science and Health, an astroturf organization.

As far as lemonade stands being shut down, well, you know, one of those things about being a journalist and not a flack is that you could provide at least a couple of links to support that.

Further, as long as we're talking — those regulations also prevent health risks and deaths. Reactionaries, a term usually reserved for conservative revanchists, generally want to remove regulations in order to socialize risk and privatize profit.

But I'm glad that the Consumer Health Education Council will be fighting to overturn drug laws that prevent consenting adults from enjoying economic and recreational activities.
12:48 PM

(EDIT: Corrected spelling of "flack" from "flak," a typo.)

If any of you several readers have comments on this, this post is probably the most likely place to get them read.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If it quacks like a spam

I just finished Pope Brock's excellent Charlatan, and have been playing an electro-radio healer of dubious humbug in an online Call of Cthulu game, and at the very least, it's livened my responses to spam emails (I regularly hope for an ongoing exchange to sharpen my flimflam). To wit:

My Dearest In The lord,
Let me first of all inform you, I got your email address from a mail directory and decided to mail you for a permission to go ahead. I am Mrs. Amelia Mitchell from United Kingdom, married to Mr. David Mitchell who worked with construction company here in London before he died in a ghastly motor accident on his way to a Board meeting. My Husband and me were married but without any children. Since his death I decided not to re-marry and presently i am 71 Years old. When my late husband was Alive he deposited the sum of $23M. (Twenty Three Million U.S. Dollars) with a finance company here in United Kingdom.
Presently this money is still with the company and the management just Wrote me as the beneficiary to come forward to receive the money or rather Issue a letter of authority to somebody to receive it on my behalf. I am presently in a hospital where i have been undergoing treatment of Cancer of the lungs.I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few months to live so i think the best thing to do is to use the money for charity purposes.
I want a person who is trustworthy that i will make the beneficiary of my late Husband's Fund deposited with the bank so that the person can get the money and utilize 60% of this money to fund churches, orphanages and widows around the world.
As soon as i receive your reply i shall give you the contact details of my lawyer for transfer of right and privilege. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will prove you as the new beneficiary of this fund. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as i stated here in and Keep this contact confidential till such a time this funds get to your Custody.
This is to ensure that nothing jeopardizes my last wish on Earth.
I await your urgent reply. May almighty God bless you and your family.
Mrs.Amelia Mitchell

My Dearest Out The Lord,

Died in a ghastly motor accident you say? Do tell!

I am, of course, moved by your plight, but I must confess a curiosity with regard to ghastly accidents. I find the Lord works so often in ways meant to pique our interest, wouldn't you agree? For instance, my late wife was mangled in a thresher while trying to pull our boy out; luckily, she failed and the boy was baled. He lived, but must be transported by pitchfork.

I am sorry to hear about your Cancer of the lungs. I have a Cancer of the astrology myself, and have enjoyed an electrostatic rejuvenator that works with the orgone present in every adult to reverse the tragic plenepluerisy that so rapidly overcomes the dorsal meatus. It's lucky that you contacted me, of all people, a most propitious spanner from the Lord Jesus He Is Ridden thrown right into the works of the machine man, with all the attendant success that entails.

The most important thing, Mrs. Amelia Mitchell, is that I can cure your cancer. While I will undoubtably proceed with your plan of precipitating the uric of your prosperous perspicacity upon the charitably unctuous of the flock — and encourage you to send me more details forthwith, as we say in America — we must first put aside all notion of your imminent demise! The materials, or shall we say materiels, for this must be a war, are alas not cheap and I have trouble providing for all who would need my care. But with your alleged holdings, I feel confident predicting a 150 percent recovery.

Let your money in my hands not be your last wish, but one of many cascading wishes, all of the same form.

Yours in crimps,

Dr. Bonyface Licklopper, MNOP

(The image is from a book on high frequency electrical treatments from around a century ago; this was ostensibly serious medical research, and I've found similar devices recommended by the University of Michigan at about the same time.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

I have my revenge on the Crying Cowboy

When we first moved in, the neighbor downstairs was having an emotional time.

He'd sit out on his step in a folding chair, right below our apartment, and cry inconsolably while singing along to ranchero music that he played from inside his empty apartment. We'd walk past him any time we came to or from the car, and studiously not make eye contact. Because what do you say to your sobbing neighbor when the most you can make of their language is a faux cognate soup of embarrazados? And he had an unwavering preference for staring over talking, so that he'd watch every time we pulled the car out, or walked past, which made me feel like I was in the presence of a middle school principle, but when I'd tried to introduce myself, he'd blankly fix guileless eyes on me and just not reply. He made me feel profoundly awkward, so there was no way that I was going to ask this stranger why he was sobbing.

One of our other neighbors said he was singing only to songs about women leaving men, she thought that was what happened to him. It went on for months, every night. He'd sit in a denim shirt with blue jeans, white straw hat cocked up, and tall leather boots, and as sympathy for suffering turned into resentment over the intrusion of straight pathos into the common area, and the inability to deal with it in our Spanish or his English, we started calling him the Crying Cowboy.

But after six months or so, he got over it. First his family started coming over, then some new woman, then some new woman and his family all at once. They'd barbeque under our window, and we'd say through the smell of lighter fluid, "Well, at least he's not sobbing endlessly every night." We still hadn't talked about our respective mustaches — mine part of a beard set, his just a gray Tom Selleck thing — but he opened up a little. He came to our door once when his apartment was flooding because three upstairs apartments all drain through it and it had been raining for days, so the downstream sewer was blocked. That was the only time he ever introduced himself and told me his name, and I wish I had written it down. He introduced himself very formally as the man who lived downstairs, which we already knew. Maybe that was what threw him off — he'd practiced the speech he was going to give, and we jumped on his lines. But he kept explaining to us that we couldn't use any of the water, even after we agreed that we wouldn't be using the water, because it drained through his apartment. It was important not to use the water.

Encouraged by this false camaraderie, the next time I saw him, it was still raining and as Amy and I went to the car, and I waved and said, "It's really coming down, isn't it?"

He looked at me like I'd just told him that fire was hot and said, "Yes, rain does come down." Like, "Where else would it come from, dumbass?" I felt embarrassed and stumbled for some "See you later," while he watched us pull out and drive off instead of going into his house. I drove off stuck with l'esprit de l'escalier, thinking things like, "Well, but sometimes it comes from the side when there's a lot of wind, jerkstore!" and "I'll get you!"

Last night, when I was heading to the store, I looked down right as he looked up and he'd obviously been staring off into space, because he had that start of someone caught thinking about something else. He was fumbling with his keys, and kept fumbling the entire time I was walking down the stairs, so that he was still there right as I was walking behind him. In my best conspiratorial guy voice I asked, "She lock you out, huh?" and he blushed crazily, and said, "No, I have key." But he practically slunk over to his truck, all the while grinning like he'd been caught watching Cinemax.

We're even, Crying Cowboy. Hope you learned your lesson.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The job search

How's the job search going? Well, I'm applying to work at some place called Yeah, It's supposed to be innertube, but it's inertube. I saw the ad on craigslist and I went to the site, and I'm afraid to even give them my personal info, it looks so much like a phishing scam. They want to "Catch a Rising You Tube Star" (sic all across, of course), it says on the banner. My girlfriend and I repeat this around the apartment in gales of laughter. Inertubes!

I look to see what their about page says, it says, "Imagine a viral innovative on-line Video News Magazine show in the genre of Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight with an edgy feel like TMZ and The Soup." I start imagining. It doesn't say that it is or will be this show, just asks you to imagine the possibility of one. I feel led on, like someone said "Imagine you're eating at Pizza Hut" and then just stopped. Like, OK, I'm imagining it. What else? It seems kind of unnecessary. Doesn't Tosh.0 or whatever Short Attention Span Theater (old) do this already?

But it's got this model to host, apparently. I can't tell from her head shot for sure, but she looks like she's got one of those short people heads. Which is OK. If she's short, she can interview Tom Cruise.

They may be running some sort of battle of the bands, something they call Pressure Gauge, except on the logo, where they call it Pressure Guauge. It promises that there will be some voting and that one band out of the top 100 will be eligible for something on MTV at some point. This is probably like those homeopathic pills, you know, for colds, where they just figure that at some point, out of 100 bands, they'll end up on MTV anyway.

But the best part is The Garage, which is a hard word to spell and they get it right at least twice, so, you know, credit where credit is due. In The Garage, you're able to join the community and become a "tubber". Become a tubber on Inertube. You can see why I don't want to even give these guys my address, right? The best case scenario has this as a honeypot for 4chan.

That's OK, though, I told Amy. Because the other place I applied was to be an insurance investigator, in that ongoing "If I just apply for everything I'm even mildly qualified for, someone will hire me accidentally and I can coast on that for at least a year" theory. I told them that I should be an investigator because I have good interview skills, I know how to fill out paperwork. I didn't tell them it was because I read a lot of mysteries and got called Encyclopedia Brown as a kid. "See, if the guy claimed that his accident happened in a canyon in the evening and he couldn't see because of the sun, I would know that it was coming from the west." I didn't tell them that I usually figure out the Poirot mysteries halfway through, because, you know, I didn't want to seem pretentious.

I figure I'd be killed on the job on the second or third day anyway. "I don't know sir, I don't think it looks like an accident at all. Of course I'll walk in front of you into the shed!"

I mean, I'm the kind of guy who'd apply for a job at How bright could I be?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do the crossword in pen

Sit back, relax and enjoy a bit of fun and games!

There's a crossword puzzle from Woodblock100, Jharris shares memories of the extra lives of the Vic Viper video game icon, msalt delves into the literary tradition of palindromes and reversals, Languagehat learns a life lesson after getting conned in New York, Troll reveals the design of a new card-slash-board game , and Mike Mongo has a stencil that is designed to be cut out of the magazine and sprayed in your favorite (legal) haunts.

Buy it through the MagCloud link or get the PDF here free!

Art of the day: Olivier Valsecchi

Amazon's terrible warehouse and the letter I wrote

Dear Amazon,

I generally like Amazon — I like the low prices and free shipping. I like the incredible variety of products available. I had planned several purchases in the next couple of months, from a new french press to a new laptop.

But I also like workers, and the American way of life. Which is why I was so disappointed when I heard about conditions in your Lehigh Valley, Pa. warehouse, as detailed in this story by the Morning Call: Inside Amazon's warehouse
Lehigh Valley workers tell of brutal heat, dizzying pace at online retailer.

It shows me several things: First, that Amazon is exploiting its workforce, or, more specifically, exploiting the temporary workforce. It shows that Amazon is engaging in unsafe working conditions, draconian discipline and a general failure of management to treat workers with respect and care.

So, until these problems are resolved, I feel unable to support Amazon in any way, including making my purchases through you. And unfortunately, through the official statements made in the story, it's clear that Amazon can't be trusted to accurately report the conditions it requires of its workers, so I won't be able to shop at Amazon until there is an independent news agency that reports an improvement in conditions at Amazon's warehouses, or when I hear that Amazon's Lehigh Valley warehouse is organized and unionized.

I hope I hear these things soon — as I mentioned, I do appreciate Amazon. But I just can't know that saving me a dollar comes at the cost of heat stroke and brutal conditions. It's not right, and I hope you can understand that.

Josh Steichmann

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oppose Anti-Vax Woo in the name of SCIENCE!

There's a little storm brewing in my inbox.

I was forwarded a letter from one of the google groups I'm a member of, a mailing list for a defunct warehouse that I went to a couple of workshops at. It's about California Assembly Bill AB499, (summary and text here), and, well, you should probably read the letter for yourself.

California AB499 ALERT
Biodynamic Wellness

California Parental Alert

It is important that we as parents retain the right to decide on medical treatment for our children. Please see linked stories and forwarded email below. If Governor Jerry Brown signs this bill into law, the government/schools can vaccinate our children at school without our consent. Please call Governor Brown, 916.445.2841, and ask him to veto AB499. AB499 involves vaccines in addition to Gardasil. Forward this to everyone you know.
There have been deaths (36 to 49) and 10,000 adverse reactions including permanent disability after Gardasil vaccination.

The CDC confirms adverse reactions and death from Gardasil:

World Net Daily story:

ABC report:

Toyota 52 Deaths, Gardasil 49. Toyota Recalled:

ATTENTION California Parents! Tell Governor Jerry Brown what you think about a law that will allow someone to give your 12 year old child Gardasil and other vaccines without your knowledge or consent. Read NVIC's Urgent California Action Alert here.

Vaccine Wake Up Call for Parents: Your Children Are Being Taken
by Barbara Loe Fisher

Every mother has had the nightmare. We dream our child, who we love more than we thought we could love anyone, has been taken away by strangers and cannot be found. The cold fear rises up from our stomach into our throats as we search, endlessly, to find the child we would give up our own life to protect from harm.

The biological imperative for parents to protect their young is stronger than the law of any nation. It is stronger than any value or belief. It is primitive and hardwired into a mother's DNA because it is the fierce protective instinct that enables intelligent life on earth to survive.

Historic Power Struggle: Doctors vs. Parents
The debate about vaccination in the 21st century is not just about the science and whether vaccines and vaccine policies are a safe and effective way to keep individuals and populations truly healthy.

It is also part of an historic power struggle between parents and doctors about whether doctors or anyone else in society should have the legal right to give children a pharmaceutical product or medical treatment that carries a risk of injury or death without the parent's voluntary, informed consent.

CA Bill Strips Informed Consent Rights from Parents
Today, there is a bill on the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown (Assembly Bill 499) that has been quietly and quickly rammed through the state legislature by the medical-pharma lobby.

If Governor Brown signs that bill into law, then children as young as 12 years old will be vaccinated with Gardasil, hepatitis B and future vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Merck & Pharma Profit
This proposed law would cost the cash-strapped state of California multi-millions of dollars to implement. Most of that money will go to Merck and other vaccine corporations to pay for multiple doses of each vaccine that will be aggressively promoted to young children, who are not yet physically, mentally or emotionally mature enough to make fully informed decisions about risk-taking, including whether or not to take a medical risk.

This proposed law gutting parental informed consent rights is great news for drug companies like Merck, which sells Gardasil to the government for $108 per dose, but it is very bad news for parents.

Parents Legally Responsible for Secretly Vaccinated Children
What if a 12 year old child is biologically at high risk for having a life threatening vaccine reaction but the parent is not told the child has been vaccinated and does not watch for symptoms and the child's reaction ends in permanent disability?

Will the person, who has secretly given the vaccine to the child without the parent's knowledge, be legally responsible for what happens if the child has a serious reaction?

Will the drug company that sold the vaccine to the state be legally responsible for the physical harm done to a secretly vaccinated child?

No. The parent will be legally and financially responsible for caring for the child, who was taken by strangers and vaccinated without the parent's consent, and is now brain damaged for life.

No Liability for Drug Corps or Doctors
In America, there is no legal liability or responsibility for drug companies selling or doctors giving government recommended vaccines when those vaccines injure or kill children or adults

How can the state of California - or any state - give anyone in society the power to secretly take a child away from a parent and subject that child to a medical risk without the parent's consent?

There is no doctor, no government employee and no politician, who has the moral right to do that to a parent or their child.

To read the rest of this referenced commentary or to watch a 6 minute video,
click here
Take action in your state to protect you vaccine informed consent rights. Sign up for NVIC's vaccine choice Advocacy Portal.

Have you been threatened by doctors or anyone else about vaccinating yourself or your child? You can share your story on NVIC's Vaccine Freedom Wall.

Here's my reply:

Hi all,

This is scare-mongering bullshit, and it's a shame that you've gotten it. I only hope that you've taken the time to do some basic reading, like I have, and understand the difference between paranoid ravings from anti-vax quacks and what actual science says.

Let's start out with the claims in the front paragraph:

Barbara Loe-Fisher and Steve Hamlin, who are the only names I see associated with the writing of this piece, would have you believe that there have been significant adverse reactions to Gardisil. They base this on the VAERS data reported by the CDC, but INSTEAD OF USING THE DATA AS PROVIDED they conflate it with the Toyota deaths.

Let's take a look at THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH of the CDC VAERS site:

"VAERS data cannot be used to prove a causal association between the vaccine and the adverse event. The only association between the adverse event and vaccination is temporal, meaning that the adverse event occurred sometime after vaccination. Therefore, the adverse event may be coincidental or it may have been caused by vaccination, however we cannot make any conclusions that the events reported to VAERS were caused by the vaccine." (Here.)

As everyone knows, just doing one thing before doing another doesn't mean that one causes another. There's an old joke about a Tiger Attack Rock, you know, ever since I started carrying this rock, I haven't been attacked by tigers once. It's at the very core of superstition and magical thinking — which is fine when rooting for sports teams, but idiotic and dangerous when dealing with medicine.

Let's look at what the CDC says about those deaths:

"As of June 22, 2011 there have been a total 68 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil® . There were 54 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender. Thirty two of the total death reports have been confirmed and 36 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. A death report is confirmed (verified) after a medical doctor reviews the report and any associated records. In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination."

So, not only are MOST OF THE DEATHS UNCONFIRMED, there's nothing to suggest that Gardasil was involved in any of the deaths. Which, as we saw above, are only linked by time. If you got a shot of Gardasil and were hit by a bus, that would still be counted as one of the deaths.

This information is available to anyone who follows the link, but from the hyperbolic and inflammatory language, it's clear that the authors didn't intend you to — why would they be so obviously wrong if they thought you'd check?

Let's take a look at the rest of the letter:

First, what does AB499 actually say? From the legislative summary: "Existing law allows minors to consent to specified forms of medical or dental treatment. This bill would, in addition, allow a minor who is 12 years of age or older to consent to medical care related to the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease."

So what's all that nonsense about taking children away? Scaremongering unconnected to the facts. Now me, I'm mad when people lie to me, and these anti-vax folks are lying. And it doesn't seem like they're just ignorant — though certainly, Pricilla may not have read through the whole thing — because their lies are so over-the-top and inflammatory.

Let's keep going: Does this bill remove consent from parents and give it to the state? Will anyone be forced to get vaccinations? No. That's flatly wrong too. It puts the decision with the person being vaccinated. Now, you can argue that parents deserve to be involved in their children's health decisions, but what about the kids who can't talk to their parents about their sex lives? What about the kids for whom this is a choice between being kicked out of their house and risking cancer? (You'll not that I avoid speaking as if the cancer has already occurred, because it's important to be honest here too). If you feel this is a big deal, you're welcome to talk to your kids about it. But don't lie and say that it's taking away your children or that there's a state-wide plot to secretly vaccinate.

Don't be fooled into thinking that this is about informed consent — it's about another scare-mongering campaign from woo-woo anti-vaccination cranks who are playing on your love of children and skepticism of the government in order to push their quackery. And because the effects are long-term and population sized, it's unlikely that they'll ever be directly linked to the women (because let's be honest, that's who is at risk) who will die if these vaccinations are scuttled. They'll continue living their lives ignorant. Ignorant of science, and ignorant of the costs, ignorant of the women who will end up dying of cancer because they got a common STD and didn't get the cheap, safe preventative.

So instead of forwarding that bullshit letter around further, realize that you're sending on the modern equivalent of an urban legend promulgated by arguably well-meaning idiots who don't even respect you enough to tell you the truth.

Josh Steichmann

So, if you see this, instead of calling Jerry Brown, I encourage you to call Biodynamic Wellness (858.259.6000) and take them to task for spreading fear-monger bullshit that will hurt vulnerable people if effective. I'll be calling them today, because I think it's important. I'll tell you what they say. So far all of the emails I've gotten have either been of the "That's interesting" or "Take me off this list!" variety (far more of the latter), but I'll print them too.

In ought-dickety, the only stat we had was height

DesigNate Robinson fisks more old fart nonsense about Verlander's MVP.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

After green curry

When I was in Thailand, I took an afternoon cooking class and one of the highlights was making my own green curry.

We rode a Rot Dang to some sheet-metal pole barn, and got a lesson from the only "cooking school" in Chaing Mai that advertised itself as "vegetarian friendly." It was a blinding hot paste of green chilis, toasted spices, and the general Thai menagerie of cilantro, coriander, galangal, etc.

Since I foolishly left that cookbook at my folks' house, and haven't been able to get it back, I've been flailing along with a succession of green curry recipes, most recently this one.

Because you go to the stove with the ingredients that you've got, not the ingredients that you'd like (well, more that I don't really plan shopping by recipes), Amy and I made a series of substitutions from almost the giddyup. Our recipe follows:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp whole white or regular peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek (Amy hates anise, so we don't buy it)

Grind to powder.

1 1/2 tbsps garlic
3 tbsps cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 cup loosely packed chili leaves
1/2 cup chopped Thai chilis (leave seeds in)
1 cup green pepper
2 tbsps ginger, peeled and minced
2 tbsps lemon juice
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp shallots
1/2 tbsp Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce

We fried up a bunch of veggies to go with 2/3 cup of the above paste:

1 1/2 cup cubed tofu
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cup chopped potato (two small red potatoes)
3/4 cup beet (one golden beet)
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 can light coconut milk
1 tbsp cane sugar

It came out well, tasting halfway between a green curry and a yellow one, and very spicy. We didn't have a blender, so it was mostly chopped and blended with a mortar and pestle. There are half a dozen ways I could make it more authentic, but it was damn tasty and tomorrow we're going to scramble it with eggs (and maybe rice noodles).

Why Ender Wiggan's a creepy little fascist

John Kessel's classic essay: "Creating The Innocent Killer.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Fuck Yeah Fuck Yeah Fest

Fuck Yeah Fifes — FYF Fest grows up
by Josh Steichmann

This is the year they finally did it right.

After a couple of successive debacles, where great line-ups were marred by long lines, dehydration and bad layout, FYF Fest teamed up with Goldenvoice, the promoters best known for Coachella, and pulled off a festival that was both relaxing and exciting, a punk rock fest that finally stopped fucking up its own success and reconciled growing up with selling out.

From the very giddyup, FYF Fest ("You goin' to fife?" "What's it about?" "Minutemen and marching, I think.") cut out the bottlenecks of last year, with VIP and will-calls available for days before the fest, the entirety of Spring St. closed, and Metro service extended (no driving means extra drinking).

The hassles getting in were mostly of the city-promulgated variety — after the teen boiled her brains at the Electric Daisy rave, event permitting has included draconian security theater, including banning empty water bottles ("They could be coated with some kind of drugs you add water to," a very earnest guard told me) and backpacks, perhaps because you could fill them with glue and huff in them.

But after last year's hour-long line, five minutes from Metro through security was a dream. And likewise, having an ID check station cut the beer garden lines to a quick flash of the wristband and transfer of cash. Even the fencing was better laid out, making a better lane across the park and keeping the hills out of the way.

The music was as carefully curated as the logistics, with a punk for the whole family vibe with headliners like the Descendents barking out a respectably earnest "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," and the Dead Milkmen rambling through a surprisingly entertaining Marcus Bachmann intro to "Bitchin' Camero" ("Marcus told me that I wasn't born short, it's a lifestyle choice!" mugged lead singer Rodney), all while kids conceived to Green Day pogoed in their brand new patched jackets.

While the Descendents were more a confirmation ("Huh, that's what Milo looks like now") than a revelation, and the Milkmen's novelty vamping is like rewatching Repo Man (still funny, even if you know what's coming), the classic '93-'96 Guided By Voices started slow and, after one false start, tore up the stage. They've always got the secret soul of Cheap Trick inside of them, and Bob Pollard took them through the Bee Thousand- and Alien Lanes-heavy set with a relaxed, confident swagger that turned even bummers like "Tractor Rape Chain" into chugging rockers, and electrified pop nuggets like "Kicker of Elves." Not every legacy band did as well — Olivia Tremor Control played a bland, mid-tempo set, disappointing us Elephant 6 fans in the audience.

Olivia Tremor Control's lackluster performance was made more apparent by their immediate predecessors, Canadian psych rockers Pink Mountaintops. The Mountaintops, this time playing as a duo of Stephen McBean (guitars and vox, looking like a haggard Jeff Daniels) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys), played an epic set of slowed down, opened up riffs, hitting the perfect balance between the fuzzy wash of Spacemen 3 and the dancey Motorik vibe of Moroder in Munich.

Stuck at the end of the "Splinter's Den" shows, Chromatics' cool Italo was helped by the claustrophobic tent — Singer Ruth Radelet came across as impeccably disinterested and reserved, and the round synths and reverb made more sense inside in the dark than they would have outside in the sun. But where antecedent bands like Adult. keep their nihilism to car crashes and drowning deaths, Radelet's distanced laments come across like longings she can barely articulate without being overwhelmed, especially on their signature cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Keyboardist Johnny Jewel played later that night with his other Italo band, Glass Candy, who opted for a dancier set, but the bigger stage did them no favors and the sound lost a lot of its richness, and Glass Candy singer Ida No was buried in the mix, unable to project over it.

That thin mix on the bigger stages — a regular complaint of mine at outdoor shows across the board — hurt the prettier bands more than the rough ones; earnest Jonestown kids Cults lost their harmonies and enunciation, but still turned in a credible performance, while Broken Social Scene made up in numbers what their indie Springsteen anthems lacked in personality by packing the stage with their coterie of members. Only relative newcomers The Head and The Heart, who hit harmonies somewhere between Beta Band's shambolic multi-instrumentalism and Simon and Garfunkel's earnest folk, managed to sound great without embracing the uglier side of feedback and distortion.

Luckily, the uglier bands did just fine, with The Strange Boys pulling off a howling set of their blues-flecked punk, hitting all the right Gun Club and Screamin' Jay marks. Likewise, Ty Segall, of shitgazers Sic Alps and a handful of other Siltbreeze, Woodsist and Goner bands, pulled off a confident, careening set that whipsawed between The Who's power pop and The Stooges' raw power. That Segall wants his new album to sound Stooges-meets-Sabbath came through, and it really is a shame that five thousand shitty poodle-haired bar bands and earnest Melloncamp strummers have stolen the name "rock and roll" from its rightful inheritors, like Segall — he hit riffs with ease, windmilled and jump-kicked, all while churning out a blistering set of three-chord masterpieces. Segall's set was easily one of the highlights of the festival.

Unfortunately, like all multi-stage affairs, there's plenty that we didn't get to see: No Age is always a tight ride, and Japandroids are more fun than they have any right to be with songs like "River Phoenix." My friend, who broke away from us to go see Explosions in the Sky, said they were amazing; I tend to find them a bit plodding, but different strokes, I guess. The Weakerthans are always reliable for a stolid set of standard indie rock, and Four Tet has been one of the most consistently surprising electronic musicians over the last decade. And other friends came back raving about the Future Islands set that we missed in favor of the (aforementioned) regrettable OTC.

In the end, even the crowds seemed happier and more helpful than in years past, despite being 20000 strong — a chunk of us got drafted to push the solar food truck Green Machine up a hill (the irony was not lost), and got free burgers. People were sharing food and drinks, and even the kid flying the California flag from the middle of the mosh pit felt like a hopeful standard bearer at the glorious revolution's celebration. This is what a local festival looks like when done right.

(NOTE: I wrote this for Rock and Roll Confidential, but they're having technical difficulties, so I wanted to get it up before everyone's forgotten about it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

And it cuts out halfway through the last tune

Vh1 Classic just averred, in the context of "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs," that "If the devil made a mixtape, he'd start it out with White Zombie's 'More Human Than Human.'"

Which is true. He'd also follow it with three more White Zombie songs and insist on playing it through your whole road trip. It's like, "Satan, I brought easily twenty different tapes to listen to and you just brought that?" "But this is my jam! I'm getting so pumped!" And then BAM, right back into the "Convoy" that he taped over while he drums on the dashboard.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bad Friends

Homophobic Friends from WayDownEast on Vimeo.

Another reason to hate Friends — constant homophobia.

Noise, inequality and more!

All of the Midwest noise band Duotron's Mp3s for free, along with music from the same folks as Monotrona, Dot Dot Dot and MATH.

Nestor Makhno was an anarchist who fought against both the Whites and the Reds in the Russian Revolution. Since finishing Orwell's Homage To Catalonia, I've been on a big anarchism kick.

Also, Lyube wrote a song about him. Maybe I can get AK and Her Kalashnikovs to perform it (though I have no idea what the lyrics mean).

Speaking of anarchists, Wikipedia's Post-Left Anarchy is interesting, even if all contemporary anarchists strike me as dilettantes and posers.

Machinegun Kelly reps Cleveland ("Come and see both of our buildings") over tight, hooky beats. I wish Matt G would tighten up and rep this hard.

Subjective Well-being and the Curse of Conspicuous Consumption finds that in rural India, people's attempts to keep up with the Joneses sabotage their long-term happiness.

Also, still lovin' Das Racist.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Collie Angel

Collie Angel from Marble Mummy and Matt G.

One of the best parts of getting back to Michigan was seeing Matt G., who gave me a sweet haircut and told me about this Collie Angel joint that Marbs left in my comments.

Apparently, Matt G. went to this garage sale or something and found this horrible little statue of an angel that someone'd replaced the head on, slapping a porcelain collie on there. He picked it up, because WTF?, but then found it way too creepy to keep around the house. It's haunting some other friend of his now, its dead dog eyes staring down unblinkingly.

That's the statue, this is the tape.

Ten Thousand Hours of Community Service

This MetaTalk question about the boundaries of self/friend-linking on Metafilter got me thinking about a podcast run by James Ilgenfritz. I've known him for over ten years, I think he's a good guy, but it's not like we've spoken in a long time. I don't know what neighborhood he lives in or anything.

But I found out about the podcast from James himself, through facebook. We're facebook friends. So I was going to post a comment in the thread saying basically that, and if it seemed cool I might post something about him once I get through listening to the podcast — I wouldn't want to recommend it unless I'd actually listened to all the content there. (That's part of why I don't link to that many things — I like to go through it all first. Stuff that might suck just goes on the blog.)

Anyway, to make this comment, I start to Google "James Ilgenfritz," and everything that comes up is about the bassist. But the front page of his site didn't have an obvious link to the podcast itself (the big one goes to the RSS), so I went back to Google and hit the spacebar once, and it autosuggested James Ilgenfritz Munhall.

Now, Ilgenfritz is a pretty rare name, right? So, I was curious. Turns out there's some cop in Munhall that shares poor James Ilgenfritz's name, and while the news stories that pop up don't mention him specifically, the comments allege that he was banging a 17-year-old girl, and there's a federal civil rights lawsuit out on him.

Avant garde bassist in double life shockah!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

If you seek a pleasant peninsula

We got in around 3 P.M. yesterday, my dad ducking out of work to pick us up at Metro after a chintzy Spirit flight ("Greyhound of the Sky").

We watched half a Tigers game, ate jackfruit carnitas and had half a handshake with Ian and Geoff over twitter.

Headed out to swim at the pool of a friend-of-a-boyfriend-of-a-friend, some guitarist named Daniel who played with guys from Foghat or something. Out west of Saline, off of Scio Church, after a long dirt road. I think I left my sunglasses there.

Then today, we headed up to Lansing. Which has meant awkward conversations about medical marijuana, some sort of artichoke casserole, and community theater.

The show was Flaming Idiots, which had nothing to do with The Flaming Idiots, whom I like. "You know, jugglers?" No, no, no.

The director, fresh from success at CMU, wanted to make a farce that was really about developing characters (or so he told City Pulse) and it was a hot mess of over-acting, under-writing and just a general failure to understand the mechanics of comedy. It involved a deaf chef based on a terrible Carol Burnett impression, a buffoonish caricature of Hispanic that only lacked for the bee costume, and a granpa hitman who looked like a Tim and Eric extra.

Even the heckler was baffling — during a HAMLET scene so overwrought that Jon Lovitz would have suggested toning it down, some guy yelled, "Let me guess, a midsummer night's dream?" Which nonplussed the cast, and I blamed the director for until Amy told me it was just some guy who didn't even talk through the rest of the play. I can only assume that was some secret phrase that let Eugene he'd been caught in flagranti and would be stabbed after the show.

Still, even when live theater's bad, it's still pretty fun, and I'd rather watch an amateurish farce (which at least makes me feel nostalgic for all the amateurish farces I was in) than an amateurish drama, which are usually about poverty or literacy or abortion or all three, and are usually of the opinion that these things aren't bad so much, as can be overcome, especially literacy.

The biggest problem was that for some reason, community theaters haven't yet realized that they're about a thousand times better when you have the liquid lubricant of comedy, beer. Or pot too, but it was going to be hard to get stoned with Amy's folks there.

Luckily, since we needed an eye mask for Amy, we got to get high in the car, then stop at Taco Bell all on the way to Meijer.

Taco Bell was, as befits all semi-suburban highway exit sprawls, the place to people watch. I came in as the European was having a jocular discussion with the clerk about what sour cream was, having apparently already placed his order. It's the kind of mindless friendliness that America does really well, the sort of sheep dog enthusiasm for introducing those poor benighted foreigners to our magnificent dairy products dispensed from caulk guns.

The black teen next in line broke in, calling the the counter clerk out — "How you gonna not take my order? Don't you see me standing here? What's the deal, man? Don't you think I want food? What you think I'm at Taco Bell for?"

The man and the clerk both looked sheepish, and the clerk took the black guy's order. Maybe I've got a finer sensitivity to service industry discomfort, but the counter jockey kept trying to ask if there was something that the guy would like for free, and the guy was too pissed to pick up on it. Like, "I can give you a complementary large drink," and the guy just says, "I said a small drink. How come you not listening?"

I tried to explain all that to Amy when she came in, but she got caught up in listening to the conversation between the teen cook, a slight, greasy girl in that black with purple piping uniform, and some hefty 20-something who had ordered 17 tacos. And I couldn't be too loud about it, since the folks were right there.

Despite not having lived in Michigan in a couple years, eating Taco Bell while wandering through Meijer is still pretty boss.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What am I drinking? What are you drinking?

I'm drinking:

2 oz. Bulleit Rye (on sale at Super King)
.75 oz Lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup (with cardamom)
2 tbsp muddled mint
Dash Soda water
Dash Blood orange juice


MeFi Mag Issue Four: Work!

The Work Issue, July 2011

MeFi Mag Issue 4:

This issue touches on the theme of work, in various forms. Klangklangston takes a look behind the scenes at the Institute of Erotic Arts and Sciences, msalt discusses the similarities of comedians to Daoist monks, Lutoslawski reveals the torture of man-boobs, iamkimiam is interviewed about "Meffy" vs "Mee-Fai", Brandon Blatcher traces the path Neil Armstrong's journey to be first man on the moon and brina chats with the newest moderator, restless…

Free PDF with sound here! (Due to limitations of print, there is no sound in the Magcloud edition.)

Tell me what you think!


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Thursday, July 07, 2011

The sale of two douches

I bought a case of beer from the Rite Aid tonight, the one on Santa Monica at Vermont. There are two checkout lanes open, each with a woman checking out. I choose one lane, and I'm standing there with my case of bottles, and the cashier is idly chit chatting with the other cashier and the woman who's in front of me.

Her kids are orbiting and hitting each other, pouting and whining, and they're in their mid teens. Neither cashier nor the woman seems to be in any hurry.

I think about going over to the other line, but I see that woman's not getting rung up either. Because I'm judgmental and annoyed, I start paying attention to what the women have.

There has to be some sort of sale on douches at the Rite Aid. Both women have double packs of store brand douches. The price has somehow been marked incorrectly or isn't scanning, so everybody's just chillin' on the douches.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

I had a pretty good birthday yesterday (well, and today).

It started shittily enough, with yet another grinding battle against an over-burdened health care bureaucracy, but picked up with a trip to Mom's Tamales — not to be confused with Mama's Tamales, our previous favorite tamales. (Still good, just Mom's were fluffier and spicier.)

Stopped by the CSA; going to their potluck tomorrow.

Amy and I met Amanda and Isaac at City Sip, had some tempernillo and rioja, along with some tasty cheeses. Not too bad for happy hour — $4 tempernillo is worthwhile even if it's a bit one-note.

Then Amy and I headed off to Sage Bistro, a vegan half-raw bistro. Service was great, food was three stars, with every dish having sauce problems. Too much dressing on the salads, too many sauces on the spring rolls, too sweet marina sauce on amazing little ravioli.

We took a quick detour by Seth Lower's show at the Weekend Gallery, right across the street from Wacko. It was a really small space, but it's worth seeing.

We ended up back at home with fresh berries and cream. Fantastic.

Today, had a picnic up at Barnsdall Park (an official webpage that's unfortunately ranked lower than the spam farm it replaced) with a passel of folks I haven't seen in a while. It was nice overeating in a park. We swung by the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery on our way out — strong LA County show there, though the photographers again beat everybody else.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Would Like for my Birthday

I'm turning 32 on Friday, so like all procrastinators, I consider this ample notice of my birthday wishes.

I generally feel weird about asking for things — it seems needy, I already feel cluttered too often (so maybe don't need that much more stuff) and I rarely remember things that I need outside of the contexts where I need them.

Hence not buying bread until my sandwich making is stymied.

But since some of you have asked (and asked and asked), and it seems needlessly precious of me to insist that you simply divine what I want based on what you know about what I like, I thought it couldn't hut to give options.

— An amp/receiver

Mine's a second- or third-hand model from an old prof of mine. I'm not sure whether it just needs cleaning or whether it has officially died, but the left channel keeps cutting out and it vexes me.

— Speakers

Though they once were rich and round, my circa '86 Sony's are now buzzy and incapable of the same great sound at anything less than "really loud." It makes me despair for my neighbors.

— A Flickr pro account

I've meant to set this up plenty of times, but haven't. Costs about $25 for a year, I think.

— A portfolio website

Really, I should set this up myself too, but each time I do it, I end up frustrated.

— Booze.

Sweet, delicious booze of all kinds. Wine, rye, scotch, gin or even absinthe.

— A nice chef's knife.

I've been using a commercial kitchen one, which is adequate, but it's dying slowly. I've had it resharpened a couple times, and it just doesn't hold the edge all that long.

— Art.

Really, framed art — whether that means getting some of my prints framed or new art with frames — is something that I always love and really do keep a long time. Book art is also awesome. I find that I don't tend to reread books that often (always onto something new with my ADD), but I can look at well-printed art books over and over.

— A large external hard drive.

I've run out of media storage space. Again. I will run out of media storage space again again again. I need to store music and photos, preferably on a networked drive.

— Music

On CD, honestly. I've run out of mp3 space, and a well-mastered CD really does sound better. Especially jazz. My copies of the great mid '60s and early '70s jazz masterpieces are all succumbing to bitrot and scratches, so I need to replace them, and I don't want mp3s for jazz, at least while my ears can still pick out most of it.

— Twin lens Holga

I just saw some 3-D slides shot on one of these, and they're amazing. Of all the variant Holgas, this would be my first choice.

— Vosages sea salt and almond chocolates

They're crazy good.

There are plenty of other things that I'd like, from an external flash for my camera to more lenses for my cameras, or concert tickets, or a trip to Disneyland or that water park from Bill and Ted's, and I always like food (or ingredients) and anything involving 32 or 2^5 would be apt.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In which Michele Bachmann misunderstands government spending

When Michele Bachmann says that she didn't benefit from federal money, as she told the LA Times, her justification is that the money didn't go directly into her pocket, i.e. that "…the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."

She's reframing the issue to answer a question of whether or not she directly profited, which isn't the question. It's a dodge, and she should be called on it — she was willing to spend the government's money on her training programs rather than spend her own money.

Likewise with the farm subsidies to the farm she co-owns. That she hasn't taken a payout doesn't mean that she doesn't benefit from the subsidies to the property she owns — that's like saying you haven't benefited from a free new wing on your house because you haven't sold it yet.

By misrepresenting how she benefits, Bachmann lies about how government works. Government spending is almost never a direct individual payment, except in the so-called "entitlement programs." Instead, policy goals are achieved through tax breaks and grant or subsidy spending. It's that type of government spending which politicians such as Bachmann cast as normative, expected and not to be included in the moral calculus of conservatism.

It's a lie that enables hypocrisy and the ongoing war against the middle class (a much more real beast than any war against Christmas).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gangs, drugs, metal, punk, what?

I stumbled onto this short item on a gang shooting in South LA. I was curious about the gang, and it turned out to be The Defiant Ones, a black motorcycle club that started in the '50s.

Trying to find more info on them, led me to a flickr set of the 1982 LAPD gang handbook.

One of the weird things about the handbook is that they say that the white gangs mostly label themselves as "stoners," e.g. Downey Stoners, La Mirada Stoners, Paramount Stoners. So, I start googling for some of those, and run across a 1985 article about Fight For Freedom, some white punk rock gang, which sounds pretty hilarious.

In there, they quote credulously from Gregory Bodenhamer, who apparently ran a program called "Back in Control." Though in the article, he's fairly sane, it turns out that Bodenhamer thought that kids needed to be depunked and demetaled, and ran some crazy brainwashing camps in the '80s, which this rambling blog entry connects to the PMRC, Focus on the Family, the evangelical DC prayer group called The Family, and Hilary Clinton. Bodenhamer is also quoted in this goofy article about druggy metal heads.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seniors eat cat food; Rep. Ryan eats cake

While the world has focused on Weiner's weiner, Representative Paul Ryan has committed a real ethics breach: His budget plan includes hefty subsidies for his wife and father-in-law, which he'd benefit from.

While it's important to Ryan to make sure that Medicare fails and seniors die, it's also important that he make some money from our energy policy.

Is there any better summation of Republican economic philosophy than "Fuck you, got mine"?

(edited to fix Ryan's title — He's a rep, not a sen. Mea culpa.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Come on, Trader Joe's, do the right thing

Florida tomato workers' fortunes have improved, but Trader Joe's still refuses to sign an agreement that Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Sodexo, Whole Foods and other large fast food and food supply chains have already done.

The agreement would increase prices on winter tomatoes (October through May) by about a penny per pound, translating into thousands of dollars for workers that are essentially at the very bottom of the American workforce. Seriously — there are literally slavery rings being run in Florida, forcing people to pick tomatoes for no pay and not allowing them to leave.

By refusing to sign the agreement, Trader Joe's tacitly supports the working conditions.

Trader Joe's provides their reasoning here, alleging that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is spreading lies and defaming them. While they raise some worthwhile points, saying things like "no serious business would agree" to these terms is belied by the fact that Whole Foods as well as the major fast food chains (and their suppliers) all have.

When I canvassed, I dealt with a document from Trader Joe's legal team that was similarly combative, misleading and fundamentally misrepresenting the decisions made since Pruneyard, which makes me more suspicious of their document here.

I like Trader Joe's. I shop there pretty often. I'm going to talk to the store managers about this, and I encourage you to do so as well. While their letter concludes that they will not be pressured to agree to CIW's terms — as so many others have — I will be pressuring them, and depending on their reply, may make other arrangements for spending my money.

Going mobile!

I've enabled a mobile version of my blog, handily suggested to me this morning by blogger, after Amy couldn't get here with her tablet last night.

This is Amy's favorite song ever too, maybe second to My Wife.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If only it was Tim and Eric…

I used to live in this district, and while Hahn's a machine hack who won based on her family's legacy, it's good to remember every now and then that the folks running against her actually believe this shit.

Luckily, there's a gif for that:

This is what turning right means. It means that Craig Huey's supported by some pretty reprehensible motherfuckers, and he's yet to speak out on the ad.

While pundi-bloggers are quickly calling this "The Most Offensive Political Ad Ever", that undersells the assholes of the past.

Come and Look at Both of our Buildings

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Steaming streaming for the ear holes

3VOOR12 - Luisterpaal is a Dutch site that looks legal enough, and has a bunch of music that I've been curious about but haven't found streaming for free in the US (i.e. Grooveshark). And unlike Spotify, it doesn't bounce Americans.

Been digging The Oh Sees, Cults and Fucked Up albums.

Space is full of assholes

Tumblr Hate the Future is awesome dystopic revenge for all the milquetoast iFuture bullshit.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Good governance is persistent

The prize bureaucrats of the Hapsburg empire make for better governance even today.

When life gives you lemonade

For childhood businesses, the lemonade stand is a hoary trope. Simply hearing the phrase, one can already picture the table, pitcher and reversed letters.

But for Nicholas Martin, they're also a way to make a misleading case against governmental regulation.

Martin, the head of an organization that reeks of astroturf (no website, the only legitimate mention on the web comes from Sourcewatch noting another astroturf organization Martin belonged to), the Consumer Health Education Council in Indianapolis, complains that his daughter is only allowed to operate a business on public grounds one day a year, and that the health department would prohibit unlicensed food vending.

Of course, he doesn't bother to get any names or anything that might make the quotes verifiable.

Instead, he proceeds with the kind of blind privilege that entitles him to complain endlessly about regulations that generally make sense if considered in the light of the equality of the law — would he want everyone who wants to sell whatever food or drink they want to be able to do it anywhere? His strongest complaint is that the zoning laws officially prohibit him from having the stand on his lawn, but if that's really a problem, change the laws.

It's also disingenuous to pretend that these laws would meaningfully restrict his freedom — the health department says it would only respond to a complaint, and if his daughter was poisoned by someone else's lemonade stand, he'd be the first to complain. Rather, they function more like laws against speeding, where the laws themselves are only sporadically enforced, especially against the most egregious violators, but everyone still speeds. Just not by as much as they might otherwise.

Why the Los Angeles Times decided to run a facile anti-regulation piece from Indianapolis is beyond me, but next time I would hope that an editor would take a brief look at it before signing off on thin claims, misleading anecdotes and transparent propaganda from an anti-government activist.

Friday, June 03, 2011

MeFi Mag issue three!

The Travel Issue, June 2011

MeFi Mag Issue 3:

This issue was written and shot all over the world — from Japan to Texas, Scotland to Pennsylvania — then compiled in California, laid out in a secret lair on the East Coast and printed back in California. With that global community in mind, and with summer approaching — which increases the number of travel questions (pg. 16), it made sense to pick a Travel and Place theme for June. We have stories on how the land shapes narrative (pg. 20), o…

Issue three is out!

Buy a copy (or download it for free) and see why I've been grumpily copy editing for weeks!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I made ice cream

From this recipe, but I will say that his emphasis on whipping to get a lot of air in the mix led to (maybe because of the hand mixer) more a mousse than an ice cream. Though that might have also been because I didn't have any milk and just used cream straight through.

Beers, bikes, beats

Los Angeles maybe finally getting some good breweries.

Alex Thompson on Critical Mass, corking and cops, along with some rambling about kids these days.

Dabrye's Hyped Up Plus Tax.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why conservative jokes suck

The Irony of Irony (Ironic!)

Literally unbelievable!

For some of you who see me comment on MetaFilter, you'll know that I'm generally annoyed at the lazy reductionism of people of faith as credulous rubes (seen in its most patronizing in the "Santa Claus" construction).

But that's because the vast majority of the people I know who are people of faith don't take the faith too literally. They understand that conceiving of the world as a battle between God and Satan is both simplistic and, well, magical in a bad way. If I believe that it is literally the antithesis of all that is good and holy that motivates your actions, then sure, $8 billion Abortionplex.

Likewise, the feeling of "Fuck you, nah just kidding," that pervades conservative humor (including a "Tiger Woods vs. Obama: Who's more diverse?" gag) comes from the sense that everyone is using the pretense of humor as a way to cover up the ostensibly unpopular or impolitic opinions they really hold (hence believing that Colbert is really a conservative, and that his jokiness is only a play on Bill O'Reilly), and an antipathy toward critical examinations of those opinions — which is when humor is invoked as a defense.

He's a scrappy coffee-fuelled gangster with a robot buddy named Sparky. She's a cold-hearted motormouth museum curator operating on the wrong side of

They Fight Crime! via @carsonb

Why yes, that is tasty

1.5 oz rum
3 oz pineapple juice
1.5 oz Gerolsteiner (buck a liter at Jon's)
.75 oz Cointreau
Dash Angostura bitters

All measurements approximate.

Stir. Drink.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Culinary intersectionality of suck

As a vegetarian, Mexican food is pretty easy to make at home — tacos, burritos, enchiladas, these are all things that have a pretty simple format, but can support huge variation. But when Food Network show Mexican Made Easy wants to do a vegetarian episode, what do they choose? A trifle, lasagna and a salad.

Any cooking show's ethnic food is a dodgy proposition — I think what makes these cheese sticks Mexican is just the cilantro — but it highlights a tremendous failure of imagination with vegetarian food.

This is especially depressing since the vast majority of what I eat is "vegetarian ethnic" food — "American" food is pretty meat-centric, shaped by generations of agricultural policy to heighten cheap meat and cheap starches. And because I'm lucky to live in a place where "Mexican" breaks down into endless regional differences (from Oaxacan to Korean), I know that "Mexican" is both spices and format, and is pretty damn easy.

So, mainstream+vegetarian+ethnic hits this culinary intersection of suck, where this food that could have been tasty and simple ends up a bland, uninspired hassle. It's no wonder that most folks think they couldn't be vegetarian — I couldn't either if I had to live on "Mexican mac and cheese."

Luckily, there are some (still easy) ways to make your Mexican food exponentially better.

The first is to grind your spices fresh. Put cumin in pretty much everything, usually when you're cooking sauteeing the onions (pretty much every vegetarian Mexican dish involves building from some onion sautee or another). You can use dried oregano, but fresh cilantro is much better. Adding a pinch cinnamon can add depth, especially with beans. Black beans have more flavor than pinto beans (which is why pinto beans make better refried). The spicing goes from dark to light — add things like cumin, dried peppers or bay leaves earlier, add things like cilantro, fresh peppers or avacado later. Salt cautiously throughout.

Most of all, just season a little more than you think you should and cook the vegetables a little less.

You got gore in my Satanism!

Three brief guides to metal subgenres (or "What's the difference between black metal and death metal, anyhow?")

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Underground fat action

A brief defense of terrible things

There are two things any article about Odd Future needs to feature: That they're pretty rapey, and that white critics like them.

This is especially important to mention this if you are a white critic.

Since the album came out nearly two weeks ago, most critics have had it for months and are clearly bored of it — you can see this by the "let's cover the coverage" meta-stage we're in now, where Cord Jefferson makes a whole article out of telling listeners why they really like it (or at least why white critics like it — fetishizing black man's rage again.

(He ends with a doozy: "Ike Turner, Mike Tyson, Chris Brown -- all lack men whose anger went from latent to gruesome, and whose reputations were shattered irrevocably in the process. Because the fetishization of black aggression has its limits. And while white people love to hear you say you're going to beat and rape some women, God help you if you ever actually do it."

Poor Dominique Strauss-Kahn learned that the hard way.)

So, briefly:

OF has beats I like and flows I like, and the cartoonish rape is part of a cartoonishly violent world they create. But I like metal and I like skatepunk and I don't mind stuff that's intentionally gross or gruesome, so long as there's something else there. It's not for everyone, but while race is part of the context of OF, it's not nearly as important to me as the aesthetic norms of the rest of the stuff I listen to. Putting a lot of emotional charge into the cartoony rage and violence would distract me from both the other stuff going on in the music that I like, and the sense of humor I think OF comes across with.

Which means that I find the defenses of OF on the "Freaking out the squares" tip to be pretty bullshit too — it's constant talk about the least interesting part of the music, like focusing on just how Satanic metal bands are.