Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What does she want, a cookie?

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just vetoed SB 1062, that bullshit piece of legislation passed last week by the GOP-controlled state legislature. Remember that one?
"...and that's how the liberals and their homosexual agenda
 are ruining America. And don't get me started on the Jews..."

-SB 1062
It's like she was trying to
pad out an English paper.
The bill was designed to protect religious people from discrimination by protecting their right to discriminate against gay people. See how that works? Of course you don't, it was insane, but it's dead now, and that's awesome...mostly. Here's an excerpt from the Governor's bizarrely formated statement:

"I took the time necessary to make the RIGHT [her caps, not mine] decision. I met with or spoke to my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation. 
I listened...and asked questions."

-GOVERNOR Jan...Brewer,
seriously, check it out, it's how she writes

"My name is Greg, and I'm going to get
you started on drinks, but first, do you
both accept Jesus as your personal savior?"
Like I said, it's great that she killed the bill but I have some questions myself. For instance: what in the name of hell took so goddamn long? Governor Brewer just spent the last few days mulling this thing over and while she got there in the end, this was a bill that would have made it totally ok to discriminate against anyone, anytime and in any way as long as you say it's because of your 'sincerely held' religious beliefs. What exactly does 'sincerely held' even mean? Nobody knows. This was a vaguely-worded license to be an asshole, and it somehow required a week of soul-searching and a team of legal experts to see the problem with it.

"What, are you in a hurry? I'll cut the 
wire when I'm ready to cut the wire. "
Well, either that, or she just pausing for dramatic effect, like in a movie when we have to wait until 00:01 to cut the blue wire. I mean, was she genuinely not sure what the right thing to do was? I get that it's important to hear both sides of an argument before coming to a conclusion, but holy shit, shouldn't this have been something of a foregone? When one side is made up of foaming at the mouth homophobic lunatics do we really have to give them the floor?

Yes, ultimately Governor Brewer saw the blindingly obvious problem with fighting imaginary religious persecution with actual, legalized discrimination and vetoed SB 1062, but should it really have been such a struggle?
Governor Jan Brewer:
This slow clap's for you!

Friday, February 21, 2014


Remember last week when Kansas Republicans almost passed a law which would have made it totally legal to discriminate against gay people because, you know, Kansas? You don't? Trust me, it was some Omega-Level bullshit.
Pictured: Kansas. Really, that's about it. The whole state looks like that.
"Sorry ladies, I just can't put two brides on
the same cake. My god will punish me."
The bill said that anyone, be they individuals, employees of private companies or even state workers, can refuse services to gay people by invoking religious protection. Say you're a baker and don't want to bake a cake for a gay wedding. No problem, just shout 'Jesus!' and you'd be legally covered. Don't want to seat a gay couple at your restaurant because you're afraid they might give everyone the gay? Je-sus. Homophobic firefighter called to put out a fire at a gay dude's house? Jesus H. Chr--huh? What's that?

No, I'm not kidding, the bill would have allowed people who provide basic and essential services the right to refuse them to anyone based on religious objections.
"No, for real, show me the part where I told you to treat gay people like shit. Show me.
What's that Nicole? I can't hear you. You don't remember what page? Oh, ok then. Shut up."
Above: Susan Wagle, the closest thing
the Kansas GOP has to a reasonable person.
In fact, it was only when the Senate President Susan Wagle realized how rabid foam-crazy the rest of her party is that the bill was shot down:

"Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public."

-State Senate President Susan Wagle,
shortly before being accused of 
witchcraft by the rest of her party

Pheeew, that was close right? But hey, so much for anti-gay discrimina--tion...god...damnit:
Welcome to the Deep Southwest
Yup, Arizona lawmakers have passed their own bill which is basically the same thing as the Kansas bill. Here's some horseshit from one of the bill's sponsors:

Pictured: Yarbrough, looking like even
he can't believe he just said that.
"This bill is not about allowing discrimination...This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

-Sen. Steve Yarbrough

So the plan is to allow the religiously inclined to preemptively discriminate against gay people in order to prevent discrimination? But somebody is getting discriminated against here regardless, right? Either the gay person who needs a wedding cake or whose house is on fire, or the religious person who has to suck up and deal with not liking gay people. Net gain of non-discrimination: 0. 

"What? Game of Thrones
comes back in a few weeks..."
In addition to be a seriously dick move on the part of Arizona Republicans towards the LGBT community, the bill is terrifyingly vague both in its requirements for protection and its scope. Like you don't even have to point to a specific tenet of your faith to discriminate against someone. It just says you can do (or not do) whatever you want as long as it's religiously motivated; "whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of belief." I'm not a lawyer, but it kind of sounds like you can gut-punch the cable guy because HBO costs extra and just say Cthulu made you do it.

-The Arizona GOP
I'm not trying to be insensitive towards people who support this bill, but they are being tremendous assholes. What is so wrong in their own lives that they put the right to treat people like shit above the right to not be treated like shit? No one supporting the bill was ever asked to renounce their religion or burn their Tim LaHaye books. All that was asked of them was that they grow up and put aside their asinine, biblically unsupported problem with gay people and behave decently towards their fellow human beings. Is that so hard? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'd feel way better if it were wizards...

Check it out, the Chicago Police Department is using high tech sorcery to predict future crime! It's just like that Tom Cruise movie and it's-wai-wah? Which one? Really? Legend. I'm thinking of Legend. Anyway, it looks like we shall soon be living in a peaceful, crime-free utopia, resplendent in our futuristic kimonos and gorging ourselves on Taco Bell like in that Sylvester Stallone movie-yeah, sure, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Way to keep up.
Just kidding, it's Demolition Man. Of course, every utopia has a
 dark side, and this one suffers from a serious Rob Schneider problem.
"No daughter of mine's gonna 
marry no Macintosh..."
-Racist Computer
Back to the pre-crime. What's the CPD's secret? Time Cops? Wizards? Psychic mutants soaking in buttermilk? If you guessed 'racist computer,' congratulations, you win! The CPD is using a new predictive algorithm developed by some guy at Yale, to spit out a list (hilariously called 'the Heat List') of people it thinks are likely to commit a crime in the future. For example, if you committed a crime in the past, hang out with people who commit crimes or just live in a neighborhood where crimes are committed you might be on The Heat List. The program 'predicts' crime in the same way an elderly man predicts that those teenagers across the street are up to no good: by looking at them and deciding their dungarees are too low. What could possibly go wrong?

Ok, so say you're on the list, what then? A polite note taped to the front door? Nope, the cops come to your house and let you know that they're watching you. The department insists that the people on the list are hundreds of times more likely to commit a crime and that by keeping tabs on them and interacting with them in person they are reducing the chances that that person will get themselves into trouble someday.
It's sort of like this, except instead of a camera crew with
balloons and a giant check, it's the police with accusations.
We could have saved ourselves
a lot of trouble back in 2007.
Numbers don't lie, right? Statistically, someone raised in shitty circumstances, surrounded by violent criminals is in greater danger of becoming a criminal themselves than some rich kid in the suburbs. But an investment banker is way more likely than say, me, who doesn't even own a business guy suit, to commit fraud, evade taxes, or say, plunge the global economy into a devastating recession. So why aren't we knocking on the doors of MBA students at the University of Chicago and shaking an accusatory finger at them too?

I'm going to go with: because white people, but what do I know? Maybe this thing totally works, and everybody's just getting hung up on the blatant profiling. Still it's got to feel pretty bullshit to have the police knock on your door and tell you that you're probably going to fuck up and spend the rest of your life in prison because of your socio-economic circumstances.
"No, I wasn't planning on committing any
crimes today, but now I kind of want to..."

Today in 'Hey, that's not news...'

Someone got paid to 'write' this. Paid money. For real.
This just in: The Pope's hat blew off!
Also, Kiev is burning, but hat!
Yup, Pope Francis's hat blew off his head yesterday during his weekly address outside of St. Peter's Cathedral and NBC News was there. I sure hope the people who hand out the Pulitzer for journalism were watching. So while the internet is functionally infinite and journalists and news sites aren't constrained by column length limitations, that's still not news. And yes, I realize that by even referring to how not news this is, I am, in fact multiplying the number of words written about this stupid incident by a factor of a thousand, but I just had to say something.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Educutional!

If this is what you think of when you
hear the word danish, and you like it
that way, please stop reading now.
So the Copenhagen Zoo had an extra giraffe and decided to-yes, I said an extra giraffe. I am personally of the opinion that one can never have too many giraffes but then I'm not a Danish zoo. Anyway, they decided that their zoo had exactly one giraffe too many so they decided to put one, named Marius, down. Bummer, right? Yes, but it gets even more Danish. After a veterinarian shot it in the head with a rifle, zoo staff performed a necropsy (an autopsy, but for animals), which is weird because the vet with the smoking rifle seems the most likely cause of death.

Weirder still is that they performed the necropsy in front of school children. Oh yes. Visitors, including school kids, were invited to watch. But don't worry animal fans, the giraffe was then skinned, cut up and fed to the zoo's lions. If you just muttered 'Holy shit, what is up with Denmark?' to yourself, you're not alone.
Because if you don't teach your kids about giraffe
innards, they're just going to pick it up on the streets.
The lions, however, were totally on board.
As you can imagine, the zoo's plan to take a healthy, two year-old giraffe, euthanize it, dissect it and then it feed to lions (didn't I mention that part?) has upset some people. Animal rights supporters collected over 27,000 signatures hoping to save Marius. They also pointed out that there were options open to the Zoo other than a live execution/field trip. Marius could have, I don't know, been moved to another zoo. In fact, a number of other zoos and private organizations had expressed interest in taking the giraffe, but the Copenhagen Zoo refused.

How come? Is the place run by deranged, inhuman butchers whose insane lust for the blood of adorable animals is matched only by their insatiable thirst for the tears of children? Probably not, but some crazy people seems to think so. Some of the zoo's staff have been receiving death threats.
In this case, the death threats seem a little self-defeating.
Sure she's smiling, but on the inside
this scientist is thinking about how she's
 wasted her life on goddamn giraffes.
It turns out the Copenhagen Zoo is involved in an inter-zoo breeding program with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (or EAZA, if you're feeling sassy) which abides by certain guidelines to ensure a healthy and diverse population and Marius was, at least by the program's rules, redundant. Yikes. Sounds cold, but the zoo has limited resources and I can't imagine that anyone at the zoo was thrilled to put the giraffe down. Like, you don't dedicate your life to giraffe-research if you hate giraffes, do you?

Check out the interview with Bengt Holst, the zoo's director of Research and Conservation. He explains that the other options weren't really options. Some of the zoos that offered to take Marius weren't up to snuff, and nobody wanted him to end up in a circus.
Sweet Jesus, I wouldn't wish the circus on anybody.
Don't worry kids, your parents
are just copulating. It's a natural thing.
As for the necropsy being performed in front of children, Holst defended the move explaining that death is a part of life and we shouldn't shield children from it:

"...we shouldn't show the Disney World, we should show the real thing."

-Bengt Holst,
Future host of TLC's Murder Zoo

Look, I'm not saying that I support giraffe murder. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm against it. What I am suggesting that maybe we should all just take a breath, stop emailing death threats and accept that sometimes things are more complicated than 'Holy shit, what is up with Denmark?'
Dude, you shot a giraffe and then fed it to lions in front of kids.
Yes, it was for science, but CNN isn't exactly known for understanding nuance. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sochi: A Matryoshka of Suck

Planning on attending the Sochi Olympics?
Then you're basically a puppy murderer.
As I may have mentioned before, I don't actually care about Olympics, winter or otherwise, but everything, everything about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia so far has been horrible inside something gross and then itself nested inside something even worse. Construction has ruined people's lives in nearby towns, we're fighting with Russian customs over greek yogurt and oh yeah, the City of Sochi is now murdering puppies. Let me repeat: they're rounding up strays and poisoning them because they don't want underfed and mangy dogs bumming out the tourists.

Oh, and did I mention the institutionalized, foaming-at-the-mouth homophobia hanging over the games like a cloud of sadness and intolerance? No? I didn't? Well hating gays is all the rage in Russia. The mayor of Sochi has even declared that there are no gay people in his fair city which is both patently untrue and a tremendously dick thing to say.
"Welcome to Sochi, we promise we won't arrest you for
your deviant behavior, you godless sodomites."

-From the Sochi, Russia tourism board
Oh, and check out this statement from Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak wherein he equates gay people with child molesters. Of course, it's translated from the original Russian so all the 'R's have been turned around and the 'V's are now 'W,'s but don't worry, all the horseshit still comes across:

Kozak (left) signing the 2013
Baby Penguin Eradication Act
"We are all grownups, and any adult has his or her right to understand their sexual activity. Please do not touch kids. That's the only thing. During the opening ceremony, during the closing ceremony, during the sports events, I hope that we will not see such problems."

-Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak,
presumably drunk, because you know, Russians...

They make Mike Huckabee look like
Rachel Fucking Maddow.
You hear that gays? Knock it off with all the child least until the games are over. Holy shit. I mean, holy shit. I know we're like world leaders the field of idiotic homophobia in politics, but let me reiterate: holy shit. What is wrong with him? Did he grow up near an unshielded Soviet missile silo? Between him and Vladimir Putin and those jackasses in St. Petersburg, how can one country, and again I say this as an American fully aware of Congress, elect so many unrepentantly ignorant asshats in elected office?

These are a people who stood up to Napoleon and Hitler, who were the first to launch a human being into space, and who invented goddamn Tetris. Tetris! They deserve better than to be embarrassed before the entire world by these jerks and their irrational hatred.
"I don't understand why everyone is so upset...perhaps if
  we killed some more dogs you will come to Sochi, da?"
-Mayor Kozak

Saturday, February 1, 2014

This month brought to you by the letter 'R'

"He was a bold man who first ate an oyster."
-Jonathan Swift, the guy who 
once suggested we eat babies
You know there's an 'r' in February, right? For real, an 'r.' Like, I'm not trying to be a dick or anything, or tell you how to live your life but it's right there: Feb-ru-ary. See? Not Feb-u-ary, Feb-ru-ary. An 'r,' just sitting there, minding its own business, and occasionally reminding us that it's time to eat some oysters. It's not a silent 'r,' but rather a storied and proud 'r' that's been silenced through years of mispronunciation and neglect. It, like February, has been given the short end for too long. Sure, it may not be the best month (May, obviously), but it deserves our consideration and our pronunciation.

We hear about white history all the time, we
just call it history. That's kind of the problem. 
It seems like for every good thing about February, there's always something lame to cancel it out. Sure, it's great for skiing, but it's also cold as balls (also, I don't care about skiing). It's got Abraham Lincoln's and George Washington's birthdays, but we only get one day of deep, deep discounts on name-brand appliances at Sears. February is Black History Month, but it's also apparently 'white guys who think they're clever for pointing out that there's no white history month' month. Oh, and you know what else? It's National Bird-Feeding Month. That's right, we, as a culture, put recognizing the contributions of African Americans on the same level as raising awareness of bird-feeding. Way to go America.

Inside it says 'Look on the bright side, at 
least you can eat whatever you want.' And
there's a number for crisis councilor.
Speaking of observances, February includes an entire holiday devoted to a groundhog making out with some guy in a top hat and then disappointing us with his weather report. Like, holy shit, what is wrong with you Pennsylvania? And yes, I do realize that St. Valentine's Day happens in February which, if you have a significant other, is super. You buy a card, maybe some chocolate and kick back and enjoy another year of screwing. On the other hand, if you don't have anyone, it's a little like Hallmark and Hershey's teamed up to tell single people that they're incomplete as human beings and will almost certainly die alone. Thanks guys.
So c'mon, let's all give February a break, it's already the shortest month. It's almost like the ancient Romans who came up with it just wanted it to be over with as quickly as possible. The least we can do is pronounce each and every letter in full, or if you can't bring yourself to do that, at least stop looking at me like I'm some kind of pronunciation fascist just because I pronounce a letter that's actually in the word. I mean, seriously.
"The sooner it's March, the sooner we can all stab Ceasar."
-Marcus Tullius Cicero