Friday, November 27, 2015

It's the least wonderful time of the year!

Like, they'll bring it to your door.
You don't even have to get up.
Like, we all know that businesses will sell us stuff the other 355 days of the year, right? And it's not like a secret that you can just order things on the internet and they'll send them to you, right? So why in the name of hell do people still line up hours in advance of a store's opening in stupid cold November weather and risk not only contact with their fellow humans but actual injury just to buy the same crap they could buy any other time of the year?

Is it the super-low door-busting savings? Because something tells me that we're not smarter than the marketing strategy. Like, businesses are in the business of making money, so it's not like they're doing you a solid by setting up a retail cage match and letting idiots battle each other for the last flatscreen.
Pictured: Just some of the savvy shoppers who took advantage of today's big sales. Yup, they made
the smart move by shopping today and not say, any other day of the year (not pictured: dignity).
Lots. I asked that rhetorically, but
for real, there's lots wrong with us.
So back to the injury. Yeah, it wouldn't be the brutal, pointless consumer frenzy invented by advertisers if there weren't casualties. Hey, did you know there's a website devoted to tracking Black Friday fatalities and injuries? Well there is and they count seven deaths and ninety-eight injuries since 2004. A few of the incidents were car crashes which just happened on Black Friday and maybe can't directly be blamed on shopping but holy shit, what is wrong with us?

What kind of a country do we
live in where you can't even get paid
for video of the mall fight you staged?
I mean, look at this shit (see right). It's video some asshole posted on Twitter of two other assholes fighting in a mall. I actually think this one is bullshit. The idiots fighting don't seem to have any bags or anything, and it kind of looks like they just wanted to be part of the Black Friday batshit crazy news day. If you scroll down the tweets, @DaddyWeaknd, the aforementioned asshole who shot the video in the first place, is complaining about not getting credit (and money) from ABC for using it on Good Morning America:

"If you're with a news agency don't tweet me until your ready to send some money"

-@DaddyWeaknd, noted filmmaker
and argument for childlessness

Above: video of a man being escorted-
hey, side note? Can we all agree to stop
holding our iPhones the wrong way?*
Hey, did you notice that gross feeling in the pit of you stomach just now? That was the last vestige of your hope for the future of the human race being squeezed out of you by the crushing realization that @DaddyWeaknd gets to vote and drive. So while that video felt a little hoax-y, there were still a lot a people being total dicks to one another today. There was a fight at a mall in Frankfort Kentucky, some guy took a swing at a cop in an El Paso Walmart and some woman ripped a veggie steamer† out of a healthy child's hands.

All this because we got suckered into this fiction that we're missing out on some essential American experience if we're not trampling one another at goddamn Best Buy and that just makes my face sad.
Pictured: Americans acting out our yearly pageant of crass consumerism, greed
 and-hey, are those teddy bears humping? Ok, that makes me feel a little better.

*Today in Side Notes...

Seriously, do some people just not understand that they can hold their phones sideways while taking video? Like, look at this example below of two idiots beating each other in front of Forever 21. Notice anything vertically oriented about it? Exactly. Our eyes are widescreen, so please, for the love of God, hold your phone correctly while taking video of the ridiculous bullshit that's happening all around us.
Brought to you by Skinny-Vision®
"You're just doing it wrong..." 

† This one might have been a hoax too, which I suppose is a good thing, right?

Starring Donald Trump as 'Flustered Reporter'

Does he know that we can see him? Like, actually see him on video doing the thing he's vehemently denying? Because we can. It's the future and everything a presidential candidate does and says is more or less preserved for all time. Huh? Oh, I'm talking about this week's horrible thing Donald Trump did.
Pictured: the permanent and instantly accessible
repository of everything we do and say. Also porn.
No really, is anyone surprised
by him at this point? Like at all?
Look, I know that getting outraged about him at this point is kind of passé. I mean, everything he does is designed to attract attention. And like a sugar-high five year old, he doesn't know or care about the difference between good attention and bad attention. His latest dick move is making fun of a reporter's disability and I guess everyone's upset because after all, how could Donald Trump take such a cheap shot? I mean, he's been nothing but a class act his entire campaign.

Above: Trump's allegedly sober and
of sound mind supporters, allegedly. 
What'd he do? Oh, well remember how he was repeating that ridiculous urban myth about how Muslims in New Jersey were celebrating on 9/11? Well he was, and then to prove it he said that a reporter called Serge Kovaleski wrote an article for the Washington Post back in 2001 that backs him up. Kovaleski then said 'Ok, no I didn't.' Which, he didn't. The article mentioned the alleged celebrations, but calls them 'alleged' which is reporterspeak for 'probably horseshit.' Kovaleski called Trump on misrepresenting his article and then things got classy.

Oh, by the way, Kovaleski suffers from a congenital joint condition which I mention because it's going to be important in a minute. At a campaign rally in South Carolina on Tuesday, Trump called out Kovaleski on his refutation of Trump's claim that he claimed (still with me?) that the 9/11 parties happened. And by 'called out' I mean did his Kovaleski impression which included his funny, funny imitation of his physical disability. Awesome. But that's not the stupidest part. The stupidest part was when he tweeted:
Pictured: Trump's tweet about-you know, I don't even think I need to caption this one.
Here's a shot of Kovaleski compared
with Trump's 'flustered reporter.'
I think we owe Trump an apology.
Oh, he doesn't know what Kovaleski looks like and he was just making fun of disabled people in general. In fact, he says he wasn't even making fun of anyone in particular:

"I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to take back a statement he made long ago." 

-Donald Trump on how we're the idiots
and he's just really good at improv

You know, it's bad enough that he has to take this guy's physical condition and use it to get a laugh out of the slobbering redstate hyenas who will one day vote for him, but to suggest that everyone who's offended is just reading into something that isn't there insults us all. Like, we can click on any one of hundreds of video links and watch him mock the guy. That's how the internet works. Just say you're sorry and stop being such an asshole.
See those people with cameras? They're not following you around
 because they enjoy your winning personality and pleasant disposition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yeah, whoops...

You know how they say any publicity is good publicity? It turns out that the aphorism doesn't necessarily apply when said publicly is for people getting upset with you for festooning New York city subway trains in Nazi livery.
Well, at least they're running on time...
I'm sure there's a 'Vote Trump' joke in here
somewhere, but I'm too classy to make it.
Remember a few days ago when I mentioned The Man in the High Castle? Well I did. It's a TV series based on Phillip K. Dick's book about an alternate 1960's in which the United States is jointly occupied by Nazis and Imperial Japan after loosing World War II. It's a totally good book, and what I've seen of the series is great too. What's not so great? The aforementioned advertising campaign which is designed to make New Yorkers feel like they're living under the oppressive rule of fascists.

"We want something that says watch
our new show, but also reminds
people of the Holocaust. So...ideas?"
Everyone, like everyone is calling this a terrible, horrible, ill-conceived idea. The Anti-Defamation League pointed out that the advertising lacks context and that it's not like super clear that this is a commercial for a new TV show, but instead kind of suggests that the MTA kind of misses Hitler. Governor Cuomo demanded that the ads be pulled and Mayor de Blasio called the them "irresponsible and offensive to World War Two, Holocaust survivors, their families and countless other New Yorkers." So you kind of have to wonder who was on board with this in the first place?

Amazon Studios (who produces the series) took this opportunity to appologize-wait, that's not the right word. They took this opportunity to explain-you know? That's not right either. They took this opportunity to plug their production company:

Amazon and Amazon Studios:
Why leave the house? Like, ever?
"Amazon Studios creates high-quality, provocative programming that spurs conversation. The Man in the High Castle, based on an acclaimed novel, explores the impact to our freedoms if we had lost World War II. Like transparent and the movie Chi-Raq, stories that society cares about often touch on important thought-provoking topics. We will continue to bring this kind of storytelling to our customers."

-Amazon's actual official statement 
about how great their streaming service is 

It's more of an adpology. You know, a thinly-veiled advertisement a company puts out that's not so much about saying they're sorry as it is about reminding us how great their product and/or service is in the hopes that we'll forget about that time they reopened the old wounds of the 20th century's biggest horror show?
"I literally don't know the meaning of the word
'apologize.' Like what is it? Some kind of fruit?" 

-Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today in 'what could possibly go wrong?'

Mosquitos. Genetically engineered mosquitos with glowing red eyes might soon be breeding in the wild near you!
Pictured: gross. I mean, I know
it's natural, but still, eww...
I should explain. Scientists from the University of California at Irvine are using a gene editing technique called CRISPR to create mosquitos resistant to malaria. As for the glowing red eyes, they did that so they could tell them apart from the normal mosquitos. Cool right? But how are more mosquitoes the solution to malaria? I'm glad I pretended you asked, because in addition to being malaria-proof, these fancy new mosquitos will also have a modification that makes their genes spread faster, the idea being that in a few generations only these red-eyed abominations will be left.

Remember that shot? What
was up with that anyway?
That funny feeling in the pit of your stomach you've got right now? The one that feels like a combination of revulsion and terror at the idea of fiddling with the very source code of life itself and then unleashing the results upon an unsuspecting world? That's perfectly normal. If Jurassic Park has taught us anything it's that in the end, nature will find a way to fuck us over for our arrogance. Also, that that weird shot of Jeff Goldbloom with his shirt open just sticks with you, even decades later.

It would be alarmist to suggest that screwing with mosquitos could have dire and unforeseen consequences, but holy shit, what if this has dire and unforeseen consequences?
Above: Dire and unforeseen consequences.
After all the species we've driven
to extinction, what's one more?
The researchers assure us that the worst that can happen is that their modified bugs will simply be out bred by normal mosquitos, and they insist that our civilization probably won't be overrun by wave after wave of super-mosquitos, but that's not the same as a firm no. And altering another creature's genes for our own convince raises all sorts of ethical concerns. Ethical concerns that tend to evaporate the instant one of those little assholes bits you, but you know, ethical concerns...

On the other hand, malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people a year all around the world so maybe we should stifle our medieval fear of some divine retribution for meddling in God' creation and let the experts save some lives.
"Oh we take the public's ethical and religious concerns very seriously.
Let me assure you that we're being very careful not to offend God, wizards
or the
Easter Bunny. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some science to do."
-Some scientist

Friday, November 20, 2015

Today in 'can't he hear himself speak?'

So I get that the whole point of our political system is that people with different viewpoints can have their voices heard and that we, as a nation, can benefit from a diverse range of experience and perspectives, but holy shit, is he for goddamn kidding with this?
"You'll have to be more specific, I say many, many things that are insane.
I'm an uh... an attention whore. Love the attention, so I say a lot of ridiculous shit.."
-Donald Trump (actual quote)*
The quickest way to lose an argument is to invoke
Hitler, so I'll just compare Trump to Chaplain's
, Adenoid Hykel in The Great Dictator.
With what? Oh, right, you never click on the links. Donald Trump, man...he told Yahoo News (which is still a thing) that he'd be into crazy town new security measures aimed solely at Muslim Americans which would included warrantless searches, special ID's and a database to track them. Yeah, a database. And to be clear, he's not talking about people associated with any particular extremist groups, this is just for Muslims in general. If this sounds a little fascist to you, that's just because it's extremely fascist. Am I using the word correctly? Fascist, I mean?

You know, because there's never been
Christian extremists in this country.
We have a tendency to throw around words and phrases like fascist, Nazi-esque and redstate shitmerchant when talking about the GOP's candidates, and I wonder sometimes if we're being unfair but then Trump comes along and announces that if elected, he plans to go all Project Wide Awake on an entire religious group. Like, what the hell? This after Ben Carson compared the refugees to rabid dogs, and Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz both said they want to only accept Christian refugees.

Pictured: Ronald Reagan's thick, dark, wavy
embodiment of American exceptionalism 
That's the top three Republican front runners (and Jeb Bush) all sounding like a creepy, poorly xeroxed and racist rant you find shoved under your windshield wiper when you come out of a Denny's. Aren't these guys supposed to be talking about smaller government, lower taxes and Ronald Reagan's confidence-inspiring hair that enabled him to single-handedly bring down Communism? Republicans used to be cool-well, that probably hasn't been true since Lincoln, but at least they used to not be pandering vitriolic xenophobes.

Look, I've never been a fan of the GOP personally, but it just seems like if we're only going to have a two-party system there should actually be two parties. Not one regular party and then one pack of lunatic ideologues gouging each other's eyes out over which one would go to the craziest lengths to persecute Muslims.
"I see your pansy-ass Christians-only immigration policy and raise you racial profiling,
intrusive government monitoring and GPS anklets so we can track everyone who belongs to a
religion that I don't like. Now who's the biggest nut job? I'll tell you, it's me. Vote Trump."

-The GOP Presidential frontrunner

*no it's not a real quote, but still...

Oh and hey, check it out: 

CNN's story about Trump's Muslim database idea was preceded by an ad for the TV series based on Phillip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. It's set in an alternate universe where the U.S. loses World War II and is run by fascists. Serendipitous ad choice or is CNN just being snarky? Or perhaps this is a grim portent of things to come. Can't wait to find out!
Today in not-to-subtle coincidences... 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Welcome! I hope you packed a sweater...

Look out Upstate New York fans, my hometown is in the news! Rochester's mayor Lovely Warren announced in a kind of weird phone/skype interview with the Huffington Post that the city would welcome Syrian refugees saying that "Rochester has long been and continues to be a haven for immigrants and refugees from every corner of the world." Awesome, right?
'Come on over, we'll get some pop and order Pontillo's.' 
-Mayor Warren offering the 
traditional welcome of my people
"Hey, this is America. If you want firearms
and explosives, you'll just have to buy
them at a gunshow like everybody else."
Yes, especially since we, as a nation, are kind of being huge dicks about this whole refugee thing. Twenty-six Governors have announced that their states will not accept refugees from Syria at all and five more are insisting on additional screening before admitting anyone. They're concerned that terrorists might use the crisis to slip in to the U.S. and ok, it's not an unreasonable fear, but we banned tweezers on planes for like ten years after 9-11. We're fairly paranoid and have a thorough screening process in place already. It's not like we just ask at the airport if anyone is carrying a bomb.

Anyway, the whole thing is weird because that's not a thing they can do, refuse refugees that is. That's more of a State Department thing, but states can drag their feet and make the process a pain in the ass, something state governments are really good at.
Remember when Superman threw his 'S' at Bull from Nightcourt in Superman II? Well, it's kind of
like that, in that barring people from settling in their states is not a power Governors have either.
Of course, I'm pretty sure mayor Warren's statement doesn't actually carry any legal weight either, but still it's way the hell more neighborly than say mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, VA who, for some reason, brought up how we threw Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II:

Well, he got FDR right, but the rest
of what he said is pretty much bullshit.
"I'm reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and it appears that threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

-Mayor David Bowers being 
wrong on a number of points

Pictured: the equally relevant
Defenestrations of Prague,
So, I'm unclear on a few points. Like, why does this remind him of Japanese Internment? It doesn't seem super-relevant. And didn't we lock up American citizens and not foreign nationals? Also, isn't the internment of Japanese Americans during the war seen now as a racist, pointless and embarrassing measure for which the government ultimately apologized? When he compares the threat of ISIS sneaking in with refugees to the danger posed by Japanese Americans in the 40's, maybe he's being ironic?

Anyway, legally binding or not, it's pretty great that Rochester's mayor is welcoming the refugees. America is supposed to be about inclusion and the great melting pot and-holy shit, Syria's in the middle east, someone did warn them about the winters in Rochester, right? Oh God, the winters...
Seriously, maybe give them a parka at orientation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let's get linguistically snobbish!

Above: Ox4rd's wrd/yr. 2k15.
After more than fourteen hundred years this hodgepodge of French, German and Latin that we speak is now officially dead. The language of William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Maya Angelou was officially bludgeoned to death yesterday when the publishers of the Oxford English dictionary, one of the foremost authorities on what is and is not a real word, announced this year's Word of the Year, and it's a goddamned emoji. Yes, one of those stupid smiley face things people use when they can't be bothered to text actual language.

Look, I realize that the language is constantly evolving and that one of the strengths of English is that it can easily incorporate new words and shades of meaning and that's awesome. It's a linguistic Voltron, and that's one of its strengths.

1. A giant robot knight comprised of five smaller robots who are also lions.
2. A combination of (usually disparate or separate) objects, ideas or people 
that, in unison, become greater than the sum of their parts.
Pictured: what brunch tasted like.
But English's flexibility can also be a source of consternation for people who cringe at every made up word or expanded meaning. Sometimes they...ok we, are even offenders ourselves. Take awesome, that word I just carelessly threw out there, it used to mean 'capable of inspiring awe or fear,' but is now used to mean 'hey, that's neat.' It's incorrect, I know, but I use it anyway while at the same time calling out someone who describes that brunch they just enjoyed as epic, like they just ate Beowulf or something.

"The line must be drawn here!"
-Jean-Luc Picard, possibly 
taking about something else
I suppose this makes me a hypocrite and am comfortable with that. I pick and choose when and where I think the line is between creative usage and linguistic butchery. Guesstimate? Ginormous? Bullshit. Sciencetician? Redstate Shitmerchant? Totally fine. The point is there's a lot of personal choice in English, and while I might not like how you keep using literally when everyone knows it doesn't mean what you think it means, I will fight to the death for your right to say it (figuratively).

That said, shouldn't the word of the year, like the official, recognized best word of 2015 be, I don't know, a fucking word?
Seriously, there's like hundreds of thousands, possibly a million words
in the English language. Pick one. Any one. As long as it's a sound or
series of sounds which, when spoken, carry a meaning, we'll be good.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Today in menacing Tweets...

So the weekend was kind of a horror show and I find that at times like these the best salve is usually adorable photos of animals, preferably wearing people clothes.
Hey regarde: le chat thinks he's gens!
A Gibson's a thing, right? No? Look, I
don't understand the computer space, ok?
The second best salve is an international shadow organization of computer geeks wielding their considerable internet shennanigan skills to shut down ISIS websites, disrupt their online infrastructure and presumably hack their Gibson. Yup, Anonymous, the group of hacktivists-is that really what we call them? Yikes. Anyway, the activist group of hackers has posted a video on YouTube issuing a warning to the Islamic State terrorist group which carried out a series of attacks in Paris on Friday night.

What's with the Guy Fawkes masks anyway?
Have they got a beef with James I?
"Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared. Anonymous from all the world will hunt you down...we will launch the biggest operation ever against you...The French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger."

-An Anonymous spokesperson

I should probably clarify that this is a spokesperson for Anonymous who's wearing a mask so an anonymous Anonymous spokesperson. 

"Oh no they didn't!"
-An ISIS spokesperson
Goddamn. The last time they went after ISIS, they  attacked the terrorists' websites and shut down thousands of extremist Twitter accounts as well as published lists of other sites and accounts that support the group. Oh and speaking of, they not only released a declaration of war against ISIS via Twitter, but in the process impugned the terror group's hacking skills which, I suppose in the world of clandestine internet-based warfare must be some serious fightin' words.

Incidentally, do you suppose whoever came up with Twitter could have ever imagined that people would one day be using it to declare war on one another? I mean, if they did see that coming, you'd think they would have gone with a verb other than 'to tweet.'
Above: a Tweet of unrestrained war and a total burn.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Let's hear it for...Utah?

Yes, Utah, the desolate, famously conservative desert salt-flat state founded by Mormons hoping to escape religious persecution for believing in Jesus's American world tour is going to bat for lesbians. Didn't see that coming...
Above: Jesus visiting ancient America as revealed to the mormon prophet Joseph-what?
Oh come on, is bamfing to 1st century Mexico any crazier than walking on water or healing the blind?
He then directed reporters questions to
Dr. Handington, who confirmed that the
research he refers to totally exists.
On Tuesday, Juvenile Court Judge-I should explain that he's in charge of juvenile court. He himself is fairly old and I'm going to imagine not all that fun. Anyway, at a routine hearing, Judge Scott Johansen surprised everyone by deciding that the nine month old baby girl being fostered by Beckie Pierce and April Hoagland would be better off with straight people and ordered that she be removed from their care. This, despite the fact that Pierce and Hoagland's marriage is legal, and that they've passed all the requisite background checks. Judge Johansen cited 'research' that supported his ruling.

But wait, you say, can we see this research? Well, no, unfortunately we can't. Judge Johansen isn't able to share these studies with us, as they've only been revealed to him, but he assures us that they are real and are by no means discredited or imaginary, so we'll just have to take his word on that...
Above: an unrelated picture of Mormon founder
Joseph Smith getting divine revelation, that only he
can read, from a stone at the bottom of his hat. 
I will pick on them for the castle though.
What are they going for, Magic Kingdom?
Judge Johansen's decision comes just days after a ruling from the Church of Latter-day Saints' decision that children of gay parents would be barred from church perks like blessings, baptisms and not going to hell just like their heathen parents, leading many to suspect that Johansen was basing his ruling not on the law but on some bullshit religious grounds. Yes, I'm calling bullshit and before you accuse me of picking on Mormons, understand that lots of them agree and are actually quitting the church in protest.

Florida: 'await the inevitable...'
-Florida State Tourism Board
Since Utah is so thoroughly Mormon (62%), and owes its existence to the Church in the same way that say Nevada is all about gambling or Florida is where we go to age and die, you'd think Pierce and Hoagland would have no recourse. But it turns out that the Utah Division of Child and Family Services is on their side. The DCFS realized a statement saying: "It is our position that removal is not in the best interests of the child. Unless Judge Johansen vacates his order, DCFS will proceed with our petition to the Court of Appeals."

I'm kidding. They're a total shitshow.
Here's what Utah's Republican Governor had to say about Judge Johansen's decision, and yes, I looked it up and everything, he's actually a Republican sticking up for lesbians:

"He might not like the law, but he should follow the law. We don't want activism on the bench in any way, shape or form. "

-Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R)
hey, maybe there's hope for the GOP...

Today Johansen amended his order so that the child can stay with her foster parents until a hearing on December 4th, but there's still a possibility that they might lose custody. You know, it's one thing to put your faith in a guy with a magic stone in his hat. That's a belief and I can respect that. But when you start taking people's kids away and pretending science is on your side we're going to have problems.
Pictured: Judge Scott Johansen on horseback with an infant...
which he presumably snatched from a same sex couple.*
*no really, that's him. Apparently cradling a child in one arm whilst riding a horse is safer than catching the gay.