Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bottom of the Glass

Campaign Mementos

Steven Heller from the New York Times has a great article about campaign mementos. He begins by referencing the 1952 presidential election between Adlai Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Adlai Stevenson was known for being too frugal and low and behold a photograph taken of his show revealed a hole in the sole of his show.  The show was made into metallic lapel pins and worn by his supporters in both his failed election bids.

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Heller asks a group of designers to conceive the 21st-century versions of these mementos based on the current campaigns.

Here are the mementos:

Stephen Doyle and Tom Kluepfel
principals, Doyle Partners

Hillary Clinton’s positioning is about her experience, namely that she has already lived in the White House for eight years. So, we have represented her presumption with a key, her key to the White House. Her Slogan? “Don’t worry, I’ll just let myself back in.”

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John McCain certainly deserves to get into the White House. He is a prominent patriot: distinguished, injured and imprisoned. Uniformed patriotism doesn’t get better than that. He is the Oldsmobile of candidates, but he comes with neither a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty nor free towing. His emblem? A skeleton key.

Barack Obama? His emblem of access to the White House is obvious: the swipe card. It is the most modern of the three, but for the life of us, most Americans just don’t know how it works.

- These are perfect and seem to represent each candidate well, especially the lines about "letting myself back in," and "most American don't know how it works."

Daniel Pelavin, illustrator

Hillary Clinton Souvenir Village.
Barack Obama “Hope” Chest.
John McCain Campaign Medal.

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-This seems to be the most unifying. Their is a positive memento for each candidate and their constituents. It reminds me of this Onion article where all the candidates announce that they will run together on a superticket.

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Thomas Porosoky
art director, ID Magazine

Forget elephants and donkeys, John McCain needs a dog. He needs to reaffirm his most admirable quality, integrity. Dogs are honest, full of energy and will risk harm to save Timmy from the fire because it’s the right thing to do.

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-I don't know if a dog is the best representation but its friendly and children may like it.

Steven Guarnaccia
chairman of the illustration department, Parsons the New School for Design

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-Very witty.

Lou Beach, illustrator

For McCain the message should be emphatic. Defiant, yet comforting. The appeal is in its counter message to all the “change” banter of the other candidates.

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-I am not exactly sure how this work as a counter message for McCain. Is this sarcasm or maybe I'm just not getting the inherent message. The broccoli thing isnt too appealing. They should have used Obama's favorite vegetable argula (too bad the price is getting expensive for him).

Nigel Holmes
principal, Explanation Graphics

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This symbolizes pulling back the curtain on a new era of openness and truth. O, the perfect circle, equals completeness: one America. It is eco-friendly, does not have to be manufactured: just go to your local hardware store and you can get it in a variety of sizes and colors. One can hang it (or many of them) in the window to show support and use as a Christmas tree or holiday decoration to celebrate the coming of a new presidency.

-I like this, although it reminds me of a cross between an open condom and ring but as a decorative item it works well. You wouldn't know what it was initially. I can imagine looking at this at a holiday decoration party and not knowing what it was but thinking it was cool.

Viktor Koen, illustrator

As the candidate whose experience became the centerpiece of her campaign, it made sense to bottle that experience and distribute it as the solution to a wide spectrum of problems — new and old, real and imaginary. This magic potion may perform the miracle of nomination of the first woman for the presidency of the United States or cure thinning hair for the common man.

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-This works, although it can also be poison or ipecac. Then again the potion thing is appealing. It reminds of a Harry Potteresque memento. "Drink the Poison of Hillary to battle Voldemort,"  or some type of experience spell: Hillarry Cliticlus Experiencus

Stefan Bucher
principal, 344 Design

The Democratic Party: Unite or Die.

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-This is the best one. it is self explanatory. Although I think it would be interesting it one hand was a "black hand" and the other the "hand of woman" with painted finger nails.

The symbolism would almost be too close for comfort. A problem could arise as to which hands holds what. Neither the black hand nor the woman's hand wants to hold the donkey's ass. Nevertheless this is the best memento.

Another version of this in the fall could have the hands shaking each other with the donkey united and even the diversity hands.

New York Times

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Wonder Twins

Wonder Woman loses her keys and the Wonder Twins help her out.

Soviets are not fans of the new Indiana Jones

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St. Petersburg Communist Party Chief Sergei Malinkovich said it best:

"Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?"

What lie you may ask? Well The Communist Party of Russia believes that the Indiana Jones movie distorts their amazing history. Granted, Indiana Jones is a fictional film, it still apparently distorts its own fictional history.

The party officials fear that Russian teenagers will believe that in 1957, Russia made trouble for the U.S. in addition to almost starting a nuclear war and running with crystal skulls throughout the U.S.

Russia capable of starting a nuclear war? Impossible. I think its more likely that Russia's communist will riot.

BBC News

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lion Attack Hyena

Just watch:

According to the Washington Post: 5 Myths About Lobbyist

K-Street-Lobbyist

This an interesting op-ed from the Washington Post. Read on:

By Megan Carpentier

Saturday, May 24, 2008; 12:00 AM

The presidential race turned into a game of hot potato this week, as Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama tried to bat away accusations of ties to lobbyists. In this game, the candidates are reflecting the views of (or, depending on your point of view, pandering to) the public. Polls consistently find that a majority of Americans hold lobbyists in low regard, and in one recent survey more than 70 percent of respondents favored reducing the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups in Washington. I can't argue with the numbers. But as a former lobbyist myself, I can say that McCain and Obama are perpetuating some misunderstandings and myths about lobbyists. Sure, there are people like Jack Abramoff who have made millions gaming the system and partnering with corrupt politicians. But there are also plenty of decent, hard-working people who don't bribe Congress and have never had three martinis for lunch. These, as Dick Wolf would say, are their stories.

Myth 1: Lobbyists are all wealthy fat cats.

Oh, how I wish that were true; I might never have left the profession. Certainly, some lobbyists make out exquisitely. The Post's Citizen K Street series last year profiled lobbying star Gerald Cassidy, whose personal wealth surpasses $125 million. But many, many lobbyists toil from morning until night -- checking emails, making phone calls, writing issue papers and, yes, lobbying members of Congress and their staffers -- for salaries that make it hard to cover the cost of living in Washington. My first lobbying job after graduate school in 2001 paid $32,000 a year. That's hardly the $145,000-$160,000 (plus bonus) that first-year lawyers can expect at Washington's big firms. It's also only a little more than what a fresh college graduate makes for answering constituent mail in a congressman's office. But, with more than 30,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, not everyone can be rolling in dough or else who would do the grunt work?

Myth 2: Lobbyist is shorthand for soulless corporate shill.

Lobbyists get all kinds of flak for being intellectually promiscuous and ethically-lacking, because people assume they work for whichever, and however many, corporate clients that are willing to pay them. Some lobbyists do have a stable of different corporate clients. But many lobbyists work in-house. And it's not just corporations that hire them. So do trade associations and consumer groups, universities and state governments. There's literally a lobbyist for every cause and every issue you can think of, and a bunch of ones you've never thought of. Most people who lobby focus on a specific set of issues about which they feel pretty strongly. It's hard not to. Working 60 hours or more a week on an issue you don't care about burns you out. (I tried and failed.) Oh, and even some of those promiscuous corporate lobbyists also take work for smaller organizations representing issues near and dear to their hearts. Like everything else in life, nothing is black and white.

Myth 3: Lobbyists don't contribute anything of value to the political system.

Some lobbyists are worthless, I can't argue with that. But most of them do serve a purpose. Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year, hundreds will come up for consideration, and most of them generate very little constituent input. To help members decide how to vote, it would be awfully inefficient if Congressional staffers reinvented-the-wheel to research every issue. Instead, they usually try to weigh what different lobbyists with specific knowledge about that issue say. The process often helps identify why a bill may or may not be in the interest of a district, along with unintended consequences of a particular section.

Myth 4: Lobbyists participate in politics only to help their clients or employer.

The vast majority of lobbyists started life as Congressional or campaign staffers -- that's one reason there's a whole section ethics law dealing with when former staffers are allowed to lobby. Knowing how Capitol Hill works and the people who work there isn't something you can pick up from a book or by reading the news, so working there is practically a prerequisite for lobbying. It's one of the first things you get asked about in a job interview, even years into your lobbying career. But what it means in terms of the kind of people that end up as lobbyists is that they are passionate about politics. They don't put in time on the Hill because they hope it will someday lead to a more lucrative lobbying job. Similarly, they don't leave their family and friends for months on the campaign trail because they hope it will be good for business. They go back to politics because it's addictive, and they can't stay away.

Myth 5: Lobbying is a game of quid pro quo in which campaign contributions are exchanged for votes.

No lobbyists I know expect their political contributions to get them legislative support. There may be a vague hope that giving to a campaign might get them 15 minutes of face time with a staffer for a legislative pitch. But even maxing out the donation limits -- $2,300 for an individual or $5,000 for a Political Action Committee ¿ doesn't get you a ton of attention from a politician who needs anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars (for Congressional races) or several million dollars (for presidential candidates) each cycle. A lot of lobbyists have tried to get noticed by becoming so-called bundlers, recruiting donations from other people and turning over all the checks at once. But with hundreds of bundlers bundling, even that isn't going to get you much attention anymore.

In my experience, most lobbyists give primarily because of the pressure to give. Politicians treat donations as their due, rather than as a favor for which they asked. And, as when the collection plates comes around in church, no one wants to be caught not tithing. I would get several of calls and e-mails every day from campaigns and other lobbyists soliciting contributions, even when I didn't work for an organization with a PAC and made hardly any money. And when Congress was at one point supposedly contemplating banning lobbyist donations altogether, I heard lots of comments like "ohpleaseohplease let them make it illegal." They didn't.

Megan Carpentier spent seven years as a Washington lobbyist. She now writes for Glamocracy and Jezebel.

What do you think? Do you agree?

From the Washington Post

Photos from Mars

As you may or may not have heard NASA in partnership with JPL-Caltech and the University of Arizona were successfully able to land spacecraft on Mar's Northern polar region. The Phoenix Mars Lander had it successfully landing last night (Sunday the 25th) and it has begun to capture photos.

I cannot stress how important this mission is...but I will try to anyway. Scientist believe this region holds a reservoir of ice beneath the soil ,anywhere from inches to a foot deep. Phoenix will look for clues as to when the ice melted and it will also look for organic compounds that are the building blocks for primitive life. Although, it cannot detect alien life, I'm sure scientist are hoping for some surprises.

Here are some photos to give you a taste of what they are looking at. You must remember though, this is Mars and the landscape is pretty much barren, so don't expect any trees or people or gold or random art.

image Phoenix Opens its eyes

image Icy, Patterned Ground on Mars

image Martian Plains

image More Martian Arctic Plains

For more photos and information, and to follow this mission, visit NASA.gov

ABC News

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Grandma's Boy -- JP Raw Footage

This made me and my friend feel uncomfortable. But you can also laugh at the ridiculousness nature of it or not. How do you feel about this?

Telescope Links London to NYC
















So some guy has created a telescope linking London to NYC.

From Kanye West's blog:
The installation's creator Paul St George claims to have just completed a forgotten tunnel connecting New York to London and, using giant parabolic mirrors, has reconstructed a Victorian-era optical device enabling people on either end of the tube to wave at each other. It installed the webcams and broadband internet sending live video in both directions. You can also at the Tower Bridge in London see a same electroscope.

This is an interesting except for the fact that it includes video, which to me defeats the purpose or at least reduces the uniqueness of this. Nevertheless, its great to see what people waste their time making. Although, if I had some friends studying abroad in London, I would make sure that they would meet up just so we can wave at each other.












Thanks to Kanye West

DNA and the Law

DNA paternity

Imagine going on Maury during one of his DNA test episodes as a guest. Say you receive the results and it shows conclusively that you are the biological father and you really want to be in the child's life.

Then imagine finding out that you could not press your paternity claim even with conclusive evidence because the child's mother was married to someone else when the child was born. In this alternate universe, "I Do" matters more than DNA. This crazy world is ours.

This is the situation facing James Rhoades. A university libarian who began an affair with married woman only to conceive a child that he could not claim because the law was on the side of marriage and not DNA.

Excerpt the Times article:

The 4-3 decision splintered the court, which issued five separate opinions. The majority was itself divided evenly among two camps, one that said Rhoades might have prevailed had he been able to show the J.N.R.'s "marital relationship had ceased at least 10 months" prior to the boy's birth, and another that said no "stranger to the marriage" can ever attack the legitimacy of a child's birth. "As long as marriage is on the books, it must mean something," wrote Justice Bill Cunningham in one of two concurring opinions. "... We are in need of a bold declaration that the marriage circle, even one with an errant partner, will be invaded at one's own legal risk." He added: "While the legal status of marriage in this early 21st century appears to be on life support, it is not dead."

Marriage is in on life support and with the recent California ruling, it is also being redefined. But despite the redefinition some parts of marriage law are stuck in what may almost be archaic standards and preservations of the law that don't account for changes in science like DNA tests.

Another excerpt:

Kentucky's ruling is firmly grounded in the history of the law, however. In fact, the so-called marital presumption has barred attacks on the legitimacy of children for centuries. Courts have forever held that allegations of fatherhood by third parties can only disrupt the family, confuse or embarrass the child, and unsettle the social order.

Interesting how this has preserved the "legitimacy of children for centuries." We live in such a time and society when it is not unusual to have a live-in partner and to have children with that partner, so what is really the difference besides the paper? We are so accustomed to thinking that blood is thicker than water but then we switch to love being more powerful than blood. Add the fact that marriage is still a strong institution in America (no matter how many times celebrities divorce). These tripolar notions of love, blood and the sanctity of marriage are tiring me out.

Unfortunately for Rhoades, he may not get what he wants. He plans to go to Supreme Court but the odds are long since they've already ruled once on this:

In 1989, on the same issue, upholding California's explicit bar against paternity challenges like his. That decision too was divided and contentious. The biological father in that case did not get to see his daughter till she had turned 21.

It is one of those times where the law of nature as Rhoades explains isn't exactly the law of the land. This situation doesn't happen to a lot of people (I'm assuming) but it is definitely something to think about it terms of how the law sometimes conflicts with what we observe in nature.

Time

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kids and History

Don't know where this originated, but it's hilarious and I'd like to share it with you fine people...

 

The following excerpts are actual answers given on history tests and in Sunday School quizzes by children between 5th and 6th grade ages in Ohio. They were collected over a period of three years by two teachers.

Read carefully for grammar, misplaced modifiers, and of course, spelling!!!

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Ancient Egypt was old.. It was inhabited by gypsies and mummies who all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate Of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandos. He died before he ever reached Canada but the commandos made it.

Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines. He was A actual hysterical figure as well as being in the bible. It sounds Like he was sort of busy too.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a young female moth.

Socrates was a famous old Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. He later died from an overdose of wedlock Which is apparently poisonous.. After his death, his career suffered a Dramatic decline.

In the first Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java. The games were messier then than they show on TV now.

Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out "Same to you, Brutus."

Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw for reasons I don't really understand. The English and French still have problems.

Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen," As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah!" and that was the end of the fighting for a long while.

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.

Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented Cigarettes and started smoking.

Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper which was very dangerous to all of his men.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter.

Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He Wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Since then no one ever found it.

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by Rubbing two cats backward and also declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." He was a naturalist for sure. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's Mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands.. Abraham Lincoln freed slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

Bethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf that he wrote loud music and became the father of rock and roll. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.

Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick Raper, which did the work of a hundred men.

Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbits but I don't know why.

Charles Darwin was a naturalist. He wrote the Organ of the Species. It was very long people got upset about it and had trials to see if it was really true. He sort of said God's days were not just 24 hours but without watches who knew anyhow? I don't get it.

Madman Curie discovered radio. She was the first woman to do what she did. Other women have become scientists since her but they didn't get to find radios because they were already taken.

Karl Marx was one of the Marx Brothers. The other three were in the movies. Karl made speeches and started revolutions. Someone in the family had to have a job, I guess.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The New York Giants' Michael Strahan at NYU's 2008 Commencement

Bottom of the Glass

The Whole Country Has Semen On Its Dress

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via Wonkette

R. Kelly Uses the Wayans Defense

Thanks to New York Magazine for finding this. In R. Kelly's child-pornography, the defense used the Wayans Brothers at part of their defense. What does this mean?

imageWell apparently it is possible that there is someone out there who inserted Kelly's face onto the body through CGI to frame him. That is one serious hater, if you would go through all the that trouble to go on Final Cut Pro and/or Adobe Photoshop.

Robert Kelly has kept us laughing through Trapped in the Closet I, II, III, IV, V and VI. Now finally years later he goes to trial and he still manages to find a way to inject some of the ridiculousness that makes him such a beloved member of the music community.

The best part of this is:

"When a witness pointed out how ridiculous this is, attorney Sam Adam Jr. asked if she'd ever seen the Wayans brothers' acclaimed 2006 comedy Little Man: "They put the head of Marlon Wayans on a midget and it looked real, didn't it?" Yes. Yes it did."

I don't know...the attorney might have a point. By the way did anyone know that Trapped in the Closet had 22 Chapters? Sounds like a future post or posts waiting to happen.

Via New York Magazine from Chicago Tribune

A Cell Phone Company for Progressive People

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Has anyone heard of this? A progressive cell phone company called "CREDO Mobile."  Originally and maybe still called "Working Assets," CREDO mobile offers mobile and long distance phone service and a credit card that all have the stated goal of being "socially responsible." This is interesting and almost comical for me. At the same time it is smart idea.

It was founded in 1985 and the company is based in San Francisco, California (Go Figure). San Francisco is in the congressional district that Nancy Pelosi represents (Remember that Political Ad about West Coat Liberals) and where Dianne Feinstein was formerly mayor.

A quick look at their phone plans reveals prices that are no different than that of AT&T or Verizon or Sprint.image They have a small selection of phones as well and not a single Blackberry and iPhone. One should also note that they completely run on the Sprint network.

Despite these things (which made be good things for some people) they use 100% post-consumer recycled paper and soy-based ink for all its paper bills and internal communications and they purchase carbon offsets through Carbonfund.org. I like when science and political activism come together.

I wanted to find out about some of the criticisms of this company "Working Assets/CREDO Mobile," and of course Wikipedia gave us some great things.

1st Criticism from Wikipedia:

1. Although the Working Assets credit card is now offered through Bank of America, the product came under criticism when it was issued through the bank MBNA, the top contributor to George W. Bush's 2000 Presidential Campaign. When asked about this, Working Assets' employees have made differing claims. In one letter, it was stated that Working Assets chose MBNA regardless of its political views and entirely for its experience and quality customer service. In another letter, president Michael Kieschnick stated that Working Assets ended up under MBNA when the company purchased the credit card business of Fleet Bank, which had previously issued the card. Kieschnick said it was not Working Assets' choice to select MBNA and cannot change banks without violating its current contract. MBNA was subsequently purchased by Bank of America. Many environmental groups, including ones who benefit from Working Assets, have active campaigns against Bank of America, citing its funding of more projects that contribute to global warming than any other bank. This may cause a conflict of interest for these charities.

2nd Criticism from Wikipedia:

2. Working Assets has been an active opponent against Warrantless wiretapping by the NSA and has been active in criticizing Verizon and AT&T for collaborating with the NSA to permit these activities. Sprint, the network carrier which CREDO resells service on, is also named as a company which participated in this activity. While CREDO has voiced opposition against FISA and providing immunity to AT&T and Verizon against lawsuits stemming from the wiretapping controversy, criticism or mention of Sprint is notably absent in its press releases.

Its definitely hard to be a purist. Its understandable that everything is connected. Check out They Rule. Its an interesting site that allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004. It also includes people from Clinton and Bush's administrations who a good a number of which, were and are directors on the boards of major companies.

But back to CREDO. Its is a honorable mission and socially responsible investing is promising area of business world especially in the last few years. I don't think I'd ever sign up to get their plans but I applaud people who do. It seems that everyone has an agenda anyway...Credo considering its origins and mission is just open about it...and 1% of your charges to progressive nonprofit groups.

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I hope to god that their is an independent motivated version of this company and conservative counterpart and a libertarian counterpart just to see how they fare against each other.

Another Funny Political Ad

I'm waiting for some hard hitting post to come along. We haven't had too much diversity in post or frequency since the summer came. But as you can see, we aren't bound by conventions like the pregnant man who is mowing his lawn.

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However, if you have any ideas for some topics or things you like to see mentioned or discussed, definitely write in the comment section.

But back to political ads that crack me up. Here is one from New Jersey. This one is about being old and your own words haunting you. It is a silly ad but its still smart.

Headlines to Check Out

I included a photo and the first paragraph of each article.

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U.S. Senate approves 83.4 bln pounds in new war money

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved an additional $165 billion (83.4 billion pounds) to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan for another year after lawmakers blocked proposed timetables for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

- This one is from the U.K. section of Reuters. When it is written as "war money," and in pounds it just makes it sound so disgusting and dirty and illegal. But then again the U.S. government is not known for being clean so it makes sense.

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Error may force "re-do" of U.S. farm bill veto

Congress gave President George W. Bush an incomplete version of the $289 billion farm bill, a mistake that would erase his veto and may require lawmakers to pass the bill again, lawmakers and congressional aides said on Wednesday.

- Only our Congress (This looks a little bad for the Democrats who are in the majority) would send an incomplete bill to the White House. Then again maybe it was on purpose.

At Supreme Court, 5-to-4 Rulings Fade — but Why?

Where have all the 5-to-4 decisions gone? And whatever happened to the “Kennedy Court”? A year ago at this time, the Supreme Court had decided 13 cases by votes of 5 to 4, out of 41 total decisions. That proved to be an accurate snapshot of a highly polarized term. By the time the court wrapped up its work five weeks later, a third of the cases — the highest proportion in years — had been decided by margins of a single vote.

- This is a very interesting outcome that people should be paying attention to. A lot of people were worried about a split court due to the ideological leanings of the justice but it seems that they've been able to vote on different margins. Not sure if it is a testament to John Roberts' power, or the nature of the cases presented.

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Tory Wins Labor Bastion, in Blow to Premier

Voters in this old railway town in Britain’s industrial Midlands sent a powerful message to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the governing Labor Party on Thursday, electing a Conservative candidate by a wide margin in a parliamentary constituency that had been a Labor bastion for decades.

- Gordon Brown must be the most unpopular person right now in Britain next to Heather Mills McCartney. It is a strange that what brought Tony Blair down was the war but maybe Blair left at the right time. I wonder how much gains the Tories will make in the next few months. Will Parliament become Tory dominated?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Terrible Campaign Ads

Here are some more campaign ads that keep us laughing.

This one features a sock puppet.

 

This one features Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee

 

This one features the Twilight Zone, Osama Bin Laden and Aliens (According to this ad of the Mexican Kind), among other things.

 

This one features a blonde lady dancing to the tune of "Have you had enough?

      - Apparently only 4% of voters had enough.

This one features a sex hotline.

 

This one tops it all. Its probably the add that destroyed Harold Ford Jr.

Bottom of the Glass

Is this piano for show or to play?

Via Kanye West

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Political Commercials

This is the funniest commercial I've seen in a while. Republican Missouri Rep. Sam Graves "attacks" his Democratic opponent Kay Barnes for being liberal with Nancy Pelosi and throwing parties and dancing with East coast liberals in San Francisco.

Here is a equally funny commercial from Bill Richardson which is as silly as the one above. I can see why he might have lost the nomination. This is almost as bad as the movie Wild Wild West except this guy was supposedly serious about becoming our next President.

Family Guy Matrix Trailer

Since I'm in a Family Guy mood and the Matrix was good. Here is something interesting to watch:

Family Guy's Original Pilots

Apparently Family Guy had two pilots in the past. Check them out:

Here is the first one from 1995. You might be able to recognize the Peter voice and Brian voice and some of the jokes as well that have been reused later on.

The second Family Guy pilot from 1996. The animation is so rough and so dated that it hurts. But its interesting to see where Family Guy came from.

No More Currency Discrimination

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In what is being called a major ruling for the blind community, a federal appeals court ruled that the uniform design of U.S. paper money discriminates against the blind, thus violating federal disability law. This decision as a result, necessitates major changes in paper money so that those who are blind can have an easier time at distinguishing between different dominations.

As the court correctly highlights:

"The current design of paper money springs from the world of the sighted...Upon casual inspection, anyone with good vision can readily discern the value of U.S. currency; yet even the most searching tactile examination will reveal no difference between a $100 bill and a $1 bill."

Its something that we have been used to everyday but never thing about. Something as simple as the bills we exchange on a regular basis or not as easy to use for the blind.

image  As a federal appeals court last year highlighted, more than 100 other countries vary the size of their bills and other include specific features to help the blind. Even the European Central Bank worked closely with the blind when designing the euro so that they contained easily recognizable features and were varied in size. I never noticed this but its nice to know Europe was ahead on this. Its odd and almost embarrassing to think that we are one of the few countries that is not ahead in designing currency that is easily accessible to the blind.

I wonder if this means having braille on our dollars now or certain parts like the one raised so you can feel what denomination is. Its nice to see this happen and I hope more of this occurs.

imageThe Alabama quarter actually has Helen Keller's name in Braille although I don't know if can be read from touching it.

ABC News

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The 2006 World Cup's Best Moments and Looking to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

I spent a lot time watching the World Cup in 2006. It was basically perfect and it met all expectations. I'm looking forward to the 2010 World Cup and I'm wondering how South Africa will compare. I am hoping for it to be a success but I can't tell how things will go down. As the first African Nation to host the FIFA World Cup a lot of precedents will be set as well as high expectations. I don't want to doubt anything but I'm hoping everything goes well.

I included a clip of the best moments from the 2006 World Cup. We'll see what happens in 2010. Scroll down for a discussion on South Africa.

 

In the meantime lets look at what is happening in South Africa right now.image 

In the last few weeks South Africa's government has been dealing with a rise in attacks on foreigners.

13,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. It all started a week ago in North Johannesburg where mobs haveen loking for foreigners to attack. The foreigners have been blamed for taking jobs from locals and for contributing to crime.

Sadly enough many of them are Zimbabweans looking for better opportunity in South Africa. Sounds a lot like what is happening in the U.S. without all the violence, or at least so it seems.

The government fears that these xenophobic actions could threaten the economy as well as the tourism. South Africa needs to be in the best shape possible in order to host the World Cup in 2010 and events like this if not properly addressed can threaten the bid. Granted, I doubt FIFA would leave at this late in the game. However, these incidents cast a shadow on a country struggling to make its way with so much opportunity ahead but many obstacles.

I always like to give a visual perspective to these issues so check it out.

 

What do you think will happen?

Reuters

BBC News

Bottom of the Glass: Social Services Edition

            image

via Kanye West

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bottom of the Glass: Gravity Edition

Li Wei is an artist from Bejing whose work primarily features what appears to be gravity-defying stunts. Check it out.

 

Via Kanye West

Facebook is Getting a Facelift

Facebook logo

Since Facebook arrived, if you noticed the site's look hasn't changed too much. It has a lot of new functions but general it's still the same despite the addition of 1,000 new functions.

Well that is about to change as designers are planning to change the profile page to make it what they call "Simpler, cleaner and more relevant." What the hell is more relevant? Facebook isn't relevant enough?

Well apparently the new profile will split the main profile into five separate page as tabs. I'm not liking this. I think they should just put applications into the tab because they take up the most space.

New look Facebook 'feed' page

What is your profile page without your wall? Then again many people I know don't have walls or at least limit access to it, so that may not matter.

 

Apparently, Facebook jumped in popularity when it allowed all these third party applications. I personally thought it was always popular for the college and graduate crowd. Facebook fundamentally changed when it stopped being a college only site. One of the big draws of Facebook was it simple nature and somewhat professional look (despite the embarrassing photos people post) in comparison to myspace.

I don't think Facebook is broke but it could certainly use a clean up. All this commercialization as one person mentioned is making Facebook less unique. Maybe Facebook's facelift needs to bring it back to what it once was.

BBC News

Flying Penis Interrupts Speech

You have to see it to believe it.

A Great Moment from MSNBC

Since today is mostly videos, here is a great moment from MSNBC. Mika Brzezinski (daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski), anchor of MSNBC's Morning Joe rips up a story about Paris Hilton.

Cheerleading is Dangerous

Watch:

Tom Cruise and Oprah

Or Tom Ryan and Oprah but same thing. A great scene from Scary Movie 4.

Great Moments from Family Guy

Cool New Surgery: Removing Your Appendix through Your Mouth

 Mouth Apendix Surgery

Jeff Scholtz is one of the first patients in the world to have a sore throat not from the regular causes (common viruses, sinus drainage, breathing through the mouth or bacteria) but from having his appendix removed through his mouth.

In what is being hailed as a big step for scar-less and painless surgery, the surgery involves the use of a flexible tube to thread miniature surgical instruments down people's throats to their stomachs. From their stomach a little incision is made and to get to appendix which is then cut way, bagged (from inside the body) and pulled back into stomach and out of the mouth.

Regular appendectomies can leave someone in the hospital for up to a week and away from strenuous activities for up to six weeks. But with this cool new you'll be back on the trail in no time.

This surgery reduces a lot of risk as related to infections and hernias in addition to having a faster recovery time and less pain. I can't wait for my appendix to get inflamed so I can have this done.

Jeff Scholz 42-year-old U.S. Marine Jeff getting his appendix removed through his mouth.

Through Gizmodo from Daily Mail

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Democrats and their growing Ideological Divide

One of the most interesting things to come out of this apparent Democratic swing of American Electorate is that it hasn't necessarily transferred to a swing in policy views.  Carl Hulse of the New York Times brings up an interesting point that hasn't really been documented too much the overall coverage of what appears to be an upcoming Democratic domination of Congress and the Presidency(Unless McCain wins, which is very possible). The Democrats who have prevailing in so called "conservative locales," may be Democrat in name but ideologically are as different as average Republican to Democrat.

Hulse describes it pricisely when he says:

As their numbers expand, they have to juggle the competing interests of Travis Childers, the new pro-gun, pro-life, anti-tax Democrat from northern Mississippi and someone like, say, Nancy Pelosi, a pro-choice, pro-gun control liberal from San Francisco who sees government as a solution.

When you think about the job of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House, one of the major functions is to get the party to vote together. Problems can rise if one is voting on gun control or abortion as described in the ideological differences between Rep. Childers and Rep. Pelosi. Finding internal consensus becomes more difficult when the ideological divide grows within the Democratic party.

Diversity of opinions is definitely a great thing within a party. A lot of constructive and positive debate can come out of these differences as well as policies that reach out to as much as people possible, rather than reflecting the ideology of one side. However, as seen in recent times, which is no fault of Nancy Pelosi (arguably), it is difficult to manage a caucus of members that literally from right and left but still are Democrats. Whether one wants argue whether these people are Democrats or (DINOS: Democrats In Name Only) is for another discussion.

One of the unintended consequences of this divide is that while it is great for the Democrats that their numbers increase it also leads to an appearance of a party unable to govern. Meaning that with the American populace looking and voting for what appears to be a Democratic majority, when the party is unable to vote together to get major bills passed (Iraq War Spending Bill), it looks like they can't accomplish anything.  Many of these leaders want to keep their seats so they may not be able to back a bill that the left support or simply they may not support it. However, this may not be a big issue in the long run. The number of conservative democrats may end up being negligible and as one Representative highlights "Each of these wins expands our majority"

I guess that is the point overall but how sustainable is it. To a certain extent it feels like the electorate has moved but maybe they've moved towards the democratic brand and not toward the Democratic agenda. Maybe not. I guess we'll have to wait a few years to see the outcome.

It makes me wonder what the two Democratic Presidential Candidates are talking about when they cite all this consensus building and winning over Republicans and working with them. All these promises may really mean that they are just looking for a Democratic majority so they can force their legislation through because after all, how can they pass their major plans without compromise through a Republican Senate or House that has different ideologies? Guess you need a Democratic majority.

New York Times