Back after a long hiatus, to wish you a happy Easter.
Faithful readers of this blog, all 12 of them, may recall the 3 Weird Sisters classic, “Touchdown Jesus” Smited from several years ago, in which a monumental tacky Jesus sculpture erected by an Ohio megachurch was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
Well, several months ago that church finished their new tacky monumental statue to replace the one that burned, and I have been saving the pictures from then until today just so I could use this headline. Behold the new, and one presumes, fireproof Jesus:
Which of course reminds me of this classic from the lamentably departed Poor Man:
This, however, is my favorite picture of the resurrection of the giant tacky megachurch Jesus statue:
Easter is, I must admit, about the most impenetrable holiday for me. The meaning, for those of us raised in homes that were at most religiously apathetic, extends to bunnies, baskets of goodies, and hunting for hidden eggs; in that context, it’s a holiday you outgrow in adolescence. It becomes even more confusing when you consider the way it moves around on the calendar. Then there’s the whole thing about breaking out the white shoes, buying new outfits, and celebrating by eating ham of all things, which Jesus as a Jew would not have eaten. Maybe the message there is that after he died for our sins and was resurrected, the reward was bacon. Well, as Eddie Izzard says in the clip below, you tell me.
Alternately, because wordpress apparently no longer supports youtube videos, see it here.
Also, because what would a religious holiday be without rightwinger outraged butthurt, the culture wars have erupted all over Fox News and the nutosphere, thanks to Google’s unconscionable recognition of the day as Cesar Chavez’ birthday, 20 years after his death. The offending doodle:
On Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy (or as I call it, Tweaker) conservative alternative to Twitter, it was suggested that Google could have used a more holiday-appropriate theme, such as eggs, which of course reminded me of the Eddie Izzard bit above. As I told one complainant in blog comments elsewhere, who insisted the doodle was a “slap in the face” to Christians and claimed that from here on out, he would be using bing as his search engine…”so, what you’re telling us is that Google, a private company, only recognized your portable religious holiday with a doodle on the date in the past 14 out of 15 years, but because they skipped one year, it’s a slap in the face and you’re going to switch to using an inferior product for conducting web searches as a result? That’s a pretty weak-sauce version of getting thrown to the lions, bro.” Funny how flexible that idea of a “free market” is when the actors in it don’t mindlessly conform to the religious preferences/prejudices of the conservatives who are its most ardent defenders.
Silly me. I should know by now that Easter, like Christmas, is meant to remind us of the untold suffering and oppression the Christian majority in this country has endured as a result of the fact that not everyone believes exactly the same things they do.
Much like metal bands always make a point to include a ballad on each album to show their “artistic range” (think: Wanted: Dead or Alive; Beth), Bert & Ernie have a repertoire that goes beyond the bounds of gangsta rap:
Bonus points: The Count sings backup!
When I posted the other B&E video, I did not know that it was done by the same guy who did the Happy Birthday video I posted for Lyta a couple of years ago. I’m digging his vibe.
Thanks for the birthday wishes; I would have reciprocated yesterday except for the fact that, for my birthday, Comcast gave me yet another day of non-working internet service. (It’s gone out in the midst of composing this post, so who knows when I’ll be able to put it up. Meanwhile, I’m watching the Murdoch Follies on MSNBC.)
I went through the same crap with them for 2 months last summer, and even though THEY aren’t worried about figuring out the problem, I have figured it out: their system doesn’t work when the weather gets hot, either as a result of degraded cable or connections somewhere along the line. Because investing anything into their system to keep it working isn’t part of their budget, though, instead they have things set up to where a customer whose service isn’t working has to 1) call in to report the outage, remaining on hold for an average of 20 minutes per call before speaking to a REAL! LIVE! HUMAN!; 2) accept the only option offered – Comcast will “send a tech” out to the house, provided that you agree to sit home and wait for them for the ENTIRE DAY, and 3) if the system is working when said tech shows up, they will do nothing. When the service goes out again 20 minutes after the tech leaves, you get to repeat steps 1-3 forever, or until the weather cools off and their piece of shit system starts working again. Because they aren’t going to do anything else to fix it if they can’t locate the problem right there on the lines outside or inside your house. This is why they insist you have to be home, because “the problem MIGHT BE inside the house.” Never, since cable has been invented, has the problem for anyone EVER been “inside the house.” The “inside the house” line is one they use to make it inconvenient to request the service you’re paying for, because who wants to sit home waiting on them all day?
They’ve gotten even craftier in the past year or so about ways to get out of service calls; now they robo-call repeatedly just to “check in” and see if you still want them to come out. Apparently the hope is that, if your intermittent service happens to be working when you get the call, you’ll cancel the appointment and they won’t have to bother coming out. They’ll call 3 or 4 times on the same appointment, and if you don’t respond to the call, they’ll CANCEL the appointment – which can leave you sitting at home all day on the appointed date waiting for a tech who never shows up. I pointed out to them that calling the home phone of someone who has that phone running through their non-working internet connection probably isn’t the best way to verify an appointment.
After a month, I’ve had my fill of this crap. So, yesterday morning, during the brief window while I could get online, I went and ordered AT&T DSL service. Don’t know how it will compare with Comcast speed-wise, but if I can access the internet AT ALL during hot weather, it will be an improvement. Plus, they have a first-12-months deal for $25 per month for 12 mbps download speed, which is going to cut the bill by close to 2/3. After the first year it will go up by $23 per month, which is still cheaper than Comcast. But even if it cost more, it would be worth it to never again have to deal with these yutzes.
The sad part of all of this is, imagine that you worked for Comcast and actually WANTED to do a good job of providing service? I’m not a complete pessimist; I like to believe that most people want to do a good job. Comcast has their system set up to override whatever helpful impulses their employees may have. My experience has been that the people on the phone have been nice, when I can reach them; the techs have been polite and have done what the company empowers them to do. The problem is that the company either doesn’t give any of them leeway to really fix anything, or trains them so poorly that they can’t think of anything to try besides option A, and probably most of them are paid so poorly that a certain discouraged portion can’t be arsed with bothering to try thinking beyond option A. Whatever way you look at it, it comes down to money and the company’s desire to not spend any of it on service or fixing problems.
How does this relate to Rupert’s Little (but growing) Problem, you ask? Just this: there are a large number of companies out there whose business practices would make anyone with the slightest pride in their work or with even a rudimentary conscience ashamed to be associated with them. I can’t imagine working for an outfit like Comcast, knowing that the company’s policy is to avoid providing service to their customers whenever possible, in return for what they’re charging. If you’ve ever seen Michael Moore’s film Sicko, you’ll remember the woman who broke down in tears while describing how, in her job for a large health insurer, she would have to field calls from hopeful people she knew would be declined for insurance. Another testified to Congress about the “incentives” she was offered in return for finding ways for the company to get out of paying for customers’ legitimate covered medical conditions. We know this stuff goes on in a lot of companies, and that it bothers a lot of the people who work for them.
Working for a company or person who expects you to daily do things you know are wrong, under threat of termination, can leave deep scars on some people’s psyches. For others, it just makes them boiling mad. Either way, you’re going to end up with some folks, maybe quite a few of them, looking and waiting for any opportunity for payback. In every company that operates more like a criminal enterprise than a legitimate business, there are going to be some malcontent pollyannas – there’s just no way to screen out ALL the moral people when hiring – and quite a few more whose morals may be a bit more flexible, but who will eventually over the course of their employment see some things that, for them, cross the line.
This, I believe, is what is currently going on inside Murdoch’s organization. I’ve seen a lot of people speculating on what finally caused the “dam-burst” we’re seeing, and I think this explains it: for years, a lot of people on the inside have been appalled by a lot of what they saw going on. But the organization was too powerful for them to speak out against it on their own. Let’s face it - Murdoch owned a good bit of the British establishment and, god willing, it will out that he owns a good deal of ours as well. (Which is to say, it’s a fair bet that he owns ours as well, whether they succeed in keeping it under wraps or not. My bet is that it will out before all is said and done.) So for years, ill-will against Murdoch and Co. had been building, not only among employees and former employees, but also among Murdoch’s targets – politicians, celebrities, and basically everyone they ever smeared or blackmailed into silence. All that was needed was for a chink in the armor to appear, and there were legions waiting in the wings to pile on.
We can only hope it all unfolds here in the same way. I’ve heard some speculate that, if it was revealed that News Corp or any of its subsidiaries had hacked the phones of 9/11 victims, that would bring them down. But even if that’s not proven, we already know that News Corp was in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, because we know they were paying off police in the UK. Already some in the US press are rallying to Murdoch’s defense: according to an op-ed in the Washington Post this weekend, the problem wasn’t in the phone hacking – it was in the law that made phone-hacking illegal. If the UK didn’t have a law against phone hacking, well then, Murdoch’s organization never would have been “forced” to break the law. I wish I were making this up; unfortunately I’m not. It makes one wonder: have most of them here been doing the same type of thing? Because otherwise, it’s hard to understand why the Post would trot out this type of weak tea in defense.
In short, we can’t rely on the US media outside of Murdoch’s holdings to either give this the coverage it deserves or to report it in an unbiased way. I’m sure the Post would claim their concern is all about protecting ”sources.” But in effect, they’re trying to create a firebreak to protect Murdoch’s US media properties. Probably our best hope is that The Guardian will wade into the practices of Murdoch’s US properties. The story in the UK might well have fizzled out if not for the persistence of the Guardian.
The other thing that makes me quite certain that there’s a lot of bodies buried on this side of the pond as well is the public behavoir of News Corp outlets in the US. Fox makes no bones about using bullying tactics or observing basic fairness or ethical guidelines; the NY Post has long had a reputation for sleaze, and under Murdoch’s ownership the Wall Street Journal has become much more agressively conservative-fundamentalist, catapulting the most egregious bullshit. People – or companies – who don’t value truth or fairness or ethics do not learn to value them more simply because they are legislated as legal guidelines, and hence they are more likely to ignore technicalities like the law. There are no limits, no lines that can’t be crossed in pursuit of advancing the agenda. We’ve seen those tendencies, on public display, in Murdoch’s US media outlets and it seems unlikely that, while wide-ranging criminality was occuring in a Murdoch-owned UK outlet, Murdoch’s employees on this side of the Atlantic were content to just skate up to the line but not cross it. It just isn’t a fit with what, it is emerging, has been the culture inside News Corp.
It’s too early to tell yet what, if any, assistance we will have from the US press in uncovering News Corp malfeasance here in the US. What we can do, however, is encourage the Department of Justice to pursue an investigation into News Corp activities both here and abroad by demanding it under the auspices of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If you want to be heard, you can send a letter via snail-mail to:
US Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20530-0001
Alternately, you can call the Attorney General’s public comment line at 202-353-1555.
There’s an email address as well, but if you want to be heard that’s not an effective way to communicate, so I’ll leave that out. I’ve already sent my letter and I hope a lot of other people will get on board.
Because what this entire episode teaches us is this: a big corporation can get away with only as much as its employees and the public will allow. It doesn’t seem that way when we see so many big crimes go unpunished, but in large part that’s our fault for not throwing a big enough tantrum and demanding investigation, prosecution, or whatever the appropriate remedy is. A corrupt company can only indulge in corrupt practices for as long as its employees are willing to keep its secrets. When they begin to reveal those secrets, a tsunami of outrage from the public can insure that the responsible parties are punished. In testimony today, Rupert himself has sworn up and down that he had no idea there were sleazy things going on in this tiny little 1% of his empire, and that he doesn’t consider himself responsible for it. It’s fitting then, that public outcry more or less forced him into shuttering News of the World. Whether he ever admits any responsibility or not, he’s already had to pay for the misconduct, through loss of one property and having to drop his bid for sole control over the UK’s BSkyB satellite network. That is exactly how this kind of thing should work, and just imagine what salubrious effects could devolve from similar developments here in the US. It’s been an awful long time since any financially healthy corporation has been forced to shut down due to illegal practices – in fact the only one I can think of is Arthur Andersen, which was killed by the Enron scandal (Enron itself failed due to financial reasons, though these were brought on by illegal practices). I think it would be a wonderful example for other large multi-nationals.
But in large part it’s up to us to push for this outcome. So if you feel the same way about it that I do, let the DoJ know you expect to see some action. Really, is there any better way to spend your summer vacation?
P.S. It has come to my attention, via comments from the last post, that somehow B^4′s recent birthday went unremarked here. For this, our apologies. Happy Birthday, you Magnificent Bastard, whenever it was!
Happy bday, BDay! Here’s your Queen for the day:
…and even MOAR QUEEN for the day:
…plus just for fun, Cookie the ticklish baby penguin:
HBO is celebrating the special occasion with the season 2 premiere of Treme:
…and because it’s Easter today as well:
…courtesy of The Poorman, who we sure wish would come back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
Anyway, here’s hoping your birthday is a happy one, and that the Easter Bunny poops out a finished kitchen remodel for you.
…nevar go into business with this woman:
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail at this point because I am tired, so tired - but…imagine learning that you are financially tied to someone who is seriously delusional and seriously meets the clinical criteria for being a narcissistic sociopath.
Fortunately, total disaster was staved off; this has resulted in some unpleasantness involving attorneys but nothing that will put me under. One way or another, the whole thing will be over within three weeks (or less); if she insists on dragging it out for the entire three weeks, she’ll walk away with nothing and my position will be pretty much status quo. The business will re-start under a new name at the first of the year, and finally have a chance of turning a profit, once no one is sponging off it by drawing full-time salary for quarter-to-half-time work, and most of that done half-assed, to boot.
I’m surprised the holiday hasn’t flushed Lyta out into the open. If I recall correctly, growing up this was pretty much our favorite holiday. Halloween was in its heyday back then – everyone went trick-or-treating. These days, not so much. At least in my neck of the woods, the churches have managed to convince a fair number of the bufords that Halloween is “satanic” or something equally stupid. The good news is that this year – on a Sunday night, no less - I saw more trick-or-treaters show up at my door than I have in the past 10 years. I had some last night too, which was the “official” trick-or-treat night, all the better to not offend the overly sensitive who feel that everyone should respect their fee-fees by pretending to believe the same things they do. I’m happy to report that tonight’s crew of ghouls and goblins outnumbered last night’s by a factor of 10 or more. I count that as one more win for sanity.
I would tell you all about Pegleg Pete, who was a ghoul known only to the kids in our suburban neighborhood back in the day, or about the time in college my fellow architect geeks and I destroyed a frat boy’s car with a pumpkin decoy, but the holiday’s almost over and it will have to wait for another time. Instead, in honor of the day, I give you this:
The funniest thing that happened is this – I had a motion-activated talking pumpkin, left over from several years ago at the Hallmark, that looks like this:
When activated, the organ music from above plays, and the friendly fellow says things like, “I hope you enjoyed the music – I decomposed it myself…ahahaha,” “Do you like Halloween? Of CORPSE you do! Ahahaha!,” “Did your mummy dress you like that? Creepy!” and “It looks like you grew some since last year. Yes…GREWSOME!!!” Also, when he talks, his mouth moves.
Anyway, I had set him up on one of the chairs on the porch and aimed him so the motion detector would activate whenever someone came up the porch steps. So I could hear from the living room when someone was coming, even before the bell rang, because that creepy organ music would start up and he’d start talking.
So, last night I’m sitting on the couch reading, and I hear the thing start up. But no one ever rings the bell or knocks. I go look out the door, and here’s these two little kids out at the end of the front walk with their mom. I ask them, were you coming to trick or treat? And their mom says, “that thing started talking and scared them, and they ran down the steps and out to the street!” So I told them it wasn’t anything to be afraid of, but the little one wasn’t having any of it. Finally I said, “if I take him in the house, will you come up to get your candy?” The little kid just nods. Even after I did, when he came up to the porch, his eyes were as big as saucers. I guess it’s fortunate that they didn’t fall going down the steps in their hurry to run away – otherwise I might have had a really scary lawsuit on my hands.
Good thing I didn’t order one of those motion-activated skull heads that flies out from the wall and screams when activated – I admit to being sorely tempted. I always was a fan of playing dirty tricks on Halloween. Just ask Beth and Lyta.
Finally, back on schedule with these, despite a quite hectic week. I attribute the timely posting to the high volume of top-notch snark posted in a variety of places this past week. For your reading (and WTF?) pleasure:
July 26, 2010 at 16:49
Beatings don’t kill people. Massive internal hemorrhages kill people.
Sadly, No!, July 26, 2010
herr doktor bimler
I HAVE HERE IN MY HAND
See, Dick jokes even without demand!
July 26, 2010 at 21:30
The university chancellor actually sends out mass e-mails to the whole campus in Comic Sans.
The faculty and staff of the Yoknapatawpha County Community Clown College is not laughing.
My alma mater is so maligned.
Sadly, No!, 7/26/10
Smut Clyde said,
July 27, 2010 at 7:11
…If the only tool you have is a rodent-shaped novelty vibrator then everything looks like a ratfuck.
Sadly, No!, 7/27/10
July 27, 2010 at 17:20
Oh. I thought the answer was “We don’t give a fuck because Jesus will come back before everything runs out anyway.”
He’s gonna be pissed that we fucked up his rental property.
Sadly, No!, 7/27/10
Kurtz has described “conversion from liberal to conservative politics” as “the ultimate aphrodisiac“
I’m of the opinion that no matter how obscure your fetish is, there’s a porn site out there specializing in it. It appears Kurtz found the exception to that rule.
Cause if it ain’t his fantasy it’s perversion.
Their infatuation with hip hop is a sign of Europe’s broader failure to assimilate Muslim immigrants to mature democratic mores, again because of a multiculturalist sensibility
Yeah, it really is time we put an end to European multiculturalism.
By the way, what does he suppose Muslim immigrant youth would be doing otherwise? Yodeling?
July 28, 2010 at 1:30
Some ladies prefer their men serif, while others prefer sans serif.
No one speaks of the serif holocaust.
Sadly, No!, 7/27/10
Mark D said,
July 29, 2010 at 23:07
If the market wants patients to have Bibles, the Invisible Hand will supply them.
The Invisible Hand is too busy giving out what everyone thinks are prostate exams, followed by a slap to the face …
… and it doesn’t even take the latex glove off first.
Sadly, No!, 7/29/10
Whale Chowder said,
July 30, 2010 at 1:35
The humorless dildos leave no room for scripture.
When you think about it, there is probably no more humorless dildo than one made out of scripture.
Sadly, No!, 7/29/10
Angry Geometer said,
July 30, 2010 at 16:11
Oh Big dicked guys, we’re sorry. We’ve committed the sin of envy, the sin of covetousness, and the sin of staring. We have believed the lie and claimed size doesn’t matter.
Sorry, I’m still taking my talents to South Beach. Buttsecks is a team sport, and I need to be surrounded by teammates that can play at my level if I ever wanna win a National Buttsecks Association cockring. Guys who won’t be afraid to play around the rim. Guys who can take it to the hole. Guys not nicknamed “Boobie”, basically.
And have you seen Florida? The whole state looks like a giant penis. It’s very comforting for a man of my, how shall we say, giant penis havingness.
Sadly, No!, 7/30/10
Any time you your feelings are determined by a sperm donor failing to meet your expectations, you are most definitely doing something wrong.
A fair portion of my professional life has been a sequence of jack-offs not making me happy, so I guess I can sympathize.
calling all toasters Says:
Nobody’s going to watch a movie about a dead teenage narcissist who doesn’t bite hot chicks on the neck. You should probably add some ten-penny fangs to your masterpiece.
Maybe a moustache too.
The Poor Man Institute, 7/31/10
Smut Clyde said,
August 2, 2010 at 0:19
Liberals love to go down the subjunctive mood route
It’s a bit longer but it doesn’t actually take any more time, and the scenery is better.
Sadly, No!, 8/1/10
A hearty thanks to all of this week’s contestants. Keep them coming!
Horrors of Hallmark, part 5:
Yes, Virginia, there IS such a thing as Christmas in July.
This weekend, Hallmark rolled out their 2010 Keepsake Ornaments, with much fanfare. What it meant for me was an 8-1/2 hour shift because, as anticipated, the store was mobbed with people who don’t know any better than to spend $15 and up on corporate-branded plastic crap. It wasn’t the crap that got me so much, or even the people who don’t know better than to buy it; it was the 8-1/2 hour shift – not fun for old people, or even those who are no longer young such as yours truly. Fortunately I got off early enough in the day to come home, put my feet up on the couch, and watch them swell.
As for the crap, well, it is what it is. Just more stuff for people to spend money on, and as noted, most of it a merchandising tie-in to some other company’s trademarks. There are some that you’d expect: Rudolph, Polar Express, etc. But then there are the Disney ornaments, Barbie ornaments, Star Wars ornaments – you name it, and if Hallmark can turn a buck on it, they’ll make it into an ornament. But just to give you an idea as to the insanity of those who “collect” these things: our store did about $10,000 in business in these by the time I left yesterday. At an average of $15 a pop, that’s over 650 of them that went out the door in 10 hours, most of them reserved or pre-paid by people who had submitted “wish lists” weeks earlier. I won’t go so far as to say all collectors are insane but…I really can’t see the point in collecting plastic marketing tools that don’t DO anything other than hang on a tree.
All that having been said, there were some lighter moments to the day, beginning when someone broke one of the Star Trek ornaments and we brought it up to the front. Since it was a “magic” ornament that played music when you pressed the button, I spent the rest of the day pressing the button…over, and over, and over again. The ornament depicted the famous Star Trek “Kirk and Spock Fight” theme:
Which of course reminded me of this scene from The Cable Guy:
I and one of the other girls working kept doing the Jim Carrey sing-along with the tune. Horribly annoying, I’m sure, but then again, so is working an 8-1/2 hour shift waiting on people who don’t know better than to spend hundreds of dollars on corporate marketing crap.
The other thing that really got me was that I kept hearing this banjo music wafting up from the ornament display. Finally I asked someone, “WTF, did Hallmark make a Deliverance Keepsake Ornament? Why didn’t they do one with Ned Beatty squealing like a pig?” Turns out it was all much more upbeat than that; the banjo music went along with the “Jingle Jamboree” ornament, which you can hear here.
I really should lighten up on some of this stuff; I mean, even I’m tempted by the things that push my buttons. I’m a sucker for anything Suess – right now the calendar hanging on the wall behind my computer shows an illustration from If I Ran the Circus. I also have a weakness for anything related to Where the Wild Things Are, which made this ornament somewhat hard to resist:
But resist it I did, even though with my discount I could have picked it up for quite a bit less than the retail price people were paying for the much-less-cool ornaments that were flying off the shelves.
What would be the point, after all, in buying an ornament when you never bother putting up a tree?
I will say this for our little Christmas in July hoedown: at least they didn’t make us listen to Christmas music. THAT would have been a deal-breaker.
For your birthday, I scoured the internets and found the BEST BIRTHDAY VIDEO EVAR!!1!ONE!!:
Is that not at least ten different kinds of awesome all tied up in one big ball of WIN? It’s as if the spawn of the Quiznos sponge monkeys all got together to make a birthday greeting just for you.
Here’s the cake I would have made for your birthday:
…though perhaps this one would also be appropriate, if the bride and groom were removed from the top:
…I say “would have,” because it’s much more likely that my efforts would have resulted in the above.
So in addition to these gems, my birthday gift to you is a free lifetime subscription to Cake Wrecks. Enjoy & hope you have a happy one!