Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amusing Email Conveys Mixed Messages

I received an email today from Save The I originally opted in to their mailing list after learning about the whole net neutrality issue. At the time, I remember reading about how major Internet service providers were supposedly petitioning the government to pass regulations that would allow them to exert undue influence over people's access to certain websites. I think I even signed a petition and emailed my representatives.

Since that time, I've completely shunned my civic responsibility by promptly deleting all subsequent emails. I would feel guilty, but with the current state of affairs in general I think that the "hit rock bottom, riot in the streets, launch nukes, hit reset button on society" plan is probably the best way forward. As such, I'm doing my part by allowing the last few acts of exploitation to take place until society gets that last nudge over the edge and the B.Y.O.AK-47 party commences.

Anyway, this particular email was entitled, simply, "Bieber". Some love him, some post comments about how they hate him on every other music video on YouTube, but it seems that no one can ignore Justin Bieber, including me.

The email opened with the following questionable assertion:

Justin Bieber is pissed off about Internet censorship and you should be, too.

I say "questionable" because my first reaction upon hearing that Justin Bieber opposes something is to support it. The email went on to talk about the "Stop Online Piracy Act" or "SOPA" and included some ACTUAL BIEBER QUOTES:

Bieber called SOPA "ridiculous." He added that "people need to have the freedom... to sing songs," and that any member of Congress who supports this bill "needs to be locked up — put away in cuffs." 
We’re not so sure about the handcuffs. But at the very least Congress should kill this bill.

By the way, the bold type was theirs. Overall, I felt the email was ineffective and that it sent conflicting messages. First of all, telling people that Bieber is pissed about something is likely to make the majority of people embrace whatever that something is short of cannibalism or rational thought. Secondly, they tell me that I should join Bieber in being pissed, but after the only quote of Bieber raging they include a bold disclaimer intended to mitigate the severity of his comments.

There is one positive thing I took away from the email though. Bieber is pissed, and that's something we can all appreciate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Speaking of Nazis, Let's Discuss Dogs

First, a director sympathized with Hitler in Cannes. Then, a dog nursed baby ligers in a Chinese zoo. Now, in a bizarre instance of synchronicity, a new book reveals that Nazi scientists tried to create an army of talking dogs.

Among his other brilliant initiatives, Hitler opened a number of “animal talking schools” so that dogs could be taught to read, write and speak. Here is an excerpt from a Time article detailing some of the supposed accomplishments of the canine pupils:

An Airedale terrier named Rolf became a mythic figure of the project after teachers said he could spell by tapping his paw on a board (the number of taps represented the various letters of the alphabet). With that skill in hand, he mused on religion, learned foreign languages and even asked a noblewoman, "Can you wag your tail?” Perhaps most outlandish is the claim by his German masters that he asked to serve in the German army because he disliked the French. Another mutt barked "Mein Fuhrer" when asked to describe Hitler. And Don, a German pointer, is said to have imitated a human voice to bark, "Hungry! Give me cakes!" in German.

With respect to the late Terence McKenna, I think these events signified the end of Timewave Zero. As if this dog school business wasn’t enough, the article keeps shelling the reader with mind bombs (yes, mind bombs):

Germany's love of dogs may have blinded the Nazis to the outlandish goals of their project. "Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature. They believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend," Bondeson says. "Indeed, when they started interning Jews, the newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind."

I’ve heard of people liking their dog more than their neighbor, but this just takes the concept of animal favoritism to absurd extremes. It seems the Nazis were kind of like a twisted version of PETA on steroids, although some would argue that no qualifiers are necessary in that comparison.

In its conclusion, the article blasts the reader in the face with a final bizarre factoid:

Hitler, a well-known dog-lover, had two German Shepherds named Blondi and Bella. He killed Blondi shortly before killing himself in 1945.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lars Von Trier

An analysis of Lars Von Trier’s “controversial” press conference remarks

 "I hope you enjoy my film. I will now discuss my thoughts on Adolf Hitler in a lengthy and incoherent tangent - is that a problem?"

Lars Von Trier recently caused an uproar at the Cannes film festival because of statements he made during a press conference. In this post, I will analyze some key statements in an effort to discover the source of the controversy.

“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German.”

Von Trier references the fact that all Germans are Nazis. Nothing controversial yet.

“What can I say, I understand Hitler.”

Proverbs 10:13 says, “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.” Clearly, Mr. Von Trier is a wise man. Understanding is a positive trait that should be commended, not condemned.

“I think he did some wrong things, but I can see him sitting in his bunker.”

I totally agree with Von Trier here. The fact of the matter is that people sometimes do wrong things. Cursing in traffic, cheating on a boyfriend or girlfriend, starting a world war and systematically murdering millions of innocent people - these examples serve as reminders that people make mistakes.

As for the second part of the statement, I can also see Hitler sitting in his bunker. With so many Downfall parodies gracing the Internet in recent history, I doubt anyone would have a problem imagining this scene.

[Kirsten Dunst laughs uncomfortably] “There will come a point at the end of this.”

This quote is impressive because it suggests that Von Trier may have some precognitive abilities. While he never really arrived at a cogent point in his speech, there was a significant event after the press conference in which organizers banned Von Trier from the Cannes film festival. But still I wonder, why?

“I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit.”

This quote appears controversial at first glance, but upon closer inspection it really isn’t. Von Trier says that he sympathizes with Hitler a little bit. Certainly, at some point in his life, Hitler caught a cold. We all know how annoying it is to suffer through congestion, a runny nose and constant sneezing. Therefore, we can all sympathize with Hitler a little bit.

“I am of course very much for Jews, no not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass.”

I must admit that this quote was a little strange in that there was literally no pause in between “I am of course very much for jews” and “no not too much”. Ultimately however, the quote highlights the obvious point that if one disagrees with the policies of the Israeli government, one must discriminate against all Jews. Like Von Trier’s earlier reminder that all Germans are Nazis, this is simply a statement of fact.
“Ok, I’m a Nazi.”
Another quote that appears controversial, but is at best ambiguous. Remember, Oskar Schindler was a Nazi so clearly not all Nazis are bad. Further questioning would be required to really understand what Von Trier is trying to convey in this highly ambiguous and abstruse statement.

So there you have it, Lars Von Trier’s “controversial” press conference. If anyone figures out what all the fuss was about, please let me know.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

BBC News: Seal Whiskers Sense Fattest Fish...

According to an article from BBC Earth News, seals can track and identify the size of fish using only their whiskers.

In related news, the US Department of the Interior has hired Wilford Brimley* as a consultant on the migratory patterns of salmon.

*mandatory note: Beetus

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BBC Making Liberal Use of Quotes in Headlines

As I was browsing the BBC News headlines, I noticed that many of them included quotations. The following examples constitute my effort to make sense of this odd phenomenon.

Probe after ‘kiwi’ found in Russia

The term ‘kiwi’ <---(legitimate use of quotes) can refer to a bird, a fruit or a person from New Zealand. With quotes added, the meaning of the term becomes virtually inscrutable. Perhaps someone glued lint to a lime. Then again, it may have been a Russian doing a horrendous impression of a New Zealand accent. If referring to a bird, the reporter may have been praising or criticizing a chicken. It’s impossible to know which is the case because I don’t know whether ‘kiwi’ is a complement or a pejorative in the avian world.

France football quota talk ‘not illegal’

Whatever is meant here, it must be the opposite of ‘not legal’, which simply translates to ‘legal’. However, when someone employs quotations in discussing legal matters, it usually suggests that the topic in question is actually illegal.

Example: Invest your money with Drug Bribery Murder Capital and receive a guaranteed 100% return on investment in under a month! All of our operations are completely ‘legal’!

Therefore, it would seem that ‘legal’ refers to something that is, in fact, illegal. But does the same rule hold true for ‘not illegal’? This one is very confusing, but I have one theory on what it could mean. Perhaps the reporter didn’t understand French and therefore didn’t know what to write in the article. Drawing on her resourceful nature, the reporter crafted an article full of ambiguous terms, double negatives and quotes to produce a piece that made no discernible points in an effort to mask her ignorance.

The headlines in question

Japan ‘to review energy policy’

This one is a real accomplishment. If the quotations extended one more word the entire headline would apparently be ironic. As it is, the mention of Japan is the only concrete element.

So, what is Japan actually doing? My top three guesses are playing video games, sumo wrestling or shooting a game show that will blow my mind no less than five times when I eventually watch it.

Egypt tourism minister ‘jailed’

They’re talking about the tourism minister, so maybe this has to do with some kind of tourism promotion.

Possibility #1: A brochure features an image of the tourism minister behind bars along with a photo of the pyramids. A message reads, “Come to Egypt and see a real pyramid scheme!”

I made an 'effort' to create a conceptual image.

Possibility #2: The tourism minister appears in a TV commercial promoting Egypt as a tourist destination. The minister exclaims, “This is the perfect time to visit Egypt. Travel and lodging rates are so low, they are illegal under Sharia law!” The commercial ends with members of the Muslim Brotherhood apprehending the minister and throwing him in prison.

Tanks ‘near’ restive Syria city

This one is peculiar in that it couldn’t be more straightforward, yet quotes still appear. Upon further inspection, it is really an ingenious headline in that it protects the reporter from making an error. ‘Near’ is a relative term. We know for a fact that tanks exist and we also know that Syria exists and that it contains cities.

If tanks are on the border of a Syrian city, everyone would agree that the tanks are near the city. However, what about tanks located in the United States? Are they near a Syrian city? Relative to their distance from Mars, yes. Therefore, there will always be tanks near a Syrian city in some sense for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sublime Awesomeness Identified by Another User of the Interwebs

No, this doesn’t mean that someone found my blog. Rather, another user of the Internet has identified the quality of sublime awesomeness. I discovered this in a post entitled “the sublime awesomeness of Tamil action” from a blog called Our Delhi Struggle.

You can read the post for yourself, but basically it discusses a certain genre of Indian action cinema and provides some sample clips. Mere seconds after clicking on the first clip, I recognized that I was witnessing something amazing.

It was a singular experience, to say the least. An alchemy of invigorating music, strange camera techniques, amusing facial expressions, bold sound effects and mustaches. In short, it was a transcendent burst of enlightenment sustained over a period of approximately two minutes (nearly four minutes counting the second clip).

Everyone is familiar with the image of the old wise man on the mountaintop. The traveler in search of wisdom climbs the mountain and asks, “What is the meaning of life?” While a rational answer seems eternally elusive, suppose the old man answered with a video clip. By definition the clip would defy explanation, but if you had to describe it, only one term would suffice...

Sublime Awesomeness

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bizarre Set Up Fail

In a breaking story from the agency covering the news that matters (TMZ), it appears that two rando paparazzi attempted to set up Gary Busey and failed hilariously.

Part one goes like this: randos call the cops and tell them that Busey is driving drunk. The cops then pull Busey over and determine that he is “perfectly sober”.

Judging by this fact, it is fairly evident that these people didn’t have good information. Apparently, they were just hoping that, at any given time, there is a significant chance that Gary Busey is driving drunk (which doesn’t sound that crazy now that I think about it).

Anyway, after the cops pulled Busey over, the paparazzi couple started taking pictures of the incident, the cops told them to stop, they didn’t and the cops arrested them for obstruction. Awesomely, the woman was also charged with possession of marijuana.

In conclusion, this story has an insightful and penetrating moral: if you make the wrong decision at every possible turn, something bad might happen. In other extremely important news, Martha Stewart was head-butted by her dog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Scientists Attempt to Foist More Tomfoolery Upon The General Public

In a previous post entitled The Milky Way is Blowing Bubbles, I explored the possibility that the scientific community at large, fueled by its collective megalomaniacal nerd-zeal, is proposing arbitrary and completely outlandish theories. While I already identified this proposition as nearly self-evident at the time, the supporting evidence is now piling up so high that to reject the assertion would be tantamount to rejecting a 6,000 year old earth.

I recently read a National Geographic headline proclaiming that a “glowing, green space blob [is] forming new stars”. I expected no less from these insufferable poindexters. In fact, as I read the article, it became apparent that I had actually set my expectations far too high.

It seems that this “green space blob” was “discovered” by a Dutch teacher. Anyone questioning my incredulity regarding this “discovery” would do well to note that the entire Dutch existence consists largely of fumbling around in a green haze. As such, it is clear that relating a few moments of this experience does not equate to a genuine discovery and it certainly doesn’t provide any evidence that a monster from a 50’s horror film is crapping out stars in some God-forsaken corner of the universe.

The addition of the color green appears to be the only 
creative embellishment attempted by the scientists.

While the ridiculous claim of a new discovery seemed par for the course, the details are disappointing. First, the scientists said that “something” was blowing bubbles from the core of the Milky Way and now they offer the revelation that a “green blob” is forming stars. Why the reliance on these nebulous, vague phenomena? It seems that the scientists’ creativity is lagging far behind their audacity in this ongoing hoodwinking campaign...

I will report further offenses as they are perpetrated.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Great Achievements in Government: al-Shabab Bans Mixed-Sex Handshakes

It appears that the Islamist group ruling over the town of Jowhar in Somalia has finally cracked down on mixed-sex handshakes. While I applauded al-Shabab’s previous ban on music, I worried that it was not enough. Thankfully, the group has come through with a firm and uncompromising measure that achieves maximum absurdity.

According to an article from the BBC, “men and women who are not related are also barred from walking together or chatting in public”. While some may have felt that the handshake ban was enough, I personally believe that these additional stipulations are essential to achieving maximum awkwardness and a meaningful reduction of natural human interaction.

The article states that the penalty for breaking the ban will “probably” be public flogging. While I’m certainly glad to see this penalty instituted, I had hoped for something more significant. I anticipated that al-Shabab might institute the death penalty or at least cut off the hands of offenders, and in fact the tentative language of the article suggests that one of these options may still be a possibility. However, even if al-Shabab passes on these options, it is good to know that there is a solid flogging penalty in place.