Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fuck Art, Let's Dance

I can't help it, this just made me smile....

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Not Meaning to Be a Buzzkill or Anything...

But in the ongoing and nauseating beatification of the late Jesse Helms, let's not forget this racist, divisive and fear-mongering political ad, which basically said, "vote for me or NEEEEE-GROES will take your job!"

This, friends, is what Jesse Helms stood for: the politics of fear.

I won't rejoice in any man's death, but I won't stand by silently while he's made out to be a saint.

Friday, July 04, 2008


The Reason for the Season....

The Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Damn It. : Soldier Made Famous By Photo Dies in Pinehurst

An Army medic whose image made the nation's front pages in the early days of the war in Iraq died in Pinehurst Saturday.

Joseph Patrick Dwyer, 31, died of an apparent overdose in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. After breaking down the door to Dwyer's home, officers found him surrounded by empty cans of aerosol-gas dusters and prescription pills.

Capt. Floyd Thomas said that police believe Dwyer accidentally overdosed on inhalants and pills. He said he didn't know if an autopsy would be performed.

Dwyer's wife, Matina, said he had sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He was a very good and caring person," she said. "He signed up to fight for his country. He was originally from New York. When he saw what happened with the towers (in the 9/11 terrorist attacks), he felt like it was something he had to do."

Dwyer, a private first-class medic, became an image of the Iraq war after a picture showing him carrying an injured Iraqi boy away from a fire fight ran on the front page of several newspapers in 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.

"He was just never the same when he came back, because of all the things he saw," Matina Dwyer said. "He tried to seek treatment, but it didn't work."

According to a study by the RAND corporation, nearly 300,000 soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depressive disorder. Only 53 percent of returning troops who met criteria for PTSD or major depression sought help from a provider: "Military servicemembers report barriers to seeking care that are associated with fears about the negative consequences of using mental health services, because of concerns over confidentiality and career issues....Many felt that seeking mental health care might cause career prospects to suffer or coworkers’ trust to decline."

Of those who had PTSD or depression and also sought treatment, only slightly over half received a
minimally adequate treatment.

It's a disgrace. This country needs to start treating warriors with PTSD as what they are: wounded. If only 53 percent of soldiers who'd taken a bullet or a piece of shrapnel had sought medical aid because the rest were afraid they'd be regarded as weak, and only half of the ones who sought aid got even minimally adequate treatment, some damn heads would be rolling, and rightly so.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Homosexual Eases Into 100 Final at Olympic Trials

Note to the religious right: auto-replace is not your friend - The Carpetbagger Report:

Those wacky wingnuts are at it again....

Auto-correct can be a very helpful feature of any word-processing program. But when conservatives use it, they run the risk of embarrassing themselves.

Some far-right sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed, for example, will use auto-correct to change “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party.” This, of course, is because they have the temperament of children.

But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

The problem, of course, is that “gay” does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.

That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” Readers learned:

Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.

His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999. […]

Homosexual didn’t get off to a particularly strong start in the first semifinal, but by the halfway mark he had established a comfortable lead. He slowed somewhat over the final 10 meters-nothing like the way-too-soon complete shutdown that almost cost him Saturday. Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: “A little fatigued.”

Now, the AFA has since changed the article back to the way it was originally written by the AP reporter, but don’t worry, Kyle got the screen-grab before the AFA edited the piece back.

You know, for people who supposedly decry so-called "political correctness" in language, it seems that conservatives are as ridiculous as anyone about using the "proper" term, even when their "proper" term is ridiculous in context. Remember "Homicide Bombers"? And of course, who could forget "Islamofascists"?

I guess Tyson Gay should be happy. The AFA could have spent the whole article calling him "Tyson Sodomite."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

George Carlin, A Man of More Than Just Dirty Words

Latest newspaper column (the uncensored version) :

We've lost another great one. Comedian George Carlin died last week of heart failure at the age of 71.

If you were a teenager in the '70s, you probably either owned or knew somebody who owned at least one of his classic albums. It's not overstating the case, I think, to say that albums like "Class Clown" and "Occupation: Foole," with their absurdist humor and irreverence, along with shows like "Saturday Night Live" (which featured Carlin as the host of its very first episode) and magazines like "The National Lampoon," were major influences on the worldview of my generation.

Carlin was born in New York in a neighborhood he later claimed was called "White Harlem," because it sounded cooler than its actual name: "Morningside Heights." After an unsuccessful hitch in the Air Force, he became a disc jockey in Texas, where he eventually teamed up with comedian Jack Burns (later of Burns and Schreiber and "The Andy Griffith Show"). The two went to California, where they lasted two years before breaking up.

Carlin began regular appearances on shows like Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson's "Tonight" show, where he did characters such as "Al Sleet, The Hippy Dippy Weatherman." ("Forecast for tonight: Dark! Continued dark until morning, when scattered sunlight will prevail.")

In the long career that followed, George Carlin produced 23 albums, 14 HBO specials and three books. He made thousands of live appearances and appeared on "Tonight" a whopping 130 times.

But he was probably most famous for a bit he developed during this period about "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television." An angry parent who heard the routine on the radio filed a complaint with the FCC, which resulted in a famous case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, affirmed that the FCC could regulate material deemed to be "obscene" on the public airwaves.

Ironically, the seven words that couldn't be said on television (or on the radio) were set out in their entirety in the court's opinion.

But it wasn't just allegedly dirty words that provided fuel for George Carlin's best humor, it was the English language in general. Carlin delighted in finding the oddities and absurdities in the things we say and the words we use to say them. Even the "Seven Words" routine largely consisted of puzzling over how strange some of the words and their common usages sounded.

For instance, he mused, why do we say "fuck you!" as an insult? Wouldn't "UN-fuck you!" make more sense?

Once Carlin started deconstructing the "seven words," they were suddenly a lot less shocking or offensive. He took the sting out of them by mocking them. Which was the whole point -- they were just words, harmless in and of themselves.

Carlin also liked to lampoon the silly and meaningless catch phrases people use in everyday life, like his classic routine about the things people say when someone dies:

"Bill's dead? I just saw him yesterday!"

"Well obviously, it didn't help, he died anyway."

"I wish there was something I could do."

"You could come over and mow the lawn."

In later years, Carlin's humor lost a lot of its sometimes childlike goofiness and turned darker, to the point where some of his comedy specials turned into angry rants. But you know what I always say: If you're not angry these days, you haven't been paying attention. Carlin just got there sooner than a lot of us.

But when he wasn't ranting, and sometimes even when he was, Carlin's use of language approached poetry. Check out this short excerpt from "Modern Man," an almost five-minute soliloquy on everyday clich├ęs that he delivered at a blistering pace:

"I'm behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, ridin' the wave, dodgin' the bullet and pushin' the envelope. I'm on-point, on-task, on-message and off drugs. I've got no need for coke and speed. I've got no urge to binge and purge. I'm in-the-moment, on-the-edge, over-the-top and under-the-radar. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistic missionary. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps and run victory laps. I'm a totally ongoing big-foot, slam-dunk, rainmaker with a proactive outreach. A raging workaholic. A working rageaholic. Out of rehab and in denial!"

George Carlin loved language. He loved playing with it, taking it apart, holding the pieces up to the light and examining them.

For those of us who love language as well, he was an icon and an inspiration.

Most importantly, he made us laugh. He will be missed.