Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm the Decider

Having discussed the Bush presidency over the years, I know we've all wondered how much Bush had to do with making decisions etc. Whether or not we should say "Bush invaded Iraq" or use "Bush Administration" or whether we should listen to guys like Sam Harris seeking to convince us that American foreign policy resulted from Bush's unique faith. Well, you knew not to listen to Sam Harris though, didn't you?

Anyway, a top Aide to Colin Powell has recently discussed this matter with some serious candor, and the results are basically what you would expect: Bush was never expected to be a serious "decider." He was, of course, chosen like you'd choose a logo for a product.

Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell:
We had this confluence of characters--and I use that term very carefully--that included people like Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and so forth, which allowed one perception to be "the dream team." It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president--because, let's face it, that's what he was--was going to be protected by this national- security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire. What in effect happened was that a very astute, probably the most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur I've ever run into in my life became the vice president of the United States.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Extra Extra!

If you're anything like me, you've spent much of the past 10 days (or 4 years) dreaming of how Obama's Presidency might change the world.  This "Special Edition" NY Times from the future doesn't hesitate to dream big.  Be sure to check out the advertisments and full length articles as well.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Are you out of touch with America?

This is the post I've been trying to write for a long, long time. Republicans are currently reassuring themselves that the American public holds "center-right" opinions, and Democrats are reassuring us that we need worry no further we elected the best guy (out of the top 2) and so we can just kinda sit back and enjoy ourselves. Despite all the unity and "no red states/no blue states" rhetoric that you're feeling and hearing, you probably feel out of step in some way. We see a popular vote that's basically 52-47 and it feels like our disagreements run deep. So here's the first part of a multi-part quiz... See how out of touch you are compared to the rest of the country.

Read the quiz question and decide on your answer (and perhaps guess how many people you think agree with you in the US, and what politicians might think) Then highlight the blank space under the question and you'll see the actual polling data. To prevent me from cherry picking polls, I've chosen to rely on the most comprehensive and well-respected public opinion poll: the Program on International Policy Attitudes whenever possible (which for this is most of the questions.) All poll data will be the most recent available (within a few years.)

Quiz 1, Human Rights:

1. News and government reports indicate that the US has been using private contractors to conduct interrogations in Iraq. Do you Approve or think that only Military personnel should conduct the interrogations?

68% of Americans think that only the military should be involved in interrogating prisoners (and only 26% think private contractors are ok to do it.) Obama will "not rule out" the use of these contractors in Iraq.

2. Should "enemy combatants" (non-military who are "suspected of terror") who are captured in a foreign country be tortured if need be? Threatened with Torture?

75% of Americans say they should not be tortured (78% of republicans!) and a majority of Americans say that there shouldn't even be a threat of terror. Obama opposes torture too so he's good on this one. McCain actually waffles on this issue despite being tortured himself and voted against curtailing torture.

3. Should the US eliminate the prisons in Guantanamo bay in order to comply with the UN Commission on Human Rights?

63% say the US should eliminate the prison because of the UN commission. Obama opposes the Prison at gitmo

4. Should equal opportunities regardless of whether your are gay or lesbian be considered a human right?

79% of Americans think it should be a human right regardless of sexual orientation. Obama arguably disagrees with this as he does not support Gay Marriage.

5. Should fair pay for workers to meet the basic needs for food and housing be considered a human right or not??

A whopping 87% of Americans think it should be a basic human right (with a slightly smaller percentage also arguing that freedom from extreme poverty should be a human right.)

6. A permanent International Criminal Court has been established by the UN (United Nations) to try individuals suspected of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Do you think the U.S. should or should not support the permanent international criminal court, even if charges could be brought against US troops?

68% agree that the US should support the ICC even though it could prosecute us.
Obama doesn't support it unless the US is exempt (McCain's position is the same.)

7. Finally, do you prefer a universal health care system to our current system?

A 2-1 majority (according to ABCnews/washington post) prefer a universal healthcare system. And yet, who's the last politician who advocated one? No the answer's not Hillary (take a closer look at what she actually proposed)- it was Truman. Obama does not support this (though his rhetoric makes it sound like he does.) He does want to provide the opportunity for health care to every American though, which is a better plan than his competitor.

8. "When a minority is being deprived of its human rights by a government that is supported by the US, this may lead that minority to use terrorism against Americans."

53% of Americans say yes, despite the fact this is considered outlandish-- unutterable even-- by the media.

9. Some say the US should restrict imports of shrimp from India because the shrimp are caught using methods that kill many sea turtles. Do you think the US should or should not limit its trade with India for this reason?

63% of Americans would limit trade in order to protect (endangered) sea turtles! I bet that's even more liberal that some of you!

10. Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, or is that not the responsibility of the federal government?

70% of Americans agree that is the US government should make sure that Americans HAVE health care coverage.

11. Is the Supreme Court too liberal or too conservative?

Americans think that the court is too conservative by a 3/2 margin

12. What do you think is more important (a more pressing issue in the US)?
A. Abortion
B. 36 other things including inflation, poverty, welfare, environment, "unifying the country," "lack of respect for each other," foreign aid, the judicial system, and gay rights issues

I think you've already seen the point here, Americans ranked Abortion extremely low on a list of priorities, though you wouldn't know it from listening to the media and politicians.

13. How influential do you think the will of the majority is on US policy?
A. Above average (closer to "very influential", i.e. a democracy)
B. Below Average (closer to "not at all influential" i.e. totalitarianism)

Probably not too surprising if you've made it this far, but on average the assessment was about a 4.4/10, or closer to totalitarianism. When asked what percentage of the time congress makes decision that are "the same as the majority would make" the average answer was 39%- "less than chance." Needless to say, that means that congress isn't just "out of touch" (you'd expect something closer to 50/50 in that case) but that it's (perceived as) acting contrary to the interests of the citizenry!

Finally, 81% of Americans also say that the government should be more responsive to the US population and pay more attention to polls when deciding on major issues. I, for one, second that.

Procedural note: These poll questions (accounting for small phrasing differences) preserve the same content as the original poll- I'm happy to cite sources if anyone wants but they'd be easy to find. I mention Obama several times not to knock the guy (he was the same or better than McCain on every issue I mention here) but just to show that this "most Liberal member of the senate" is in fact well to the right of the American public on most issues. Just wait until I get to foreign policy!

Obama Wins!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Undecided Voters

We hold undecided voters in far too-high esteem in this country. What we often call "waffling" "fence-riding" and "playing it safe" suddenly become "prudence" and "rational consideration" during even-numbered years. If you think I'm getting ready to make some point about how if you're not for Obama you're obviously insane, don't worry I'm not. How many more of those blog posts do you really need?

For some odd reason I subjected myself to the post-debate analysis on NBC tonight, and on the program was a panel of undecided voters all discussing their thoughts about the two candidates. The set-up was basic: undecided voters explain their opinion of the candidates and how it's changed following the debate they just watched. If one of the voters "decides" and commits to a candidate they are removed from the panel. That obviously creates massive selection bias (since if candidate A -call him "Obama"- won the first two debates and people committed, the panel would consist largely of candidate B-leaners) but that's neither here nor there. It drove me crazy listening to these people repeat drivel like "Well Obama really showed me something tonight when he discussed his health care plan in more detail" or "McCain sounded very confident on Iraq." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Here's a radical idea for you: political candidates are little bundles of policies. You think the CEO of Pfizer is saying "Who cares about the tax breaks, I just want to know which candidate looks more "presidential"? I assure you he is not. He is voting (and "donating") based on cold hard issues, and if you don't? If you vote based on who you can have a beer with or who has a vagina or who speaks well... well then you're going to get Pfizer's wet dream plus ovaries, a pick-up truck and a toastmasters membership. If you want to vote on issues, go take the candidate compatibility quiz or head to and click "voting records." If you want rhetoric, imagery, and delusion though, go watch a politician speak or debate.

Here's how the undecided voter panel must prepare to buy a car: "Gee well I'm really undecided about the truck I should buy; I guess I should watch two competing commercials."

Undecided Truck Buyer A: "Well I really thought Chevy showed me something tonight by having its truck navigate a thin rail between a series of swinging steel I-beams"

Undecided B: "Well after tonight I've got to say I'm leaning toward Toyota, what with the way it managed to stop that entire jet airliner using only its standard disc brakes.

Katie Couric: "Fascinating pros and cons on both sides and a major change in strategy from Chevy, who seems to have completely abandoned the "scaling 60-degree-angled mountains" approach of last time."

Don't, you know, do any research on the features or prices.

This is a deep problem, and one that affects me and many of my closest, most intelligent friends. The idea that "character" matters so much is the implicit message of so much news coverage we can't help but be swayed a little bit. The polls bear this out- during the last presidential election in 2004 10% of the population voted on "agendas/ideas/platforms/goals"; 6% for Bush voters, 13% for Kerry voters according to a Gallup poll. That's a disaster for democracy.

Further, I have to imagine that the deep cynicism that most of us feel regarding politics, and perhaps the same cynicism that makes people politically inert, must be partially a result of this image-focused voting. The young idealist who loves Bill Clinton's sparkling eyes and inspiring rhetoric in 1992 is the same confused partisan trying to excuse the bombing of Sudan in 1998 is the same hardened non-voter in 2000. The small-government conservative who couldn't get enough of Bush's Reagan-esque speeches about government being the problem is the same meek apologist for wire-tapping and massive new government spending in 2004 is the same guy who "forgets" to mail-in his absentee ballot this year. If you've got a red white and blue t-shirt with a candidates name on it right now, you might just see yourself in one of those examples in a few years. Voting is important though so, this year, try something different: Vote for someone without illusions about what they'll do.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The End of the World... Almost

Perhaps you've read my earlier link to Vasilly Archipov, the Russian hero who disobeyed orders and refused to launch a nuclear weapon at the US while in under US bombardment. Apparently, there's a second world hero from Russia named Stanislav Petrov who was forced into retirement after refusing to launch a Nuclear Assault per protocol. Read the story here; it's harrowing.

Then watch this video and feel all better:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Will Obama Lower your Taxes?

Check on this site:

Everyone should take the quiz and see, since so many people vote on this retarded issue (instead of, you know, how much skrilla you'll save from improved health care.) The quiz will take you about 4 seconds to take. Click that image for a full chart, by the way (I couldn't display it on this blog properly.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Protests

"Democracy is not waiting to vote once every four years. Democracy is getting out in the streets," says Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, a 24-year-old member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who refused orders to deploy to Iraq this June and now plans to show up to the conventions with IVAW. "They [the politicians] are not gonna do it by themselves. We're gonna force their hand, because that is the nature of democracy."

Things are going swimmingly in Denver as non-violent protests are flamboyantly disobeying the "Free speech zone" ordinances by walking the streets in massed groups. There was some question before this convention started as to whether there would be much protest, given that the protesters would mostly be favoring the Democratic party (albeit reluctantly.) I've had this conversation 1000 times, about the effectiveness of protesting:

Q:"Protesting? Why waste your time like that?"

A: It's hardly a waste of time if you believe in the cause. Certainly it's more effective than simply lining up every few years to select between 2 inflexible options, offering you a take-it-or-leave-it list of policies (at best- often you don't even know what the policies will be.)

Q: "Yeah but it does more harm than good because people get annoyed by protesters"

A: Spoken like a person who's never seen the magical effect of protests. Not only does it assemble and energize diverse activist groups but it inspires serious conversation, forcing issues out into view. These conversations happen all around you at protests. I overheard this conversation from distant bystanders "If this is an anti-war group, why aren't they just protesting the RNC?" Answered with (from another bystander) "Well the congressional Dems authorized the war and have largelt supported it." The sky didn't split open or anything but there's no way that guy #1 finds out that information otherwise, and that's important. Skip to the end of this post for more "effects" talk.

Q: "Okay but that just makes people cynical about the Democrats, and makes them less likely to win opening the door for Mr. "Bomb-Bomb-Bomb Bomb-Bomb Iran""

A: What makes people cynical is you telling them to shut their eyes to reality and trust in "change we can believe in" and then feel betrayed when Obama peddles the same old Clinton-era moderate BS. People know that Obama's policies are better than McCain's, and they know that preventing McCain from taking office is important. Opening their eyes to Obama's actual policies won't change that; if anything it'll shield them from the wave of disappointment and cyncism they'd otherwise experience when they see Obama's real policy toward Iraq (et al.) Make no mistake, Obama's policies are better than McCain's in most every area so how then can the truth hurt?

Q: (sort-of) "Sure so we'll just march in the streets and it'll change nothing as usual then."

A: That's certainly not true, but it's what "they'd" love you to believe. I'm sorry to use such a hoary old cliche as "they" but it gets the point across. Consider the feminist movement and the groundwork laid to change the culture and attitudes around equal rights and sexual harassment. The Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill issue would have been completely ignored had it not been for decades of activism and organizing which had a civilizing effect on the culture overall. Of course the activists don't often get thanked but ah well.

If you've got a cause and live close to Denver or St. Paul Minnesota... get involved.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's the weirdest video you've ever seen?

Prepare for a new answer to that question. This isn't something I'd normally post, but I mean how do I not post this? It's a chimp raping a frog. It's not as bad as it sounds (I mean, it's not violent or anything) but it's a CHIMPANZEE, and that CHIMPANZEE is RAPING a TOAD.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Smiles are high...

... in the City that's mile-high.

It's a debate that has gone on since at least the time of Greeks: which modern American city has the funniest homeless population? It was said best in the count of monte cristo; "you sire can rob me of my life, but thine canst taketh not mine good humour."

Any observant citizen of Denver, CO can probably tell you that Denver has, without a doubt, the wittiest bums (British people insert "smart ass" joke here). Most everyone by now has seen a homeless sign saying something along the lines of "Why lie? Need cold beer". According to Hamilton Withers' 2005 article in A Bum Life, this slogan not only originated in downtown Denver in 1992, but since then has been used nationally by bums from the bus stops of L.A. all the way to the on-ramps of I-287 in New York/Jersey. The creator of the slogan who went by the name, "Dale" was a disabled Vietnam Vet who only wanted his kids back and as little at 25 cents made a difference to him, God bless. Dale passed away a just one year ago but not before he came up with some other catchy homeless slogans such as the sequel: "Why lie, space ship broke down, need parts."

Dale's cardboard originals are framed and on display at the Denver Rescue Mission, where other hungry patrons have been inspired to make their own creative signs with hopes that they will catch on like Dale's "Why lie?" did, as well as hopes that you'll pass them a spare dollar when at a red light.

Studies have shown that Denver is unique in its subculture of clever homeless in comparison with other metropolitan areas. Below is just a random smattering of the jaw-droppingly witty signs you can see around Denver proper.

Mayor John Hickenlooper: Our city's homeless signs are the pride of Denver.

Ken Blackwell: Our city's hilarious homeless are just one of the many perks of living in Denver.

Allen Iverson: I just take it one game at a time. They played real solid, we're happy to get out with a win.

copyright 08 z and stee enterprises

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are you color-blind without knowing it?

Stop me if you've heard this one: What if the "red" of what you'd call a "red rose" appears to you as actually what other people would call "green" and vice versa? Suppose that this is what a rose looks to everyone but you:

Would you know? Maybe not. Immediately you want to say "well I'd know the first time I called a cucumber 'red' and then everyone stared at me." But you wouldn't call the cucumber "red"; you'd call it "green" because that's what you've been taught is the name of that color. Similarly, when you scoffed at that silly-looking "green" rose pictured above, and discussed it with one of your "normal-sighted" friends they'd scoff as well: "A green rose? That's kinda weird..."

It's a philosophical puzzle, yes, but if I posted about every philosophical puzzle I found interesting we'd have no readership and I'd spend all my time navel-gazing. What's interesting is that I recently read a suggestion that this isn't just plausible but in fact likely for a small minority of the population. You could have this specific experience right now and not know it (!)

Here's the somewhat technical-sounding argument from Psychologist Stephen Palmer (who inspired this post):

The argument goes like this. Normal trichromats have three different pigments in their three cone types. Some people, called protanopes, are red-green color blind because they have a gene that causes their long-wavelength (L) cones to have the same pigment as their medium-wavelength (M) cones. Other people, called deuteranopes, have a different form of red-green color blindness because they have a different gene that causes their M-cones to have the same pigment as their L-cones... Now suppose that someone had the genes for both forms of red-green color blindness simultaneously... Such people, would therefore not be red-green color blind at all, but simply red-green reversed trichromats.{5} They should exist. Assuming they do, they are proof that this color transformation is either undetectable or very difficult to detect by purely behavioral means, because nobody has ever managed to identify one.

They "should exist" and you could well be one of them! It raises all sorts of other questions/considerations too. Consider two adjectives: "fiery" and "lush." Does it seem like a red field could be "lush" in the same way that a green field could?

If you're like me, your gut response is "no way." But if we were to see red as the color of grass all of our lives and to identify a saturated bright, deep red with soft grass and rainforests and ferns would it be different? Rationally that sounds possible, but I honestly can't really imagine it. To me "green" seems to have an inherent capacity for "lushness" that red does not. "Fiery" makes the problem even more evident though; doesn't red seem to have an inherent "fiery-ness" to it? It does to me; it seems fiery in a way that green could never seem "fiery." But of course "fiery" is so named because it's the color of fire, and one would suppose that if we saw fire in shades of green the adjective would remain unchanged.


Of course the irony is that me or someone reading/puzzling over this matter may well be a reverse-tritanope (someone who sees green and red reversed.) You may well walk to the stove after reading this and stare at what most of us would call a "green stove coil" trying to wrap your head around how any other color could seem quite as fiery as does this green, hotly glowing through the coil that's boiling your water.

Could you eat this watermelon?

Some fine print:
At root it's an old idea; at least as old as John Locke. The problem was posed by Locke as the problem of the "Inverted Color Spectrum"; Locke imagines a world in which some people saw the opposite color on the color spectrum than others (yellow for blue, etc.) and concluded that they'd likely never know. There's good reason to think that this isn't true: color isn't as simple as hue as any amateur photoshop-tinkerer knows. Intensity (white and black) is important as is brightness and comparing yellow brightness levels to blue in those hypothetically afflicted would result in disproportionate reports of "brightness" (yellow looks brighter than blue at the same intensity.) Yeah don't take my word for it, take psychologist Stephen Palmer's as it's his counter-proof.

Also it's nearly impossible to remain consistent with color terms in a discussion like this without falling all over yourself saying "what you see as red, but what we'd see as green but still call red" every time. I really dropped the gloves in the final image with the coils, but hopefully the idea was clear enough at that point that it was coherent.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I recently ran across practically the only legitimately scary/spooky "unsolved" spooky occurrence I've seen***. It's called the "incident at Dyatlov Pass." The cool thing about it is that the Wikipedia article is basically all you need, and something about the dry matter-of-fact wikipedia tone makes this extra scary, to me. Basically these Hikers in Russia went hiking and all died one night in the Ural Mountains. From the wiki:

The mysterious circumstances of the hikers' deaths have inspired much speculation. Investigations of the deaths suggest that the hikers tore open their tent from within, departing barefoot in heavy snow; while the corpses show no signs of struggle, one victim had a fractured skull, two had broken ribs, and one was missing her tongue.[1] The victims' clothing contained high levels of radiation.[1] Soviet investigators determined only that "a compelling unknown force" had caused the deaths, barring entry to the area for years thereafter.[1] The causes of the accident remain unclear.

Um, tore open the tents from the inside? High levels of radiation? ONE WAS MISSING HER TONGUE? Regarding the bodily injuries, wikipedia has this to say:

the body of Thibeaux-Brignollel had major skull damage, and both Dubunina and Zolotarev had major chest fractures. The force required to cause such damage would have been extremely high, with one expert comparing it to the force of a car crash. Notably, the bodies had no external wounds, as if they were crippled by a high level of pressure.

If someone wants to try and explain it, I'm all ears but don't get me wrong- I don't think unexplainable events are evidence of anything except for the fact that reality is strange enough to defy verisimilitude.

Here are some other things to really put you over the edge of freakiness if you're reading this late at night:

Smiley Face Murders
(very recent and targeting men in their 20s)
Genital Retraction Syndrome
(famous death mask)
The Bloop (how can you not read it, with that name)

Also, here's the "explanation" of the picture at the top of this post (the only non-wiki link of the bunch):

*** When I was way younger I loved stuff like this and had a book called "Mysteries of the Unexplained." I recently looked at it and found it pretty silly, hence the sentence.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Zealand Politician Dons to KKK Costume

To Protest "National Hoodie Day!" If that doesn't sound that interesting, this is a clip of him debating the merits of his decision with a black professor and he chooses to wear the same KKK costume on TV for the live debate! It actually gets 100 times crazier at around the 3:00 mark so stick around.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Why is this page taking so long to load? Bush Edition

Judged solely on the hilarity of his photos, Bush is the greatest president of all time. Considering other facets he doesn't fare quite as well, of course. But today I'd just like to take a moment to appreciate this man's long and storied romance with the camera.

A Photo Narrative:
















Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DFW and Patton

Don't you love it when your favorite people are mentioned in a similar vein or -better yet- by one another? Finding out Dave Eggers likes Sufjan Stevens, that David Simon likes Chomsky, that Hume liked Rousseau (for awhile) etc. Well one of my favorite comedians, Patton Oswalt mentioned David Foster Wallace and how DFW changed him with his 2005 commencement speech (which Patton recently read.) Here's the original DFW commencement address (well worth reading) and here are Patton Oswalt's thoughts, along with his own differently awesome commencement speech.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Gif post

GIF files (which are officially pronounced "jiff" but are pronounced by every normal person as having a hard "g" sound) are like perfect youtube clips for people with really short attention spans. In other words they're the way of the future.

This one is mindblowing.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scary Journey

This is a walking path up El camino del ray, an infamous hiking path in Spain. The walk is intense and often mind-boggling and unfortunately set to adult top 40 spiritual techno (but somehow it works.) This is comparable to- but not nearly as bad as- the french crane-pull-up video we posted

Interesting note, that is the first thing I've ever posted here that was actually FWDed to me! All my bitching about worthless FWDs and this one and actually delivers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

80% accurate infidelity test

We post lots of youtube videos, however this one could not go unposted. It somehow seems like the ne plus ultra of all the female "say my name"/"is my man faithful" R&B songs. I can't spoil the catchphrase here so just watch.

Also, have you ever noticed that seemingly all pro-female rap/r&b songs feature a guest male rap verse that undermines the entire message of the song?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nalgene and Internet memes

Where do those forwards you get about toxic lemon slices and assault-prevention come from? We're about to find out as I give you this expose on Nalgene bottles. Apparently the plastic they use (Bisphenol A) has some serious health side effects!
With more than 6 million pounds produced in the United States each year, bisphenol A is found in dental sealants, baby bottles, the liners of food cans, CDs and DVDs, eyeglasses and hundreds of household goods. The chemical has been linked to neurological and behavioral problems in infants and babies, along with certain cancers, diabetes and obesity.
I feel a special sort of schadenfreude as I read this because I've been a tireless crusader against Nalgene bottle simply because they're dumb. I would always ask people why they were willing to pay 15 bucks for a bottle of water and basically the only reason I was ever given was "they're practically unbreakable, man!" Yeah, that's my major problem with water bottles; I'm ALWAYS breaking them. My Dasani (made from tap water, btw) 20oz nearly broke in my hands the other day!

MZ and I even wrote a song called Dark Logic (named after a machete of ours) featuring the lyrics "where's my Nalgene." The lyrics (all 3 words of it) mercilessly lampooned those adventurers with their $1000 polypropylene socks and synthetic fleece overlays that apparently "wick" the sweat from your body via sheer magic. If the Nalgenes don't kill them I will.

Watch it here right now

So you can roll your eyes in 7 days when your friend sends it to you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Most Unwanted Song

In the 90s 2 Russian conceptual artists got together to discover the most hated aspects of songs (instruments, lyrical content, singing style) and then create that song. The results are amazing and I expect noone to appreciate it more than my own co-blogger, Nhoj. Here's the result:

The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance--someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example--fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.

The operatic rapping about cowboys is the most obvious feature, and the most immediately awesome but the children's choir singing about the holidays is pretty awesome too. So, there's an mp3 at this site but I've also upped it here if that link goes down. I'm just waiting for the first band to cover it in full.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Near death Experiences

As someone who would never watch "Faces of Death", this is the closest I can get to that stuff. Here's extreme brushes with death in which the person survives, often unharmed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

You're not the Father

Apparently this guy is ok with the news.

Friday, March 7, 2008

effing Ben Affleck like they were in prison

Alert commenter eferrini kindly pointed us to Jimmy Kimmel's response to the Matt Damon video

If you haven't seen it yet you really must- it's even better than the other I think.

two zoellers one cup

Friday, February 22, 2008

This is not better, it's the BEST

PicLens is the BEST Firefox extension I have ever seen. (PC and Mac compatible)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vacation Time?

How much vacation time do you get at your job? I'm guessing your answer is somewhere between "not enough" and "I couldn't take it anyway". I recently discovered one company with a very different philosophy on allowing their employees to have a life. Motek is a software firm in Beverly Hills, CA that encourages vacations of 5 weeks. They send everybody home at 5pm and lock the door on the weekends. They'll even give you $5,000 to help you pay for vacations of 3 weeks or more. And if you can handle this type of a work environment for 10 years, they will lease you a luxury car and pay for the insurance. Think this sounds too good to be true? Check out the article here before you drop your resume in the mail.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Climbing a Crane in France

Not sure why but this video affects me like no other. Nothing bad happens, and I know that but it still makes me uncomfortable.

Friday, February 1, 2008

She's Effing Matt Damon

Apparently there is history between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon. Damon finally got his revenge. (thanks Leah)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Bowl Frenzy

I love Chris Berman. I really do. This video just came out after 8 years of hiding. Apparently Chris takes his work seriously and some of the off camera crew was upsetting him.

Sick Sk8 Video Bro

Amazing slow-motion skate video intro by Spike Jonze. Thanks to Kottke for the link.

Don't get too excited

This is a tribute video to all of the classic internet fads, mostly youtube related. Supposedly this all stuff that "We've all seen one billion times" but actually I'd only seen or heard of about 60%. Admittedly, much of it isn't funny- Did anyone like Numa Numa really? But it's a great "did you miss this" compilation and it's kind of catchy to boot. It just seemed like a natural end to this experiment, since for me it was launching point into other stuff like "Chocolate Rain" or the Kubrick Audition.

Well that wraps up our little experiment- thanks to Leah, Erin, Meghan and Zoellers Pants Down for all their help. See you soon with "In Defense of Tom Cruise" and "Two perspectives on Spinozan metaphysics in Tin Cup ."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Almost done

I've known what the last youtube post was going to be for awhile, but the second to last? not so much. These past 30 days John and I have posted videos that were largely unique and at least somewhat under the radar. I mean, there was no "evolution of dance" or anything that had over 10 million views. The goal was for 8/10 of the videso the be ones you hadn't seen and hopefully we did it right. These videos are Gi Joe parodies, which apparently made a pretty good splash on the internet long ago. I completely missed it though and when I saw these recently i was thrilled/delighted since I remember how every GI Joe episode ended with a little PSA. Always with the lesson "and knowing is half the battle." The best thing about these videos is that they don't really make fun of the GI Joe PSAs so much as they just use the videso as a springboard for funny random shit. There are tons of these but here are my faves.


Christian the lion was adopted by these two guys as a cub and when he got too big he was released back into the wild. After a few years they go to try and meet with him again along with several members of the media (standing safely back and expecting the worst.) Do yourself a favor and watch it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Still going

This news organization screw up the video of a woman who's recovering from a lightening strike and the skips make her look like a spaz. The best part is the guy's reaction though- I guess I just love seeing people trying to hold back laughter.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Polar bear costume

This little girl is terrified of a polar bear, understandably so since the polar bear seems to be convinced her polar bear costume is the real thing. It's in a zoo so don't expect to be too disturbed but it's funny.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Not Sure

I feel like i certainly would've put this on the blog before but I can't find it. I'll double up tomorrow if this one has been on here. Anyone?

My best guess is that this is some English instructional aerobic video. Yes i admit that's not a creative guess but it's worth a look nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

There is nothing better than this video


The Scientist and The Stairmaster

This article blew my mind. It's about exercise and weightloss and about how exercise seems to be uncorrelated. It's fascinating and a highly recommended read. I knew there was a reason I didn't exercise!

Interesting Stuff

This is the video of an experimental "anomaly" from a person trying to construct a perpetual motion machine. It's strangely riveting I thought- especially at the point where he shuts down the magnets and the device actually speeds up, despite the fact that the magnets are apparently propelling it initially.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back in the day

I used to collect videos on my computer because there was no youtube. You'd have to search the P2P networks like Kazaa for keywords like "funny" "hilarious" and "monkey pees in mouth" to find the really good stuff. Because not many people had the patience or this, having new people in my dorm room ofen meant showing them the 10-15 awesome videos I'd collected. This is one of them, but remember that this was before youtube. It was like picking your favorite song back when the only new music you found was from 98.7 The COBRA when the morning DJ wasn't blasting Foghat so go easy. It's still funny though:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jake E. Lee

Shredding like you wouldn't believe. Ozzy's clapping is what really makes it- this video is utterly surreal.

Transition Back

Matt's back for a bit. If this video doesn't absolutely blow you away then I don't know what to say. Hat tip to Nhoj for reminding me that youtube is blocked as some people's work. This is non-youtube.


By the way, these are dolphins blowing air rings in the ocean if it wasn't obvious.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Roller Coaster

I just never know what to expect from Terrell Owens. It's been a roller coaster ride since he orchestrated his landing in Philly so he could play with McNabb. (after the 49ers attempted to trade him to Baltimore) He then attacked McNabb after losing the Super Bowl and was eventually forced to sit out much of his Philly career. So when Dallas lost last weekend I didn't know what TO would say.... turns out he has a softer side.

I'm Sorry

I had no intention of posting this video that consists of nothing more than toilet humor. (no pun intended) But when I watched the video I couldn't help but LOL.


Just about everybody does an impersonation of John Madden. It's easy to nail his over the top obvious statements. The hard part is getting his grumbling voice. Frank Caliendo does one of the better impersonations I've heard.

I Am Your Brother... Your Best Friend Forever

At the risk of appearing obsessed with American Idol... I'm going to post another video from this weeks 4 hours of auditions. This is probably my favorite audition in 7 seasons and it will likely be the best moment of this season. Just try not singing along with this guy. I dare you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

American Idol is Back

I know that literally everybody loves American Idol... yet nearly everybody I know personally seems to hate it. I watched Tuesday's Season 7 premier episode, and was delighted to be introduced to some very colorful characters. Without American Idol I would likely go through my life without meeting the dozen or so stand-out oddballs whose stint on AI typically lasts no more than 30 seconds.

I'm going to try and post some of my favorites this season. Props to Leah for emailing me this gem today.

On Tuesday's episode we were treated to nearly 8 minutes of Alexis Cohen. Simon went surprisingly easy on her, but Alexis didn't see it that way.

I couldn't help but feel bad for Christina Tolisano, and even worse for her Grandparents.

And finally.. Here is my early pick for the top 12 based on the Philly audition. If anybody knows her please tell her I have a place she can stay just minutes from Hollywood.

How did you spend your Tuesday?

Tuesday was the annual Macworld Expo Keynote Address. It's the annual speech given by Steve Jobs in which he reviews recent Apple innovations and announces upcoming products. The 2008 Keynote received mixed reviews. Steve Jobs did not mention a 3G iPhone although he did present the much anticipated Apple Macbook Air. There is so much hype around the keynote that many investors buy and sell Apple stock before and after the speech in anticipation of revolutionary product announcements. Last year the iPhone was announced and stock surged. This year, investors would have lost.

If your wondering what all of the hype is about and you have an hour and a half to kill... Check out the speech in its entirety here. If you would prefer a much more entertaining 60 second version of Jobs' speech, watch below.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Best Street Party Ever

All this guy did was throw a sick street party (that resulted in thousands of dollars in vandalism to the neighborhood) and now the Melbourne Police Department is fining him $20,000. For some reason the interviewer thinks that an apology must be sunglasses free, but the young lad refuses because his "glasses are famous".

My favorite line is when the interviewer suggests he "go and take a good long hard look at yourself". He replies, "I have, everyone has, they love it".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Favorite Youtube Video

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn't post my favorite youtube video of all time. I could watch this video every day for the rest of my life and I don't think it would get old.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Team

I'm going to start off my week of video posting by amending Matt's resolution. Matt made the resolution to post a "youtube" video a day for a month. I'm going to mix things up a bit and start things off with a non-youtube video. I know a lot of companies block so I'm dedicating this post to their very unfortunate employees.

I'm sure most of you have already seen The Landlord. The same guys decided to make this inspiration video about saving the environment. Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Adam McKay make up the "Green Team". My favorite part is when they beat up a guy for driving a Prius. "Just because it's a hybrid doesn't mean it doesn't burn gas". (*language may be nsfw)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Don't sleep on the posts below (the weekend posts)

I actually posted some this weekend. This is just a video post but the one yesterday is well worth while. This is an alternate Duck Tales intro that's very WTF. It's short and weird enough to be worth your time- Webby Vanderquack gets abducted by a child molester. Yes I had to look up "Webby Vanderquack"- does not sound familiar at all.

Okay, now

Friday, January 11, 2008

Finding Online Music, free --- the best methods

There's no point in holding back anymore- I might as well explain all of my free music tricks. After all, I'll be making another Oink post in the coming weeks that'll attempt to make you feel guilty for not supporting bands so I might as well set this up beforehand. I'm currently digging in the vaults for music (going through a phase as I do once or twice a year where I'm sequestered in the computer room blaring weird music like "No more mosquitoes") so I figured I would take this opportunity to go over how to hear music.

1. My most recommended method for downloading music free is Say there's a band you're dying to hear- Vampire Weekend, say. You use Matt's special hack to and utilize the following address: If you want a different band replace the words "vampire" and "weekend" keeping the plus sign there. Trust me it's so much more readable this way. You are presented with a list of every Vampire Weekend song posted on a major music blog in the last 2 years or so, along with links to the relevant posts. The most glaring advantage of this is that you get to take advantage of this "wisdom of crowds" phenomenon you're always hearing about, and actually download the most blogged about song. You've heard good things about Caribou but you don't know what to get? Heading on over to will show you that "Melody Day" is the one to get and, guess what, that's correct.

You just have to be smart here- remember is just indexing blogs not hosting files and so if a blog post is 422 days old, chances are the file's no longer hosted (though it happens, certainly.) You will click the link of a recent blog post and navigate the blog post to the to the link for the song and then right click it and save it (I actually always left click first to ensure it'll work.) I would grade this a 10/10 method for finding new, cool music. Substantially less for finding some old U2 song off War that you really gotta hear now. Which is fine- the thing to enjoy about free online music is broadening your musical horizons, not fattening your musical library for stuff you know you like already. It gets another 10/10 for introducing you to good blogs though- i found the leather canary from there (Checked out the year-end top 10 and while browsing ran across a few posts about the wire which set my heart aflutter.)

2. The best way to listen only is to go with either hype machine or youtube. Yes you already knew the youtube thing but if every song you want to hear is on youtube then well, you suck. Hype Machine will not let you download the songs but you can basically stream any song that's been posted to a blog recently, even if that song is no longer on the blog. That last part is key. Simple enough- go to hypemachine and search then hit the play button.

3. I feel bad telling you this because it's such a kick-ass method and it's also something that can be abused. Go to and enter the name of an artist and an album, probably in quotes if you can. Finally enter the name of a popular file hosting site (c'mon I can't hold your hand through all of this- I've linked several in my top ten post.) The search results will pull up several blogs that have simply hosted entire albums to be downloaded, free. You will likely need to deal with a .rar file but, c'mon is it worth it to you to spend 2 minutes figuring it out and heading to to pick up extractnow? I hate to be a spoilsport but if you download any albums that you don't own already, I would highly suggest that you support the band via merch or concerts. Another option is to just make sure you send a check for 97% of what you would've paid to the Major Label record company, since that's roughly how much they make off of CD sales. I can't stress this enough.

4. Shareminer works off of a very similar principle to #3, but you should understand what you're doing.

5. Amazon's pretty decent- DRM free mp3s for cheap. Not free though.

Finally, here's a Gucci commercial by David Lynch:

Having a TV on but only showing snow is very Lynchian (is that like that kid in squid in the whale calling The Metamorphosis "Kafkaesque"? The pulsing bassline that introduces the chorus is made so much better and more significant by Lynch coupling it quick cuts of a ceiling lamp (?). It makes the chorus sound bigger (it sounds like the increase the volume too) and improves the song which is one of the best things about it.


I'll post this weekend- a rarity in the blog world- and then TOR will pick up the posting for the next week and post his favorite videos, possibly coupled with random musings. This is my favorite Mr. Show bit: Mayosturd. The "Wow you used seperate jars of mustard and mayaoniase" MOM: (wink) bit kills me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

American Gladiators

I remember watching American Gladiators all the time when I was a kid. I don't remember much except for the padding and the names: laser, turbo, nitro, etc.

Whatever 14-year-old was allowed to name all the gladiators*** must have grown up to name trendy bars.
Dazzle, Tryst, Sutra, Tabu, Ice, Chemistry etc. really just sound like the same "American Gladiator" naming principle now expressed through the mind of a vapid 20-something. I feel like this could've been a good joke with more work, but I think I'll settle for "witticism" here with my self-imposed daily-post requirement.

It brings to mind Malibu, probably the greatest American Gladiator. I don't remember him at all but based on the two clips available on youtube I willing to stand by the claim. Even though it seems like you should probably watch the injury video before you watch the post-injury interview video, I don't think that's right. It seems funnier to watch him first that way you can appreciate the full injury video all the better (in which he apparently gets injured by kicking himself in the head!) His style/image is fascinating because it seems like over-the-top parody and yet somehow you feel that Malibu's persona is absolutely real.

Malibu talks about his injury (the last line is clearly the best FYI):

Malibu's complete injury clip:

*** Though someone must've forbade "ninja" unless I'm mistaken.