Monday, April 29, 2013

But what if I want my lips to look like human lips

I don't often stop and notice Internet ads.  I'd say I'm pretty well inoculated to the shock images that advertisers use to try and draw clicks; after all, once you've seen a crazed zombie woman with extremely bright blue eyes offering you a free credit score, there's not much that will surprise you.  That said, what in God's name is this bullshit?
Are they molding?  Is that person just really bad at using cocaine correctly?  I can't disagree with the claim that the "definition and outline" are pretty good (and that is a fantastic philtrum), but "healthy appearance" is a stretch. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Icelanders now safe from incest, thanks to apps

That's correct.  There is now an app that allows Icelanders to bump their phones before sleeping with someone, and if they are too closely related, an "incest alarm" will sound.  Oddly enough, this is actually quite useful, as basically everyone in Iceland is related in some way, apparently.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Slate covers all angles of the story

Here is a headline from Slate today:

So, we should watch out for conspiracies surrounding this event, then.  Except, here's another headline from Slate today:

So, it'll either be rampant conspiracies, or the conspiracy theorists (can we just call them conspirators?  Guess that's not quite right...maybe "conspirists" then?) will have a tough go of it.  Maybe it'll be a tough time, but they'll persevere and find ways to piss everyone off with shitty theories about the government.  For what it's worth, Alex Jones (who else?) is already way ahead in the race to be the biggest asshole in the entire goddamn world following a tragedy:

Alex Jones is the fucking worst.  In any case, looks like headline #1 might be closer to the truth.

One, two, three, Science!

Continuing to boldly explore the far reaches of human understanding, scientists today have discovered that...tasting beer makes you want more beer.  Maybe.  Ta fucking da, y'all!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fucking IRS, how do they work

Trying to figure out what purchases can be legally deducted for your business?  Confused as to how the IRS defines the terms "computer" and "peripheral equipment"?  Here, check the tax code:

Well then.  Thanks, OBAMA

LeBron James not satisfied with domination of the sport of basketball, now seeks to become successful meteorologist

Below is an actual report from the National Weather Service, documenting both LeBron James' first foray into weather reporting and the first time Instagram has been used for anything useful whatsoever:

 Source: The New England Sports Network, for some reason

Friday, April 12, 2013

Neil Young has a blog where he tells us about his dreams and you should read it

I highly suggest that you just go to the site and read it there, but here's an excerpt from his most recent entry in case the mere fact that Neil Young has a dream blog wasn't enough to draw you in.  This entry is titled "Dream Five: Medieval Kineval: Part 1".

Howdy squirrels!

Just so you're aware, Neil Young does not actually think his readers are squirrels--he just refers to them as such.  In fact, much about his blog reflects a bit of an obsession with squirrels--for example, the blog is described as shown here:

Also, the first few posts reflect both an interest in squirrels and a great deal of unfamiliarity with how an internet blog works:

Carry on.

Hope that last dream didn’t get you too hungry for some cotton candy – LOL! 

The last dream was about Neil Young and Elvis Costello being kidnapped by circus performers and nearly killed by being shot out of cannons. Luckily, Neil remembered that he was a wizard in the nick of time and was able to use his magic to save them.  I am not making any of this up.

Speakin’ of eating, I sure do love a great meal. Course, Pegi makes the best grub out of anyone. Love you Pegi!

Every now and then, I like to take a trek to a restaurant and grab a bite or two, usually when Peg’s outta town. Not too long ago the wife was out and about, so I called one of my best buds, Dave Grohl to see if he wanted to chow down.

I have no idea if this setup for the dream is true or not, but the idea that Neil Young and Dave Grohl are best buds makes me happy, so let's assume this is all factual so far.  Oh, and guess where Neil and Dave like to eat when they go out:

Dave was more than happy to meet up, and it just so happened I was in his neck of the woods in SoCal. Dave then asked me where I wanted to meet up.
I suggested The Medieval Times in Buena Vista. You know, the spot where you get to dress up like a king and grub on turkey legs? Dave thought it sounded like a swell idea and we both headed over. What a great guy. Hey Dave!

Of course Dave Grohl and Neil Young go to Medieval Times to eat.  FYI, this is not yet part of the dream; it's just a setup for the dream, which occurs when Neil passes out at Medieval Times.  Seriously!

We got to Medieval Times and were seated right in front of the jousting arena. So cool! Before the excitement began, we ordered our dishes. Dave, always the health- conscious dude, got a green salad and a glass of red wine. Me, I pulled a regular Brian Wilson. 8 turkey legs and 5 goblets of non-alcoholic mead later, I was feeling pretty wild.

“You all right Neil?” Dave asked. I must’ve looked pretty pale.
“I’ll… be… fine…” Holy Toledo! I felt like Frosty The Snowman at a 4th O’ July shindig. Couldn’t spill the beans and let Dave know I wasn’t feeling well though. I didn’t want to ruin the evening!
“Neil, you look kind of sick. Come on, let me get you some antacid or something!”

I belched. “I’m fine… I just…” There must have been a truckload of tryptophan in those legs, squirrels, cause next I knew I was laid out on the floor and feeling pretty sleepy…

So, Neil Young is passed out on the floor at a restaurant / joust, and now will tell us about the dream he had there.  Proponents of the theory that there are an infinite number of parallel universes in which every possible eventuality is true in at least one universe could cite this as proof that we live in one of the more outlandish and unlikely ones.  Anyway, here's the part where we learn about Neil Young's dreams after he's had five goblets of allegedly non-alcoholic mead:

I slowly opened my eyes. I looked around and saw a bustling village setting. This was no Buena Vista! I gathered myself and dusted off my clothes. What the hell was I wearing! It looked to be I had on leather boots, green tights, and a tunic with a light layer of chain mail over it. I felt my hip and sure enough there was a sword at my side. What was I? Some kind of warrior? Cortez came outta nowhere and landed on my arm. He sure was a sight for sore eyes.

It may help the unfamiliar reader to know that Cortez is the name of a dragon that appears in many of Neil's dreams.

“Excuse me, kind sir.” He had a familiar whisper to his voice. “Would thou have a pence to spare on a poor soul such as I?”

I felt around in my pocket. Nothing.

“Sorry, sir, all I have is the shirt on my back and the crow on my shoulder.”

The old man chuckled. What the heck? “Check again,” he mumbled.

I dug into my pocket yet again. Holy Mama Cass! There was a huge mound of gold coins!

The beggar laughed and removed his hood. It was Tom! That trickster got me again!

“Neil,” he said lighting a stogie, “I’ll cut to the chase. We’re in Medieval Europe. There’s trouble brewing, and you’re the guy this kingdom needs. King Robert, well, you’ll be in his court soon. You’ll be needing this -” Tom handed me a beautiful wooden lute. It had “N” and “Y” carved into it. Beautiful.

Neil Young is a famous musician, even in his dreams.

“What kind of trouble are we talking about, Tom? Fair maidens in peril? Barbarian attacks?”

Tom took a drag and then put it out on his shoe. “I’ll tell you what. Stick by that lute and I promise you’ll be fine. Oh, and you may be needing this.” Tom then handed me a small vile. “From the Doc.” He nodded. “Only use it if you come to a battle of… spells and fantasy.”

I nodded. Tom meant business. “We heading to the castle, then? Lead the way!”

“Dave should be here any minute to take you there. Yours truly is heading to the pub. Medieval grog may be about as lethal as drinking petrol, but you only go around once.”

“Dave? Dave Crosby? Dave Matthews? Come on, Tom!”

"I know far too many musicians named Dave, now that I think about it."

Suddenly, a knightly looking figure riding atop a steed came into sight. It was Dave Grohl, my dinner date! Here he was, all in plated armor and a sword just like Aragorn’s!

Dave’s horse whinnied as they stalled, “Easy, Providence!” The horse calmed. “Sir Neil! You’ve arrived!”

I couldn’t believe it. “Dave, this is gonna sound kooky, but I think our ‘real’ world experiences leaked into my unconscious! You know, me passing out at Medieval Times brought us both here!”

I'll leave off my commentary at this point, since there's really not much I can add to the brilliance of Neil's dreams.  Thus far we have determined that Neil Young is a lucid dreamer, who is aware that he is dreaming, but still seems breathlessly excited to go on a medieval adventure with Dave Grohl.  Can't blame him, really.  As some of you may have noticed, the story up to here sounds somewhat like the plot to the movie Black Knight, but I assure you that the remainder is in no way derivative.  Go read it

New item for your list of things to watch out for when visiting Russia: sometimes parking lots explode and shower asphalt on you

As always, nearby Russians react by calmly noting "oh, there is a thing happening there" and not changing their behavior in any way to account for the fact that the ground is exploding.

Once again, thanks to Nick for the link

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In the race to be the most literate and popular person on Twitter, Obama barely edges out Katy Perry

Per this Buzzfeed story, Obama, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga have Twitter accounts which read at the highest grade level of the top ten most followed accounts on Twitter.  All came in at around a 6th grade level, which: I have no idea what it means to tweet at a 6th grade level.  Is that good?  It's tough to demonstrate literacy in 140 characters.  To the surprise of no one, Justin Bieber was last, not quite reaching the literacy level of your garden-variety first grader. 

Tough luck, Beebz!  Stay in school now.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Today, we have a pop quiz about songwriting (and the complicated nature of diversity in the American South)

Let's say you, hypothetically, were a country singer.  You're a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, which prompts you to occasionally wear clothing emblazoned with symbols that would be called racist by some.  One day, you're buying a drink in Starbucks, when suddenly you realize that your Confederate flag shirt might just make some people a weensy bit uncomfortable.  Of course, you decide that this would make a great topic for a song.  Which of these would NOT be a good thing to include in the song you write to commemorate this fleeting moment of social awkwardness?  In order to make things a little easier, I've paraphrased each lyrical option into a more typical English sentence. 

1) To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand / When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan.
TRANSLATION: When I get dressed, it does not occur to me that people other than myself might see my clothes.  If they do, I expect them to understand the meaning that I personally ascribe to my appearance.

2) Our generation didn't start this nation / And we're still paying for the mistakes / That a bunch of folks made long before we came / And caught between southern pride and southern blame
TRANSLATION: I feel that I am being punished for the mistakes of my ancestors, and I believe that having to pay for these mistakes by feeling slightly awkward when I wear a Confederate flag in public is excessive.

3) They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings
TRANSLATION: I believe that Reconstruction refers to a period of U.S. history where we focused on repairing damaged buildings.

4) Have LL Cool J appear on the song, saying things such as: If you don't judge my do-rag / I won't judge your red flag
TRANSLATION: If you're OK with me wearing an inoffensive clothing item on my head, I won't mind when you wear a controversial symbol that is considered by many to be racist. 

5) All of the above.

I feel compelled to note that I think Brad Paisley's intentions with this song were probably good(ish).  He clearly possesses enough self-awareness to recognize that there are some complicated societal issues surrounding traditional Southern symbols and that people of different races and backgrounds might not see things the same way he does, which is generally a good thing, I would think.  What is less good is that he is quite proud of himself for just recognizing this, and that he thinks that if we all just were aware of the problems, they'd just magically vanish.  In the chorus, he sings, "Our generation didn't start this nation. We're still pickin' up the pieces, walkin' on eggshells, fightin' over yesterday."   See, the problem isn't so much that we're fighting about "yesterday"; it's that "yesterday" went so terribly that it has left us with a number of issues that continue to perpetuate major societal problems "today".  The whole "aw, shucks, let's just sit down and talk it out over a beer" approach doesn't really fix everything overnight.*  So, kudos for trying, Mr. Paisley, but I have a feeling that not everyone's going to give you full credit just because your heart's in the right place.  People have already begun to indicate their disapproval.

*Paisley's song clearly advocates this specific idea: LL Cool J remarks that "I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air" at one point.  In the song, sadly, the meeting for beers never happens, because the line finishes "But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here".  Maybe next time, guys!

Thanks to Merrie for the link

Instead of dog, pet was ferret. Would not purchase again.

Having pets is pretty great.  I'm not too into buying expensive breeds of dogs or cats or miniature pigs or what have you, but to each their own.  However, if you do plan to buy a purebred dog of some sort, I'd advise you to make sure that it is actually a dog of any sort and not, for example, a ferret.

Yes, people do in fact buy ferrets, thinking that they are dogs.  Just as a brief refresher course, here's what a dog looks like:

Here is what a ferret, which is clearly not a dog, looks like:

Again, dog:


This has been your Monday PSA.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Frank Bruni doesn't understand why people take parenting so seriously and treat their kids so nicely

However, he's very upfront about how little he understands about parenting, so that's nice, I guess.  He leads off his article thusly:

MODERN parenting confuses me.  The vocabulary, for starters. 

Better write a whole article about it, then, so we can learn from your confusion.

Take the word “last.” Usually it means final. Last exit: there are none beyond it. Last rites: you’re toast. 

But the “last chance” for a 4-year-old to quit his screeching, lest he get a timeout? There are usually another seven or eight chances still to go, in a string of flaccid ultimatums: “Now this is your last chance.” “This is really your last chance.” “I’m giving you just one more chance. I’m not kidding.”

Frank is indeed quite confused by why parents would not be straightforward and punitive with their children.  "This is your fourth-to-last chance, Johnny.  Why aren't you better behaved?"

Of course you are, and your kids know it. They’re not idiots.

Already, we can see the source of Frank's confusion, because the thing is that kids most certainly are idiots.  They're impossible to reason with, think that $5 is a lot of money, and they like the dumbest TV shows.  This isn't meant to be a judgment of kids, because it's not really their fault.  They're just dumb, because they are children and not old enough to not be dumb yet.

But they’re also not adults, so why this whole school of thought that they should be treated as if they are, long before they can perform such basic tasks of civilization as driving, say, or decanting?

What is decanting?  Is it something that should be considered a basic task of civilization?
/consults dictionary
Oh.  I hate you more, now.

Why all the choices — “What would you like to wear?”— and all the negotiating and the painstakingly calibrated diplomacy? They’re toddlers, not Pakistan.

"Put on the fucking corduroys, Johnny.  I don't give a shit if they make you look dowdy." 

 I understand that you want them to adore you. But having them fear you is surely the saner strategy, not just for you and for them but for the rest of us and the future of the republic.

This is kind of fucked up.  It seems like you are advocating 1) not teaching children to think for themselves and 2) making sure they fear you because...otherwise it might be a little bit annoying to Frank Bruni (a.k.a. the future of the republic).

Seemingly everyone has parenting opinions, so I hereby present mine, which are those of someone who isn’t in fact a parent

So, someone who has only a passing awareness of the difficulties and joys of parenting, and might therefore not be best equipped to give out parenting opinions?

and maybe has a valuable distance and objectivity as a result.

Or that, yeah.  This inspires me to share my opinions on how to fight alligators--I don't have any experience, but my distance and objectivity will be invaluable to any potential alligator fighters.

Instead of the battle hymn of a tiger mother, it’s the baffled hymn of a cubless bystander, his thoughts turned toward children as the calendar reaches yet another holiday when we shower them with attention and chocolate. 

Aww, Frank!  Do you wish people gave you chocolate too?  And attention?  But mostly chocolate?

While I have no kids of my own,

Please, continue to emphasize how little experience you have in the subject you are advising us on.

I have many I can (and sometimes do) lease for the weekend:

Most people call it "babysitting".  Unless you're paying people so you can borrow their kids, which: Frank, are you paying people so you can borrow their kids? 

11 actual nieces and nephews, whom I’ll be with this Easter Sunday, and perhaps twice that number of honorary ones. I have put in my time around tots and teens, and enjoy them. 

"I spent a few hours with kids one time, so I've got a pretty good handle on this whole parenting thing."

I have seen my share of parenting, and am not certain what to make of it.

"I'm not certain what to make of it, so let me tell you what to make of it."

Just a few decades ago, parenting wasn’t even a proper verb or gerund. Now it’s a compound one. There’s of course helicopter parenting, which hovers, and “free range” parenting, which doesn’t, but only by principled choice. 

This may be true (though I tend to think people used the word "parenting" a few decades ago).  That said, this is just what the Internet has done to every subject--there's a community and a name for anything.  For example [ed.: this reference is extremely forced because the writer wanted to find a way to shoehorn it in], we have communities that are specific to subsets of adult men who like My Little Pony and are also in the military.  They are called FOBEquestria, apparently.  Returning to the matter at hand, yes, there are lots of types of parenting communities now, because people get a little crazy about things they are passionate about, and for some reason people care a lot about their stupid kids.

As the Me Generation spawned generations of mini-me’s, our rigorous self-fascination expanded to include the whole brood and philosophies about its proper care and feeding. 

It's really awful, the way people keep trying so hard to figure out how to care for and raise their children.

About the feeding: explain to me what’s gained by the voluminous discussions, within earshot of little Edwin or Edwina,

Please, don't name your child Edwina.  Edwin's not so hot either, actually.

of what he or she probably won’t eat or definitely won’t eat or must somehow be made to eat, perhaps with a bribe. Any food that lands on the table after that much tortured preamble is bound to be eyed with suspicion and ultimately spurned, in part because it has ceased to be a vessel of nutrition or an answer to hunger at that point. It has become a power struggle: the parents’ wishes versus the child’s defiance.

This seems like an absurd strawman, because most parents debate this sort of thing while their kid can't hear them because that's pretty obviously the better way to approach this issue.  Also, kids don't go on hunger strike because they're concerned about parental power struggles.  To reiterate from earlier, kids are not the smartest. 

And the battle seems to end one and only one way. With chicken fingers. 

You seem like you'd be a great babysitter--oh, excuse me, I meant great child-leaser.

I’M equally confounded by the all-encompassing praise. Not every kid is gifted at every endeavor, and I wonder about the wisdom of telling him or her that a bit of doggerel is Shakespearean or that a wan patch of warbling is an “American Idol” audition waiting to happen.

I'm guessing parents do this because the alternative is to say, "Johnny, good try on this poem, but it's fucking terrible.  Give up on writing forever."  As for the "American Idol" reference (topical!), most children are vastly superior to your average American Idol contestant.  Did you forget about this guy?  He's a professional in the field of being terrible at singing.

I wonder why everybody has to be a winner.  You can eliminate the valedictorians from high school but you can’t eliminate them from life, which metes out Super Bowl rings and stock options with an uneven hand, and is probably best tackled with some preparatory girding for that. Do today’s parents provide it?

If you don't repeatedly call your child a failure, how will they know how much of a failure they are later in life?  Preparation is key.

Parents routinely surrender control when they shouldn’t, replacing rules with requests, and children are expected to chart their own routes to good behavior, using the faulty GPS’s of their flowering consciences, I suppose. Families are run as democracies. Parents forget: in the political realm, you don’t get a say until you’re 18. There’s a reason for that. 

Where are these families that you keep talking about?  Not that families like this don't exist, but you just seem to be taking examples you saw one time and assuming that all families are like that.  As Frank Kotsonis put it, "the plural of anecdote is not data." [ed.: that quote was also pretty forced in].  Anyway, Bruni goes on to make a long-winded point about how kids pretty much are who they are and parenting generally doesn't change that, which seems to presume a whole hell of a lot of knowledge of childhood psychology that I don't think he has.  There's some value to reminding parents that not every decision is life or death, but Bruni's insistence on alternating dispensing advice with reminding us how very unqualified he is to dispense said advice is just weird.  It might be interesting to hear a parent discuss the benefits and risks of hands-off parenting--it's less interesting to hear some guy talk about how he saw kids and sometimes leases them and therefore has a firm grasp on the ins and outs of parenting.