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Archive for June, 2007

In an overwhelming 309-115, the House shot down the FCC and the Fairness Doctrine. To be more specific the FCC cannot spend any money in 2008 to reinstate it.

The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to offer competing viewpoints in a balanced manner when presenting controversial issues.

This whole affair seems to be more of an opportunity to name call the other party and heckle then on true newsworthiness. I think what’s more important to examine is that FCC declared the Fairness Doctrine unconstitutional in 1987.

Oh wait, it looks likeBroadcast and Cable point that out.

There is currently no legislation to reinstate the doctrine, which the FCC invalidated as unconstitutional in 1987, but several Democratic senators, including Dick Durbin of Illinois, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Diane Feinstein of California had gone on record supporting at least looking into reinstating it.

I think I’m more curious as too why this was even thought about. What does it say about the American people? Is this the Democratic party thinking we aren’t smart enough to figure out differing views on our own? Or it could be a conspiracy by the Republican party to remain in power with their brainwashing machine at work? I like to think it’s some super conspiracy by both parties not to deal with the real issues at the hand. It’s much more fun to say you aren’t given due justice. It’s much harder to take a platform and address it directly. Just thinking about it, I think I’m may be for option three. All the answers lie with Kang and Kodos. Aliens just explain everything.

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I have never heard anything by Girl Talk.

I’ve heard of Girl Talk, I’ve just never heard any of his music (perhaps making me not “tragically” unhip, but just minimally unhip). For those who, like me, are whatever variety of unhip in these matters, Girl Talk is a mash-up artist (real name Gregg Gillis). He remixes dozens of songs together at once on each track he makes, and his 2006 album, Night Ripper, is adored by just about anybody who is hipper than you and I. Including Congressman Mike Doyle. Rep. Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) told Congress about Girl Talk in March, at a House Telecom and Internet sub-committee hearing (via The 463):

Congressman Doyle: Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you a story of a local guy done good. His name is Greg Gillis and by day he is a biomedical engineer in Pittsburgh. At night, he DJs under the name Girl Talk. His latest mash-up record made the top 2006 albums list from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Spin Magazine amongst others. His shtick as the Chicago Tribune wrote about him is “based on the notion that some sampling of copyrighted material, especially when manipulated and recontextualized into a new art form is legit and deserves to be heard.” In one example, Mr. Chairman, he blended Elton John, Notorious B-I-G, and Destiny’s Child all in the span of 30 seconds. And, while the legal indie-music download site eMusic.com took his stuff down due to possible copyright violation, he’s now flying all over the world to open concerts and remix for artists like Beck.

The same cannot be said for Atlanta-based, hop-hop, mix-tape king DJ Drama. Mix-tapes, actually made on CDs, are sold at Best Buys and local record shops across the country and they are seen as crucial in making or breaking new acts in hip-hop. But even though artists on major labels are paying DJ Drama to get their next mixed-tape, the major record labels are leading raids and sending people like him to jail.

I hope that everyone involved will take a step back and ask themselves if mash-ups and mixtapes are really different or if it’s the same as Paul McCartney admitting that he nicked the Chuck Berry bass-riff and used it on the Beatle’s hit “I Saw Her Standing There.” Maybe it is. And, maybe Drama violated some clear bright lines. Or, maybe mixtapes are a powerful tool. And, maybe mash-ups are transformative new art that expands the consumers experience and doesn’t compete with what an artist has made available on iTunes or at the CD store.

Last week, Steven Levy at Newsweek brought Doyle and Girl Talk together to brainstorm about what sort of legislation would be needed to remedy the kinds of copyright conundrums mash-ups and the like introduce.

At our lunch, Doyle, 54 (whose own iPod is filled with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire and Steely Dan), had a lot of questions for Gillis, 25. How many artists were sampled on his recent album “Night Ripper”? (Gillis: more than 167.) If he had to pay rights to every person he sampled, how costly would it be? (Gillis: who knows? But at the least, “we’d have to sell the album off the shelf for $100 a copy.”) Gillis said that he’d try to find a middle ground where some samples were OK because of fair-use provisions in the law and others paid for by a reasonable fee.

Most of my knowledge the fair use doctrine concerns video content; I have no actual idea how it has been practically applied to sampling and stuff like that. But I don’t understand why the kinds of things Girl Talk and DJ Drama do wouldn’t fall under fair use in the first place? It’s transformative content; using the material in a significantly different way than that in which it was originally used. It’s not decreasing the commercial viability of the original songs – in fact, both artists have noted that record labels and artists request their songs to be sampled. Solveig Singleton at Tech Liberation Policy brings a fair amount of snark to the whole thing:

Fair use? Transformative use? Why bother with the technicalities? Levy and a legislator like the fellow, so they weigh in on the side of legislating (yet another) exception. Maybe jam transformative and fair uses together into a whole new category, “rave” use, with a safe harbor for “hipster” use and for the older set “cool” uses?

But isn’t transformative use already an integral part of “fair use?” Why the separating them as if they’re two separate things here? And it doesn’t seem that any new sort of legislative exception would have to be made, because existing fair use protocols should apply, right? Am I completely off the mark?

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At The 463:

But, now that I am on Facebook and have prettied up my profile page, I feel like I just got to a party that has the nervous energy of bunch of people waiting around trying to figure what’s going to happen next (as they wonder to themselves whether this place looks like that old Friendster mansion). The vibe is: “sure, these party favors are pretty neat and my name tag is cool, but I’m the type that gets bored quickly so when are people going to start throwing each other in the swimming pool?”

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CDC sex survey results released last week, but I just noticed today. As one commenter at Pandagon pointed out, “it seems that all (these surveys) do is make people either feel like sluts, or like unfuckable goobs.” The median number of lifetime (hetero)sexual partners was seven for men and four for women. As is always the case with these sorts of things, there’s a flurry of commentary over whether the discrepency in the male/female numbers is accurate or more based on desirability bias (men more likely to up their reported number, women more likely to decrease it). On a personally anecdotal note, I generally know of little difference in number of sexual partners between my male and female friends. But I don’t find the 3-partner median difference too incredible either. Amanda Marcotte points out a survey that found the number of admitted partners went up for women and down for men when respondents thought they were strapped to a lie detector test. I’d be interested to see results based on age cohorts. The CDC study lumps together everyone 20-59 years old.

(I found a link to the actual report earlier and now I can’t find it, not even on the CDC Web site. Anyone got the link?)

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Shock and awe. Feminists aren’t all supportive of Hillary just because she’s a woman.

Um, duh.

Because maybe feminism really isn’t all about man-hating sister-solidarity. Maybe it really is about equal treatment of both genders, meaning you judge a person (or a politiian) based on who they are, rather than on their genitals. Imagine that!

I’m not meaning to criticize the author of this article, because she’s really just reporting on what is already a common conversational thread, and I think she does a good job pointing out various themes of it. But she does opine that Hillary doesn’t have a “woman problem,” she has a “feminist problem,” which I also think is a little simplistic. Just like you can’t say ALL women feel this way or the other about anything (although damned if people don’t try), you can’t really say ALL feminists feel one way or another about a political candidate. There are far-left feminists and moderate-left feminists and libertarian-feminists and even Republican feminists. I’m guessing the reasons why any of these groups would or would not vote for Hillary are pretty varied.

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Oh wow — investigative journalism abounding this week. Only this time our writer takes on a much more formidable crowd then some PR execs — a gaggle of ultra-conservatives floating at sea!

Amidst the National Review cruise, Johann Hari encounters a crowd that believes the Iraq war was a resounding success and, above all else, The Muslims Are Coming. If you’re not a TNR subscriber, you can’t read it, but I’ll give you a taste:

The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think–it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.” Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, “Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.” He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, “I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!”

Julian notes:

I never put much stock in the handwringing of those who fretted that the Internet would fragment information consumption, replacing a “daily we” with a “daily me.” But this is a portrait of a group of people stuck in a truly toxic feedback loop: They’ve managed to successfully isolate themselves from the ordinary signals from the outside world that keep ideology at least loosely tethered to the realm of fact—and the pundits manning the barricades have done such a good job that their own belated attempts to provide a reality check won’t be believed.

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Looking for even more ways to avoid interaaction with the real world? Ning is a “meta-networking” site that allows users to create their own social networks for whatever they want to. On the front page of the site right now (I’m assuming it changes daily) are networks for something called the Brooklyn Art Project, the “Sick Puppies Network,” and the “One Tree Hill VIP Lounge.” Ning’s passion, they tell us, is “putting new social networks in the hands of anyone with a good idea.”

With Ning, your social network can be anything and for anyone. You start by choosing a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums, etc.) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it’s public or private, add your brand logo if you have one, and enable the people on your network to create their own custom personal profile pages.

I read about this today on Cultureby, and my first thought was, oh, that’s kind of cool, because I think I’m kind of conditioned to think that about every new Web platform that gets introduced. But then one of the commenters asked, “what is the value?”

Indeed.

What is the value added here? What do people get out of this? Why does everyone keep joining these things? At a certain point, do you really gain anything from joining a newer/bigger/more-compartmentalized/whatever network? Or do you just spend more time out of your day checking out 13.5 million sites, with absolutely nothing added for belonging to more than one? It’s kind of like blogrolls — the more blogs I read, the more other blogs I get led to, and the more blogs I, in turn, add to my RSS reader. At this point, I just look at my massive list of feeds every morning and feel daunted. I resort to skimming just about everything. I was probably better informed about life, the world and the blogosphere when I only read 5 blogs total.

(Another commenter at Cultureby pointed out that everyone keeps talking about how there needs to be one giant aggregator, something where you can combine Flickr, YouTube, blogging platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn, your RSS reader, etc., but if we got to that place, “would the security issues freak us all out?”)

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Following a link from Emily over at A Softer World, I came across this article on the Minneapolis/St. Paul local news site that describes the author’s disdain at what he calls the Little Blue Smurf boys of the art world.

Where a Scotch-sozzled Big Bruiser once ran onto the fire escape with a roar, rolling up his or her sleeves to challenge the whole U.S. of A. to step outside, now a smallish fellow in a knit cap and woolen sweater sits in the corner with a box of chocolate milk, giggling at his own inadvertent burps.

In the article, Matthew Wilder rips at Wes Anderson, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Conor Oberst as the embodiment of the “new male infantilism… a return to comfort, to nonresponsibility, to sleep.”

He seems to think that what we need in the arts scene is less of the skinny, tight-pants wearing boy-man and more tightrope-walking, fire-breathing circus acts out of the 1930s, to bring back the “America is a Man’s country” macho-nationalism that art has been rebelling against for years.

He claims that Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, in which a 9-year old boy wanders around Manhattan after his father is killed in the World Trade Center, is “queasy-making” only because of it’s setting. Because obviously, any depiction of the World Trade Center that doesn’t include a flag-draped fireman saluting his country is anti-American and what god-forsaken artist could possibly have the gall to say something human about a child who lost his father? It just turns the stomach!

References to terrorism aside, Wilder mainly focuses on the recent trends in films, music, and writing where artists are 12-year-old boys, just talking about all of the things they really like. If Wes Anderson is a little boy picking flowers in a field, Wilder hopes that his large, burly father will come by soon and tell him to stop playing around because there are bigger things to worry about in the world, like terrorists or the economy.

What I want to know, though, is after all of the artists become the American Heroes of Wilder’s dreams, who is then left to worry about the clouds and the flowers, and everything else that artists should be concerned with?

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A friend of mine observed the other day that the conversation surrounding the whole “green” phenomenon is eerily reminiscent of the hype surrounding tech start-ups in the dot.com era. I can’t really make that comparison, because I was too young (and insolated by the rolling hills and illicit drugs of the Hocking River basin) at that time to have much of any idea about what was going on in the world circa 2000, but I do agree that the idea of “going green” is getting a bit out of control. My friend’s reaction was spawned by this USA Today article about “ecomarketing:”

In the three months ending June 14, marketers shelled out a combined $18 million on green-focused TV ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Those ads ranged from Earth Day sales promotions to commercials for hybrid cars. While an environmentally sound stance is good for Earth, it doesn’t hurt a marketer’s brand reputation — and increasingly it is a path to higher sales and profits.

I had similar thoughts to hers after reading a piece the other day about “green weddings.”

The bride chose a gown that could be worn again to parties, the groom organized guest car pools in hybrid vehicles, and the reception was held in an outdoor Japanese garden instead of a big, energy-sucking hall. Everything about Kristy Wang and Nik Kaestner’s big day in San Francisco was decidedly “green” – from locally grown, organic vegetables and sustainably harvested fish to homemade tablecloths that were later turned into dinner napkins.

There are apparently a whole slew of companies devoted to planning “green weddings” – which to me just seems like another way for the bloated bridal industry to try and suck money out of people while, in the meantime, couples with too much money can feel morally satisfied with their table setting choices … but whatever. Supply and demand, etc. etc. Who are any of us to judge what anybody else spends money on?

All of this is just to say, however, that it seems the issue of “green” businesses and products and marketing and practices etc. etc. has, in “issue attention cycle” terms, reached the critical stage. But while what is needed are at least a few grand sweeping solutions (enacted by either corporations or governments or nonprofits or whoever), the bulk of the focus is on individualizing frames/behaviors. How can you reduce waste at your wedding? How can you use your consumer purchasing power to “go green?” How can you do the right thing by buying the right brands of laundry detergent and bottled water (isn’t the whole concept of ecologically friendly bottled water kind of funny?)

There’s nothing wrong with all of this, of course – I mean, obviously the more everyone changes behaviors in little ways the better – but I feel like it has the potential to collectively delude us into feeling a lot better about the earth than we should. My friend asked, how are we measuring success? Is it by sound policy made, or the variety of brands of ecologically friendly toilet paper available at your local grocery?

P.S. For a good illustration of what can happen in the stage just past critical in the issue attention cycle (and perhaps a more apt comparison for the green craze than the dot.com boom), just think about recycling. Hey, remember recycling? It’s not that people don’t recycle at all anymore, but it doesn’t seem as imperative, for sure. There was a time when you’d get verbally crucified if you said you didn’t recycle; now nary a soul so much as blinks when you tell them to throw their glass beer bottle in the trash can.

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PR firms “get punked”

In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind. – Edward Bernays, “Father of Public Relations”

Alright, so Bernays was an elitist and a narcissist, but he was also way ahead of his time, having whipped up a war to sell bananas long before Hill & Knowlton whipped up sympathy for Kuwait to sell a war.

This week, just-what-really-goes-on in the public relations industry is getting a good deal of attention, owing to an article in the July issue of Harper’s magazine in which Ken Silverstein reports on his dealings with DC-based PR agencies Cassidy & Associates and APCO Worldwide. Basically, Silverstein posed as a representative for a UK business with interests in Turkmenistan and sought proposals from the two firms on how they would enact a campaign to improve the country’s less-than-stellar world image now that the country had a newly-elected president.

A C&A rep commented in a statement:

“We are surprised that a reporter would go to such extraordinary lengths to gather information in such a deceptive way that really isn’t all that new or interesting.

Ouch. It’s kind of true — the revelation that PR/lobbing firms manipulate is far from earth-shattering. But it does make for a good story and, Silverstein goes about getting the story in a novel way. It’s an interesting read, full of historical anecdotes about American lobbyists/PR professionals representing foreign nations (“American lobbyists have worked for dictators since at least the 1930s, when the Nazi government used a proxy firm called the German Dye Trust to retain the public-relations specialist Ivy Lee.”); detailed accounts of Silverstein’s meetings with agency executives; and the agency’s suggested strategies for teaming up with think tanks, front groups, magazines, etc., to sponsor Turkmenistan-friendly events.

I think it’s fascinating. I have a perverse perspective about the public relations industry, I think. I can understand people’s shock/interest in PR industry manipulation and such. But I’m also intrigued by it. All that strategy and circuitousness! Maybe I’ve just read too much about this stuff this year in school or maybe I’m just cynical enough to not really think that it matters (advertising, political campaigning, public relations … when isn’t everything being manipulated by everyone else?), but I just can’t work up the moral outrage about this that seems requisite. I don’t really see that either firm acted very unexpectedly or horrendously in this case, and I think Silverstein’s style/tone makes a lot of the things seem more nefarious then they are.

Nonetheless, I also think Silverstein’s article idea for and execution of the article was really good. He tells a good story. I also can’t work up the consternation about his deceptive practices that seems to plague people like Howard Kurtz at WaPo, who notes that “no matter how good the story, lying to get it raises as many questions about journalists as their subjects.” Come on. Without lying to get some stories, there’d be no investigative journalism(and we may all still be eating dead meat-packing workers). There should be more of this.

In a response yesterday, Silverstein defended his methods:

Undercover journalism should be used sparingly, but it has often yielded rich benefits. One of my favorite cases came in the 1970s, when the Chicago Sun-Times bought its own tavern and exposed gross corruption on the part of city inspectors. Unfortunately, few news outlets are willing to use undercover journalism to get a story, or to practice investigative journalism in general. It’s just too expensive and risky; media organizations would rather spend their money on tables at the White House Correspondents dinner and watch Karl Rove rap.

(I like that PR Week says the two firms “got punk’d.” )

(David Henderson questions why the agencies didn’t catch on … )

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Trend Alert: Hotspotting

I’m like an ambulance chaser for new media trends. I start reading slower when I come to something new. I may even stop and stare. Often my mouth is ajar. Then like a hungry feral cat, I voraciously devour as much information as I possibly can. That’s great and dandy until it’s usually at this stage I move to annoying my friends and making them hear about my latest discovery. And this discovery for which I’ve decided to post about? It’s hotspotting.


Taken from The Pondering Primate

The ads — designed by upstart interactive agencies such as Deep Focus ,eLine Technologies, Klipmart, and MovieBanners — will embed hyperlinks and pop-up windows in the frames of the movie trailers, turning each character or object into a virtual library of information

I find it incredibly intelligent. What a fantastic way for advertisers to make money and be non-obtrusive in a Tivo world. I assume the first few months/years will be difficult and I look forward to YouTube humor when you can link your friends face to a dead 18th century hooker, but I think this is going to be a great move towards the blending of Web 2.0 and old technology. I get excited over a lot of things, but this just makes me giddy.

And then it makes me feel late that post was from two years ago.

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hopsicles
Apparently I’m all about news-of-the-weird today. Anyway …

BEER POPSICLES

For when you need to cool-off and get drunk and the same time and neither one nor the other can be put off a moment longer, obviously.

The popsicles – coming in flavors such as “Raspbeer-y” and sold by Alexandria-based Rustico Restaurant – caused some consternation yesterday, when the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control opined that such a delicacy might go against state beer pouring rules, which require that beer be served immediately to a customer once it is poured from its original container.

I am sure this rule served some purpose at some time (or at least giving Virginia the benefit of the doubt that it did), but why such a rule would still require enforcement is beyond me. Not to worry, though – a spokeswoman for the restaurant told Express that Rustico actually does fall within the legal beer-serving prerogative.

Because (the restaurant) is keeping beer that is being used for cooking — in this case for the popsicles — separate from beer that being served at the bar, the “popsicles are an extension as a food item.” Here’s the logic: If you’re at an Irish pub in Alexandria, Virginia law would prohibit bartenders from taking Guinness from the tap, freezing it and serving it to customers on a stick. But if you’re a restaurateur and take Belgian ale used for cooking, freeze it and serve it up as a treat, you’re in the clear.

But no!

The Virginia ABC, however, put that idea on ice. Spokeswoman Kristy Smith said that Rustico’s interpretation does not jibe with the commonwealth’s regulations — and told us that the agency was planning to send an agent to the restaurant in the near future for an inspection.

Mmmmm, inspection. Sweet, hop-y inspection…

But, really, how ridiculous.

Perhaps it was just that the beer popcicles would have defied description — after all, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms prohibits using the word “refreshing” when describing an alcoholic drink.

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tag clouds …

the mullet of the Internet?

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Random technological news of the day: France bans government officials from using blackberries (for fear that US is spying on them)

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In the comments of a previous post, there’s been some discussion of framing and abortion-debate-terminology. Nothing earth-shattering or new here — Girl From the South says framing is just “a strategic form of name-calling,” I disagree. We all discuss the terms “pro-life” versus “anti-choice.” I dislike when people accuse me of engaging in unfair framing by using the term “anti-choice,” as if “pro-life” is just some sort of neutral term devoid of any connotations.

And then .. someone wiser than us both in the ways of framing pointed out:

There is no such thing as an issue not being framed: if it’s an issue, it’s being framed. It’s a common mistake for advocates: their terminology is neutral, while anything else is clearly wrong/misguided/mean.

Wise. Go read her post, because it’s a lot more eloquent than this.

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This is perhaps the best single line I read yesterday:

That’s one thing I really don’t get- WHY would we liberals WANT people to have abortions? Do they think we get credit for each fetus, like when you sell back glass bottles at the grocery store?

on the strange persevering rumor that reproductive health organizations and liberals actively desire women having abortions for no other reason than their own unrivaled joy at the prospect

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All morning/afternoon, people in my office were watching and talking about the new Hilary Clinton/Sopranos spoof ad (which was infinitely preferable to the office talk yesterday, which mostly consisted of, “Gonna be a hot one today, isn’t it?” and “My, is it hot out there!”) Being neither a Hilary Clinton nor a Sorprano’s fan myself (I’m not against the Soprano’s, before anyone leaps on me, I’ve just never seen it), I didn’t much care to about the video. This interpretation by Ann Althouse, however, got me interested:

Bill says “No onion rings?” and Hillary responds “I’m looking out for ya.” Now, the script says onion rings, because that’s what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the “O” of an onion ring is a vagina symbol. Hillary says no to that, driving the symbolism home. She’s “looking out” all right, vigilant over her husband, denying him the sustenance he craves. What does she have for him? Carrot sticks! Here, Bill, in retaliation for all of your excessive “O” consumption, you may have a large bowl of phallic symbols!

Dear god, I knew this woman was weird, but … really??? Onion rings are the new vagina symbols??? And she accuses feminists of reading too much into things ….

I was led to the Althouse post by Matt Zeitlin, who pleads that Althouse must be joking, as there is no other eplanation for such a “convoluted, implausible interpretation.”

Althouse’s attempt at divining the semiotics of the ad makes the post modern text generator read like Hemingway.

I kind of figured Althouse HAD to be kidding, right? Mocking someone, perhaps? Just trying to be silly? But, no, she defends it in a subsequent post, managing to insult your intelligence if you question the viability of her onion vagina theory in the first place:

Maybe you just sit there pleasantly and think: Isn’t it clever for Hillary to use the “Sopranos” scene as a device for informing us about her new campaign song and to include some cute business where she alludes to her concern about health care by having a nice bowl of carrots instead of the onion rings they had on “The Sopranos”? If so, aren’t you the good little voter, accepting the message Senator Clinton hoped to insert in your receptacle of a brain? The famously controlled former First Lady is pleased there are people like you.

That’s right … Clinton intentionally made a video using onion rings and carrots as sexual metaphors but then hoped that you wouldn’t actually realize that’s what’s going on in the video, because … oh wait, that’s where I’m stumped. Because why, Ann?

Me, I’m not so obedient. Even though I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and may very well vote for Hillary, I don’t accept these things at face value.

Huh. Well, that doesn’t really explain it. Nonetheless, good to know you’re not falling for it. Carry on, then.

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I think we should start taxing people based on their weight. Weight tax, if you will. Healthy weight? Then you don’t have to get weight taxed. Overweight? Well, then you get taxed. And the taxes increase incrementally for every 5 pounds over healthy weight you are. Maybe if you don’t like it you’ll stop eating so much. In fact, maybe if everyone gets too burdened by the weight tax, fast food and other high-calorie crap will be eradicated all together. McDonalds will go out of business. It’ll be awesome. We can use that money we raise from your love handles to provide health insurance for orphans. What does one have to do with the other? Who cares??? This is America – you make an unhealthy lifestyle choice, the government should have the right to tax you exorbitantly for it.

Oh … wait. What? You think that’s unfair? Yeah, well, I think this is unfair:

Representatives from health advocacy groups Tuesday announced that a poll of 1000 likely voters showing widespread support for increasing the federal tobacco tax to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). According to the survey, 67 percent of voters “strongly support” a 75-cent increase in the federal cigarette tax to fund health care coverage for uninsured children.

(from a CQ.com article that I can’t link to)

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Occasionally I have to break out of techie raee to post on a new obsession. Monday June 18th marked the new seaso of Diddy’s Making the Band Four. I am beyond excited. Here’s to hoping they make them run laps again.

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Yesterday, the Stacy Zallie foundation took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post. In honor of father’s day, the organization decided to trot out some anti-choice doublethink about how giving women reproductive options actually harms women. To be fair, the group doesn’t say whether or not it supports anti-choice legal policies. It is, ostensibly, just an organization to counsel women who have had abortions and are feeling depressive/suicidal afterwards. Maybe it is well-intentioned. Still, this line (part of the letter from Stacy Zallie’s dad) rang some bells:

“I am not taking a stand one way or another on the issue of abortion itself. However, it is ignorant to expect that a woman involved in terminating the life of her own child will be happy to go about her life without consequences.”

Not taking a stand. Really? Because the language you used in that following seems to imply, uh, otherwise.

You hear that, 1.3 million American women who have abortions each year? If you haven’t killed yourself yet, you probably should. Either that or seek counseling immediately, because it is ignorant – ignorant! – to kid yourself into thinking that maybe you just made the best choice possible for your own individual circumstances and you’re just fine with it. Stacy Zallie’s dad knows better.

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