Forumites: Election ’08 for Morons #3

June 3, 2008

I’m rushing to get this post up for a couple of reasons. My original plan had been to let it go until tomorrow.

Now, though, it looks entirely possible that Barack Obama will reach a magical milestone tonight that could make the entire Democratic infight with Hillary Clinton moot. By midnight, CNN is reporting, Obama could have 2,118 superdelegates pledged to his nomination as the party’s candidate. Mathematically, that would eliminate Clinton from contention.

Clinton could be forced to concede the race, but told reporters about an hour ago that she won’t do so today. That means probably the biggest news of the year will break tomorrow.

Still, Clinton plans to speak in New York City tonight, and it will be interesting to see whether she turns a deaf ear to the speculation about the superdelegate squeeze, whether she’ll address them head on in her speech, or if she’ll actually do the smart thing and admit defeat gracefully instead of prologuing the inevitable for another full news cycle.

It’s the starting gun all the pundits have been straining to hear. If the votes fall as predicted, tonight could mark the beginning of the real presidential race between Obama and John McCain.

With that in mind, here’s Obama and his stances, taken quote for quote, in context, his real words:

Also, I’ve been itching to post a real blag entry here, instead of these comics I’ve been obsessed with. They’re fun, but there’s no substitute for substance over style. So I’m getting ready to review a few books I really love.


Police records like these shouldn’t be so funny

December 17, 2007

paper.pngFROM JASON’S POLICE STATION ROUNDS — Some people can’t just keep their yappers shut, and it gets them into all kind of trouble. It’s incredibly scary for the victims of menacing and harassment crimes, sure.

But for a guy like me — who reads about 75 to 120 police reports a day — the records can be incredibly hilarious.

Here are a few gems I stumbled across this past week. The first one even made me laugh out loud; when I got back to the office, I felt compelled to do a dramatic reading for my co-workers:

1) The death threat rap

A 12-year-old boy was overheard saying he would hit his teacher with a baseball bat. When he was questioned, school authorities found the following linguistic masterpiece on his person:

“Yea Ms. [teacher] she’s a bitch im kick outta gym yea who gives a shit she keeps talking she will be layin in a ditch see ima a [expletive] crip and we don’t play no games we don’t have time ta dill wit u lames ill set yo house in flames dat money i make it rain she outta be a shame lock like a great Dane”

2) Domestic violence king fever

A woman found several messages on her voice mail which officers traced to the home of 40- and 50-year-old brothers. One was “invited” to make a trip to the police station. The report didn’t specify, but I can only imagine it was sung mack daddy style:

03:59: “I’m making best of your ass call the police hoe when I see you I’m [expletive] you up slut”

04:03: “you talking to the domestic violence king intimidation hoe we’re going to chill and fight with you wa wa”

04:07: “you are now listening to the voice of the domestic violence king we’re going to fight and chill in the wa wa”

04:10: “you’re now listening to the golden voice of the domestic violence king we’re going to fight and chill in the wa wa”

3) A love note gone wrong

A man’s romantic advances over a period of months were rebuffed by a woman at his church. She handed over to detectives about 10 e-mails. In them, the man first tries to cajole her, then complains about her lack of interest, goes back to weedling for her affection, and finally turns on her threateningly.

His final two messages are clownish in a Stephen King’s It kind of way:

Dec. 6: “I feel so incredibly foolish. Why should I even consider the possibility I could be part of an attractive women’s life? After all, who the [expletive] am I, right? Just another piece of [expletive] created to wreck [victim]’s life. I am tired of you [expletive] [expletive]es. And people don’t understand why I’m so angry? [Expletive] the whole bunch of you. You suck and so does your bull[expletive] god. I hope all of your dogs die in a barn fire, you black hearted [expletive].”

Dec. 7: “After I’ve applied a Glock treatment to the useless Bible you gave me. I will throw it out on your driveway. I won’t even write or speak to you again. I hope that you, your Bible comic book, and solid gold genitalia (sic) live happily ever after.”


Nintendo: We don’t need no stinking advertising

December 10, 2007

wii_remote.jpgFROM JASON’S LONELY TELEVISION — Wii would like to play, but Wii will not be advertising anymore, Nintendo has just announced.

The vidjagames giant is pulling its American commercial campaign for the Wii because… well, why spend money when the demand already is greater than the supply? Everyone wants one and nobody can get one, even though Nintendo’s cranking them out at full capacity.

There isn’t one in northern Ohio, I can attest to that.

In the midst of the drought, I’ve taken up a new hobby: Frustrating pony-tailed game store clerks. It’s fun to walk up to the counter and ask for three Wiis, please.

Friday night, I checked the local GameStop, EB Games, Babbages (all three are owned by the same company), two Wal-Marts, two Targets, and even Sears. There is not a single Wii to be found in a 25-mile radius.

A friend of mine who spends his life on eBay recently bought one and resold it for $420, a 68 percent markup. He’s bought and sold six that way this year, making an average $120 profit each time by selling them to co-workers and friends who can’t find them on store shelves.

Nintendo is shipping 1.8 million Wiis each month and they are being purchased instantly as Christmas approaches — outpacing both the XBox 360 (marginally) and the Playstation 2 (by miles).

In the U.S., the Wii has sold more than 9 million units since last December. Meanwhile, the Microsoft has capped the 7 million mark and Sony is putting all its admittedly deflated might into just getting across the 3 million line, according to VGChartz.

In the week after Thanksgiving alone, the Wii was king of the next-gen consoles, but the Nintendo DS continued to outsell everything — I mean everything — on the market:

weekly.png

But that’s where Nintendo’s shuffling its television spending now. The DS will get an even bigger boost.

So how long will it take for Wiis to be plentiful on store shelves?

Well, that’s pretty speculative, but with 290 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 110 million households, if a third of households want one — and that’s not asking much, considering the appeal — it could take another 20 or so months before the supply catches up with demand.


It’s time to Grinch those lame Christmas gifts

November 20, 2007

FROM JASON’S UNDERWHELMING YULE TIDE SPIRIT — Black Friday is upon us, and American consumers are expected to haul their turkey and cranberry sauce-stuffed asses to the malls and departments stores. Retailers are predicting a $474 billion day.

That’s going to mean a lot of waste; each Christmas season, I seem to be wary of a growing selection of crappy, impersonal presents. There seems to be added pressure to buy token gifts for wider-ranging groups of acquaintances, co-workers, and business contacts. Extended families seem to extend just a little more each year, especially as I get older and relatives start dropping new children with reckless abandon.

So choosing appropriate, useful, relevant gifts — all within a reasonable budget — is getting trickier.

So as a man, I feel obliged to highlight some stupid man-gifts that you should avoid buying for the one you love:

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woodpuzzle.pngWooden puzzles: Those brain-teasing 3D jigsaws are fun for about 13 minutes before they find a permanent grave in the confines of a closet, buried under dominos and Monopoly.

None but a savant has a chance in hell of solving them anyway. Inevitably, one or more of the pieces will get lost or, worse, end up in the dog’s belly.

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trimmer.pngNose hair/mustache trimmers: A man needs one of these in his lifetime. I have four, thanks to well-meaning gift-givers.

Unfortunately, it is almost always more convenient and expedient to use a razor and/or scissors to trim those troublesome follicles. Unless the recipient is a lycanthrope, leave this one on the store shelf.

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giftcard.gifGift cards: Here I have to rant. The whole point of Christmas is to express friendship and good will by selecting a present that is unique to the recipient’s tastes and interests.

Giving a gift card is essentially saying, “I don’t know you well enough or care enough about you to expend the effort to buy something personal.”

There’s another issue. It’s gotten to the point in my family where we merely exchange gift cards — of the same value! — with certain other family members. We’re basically spending postage to give ourselves permission to go shopping. When you reach that point, shouldn’t you just acknowledge that it’s all just a charade?

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massager.gifMassage gadgets: These line the shelves of upscale department stores, purporting to be remedies for tired backs, hands, and feet. They’re really just vibrating ball bearings covered in cloth. They can be quite painful and will suck a pack of batteries dry in no time.

And are we really going to let people label these “shiatsu” massagers? Let’s face it: We know what they’re really being used for, ladies.

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novelty.pngNovelty items: I don’t need a farting Santa statue. I don’t want a school bus key chain, a pen that can write underwater, a pocketknife with 132 widgets, a motorized fish that sings AC/DC songs, or Batman shot glasses.

Hot Topic is not punk rock.

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crucifix.pngReligious items: Even if I believed in god, getting a crucifix for… I don’t know, just around the house?… would be kind of lame. As it is, I don’t want to be spoon-fed tracts. No attempts at conversion this holiday season, please.

If you think Christmas is about the birth of your lord, then you obviously are blind to history. It was originally a German pagan holiday, adopted by the Anglo-Saxons as Yule, a celebration of the winter solstice. It was a time to sacrifice human slaves and slaughter boars.

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sudoku.pngSudoku: Just like MySpace, Paris Hilton, Coke Blak, and Al Gore, those annoying Sudoku puzzles are soooo 2006.

Last year’s Christmas market was flooded with electronic versions, CD-ROM versions, giant Sudoku puzzle books, and even Sudoku neckties. Now that the craze has subsided (and people have discovered that it was remarkably boring), stores will be trying to unload their overstock and trying to label Sudoku as “hip.” Don’t believe it. Not even your mom wants to do these puzzles again this year.


Congress to MPAA: Let’s get naked and rut like pigs

November 11, 2007

FROM JASON’S MOVING BOWELS — At least you can see Republican ideological pandering coming from miles away. But this time it’s the typically anti-corporate, socialist-leaning Democrats who want to prop up big business.

Go figure. I’m not even going to mention that it’s election time and everybody’s hunting for corporate sponsorship donations.

The U.S. House of Representatives (source via CNET) is considering a bill that is getting kudos from the MPAA because it would force universities to pony up for Napster and other pay-to-peer services in hopes of cutting down on illegal file sharing.

If colleges refuse, the feds want to yank funding. A $100 billion aide cut would be one big matzah ball for the higher education industry to drop.

It’s not hard to immediately see problems with this wonderful legislation. First, colleges would be burdened with the cost of policing for the music and film industries (if I were a lobbyist for the MPAA and RIAA, this would be the part where I break open the champaigne). The cost of new technology and personnel, of course, will be passed from the colleges to the students, from the students to Sally Mae, and from Sally Mae to the taxpayers.

It’s a de facto tax going straight to Hollywood. And you thought Big Oil was the player you had to watch for corruption.

Second, colleges will have to police all file transfers — whether they’re legitimate or not — in order to comply with the law. That means podcasts, In Rainbows, open source software, public domain videos, and all other legal files will have to be monitored, too.

Reduced to its core concept, that means the government is forcing private establishment to enact a police state. It places students under constant surveillance. The same Democrats who fight for privacy and derail the Patriot Act (which they should) are advocating here a breach of privacy and the same kind of wiretapping they accuse Bush of doing.

Third, the government doesn’t have the infrastructure right now to enforce the law. Police are not notorious for their ability to investigate ‘Net crime, though the FBI and other federal agencies have a better track record.

Those same agencies have severely limited resources, though, and have bigger things to worry about — like making sure their intelligence on imaginary WMDs gets fact-checked before it leads to a $2 trillion war in the Middle East.

Universities are completely within their right, which they have so-far thankfully been brave enough to exercise, to complain to Congress about this ridiculous, expensive, civil-rights-violating, and unrealistic plan. I can only hope someone remains on Capitol Hill who actually understands the Internet enough to cast an informed vote.


For 8 cents a day, you can feed this starving child

November 10, 2007

FROM JASON’S DESK OF RAGE — How dare these mongrels demand payment for rendering a product that produces millions of dollars?

I was a big fan of NBC for about a week. There was a glorious but brief period last month when the network was providing its shows online in relatively high resolution; the video player was proprietary and a bit laggy, depending on bandwidth load, but overall I could watch my episodes of Chuck and The Office with little trouble.

“Hey,” I said to myself. “Self — it looks like they’re finally catching on. They’ve figured out how to appease the Intarweb gods and offer content online!”

Then came the ads… or the promotions-in-the-promotions, if Tobey and Kelley are to be believed (see video above).

I love NBC. As a matter of fact, the majority of shows — by far! — that I watch are on the Peacock Network. But some knuckleheads in the advertising department let me down.

They tried sticking ads into the full-episode stream. There is no way to skip the ads. They cut randomly (not at regular ad breaks) into the action. They are clunky, and half the time freeze the video irreparably.

Moreover, there is no way I’m going to rush out to buy the lamerz products they’re pushing: Retirement funds? Really? That’s what you’re trying to sell on the Web? Kmart Blue Light Specials and Martha Stewart products?

Who are these befuddled ad executives?

The kicker: Whatever money they are beating out of these clueless advertisers isn’t going to the show’s writers.

That’s write (pun, sorry). The people who made the show aren’t getting paid when it airs on the web, even though it’s making money for the producers. All the Writers Guild of America wants is 8 cents — a 4-cent increase — on royalties from Internet and DVD sales.

Give it to them, or god help me I won’t buy any more TV on DVD.