Sunday, January 30, 2005

And/Or Awards

The nominations for the 2004 Razzie Awards, celebrating the worst Hollywood has to offer, came out a few days ago. Unlike the Oscars, the nominees were actually quite predictable, with Catwoman taking the most nominations followed closely by Alexander. As much as I fully endorse more attention on the crap coming out of Hollywood, I have to saw I think it's a bit unfair nominating Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, since that movie was probably about as good as anyone behind it intended. I don't think the same could be said of Surviving Christmas.

My favorite nominations has to be for the directors of the two different versions of "Exorcist 4: The Beginning" that came out this year (one in theaters and one direct to DVD), both of which apparently sucked. The nomination for best director went to "Renny Harlin and/or Paul Schrader." Something about an award going to "and/or" is highly amusing to me.

Poking around the Razzies site, I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed to find out that the way to vote for the Razzies is to pay to become a member. I'm sure this sounds stupid, but I actually think it's important enough to recognize awfulness in pop culture that the awards process should have some integrity to it. That being said, if I were to become a member, I would definitely join at the "Berry Important Member" level.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Why I'm a stick

Fact #1: I'm a skinny guy. 6'4" and 180 or 185 depending on the day. For those of you not used to the proportions of people in the top percentiles of height, that's not sickly skinny, but it's slim.

Fact #2: I'm a fidgety guy. I can't sit still. I'm often twisting my fingers, moving my toes, taking my watch off and on, etc. This has only become worse since I started wearing a thumb ring, which I take off and toss around, then put back on, at least 5 times a day.

Why am I telling you these unrelated facts? Because it turns out they are actually very related. New research shows that the best way to stay in shape is to fidget. It actually makes you even more likely to lose weight than working out. So the next time you're annoyed at someone like me who can't keep still during a conversation or meal or movie, keep your mouth shut. We're working out.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A win-win scenario?

I don't support the death penalty in most cases, and I usually think it's a good idea to prevent people from committing suicide. But when the two coincide with one guy, I think we have an unusual situation.

To wit, as this story makes clear, the district attorney here in my county of L.A. has said Juan Alvarez, the man responsible for the train derailment in nearby Glendale in which 11 people died, may face the death penalty. Remember, he caused that train derailment while attempting to commit suicide.

Perhaps there's a solution here that would give this guy what he wants and save my fellow taxpapers in LA hundreds of thousands of dollars in court and prison costs? Just a thought...

Conservatives have a race card up their sleeves

I think most of us can agree that too many liberals have tried to cut off debate about legitimate issues like government social programs or affirmative action by screaming "racism." I had it happen to me on more than a few occassions as a student at race-conscious Swarthmore and, to be fair, I've probably engaged in it a few times in my life when I shouldn't.

But now it turns out the whole time conservatives were (often rightly) getting pissed at Democrats for playing the race card, they had one hidden up their sleeves the whole time. Condoleezza Rice's nomination is just the latest example. Let me lay my cards out here. I agree with Democrats like Boxer and Dayton who argued, correctly, that Rice was one of the architects of a thoroughly dishonest sales campaign to promote the Iraq War to the American people (for more, see chapters 7 and 8 of "All the President's Spin") and a thoroughly incompetent military plan that didn't prepare for the difficult, costly, and deadly occupation of Iraq despite warnings from those weenies in the State Department. She's better qualified to handle PR for Exxon than be representative of the American people to the world.

But as others have pointed out, the argument of some conservatives that Democrats are in any way racist to vote against her is absurd and offensive. There are a few good examples here, here, (a good blog summary of such talk by guests on Fox News) and here. The Post editorial is particularly notable because it repeats this common canard: "what would the mainstream press do if a black female Democrat were blocked from taking a high Cabinet post by, say, Trent Lott? They'd blow the roof off the Capitol, is all." First of all, nobody blocked Rice; they just argued and voted against her. More importantly, there is of course no evidence of this. Look at how casually the mainstream press and most liberal pundits dismissed Al Sharpton, who was, if nothing else, the most articulate guy running for president last year. Can you imagine how much Republicans and the press would savage a Democratic president who nominated him for anything? And any Sharpton defender who said it was all racism, instead of his largely undistinguished record, would be a twit.

Just because Rice is Black and female doesn't mean votes against her have anything to do with either quality. Especially since Democrats have spectacularly good reasons to oppose her, reasons the Post and others don't deign to address.

But the best example has to to be this press release from the Christian Coalition. It reads "Christian Coalition of America condemns left-wing Senators -- and a moderate running for President -- for their prejudice against successful American conservative minorities, as exemplified by their vote against the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State." Yes, folks, this is the same Christian Coalition that pretends to represent all Christian Americans while ignoring the overwhelmingly liberal community of Black churches around the country. The same Christian Coalition that is so committed to equal rights it devotes its energy to keeping gay Americans second-class citizens under the rubric of being "pro-family." (And yes, I'm aware many of those otherwise liberal Black Christians are not pro-gay rights.)

This, of course, mirrors a conservative campaign to accuse Democrats who oppose staunchly conservative and devoutly Catholic judicial nominees of President Bush's of "anti-Catholic bigotry," which we wrote about on Spinsanity.

Forget about a commitment to honest and fair debate. These people would benefit most from the ability to detect irony.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Donald Luskin is an ignorant hack

Donald Luskin, an alleged economics writer for National Review Online, is so obsessed with Paul Krugman that he recently bashed my friend Brendan in his blog because Brendan dared to defend the New York Times columnist against allegations he's a partisan hack. Brendan responded here, but I have a few thoughts of my own. Less rational and less polite than Brendan.

It started with a post of Brendan's where he got peeved at ABC's The Note for calling Krugman "Pauly One-Note." Brendan thinks this is another example of the elite press dismissing the writing of Krguman and others like him as "partisan hackery" because he bashes Bush consistently. Now, I think Brendan may be reading a bit too much into this. Much as I dislike the Note (and was thrilled to get an excuse to stop reading it once Spinsanity ended) and admire Krugman, I think it's fair to read the Note as just pointing out in an obnoxious way that Krugman can be "one note." That doesn't necessairly mean his work is hackery.

But Brendan's larger point -- that so many in the media who can't seem to get the details of the issues Krugman wrestles with like Social Security privatization right feel free to dismiss the work of someone who hits a point over and over -- is both reasonable and accurate.

Luskin responded not by critiquing Brendan's logic, but by casting aspersions on his sources and calling him names. Very classy. Brendan, of course, made short work of Luskin's faulty logic and I have little to add. But I have plenty to say about the personal attacks.

Luskin says Brendan of doesn't have "the slightest shred of eminence." Hmmm, let's see. Brendan co-wrote (with me) a New York Times best selling book that analyzed dishonesty from politicians and the press. Donald Luskin writes a blog and professional column about economics that gets its facts hilariously wrong. Who exactly has eminence?

Most offensively, Luskin calls Brendan a "pretentious leftist twerp." This from a man who regularly accuses Paul Krugman of being shrill. Of course, Brendan's blog reveals him to be unpretentious, since he always links to his sources and only writes about things he knows about. He's only a "leftist" in the sense that he's regularly critical of dishonesty and poor reasoning from the right (as well as the left). As for twerp, I don't know if Luskin's ever met him, but the guy's like 6'1" and works out pretty regularly. I am quite confident he could make Donald Luskin beg for his mommy in two minutes flat.

Brendan is too kind to say it, but I will. Donald Luskin is petty, immature, ignorant, and obnoxious. The correct word for a man like him is "hack."

One more piece of evidence. This has nothing to do with Brendan, but it's really my favorite part of all this. Luskin writes that "Paul Krugman is Pauly One-Note -- and with a vengeance." Ummmm, Donald Luskin's website links to a store with 19 items (clothing, mugs, etc.) that feature a drawing of Paul Krugman nobody would recognize with a slash through it and the words "Krugman Truth Squad." This is like John Hinckley calling someone who owns several DVDs of Jodie Foster movies a freak.

About Me

I am the video games critic and editor and write some other tech-related articles here. I write a fairly popular blog about the videogame business for that publication here. Index of my work here.

I write and produce original comedy videos for this website.

I am the co-founder and co-editor of this satirical website.

I co-wrote this best-selling book.

I co-founded and used to be one of the editors of this political website.

I spent a year doing national service as part of this awesome program. You can read more about my experience here.

I do freelance writing/producing projects for other publications, TV shows, and radio programs as time and opportunities allow.

I am married to this amazing woman. You can read the formal write-up of our wedding here.

I went to this college and discovered that graduate school is a bad fit for me while at this university.

I live here.

I enjoy volleyball, video games, scuba diving, watching TV and movies with my wife, travelling, talking endlessly about Swarthmore and AmeriCorps, and writing vague biographies about myself that require clicking on hyperlinks to know what I'm talking about.