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Even C-3PO and R2-D2 think Jenny McCarthy is an idiot


 
Because so much ink and so many pixels have been committed to the ongoing and breathtakingly stupid culture war over childhood immunizations, I’ll keep my comments brief: anti-vaxers? You are destructive fucking morons and if you die of something easily preventable I will laugh about it.

But though the numbers of anti-vax jackasses have grown dangerously out of control in the recent years since the likes of Jack Wolfson, Jenny McCarthy, and Andrew Wakefield started spewing the criminally irresponsible shit they should all be in goddamn jail for, there have always been people ignorant of the necessity for childhood vaccinations. In the late ‘70s, when Star Wars mania was at its height, the CDC obtained permission to use C-3PO and R2-D2 for an immunization education campaign. From the Nov/Dec 1979 issue of Public Health Reports:

In a continuing effort to focus public awareness on childhood immunization, the Center for Disease control has distributed to State and local health departments copies of a poster featuring the “droids” R2D2 and C3PO from the movie “Star Wars.” Special permission to print the posters was granted to CDC by Twentieth Century Fox as a public service.

The poster has proved to be so popular that it has entered its second printing. The posters have been used as a reward to individual children who complete the basic immunization series, as reminders to parents in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and pharmacies, and as attention grabbers in announcing mass immunization clinics at schools and shopping centers. The poster is also drawing increased attention to child health in conjunction with projects sponsored as part of the International Year of the Child celebration.

 

 
This television commercial from the campaign has an unusual role reversal—R2 is freaking out over bullshit and 3PO serves as the voice of reason. It seems to actually be voiced by actor Anthony Daniels, who played the droid in all six Star Wars movies, and indeed, the typically reliable Wookieepedia claims that both Daniels and R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker did in fact appear in this PSA.
 

 
UPDATE, Thu Feb 5, 2015, 8:17 A.M. EST: This post as originally published contained a significant error, which I deeply regret and have corrected in the text. I misspelled ‘Wookieepedia.’ My sincerest apologies to anyone who was misled by my negligent inaccuracy. See how that’s done, science-deniers? It’s not so difficult.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Even in death women are not free of sexist idiots

00colleenmcc.jpg
 
Yesterday, the best-selling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough died at the age of seventy-seven. McCullough was one of Australia’s best-known and most popular novelists, whose success was firmly established with the publication of her second novel The Thorn Birds in 1977. It was later made into a highly successful TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain. McCullough followed on her success with a string of bestsellers including An Indecent Obsession (1981), The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987), The Touch (2003) and her Masters of Rome series of historical novels. McCullough’s books have sold in excess of 30 million copies.

But McCullough had originally studied medicine before successfully moving into neuroscience and becoming a respected teacher at the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, CT.

By any standard, most people would be content with just one of McCullough’s incredible careers, and one would think that a national newspaper like The Australian might write a glowing obituary, eulogizing this talented and brilliant Australian woman. Well, most of us would, but that’s not what The Australian decided to focus on when writing her obituary, instead they considered her most relevant attributes as being “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” though she was also “a charmer.”
 

 
It’s dispiriting to think how this ever got past the paper’s sub editor’s desk—unless of course the paper is completely staffed by sexist idiots—which, who knows, perhaps it is? What is more disturbing and inexcusable is how a woman of such great achievement should be so casually demeaned and undervalued.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom as the stupidity of the Australian’s obituary has seen an amusing response from the Twittersphere, where people (including writers Caitlin Moran, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and comedians Katy Brand and Craig Ferguson) have been tweeting their own mock obituaries (#myozobituary), which you can read below.
 

 

 

 

 

 
H/T Metro.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Punk rock is coming for your children! Arrogant talk show host blows an easy one


 
The alarmist punk-rock-is-coming-for-your-children episode of everywhere’s local talk show was practically a genre unto itself around 1980. They typically followed a template: a safe, comfortable, grinning suburbanite moderator projects his or her values onto a movement s/he doesn’t understand at all, and expects a handful of alienated, hobo-looking kids that the producer dug up somewhere to represent punk as a whole, as though a couple of random petulant runaways should shoulder the responsibility of justifying the existence of a broad international musical and cultural movement. On better shows, they found bright kids, and the hosts at least made an effort at understanding the new weirdness, instead of just hectoring their guests about their negativity, as though all art was invalid unless it existed solely to entertain them personally.

This is not one of the better shows.
 

 
Stanley Siegel was an interviewer of some repute, who fancied himself audacious and uncompromising, but was often really just kind of a showboating dick. In one infamous episode, Siegel physically restrained Timothy Leary before sandbagging him with a surprise phone call from Art Linkletter, who blamed LSD, and by extension, Leary, for his daughter’s suicide. So yeah, THAT kind of showboating dick. On his obligatory punk rock scold show (IS IT A DEATH TRIP OR A RITE OF PASSAGE?), he managed to book credible guests and proceeded to treat them with amazing condescension. In addition to the usual few aimless kids, Siegel landed Penelope Spheeris, director of the canonical L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and artist Gary Panter, whose logo for the band Screamers is such an elemental piece of punk art that it’s probably much better-remembered than the band itself. He’d become even better known as a cartoonist for RAW and as the set designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Spheeris, right out of the gate, is just not having any of Siegel. At first it seems like she’s trying a little too hard to affect disaffection, but soon enough, what looked at first like brazen posturing (“I’d like to be a hooker?” Really?) becomes more than justified by Siegel’s smug, curt patronization. Real quote: “This woman actually produced and directed a film!” Spheeris would go on to make the cult classic Suburbia and the mainstream classic Wayne’s World, and is still directing. Not sure Siegel’s career was quite so storied, but whatever. It’s all pretty eminently watchable.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Ad of the day: Have a döner kebab with Hitler


 
I really love this commercial for a döner kebab joint somewhere in Germany—it would be nice if I knew which one! Perhaps the clientele they’re looking for knows where it is. Maybe it’s a chain?

The commercial follows the template of the recent Snickers campaign, which plays on the potentiality of low blood sugar to turn you into something like an cranky, ogre-ish version of your normal self—thus a nougat-and-nut candy bar between meals is the only thing that can restore you to your proper self. So a football coach needs a Snickers bar to stop being Robin Williams (RIP) and so forth.

Here some local purveyors of Turkish cuisine appropriate the ultimate symbol of evil, Adolf Hitler, to make the same point. You don’t need to know too much German to understand what’s happening, but I’ll supply some translations anyway—my German isn’t entirely up to the more slangy variants they use, but I’ll do my best. Adolf is riding behind the shotgun seat and being impatient, he says something about going to Stalingrad, in a possible reference to Bruno Ganz’s portrayal of Hitler from Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 movie Downfall that has since become the well-known “Hitler Reacts” viral sensation for the meltdown scene in which Hitler finally realizes that the war is lost.

So anyway, Hitler barks something about Stalingrad, and his buddies have had enough. The guy in the shotgun seat says, “Digga,* we agreed to your request, don’t you notice that?” Hitler slaps him lightly on the cheek with his glove, saying “Don’t you notice that?” Then his buddy in the back seat says, “Olli, what’s with you? Dig in to this döner sandwich, digga.” Adolf says, skeptically, “Why?” Back seat buddy says, “Every time you get hungry, you turn into a real Führer.” Adolf says, “into a Führer?” and they all chime in, “Yeah, into a Führer,” with the driver adding, “It’s true.” Once the döner sandwich has been consumed, Adolf reverts back into his mustachioed self and (I think) lightly protests that it’s not better this way. The text on the bottom says simply, “You’re not you when you are hungry.”

One might be tempted to call this commercial offensive, and certainly it’s a little on the flippant side. But the Turks occupy a marginalized role in Germany, they’re the out-group. So it’s fun to see them (not that I know they’re Turkish, the food is certainly Turkish in origin) appropriating the ultimate symbol of German oppression for their own ends. Don’t be such a Hitler about it! Jeez.

 
via Schlecky Silberstein
 
* Note: Commenters have pointed out that my first rendering was not right. I had initially misheard this as the German word Neger (which is not the N-word, so don’t even, it means “Negro”), which I loosely translated as “nigga.” It’s actually the slang term digga, which loosely translates as “buddy.” My appreciation goes out to the commenters.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Steve Jobs memorial dismantled for fear that it would turn Russia gay


 
This gets the eyeroll of the week award. Not as bad as when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that there were no gay people in Iran, but still, it’s up there. There was a six-foot-tall iPhone St. Petersburg, Russia, to honor Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who passed away of pancreatic cancer in October 2011. The current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, came out of the closet last week in the form of an editorial for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he wrote that he is “proud to be gay.”
 

 
That was it for the memorial. The touch-screen monument was designed to emit free Wi-Fi in temperatures as low as negative-30 as well as take photos via a built-in camera. After Cook’s announcement, Maksim Dolgopolov, director of West European Financial Union, the Russian company that originally commissioned the memorial, said that it was now “gay propaganda.” In addition the fact that Edward Snowden used Apple products to leak NSA documents in 2013 also played a role in the decision to remove the monument.

Hilariously, Dolgopolov said that he would reinstall the monument if it can be modified to instruct people to use products made by Apple’s competitors.

Eyeroll.

You can watch workers removing the big black slab here:
 

 
via Vocativ
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The kid from the ‘Balloon Boy’ hoax made a metal video. And, surprise! (not really) it’s awful

Heene Boyz Finger it Out album cover
The Fingered it Out album cover
 
Or should I say kids, because young Falcon Heene (the boy who never was flying over Colorado in a balloon back in 2009) has put together a metal band with his brothers Ryo and Bradford called Heene Boyz. As you might have already guessed, the young lads are being managed by the man very same man who orchestrated the whole balloon fiasco (with the help of his wife Mayumi), their father Richard Heene.

Falcon Heene, now eleven is the trio’s vocalist and brothers Ryo (age thirteen on drums), and Bradford (age fifteen on guitar) are currently trying to bill themselves as the “youngest metal band in the world,” a distinction that the Heene Boyz technically share with Brooklyn middle-schoolers Unlocking the Truth who are all now between the ages of twelve and thirteen, as well as Japanese band Baby Metal who are all about fourteen now. But I digress.
 
Balloon Boy Hoax headline
 
Their big song is called “Balloon Boy No Hoax.” A title that sounds exactly like it was written by an eleven-year-old whose name will always be synonymous with “Balloon Boy.” Remarkably, as the snappy title implies, the lyrics to the song attempt to denounce the fact that “Balloongate 2009” was a hoax in the first place. The boys even take a lyrical swipe at journalist Wolf Blitzer (“Who the hell is Wolf?”). Blitzer was the lucky journo who got to interview the family during a night when he was guest-hosting for Larry King on October 15th, 2009, the same day the hoax went down. When Blitzer asked Richard Heene to clarify what his son was doing hiding in the attic of the family’s garage, he obliged and asked Falcon (who was only six at the time) to respond. The kindergartner answered “You guys said we did this for the show.” (At that point, Richard Heene put on his best dog and pony show in an attempt to deflect Blitzer’s repeated requests to get Falcon to repeat the massive VERBAL BOMB he had just dropped. Heene got all defensive and the rest is history. Both parents spent a short time in jail and Richard Heene’s probation period ended last year.
 
Heene Boyz Balloon Boy No Hoax video
 
So without further adieu, here’s “Balloon Boy No Hoax” from the album Fingered it Out. And yeah, they made a video for the title track and it’s even worse than the song.

Yeah Mr. Heene, your kids are going to turn out just fine.
 

 
 
Via Metal Sucks

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Krautrock for Athletes: What 70s East German Olympians just might have listened to while training


 
I have to admit, they had me going there for a while…. I thought it was real. I stumbled on the Bandcamp page for the Kosmischer Läufer project two days ago, courtesy of WFMU, who blandly supplied no information about it. The site purported to be the “secret cosmic music of the East German Olympic Program, 1972-1983.” (Kosmischer Läufer means “cosmic runners.”) Volume 1 came out last year, vol. 2 this week.

So I’m listening to these tracks of magnificent 1970s-style German electronic music and taking in the backstory of one Martin Zeichnete, an apprentice sound editor for DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft) who, starting in 1972, was transferred to the Olympic training music project, that is, to compose music for East German athletes to train to. Having furtively imbibed the forbidden Western tones of Kraftwerk and Neu! in his hometown of Dresden, Zeichnete managed to smuggle in some avant-garde ideas to the project and generate some pretty sweet Musik that (just by chance) would be tailor-made for the discerning hipster of 2013. Volume 1 represented a program that “should allow the average runner to complete a 5 kilometre run at a reasonable pace. Included are 3 minute warmup and warm down pieces.”
 

 
My knowledge of German came in handy, here. There was a puzzlement or two to clear up. The name “Zeichnete,” which means “drew” or “sketched,” isn’t an entirely convincing surname for a German national. The story of being scarily apprehended by the Stasi authorities, only to be suddenly transferred to the Olympic training department, seemed far-fetched. The titles were an absolutely perfect imitation of what the contemporary English speaker would want them to be—“Mausi Mausi,” for Chrissake? “Flucht aus dem Tal der Ahnungslosen” means “Escape from the Valley of the Clueless” and really, that’s a great title in any language and perhaps more to the point, a clue to anyone taking all this retro guff too seriously. The only real problem with it all was that sizable gap between 1989 and 2013. Where were these tracks all this time? What had taken Zeichnete so long? Why was he staggering the releases? Why did some of the tracks sound so perfectly like what a Stereolab-influenced electronic music nut would generate today, given the chance?

More to the point, the whole thing was beginning to seem a bit ridiculous.
 

 
Turns out, these fine tracks of faux 1970s e-music had been introduced in a (successfully funded) Kickstarter last year launched by one Drew McFadyen of Edinburgh. (This blog says there’s more than just one person behind it, but I couldn’t discern anyone’s name but that of Mr. McFayden.)

Sehr witzig, mein guter Kerl!

In any case, instead of the most marvelous musical find of this or the last century and an incredible artifact of the Cold War, we have a excellently rendered simulacrum of same. It’s a hoot if you’re in the mood for some free tracks to listen to on Bandcamp or YouTube, but the files can also be ordered on iTunes or Amazon (links to individual tracks are below). Unfortunately, as often happens with Kickstarters, the original run of LPs is sold out. (If you’re listening, Unknown Capability Recordings, remember me if you ever do a future pressing!)

You can read an interview with the fictitious East German, Martin Zeichnete—it’s worth reading, they did a very good job with it. The reference to Andreas Pavel’s Stereobelt was just the right touch.
 

Track listing:
Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Vol. 1

1. Zeit zum Laufen 156 (Time to Run 156)
2. Sandtrommel (Sand Drum)
3. Die lange Gerade (The Long Straightaway)
4. Tonband Laufspur (Audio Tape Running Track)
5. Ein merkwürdiger Anschlag (An Unusual Attack)

Kosmischer Läufer: The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83, Vol. 2

1. Zeit zum Laufen 172 (Time to Run 172)
2. Morgenröte (Dawn)
3. Flucht aus dem Tal der Ahnungslosen (Escape from the Valley of the Clueless)
4. Die Kapsel (The Capsule)
5. Die Libellen (The Dragonflies)
6. Mausi Mausi (Mausi Mausi)
7. Walzer der roten Katze (Waltz of the Red Cat)
8. Der Hörraum (The Listening Room)
9. Für Kati (For Kati)
10. Weltraumspaziergang (Spacewalk)

 
Here are a couple of the videos, cleverly sync’d up to some bitchin’ footage of East German athletes in their former glory:

“Die Libellen”:

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Nazi shirts celebrating Germany’s World Cup triumph pop up on Amazon.de

Nazi World Cup shirt
“Final Victory / World Champions 2014”; a Nazi cross topples Rio’s Christ the Redeemer
 
The combination of Argentina and Germany surely put the subject of World War II in the minds of some onlookers—it turns out that not all of them were outside of Germany. After Germany’s impressive 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday, “Unbekannt” (Unknown) has produced Nazi-themed T-shirts to mark the great victory of “Die Mannschaft” (“The Team”—as the German national team is often called).

The iconography is unmistakable, but in order to help with the vocabulary: we all know what “Blitzkrieg” means—the term “Blitzsieg” punningly replaces the word for “war” (Krieg) with the far more innocuous yet in this context still somewhat sinister word for “victory” (Sieg). “Endsieg” means “Final Victory”—as Wikipedia points out, “The term is today almost exclusively used with reference to its meaning in the Third Reich.” (In other words, the use of the word can’t be brushed aside as a reference to the referee’s final whistle or some such.) That Wikipedia entry is worth reading in full, as it points out the complex uses such a term is put to in the present day, many of them sarcastic; Germans are far too aware of their loaded history to throw around such a term lightly. The German word for “World Champion(s)” is “Weltmeister.”

As of this writing, those shirts are still available on Amazon.de. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for Amazon.de to pull them and issue an inevitable apology.
 
Nazi World Cup shirt
“Germany Brazil 7-1 Lightning Victory”
 
Nazi World Cup shirt
“Blitzkrieg / Victory 2014 / Germany World Champions”
 
Nazi World Cup shirt
 
via Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The most idiotic moment on Fox News so far today


 
Fox and Friends’ resident cheerful idiot Steve Doocy is obviously one of the stupidest people on television. Doocy comes off as so completely brainless that his utterly gormless co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Elisabeth Hasselbeck look good (or at least slightly better) by comparison. One would have to think that Fox News viewers with low to barely average IQs would be perceptive enough to realize that Steve Doocy is an abject buffoon. I don’t think SNL even does Fox and Friends parodies anymore, do they? Why bother?

In any case, this morning Doocy made a game attempt to get a small number of “Fox fans” (as he called them) to react negatively to the new multigender bathroom signage at Illinois State University (This is the latest “outrage” on Fox News, in case you aren’t aware of it, even though they are for single-occupancy restrooms!)

Here’s how it went down, live on Fox News as Chyron captions read: “Bathroom Boondoggle: Are New Gender Signs Just Too Confusing?” and “Gender Bender”!

Doocy: “See, they were designated as ‘family restrooms’ in the past and now, apparently, they’re going to be known as ‘all-gender’ restrooms! Does that make sense?”

Woman: “Restrooms for both genders.”

Doocy: “That’s right. Bathrooms for both genders, or transgenders!”

Man: “Transgender, that’s right.”

Unable to rile up even the slightest bit of “moral” indignation, let alone any anxiety even among these “Fox fans,” the floundering Doocy quickly threw it back to his co-tool Brian Kilmeade in the studio who then, astonishingly, offered up pretty much one of the truest things that I’ve ever heard a Fox anchor say (if only accidently):

“Well, they’re better people than us.”

Yes, indeed they are. Most people are better people than bigoted Fox News morning show hosts, I’d have to agree with that and this segment proved it. In spades!

Just yesterday, Fox News ran a story mocking the University’s attempt to accommodate everyone with equal respect.
 

 

Bonus clip, Steve Doocy before his tenure at Fox and Friends, back when he was a serious journalist…
 
Via Media Matters

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Brain-dead, redneck diesel lovers brag about how much toxic smoke their trucks can spew

Rollin' Coal
 
I’ve long since stopped being amazed at the mental knots that white, male conservatives (usually white and usually male, anyway) will tie themselves into as a reaction to their rage that other voices are permitted to participate in the political process and even occasionally combine to form a consensus that might infringe on their god-given rights to be a malicious dickwad. In the last month or so we’ve seen the phenomenon, in reaction to some 2nd Amendment infringements that are mostly imaginary, of shotgun-toting fellows deciding that Home Depot as well as various chain eateries might be a appropriate venues to bring portable machinery expressly designed to kill living organisms. The pushback on the part of Chili’s, Sonic, Chipotle, and Starbuck’s have largely been successful.

Valorizing guns is stupid and rude. When you enter a restaurant with lethal weapons, the best-case outcome is that everyone else in the establishment feels threatened and must cower in the face of your cheaply purchased superiority (it’s not that difficult to carry a gun, after all, any dummy or old fart can usually accomplish at least that much). Even to mention the disheartening statistics is a sure sign that you support Obummer’s incipient Orwellian police state, but here goes: In the United States, deaths due to firearms occur on the order of 30 a day; over a 99-day period in 2013, 215 children were killed, the vast majority as a result of accidents.

Anyway, the latest display of inconsiderate mouth-breathing bullshit has to do with climate change. It’s become common for the proud owners of diesel trucks to champion the unpleasant black spew that emanates from their vehicles as a key blow struck in the name of freedom, against the liberal elite that seeks to save the planet from climate-related catastrophe. The keyword for this, er, “movement” is “Rollin’ Coal.” There’s a “Rollin’ COAL” group on Facebook that has 15,000 likes. The commenters who push back against the fossil fuel stupidity routinely invoke the modest penis length of the “Rollin’ Coal” crowd:

“I’ve never seen a larger collection of men with tiny dicks over-compensating than on this page.”

 
Truck Yeah
 
One of the favorite tropes of the “Rollin’ Coal” groups is a little poem that goes like this:
 

Roll, roll, rollin’ coal
Let the hybrid see.
A big black cloud.
Exhaust that’s loud.
Watch the city boy flee.

 
Here’s a brief description of the trend, from “‘Rollin’ Coal’ Is Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks” by Elizabeth Kulze:
 

In small towns across America, manly men are customizing their jacked-up diesel trucks to intentionally emit giant plumes of toxic smoke every time they rev their engines. They call it “rollin’ coal,” and it’s something they do for fun.

-snip-

Aside from being macho, the rollin’ coal culture is also a renegade one. Kids make a point of blowing smoke back at pedestrians [see the video at the bottom of this page], in addition to cop cars and rice burners (Japanese-made sedans), which can make it dangerously difficult to see out of the windshield. Diesel soot can also be a great road rage weapon should some wimpy looking Honda Civic ever piss you off. “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes,” says Ryan, a high school senior who works at the diesel garage with Robbie. “The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”

 
I haven’t figured out a way to embed it, but Kulze’s article features a video that makes the resentment-based roots of the diesel enthusiasm explicit, with its tittering references to “Prius driving socialists.” It’s really worth a look.

What’s most astonishing about the “Rollin’ Coal” folks is that, I mean, surely the highly visible black smoke tends to make the climate change case, doesn’t it? Is there any way that that smoke could be good for the environment? Have these diesel drivers ever seen a fish, a pond, a leaf, or a tree? Do they think that bees, trees and tadpoles can just withstand the toxic fumes with no consequence? It’s difficult to figure out what they’re thinking about or if they are even capable of thought at all. At best the practice is a way of saying “I get to do whatever I want, and any bad things that occur are your problem.” Lovely. I gain some comfort from considering that these types of particularly stupid good ol’ boys often graciously volunteer to remove themselves from the gene pool with drunk driving and other fun activities.

Below, a compilation of asshat diesel truck drivers intentionally releasing their smoky coal-black smoky on pedestrians, bicyclists, children and so forth. Surely this meets the definition of “assault” wouldn’t it? It’s as bad as spitting in someone’s face…
 

 
via Lawyers, Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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