“Dear NPR….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:47 pm

You may or may not have heard the commentary by author Irshad Manji on NPR’s All Things Considered Monday afternoon. I listened to this person praise Bush’s diplomatic savvy because he sent a letter—or more importantly, didn’t send any troops—to Egypt to protest the imprisonment of a democratic activist, and I just had to drop them a line.


Dear ATC,

It was with some bemusement that I listened to Irshad Manji’s commentary lauding President Bush’s skills as a diplomat. Her assertion—and the evidence she used to support it—left a wry flavor in my mouth.

As I understand it, her contention is that the President proved his diplomatic mettle by sending the Egyptian government a letter of protest against the imprisonment of democratic activist Saad Ibrahim, along with a notice of a reduction of projected foreign aid to Egypt. This action, and the pleas from liberal Arabs that followed it, were the catalyst for Ibrahim’s retrial and subsequent release. From this she concludes, “Clearly, President Bush understands the value of exercising non-military power.”

So our President is a champion of diplomacy, simply because he elected not to invade another country when sending a letter would accomplish the same ends? This is the bare minimum I expect in the way of self-control from the leader of the world’s remaining superpower. Begging her pardon, but your commentator is truly damning him with faint praise.

If President Bush’s supporters have been reduced showcasing his merits via examples such as this, they are either grasping at straws or else showing a resurgence of the daffy hypertrophied optimism of the Reagan years. Perhaps it is Morning in America once again.

Andrew Lenzer (pronounced just as it reads)
Normandy Park, Washington

Numa Numa Dance

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:17 pm

I know, I know, this is already old and busted, but there are probably a few people out there who haven’t seen it. And it is pretty cool. 🙂

Click here to view the file. Requires Macromedia’s Flash Player to view. Make sure your sound is turned up.

Click here for the backstory.


More Windows Haiku

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:21 pm

Fifth installation
in less than two goddamn weeks.
Windows XP rots.

A driver conflict;
Consult documentation
on your hosed hard drive.

Installation failed!
Perhaps an OS upgrade?
Go suck a Longhorn.


“Dear Microsoft….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:51 am

With the announcement that as of February 28, Microsoft will no longer permit activation of its products over the Internet but only by phone, I decided to drop them a line via the “Contact” section of their Web site. If this annoys you too, you might want to do the same.


Hey Folks,

You have just cost yourselves four new licenses of Windows XP Professional with the announcement that I will have to call Microsoft to activate the software, rather than activating it over the Internet. The four remaining Windows 2000 Pro workstations in my office are just going to have to stay Windows 2000 Pro workstations. Small change, indeed, but it adds up after a while.

I am a tremendous fan of Internet-based product activation. I have not had good experiences with telephone activation: long hold times, uninformed or duplicitous reps (“Sorry Sir, even though the computer you had Office 2003 OEM installed on fried its motherboard, you cannot install the software on the same computer with a new motherboard.”), and a general feeling that my time was being wasted so that Microsoft could feel more secure about its 95 percent market share.

You people do good work, in general, and I like many aspects of your products. However, your public persona brings to mind that of a surgeon: technically brilliant, but with the bedside manner of a trapdoor spider. I’d work on that.




Reinventing The Animated Wheel

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:59 am

Scott Simon had a great commentary on this just-passed Weekend Edition Saturday regarding the WB Network’s plan to “reimagine” the Classic Looney Tunes characters for contemporary child audiences. The new show, titled “Loonatics”, rebadges such famous characters as Bugs, Daffy, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner as futuristic superheroes.

Here’s their press-release picture:


Now, I don’t have much hope for this project, but I don’t have much resentment for it, either. Simon made the valid point in his diatribe that, if you are forced to “reimagine” something so wonderful in its original form, it’s probably because you lack imagination in the first place. Well put. However, this isn’t the first time the Looney Toons characters have been reimagined. The Amblin Entertainment program Tiny Toons Adventures was a nicely-done show, quite original and amusing (though I greatly prefer Amblin’s other gem, Animaniacs).

And, if nothing else, it is highly unlikely that Loonatics could possibly be worse than the flaccid, airless modern Looney Toons episodes that Warner Bros. cobbled together in the 80’s and 90’s. Man, those were stinkers!


I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:46 am

Los Angeles has received thirty-three-and-a-half inches of rain this year so far. Seattle has received about five.

Fucking Angelinos! We need our Spring rain, give it back! We need it so our power companies can sell you guys electricity in the summer and then jack up our rates due to the shortfall!

And what do we get from you in return? We can’t drink all these homicidal motorists you keep sending us, you know! I can’t water my plants with black Jettas and upraised middle fingers!

*Sigh* Okay, okay, I’m sorry. All this sunshine in February is giving me the screaming hee-haws.


Windows Haiku

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:23 pm

One seven oh six:
The Office error number
That haunts my nightmares.

More Than Meets The Eye

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:05 pm

My friend Gavin sent along this very cool ad by Citroën of one of their cars doing a “Transformers”-style thang. Very cool. Reminds of me the Transforming RX-8 that Mazda put together for the North American Auto Show a couple-few years back.

Click here to view the file. It’s an MPEG, so just about anyone can view it….um, anyone with a computer, that is.


Another Neologism

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:09 pm

I happen to like words that are derived from their more commonly-used opposite number. For instance: choate, meaning complete, perfectly formed, final, etc., derived from the far more common inchoate.

In this same vein, I offer you hypobole, a figure of speech in which one severely underemphasizes something for effect.

I’m still working on an example. Feel free to offer your own.


*Sigh* When Is His Term Over?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:56 am

Caught this article on Fark today. Seems the government is preventing US soldiers tortured by Saddam Hussein’s forces in the previous Gulf War from collecting a $1 billion judgement handed to them by US District Court in 2003. Scott McClellan told reporters that the money (to be taken from $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets frozen in US banks) is needed to help rebuild Iraq….should have thought of that before you blew it apart, dude.

Keep this in mind when you consider letting these bozos draft tort reform legislation.


Things That Make You Go “EEP”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:43 pm

Just a quick note for my loyal readers; Birdie Cam will be down until some time Tuesday afternoon/evening. I’m finally getting the lens replaced.

I’m not prone to keeping up with the latest news from the world of NASCAR, so it’s no surprise that I missed the news that Nextel would be taking the place of RJ Reynolds Tobacco as racing sponsor.

Let me see if I have this straight: RJR is pressured out of their sponsorship of high-speed race cars because their product represents a danger to the public and they don’t want to give people (especially the impressionable little chitlins) the wrong idea….only to be replaced by a company that manufactures cell phones?

This would be even more comical and less horrifying if not for NASCAR’s most famous product tie-in:

The King Of Road Fatalities


Me Click-Through Long Time

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:36 pm

Take a look at this screen capture from my recent visit to Google. I was looking for information on how to mod an ATX power supply to work with a Blue and White Power Macintosh G3. I found some good intel—turns out you can use an ATX PSU if you snip a single wire before installing—but what really caught my eye were the pay-per-click ads, or “Sponsored Links”, running down the right side of the page.

Now, as an employee of a company that uses just this form of advertisement, both on Google and via the search engines pimped by Overture, I have no basic problem with click-through advertising. It’s fairly unobtrusive, and believe me, it works, at least for us. But I had not previously noticed that any given company’s zeal for clicks—and their concomitant mis- or overuse of key terms—can produce some really funny-looking sponsored links:

ATX Power Supply Cheap

At DV Warehouse you’ll find a full range of all Mac model Power Supply.

And of course, my personal favorite:

PC Power Supply ATX. Find great price for computer power supply.

These links read like stereotypical Middle- or Far Eastern hucksters in the “Bazaar Scene” of some bad direct-to-video adventure film. “You like? Power Supply ATX you like, eh? You buy, you buy!”

I wasn’t sure I could take any of these companies seriously after this revelation, so as a courtesy I did not cost them any money by clicking on their ads. 😉

God Bless Al Franken

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:51 pm

Wait, that’s probably a little strong, particularly for an agnostic leftie such as myself. How about, “May The Higher Power(s) That May Or May Not Actually Exist Gaze With Favor Upon Al Franken….If Indeed They Do Exist.”

There, that’s sufficiently weasely and non-committal. 😉

For those in the Great Northwest who may not already be aware of it, The Al Franken Show is now on the air in Seattle—has been for some time, in fact—on local radio station AM 1090 (hyperlink omitted because they have yet to put up a real Web site) from nine to noon every weekday. The appearance of AM 1090 came at a truly fortuitous time in my life, as my other favorite Talk Radio host, 710 KIRO’s Dave Ross, had temporarily gone off the air in order to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful run for Congress. He’s now back on the air, but in the Afternoon Commute airtime slot of three to six pm rather than his previous morning show—a change that was instigated in part, I am quite sure, to keep him from losing listeners to Franken.

In case there’s anyone reading this who is not already familiar with me (yeah, right; one person named Googlebot), though I am an employee of Fungi Perfecti, LLC, I work at home about 80 percent of the time. This leaves me in something of a sociocultural vacuum: no discussions at the water cooler, no political debates over the cubicle wall or lunchroom table, etc. I chose to fill this void as so many other rogue toilers—truck drivers, night watchmen, etc.—do; with Talk Radio.

I spent my four years opening the sandwich shop I managed in Pullman, Washington listening to Rash Windbagh, which was quite enough for me. Not that I agreed with a word he said, mind you; it’s just that he was the only voice on the radio from nine to eleven in the morning ’round those parts. Moving back to the Puget Sound area opened me up to a veritable cornucopia of Talk Radio opinions and personalities: I could tune in Dave Ross for moderate opinion and dry wit, I could spin over to Michael Medved for questionable opinions delivered in immaculate, erudite prose, and just for a laugh I could take in a little of “Dr.” Laura’s spiteful, self-righteous inidignation. And if I needed to stay awake on a long afternoon drive and NPR’s calm, measured tones just weren’t doing the job, I could hop up the dial a few notches and tune into Tom Leykis for twenty minutes or so of Date Rapist Training Camp….guaranteed to keep a Sensitive New Age Guy like myself alert and agitated for hours.

Anyway, what was this post about again? Oh yeah, Al Franken. It’s not simply that Franken is funny and shares many of my views. Left-wing Talk Radio fills more than a mere cultural void on the airwaves, which are pretty much pwn3d (hyperlink omitted; would you believe I couldn’t find a decent online definition? For the uninitiated, it’s hacker speech for “owned”) by the Right. Good progressive Talk Radio fills a factual void that, if left unattended, tends to get totally polluted with right-wing demagoguery. The stuff I’m talking about isn’t simply stuff I don’t agree with, like a Constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, or the necessity of our war in Iraq. It’s the full-blown factual shortfalls that are used as the underpinnings of many of their arguments. Knock these pillars of lies out from under them, and if the whole argument doesn’t tumble to the ground, at least you have to ask yourself what the hell is keeping it up.

Talk Radio likes to present itself as the great open forum of the 21st Century, a vast agora where everyone can gather to speak their minds and come away enriched and enlightened, but really, it’s a very one-sided, push-only medium. You have your host at the furthest upstream point, broadcasting opinion. Said host has had hours to assemble his/her thoughts, gather data, prepare counter-arguments. The listeners being presented these pre-packaged opinions must process them in real time. If they agree and wish to call in and give the host an “attaboy!”, they are free to do so and are rewarded verbally for their sound judgment and obvious moral character. If on the other hand they do not agree and wish to do so publicly, they must get past the inevitable call screener, and then argue their case from a more or less cold start, almost certainly without a prepared sheet of references or a computer with a Lexis Nexis account. If a disagreeing caller happens to have considerable knowledge on the subject under debate, the host has the option to not accept the call at all, or to cut it short, or otherwise use the tools and power at his/her disposal to undermine the caller’s credibility.

Because of the massive power imbalance between host and audience, the purveyors of opinion on Talk Radio almost always, by the very design of the medium, come out on top. This applies to Talk Radio from every point of the political spectrum, but because the airwaves are saturated by the Right, their unchallenged opinion prevails.

How many times have we heard the following assertion: liberals don’t think with their intellects at all; rather, they do what their emotions tell them, they do and say what they think will make them feel good. Only conservatives have the common sense and force of will to seriously consider the facts, weigh the issues and come to decisions that are actually right, rather than merely politically correct. (And oh, how I do loathe that term, for all its misdirection and meaningless poison. That which is politically correct would, by definition, adhere to the popular politics of the day. Therefore, in the South in 1865, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Ku Klux Klan, was “politically correct”. Hard to imagine him rubbing crystals and lobbying to have masculine pronouns removed from the language, now, isn’t it?)

Well here, in my assessment, is how that all-too-common opinion has come to the fore. Let me take you to the studio of a generic right-wing Talk Radio host:

HOST: Anyone with any sense knows that [ridiculous right wing opinion]! Now to to your calls. Hello [Caller], you’re on the air.
CALLER: Hey, [Host], I just can’t agree with you on [ridiculous right wing opinion].
HOST: Well, [Caller], were you aware that recent government studies show that [factually questionable combination of two unrelated studies’ data, one by the government, one by an acknowledged conservative think tank]?
CALLER: No, but—
HOST: And were you also aware that even [prominent government figure] recently said that [blatant misquotation]?
CALLER: Oh, now I don’t think that’s—
HOST: Allow me to set you straight here, [Caller]: the most recent studies of [topic in question] conducted by [high-toned educational or scentific institution] have demonstrated, without a doubt, that [“fact” pulled fresh and mewling out of Host’s ass]!
CALLER: I don’t believe you!
HOST: Facts don’t lie, my friend: you give me some real data that contradicts [Host’s incredible orchestra of bullshit], I’ll eat my words right here on the air.
CALLER: Well, I don’t have anything in front of me, but I just know that’s not true.
HOST: Right, right, of course you do. Well, thanks for calling. You be sure to get back to me when you have something more than your “feelings” to go on.

And suppose [Caller] gets off the air and happens to dig up the data that proves [Host] was spinning a web of lies the whole time; do you think they will let him on the air to restate his case?

I’m not formulating this opinion in a vacuum, by the way. I had a very formative experience along these lines in Pullman, while Magraret was getting her DVM. I’d been listening to Rush one morning when I heard him make the following assertion: the ban against use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as spray propellant was ridiculous, another liberal witch hunt for no good reason. His reasoning: the oceans and volcanoes of the world release millions of time the amount of chlorine and fluorine into the atmosphere that are generated by human activities. Therefore the depletion of the ozone layer, if it’s really happening at all, has nothing to to with CFCs. Just another opportunity for envronmentalist wackos to extend the reach of their power by scaring good honest citizens.

Now, I knew that this was just wrong, but I couldn’t say why at that particular minute. I talked to Margaret about it when I got off work and she got out of class, and she agreed. “There’s something about the way a chlorinated hydrocarbon reacts to ultraviolet light that’s different,” she said. I don’t recall where we researched it, but we came up with the answer: CFCs, of course, react in a completely different manner than regular cholrine and fluorine when exposed to ultraviolet light. CFCs bind with and destroy ozone; chlorine and fluorine don’t.

Our discovery turned out to be most timely. We had fallen in with a group of friends who were all connected to one of Margaret’s classmates with whom she’d really hit it off. This was a batch of grad students, primarily environmental scientists: geologists, planners, soil specialists, that sort of thing. Among them was one die-hard conservative, a Rush Limabugh fan among other things (though I don’t think I’d go so far as to call him a “Dittohead”). I will withold his name, not because I think he’d give a tin turd, just out of courtesy.

We were over at his apartment that weekend with a small group of other friends and hangers-on when the topic somehow got around to the ozone layer. Said friend promptly repeated Limbaugh’s assertion about how the whole thing was a cheap scare tactic, and why. This really got to me. If there’s one human being on the face of the planet who you’d think would take the time to look into such an obviously fallacious statement, it would be a graduate student in environmental science.

Donning my most courteous deadpan expression, I explained to him in detail why Rush’s argument was nothing but a big, steaming load. He took it quite well, actually, admitting that our version seemed to make more sense than what he’d heard on the radio. Irrespective of our political differences, he’s a great guy and we both like him quite a lot. To which he’d undoubtedly reply, “Ditto!” 😛

This isn’t my only experience along these lines, either. It was with some small amount of rueful joy that I informed my extremely conservative uncle (who also happens to be a recently retired prominent research veterinarian) that one of his heroes, Michael Medved, thinks that the detrimental effects of DDT on wildlife—the “Silent Spring” effect—are a complete fabrication. My uncle, a very intelligent, wonderful human being whom I love very much, was caught flat-footed. “That can’t be right,” he said. “There’s no question that DDT thinned the egg shells of a variety of birds.” I promised to send him a hyperlink if I could find one. Sadly, Medved does not seem to have repeated this opinion in print or on the Web, just live on his radio program. Can anyone point me to a link?

The point of all this woolgathering is that, unless there is someone out there actively challenging the weird and fallacious assertions of the Radio Right, they are left to stand, and with sufficient repetition they are woven into the fabric of commonly-acknowledged “reality”. (Witness poor Al Gore: he went from “I was on the panel that approved the budget appropriations for ARPANet, which helped lay the groundwork for what later became the Internet” to “Lookame! I invented the Internet!”, all with help of relentless repetition by the Right of misquotes generated by the Right.) Enter Al Franken and Air America. Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them was a brilliant stab at just these sorts of fabrications, but a book is static and does not remain relevant to the public, suffering as we do from cultural ADD, over time. The glorious Interweb certainly does its part, but the human voice brings with it a kind of connection that has yet to be achieved with words on a computer screen. That, and comparatively few of us are able to surf the Web during the demographically crucial Morning Commute airtime slot….at least not yet (shudder). What Franken does on his radio program, what is so desperately needed, is to parse and correct these misstatements and outright lies as they are presented for public consumption.

A truly classic recent example is the widely-disseminated assertion that FDR favored the replacement of Social Security with private accounts. This began popping up all over the airwaves both audio and visual, and on the Web in blogs, in forums, in people’s ferchrissakes signatures. Is it true? Not in the least. Did that affect whether or not folks believed it? Apparently not. It took the leftie community—such as it is—to bring the lie to light, and The Al Franken Show among a select few to bring it to the ears of the listening audience.

Like most folks out there, I have a job, a spouse, a mortgage….in other words, what passes for a life these days. I don’t have the time to wage full-time war against someone else’s propaganda machine. I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to stand up and call “shenanigans” on these demagogues on my behalf. For that, [Higher Power of your choice] bless you, Al Franken.


Irony Chef

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:06 pm

Flipping through the channels this evening, we happened across an ad for Iron Chef America, the Food Network spinoff of the wonderful original series from Japan’s Fuji Television.

Now, I have nothing against the American version of this show; while it lacks much of the zany pomp of its Japanese counterpart, it does have its good points. Alton Brown does a very nice job of emceeing the show, and the dude playing Chairman Kaga’s nephew is so obviously a kama’aina—he pronounces “history” as if it’s spelled with an “sh” in the middle—that I always get a giggle out of his part in the show.

No, the reason I bring this whole thing up has to do with the commercial itself, which ended with “Iron Chef America: sponsored by Kraft and Snapple!”

Huh? “Five-Star Gourmet Cuisine Cooking Challenge: brought to you by the makers of Microwavable Mac & Cheese and Bottled Sugar Water!”

What, had Slim Jims and Yoo Hoo already blown their ad budgets for this fiscal year?

Kneel, O Jism!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:45 am

Say it fast. 😉

I’m something of a fan of new and unusual words, and often catch myself synthesizing unique terms to meet the needs of the moment. I will try to remember to post these as they arise.

Here’s one of my favorites:

You may already have heard of bozone, the substance that surrounds and envelops stupid people.

Well, when the bozone layer surrounding any given individual grows so pervasive that it begins to affect the intelligence of those around them, that person has become a stuporconductor.


Irony Supplement, Part 4

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:49 am

Irony Supplement Part 4

Shot at my local QFC grocery store. You may recall a previous Irony Supplement post that discussed the phenomenon of “sectoring”, where two or more genetically diverse tissue samples will battle for turf on a petri dish. This is another potential example of this sort of thing. Personally, I’m surprised that these two items can coexist in the same freezer without engaging in endless combat.

Perhaps they have reached some sort of modus vivendi. After all, these foodstuffs would seem to produce complimentary, rather than conflicting, results for the consumer. Overconsupmtion of one leads to desire—or at least a feeling of obligation, in the case of the Lean Cuisine—for the other.

Now that I think about it, those clever shelf-stockers may be on to something.


In Case There’s Anyone Left….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:10 pm

….who has yet to see this Superbowl-related ad (it may be an actual Superbowl ad; I don’t care enough about the Superbowl or anything related to it to look into it), I’ve posted a copy for you to view. Kind of cute. Thanks to Gavin for sending me a link to it.

Requires Apple’s free QuickTime Player to view.


Recently Spotted

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:36 pm

Weiner Mobile 1

I was stopped at a red light outside of Olympia today when I happened to spot the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile gassing up at a Chevron station, so I had to pull over and take a few snapshots like the total goober that I am. Lemmetellyou, my friends; that sucker is huge. It’s like some sort of Urban Assault Vehicle in nitrite-laden cognito.

Weiner Mobile 2

The young couple (I don’t know that they were a “couple” couple, but there were two of them, one of each sex) were nice enough to let me take my pictures while they gussied up their chariot, then they were off to continue spreading their timely message of Meats on Earth.


Who Took My Frog?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:55 pm

P.S. I’ll find my frog

UPDATE: Trish sent along a link to the backstory behind Hopkin the Missing Frog. Very interesting, touching, and a little disturbing….

Recently Spotted

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:07 pm

Ha Ha!

Snapped this little beauty about a mile from our house, outside some sort of metal fabrication business or scrap yard. It has since been taken down; talk about timing!

For those of you not currently residing in the Great Northwest, this tableau is in reference to our recent and possibly-not-yet-over governor’s race. It’s a timeless story: boy meets girl, boy runs against girl in Washington Governor’s race, boy wins vote, girl demands recount, girl loses machine recount but wins subsequent hand recount, boy screams like the corncob up his butt just grew spines.

I like Christine Gregoire a lot, but I’m afraid that this will not be the best term in office for her, given the ongoing controversy.

Not that she’s in danger of experiencing a lame-duck governorship.

I fear it might be more like a duck with an arrow through its neck. Tied up with duct tape.

In a tank full of piranhas.

On the surface of the Sun.

In July.

On second thought, scratch that last one; it’s just ridiculous. 😛

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