Thursday, January 7


Risible, cut-rate impersonator in a cheap suit poses
next to a fire extinguisher and Col. Sanders.

• The Joy-A-Minute Thrill Ride That Is Ross Douthat's NYT Blog (and, supposing you, Reader, had just returned home from Amnesia, innocent of the whole Blogging Mystique: what would you make of the Times paying one of its columnists--let alone the one with the bad teenage beard--to fucking think out loud?) "informs" us that there is a popular entertainment known as Avatar which might be the most hypocritical thing ever produced in the name of Entertainment, since it extols the virtues of primitivism and--Ross' genuflecting was audible--pantheism, but uses modern technology in place of the pinhole camera.

Then again, says hopeful Ross, maybe not; this "much-discussed irony" may be a mere artifact of director James Cameron, the perpetrator of The Titanic, cynically using Eden, pantheism, and the enormities of self-assured conquest cynically, just because he knew it would put people in the seats.

In standard Douthat Blogging fashion, his real point is that he found somebody he could link to who makes the case better than he can, and cheaper, which somebody turns out to be a guy who got a headache from Avatar's 3-D effects (Good. It's the least you should have expected.), or, perhaps, from its "anti-imperialism and anti-corporate attitudinizing". Which contrast, apparently, with its blockbuster cousin The Matrix, whose "moral lesson…is that the glossy magic of life inside a simulation distracts from painful truth", and which reserved its headaches for people who read the sort of reviewers who find moral lessons in big-screen comic-books, and follow this up by discussing whether the "fun" the movie seems to have vitiates the value of the lesson.

I suspect you may have heard some of the "much discussion", because I had, despite all the precautions I take around anything communicable. And I'm left with two questions. One: as far as you guys are concerned, isn't the idea of Cameron as a 3-D Svengali, luring impressionable Americans into debbil worship, cultural relativism, and maybe even thoughtful consideration of incontinent military-assisted rapaciousness actually preferable to the idea of Cameron as a carbonated beverage salesman who's hit upon a marketable truth about the real American soul? And two: wasn't the world a lot better off when these fucks just wore hair shirts and kept their itching to themselves?

• Shorter, no really, Farhad Manjoo: It's 2010! I can't believe I, Farhad Majoo, still have to plug one device into another! With my hands! What th' hell kind of a world is this? Also, what an outrage that Google Voice--nothing short of a reinvention of the phone!--was only passed out to bigwigs. Oh, and here's my review.

• That's Accidental Mayor of Indianapolis Gomer F. Ballard, USMC, pictured above at yesterday's Photo Op/Awards Ceremony for his having secured $2500 worth of fire extinguishers--some with minor blemishes, and all with "KFC Fiery Grilled Wings" emblazoned on 'em--with just the simple expedient of handing the corporate behemoth and fine member of the Yum! Brands family of slow poisoners advertising worth about twenty times that.

The extinguishers will be going to the same city parks system that the fledgling Mayor Gomer was heard to ask why we needed? back before someone shoved a cork in him.

Y'know, this is precisely why we need constitutional protection from privatizing more than, say, property taxes. There's at least a self-correcting feature of tax increases. But privatization means some suit somewhere is either bending over for the first deal he gets, or holding Macquarie Infrastructure Group underwater until they agree to his demands. The allure is sexual. It's BDSM Republican style.

• Have no fear, Murrica. Indiana Wizened Senate Sinecure Dick "Statesman" Lugar, the man who cautioned us about the Iraq war before voting for it before saying I Told You So before voting for it several more times, has asked Indiana Attorney General Greg "Dude, Your Shoes Are Supposed To Remain Visible Outside Mitch Daniels' Rectum" Zoeller to review the constitutionality of the health care reform bill that the Senate passed last month, apparently while Lugar was in attendance.

Specifically, Lugar wants Zoeller to rule on whether "the bill’s requirement that most people buy insurance or face a penalty violates the Constitution’s ban on taking private property for public purpose without just compensation", and whether a provision that could treat some insurance companies in Nebraska and Michigan different from others is a violation of the 14th Amendment's “equal protection” clause. Zoeller is empowered to do so under Indiana's "Useless Fucking Gestures by Grandstanding Public Officials" Act.

Lugar, of course, is the Senate's longest-serving Republican, a perch he's achieved while basically ignoring the concerns of actual Hoosiers in favor of positioning himself as, first, Presidential timber, and, second, as a roundly-rejected former Presidential candidate with trans-partisan appeal as a statesman-like protector of the rest of the world from employing more nuclear weapons than the US would like. And, of course, he's backed this up by voting for every last Defense budget, weapon system, black op, and minor military incursion that's crossed his desk.

But Zoeller, now, is part of the new breed of Indiana politician who sees statewide office as a fine place from which to conduct a permanent campaign for Governor, even if you aren't Secretary of State (i.e., even if your job has real duties which you really ought to, you know, be doing), although, historically, no one's ever vaulted to the top spot from elsewhere. In fact, if these guys had any respect for tradition, they'd be working as after dinner speakers, Ministers to Prussa, Klan lawyers, or helping the Bush administration destroy the national economy.

Then again, maybe I'm just touchy. A couple months ago we started receiving what I think are called in the annoyance industry "vacated" calls, which are robocalls that connect to an available human if you pick up, and if there's an available human available. They came two per day, every business day and occasionally on Saturday, around 8 AM and 6 PM. And there was never anyone there.

Now, my understanding of Indiana's No-Call law is that these calls are illegal. Indiana law exempts (wait for it) politicians and newspapers, but even they are required to have someone standing by who will disconnect you on demand.

Once I tumbled onto the fact that this one was of those Warner Brothers cartoons with The Robot House of Tomorrow Run Amok to the Appropriated Strains of Raymond Scott's Powerhouse, I chased down the caller ID, which led me to the out-of-state call center employed by the Indianapolis Racist Beacon to harass people into buying its product. This was followed by the parody of a call-center employee assuring me the problem would be fixed, and my name taken off the list, and, of course, by the calls continuing that very evening at a time when the Call Center was closed for the night. I did what I generally do in such circumstances; I endured two more calls while they were closed for the weekend, then got an actual human, told him I wanted to speak to the woman who'd assured me the problem would end, was told she wasn't available, asked, under the circumstances, then, to speak to the supervisor whose name she gave me but wouldn't connect me to, waited while the current operator tried and failed to confirm his existence, after which I allowed as how, whether or not the call was being recorded, I'd be just as satisfied driving to Louisville to shoot him in the face. After which the problem went away.

But not the memory. I tried calling the Racist Beacon a dozen times to speak to someone in the circulation department, and kept getting connected to the Executive Assistant in charge of Not Speaking English, so I called the Attorney General's hotline.

I went out of my way to explain, right off the bat, that I knew newspapers were legally permitted to drive any citizen with a phone out of his or her mind, but that this one was robocalling me. The attractive voice at the other end of the line then informed me that newspapers had the right to call me. I thanked her for the information, and then undertook to begin the conversation over again, at which point she managed to grasp it, and told me she didn't actually know whether that was unlawful or not. I inquired about the odds on her finding someone in the office who might. She informed me that she wasn't actually in the AGs office. She worked for a call center.

So I eventually was mailed a complaint form, which required me to swear (God knows I'd done enough of that already) that I'd turn up to testify in court, even though this seemed unlikely. I filled the thing out, taking special care to add in the optional comments that Yes, I motherfucking understand that newspapers are exempt from Indiana's no-call statute, unlike bloggers, but that what said motherfucking newspaper was doing violated the law anyway.

About three weeks later I got a piece of return mail. In it, Attorney General Greg Zoeller informed me that newspapers are exempt from Indiana's no-call law.


Anonymous said...

Mr Dog -- how about a written summary of the above, addressed to the Head Honbcho of the rag, wrapped neatly around a nice red brick delivered to the front mail-slot from a moving carʻs distance, provided the mail slot happens to be located next to a large plate glass window? Merely a suggestion. I cannot confirm or deny that I personally would perform this act.

Anonymously, with aloha,


Uncle Omar said...

Did Douchehat bother to point out that the entire purpose of the "movie" was to presage a video game where the players/pantheists shoot the pixel based corporate thugs? And that Cameron will stand to make a bunch more money from the video game than he will from any second rate movie?

And Douchehat is "tholific," which, as luck will have it, is my verification word for today.

Sator Arepo said...

I, too, swear that Mr Riley has some magical agreement with the word verification entity. This is because every imaginary word I have to verify looks for all the world like an archaic yet apt pejorative description of some idiot who has drawn Mr Riley's ire in the current post.

Today's Handy Example: I would probably feign understanding and, later, run to a dictionary to confirm that Douthat could accurately be described using today's word:


Marion in Savannah said...

That pasty little putz whose initials are RD seems to have cross-pollinated with Bobo who had a screed about Avatar in today's Times. I'm waiting with bated breath...

Pican (my verification thingy) sounds so much like a word that I'm hard put not to get out the OED.

StringonaStick said...

So when do the guys (and it is always guys) who make up those "top 100 conservative songs/books/dildos" announce that Avatar is a liberal screed and just be done with it? I for one would love to see teabaggers picketing the movie since that will make them even more popular with the youngin's than they already are.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what it's like in Indiana, Doghouse, but here in NJ the ratio of soliciting calls to actual calls from people we know is - no exaggeration - about 20 to 1. Maybe 30 to 1. We get approx 10-15 solicitation calls per day. Now it might be better if my sister and I led a groovier social life (though if we did it would prob involve e-mail and texting more than phoning). But I know a busy and sociable real estate lady in this town who says she never answers her home phone line any more, because it's almost never anything but sales calling.

Not to shill, but one good feature of the telephone/internet/cableTeevee package offered in the NJ-NY-CT area by is the caller ID that appears on your telly screen. So one can stare entranced at the news hairdos or BBC World Service or Nostradamus or whatever, and not miss any real calls.

Li'l Innocent

Shell Goddamnit said...

My immediately previous word verification thingie, at google maps, was pecon. I think the word verification thingie just can't spell "pecan" properly.

Re: Robocalls: This is why I have cell phone only. For the nonce, it is not okay for the shillers to call me on cell. When it does become okay, I will start the shooting war.