when the status quo frustrates.

Art for the masses

Monday, July 31st, 2006

I want buying my paintings to be like buying a CD: it’s cheap, it’s art and it changes your life, but the object has no status. Musicians create something for the moment, something with no boundaries and that kind of expansiveness is what I want to come across in my work.

-Steve Keene

And he isn’t kidding. According to a NYT article from last year, Keene churns out 60-80 paintings a day and he estimates he has sold more than 170,000 in the last 15 years.

My new(est) apartment has a lot more wall space than I’m used to, and I had put off the acquisition of something worthy to cover it all up, largely because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to look at day after day. Cue a fortuitous find by friend and reader Carrie in the form of Steve Keene.

Carrie went to Steve’s site and ordered a single painting for $12 plus $8 shipping. When you order from Steve Keene, you don’t get to choose the painting, just the size. And for that price, who can complain when it comes to original art? After a few weeks, Carrie received her order. Much to her surprise, it included several paintings, not just the one she ordered. For $20 she had received a whole wall of art.

After she gave me an extra (he had included 2 painted renditions of OK Computer’s cover), I figured this was the answer to my empty wall’s prayers. I ordered a large and a small painting for $20 total plus $9 shipping, curious to see how many paintings I might get. A few weeks later, I received these 10:

So for $30 I got 10 original pieces of art, and they aren’t tiny, either; the smalls are 12×12, and the larges are 16×20. I love some of the paintings more than others, sure, but I think they all work together quite well. They bring the whole room to life.

If you have some wallspace to fill, I heartily encourage you to send $20 Steve’s way. His vibrant populist art may be one of the best deals in America.

Perhaps we should rename it Feministmo

Monday, July 31st, 2006

We’ve been tossing the hot potato from Gitmo to Iraq to Lebanon to keep us distracted from how badly we’re performing and/or abusing law in each of these areas. Just as public sentiment starts to boil over about one, bam-whoosh-kapow, we’re transported to another. Today, we’re bounced back to Gitmo via an AP report about prisoner attacks on guards.

Incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press indicate Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by “cocktails” of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners.

They’ve been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through the small “bean holes” used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say.

Bean holes. Nice.

Like most good scare pieces, the facts are dumped between scary general statements (see above) and scary specific stories. Here is a fact:

Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.

Queue the specific stories of horror, including eye-gouging, spork-stabbing, spitting, Quran destruction, pieces of rust used to “go for the jugular,” radio-tossing, sink-tossing, rock-tossing, hip attacks, and assaults “with a bloody tail torn from a lizard.”

That extended diatribe sounds awful, and I am sure a number of guards have had to endure plenty of unpleasantries. But let us remember this fact:

Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.

Additionally, in a place that has only now been told to comply with the Geneva Convention, you’d have a hard time convincing me these guards didn’t make sure any ornery prisoner got at least twice as much as he gave.

Another important fact kinda jammed in the first third of the article:

At one point, more than 600 foreign men captured in the war on terror were kept there. Many have been released to their home countries, reducing the current population to about 450. Ten detainees have been accused of war crimes, but no one has been tried.

600 captured, 450 remain, 10 accused, 0 tried. After how long again?

These men may or may not be monsters; it’s tough to know with all the secrecy and refusal of oversight. But one thing I do know: if you cage people this long and give them this little hope, monstrous behavior is inevitable.

Part of the monstrosity involves attacks on the female guards:

In all, nearly a quarter of incidents involved female guards, the reports show.

“They absolutely target female guards,” Nicolucci said. “They have a lot of cultural biases about females, and we let them know in our culture that females do everything males do in a professional job environment, and we just hold firm.”

I guess if you were a true feminist, you’d hold Gitmo up as a paragon of feminism. You know, right along with Abu Ghraib.

The Bush Quiz

Monday, July 31st, 2006

From the New Yorker. Gotta take it.

Hey, I’m not the only one ripping the Dems for their weak strategy

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Matt from myDD is also tired of the bungled, vapid message of the party. He hates their new slogan ideas and suggests his own:

Republicans support George Bush. Losers.

Some of the commenters do even better, and I’d like to submit:

-Bring freedom and our soldiers back home.

-Energy for tomorrow. [oooh, multiple meanings!]

-Fight back.

Honey, while you’re out, could you pick up a paycheck?

Monday, July 31st, 2006

According to the NYT, as far as the workplace is concerned, some men are just saying no:

Millions of men like Mr. Beggerow — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work.

About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960’s. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Ah, how generous of the American male — 4 million feminist supporters holding the door for women to take the jobs they think.. are… beneath… well, okay, the job might be a bit of a fixer-upper. But we promise it’s a great starter gig. Lots of advancement opportunities. Yep. Whoo, what time is it? I, uh, gotta go. [scampers off]

Beggerow was a steelworker, but it isn’t just the blue collar man sitting on the sidelines to help the cause of feminism:

“To be honest, I’m kind of looking for the home run,” said Christopher Priga, who is 54 and has not had steady work since he lost a job with a six-figure income as an electrical engineer at Xerox in 2002. “There’s no point in hitting for base hits,” he explained. “I’ve been down the road where I did all the things I was supposed to do, and the end result of that is nil.”

Instead, Mr. Priga supports himself by borrowing against the rising value of his Los Angeles home. Other men fall back on wives or family members.

Hey, look at that! Not only are a number of these men giving women the chance to hold jobs, but they’re also sharing the joy of supporting a family with their wives. That’s so sweet. I’m sure they’re picking up the slack back at the homestead to show their gratitude.

Today, about 73 percent of women between 30 and 54 have a job, compared with 45 percent in the mid-1960’s, according to an analysis of Census data by researchers at Queens College. Many women without jobs are raising children at home, while men who are out of a job tend to be doing neither family work nor paid work.

Err, well, um, we promise we’ll take little Johnny to the park as soon as the game’s over.

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Poetry Monday: With No Experience in Such Matters

Monday, July 31st, 2006

By Stephen Dunn

To hold a damaged sparrow
under water until you feel it die
is to know a small something
about the mind; how, for example,
it blames the cat for the original crime,
how it wants praise for its better side.

And yet it’s as human
as pulling the plug on your Dad
whose world has turned
to feces and fog, human as–
Well, let’s admit, it’s a mild thing
as human things go.

But I felt the one good wing
flutter in my palm–
the smallest protest, if that’s what it was,
I ever felt or heard.
Reminded me of how my eyelid has twitched,
the need to account for it.
Hard to believe no one notices.

.08% of the good life

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Panicky House Republicans tried to scam an easy win on all sides by tying estate tax relief to a minimum wage hike:

Critics say the House deal, linking an increase in the minimum wage with a sharp reduction of the estate tax, is aimed at two groups at opposite ends of the economic spectrum. The minimum wage hike will help some 6.6 million beneficiaries with an average dollar benefit of $1,200. The estate tax cut will benefit some 8,200 people with an average dollar benefit of $1.4 million, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington.

Whose jihad are we talking about again?

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

HonestReporting.com pushes no small amount of DisingenuousPropaganda intended to fuel war between the West and the Middle East.

Now, they’ve released a propumentary film called “Obsession,” and it’s available on google video. If you have 80 minutes to devote to Inciting Hate 101, I highly recommend a viewing.

The film is appalling. While it opens with a cursory exemption of the peace-loving Muslim from its crosshairs, it repeatedly shows images like Muslim children celebrating 9/11 — images seemingly designed to ease the conscience about and pave the way for genocide.

At the 20:31 mark, the film addresses the radical liberal idea that we might have done something to provoke the hatred of huge swaths of people in the Middle East. Itamar Marcus, head of the Palestinian Media Watch, twice within a minute refers to “American academia and media” placing “the blame on American imperialism around the world.” They even show a picture of this Alternet article as one of the culprits.

He then dismisses the concept of accepting any blame as ludicrous. Marcus calls the notion of iquiring about our culpability “understandable” from “Western eyes,” but describes it as “unfortunate” because “it is distracting the population from the real source of the problem, which is an ideology which wants to destroy the West.”

So, to review, if you want to ask why someone might want to destroy the West, you’re distracting us from the idea that they want to destroy the West. Uh-huh. With double-speak like that, you’d think they were hiding something.

Actually, though, they do try to explain the cause of Western hatred from their perspective. Apparently, it’s selfish propaganda from Muslim leaders designed to strengthen their position.

Khaled Abu Toameh, described as a “Palestinian Journalist,” says, “Arab dictators, in order to survive, constantly incite their people against the West, the Jews, and the United States. This is how they survive, by telling their people they are all to blame except for us.”

John Loftus, a former Justice Dept Prosecutor, describes the motivations of these leaders. “We dictators aren’t the enemy. We’re like you, we’re Arabs. The real enemy is the Jews, the West, it is modernism. These are the things that are destroying the very fabric of our society.”

Itamar Marcus argues, “One of the main ways they get the people to be willing to fight and endanger their lives and to hate the West is to present the war as an act of self defense.”

Nonie Darwish, identified only as “the daughter of a Shahid (Martyr)” states, “So in order for you to do Jihad you have to find a good reason. The best reason is we’re defending ourselves. There is an an enemy out there who wants to get us.”

Doesn’t that sound… familiar? Where else have I heard of leaders distracting people from totalitarian misdeeds at home by waging war against a foreign enemy they’ve demonized while falsely describing attacks on them as acts of self-defense?

Oh yeah.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say there was an awful lot of good cop/bad cop being played here, wouldn’t you?

Moving day liveblog

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Why are we moving a saxophone? No one who lives here plays or has ever played the saxophone.

The passion of the drunkle

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

What a man of god Mel Gibson is:

“F—–g Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” Mee’s report quotes him as saying.

“Are you a Jew?” Gibson asked the deputy, according to the report.

The actor also berated the deputy, threatening, “You motherf—-r. I’m going to f— you,” according to Mee’s report.

The actor also told the cop he “owns Malibu” and would spend all his money “to get even with me,” Mee said in his report.

TMZ quoted a law enforcement source as saying Gibson noticed a female sergeant on the scene and yelled at her, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar t–s?”

Deputy Mee then wrote an eight-page report detailing of the incident, but higher-ups in the sheriff’s department felt it was too “inflammatory” to release and would merely serve to incite “Jewish hatred,” TMZ said.

Via DymaxionWorldJohn, Jonah Goldberg weighs in with “disappointment” while still trying to make as many excuses for the man as possible.

Fascinating that the wingnuts will bend over backward to call critics of Israel’s current actions anti-Semites while still trying to hoist up Mel Gibson as a flawed-yet-still good-at-heart champion of the right.

Meanwhile, that “sugar tits” line will probably cost Mel a few extra Hail Marys in confession this morning, don’t you think? (And it makes me wonder if he keeps a pair of Shower Breasts in his biffy).

New Pert Plus, now enriched with the blood of the innocent!

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Samhita at Feministing brings us the sexiest, most confident object a man could have in his shower, the Shower Breasts:

But I’m on the fence about whether to buy. Let’s take a look at the product description from BoysStuff.co.uk…

Squeeze the boob to release the gel… Having a shower has never been so much fun!

Well, I’m relieved to know I won’t have to drag my RealDoll into the shower with me anymore in case I get a fake-tit craving. Showers are normally stressful and boring, but when it comes to taking it away, Calgon ain’t got shit on plastic boobs.

Do you fancy fondling a pert pair of bosoms in the shower every day? Actually that’s probably a silly question.

It is! But we’re probably thinking of different reasons why.

Well now you can do just that, and make them squirt into the bargain.

I, uh, don’t speak British well enough to know what making them squirt “into the bargain” might mean, but it sounds delightful. And as long as my lactation fetish is sated, I could really care less. Now, if they can just make shampoo that tastes like ladymilk, we’ll be all set.

Before this descends into Carry On territory, we should make it clear that the Shower Breasts are a fun and saucy shower gel/shampoo dispenser. Well what else could we have been insinuating?

Oh, the Brits. The poor chaps felt compelled to apologize for their innuendos already.

Shower Breasts are guaranteed to make you want to wash more often. This naughty nipple-topped pair attaches to your shower wall with the suckers provided, with each bosom having a compartment for shower gel, shampoo or conditioner. To dispense, simply squeeze away – but be warned, you could run out of shower gel very quickly…

Did he say suckers? I’m sorry, I got distracted. This is all very complicated. I have to put what where? Then do what to them how? And I orgasm when?

A great fun gift, Shower Breasts are so tactile that you’ll be ready to move into the shower. In fact, if any female Boys Stuff fans out there are having trouble with their man’s personal hygiene, this could be the solution. And all that squeezing is sure to help build his biceps, so everyone’s a winner.

That’s Boys Stuff for you — always thinking ladies first. After all, they also sell the popular gentleman’s ball scratcher, which is silver plated, dishwasher safe, and “crafted in the shape of a delicate female hand.”

I heard Dubya’s a big fan of Boys Stuff, but his fetishes are pretty unique. A candid white house shower scene below the fold.

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New York Post calls for genocide

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

At least they stopped pretending the war has anything to do with freedom for the people of Iraq. It’s more like a Raiders football game — just win, baby!

A few days ago, John Podhoretz of the Post (h/t tristero) made a call for Sunni extermination. That’s how far we’ve come.

His lead-in:

WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?

The most conservative confirmed numbers of dead Iraqi civilians are about 40,000. Back in 2004, though, the British medical journal Lancet had already estimated the total at 100,000. Great point, John. About the caring and all.

What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy – the idea that all people are created equal – has sunk in so deeply that we no longer assign special value to the lives and interests of our own people as opposed to those in other countries?

All people? Harrumph. “From 2003 to 2004, real average income for the top 1 percent of households shot up by 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was under three percent. Indeed, the top one percent accumulated 36 percent of all income increases in 2004, a six percent increase from 2003.” (Thanks, Ezra!)

Improbably, Podhoretz compares the current situation to fighting the Germans and the Japanese:

Didn’t the willingness of [our] leaders to inflict mass casualties on civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the will and the back of their enemies? Didn’t that singleness of purpose extend down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of Germans and Japanese?

You might remember the Germans from such invasions as Poland and France. You might remember the Japanese from such sneak attacks as Pearl Harbor. You might remember the Iraqis from… from… uh… the last time we invaded them?

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