when the status quo frustrates.

I don’t remember Prince Charming talking that much in any of the movies.

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

As a feminist-type blogger I have, on occasion, participated in making a mockery of men who try to buy brides from poverty-stricken foreign lands and justify it by idealizing the feminine allure that women of [insert country of choice here] just naturally have in spades unlike coarse, jaded American women, spoiled by decades of feminism. And god knows it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, because come on, could they get any more transparent? But what about the noble creature who knows that feminism hasn’t completely won, that hasn’t given up on us American women, that knows that somewhere in those amber waves of grain exists the perfect woman if only he’d seek her out?

Yes, there exists such a man. In Mesa, Arizona he waits for his muse, his love, nay…his Cinderella.

No, I’m not kidding. Neither is he. And he knows it’s a tough find, for he’s made it a nationwide search.

I already have more than most men could hope to achieve. I do not consider myself rich but I would call myself well off. I am well known and respected throughout my industry. I do not come from a life privilege, all I have achieved I have earned.

I’m sure he’s as handsome as he is modest. What could a man worthy of such praise possibly be lacking?

I lack a muse, a companion who I can share all that I have to offer. What do I offer? I offer my lifestyle, my wealth, my dedication, all that I have, to be shared equally.

I am seeking Cinderella.

Now, before you get your hopes up, please understand that he’s looking for the perfect woman, his Cinderella, and it’s going to take a while to describe this to make sure you measure up. He wants to take a woman with nothing and offer her everything so you’d best believe that there’s a laundry list of what you’ll be bringing to the table before we can even consider ‘sharing equally’, because MesaMan is a fair man and wants to avoid any power imbalance caused by lavishing his fortune on an unworthy female specimen. So don’t even start reading this personal ad unless you are willing to make a sincere commitment to finishing it and evaluating yourself harshly before responding. Are you sure you’re ready? Because there’s a chance you won’t measure up, and that’s OK. There still might be a little something something in it for your fugly ass pessimistic undesirable self.

I heard Asian women love blunt honesty

Friday, December 28th, 2007

From my local craigslist:

Any Asian women out there looking for a nice white guy? – 40
Reply to: ———-
Date: 2007-12-21, 10:37AM EST

I’m a 40 year old white guy that has always been attracted to Asian women. Age is mostly unimportant, but I’m looking for a relationship. I’m 5′ 10″ and 195 lbs with bright blue eyes. Please send your pic and some info and we’ll e-mail.

I don’t think there’s a terribly large Asian population on this particular corner of craigslist, so if any Punkass readers want to snap up this morsel I’d be happy to set you up. No one night stands, please.

Townhall V MidWest Teen Sex Show.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Mary Grabar of Townhall fame has found the Midwest Teen Sex show, and she is not amused.

These podcasts are introduced with a sign held by a gyrating, scantily clad nubile teenager in a farm field. The porno-inspired intro ends with her on all fours with the sign in her mouth.

So already we know that Mary is missing the point, the underlying theme, the whole base of the jokes. Britney’s laughable prancing with a hand-lettered sign in a freshly-plowed field is a mockery of sexy; a parody of a teenager stuck in the sticks imitating the supposedly sexy poses of women in advertisements and porn. Sure, Brit looks great in a bikini top, but the intro is still supposed to look silly, not sexy.

Unfortunately, Graber’s humorless gaze rests mostly on the Abstinence episode, that sophomore jinx nestled between the genius Female Masturbation episode and the geniuser Older Boyfriend episode. Then she starts complaining about some worksheet, and I searched and searched the MWTSS site for a worksheet before finally finding it on a different website by an organization that once briefly linked to MWTSS then took down the link because apparently no one read the disclaimer that appears at the beginning of each episode.* Which is how Mary found Nikol & Co. in the first place. Also, Jane Fonda is a traitor.

Anyway, in her column “Sex Education Lesson: Beat Up the Virgins”, Mary implies that the retarded, drooling, buck-toothed, one-eyed pro-abstinence girl was beaten into brain damage, although there is nothing in the shows content that suggests this. Rather, the joke seems to be that this clearly undesirable person was just using a commitment to abstinence to explain why she really wasn’t getting any. In poor taste? Oh, God, yes. Probably worse than the “Homosexuality is a choice…like cancer” t-shirts that enjoyed so brief a time on their store’s e-shelves. A suggestion that pro-abstinence kids will be beaten into permanent brain damage by their cooler, fornicating classmates? Eh, not so much.

Nikol, or someone using her email, has taken umbrage with this, and sent Mary a snippy email. Mary fights back in a second column where she lays bare the following devastating facts:

1. The producers of the MidWest Teen Sex Show may be trying to get noticed by the film industry
2. Teens and young adults writing about sex on an internet message board frequently employ poor spelling and grammar, proving that they are not mature enough to engage in discussion about sex that isn’t boring.

I doubt that the link would have been pulled had the Midwest Teen Sex Show’s videos featured nothing more salacious than animations of eggs traveling down fallopian tubes…According to a Wall Street Journal article published on November 8, 2007, the Midwest Teen Sex Show is the venture of Nikol Hasler and Guy Clark, “an aspiring filmmaker,” who wants to use the podcasts to “show off his cinematography skills to would-be employers.” I suspect money and careers are at stake…

What these kids need is not this idiotic posturing about sex, but reading, writing, and arithmetic. To begin with, they should be assigned such anti-censorship greats as John Milton and Richard Weaver, who have advocated exposure and open debate. If Nikol@MidwestTeenSexShow.com stands by her claim that I misrepresented the show, then she would not be worried because the podcasts would speak for themselves. The thing that propagandists—especially those who target minors—fear most is exposure.

That’s right, Nikol. Here you are, ignoring the basic mechanics of sex and focusing on irrelevant social issues to an audience that doesn’t know the slightest thing about John Milton’s Areopagitica, and its defense of the right of a political website columnist to misconstrue a bad joke to make it seem more outrageous to her audience. That is the very definition of irresponsible. As a parent, you should feel ashamed for propagating dangerous information like masturbation tips, unlike abstinence-based sexual education proponents, who would never leave kids with the wrong idea.

*OK, so MWTSS show says the show is for 18+, even though they are pretty educational and we all know that younger teens would eat this stuff up. I wish I’d had something like this when I was in junior high and that stupid smoshing-the-play-doh-promiscuity exercise was just reinforcing the idea that grown-ups had no clue. Still, if you are an Official Sexual Education Provider trying to convince people to let you educate their precious snowflakes on sex in a comprehensive manner and the morality police are watching your every move, then MWTSS is definitely not something you want to be linking to approvingly, and the disclaimer is there to warn you. Let the kids find it themselves, you just focus on keeping them educated enough to figure out when Nikol’s joking.

Made in Africa

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Recently, my roommate went home to Holyshitisthisplacepoor, WV, to visit his mother and help her take care of some business. After that was settled, they went to the mall, where they encountered a store he’d never seen before that seemed to have something to do with Sarah Jessica Parker and sold insanely cheap clothing. While Sarah (or SJP, for those in the know) blithered on from every television screen about your inalienable right to fashion, my roommate purchased 3 shirts for less than $10 apiece during what he assumed was some kind of clearance sale. He came home and showed them to me, they were OK shirts, nothing special, and told me a) about the crazy low prices and b) god damn, is Sarah Jessica Parker obnoxious. Since Roommate is frequently on a spandex-tight budget, and his current clothes are largely falling to pieces, we agreed that that seemed like a pretty good deal.

Then he washed the clothes, and they shrank literally a third. In one wash. He’d have to lose 40 pounds to get back into the shirts, which he never wore outside the house. He could have just stayed home and set fire to $30. To lose all three shirts would have made sense if they were the same style or brand, then you can just say, whoops, no wonder this one was on clearance. But to have three completely different styles and makes of shirts all shrink by the same drastic amount? WTF, right?

So I poked around the interwebs a bit, and found that SJP’s line (which is only women’s wear, so he wasn’t actually buying SJP clothes, as he believed) is sold exclusively from a store called Steve and Barry’s. Being a person who pays no attention whatsoever to celebrity clothing lines and steps in a mall maybe once a year, I was blissfully unaware of this place until now. The prices Roommate thought were clearance prices were actually S & B’s everyday low price, which the business press always helpfully points out “undercuts WalMart”. How do they do it? Well, they strongarm malls into paying them more for store set-up costs than it actually costs to set up a store, apparantly are staffed up to the corporate level by newbs who don’t yet care how much their pay sucks, the store’s owners can pwn the tariff/import game like nobody’s business, and probably most surprisingly,

That’s why it buys more from factories in Africa and less from China than many rivals — most African countries face neither U.S. quotas nor duties.

And so now I know about the African Growth and Opportunity Act that’s designed to encourage Africa to get in on the supplying-US-market game. This leads me to two questions, one of which is relevant to the poor people making the clothes and the other about the poor people buying the clothes:

1) How long until Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve & Barry’s, and African-country-TBD become the updated Kathie Lee Gifford, WalMart and Honduras?

The President may designate Sub-Saharan African countries as eligible to receive the benefits of the Act if they are making progress in such areas as: establishment of market-based economies; development of political pluralism and the rule of law; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment; protection of intellectual property; efforts to combat corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increase availability of health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights and worker rights, and elimination of certain practices of child labor. Progress in each area is not a requirement for AGOA eligibility.

2) Does it really do struggling families any good to give them a $7 sweatshirt if they have to buy a new one almost every time they wash it? If I were that poor, I’d prefer my shitty clothing fall apart in a manner I could more easily mend. Split seams and tears seem preferable to outright drastic fabric shrinkage.

You always become what you hate.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007


My ex-fiance finally has extracted his revenge. After five years of mocking his every gamer move, I am smitten with the game Portal, and it makes me no better than them. For five years I resisted the siren song of gaming, playing only the occasional game of Halo because it’s Halo fer godsake. In Portal, I quickly made it to level 17.

During finals week.

I will happily purchase items that feature slogans that are only funny to people who play the game. I will finish the game as soon as I get a new disc to replace the one my roommate destroyed, and then I’ll finish it on advanced.

I made the cake.


I can’t believe he won. Bastard. But the cake is terrific, so delicious and moist.

Silly putty is viscoelastic

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I promised you guys a polymer lecture, and I had a good boring one about polymer stabilized systems all mapped out in my brain. Lucky for you, I spent the day engaged in some very cutting-edge research on polymers, or at least that’s how we explained it to our boss when he came into the lab and found us examining the flow properties of silly putty. We’d had two samples of silly putty running down a filing cabinet for almost a month, and were analyzing the data. So let’s talk about silly putty instead.

Silly putty is a great polymer with a bunch of science packed into it. Silly putty is one of those accidental inventions, the by-product of war-era research on synthetic rubbers. While the story goes that the inventor sent samples of his bizarre polymer to scientists all over the world and none of them could think of a damn thing to do with it, I suspect they weren’t even trying. Most scientists when given an object will immediately spew out six different applications they’d like to apply it to, of which one might work and if we’re lucky won’t be prohibitively expensive. Either way, the entrepreneurs persevered by realizing that just because something is impractical doesn’t mean people don’t want it and today silly putty is not only a popular toy, but has found plenty of applications.

Silly putty’s weirdness stems from it’s odd flow properties: it bounces like a rubber ball, but can be smushed easily if pressed slowly. Some materials react differently to stress depending on how quickly the stress is applied. This is called a ‘viscoelastic’ response, where visco = flowy and elastic = bouncy. Most things give you a choice, either or but not both, but silly putty is in a special catagory of materials that can do both, depending on how you poke them.

“Quickly” is a relative term, and part of learning to be a scientist is learning how to combine a bunch of material parameters and spit out a decent time scale. Silly putty happens to have a very human-friendly natural relaxation timescale where shocks that are quick to us (bouncing, hammering) are also quick to the putty and slower but people-friendly stresses like kneading are slow enough to cause the flow response. Some materials that flow, like glass (which is not in the same family of materials as silly putty at all), flow so slowly that you wouldn’t notice a difference if you had a dozen lifetimes to sit there and watch,so we can pretty much always treat them as a solid. I’ve heard that stained glass windows in old-school European cathedrals are supposed to be almost imperceptibly thicker towards the bottom, and that this has been attributed to glass flowing downward under the influence of gravity, but at least one of my professors believes that this famous and fun example is probably a load of crap. I’ve never sat down and done the math myself, so I have no idea if hundreds of years is enough time to notice a difference. Point is, how long it takes a material to respond to different forces can be very important when it comes to considering how and if you can use it in a particular application, and silly putty might not be as fun if it had a different relaxation time.

There is a very good PDF on this topic over at the Cambridge Polymer Group’s website, including pictures of a sheet of silly putty with a bullet going through it. Also of note is this experiment where 50 pounds of silly putty were dropped off a parking garage.

You can make silly putty very easily at home with glue and a few other things, but some recipes involve ingredients that you may not have laying around and I’ve never tried any of the elmer’s glue ones myself so I don’t know how well it would work. A viscoelastic fluid that is easy to make at home and actually a little cooler (but a lot messier) than silly putty is cornstarch and water. Pretend you’re making a thickening agent for stew, but reverse the relative amounts of cornstarch and water so that it is mostly cornstarch. You’ll end up with a material that you can pour from one hand to the other but feels like a brick wall if you slap it. Also it will cover everything it touches in a fine dusting of starch, so tell your kids to keep it outside.

The best thing on the internet

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

For your viewing and listening pleasure, the Bill O’Reilly sex tapes as baroque oratorio, performed live at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall (needless to say, this is NSFW):

If you want more, apparently Igor Keller made an entire CD of it. This basically puts to rest all of those arguments that modern society no longer produces works of sheer genius.

Hat tip: Rohmie.

Just add laffs

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Doesn’t it go against everything Prairie Muffins stand for to spend $18.99 on a tacky, unflattering t-shirt?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

The continuity of shirt slogans at the Christian CafePress store goes from:

cute & tacky:


to cute, not as tacky:


to needlessly defensive, tacky & dated:


to needlessly defensive, tacky, but timeless:


to ummmm…..


to respectfully submitted without comment:


Anyone care to top “Militant Fecundity”?

Before Ayn Rand, philosophy was crap

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Generally I think that it is a bad thing that our current economy shoves our over-supply of articulate, overeducated people into wage slave customer service jobs that are expressly designed to squander the talents the articulate, overeducated people. On the other hand, thanks to the internet, we can all benefit from the combination of an aware mind and soul-gnawing tedium and or absurdity.

After I took you to the philosophy section to show you her absense in person, you began to explain your personal theories to me.

You explained to me that Ayn Rand is the first person to radically change philosophy in history. You explained to me, in a soft, intimate voice, that capitalism should in fact be called “liberalism,” due to the fact that it comes from the French word for “free,” and that capitalism makes us free.

I would like to apologize at this point for the fact that my employer prevents me from engaging in political or philosophical discussions with customers, because instead of nodding quietly, at this point, what I really should have done was point out that liber actually comes from Latin, from which both the French and English words are derived. I also apologize for not explaining that capitalism actually falls under the subject of economics.

Coffee: the hip new tool of misogynists around the world!

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Thanks respectively to Metafilter and friend/reader Carrie for helping me stay current with the happenin’est misogynistic trends around the globe. It’s easy for me to get too comfortable with my gender’s place in the patriarchy, relying on the the glass ceiling and sexual harassment to get the job done. However, women are nothing if not sneaky (see: Eden, Garden of), so as they adapt, men must do the same if we hope to keep the apple-pluckers in bondage.

Enter coffee.

Yes, that over-caffeinated yet otherwise harmless brown liquid has been transformed into the new super-weapon of the patriarchy.

How, you ask? Behold, a diagram:

Drive-by coffee bukkake. Genius! And this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky theory from some nerdy academic, this is being tested in the field in Japan right now:

The spitter, who was nicknamed “Coffee Bukake Man” [コーヒーぶっかけ男] by locals, had carried out 5 attacks since the end of October. All of his victims were junior high school or high school girls wearing their uniforms, and all of the attacks involved spitting coffee onto their faces from his car window. His final attack took place on December 7th, when a 16-year-old schoolgirl he spit on was able to come to her senses quickly enough to spot his license plate number and memorize it. This led to the arrest of 26 year-old Yoshiro Sumiyama, who admitted attacking the girls. Sumiyama told police that he was irritated after having been dumped by a woman and carried out the spitting attacks to relieve some stress.

But maybe some of you smart guys like your coffee oppression a little more… abstract. And Americaner. Maybe using real coffee isn’t nearly as satisfying as co-opting the entire concept of coffee as a Tool of Men. If so, Latte Dolls’ drive-by coffee stand/boob palace is the place for you:

Move over, Hooters, this place has you UDDERLY beat:

How do YOU like yours?? (Besides “Hot and Steamy!”)

With Clevage = Room for Cream or Milk (UDDERLY DELICIOUS!)

Your choice of:
2% Milk
Half and Half
Whole Milk

Headlights On = A Little Ice

Frigid = Iced

And that’s not all! Regulars can join the club:

[Note: I have no idea why little piles of dog-poop are resting on the boobs, either.]

Really, who has time in this workaday world to stop in someplace and ogle random tittery? 21-century menfolk need an express lane for our objectification, and thanks to the Latte Dolls concept, we’re getting our wish. Bottoms up!

You think you know Roe?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Some mystery organization, which only wants us to know the truth, has put out a handy-dandy Roe V Wade IQ test, 12 simple questions designed to test your knowledge of the 1973 Roe V Wade judgment. Alternately, this quiz will also test your understanding of what exactly judges do when they issue a ruling. For example, question 6 asks:

6) At what age does Roe require minor girls to have parental notification before an abortion?
Parental notification is not required
Girls 18 and younger
Girls 16 and younger
Girls 13 and younger

Picking answer 1 shows that not only do you know Roe, you are also probably aware that the question of if minors require parental notification before getting an abortion was not included in the Roe v Wade case, and that lawyers for both sides, only having a half an hour to actually make a case, probably stuck to the issue at hand. Roe was over 18 when she tried to get that abortion, and the Supreme Court is more famous for refusing to hear cases than for randomly throwing extraneous legal issues into the ones they do hear.

Question 9:

9) Which of our nation’s founding documents contains the phrase “right to an abortion”?
Declaration of Independence
U.S. Constitution
Bill of Rights
None of the Above
All of the Above

It’s true that every last right we have is enumerated in great detail in the Bill of Rights, which is actually 50,423 pages long and explicitly states that if it’s not in there, you ain’t got a right to it. This is why the Supreme Court has to make up work for itself; everything is so clearly written out that there is no need for a court devoted entirely to Constitutional matters.

Question 12:

12) Under Roe, which of these are allowed to perform abortions?
Licensed physician
Nurse practitioner
Resident assistant
Registered nurse
All of the above

And hidden question 13:

If Roe wasn’t keeping states from banning abortions outright, which of the following would you find performing abortions in areas where it was illegal?
Doctors, if you can find one
Nurses, ditto
Midwives, ditto
That woman that that woman in your sister’s office heard about
The pregnant woman herself, via something she read on the internet that she hopes is true
The pregnant woman’s boyfriend, via blunt force trauma
Fake doctors who will fill the void as options one through three are thrown in jail
Abortions will actually disappear, being replaced by abandonment and/or infanticide, which will offer a lower maternal death rate than coat hanger abortions

Just joshin’ – there is no question 13.