Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I simply must have this.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I am sad to report...

For reasons of fiscal responsibility, neither Penny or I are proud owners of a new 3G iPhone. Therefore, 'all the coolness that is me' will have to wait for 'physical embodiment' in October, when my AT&T contract is due for a free upgrade.

However, thanks to the guys at webmonkey, I can keep a close eye on iPhone availability when I'm ready for coolness mojo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


When I was in Boston, I was lucky enough to be invited to a local Union hall to watch the documentary "WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Prices." If you haven't seen it, you can watch the movie at their website.

Any movie attacking Walmart shown in a Boston Union hall is sure to have a receptive audience. However, you may not know that Walmart, as famous for its low wages as it's low prices, is now the number 1 company in the world according to Fortune magazine.

Flowingdata.com has posted an interesting map showing the spread of walmart across America. I think substituting the green dots for yellow 'evil smiley faces' would have made the map much better.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Euless is a small Texas bedroom community quietly tucked between Dallas and Fort Worth. Like it's neighboring towns, Hurst and Bedford, it is only remarkable at being unexceptional; so much so that the entire region is often called by the unsatisfying acronym H.E.B. Having grown up in Bedford, I remember more colorful names for these three towns. Worst, Useless and Dreadford.

There is no town center in Euless. No community commons. No museums or opera houses. Nothing which speaks to any higher form of functioning. Instead, there are supermarkets, business centers and shopping malls which are scattered unattractively alongside Highway 183.

In fact, the highway is the only place the residents can see the famous spring time carpet of Texas blue bonnets but you have to do so at 75MPH and occasionally dart your eyes towards the small stretches of blue between the medians.

Euless is like that ugly kid in school who never was noticed by anybody and nobody seemed much bothered about the fact, least of all the ugly kid.

So imagine Euless's surprise when it was ranked #34 of the top 100 places to live by CNNMoney.com.

You'd think Euless got a make-over and the ugly little duckling transformed itself into an attractive and lithe swan, but you'd think wrong. This is no story about urban renewal or the success of town planning. Euless is #34 because that's what the database said it should be.

Apparently, CNNMoney.com crunched a wide variety of numbers and spit out a list of the top 100 small cities to live in. Now, this would be perfectly reasonable if Euless was popluated with computers but since small cities are usually made up of people, I take some exception to this ranking.

Not that I don't like computers and I would never be so thoughtless as offend them as a group. I'm sure they would think Euless is a fine place to be, if computers thought, or lived or cared.

As Mark Twain once said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Fighting Umbrella

Not only can it protect you from the rain, it can defend you from would be muggers. It also makes watermelons tremble with fear.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sure, they're great! But can they power my iPod?

Vincent Fogarty is a man who always had the right words for the occasion.

"It's the TITS!".

Whether it was free beer, great music a massive breakfast or anything that was excellent or over-the-top amazing then you'd be sure to hear Vincent shouting breast analogous platitudes which would send us straight to the floor, clutching our stomachs and laughing hysterically.

You might think Vincent was afflicted with Tourette syndrome, but he was only displaying a mastery of the English language and an appreciation for cultural beauty that literary professors spend far too many words trying to capture.

Tits are fantastic, and it's something everybody can agree on.

If you doubt the pan-gender allure of the female breast you only need to visit your local magazine store to be convinced otherwise. Breasts of all sizes and forms are seductively airbrushed on the covers of Vogue, Maxim, Allure, GQ, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone where each shapely pair would shamelessly tug the eyes downward, begging to be admired and demanding their due attention in a calculated effort to influence your buying decision.

No matter if you are browsing for spring fashion tips or looking for the inside scoop of the latest motorcycle from Japan, each customer will be greeted with a voluptuous 'howdy', a perky 'hi', or a curvy 'hey there sailer'!

Unlike breasts, penises are not allowed to greet anyone in public. A simple "I'm happy to see you." would send patrons running from the store and tumble stock prices into the Marianas trench. If penises are not hidden inside opaque plastic sleeves behind the news counter then they are featured on covers as safely tucked away within layers of clothing. It is only the most daring penis would reveal itself as a modest, non-erect bulge around the crotch area.

In the world of advertising and media, the mute penis plays court jester to the loquacious Empress breast.

But the idolization of the breast is not confined to newsstands. Western culture has long enshrined the breast behind the velvet ropes of museums and art galleries for centuries. Nudes have been the bread and butter of artists since we invented walls from which to display them (or painted directly on them) and it has been the female form that has captivated the imagination of artists and art buyers alike.

If the human race were to become extinct and aliens excavated museums of 18th century art, it would be an understandable misunderstanding to declare that earth women wore nothing but loose fitting robes which had a habit of falling about their waists while posing for portraits.

Call them what you will. Breasts, tits, bosoms, boobies, jugs, honkers, hooters, fun bags, knockers, tah tahs, or 'comfy snuggle puppies' it is a universal truth that 'tits' are a very, very good thing and in the future they just might get even better!

Check out this article by Adrienne So in Slate magazine titled "Victoria's Circuit: Harnessing the untapped power of breast motion." It gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "girl power".

And no amount of motivational crap is going to change that!

HBO is featuring a new documentary about Chuck Connelly and it just may be a bit more painful to watch that some can bear.

Chuck Connelly was a promising young New York artist whose abrasive personality proved to be his undoing. As the audience is treated to a glimpse into the world of the tortured artist, we witness his wife leaving him, his benefactor abandon him and his harebrained scheme to hire a 'ghost-artist' to sell his paintings come to no good.

Thanks Bridget!! ;-)

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

It could be the perfect American Holiday. Drink beer, eat lots of dead animals that you personally cook over an open fire and 'watch shit git all blowed up in the sky'!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

You might be wondering why I called you into my office...

John saw the flier for psychological test subjects on the Yale campus bulletin board a week ago. Easy money. A few hours out of the day and some spending cash in the back of your pocket. A good thing when your parents aren't footing the bills, but this was turning into something he didn't sign up for.

"Please continue.", buzzed the overhead speaker.

"Hey wait! Is that guy alright? Didn't you hear him screaming and banging on the walls?"

The intercom crackled, "The experiment requires that you continue."

John had already pushed the red button six times, once for every wrong answer the test subject gave. The first shock he applied was just a few volts, enough to get your attention. But for each wrong answer the voltage doubled.

"Hey, didn't you hear him say he had a heart problem? Can't you see the needle is pointing to red?!"

The first time he pressed the button, the subject let out an involuntary yelp. John pushed a laugh down into his gut imagining the guy's hair standing up like some cartoon character. Hell, it could have been him getting the electric shock treatment if he hadn't drawn 'tester'. John was lucky that way.

As the voltage doubled and doubled again with each incorrect answer, the brief yelps turned into shouts that increased in length and volume and intensity. When John applied the sixth shock, it issued an unrestrained scream that lasted several seconds after the juice was shut off.

"It is absolutely essential that you continue!", said the metallic voice.

"Look, I'll give the 50 dollars back OK? I don't need the money. Would you just tell me that guy is alright! Professor! Jesus Christ!""

John's chest pumped up and down, swallowing air in thick chunks. This wasn't worth it. Nothing was worth it.

"You have no other choice," The professor boomed through the intercom. "You MUST go on!"

John braced himself, expecting a scream that would spend years lurching and shambling inside his nightmares, but when he opened his eyes it was only the weight of silence pressing on his clammy skin and the scent of ozone fluttering in his nose.

The intercom squawked opened.

"Thank you for your time, John." smiled the voice through the speaker. "The experiment is over.", and the intercom went dead.

-- short untitled story, by Kevin

Soon after the war crimes trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Yale Psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment to test the ability of subjects to perform unethical acts under the direction of an authority figure. The experiment, now known as the Milgram Experiment, was testing the veracity of the Nuremberg Defense where a defendant states "I was only following orders". Nobody was actually subjected to electric shocks, but an actor in another room made the experiment seem very realistic to the participants in the study.

Now, the idea that anyone could be manipulated to do anything under the direction of an authority figure is pretty frightening, but apparently someone thought the experiment didn't go far enough and proceeded to try their own anonymous Milgram experiments over the phone.

As strange as it sounds, a person posing as a police officer or company executive placed phone calls to several fast-food restaurants around the country including Taco Bell, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Ruby Tuesday and Applebee's and successfully persuaded managers to perform strip searches on employees.

Weirder still, the caller sometimes reversed the tables and convinced the managers into submitting to strip searches themselves administered by the same employees they had just finished examining. These occurrences continued for about a decade and came to be known as the Strip Search Prank Call Scam.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy World UFO Day

July 2nd is World UFO Day, in case you didn't know, and it is celebrated on the same day that an alien spaceship crashed in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico.

I'm not certain how to celebrate World UFO Day, but I suspect it involves anal probes and a lot of alcohol to simulate 'lost time' phenomena.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Freedom Fries

An American and a Chinese were arguing about their freedom to talk in their countries.
American : The Constitution gives us the freedom to shout that George W. Bush is an idiot right in front of the White House!

Chinese : Thats nothing. We can shout that George W. Bush is an idiot right in front of our president... and get a reward too!
It's getting near the 4th of July weekend, and I suppose I am reflecting on the idea of "Freedom" more than I normally would. I have met many amazing people but there are only a select few that I would consider free or whose pursuit of freedom manifested itself in ways that were interesting to me.

One person that comes to mind is Dr. Ala Bashir, former personal physician to Saddam Hussein and respected artist who also penned "The Insider", a book based on his experiences inside Iraq.

Dr. Bashir is tall and thin and possesses a stillness of character one usually associates with men of great spiritual discipline. He moves slowly and speaks with great thought and gentleness and his calmness creates a subtle magnetism that tugs you a little closer.

Dr. Bashir's relationship with freedom was something I witnessed during an exhibition of his art in New Haven, CT. Surrounding him were local real estate developers, magazine publishers, Yale professors and more than the fair share of the idle rich.

The showing featured works he painted during the Hussein regime and they are extraordinarily powerful in symbolism and dramatic use of primary reds, blues and greens. I often felt my breath involuntarily leave my lungs as I came upon one of his paintings in the gallery.

Surrounded by people bearing wine glasses and fruit plates, Dr. Bashir would introduce each painting, giving the audience the meaning of the symbols as he knew them and the circumstances under which he was inspired to paint them, which were usually in his dreams.

After Bashir spoke, the audience would ask many questions,

"Did you mean this when you painted it?", "Could the use of this symbol mean....", "Was this a political statement of...", "Do you believe in God?"

I say the audience asked questions, but the truth is most were statements disguised with a question mark, designed to aggrandize the intelligence of the speaker rather than a call for understanding and I silently suppressed many cringes as I listened.

To each question, Bashir would politely say no, I did not mean that, I did not mean this, I do not think this work shows I believe what you say, I do not feel that way. This painting was in my head, and I needed to paint it.

As I stood there with a glass of red wine and a pressed white shirt, it occured to me that as Dr. Bashir battled these attempts at philosophical rationalization of his art, he was actually engaging in a personal battle for his own freedom.

Instead of being surrounded by a group of wealthy Americans, it seemed to me that Dr. Bashir was in a sea of tiny dictators, each one saying "You must be this! You must think this! You must believe this! You must be what I believe you to be and nothing else, because I say it must be so!"

Bashir replies, "No."

I hope Dr. Bashir will forgive me if I imagine him thinking that the word 'no' is unique in all the world because it is only free men who can can speak it without fear.

I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.

America is a different and unfamiliar country from the one I grew up with in High School.

This was the nation where George Orwell's 1984 taught us government sanctioned surveillance, propaganda and torture can control a nation and even outlaw love. Fairenheight 451 by Ray Bradbury taught us that declining readership leads to loss of critical thinking and ignorance. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, taught the need to advocate for the oppressed and To Kill a Mockingbird taught us to emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice and stand for justice no matter the cost.

And yet, the America we live in today practices and defends it's use of torture by waterboarding, the capture of detainees through extraordinary rendition, advocates the suspension of habius corpus through indefinite incarceration, engages in covert military operations, shamelessly twists intelligence information to create Casius Belli and passes laws guaranteeing immunity for warrentless surveillance.

But some days, we wake up and see a news article that not only makes America seem more familiar but makes us proud of High School Literature as well.