Hollywood, Listen To Mark Cuban

Some people deserve to be rich. Some people do not deserve to be rich. George W. Bush would belong to the latter. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, belongs to the former.

Cuban, a man of ideas and new ways of thinking, is on a mission to change the way Hollywood and consumers think about movies. His ultimate goal? New releases would be available in theaters, on DVD, and on Pay-Per-View at the same time. That way YOU decide how and when to see a movie.

At first it seems like a weird idea, but once you really think about it, it makes total sense.

Read this Slate article for the whole story.

Whitey Will Complain

This is the latest stupid chain "outrage email" I received.
Yesterday, I was shopping for my mother in Dillard’s at Lakeline Mall in Austin, TX. I admired a suit, but it was too expensive for me to purchase. You can imagine my shock when I witness the suit being purchased by a Katrina “refugee” using the government-issued debit card!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought certainly there must be controls on these debit cards that would preclude recipients from using the money to purchase items other taxpayers cannot afford, but I was mistaken. I heard the sales clerk call the Dillard’s business office and confirm that the “American Red Cross Debit Card” could be used for the woman’s purchase. After the transaction was completed, I asked the sales clerk to confirm this and she did.

Now, when these debit cards that we the taxpayers provided are used up, what will happen? Will you give them even more of our money to purchase items the taxpayers cannot afford? I already know the answer. Based on the social welfare system that exists in our country, you will just give them more money. This system does not pass the “is this right?” test. You have hard-working, tax-paying citizens who worry every month whether they’ll make it financially. And, you take their earnings and “re-distribute” it to others who do not work but wear better clothes, drive newer cars and have manicures, cell phones, and designer handbags. Yea, if you’d just send me one of those debit cards, I could buy my mother that nice suit.

I have copied everyone in my address book. I am asking them to send this to everyone in their address books. This is the reality of our social welfare system. It must stop.

Suzzette Chapman
223 W. Mockingbird Lane
Harker Heights, Texas 76548
What self righteous bullshit.

I understand the anger to some extent, but with fucking $250 million bridges connecting a small town to an island of 50 people, with politicians getting paid golfing trips to Scotland, with tax cuts in the billions aimed at those with the most money, whether they earned it or not, I think I'm gonna give hurricane victims a pass on this one. Yeah, it’s wrong, but fuck it, waaaay biger fish to fry. They should have put some restrictions on the cards, but they didn’t and now we get to blame the people instead of the government. This lady is probably a Bush supporter anyways. You voted for an idiot and you get idiotic results. BIG SHOCK. Fucking people.

Oh, and we know who “the people” are in this case. Black people. I can read between the lines, honky. You hate black people. This gives you a way to express it without actually sounding racist. You don't fool me, Whitey.

Besides, this is a country swimming in debt. I bet the people complaining about this have huge credit card debts and probably don’t manage their money wisely. But give an American a chance to point a finger or kick someone when their down, they usually oblige. It's easier than facing up to your own shortcomings.

Ok, Archie Bunker, you may get back to your whining now.

Voting With Your Dollar: Target Vs. Walmart

The most frustrating thing in the world is to feel powerless. Like when you go to an auto mechanic for an oil change and they tell you you need $200 worth of repairs or you will die in a fiery accident as soon as you leave. You don’t trust the guy as far as you could throw him, but you don’t know the first thing about cars, so you pay the man. And you feel used.

Or when you see stories about how Wal-Mart sells things produced by child labor, closes stores that attempt to unionize, and doesn’t offer affordable healthcare to its (usually) poor workforce. You might not agree with these practices, but damn, those prices are cheap. If you’re like me, money’s usually tight, and you eliminating Wal-Mart from your life is simply not an option.

But you can try to shop at Target more. Yeah, they are a little more expensive, but by voting with your dollar, you are actually flexing your power. You may think Wal-Mart won’t miss your ten bucks, but Wal-Mart operates on very thin profit margins, so multiply your ten dollars by thousands of people, and Wal-Mart will miss your ten dollars. And maybe they will start to change.

And maybe sometimes it works.

This week, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott came out in favor of raising the minimum wage, unveiled plans to make health care more affordable for employees, and vowed to be more efficient in energy use.

This could be just a PR campaign to stave off complaints of consumers groups, but it is a step. And it makes me feel better about shopping there. Not great, but better.

Especially because of what’s going on at Target.

In late September, a pharmacist at a Target store in Missouri refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, and referred her to another store. Hard to blame Target for the actions of a single pharmacist, but when Target was asked about the incident, they replied that Target allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on moral or religious grounds. Fuck that. It’s a legal prescription; pharmacists should not be playing God, deciding who gets what. God forbid a rape victim’s prescription be refused because some nutty pharmacist isn’t cool with it.

Now it should be said that Wal-Mart has the same policy regarding pharmacists, but Target was supposed to be my (relative) guilt free shopping experience. Now they’ve blown that. So now I get to reward Wal-Mart with my business until Target straightens its policy out, once they do, it’s back to Target until Wal-Mart comes around.

Yeah, this is all probably meaningless, but deciding who gets to have the money you work so hard for is, sad to say, probably the most power you have over Corporate America.

BTW, if you’re a Democrat and want to know what are some “safe” places to shop, check out BuyBlue.com


MP3 of the Day: Zeke - Punk Rock Records

I've probably seen Seattle's Zeke live more than any other band. Usually at the Casbah in San Diego. They are probably best mix of Motorhead and the Dwarves there's ever been. This song, "Punk Rock Records" is from the Dirty Sanchez LP, where Marky's vocals were WAY over the top.

You can download it here (you will need an Amazon account).

You Hallo-weenies

Every year around this time people ask me what my Halloween plans are.

In a perfect world, my plans would be to pass out candy. Unfortunately this no longer happens because not that many kids seem to trick or treat anymore. Why?


I don’t even really like kids, but I’ll let them have Halloween. What the hell is wrong with you people? Does EVERYTHING have to be about you? Look, your costume is going to be stupid, you’re not going to have nearly the good time you think you’re going to have (although you will pretend to, and take pictures and post them on the internet to try and convince me how fun it was. NOT buying it.), and you will probably embarrass yourself.

So get your ass home and pass out candy.

Who Gets Fired First?

Associated Press (10/20/2005):
Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.
Scott McClellan (White House Spokesperson)(10/10/2003):
Those individuals (Karl Rove and Scooter Libby) -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.
Obviously, both of these things cannot be true. Someone is lying. Lying is unethical. So when President Bush said this:
We must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins careful adherence with the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries (that) define legal and ethical conduct. No one in the White House should be afraid to confront the people they work for over ethical concerns, and no one should hesitate to confront me as well. (07/22/2001)
...was he lying too? If not, who gets fires first, Rove, Libby, or McClellan?

Bankruptcy Bill Revisited

On Monday, the new Bankruptcy Bill took effect. Written and paid for by the Credit Card industry, it hammers middle class families who find themselves in financial trouble. Over 90% of bankruptcies come from medical bills, loss of a job, family breakup, or a combination of the three. There was an amendment presented which would exempt those who filed bankruptcy due to natural disasters. That amendment was voted down.

You would expect Republicans to vote for the bill. You would be right. You would expect Democrats to vote against it. You would be wrong. Most did, but 18 senators did not (Hillary Clinton snaked out by not voting at all). Thankfully, my two senators voted against it. But the 18 who voted for it are done for me. If any of them run for President (at least two of them, Joe Biden and Evan Bayh, have presidential ambitions), I will not vote for them.

There are issues that I can disagree on with a fellow Democrat and still support them. This is not one of them. This is cut and dry. This is kicking someone when they are down.

Among the ironies is that one of the 18 is Mary Landrieu, Democrat from Louisiana. Think any Katrina victims will need bankruptcy protection? This might make it impossible for a middle class family who lost everything to do so. The vote was taken far before Katrina, but senators should have some sort of foresight. And Democrats should be working to protect citizens in any case.

I’m curious to see if suicide rates increase over the next year.

Here are the 18 spineless Democrats you should never support for President (bold represents high profile Democrats who should be doubly ashamed of themselves):

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)


Real Reality TV That's Not Real But Real. Sort of.

Tonight at 10 on HBO there’s a 45 minute movie called “Last Best Chance”. Basically, it summarizes, in dramatic form, the biggest threat to the U.S.: Al Queda getting their hands on Russian nuclear material and using it against us.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the inventory sheets on the nukes they should have and what they actually have didn’t add up. It became obvious that we needed to secure as much of these nuclear materials as possible. How to do that? Spend a lot of money. Money talks. Think about it, you’re a nuclear scientist, your government has just crumbled and now you have no source of income. You are literally starving. But the things you know and the information and materials you have access to are worth untold amounts of money, money that terrorist groups can offer. So basically the U.S. buys security for the nukes. Under Bush I and Clinton we started to do just that. Under this Bush, even though he talks a good game about it, efforts have slowed down, even after 9/11. He’s been more concerned about cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

That should be enough to get you pissed; “Last Best Chance” should be enough to get you scared.

If you can’t watch it or do not have HBO, you can order a FREE DVD here.


Homicide, Heat, & Raisins

Everyone bags on Fresno but me. I love Fresno. Went to college there and stuck around for a couple more years, I liked it so much. The people tend to be modest. They know they come from a shitty town, and they accept it, unlike people in Sacramento who act like they live in some great city and pretend they are in “the Bay Area”. The Bay Area doesn’t want you, Sacramento. You’re Fresno on steroids, so lose the attitude.

But even I know Fresno has many problems. I just didn’t know they were this bad:
Fresno, Calif., nestled among the country’s highest-grossing agricultural fields, has the nation’s highest concentration of residents isolated in extremely poor neighborhoods, according to a study released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.

This is Your (Lying) Vice President:

People complain all the time about “liberal bias”. It’s all a crock of shit. Can you imagine if the following concerned someone with the last name of Clinton or Gore? Courtesy of the fine folks at ThinkProgress and Raw Story.
Dick Cheney on “Meet the Press”, September 14, 2003:
“Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," the Vice President said. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.”
Oh really, you lying bag of liquid shit (yes, my second "shit" reference in a single post)?
An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year, RAW STORY can reveal.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney’s options—worth $241,498 a year ago—are now valued at more than $8 million.

Cheney continues to received a deferred salary from the company. According to financial disclosure forms, he was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004.

So what has fueled the upsurge in Halliburton’s stock? Answer: No-bid contracts in Iraq. I don’t like to get involved in conspiracy theories, but this is getting harder and harder to ignore.


Won't Get Fooled Again

The U.S. should hire this guy for, uh, something. His “talent” must be good for something. He could be a real life Fletch or something. I mean look at that picture. He looks like Miles Crane and people thought he was a 15 year old?
A 31-year-old serial impostor who passed himself off for a whole month as a schoolboy – aged 15 – is being questioned by police in France.

Frederic Bourdin, nicknamed “the Chameleon”, attended the Jean Monnet school in Pau posing as “Francisco Hernandez-Fernandez”, a Spanish orphan.

I Like To Be Validated

A while back I said this.

Today,the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said this:
Workers can expect an average pay raise of about 3.7 percent his year, but because of sky-high gasoline prices, they’ll pour all but a smidgen of that extra cash down the gas tank commuting to work according to an analysis by Salary.com.

Calculating the toll of higher gas prices in 88 cities nationwide, the Needham, Mass., compensation software and data firm found that workers making the average annual salary of just above $40,000 last month were spending 3.3 percent of their paychecks gassing up for work.


I Love Buddyhead

If you don't know about Buddyhead's gossip section, I highly recommend you check it out. Here are some examples:
Motley Crue are making a new record. Their 145 year old guitar player, Mick Mars, had this to say about it… “There is a new album in the works, but we're taking our time on it. For me, I would like to see like a Sgt. Pepper, an Electric Ladyland, something really outstanding and new. I have a zillion ideas and I'm sure Nikki and Tommy and Vince do, as well.” Yeah dude we bet you’d like to see yourself make an album like The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix, but let’s get real here Mick… You guys wrote “Home Sweet Home” and you’re prolly gonna make something more along the lines of Poison or Warrant. And what kind of ideas is Tommy gonna have? “Dude, bro! Let’s get fucking fucked up you fuckin fuckers!” We can’t wait to hear that “masterpiece”.

DIPSHIT QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Benji from Good Charlotte: “Without MTV and the radio I never would have gotten into punk, I never would have heard punk bands like Green Day…”
If you like that kind of shit-talking, throw them a few bucks in support.

What Am I Doing Wrong?

I've been trying to figure this out for a while now, and I have no answers.

I don't have some prestigious job or anything, but it's alright. I don't make a ton of money, but I make enough to where a single guy should be able to get by pretty easily. So why am I not?

I look around and I see new cars everywhere. I see people taking trips left and right. I see new homes. I see consumption on a mass scale. And I'm cutting coupons and milking my paycheck to the next payday. How did everyone but me get rich?

It's weird, people I know who make the same amount as me seem to be living large. So what am I doing wrong? Are they faking it through credit?

Growing up, my dad worked a civil service job and got a pension from the Air Force. My mom didn't work, yet he supported a family with four kids and a ton of problems and we seemed to do alright. We weren't rich or anything, but we never lived hand to mouth. My friend Chad, his dad was in the Navy and his mom worked for the county. Not glamourous jobs. Yet they had a really nice house, always had new cars, and just seemed really, really well off.

I know these are all material things, and I shouldn't be so shallow. But dammit, I'm an American, and wanting things is part of our DNA. Home ownership, new cars, overseas vacations, they all seems so completely out of my reach that for the most part, I've stopped even thinking about it.

Am I the only one who feels the American Dream is passing them by?


The History Of The World in Nine Sentences

This explains everything:
Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds.Their attitudes against gays change, too.

Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.

The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey. But the guys' reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."
Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.

Wanna Bet We Never See The Evidence?

Tom Delay is soooooo used to dealing with the Conservative media that he forgot that not everyone is as gullible as Fox News. Check out this exchange with Wolf Blitzer from CNN's Late Edition:

DELAY: Ronnie Earle does this to all his political enemies. He did it to conservative Democrats. He did it — and he does it to Republicans. And particularly in my case, he did it in conjunction and working with the Democrat leadership here in Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: Well, that’s an explosive charge you make… What evidence, if any, do you have to back that up?

DELAY: It’s very good evidence, that they announced this strategy publicly, they put it on their website and this strategy is in their fund-raising letters.

BLITZER: Who specifically — who announced this?

DELAY: The DCCC, the Democratic Campaign Committee, run by Chairman Rahm Emanuel.

BLITZER: They announced that they were working with Ronnie Earle to get you an indictment?

DELAY: No, they didn’t do that.

BLITZER: What evidence is there they consulted with Ronnie Earle, that they talked to him or they had any dealings with him whatsoever?

DELAY: That evidence is coming. But the point is, they announced the strategy… I’m sure they worked closely with Ronnie Earle on this strategy.

BLITZER: When is the evidence going to be made available? You say it’s coming. When are you going to make that evidence available?

DELAY: When it’s timely.
BLITZER: What does that mean?

DELAY: When it’s timely.

BLITZER: All right. Well, we’ll have to wait and see for that evidence.

Another Lie

2 Years, Billions of Dollars, 2000 American Lives = 1 Battalion?

From Think Progress:
President Bush, 9/28/05:

At this moment, more than a dozen Iraqi battalions have completed training and are conducting anti-terrorist operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 20 battalions are operating in Baghdad. And some have taken the lead in operations in major sectors of the city. In total, more than 100 battalions are operating throughout Iraq. Our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are operating with increasing effectiveness.

Associated Press, 9/29/05:

The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday.

Why We Cannot Win In Iraq

In calling for an American withdrawal, Edward Luttwak makes the following point in Foreign Policy. It is not anti-American or reactionary; it is simply the truth of the matter. If you disagree with this assessment, please make an intelligent argument against it in military terms. Do not use slogans. I am curious to see this issue argued on purely military terms.
While the U.S. armed forces are formidable against enemies assembled in massed formations, they are least effective at fighting insurgents. Insurgents strive to be especially elusive, and as targets diminish, so does the value of American firepower. This was demonstrated in Vietnam in many different was over many years and is unnecessarily being proven all over again in Iraq, damaging the reputation of the United States, wasting vast amounts of money, inflicting added suffering on Iraqis at large, and taking the lives of young Americans, whose sacrifice, one fears, will soon be deemed futile.

The Craigslist Project

Recently the squealing coming from my car finally convinced me I needed brakes. So I priced brake work at many different shops and even got an estimate from one brake specialist. Since I’m on a pretty tight budget nowadays, I decided to see if I could cut the costs so I did a little investigating for my brakes and some other work I need. The results were eye opening. I will never go to an auto repair place again.

What I did was I went to Autozone and simply bought the needed parts on my various estimates myself. I then posted an ad on Craiglist for a mechanic to do some work for me. Someone emailed me and refered me to “Gus”, a very cool guy from Liberia who was skilled in Auto Pepair.

Here’s what I found.

1. Brakes

I got an inspection from BrakeMasters. They indicated I needed pads and rotors. Their estimate?

Brake Pads: $91
Rotors: $182
Labor: $140
Total: $413

Brake Pads: $18.99
Rotors: $80.00
Labor: $60
Total: $158.99

2. Tie Rod End

Firestone told me I needed a “outer front tie rod end”.

Part: $103.83
Labor: $70.20
Total: $174.03

Part: $25
Labor: $0 (included in brake work)
Total: $25

3. Transmission Service

Estimates again from Firestone.

Part: $50
Service: $70
Total: $120

Part: $25
Service: $50
Total: $75

4. Misc Service

Estimates also from Firestone:

Winshield Wipers: $21.98
Labor: $6.00
Headlight: $10.99
Labor: $23.60
Air Filter: $13.99
Labor: $20.00
Total: $96.56

Air Filter: $8.00
Windshield Wipers: $6.00
Headlight: $5.00
Labor: did myself, I’m not completed retarded.
Total: $19.00

Do all the math, and I saved $525.60 by simply buying the parts at Autozone and putting an ad on Craigslist.

I understand auto shops need to make money, but that’s just fucking ridiculous.

Oh, the car runs perfectly.

The Hot Lava Monster

Growing up, the biggest fear me and my friends had was falling into hot lava and/or having “the hot lava monster” get us. Keep in mind, there was no hot lava in Lemoore. No hot lava monsters, either.

This is going to be hard to explain, but on sidewalks there’s usually a line towards the edge. Well, the deal was, you had to walk on that ledge. If you fell into the gutter, well, you were fucked, because that was the lair of the hot lava and/or hot lava monster. If you crossed the line toward the sidewalk, you would get frozen or something. I can’t really remember. All I know is it wasn’t lava on the sidewalk side. The lava is what I remember.

So what the hell was our deal with hot lava? My closest contact with lava was the lava rocks in my neighbor’s lawn (those damn things were hell on bare feet). No family members had ever died in a fiery lava pit. And for the most part, this was all before Mount St. Helens erupted. If it was just me and my friends obsessed with hot lava, that would be one thing. But I’m pretty sure males across this country can remember their own hot lava games.

I don’t really have a point here. I just get mesmerized by my lava lamp sometimes, and these stupid thoughts erupt. Get it? Erupt? You can use that one if you want.


Advice for Democrats, Pols & Bloggers Alike

Regarding Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers:


It's a long process and we can research her and get our message together over time. We don't need to start nitpicking every single issue yet. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the show....there's blood in the water and the far right is attacking. LET IT HAPPEN!