Quotulatiousness

July 26, 2014

Summer – one of the last cultural strongholds of the Patriarchy

Filed under: Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 15:30

It seems so innocent, but as Brian Willett warns us, it’s the Patriarchy and we’re soaking in it:

Take baseball and fireworks. A symbol of phallic expression and a symbol of phallic completion. Ever wonder why so many teams have fireworks after games or home run?

Grilling out seems like a relatively benign activity (except for the cow that gave its life). But really examine it. A man using yet another extension of himself to poke and prod at something that never even had the opportunity to say no.

Of course, he can only grill out after he’s placated his troglodyte need to smother his lawn in bee colony-destroying pesticides and then destroy it with an emissions-spewing mower. All for the sake of satisfying his id.

Or perhaps we can talk about the beauty of marriage. Or, as some call it, a contract with man and his property. Or do you really still believe that an engagement ring is steeped in loving, Christian tradition?

A hit, a palpable hit!

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Canadian lit’rit’cher. An easy target for parody. Too easy:

Every Canadian Novel Ever
Nicole Cliffe

1. Will the Cod Return, Or Must We Move to Toronto?

2. Only the Jews Know Montreal

3. The Next Three Chapters Are Set in the 1830s Bush For No Reason But Then We’ll Be Back to This 1970s University Women’s Studies Department

4. She Briefly Considers Moving to the States For Her Career But Then Realizes She Must Stay With Her People

5. O Cabbagetown!

6. I Remember When There Was LOADS of Cod and We Played Scottish Reels to Entertain Ourselves

7. In Which Blondes From Westmount Fail to Sleep With You

8. This Children’s Toy That Holds Great Meaning For You Will Be Broken Like Your Spirit

9. You Thought It Was Me Talking To You, But It’s Been My Sister All Along, I Am Dead Because of a Man

10. Magical Realism But It’s Just Gothic Southern Ontario Having, Like, Two Magical Elements

Actually, some of these sound more interesting than the actual not-technically-mandatory-but-seems-that-way Canadian Content.

July 25, 2014

Time capsule from the future – the end of the 2014 NFL season

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:37

I’ll admit that I’m optimistic about this year’s edition of the Minnesota Vikings, but I’m expecting the team to end up with a record somewhere in the region of 7-9, 8-8, or even 9-7 in head coach Mike Zimmer’s first season leading the team. I’m apparently among the minority of fans in this regard, as Vikefans.com have got their hands on a video that clearly just fell through a rip in spacetime, as it’s the pre-game show for this season’s SuperBowl game:

Somebody’s been drinking the acid-laced purple Kool Aid again…

H/T to Vikings Territory for the link.

July 24, 2014

“Never give up, never surrender!” – the oral history of Galaxy Quest

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:28

Hands down, my favourite Star Trek movie was Galaxy Quest:

And now, MTV has the story behind the story:

Galaxy Quest: The Oral History
By Grabthar’s Hammer, the sci-fi comedy classic is turning 15. Here’s the untold story of how it got made.

Galaxy Quest was only a modest success in theaters (pulling in $71 million at the domestic box office). Over time, however, it has become a cult favorite – a film virtually everyone loves, one of those flicks you see when flipping channels and immediately get caught in its tractor beam. (Not that the movie has tractor beams – that would be too close to Star Trek.)

In honor of the almost 15th anniversary of the movie (it was released in December, 1999), MTV News checked back in with the entire cast and creators of Galaxy Quest: Tim Allen as the obnoxious Captain; Alan Rickman as the humiliated thespian relegated to rubber makeup; Sigourney Weaver, an actress given nothing to do but show her cleavage; Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, the former child star. Tony Shalhoub, playing a stoner who is supposed to be the sharp chief engineer; Sam Rockwell as some guy named Guy; and many, many more. What we came away with is, in the cast and crew’s own words, the story of how the crew of the Protector came together – and how things changed as the movie grew to be the phenomenon it is today.

[...]

Rockwell: Sigourney Weaver changed with that wig.

Rickman: I remember Sigourney walking around saying that she was experiencing a new world with the blonde wig.

Johnson: Sigourney loved her extenuated bosom and blonde wig. She’d sometimes leave at the end of the day dressed up like that. She’d just go to her hotel with the enhanced breasts and padding and all squeezed in and it was fun.

Weaver: Blondes definitely have more fun. I loved being a starlet. I miss my breasts, I miss my blonde hair, I miss my insecurity.

[...]

Rockwell: I wanted to ennoble the coward archetype. I thought of the best cowards in cinematic history, like John Turturro in Miller’s Crossing. When we did the shuttle scene I drank four cups of coffee and downed two Excedrin. I wanted to be so hyped that I would have a nervous breakdown on the shuttle. I don’t know if it worked but I was very hyper and freaking out. I think I had a couple beers to come down.

Mitchell: Sam Rockwell in this movie, man. I die every time. “Did you guys ever WATCH the show?!?”

Johnson: “Did you guys ever WATCH the show?!?” That’s my favorite moment.

Rockwell: Guy is a cheeseball. And a Trekkie geek. But he’s a coward. My template was Bill Paxton in Aliens mixed with Michael Keaton in Night Shift.

QotD: The Law of Triviality

Filed under: Economics, Government, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

People who understand high finance are of two kinds: those who have vast fortunes of their own and those who have nothing at all. To the actual millionaire a million dollars is something real and comprehensible. To the applied mathematician and the lecturer in economics (assuming both to be practically starving) a million dollars is at least as real as a thousand, they having never possessed either sum. But the world is full of people who fall between these two categories, knowing nothing of millions but well accustomed to think in thousands, and it is of these that finance committees are mostly comprised. The result is a phenomenon that has often been observed but never yet investigated. It might be termed the Law of Triviality. Briefly stated, it means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.

C. Northcote Parkinson, “High Finance, Or The Point Of Vanishing Interest”, Parkinson’s Law (and other studies in administration), 1957.

July 20, 2014

The struggle of progressive comedians to be funny without offending

Filed under: Humour, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:44

Jon Gabriel attends a panel discussion on progressive comedy at Netroots Nation. It wasn’t very funny:

Netroots Nation is an annual conference for online progressive activists. Over the past few days, the group held their ninth annual event in Detroit — America’s finest example of unchecked liberal policy.

Unbeknownst to the organizers, I attended the conference to see what the other side thinks about economics, education and the midterms. If their presentation on comedy is any guide, conservatives don’t have much to fear.

“The Left is supposed to be funnier than the Right, damn it,” the panel description stated. “So why do we so often sound in public like we’re stiltedly reading from a non-profit grant proposal?”

This defensive tone was apparent throughout the hour-plus session, brought up repeatedly by speakers and audience members. Much like a co-worker who doesn’t get anyone’s jokes but insists, “I have a great sense of humor!”

[...]

The audience had several questions about what they were allowed to joke about and even how comedy works. A white septuagenarian proudly stated that she no longer tells jokes to black people because that might expose them to unwitting racism. Camp and White sadly noted that her preface of “I’m not a racist, but…” confirms that she is, in fact, a racist.

Another audience member asked how progressives can shut down funny, effective lines coming from the right on talk radio, blogs and Twitter. “The right has short, pithy things to say because they lie,” Halper replied.

She explained that clever jokes by conservatives aren’t actually funny because such people lack empathy and nuance. “Progressives are more nuanced, statistically speaking,” Halper said. The science is settled.

July 19, 2014

QotD: Bagpipes

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

It must be disheartening work learning a musical instrument. You would think that Society, for its own sake, would do all it could to assist a man to acquire the art of playing a musical instrument. But it doesn’t!

I knew a young fellow once, who was studying to play the bagpipes, and you would be surprised at the amount of opposition he had to contend with. Why, not even from the members of his own family did he receive what you could call active encouragement. His father was dead against the business from the beginning, and spoke quite unfeelingly on the subject.

My friend used to get up early in the morning to practise, but he had to give that plan up, because of his sister. She was somewhat religiously inclined, and she said it seemed such an awful thing to begin the day like that.

So he sat up at night instead, and played after the family had gone to bed, but that did not do, as it got the house such a bad name. People, going home late, would stop outside to listen, and then put it about all over the town, the next morning, that a fearful murder had been committed at Mr. Jefferson’s the night before; and would describe how they had heard the victim’s shrieks and the brutal oaths and curses of the murderer, followed by the prayer for mercy, and the last dying gurgle of the corpse.

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), 1889.

July 17, 2014

Brilliant Salon parody shut down for being too accurate

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:25

One of the funniest parody accounts on Twitter disappeared yesterday:

At approximately 5:50 P.M. EST, it became known that Twitter had shut down @Salondotcom, a hilarious parody of Salon run by The Daily Caller‘s opinion editor, Jordan Bloom, and his roommate, Rob Mariani. @Salondotcom constantly tweeted fake headlines that perfectly aped Salon‘s everyone-is-racist-and-Republicans-are-worse-than-Hitler shtick.

If anything, @Salondotcom was too good: more than once I mistook their parody tweet for the real thing. And I was far from alone in that.

It’s not clear exactly why Twitter shut down @Salondotcom, although the social media service has been known to suspend parody accounts. Still, it’s a shame.

The Twitterverse is currently standing in solidarity with @Salondotcom by using #FreeSalondotcom instead.

Update, 18 July: Tim Cavanaugh has more on the disappointing-but-legit shutdown.

The Twitter parody account @salondotcom got the Royal of the Boot Wednesday evening due to an alleged violation of the microblogging giant’s terms of service. The co-creator of the parody account tells National Review Online that Twitter, which requires such accounts to be clearly marked as parodies in order to protect the stupid, shut the account down.

“Technically we’re in violation of their terms of service for not disclaiming that it is a parody account,” Jordan Bloom, who created @salondotcom with Rob Mariani in June, writes in an e-mail. “But where’s the fun in that? We’re stubborn enough that if it takes a quota of social justice snitches reporting us or whatever, by god we’ll make ’em do it. I suppose we’ll appeal and promise that if they give it back we’ll prominently display our jailhouse tattoos.”

(Disclosure: This reporter worked with Bloom at The Daily Caller, where he is the opinion editor, and I consider Bloom to be among the most redoubtable people in Washington. He is also indefatigable and dauntless.)

Venice as an urban model

Filed under: Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:46

James Lileks just spent a few weeks in Venice and he says it’s (still) an astonishing place:

Urbanists often use European cities as a model for everything that’s right and true and good about cities. American cities are spread out, so people have to drive along, instead of standing on a public transport next to a man who is muttering about chemtrails and has the personal funk of a Dumpster outside a urinalysis lab. European cities are compact, with everyone living on top of one another in picturesque piles with the square footage of the average American auto trunk. European cities are Walkable, which is the chief virtue nowadays. Well, ancient Rome was Walkable. A collection of Neolithic huts was Walkable. Apparently American cities are strewn with tacks and rattlesnakes and feature large open pits with spikes on the bottom. No one can walk there.

There’s one city no one seems to hold up as a model, and that’s Venice. I was just there for a while, and it’s an astonishing place — for reasons we can surely adapt here.

One. No cars. It is simple to ban cars from all streets with Venice-style zoning, which ensures that most streets are three feet wide. You couldn’t get Orson Welles down these passageways without greasing both sides and shooting him out of a cannon. There are streets in this town where two people who meet going the opposite way cannot pass, but local customs dictate that the person who is taller gets down on hands and knees and the other person climbs over him. No car can enter the streets of Venice unless you lower it into a plaza with a helicopter.

Two. It is quite walkable, and your journeys will give you that marvelous sense of discovery and surprise the urbanists seek. By which I mean, you will be lost. The maps are no help; you’re on a small street named Contradore Della Caravaggissimo Magiori di Luchese, and the map shows C. del Car.Ma.Lu, if you’re lucky. And it’s in the type that makes the bottom line of an eye chart look like a tabloid headline the day war is declared.

Three. It is better than walkable: it is swimmable, and thus provides an excellent form of exercise. Remarkably, the concept of swimming from your house to work never seems to have been popular, for the same reason most people don’t bike to work: You arrive at the office wet and smelly.

July 14, 2014

QotD: Revolutionary formula

Filed under: Europe, History, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:41

Bastille Day! A day to remind ourselves yet again of the age-old formula that Revolution equals Political Inexperience times Zeal times Stupid Theory times Testosterone. Or R = PIZST2, if you prefer.

The French Revolution — in which virtually all the revolutionary leaders were men under 40 — makes the point perfectly. But you can try the same game with revolutions of your own choice, and in the privacy of your home.

Jesse Norman, “Bastille Day! A time to remember the ‘magazine of wisdom’ that was Edmund Burke”, Telegraph, 2014-07-14.

July 12, 2014

QotD: Work

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

I rather pride myself on my packing. Packing is one of those many things that I feel I know more about than any other person living. (It surprises me myself, sometimes, how many of these subjects there are.) I impressed the fact upon George and Harris, and told them that they had better leave the whole matter entirely to me. They fell into the suggestion with a readiness that had something uncanny about it. George put on a pipe and spread himself over the easy-chair, and Harris cocked his legs on the table and lit a cigar.

This was hardly what I intended. What I had meant, of course, was, that I should boss the job, and that Harris and George should potter about under my directions, I pushing them aside every now and then with, “Oh, you—!” “Here, let me do it.” “There you are, simple enough!” — really teaching them, as you might say. Their taking it in the way they did irritated me. There is nothing does irritate me more than seeing other people sitting about doing nothing when I’m working.

I lived with a man once who used to make me mad that way. He would loll on the sofa and watch me doing things by the hour together, following me round the room with his eyes, wherever I went. He said it did him real good to look on at me, messing about. He said it made him feel that life was not an idle dream to be gaped and yawned through, but a noble task, full of duty and stern work. He said he often wondered now how he could have gone on before he met me, never having anybody to look at while they worked.

Now, I’m not like that. I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), 1889.

July 11, 2014

Welcome to the NSA family

Filed under: Government, Humour, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:41

The Privacy Surgeon recently acquired a leaked National Security Agency memo to new staff and contractors:

The intelligence world is a complex place. Think of it as if it was your family (we know the sort of families you come from, so make of that what you will). Here’s a quick international reference guide so you know what to think.

    - Just about all African governments arise from at least some orchestrated corruption. Before you target anyone, check with the CIA to see if they were involved. If they were involved, intensify the surveillance and make sure NSA Command has all the data for “diplomatic” purposes (i.e. Beltway diplomacy).

    - Anyone in Central or South America is a justifiable target. If they’re in Central America, drugs will be somewhere on the horizon – even if it’s a third generation connection. If they’re further south, most will be US-skeptic. Drugs plus US-Skeptic equals democratic instability, and we’re here to protect democracy.

    - The Russian Federation is more complex. At a political level there’s a lot of grandstanding. Operationally though, we share intelligence with Russia on anyone who is a mutual target (and that, ironically, includes most of the Russian Federation). China is our main mutual target because it refuses to share the economic intelligence data it gathers about either Russia or America. All of us, however, have agreed to share intelligence data on the French.

    - The Middle East. Just collect it. That data is always useful. Avoid Israel though. We already have a cross-collateralization deal with MOSAD to leverage the value-added of locally intercepted data. And besides, if they catch you snooping on their turf they’ll just endlessly whine about it.

So that’s about it. We hope you have a great time here, and always remember that you now have friends.

H/T to Bruce Schneier for the link.

July 10, 2014

QotD: Montmorency helps to pack

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Montmorency was in it all, of course. Montmorency’s ambition in life, is to get in the way and be sworn at. If he can squirm in anywhere where he particularly is not wanted, and be a perfect nuisance, and make people mad, and have things thrown at his head, then he feels his day has not been wasted.

To get somebody to stumble over him, and curse him steadily for an hour, is his highest aim and object; and, when he has succeeded in accomplishing this, his conceit becomes quite unbearable.

He came and sat down on things, just when they were wanted to be packed; and he laboured under the fixed belief that, whenever Harris or George reached out their hand for anything, it was his cold, damp nose that they wanted. He put his leg into the jam, and he worried the teaspoons, and he pretended that the lemons were rats, and got into the hamper and killed three of them before Harris could land him with the frying-pan.

Harris said I encouraged him. I didn’t encourage him. A dog like that don’t want any encouragement. It’s the natural, original sin that is born in him that makes him do things like that.

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), 1889.

July 9, 2014

QotD: British nepotism, old style

Filed under: Britain, History, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

A problem constantly before the modern administration, whether in government or business, is that of personnel selection. The inexorable working of Parkinson’s Law ensures that appointments have constantly to be made and the question is always how to choose the right candidate from all who present themselves. In ascertaining the principles upon which the choice should be made, we may properly consider, under separate heads, the methods used in the past and the methods used at the present day.

Past methods, not entirely disused, fall into two main categories, the British and the Chinese. Both deserve careful consideration, if only for the reason that they were obviously more successful than any method now considered fashionable. The British method (old pattern) depended upon an interview in which the candidate had to establish his identity. He would be confronted by elderly gentlemen seated round a mahogany table who would presently ask him his name. Let us suppose that the candidate replied, “John Seymour.” One of the gentlemen would then say, “Any relation of the Duke of Somerset?” To this the candidate would say, quite possibly, “No, sir.” Then another gentleman would say, “Perhaps you are related, in that case, to the Bishop of Watminster?” If he said “No, sir” again, a third would ask in despair, “To whom then are you related?” In the event of the candidate’s saying, “Well, my father is a fishmonger in Cheapside,” the interview was virtually over. The members of the Board would exchange significant glances, one would press a bell and another tell the footman, “Throw this person out.” One name could be crossed off the list without further discussion. Supposing the next candidate was Henry Molyneux and a nephew of the Earl of Sefton, his chances remained fair up to the moment when George Howard arrived and proved to be a grandson of the Duke of Norfolk. The Board encountered no serious difficulty until they had to compare the claims of the third son of a baronet with the second but illegitimate son of a viscount. Even then they could refer to a Book of Precedence. So their choice was made and often with the best results.

The Admiralty version of this British method (old pattern) was different only in its more restricted scope. The Board of Admirals were unimpressed by titled relatives as such. What they sought to establish was a service connection. The ideal candidate would reply to the second question, “Yes, Admiral Parker is my uncle. My father is Captain Foley, my grandfather Commodore Foley. My mother’s father was Admiral Hardy. Commander Hardy is my uncle. My eldest brother is a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines, my next brother is a cadet at Dartmouth and my younger brother wears a sailor suit.” “Ah!” the senior Admiral would say. “And what made you think of joining the Navy?” The answer to this question, however, would scarcely matter, the clerk present having already noted the candidate as acceptable. Given a choice between two candidates, both equally acceptable by birth, a member of the Board would ask suddenly, “What was the number of the taxi you came in?” The candidate who said “I came by bus” was then thrown out. The candidate who said, truthfully, “I don’t know,” was rejected, and the candidate who said “Number 2351″ (lying) was promptly admitted to the service as a boy with initiative. This method often produced excellent results.

C. Northcote Parkinson, “The Short List, Or Principles Of Selection”, Parkinson’s Law (and other studies in administration), 1957.

July 8, 2014

QotD: “Why you are wrong” – an all-purpose internet argument template

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

I disagree with you. I understand where you’re coming from, but I believe you’re mistaken, and I’ll explain why you are wrong.

First of all, the data backs up my point. I have facts out the waz. Your data are flawed, old, biased or incomplete. The people who collected your data are in prison for fraud or took funding from an evil billionaire who lives in a castle on a mountain where there is always lightning. My facts are bulletproof. They were gathered by humble grass roots researchers who love America and hate cancer. You can be forgiven for not having the same information that I do. People on “your side” don’t like to discuss data that annihilate their arguments. [...]

More important than the data, though, is that my argument is just. I can see why you made the argument that you did, but you’re forgetting a whole host of injustices, tragedies and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style flying specters that would be loosed upon millions of people if you had your way. What I’m saying is that the moral arc of the universe bends towards my argument.

MLK.

Respect.

History has proved me correct on this point time and time again. From the Bible to the Renaissance to the Depression and WWII, my point was cemented repeatedly by real events and real people who suffered under the regimes of dogmatic fools like you. There are several authors who have made the very point I am making more eloquently than I have, and you can buy their books and read them in your spare time, which I suggest you do, because right now you’re uneducated and just talking out your butt.

Joe Donatelli, “Why You Are Wrong”, The Humor Columnist, 2014-06.

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