Quotulatiousness

May 24, 2014

First US military union approved, strike imminent

Filed under: Humour, Military, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:29

What The Onion does for civilian news, Duffel Blog does for military news. Here’s their coverage of the US military following European practice and allowing the first military union to be formed:

Duffleblog - 1st US military union, strike imminent

In a historic move, the Department of the Army has recognized the right of service members to unionize.

“Historically, collective bargaining has improved American working conditions and made us the envy of the world economically. We’re pleased to announce that our soldiers can now have that right. In defending democracy, our service members should reserve the right to practice it,” declared Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

McHugh went on to say that the founding of a union had been under way for sometime and required lengthy negotiations with top civilian and military leaders, before an acceptable framework emerged. The first union, the Junior Enlisted Service Members (JESM), almost immediately threatened a strike.

PFC Harry Milton of the 323rd Military Intelligence Battalion is the founder of JESM. The 19 year-old soldier invited Duffel Blog into his new office in the reserve center, just outside Ft. Meade, MD, where JESM is headquartered.

May 12, 2014

Thumbnail sketch of Russian history

Filed under: Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:10

P.J. O’Rourke says we need to take the long view in regard to Vladimir Putin, and provides a rough history of Russia to back up his contention:

In the sixth century A.D. Russia was the middle of nowhere in the great Eurasian flat spot bounded by fuck-all on the north and east, barbarian hordes and the remains of the Byzantine Empire on the south, and the Dark Ages on the west.

Wandering around in here, up and down the watershed of the Dnieper River from Novgorod (which hadn’t been built yet) to Kiev (ditto) were disorganized tribes of Slavic pastoral herdsmen herding whatever was available, pastorally. They were harried by Goths, Huns, Khazars, and other people who had the name and nature of outlaw motorcycle gangs long before the motorcycle was invented.

The original Russian state, “Old Russia,” was established at Novgorod in A.D. 862 by marauding Vikings. They’d set off to discover Iceland, Greenland, and America, took a wrong turn, and wound up with their dragon boat stuck on a mud bar in the Dnieper. (Historians have their own theories, involving trade and colonization, but this sounds more likely.)

The first ruler of Old Russia was the Viking Prince Ryurik. Imagine being so disorganized that you need marauding Vikings to found your nation — them with their battle axes, crazed pillaging, riotous Meade Hall feasts, and horns on their helmets. (Actually, Vikings didn’t wear horns on their helmets — but they would have if they’d thought of it, just like they would have worn meade helmets if they’d thought of it.) Some government it must have been.

Viking Prince Ryurik: “Yah, let’s build Novgorod!”

Viking Chieftain Sven: “Yah, so we can burn it down and loot!”

April 29, 2014

The briefest NFL draft scouting report you’ll read this week

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:11

Arif Hasan pulled together the most informative short briefing for this year’s NFL draft you’ll find anywhere:

As we get closer to the NFL Draft, it’s critical that fans and media alike find ways to aggregate the mountains of information they have and concisely explain what we need to know about the top prospects about to enter the NFL. In the interest of doing so, I’ve compiled one sentence scouting reports on the Top 40 players as determined by CBS’ draft rankings — among the best in the industry.

  1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina — He’s great, but he’s no Julius Peppers
  2. Greg Robinson, OT Auburn — He’s great, but he’s no Orlando Pace
  3. Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo — He’s great, but he’s no Lawrence Taylor
  4. Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson — He’s great, but he’s no Wes Chandler
  5. Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M — He’s great, but he’s no Ron Yary
  6. Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida — He’s great, but he’s no John Elway
  7. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M — He’s great, but he’s no Joe Namath
  8. Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan — He’s great, but he’s no Tony Mandarich
  9. Mike Evans, WR Texas A&M — He’s great, but he’s no Calvin Johnson
  10. Justin Gilbert, CB Oklahoma State — He’s great, but he’s no Deion Sanders

April 13, 2014

QotD: Politicians

Filed under: Humour, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:24

Being an MP is a vast subsidized ego-trip. It’s a job that needs no qualifications, it has no compulsory hours of work, no performance standards, and provides a warm room, a telephone and subsidized meals to a bunch of self-important windbags and busybodies who suddenly find people taking them seriously because they’ve go the letters ‘MP’ after the their name.

Jonathan Lynn, “Yes Minister Series: Quotes from the dialogue”, JonathanLynn.com

April 9, 2014

The rise of the bloodmouth carnists

Filed under: Humour, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:13

ESR has a bit of fun at the expense of a militant vegan:

Some weeks ago I was tremendously amused by a report of an exchange in which a self-righteous vegetarian/vegan was attempting to berate somebody else for enjoying Kentucky Fried Chicken. I shall transcribe the exchange here:

    >There is nothing sweet or savory about the rotting
    >carcass of a chicken twisted and crushed with cruelty.
    >There is nothing delicious about bloodmouth carnist food.
    >How does it feel knowing your stomach is a graveyard

    I’m sorry, but you just inadvertently wrote the most METAL
    description of eating a chicken sandwich in the history of mankind.

    MY STOMACH IS A GRAVEYARD

    NO LIVING BEING CAN QUENCH MY BLOODTHIRST

    I SWALLOW MY ENEMIES WHOLE

    ESPECIALLY IF THEY’RE KENTUCKY FRIED

I am no fan of KFC, I find it nasty and overprocessed. However, I found the vegan rant richly deserving of further mockery, especially after I did a little research and discovered that the words “bloodmouth” and “carnist” are verbal tokens for an entire ideology.

First thing I did was notify my friend Ken Burnside, who runs a T-shirt business, that I want a “bloodmouth carnist” T-shirt – a Spinal-Tap-esque parody of every stupid trash-metal tour shirt ever printed. With flaming skulls! And demonic bat-wings! And umlauts! Definitely umlauts.

Once Ken managed to stop laughing we started designing. Several iterations. a phone call, and a flurry of G+ messages later, we had the Bloodmouth Carnist T-shirt. Order yours today!
Bloodmouth Carnist t-shirt

April 8, 2014

Ten un-answerable questions for libertarians

Filed under: Humour, Liberty — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:58

Uh-oh, Bleeding Heart Libertarians has spilled the beans:

10 Questions Libertarians Can’t Answer, and Hope You Won’t Ask!

Libertarianism philosophy is like a cockroach that scurries away once you shine the light of reason on it. Here are 10 hard questions libertarians can’t answer.

1. Which Koch brother has more authority over you? [...]
2. Which corporation should rule the world? [...]
3. When oppressing the poor, is it better to use kicks or punches? Or should you hire other poor people to beat up poor people for you? [...]
4. If you’re so smart, how come not everyone’s a libertarian? [...]
5. Wasn’t America libertarian in 1850? Or at least 1870? And isn’t American 2014 clearly better than American in 1850 or 1870? [...]
6. How could a libertarian society produce new generations? [...]
7. If Murray Rothbard was such a badass anarchist, why did he work for a state university? [...]
8. Come to think of it, how can libertarianism ever get going without stealing from the government? [...]
9. Which political leaders will you put on your currency? [...]
10. If capitalism is so awesome, why is anyone still poor? [...]

H/T to Julian Sanchez who offers this trigger warning:

April 1, 2014

Wranglers of Death official trailer

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:24

Published on 1 Apr 2014

In a last-ditch effort to save their family, a group of cowboys drive a dangerous herd to Hollywood.

Libertarian Police Department

Filed under: Humour, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:32

In The New Yorker, Tom O’Donnell goes on the road with the hardworking cops of the LPD:

I was shooting heroin and reading The Fountainhead in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole 474 million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down… provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said, “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

H/T to Walter Olson:

March 30, 2014

“[E]very Ohio political candidate has escaped from a lunatic asylum and all Ohio ballot initiatives are the work of Satan”

Filed under: Humour, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:11

P.J. O’Rourke finally made his mom proud by filing a brief of Amici Curiae to the US Supreme Court:

Ilya Shapiro, with a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, is Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at Cato and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He often files amicus briefs, especially in cases where constitutionally guaranteed rights are imperiled. But these briefs are serious in tone even though Ilya is funny in person.

He’s also self-effacing, saying, “There are people who know more about Constitutional law than I do, and there are people who are funnier than I am, but I do occupy the very small area of overlap in that Venn diagram.”

The Venn diagram seemed like the only proper approach to a law that would make you a criminal in Ohio for saying that Buckeye president William Howard Taft was so fat his wife had to grease the doorframe and tell him there was a banana cream pie in the Blue Room to get him into the White House.

The fight-a-laugh-with-a-laugh brief was Cato Legal Associate Gabriel Latner’s idea. He wrote the first draft. Cato Research Fellow Trevor Burrus added research. And more jokes. Then Ilya Shapiro took over. I was asked to read it and give it my endorsement because I am an expert on being run out of Ohio. Ask my mother.

Politico posted a condensed version of the brief, and I shared the byline with Ilya. On the Above the Law blog David Lat called it the “Best Amicus Brief Ever.” (Albeit that’s a low “bar” — notice how I casually toss in legal jokes now that I’m arguing a case before the Supreme Court.) And a lawyer friend of mine congratulated me on what he said was the first legal brief in history to go viral.

March 19, 2014

Dark Dungeons Teaser Trailer

Filed under: Gaming, Humour, Media, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Published on 18 Mar 2014

Dark Dungeons brings Jack Chick’s 1984 masterpiece to the silver screen. Visit http://darkdungeonsthemovie.com/ for exclusive updates!

Debbie and Marcie arrive at college unaware of the dangers of RPGing. They are soon indoctrinated into this dangerous lifestyle where they face the threat of learning real life magical powers, being invited to join a witches’ coven, and resisting the lure of Ms. Frost, a vile temptress of a GM. But what peril must the two friends face when they stumble across the Necronomicon and their fantasy game becomes a reality game? Find out in Dark Dungeons!

February 19, 2014

NSA and DHS admit that parody is allowed after all

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Business, Government — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:58

Julian Hattem reports that the NSA and the DHS have dropped their complaint about parody mugs that they initially claimed were violating some sort of “special legal protection” for certain US government agencies’ seals:

The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are abandoning their protests against a line of mugs, hats and shirts that mock official government insignia, settling a lawsuit filed by the consumer interest group Public Citizen on behalf of Dan McCall, a Minnesota activist who sold products poking fun at the government.

“This is an important win,” said Paul Levy, a Public Citizen lawyer involved in the case, in a statement on Tuesday. “Citizens shouldn’t have to worry whether criticizing government agencies will get them in trouble or not. This settlement proves the First Amendment is there to protect citizens’ rights to free speech.”

McCall’s site, LibertyManiacs.com, sold bumper stickers, shirts, hats and other goods featuring a series of parody images. One graphic featured the DHS seal with the words “Department of Homeland Stupidity.”

In 2011, the NSA and the DHS sent cease and desist letters to Zazzle, which printed McCall’s designs, claiming that the images violated special legal protections for the agencies’ official seals.

The LibertyManiacs site shows a selection of “Censored by” items on the front page (I imagine they’ll be getting quite a sales boost from this case):

LibertyManiacs front page

February 15, 2014

What is your threat level?

Filed under: Government, Humour, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:09

PersonalThreatLevel

H/T to Cory Doctorow for the link.

February 11, 2014

QotD: The NSA voicemail greeting

Filed under: Government, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:41

Thanks for calling the National Security Agency. Press 1 for a blanket denial. Whatever you heard, it’s not true. Press 2 to hear a transcript of every call you’ve ever made. Press 3 to confess. If you haven’t done anything, that’s OK, the NSA treats everyone like a criminal. Press 4 to have your tax money used to violate your privacy. Press 5 to hear these options again.

Gregg Easterbrook, “Are the Chiefs real or opportunistic?”, ESPN Tuesday Morning Quarterback, 2013-10-29

February 10, 2014

A “Dumb” parody that Starbucks finds unamusing

Filed under: Business, Law, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:23

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this “parody” of a Starbucks shop is too similar to the real thing and that it would be easy for someone to think they were buying “the real thing” at this store:

A store labeled as “Dumb Starbucks,” using the Starbucks corporate logo and bearing an almost identical look to an actual Starbucks, opened up in Los Feliz on Friday, according to employees.

It was open until about 6 p.m. Saturday and drinks were free as part of what a barista called a “grand opening.”

The coffee shop reopened again Sunday morning and coffee was again free. Dozens of people could be seen waiting in line to get in.

Messages left with people associated with “Dumb Starbucks” seeking comment have not been returned. Messages left with Starbucks Corporation have also not been returned.

The menu was limited.

On Sunday, there still was no business license or health code rating posted in the establishment. The baristas said they were hired from Craigslist.

Despite the popularity, customers seemed confused about what exactly was going on.

“I saw online that there was a Dumb Starbucks sign. One of my friends posted about it, and I live across the street, so I just walked over,” Jonathan Brown told KPCC. He described it as “weirdly off-kilter,” with everything looking like a regular Starbucks except for the word “dumb” in front of it.

Their “FAQ” posting shows that they’re aware that this ploy may not be lawyer-proof:

Dumb Starbucks FAQ

Update, 11 February: The prank is revealed to be the work of Nathan Fielder.

Mr Fielder appeared in person at the store to make the announcement, where he said there are plans to open a second outlet in Brooklyn, New York.

There had been widespread speculation that the store, which uses Starbucks’ trademarks, was a publicity stunt.

Starbucks said they were aware of the store but denied any affiliation.

“We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humour, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.

February 2, 2014

Don’t forget your Super Bowl Bingo card

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:23

Super Bowl bingo

Update: Seattle, you’re drunk. Go home.

Seattle Super Bowl snack

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