Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Paradise Now
Posted by Ross

The synagogue where the bekka works had a screening of this film last week with a Q&A with Ali Suliman, who played Khaled in the film (he spoke through an interpreter). The co-writer/director Hany Abu-Assad was supposed to be there too, but got held up in Holland on visa problems.

I found "Paradise Now" to be one of the most powerful films I've ever seen. The Palestine of this film is a shithole. No natural beauty, people living on top of each other, no escape, no hope. Even the "haves" of this society live a spartan existence. Even those who are organizing and financing the suicide missions are prisoners in this hell. All I kept thinking while watching this film was that if I had to live like that, I would want to die.

Someone needs to get a Sudanese filmmaker into Darfur. Such is the power of cinema.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So, Raznor, about that blog against heteronormativity post
Posted by Raznor

Oy, what a busy week.

So I'm in Portland now. The kindly Ampersand is letting me crash in his house whilst I visit the ol' alma mater for the weekend of revelry and debauchery that is Renn Fayre. Hurray for that.

I did intend to get a post written Sunday afternoon. Seriously. But leaving town on Wednesday has the drawback of requiring that everything I need to get done for the week gets done before wednesday. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were my days in grading hell, and that was only one of my tasks.

So anyway, no post yet. I do intend to get this one written. Seriously. But soon. Soon . . .

Posted by Ross

The Bekka and I caught "Murderball" on DVD the other day. I'd heard it was a great film, but, to tell you quite frankly, it was even better than I expected. Profound, fun, funny. You can't believe these are real people, just because they're such incredible characters. I kept thinking, oh man, I'd love to write a screenplay with Joe Soares (the outspoken, un-PC Barry Bonds of Murderball) as the protagonist.

I'm so used to the sanitized world of professional sports. The NBA and its dress code. The NFL and its no-celebrating of touchdowns. MLB being scandalized because Venezuelan native Ozzie Guillen supports Hugo Chavez and refused to visit Bush at the White House with the World Series champ White Sox.

Sports don't really matter, not in the way eating, breathing, sleeping and shitting matter... to say nothing of fucking. (We learn in the film that most of the quads are sexually functional, and, as one of the guys says, "I'd rather be able to grab my meat than my toothbrush.") But our primal spirit -- the one that we clever homo sapiens try so hard to pretend isn't there beneath our layers of clothing, and underneath our concept of the immortal soul -- lusts for battle and war.

Sportsmanship be damned, these guys cuss and sweat and fight.

As one of the protagonists, when delineating the difference between the '04 Paralympics in Athens and the Special Olympics, says:

"This isn't about a hug. This is about winning a fucking medal."

The irony was that when they did show the hugs, it was more moving and more real than any fucking medal.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

It's still Saturday in Alaska- dog blogging

Well, here's a picture of Hermes on my lap. I think it speaks for itself.

Hermes on my lap.

Piny stole my idea!
Posted by Raznor

For blog against heteronormativity day. I was preparing another post on transgendered people/criticism of the site Questioning Trans Politics, but Piny apparently already wrote a good post on the subject 5 days ago over at feministe.

Oh well, I still plan on posting on this tomorrow, so until then, read Piny's post. Consider it a preview.

I'll get to dog blogging shortly.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Notes and Predictions
Posted by Raznor

Well, today is blog against heteronormativity day. I may write a post tonight, but I'm thoroughly exhausted at the moment. Most likely, you'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile the NBA postseason is upon us. I really don't care too much about what happens in the games the Suns aren't involved in. Suns play the Lakers tomorrow in Phoenix. My prediction for the series - Kobe Bryant scores 300 points and the Lakers win one game.

It'll be Suns vs Clippers in round two.

President Hu Summarily Executes Protestor on White House Lawn
Posted by Ross

President Bush’s Thursday picnic on the White House lawn, in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s US visit, was interrupted by the shouts of a protestor, who was later identified as Jin Qin, a Chinese ex-pat and Falun Gong follower whose entire family had been killed so that mid-level Chinese bureaucrats could sell their organs on the black market.

“Well that’s just plain rude,” President Bush muttered to the Chinese president as he chewed on some Texas-style potato salad with extra tobasco sauce.

“I was about to add that my propaganda machine would be happy to run a multi-million dollar smear campaign against that crazy lady,” the President added, “when the next thing I know, Hu grabs one-a my Secret Serviceman’s side-arms an’ is moseyin’ on over to ‘er.”

Without hesitation, Hu then fired a single bullet through Qin's skull at point blank range, killing her instantly. “That is how we do things in Beijing,” he muttered coldly through a translator.

"Please pass the ambrosia salad," the translator added.

“After that, all of us were too afraid to ask Hu to stop manipulating his currency,” an impressed Karl Rove said. “That fucker’s stone cold.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Colbert Report
Posted by Ross

To me, when “The Colbert Report” premiered last year, what really happened was “The Daily Show” became an hour long program. It’s sort of like how the end of “Sesame Street” is now completely dedicated to “Elmo’s World.”

In all his brilliantly-intellectualized tomfoolery, Stephen Colbert, the Tickle-me-Elmo to Jon Stewart’s Big Bird, plays the O’Reilly-esque egotistical right-wing media pundit -- the kind whose ilk has spread like the plague on the cable news networks “The Daily Show”, in all its Nouveau silliness, so beautifully satirizes.

Among the myriad of hilarious running gags on the show, my personal favorite, thus far, is when Colbert shamelessly plugs his sci-fi adventure novel:

On Monday’s show, Colbert espoused some of his philosophies on taxes:

We’ll never get the big government gorilla off our backs as long as we keep feeding the money monkey with our banana bucks… [long pause] … and then he’ll just throw his fiscal feces at us...

I can take this monkey metaphor as long as I need to.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Why Ann Coulter's gender identity is unimportant
Posted by Raznor

Ross left a post here the other day that I could not, in good conscience, let go without posting a response. The gyst of the article is that Coulter left the gender question of her voting registration blank. This combined with some mannish looks (Boondocks did a series a couple years back with Huey pointing out Coulter's adam's apple) and a few other stuff leads some to surmise that she started life as a man. This is rampant speculation for the most part, but for the purposes of this post, I'll ignore it.

Sure, if Coulter is a transexual, at a certain level it would be funny in a way similar to ultra-Christian conservatives being closet cases. But in a more important way, such talk is harmful. The reasoning for this is twofold.

I. Coulter's gender identity is not an issue

There are many, many reasons to dislike Ann Coulter. She's a racist, she holds all people her disagree with her in utter contempt, even writing books about how being left-wing is tantamount to treason, and her ideas of "jokes" include assassinating sitting (Democratic) presidents, murdering supreme court justices, and wishing Timothy McVeigh had blown up the New York Times.

The common theme above is that none of it has anything to do with her gender identity. Sure, she gets lots of face time because she's an attractive, blonde woman, but she's aging, and soon won't be able to get by on her looks, especially with Michelle Malkin being younger, more attractive, and able to get away with saying much more racist bullshit thanks to being non-white. ("A Filipino woman hates Mexicans and Ay-rabs, therefore hating Mexicans and Ay-rabs is okay.") So even from a Machiavellian strategic perspective, smearing Coulter as a transexual is not going to help much.

Furthermore, there's the old adage, "live by the sword, die by the sword." Remember how the main argument against Janet Reno as Attorney General was that she was mannish and probably a lesbian? Nothing there about her competence. I don't really have enough information on Reno's ability as AG to have an opinion of her ability, but I'm sure she's at least 50 times better than Ashcroft or Gonzalez, both of whom fit pretty well into their gender roles. Accepting "Ann Coulter is mannish" as a legitimate criticism would be accepting the same for anyone, and look at where that gets us. Which brings me to my second, more important point.

II. Mocking Coulter on the basis of gender identity is implying that there's something wrong with being transgendered.

Culture warriors are already hard at work trying to reinforce Society's ick-factor in regards to transgendered people, and the results are too often tragic. I'm sure Ross had no intention of attacking transgendered people in general, but without an underlying assumption that there is something intrinsically wrong with Ann Coulter being born a man, I don't see how it can be such a big deal.

In any case, though, a focus on Coulter's gender identity reinforces the notion that transgendered people are intrinsically bad, whatever the intentions of the person making the jokes. These would be like calling Coulter a slut, or for that matter, levying racist, misogynist jokes against against Michelle Malkin. I have no pity for Coulter and Malkin for the hatred they receive, they make their careers on spreading hatred against whatever group is the villain-du-jour for them. But for those of us who despise these people because of the evil they spread, because of their racism, their misogyny, their general hatreds against whatever group they decide to hate, we must be especially careful to ensure that in our criticism of them, or our joking about them, that we avoid jokes like "Ann Coulter is a man."

Update (9:47pm): While I'm on the subject, Saturday is Blog Against Heteronormativity Day. This will also mark the last day of the Raznor's Rants official period of mourning for Skip (pic at top). Then probably a major template change. So, look for that.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Dog Blogging
Posted by Raznor

So I'm finally getting back to the dog-blogging. Here's a pic of Gus after being groomed. Whereas Hermes looks like a clean Hermes when groomed, Gus looks absolutely different. Enjoy.

Gus - when groomed

But he has a point
Posted by Raznor

Via Dr. B, Scott Bidstrup has a page of hilarious semi-literate hatemail. My favorite bit:

My wife is not a lesbian and neither is my son. I've never had sex with a
man and neither has my wife.

Too true. Too true.

Friday, April 14, 2006

That Chick's a Man, Man!
Posted by Ross

At long last, it all makes sense!

This from PageOneQ:

Ann Coulter neglects to answer gender question on voter registration form
by Michael Rogers

Conservative commentator and best-selling author Ann Coulter neglected to answer Question #15 on her Palm Beach County, FL voter registration form, PageOneQ has learned. The question asks the registrant to indicate sex by checking 'M' or 'F' on the form. Bloggers and comment posts have speculated about Coulter's gender identity.

Read the rest here.

The Friday Random Ten
Posted by Raznor

You should know the rules, put up your random mp3 player and record the first 10 songs. Amanda includes a little help for Muir finding teh funny with her frt and is therefore supererior to my paltry mere list of songs, but let us begin anyway.

1) Killing Lies - The Strokes
2) River, Sea, Ocean - Badly Drawn Boy
3) Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) - Bruce Springsteen
4) Miss You - The Rolling Stones
5) Out on the Weekend - Neil Young
6) Fanette - Shawn Eliot
7) Sex Drive - Rolling Stones
8) Christian Brothers - Elliott Smith
9) You in Spite of Yourself - John Wesley Harding
10) Into the White - The Pixies

Nice to end with something as awesome as the Pixies. Well, have an awesome weekend. Look for the triumphant return of dog blogging tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dumbest study ever!!!!!
Posted by Raznor

Here's an from Reuters article who's headline is Violent video games linked to risky behaviors. Ooh, substantive. Let's look at the details:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - After playing a violent video game, young men are more likely to think it's OK to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol, raising the possibility that exposure to violent media could negatively affect health-related behavior.

What? That's it? What a fucking idiotic study with a completely overreaching conclusion. Oooh, teens that play a violent video game don't think that drinking or pot smoking are evil. But there's more:

Brady and Matthews had a group of 100 male undergraduates aged 18 to 21 play either Grand Theft Auto III or The Simpsons: Hit and Run. In the Simpsons game, players took the role of Homer Simpson and their task was to deliver daughter Lisa's science project to school before it could be marked late. In Grand Theft Auto III, players took the role of a criminal, and were instructed by the Mafia to beat up a drug dealer with a baseball bat.

...After playing the game, study participants watched a scenario in which a teacher told a class he suspects some students of cheating on a test, and that while he is very disappointed in those who have cheated he is proud of those who did well. The teacher then asks to see "Billy" after class. The study participants were told to imagine themselves as Billy, and asked how likely it was that the teacher was going to accuse them of cheating. Students who'd played Grand Theft Auto were more likely to think they'd be accused of cheating.

Wow, that proves something. But we have 100 students, let's say 50 play GTA and 50 play the Simpsons. 30 students who play GTA think they're accuse, 25 who play Simpsons think so. Well, that tells you pretty much less than nothing about how GTA vs Simpsons if you're honest about it, but I'm sure that would be listed as a 10% increase as proof that violent video games are ruining America.

Via Penny Arcade, where there's a hilarious comic on the subject.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Squirrel Please
Posted by Raznor

Scott Ramsoomair rocks your world.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Everybody's a Victim
Posted by Ross

This is from today's LA Times:

Christians Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Policies

Many codes intended to protect gays from harassment are illegal, conservatives argue.

By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
April 10, 2006

ATLANTA — Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

In that spirit, the Christian Legal Society, an association of judges and lawyers, has formed a national group to challenge tolerance policies in federal court. Several nonprofit law firms — backed by major ministries such as Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ — already take on such cases for free.

The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they're labeled intolerant.

A recent survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 64% of American adults — including 80% of evangelical Christians — agreed with the statement "Religion is under attack in this country."

"The message is, you're free to worship as you like, but don't you dare talk about it outside the four walls of your church," said Stephen Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Assn. Center for Law and Policy, which represents Christians who feel harassed.

Critics dismiss such talk as a right-wing fundraising ploy. "They're trying to develop a persecution complex," said Jeremy Gunn, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Others fear the banner of religious liberty could be used to justify all manner of harassment.

"What if a person felt their religious view was that African Americans shouldn't mingle with Caucasians, or that women shouldn't work?" asked Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal.

Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. He predicts the government will one day revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that preach homosexuality is sinful or that refuse to hire gays and lesbians.

"Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."

Christians are fighting back in a case involving Every Nation Campus Ministries at California State University. Student members of the ministry on the Long Beach and San Diego campuses say their mission is to model a virtuous lifestyle for their peers. They will not accept as members gays, lesbians or anyone who considers homosexuality "a natural part of God's created order."

Legal analysts agree that the ministry, as a private organization, has every right to exclude gays; the Supreme Court affirmed that principle in a case involving the Boy Scouts in 2000. At issue is whether the university must grant official recognition to a student group that discriminates.

The students say denying them recognition — and its attendant benefits, such as funding — violates their free-speech rights and discriminates against their conservative theology. Christian groups at public colleges in other states have sued using similar arguments. Several of those lawsuits were settled out of court, with the groups prevailing.

In California, however, the university may have a strong defense in court. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that the city of Berkeley was justified in denying subsidies to the Boy Scouts because of that group's exclusionary policies. Eddie L. Washington, the lawyer representing Cal State, argues the same standard should apply to the university.

"We're certainly not going to fund discrimination," Washington said.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A must read post
Posted by Raznor

Pete Guither, guest-posting at Unclaimed Territory has an excellent post entitled Using the Drug "War" to Expand Government Power - which pretty much speaks for itself. It's hard to find a single excerpt that really sums up this post, but this part is especially egregious:

Forfeiture -- the seizure of the personal property of traitors or certain felons -- has its roots in English common law and was used to a limited degree in the American colonies. Our Founders, however, despised it, and in 1790 the very first Congress abolished forfeiture. That repeal held for 180 years, until 1970 and Richard Nixon's drug war push.

The new federal asset forfeiture law is civil, not criminal, and unlike the English common law, which required conviction prior to seizure, American forfeiture dispenses with the need for proving the property owner guilty of anything. All that is necessary is for the state to claim a connection between the thing seized and drugs, whereupon the government may confiscate the property. It is then up to the owner to prove (at their own expense, hiring a lawyer & etc.) that the property is "innocent." Critically, the proceeds from the seizures go into the budget of the state or federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors offices, creating a horrible incentive for officers to go after seizures solely for the purpose of enriching their units with a swell new fleet of fully loaded police cruisers, or lovely new desks for the DAs.

I highly recommend you read the rest.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Posted by the bekka

Here's another cool piece of art I just finished. I call it "Pie Chart." Enjoy!