Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some limb!

David Zaslav of Discovery predicted that a company would sell a package of cable channels via the Internet at some point.

At some point.

Okay, it's just a caption. Maybe there's more context in the article.

Google Chrome is the new Internet Explorer

Remember the irritations of the 1990s, when sites all too often behaved differently when visited with different browsers, and some wouldn't work at all unless you used the increasingly non-standards-compliant browser from the most powerful software company of the day?

Boo hiss for today's Google Doodle:

Dude, I'm using the latest version of Firefox. That IS a modern browser, and this Doodle doesn't do anything in that. And no, I am not going to visit your home page using Chrome.

When you're even pissing off your fanboys, you're doing it wrong.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Huh. All this time, I thought "arse" rhymed with "farce."

British and Australian readers, please advise. Ben Yagoda says:

Arse and ass look different in print. However, in Britain, where non-rhotic (that is, silent r) pronunciation is the standard, they would sound the same.

(Many of his commenters dispute his assertion.)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bring plenty of popcorn ...

... when you go to read the story of the family feud and consequent beans-spilling about the financial schemes and opulent lifestyle of the Crouch family, founders and owners of TBN, "the world’s largest Christian television network."

But also remember that tidbits like these, from the article and accompanying slide show, …

Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. But Mrs. Crouch, 74, rarely sleeps in the $5.6 million house with tennis court and pool. She mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, the Holy Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch’s chauffeur.


Mrs. Crouch with her two Maltese dogs, constant companions. In 2008 and 2009, she rented adjacent rooms in a hotel, one for herself and another for the dogs and her clothes, according to Ms. Koper and Troy Clements, a former executive at the Holy Land Experience. She kept a costly motor home, originally purchased to serve as an office, for two years as an air-conditioned sanctuary for her pets, two former employees said.


“My job as finance director was to find ways to label extravagant personal spending as ministry expenses,” Ms. Koper [a granddaughter of the Crouches] said. This is one way, she said, the company avoids probing questions from the I.R.S. She said that the absence of outsiders on TBN’s governing board — currently consisting of Paul, Janice and Matthew Crouch — had led to a serious lack of accountability for spending.

Ms. Koper and two former TBN employees also said that dozens of staff members, including Ms. Koper, chauffeurs, sound engineers and others had been ordained as ministers by TBN. This, she said, allowed the network to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their salaries and made it easier to justify providing family members with rent-free houses, sometimes called “parsonages.” Colby May, a lawyer representing TBN, said the network ordained people who felt a true “ministerial call.”

… are a thoroughly unsurprising outcome of allowing "churches" and other "religious activities" to go untaxed.


P.S. The Holy Land Experience theme park charges admission, of course, but if all the preaching of the prosperity gospel makes you feel like the ticket prices just don't soak you enough, you'll be happy to learn that you can help in other ways.

Truth in advertising? Or just a Freudian slip?

Bit by bit, my faith in humanity is restored

"I can cast out either one of your demons, but not both of them." — the XORcist.

David Gillen, RTed by Henry Farrell.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Both Sides Are Just As Bad™®©, continued

Ah, yes. The Heartland Institute. A monument to budding astroturfers everywhere.

Heard about their latest billboard campaign?

Agreeing with the consensus scientific view on anthropogenic global warming is equivalent to being the Unabomber, apparently

In opening the campaign, Heartland had said that Mr. Kaczynski would not be the only persona gazing down on Chicago’s commuters. Among his brethren would be Charles Manson, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee, the institute said.


The institute chose to feature “some of the world’s most notorious killers” on the billboards “because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the ‘mainstream’ media and liberal politicians say about global warming,” Heartland said at its Web site.

The institute’s site did acknowledge that “not all global warming alarmists are murderers and tyrants.”

So we got that going for us.

Which is nice.

(h/t: KK, via email)


Line of the Day: 2012-05-04

One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
    -- Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Which, y'know, is not news to you. But I found it rather impressive that this appears in a book written by a couple of long-time Beltway insiders, one from the palace of center-rightism and the other from The American Enterprise Institute.

The comedy begins when one of the permanently cowed crowd over at Nice Polite Republicans | Morning Edition, whence the above was obtained, does his tote-baggin' best to make the Both Sides Are Just As Bad argument, since a portion of the book talks about the MSM compounding the problem by pretending that Both Sides Are Just As Bad.

Longer excerpts from It's Even Worse Than It Looks are available here and here. The second link is worth visiting just to see the wingnuts furiously giving it a one-star review.

Happy National Day of Reason!

Okay, a day late. But Pete Stark, Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, NC and the city council of New Orleans all deserve shoutouts nonetheless.

Even if the phrase "One Nation Under God" is enshrined in the Constitution and the now-annual National Day of Reason was just some sop tossed to a fringe group in 1952, I mean.

Ah, yes. The shining light upon the hill.

I think the teevees are especially spot-on.

As one measure of how the US is seen by many outside its borders, note (by hovering over the thumbnails) the number of non-English language sites where this image appears.

(h/t: Mathis Amicucci/Diaspora)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Van Jones: "Rebuild the Dream"

This talk at Google, which just got posted yesterday, is well worth your time, particularly if you are one of those people whose attitude is more or less Remember what it felt like in 2008? And now …? Meh.

(alt. video link)

You might also have a look at the website and the book of the same name [Powells | B&N | Amazon].

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Predictions are hard, especially about the future

Even for renowned science fiction authors.

Here is John Scalzi speaking at Google on 27 April 2007, just five short years ago. Start listening at 18:28 and let it run for about five minutes.

(alt. video link)

No diss, and I'm sure he's had this pointed out before. I also think he's an insightful guy about a whole lot of things. I just thought this was kind of funny.

If you're paranoid about Zuckerberg, this probably won't help

On the surface, sure, it seems like a good idea.

The company announced a plan on Tuesday morning to encourage everyone on Facebook to start advertising their donor status on their pages, along with their birth dates and schools — a move that it hopes will create peer pressure to nudge more people to add their names to the rolls of registered organ donors.

What about that, Paul Ford? Think Mark wants to resell your kidneys?

A grain of common sense from the NFL? Nah. It's probably just about the money.

There was a brief flurry a few days ago over hints that the National Football League is considering doing away with the Pro Bowl. Do we care? I doubt it. I don't think I've ever watched it. But this picture is definitely worth sharing.

(h/t: Danger Guerrero/Kissing Suzy Kolber)


P.S. If you're wondering how I ended up on a site called "Kissing Suzy Kolber," it was due to Googling and Deadspin, after seeing her heretofore unfamiliar name mentioned, in a more weighty piece about one of my favorite sportswriters, Joe Posnanski.