Friday, April 27, 2012

Kingly Wisdom

One of the defining characteristics of great literature is that it remains relevant decades, even centuries after it was written.  I just started rereading Stephen King's dark fantasy "The Eyes of the Dragon" (published 25 years ago), and ran across this little tidbit that made me sit up and say "DAMN!"  It's a line spoken by Flagg (villain of the story, as well as many of King's other masterworks), advising a young and unprepared king of the realm on fiscal policy:

"We must tax [the farmers] more on what they admit they own, so we can collect at least some of what's due us on all they hide from the tax collector."
The perfect credo for the Occupy movement and Buffett Rule enthusiasts everywhere, out of the mouth of a character who represents basically Satan himself.  Well put, Mr. King, well put.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How NOT To Market on Facebook

I'm sorry, Homeland.  I really am.  You're my very favorite new show of the past year, and I'm excited to see the new season when it starts later this year.  So excited, in fact, that I "liked" you on Facebook, so that I'd be notified of your premiere date, and maybe get some early news articles on production, or even an early peek at the trailers.  But in the offseason, all you get is random quotes from the show.  And as good as Homeland is, it just isn't a quotable show.  To a fan, it's repetitive; to a non-fan, it's confusing; to a potential fan, it's sometimes even a spoiler.  And at least right now, that's all that your account is posting.  So as much as I didn't want to do it, I had to block you from appearing in my news feed.  I might promise to unblock you as the fall season draws near, but we both know that I won't remember to do it, especially since I know that Ron & Fez will tell me when it's time to start watching again.  I'm disappointed, Homeland, because I know that you could have done so much more.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Liberal Compassion

One of the most common "bashes" of conservatives by liberals is that conservatives "lack compassion" for other people.  To illustrate, I'd like to present a few examples of that liberal compassion:

Rolling Stone - "Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche"
Posted just over 12 hours after Breitbart passed away.

A sampling of "burn in hell" tweets as the news was breaking.

This is the reaction to the very premature death of a father of four young children.  Very compassionate, indeed.

Afterthought: Some liberals lack compassion, some conservatives are very gullible.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I'll let Homer and Lisa explain the term:

And that leads to these two stories:
Obama's approval rating among Twitter users is over 60% has been bought by a Democratic SuperPAC

Thus, the crisis and the opportunity for the Republican party.  The crisis: the GOP, by and large, is not working the internet and social media, and indeed seems not to understand how.  They're ripe for the picking off, or at least the picking on, by prank-minded Democrats such as those who bought Gingrich's namesake website.  The opportunity: if one of the Republican candidates (or their campaign management/staff) can figure out how to use "new-fangled" technology and social media correctly, there's a small but vocal left-wing base out there who can either be converted or marginalized.  At the very least, Republicans can add their voice to a platform that is largely a monotonous drone of Obama support right now, and in this election year, that can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Missing The Point

CNN, via Entertainment Weekly, has a story up today detailing's list of the all-time top 10 most pirated movies, to contrast with Netflix's list of the all-time top 10 most rented movies through their service.  There's not a whole lot that they can really do with this story, but the author gamely tries to pad it out by using the lists to draw a conclusion about Americans' movie tastes as a whole, and pirates' taste as a subset, and comes up with this:

Apparently Netflix users favor Oscar bait while Internet thieves go for tentpole popcorn movies, with the Venn Diagram overlap between those two strangely being Leonardo DiCaprio.
 There probably is a certain amount of truth to this; after all, your average internet pirate is demographically younger and more male than the general population, and this is the group that the big-budget action flicks are after as an audience.  But to brush this off as the only cause is to miss another point: a much higher percentage of these "Oscar-bait" films are or have been available on Netflix Instant Play for quite a while than the "tentpole popcorn movies".  Of the top 10 most pirated titles, the only one to ever have been available on Netflix Instant was Kick-Ass, and that wasn't made available until nearly a year after its DVD release.  This could be coincidence...or it could not be.  In this day and age, people want convenience, and it's more than possible that some of the non-overlap is due to the fact that some people will take to BitTorrent to get their hands on titles that aren't available to stream to their TVs, via internet or on-demand TV.  It's a simple equation, studio execs: Greater streaming availability at a reasonable price = less piracy of your company's titles = bigger sacks with dollar signs on them crammed into the trunks of your Audis.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hell Just Froze Over

Because I'm sticking up for a reality show.  A reality show I've never seen, and yet, whether rationally or irrationally, I despise.  And in doing so, I'm going against one of my absolute favorite politicians, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

You see, earlier this week, Gov. Christie blocked Jersey Shore from receiving a small (just under half a million dollars) tax credit that's designed to entice film and TV to come to the state and spend money.  And that's what this reality show did--along with countless other vapid twentysomethings who want to party with Snooki and the Situation and a bunch of other people whose names I don't know but everyone else seems to.  And their dollars are worth the same as everyone else's.  Not so fast, say Christie (and other N.J. leaders).  This show spreads "misconceptions about the state and its citizens."

Imagine, for a moment, if Boardwalk Empire were shot in Jersey (it's not), and Christie made a similar statement against it--saying it spread misconceptions about the state and its politicians.  Let's even take a real leap and assume that such a statement would be true.  Now let's imagine the reaction to Christie pulling the tax credit from the show, hoping that the reaction would be to shut down production, or at least force it to move.  There would be outcry, because this would be government censorship--a state government stifling creativity.

Now, I don't know if trying to shut down Jersey Shore is stifling creativity--quite the opposite, in fact--but the simple fact is that it's government censorship, plain and simple.  Would the world be a better place without drivel like this on our TVs?  Probably, but that's something for the market to decide, not the governor, judiciary, or legislature.  In a situation like this, I'm with Voltaire (as channeled through Evelyn Beatrice Hall): "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course, Snooki and company could always pack up and head on down the road to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania for the next season of their nonsense.  That, even I might tune in to watch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Salt and "Bathery"

This is why I hate my local paper.  It would be one thing if this story were an isolated incident, but it's sadly typical agenda-driven pablum:

Story on "bath salts" used to get high

Reading this story and its sympathetic tone, you would think that someone had kidnapped these "users" and gotten them high and addicted against their will.  That would be a reason to pity them.  They didn't even use them for their stated purpose as bath salts.  That would be perfectly reasonable.  They didn't use them for an innocent-but-incorrect purpose (like potpourri) and accidentally get themselves high.  That would be understandable and forgivable, if stupid.  No, in the first line of the story, the intended object of our pity admits to putting the chemical into a syringe and injecting it into herself.  Unless she's a diabetic and mistook the "salts" for some off-brand of insulin, that means that she was a drug user whose sole aim was to get high, and that, to me, is deserving of nothing but heaps of society's scorn and contempt.  But that's not even the most offensive part: it seems to me, and several people who commented on the story, that the News-Journal is using "high on bath salts" as an excuse to defend a piece of garbage cop-killer who should have been squashed like a bug before he ever had the chance to see the inside of a jail cell, let alone a courtroom.  It's painful to see my only substantial source for truly local news taking such a soft stance and treating criminals as people to be pitied and coddled, instead of feared and punished.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beast's Cookbook: Chicken with Cashews, Peppers, and Broccoli

Haven't done one of these in a while, but here's the recipe for an easy stir-fry that's become a Saturday night post-Scotch favorite. Of course the kernel of the recipe came from some website (I've forgotten which), but I've added enough unique touches that I'm comfortable claiming this as my own. This serves enough for the whole family, or for a big eater like me to eat the leftovers for the rest of the week.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (I use the thin-sliced)
1 large broccoli crown
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 handfuls of cashews (I have pretty big hands)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (just enough to coat the skillet or wok)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (approximate)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons corn starch

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and the bell pepper into strips. Pull the broccoli florets off the crown. Coarsely chop the onion. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and cornstarch and whisk until combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Add the broccoli and peppers and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and onions and stir-fry another 1-2 minutes, until the onions just become translucent.

Add chicken, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and sugar, and stir-fry, combining, about 5-7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add broth/cornstarch mixture and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add the cashews and cook another minute until the cashews are hot and browned. Serve over white rice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Netflix Everyone The Bird

Netflix forces subscribers to buy separate DVD, stream subscriptions

Actually, despite my clever headline, I don't think Netflix had much of a choice here. Rather, they've pretty much been forced into it due to the maneuverings of the movie industry, who doesn't understand that streaming video is here to stay, is superior to physical media (my Roku box streams most Netflix titles in 1080p resolution--that's higher than DVD), and is far more convenient. Let me say that again, and in bold print this time: it's far more convenient. It's far more convenient to have a movie ready to go at your fingertips on a little (or big) box attached to your TV screen than it is to wait for a video to arrive in the mail or to run out to the local store or kiosk box to pick it up. And if it starts to get too expensive to stream the movies, or if there's a limited selection available for streaming, well, there's another way to put a movie right on a hard drive on your home media network, ready to watch at a moment's notice, and it doesn't cost a dime: piracy. Just wait and watch, in a year or so, stories will come out that movie piracy rates have hit an all-time high, the movie studios will feign cluelessness (or maybe just be clueless) over why this is happening to them, and worthless vulture law firms like Righthaven will be raking in the fat cash like never before. Can you think of another non-entertainment industry that thinks suing their customers is a good standard business practice? Look how well that worked for the music industry, MPAA. It's a cliche, but it's a cliche because it's true: those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pujols' Progress

Cardinals star Albert Pujols is headed to the DL with a wrist fracture. It's going to cost him his well-deserved annual trip to the All-Star Game....and it's going to cost him a good deal more than that. See, Albert is in his walk year, hitting the free agent market after this season wraps up, and you just know that he's hoping for a big-time contract, but it's just not going to happen. He's going to be 32 years old next season, and this is the second major injury of his career (he had elbow surgery in 2008). That's going to make teams reluctant to lock him up long-term (usually one of the conditions of a blockbuster contract). What's more, none of the big-market teams will be looking for a first baseman--Boston, the Yankees, and Philadelphia are all set with Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixiera, and Ryan Howard, respectively, and two of the next three biggest markets (the Dodgers and Mets) are in such dire financial straits that there's no way they'll be able to offer him a blockbuster deal. That leaves the Cubs as the only "big-market" team in the running, and without a bidding war, there's no way Pujols gets an Alex Rodriguez/Mark Teixiera/Ryan Howard-level contract, no matter how much he deserves it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I Hate To Say It, But...

I told you so.
I fucking told you so.
Didn't I tell you?

Wait...I don't hate to say it at all. This actually feels pretty good.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Congressman Anthony('s) Weiner

So, Congressman Weiner, you can't say "with certitude" that the picture that "someone" sent to a young lady via Twitter wasn't of "Little Anthony". Sounds like an excuse to me. If something like this ever happened to me, I'd be covered and issuing a much stronger denial than that. You know why? Because I NEVER TOOK A PICTURE OF MY DICK BULGING THROUGH MY UNDERWEAR. The fact that he can't say for sure that the picture isn't him means that SOMEWHERE OUT THERE IS A PICTURE THAT IS OF HIM THAT LOOKS ENOUGH LIKE THIS THAT HE CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. I can't believe I'm the only one who's putting this together, but I just haven't seen it anywhere in the news coverage.