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Movin’ on Up   Leave a comment

Abandoned

“Even if we sell the house, we still don’t come close to paying off the mortgage.” – Marge Simpson
“Hey.” – Homer and Marge Simpson 

The Ann Arbor Review of Books is moving to its new, permanent headquarters at a2review.net, starting this morning.  The new site is running WordPress.org instead of good old WordPress.com, which gives us a lot more functionality and flexibility, but does require a change of address.  If you are using an RSS feed to read this site, here is the new one:

http://a2review.net/?feed=rss

Please e-mail me if you have any trouble with the feed or the new site.  On the whole it should be a vast improvement, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems along the way.  And now, the obligatory dated cultural reference:

Posted November 26, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Site News, The Simpsons

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Reading Digest – 21 November 2012   Leave a comment

“It’s times like this I wish I were a religious man.” – Homer Simpson
“It’s all over, people!  We don’t have a prayer!” – Reverend Lovejoy

[Programming Note: The Ann Arbor Review of Books will be undergoing some changes over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Posting will be light to non-existent until Monday.]

FNLogo A few weeks ago, I said that a lack of apocalyptic furor was the biggest single factor in Mitt Romney’s inability to make anything more than a superficial connection with his supporters.  This morning, FOX News adds some credence to my theory:

Doomsday! (Tonight on FOX)

It’s a five part series, and yes, they are as serious as decorum will allow:

While most of these are associated with the second coming of Christ, the focus is now on the Maya civilization of Southern Mexico and the end of their calendar on December 21, 2012 — the coming Winter Solstice. Over 3,000 books and countless websites claim that the Maya predicted the Earth will be destroyed on this date.

The scenarios are truly frightening: The Earth will be destroyed by colliding with an asteroid or being pulled into the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Others claim a galactic planetary alignment that will tear the Earth apart or the Earth’s magnetic poles will shift and our planet will turn upside down.

Adam Housley reports from Palenque, the so-called "jewel of the Maya Classic Period," to find out what the Maya believed. Lauren Green travels to the battlefield of Armageddon where the Book of Revelation describes the final battles of good vs. evil. Amy Kellogg is at the prehistoric megalith Stonehenge to see the sun rise and ask the druids if they are there to celebrate or countdown to Doomsday.

Mayans and Druids and tigers, oh my!  But wait, there’s more!:

Understanding the New Testament’s vision of the second coming of Christ is led by Fr. Mark Arey, whose recent translation of the Book of Revelation from Greek is now illustrated as a graphic novel. Archaeologist Eric Cline describes the doomsday battlefield of Armageddon. Evangelical preacher Marcus Lamb describes his belief that the end is truly near and he’s even put up a live Internet camera in Jerusalem to capture Jesus’ return.

It is a fact that the Maya calendar will end on December 21, 2012. But, don’t believe the hype: The world is not about to end. Debunking the doomsday scenarios are astronomer Anthony Aveni, physicist Michio Kaku, archaeologist Christopher Powell and author Graham Hancock. Plus, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow tells why the idea of a doomsday is appealing to some people.

That final paragraph is easily the best part.  It’s the standard FOX News twist applied to the end of the world.  FOX will spend the bulk of its time and attention on the most dire and lurid speculations they can concoct, then every once and a while they’ll remind people of reality.  So we get statements like “pulled into the black hole”, “galactic planetary alignment that will tear the Earth apart”, “the doomsday battlefield of Armageddon”, and “Earth will be destroyed” (twice!).  Then at the end is the quick debunking, which is described as flatly and dryly as possible.  Balance!

FoxNationLogo If the world is going to end, the nationalists are going to watch it happen with their hands wrapped firmly around their dicks:

Armageddon1

The movie she’s in, by the way, doesn’t come out until next spring.  This story is strictly about the fact that she did a photo spread for Maxim.  And there’s:

Armageddon2Plus:

Armageddon3

That last one is especially pointless. 

DailyCallerLogo But not as pointless as this:

Skinny Cornucopia

Tucker, if you want to run a skin site, just run a damn skin site already.

ABC Logo In addition to their usual tabloid fare, which today includes “Celebrity Cold Remedies” under the heading “ABC Health” and “Russian Beauty Queen Slams Russian Corruption” (both of which naturally come with pictures), ABC’s also got some excellent synergy:

Objective Reporting

Tell me, fellow Disney employee, why is this spectacle of sight and sound so awesome and worthy of the attention of the ABC News audience?  That’s amazing, and tickets are still available, correct?  Thanks, see you at the office party. 

CBSLogo Tiffany is still very interested in what very rich wingers think about screwing poor people:

Honeywell to Medicare - Drop Dead

Still waiting for word from someone for whom Social Security benefits aren’t a rounding error on their annual income.  Gonna be a while, methinks.

Posted November 21, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, The Simpsons

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Reading Digest – 20 November 2012   Leave a comment

“D’oh!  Twenty million women in the world and I had to marry Jane Fonda.” – Homer Simpson

FoxNationLogo The nationalists hit all the buttons today.  They’ve got the War on Christmas:

It's the Great Lawsuit Charlie Brown

In which we find out that a parent in Arkansas objected to a school bus being used to haul kids to a church to see a play, which FOX Nation managed to conflated into unnamed, mysterious and powerful seeming “Critics”.  There’s also an unfounded assertion that rich people aren’t going to keep supporting all those gift receiving moochers who re-elected Obama:

Honey, Where's Out Atlas Shrugging Card

That one is based around a very noisy and one sourced survey that has nothing to do with taxes (FOX just speculates that a slight decrease in weekly self reported spending is about anticipated higher tax rates).  And, because the “Pic of the Day” with Heidi Klum in a tight dress isn’t enough, they’ve also got:

Bikini News

This is the entirety of the text after you click:

Maria Menounos proves she has one of the hottest bodies on television, showing off plenty of skin for December’s “Men’s Fitness.”

The 34-year-old “Extra” host wears a couple of tiny bikinis in the sexy front page shoot.

They’ve got cultural resentment, the looming liberal econo-pocalypse, and hot TV babes in bikinis, and I haven’t even mentioned the Michael Moore story, the one about failing solar companies, medical layoffs related to Obamacare, or even, just for old times sake, Jane Fonda.  They went full spectrum wingnut this morning. 

DailyCallerLogo Tucker & Friends have their usual assortment of nothing today, but this is amusing:

Prosecutor Porn

And what is this ex-porn star’s name?  Mark Suben.  He’s a middle aged fat guy with a mustache.  Shockingly, they decided to go with a close-up of unrelated tits instead.

ABC Logo Oh for fuck’s sake:

All Horseshit, All the Time

ABC News: shopping tips, celebrity gossip and stalking a child who happens to have famous parents all in just one morning.  Jebus, I know network news divisions are in terminal decline, but that is some National Enquirer shit right there. 

CBSLogo Tiffany goes for the more direct bankster fluffing:

Sachs, the Great and Powerful

Something tells me that watching that space for a similarly obsequious interview with, say, someone who doesn’t think “entitlements” must be cut would be a futile exercise. 

Posted November 20, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, The Simpsons

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Commercial Break: Mitsubishi Takes Pretentious Stand Against Pretentiousness   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Twilight
Channel: FX
Conglomerates: News Corporation

Advertiser: Mitsubishi Motors
Owned By: Mitsubishi
Pitch: Watch us prove our blue collar credentials by wasting champagne in the desert.

Car commercials tend toward the boring.  They have their amusingly cliched absurdities (cars in car commercials are never stuck in traffic and only drive in picturesque settings), but for the most part it’s just a shiny new car driving in front of the camera while some boring narrator drones on about lease agreements or the like. 

(Please note that these are different from pickup truck commercials, which are marketed with penile insecurity so relentlessly that they often achieve a kind of lunatic charm.) 

This commercial for a Mitsubishi station wagon manages to stand out from the pack solely for the radical disconnect between what it’s saying and what it’s showing.  As we see the car dash through a pan flat desert, the typically dull narration says:

Great design doesn’t have to be stodgy or snooty.  It should be inclusive, no exclusive.  That’s why Mitsubishi redesigned the 2013 Outlander Sport.  Lease one now for as low as two-hundred-nineteen dollars a month for thirty six months and help end pretentiousness.  Great design is now design for all.

Hell of a Commute

The Coach Humungus really needs to find another place for soccer practice.

The pitch of the narration is that this is a car for everyone (“inclusive”, not “stodgy or snooty”), but right as he’s saying that, we see a butler in white gloves pouring a champagne pyramid in the middle of the fucking desert:

Jeeves of the Salt Flats

One presumes that he is not pouring one out for the homies who couldn’t be here.

There are a lot of ways to describe that image, but none of them accord with the idea of helping to “end pretentiousness”.  In fact, doing something like this is the very epitome of pretentiousness, which is why it’s inadvertently amusing that the commercial goes to slow motion to linger over this new Mitsubishi for the people wasting all that perfectly good booze and glassware:

Take That, Uh, Somebody!

Guys Who Thought This Up: Rich Maniac Assholes

Nor is this the only thing they decided to smash for no reason.  They also crashed the car into a chandelier because they didn’t want to seem snooty, or something:

Oh Hai Desert Chandelier

What is holding you up?

You know who destroys nice things just because they can?  Rich, pretentious fuckheads, that’s who.  Eat a dick, Mitsubishi. 

Posted November 19, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Reading Digest – 19 November 2012   Leave a comment

“Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie!” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

CNNlogo Their lead stories today are Obama visiting Myanmar and another ineffectual call for a Gaza ceasefire from an outsider.  And what, pray tell, is the third most important story?:

Bieber Graces American Music Awards with His Presence

For the record, the American Music Awards are third or fourth tier awards show, depending on whether or not you think the Grammies (which they were specifically created to compete with) are actual awards.  No, this is not news.  The only thing important here is that they get to use Bieber’s name as click bait. 

FNLogo Happy day, the 2012 War on Christmas has begun with a “Clash”:

War on Christmas - Battle of Santa Monica

This particular battle is occurring in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica, but no word on whether or not that means the war on Christmas is going well or not. 

FoxNationLogo This isn’t an official, all hands on deck Bias Alert, but it’s still pretty funny:

Can't Hurt a Twinkie

If you click through you’ll find out that the “Snobs” were laughing on one of those awful comedy shows NPR runs on the weekend.  In other words, a show built around jokes made a joke. 

DailyCallerLogo I like to giggle at Carlson’s House of Wingnut Welfare when they do things like run slideshows of women eating ice cream and talk about how manly they are for smoking cigars, but it should also be known that they routinely fail at real journalism as well.  Case in point, this morning’s lead story:

Welfare Bait(ing)

I’m not sure what’s funnier, that they think it constitutes news that a publically available government website describes how to use government services, or that it’s labeled “DC Exclusives”.  I guess I have to go with the exclusive thing, because while that term has become all but meaningless in our times, Tucker & Friends have managed to take it to absurd new lows. 

usatodaylogo I suppose there’s a place for product reviews in a newspaper.  That place probably shouldn’t be in the “News” section:

Breaking Story - Great Deals on These Fine Products

Posted November 19, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, The Simpsons

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Lincoln: Now He Belongs To Our Age   Leave a comment

“This is Kent Brockman with a special bulletin.  The Lincoln squirrel has been assassinated.  We’ll stay with the story all night if we have to!” – Kent Brockman

Top Line: Lincoln is an overly serious ball of cheesy Americana that is mostly but not entirely redeemed by the excellent craftsmanship that went into it.  Trading on the enduring fascination and interest with old Honest Abe, Lincoln paints a hagiographic portrait that is perfectly suited to modern times and modern concerns but still goes down well with popcorn. 

Who (probably) should see this movie: School kids who want an easy day in class for the next twenty years. 

Who (probably) should not see this movie: Neo Confederates? 

Box Score:

Runtime: 2h:29m – Feels about right.  Could’ve been shorter, but there wasn’t a ton of unnecessary filler.

Actual Start Time: Showtime + 18 Minutes

Friday Morning Demographics: 30-40 people.  Big crowd. 

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language

The intense scene of war violence isn’t all that intense, the carnage is very limited, and the language is positively pedestrian. 

Should Be Rated: PG-8

Three Stars:

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis – The Titular Stove Pipe Hat Wearing, Machiavellian, Good Ole Boy President of These United States: 
    Does a fine job of creating a Lincoln who is consistent as a person across a huge number of emotions and situations.  No idea if the man was actually like that or not, but he is very believable as a man here, which is good because he’s central axis of the movie.  All other parts are very minor compared to his.
  2. Tommy Lee Jones – Affectionately Grumpy Abolitionist Congressman:
    Remember when Hollywood discovered that people love to see Tommy Lee Jones talk quickly and loudly?  He gets to do a lot of that here.  By far the most fun of any of the non-Lincoln cast members.
  3. David Strathairn – Lincoln’s Right Hand Man:
    The cool, competent sidekick every super President needs.
Worth Seeing In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +3 (This movie has all the makings of a commercial, critical and Oscar nominated success.  You will be hearing about it.)
  • -1 (There really isn’t anything terribly grand or spectacular such that a big screen is really necessary.)

Final Score: 4

Worth Seeing Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +1 (Going to be the definitive Lincoln portrayal for a while.)
  • -1 (Not forever, though.)
  • +1 (Entertaining enough that it doesn’t too often feel like a history lesson.)

Final Score: 6

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • +1 (Gloria Reuben gets a couple of decent scenes.)
  • +1 (Sally Field gets the same.)
  • -2 (That’s all but it for female roles, though.)
  • -2 (And it’s a long movie.)

Final Score: 3

IMDb Sez:

Director:

  • Steven Spielberg:
    You know, he’s the one time king of Hollywood who has morphed into a rather run of the mill hack in the last fifteen years or so.

Writer:

  • Tony Kushner:
    Widely beloved playwright whose only previous screenplay was for Munich, which is also probably Spielberg’s best movie of the last decade.
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin:
    Wrote the Lincoln book Team of Rivals upon which this is at least kinda based.

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 90% Top Critics: 95% Audience: 83%

Notes:

  • The audience has definitely got the better sense of things here.  The movie is much to fictionalized and preachy to be genuinely excellent.
  • Like so many tales of Lincoln before, the black cast members show up mostly to remind him of what good he can do and how good he is for doing it.
  • There’s plenty of political catnip for modern Republicans and Democrats, but overall the movie stays safely apolitical.
  • For a movie with a lot of fictionalized scenes and dialogue, it’s kind of annoying that they keep flashing subtitles at us to let us know who each character is, where we are, and what the date is. 
  • Lincoln was a storyteller, and the movie doesn’t miss a single opportunity to have him spin some homely, funny, and wise yarn about whatever happens to be going on.  For the most part, these are the best things in the film. 
  • The movie only really begins to drag near the end, when it ascends the pulpit to do things like have a reluctant Congressman shamefacedly admit that he’s prejudiced, have the newly passed amendment read out loud by a black woman who we’ve learned (completely off screen, of course) has had some hand in its passage, and for a true clunker of a scene where Sally Field basically looks right at the camera to advocate for the historical misunderstanding of Mary Todd Lincoln.  It’s difficult to tell whether the educational piety or the moralistic piety is hammier. 
  • Spielberg at least hasn’t lost his touch for inserting comedy here and there to keep things at least somewhat light.

Bottom Line: Lincoln is a mostly well written and consistently well acted period piece that is everything you’d expect from the Spielberg school of American history.  Along those lines, it is also more than a little preachy (sometimes very clumsily so), which is why the Rotten Tomatoes audience score seems much more appropriate than the rather more fawning critic scores. 

That said, Daniel Day-Lewis is as excellent as you’d expect.  The part is a bit too saintly to be as much fun as some of his other notable recent triumphs, but he has created a character who never seems out of place even as the movie follows him to such disparate locales as quiet moments with his wife and kids, an army hospital, General Grant’s headquarters, and many others.  That rather remarkable feat carries the movie in a lot of places even has those around him are acting out sometimes very cliched minor roles. 

You can see this most often in the way so many people, from all walks of life, sit rapturously and listen to his insightful parables.  Day-Lewis makes them a pleasure to take in, even as they begin to seem as repetitive as a public service announcement. 

None of which is to say that Lincoln is a bad movie.  It’s quite good, and the audience I was with laughed along with the jokes and paid strict attention during the serious parts.  But holy shit does it take itself seriously, and there’s no escaping the sense of patronizing infotainment that comes along with serious historical movies like this one. 

What Lincoln succeeds in unequivocally, however, is to bring the man into modern times by telling a story that has him brush up against enough contemporary formulations and political traps to make us pine for a leader so perfectly suited.  He is pure of heart, but crafty and cunning.  He is farsighted and noble, but bawdy and approachable.  He is, above all else, “Presidential” in the way that so many political pundits yearn for.  The Lincoln of Lincoln would’ve easily swept aside any presidential candidate of the last fifty years so exactly does he fit the mold of idealistic yet compromising, magical and effective.  It’s an engaging portrait, and one that’s entertaining to watch.  It’s just a bit spoiled by the way the movie thinks of itself as being as flawless as its titular hero.  

Movies Deemed Commercially and Demographically Similar Enough to Merit Trailers Before Lincoln:

Gangster Squad – Meh.  Looks a bit too dumb to be that self-serious.  We’ll see.

Les Miserables – Someday middle-brow culture will stop obsessing over the ever booming echoes of the French Revolution.  That day has not yet come.

Not Fade Away – A story about Baby Boomers rebelling against their parents.  I feel like I’ve seen this several dozen times before.

Parental Guidance – Another story about Baby Boomers rebelling, but this time against their kids. 

Promised Land – Get ready for a shit ton of terrible newspaper, blog and magazine articles about this.  At least the cast is solid.

Oz the Great and Powerful Trailer – A few more of these and I’ll have sat through the entire runtime of the movie before we get anywhere near March 2013. 

The Lone Ranger – Did they have to actually paint Johnny Depp’s face white?  This movie should be called Jack Sparrow’s Revenge

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Posted November 16, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Box Score Cinema, The Simpsons

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Commercial Break: Centrum Silver Has Been Studied By Doctors! (The Results? Uh, Nevermind.)   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Channel: USA
Conglomerates: Comcast & General Electric

Advertiser: Centrum Silver
Owned By: Pfizer
Pitch: Doctors once studied our multi-vitamin.  ’Nuff said.

Doctors and scientists conduct a lot of studies and trials to explore the effects that drugs, vitamins and all manner of other items have on human health.  The whole point of all that careful work is, of course, to draw conclusions about what is and is not effective.  Otherwise, why do them?  With this new ad for Centrum Silver, Pfizer has managed to answer that very question.

We open with a generic Romney voter talking into the camera:

Middle Aged White Guy

I pay income taxes you lazy moochers!

The commercial is mostly this unnamed actor speaking directly into the camera, and this is what he says:

Years ago my doctor told me to take a Centrum silver multi-vitamin everyday.  I told him, sure.  Can’t hurt, right?  Then I heard this news about a multi-vitamin study, looking at long term health benefits for men over fifty.  The one they used in that study?  Centrum Silver.

Okay, so they used Centrum Silver in a study.  Fine.  The next logical step would seem to be telling us what they found out.  Decrease in cancer risk?  Significant reduction in ear and nose hair?  Erections lasting more than four hours?  Instead, he continues:

That’s what I take.

Okay, but what about the study?  What did they find out about “long term health benefits for men over fifty”?

My doctor, he knows his stuff.

Good for him, but he’s not my doctor, and if I’m going to start taking this rather expensive pill every day, I’d sure like to know what that study found out.  Maybe the narrator will tell us:

Centrum, the most recommend, most preferred, most studied.  Centrum, your most complete.

Hmmm, nope.  He also seems to think that it’s important that Centrum was the “most studied”, but nowhere do they mention, say or even hint at what this study discovered about Centrum Silver.  They just want you to know that it was indeed studied:

Most Studied, Least Concluded

Most Studied”, is like the Nobel Prize in “Attempted Chemistry”?

That would all be funny enough on its own, but there’s a further punchline here, and it shows just how completely absurd the subversion of truth in advertising laws has become:

Study May Not Apply

The government never gave me any ‘gifts’, damn it!

The fine print reads:

A prior formulation of Centrum Silver was used in a long-term study evaluating the health benefits for me 50 and over.

In other words, the mysterious study they’re talking about didn’t even use the thing they’re advertising, but because they mentioned it, they have to make note of that discrepancy even though they aren’t telling us which study it was or what any of the conclusions were.  Feh.

Posted November 16, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Reading Digest – 16 November 2012   Leave a comment

“What do you do, Bender?” – Fry
“I’m a bender.  I bend girders, that’s all I’m programmed to do.” – Bender

DailyCallerLogo Most news outlets are focused on the latest Israeli-Palestinian game of “mine’s bigger than yours”, while FOX is running hard with the fake Benghazi scandal in anticipation of private citizen David Petraeus testifying before Congress today.  Tucker & Friends, to their almost credit, have bucked the trend in Benghazi coverage:

Taliban Solutions

It’s just a cheap paraphrase of an Agence France-Presse story that they saw on Huffington Post, but I gotta say, didn’t see that one coming.  Of course, they also have some Petraeus coverage that’s more their usual line:

Control Your Women Better Or We Shall Mock You

Let’s see: misrepresenting the known relationships in the case?  Check.  Insulting to women?  Check.  Unfathomably stupid in general?  Check plus.  But wait, that’s not the only real news they’ve boiled away to catty irrelevancies:

 

Hot Soliders Are the Best Soldiers

Tucker & Friends do love them some pointless bikini photos. 

ABC Logo Breaking: kids sometimes have famous parents:

Shame On You Bon Jovi

I’ll bet Peter Jennings is glad he’s dead.

WSJlogo1 Carlson’s House of Wingnut Welfare’s casual stupidity and ABC’s incessant celebrity chasing aren’t the morning’s only expressions institutional obsessions.  Surprising precisely no one, the Journal thinks we should lower taxes:

Stephen Moore: Why Lower Tax Rates Are Good for Everyone

This being the Journal, you have to at least make a stab at numerically proving your case.  This also being the Journal, you don’t have to be very clever about it:

It is also true that when Bill Clinton raised tax rates in the 1990s, the economy boomed and the share of taxes paid by the rich increased. But the otherwise depressive effect of higher tax rates was counteracted by the lighter burden of government on the private sector—federal spending declined to 18% of GDP in 2000 from 22% in 1993.

That’s some lazy ass bullshit, right there.  Federal spending declined only because the economy was exploding, it didn’t have anything to with a “lighter burden” or reduced overall expenditures.  The rest of the thing is just repeated examples of the same kind of simplistic, monocausal, heads taxes are bad, tails they’re even worse crap.  Read it for a giggle, the petulance alone is pretty funny.

Posted November 16, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Futurama, Reading Digest

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Reading Digest – 15 November 2012   Leave a comment

“So?  She’s good looking, shut up.” – Carl

FoxNationLogo The resentment is strong with this one:

Moocher BastardsIn addition to being dumb, the article also serves as a nice illustration of how FOX straddles the line that lets them badger their audience with bullshit while not quite outright lying.  So the headline states:

47 Million Food Stamp Recipients = 75.4 Percent of Obama’s Votes

And the first line backs that up without quite confirming it:

If all 47 million food stamp recipients voted for President Obama, it would account for 75.4 percent of Obama’s 62.3 million votes.

And then they reinforce their idea with numbers that are basically irrelevant but sound germane:

Welfare programs now cost taxpayers a record-high $750 billion. While government “charity” has grown, so has poverty—and so has the Democrats’ poll numbers.

The candidates and their PACs spent $6 billion for the election. Should we add the $750 billion in federal welfare to Democratic campaign spending total?

Finally, well buried in the middle of the article is a single sentence of plausible deniability:

Not everyone on food stamps votes or votes Democrat (and no one polls this subset of the population), and I don’t want to overstate the effects of the growth in welfare.

But that gets glossed over quickly and it’s right back to resentment:

It’s tough to beat politicians handing out free stuff, but we have to hope that careers and purposeful opportunity will appeal to American people’s ethos.

It’s a very finely honed schtick, strongly imply the blatantly false thing you want to say, but don’t quite say it.  Meanwhile, in nursing homes all across America, confused people will confidently say that 75% of Obama voters were on food stamps. 

DailyBeastLogo This is their headline:

Petraeus Fever Paralyzes Capital

Virtually every journalist in Washington, D.C. is feasting on the sex scandal surrounding Gen. David Petraeus. Howard Kurtz on the irresistible lure of tawdry affairs.

And this is just slightly to the right on the same page:

Reality Scandal

That’s the Newsweek Jr. two-step: outrage and sanctimony paired tightly with titillation and voyeurism.  Of course, they aren’t nearly as good at it as . . .

DailyCallerLogo Boom:

Related Coverage - Other Attractive People

But unrelated celebrity naval gazing is pretty standard these days, where’s that extra special reach into something genuinely disgusting I’ve come to expect from Carlson’s House of Wingnut Welfare?  Oh, there it is:

Too Hot Not To Publish

The thinking here seems to be that if she didn’t want to see herself in a conservative tabloid, she shouldn’t have been “hot”.  Eat a bag of dicks, Tucker & Friends.

usatodaylogo What this has to do with anything, I have no idea:

Dr. Phil 'Tech'

Turns out that execrable flimflam man has written a book about technology.  Because I get all my advice about electronics from senior citizens who don’t seem smart enough to dial a phone without written instructions.

Posted November 15, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, The Simpsons

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Commercial Break: Small Packets, Big Lies   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Dr. Drew on Call
Channel: HLN
Conglomerate: Time Warner

Advertiser: Nectresse
Owned By: Tate & Lyle
Pitch: We make fake sugar from real things. 

There is something to be said for brevity, especially when it comes to misdirection.  This advertisement for one of those endlessly inferior non-sugar sweeteners takes a mere fifteen seconds, and this is the entirety of the spoken dialogue:

Born from the sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature.  New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.  New Nectresse, sweetness naturally. 

As George Carlin one told us, there’s nothing the least bit healthy about something being “100% natural”.  After all, dog shit is totally natural, but that doesn’t make it very good food. 

More important is the quick elision of “Born from the sweet monk fruit”, which is a polite and legally defensible way of saying “this is the plant we started tormenting and manipulating to create this amalgam we’re selling”.  Should ye venture to the website, you’ll find that the ingredients are “(erythritol, sugar and molasses)”, and what is “erythritol”?  They’re glad you asked:

Erythritol is an all-natural, sugar alcohol that is naturally fermented from sugars and is found in many vegetables and fruits.

They once again use the meaningless but positive sounding word “natural” (twice!) to distract from the fact that what they’re actually talking about is a heavily processed chemical that they can derive from just about anything and put into powder form. 

None of which is to say that erythritol is bad or dangerous, or even that it’s a poor substitute for real sugar.  Artificial sweeteners have been around for a long time, millions of people use them, and they aren’t going anywhere.  What’s notable here is the rigorous adherence to trumped up fashion and health concerns that make these poor sentences burst at their punctuation with trendy bullshit.  Look at that narration again:

Born from the sweet monk fruit

First of all, nothing here is being “born”, and certainly not in the sense of a species propagating itself.  Secondly, calling fruit “sweet” is redundant and distracting:

In the culinary sense of these words, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant product

Moreover, saying that . . .:

something this delicious could only come from nature

. . . is complete horseshit.  Everything comes from nature.  Rocks and sulfur come from nature.  Odorous hair gel comes from nature.  So when they say:

New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.

You know that they aren’t actually describing their product, they’re just chanting a refrain.  People like fruit and nature, and though both have just this side of nothing to do with “Nectresse” (which sounds like like what the ancient Greeks would’ve named their soap opera villains if they’d had teevee), by canting those happy words over and over they’re hoping to associate their very unnatural looking powder with “the goodness of fruit”.

That the ad features sugar packets flying like butterflies merely completes the lie:

Freedom, Horrible Horrible Freedom

Attack the humans!  Kill them all!

The entire message here is a deception, one designed to substitute something that doesn’t require a ton of chemical manipulation for something that does.  It isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s this kind of routine, almost habitual fabrication that makes otherwise sensible people think that anything produced by giant food companies is inherently evil.  It’s just a sugar substitute, but the ad tries to make it seem like something that Adam and Steve were using in the Garden of Eden even though everyone knows it isn’t. 

Posted November 14, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break