Category: "culture/news"

Simpsons Neologism: Wednesday

Simpsons neologism of the day for Wednesday, May 24, 2006:
America's Wang

Homer: Florida?! But that's America's Wang!

Simpsons Neologism: Tuesday

Simpsons neologism of the day for Tuesday, May 23, 2006:
Beginulate

Frink: "Let the commencement… beginulate!"

Simpsons Neologism: Monday

I hereby declare this week to be Simpsons neologism week. I'm going to post one every day, then I'll have a poll next Monday so you can choose your favorite. Feel free to slip these words and phrases into casual conversation throughout the week.

Simpsons neologism of the day for Monday, May 22, 2006:
BBBQ

Lisa: [reading Homer's invitation] "Come to Homer's BBBQ, the extra 'B' is for BYOBB."
Bart: What's that extra B for?
Homer: That's a typo.

John Hodgman is everywhere

John Hodgman (left) in one of the new Mac ads
In November I saw a strange little man named John Hodgman go on the Daily Show to promote his new book: The Areas of My Expertise. The interview was so funny that I eventually bought the book (when Amazon finally had it in stock in March). I read it on our vacation and I thought it was very funny. There's also a blog promoting the book.

Hodgman has started making more appearances on the Daily Show, this time as their Resident Expert. His complete deadpan delivery gets me every time.

If I didn't like the guy enough already, this would have sealed the deal. He got involved with my favorite band, They Might Be Giants. Hodgman has appeared in their podcast, reading selections from his book. He also has a starring role in their new DVD, Venue Songs (available only at their concerts right now). He plays the part of the deranged millionaire who issued the challenge to the band to write a new song for each venue on a tour. You can watch some of the videos at tmbg.com.

Finally, there's a new series of TV ads for Apple Computer that star John Hodgman as the PC. Apple hasn't advertised their computers on television for a while, but I think these ads are fun. I'm glad to see that they're pushing for more of the computer market share. It really is a good time to switch to Mac if you're considering a new computer.

Now that's a headline

Podcasts Galore

I took a spin through the iTunes podcast directory tonight looking for something for my dad to put on his iPod Shuffle to listen to on his commute. I was amazed at how many new shows there are. You can learn half a dozen languages, get news from the New York Times, CNN, NPR, ABC and PBS, and hear a satirical weekly presidential radio address. You can also now get video casts of the latest Strongbad email, Best Week Ever clips and Digital Life TV. You may notice that there are a lot more professionals publishing podcasts now. It didn't start out that way, but I don't think it's a bad thing. More good, free content is great for everyone. The little guy with a great show can still make it big much easier than in conventional radio.

If you haven't recently, take a look in the podcast directory and see what you can find. Here are some of my recent favorites.

The Ricky Gervais Show - The creators of The Office, Ricky Gervaise and Steve Merchant, team up with the infamous Karl Pilkington chat for half an hour. The show has caused genuine laughter-induced pain for me and Sara.

The Official They Might Be Giants Podcast - My favorite band. Bar none. They've been giving away free music since the early 80s with their dial-a-song service. Podcasting is a perfect fit for them. I'm listening to the first episode now. There are some very fun, strange songs on it. They're songs that could not and should not make it onto an albumn, but I'm loving it.

KCRW's Le Show - Harry Shearer, of The Simpsons and various Christopher Guest movies, podcasts his very funny and infomative weekly radio show.

The Onion Radio News - Satirical news, like The Onion, but in one minitute radio segments.

Escape Pod & Spaceship Radio - These are both shows for stories. They're mostly sci-fi.

That's what I've been listening to recently. Once I've heard some of the shows I just subscribed to, I'll try to post some thoughts about them.

Bush confessed to a felony on national TV

As you probably know, George W. Bush has admitted to authorizing the NSA to listen in on phone conversations of US citizens without a court order. The first authorization came in 2002 and he had reauthorized it 30 time. In 2004, one of the reauthorizations almost didn't happen when James Comey, then deputy attorney general, refused to sign on.

That prompted two of Bush's senior aides - Andrew Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now the attorney general - to make an emergency visit to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to try to persuade him to give his authorization, as required by White House procedures for the program.

Officials with knowledge of the events said that Ashcroft also appeared reluctant to sign on to the continued use of the program, and that the Justice Department's concerns appear to have led in part to the suspension of the program for several months. (International Herald Tribune)

You know you're really encroaching on civil liberties when even John Ashcroft won't go along with you. But what specific law does the warrantless wiretapping break? USC TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 19 § 371. The penalties for breaking that law:

An offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.

If none of this is enough to convince you that the wiretapping is wrong, then maybe Bush's own words will. This is what he said during the campaign in 2004 at Buffalo, NY, two years after he authorized the NSA wiretapping, and over one year before someone blew the whistle on him.

There are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order.

Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.

It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution (CNN).

If that's not a lie, then I've never heard one. He's right about the law and the constitution. This spying does require a court order. If there are people in the US, citizens or visitors, who are talking with al-Qaeda on the phone, then I'm all for the government listening in on what they say. Just get a court order! It's not that hard. That is a limit put on the government to protect our liberty. A court order requires that they have a good reason to suspect the person and that there is a record kept that they asked permission. So when Bush came out with his rhetoric in the State of the Union address about wanting to prevent another attack, he's giving us a red herring. We all want to prevent an attack. Let's do it within the law.

Bush has confessed on national television that he committed multiple felonies. And he lied about it in 2004. I don't want to use the I-word lightly, but need I remind you that our last president was impeached for lying about something far less serious than that?

Best blonde joke

I'm sorry in advance, but this blonde joke is pretty funny. Enjoy.

Fishing

Now these guys know how to fish. I found this video on Snopes.com, and they say it's genuine. I find it hard to believe, but I guess stranger things have happened.

Polyphasic sleep

I've always been intrigued by the stories about guys like Thomas Edison (oops, I guess the stories about Edison's sleep patterns are just legend) who slept only a few hours a day in short naps. I don't know if there's much scientific research on the subject, but I just read the journal of a guy who set out to try it for 30 days. He started taking six 30-minute naps per day. He's pleased with the results and said he doesn't plan on going back to normal sleep. He's gone almost 90 days now. The first week is pretty hard, but after that your body is trained to enter the all-important REM sleep almost as soon as you fall asleep. Interesting read.

(via Digg)

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