Monday, August 30, 2010

Obama: The Most Irreverent Man In America

This picture was on the front page of Sunday's NY Times:
It was also the inspiration for one of the craziest political rants I've been forced to listen to. One of my customers at work came up to the counter holding the Times. She started by mumbling "I wish I could just buy the front page..." She continued in a mildly agitated tone, "This is the most irreverent man in America!" I couldn't see the paper so I asked who she meant. "The President," she said.

I don't like to have political conversations with fellow employees on the job, let alone random customers I've never met. My usual response is silence. Unfortunately, some people see this silence as agreement or simply an excuse to sound off, unchallenged.

"This is a dead man!" she continued. She began pointing at the picture, beginning with the saluting soldier to Obama's left. "See him? Look at his eyes, he's looking at the coffin. Now look at Obama, staring straight ahead. He can't even acknowledge this man who died for his country!"

She then told me that she wanted to take the paper home so she could burn it in front of her son (Yay! Family night!). She ultimately left without buying it, due to it being the pricey Sunday edition. I got a slightly raised blood pressure and an amusing anecdote of the situation. What bothered me the most was her assumption that I naturally shared her righteous indignation, or that the photograph's "offenses" were perfectly clear.

I don't understand the fear and hatred people have of our President. This goes way beyond disagreeing with policy or having differing political views. I don't care if you're conservative or liberal if your ideas are firmly grounded in some rational thought or reason. The fury inspired by the completely normal picture above is just another sample of this growing outrage. It just confuses me. There are obviously extreme examples of people dehumanizing Obama, or resorting to the most base and offensive racial insults. You can find a few of these nuts at any large Tea Party rally.

But the conservative media has been legitimizing questions about Obama's religion and birthplace since before he was elected. By giving equal voice to fringe pundits that call into question his very patriotism and nationality, those ideas naturally bleed into a certain percentage of the popular culture. These people are quick to deny they have any racist motivations, and often call "reverse racism" on anyone who tries to label them as such.

I don't believe that all of Obama's political opponents are racist, but I do believe they exploit racism. I can't think of any other reason why a "birther" movement would carry any weight at all. Do they think there's no screening process for a man poised to become the next President? That birth certificates aren't a matter of public record? That Obama's parents forged a false one lest he someday run for office?

The sad truth is that some people simply can't conceive of a man whose father was Kenyan, whose grandfather was Muslim, whose middle name is Hussein, whose skin is brown, and see anything other than a foreigner. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Obama as President if you have conservative leanings. If you say he's a Kenyan, or a Muslim, or a Socialist/Communist, you automatically remove yourself from the realm of rational conversation.

I've gone off the rails from my original story. The woman at my store didn't mention anything other than Obama's failure to look at a soldier's coffin for the fraction of a second it took for a photograph to be taken. She didn't mention his birth country, or religious preferences, or political alignment. But it doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to guess what her opinions about those subjects are, if a picture of the man doing nothing out of the ordinary inspires in her the desire to burn it.

Atomic Robo: Last Stop

This is a teaser for an upcoming animated film based on the comic, Atomic Robo. I'm not familiar with the comic myself, but it is apparently about a Tesla-created robot that fights paranormal creatures. Sounds good to me!

[via io9]

Koch Suckers

I recently heard about the Koch (pronounced Coke) brothers on an episode of Fresh Air. Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in America. In addition to being a major oil company, Koch Industries owns a number of popular household brands. And in their spare time they like to pump millions of dollars into radical libertarian and conservative organizations they founded, and are major contributors of the Tea Party movement.

The following brands (among others) are owned by Koch Industries:
Vanity Fair
Angel Soft
Quilted Northern
Mardis Gras

By buying these brands you are inadvertently funding private political groups that disguise themselves as grassroots movements.

Joker & Lex/Calvin & Hobbes

Lex Luthor & The Joker reimagined as a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip:

[via io9]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cee Lo Green - "F**k You"

Delightfully NSFW

R.I.P. Satoshi Kon

One of my favorite directors has died. Satoshi Kon was the creator of the incredible visionary anime films Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, and the series Paranoia Agent. All of which are required viewing for fans of animation or Asian film and television.

Most of his work deals with a blurring of dreams and reality. His movies capture the nature of dreams in amazing and visceral ways, at a level Christopher Nolan's Inception never comes close to.

Tokyo Godfathers is the one exception to this theme. It is the story of three homeless people on the streets of Tokyo who discover an abandoned baby, and their adventure to find the baby's parents. It's basically a heartwarming Christmas miracle story, turned on its head.

Satoshi Kon marries whimsy with the darker aspects of life and human nature in a way I don't think I've seen anywhere else. At least not to such an extent. But his movies also tend to suggest that no matter how bad things might get, the human heart can persevere.

[via A.V. Club]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things That Exist

Here are two creatures that actually exist, but shouldn't. They also explain why our ancestors got the hell out of the ocean millions of years ago.

1. Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus)

The blobfish may be facing extinction, and that's probably a good thing. They're so ugly they're cute, and back to ugly again.

2. Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni)

"Goblin Shark" is but a rough translation of the original Japanese name, which can only be pronounced properly while projectile vomiting. The very existence of such an animal should make you pray for death. Of course, this prayer would go unanswered, because any universe that would include a Goblin Shark is surely devoid of any deity, let alone a merciful one.

Both the Blobfish and Goblin Shark live in the deep ocean where sunlight doesn't reach. It's a common misconception that sunlight isn't capable of penetrating the ocean depths, but the truth is that it chooses not to. Because it is scared shitless.