dethklok and taxes

(if the audio doesn't load, click here...if you want to hear it, that is...)

In (dis)honor of tax day (a long-standing blog tradition of mine), we turn to the most brutal band in the history of the universe:

I want to keep my money

And give away absolutely nothing

To the government who moderates my spending

and obliterates depending on what time of the year

brutality is near

in the form of income tax

I’d rather take a fucking axe

to my face, blow up this place

with you all in it, I’d do it in a minute

if I could write off your murder

I’d save all of my receipts

because I’d rather you be dead

than lose a tiny shred of what I made this fiscal year

I’d rather you be dead than to grow departed with my second home

I’d rather you be dead than consider losing all my evil restaurants

You can see the episode in which it was performed live here (along with every other episode of Metalocalypse, apparently.) The live version includes the London Philharmonic being sliced to pieces by errant laser effects.


the elephant in the room

It's been an interesting week for America's favorite least favorite subject. Race, that is.

The most important aspect of the Don Imus affair is not that in 2007 a quasi-prominent radio personality made an unprovoked, racially insensitive* and sexist remark about a group of young women. Nor is it, I believe, that these sort of attitudes still exist (because of course they do.) The real--and as far as I can tell, mostly ignored--story here is that in 2007, a vast majority of the American public consider this sort of thing completely unacceptable.

How do I know this, you ask? Did I take a poll?

I don't have to. There are organizations whose very existance depends on their ability to gauge the needs and desires of the American public. Those that persist and thrive do so because they are very, very good at this. They have names like Proctor and Gamble, Sprint, American Express, and General Motors. Their response to this is a far better read on the attitudes of the typical American than any politician, pundit, or pollster can produce.

Imus didn't get canned for what he said. He got canned because he lost his sponsors. More importantly, he lost his sponsors not because the CEO's of all these companies are wonderfully enlightened liberal-minded people (though many of them may very well be), but because they felt being associated with those kinds of remarks would hurt their bottom line.

The beauty of capitalism is that you never have to speculate about what motivates people.

This means that they (the sponsors) believe--really, honestly believe--that referring to a group of African-American women as "nappy-headed hoes" is unacceptable to most Americans. Moreover, they believe it is probably unacceptable to most of Don Imus' target demographic: those nasty, largely Republican-voting, middle-aged middle class white men. And they are most likely correct about this.

None of this is to say that I expect my fellow Americans of all pigmentations and hair textures to join hands and celebrate the End of Racial Oppression in America. To be sure, there is plenty to be upset about these days if you are black, and especially if you are black and poor. As Radley Balko points out in his excellent post on the Duke case today:

Yes, Nifong was rotten to the core. Yes, the liberals who convicted the lacrosse team in the press rushed to judgment, and were dead wrong. But listening to the right wing over the last several months, you'd think this kind of thing only happens to white people, and only liberal, bleeding-heart prosecutors like Nifong are capable of unjust, overtly political, race-fueled witch hunts. The unique thing about this case is that everything happened in reverse...

These kinds of injustices happen to all people, of course. It's just that most of them don't make the newspapers. The [sic] do also tend to happen disproportionately to black people, and to poor people who can't afford big-shot attorneys.

The sooner we can can muster the same level of general outrage over the excesses of law enforcement and politically ambitious prosecutors that we can over the bad jokes of a geriatric DJ, the better off we'll all be.

*I think calling it 'racist' goes a bit too far, but it was definitely a shitty thing to say.


"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center."

--Kurt Vonnegut, AKA Kilgore Trout et al.



how scientists (really) read the news

Does it make me a bad person that the first thought I had upon hearing that 17.8% of soldiers returning from Iraq have experienced traumatic brain injury was "man, I should really write a grant on mechanisms of TBI"?

Sometimes I hate the way my job makes me think.

where great things happen*

So the Duke LAX case has ended with a whimper. At least until Mike Nifong is indicted and/or sued.

Since Durham will inevitably be in the national news for at least 24 hours or so, I'd just like to take the opportunity to point out that we have a killer art exhibit going on right now, and we're hosting the nation's largest documentary film festival this weekend. The former [m] and I checked out out last week, and we're hoping to get to some of the latter, if I can ever make my way out of the laboratory, which is currently surrounded by surly geese guarding the nests they've built right up next to the building. I'd show you a photo of the warning signs posted, but taking unauthorized photos around here can get you in a lot of trouble. (No joke.)

*This headline is actually funnier than it sounds.


"God really didn’t want Barry Gibb writing songs there. You go, God."

--Jim Henley, on Johnny Cash's former home burning down yesterday. It had been bought by Gibb last year.


dr. atkins was kind of chunky, too

John Billings, an Australian physician who more than half a century ago developed a natural contraception method endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church, died Sunday in Melbourne. He was 89 and a lifelong Melbourne resident...

A neurologist by training, Dr. Billings began investigating natural contraception, that is, techniques not relying on devices or drugs that block conception, in 1953, at the request of the Catholic Marriage Guidance Bureau in Melbourne. Working with his wife, Dr. Evelyn Billings, a pediatrician, he created what is now known as the Billings ovulation method, or the Billings method. The method relies on a woman’s ability to sense changes in the amount and texture of her cervical mucus, which help predict ovulation and fertility...

Dr. Billings is survived by eight of their nine children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That said, contemplating "cervial mucus" is probably enough to put me out of the mood...

(obit in the NYT, via Ron Bailey)


the art of the possible

"Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than in providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq."

--President Bush, today (quote via the SFC)

This statement reveals more than intended. The phrase "fighting political battles" is a calculated counterweight to "providing our troops what they need". "Politics" has an intrinsically negative connotation because it is, after all, an unsavory enterprise. It is petty, crude, demoralizing, depraved, and ugly.

It also happens to be the way we reconcile our differences in a civilized society. Because the alternatives--while expedient--are much uglier.

Six years with a rubber-stamp congress on foreign policy (the Democratic contributions to which were by no means trivial--Ms. Clinton, I am looking in your general direction) have left Mr. Bush with the impression that they exist to pay for whatever the hell he wants. That the Democrats are making even the weakest gesture (and it is pretty weak, really) of opposition is heartening, if only a little. Of course, one of them has to go wobbly and say something like this:

"Americans want compromise, not a cowboy-style showdown," said House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.

For the record, this American doesn't want "compromise", he wants to see a goddamned political bloodbath. I want to see the president forced to veto bill after bill with deadline after deadline attached and for the people in "The People's House" to reflect what "the people" actually, really want. I want to see it unfold week after week like, like--well, like some sort of awful, intractible conflict without any clear force for good involved where the sides are just going to keep killing each other until they run out of bullets or one of them is just not there anymore.

For example.

After all, metaphorical blood running down the white marble steps of Washington beats the hell out of the real stuff pooling in the streets of Baghdad.


so...jesus was made of crackers?

From The Scotsman:

A Manhattan art gallery cancelled its Easter-season exhibit of a life-size chocolate sculpture of a naked Jesus on Friday after an outcry by Roman Catholics.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking of all people to take offense at a rendering of Christ in edible material...

(photo via the artist's website)

UPDATE 4.2.2007.22:54--Wow. So I caught this on the front page of Google News yesterday afternoon during the 15 or so minutes I actually spent online this weekend, and saw an opportunity for an easy one liner-cum-South Park reference. Apparently, everyone is talking about this. The mind reels.

Artists-as-provacateurs and people who live off the moral outrage of the moment exist in such a weird symbiosis. Neither has much of a reason to exist without the other.

What did we talk about before this internet thing came along, anyway?