creative destruction

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Blockbuster Video has filed for bankruptcy.

The leaps and bounds by which the business of disseminating video content has improved in the last three decades is really pretty astonishing when you think about it. I can remember looking at shelves of Betamax videos of Star Wars in the early 80's that sold for around $60. Now I have unlimited instant access to more movies and TV shows than I will ever watch, plus unlimited DVD delivery, for less than $20/month.

One wonders what could happen to, say, the auto or airline industry if companies were actually allowed to rise and fall with the same meteoric trajectory as Blockbuster was.



So we're talking about a policy that a majority of the voting public doesn't want, the House of Representatives has voted to repeal, the President wants to repeal, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs thinks is bad, and a federal judge has ruled unconstitutional...and a handful of Senators may very well be able to keep in place.

This is a much bigger problem than whether or not gay people can serve openly in the military.


screw it, pass the popcorn

It's silly season in the USA.

Here's the thing...being a "former Satanist" or having "dabbled in witchcraft" was practically a cottage industry among professional Christians during the late 80's and early 90's. Satanism was what suburbanites were panicked about before black people started moving in. So having come out of that was the ultimate conversion street cred.

Sort of like Vanilla Ice claiming to be from the streets of Miami instead of the cul-de-sacs of Dallas.

All of which is to say that I'd bet a substantial sum that Ms. O'Donnell's claims of witchcraft are an exageration at a minimum, if not outright bullshit. And since she is running as the uber-conservative candidate, I for one look forward to her deciding whether she'd rather be a witch or a liar.


the tea party is a scam

Sullivan nails it to the wall, here.

Yes, [the Tea Party] are, for the most part, emphasizing economic and fiscal issues, which is wonderful, even though they have no actual realistic plans to cut spending by the amount they would have to if taxes are not to rise. But that does not mean they have in any way forsaken the social issues substantively. Name a tea-party candidate who is pro-choice. Name one who backs marriage equality. Name one who wants to withdraw from Afghanistan beginning next year. Name one who has opposed torture. Name one who has the slightest qualms about police powers. Name one who would end the military ban on gays serving openly, and take even the slightest political risk on any of these subjects.

I welcome the belated right-wing opposition to out-of-control government spending. But the one thing you have to note about tea-party fervor is that none of it existed when they had real leverage over a Republican president, who spent us into bankruptcy. That tells you something. And if you think a party led by Palin will not embrace every neocon crusade or Christianist social policy, you're dreaming.

beliefs matter

So this is where I admit that despite my best efforts, I am completely and utterly fascinated by Christine O'Donnell. More precisely, I am fascinated by the phenomenon of Christine O'Donnell.

Much has been made of this:

(If you don't want to watch, this is basically a clip of an excruciatingly earnest twentysomething O'Donnell on an MTV show talking about why she thinks masturbation is a sin.)

Now...it has been pointed out that her anti-onanist stance is not exactly the centerpiece of her platform, and that this was from 15 years ago. (She has declined to refutiate it, recently, though.) More to the point, it isn't as though she developed this particular set of beliefs out of thin air, but rather that she was/is simply subscribing to the actual doctrine of the Catholic Church to which she belongs.

Fine, fine and fine. But I still think it matters.

I would not knowingly support for office someone who professes such a belief, for the same reasons I would not knowingly support someone who really believes that the world is 6000 years old, that man was created on the 6th day of the universe's existence, that a global flood wiped out all life on earth except what was on a big boat, or that 70 virgins await you in paradise if you die killing infidels.

This isn't to say I would rule out all religious people--in this country, that's nearly everyone--because lots of people belong to faith communities and don't take all of this nonsense literally. Or even if they do, they have the good sense to keep it to themselves.

No, my problem is not with the profession of silly beliefs per se, but that it indicates a level of credulity that is just too dangerous to put in power. If you believe we don't have dinosaurs because they couldn't fit on the ark (say), then I think the odds are greater that you might believe equally absurd propositions such as "that ex-KGB guy who runs Russia seems like a good fellow", or "we will be greeted as liberators and democracy will bloom in the desert."


Probably the worst thing about the internet age is that it is possible for the actions of a few dedicated fanatics to be amplified around the world, to the point that the ignorant masses conflate the beliefs and actions of a few fanatics as emblematic of an entire culture.

I'm what you might call a First Amendment absolutist. In other words, I am very hard-pressed to support any state action that would infringe upon anyone's exercise of free speech, regardless of odious, or even potentially destructive such utterances may prove to be.

So this attention-starved dipshit of a preacher in Florida wants to celebrate 9/11 by burning some copies of the The Koran. Lots of people are upset by this, which is, of course, exactly what attention-starved dipshits want. Which is why I'm not mentioning his name, the name of his church, or even the miserable swamp of a town in which this is all taking place.

BUT I do believe that he and his flock (such an appropriate metaphor, really) have an absolute right to do so. Just like I have an absolute right to burn the Bible, burn the American flag, shove a crucifix up my ass, sculpt a menorah out of bacon, and tease Glen Beck about his magic underwear. I wouldn't do any of these things* because even on my most cantankerous days I'm just not that much of an asshole. But it is really important to me that I could.
This is probably going to happen...there's just been too much publicity for it to go quietly away. More than any violence it may incite towards Americans (particularly troops abroad)--because really, I think that train has left the station for now--I am worried that some local pol is going to use some technicality (like, for example, a lack of a burn permit) to shut this circus down.

So please, on behalf of all of us who love the First Amendment like the girlfriend who occasionally rips your heart out just to watch it beat, please, do not make a First Amendment Martyr out of this asshole.

*OK, I probably would make fun of magic Mormon underwear, because seriously, that shit is just ridiculous.

UPDATE: I guess it is just as well I didn't wait until evening to post this since the event appears to be canceled. Maybe it is just my pro-blasphemy bias talking, but I'm almost sorry this is the case. I think it would have been a tremendous civic exercise for this tohave gone forward...and then nothing come of it.