Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Buried in this article about beating crazy dogs with sticks (note: I'm all in favor of that) is this interesting line:
But [bite sticks] currently are prohibited in Texas under a state law that bars most people who are not certified peace officers from carrying clubs.
So does that make golf illegal in Texas?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Pic of the Day

That's Selah hanging out with her cousin at Great-Grammy's house in Arkansas.

Brass Balls, Serbian Edition

Last week we reported on the brass balls displayed by the Lebanese when they welcomed child-butcher Samir Kuntar back to Lebanon after having been deservedly imprisoned in Israel.

Today we move north a little ways to Belgrade, where Serbian nationalists are displaying similar chutzpah in their support for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic, you might remember, was the war-crimes fugitive captured recently by the Serbian government. While he was heading the Bosnian Serb uprising, he was responsible for, among other things, the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of Srebrenica.

Nothing like a little mass murder to get the blood flowing in the morning, eh? You stay classy, Serb nationalists.

Your Daily Dose of Crazy

This comes to us via this Balko post.

Last week, our lawmakers were treated to a panel on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents openly gay and lesbian soldiers from fighting for their country. (Balko points out that 58 Arabic translators have been booted under "don't ask, don't tell" - think they could have been useful?) For some reason that escapes us here at ONAF, the anti-gay forces on the right chose Elaine Donnelly as one of their witnesses at the hearing, despite the fact that Donnelly's credentials on the matter are somewhat questionable. According to Post columnist Dana Milbank, she promptly delivered one of the most hilarious moments of unintentional comedy Congress has seen in a while. A few choice morsels:
Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of "transgenders in the military." She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading "HIV positivity" through the ranks.

"We're talking about real consequences for real people," Donnelly proclaimed. Her written statement added warnings about "inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community," the prospects of "forcible sodomy" and "exotic forms of sexual expression," and the case of "a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault" a fellow soldier.
Racist and homophobic in the same breath? Awesome. Milbank points out that the incident Donnelly refers to happened in 1974, though Milbank must have an awesome research department because I couldn't find another reference to it online. But wait, there's more:
Then came Donnelly, severe in a black jacket with a flag pin on her lapel as she attacked the "San Francisco left who want to impose their agenda on the military." She spoke of the "devastating" effect gay soldiers would have on the military and said "people who do have religious convictions" would be driven out of the military by the "sexualized atmosphere."

"We are not talking about a Hollywood role here," Donnelly lectured the lawmakers.
Ooh, and this:
[Arkansas Democrat Vic] Snyder asked [retired Navy captain, lesbian, and panelist Joan] Darrah about Donnelly's reference to "passive-aggressive actions common in the homosexual community," saying, "I'm almost tempted to ask you to demonstrate."

Darrah was stumped. "Like a woman who is stared at, her breasts are stared at," Donnelly explained. She further explained the "absolutely devastating" effect of homosexuals "introducing erotic factors" and made a comparison to Sen. Larry Craig's adventure at the Minneapolis airport. She said admitting gays to the military would be "forced cohabitation" and a policy of "relax and enjoy it."
The lawmakers' reactions are great, too. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran, almost explodes. Chris Shays (R-CT) practically yells at her. The quote of the day, though, goes to Snyder, responding to Donnelly's concerns about HIV:
"By this analysis . . . we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country."
I don't have anything to add. I'm sure there are reasonable people who support "don't ask, don't tell," but in the absence of reasoned debate, we'll take high comedy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

O Little Child Of Honolulu

I don't care what your political views are, this is the most awesome column written this year, if not ever. All praise the Gospel of Gerard Baker, whoever the heck that is.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Even The Idiocy Is Bigger In Texas

Via Fark, here's a story out of the Houston suburbs that contains so much craziness that it makes my head spin...

- A couple (whose last name is, hilariously enough, McKain) puts a sticker of someone (presumably the fake Calvin, and I say fake because Watterson never licensed his characters) urinating on the name "Obama" on their truck. You stay classy, there. One wonders if they rant and rave every time they see an anti-Bush sticker, which at least tend to be clever and not completely derivative and dumb.

- A woman interprets their distaste for Obama as racism - because everyone who hates Obama has to be racist, dontcha know - and starts yelling at them.

- A police officer arrests the woman for "making a terroristic threat."

The moral here: in Texas, yelling stupid crap at other idiots makes you a terrorist.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Warning: Disclaimer May Be Dumb

While in AR this past week, I was changing the volume on my new phone, when AT&T decided to let me know of the horrific dangers that would surely result from such an insolent act. On the screen the following message popped up:

"CAUTION: Loud ringtones could damage your hearing."

Thanks, Mommy. Now let my ears die in peace.

On the ride home, we stopped at a Starbucks, and Danielle got an iced coffee. The straw she got - the STRAW - was emblazoned with a disclaimer warning us to not use the straw for hot drinks.

Most disclaimers - like the standard airbag one - are actually pretty useful. But why is it that so many producers feel the need to warn us about every possible bad thing that could ever conceivably happen with their product? Could AT&T really be legally responsible if some idiot turns their phone up too high and sticks it in their ear, damaging their hearing? Is it really Starbucks' fault if you burn yourself sipping piping-hot coffee through a straw? Those aren't product defects, those are user defects.

Anyone else got some wacky disclaimers they'd like to share?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ONAF, Brass Balls Edition

Back from a week-long vacation to Arkansas, and ready to blog again... with apologies to Stephen Colbert, here's a few people who apparently have some massive brass balls:

- The top generals of the U.S. Air Force, who are busy diverting counterterrorism funds so that - wait for it - they can have luxury seats on their airplanes. Congress has told them to quit, and yet they still press on. Along the way, they are extending their middle fingers to lower-ranking officers (who don't get to use the seats, natch, but have to watch the top brass use them), Congress, and the American taxpayer. Hell, any schmuck can steal government money and use it to pimp their rides. To do so out in the open, stealing from the money that's supposed to be used to keep us safe, and not care when you get called on it? Brass balls, my friend.

- The National Collector's Mint, whoever the hell that is, for this hilariously awful piece of commemorative bling. Keep in mind, folks, this is a private company seeking to make a profit by putting out fake money that supposedly commemorates 9/11. Keep in mind also that coins and money generally commemorate good things and people (Andrew Jackson on the 20 notwithstanding). The website doesn't do it justice, though - you have to see the TV ad, which plays in the top-right of the website. The announcer sounds way too happy. "Commemorate the deaths of 3000 people on one of the darkest days in U.S. history, now only $20 plus shipping and handling!" Anyone can profit off the memory of dead people, but to do so in a way that makes 9/11 look like the Lewis and Clark expedition? Brass balls.

- And finally, the entire population of Lebanon. Why? First, I need to explain to you who Samir Kuntar is. In 1979, he beached himself in a northern Israel town, dragged a civilian and his four-year-old daughter out onto the beach, executed the man, and bludgeoned the four-year-old to death with his rifle. (In the process, he indirectly killed the man's two-year-old, who was smothered when the kids' mom tried to keep him from screaming while they were hiding. Also, Kuntar denies killing the kid, saying she got caught in a crossfire with Israeli police - but come on, how does a kid get bludgeoned in a crossfire?) Basically, he's a loathsome child-killing steaming pile of shit. So what reaction do you suppose the Lebanese people gave this child-killing fuckface when he was freed by Israel (incidentally, in exchange for two dead bodies)? That's right, kids, a welcome fit for a Super Bowl winner (second photo down).

Any asshole can celebrate a garden-variety terrorist. But to take a guy who forced a four-year-old girl to watch her father be murdered before bashing her brains out with the butt of a rifle, someone who would be shunned and ostracized by anyone with any shred of human decency... and to put him on a pedestal? Massive, unbelievable brass balls.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Helms Deep

Tasteless, I know. But it was the obvious title, and someone had to use it.

Helms had retired by the time I moved to the Tar Heel State, so I never really experienced him except via the Washington papers. I do remember the bombastic actions, the seemingly reflexive anti-Clinton-ness, the nasty campaigns, and the ridiculous statements that seemed to always issue forth from his mouth. He was probably the most polarizing figure in the Senate, and in retrospect he makes Tom Coburn (probably today's most polarizing Senator) look like a milquetoast.

So it should come as no surprise that the reactions to his death range from effusive praise to, well, Ken Layne. How else to remember a man who thought AIDS was the judgment of God against homosexuals - and then abruptly repented after a meeting with Bible-quoting rocker Bono? How to think of an unabashed racist who once bragged about trying to make Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun cry but who is remembered as the nicest guy in the Senate and "especially kind to children?" Or the man who supported numerous oppressive dictatorships throughout Latin America that were darlings of the right, and staked out a position on free trade that has since been usurped by the left?

Clearly, Helms was more complex than we give him credit for. Like most people, he doesn't fit into the devil/angel dichotomy that we like to apply to everyone in the public eye. If there's one lesson to be learned from the life of Jesse Helms, it is that simplistic characterizations of someone simply don't work.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

All-Star Screwups

OK, baseball fans - especially AL fans - you got some 'splainin' to do.

Here are the all-star lineups that you picked. The NL looks good - the two Cub outfielders are good, Soto's a decent catcher, and the infield is pretty solid.

But the AL... dude. With the exception of the obvious choices (Mauer, Rodriguez, Hamilton), this is nothing short of a complete screwup.

OK, OK, I can see Youkilis at first over Justin Morneau - they're pretty close and Youk's slugging better. I'll let that slide. I'll let Jeter go at short too - there are no good choices at short this year. Ichiro's a borderline choice given that it's an off year for him, but he's still over .300 so I'll let you have it. But the choices of Ramirez and especially Ortiz and Pedroia? No excuse for that. At all. Ortiz isn't even healthy. Ramirez isn't even the best outfielder on his team this year (that would be J.D. Drew). And Pedroia? Maybe the fifth best second baseman (Kinsler, Polanco, Roberts, and Grudzielanek are all better).

Fortunately, the deserving Milton Bradley will be starting for the injured Ortiz. As for Ramirez and Pedroia? You guys better consider yourselves very, very lucky.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Since The Gay Marriage Thing Came Up's a great story about a Virginia gay couple who were legally married for a day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Monkey's Uncle

One hundred fifty years ago today, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace announced their theory of evolution by natural selection. It would be another year before Darwin published the definitive book on the subject, which is when everyone would notice said theory.

What's interesting is that the idea that species evolved over time was pretty well accepted by the biological community back then - but when it concerned the "how," people were mostly subscribing to a "great chain of being" theory or an "acquired characteristics" theory (most famously articulated by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck). Darwin provided a better answer, and it has stood up to scrutiny for 150 years now - aided greatly by the work of a contemporary, Gregor Mendel, whose work in genetics would go unnoticed for decades after its completion in 1865. Scientific notoriety is a fickle beast sometimes...

Also, in unrelated culture-war stuff, this is awesome. My favorite line: "After the race, Homosexual and Dix looked at each other and slapped palms, then hugged." Autoreplace: Not all it's cracked up to be.