Friday, August 31, 2007

Interesting Reading

Watching Matt Drudge

How life returned to the streets in a showpiece city that drove out al-Qaeda

How To Curb 'Binge Drinking'?

Scrap the drinking age. Unfortunately the piece is available for subscribers only, but here are the salient points:

-- Mediterranean societies (Italy, Greece, Turkey) "begin socializing children into drinking at an early age."

-- A World Health Organization study "revealed that these Mediterranean countries and Israel had the lowest binge drinking rates among European adolescents."

-- Here in America, children "whose parents introduced drinking to children at home were one-third as likely to binge."

The author, Stanton Peele -- a psychologist, therapist and attorney -- concludes: "Parents who do not introduce children to alcohol in a home setting might be setting them up to become binge drinkers later on."

Yet in many (if not most) states, this is illegal. Politicians have criminalized parental behavior that has been shown to reduce "binge" drinking. What, have they no concern for The Children?!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Isn't It Sad?

To visit a site like and read a relatively controversial post, only to discover that not a single commenter is able to muster the courage to express an opinion that, even in the most limited way, separates him/herself from the herd? I mean, surely not every single Gawker reader thinks exactly the same, right? Isn't conformity, like, totally passe?

P.S. Is this my first post that's composed entirely of questions?

Quote of the Day

Via John Hood:
"A state is an organization with a comparative advantage in violence, extending over a geographic area whose boundaries are determined by its power to tax constituents." -- Nobel Laureate Douglas North

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My New Role Model: Malibu

American Enemies

Both John Edwards and Mike Huckabee are calling for a national ban on smoking in public places.

Once upon a time, proposing such specific regulation of individual behavior at the federal level would be insane. No longer. Today, the conversation over what the government has the right to decide on behalf of its constituents is undergoing a titanic shift, all in the name of "public health."

This isn't working out so well for anyone who prizes civil liberty. For a country with an identity inseparable from its its open society, "public-health" legislation represents one of the greatest threats after terrorism. (And unlike wiretapping phone calls to terrorists, "health" bans actually impact people's lives.)

Yes, many people will happily sacrifice liberty for some perceived public good. But they'd be remiss to neglect considering that this country hasn't achieved its many successes owing to thoughtful government intervention into its citizens' lives.

Meet Wikipedia's Newest Editors

... New York's City Council, which obviously has too much free time on its hands.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Agree With My Friend Seth

Phish rocking Moma Dance at a late-90s Farm Aid concert is a wonderful moment in the band's history. (Trey really hams it up for the cameras.)

It's Like a No-Smoking Sign on Your Cigarette Break ...

Remember this? Last October, Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-immigration group The Minutemen Project, was invited to speak at Columbia University by the school's College Republicans. That never happened. Not really. He was booed off stage, physically assaulted, all before he was even able to get to the substance of his remarks.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar, was criticized for essentially letting the marauding students off scot-free, thereby disenfranchising the free-speech rights of both Gilchrist and those who'd come to hear him speak. (A related New York Post editorial is here.)

Earlier this month, Harlem's Community Board 9 held a hearing on Columbia's proposed expansion. The scene was chaotic. When Bollinger rose to speak, he was practically booed off stage. But not quite. Unlike the hooligans who attacked Gilchrist, Bollinger was at least able to finish his speech. Not that either group was particularly polite. Anyway, here's the video. Bollinger appears none-too-pleased.

As a long-haired Canadian once asked: Isn't it ironic? Don't ya think?

Incidentally, I'll have much more about Columbia's expansion coming in the next week or so.

Picture of the Day

Fact of the Day: It's possible to smoke, drink AND eat trans fats, while still living a long, healthy, happy life. One-hundred-year-old Winnie Langley is case in point.

(Hat tip to Karol)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

'Queen of the Dap Kings'

One good thing about my girlfriend (Amy Winehouse) becoming all famous in America is that her back-up band on "Back to Black," the Brooklyn-based Dap Kings, are finally starting to get some respect. They served as the house band for the ESPYs and are set to do the same for MTV's upcoming video awards. But even better than that, the "Queen of the Dap Kings," Sharon Jones, is, at the tender age of 50, also finally starting to get her props. She's the soul sister who should be receiving the same media accolades currently lavished upon Ms. Winehouse, as her music is actually far better, and -- unlike Ms. Winehouse -- she can actually perform live without falling over or spitting at her fans. And perform she does. Only in a live setting is one able to truly appreciate just the sort of entertainer Sharon Jones is. Not only does she have pipes, she dances, too.

MTV, much to its credit, is starting to notice:

Here's another video, this one a behind-the-scenes look at Daptone Records headquarters in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Another note about Sharon: She's super nice. I once got kicked out of one her shows at Southpaw due to its draconian smoking policy -- and right as the Dap Kings were starting. My only hope of getting back inside before Sharon hit the stage was through the band's entrance. After waiting for someone to walk out, I snook in, only to be apprehended by a bouncer. Much to my surprise/delight, Sharon, who was waiting to go on, came to intervene, assuring the bouncer that my B.S. story was the God's honest. It didn't hurt that I'd chatted her up earlier at the bar, so she at least knew a little of what I was saying was true.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finally, a New Rap Beef!

For those uncultured boors somehow oblivious to the latest goings on with the life and times of hip-hop impresario and Forbes' No. 2 hip-hop moneymaker, 50 Cent (nee Curtis Jackson), the Queens-born rapper has pledged to hang up the microphone once and for all should his apparent arch rap nemesis, Kanye "George Bush doesn't care about black people" West outsell him when the two drop new albums Sept. 11th.

Quoth Mr. Cent: "Mine will sell and his will still be on the shelf. He should be terrified. What do I do? Do I send flowers? Do I send my condolences?"

Someone just got served!

But wait! Kanye says much good can come from this impending bloodfest: "What's the point of even having magazines without us." Indeed, journalism itself would become meaningless. Mr. West continues: "We're the fucking Jim Morrisons, we're the fucking Kurt Cobains of this. Yeah, I said it. Listen to the fucking album -- I am."

For those starting to think Kanye might have something of an inflated perception of himself, don't be silly. He's still the same old Kanye (i.e., our lord and Savior) ...
Speaking of Kanye, anyone who appreciates jokes and other funny stuff like farming needs to check out Zach Galafianakis' video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing." Twice even.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Good morning boys and girls, I'm your substitute teacher, Mr. Method Man

From The Chicago Tribune:
NEW YORK -- Method Man is going back to school. As part of a plea deal reached following a marijuana arrest earlier this year, the hip-hop star was ordered to visit 15 city high schools to warn students about the dangers of drugs.

The former Wu-Tang Clan member and star of "How High,'' whose real name is Clifford Smith, "is thrilled to do it,'' defense attorney Peter Frankel said Friday. "He's never been in trouble before. He's not a stereotypical rapper.''

Word is bond: Educate yo'self and work yo'self up that corporate ladder; otherwise, you may find yo'self ending up like me, a blunt-smoking multimillionaire member of the world's most famous rap group, who also stars in the occasional wack movie. Now, who's got a light?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Forthcoming Hilarity

"Be Kind Rewind," the latest from Michel Gondry:

When they were filming this movie last year, The Times ran a piece about how awed Gondry was by his setting, Passaic, N.J. So much so, in fact, that Gondry (who is French) used many of the locals for parts in the movie.

And "Walk Hard," the latest from Judd Apatow (Superbad, Knocked Up):

What Some Will Do for Freedom

In Albania, women over the last 500 years have become "sworn virgins," promising a chaste life in exchange for living as a man. There is no surgical sex change, merely the right to be accepted within a culture as equal to men.
"Why live like a man?" one virgin, Lule Ivanaj, asks herself rhetorically in an English-subtitled documentary that Dones (pronounced DOH-nez) made on the women for Swiss television called "Sworn Virgins." Ivanaj looks like a man in his 50s, with short hair, thick arms and a wide metal watchband on one wrist. "Because I value my freedom. I suppose I was ahead of my time."
What's most shocking here is not that women would voluntarily surrender their womanhood in exchange for equality, but that any culture would force its women to make this choice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Today's Funk

Galactic performing live at Bonnaroo with special guest Chali 2na:

Their new album, despite a few misses, is hot. As was their show at Central Park last Saturday. In October they'll kick off a tour to support their new album "From the Corner to the Block."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Are Politicians Going To Do With Themselves?

Poll: 94 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their lives

Well, they could fall back on their stock-in-trade: creating new headaches.

What Happens When Congress Pretends It's Smarter Than Markets?


But it actually gets way worse than higher food prices. Thanks to Congress last year essentially commanding American farmers to scrap whatever they were doing to instead focus on producing as much corn as they can possibly manage -- you know, for ethanol, that magical alcohol that'll soon replace gasoline -- prices have also been pushed higher for gasoline, beer, farmland, and anything else even loosely related to corn.

Already, state and federal subsidies for ethanol -- pushed by greens hoping to diminish reliance on fossil fuels -- approach $6 billion per year. Couple this with a 54-cent per gallon import tariff, and farmers would be insane not to cash in. So while the size of American farmlands are retreating, the percentage dedicated to corn is growing. This led to American farmers producing more corn last year than any year during the last half century. Non-corn farm good are consequently growing more costly. Not that corn's getting any cheaper: its price grew 80 percent in 2006 alone.

All of this is owed to the artificial demand created by the economic wizards populating Congress. Perhaps people should start sending them their grocery bills as a sign of thanks.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Want To Be Anthony Bourdain

I'm not one to watch a lot of TV. The only show I'm currently watching with anything approaching regularity is Flight of the Conchords, mostly because it's the greatest new series since Married with Children.

I did, however, happen to randomly catch a show a few weeks back that seemed potentially awesome. It's called "No Reservations" and is hosted by Anthony Bourdain, a guy I've since learned wrote the book "Kitchen Confidential." Suffice it to say, it's a great show if you're comfortable nursing pangs of jealousy. Bourdain visits obscure parts of the world, eating the best/weirdest dishes his hosts have to offer, and narrates with often surprisingly intelligent social commentary. In other words, it's the ultimate way to make a living.

As a chef in New York City, Bourdain -- now a "chef-at-large" for Brasserie Les Halles -- is well-placed to provide on-the-ground coverage of the war being waged on food lovers' gastronomic liberty.

Columnist Franklin Harris explains:
For Bourdain, food is a social, even cultural experience. Snubbing the local cuisine isn’t just rude, it’s antisocial. That’s one reason Bourdain hates militant vegetarians and, as he puts it, “their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans.” If you don’t eat meat, you’re turning your back on the vast majority of the world’s cultures.

Bourdain dislikes all of the right people. His attacks on Food Network chef/talk show host Rachael Ray — he calls her a “bobblehead” — are a joy forever. He also has unloaded both barrels on actor/raw food evangelist Woody Harrelson.

But the main reason I admire Bourdain is he is a champion of freedom. He stands up to activists who want to ban foie gras, as Chicago has already done, and government busybodies who outlaw food that is commonplace in the rest of the world, like unpasteurized cheese.

Yes, my fellow Americans, unless you leave the U.S., you’ll never (legally) know what truly wonderful, stinky, delicious cheese is like. But, hey, at least you’ll still have Velveeta.

During an episode of “No Reservations” set in Paris, Bourdain observed that almost everything done in one French restaurant he visited would be illegal if done in a kitchen in New York. Yet you don’t see Parisians dropping dead of food poisoning. And they’re not as fat as we are, either.

How rotten that in order to indulge certain culinary preferences, Americans must first flee for freer locales.

Which reminds me. My dealer hasn't been returning my pages for a week now. Hope the feds didn't nab him, or that he didn't get narc'ed on by the sellouts at American Dairy.

TREND WATCH: Proposed NYC Bans

The latest ...

  1. The word "bitch"
  2. The word "ho"
  3. Free formula samples for new mothers at city hospitals
  4. Plastic water bottles (New York State)
  5. Teenage possession of spray paint
  6. Businesses from leaving their windows or doors open while air conditioners are on inside
  7. Dogs from being tied up three-plus hours
  8. Talking/listening/playing while walking crosswalks
  9. Skinny models
  10. The "N-word"
  11. Electric-assist pedicabs
  12. Public pension investments in companies with business in Sudan
  1. pit bulls
  2. trans-fats
  3. aluminum baseball bats
  4. the purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds
  5. foie gras
  6. pedicabs in parks
  7. new fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods)
  8. lobbyists from the floor of council chambers
  9. lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency
  10. vehicles in Central and Prospect parks
  11. cell phones in upscale restaurants
  12. the sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute
  13. mail-order pharmaceutical plans
  14. candy-flavored cigarettes
  15. gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily
  16. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
  17. Wal-Mart
  18. the process that makes steaks pink
  19. subway ads poking fun at outer boroughs

Quote of the Day

From an Investor's Business Daily editorial:

Is has become a familiar refrain among Democrats that the Baghdad parliament is unable to solve the country's deep-rooted ethnic-based political problems over a short period.

But someone should remind the Democrat-controlled Congress that it itself hasn't been able to address the biggest problems now facing America: It can't secure the border from terrorists, for instance. And staving off the inevitable fiscal train wreck on entitlement spending isn't even on its agenda.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Today in Cat News

Owners of fat (also, drunken) cats, send photos into the BBC. More here.

Actually, that's about it in cat news. They're still arrogant little bastards.

But have you ever seen this site? Thus explains why God invented the Internets.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Vampire Squid from Hell

That's the name of this potentially delicious squid/octupus-type creature featured in this short documentary. It's a very creepy species possessing a host of unique talents, including a defensive cloak of phosphorescent, flashlight-like eyes called photophores, and motion detectors.

But let's face it, Vampire Squid from Hell was really meant to be a band name, not some deep-sea dwelling wannabe vampire.

Which reminds me of a recent brainstorming session I had with a couple of friends. Potential band names were flowing:

Bloody Mustache
Isolated Thunderstorm
Space Toddlers
International House of Pedophilia
Rubix Boob
Tomorrow's Triangles
C Drive
Thomas Jefferson & the Troubadours
Johnny Trombone and his Trumpeteers
The Saddest Clown in Cincinnati
The Faketrix
Inverted Circles
Jeffrey's Ironic Coincidence
The Rat Surfers
Wannabe Vampires
Johnny 5 and the Sexual Robots

All of my faithful readers (mom), are free to leave other ideas in the comments section. Winning selections will be announced yesterday on an undisclosed AM radio station.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Quote of the Day

A post-script in an e-mail from BrotherFunk offers this advice:

"And remember, if you have to swim in a tank full of ferocious sharks, try and remember to bring your shark repelling gamma ray gun."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Higher Taxes Never Pay

Virginia Republicans have proven too clever by half. Thinking they could hike taxes by calling it by another name -- in this case, "abuser fees" -- Democrats, who, of course, went along with the plan, are now hammering away at the tax-hiking GOP.

The Washington Post reports how regret is quickly spreading among the ranks:
On doorsteps, in e-mails and in phone calls, candidates are hearing from thousands of voters that the fees, which apply to the state's most egregious driving offenses and in some cases reach $3,000, must be repealed. The GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) supported the fees to finance road and transit improvements. [...]

The fees are expected to raise $65 million a year for transportation improvements.

"I think the fact that we are only penalizing Virginia drivers is patently unfair," said O'Brien, who voted for the fees but now wants a special session before the election, as does Devolites Davis. Kaine has said he will not call a special session.

Just last week, Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), who had supported the fees, joined a growing list of legislators calling for repeal, saying the measures are "beyond repair."

"Scott is listening to his constituents," said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). "I guess it's fair game for challengers."

The Post says Republicans are now in danger of losing the state legislature. Hard to see how this would be a fate undeserved.