Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nonpopulist Books: The Dharma Bums

I just finished reading The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. Fucking good book. There are Buddhist overtones to everything I have ever read by Kerouac, but I glance over most of those notions and still get a good grasp on his work. He is officially my favorite writer of all time now, with Hemingway being a close second. In the book, Kerouac is the protagonist through his alter ego of Ray. The antagonist is his friend Japhy. The drink, party, and hike through their journey to find "what it is all for" as it intersects in the pages of The Dharma Bums to find that nothing really means anything so they might as well get drunk anyway which is a message I can get behind. Kerouac is such a hero of mine first and foremost because his writing evokes so much emotion. I know what you may be thinking because I have been there. You may say to yourself, "What can a stuffy old book tell me about living?" I do not think I have a sufficient answer to that except to say read one of his books, and we will talk about it.
Or follow me after the jump and watch a video that brings me to tears every time I see it.

Bad American Because She Likes Other Countries?

Patriotism is an idea that has been, at the very least, muddled over time. No one wants to seem unpatriotic so there is a bit of one-upping that takes place in our quest to let others know we are patriotic. One may start with the idea that I like America because of freedom of religion and say it calmly with a sigh at the end. Then someone overhears that and says, "Yeh, America kicked ass in the WWII, saved the Brits and the Frenchies." Then the quest to seem patriotic eventually turns to, "Yeh, fuck other countries, let's nuke all of their camel's asses and take a dump on their flag." Adolescent level thinking has led to situations such as this one. The author of that article, whose name is Montana Wildhack (pseudonym much?), is jesting that she is a bad American because she likes other countries. I think she captures a notion with the article that is so true it may make an American who previously thought they never even want to leave the USA give their stance a second thought. Well done, Montana, but I would never trade my right to own an "assault" rifle. In fact I am shopping for a scope for mine in another browser tab. In my experience with people from other countries, that is the freedom they envy Americans for the most.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Weak Dollar Is More Serious Than Some Realize

The U.S. Dollar weakening is one of those stories that you hear on a newscast or read on the internet and are immediately bored to tears. I personally enjoy keeping up with the U.S. stock market and other financial markets, but I was saying that for most people. Ok, I am calling you stupid. I kid. I kid. You are great. A "one-world government," "one-world currency," and "new world order" are all terms that have been thrown about for some time, mostly to desensitize us to them and give politicians a chance to call people in opposition to those ideals paranoid and not progressive. Let me keep setting this shit up before I get to the weak dollar. Stay with me. It is worth it.
As I have grown older, I see the world both more cynically and more clearly. Most hot button issues cycled by the news and politicians are rehashed again and again for a reason. They are usually a pretext for something else. Stories of gun violence are used to call for more restrictive gun control laws. Outcry over the environment and climate change on the brink of bringing destruction are going to be used to tax us to poverty. Remember what Public Enemy told us, "Don't Believe the Hype." Weak Dollar talk is a pretext to move us to a one-world currency. This story details it. The powers at be are not trying to hide it from us anymore. We are now in what I like to call "feeding us the rationale" portion of the process of moving to a one-world currency.

Net Neutrality: The Hottest Topic You Know Nothing About

Net Neutrality is a huge issue affecting the last bastion of freedom we have, the internet. Senator John McCain came out earlier this year to make a stand on the issue. At best, I think he just picked a side and decided to root for it. At worst, his policy is dictated by per$onal ethic$. Who is he kidding? I know he had an online presence during the election, but he paid people for that. This joker has no horse in the game, no rooting interest. I would be willing to bet he does not surf the internet for pleasure at home. He probably has one of his staff print off his emails and give them to him in a manila envelope. And this motherfucker is going to try to tell me about what I can and can not do on the internet.
To clear up any confusion on the issue let me explain it as simply as I can. This link also provides some good insight. The issue is pitting content providers such as Google, Yahoo, and the like against internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and others. ISP's want to not only give preference to certain internet traffic (i.e. the web pages ad downloading you do) but to charge you on a tiered basis for access to the internet. For instance, you can have for free, but you have to upgrade to the higher package to get and similar to satellite television service. If you are a person who wants the internet free and open then there is more good news than just having Google on your side. The FCC came out earlier in 2009 and set out rules siding with Google and a freer internet. For know, things look good as far as keeping the internet neutral, but if the government decides they need more tax revenue look for this to be a hot button issue (see: climate change.) Then you will no longer be able to view internet quality such as this at will.

Common Misspellings

I had never seen this website until Roger Ebert posted a link to it. He is probably the most prolific twitterer on the interwebs so I usually click on the links he posts. While grammar is never a very sexy topic I think it is important. I am not the most perfect picture of grammar, but I am way above average. This post from the Oatmeal details several words that are often confused and misspelled. Check it out.
I see people misspell these often.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Most irritating people of 2009

A list of the ten most irritating people of 2009 by the Globe and Mail did not look right to me at first, and then I realized it was Canadian. No wonder I did not recognize some of these people. Some of them, unfortunately, I do recognize. Number 1 is the Gosselins from that show I have not seen but by which I am still annoyed. Number 2 is David Letterman. I have thought him unfunny since I began watching late night talk shows. He has basically irritated me since I have been aware of him. Number 5 is Kanye West. As I have said before Kayne West does not care about white people. Most of the rest of the list is full of Canadian references. Note: beware of the rage of Canadians. You know what I am talking aboot? Noticeably absent from the list- people who cried with joy and hope at the election of President Obama. Sorry, I had to do that.

The Last Thing Anyone Wants or Needs

I do not remember putting a National ID card on my Christmas wish list. Who did it? This article by Sheila Dean for the Campaign for Liberty website is a good read as I am trying to burn off the rest of the content I had stored up for 2009 so I can start fresh in 2010.The most in your face part of this article- that the government expects us to finance our own freedoms being taken away. Thank goodness the states have sort of stood up to this act. I am glad this piece of crap legislation is stalled.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nonpopulist Year-In-Review: 2009

What? A Christmas Eve post? Yahoo! did an excellent video recapping 2009, and it inspired me to do a cheap imitation. The first post of the Nonpopulist Year-In-Review on politics can be found here. This review segment is on the summer of 2009 which will forever be known as the summer of celebrity deaths. We saw the gamut of figures pass away from sports to political figures to pop culture icons. Walter Cronkite, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Steve McNair, Robert McNamara, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, David Caradine, Billy Mays, John Hughes, Les Paul, and Robert Novak all met their end this summer. Some theorize that we will see more periods like this and at an even greater rate since our society now basically microwaves celebrities and eats them like popcorn. Most of that list are well established public figures with the exception of Billy Mays, and I doubt we will all be affected and stop working to watch the funeral of the person that sang "Chocolate Rain" on Youtube.
Here is that cool video Yahoo! did after the jump...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lazy Holiday Post

I'm out of town visiting family for the holidays. It all happened last minute so I was not prepared and did not explain the sudden lack of posts as if anyone cares. I try my best to catch an episode of the Colbert Report at least once a month just to check in, and I was fortunate to catch this episode in which Colbert does a verse on this song with Alicia Keys. I am not sure of the title but it talks about New York being where dreams are made of and it is all over the radio because when I get in my car and fumble around to get to the sports talk radio station I hear it sometimes. Anyway, Colbert's verse is hilarious and I always appreciate when someone is a good sport like Keys is on the show.

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor
U.S. Speedskating

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Nonpopulist Hero: Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was a poet and prose writer who I have admired as long as long as I have been aware of his work. I tried unsuccessfully for a while to find the poem where something happens (I think he got fired from one of his jobs) and he says in the poem something to the effect of 'That's ok, because now I'm the bad boy of poetry again." I wish I remembered what the title was because that poem kills me every time. This man wrote volumes of poetry also. I have written a lot of poems, but no one can ever do it at the pace Bukowski did.
What spurred me to write a little about Bukowski was a page that Roger Ebert put together and linked to on his twitter page, @ebertchicago. He is definitely one of my favorite tweeters so it is nice to find out he was an appreciator of Charles Bukowski as well. Another famous writer, Jack Kerouac, graces the Nonpopulist blog and is sort of the unofficial mascot of what I try to do here. Kerouac is known as "King of the Beats," and Bukowski is often lumped in with all of the beats, but I consider him outside of that movement. His work stands alone in its wonderful deviance. Do yourself a favor. Pick up one of his books and read it cover to cover. The Wikipedia page had a great title ascribed to Charles Bukowski, "laureate of American lowlife." Embrace the dirtiness and deviance of which he writes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nonpopulist Year-In-Review: 2009

In looking at this video and page done by Yahoo! on the 2009 year-in-review I found some inspiration to do something similar. Everyone does year-in-reviews. Shut up. It is not stealing. Over the course of the rest of December I will occasionally go over a piece of 2009. My first post ever on this blog was about Michael Jackson so this will also give me a chance to bloviate on the first part of 2009. I have to give credit to Yahoo! This video is cool and the song fit well too (The Bravery? Who the hell is that?) Check it out.

As always, I will be keeping things Nonpopulist with this review. I will begin with politics.
The obvious story this year was President Obama being sworn and being the first black president. Awesome. The Oval Office is a big barrier that has now been broken down. It has done more to heal race relations ease white guilt than almost any moment during my conscious lifetime. I do drink a lot, however. People cried at his inauguration and each step he took along the way. Where I draw the line is the quasi-spiritual emotions people associate with President Obama. He is a politician. A politician. Do not ever put hope in a politician, people. A politician is not the rainbow after a storm. They are the next front in a continual storm. Few in America looked on the Obama hype scene and media masturbation with the disbelief I had. I looked around to see people who I thought were intelligent caught up in a rapture saying to themselves like was said to Calgon in the famous commercial, "Obama, take us away." More people are believing now as I did then. Things in Washington D.C. are business as usual. Today, news broke that the president is weighing creating a commission to propose tax hikes. Do you recall when he promised to not raise taxes for families making less than $250,000 a year. Lest I remind you...

He also said repeatedly that he would go through the federal budget line by line and cut fat. Fat chance. History was made with Obama's ascension to the White House this year, and he has proven that he can screw things up as well as any white president. Bravo, sir.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nonpopulist Movies: Bad Lieutenant

Sexing this blog up a little...
I saw the original Bad Lieutenant for the first time the other week. I know there is a new one out with Nicholas Cage, and I will probably wait the same number of years from the release date to watch that one; even though Eva Mendes is a comely young lass. *Pauses to flip internet calendar to 2026 to make a note* Harvey Keitel is a great actor. I have enjoyed his performances in movies of his from Reservoir Dogs to even the National Treasure movies. I must say he is an all-time great. With that being said, I did not like this movie. I liked parts of it, but not most of it. I do not think it was Keitel's fault, though. I thought his performance was great. The plot, however, and the writing reduce this movie to mediocre. And Keitel's penis. That was a mediocre penis. It brought the picture down. The ending of the movie where he sends the kids that did it off on the bus was weak writing. Keitel's character would have smoked crack with them and then killed them. That is how I would have written it, at least. But, then again, we see what kind of writing I do (i.e. this blog.) Bad Lieutenant is a movie that is often mentioned as being an all-time classic, and while it was good, I think it could have been better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nonpopulist's Browsings of the Day/Week

Snoop Dogg rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Read that again. He was on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien the other night, and he declared that "the stock was at an all-time high" the day he was there. That is not true, of course, but Conan declared it a sign that the recession is over. That is the best sign I have seen so far. Video below. It is not that impressive other than providing visual evidence. Conan also demoed the Snoop TomTom GPS system when Snoop was on. In a related story I have not wanted a GPS because I thought it would make me weak and too dependent on technology... until NOW.

11 Dangerous Ingredients You Should Avoid at All Costs by Sarah Irani []

Sage Francis has one of the better online presences as far as musicians go. Well, him and John Mayer are about tied. Sage always surprises me and gives me new reasons to appreciate him. He is doing a middle-of-the-night video chat he calls "Nocturnal Admissions" that I will stay up for one night. Also he and I share many of the same feelings about police officers and how oppressive they are. He keeps track of many examples on the forums on his website. [Strange Famous Records]

Kissing Suzy Kolber is a great website with incessantly creative humor writers. They focus on the NFL and always have something funny on their site. This season they have been doing a series featuring Rex Ryan... pure genius. [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

"Pelosi Backs Off of the Public Option." Wait, they still have not backed off of the whole health care reform bill? They have to realize it will be political suicide if they do not. [Huffington Post]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irony Alert: Dynamite Choice for the Nobel Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is already ironic enough. Its inventor, Alfred Nobel, was the inventor of dynamite. I think the folks who chose President Obama for the award were feeling the need for an homage to the founder of the award this year. The headline, Obama Defends US Wars as He Accepts Peace Prize, is like something I would expect Alanis Morisette to sing about along with "a free ride for which she has already paid." I am not even commenting on if either war is just or if the President is being a hypocrite or not. I think we can safely assume that he did not ask for the award, and although he probably should have turned the award down, defending the current American wars is not the best thing to do while accepting the Peace Prize. The above story has some excerpts of his acceptance speech that he wrote himself, and the speech has some good tenets of policy and reads well. The bottom line is being in the precarious position he is in, he addressed the two elephants in the room with as much class as one could imagine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What We Eat

I enjoy for, you guessed it, alternative news. A story by Brad Reed called The 6 Weirdest, Scariest Processed Foods, caught my eye the other day. I struggle with eating right as many Americans do. Excuse me for wanting my food to taste good. This story by Reed puts a different spin on the struggle to eat right by scaring the shit out of you. He lists spray-can easy cheese number one. I love easy cheese, and although I rarely pick it up at the grocery I may do so even less now that the veil has been pulled back a little on how it is made. The filling in Oreos is also listed, and from the story we learn that not only is that tasty white filling made basically of crisco, but that a lawsuit against Oreos introduced the term trans fats to the public. Way to break new ground and spoil my favorite food to eat with milk, bastards. With new information being revealed about the food we put in our bodies through documentaries such as Food, Inc. and this story by Brad Reed, we need to look hard at ourselves and our obese gullets to decide if eating whatever we want is worth the pain it may cause in the short and long term. I would never eat avocado-free guacamole, though.

All Hail the Mighty Google

I am annoyed.
I was recently listening to an NPR report on how "out of style" Yahoo and Hotmail accounts are these days. This person whose name I wish I remembered so that I could request a meeting with him at the flag pole during recess, went on to say that any serious, business minded person who may be seeking employment from a serious, business minded employer ought to switch to the far superior Gmail. I believe he even said something to the effect of "Hotmail? Have you even heard of the internet?" I would like to remind this person, whoever you are, that you are first: an idiot who watches too much E, TMZ, The Hills, and those Housewives shows (that may be conjecture, but if he is foolish enough to say something like that, I'm confident he said it while his DVR had one of those shows/channels on pause), and secondly you are part of the problem. Why must we worry about what comes after the @? Society already judges us by how much our outfit costs, whether or not our chicken is organic, and, among many of the other superficial elements that make up ME, how much I love football.
I say no! I say no to you who would ask me to change my email provider in order to stay up with the latest trends. With a resounding YAWP I say NO!
So for those of you who may want to reach me, you can still find me at my hotmail account. I'll be waiting.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tiger Woods- Quit Hating

We are some damn gossip whores in this country, are we not? America loves to see a celebrity fall, but just so we can see their miraculous comeback, right? Yes, Tiger Woods is a philanderer. Yes, he had kinky sex while on Ambien. Yes, there was some baby-mama drama outside of his home. So what? Everyone that is currently "outraged" or "appalled" at what Tiger has done is a phony, a player hater. The average American male can not tell me that if they were in the position Woods has been in during his phenomenal golf and endorsement career that they would not sex all of those ladies (save for the Perkin's waitress [The Big Lead.]) If they do, then the average American male is a damn liar, and I am outraged and appalled. We all thought Tiger was a gold robot, but it turns out he is a man just like the rest of us. He just has a lot more options and chances to cheat on his wife than the average person. Chris Rock once said something to effect of " A man is only as faithful to his wife as his options." I agree.
UPDATE: reporting Elin Nordegren-Woods has moved out of the couple's home. By the way, I hate gold and do not think it is really a sport.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nonpopulist's Browsings of the Day/Week

Here is where I burn off links that I do not feel like turning into full posts:

A funny video from Onion News

Report: Most College Males Admit To Regularly Getting Stoked

50 best films of the 00's according to the AV Club. I am a frequent critic of lists such as these, but this one is ok. One glaring miss is not including The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. There were some quirky movies in this list. [The AV Club]

The Sons of Anarchy season finale was last Tuesday. It was cool. There was not a lot of resolve to the season. It was awesome, but it raised more questions for next season. Still the best show on TV. Here is a review by Kris De Leon of BuddyTV. [BuddyTV]

An infuriating article about the foibles of the ATF [The Examiner]

Josh Gerstein of Politico raises an interesting question, What if Bush Had Done That? Good article, nice premise and follow-through. [ via Yahoo]

Campaign for Liberty article on Freedom's Destruction By Constitutional De-Construction [Campaign for Liberty]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Restricting Energy on TV's?

Is there a worse state to live in than California? Not only do they have earthquakes, the worse gun restrictions in America, and a host of flaky celebrities, but now the state is going to restrict the amount of energy a television can use. A fucking TV! That is one of the most invasive things a government has ever done. At least it is state mandated and not federal. A measure such as this could easily pave the way for a national restriction down the road, but we are talking about televisions. How much energy can a television set really use? I thought the energy-guzzlers were heating and air, stoves, and refrigerators.  
It is not that I want to just consume as much power as possible. I pay an electric bill just like everyone else and would prefer to keep it as low as possible. The problem is this measure is being legislated. Let me explain. Something like making a law that says TV's have to be more energy efficient is a fairly innocuous thing. That is where it starts. I see ideas like this one as a pretext for further, more restrictive laws down the road. For an example, what if another step would be to limit how much energy your computer uses or what wattage the power supply could be. Then how much energy a household uses in a day could be called into question. Depending on how many people live in your house you could be capped at a certain threshold each day. You see, I am one that is often afraid of falling down a slippery slope. And maybe that is a me problem, but it is still a possibility. Look at gun laws over the last few decades. If the NRA was not the behemoth of a wonderful lobbying force that it is we may not be able to own pellet rifles by now. In general, more laws are a bad thing.
I know everyone has a hard-on for all things environmental nowadays, but that does not mean the government should be able to tell me how much power my TV can use.
More after the jump...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Culture is Better Than Your Culture, Fundamental Assumption Review

I was thinking last night as I was drinking that Americans have an attitude problem. We actually have many attitude problems, but the one on which I was focusing is the notion that out culture is great and other cultures are not so great. I made some notes because I wanted to write about it today.
First, do we really believe that out way of life is better than others? Sure we have amenities and conveniences that other peoples are not afforded. The converse of that is we are spoiled and weak.
Looking at the bigger picture, outside of the individual level, many of our dealings and relationships in the world are predicated on the stance that our human rights positions are better or our way of government (that is incorrectly called democracy so often, see current health care debate) will make a country great like us when we force it upon them. There is some truth in those two notions, but we also have many problems with our government and treatment of people in this nation. We are the world's biggest hypocrites. Bottom line. We espouse freedom for all people from presidential podiums while we are tasered if we look at a police officer the wrong way.
We can not simply leave everyone alone and do our own thing here in the States either. America is too vested in interests around the world. Shutting up and minding our own business would most likely do more harm than good in today's world. The isolationist stances of the Washington Doctrine and the Monroe Doctrine that I have been a proponent of personally will simply not work in a new, flat (Tom Friedman reference) world.
With my own ideas being so muttered I looked to the internet to for stories to corroborate and clarify my stance. I found this story about Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Yes, his name is Geert.