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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Satire Welfare

June 10th, 2012 - 8:35 am

Okay, this is just too hilarious not to post. Last week, Republican California Congressman Darrell Issa — who sometimes acts like the last sane man in government — had Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner Josh Galvin up for questioning before the House Oversight Committee. At issue: what constitutes a “Green Job.”

Seriously, if you need a laugh, watch my Manhattan Institute video first — it was posted 8 months ago — then read last week’s transcript below. As a conservative, I hate to collect Satire Welfare — free satire from the government. But in all fairness, I got there first!

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That’s the video. Here’s the real transcript, cadged from The Daily:

REP. ISSA: You did not want to come here as a witness. You are not a delighted witness. So let’s go through this. I asked you a question. You know the answer. Would you please answer it. If you sweep the floor in a solar panel facility, is that a green job?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: Thank you. If you drive a hybrid bus — public transportation — is that a green job?

MR. GALVIN: According to our definition, yes.

REP. ISSA: Thank you. What if you’re a college professor teaching classes about environmental studies?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: What about just any school bus driver?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: What about the guy who puts gas in the school bus?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: How about employees at a bicycle shop?

MR. GALVIN: I guess I’m not sure about that.

REP. ISSA: The answer is yes, according to your definition. And you’ve got a lot of them. What about a clerk at the bicycle repair shop?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: What about someone who works in an antique dealer?

MR. GALVIN: I’m not sure about that either.

REP. ISSA: The answer is yes. Those are — those are recycled goods. They’re antiques; they’re used. What about someone who works at the Salvation Army in their clothing recycling and furniture?

MR. GALVIN: Right. Because they’re selling recycled goods.

REP. ISSA: OK. What about somebody who opened a store to sell rare manuscripts?

MR. GALVIN: What industry is that?

REP. ISSA: People sell rare books and manuscripts — but they’re rare because they’re old, so they’re used.

MR. GALVIN: OK.

REP. ISSA: What about workers at a consignment shop?

MR. GALVIN: That’s a green job.

REP. ISSA: Does the teenage kid who works full-time at a used record shop count?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: How about somebody who manufacturers railroads rolling stock — basically, train cars?

MR. GALVIN: I don’t think we classified the manufacture of rail cars as —

REP. ISSA: Forty-eight-point-eight percent of jobs in manufacturing, rail cars counted, according to your statistics. About half of the jobs that are being used to build trains. OK. How about — just one more here. What about people who work in a trash disposal yard? Do garbage men have green jobs?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

REP. ISSA: OK. I apologize. The real last last is, how about an oil lobbyist? Wouldn’t an oil lobbyist count as having a green job if they are engaged in advocacy related to environmental issues?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

You can’t make this stuff up. Oh wait — apparently you can!

DVD Review: Contraband

June 8th, 2012 - 5:49 pm

If a terrific cast made for a terrific movie, Contraband would be terrific. In The Departed, The Fighter and We Own The Night, Mark Wahlberg has shown himself to be an expert and appealing tough guy actor. And as for Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi — I would watch those guys shoot the phone book. They are so great at playing edgy, sleazy, crazy guys, they fill every scene they’re in with a sense of danger. (If you like out-of-the-way crime dramas and you’ve never seen Foster in Alpha Dog, stop reading this and go watch it.) Even British will-o-the-wisp Kate Beckinsale does a thoroughly creditable job here as a working class American wife. The performances are fun to watch long after the picture runs out of steam.

Which it does about half an hour in. The movie is a remake of a 2008 Icelandic production, and it feels like a foreign film — not in a good way. It tells the story of an expert smuggler trying to go straight for the sake of his wife and kids. But when his brother-in-law gets in dutch with a lunatic gangster, the smuggler has to pull one last job to bail him out.

So far so good, but after that, and for much of the heart of the movie, our hero is pulled passively into various dangers — something that just doesn’t happen in American films and with good reason. Plus, as sympathetic as Wahlberg plays him, the guy is really kind of a stinker. I mean, it was interesting to see him light up with excitement as he re-enters a life of crime after dutiful years on the up-and-up. But when he participates in heists that get law officers killed and makes his pile in thoroughly despicable transactions — I’m sorry, call me a prig, but I’m not rooting for him anymore.

So – the cast will pull you through this but you can do better. Watch Alpha Dog instead.

 

My Favorite Joke

June 6th, 2012 - 8:14 am

The good folks at City Journal have posted this essay on my favorite joke — and why almost no one else seems to think it’s funny!

 

When I first heard this joke about ten years ago, I laughed off and on—mostly on—for close to a week. I thought then and think now that it’s the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. I immediately began telling it to everyone I knew; over the last decade, I’ve told it countless times. And I’ve discovered two fascinating things about it. First, almost no one else thinks it’s funny. Most people don’t even crack a smile. Second, those few people who do think it’s funny think, like myself, that it’s the funniest joke ever—and a preponderance of them are, like myself, writers of fiction.

 

I’ve wondered about this phenomenon a lot. Why do story writers, almost exclusively, find this joke hilarious?

For the joke — and the rest of this short essay — click here.  And check out the rest of this terrific journal while you’re at it!


In Praise of Gendercide

June 4th, 2012 - 4:00 am

Don't let this happen to you!

The House of Representatives this past week fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill banning abortion based on sex selection — sometimes called “gendercide” because it’s usually aimed at exterminating baby girls. Most Republicans voted for banning gendercide, most Democrats against.

I have to say, I’m with the Democrats on this one. The Supreme Court has decided that aborting our children is a right enshrined in the Constitution. By what logic, then, do we withhold that right from people based on their motives for exercising it?

If a woman chooses to snuff out her unborn child because it’s retarded or handicapped or female, who are we to say her nay? How would we even know why she’s doing it? Are we going to interrogate her? Administer a lie detector test? And what happens when our genetic testing capabilities improve? Are we going to stop her from aborting a child who is genetically destined to be gay? Or unintelligent? Or untalented? Or freckled? Of course not. How could we? As MSNBC host Alex Wagner said, praising the House Democrats’ decision, “It’s about a woman’s right to choose!”

Exactly. The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman has a right to choose to abort a child growing inside her own body. And even that doesn’t really make sense. It still limits a woman’s constitutional sphere of action. After all, a person has the same right to life whether he’s in one place or another, so if a baby has no right to life in the womb, why should that status change just because he comes out?  It doesn’t make any sense.

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With the economy tanking, our Constitution in tatters, Europe on the brink of collapse and the Middle East being taken over by Islamists, it’s time to take a serious look at Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Because I finished playing it last weekend. And all that other stuff is, you know, kind of depressing.

The truly amazing moments in this game — even more amazing than anything in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves — come in the playable action sequences that are so close to the experience of being inside a movie that they’re almost like being inside a movie. Escaping from bad guys across a rooftop, running from a collapsing palace, fighting your way through a ship on a storm-tossed sea, battling your way into a cargo plane even as it plunges toward the earth: these sequences look so good and play so seamlessly that they make just sitting and watching actors do the job seem kind of tame by comparison. I loved that stuff and I also loved the new emphasis on Lara Croft style climbing and puzzle solving.

And the reason I loved those things is that, for me, the major drawback to this series has been an over-reliance on massive gunfights. I played this game in easy mode in the hopes it would cut down on the number of bad guys I would have to shoot to get to the next level. Not that I have anything against shooting bad guys, but a few times in this game, as in the one before, I groaned aloud at having to get through yet another gauntlet before I could move on. That may just be me, but I find these massive melees repetitive and boring. They’re a leaden stand-in for truly creative levels.

But there is plenty of cleverness, technical and artistic brilliance and plot to go around here. Good script by talented director Amy Hennig. Excellent acting by Nolan North, Richard McGonagle and Emily Rose — who’s so much prettier than her animated character, it seems a shame to get only her voice. All in all, a very good time, and a reminder that, for all the unoriginal dross in the video game world, the technology and creativity are advancing toward a genuinely new and interactive form of entertainment that’s going to get better and better for a long time to come.

Unless Barack Obama gets re-elected. Then everything will continue to get worse.

Emily Rose/Elena Fisher - just saying. (from geekosystem.com)

Cross-Posted at PJ Lifestyle