Monday, June 4, 2012

Zombie Traffic

This past week has been big for online zombie searches. Following a genuinely gruesome face eating attack by a disturbed (to say the least) man in Florida “zombie apocalypse” became the third most popular search term online. The original story was soon followed by equally horrid headlines from New Jersey, Maryland, and Canada. As these stories seemed to rapidly accumulate from out of nowhere the Center for Disease Control was compelled to issue this statement. “CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead," said CDC spokesman David Daigle, adding: "(or one that would present zombie-like symptoms.)" Only last year they had used the term zombie apocalypse in a tongue-in-cheek teaser for publicity about emergency preparedness. Also as a result of the ebb and flow of search- hungry traffic, the humor site (the self described; sort of popular comedy website that publishes silly, informative list articles {garnished with dick jokes}) had its best days for traffic ever. This traffic jump, according to senior writer Daniel O’Brian, shows the media is seriously broken.
One insane news story catches everyone's attention with an impossible to ignore headline ("Man Shot to Death by Police While Attempting to Eat Another Man's Face"). Once that happens, any online journalist hungry for traffic is going to look for similar stories around the world (of which there are always plenty, because there will always be disturbed people in the world), and try to find a link between their story and the crazy popular Miami story. Because then they're not just running a story about "a man in Maryland who ate another man's heart and brains," they're writing a story titled "Another Trend in the Bizarre ZOMBIE EPIDEMIC THAT'S SWEEPING AMERICA!" That's just smart journalism. You hitch your story to a more popular story and try to connect them. This doesn't mean that people weren't murdering and/or eating people in horrific ways two years ago; it just means we weren't looking for that kind of story back then.
Not sure I agree with all of this because, after all, the New York Times - safely behind a pay wall - hardly reported on the original story and didn’t use the “Z” world at all. But check out O’Brian’s entire rant - it isn’t totally cracked.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Justice Swerved: Bush Guilty in Kuala Lumpur

Former President George Bush and seven from his administration were found guilty of war crimes in a symbolic Kuala Lumpur tribunal of conscience. Included in the guilty convictions are former Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ;members of the Bush/Cheney administration legal counselors Alberto Gonzales, David Addington; Defense Dept counsel William Haynes II and Justice Dept. lawyers Jay Bybee and John Yoo.
Victims of torture told a panel of five judges in Kuala Lumpur of their suffering at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the evidence, Briton Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, said he was beaten, put in a hood and left in solitary confinement. Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi said she was stripped and humiliated in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission Commission is a symbolic non-governmental entity established in 2007 by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohmad.
Tribunal president judge Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus said the eight accused were also individually and jointly liable for crimes of torture in accordance with Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter. "The US is subject to customary international law and to the principles of the Nuremberg Charter and exceptional circumstances such as war, instability and public emergency cannot excuse torture."
The Kuala Lumpur Tribunal findings will be publicized and submitted to the International Criminal Court, United Nations and the Security Council. Tribunal members hope nations will be reluctant to invite “war criminals” from the Bush years to their countries. Maybe expecting a vigorous effort to deal with Bush/Cheney administration’s possible war crimes here in the US was always a quaint concept. But for now justice has swerved, at least symbolically to Malaysia.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Vermont Strong: Kickboxing ?

Promoters and fans of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) may be a buzz with this news but I would guess many Vermonters have until now remained unaware that the Vermont legislature has passed legislation that could bring Mixed Martial Arts and kickboxing matches to the Green Mountains. Coming afoot this session’s wrangling and occasional cries over perceived lack of civility one might marvel at their ability to quietly come together and allow martial arts and kickboxing. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs and onetime executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission Marc Ratner said said:
“We are thrilled with the state of Vermont becoming the 46th state to regulate the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. We look forward to working with their athletic commission in forming the rules and regulations of this great sport.”
They sport has cleaned itself up substantially since 1997 when Senator John McCain called it “human cockfighting”. After McCain’s comments the sport prohibited controversial tactics, including hair-pulling, small-joint manipulation, head butts, groin strikes, kicks to a downed opponent and strikes to the back of the head and neck .Recently the UFC got an exclusive eight year exclusive contract with Fox TV. Viewership for the UFC’s programs like Unleashed,Knockouts and Countdown have in the past averaged millions of viewers but have fallen in recent years.
The Vermont legislation contains the following definitions: “Kickboxing” means unarmed combat involving the use of striking techniques delivered with the upper and lower body and in which the competitors remain standing while striking; “Martial arts” means any form of unarmed combative sport or unarmed combative entertainment that allows contact striking, except boxing or wrestling; “Mixed martial arts” means unarmed combat involving the use of a combination of techniques from different disciplines of the martial arts, including grappling, submission holds, and strikes with the upper and lower body.
Large media markets NewYork and Connecticut remain “unregulated” for MMA and are likely the next match for the UFC’s Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs. Alaska and Montana do not have the regulatory entities to oversee such sport.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Randy Brock and the Bears

One wonders if Vermont Republican gubernatorial hopeful Randy Brock may re-think more appearances with his taller co-star.
“It’s a walking, moving, waving, candy-dispensing dispensing bear,” Brock said. “And it’s a Republican bear." Maybe it's his first small campaign booboo.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chicago Tribune Reports the Death of Facts

Yes, that’s correct.They report Facts death not a dearth of facts. A Chicago Tribune reporter has the sad news of the final passing of Facts. In memoriam: After years of health problems, Facts has finally died. Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people's lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: "Facts are to the mind what food is to the body." To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists. And here are the final details: Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion. Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC. Read the entire piece it’s brilliant. And more about it here:about Facts has Died

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Have You Heard Any Word of the Iceberg?


A Titanic poem by Les Barker

On a cold rainy night on a Liverpool quayside
In the years before the Great War
The world was in shock at the loss of Titanic
So proud had they been days before.
Relatives gathered for news of their loved ones,
To read through the list of the dead,
When into the throng came a sad-eyed Polar Bear,
And to the clerk at the counter he said …
Have you got any news of the iceberg?
My family were on it you see.
Have you got any news of the iceberg?
They mean the whole world to me.

My wife and children were coming from Greenland
To be by my side in the zoo.
Belinda's my wife and the eldest's called Bernard, and Billy, well, he's only two.
I know on the ship there were hundreds of people,
And I know the iceberg's not yours.
The Polar Bear's eyes held the start of his teardrops
He covered his face with his paws.

It's been over a year since I last saw my children,
I left home to build my career:
I've worked very hard, I'm a star in the circus,
It's all been for nothing I fear.
There's my face on the poster,
We're in town this week.

My children were meeting me here.
Everyone watched as he struggled to speak.
By now all the people had gathered beside him,
His grief was one they could share,
The people around him in silence and sadness,
Listened to the sad Polar Bear.
I wanted my children to see me performing,
And Belinda, she would have been proud.
At last, lost for words and his tears flowing freely,
The question was asked by the crowd.

A poem by Les Barker

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bush is a Shining Wit

George W. Bush has surfaced in the news speaking at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute. Bush got over his reluctance to weigh in on issues since leaving office and spoke in New York City in favor of tax cuts for the rich or as he now says “the so-called rich”.
“I wish they weren’t called the ‘Bush tax cuts,’ ” he said of the tax rates set to expire at the end of the year. “If they were called some other body's tax cuts, they're probably less likely to be raised.”

Bush, whose time in office among other things included two long deadly wars and the country’s deepest recession claimed he didn’t miss being President however
"I enjoyed it; it was an unbelievably interesting experience," then he added, perhaps after some thoughtful introspection "It was inconvenient to have to stop at some stop signs -- stop lights -- coming over here, but I guess I miss that."

It only took a short speech and a couple news stories to get a stunning reminder of what an awful jackass he was and still is. The President responsible for starting the war in Iraq guesses he misses being able to drive though stop lights. Well, Cheney got a new heart since leaving office but Bush is obviously still trying to function with the same brain.