Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Way Street

Not to stick up for the French if I can help it, but I'm not sure why they should be compelled to allow these ridonkulous, female-hating beekeeper ninja suits if they don't want them.

When Saudi Arabia, for example, stops forbidding the wearing of shorts in public -- or even being a Christian, for that matter -- then maybe we should give a shit. Till then, not so much. I don't care what their defenders say, burqas are nothing more, nothing less, than a garment which despises and oppresses women, period. And any woman claiming to voluntarily wear the burqa has a terminal case of Stockholm syndrome.

Not that Christianity in its many historical guises has treated women so grandly either, but at least its contempt for women is mostly concealed behind useless symbolic vestiges, such as denying them the opportunity to institutionally molest altar boys and cover it up for decades.

Fifteen Minutes of Lame

So at least one (1) intrepid media herd animal is starting to have some, erm, misgivings about the veracity of some of the things Miss Wasilla pulls out of her bumptious ass with disturbing regularity:

Has Sarah Palin learned anything since she was plucked from obscurity almost two years ago? Not that I can tell.

Nonsense. Palin has clearly learned that she can fabricate virtually anything, and there will be plenty of people out there not only eager to believe it, but more importantly, willing to pay her handsomely for the privilege. There is no accountability for just making shit up.

This is one of the more valuable lessons young entrepreneurs can learn in a heavily addled, easily rattled, reality teevee saddled, hyper-consumerist culture -- there is almost literally nothing you can say that is so stupid or so easily disprovable, that someone won't buy into it, if only for a while. Has Ruth Marcus never heard of P.T. Barnum, or L. Ron Hubbard?

I've started to write this column several times and put it aside. I worried: Was I being harder on Palin because I disagree with her politically? Was I being harder on Palin than I would be on a man spouting similar pablum? In a world where everyone already has firm opinions about Palin, pro or con, is there a value in pointing out that the empress has no clothes?

Palin's appearance on "Fox News Sunday" pushed me over the edge.

Let's see if we have this straight -- Palin has been slithering her way around the country for nearly two full fucking years now, making shit up every step of the way, and only now Marcus is having her come-to-Jebus moment. Seriously?

Let's put it in a way that Ruth Marcus and her ilk, no matter how far "over the edge" they are "pushed", will never have the sack to put it:

Every word out of Sarah Palin's mouth, including "and" and "the", is a goddamned lie.

Hopefully this helps, because they really don't seem to get it. Palin's by-now routine schtick about the (oh ho ho) "lamestream media" is perhaps the only thing she's ever said that even has a ring of truth to it. But that is only because of the corporate media's own diffident, gutless, yet maddeningly constant coverage of her nonsense.

Now, some folks will simply write off Palin as a dunce, while others will mutter about how she plays fast and/or loose with "the facts", that is, verifiable data points regarding the people and/or events she talks about at her various rubber-chicken stops.

I submit that the problem is deeper, more pernicious. The problem is no longer whether or not Palin knows what she's talking about. The problem is that she doesn't care what "the facts" are. It doesn't matter that Big Oil donated more than twice as much money to her and her doddering running mate than to the Kenyan-born communist Moooslim Barry Soetoro; she says otherwise, and by divinely ordained fiat, it is so.

It doesn't matter that this is about the umpteenth time she's been caught inventing facts to suit her tired-ass talking points; she'll do it again and again, for as long as there's the opening of an envelope for her to show up at. And her drooling retard fans will never hold her accountable for it, anymore than they can actually explain a single policy of hers that they endorse or agree with.

It is not enough to merely write Palin off as a garden-variety "liar", with which Washington is obviously overrun. What Palin really is -- and this oughta bear some weight with people who at least pretend to be good Christians -- is a calumniator, a bearer of false witness, a person who deliberately invents or misrepresents things about their opponents in order to slander or defame them. That is really all she's done since day one, since she proclaimed that Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists" while she, brave Saint Sarah, devoutly said "no" to the Bridge to Nowhere before taking the money anyway.

You'd think someone with such a high fatuous-boilerplate-to-pseudofactual-talking-point public-speaking ratio would be more discriminating about their opportunities to zap an opponent with an inconvenient truth. Palin's advantage is that neither she nor her fans care about the factuality of her charges.

Incidentally, this theme of hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness applies not only to Palin's professional life and her trenchant political observations. Palin famously (and tediously) characterizes herself over and over again as some tough cookie, utilizing fearsome, marauding beasts such as pit bulls and grizzly bears as totems with which to compare herself.

Yet the opposite is patently observable -- she is notoriously thin-skinned, about people rejoindering her falsehoods, or mentioning word one about any of the various kids she trots out as convenient props. She dishes it out with relish, yet flies into a hissy fit if anyone dares to respond. There is always an equilibrium point where you start running into the law of diminishing returns, and Palin's tedious stunt-jabber, her insufferable nonsense and empty-calorie schtick is finally getting her as much attention as her brain-dead ankle-biting.

It will be a fine day when she finally takes her ill-gotten pelf and heads back home by way of Neiman-Marcus, but until then, it would not kill the media folk to simply and sharply identify a spade as an entrenching implement. Let's stop pussyfooting around this -- Palin is a pathological liar, full stop, when she bothers at all to get past her usual hokum. Start hammering on that, and watch the whole fa├žade crumble. One supposes it will have to be a media entity without any attachments or agreements with whatever incestuous publishing consortium bankrolling her upcoming two-ply opus.

Lately Palin seems to have finally bought into a little too much of her own hype, and may have overstepped. Two of her most famous endorsements this election year are Senate candidates Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina. One is a card-carrying moron way out of their depth, and the other is Rand Paul. Paul can ride his daddy's coattails and excite the Paultards to some extent, but so far he has yet to open his mouth without risking a serious case of asshole'sathlete's foot. Both Democratic primary candidates got more votes. As for Fiorina, she may have the money (ask E-Meg Whitman, aka Griff Harsh V's mom, how that's worked out), but she is widely disliked in California, and people will be less than whelmed at her (one assumes in advance) whimsically creative version of how she lawn-darted Hewlett-Packard.

These are high-profile, but also high-risk endorsements for Miss Thang, and the more she runs her mouth about the only entity that keeps her name in play -- that stupid, stupid librul media -- the likelier it is that they actually take their gloves off at some point and give her the fisking she's been begging for.

Update: OK, this is pretty good. She really does make Dubya look like a Rhodes scholar.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Man on the Silver Mountain

Dio has rocked for a long, long time.
Now it's time for him to pass the torch. -- Tenacious D

I don't normally do the "read the whole thing" schtick if I can help it, but Mark Morford's appreciation on the passing of Ronnie James Dio was superb. Can't think of anything substantial to add really, I would just agree with Morford that Dio was kind of a man out of time at this point, an anachronism but in a good way.

Dio didn't have a coke habit, or a whore habit, or a seven-kids-by-five-women habit, or a branding-everything-that-moves habit,or a resting-on-his-laurels-for-$200-a-ticket habit. The guy just showed up for work, did it with competence and love for the work itself, and didn't abuse his career and his fans by turning his life into some retarded "reality" freak show. He respected his craft, his colleagues, his fans. That's something, especially for 35 years.

Yes, some of the theatrics and lyrics could be corny and cheesy at times, but even that was part of the fun. He knew exactly what he was doing. And it really wasn't all that cheesy -- look at any current Top 10 list, and tell me anything from Dream Evil wouldn't just smoke every song on there out of their AutoTuned buttholes. Ke$ha and Pee Diddly are cheesy. Katy Perry is fucking cheesy, but with huge cans. Dio could actually sing, and he worked with musicians who could -- get this -- actually play musical instruments.

People don't really sing much anymore, they either ProTool it to death, or take the opposite tack and sing through their noses like Bob Dylan. There are some good ones out there if you're willing to look, but they don't move much product. I had to crank up the live Sign of the Southern Cross when I heard the news Sunday afternoon, and remember how actual singers used to roll.

A little guy with a huge voice, and a huge passion for his music. Nicely done, Dio. R.I.P.

Apocalypse How

People have been prophesying doom since the dawn of civilization, no doubt. Any and all Cassandras should be taken with a grain of salt.

So should we, knowing what we know about the world around us and the various elements that propel its crises, retain a dollop of healthy skepticism about the "rational optimists".

Our progress is unsustainable, he argues, only if we stifle innovation and trade, the way China and other empires did in the past. Is that possible? Well, European countries are already banning technologies based on the precautionary principle requiring advance proof that they’re risk-free. Americans are turning more protectionist and advocating byzantine restrictions like carbon tariffs. Globalization is denounced by affluent Westerners preaching a return to self-sufficiency.

But with new hubs of innovation emerging elsewhere, and with ideas spreading faster than ever on the Internet, Dr. Ridley expects bottom-up innovators to prevail. His prediction for the rest of the century: “Prosperity spreads, technology progresses, poverty declines, disease retreats, fecundity falls, happiness increases, violence atrophies, freedom grows, knowledge flourishes, the environment improves and wilderness expands.”

Yes, indeedy, if one occurs, generally the other follows. However, to take a cursory glance at the (for now) largest economy and proverbial 800-pound gorilla, real wages have stagnated (other than a blip during the Clinton years) since the mid '70s. Other notable metrics -- life expectancy, infant mortality, educational level and achievement -- have regressed. We don't manufacture anything anymore; we refuse to force the 1% who own half of everything to spread even 1-2% around the bottom quintile, because we think we'll win the lottery someday; and as anyone who observes the California referendum process year after excruciating year, we want all services without having to, you know, pay for them.

There is always the quantum possibility of unforeseeable, catalyzing "black swan" events, but even without that, we seem perfectly content with turning "stupid" into an active verb, and "stupiding" ourselves to death, or at least penury.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Allah Hates You

This is a great story, but it will have a terrible ending.

A Saudi woman whose male friend collapsed on being questioned by a member of the notorious morality police (the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) snapped, and laid a beating on the religious cop. The cop went to hospital with bruises, the woman faces prison and lashings.

Maybe the women could rise up en masse and stab them all in the goddamned neck. That would be a good start. Or a bikini sit-in, though these animals aren't messing around, so that would be needlessly dangerous.

Maybe it wasn't such a hot idea for the British and Americans to empower the most regressive, ass-backwards knuckle-draggers in the vicinity when they wanted a poke at Arabia's oil. Talk about buyer's remorse.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mad Cow Disease

Just when we were starting to think that maybe we would get a brief respite from our favorite idiot savant, suddenly there's a barrage of Stupid Shit Sarah Said "news" stories. Islamofascistsocialistcommieneegrow Obammy is responsible for anything and everything, from illegal immigrants to the heartbreak of psoriasis. Also, he wants to take away your guns, the easier to force everyone to get abortions, one supposes.

Oh, and speaking of abortions, while Miss Thang is on high alert for all the choices Obammy and Pelosi and Reid and the rest of the Gestapo wish to take from you, fortunately Saint Sarah has taken the trouble to establish the "right" reproductive choice for all women. Four legs good, two legs better and all.

And the only thing we've learned from a rapidly worsening catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is that we're not drilling enough. It is truly a technological marvel, to be able to drill five miles down at the bottom of a large body of water; less impressive is that the technology has far outdistanced the ability to contain problems and accidents. And nowhere is the notion of conservation, the formerly Christian idea that waste is a sin, even mentioned. Drill baby drill. No matter what is destroyed, or who dies in the process.

Since Palin is -- you guessed it -- having another book cobbled together for her to slap her name on, this is all just another piece of what is becoming an endless publicity tour. The only interesting part of all this is whether the Republican Party seriously thinks she is viable (or even if she wants to run) in 2012, even though right now she would lose in her home state.

The fact of the matter is that the loose, sloppy alliance of Palin and the teabaggers -- both creations of the party and its lobbyists -- threaten to undermine any claims to moderation or legitimacy the Republicans might still have clung to.

Then there's Palin. She poses absolutely no threat to Obama's solid or lukewarm Democratic base. The mere mention of her as a possible presidential candidate is more than enough to terrorize disappointed liberal Democrats out of their Obama inertia. The real damage that she can do will be to further confuse, rile up, and split Republicans. Polls show that while voters in general say Palin's not presidential timber, a huge minority of Republicans say that she is. This could translate into a stock of disgruntled, frustrated voters who would be sorely tempted to push, prod and hector the GOP to give Palin her due as a possible presidential candidate. This kind of talk will propel even more independents away from the GOP.

Palin can talk all day about "mama grizzlies" ousting Democrats from power in November and beyond. But the stark political reality is that so far the only ones who have been threatened or devoured wear the GOP tag. This wasn't in the GOP mainstream's script for Palin and the Tea Party.

True dat. Notice how quickly they stopped crowing about Scott Brown, once he turned out to be a bit more moderate than they'd presumed. This is a crowd with truly dangerous levels of delusionary projection; they automatically assume that the enemy of their enemy is their friend. It doesn't occur to them that perhaps Brown sensed a unique opportunity in a miserable, presumptuous opponent and bitter political and economic winds. He tacked his sail correctly and squeaked in, simple as that.

It's amazing and appalling how the most incoherent, cognitively dissonant political players have managed to suck so much of the oxygen out of the room, from admirers and detractors alike. Enabled by a corporate media that has a vested interest in keeping the proles addled and bamboozled, these bozos muster on, like locusts mindlessly destroying field after field.

Not sure exactly how much of the American political landscape, such as it is, needs to be destroyed just so Sarah Palin can peddle another ghost-written doorstop, but the pestilence is cutting an ever-wider swath. Seems like three possibilities are most likely: one, that this nonsense gains traction, and a bunch of yahoos take office in November; two, that some catalyzing event pushes an already unstable claque into violent action; three, that enough people come to their damned senses and start forcefully repudiating this nonsense.

The trick is whether or not we believe that the morons have been covering their lack of real numbers with sheer volume, or if enough people think that their disaffection for a broken political system should automatically translate into them joining with a "movement" that has no policy proposals, no leaders, no coherent manifesto.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Imitation of Life

I'll admit right from the start -- all I know about the Twilight thing is that it was a bunch of books written by a Mormon housewife, about some teenybopper vegetarian vampires. And now it's a bunch of movies that get adolescent girls (and, weirdly, their mothers) wet. Have I got the general thrust of this, erm, cultural phenomenon? Very well, then. Can someone explain this to me, per favore?

When Oprah Winfrey called all Twilight fans in April to submit stories about how the hit supernatural series changed their lives, Maria Mele knew she had to e-mail the daytime talk show host.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- Oprah Winfrey has probably done more than any other single person to turn Americans into a moony-eyed claque of simpering morons. From giving Sarah Palin far more face time than she deserves, to endlessly cultivating this sort of fan-club nonsense, Oprah's efforts in toto conveniently elide for her housewife cult the important differences between self-actualizing and self-indulgence, between knowing and understanding oneself, and merely flattering oneself for every fart and bunion.

Really, and not to get too heavy about it but there it is, it's the difference between being a spectator and being a participant in one's own life. Getting Oprah's favorite brand of bath beads at Occitane doesn't make you any better or happier, it just makes you an easy mark, because you'll shell out thirty-five bucks for a jar of pleasantly-scented sand and soap.

Back to the actual sentence, and what it really means if we take a second and think about it. Now, I know what it's like to be a fan -- it's just pure fun to be a fan of something, to enjoy the thing, whatever or whoever it is, in all its facets, turning it like a coveted jewel, finding nuances that only you can really perceive. This is a fine thing -- when you're in eighth grade. When you're an adult, it's kinda weird, moreso when it's clearly something aimed at, well, eighth-graders.

There is a transformative power to art in all its forms, of course. That's what makes it art. Thirty years on, I still recall the first time I heard Rush, or Zeppelin, or Pink Floyd's The Wall. I had only heard R&B, country, and AM classics (what would now be called "oldies" on your local niche-market station). I had internalized the conventional song format, and bands and albums like those quickly changed the way I heard and thought about music and the role of the musician.

Similar perceptive changes occurred the first time I saw the work of Magritte, or Kandinsky, or local hero Sal Casa. Or movies, ranging from Goodfellas to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, can have a profound effect on how you perceive form, motion, composition, or even the medium itself. That's pretty damned cool. But it's not "life-changing", so much as simply expanding the scope of things that you consider interesting or creative.

None of that, near as this outsider can tell, applies to the Twilight movies/books/franchise merchandise, no matter how much the Twi-tards wish it so, no matter how many babies [rolls eyes audibly] get named after the characters. It's just a love story with vampires, two of the most overworked themes in books and movies. This is nothing more than the sort of gushy fandom that is tedious enough in teenaged girls, but inexplicable in adults. Pattinson is a good sport for taking part in these goofy events, but let's face it -- he could have taken a dump on their front porch, and they would have put it in a jar. It's worse than sad, it's kind of disturbing.

Flag Hags

Generall all "political correctness run amok" stories should be taken with a large block of salt (especially if they happen to emanate from the rabble-rousing journamalistic sphincter of Faux News. But this is one of the dumbest things I've seen in some time, and I live in California, for fuck's sake.

Five student-athletes exposed raw feelings about race and immigration in a Northern California high school this week when they made the provocative choice to wear shirts and shorts bearing the stars and stripes of the American flag to school on Cinco de Mayo.

Now their actions - which an assistant principal at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill labeled "incendiary" - are spilling across the small town's borders, igniting a polarizing national debate on cable television's 24-hour talkfest.

Wednesday, as the school's Latino pupils - nearly 40 percent of the Live Oak student body - were celebrating the Mexican army's victory against France in 1862, many wearing Mexico's colors of red, white and green, the five boys showed up dressed in the American flag.

Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez told the boys to reverse their colors, or go home. Three boys left campus because they found the other option to be "disrespectful" to the flag, and two remained in school anyway, without changing, their parents said.

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment - the school was referring all calls to the district office - but parents said he indicated to them he was concerned about the boys' safety.

Oh, please. If that was truly the case, the two who remained without changing would have been sent home, per the assistant principal's empty threat.

Look, there may have been -- indeed, on some level almost certainly was -- some undercurrent of needless provocation in the boys' culture-warrior antics. So what? There's nothing violent or incendiary about wearing a t-shirt with an American flag on it; there was no nasty anti-Latino sentiment scrawled next to the flag. They chose an awfully convenient time to demonstrate their patriotism, sure, but in and of itself, that's not a crime, nor even a suspendable offense.

Of course, we are talking about the public school system, which is not meant to educate or even indoctrinate, so much as housebreak, to encourage mindless conformity, whether through anodyne "cultural awareness" outlets throughout the school year, or some other expression of collective solidarity on this or that meaningless issue. As long as kids come out the other end as docile employees and consumers, lifelong receivers of baldfaced lies from their superiors, everything is jake. The second they pose an inconvenient question, or show any independent thought, instead of trying to talk with them, bureaucratic feathers get ruffled, and the warden drops the hammer.

A group of about a dozen Latino students expressed their dismay Thursday directly to the school's white students - particularly the boys who wore the flag clothing. "We respect them on Fourth of July," said sophomore Biana Coreas. "We don't go with our Mexican flags waving it up that day, so why can't they respect us too?"

Well, that's awful large of them, but get this -- it is America, and not Mexico, and while all cultures should feel free to express themselves on their important occasions, it's not the sharpest tack to take, to act like you're doing everyone a favor by holding back on the Fourth of July.

This is a very silly argument all the way around, the way people get butt-hurt over symbols and colors, especially over an occasion where a substantial portion of participants probably cannot tell you what is being commemorated. John Robb would probably characterize this as collective expressions of primary (tribal) loyalties, which in the continuing regression of defensible extended (belief and alignment with government and society) loyalties, makes sense. The more immediate effect is that this gives reactionary cultural "conservatives" more unnecessary fuel for their colorful assumptions.

Milf Does a Body Good

Here's a heartwarmer for all you Mother's Day aficionados out there:

Over at a story reports that a dating Web site for married people has its second-busiest day for female member sign-ups on the day after Mother's Day. (The day after Valentine's Day is the busiest.)

So many things so profoundly wrong with just that introductory paragraph. A "dating Web site for married people"? What the hell? That's just lovely. Second, the two busiest sign-up days on this site are the day after Valentine's Day and the day after Mother's Day? I assume that's just a stop-gap whilst these broads head down to their local watering hole to surreptitiously pocket their wedding ring and look for a handy pole to smoke.

Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I met my (and probably your) share of these women in my early twenties, not then realizing they weren't actually single. Bored thirtyish milfs tired of their paunchy husbands' half-hearted attempts at sex were, as they say, in my wheelhouse, long before "milf" was even a word. That's not bragging so much as a warning, guys -- throw your back into it. Always. Do it like you mean it. Surprise them with a new move once in a while. And foreplay -- it's not a golf term.

Not that, say, Tiger Woods or Jesse James have exactly set the bar high for us men when it comes to basic honesty and morality. Fucking everything that moves is one thing when you're 22 years old and have no commitments; it ain't even remotely cool when you're in your mid-thirties, are married, and have children. It's time to grow the hell up.

As the woman in the final paragraph says, in a good marriage, partners spoil each other whenever they can, they don't wait for florists and greeting-card manufacturers to tell them when they should. So if you have somebody you love, or even like, be nice to them today, tomorrow, as often as possible, and count your blessings that you aren't stuck with one of these narcissistic dingbats -- or even worse, Tiger Woods.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Family Gay

Of course by now we've all heard about yet another holier-than-thou hypocrite getting caught living a lie, and unfurling a gawd-awful hi-larious excuse:

His answer: “I had surgery and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”

Right, because when you can't lift luggage and yet you must tour Europe, it makes far more sense to hire help from something called, rather than, you know, tip bellhops and cabbies and such as needed. I mean, I know these people are fucking knuckle-dragger stupid, but even this clown's wife isn't stupid enough to buy that one. He's not even trying to come up with a halfway decent lie anymore; surely there must be a hungry dog and some conveniently-placed homework at some point in this narrative.

It's easy comedy that writes itself, which is all well and good, but I'll tell you in all seriousness -- people like this are beneath contempt, and every gay kid that gets picked on, or runs away and lives on the streets, or gives up and kills themselves because of the endless stream of poison that assholes like this spread, is on them. They need to own it already, along with all that rented cock they secretly snorkel.

Let Us Prey

O invisible sky buddy, deliver us from the tedious ministrations of your self-righteous minions:

In small groups and alone, about 100 people gathered Thursday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for what participants said was to be a low-key ceremony to mark the annual National Day of Prayer.

Amid the liquid noises of a nearby fountain and the sounds of people just walking by, participants could be heard making hushed pleas to God.

"Don't expect any music or sermons. Don't expect any pomp. Just prayer," said Nancy Sharman, area leader of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "No personalities. Just prayer. No party divisions. Just prayer."

How about no media coverage, just prayer. No, of course not. That would be too much to ask. After all, it's not really a national day of prayer, if you can't nag the entire fucking country about it.

Thursday's prayer event marked the conclusion of a five-day, four-night Bible reading held on the Capitol steps and organized by the Rev. Michael Hall, executive director of the International Bible Reading Association. More than 1,000 participated in the marathon reading, said Hall, who is also pastor of The Peoples Church on Capitol Hill.

"As Christians we don't need a political strategy, we just need God's word," Hall said.

Uh-huh. And a church. Don't forget church, where every day is a national day of prayer. Gee, that was handy, if less public.

The Rev. Franklin Graham prayed briefly Thursday morning outside the Pentagon, which had disinvited him from a prayer day observance because of anti-Islam remarks.

Graham then went to the Cannon House Office Building, next to the Capitol, to participate in what amounted to a Christian worship service.

There, he preached a 30-minute sin-and-salvation sermon to an audience of several hundred that included members of Congress, the judiciary and the armed forces.

"My prayer is that America once again will worship the Lord Jesus Christ," Graham said. "My prayer is that America will trust Him once again. My prayer is: 'Lord, if You're willing, make our nation whole again. May we turn to You, worship You, acknowledge You, live by your ways and your standards.' God bless America."

Graham is honorary chairman of the largely evangelical National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is led by conservative Christian leaders James and Shirley Dobson.

Before he preached, Graham alluded to the Pentagon controversy: "I know we have people here of other faiths, and I certainly want to say that I love you, but, please, allow me to speak today as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't want to be offensive to anyone, but the only way I know how to pray and to preach is the way the Bible instructs."

There's something in practically every sentence of that last excerpt that makes anyone with a triple-digit IQ want to slap their forehead in frustration. But it really comes down to the final piece. This is a purely Christian jihad, and they may as well just insert the C-word right in front of "Prayer", in naming their little fake holiday and little fake "task force".

In a land chock-full of noisome, childish pseudo-customs, this is certainly one of the pound-for-pound more obtrusive. Especially since, according to the very first sentence, only 100 people showed up. That certainly merits national coverage.

Casino Logic

Here's something that even a complete retard (such as, for example, Jim Cramer) should be able to understand -- a financial system that goes into full poncey-hairdresser panic mode because some cokehead at Citigroup didn't know the difference between "million" and "billion" is not a system. It's a house of cards.

What is worth panicking (or at least being genuinely concerned) over is debt, which is why it makes more sense that the panic was really over the Greek debt crisis spreading in general, and Mohamed El-Erian's speech in particular.

"We've seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global," said El-Erian, CEO of the world's biggest bond fund.

He said the debt is a "transmission mechanism to go from country to region to global. So we should take this very seriously."

S&P 500 banks fell financials fell nearly 5 percent as investors worried about the financial system freezing up again, similar to what happened when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008.

One trader who spoke on condition of anonymity said fixed-income desks in Europe shut down early for the day and that "European banks are halting lending now."

Similarly, the US faces a debt burden that, while not as large a percentage of gross domestic product as Greece, is approaching that level and could spark major problems domestically.

"We are not Greece. We have more time. But what the Greek crisis tells you is debt and deficits matter," El-Erian said. "The structure of your deficits matter and the US doesn't have much flexibility."

"Don't underestimate how quickly this can happen," he added. "There are structural headwinds out there and we better get our act together before those structural headwinds become overwhelming."

Good thing Lloyd Blankfein is doing God's work, right? Strap in folks, it's going to be a bumpy economic summer. Just remember -- someone will make money off your misery. Someone always does, even (perhaps especially) when they don't make anything of actual value.

End of an Error

So at long last, the JaCarcass Russell era has come to a suitably ignominious -- if belabored and long-overdue -- end in Oakland. Let a thousand post-mortems begin in earnest.

One of the more entertaining -- and by "entertaining" I mean "ludicrous" -- assessments of Russell is that of SF Comical root vegetable Zennie Abraham, who manages to be wrong about a variety of subjects with stunning regularity:

In 2007, the Raiders Drafted Jamarcus Russell and before they selected him there was a big splash about his size and talent. The choice for the Oakland Raiders was between Russell and then-Notre Dame Quarterback Brady Quinn, who's [sic] stock had risen after a very good performance at the NFL Combine. At the 2007 NFL Draft Luncheon at Chelsea Piers, Russell said he'd heard "nothing" from the Raiders. The word around the NFL Draft was that the Raiders were set to take Quinn.

Nonsense. Every team plays their draft preferences close to the vest (duh), and few more so than the Raiders, invested as they are in cultivating their "mystique", even after a miserable 2-14 abortion of a season. The 2007 draft class was pretty thin at QB to begin with, and none of the marquee names from that year -- Russell, Quinn, Matt Leinart -- have been worth a shit. Quinn's stock was boosted because he had run the closest to a legit pro offense at Notre Dame, briefly overshadowing his noodle arm, mediocre decision-making, and lax work ethic. But Quinn wouldn't have been any better with Oakland, because he was even less suited for Al Davis' archaic offense.

To everyone's surprise, the Raiders took JaMarcus Russell. I felt then and now that Russell was the better choice. JaMarcus has the rare combination of size and speed. He's the best talent to run a short passing game designed around his abilities.

Note, short passing game.

The Raiders under Lane Kiffin inserted Russell into an offense not designed for him and at that incredibly inept in it's [sic] function. On one particularly memorable play, the Kiffin-led Raiders asked Russell to call a weakside bootleg out of I-Formation against the Denver Broncos and while the Broncos had an obvious blitz called to that weakside.

Kee-rist. First of all, the Raiders haven't run a short-pass offense -- or anything resembling a "west coast" style -- since Gruden was coaching, and it ended up costing him his job, and costing the Raiders their last decent record. Second, Russell is precisely not suited for a short passing offense, which is exactly why Davis wanted him.

Third, what a piss-poor example of a play with which to defend Russell, when a competent quarterback should be able to pick up an "obvious" blitz. And it means nothing, one play in the course of three phenomenally bad seasons of play.

True, Russell has had little or no continuity at coach, a problem that is amplified when the player in question is notorious for his lack of motivation. True, Davis is a capricious, meddlesome owner who toys with his fan base routinely. And true, Tom Cable was a terminal fuck-up as nominal OC last season, regularly finding his offense's back to their own end zone, and instead of using his three decent running backs to methodically, patiently build a drive, eat up the clock, and give his incompetent quarterback at least a glimmer of confidence, frequently chose to have Russell heave it forty yards downfield, to clank off one of the young, inexperienced receivers if they were lucky.

But Russell is the one who chose to hold out his rookie season. Russell is the one who quickly gained a rep for walking through practices, showing up late and falling asleep in meetings, and not having the playbook tight. Russell is the one who lackadaisically deflected any and all critiques of his performance, no matter how objective and legitimate. Russell's the one who chose to flash his bling in public appearances, like a fucking buffoon, without having earned the right to. People flicked Joe Namath shit for wearing a fur coat back in the day, and he actually won a fuckin' Super Bowl.

Most damning of all, Russell got fined in last year's training camp for showing up overweight. I think most fans ran out of patience at that point. Look, I may talk trash about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady when the occasion arises, but there's no doubt in even the most ardent hater's mind that those two earn their keep (and they make about as much money, so the argument of money as a demotivator is a non-starter). They show up for work, they know the plays, they know the system, they know their shit so that when the play breaks down they find something to make it work. And their teammates know it, and they play harder as a result. By mid-season, every time Russell came in the o-line's shoulders collectively slumped, and they transformed into turnstiles as Russell went fetal trying to hold onto the ball. The problem was as obvious as it was intangible -- Russell's lack of self-accountability had become contagious.

Debates will be had among football fans for some time: Was Russell a bigger bust than Ryan Leaf (about tied, but Leaf was a bigger asshole)? Will Russell ever play again (maybe for the league minimum, and only for a desperate team)? Why did he fail so badly (many reasons, the main one being poor work ethic)? Is Russell Exhibit A for a rookie salary cap (hell yes)?

But there's a larger argument to be made about how interdependent talent and management really are, how a dysfunctional organization can bring out the worst in people, no matter how much raw talent they may have. It's true in just about any walk in life -- sports, music, business, politics. It's always a risky proposition to give a 21-year-old kid $30+ million guaranteed, before he's ever taken a snap or run a drill or done a goddamned thing.

Either way, it's Christmas Day in Raider Nation.

Absence of Malice

I never know what to make of bloggers who apologize for not being around as much as they oughta should, as if they had no real lives, but explanations are usually at least interesting, if not necessarily helpful. Basically I've been caught between ramped-up activity at work (if you want job security without the sanity, try social services in a crap economy) and an ops management class that quickly morphed into the calculus end of a supply-chain management course. And the last time I took a calculus class was, I shit you not, 1986.

But there's been simply too much fun stuff to cover the last couple days, so sit tight -- tonight is going to be busy. Must be sunspot activity or something.