Frankie Boyle interviewing Grant Morrison…

OK, there’s a certain amusement from the fact that much of this interview verges in incomprehensible because, well, Scottish accents. Serious Scottish accents—none of this Hollywood Scottish accent shite.

But I actually think this interview is worth your 30 minutes. As a hook, I’ll point to the moment when Frankie Boyle suggests the idea that all the Batman stories ever written are just the dying moments of Bruce Wayne, age 5, dying in the street when he’s been shot along with his parents.

Here’s the player

Corporations are not people

So I was watching the Daily Show a few nights ago, and they were discussing the many problems that seem to arise from this odd notion of regarding corporations as people, when I finally realized the appropriate test to apply.

I direct you to The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1:

To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

Simply try to apply the standard that Shylock asks to be applied to himself—intended, in the play, to point to the fundamental similarity between Christians and Jews: the quality of being a person.

Apply this to any human being you find on the street, of any color, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), health, wealth, height, weight, etc., and your answer must, of course, be that human being is a person.

Corporations, though…if you prick them, they do not bleed: they are not people, and it is unsurprising that basing laws on such a pretense should have a distorting effect no our society.

Coupled with the fact that the whole notion of a corporation is fundamentally about disclaiming legal liability, it shouldn’t even be a surprise that they are fundamentally amoral.

There is simply no basis for affording them the rights that we grant ourselves as citizens. They are not people, and there is no good reason to pretend so.

Kim Kardashian

Oh, pop culture, why would I care?

In fact, I don’t–other people’s marriages are of interest to me only to the extent that some people are unfairly excluded from it on the basis of their sexual orientation–but this does seem an opportune moment to make an observation.

Kim Kardashian’s mockery of a marriage seems to me less about the failure of morals in a liberal society–a subject upon which I would not be surprised to hear many pundits bloviate in the coming days—and more about the allure of money and the type of action to which its pursuit often leads. Kim Kardashian was simply doing what was necessary to make sure she was one of the 1%. It seems worthwhile to consider whether others, too, might have fallen into immoral behavior in its pursuit.

As always, slacktivist has a way with a turn of phrase…

bq. This is the sort of inhuman behavior that clarifies that, regardless of what five Supreme Court justices may say, corporations are not people. They have no soul to save, no body to incarcerate, no heart to break and no ass to kick.

“Also includes graph as to why the 99% might be justified in being a little peeved”:

I hate Cook’s Illustrated

OK, so that’s not actually the whole story.

In fact, I *love* the magazine _Cook’s Illustrated_. I learn all sorts of stuff, they have great recipes, good reviews–on all technical fronts, it’s a winner.

But there are few organizations that make me regret being their customer as much as _Cook’s Illustrated_ does. In fact, I can’t think of any. Charitable solicitation annoys me, but I’m not their customer, so it’s sort of a different thing.

Anyway, I seem to get a lot of calls from _Cook’s Illustrated_, and getting telephone solicitations annoy me. I subscribe to the magazine, and I actually look at the little cover offers they include with my subscription, so the only outcome of calling me to let me know about some offer they’ve already informed me about is to waste my time.

Let me propose an Iron Law of Customer Service: if you want my money–whether you are a business or a charity or what have you–you must respect my choice, if I articulate it (as I did on the phone a few minutes ago, and again on a web form on their web site just now), that I do not wish to be solicited. If you do not offer me that choice, then you are indicating that you do not respect me as a customer, and that you feel you can patronize me as you see fit–in effect you feel that I should have no say in the quality and structure of our relationship.

I do not care to be patronized, and I will do my level best not to do business with an organization that does not respect me, and, ultimately, I always have a say in the quality and structure of our relationship–though the only choice you may give me is to have no relationship at all.

Now to see if _Cook’s_ was being truthful when they said they wouldn’t call me again.

At least I’ll make it to 41…

Like the release of a new version of Windows, or a movie that’s undergoing Yet Another Rewrite, “the end of the world has been pushed back 5 months”: to October 21st. At least I’ll make it to another prime.

(Truly, I feel sorry for these people. Who could pine for the end of the world? What does it even help to know when it might come?)

On creeping censorship, the chilling effect, and reading documents you sign

Ars Technica has an article about a “dentist’s office requring you sign over the copyright of any statements you make about them online”: before you may receive treatment. There is apparently a company that is dedicated to making this a regular feature of all of our health-care encounters.

Ars’ dissection of why the contract cannot fulfill it’s stated purpose is spot on: the dentist’s office says the contract is supposed to prevent “competitors and disgruntled employees” from posting fraudulent reviews–but competitors certainly will not have signed the contract, so how could it govern them? Disgruntled employees might well have signed such a contract, but given the semi-anonymous nature of posting information to the web in this day and age, how could the office make the determination that a particular poster was a former employee in order to request that the statements be removed?

Whether as a basis for litigation–probably a poor one–or a basis for intimidation–perhaps an effective one, assuming people actually read the document–this is pernicious and vile.

The interesting question, of course, is how many people bother to actually read, much less understand the document. If the document simply said:

bq. I allow the doctor to censor anything I say about him online that he doesn’t like.

I bet that there would be a lot more people refusing to sign. But when you start to put things in “legalese”, and especially when the documents tend to be long, and the subject is abstruse, people tend to check out–even when the content of the document is important. I mean, when you signed your home mortgage, did you check that the interest rate was properly recorded, or did you just assume that the bank wouldn’t get it wrong?

The only other point I would make is that, truly, I think it’s better to walk away than sign, even if you have reasons to believe that the document is toothless.

At a most basic level, it’s an ethical thing. If you sign a document with no intention of conforming to the agreement it represents, you’re lying, plain and simple. Casual lies like that are, IMHO, corrosive to the soul.

At a more practical level, even if an agreement is ultimately toothless, that doesn’t mean you mightn’t find yourself having to spend money and time to defend yourself. I have witnessed this second-hand, as a lawsuit that was, for all intents and purposes, unwinnable, nonetheless drained time and money from a company (with whom Ironic Design has a business relationship) that they could have used more productively.

Why many anti-flu vaccine people annoy me

So, a friend on facebook posted this, and it pisses me off enough that I really need to vent:

I’ve held my tongue about a lot of the anti-flu-vaccine talk that’s been flying around because while I think it is pretty baseless, ehh, it’s the flu, who cares–as long as you’re pretty healthy going into it, you’re going to endure a week of feeling like crap, and maybe if you’re unlucky, a nice bout of pneumonia.

(Hopefully not a multi-drug resistant strain, in which case you might be screwed, since it’s always been true that it’s usually follow-on infections that kill you, rather than the flu itself)

Anyway, I, myself, am very inconsistent about getting vaccinated–sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t–so I’m not going to whine at people to go do it.

However, I draw the line at anyone who believes all vaccinations are bad–as the person who captioned this video does, and as many, many people going on about not getting the H1N1 vaccination give the impression of believing–is at best, spectacularly ignorant.

At worst, they’re a *Dangerous Fucking Idiot*.

Don’t believe me? Two words: “smallpox”:, “polio”:

Go research *those*, and understand that vaccines are too important a tool for their application to be governed by knee-jerk reactions either for or against, and if you’re helping to create an environment where people are fearful of vaccines, one day it is going to backfire when something much worse than mere flu comes along.

I feel like I am living in the 18th century when it comes to this shit. I have no love of Big Pharma, but fucking-A, people, sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt like this is neither helpful nor productive.

Someone should start the First Church of Fabulousness

The only tenet of which should be, “Two people who love each other should be allowed to marry.” Maybe two tenets, the other being, “Be excellent to one another,” which has its plusses, too.

At which point, the opportunity to have same-sex marriages becomes one of religious freedom. To restrict such marriages becomes a first-amendment issue, which carries more weight than equal protection, apparently.

Of course, I would hope that many heterosexual couples would also want to get married in the First Church of Fabulousness–it being fabulous, see–but, you know, they, too, could exercise their right to choice.

If it weren’t for the DRM

…honestly, I’d probably have already ordered a Kindle 2. It looks like it resolved all my aesthetic issues with the original Kindle, and watching Jeff Bezos sling one around on [_The Daily Show_], it looks light and easy. Oh, to be able to easily search books. And all that jazz.

But I’ll be goddamned if I’ll put myself in a position where someone can suddenly declare that I can’t read the book I damned well paid for.

Is we incapable of learning our lesson?

I mean, am I the only person who, upon hearing about “Cantor Fitzgerald’s application to create an exchange for speculation on the financial performance of movies”: thought, “My, that sounds a lot like the idea of getting CDOs on bonds you don’t hold?”, which, of course, is a feature of our recent financial meltdown.

Oh, and regarding the latter, unrelated half of that story, about a site called WeSeed whose co-founder suggests:

bq. By leveraging the power of community, the 100 million Americans who don’t currently invest can learn the basic fundamentals of stock investing and become smarter, more confident, better informed and even more competitive in their jobs.

To those tempted, I can only recommend that you buy index funds–most investors don’t know shit. Again, as demonstrated by the latest debacle.

Surely, surely, surely this is blasphemy?

I pass along the “Balloon Jesus pictures”: “Via”:

_Incidentally_, as a consequence of this post, “The Catholic League wants Bitch, Ph.D. to be de-credentialed at the Democratic National Convention”:

No, I’m not kidding.

Of course, the Catholic League are apparently not smart enough to figure out that Bitch, Ph.D. was actually commenting *negatively* on the pictures, suggesting that it is so bad for presumably-practicing Christians to show such a trivializing attitude attitude toward their savior–in this case making balloon figures of Jesus being crucified–that *professed non-believers* find it offensive.

I’m not even certain this half-paragraph actually even make sense:

bq. The writer then objects to some children’s toys on the grounds that they are more offensive than desecrating the Eucharist. The toys are actually balloons that have been made to depict Jesus in various poses, including a crucified Christ; one of these images shows Jesus with a penis. Several who commented on this image made patently obscene comments.

You’d think that if TCL wanted to be upset about someone suggesting the pictures were _more_ offensive than desecrating the Eucharist, they wouldn’t mention that one of them inexplicably has Jesus with a balloon penis?

Circuit City would appear to have a thin skin

The story is going around that “Circuit City has called upon all stores to destroy copies of Mad Magazine”: containing a parody strip called “Sucker City”.

Man, that’s not the way to resolve the problem.

Err, it’s been done…

The Weinstein Co. is developing a bunch of stage projects. Including “a stage incarnation of Pink Floyd’s album _The Wall_”:

I hate to break it to them, but it’s been done. It was, in fact, the tour for the album.

What a different person I feel like

So, last night we went over to some friends’ house to celebrate the end of 2006 and the advent of 2007. And as the fateful moment approached our timezone, in an effort to keep ourselves awake, we discussed our respective worst moments of 2006.

It’s unsurprising, really, that, as couples who’ve both been together for some time, each pair came up with lists that were more or less identical. And 2006 wasn’t the best of all possible years for any of us.

But at the same time, looking back on all the things that seemed like they belonged on such a list, I had a hard time feeling any of them were entirely negative, or even feeling that my year was particularly hard–it’s not easy or fun to lose a cat after a protracted illness, or find your spouse asking whether staying together was the right thing to do, but those sorts of things can also be the events that make you stop and reengage with your life.

I don’t know that I would regard those events the same way if they had happened two years ago or five years ago or ten years ago. I feel like a very different person sometimes.

And then, the clock having run out, we got introduced to “an awkwardly funny Spanish new-years ritual”:—the eating of 12 grapes with each toll of the bell that marks midnight (not, mind you, that we had a good bell-tower handy).

Let’s just say that the wikipedia article is right. 12 grapes that fast is, at best hard, and much more likely to devolve into a roomful of people looking like squirrels getting ready for winter. We were definitely the latter. Avoiding spit-takes was a real act of will.

You should definitely try it next year.

On the one hand, I feel a little guilty

I mean, some guy posts an insanely inane idea for a movie he thinks Pixar should do to Bruce Perens’ old email address at Pixar, and CC:’s the debian-devel list. Really, I should have more compassion, and not post a link to his message for the purposes of ridiculing him in public.

But I’m not yet enlightened, and it’s *so* excruciatingly bad. How bad? “Read it yourself”:

Gaaah, I think I became stupider just reading it.

No Cadbury Eggs for me, thanks.

I don’t actually care for them that much anyway, but _Curly Wurly_ bars are another thing. Anyway, I refuse to support a corporation that is so fucking stupid as to “try to trademark the color purple”:

No, this is apparently not a joke.

I think Adam Felber sums it up quite well

“Read it here”:

bq. That’s when I start coming around full circle, and the fruitlessness of the quest becomes clear. In the end, the Bush presidency is defined by the Bush presidency. It has been amazingly consistent and self-defining in a way that will some day stun mathematicians: Every little tiny action of the administration is actually _a complete representation of the administration itself_. It is, in fact, a fractal presidency.

It’s a shame Paul Bremer can’t see in his crystal ball this time…

Because he sure as fuck “got it right about Septermber 11”: From a statement in February of 2001:

bq. The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there’s a major incident and then suddenly say, ‘Oh, my God, shouldn’t we be organized to deal with this?’

From further down in that same post from Neil…

bq.. Dear Neil, other people who may or may not read this

I am a 23-year old soon to be school librarian and have been enjoying a lot of the random library banter that’s been on your blog lately. I thought I would send in some more info and thoughts becuase I am sure whatever in box this goes to isn’t clogged enough.

# “Where’s Waldo” has been challenged and banned so many times because one page features a beach scene on which the sharp eyed viewer may notice a sun bathing woman who has been startled and whose bikini has fallen off. This small illustrator reveals the shocking truth to our children that there are breasts in this world and that women have them. Thank God for all right thinking parents out there who have shielded the innocent lambs of the world from this menace.

# Libraries sometimes have to play games with where they put their books, because the librarians feel it’s more important to have the books in the library. Hence you find some graphic novels in more adult areas, while others may be in a YA section. Librarians want to buy the books that people want. My public library used to have the all of the Sandman graphic novels, until someone stole/lost. Library patrons, tell your librarians what you want. Library budgets are being cut like crazy, but if a couple of people say they want the same things, your librarians should try and find a way to help you out. Graphic Novels are The New Hot Topic of library science so strike now while the iron is hot. Frankly I can’t wait till I finish my MLIS in Dec. and get myself a high school library so I can start a graphic novel collection and get angry parent phone calls.

And in the event this gets posted for the wider world to see, do something really radical and subversive that will threaten the morals of society. Read a banned book, banned book week runs from Sept 20-27. If nothing else, pick up Harry Potter. Hundreds of parents swear it will cause you to lose all respect for authority and worship Satan.

p. I agree with Neil’s assessment:

bq. Oh, I think you’re going to be an excellent librarian…

With John Ashcroft belittling those who worry about their privacy, and denigrating librarians for being alarmist and the running dogs of the ACLU, it’s great to see new librarians with that subversive spirit.

Support your local library.

So, I’m probably the last person to realize this…

but I guess I understand why so many thing that seem to be such dreck can end up being ??New York Times?? bestsellers. From “Neil Gaiman’s weblog”:

bq. (The New York Times “tracks” the books it expects to see on the list. It sends out queries to reporting stores, asking how many they sold of the books in question. If you’re not on the list to be tracked, you won’t be on the final list.)

So whether you’re on the list isn’t necessarily a matter of you selling the most books, per se–which is, to my understanding, what it *does* mean to have an album on the Billboard lists or whatever–it’s a matter of whether someone decided to put you on the list, and then you ranked high enough to be mentioned.

Does this seem mendacious to anyone else? I mean, not that I give a flying fuck about whether something’s on the list, but they don’t exactly have a full-disclosure policy about what being on that list really means.