Browsing the archives for the Uncategorized category.

It’s Not That I’m Anti-Erect Penis…

Funny, Uncategorized, US culture

… but is it really a good idea for a major company to convert its logo into an erect penis? (Or reveal the existing erect-penisness of its logo, as the case may be?)

Joe Camel: An early example of the effective use of penis fear in advertising.  (Nose = penis.  Not erect though.)

Joe Camel: An early example of the effective use of penis fear in advertising. (Nose = penis. Not erect though.)

This was playing on TV during a nice, innocuous show about doggies on Animal Planet. It’s not one of those edgy web-only ads you see when you’re reading the Onion or something. (Speaking of the Onion, I immediately remembered their 1989 cover story, “Penis Fear,” which exposed the subliminal use of penises in advertising. Joe Camel was featured prominently. I tried to find that story online but the only references were made by a) me, and b) a guy who said he kept the issue for years and then his wife threw it out. The noive.)

If it were an advertisement for, I dunno, mattresses or something, I could maybe understand it. Ha ha. Clever. But a restaurant?

I mean, I see it now… the Arby’s logo sure does look like (a rather stumpy) erect penis. Or maybe a partially unrolled condom.

These are really associations they want to create?

(I almost titled this “I Don’t Have Anything Against Erect Penises” but thought that might be a bit too much…)


Just How Evil Are Real Christmas Trees?

Uncategorized, US culture

So I tend towards green-ness. I’m not an uber-environmentalist but I do what I can. I’m sitting here in my down jacket because I like to keep the thermostat relatively low in the winter, (and because it’s #@$% cold outside). We recycle. We don’t leave the water running when we brush our teeth. That kind of thing.

That means that when people say that real Christmas trees are evil and that fake trees are a more responsible choice (i.e., that plastic is greener than actual greenery), I am cowed enough to want to look into it before blithely buying another real tree this year. (Even though I LIKE real trees. A lot.)

My initial thoughts include:

– My community recycles (mulches) real Christmas trees. Does that count for anything?

– Christmas tree farms are better than strip malls, aren’t they? (But is that a false dichotomy? Maybe they tear down nice forests to plant the fertilized and insecticided Christmas trees.)

– Isn’t plastic, just, like, icky? And people don’t keep their plastic trees literally forever, do they? So is the environmental cost of dealing with giant hunks of plastic occasionally really less than dealing with gen-you-wine biodegradable trees annually?

So I set out to try to find out what is actually greener.

First, yes, it appears that plastic IS icky!

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OK. I’m Starting To Believe It.

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Elections, US Politics

The other day I clicked to Comedy Central, just to see what was on. Barack Obama’s smiling face filled the screen. The camera panned to show fireworks behind him, then out to show that he was on a porcelain plate. The words “Change Has Come” in scrolly gold letters were lingered on lovingly. Everything was soft-focus and precious.

There were no captions and I squinted at the screen in confusion… was this some sort of Jon Stewart parody? What was going ON?

Eventually it became apparent that despite the insipid-looking white people gazing happily at the plate and the lo-budget schmaltz, this was the real thing. They’re actually selling porcelain plates commemorating Barack Obama’s victory.

This can be YOURS for the low, low price of $19.99!!

This can be YOURS for the low, low price of $19.99!!

There is a whole site set up for selling these plates (and coins!), where you can watch the video (slightly altered from the one I saw — fewer insipid people, more coins).

I remember when I ordered my “ObamaMama” t-shirt, more than a year ago. It’s a very nice t-shirt, as t-shirts go; black with red white and blue lettering and an Obama logo.

I never seemed to make the decision to wear it lightly. I’m relatively new in town and I had serious concerns about whether wearing that t-shirt would close some doors for me.

When I did wear it, the reactions tended to be strong (especially once the primaries got started). I wore it to the Ohio State Fair in July and a young black guy grinned at me and said “I like your t-shirt…!” while a middle-aged white woman glared at me with such heat that I prepared to physically defend myself — she eventually moved on, though.

Residents of Blandville, USA raise a toast to the new president (seen, tinily, on a plate in the background)

Residents of Blandville, USA raise a toast to the new president (seen, tinily, on a plate in the background)

This commercial somehow brought home for me that Barack Obama is not the risky candidate that I started supporting almost three years ago. He’s our President-Elect. Three quarters of Americans think he will be a good president. His face is on tacky porcelain plates, for chrissakes. This is real.

A toast to our President-Elect, Barack Obama.


Pickled Herring?


Chris Weigant at HuffingtonPost sees a game afoot with the Hillary Clinton nomination to Secretary of State. I do too, but not the same game. Chris senses that the nomination itself is a red herring devised by Hillary to give her more stature in the senate, and that she will eventually decline.

If I am right, Hillary Clinton will be the one to hold a press conference — and not Obama — in the near future. She will say how honored she is to have been considered for the post, but that after reflection she has decided to continue serving the citizens of the great state of New York from her position in the Senate, where she thinks she will be more effective promoting Barack Obama’s agenda and helping the new president get important legislation passed, and so is therefore asking Obama to remove her name for consideration.

This move will bolster her stature and reputation among her many fans and supporters. It will show that she is the one turning the offer down, leaving her supporters feeling good about (1) the fact that she was “offered” the job, (2) the fact that Hillary’s power just seems to continue to grow, and (3) Barack Obama, for being gracious enough to allow her to make the choice about her own political future. It will almost completely remove any leftover sour grapes about the nomination race (and about the fact that Hillary was not offered the vice presidency before the convention as well).

I have a slightly different interpretation.  I think Obama offered her something of stature but that he knew she wouldn’t want in order to keep her out of his cabinet but show the proper deference to her.  His ally, Ted Kennedy, simultaneously offered her something in the senate that she would want — to head a working group focused on health insurance.  What a coinkidink.  This situation will eventually work itself out favorably for everyone.  I agree with Chris that she will decline the Secretary of State nomination and will stay in the senate to work on health care.  Meanwhile, Obama has made a good faith effort to mend the fences but gets to continue building his cabinet with the people he wants and without the conflicts that come with the Clintons.  Smooth move.


The Best News I’ve Seen All Year

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Politics

This is from Weather Underground’s forecast for Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008.

Election day.

I was here in Columbus for the election in 2004. It was a miserable, cold, rainy day. Brave (and soggy) souls stood in lines anyway, but the weather depressed turnout. And Bush won Ohio.

It was typical weather for November in Columbus, which makes this all the more wonderful. Sunny, clear, and a high of 72. Seventy-two! Amazing.

This is very, very good news.

It’s not just Columbus, it’s all of Ohio. (Cincinnati’s forecast is identical, Cleveland’s high is 67 rather than 72 — still lovely!) And as Pennsylvania tightens, Ohio’s status as an uber-battleground state is reinforced.

Good weather will help the Obama campaign strategy of deploying “line managers,” too. I recently received an email from the wonderful Valli Frausto, explaining the role of line managers (and inviting me to be one):

Based on the amazing turnout already for Early Vote at Veterans Memorial, the campaign is expecting record-breaking turnout across Franklin County for Election Day! This is great news, but it also means that there will be some long waits for voters at certain polling places. Let’s make those waits feel as short as we can – and keep those voters in line and get them into the polling booth!

How? Line managers!!

On Election Day, the line manager is a critical role inside the Obama campaign.

As a line manager, you will work outside a polling location at an Obama Target precinct. It’s a really fun and totally new way to be a part of our movement for change. Handing out water and hamburgers, rocking out to a local band playing a set, and just talking with folks – it’s a great way to participate and make a tremendous difference while having a great time.

And, because of the work you do, people that would have left without voting actually stay and vote. You personally bank real votes for Barack!

I love the idea. Not sure yet if I can do it. (I’ve been sick and am not sure if I’ll be well enough in time. Hacking and coughing and looking haggard doesn’t seem like a great morale-raiser.)

Like the election prognostications, the weather forecast is subject to change of course. But I’m hopeful.

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Notes From A Battleground State: Crumbslide?

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Politics

The Busken bakery in Ohio has been conducting a “cookie poll” since 1984. They sell cookies festooned with the image of the candidates, and keep a tally of the sales. They’ve called the winner every single time — within 4 percentage points of the final tally!

So how’s it look for Obama?

(Note, the McCain cookie is frowning here — because he’s losing by a 2-1 margin! — but the one for sale is smiling.)

That’s as of Tuesday, October 28th at 10:40 AM. Click here to keep tabs.

Brian Busken, VP of marketing, says, “We’ve never seen a spread like this before in the numbers. I don’t know if there’s going to be a crumbslide or not. … We may still predict the winner, but probably by way too many cookies.”


Chafin’ Update

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Politics

Sarah Palin’s chafin’ all right.

On Tuesday I wrote that I thought she was “frustrated that her big debut is being stepped on by the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his ineffectual group of cronies,” and asked whether Palin would “break free from her handlers in ways large and small, and try to further her own career — even if that means doing direct damage to John McCain’s chances in these last two weeks before election day?”

Look what Ben Smith of Politico is reporting today:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

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Quote of the day: McCain’s Village People


Christopher Orr on TNR’s blog The Plank:

Joe the Plumber, your time is evidently up. America, meet the new physical embodiment of the McCain candidacy, Tito the Builder. (I wish I were joking.) These days, the McCain campaign is starting to resemble nothing so much as a reunion of the Village People.

Comes with a comment of the day from “kenshap”:

Who’s next,  Mao the fireman?



Politics, Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Elections, US Politics
Getty Images Photo

Getty Images Photo

A couple of weeks ago, in a post about how the McCain campaign was sequestering Sarah Palin from the media, I wondered, “Is there a point at which she will finally chafe at the treatment she is getting from the campaign?

She’s chafin’.

The New York Times today:

COLORADO SPRINGS — These days, Gov. Sarah Palin seems like a candidate trying to wriggle free of her handlers.

On Sunday night, she twice took questions from reporters, the first time on an airport tarmac without her press staff’s knowledge.

After landing in Colorado Springs late Sunday, Ms. Palin marched over to a local television crew and began answering questions on camera, sending the traveling press corps sprinting in pursuit, and her press staff scrambling.

“Get Tracey,” one campaign aide barked into his headset, calling for Tracey Schmitt, Ms. Palin’s ever-watchful spokeswoman, who rushed over to supervise the impromptu news conference. (Ms. Schmitt, looking distressed, tried several times to cut it off with a terse “Thank you!” in between questions, to no avail.)

I think something interesting is happening here, that will perhaps have a bearing on whether the McCain campaign can pull significantly closer to Obama in these last two weeks of the campaign. I think that Sarah Palin considers her running mate to be a loser, and that if she were at the top of the ticket (and making the decisions), she’d be winning.

In my previous post on this subject, I noted that Palin was upset that the McCain campaign decided to pull out of Michigan. Yesterday I noticed this (also quoted in the New York Times article):

On Sunday night, she criticized the Republican National Committee’s use of robocalls.

“If I called all the shots, and if I could wave a magic wand,” Ms. Palin said, “I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war, and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls, and includes spending so much money on the television ads that, I think, is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans’ attention span.”

“If I called all the shots…”

I think Palin’s frustrated that her big debut is being stepped on by the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his ineffectual group of cronies. She considers herself the star — and why wouldn’t she? There have been widespread reports of people leaving McCain/ Palin events when she’s done and the supposed headliner takes the mic. I think she has abundant self-regard and is pleased but isn’t particularly surprised at the adoration she receives at rallies.

Yet the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his cronies tell her to keep reading from the teleprompter with maximum spirit (“we’ve got spirit, yes we do!”) and otherwise stay in the background while they take care of the real business of winning an election.

If that possibility seems less and less likely — if Palin sees her chance of becoming vice president fade — will she become more of a free agent? Break free from her handlers in ways large and small, and try to further her own career — even if that means doing direct damage to John McCain’s chances in these last two weeks before election day?


The ups and downs of the ground game campaigns: “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”

Debates, International Politics, Politics, Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Economy, US Elections, US Politics

Alex Massie featured an encouraging dispatch from a Democratic operative in Ohio last Wednesday: The Ground Game: The View From Ohio. It’s impressive stuff:

I got placed in Bowling Green, right by Bowling Green State University. [..] The county is a swing county, but that is mostly because there are 50,000 rural families and 25,000 Bowling Green residents combined with 25,000 Bowling Green students. [..] No candidate has carried Ohio without carrying Wood County (BG is the county seat). One would think that this historical oddity would almost mandate a heavy McCain presence, but alas there is none to speak of.

I spent a little bit of time at the Obama state HQ in Columbus yesterday. It was jaw dropping. They had taken over an old mega-church. The first floor was a warren of staffers running around all very young and all very busy. The basement was probably the size of a supermarket, lined with table after table. Each table was staffed by four youngsters, all responsible for a different city, county, task etc. It looked like the command center for a massive army. No windows, no natural light, but filled with kids who probably had no idea it was 8am all hovering over computers, maps, data sheets. There were 600 staffers there, all dedicated to Ohio, at 8am. I’m amazed.

Phonebanking for Obama

Volunteers phonebanking in San Francisco (Images used under CC license from Flickr user SanFranAnnie)

In another recent dispatch from the trail, the Denver Post emphasised the mindboggling extent to which the ground games of both campaigns are driven by sophisticated micro-targeting:

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An Open Letter to McCain Backers


Dear McCain backer;

You’ve told us you don’t trust Senator Obama. You don’t trust his name or his pastor or his associations. He might even be a terrorist. The American public needs to know the truth about Senator Obama!

Sanity check time. I’m sure no one will change your mind on this, but at this point, do you really believe that no one has really looked into Obama’s background? Do you think the Clintons really didn’t bother to turn over every stone? The McCain’s team has been less than thorough? That every press outlet and every blogger looking for a score has not sifted his background with a fine toothed comb? When McCain says the American people need to understand Obama’s relationship with Ayers, do you think he has not read the dozens of reports done by every sort of organization detailing that association in the finest detail possible?

When people started to ask Guilliani hard questions, he would say “911” and it would all pass. McCain supporters say “POW”. Obama has no such magic word. Everyone just digs and digs and digs. I’m sure you will say it’s the liberal MSM, but in your heart, you know that every conservative outlet in the world has been striving for all they’re worth to pin something real on Obama and there is nothing there. You keep asking the American people for a little more patience, one more investigation, just a little more time to dig up something. Patience is gone. There’s nothing there. If you think McCain is proposing better policies for the US than Obama, then please vote for him, but declaring that Obama has some deep, dark secret that you can find if you just look a little harder is just silly.


I Fought A Smear!


A friend of mine just sent me a scurrilous email she’d gotten about Barack Obama, and asked me whether I had a response to the allegations in it. I did, but I knew it’d take a while — I’d have to get cites together, etc. I told her that I’d try to get to it tomorrow, and thanked her for sending it to me!

Meanwhile, I went ahead and forwarded it to the address given at the “Fight The Smears” website. Figured I’d do my little bit of reportage before getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Five minutes later — literally five minutes later — I received a response from the Obama campaign, addressing in great detail the specific allegations made in the email.  I won’t quote the whole thing but the Snopes rebuttal (one of several links in the email) is here.

I’m sure that the the email I received from the Obama campaign wasn’t, like, composed on the spot, but the speed with which the specific smear was identified and the corrective was sent out still astounds me.

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