Friday, March 08, 2002

A Happy Fun Pundit Special Offer!

In keeping with the blogger trend towards quid pro quo fundraising deals*, Happy Fun Pundit is pleased to extend the following offer: put $25 in the tip jar, and we will send you our exclusive recording of "The Human Genome"! That's right, you can hear the dulcet tones of the Happy Fun Pundits reciting the sequence of the very stuff of life itself! Check out this sample then get your checkbook ready! Yes, for a mere $25, you can enjoy this immensely scientific recording in the privacy of your own home. Here's how it works:

1) You deposit $25 in our tip jar.
2) As soon as it's finished, we'll email you the recording. We're not 100% sure how long it's gonna take... dunno, three billion base pairs... let's say a couple of weeks?

Don't miss out on this special offer --- not available in stores --- suitable for framing --- makes a great gift --- fun for the whole family --- supplies are limited --- act now!

Offer void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary.Ted Rall sucks. Professional stunt reader on a closed course. Tip jar does not exist. On approved credit. Please allow 6 - 8000 years for delivery. Sheer negligee not included. A handling charge may be applied. Not suitable for children under 5. Do not taunt Happy Fun Pundit.

* Happy Fun Pundit would like to thank the Practically Naked Logical Positivist for inspiring this campaign.

Thursday, March 07, 2002


Are you one of the millions of sufferers of Vague Uneasiness Disorder (VUD)?

[cut to black-and-white steadicam closeup of woman looking around uncomfortably]

Woman: "I feel vaguely uneasy."

Well, now there is hope. New Priopholec, from the makers of Trilobite. Tell your doctor about it today.

Warning: May cause sweating, bad odor, anal leakage, paranoia, partial lung loss. Not for use by people with certain unknown genetic markers. Do not take within twelve hours of eating or drinking. Priopholec is not a substitute for a swift kick in the ass. The indeterminably young or old may exhibit other, unknown symptoms.

Priopholec: Because life is too short to have to worry about stuff.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Steel Yourself...

The whole steel tariff deal has that "Atlas Shrugged" stink to it, where the painfully incompetent and frightened buy themselves a bit more time with our nickel. If you want to get a nice inside look at the steel industry (or rather, the TWO steel industries: Big Steel and the minimills), pick yourself up a copy of "American Steel" by Richard Preston (described here. The book is out of print, but there's lots of cheap copies available on and elsewhere. It's a story true that would thrill Ayn Rand to the bottom of her gumboots: bold industrialists undertake to leap ahead of the competition with an unproven technology, impossible timelines, while the old guard nervously poo-poos the whole idea and lobbies for subsidies. The book is over ten years old now, but is still relevant, and a helluva compelling read.

More recently, the Cato Institute has published a transcript of a roundtable discussion, "What's Wrong With the Steel Industry -- Again?" that's chock full 'o insights.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Japanese Artist Once Again Attempts To Suck Last Tiny Bit of Life From Husband's Corpse

Yoko Ono is back in the news with her proven peace-creating tactics.

Imagine there's no Yoko
It isn't hard to see
Erasing all the garbage
That came after "Let It Be"
Imagine all the Beatles
And thirty years to play...

Imagine if John Lennon
Did not go off the tracks
Never caught the mindworm
That causes Ono-phants
Imagine all the talent
Without the bloodsucking poseur parasite

You may say I'm a dreamer,
And you're absolutely right,
But a guy can wish she'd just shut the hell up,
And fade into richly-deserved obscurity.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be appearing in the Tiki Room through Saturday.
Oscar Voter Reads Book!

Drudge reports rumblings deep in the bowels of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as Oscar voters ponder the strange case of "A Beautiful Mind". Ordinarily, such rumblings are attributed to former Academy president Ed Asner's unhealthy lutefisk intake, but in this case they are due to Academy members struggling with a more troubling issue: John Nash's anti-semitism. Sayeth Drudge:

"Why am I voting for this Jew hater?" a veteran Academy member said earlier this week before voting. "I am a Jew! I feel sick to my stomach."

Apparently a few Academy members have read Sylvia Nasar's book (upon which the film is loosely based) and discovered that John Nash was not the cuddly schizo-monkey portrayed in the film. Apart from Nash's violent disdain for Jews, also omitted from the screen version were homosexual episodes in Nash's life, the fact that his wife divorced him in 1963, and other "factually correct" material which did not fit well into the "Hollywood Love Story" framework upon which the film was constructed...

MEMO: To All Academy Members
FROM: Frank Pierson
RE: Oscar Voting

In keeping with the Academy's humanistic values, we are now making official the formerly unofficial policy of Oscar voting based not on technical or artistic merit, but rather moral evaluations of the characters in the film. Based on this new policy, we may want to revisit some past Oscar decisions:

"The Godfather": Best Picture, 1972: There are indications that Don Corleone may have discriminated against women and visible minorities.

"Cider House Rules": Michael Caine, Best Supporting Actor, 1999: Caine portrayed a character who was avowedly anti-choice.

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre": John Huston, Best Director, 1948: This film portrayed a greed-based value system.

"Bridge On the River Kwai": Best Picture, 1957: Perpetuates an elitist, individualist ethos as well as unflattering racial stereotypes and the superiority of so-called "Western values".

"The Philadelphia Story": Jimmy Stewart, Best Actor, 1941: Nothing wrong with this per se, but Stewart was a well-known warmonger, portrayed warmongers ("The Glenn Miller Story", 1953) and defenders of warmongers ("Anatomy of a Murder", 1959). Also, Harvey the Pookah was remarkably silent on the subject of Jews.


-- Frank
More Evidence of Music Industry Decline

News Flash: Duran Duran To Release 12 CD 'Greatest Hits' Box Set

Okay, I know what you are thinking: How could Duran Duran's greatest hits fill 12 CD's? For that matter, how could they fill ONE CD? One might even go out on a limb and ask, "How could they fill the gutter track on a '45'?

The answer is that the CD's are actually EP's with two or three songs on each of them. I think this is a great idea, because it will keep Duran Duran fans running back and forth to the CD player every six minutes, until they finally come to their senses and use the CD's as beer coasters.

Still, you have to wonder at the marketing genius behind this:

Suit1: "Hey, let's build a box set, only let's spread the songs over 12 CD's! That way, it will cause our customers the maximum amount of pain, AND it will increase our production costs!".

Suit2: "Great Idea! Now we just need to add some copy protection so that it doesn't sound as good as the originals and doesn't play on many CD players, and we've got ourselves a product!"

This would certainly be a strategy worthy of the rocket scientists in the music industry, but it turns out there is a more pragmatic reason for the 12 CD set. A Happy Fun Pundit reporter interviewed one of the engineers on the project, who had this to say:

"Well, the suits liked the 12 CD format for their own reasons, but truth be told we really didn't have a choice. We tried to get more Duran Duran material on each CD, but the cumulative suckage of all those songs was causing the platters to warp. As it is, we had to use a special hard plastic formulation for the CD that contains "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf".

The box set will also contain outtakes and special mixes of fan favorites. My favorite? The mix that had all the dials turned to '0'. Ah, blessed silence.

This just in: Fungus-Based Meat Substitute Approved By FDA.

According to the article, "scientists found a fungus growing on farms near London in the 1960's", and are now producing a meat substitute from it. It can be made into such favorites as, "Chicken-Like Nuggets" and "Fetuccine Alfredo". The article wasn't clear as to whether the fungus was an alternative to the fettucine or the alfredo, or why fettucine alfredo should have meat in it at all, let alone a fungoid meat substitute.

I don't know about you, but I have long suspected that my diet has been lacking in fungus. Why, just last night my wife and I had just finished a lovely meal of dead cow and tubers when we both realized that something was missing. My first thought was that I really needed a large dollup of fungus. My second thought was that I had forgotten the dessert in the fridge. Such memory lapses are surely the sign of the fungally-deficient.

The news of the breakthrough comes as a welcome surprise to millions of athlete's foot sufferers, who will now be able to think of their affliction not as a debilitating and painful condition, but as the source of a tasty snack.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is also said to be studying ways to help fund the track-and-field teams through the production of such products. I for one can hardly wait for the first jars of "Michael Johnson's Homegrown Olympic Toe Jam" to hit the market. Available in '100 meter' and concentrated '200 meter' flavors.

I'll bet it would taste especially good as a spread for your Chicken-Like Nuggets.

Monday, March 04, 2002

Aaron Sorkin, The Voice of the Future

I imagine most readers by now have read or heard of Aaron Sorkin's claim that The West Wing is A) Non-Political, B) Non-Partisan, and C) Not a television show. Okay, he never said that last bit, but the implicit denial of reality in that is about as strong.

Jonah Goldberg went so far as to call him a Big Fat Liar. When Jonah's willing to speak his mind like that, you know that he's, well, he's typing. He pretty much speaks like that all the time. But I digress.

Anyway, it's not exactly a newsflash that Aaron Sorkin is biased, or that his show is little more than a weekly commercial for the Democratic party. But thanks to campaign finance reform, his voice and the voices of those like him have just increased dramatically in power. If that doesn't scare the bejeebers out of you, you aren't breathing. Or perhaps you're a Baldwin or a Sheen reading this in between detox sessions.

See, the new campaign finance bill puts heavy restrictions on commercial political speech 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election. We are supposed to believe that as a result, politicians will be watching their calendars, waiting for the day when they can stop advertising and communicating. We are also supposed to believe that opposition groups will likewise stop fighting for or against specific candidates after those deadlines.

This isn't going to happen. Instead, you are going to see more and more political speech diverted through the back door and appear in other forms of media (like Sorkin's show). Since media pundits are not affected, you can expect more money to flow their way from political action groups and candidates. You can expect to see new magazines, newspapers, and TV shows that are thinly veiled campaign gimmicks.

There will be pundits that are bought and paid for by political parties and special interests. I expect you might see special scholarships aimed at supporting the journalism careers of people whose views align with certain interests. A new specialty in political consultancy will emerge - how best to use the media and other non-proscribed ways of getting the vote.

Campaign finance reform is yet another foolhardy attempt to overrule the laws of the marketplace with more regulation. The value of political speech increases as you approach an election, because more people listen and because messages are more likely to stick if they are disseminated closer to election time. And if there is a high need for something, people will find a way to fill it. You can count on that.

The end result of the advertising exclusion clause in the campaign finance reform bill will be to simply make it even harder to identify corruption and influence. The media will gain in power dramatically, as they will have a near monopoly on speech when demand for it is highest. The media will be corrupted, to a much greater extent than it is today.

Another effect of campaign finance reform you can expect is that candidates will withold controversial positions until the blackout period is in effect so that opposition groups are hamstrung in their ability to fight it. If candidate 'A' needs New York State, and figures that a nice gun control proposition will help him get that state, he's now more likely to withold that little policy nugget until the NRA is defanged. So expect more 'surprise' policy positions close to an election. It's hard to see how this improves the democratic process.

The last hope is that the Supreme Court decides that those restrictions are unconstututional.