Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You...

I have a problem saying goodbye.

I don't mean that in the melodramatic "I can't bear to be without you" sense.  I mean, literally, I have a problem being the first person to say "goodbye" in a conversation.  So when the time comes to end a phone call, I usually lead with something along the lines of "Well, it was great hearing from you," or "I'll chat with you soon."  The other person takes the cue and says, "Goodbye."  I respond with "Goodbye," and the conversation comes to a graceful close.

It's a subconscious thing.  Nobody's ever called me on it, and I've never really noticed it before, because most of my friends and family manage to take up the slack without even realizing it.  I don't think there's anything deep rooted or particularly traumatic involved.  It's not like goodbyes killed my family or molested me as a child or anything.  I just don't feel comfortable saying goodbye until I'm 100% sure the other person is on board.

If I had to get psychoanalytical about it, I might tie it back to my grandmother, Mamaw, who was incredibly passive-aggressive and wielded guilt like a blunt weapon.  She never called me or my sister, but would always berate us for not calling her more.  And when we did call, we'd have to endure a good quarter of an hour of listening to "It just breaks Mamaw's heart that you kids don't call more," and "Mamaw just gets so lonesome for you."  (Mamaw talked about herself in the third person a lot.)  I can't speak for my sister, but I'd run out of things to talk about pretty quick, and the conversation would start lulling and become filled with more awkward silence than a Glenn Beck Book Club meeting.  And so I'd start trying to wrap things up, and Mamaw would head me off at the pass:  "Mamaw wishes you could talk to her longer, but I know you kids have things to do."  And so, it became standard operating procedure to start the goodbye process early on and sort of steer the conversation that way.  And of course, I'd have to be the one to say it, and Mamaw would drag it on for another ten minutes or so, and then I'd have to say it again.  Sometimes I'd have to say goodbye five or six times to make it stick.

So, yeah...

Anyway, I guess I was never all that aware of my aversion to goodbye until the other day, when I was talking to my friend Silver on the phone.  He and I both work from our homes, so we meet for lunch several times a week just to get out of the house during the day and be sociable.  We were making our lunch plans for the next day, and as the conversation came to an end, I suddenly realized he has the exact same hangup about goodbye that I do!

Basically, all of our phone conversations end with the two of us playing goodbye chicken.

Me:  Well, okay.
Silver:  All right, that sounds great.  I'll see you then.
Me:  Yeah, see you then.
Silver:  Okay.
Me:  Have a great day.
Silver:  Thanks.  You do the same.
Me:  Oh, I'll try.  Chat with you later.
Silver:  Sounds good.  Thanks for calling.
Me:  You bet!  See you at lunch tomorrow.
Silver:  Looking forward to it.  See you then!

And so on, and so on, until one of us finally caves and says goodbye.  We've been doing this for as long as I've known him (15 years or so), but I only just realized it the other day.  Now that I'm aware of the problem, I'm taking steps to address the issue.  However, I'd say my initial efforts have met with limited success at best:

Me:  Hello?
Mom:  Hey, Chris.  How're...
Mom:  What?
Me:  Sorry.  What were you saying?
Mom:  I was just calling to see...

But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually.  And in the meantime, I'll just have to keep counting on my family and friends to bear the burden.

So anyway, thanks for reading.  Have a great day.  I'll see you next time I post.  Looking forward to it.  Chat with you later.  Give my love to the family.  Take it easy.  Respect it, don't neglect it.  Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.  Vaya con carne, mi amoebas.  Thanks again for reading.  Hope you enjoyed it.  See you later, alligator.  After a while, crocodile.  See you soon, baboon.  Be sweet, parakeet.  Take care, polar bear.  We'll have to do this again real soon.  Be safe.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

SEO + Blog = "miserable failure"

Over the past few years, I've become involved in the crazy, fast-paced, heart-pounding, thrill-a-minute world of SEO. For those of you who don't know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it's when you fix up a website to make it more friendly to Google and the other search engines, so it'll show up higher in the rankings for certain search terms. Some people do this by designing their sites well and offering fresh, compelling content that others will want to link to and share. Others try to do it by cheating, which inevitably ends badly for them. Want to know why Google changes the way it works roughly 47,845 times a week? So they can stick it to those cheating SEO bastards.

In my last post, I mentioned that I started blogging back in 2004, when it was all still exciting and new. Back then, people blogged because they had shit to say. But sometime around 2006 or so, some smartass SEO guru discovered that you could use a blog to drive traffic to a company's website. The idea was simple. Update it frequently with some content that people would want to share, and include plenty of links to the company's main website. As more and more people linked to the blog, it (and all of the links on it) would become more relevant in the eyes of Google.

One of the ways Google decides who ranks where for certain terms is by the anchor text in links. So if you can get enough people to link to your website with the text "pimp daddy," then eventually your website will start cropping up in Google when people are searching for pimp daddies. When this process is done to intentionally skew search engine rankings, it's known as a "Google bomb." Google has made numerous changes to their algorithm to keep this from happening.

(You may remember back around 2004, when typing the words "miserable failure" into Google brought up George W. Bush's biography page. This was due to the concerted efforts of a bunch of developers who encouraged folks with websites to link to Bush's biography with those words, like this: miserable failure. Once enough people did it, especially those with reputable or popular websites that generated a lot of clicks, Bush's biography shot to the top of the search engine results page. This wasn't the first Google bomb, but it's arguably the most famous.)

In an effort to boost their search engine rankings, businesses began operating blogs. As the number of blogs out there on Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's internet grew exponentially larger, it got harder and harder to grab people's attention. Companies began hiring professional writers and marketing experts to give their blog a competitive edge.

(In fact, one of my writing gigs at the moment is for a search engine marketing company whose name I won't mention, but whom you can find very easily by typing "chris irby seo" into Google. I crank out five articles a week for them that are basically just regurgitations of articles written by other folks, only paraphrased and reworded so they'll count as original content.)

Anyway, in the wake of all the marketing, personal blogs got lost in the wash, and then all but died off once Facebook came on the scene.

This blog wasn't created for the purposes of search engine marketing or to drive traffic to any other website. I started blogging because I enjoy writing, and I liked the idea of sharing my inane and often profanity-laden thoughts with a bunch of anonymous strangers. I continued blogging because I really enjoyed the close-knit group of friends that seemed to come out of it. And I quit blogging because I felt like I had run out of stuff to say. Also, Facebook.

I know quite a few people who do SEO for a living, and they don't understand the appeal of blogging. They can't imagine why anybody would have a blog if they're not going to use it to market something, generate links, or drive traffic. They often take me to task for my lack of optimization, and suggest that I should do things like put my name in the title, give all of the pictures meaningful file names, and try to work some popular search terms into my articles. The idea of writing for writing's sake is lost on them. These are the same people who think Michelangelo missed a golden opportunity because he didn't paint Jesus drinking a can of Pepsi in The Last Supper.

A lot of corporate blogs are no longer updated regularly. Many have been abandoned outright. Once companies realized how much effort is required to successfully market with a blog, especially with all of the competition out there, many decided it was a dismal return on their investment. Facebook and Twitter are actually the hot search engine marketing properties now, as SEO experts knock their heads against the wall trying to figure out just how all those tweets and status updates play into Google rankings.

So blogging is just another internet fad in decline, like usenet newsgroups, dancing hamsters, and Classmates.com. I can't imagine it will ever really go away, but I also can't see it becoming as insanely popular as it was a few short years ago. But that's okay. As long as I have my threes of blogging buddies, I'll be happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Did Facebook Kill My Blog?

I started this blog back in 2004, back when having a blog was one of those cool things that dazzled and impressed your less-technically-savvy friends and family members. "You have a blog? Wow, that's so awesome! Do you know Bill Gates and Cher?"

Since then, this little slice of Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's internets has gone through several name changes (Chris Irby's Generic Blog, Rush Limbaugh's All Star Puppy-Eating Cavalcade, WTFWJD?, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, YOU GODDAMN LIAR!) and I've undergone numerous personal crises that have strengthened me and turned me into the paragon of restraint and insight you see today.

Alas, poor WTFWJD? We hardly knew ye...

I've also gone through some considerable ebbs and flows when it comes to posting. In November of 2005, I came back after a two-month hiatus, apologized for neglecting the blogosphere, and trickled out some posts for the next few months. In July of 2006, I came back after a one-month hiatus, apologized for neglecting the blogosphere, and trickled out some posts for the next few months. In February of 2007, I came back after a four-month hiatus, apologized for neglecting the blogosphere, and trickled out some posts for the next few months. In October of 2007... well, I'm pretty sure you can see where this is going.

Anyway, if you check the Blog Archive to the left, you may notice that my posting pretty much died in April 2009 (much like beloved actress Bea Arthur). I made one last ditch effort in April 2010, and then... BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP...

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest...

So, what happened? Well, in a word, Facebook.

As I mentioned in one of my penultimate posts, I got totally sucked into Mark Zuckerberg's social media cult. I became obsessed with befriending folks I hadn't seen in years and never really liked all that much, and with keeping my massive network of virtual pals apprised of my current status ("Eating wasabi peanuts and downloading images of Ann Coulter's feet").

The thing is, Facebook offers immediate gratification. The moment you post anything, 29,751,498 online buddies will respond to lend their support or show you the error of your ways. Total strangers will request to be your friend because they read something funny you posted on someone else's page. Longtime acquaintances will unfriend you because they read something provocative or offensive that you posted on your own page. FBI agents will send you messages, pretending to be 15-year-old cheerleaders. But that's something else, entirely.

When all else fails, try bringing up Hitler...

But it's been a couple of years, and the bloom is off the Facebook rose. I still check in and post pretty regularly, but gone are the days where I would spend hours poring through hundreds of updates and carrying on dozens of simultaneous conversations. I no longer have any interest in arguing on other folks' pages, and have little patience for the people who feel the need to crap their opinion into their hand and fling it all over my page. And I honestly couldn't possibly give any less of a fuck about what folks are growing in Farmville or whom they're killing in Gang Wars.

I think part of the problem is that whole short-attention span thing. The immediate gratification, coupled with the fact that Facebook limits posts to something in the neighborhood of 4 characters, has basically created an online community of folks who can't be bothered to read. Facebook will let you post longer notes, but reading those requires a couple of extra clicks of the mouse, and who the hell has time for that when there are virtual rutabagas to harvest, baby?

Lately, I've found myself waxing nostalgic about this blog, and the tight-knit community of folks that I pretty much abandoned for the glitzy Babylon that *is* Facebook. And I've been wondering if I should even try picking up where I left off, or just put this thing out of its misery and start fresh.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I did start another blog back in June 2009 that's devoted to the oeuvre of Jack Chick. My updates on that blog have been pretty sporadic as well, but it still gets a decent number of daily hits because folks keep posting my stuff on Reddit and StumbleUpon. I've thought about doing that myself, but what kind of desperate cry for attention would that be?)

So anyway, yeah. Facebook pretty much killed this blog. But like Jesus, Spock, Bobby Ewing, and Batman, it has once again clawed its way out of the grave. Hopefully, this won't be my only post for 2011. I swear, my intentions are good. I'm going to try this blogging thing again.

Also Superman, Gandalf, Jean Grey, Elvis, Osiris, Buffy,
Dr. Who, Lazarus, Pac Man, Kenny, and Wile E. Coyote

But I make no promises...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beeeeeeeeeeeep... Blip... Blip... Blip...

I honestly have no idea what to write after a year of neglecting the blogosphere. Except I just noticed that, even though the word "blogosphere" has been in wide use since 2002, Blogger still doesn't recognize is as a legitimate word, and suggests that I replace it with "biosphere" or "heliosphere." According to Wikipedia, a heliosphere is caused by the solar wind blowing a bubble in the interstellar medium. According to Sarah Palin, a heliosphere is caused by God taking a bath after He eats beans. Incidentally, Blogger doesn't recognize the word "Palin" as legitimate either, and suggests that I replace it with "Patin" or "pain," which sounds totally reasonable to me. In case you're wondering, Patin is a village in the Bané Department of Boulgou Province in south-eastern Burkina Faso, a landlocked African nation that is probably visible from Sarah Palin's backyard. I'm sure this interesting fact will be covered on the upcoming Discovery reality show Sarah Palin's Alaska, assuming they can find someone other than the Tea Party and the KKK to sponsor it. Personally, I would have called the show Helicopter Wolf Sniper Killfest or Life On This 6,000 Year Old Earth. Or maybe Hunting with Dick Cheney. Remember when he shot that old guy in the face? That was awesome. Anyway, I missed you guys.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A New Follower!

I'd like to take a moment and give a shout out to my newest follower, ouD6.NoCjdK3ku6mQr1B3m.kdRsb. After years of sending me unsolicited emails regarding my credit and/or my penis size, I'm proud that ouD6.NoCjdK3ku6mQr1B3m.kdRsb has decided to join the ranks of my threes of faithful followers.

(There's a chance I could be wrong about ouD6.NoCjdK3ku6mQr1B3m.kdRsb, and he/she/it might actually be one of the soulless Verizon automatons that I ran up against back in 2006. If that's the case, then I apologize for the disrespectful tone of my post and I welcome our new robot overlords with open arms. HAIL OUD6.NOCJDK3KU6MQR1B3M.KDRSB!!!)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir

As you may recall, my friend Sean and I wrote a play for the Pocket Sandwich Theatre here in Dallas. The play, Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir, was an audience participation melodrama, where audience members are invited to cheer the hero, boo the villain, and hurl prodigious amounts of popcorn at the actors on the stage.

Last night was our opening night, and it went swimmingly! Magnificently! Brilliantly! The jokes worked, the cast clicked, and the audience was totally into the whole participation thing. There were a handful of technical glitches, but I have to say these guys totally knocked it out of the park!

For those of you among my threes of faithful readers who won't be able to attend a showing, here's a handy rundown on the play straight from the Pocket Sandwich Theatre website:

From the unashamed authors of "Escape from Stalag 18" comes this gripping tale of "Captain Phantasm," a costumed hero trained in the mysterious and inscrutable fighting techniques of the Orient as he faces "Dr. Noir," a nefarious criminal mastermind with impeccable fashion sense, a melodramatic flair, and no fear of popcorn. Mix in characters such as "Pretty Perfect," a beautiful reporter with moxie, spunk, and chutzpah out the yin-yang; and "Mittens" and "Fluffy," two lovely but fiendishly deadly vixens, and what have you got? Uh - we're not sure, but we'll let you know when we figure it out.

Sean and I staged it as an episode of Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, broadcast on Radio KPST in 1941. We ended each act with a cliffhanger and totally cheated to get the heroes out of their jam. For example, Act II ends with Captain Phantasm and intrepid reporter Pretty Perfect surrounded by gun-wielding mobsters. The stage goes dark, we hear blasts of machine gun fire, and the words TO BE CONTINUED... appear on the screen. When Act III begins, we once again see the Captain and Pretty surrounded by the mobsters. This time, Captain Phantasm yells "Duck and cover!" and pushes Pretty to the ground as the mobsters open fire and kill each other.

Our "broadcast" is hosted by Wink Walters, an unctious emcee who stands on a side stage and provides helpful narration to move the story along. He also does commercials for the imaginary sponsors of Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, such as Sophisticate Cigarettes ("They're mild, good-tasting, and agree with your throat.") and Auntie Lou's Homestyle All-Purpose Flour ("Now with 30% fewer mites and weevils!")

The commercials were a blast to write. Sean and I set out to make them as sexist and scientifically inaccurate as possible. My favorite was the ad that opened up Act II:

(The spotlight falls on the EMCEE, who is standing on the side stage with the microphone. MITTENS and FLUFFY are standing to either side of him.)

Welcome back to Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour on Radio KPST, brought to you by Marvey Mint Chewing Gum... for the ladies. Chewing Marvey Mint will keep your facial contours youthful and keep your breath fresh and clean. So ladies, if you need a special man in your life, or if you simply want to hold on to the one you have, remember...

(MITTENS and FLUFFY lean into the microphone to sing.)

Tired of being an old maid
'Coz bad breath rained on your parade?
Let Marvey Mint come to your aid!
Our chewing gum will get you...

EMCEE (interrupting)
Into a loving relationship with the man of your dreams. Marvey Mint.


Our first two nights have sold out, so here's hoping the rest of the run is just as successful. If you live in the DFW area or happen to be visiting between now and May 16, I hope you'll swing by the Pocket Sandwich Theatre and check out the show!

Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grill Skill

I should warn you, the following video should not be viewed by anyone who wishes to cling to their belief in a kind and loving god.

Grill Skill is a training video put out by Wendy's in 1989 to teach their employees the proper art of putting greasy meat on a grill. Now you're probably thinking to yourself, "They needed a video for that?" but you have to remember that this was over 20 years ago. After eight years of George W., it's become almost commonplace to see people with college educations working at fast food restaurants. But back then, educated folks had the option of working real jobs, and flipping burgers was left to the type of people who needed to be tutored by disembodied rapping heads.

The video starts off innocuously enough, with Wendy's founder Dave Thomas yammering on about his love of hamburgers. This is, of course, before he died, because otherwise the video would have been even creepier. During Dave's burger soliloquy, we are reminded no less than 4,000 times that Wendy's square patties hang over the edge of the bun. "And people will like that!" Dave insists just a little too emphatically.

(Also, for some reason, poor Dave seems to be having some problems actually enunciating his words, and the phrase "old fashioned hamburgers" sounds like it's being murmured by a mouth stuffed with cholesterol.)

After Dave's introduction, we begin the descent into batshit madness that IS Grill Skill. First, we're lulled into a sense of false security by watching a montage of Wendy's employees showing up for work and hanging up their coats for like 20 minutes. Then, the narrative settles down and introduces us to Bill, who is about to make the incredible evolutionary leap from fries to grill. His manager Mary, who apparently commutes in every morning from the 1940s, takes him into the back office and shows him a video.

So we're watching a video about a guy watching a video. It's all so damned recursive.

But just as you're settling in for a dull treatise on grill procedure, Bill's VCR starts smoking (while strains of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" play in the background) and the aforementioned disembodied rapping head sucks him into the video and... words fail me. It's as if a bunch of tiny ninjas get inside your head and start kicking your brain's ass. Only with rap! And then the meat patties have faces and start singing and... OH GOD! WHY?

This is only the first half of the video. I haven't watched the second half yet, but I'm hoping it ends with Bill snapping and going on a killing spree, urged on gleefully by the disembodied rapping head. I imagine he'd slaughter his way through the restaurant with his spatula (or "tool"), saving Mary for last. And then he'd press her face against the sizzling grill, laughing maniacally while screaming, "And people will like that!"

Anyhoo, here's the video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michael Steele Gets a Limbaughtomy

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned the fact that Rush Limbaugh was hoping for Obama's presidency to fail. This isn't a case of his words being taken out of context. This isn't some vast conspiracy between the gay mafia and the Jew-run liberal media to discredit his enormous, doughnut-laden ass. The man said, on the radio, of his own free will and volition, that he wants Obama to fail. Our nation is at war and on the brink of economic collapse, and Rush is rooting for us to go down in flames.

The Democrats naturally pounced on Rush's treasonous remarks and immediately began portraying the shambling behemoth as the de facto leader of the Republican Party. They called for the Republicans to pull free of Limbaugh's orbit and do what was best for our nation. Sure it was hyperbolic and overwrought, but it was certainly effective. And it's not like the Republicans had any right to complain about it. Back in 2002, they had succeeded in labeling people who disagreed with Bush as villains who hated American soldiers, freedom, and the baby Jesus.

I admit, I was feeling pretty optimistic. I had predicted that the Republicans would distance themselves from Rush's bullshit and put the needs of the country first. And at first, it looked like that was actually going to happen! RNC chairman Michael Steele even went so far as to dismiss Rush's diatribe as "entertainment," adding, "It's incendiary, yes. It's ugly."

Well, I got to enjoy the feeling of being right about something for, oh, two days or so. Then Rush said some mean things about Steele on his radio show, and Steele lost his nerve and apologized, acknowledging Rush as a "national conservative leader." At least, I'm *assuming* that's what Steele said. It's kind of hard to understand him sometimes with his mouth full of Rush's cock.

So is Limbaugh truly leading the GOP these days? I know the millions of Klansmen and crazed loners who tune into his show every day like to think so, and the speed at which Steele flip-flopped seems to lend credence to the theory. I think it's sad that Steele, whose mission at one time was to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party by appealing to political moderates and people of color, has decided it would be more prudent to toe that ever-divisive party line.

One item of interest was a Newsweek interview with David Frum, an uberconservative pundit and former Bush script speech writer, best known for coining the phrase "Axis of Evil." Frum discussed the attempts of the Democrats to tie Rush to the Republican Party, and claimed that Rush had caused the GOP considerable damage by allowing himself to be portrayed as their leader. He actually referred to Rush as "kryptonite." So I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Rush whines about it on the air and Frum calls to apologize.

What can I say? I was foolishly optimistic, and my hopes have been crushed like the young Filipino boy that Rush keeps chained to his bed. After briefly glimpsing the light of hope and change, the GOP has gone scampering back to the safety of Limbaugh's gargantuan shadow.

Sigh. I'm too depressed to rant about it anymore. So I'll just close with a joke I heard from Stephanie:

Q. What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg?
A. One is a flaming Nazi gasbag, and the other is a dirigible.

Bada bing! Good night, ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two More Things...

Helen Philpot, irascible geriatric and total GMILF, just spent the last couple of weeks subjecting herself to Ann Coulter's most recent book and blogging about her experience on Margaret and Helen. My favorite quote from her ordeal:
And whenever you hear about two monkeys and a sloth getting together with a typewriter know that either another Coulter book is about to hit the bookstores or Rush Limbaugh is having an OxyContin hallucination.
Also, I just discovered, to my great joy, that I'm currently the #1 ranking website on Google for the phrase "ann coulter's gaping anus of a mouth."

God bless America!

Rush Limbaugh Hates America

Last month, just before the inauguration, Rush Limbaugh went on the record stating he hoped Obama's presidency would fail.
My hope, and please understand me when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, "Well, I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance." Why? They didn't give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I'm not talking about search-and-destroy, but I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed.
The fact that anybody still listens to this ham-addled retard confounds me. The fact that that people still buy into Sean Hannity's batshit crazy rants, or believe a word that comes out of Ann Coulter's gaping anus of a mouth haunts me and mocks my childlike faith in God.

I can't get my head around *wanting* the president to fail. I despised Bush and just about everything his administration stood for. But if we were going to be stuck with him, I wanted him to succeed, because I wanted our nation to succeed. I felt our justification for invading Iraq was total bullshit and I was firmly opposed to the war. But once we were committed, I hoped desperately that we *would* find those elusive weapons of mass destruction. It would have been worth listening to Bush and his team of incompetent profiteers gloat for the next six years, just knowing that we had been justified and that the lives lost had served a purpose other than supplementing Cheney's retirement fund and indulging Bush's fantasies of being a grown-up "war president."

I had no faith in Bush. But I still hoped for the best, for all the good it did.

So now Obama and his administration are scrambling desperately to clean up the mess they inherited. The Republicans have publicly stated that the time has come to put aside petty partisan politics and work together for the good of the country. They haven't pledged blind obedience to Obama, and they certainly have no intention of rolling over for him (as the bitter debate over the economic stimulus package shows). I may not agree with the Republicans, but I do believe that most of them are arguing passionately for something they believe. They're not stonewalling just to piss on Obama's head.

Even most of the conservatives have pledged to support Obama, albeit with a hint of passive-aggression. They spent the last decade trying to convince us that disagreeing with the president makes you a terrorist, and now they're being forced to navigate that field they so gleefully mined. So here, in the reddest of red states at least, I'm hearing a lot of statements like "Well, Obama may be a Marxist leftist antichrist, but he's still our president and I respect him!"

Since just about anybody with a soul is hoping for the best for Obama and our nation, who does that leave listening to fucktards like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter? They've lost their mainstream appeal and now they're stuck with the same stupid and uninformed fanbase that they had when they started. The kind of people who would happily watch this nation burn just for the opportunity to say "I told you so."

Although Limbaugh, et. al. claim their biggest fear is a liberal America, that's total bullshit. Their biggest fear is that people will no longer care about the manufactured "left/right" schism they've spent the last couple of decades exploiting. Once that division fades, the relevance of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter will fade with it.

Here's hoping...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meme's the Word

Stephanie, the Nerd o' my Heart, posted a meme on her blog It Probably Won't Kill You. Since she mentioned me by name as the person most likely to respond, I sort of feel compelled to do so. Because I am, completely and apologetically, whipped.

Not as easy as you might think! Be sure to send it back to the person you received it from!

1. Where is your cell phone? Nonexistent

2. Your significant other? Loving

3. Your hair? Disheveled

4. Your mother? Forgiving

5. Your father? Departed

6. Your favorite thing? Attention

7. Your dream last night? Fragmented

8. Your favorite drink? Shiner

9. Your dream/goal? Published

10. What Room are you in? Office

11. Your hobby? Pedantry

12. Your fear? Palin

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Vegas!

14. Where were you last night? Home

15. Something that you aren’t? Anorexic

16. Breakfast? PowerBar

17. Wish list item? iPod

18. Where you grew up? Dallas

19. Last thing you ate? Sandwich

20. What are you wearing? Hoodie

21. Your TV? G4

22. Your pets? Imaginary

23. Friends? Tolerant

24. Your life? Blissful

25. Your mood? Optimistic

26. Missing someone? Dad

27. Your car? Icy

28. Something you’re not wearing? Cape

29. Your favorite store? Boomerang

30. Your favorite color? Blue

31. When is the last time you laughed? Today

32. Last time you cried? Dunno

33. Who will resend this? Nobody

34. One place that I go to over and over? Facebook

35. One person who emails me regularly: v14gra

36. Favorite place to eat: Hibachi

37. One place I would like to go right now? Richmond

38. One person I think will respond: Nobody

39. One TV show I watch all the time: Colbert

Friday, January 16, 2009

Christians v. Gayness and Abortion Donuts

There's an old adage that says arguing on the internet is like competing in the Special Olympics, because even if you win, you're still retarded. But sometimes, I just can't help myself. It's like a sickness. "Can't sleep. Somebody is wrong on the internet."

So a while back, I signed up on Facebook. I neglected the account for nearly a year, until my sister finally shamed me into updating it and adding her as a friend, because apparently the other 9,042,188 friends she had on Facebook just weren't enough. So I updated my info and added her. Then her friends added me and I added them, and before you know it, I was suddenly swimming in a sea of online buddies.

One of the interesting (and often annoying) aspects of Facebook is that it puts you back in touch with people you haven't even thought about for decades. In a matter of days, I was inundated with Friend Requests from at least a dozen people I hadn't seen since high school. And frankly, I didn't really like them all that much back then. But I figured there was no point in being petty, so I went ahead and accepted.

Two of these "friends" were Neal A. and David B. Neal and I had never been great pals, but we grew up on the same block and we were in marching band together. I knew David from church and that was about it. So it wasn't like I was overjoyed by the prospect of reuniting with long lost chums. It was all sort of... meh.

But then, Neal invited me to join the Facebook group Ban Same-Sex Marriage. I declined, and I went to his page to tell him to just leave me out of that stuff from now on. But when I got there, I saw he had updated his status to read "Neal is praying that a same-sex marriage bill here in new mexico will not pass - GOD SAID IT IS AN ABOMINATION!!!" And right under that, David had added the comment "we are praying with you!"

I should have clicked away. I know that. But instead, I responded:

I'm not. I don't understand why so many people are terrified by the idea of same-sex marriage. Do you believe bands of marauding homosexuals are going to come down out of the hills, divorce good Christian folks at gunpoint, and force them into gay marriages? Do you feel same-sex marriage is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to your children turning tricks behind dumpsters for their next fix of heroin? Or do you simply feel that indulging in spiteful and petty gestures against a group of people who have nothing to do with you is better than sitting around and doing nothing?

God said a lot of things were abominations. Why does everybody get so obsessed over this one?

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." -Thomas Jefferson

It was pretty much the first words I'd spoken to either of them in 20+ years, so I was prepared for some blowback. Besides, David was on the debate team, so I figured he'd come at me with guns blazing. He didn't disappoint:

No Chris. We just want our country to be moral and to not promote sin--equating it with the sacred (marriage). There certainly are other things that are abominations and I am praying that our country would reject them as well. Don't paint those of us who believe the Bible and believe that those who honor God will be honored to be homo-phobic or hate filled.

So I replied back:

Which parts of the Bible do you believe? That part about not eating shellfish? Or that part about not wearing clothes made from two types of thread (which means cotton/polyester blend is a sin). Or that part about selling your daughter into slavery or stoning your rebellious son to death? Seems like most people have no problem deciding when God was serious and when he was just screwing around.

And sorry, but referring to gay people as abominations is homophobia writ large. You can try to rationalize it any way you like, but it's still hateful and mean-spirited.

So Neal decided to weigh in:

chris, thomas jefferson also said that the punishment for the crime of sodomy in virginia should be dismemberment, and he did not mean an arm or a leg. God calls it an abomination, you mock what God hates, and i feel sorry for you, my friend.

At the same time, David retorted:

You are wrong, Chris. It's not gay people who are an abomination. It's homosexuality that is an abomination just like lying, stealing, gossiping, slander, adultery and murder. We all have sinned and fall short of God's plan but that does not mean that we create an environment where sinful lifestyles are promoted.

By this point, I decided to just cut myself loose and be done with it. So I ended with:

I get it. You guys are appalled and offended by the concept of homosexuality. I'm appalled and offended by people who use God as an excuse for their intolerance. Let's just call it irreconscilable differences and be done with it.

I'm going to stop posting, not because I've been convinced by anything you've said, but because I now realize how futile this whole argument is. As long as you guys believe your bigotry is endorsed by the Bible, there's no way anything I say is going to open your minds.

Enjoy your war on gayness, fellas.

(A lot of closed-minded Christians feel sorry for me, Neal. It doesn't really accomplish anything, but it seems to make them feel better.)

I know this post probably comes across as smug or self-congratulatory, but mainly I just wanted to get it all down in print while I could. Because less than 10 minutes after my last post, Neal went through and deleted all of my comments from the thread. So now it's just a bunch of posts of Neal and David calling me by name and lecturing me, which is kind of funny. I considered going back and posting, "Wow, who's this Chris you guys keep going on about? He must have really upset you!"

But life's too short to waste on misguided bigots. If I'm lucky, it'll be another 20 years before I hear from either of them again. By that time, same-sex marriage will be a non-issue, just like interfaith and interracial marriage. And maybe by that time, Neal and David will have moved on to more pressing Christian issues, like getting shellfish outlawed.


In a totally unrelated, but fucking hilarious story, the American Life League sent out a press release with this headline: KRISPY KREME CELEBRATES OBAMA WITH PRO-ABORTION DOUGHNUTS. Seriously!

You see, Krispy Kreme announced that they would be giving away free donuts on Inauguration Day to honor "America's sense of pride and freedom of choice." But the brain trust at ALL believes that Krispy Kreme is actually handing out delicious treats to commemorate Roe v. Wade. And the logic by which they reached this inevitable conclusion? Well, it seems Krispy Kreme used the word "choice" in their announcement. And as everybody knows, "choice" is secret liberal code for "abortion," which is why Taster's Choice coffee never sells all that well down here in the south.

If there is a God, He might want to seriously consider smiting some of these retards. They are *really* making Him look stupid.


Update 1/23/2009:
Okay, so I managed to stay on the high road for a week before I popped back to see if the debate was still raging on Neal's page. I was somewhat gratified to see other folks taking him to task for his bigotry. One person made the point that we shouldn't be using the Bible as an excuse to deprive folks of their constitutional rights.

David replied to that by claiming that nobody's constitutional rights were being abridged and wrote (I swear I'm not making this up), "this is about protecting marriage and the family, its not about love."

How could I just let that one go? I mean, I'm only human! But my response was the very epitome of restraint:
"this is about protecting marriage and the family, its not about love."

That may be the funniest thing I've read all day.

P.S. I noticed you deleted all my posts, Neal. Class act all the way!

Neal's reaction to my post was hilariously over the top:
chris - i deleted your posts because they were garbage. you've never been able to disagree without being disagreeable. you mock God, and i take that personally offensive because of Who God is and what He has done for me all my life. i said previously that i felt sorry for you, but i don't any more. you deserve everything you are going to get from God if you continue your rebellion. repent or you will suffer eternal consequences. can i say it any stronger? you're going to go to hell if you don't change, and a lot. just as i've deleted your posts, i'm now going to delete you from my list of friends.

(For the record, I don't think I actually mocked God. Just His boneheaded followers who insist on using Him as an excuse to be bigoted assholes. But, hey! Semantics, right?)

But just to be clear, Neal honestly believes I'm going to Hell for the sin of NOT hating gay people? And people wonder why I don't go to church anymore...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy 2009!

A new year is underway, and service will resume very shortly here at Click... Click... Click... BANG!!! In the meantime, I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Yule, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday you may have chosen to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Note: This joke was totally stolen from my girlfriend Stephanie's t-shirt.

Friday, December 05, 2008

10 Things That Annoy Me II, Electric Boogaloo!

Back in 2004, when I was still new to this whole blogging thing, my first internet love SJ (Give Me the Booger) inspired me to compile a top ten list of things that bug the shit out of me. So here it is, four years later, and most of those things *still* piss me off. But I dug deep into the tortured recesses of my spongy brain, and I managed to scrape together a list of ten MORE things that make me more irritable than Dick Cheney with hemorroids.

So enjoy. I'll be back in 2012 with my third installment. Let's pray Sarah Palin isn't on it.

1. People who try way too hard to be interesting. Everybody wants to be liked. Most of us do it by cultivating a personality and learning how to interact with others. But some folks do it by inventing a dark and mysterious past, and then dropping what they imagine to be tantalizing hints about it at every possible opportunity. A song will come on the radio, and they'll say, "Ah, yes. This reminds me of that time I was doing heroin in the abandoned hospital and those skinheads tried to shoot me."

Eventually, you learn to quit taking the bait, which causes them some consternation. They'll look at you expectantly, waiting for you to ask them to elaborate. And when you don't, they'll press the issue. "Yeah, I did some dumb things when I was young. Can't believe I almost died that night!" If you ignore them long enough, they'll get desperate to share their imaginary backstory. "I know you probably can't relate to the stuff I've been through, but if you ever want to ask me about my past, please feel free. I don't mind talking about it."

If I don't pry into your sordid and gripping past, it isn't because I'm disturbed or scared or lack the proper frame of reference to relate to you. It's because I don't believe you.

2. Billy Mays. I'm a fat, bearded guy, and I'm capable of being just as shrill and offputting as Mr. Mays. If you have a product, service, or organization you want shilled, just let me know and I'll do it for half of what he charges! Plus, I have no shame whatsoever, so I'll endorse anything! Just check out these testimonials from pleased customers:

"Ever since Chris started singing our praises, membership has picked up by 400%! Thanks, Chris!"
-Reg Hatley, NAMBLA

"People throw around the word 'hero,' but I think Chris really fits the bill. He really saved our business!"
-Don Reddick, Reddick's Puppy Shredding Mills

"If only Chris had been willing to representationalize us, the Republican party would be in much better... oops, I crapped my pants again."
-George W. Bush, Lame Duck

3. "Obama is the antichrist!" I've got to hand it to the conservatives. Once they decide they're going to hate someone, they will work their asses off to make up a reason.

Here's an email I received from the wife of one of my more conservative friends, in all of its illiterate glory:
According to the Book of Revelations the anti-christ is: The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuassive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destory everything. Is it OBAMA??
I can't really comment on the contents of the Book of Revelations, since it doesn't exist. However, I know for a fact that the Book of Revelation (just one, dammit) makes no mention of an antichrist. That term was actually taken from the Epistles of John, and was used to refer to anybody who denied the divinity of Jesus (which I guess, technically, makes me an antichrist). What crops up in Revelation is the Beast, who is described as rising from the sea with seven heads and ten horns, upon which are written the names of blasphemy.

There's nothing about a man in his 40s, and there's absolutely nothing about Muslims. The Islam faith wasn't even founded until 610 AD, at least 500 years after Revelation was written. And even if John of Patmos did miraculously gaze into the future and prophesy the coming of Islam, OBAMA ISN'T A MUSLIM!!!

Seriously. If you're going to be a Christian, you might occasionally try READING that Bible you tote around...

4. Anyone who voted for Prop 8. Why the hell are these hateful fucktards so scared of same-sex marriage? Are they afraid the government might make it mandatory? Do they imagine a squadron of gay commandos is going to march into town and divorce them at gunpoint? Are they afraid gay weddings are going to somehow invalidate their marriages to their cousins? Or are they just using Jesus as an excuse to be bigoted assholes?

If you voted in favor of Prop 8, then you're a horrible human being and I hope you burn to death in a fire made of cancer while eating habanero peppers stuffed with poo. If you don't live in California but you thought Prop 8 was a good idea, then... well you know. Fire, cancer, habanero peppers, poo.

Bonus: Check out Prop 8 - The Musical on FunnyOrDie.com.

5. Trans fat. What the hell is trans fat, anyway? I've seen commericials for things like deep-fried bacon-wrapped chicken sandwiches that claim to have 0g of trans fat, and I have to ask myself, does it even exist? Has anyone ever actually seen it? Or is it just one of those things that we take on faith, like Intelligent Design and airport security? Personally, I think a bunch of food companies got together and invented the term "trans fat" just so they could claim their product didn't have it. But it's only a matter of time before we as a people rise up and put a stop to it. Like we did with that whole "net carb" fiasco...

6. People too lazy to express their own opinions. By national standards, I'm somewhat moderate in my politics. But here in Texas, I'm somewhere to the left of Lenin. A lot of my family and friends don't share my particular point of view, and they're constantly trying to change my mind by sending me emails that somebody else wrote. Because, hey! Why bother to have any thoughts of your own when you can just cut and paste? It's much easier to be opinionated when you let other people do all the work!

7. People who screw up common sayings. I used to work for a guy who, when signing his name, would always say, "Let me put my John Henry on that." After the third or fourth time, I finally snapped and shouted, "It's HANCOCK! John Hancock! Signer of the Delcaration of Independence! John Henry was a steel drivin' man, and probably didn't sign a whole lot of documents!"

Other mistakes that get up my ass with cleats on are "I could care less," "It's a mute point," and "President George W. Bush."

8. My upstairs neighbors. I've never met them, but based on the amount of noise they make every goddamn night, I've put together a little profile on them. I believe them to be a family of 10, weighing in excess of 400 pounds each. And every evening at 10:30 p.m., they like to put on their work boots, stomp into the bedroom, and knock their collection of bowling balls onto the floor.

I actually went upstairs to complain once, and the chicken shits wouldn't even answer the door. I could hear them inside, and I could see the peephole getting dark as they peered out at me, but they just sat inside and listened to me knock for 10 minutes. I finally gave up and went back downstairs, and they went back to doing jumping jacks.

9. Those preachy episodes of M*A*S*H. I used to love M*A*S*H, but I've been catching the repeats on TV Land, and I've noticed that every episode written by Alan Alda has the exact same speech in it.

General: Captain Pierce, I find your manner insubordinate.

Hawkeye: Oh yeah, General? Well somebody's bullets were insubordinate to this kid's body! I didn't ask to come here! I didn't ask to pull soldiers out of a meat grinder and sew them back together so maniacs like you can march them out again! I hate this place. I hate this war.


Colonel: Son, why don't you head over to the mess tent and get some supper?

Hawkeye: Oh yeah, Colonel? Well somebody's bullets sure made a mess of this kid's body! I didn't ask to come here! I didn't ask to pull soldiers out of a meat grinder and sew them back together so maniacs like you can march them out again! I hate this place. I hate this war.


Nurse: Hey, Hawkeye. Wanna go have sex in the supply tent?

Hawkeye: Oh yeah, Nurse? Well somebody's bullets sure had sex with... wait, that doesn't work. Um... supply... supplies... Hey, I bet this kid was totally suppliesed when he got all these bullets in his body! I didn't ask to... hey, where are you going?

10. People who refer to Sarah Palin as a MILF. Only if the "F" stands for "Force her head underwater until the bubbles stop coming up."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Soapbox Hero (He's Got Stars In His Eyes)

Back in 2000, Al Gore ran for president against George W. Bush. And even though Gore got more votes, the Supreme Court decided to ignore the whole electoral process and just appoint Bush to the position. Understandably, we were outraged. Furious. We raised our fists and cried foul. And the Bush supporters called us sore losers and told us to quit whining. Because for them, none of that democracy crap really mattered just as long as their guy "won."

Our nation suffered through eight years of the WORST PRESIDENT EVER! And this year, the American voters finally got their shit together and decided it was time for a change. Fortunately, this time the votes actually mattered. Obama was elected and, for the first time in nearly a decade, the results were above board and incontrovertible.

And holy shit, now the conservatives are whining like a bunch of little bitches with skinned knees! They keep going on and on about how Obama is a Marxist leftist Muslim terrorist antichrist who is going to take away their guns and march them into internment camps where they'll be forced to crap on Bibles and get abortions.

I'm pretty sure most of them don't REALLY believe that. They're just desperately trying to hang on to a shred of dignity, to justify voting an illiterate warmongering fuckwit into office TWICE. Lord knows if I bore any responsibility for putting Bush in the White House, I'd probably spew that same nonsense just to convince myself I was still a decent human being.

But there are some dumb fucking mouthbreathers out there who honestly DO buy into that crap, and that boggles my mind. They honestly believe we're living in a blissful Bush-constructed Utopia, and now Obama and his wicked minions are going to come along and destroy it with their wicked Commie ways. Even more surprising is the fact that so many of these people live in Texas! I thought Bush executed most of the retarded people back when he was governor.

So to any of you people who are afraid of Obama, let me first say thanks for taking the time to let your state-provided caretaker read this post to you. Now put down your finger paints and listen carefully, because this is very important. Okay?

It's over, you sore losers. You had your chance, and you fucked it up royally. So quit whining. Sit down, shut up, and let the grownups work.

And while we're on the subject, do you remember all that bullshit you hypocrites kept spouting about how anyone who disrespects the president is an unpatriotic supporter of terrorism? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Whew. Thanks for listening. You've been very therapeutic. I hereby relinquish the soapbox...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Blogger Love Revisited

Stephanie, the nerd o' my heart, is now a proud member of the blogosphere. Check out her sultry rants at It Probably Won't Kill You.

Putting the "US" Back in "Virus"


So this morning, I navigated to this page to see what lovely comments had been left by my threes of readers, and I got a popup warning from my virus scanner that two instances of the actns/swif.t virus had been detected and deleted.

Naturally, I crapped my pants. After that was cleaned up, I poked around looking for information on this virus. Unfortunately, it's a relatively new thing and there's not much out there. I suspect it was just added to the virus definition files on the last update.

The problem was a couple of videos that I had embedded from Youtube. The videos themselves weren't infected. It was just the HTML code that was being flagged and deleted every time the page was loaded.

I finally found this info on the actns/swif.t virus on AntivirusConnection.com:

The Actns/Swif.T has been a tricky one. It seems this virus has just recently spawned, causing computers to show a embedded shockwave/flashplayer file within IE/Firefox browser. Inside the embedded swf, it features a redirect to a phishing website that I advise everyone NOT to click on! So if you see this embedded vicious file pop up, Do Not Click It! It will install another virus called Antivirus 2009, which those of you who know this virus already, it’s a pest to get rid of.

Now, based on this, I'm suspecting my detections were false positives. Since the virus definitions were just added, I think my virus scanner saw the embedded videos in my browswer and just assumed they were placed there maliciously. The videos themselves don't appear to be infected, and I've never been redirected to the phishing site.

But I'm hardly an expert, and I don't want to take any chances until I know for certain. So I've deleted the embedded videos until I can get a little more information. If any of you out there are smarter about this kind of thing than me, I'd love to hear from you.



Update: After all the ballyhoo, it turns out it was just a false positive from CA Antivirus. Apparently they've fixed the problem and I'm off to download the updated files. I feel pretty goddamn smart for having figured it out myself FOURTEEN HOURS AGO!

Also, I had a LOT of hits on the blog today. I was apparently one of the first people to post anything about the virus online, so for a few hours my blog was showing up on Google near the top of the list for searches on "actns swif.t" or variations thereof. Ordinarily, I get 20 to 30 hits a day. Today, I got 600+.

Of course, Google's brilliant algorithm eventually kicked in and decided that link farms and sites devoted to 80s heavy metal were FAR more relevant than my blog, so now I've dropped down several pages. But that's okay. Fame would have only changed me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Comedian, Schmomedian

Earlier this year, my nephew Campbell was diagnosed as mildly to moderately autistic. Since then, his twin brother Luke has been diagnosed as mildly autistic as well.

The thing about autism is that very few people know anything about it, yet everybody and their goddamn dog thinks that they're some kind of armchair expert. My sister has done her homework. She has truly done her due diligence. She probably has a better understanding of autism than anybody else I know. And she's constantly being badgered and corrected on her facts by well-meaning people who watched some fluff piece on Good Morning America.

You see, my sister believes that her sons' condition was exacerbated by the inoculations they started receiving just hours after they were born. She's not alone. Nearly 60% of the parents of autistic children believe that vaccines played a role in their child's condition. Their suspicions have been substantiated by medical professionals, and even a few insiders within the pharmaceutical companies.

But the pharmaceutical companies are the biggest problem. They've paid out billions of dollars to make sure that their interests are safeguarded in Washington D.C., so you get people like Dick Armey trying to sneak a rider onto the Homeland Security Bill granting autism liability protection to drug companies.

The drug companies have also spent an ungodly amount of money to discredit these concerned parents. They've managed to paint them as foil-hat-wearing loonies who want to abolish all drugs and unleash an epidemic of polio on the world, or as opportunistic money-grubbers who want to cash in on their children's disorder. After all the shit we went through with Big Tobacco, you'd think people would be too smart to fall for anything so transparent. But you'd be wrong.

The symptoms that many autistic children display are actually listed as possible side effects for a lot of these vaccines. But despite that, the drug companies clap their hands over their ears whenever concerned parents dare insinuate that these massive drug cocktails might have anything to do with their children's condition. They insist the problem is purely genetic. They are simply unbothered by the fact that autism has gone from being a rare diagnosis to affecting 1 in 150 children.

Perhaps most despicable of all is the way that the pharmaceutical companies have hijacked the once legitimate organization Autism Speaks and turned it into their own corporate shill. It was founded by the vice chairman of General Electric, Robert Wright, back in 2004 when his grandson Christian was diagnosed as autistic. But somewhere along the way, right about the time the drug companies started writing them huge checks, Autism Speaks began singing the praises of vaccines. Christian's mother Katie was so disgusted by this change in direction that she no longer has anything to do with the organization.

Firmly in the corner of the pharmaceutical companies are slimy folks like Dr. Paul Offit, a man who writes books like Autism's False Prophets to attack these concerned parents. Offit often appears as a talking head on news shows that are covering the controversy, and insists that there is no controversy and there is no link between autism and vaccines. Offit is also a major patent holder for RotaTeq, a rotavirus vaccine, so I can understand why he would be so desperate to portray the drug companies as blameless and holy.

Is there a link between vaccines and autism? I don't know. Honest to God, I don't know. Nobody knows. That's the point. All of these parents are scared to death that they've been unknowingly poisoning their children, and they want a definitive answer from someone who doesn't have a vested interest in the status quo. They're not asking for a ban on vaccines or massive government subsidies or anything unreasonable. All they want is an unbiased, third-party study to see if there is a link.

If the pharmaceutical companies honestly believe they shoulder none of the blame, then why work so hard to obscure the truth? Why only release the results of studies done by their own private research firms? Why spend so much money attacking the families of autistic children? Why subvert the issue when, if truth truly is on their side, they could easily vindicate themselves?

The drug companies definitely have money and public apathy on their side, but there is hope that the tide might be turning. Obama recently nominated Tom Daschle to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. Senator Daschle is most assuredly not anti-vaccine, but he has shown a willingness and a determination to question vaccine safety. Obama is also considering Robert Kennedy, Jr. to head up the EPA. Kennedy has long been a crusader against the irresponsible practices of the drug companies, and was one of the first to bring the potential link between vaccines and autism into the public light.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies are trying a new (some might say desperate) tactic of pretending like there is no controversy. "Asked and answered" has become their new talking point. Any time a news show purports to cover the story, they get pharmaceutical reps and folks like Dr. Offit talking about how there is absolutely no merit whatsoever to the claims. And then, in an effort to appear balanced, they get a bogus group like Autism Speaks to simply reiterate what the drug companies are saying.

They know they'll never convince the concerned families, and frankly, they're not even making an effort anymore. They're just trying to convince the general public to keep on not giving a shit.

And God knows, we're pretty good at that.


Denis Leary's book, Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy, and Stupid, contains a chapter entitled "Autism, Schmautism," which claims that the majority of people who claim to be autistic are faking, and the true fault lies with "inattentive mothers and competitive dads." Leary obviously shares the same misconception about autism that a lot of folks do; he believes anyone who is truly autistic will manifest some kind of savant ability. So basically, anyone who claims to be autistic but isn't good at math or painting is just faking.

The thing is, Leary's schtick is political incorrectness. This guy has joked about everything from cancer patients to crack babies, and when confronted by angry, indignant folks, his response is usually to just blow smoke in their faces and tell them to quit being a bunch of fucking crybabies.

But in the wake of the backlash from autistic families, Leary's reaction has been surprisingly contrite. He's racing to cover his ass, claiming he was misquoted and taken out of context, and the only people who are outraged are ones who haven't actually read his book. (I haven't, but I did read that chapter.) He claims to have great love and respect for people who are truly autistic, and says his intent was not to belittle them or claim autism doesn't exist, but rather to attack "grown men who are either self-diagnosing themselves with low-level offshoots of the disease or wishing they could as a way to explain their failed careers and troublesome progeny."

Personally, I think he's full of shit. I think he lashed out at what he thought would be an easy target, and was surprised by the vehemence of the backlash. I mean, let's face it; when Michael Savage agrees with you, you've made some horrible life decisions somewhere along the way.

So sorry, Denis. Not buying it. But I admire your prodigious attempt to backpedal, and I have no doubt you sincerely *wish* you'd written something more noble. Maybe next time...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reasons To Be Thankful, Part III

  1. The love of a hot, nerdy woman
  2. Vanilla Coke Zero
  3. I don't work retail
  4. Leftovers
  5. Only 1 month, 22 days, 17 hours, 23 minutes, and 7 seconds until Bush is out of office
  6. My name isn't Squanto