Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a finger on the pulse.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

As most everybody knows, The Dark Knight broke box office records opening to $155.3 this past weekend.

I just don't get it. No, I haven't seen the film. But, I haven't seen any of the X-Men films, either. Nor have I seen any of the Spiderman flicks. I didn't see Spawn or The Punisher. I didn't see either big screen incarnation of The Incredible Hulk.

I just don't get it. I never enjoyed comic books. I didn't understand the appeal in rooting for superhumans. Aren't they supposed to win? I mean, they're extraordinary! What's the point in rooting for the house? Isn't that counter-intuitive?

I grew up worshipping sports stars. Cal Ripken Jr was always my favorite--the man played in over 2,00 straight games...he even showed up on the weekends! Obviously, Cal is gifted athletically, but to me, baseball is about ordinary guys doing things in front of thousands of people. He's the everyman--he could be just about anyone...and yet, he's less loved than superhumans.

Will I see The Dark Knight? Probably. Will I enjoy it? Most likely. Will I understand it? No. Not because of its supposed complicated plot, but because I just don't get the appeal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

pull up the people

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

While (again) flipping AM stations during on of ESPN Radio's commercial breaks, I found myself on the local conservative radio station (are there any liberal ones here?). And, again, I was dismayed by what I heard.

The commentator (who was filling in for Mr. Limbaugh) said that he'd like to hear a debate between Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. I agree with this. He then went on to say that it won't happen much because Mr. Obama is not a good debater. Again, fine. I'm not going to argue that point.

The host then went on to say that the debates should not be of the "boob tube" variety and should only hosted by elite moderators. He went on to say that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews should not be involved.

I'm sorry, but this is incredibly flawed. Yes, we do need to have serious debates, but opposing the youtube debates is exactly what the conservatives get wrong. This country is composed primarily of people who are NOT elites. And, the men he said should not be involved just happen to be liberals. We don't see Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly mentioned as those who should not be allowed to moderate, but I don't see them as any more elite or any more/less acceptable than Olbermann or Matthews.

The youtube debate allowed the non-elite public--those who have no regular access to such debates--to get their questions heard. It allowed the common folk to straighten out exactly where every politician stands on the issues that they deemed pertinent. The politicians were meant to be responsible to the people, but based on the fact that we're a representative/constitional democracy (and not a direct one), they rarely are. These commentators forget that.

It's easy for the elites to sit in their ivory and glass towers and tell everyone else not to throw stones. It's also easy for them to say that anyone not in said penthouse is uninimportant because they no longer reside there.

What they have to realize is that their tower takes up but a miniscule portion of the country.

It sickens me that anyone buys into this and thinks that only "elites" should be allowed anywhere near the debates. And conservatives wonder why they're not regarded as the "party of the people"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the old man and the sea.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

While ESPN Radio was on a commercial break the other day, I flipped over (inadvertently) to Rush Limbaugh's show. It was the first time I had ever listened to his show over the radio--usually, I've heard clips here or there. ESPN needs to cut it with the commercials, or my brain may fry before Colin Cowherd comes back on.

Unsurprisingly, I found that, opinion-wise, I don't have much in common with the man (Rush, not Colin..though Cowherd is quite different from myself as well). Here he was, talking about the entire reason that the Democratic Party exists is solely to oppose the Republicans--that the Democrats are nothing more than a foil. He went on to say that the Dems just want to bring about the end of capitalism and that they have no real goals beyond the aforementioned points.

I couldn't have been more appalled...or so I thought. He then went on to deride the "drive-by" media. I'm sorry, but the man is a source for conservatives to parrot. If he thinks he isn't part of the soundbyte talking heads for the prozac nation, he's sorely mistaken.

It's ridiculous to say or to even think that Democrats exist just to be thorns in the side of conservatives. No, I don't agree with the conservative agenda, but I don't think they exist simply to argue with me. Their political views come from their rearing, their respective life experiences and their religious backgrounds. That's fine. This country was built upon dissenting opinion. But to think that the opinions are invalid simply because they aren't your own is absolutely ludicrous.

Then, a man from Colorado called in and complained that, very soon, people would have to pay tolls to go to ski resorts in Colorado because gas consumption is down and the state government is hurting for cash. The man then proceeded to say that everyone in Colorado needed to go out and buy SUVs in order to consume more gas.

I wish it was a joke. I wish he was sarcastic. He was dead serious. "If people all go out and get SUVs, then we won't have to pay the tax!"

Yeah, but you'll have massive car payments for massive vehicles and huge credit card bills for gasoline you don't need. It's the economy, stupid. It's also here where libertarianism fails.


The main point of all of this is to say that while the staff of the JJ Collective have high ideals and morals, we realize things must be done incrementally. Would we like a proactive green presidential candidate who stood for stem-cell research and supported gay marriage? Yes, of course. But we all know that, unfortunately, such a candidate would never make it far in the party primaries--and said candidate would certainly never make it to the General Election.

Not yet, anyway. Because things are not done by miles--they're done in milliseconds and inches. Really--in order to make real progress, we have to do things incrementally-and that's the stance that I know both bsto and I come from.

We aren't moderates because these are our direct leanings--we're moderates because we think this is the way that most things can be done. In order to change the system, you have to play ball from within the system. We're idealistic in theory and moderate and practical in practice. It's all about rationalism here. We didn't get to the moon by attempting to go there first--we had to put up an airplane first, then we had to breach the atmosphere, then we orbited Earth...and then we had a go for it.

These things take time. These things are done in increments. Better living through efficiency.

Sea change comes at a glacial pace.

Monday, July 14, 2008

undone by facebook.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

We've all been told about the perils of having facebook-you know, employers may find incriminating pictures, or something. But, what if your facebook had something worse than pictures of you drinking?

Like, what if you divulged on your facebook (in a blog entry, of course), that you'd be leaving one company for another--without giving your two weeks notice?

And what if, instead of just a JJ reader, you were a professional soccer player?

Well, last week, it happened. Ashley Paul-Robinson revealed that he would possibly be leaving Crystal Palace for Fulham (at the time, it was just for a trial)--though nothing had been said about the matter in any other media outlet. Essentially, he leaked and broke the story about himself....himself. Who needs the press anyway?

The blog entry contained the nuggets "Ashley-Paul is goin fulham on monday. If i pull dis off im on dis ting" and "Ashley-Paul is travling 2 Bath With Fulham Fingers Crossed". It's reassuring to know that grammar, punctuation and capitalization and the English language at large are healthy in Her Majesty's England.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday Video Premiere

Every Friday, we're highlighting a specific video (or two, or three) for your end of week enjoyment.

Happy Friday, JJ folk. How do you like the new header up there?

The best news I heard this week came from the UN, where they're working on persecuting the Sudanese leader for genocide. Sadly, most of the other news this week was depressing. Besides the Ronnie White fiasco, I am also saddened by my inability to get super excited for the Tour de France. I'm just tired of all my favorite riders turning out to be dopers. It sucks. Anyhow I'll still be watching when I just so happen to catch it, but no more hardcore commitment from this guy.

And speaking of doping, I was also upset this week to see the kind of negative attention Dara Torres is bringing to USA Swimming. Swimming, at least USA Swimming, is one of the rare endurance sports NOT to be drowning (excuse the pun) in cheating allegations and categorical mistrust. The Supermom, though, is being seriously doubted by the press--for good reason (being 41, etc.)--and stands to do a lot of dream-wrecking if actually found guilty.

Now, to the videos.

I heard about this Colbert Report video a while back. Enjoy.

It took me back to my Sesame Street days, although I was having a hard time recollecting specific characters and episodes. So, thanks to YouTube, I took a little walk down nostalgia avenue.

I find this video a little creepy, to be honest. Was SS always this scary? Snuffy's girly, coquettish eyes (and eyelashes) combine with his (its?) husky voice to really freak me out. Likewise with Big Bird's ambiguous gender.

So I looked for something more of an upper. I found the Elmo song:

What a great song. I've been whistling this for the whole week, no joke.

Anyway, that does it for this Friday. Enjoy the weekend.


Also, from the shameless self-promotion department, here's a link to my article in the current issue of Moment Magazine.


UPDATE (11:57 AM): It's national Slurpee Day!! How could I have forgotten!!?!?!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Guns Are Scary, pt 2

While stopping for gas in the middle of Iowa last week, still fuming over all the gun BS, I happened to see a truck with a sticker that read:


Oh you clever, fun loving gun folk!!

Scary pic from here.

We're Back/Cubs Update

I'm finally back from Olympic Trials and romping around for the Fourth. It's back to business.

Even though it's obviously a big risk, the Cubs move for Rich Harden yesterday just has to make you smile (um, unless you hate the Cubs).

The bottom line is that they added one of the best pitchers in the world to an already successful staff. Ok, so he's had some trouble staying healthy. But think about it: the Cubs can probably make the playoffs with the squad they had without Harden (and they didn't give Oakland any integral piece of that team). Plus, once you get in the playoffs, because of the way the off days are scheduled, you only need two dominating starting pitchers to win a series.

This trade gives the Cubs not just two dominating pitchers, with Harden and Carlos Zambrano, but three (assuming Ryan Dempster keeps up his pace).

And like I said, we only need Harden for the playoffs--so, just like how the Cubs shut down Zambrano for a bit at the slightest evidence of shoulder issues, they can be extra-cautious with Harden and his glass limbs for the rest of the regular season.

I like this trade, I think it sends a positive message to the players and the fans that the organization really believes it can win it this year. Now I'm no sucker Cubs fan--I don't go all crazy every April talking about how the Cubs are the best team in the nation. I seriously doubt the Cubs could take the blasted Red Sox in a seven game series.

But there's also no doubt that the Harden trade just made the best team in the NL a whole lot better.


In other fun Cubs stuff, check out this Uni Watch post about all the weird developments and quirks in Cubbie uniform lore.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Guns Are Scary

I'm in Omaha for Olympic Trials, so I don't really have time to say much about the recent flood of gun law tragedies.

(In case you don't know, the Supreme Court overturned a DC handgun ban last week and Georgia just loosened their gun laws as well.)

Now I'm no legal scholar. Even though I find the arguments around the logic of the second amendment--the difference between the prefatory and operative clauses--compelling, I am unable to make a complicated argument against (or for) gun laws. All I can rely on is some hardcore midwestern COMMON FREAKING SENSE.

Let me just say this: if the forest is on fire, do you cut down the rest of the trees so they don't get burned???? People are so afraid of getting attacked, so the brilliant American psyche demands MORE guns!!

I mean is it honestly worth arming the whole gosh darn country so that the millions of pussified (to take a Carlin term) guys with penis problems can "defend" themselves by having big shiny guns around? Oooo look at my steel, my burning "piece" is "hot" and if you don't watch out I might have to "cap one in your ass." HELLOOOOO!!!!

I wish real "manliness" still existed.

Yeah I'm using a cliche, deal with it. I'm saying that the whole self-defense BS is exactly that: horsecrap. Horsecrap horsecrap horsecrap. You'll have to bring a more substantive argument to this guy's table.

Here's a link to my post-Virginia Tech shooting post. Although you can tell I was a bit emotional, I expressed my rather idealistic points against gun ownership well enough (and there's a really interesting comment thread as well). After this short excerpt from that post I'll just leave all this gun crap alone...for now:

Now let’s put this together. What happens when someone without practical reasoning capability has access to guns? Well, he might only use them for self-preservation, hunting, or simply to hang around the house in some kind of shrine to the second amendment. But he also might use them in an impractical way, like say, shoot up a post-office, a McDonald’s, a cafĂ©, or a school.

Somebody has to explain to me how someone’s right to recreationally or defensively own arms is worth the risk of a Virginia Tech type shooting. Somebody has to show me that it balances out--that the joy and power derived from owning a gun can equal or outweigh the economic, personal, national, and international implications of shooting sprees. . Because it’s completely obvious to me that it doesn’t...

The image is from here.