Thursday, May 29, 2014

Laughing all the way to the bank...

My brother, Adam, had a rather interesting theory regarding the whole Donald Sterling/L.A. Clippers sale flap. I'm pretty sure that Donald Sterling is laughing all the way to the bank. Seems pretty credible, as conspiracy theories go.

Actually, I'd say it worked out perfectly. Here's my conspiracy theory - According to the NBA constitution, to sell (or transfer) a team, you have to throw in a $50K app fee, plus submit all the necessary paperwork and legalese, then the transfer has to be approved by a 3/4 vote of the NBA's governing members. Now imagine that you're old, hanging on to a team that has sucked forever, and they're finally doing decently against all odds, adding to their value. You want to sell it quickly, but selling takes time and money. So you accidentally let a racist remark slip to your mistress, who then shares that with the NBA commissioner (a man you've been friends with for decades), who then rallies to hit you with an inconsequential fine and 'force' a sale of the team with the NBA governing members, bypassing ALL of the usual fees, time and complications normally associated with selling a team. That doesn't seem wealthy-guy-fishy at all. It effectively costs him 1/10th of 1% on the team to speed his way out from under them. I wonder if his girlfriend and the commissioner's bank accounts suddenly get a nice little bump in the near future.

My friend Roger added:

Since he bought the team for 12.5M in 1981 and they are currently "valued" at 575M I'd say that 2B is a pretty good return on investment...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sorry, but that's SO not happening

A recent post on Gizmodo gushed over a utopian scenario that was presented on Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" this week. It presented a very rosy (and not-so-subtly left-leaning) prediction for the possible future of humanity. It was pretty silly from start to finish, so I had to comment. First, the video (no sound for the first few seconds):

Wait, so the earth, which changed constantly long before humans got here, will magically stop changing, and even go in reverse, once we stop driving SUVs? Whether you accept global warming/climate change/global weirding/whatever it is this week or not, that is a dumb prediction. Even if we were to shift the entire planet to an energy source powered by good wishes and unicorn farts--hell, even if all humanity goes extinct--the planet is still going to change. That's part and parcel of being on a wobbling rock hurtling through space at fantastic speeds. While stopping all forms of combustion would likely have positive effects, saying that it would be like a magical rewind button for the earth is laughable.

​As far as moving beyond poverty and strife and going to the stars singing Kumbaya--you're kidding me, right? Unless evolution removes all differences--and even the perception of the possibility for difference--not happening. Even at that, there has always been competition in nature--for resources, for mates, whatever--what makes anyone think that that is somehow going to change? I believe it was Scott Adams (creator of "Dilbert") who said that people are always going to be greedy, horny, and stupid. Uh, take a look around, folks--does it look like he's wrong? As in "Idiocracy," morons always breed faster.

​The very *best* we can hope for is that time will allow us to shed *some* of our more destructive sectarian and tribal traditions, like religion, and allow us to explore in earnest for a more objective and robust secular moral structure (it exists; read Sam Harris or Stefan Molyneux), opening the door to much greater understanding, agreement, and collaboration than we see today. Even that is probably pie in the sky, and still would be far from the utopia posited on Cosmos.
​I hate to piss on anybody's parade--I am dazzled by the Star Trek future as much as the next geek--but the pragmatist in me just doesn't see it. Sorry.
Best comment of the thread (even though I happen to like Tyson):
Fuck this and Fuck NDT.
"Once my cliched left-wing propaganda fantasies are ameliorated by Republicans dying off, all of the left-wing scare-hype touchstones will no longer be a problem. Then, our scientifically managed politically totalitarian society will act on 'nomadic instincts' and build bromide-powered bullshit machines that look like a bad episode of Star Trek TNG"
Somebody call the 90s and take their pop-culture scientist back!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking out Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. You should particularly do this if you remember the 1980 Superman II with Christopher Reeve, and what a total abortion of a movie it was.

They made 1 and 2 concurrently, and Richard Donner (the director--he also did Lethal Weapon and a bunch of other stuff) was fired before he could finish up on 2. There was a clamor on the Internet to do a director's cut of 2 because of how it was totally ruined with all the dumb slapstick shit that the studio insisted on adding after Donner was fired. (That is also why he was fired--he wouldn't do it.)

Exactly which Kryptonian superpower is responsible for giving Superman
the ability to tear off a copy of his emblem and have it grow into a
human size plastic bag for bad guys? Who thought this was a good idea?!
Donner had basically washed his hands of it and was still pissed off 20 years later. (Who could blame him?) Well, another guy by the name of Michael Thau had started to do the restoration, occasionally calling Donner to ask questions. During this process, the Internet pressure prompted Warner Brothers to pull their collective head out of their ass and release the original work print, test footage, etc. The more Donner got involved again, the more enthusiastic he became, until finally he threw his full support and time into the project. See the full story below.

What appears on the disc is an edit of original footage and screen test footage (for scenes that were never actually shot for real), mixed with existing footage of the movie as it was released. The results are stunning.

Not only were the really cheesy, slapstick scenes removed (particularly during the big fight in Metropolis between Superman and Zod,, but whole plot changes were made, making the story much more cohesive, relatable, and enjoyable. (Hint: it's really about the relationship between Kal-El and his father Jor-El.) It turns the whole movie around from "Why did they do that?" to a real, worthy sequel story.

The Richard Donner cut of Superman II can be found on Enjoy!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jack's Tips for Aspiring Home Pornsters

Having watched a fair amount (read: LOTS) of amateur porn, I feel qualified to offer what I feel are a few helpful pointers to would-be naughty videographers. These suggestions aren't just for the benefit of the viewer, but for the subject. Either you are filming yourself, or your boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever has talked you into letting them film you. Either way, you want the experience to be fun, sexy, and distraction free. You also, hopefully, intend to watch this masterpiece later, so you might as well make it something worth watching. Now, obviously, sometimes things start happening quickly, and you pretty much just have to thank your lucky stars, start filming, and try not to drop your camera or phone. Fair enough. But if you're going to set out to do something for upload, a little planning never hurts. To that end, I offer the following tips.

1. Keep the camera steady

Your porn doesn't need a "documentary feel." 
Cameras cannot jump around a lot and keep everything sharp and focused the way the human eye can. We know you want to capture everything. We want to see everything. But much like the sex itself, you have to work within the limitations of your equipment. Keep your motions steady and smooth, not jerky and sudden. Don't shift around a lot. The only person who can get away with that shit and people keep watching is JJ Abrams, and you aren't him. If you can't keep it steady because you're excited or because your hand is busy with other things, then mount the camera in one spot. If we wanted to watch blurry, scrambled, out of focus porn, we'd still be fiddling with our cable box controllers to tune in the scrambled channels.
Yeah, rub those blue lines!

You thought I was kidding.
2. Lighting

Roughly eighty percent of photography is about light. That's why, whenever you see any sort of behind the scenes footage, the set is awash in C-stands, cranes and other contraptions bearing diffused lights. The advent of digital photography has not changed this fact. While you certainly don't need to go to the lengths of a Hollywood studio, I can promise you that your novelty bedside touch lamp shaped like a gas meter is not going to provide enough light to see anything, or to keep your camera's auto focus from going crazy trying to resolve the image. Have some decent, even, overhead lighting. Probing her hoo-hah by flashlight doesn't count.

3. Sometimes close is too close.

While I fully understand the urge to linger on some of the more noteworthy parts of the female anatomy,
don't get stuck there. Bits and pieces are nice, but don't ignore the bigger picture. If you've zoomed in on something, don't forget to zoom back out again when you move the camera. Be mindful of what parts you focus in on. You're not making the goddamn Blair Witch Project--no matter how hot your wife/girlfriend/prostitute is, nobody's nose looks good when you're staring up it.

Yes, you.
4. Shut the fuck up.

I can't stress this enough. Nothing kills the mood like a Chatty Cathy. And by Chatty Cathy, in this case, I mean Chatty Chad. I much prefer to watch a woman doing whatever comes naturally, even if it's not porn star grade action, than hear her idiot boyfriend trying to direct her like he's Steven Soderbergh. "Yeah, now rub this... now touch that... roll over on your left side and...." Shut. The Fuck. Up. A woman directing another woman can be hot, but a guy just takes me out of the action and sends me hunting for another clip. The same goes for the compliments. Yes, we know you like what you see. We do, too, or we wouldn't be watching. We don't need a running commentary about how hot her parts are, Madden.

5. Keep your environment neutral.

Don't let your environment detract from you/the action. Again, sometimes, action starts happening and you have to grab the camera to capture it without much planning. But if you're consciously setting out to make something for upload, you may as well put a little prep into it. Watching you getting busy in front of a hutch with pictures of your grandparents, your kids' softball trophies and NASCAR knicknacks is just... weird. A plain sheet tacked up works wonders. The subconscious is a tricky thing, and if part of the viewer's mind is trying to figure out what part of the country you're in or if they have that same souvenir beer stein, they're not focused on you.

6. Eliminate distractions and distracting noises.

This is kind of part of number five above, but mostly specific to noises that are common in home porn. These would include:

- Shut off the fucking television. It's a little difficult to rub one out when all the while in the back of your mind, you're thinking, "I think I've seen that episode of NCIS."

- Disconnect/silence the phone. Ditto the above. Nobody wants to be building up to the moment and have the whole train come to a screeching halt thinking, "Will SOMEONE please ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONE?!"

- Put pets out/in the other room. I have seen many a lady in mid performance when suddenly the cat jumps up on the bed. More pussy is not always a good thing. A barking dog is always a nuisance, but particularly so in this endeavor.

- Is that... do I hear... are you freaks seriously doing this with kids in the house?! Nuff said?

I hope that someone finds these little tips helpful. If you have others to add, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The UN Human Rights Council is a Joke

The horribly misnamed "United Nations Human Rights Council" boasts the following mission statement on its website: "The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe."

This is an obscene joke of the worst kind. This council can hardly live up to the lofty goal of the "promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe" when its membership has been populated by some of the most flagrant, consistent, unrepentant, and abysmal human rights abusers that the globe has ever seen.

Previous years' members have included:

- Cuba (2009 & 2012)
- Russia (2009)
- China (2012)
- Egypt (2010)
- Djibouti (2009)
- Mali (2008)
- Mauritania (2013)

Those last four between the lines are on the UNICEF's own records as having the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation on the African continent, along with 2015 nominee, Sierra Leone.

There is a fairly simple explanation for why states known for human rights abuses end up on a council that purports to prevent them: the moral relativism of the UN. Signatories to the UN were originally only supposed to be permitted to join if they agreed to abide by and uphold certain standards in terms of human rights, freedoms of speech and the press, etc. That was basically corrupted from the get go because, of course, who was one of the founding nations? The USSR! So one of the largest nations that was supposed to help police the world became the world's largest antagonist and criminal.

The insidious virus known as political correctness took over from there. Using the West's own idiotic moral equivalence against it, despots and dictators won themselves seats at the table, because it would be racist/prejudiced/unfair/imperialist not to allow them. Forget what these nation states may have actually done, they used the magic "R" word that invalidates all critical thinking and sends western liberals running for the hills! Now, every nation is treated the same, with an equal voice and an equal vote. Uganda and Rwanda have the same right to a voice at the UN as the US, Canada, or Britain. This is how these shithole countries get nominated for these councils. They bribe, barter, strong arm or collude with like-minded countries to get the votes. They are motivated to do this because once they are on this council, they can forestall action against their own corrupt regimes. And, of course, it is a wonderful forum for pissing on Israel every chance they get, which seems to be the council's primary function.

We should do away with the UN and expand NATO to handle the health and humanitarian roles currently covered by the UN. Any global organization worth a damn needs to be what the UN was intended to be: the civilized, democratic nations of the earth keeping the despots and dictators in line.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Clayton Lockett Doesn't Push My Pity Button

The last faces Stephanie Neiman saw
as she was buried alive.
Clayton Lockett is a piece of shit, and his "botched" execution doesn't push my pity button in the slightest. Squeamish people should avoid the next two paragraphs.

After Clayton Lockett, his brother, and another accomplice repeatedly beat, raped, and sodomized two teenage girls, Summer Hair and Stephanie Neiman, and forced them to perform oral sex, Lockett ordered his accomplice to dig a shallow grave. When Neiman (19), refused to swear not to report the attack, Lockett shot her with a shotgun. She wasn't dead. Lockett's shotgun had malfunctioned, so while she writhed and screamed in agony (as heard by another victim), she was BURIED ALIVE.

Clayton Lockett suffered? GOOD. Maybe, in those last moments he had a tiny, tiny inking of what it was like for Stephanie Neiman: the humiliation and throbbing pain in her head, vagina, and anus now drowned out by the agony of of her shotgun-eviscerated abdomen, as she lay gasping her last breaths while dirt was shoveled over her helpless body, crying and wondering why God had allowed this to happen to her.

This is an area where I part company with most of my libertarian fellow travelers--I believe that certain heinous crimes deserve the death penalty. These people are not going to be "rehabilitated," and need to be removed from our midst. That said, the system needs to be changed.

First, it has been correctly pointed out that it costs more to execute now than to house these pieces of shit for life. That's because our system allows convicts to jack off the system by tying up the courts for years with appeal after appeal after appeal while we warehouse them. This needs to stop. They should get a specified amount of time, say six months, for their attorneys to draft an appeal--ONE appeal. If they lose that, their execution is scheduled within one week. DONE.

Second, we need to stop playing around with fancy chemicals and go back to more tried and true methods like electrocution, the gas chamber, or hanging. The chemicals are for us, not for them--so we can feel like we're being "humane." Fuck that. If we are going to take responsibility into our hands for exacting justice in the form of capital punishment, we need to take responsibility for the suffering it entails.