April 18, 2007

News & Tragedy

Nothing quite makes the national news machine spring into overdrive like the senseless murder of a large number of people. Whether or not we as a society are comfortable admitting it, we want to know the stories of those who died, those who lived, and those lives forever changed. This demand practically requires the news agencies to commit their resources to finding out as much as possible. It also leads to the "exploitation" of grief and sorrow.

Thus, the news industry faces a paradox. Reporters have to push potentially insensitive questions on people who may not be prepared for them, but they also have to refrain from going "too far," whatever that subjective phrase means. They must be nosy and pushy without being outrageous. Or, more cynically, they need the tears without the guilt.

Before too many people begin damning the media for their coverage of the VT shooting (including reporters and producers trawling blogs for students willing to talk), I feel it is important to note that most reporters don't actually enjoy covering a tragedy. They ask the hard and, occasionally, the idiotic questions because it is their job. They are there because, collectively, we want them to be there.

Over at Slate, the latest Pressbox column discusses media coverage of tragic events. If you are at all interested in the press, the short column is worth a read.

Posted by Randy at 12:34 AM | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Shooting Pain

A few weeks ago, news agencies reported the debut of a non-lethal heat-beaming weapon. Presumably, this Active Denial System (as it is called) is designed to disperse rioters or others causing problems without the occasional nasty problem of a rubber bullet to an eye. It can also be effective at long distances.

As I've been slacking on my news intake lately, I discovered this through my roommates. There seems to have been a unanimous "that's cool!" reaction to the technology that can inflict a severe burning sensation to anyone unfortunate enough to be in front of the ray. The pacifist in me even rejoices at the possible implementation of a "much-needed alternative to just going from 'shouting' to 'shooting.'"

However, something about the heat ray unsettled me, and I have been unable to discern the reason until today when I read an article on Slate. In addition to containing more information about the device, the story concludes with the following paragraphs that aptly summarize my unease:

But the ability to inflict pain without injury doesn't just make injury less necessary. It makes pain more essential to military operations—and easier to inflict. To achieve the desired "repel effect," I have to make you suffer. Knowing that your agony will be brief and leave no physical damage makes the weapon easier to fire. [ . . . ]

That's the metaphysical gap nonlethal energy weapons exploit. The rain of pain falls mainly in the brain. [ . . . ] Four months ago, Congress passed and President Bush signed legislation to prosecute torture, defined as intentional infliction of "serious physical or mental pain or suffering." But that rule applies only in captivity. On the street, pain administration won't be a crime. It'll be a policy.

Two weeks from now, military leaders will convene in London to discuss the pain beam and the next generation of directed-energy weapons, including microwaves and lasers. Law enforcement agencies are interested. Raytheon is already advertising the technology for commercial applications. We're even developing a "personnel halting and stimulation response" system—yes, a PHaSR—to stun targets instead of killing them. But don't worry, nobody will get hurt. Sort of.
(emphasis mine)

While I believe non-lethal force is undoubtedly better than the alternative, I find the infliction of pain as a "policy" to be rather disturbing and ripe for potential abuse.

Posted by Randy at 05:42 PM | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

"Very Low Food Security"

The USDA has a new classification for Americans who have limited access to food. They aren't "hungry." They have "very low food security." Of course, some anti-hunger advocates claim the new wording "sugarcoat[s] a national shame."

Instead of focusing on the semantics, I'd like to look at the statistics cited. According to the USDA, 35 million Americans households--12% of the population--are classified as having either "low food security" or "very low food security." Over one-tenth of the American population does not eat well. Our nation is one of the fattest in the world, but one-tenth of Americans worry about getting enough food. And that percentage has been increasing for the past five years.

I'm having a very difficult time comprehending that statistic. How is it possible that this country has such a large number of "hungry" people? I don't understand how the percentage is that high and growing. What is wrong with this country that so many people are afraid of "going hungry"?

One out of every ten households. Unbelievable.

Posted by Randy at 09:10 PM | TrackBack

November 15, 2006

The Bus Plunge

At some point during this past summer, I began to read (or at least look at) Slate every day. The online magazine has a variety of features I find fascinating, including political, judicial, and pop culture commentary.

One of my favorite features, however, is the Press Box column written by Jack Shafer. It seems he's covered almost everything related to the news industry at one point or another. Recently, he has written about national news "sweetening" Nancy Pelosi in hopes of gaining greater access to her and the Los Angeles Times potential purchase.

Occasionally, he produces a true gem of a column. Recently, he wrote about the decline of the "bus plunge story." To summarize the column, a "bus plunge story" is a paragraph long story with a short headline that informs the reader of a bus plunging off of a cliff or mountain and killing passengers. These stories were frequently used by The New York Times in order to fill space on some pages.

Journalists, being the cynical and jaded lot that they are, began to find the frequency of bus plunge stories most amusing. In fact, at the Times, "Bus plunges had become an inside joke, with editors scouting the wires for new ones."

My favorite part of the column, though, is the following two sentences: "Of course, it's callous to make light of anybody's tragic death. But by the gallows-humor standards of journalism, competing to publish bus-plunge shorts was fairly benign."

It's funny because it's true.

Posted by Randy at 06:00 PM | TrackBack

November 09, 2006

Mid-Term Results

I've been hesitant to write anything regarding the elections. I was afraid I might jinx the races if I actually posted anything before they were final. Now that Allen has conceded his loss in Virginia and given control of both the Senate and the House to the Democrats, I feel as though I can celebrate in writing.

*happy dance*

I am so happy the Republicans no longer have complete control. Seriously, just ask my current roommates. I've been walking on air for the past couple of days. I am not so naive to believe the Democrats will enact great sweeping political and social reform, but I feel they are a step in the right direction for our country.

Posted by Randy at 04:21 PM | TrackBack

November 08, 2006

Sports > Education

That is the message declared by the majority of voters from my hometown of Mt. Enterprise. Allow me to elaborate a bit.

When I was in high school, I am fairly certain MEISD had less than 200 students in both high school and junior high. That number may be a bit off, but I'm fairly certain it was somewhere around 200. In the more than four years since I graduated, I doubt the school population has grown by much. With liberal speculation, I'm going to estimate that there may be close to 300 students now.

According to certain family members of mine, the City of Mt. Enterprise (pop. 525) approved a bond election on Tuesday. This bond will allow for the construction of a $3,000,000 stadium for the school.

$3,000,000. Three. Million. Dollars.

From what I've been told, this money will be raised by increasing land taxes by more than 15%. From my observations, most of the land owners are elderly. Not only do they no longer have children in school but most of them don't even have grandchildren still in school. These are the people who will pay for this.

Despite what those in favor of this monstrosity say, a sports stadium will not help "our children's future." Very few students from MEISD receive sports scholarships which are worth anything more than a community college education. Better equipment and facilities won't change that.

Can anyone explain to me the reasoning behind building a sports stadium that is probably worth more than all the other school facilities combined?

Posted by Randy at 05:38 PM | TrackBack

September 25, 2006

Terrorism Study

This report confirms what has been long suspected by many individuals. According to the linked article, the report "asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe." And, it names the Iraq war as one of the prime reasons.

Honestly, does this report suprise anyone?

Posted by Randy at 12:28 AM | TrackBack

August 08, 2006

Penguin Chase

A truck transporting penguins, tropical fish, and other zoo animals turned over on a highway north of Marshall. Tragically, four penguins and several fish died. Comically, police officers and local zoo employees had to chase down other penguins.

Why can't I ever get a story like that?

Posted by Randy at 06:22 PM | TrackBack

February 12, 2006

In Case You Hadn't Heard

Vice President Dick Cheney shot one of his hunting partners. It was reportedly an accident.

I'm trying very hard not to laugh at the fact that the Vice President of the United States accidentally shot someone. Naturally, I'm also failing.

Edit: The Daily Show's analysis of the shooting is simply too good not to watch. I particularly enjoyed the second half of the segment. (Requires Quicktime)

I highly recommend onegoodmove.org to anyone who loves political-based humor. They have clips from the Daily Show. They must be cool.

Posted by Randy at 08:59 PM | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

A Million Little Lawsuits?

Are you familiar with James Frey? He's that author of A Million Little Pieces, a "true" story about Frey's experiences as an addict. It's recently been revealed that Frey embellished his story to make it more interesting/exciting.

This revelation upset a large number of people, the most famous of which being Oprah. Some of the less famous readers are showing their anger in a typical fashion. They are suing for their "lost time."

They are trying to sue an author for "lost time." Let that sink in a bit.

Can you imagine being able to sue publishing houses or movie studios for "lost time"? Think of the horrid books you've read or movies you've seen which you think were misrepresented. Any book or movie that you've ever felt was a waste of time could potentially fall under that category. I can't help but wonder how many lawsuits would be flung about if this one actually succeeded.

Of course, law experts doubt this lawsuit will go far. Still, I wonder what it would be like to get reimbursed after reading/watching absolute crap.

Posted by Randy at 02:22 AM | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

Justice At Work

Jose Padilla, a U. S. citizen arrested in May of 2002 on suspiscion of planning a "dirty bomb" explosion, has finally been indicted.

I would like to congratulate the Department of Justice and the Bush administration for their love of justice. Padilla has only been under military arrest for three years without being charged of a crime. Bringing Padilla into the civilian courts this quickly truly demonstrates how highly America holds freedom and justice. After all, we could have left him there forever!

Interestingly, Padilla is not even being charged with the original allegation against him. He is instead accused of conspiring with others to harm people in foreign countries and of providing support to terrorists.

I guess it is a good thing for Padilla that the Department of Justice says in its press release of the indictment that "all defendants are presumed innocent."

In the words of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (also in the press release), "Through the use of such tools, including vital provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, we are able to bring criminal prosecutions that strike at the heart of terrorist activities." With this indictment, Americans can truly know what that means.

Posted by Randy at 11:04 PM | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

The Next Generation

Over the summer, I developed quite a liking to the left-leaning magazine The New Republic. I checked out their website every other day while I was in DC, but I haven't checked their stories out in a few weeks now.

Today, Wonkette provided a link to TNR's new cover story, "Swimming with Sharks". It describes in almost painful detail the tactics used in running for the chair of the College Republicans. What truly scares me, though, is that these people will most likely be the future of the Republican party.

Posted by Randy at 12:48 PM | TrackBack

September 07, 2005


Everyone should go and read this timeline of events surrounding Hurricane Katrina and the government response. I find it rather enlightening.

The website with the timeline may be liberal, but you should notice that every single item on the timeline is verified by respectable sources.


I would also like it to be known that I fully oppose the censorship created from FEMA's ban on taking photos of the death caused by the hurricane. In my opinion, this is worse than the photo ban concerning the flag-draped coffins.

Posted by Randy at 04:19 PM | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Watch This

I'm breaking my "DC" pledge, but I think it is worth it.

If you have forty minutes to kill (plus however long it takes to download), watch Sticks and Stones. This Canadian documentary is a commentary on the American media. It may have a "liberal bias," but what doesn't?

Posted by Randy at 12:13 AM | TrackBack

June 02, 2005

Defending Sin City

I found this article incredibly offensive, and I don't even read comic books.

Are the women in Sin City portrayed as sexual objects? Yes, they are. However, there is a reason for this.

Look at the title of the movie. What is it? Sin City? Are you expecting bunnies and rainbows? The movie portrays a number of seedy characters fighting for what they feel is right and/or just. These seedy characters include a gang of prostitutes, a dumb and medicated murderer, a stripper (who is never actually nude on-screen), an old cop, a lesbian parole officer (I think), and another criminal whose original crime I can not remember. They fight various villains, including a priest, a politician and his pedophile son, a corrupt cop, and a creepy cannibal played by Elijah Wood.

This movie features men and women at the bottom of society fighting against the actions of corrupt men in power in order to survive. I did not leave Sin City feeling contempt against those at the bottom. I actually sympathized with them and felt that most of their actions were justified. I did, however, feel contempt for those in power that forced those men and women to fight for survival.

I can not find misogynistic elements in this film, and I fail to understand how one can take characters from a movie that revolves around "lowlifes" and argue that all "comic book geeks" have a "fundamental" hatred of women.

Posted by Randy at 02:32 PM | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Jenna, Future Vampire

I find this picture extremely funny. I'm not sure why.

Oh, wait. Yes I do. It's because vampire stories are freakin' cool!

Go read some Anne Rice. You'll thank me for it when you're older.

Posted by Randy at 10:53 PM | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

A Different Newspaper Controversy

I am in shock. I can't believe what I found in the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel today.

Gay in East Texas (First in a Series)

I'm not surprised by anything reported in the story. In fact, I was expecting a lot more hatred from the pseudo-Christians that live in East Texas. I would predict at least seventy percent of the people in the surrounding areas who read the story will be pleased that yet another "faggot" is leaving East Texas.

What I find surprising is that the story was not only printed in Nacogdoches (a mere 20 miles from my home) but also placed on the front page. I am curious if people will begin to boycott the Daily Sentinel.

Posted by Randy at 04:25 PM | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

Checks and Balances...?

Somebody else check this out (HR. 2028.RH) and make sure I am reading it correctly.

Is that a bill in the House of Representatives stating that the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional? Does it really say that the courts do not have the power to decide whether or not something is in violation of constitutional rights?

Somebody tell me I interpreted that incorrectly. Tell me that the legislative branch of our government is not trying to work its way around the judicial branch.

Regardless of whether or not the current Pledge of Allegiance violates the rights of non-believers, a bill circumventing the power of the judicial system is a frightening thing.

I am really disturbed by this bill.

Posted by Randy at 11:09 PM | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Political Poetry?

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a copy of this CD featuring this collection. Who would have thought that Donald Rumsfeld could be so poetic? I'm fairly certain if they could get him to free-style they would have a comedy hit on their hands.

You can find out more by reading this news article.

"[Kong] thinks President Bush's statements lack the necessary substance, while Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would put people to sleep."

Posted by Randy at 04:26 PM | TrackBack

May 10, 2004

A "New" Scam?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the story of some Middle Eastern or African country's royal family and their troubles one of the older scams on the internet?

Why should seeing someone who claims to be a Saudi Arabian princess make it any more credible? People are so gullible.

Posted by Randy at 05:41 PM | TrackBack

May 05, 2004

May I Borrow a Comb?

X-ray of where a federal corrections officer was stabbed in the eye with a comb. No gruesome photographs are included, but it is painful enough if you know what all that comb had to go through.

It was shoved through all of the eye, past a thin bone, and straight into the cerebrum. Ouch.

Posted by Randy at 02:51 AM | TrackBack

May 04, 2004


Rumsfield: Prisoner Abuse "Un-American"

Right. Because we Americans have a long and glorious history of not exploiting our fellow man.

Letters of reprimand should be enough punishment, right? They were only "following orders," after all. I was under the impression that guards could do whatever they wanted in order to get information from a prisoner.

What? There are rules for POW treatment? But they are the evil bad guys fighting us noble Americans. Why should we give them any decent treatment?

Posted by Randy at 02:26 PM | TrackBack

March 26, 2004


Stop the presses. I have just heard about a breaking news story.

Apparently, only democrats are allowed to mock President Bush.

Just who does this upstart think he is? He should leave the Bush-bashing to the professionals.

Posted by Randy at 05:54 PM | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

Weird News

A few...interesting new stories that I have found.

Paint Ball

I'm a...boy?

Carcass Flower

Posted by Randy at 04:29 PM | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

This is Your Brain...

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.

Despite the functionality of the man's brain at the time, it's an awesome picture.

Posted by Randy at 08:44 PM | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

Next Week on Montel...

Wow. It appears that television can make someone violent.

Of course, frequent drug use combined with a heavy dose of Montel Williams might be enough for anyone to snap.

Posted by Randy at 11:22 AM | TrackBack

March 08, 2004


Well, it appears that the world's oldest man has died once again. If this rate keeps up, we should be hearing about the new oldest person's death in a month or so.

Stay tuned for more information as it comes in.

Posted by Randy at 07:03 PM | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

Waiter, There's a Thumb in my Salad...

This is just disgusting.

How does someone slice off a thumb and not notice?

Posted by Randy at 05:11 PM | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

Abnormally Green

What would you do with a green polar bear?

Posted by Randy at 09:38 AM | TrackBack

February 18, 2004


Now this guy is just frightening. How can anyone spend $50,000 a year on that kind of stuff? How many "disneyphiles" like this are there?

Posted by Randy at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

February 12, 2004


Wow. This is truly an interesting couple.

So, the husband found out that his wife was cheating on him by going to a smut website? I wonder which started first.

And speaking of interesting, here is a fun little game where you have to decide if a title is from a Jack Chick Tract or a Dirty Movie!

Posted by Randy at 05:41 PM

December 26, 2003

Bush's Mad Cows

I was wondering how long it was going to take before democrats started blaming Bush for the Mad Cow stuff.

It was longer than I had expected.

Posted by Randy at 07:46 PM

December 09, 2003


Who comes up with these headlines?
(Intentionally misinterpreted)

U.S. Repulses 2 Suicide Bombers in Iraq
Well, I'm glad to know that we aren't pleasing the suicide bombers.

Schwarzenegger Won't Conduct Own Probe
Good. Nice to know that he won't be probing himself in office.

Feds Describe Deceptive Weight-Loss Ads
Angry about losing their hard-earned money, politicians take a stand against corrupt weight-loss agencies.

Tough Times for Santa in Snowless Lapland
Replace "tough" with a synonym and we have an instant Christmas-themed porn title.

Posted by Randy at 12:03 PM

October 17, 2003


I'm speechless. Read this.

And this.


Posted by Randy at 12:18 PM

October 03, 2003


Once again, here are a few pieces of news that have caught my eye. Enjoy.

Wouldn't you just love working for these people?
Help! My television is on fire!
The IgNobel Awards.

And here is a web comic from which I would like a large number of people to learn:

Miss Grammar Nazi

Posted by Randy at 10:57 AM

October 01, 2003

Damn Nazis

Would you be offended if a high school band waved a Nazi flag and played a song from Germany during a high school performance about World War II?

I know that I am. They should fire that Nazi band conductor and he should be charged with treason. That would set an example. In fact, let's just re-write history so that the Nazis never existed. It's the only way that we can truly move on from the horrors they committed.

Why don't we also only teach our children about all of the great things that America has done? They don't need to know any of the not-as-good things. Let's teach that slavery never existed and that the government was nice to Native Americans. We are most definitely the best country that has ever existed and we will always be the best country in existence. Hail America! Hail America!


Yes, I understand that it was a big day for the Jewish people. Yes, I understand that the Nazis did slaughter millions of Jews. But it is a freaking historical production you morons! You can't do a historical productions about World War II and omit the Nazis!

Yes, I agree that the Nazis did horrible things. Yes, I think that people are stupid and that they overreacted about history.

Posted by Randy at 12:25 PM

August 20, 2003

Important Information!

Oh my goodness! Isn't this news just shocking!? I can't believe that a person's lifestyle might be responsible for their health problems! The test results must have been fake. They should just throw those experiments away and let people know the truth. Bad genes are the cause of every problem a human can have!


Posted by Randy at 11:07 AM

July 31, 2003

Animal Activists

Most of the time I don't have any problem with animal rights activists. However, every now and then, some idiot does something that makes me want to go and just start shooting animals just to piss off that person.

Posted by Randy at 08:31 PM

July 07, 2003

More News

Go and read this. I'm serious. I thought it was rather funny.

And say good-bye to the gamer stereotype.

Posted by Randy at 06:08 PM

July 04, 2003