Shaking Uncontrollably Shaking Uncontrollably: 2008-02-13T08:10:45Z Copyright (c) 2008, Nico ExpressionEngine,2008:02:13 Watching the right-wing go down in flames is gonna be super-fun.  Grab the marshmellows, homies…,2008:content/index.php/shaking/4.20 2008-02-13T08:04:00Z 2008-02-13T08:10:45Z Nico Right-Wing Family Feud

By Liam O’Donoghue

Like a pet tiger, suddenly snapping on its owner after years of serving as a vicious and intimidating sentinel, right-wing talk radio has collectively reverted to it’s primal instincts and turned on its beneficiaries in the GOP.  While this ironic twist of political fate brings me no small amount of glee, this splintering of the right-wing echo chamber seems worth examining.  For the better part of the past two decades, the so-called “right-wing noise machine” has marched in lock-step to spread sleazy, often baseless, rumors, trumpet conservative propaganda and generally repeat the current talking points coming from party leaders and hawkish think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

With mild variations, you could count on hearing the same arguments on foreign and economic policy coming from fundamental religious talk show wackos, low-brow talk radio bullies and the free market fascists at the Wall Street Journal’s notoriously (neo-) conservative editorial page.  While things have certainly been heating up as the primaries unfolded, now that McCain is looking unbeatable, the gloves have come off and the right wing message boys are fighting dirty.

It would be fun to attack Mark Helprin’s op-ed, “McCain and the Talk-Show Hosts” from today’s Wally (especially considering such mind-blowingly ignorant comments such as “American columns should have cut through Baghdad after three days and exited three weeks later, leaving Saddam dead and a pliant Iraqi strongman to keep the country harmless or suffer the same quick take-down"), but that would be pretty pointless: Helprin is an ultra-hawk, so why even bother?

However, the fact that the high-profile, intellectual bastion of conservative orthodoxy has just totally fucking slammed it’s retarded, but very powerful (tens of millions of gullible listeners every day!) cousins over in radio land is the front line in the escalating right-wing family feud.  Yeeeeee-ha!

I spend so much time despising right wing talk radio hosts that I think now that they’re actually doing something I actually sort of respect, I should give them a little credit.  I’d certainly rather see Obama in the White House than McCain, but that’s not why I’m proud of these radio smear merchants.  It’s because they’re actually showing a little independence, a little backbone, and telling the GOP that they’re not just megaphones through which party-line Republican drivel can be constantly broadcast through.  Now, I admit that it’s kinda messed up that I’m giving them credit for going nuts that McCain isn’t right wing enough (he did, after all, modify a Beach Boys song to make a joke about bombing Iran), but I think it’s worth noticing and applauding the many cracks that are appearing in the formerly monolithic GOP apparatus.  I mean, there was a spectrum of right-wingers within the party, but they held it together in the mainstream media, especially when the stakes were this high.

So what does this mean?  Third and maybe even fourth parties splitting off and eroding any near-term chance of Republican supremacy?  A crumbling of the GOP facade with Bible-bangin’ coalitions, fiscal conservatives and war-mongers heading off in different directions to focus on their own agendas (dare I say “special interests")?  Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris going on a killing spree?

I don’t know.  But it sure has been fun to listen to right wing talk radio lately.

Spinning, Lying and Distorting History:  U.S. Media’s Response to the Virginia Tech Tragedy,2007:content/index.php/shaking/4.12 2007-04-21T04:44:00Z 2007-04-21T04:45:28Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

According to syndicated radio talk show host Rusty Humphries, Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui is “frying in hell.” “I just wish he were alive,” Humphries added dryly, “so we could put him to death.”

Another ultra-right wing radio host, Michael Savage, spewed bizarre conspiracy theories stemming from the report that Seung-Hui had scrawled the words “Ismail Ax” on his arm.  Savage also demanded information related to two other “men of color” who were photographed being handcuffed by police during the raid on Norris Hall.  Somehow, he predictably managed to blame Islam.

Comedian/radio host Dennis Miller summed it up by declaring that Seung-Hui “is pure evil.” Despite the simplicity of this analysis, he repeated the word “evil” at least a dozen times during a 5-minute segment on Tuesday. He wrapped up by comparing the 23-year-old who gunned down 32 students on a college campus to Iranian President Ahmadenajad and noted that the War on Terror has just begun.

In the wake of this tragedy, the rest of the right wing media echo chamber has elevated two questions to the forefront of their agenda during this time of national soul-searching:  “Should there be stricter regulations about allowing “foreign” students into American universities?” and “How can we get more guns into schools?”

The second question is based on the logic that there won’t be any more school massacres if professors, teachers, and licensed gun owners are encouraged, possibly even required, to pack heaters in class.

In fairness to the right, conservative commentators weren’t the only ones extrapolating wide-ranging, ideologically-based solutions from the Virginia Tech killings. Scientologists blamed mental health industry and lefties blamed lax gun control laws.  But blaming talking heads for exploiting a tragedy to espouse their views is like a soccer match tied at zero: pointless.

While the views of the overtly partisan, reactionary media are certainly troublesome, they are mostly just serving up the slop that their audiences want to hear.  The shrieking hyperbole of the “objective” media has a much more insidious effect on the collective consciousness of the “mainstream news” consumer.

Nearly every major media outlet distorted reality and ignored history in their coverage of the Virginia Tech slayings.

From the New York Times on down, the articles proclaimed the killing spree on Monday to be the “worst shooting rampage in American history.” A few common variations: “the worst gun rampage in U.S. history,” “worst U.S. shooting ever,” and “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.” I’m not taking these phrases out of context.  These sensational descriptions were not followed by qualifiers, such as “on a school campus” or “by a single shooter.”

The most recent and clear contradiction to this attention-grabbing claim that one disturbed young man carried out the “worst shooting rampage in American history” is the Attica Prison massacre of 1971.  Inmates captured guards and took over the prison after repeated complaints about their inhumane living conditions (which included one bucket of water per week as a “shower” and one roll of toilet paper per month) were ignored.  In a botched hostage rescue, New York State Troopers shot 29 prisoners and 11 hostages to death. In 2004, New York State finally settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the victims’ families for $12 million.

The Wounded Knee massacre of more than 300 Dakota Sioux men, women and children on December 29, 1890 by the rifles of the U.S. Cavalry apparently escaped the memories of the editors at virtually every major U.S. newspaper on Tuesday as well, because I don’t think it’s feasibly accurate to describe that slaughter as anything less than a “shooting rampage.”

The USA Today must have also forgotten about the roughly half-dozen wars fought on U.S. soil when they described Virginia Tech as “the scene of the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.”

I’m not trying to belittle the horrible tragedy in Virginia.  However, when the media is blatantly recrafting history to create an uber-villain out of a single, mentally ill individual so they can grab more eyeballs, it’s not an issue of taste.  It’s an issue of truth.

A Painful, Burning Sensation,2007:content/index.php/shaking/4.7 2007-02-21T01:51:00Z 2007-04-25T06:29:53Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

I haven’t been to Iraq recently, but everything I’ve seen suggests that this country has become hell on earth. I’m not even going to try to describe the carnage or untangle the lies that caused it. I just want to point out that while Congress is haggling over a meaningless, non-binding resolution to oppose a troop surge that happened last month, in Baghdad’s U.S.-controlled Green Zone construction continues on the largest foreign embassy in history.

As Iraq burns, the U.S. is using a sub-contracted Kuwaiti workforce to build a $592 million ambassadorial compound featuring American restaurants, a cinema, a gymnasium and allegedly the biggest pool in the country. Although Baghdad’s people are suffering through continuous blackouts and sewage disasters four years into the Occupation, President Bush’s priority is to build private utility stations in the part of the city where regular people aren’t allowed: within the 15 foot walls of what the Iraqi’s call “George W.’s palace.”

Did I mention that it will be bigger than Vatican City ... and visible from space?

As such colossal blunders unfold quietly, drowned out by the roar over diaper-wearing astronauts and overdosed gold-diggers, how could I keep from “Shaking Uncontrollably” any longer. . .

Coming soon to an airport near you: Millimeter-wave technology researchers at military-industrial powerhouse Northrop-Grumman are developing a technology that allows small cameras to look through clothing to detect weapons or other contraband. Defending the emerging technology against claims of intrusiveness, spokespeople say that the cameras offer only “somewhat-fuzzy” images. Somebody should tell these “scientists” that the “fuzz” is called pubes and if they want to see naked people they should stick to the spank mags.

Target practice: Under a recent settlement, the U.S. Air Force will pay $519,070 in compensation to the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in New Jersey, because they accidentally blasted it with 27 rounds of 20mm ammunition during a November 2004 night mission. “The Air Force has done the right thing,” said state Rep. Jim Saxton. “Their agreement goes a long way towards repairing the actual damages to the school building as well as keeping their relationship with the community healthy.” Yeah, another way to keep the relationship with the community healthy would not shoot any more schools with giant guns.

Fox woos: News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch recently told BusinessWeek that the soon-to-be-launched Fox business news channel will be more “business-friendly” than its rival CNBC. “They leap on every scandal,” he said, and added that the Fox business channel would be “less aggressive” toward the business world. Translation: “CNBC is like a big, nasty tiger and we just want to be a cute, cuddly, little kitten that the business world just loves to snuggle with.”

Full-Blown Idiots: Back in 2002 the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that the FBI lost over the 354 weapons and 317 laptops lost during a 28-month-long audit. A follow-up audit recently revealed a massive improvement: only 160 weapons and 160 laptops lost over 44 months. I guess now we know why they used to handcuff themselves to their briefcases back in the day.

Beware the wrath of Pat: Phillip Busch, a Texas bodybuilder suing Pat Robertson, claims that the Christian conservative broadcaster approached him in federal court and said: “I am going to kill you and your family.” Busch is suing Robertson for what he says is misappropriation of his image to promote Robertson’s “age-defying” protein diet shake. A few years back, Robertson allegedly threatened to kill a business partner’s sister after their Biblical coupon books scheme failed. Um, are there any prominent Bible-banging figureheads left who haven’t been embroiled in some crazy-ass scandal? Haggard, Baker, Falwell… these guys get into more shit than Snoop Dogg.

Thanks to the people who asked me to start doing Shaking Uncontrollably again. Holding it all in was starting to hurt my head. 

Bad Dictator, No iPod!,2006:content/index.php/shaking/4.6 2006-11-30T07:13:00Z 2007-04-21T05:53:39Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

Since all the conventional measures (such as refusing to negotiate) have been exhausted by US diplomats in their struggle to punish Kim Jong-il for building nuclear weapons, Bush is now just trying to piss off the North Korean dictator. In an effort to “target the lifestyle” of Jong-il, Washington is pushing a trade ban that will prevent North Korea from importing some of Jong-il’s favorite stuff. Sorry, North Koreans, you can kiss your iPods, plasma televisions, Segway scooters, cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Jet Skis, musical instruments and sports equipment good-bye!

“While North Korea’s people starve and suffer, there is simply no excuse for the regime to be splurging on cognac and cigars,” Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez said of the ban. OK, so the US has been playing “Mommy” for more than half a century now, dispensing spankings to the “bad” countries and gifts to “good” countries, but this latest escalation of global paternalism is simply laughable. Washington couldn’t stop Jong-il from building nuclear weapons, now they think they can keep him from getting the new fucking Playstation?!

Hmm. I just wonder if former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is going to ask Jong-il to return the Michael Jordan-autographed basketball that she gave him in 2000. Uh-oh. I thought about it for too long. Now I’m “Shaking Uncontrollably” . . .

Kentucky Fried Spectacle: KFC’s iconic logo of Colonel Sanders’ face recently became the largest logo ever..and the first to be visible from space. The 87,500 square feet logo was created by tiles placed in the Nevada desert, near the super secret Area 51. Great. Now our planet looks like a fucking highway off ramp.

US Still Crabby About Communism: A U.S. congressional audit published last week revealed that U.S. funds intended to promote democracy in Cuba have been used to buy crab meat, cashmere sweaters, computer games and chocolates. More than $76 million was paid out to Cuban-American groups in Miami between 1996 and 2005 to support Cuban dissidents, independent journalists, academics and others. President Bush has proposed increasing spending on Cuba-related programs. “Democracy isn’t cheap,” he said. “Somebody needs to pay the dry-cleaning bills for all those cashmere sweaters. And no more Hershey’s: only the darkest Swiss chocolate for our Cuban allies! Capitalism, yeeeeee-ha!”

Celebrating Freedom by Banning Stuff: Pahrump, Nevada, a 30,000-person town outside of Las Vegas, recently passed a local law that makes it illegal to display a foreign flag..unless an American flag is flown above it. Violators face a $50 fine and 30 hours of community service. Michael Miraglia, the resident who proposed the ban, was mad about last May Day’s immigrant marches and told USA Today that he was very upset that “we had Mexican restaurants closed that day.” Wow. Just to make sure that Mr. Miraglia never runs out of burritos again, I think everyone should mail him frozen burritos (400 N. Nevada Highway 160 Pahrump, NV 89060)or email him digital burritos at:

There Goes the ‘Hood: A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado is demanding that resident Lisa Jensen take down a peace-sign Christmas wreath decorating her house. Despite a $25 per day fine, she said she’s not going to take it down until after Christmas. Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs said that some residents believed that the peace sign was a symbol of Satan. He also argued, “Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up.” Interesting… this guy is using the Domino Theory to justify Christmas decoration fascism.

Big Brother Hates Jaywalkers: After a Missouri couple was ticketed for jaywalking in front of a court house earlier this month, they decided to prove the hypocrisy of law enforcement officials by photographing all the cops who constantly jaywalk (and drive their Segway scooters) across the same street. A Greene County deputy quickly told them it was a violation of the Homeland Security Act for them to photograph government buildings and told them to stop, but the Sheriff soon confirmed that weren’t breaking any laws. The embarrassed deputy then furiously scooted away on his giant scooter.

Wishful Thinking: When President Bush visited Vietnam last week, the White House website featured a graphic of the Vietnamese flag..too bad they posted the flag that was 3 decades out of date. The White House mistakenly featured a flag that hasn’t been the official flag of Vietnam since South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam in 1975. A closer examination of the White House website reveals that not only did we win the Vietnam War, but that Iraq is a blossoming democracy, the federal government did a great job handling Hurricane Katrina victims, and that Bush was never buddies with Kenneth Lay.

Exxon Knows What’s Best for Public Schools: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the nation’s leading science education teachers group, rejected an offer of 50,000 free DVDs of Al Gore..s global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, from the movie’s producers. Although the movie has been endorsed by leading climate scientists, and now required viewing for students in several Northern European school systems, the NSTA is apparently worried about losing key financial funding from Exxon Mobil. Here’s a clip of the NSTA’s response: “Accepting the DVDs would place unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” Upon receiving the bad news, Al Gore frowned slightly and kind of blinked.

YouTube vs. LAPD: A few months ago a video of two LAPD cops choking and repeatedly punching an alleged gang member surfaced, but following a brief investigation, a Superior Court commissioner concluded that the conduct was “more than reasonable.” Activist group Cop Watch LA then posted the clip on You Tube, prompting the FBI to step into the investigation following an outpouring of online outrage. The LAPD responded by complaining, “Stupid YouTube. Sure, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” is hilarious, but how are we supposed to really kick ass with all these damn cell phone cameras? Can’t you people just go back to watching “Cops” on Fox?.”

I gotta run, but there are lots of great events coming up in San Francisco this week. If you’re interested in CIA torture programs, the role of independent media in social justice movements, Oaxaca, or just going to a really awesome party on Friday night, hit me up and I’ll send you the details.

The Pendulum Swings Slightly Left,2006:content/index.php/shaking/4.5 2006-11-12T07:11:00Z 2007-04-21T05:53:54Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

Next week Arabic TV station al-Jazeera is launching a global, English language news channel. The new worldwide network plans to reach 40 million homes throughout Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, al-Jazeera (whose Qatar-based headquarters George Bush once threatened to bomb) is having a tough time breaking into the US market. Advertisers are squeamish and a recent poll found 53% of Americans opposed the launch of the channel and two-thirds of Americans thought the US government should block its entry into the “home of the free.”

Meanwhile, half the country is celebrating Rumsfeld’s resignation and the Democrats’ victory as if this shakeup is going to solve all our foreign relations problems. I try not to get too preachy in Shaking Uncontrollably, but I don’t think the US’ relationship with the Middle East is ever going to get better until this nation truly understands why so many Muslims hate the US, no matter who gets elected. As long as the only Muslims we see on TV are presented as “Islamo-fascist” terrorists or politicians, animosity, confusion and anger will only fester. Maybe the US should give these people who our government keeps bombing a voice, instead of simply accepting that “they hate our freedom.”

OK. Now that I got that out of the way, it..s time to make fun of stuff:

But Will He Tattoo His Stomach Like Tupac? A gubernatorial candidate in Idaho is so insanely opposed to abortion that he legally changed his name from Marvin Richardson to Pro-Life. “My wife, she’s not into calling me Pro-Life yet,” Mr. Life said. He added, “My name being Pro-Life on the ballot will save a number of babies by the time I die.” In response, his extremely embarrassed son in changing his name to “I Wish I Was Aborted.”

United Prudes of America: Although the federal government has been pushing abstinence-only programs for teens instead of focusing on birth control and safe sex for years, now they’re expanding the efforts to include unmarried adults up to the age of 29. Under revise federal grant guidelines, the anti-sex programs will receive millions in 2007, despite the fact that well over 90% of people between 20 and 29 get it on. This is ridiculous: Congress telling people not to have sex is like Bill O’Reilly telling people not to be loudmouth pricks.

Silver Medal for Bush in Reverse-Popularity Contest: An international poll conducted by leading newspapers in Britain, Canada, Mexico and Israel found that popular opinion holds George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than North Korea’s Kim Jong-il or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even in the UK, he’s seen as only slightly less threatening that Osama bin Laden (87% see Osama as a great or moderate danger vs. 75% for Bush.) In response, Bush has declared that anything Osama can do, he can do better, so he’s decided to wear different color contact lens (like Marylin Manson) just to freak people out.

Workplace Warriors: In an article on workplace bullying in the journal Management Communication Quarterly, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Hmm.. sounds like the researchers interviewed mostly government employees.

Virtual Border Patrol: Cameras set up along the Mexico-Texas border are now broadcasting live to the website Texas Border Watch to enlist citizens in the war against illegal immigrants. Some cameras are even monitoring south Texas highway rest stops. Texans are being encouraged to email local law enforceement regarding “anything out of the norm.” Um. Considering that they set up cameras at places that supposedly have high traffic of illegal immigrants, seeing an illegal immigrant would not be “out of the norm.” Therefore, Texas Border Watch is stupid.

Crystal Methodist: Another mega-church preacher has come to Pastor Ted Haggard’s defense following the latter’s firing from Colorado Springs’ New Life Church for an alleged 3-year meth-fueled affair with a gay prostitute. Seattle’s Pastor Mark Driscoll posted on his blog the following warning to pastors’ wives to encourage them to help their men resist temptation: “It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.” That’s fucked up . . . somebody needs to tell this sexist cretin to take a vow of silence.

First the Boom, Then the “Boom Boom”: In response to North Korea’s nuclear tests last month, many South Koreans started fucking their brains out. Bookings at Korea’s pay-by-the-hour “love motels” jumped dramatically and stores throughout the country also report that condom sales skyrocketed in the week following the blast. It was not reported how many men tried used the threat of an impending nuclear holocaust as an excuse not to wear a condom.

At Least We’ll Still Have Hot Dogs: Another environmental bombshell exploded thoughout the global media last week when a report predicting a major collapse in all marine life by 2048. Instead of lamenting this potential oceanic holocaust, most headlines ironically framed the issue a real bummer for people who like to eat fish. Here are a few of my favorites: “2048: Your Last Morsel of Seafood"(Calcutta Telegraph), “Fish May Become a Rare Delicacy by 2048” (Independent Online), “Seafood Supplies Facing Wipe-Out” (Melbourne Herald Sun) and “Get Your Fish’n’Chips Now.” I really love this last one; in other words “Fish are going extinct so eat them as fast as you can!” However, as an Irish descendent, the implication that potatoes are going down with the fish is really just too much too much to handle.

Why Can’t We TiVo Reality?,2006:content/index.php/shaking/4.4 2006-10-28T07:09:00Z 2007-04-21T05:54:15Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

Arg. Sometimes in life, we are faced with tormenting decisions. When you come to the proverbial fork in the road and you feel your heart ripping in half, I think sometimes it’s best not to look deep in your soul. You just need to go with your gut. You just need to let the sink or swim instinct kick in and thrust yourself face-first towards destiny.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, I really want to go to the FCC’s open forum tonight in Oakland to let them know what I think about corporate control of public airwaves . . . but San Francisco’s Halloween Critcal Mass is always the craziest ride of the year. What am I supposed to do? Although I already know that I’ll be screaming my head off in a rainbow wig and serial killer hockey mask, cruising the streets with thousands of other cyclists in a few hours, part of my heart will be at the FCC hearing tonight. To the true independent media warriors: Thanks for sticking by The Cause while others of us have been seduced by the lure of dressing up like idiots and riding our bikes on busy streets during rush hour. Hope you like this week’s edition..

Like Before Giuliani? Last week, a video was released showing House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) giving a speech at the Merrick Jewish Center in Merrick, NY last February. King told his constituents that “the situation [in Iraq] is more stable than you think.” He cited “bumper to bumper traffic,” shopping centers, restaurants, video stores, vendors, and hotels to conclude that being in Baghdad is “like being in Manhattan.” OK, I’m officially nominating Peter King for the Worst Analogy of the Year Award.

Santorum’s Fantasy World: According to the Bucks County Courier Times, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has compared the war in Iraq with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” Santorum told the paper that that the US has avoided terrorist attacks at home over the past five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been focused on Iraq instead. “As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said. “It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.” I’m sorry, but this is so pathetic that I refuse to even make a joke about it.. but I do wonder what Santorum thinks about the cozy relationship between Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Georgia Justice: Denise Grier who was ticketed in Atlanta for having an obscene anti-Bush bumper sticker filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against a DeKalb County, Georgia and its officials. A DeKalb judge tossed the $100 ticket which Grier received for having a “I’m tired of all the Bushit” bumper sticker last March, but she..s seeking damages from the county for “emotional distress,” according to the ACLU lawsuit. I’m actually thinking about filing a lawsuit against any more lame-ass puns on the word “Bush”. Anybody with me?

Space Belongs to America: In a space policy update, President Bush has signed an order saying that US will deny adversaries access to “space” for hostile purposes. He also declared that the US will oppose the development of treaties or other restrictions that would seek to limit US use of space. “Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power,” the policy says. US scientists are currently working to develop a heat-resistant American flag that we can plant on the sun.

No More Burning DVDs around the Camp Fire: Boy Scouts in Southern California can now earn a patch for raising awareness about the evils of downloading pirated movies. Here’s a shocker: the curriculum for the intellectual property merit badge was developed by the Motion Picture Association of America. Boy Scouts are now being encouraged to learn how to identify counterfeit CDs and DVDs, the consequences of film and music piracy, and why protecting copyrights is important to them and to the local economy. In order to encourage support for another pillar of SoCal’s local economy, Boy Scouts can now also earn a merit badge for getting plastic surgery.

Eternally Tacky: Starting next season, major league baseball fans will be able to have their urn or casket emblazoned with their favorite team’s logo. Eternal Image, the company producing the super-fan coffins, also hopes to have similar agreements with NASCAR, the NHL and the NFL. Uh-oh. I wonder if the spittoon industry is going to take a big hit now that cremated NASCAR fans have more than one option of what to do with their ashes.

Damn. I just can’t stop questioning my decision to sacrifice the FCC hearing for Critical Mass. Oh well, at least I’ll be able to drown my sorrows while playing drunken kickball (aka Sloshball) at Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoon.

Cheaper than Psychotherapy,2006:content/index.php/shaking/4.3 2006-10-18T07:03:00Z 2007-04-21T05:55:06Z Nico By Liam O’Donoghue

There’s nothing funny about war, human suffering, hypocrisy, government abuse of power or environmental devastation. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping these harsh aspects of our existence either. Unless you’re totally isolated, you’re confronted with anger, greed and violence constantly, either in real life or through the media. Even if you live in a cave by yourself, there’s no way to hide from the pain that’s inherent to existence, the dark side of your own nature. So why am I responding to these depressing and unfortunate news stories with humor?

Everybody needs an outlet or they’ll explode. Some folks drink, some channel their emotions into negativity and lash out at the world. Others jump out of planes or make art. Personally, I feel that life..s too short to be pissed off all the time and I don’t have very good hand-eye coordination, so I crack jokes. I’m not trying to change the world, I’m just trying to open some eyes and make a few people smile for a minute or two. Hope you enjoy this week’s little therapy session:

Silly Reporter: Last week when a reporter asked if President Bush believes that he made any mistakes regarding North Korea,White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responded “Oh, my’s a silly question.” Snow then pinched the silly reporter’s cheeks, tussled his hair playfully, patted him on the bottom, and told him to run along and be a good little media flack.

No Like Big Words: When a reporter asked Bush about the accuracy of his tendency to describe Democrat’s policy on Iraq as “cut and run,” Bush responded by basically admitting that he’s a dumbass. He said, “Nobody’s accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary. I understand that. And maybe their .. their words are more sophisticated than mine, but when you pull out before the job is done, that’s cut and run as far as I’m concerned.” However, Bush did endorse “pulling out” as a legitimate contraceptive method.

Viral Politicking: Candidates are flocking to MySpace in order to attract young voters and solicit donations, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s the holy grail of politics,” said Utah Democrat Pete Ashdown, who is running for a congressional seat. In order to capitalize on this trend, Hillary Clinton has hired MySpace “celebrity” Tila Tequila as her campaign manager. To counter, John McCain has hired My Chemical Romance to “warm up the crowd” on his upcoming campaign tour. Meanwhile, MySpace owner Rupert Murdoch is rubbing his hands together and laughing devilishly.

Assassination Narrowly Averted: Last week federal agents pulled a 14-year-old out of class to interrogate her about comments she posted about President Bush on her MySpace page. Sacramento resident Julia Wilson posted a cartoonish photo-collage of a knife stabbing the hand of the president. Beneath the words “Kill Bush” last year, but had removed the photo months ago. Phew! Sounds like a close call. A few hours of waterboarding in one of the CIA..s “black sites” (secret torture facilities) should straighten out this little jokester.

Weed Warriors: Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are using the cover of 10-foot high marijuana jungles to hide from Canadian troops. According to a Canadian general, the heat given off by the plants makes it difficult to track the Taliban using thermal devices and the lush weed plants have withstood attempts to burn them using white phosphorus and diesel (They should have just called in Whitney Houston and Willie Nelson, that weed would have been gone in a few hours). Anyway, since they can’t destroy the plants, the Canadian soldiers have resorted to camouflaging their vehicles with stalks of the sticky-icky-icky. They’ve also been listening to a lot more reggae lately.

Use Coke, Get Skinny: Coca-Cola announced last week that Enviga, its new green-tea beverage, will actually burn calories. Apparently, the combined affect of the caffeine and a green tea extract in the product, which hits shelves nationwide in January, can burn 60 to 100 calories with three 12-ounce servings. “It represents the perfect partnership of science and nature,” said Dr. Rhona Applebaum, Coke’s chief scientist. For those who can’t wait for this revolutionary new drink, try sprinkling some crystal meth in your next batch of Kool-Aid.

News Flash: Corporate Media Detaches Even Further From Reality: News service Reuters is opening a news bureau in the wildly popular simulation game Second Life this week. Second Life is a virtual, three-dimensional world where users create and dress up characters, buy property and interact with other players. Well, with real-life newsrooms drastically shrinking due to media consolidation, shifting coverage to an escapist video games universe seems like a simple choice for this international media institution. I’m sure that governments and PR companies are thrilled.