Category Archives: Bloggy Funnies

Aw, Aren’t You A Cute Little Objectivist? Aren’t You? Aren’t You?

Eric Hague at McSweeney’s:

I’d like to start by saying that I don’t get into belligerent shouting matches at the playground very often. The Tot Lot, by its very nature, can be an extremely volatile place—a veritable powder keg of different and sometimes contradictory parenting styles—and this fact alone is usually enough to keep everyone, parents and tots alike, acting as courteous and deferential as possible. The argument we had earlier today didn’t need to happen, and I want you to know, above all else, that I’m deeply sorry that things got so wildly, publicly out of hand.

Now let me explain why your son was wrong.

When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, “Have a ball, peas [sic]?” And I’m sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, “No! Looter!” right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.

The thing is, in this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously. We conspicuously reward ourselves for our own hard work, we never give to charity, and we only pay our taxes very, very begrudgingly.

Since the day Johanna was born, we’ve worked to indoctrinate her into the truth of Objectivism. Every night we read to her from the illustrated, unabridged edition of Atlas Shrugged—glossing over all the hardcore sex parts, mind you, but dwelling pretty thoroughly on the stuff about being proud of what you’ve earned and not letting James Taggart-types bring you down. For a long time we were convinced that our efforts to free her mind were for naught, but recently, as we’ve started socializing her a little bit, we’ve been delighted to find that she is completely antipathetic to the concept of sharing. As parents, we couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.

That’s why, when Johanna then began berating your son, accusing him of trying to coerce from her a moral sanction of his theft of the fruit of her labor, in as many words, I kind of egged her on. Even when Aiden started crying.

John Hudson at The Atlantic:

In a clever critique of libertarian novelist Ayn Rand, Eric Hague at McSweeney’s imagines what it would be like to raise one’s child based solely on Rand’s Objectivist principles. The work of satire begins with a proud parent explaining why her child, Johanna, won’t share on the playground

John Aravosis at AMERICABlog:

If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, you likely won’t get it.

Alex Knapp:

Good parenting, Objectivist style.

Ezra Klein

Todd Henderson:

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Ayn Rand’s fiction, especially “We the Living,” but I’ve always wondered how I can convey her ideas to my children before they are able to read the books for themselves. What is a Randian to do when the hippies at the local playground sermonize about sharing and winning not mattering? Finally, here is a helpful guide for how to raise your child as an Objectivist. A taste: “You should never feel guilty about your abilities. Including your ability to repeatedly peg a fellow toddler with your Elmo ball as he sobs for mercy.”

Mollie Hemingway at Ricochet:

I’m no Objectivist but even my mere libertarianism took a hit when I became a parent. So oh how I loved this McSweeney’s post “Our Daughter Isn’t a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn’t Read Atlas Shrugged.”

It tells the story of a playground scuffle. A sample:

When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, “Have a ball, peas [sic]?” And I’m sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, “No! Looter!” right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.

The thing is, in this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously.

In all seriousness, nothing so much as raising children has made me more aware of the importance of virtue — not just in my own family but in my community as well. Now excuse me while I figure out what incentives to use for potty training.

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Maybe If They Hire Joss Whedon Or J.J. Abrams…

Squid314 (Scott):

But then there are some shows that go completely beyond the pale of enjoyability, until they become nothing more than overwritten collections of tropes impossible to watch without groaning.

I think the worst offender here is the History Channel and all their programs on the so-called “World War II”.

Let’s start with the bad guys. Battalions of stormtroopers dressed in all black, check. Secret police, check. Determination to brutally kill everyone who doesn’t look like them, check. Leader with a tiny villain mustache and a tendency to go into apopleptic rage when he doesn’t get his way, check. All this from a country that was ordinary, believable, and dare I say it sometimes even sympathetic in previous seasons.

I wouldn’t even mind the lack of originality if they weren’t so heavy-handed about it. Apparently we’re supposed to believe that in the middle of the war the Germans attacked their allies the Russians, starting an unwinnable conflict on two fronts, just to show how sneaky and untrustworthy they could be? And that they diverted all their resources to use in making ever bigger and scarier death camps, even in the middle of a huge war? Real people just aren’t that evil. And that’s not even counting the part where as soon as the plot requires it, they instantly forget about all the racism nonsense and become best buddies with the definitely non-Aryan Japanese.

Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he’s not only Prime Minister, he’s not only a brilliant military commander, he’s not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he’s also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he’s supposed to be the hero, but it’s not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.

So it’s pretty standard “shining amazing good guys who can do no wrong” versus “evil legions of darkness bent on torture and genocide” stuff, totally ignoring the nuances and realities of politics. The actual strategy of the war is barely any better. Just to give one example, in the Battle of the Bulge, a vastly larger force of Germans surround a small Allied battalion and demand they surrender or be killed. The Allied general sends back a single-word reply: “Nuts!”. The Germans attack, and, miraculously, the tiny Allied force holds them off long enough for reinforcements to arrive and turn the tide of battle. Whoever wrote this episode obviously had never been within a thousand miles of an actual military.

Probably the worst part was the ending. The British/German story arc gets boring, so they tie it up quickly, have the villain kill himself (on Walpurgisnacht of all days, not exactly subtle) and then totally switch gears to a battle between the Americans and the Japanese in the Pacific. Pretty much the same dichotomy – the Japanese kill, torture, perform medical experiments on prisoners, and frickin’ play football with the heads of murdered children, and the Americans are led by a kindly old man in a wheelchair.

Anyway, they spend the whole season building up how the Japanese home islands are a fortress, and the Japanese will never surrender, and there’s no way to take the Japanese home islands because they’re invincible…and then they realize they totally can’t have the Americans take the Japanese home islands so they have no way to wrap up the season.

So they invent a completely implausible superweapon that they’ve never mentioned until now. Apparently the Americans got some scientists together to invent it, only we never heard anything about it because it was “classified”. In two years, the scientists manage to invent a weapon a thousand times more powerful than anything anyone’s ever seen before – drawing from, of course, ancient mystical texts. Then they use the superweapon, blow up several Japanese cities easily, and the Japanese surrender. Convenient, isn’t it?

…and then, in the entire rest of the show, over five or six different big wars, they never use the superweapon again. Seriously. They have this whole thing about a war in Vietnam that lasts decades and kills tens of thousands of people, and they never wonder if maybe they should consider using the frickin’ unstoppable mystical superweapon that they won the last war with. At this point, you’re starting to wonder if any of the show’s writers have even watched the episodes the other writers made.

I’m not even going to get into the whole subplot about breaking a secret code (cleverly named “Enigma”, because the writers couldn’t spend more than two seconds thinking up a name for an enigmatic code), the giant superintelligent computer called Colossus (despite this being years before the transistor was even invented), the Soviet strongman whose name means “Man of Steel” in Russian (seriously, between calling the strongman “Man of Steel” and the Frenchman “de Gaulle”, whoever came up with the names for this thing ought to be shot).

So yeah. Stay away from the History Channel. Unlike most of the other networks, they don’t even try to make their stuff believable.

Noah Millman at The American Scene:

So I Guess Maeby Was Right To Pass On That History Text

H/T pretty much everybody in the universe, but yes, I, too thought this was pretty funny.

Eugene Volokh

Charlie Jane Anders at I09:

If you think your favorite science fiction TV show is full of nonsensical plot twists and lazy writing, you should check out the World War II documentaries, suggests Squid314 on Livejournal, in the funniest blog post you’re likely to read this week. Who on Earth would believe that the Allies could actually win the Battle of the Bulge? It’s total nonsense, and “Whoever wrote this episode obviously had never been within a thousand miles of an actual military

[…]

I’m convinced. We should start a write-in campaign to get the writers of the twentieth century fired. Who’s with me? More incredible brilliance at the link.

Joe Carter at First Things:

There have been some great television shows that have explored the theme of war and combat (M*A*S*H, Battlestar Galactica, F-Troop). But I have to agree with the brilliant TV critic Scott that the ongoing series that runs on The History Channel isn’t one of them

[…]

Read the rest. You won’t want to miss the part about the “unstoppable mystical superweapon” the never appears in the sequels.

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media:

Part of the problem is that in the 1970s, television writers were a crazed, psychedelic lot, a bunch of stoner sixties retreads more into scoring controlled substances than scripting controlled plotting.

Take this rock star wannabe who appeared in several segments of the World at War, and his seriously seventies mullet:

Don’t recognize him? I only knew who he was because his voice preceded his image, but I did a double take when he finally appeared:

Yes, it’s Stephen Ambrose in the early 1970s, back when he was in his mid-thirties, decades before the plagiarism scandals, and prior to that, his more sober C-SPAN and PBS-friendly look:

So yes kids, World War II was pretty cliched, but back in the 1970s, when it came time to watch TV, it was either that or Maude and Adam-12. We made do, somehow.

Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns, And Money

Matthew Yglesias:

These are all fair points. In terms of gritty realism and morally complex drama, you can make mine the Napoleonic Wars. The anti-hero at the center of the action has a great plot arc, the horses look cool, and the whole metric system conceit is so clever I’m surprised people don’t use it in practice. Even the North American spinoff is pretty interesting. It’s just too bad they didn’t let well enough alone after Elba—the TV movie special felt pointless and tacked on.

Doug Mataconis:

Just goes to show you that reality rarely makes good television.

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And You’ll See His Birth Certificate In The “Dre Day” Video

J. Hinson:

OBAMA MADE CAMEO IN 1993 RAP VIDEO?!?

AT 1MIN 1SEC – 1MIN 3 SEC
What do you think?

Pay close attention to his ears poking out, the shape of his nose, and skin color.

Obama would have been 32 years old at the time.. (Obama’s birthday 8/4/1961)

None of the pics and/or video were altered. This is an observation. This is not meant to be derogatory or inflammatory.

Tha Corner:

Pay attention @ 1:01 the dude with the shades and hat. This is crazy!

HotAirPundit:

I don’t think it is, but it would be quite a story if it was him in the video…Obama does like rap music, and if you remember, Jay-Z was recently at the WH, sitting down in the Situation Room. Obama also met with Ludacris before becoming President

The Improper:

More reason to suspect President Obama isn’t who he says he is, or is the coolest president since Andrew Jackson. A hot Internet rumor claims the leader of the free world had a cameo role in a 1993 video by hip-hop group Tag Team for their song “Whoomp (There it is).” Check it out.For the moment, let’s just say the alleged Obama figure pops up in the video about 1:01 into the song. It’s quick, so watch closely, but the image is clear.

The fact that — we’ll say the guy — appears in the video and then gets a close up, makes it suspiciously seem like the producer/videographer knew he was somebody special.

Of course, the video was shot in 1993. Obama had recently graduated from Harvard Law School. The presidency was still a sparkle in his eye.

Adrian Chen at Gawker:

This is not the observation of just one random Internet weirdo. Other Internet weirdos have come to the same conclusion, including posters on the hip hop message board Tha Corner, the message board SomethingAwful and the Tea Party website Tennessee Sons of Liberty. The latter wrote: “This is an observation. This is not meant to be derogatory or inflammatory.” Yeah, just randomly noticing that Obama was in this RAP video. But so what? As far as musical infractions go, Obama committed a much graver one by listing Sheryl Crow as one of his favorite acts.

But is it really Obam’s flashy grin? Consider the evidence:

FOR

  • It really really looks like him!
  • Obama has a well-documented fondness for hip hop. He likes Kanye West and Ludacris.
  • Obama has a history of hip hop cameos. In 2008, reports said he was featured on an upcoming Q-Tip track. Though Q-Tip ended up simply sampling one of his speeches.
  • As one commenter on SomethingAwful noted: The man in the video is playing dominoes with his left hand. BARACK OBAMA IS ALSO LEFT HANDED!
  • The video was released in 1993. Barack would have been around 31 when it was filmed, a year or two out of Harvard Law. Seems like something cool that our coolest, cigarette-smoking, hoops-shooting future president would do as an early 30-something.

AGAINST

  • But, actually, by 1993, Obama was deeply involved in community activism in Chicago. In 1992, Obama famously helped boost voter turnout among blacks through his tireless organizing. How would Obama had the time to film this video? And why the hell would the director of Tag Team’s video seek out a notable community organizer to play a domino player? Maybe they were buddies from Harvard or something.
  • Also, Tag Team is from Atlanta. If Obama wanted to make his rap video debut, wouldn’t he have chosen an early-90s act from his beloved Chicago? Maybe Da Brat, or Crucial Conflict? And he would obviously be wearing a Bulls hat—not a Compton one.
  • Most of these conspiracy theorists base their observation on a low-quality YouTube version of the video. Take a look at this screenshot from a higher-quality video: Doesn’t look much like him, actually. Also: earrings? Obama is cool, but not that cool.
  • […]
  • Finally, if this was actually true, Sarah Palin would have already done five Facebook wall-posts about it, and Glenn Beck would have already run a weeklong special on the fact that our President appeared in a music video which appears to celebrate so-called “Party people.”
Sorry, Internet, it’s not Obama. But as far as conspiracy theories go, it’s way better than that whole secret Muslim thing.

Wonkette:

Wow, this is a dumb song! And, well, it’s very unlikely this guy (who doesn’t even look much like Obama, wtf people?) is Barack Obama. WHY YOU ASK? Because Barack Obama was, by 1993, a law professor and author and civil rights lawyer and director of regional political organizations, and probably wasn’t spending a whole lot of time as an extra in hip-hop videos. But this is a very big thing on the Internet, right now! We especially like the bit from National Review Online’s black-outreach blog, “Tha Corner.”

More Chen:
Over 200,000 people have read our original post; thousands of other outlets picked it up. CNN actually asked the White House for a comment. They “did not immediately respond.” A suspicious silence! And Obama’s potential cameo is now in the Wikipedia entry for “Whoomp (There it is)” which means it is a true fact for all of eternity. Pandora’s box has been opened, and the Whoomper Conspiracy will probably never die: Says commenter patlippert “I won’t believe it’s not him until he shows us his resume, which if he did and it proved me wrong, I’ll claim it was faked.”Even after we debunked it, readers flexed their paranoid muscles. Many agreed that it wasn’t Obama, but then spun that into a premise for an entirely new conspiracy theory! Heywhat thinks this was all a publicity ploy by the real extra. Tamara C said in an email that screencap above “looks digitally altered to look more like Obama… Is that possible? And if so, why?” WHOOMP: There is how you turn a conspiracy theory about Obama into one about people who hate Obama. Some thought the entire thing was a conspiracy of racists. Wrote Bearsvillemusic: “So, this is essentially an article saying that all black people like the same. Brilliant.”

Others still believe. (We’ll call them “Whoompers,” per OrneryBabe’s suggestions) We argued that a high-quality version of the video showed the man didn’t really look like Obama at all. But ShruitBorus accused us of masterminding a coverup: “Funny how one of your affiliated sites had a post about how internet video degrades over repeated use. Just setting the stage for your debunking of this video?” And CID_VICIOUS eviscerated our assumption that a cash-strapped, 31 year-old Obama wouldn’t have taken time out of his schedule for the shoot… and a quick payday: “That video was almost certainly shot in one day – I’ve been in a few dozen. So Barack could have gotten a call from a friend, ‘hey, you want to make a hundred bucks and be on a music video?'”

While the most enthusiastic Whoomper, Ismith, offered biblical proof of Obama’s role in the video:

Revelations 3:45: “And the anti-Christ will appear in a music video reaching the masses. It shall tell the masses to shake their derrieres. And thus will begin Armageddon”

Clearly, there is only one way to definitively debunk Obama’s cameo: Find the real domino-playing extra. The director of the video is one VJ Beedles. His Google footprint is tiny (suspicious!) but he was apparently once the assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 2020 in Atlanta. We’ll reach out to the troop, but if anyone ideas for how to reach Beedle, send them along.

Whoomp (The truth is out there).

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I Topeka-ed Myself On The First Of April, 2010

Eric Schmidt at The Topeka Blog:

Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.


We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.

In fact, Topeka Google Mayor Bill Bunten expressed it best: “Don’t be fooled. Even Google recognizes that all roads lead to Kansas, not just yellow brick ones.”

For 150 years, its fortuitous location at the confluence of the Kansas River and the Oregon Trail has made the city formerly known as Topeka a key jumping-off point to the new world of the West, just as for 150 months the company formerly known as Google has been a key jumping-off point to the new world of the web. When in 1858 a crucial bridge built across the Kansas River was destroyed by flooding mere months later, it was promptly rebuilt — and we too are accustomed to releasing 2.0 versions of software after stormy feedback on our ‘beta’ releases. And just as the town’s nickname is “Top City,” and the word “topeka” itself derives from a term used by the Kansa and Ioway tribes to refer to “a good place to dig for potatoes,” we’d like to think that our website is one of the web’s top places to dig for information.

In the early 20th century, the former Topeka enjoyed a remarkable run of political prominence, gracing the nation with Margaret Hill McCarter, the first woman to address a national political convention (1920, Republican); Charles Curtis, the only Native American ever to serve as vice president (’29 to ‘33, under Herbert Hoover); Carrie Nation, leader of the old temperance movement (and wielder of American history’s most famous hatchet); and, most important, Alfred E. Neuman, arguably the most influential figure to an entire generation of Americans. We couldn’t be happier to add our own chapter to this storied history.

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing:

Also, Googlers are henceforth to be known as Topekans. Employees of Topeka who were originally from Kansas, be prepared for long, confusing conversations with your parents. No word on how this will affect stock holders. But if things go poorly, and you end up owning a hunk of the Sunflower State, the Konza Prairie is lovely this time of year. Just saying.

Chris Thompson at The Big Money:

Wow, wotta riot. Call me a big sourpuss, but Schmidt’s punchlines are going over like a fleet of lead zeppelins, if you ask me. Nonetheless, according to Google News, this rather tepid joke has prompted some 868 journalists around the world to write stories about the company’s famous sense of fun. The real story here isn’t that the company can really cut loose when it wants to, but that people are so compulsively fascinated by Google that it could change its make of company cars from Toyota to Honda and still get a front page story in the Wall Street Journal. What other company can so easily command such attention?

John Hudson at The Atlantic:

The bigger question now: Does this mean Topeka, Kansas is going to win Google’s broadband sweepstakes? Our former colleague Carl Franzen‘s hunch is yes. He argued that to deprive Topeka of the prize now would amount to merciless teasing.

However, our competing theory posits that Google executives already know Topeka isn’t getting the network. Not wanting to leave the city completely jilted after such blatant pandering, Google’s giving the town an April Fool’s consolation prize. But hey, it’s anyone’s guess

Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch:

Google Topeka? Not so funny. They’ve changed their logo on the Google homepage to Topeka and give this link as an explanation. They’ve changed their corporate name, they say, to Topeka for the day.

The problem is the whole joke is really just a way to promote Google’s experimental fiber network. 1,100 cities are begging to be part of the program and doing crazy things, like renaming their city name to Google, to get picked.

We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.

Anyway, if you’re promoting your own stuff on April Fools you need to be extra funny. This isn’t extra funny.

And what happened to Google Jail? As far as I can tell it remains unannounced. Maybe they got mad that Fast Company scooped them on their own joke. Or maybe someone at Google decided it was a bad idea to mock the horrific prison situation here in the U.S.

We’re grading this one an “D-” on our list of 2010 April Fools jokes. I need Google to go back to basics and get April Fools right again. This is too important not to do it right.

Tech Crunch:

It’s time for April Fools 2010!  We’re constantly updating this page with new April Fools jokes as we find them. If you spot a good one please leave it in the comments. Thanks!

[…]

Google Search

Google really has their nerd on today and I love it. Search anything on their main search engine, and instead of telling you the amount of time it took to run your search it will use an arbitrary term like “jiffies” or “epochs.” Update: Google has renamed itself as Topeka.

Our Grade: D-

Google Books

In Google Books there’s an option to see the text/images in 3D.

Our Grade: B

GoogleDocs


GoogleDocs
takes cloud computing to the next level. Upload anything, literally: “Store your keys, remotes, rail passes, and other objects you commonly lose with Google Docs, and you’ll never have to worry about finding them again. “

Our Grade: B+

Starbucks

Starbucks is now offering “micra” and “plenty” (128 fl. oz – think popcorn bucket) sizes. “Whether customers are looking for a large or small size, the Plenta and the Micra satisfy all U.S. and Canada customers’ needs for more and less coffee,” said Hugh Mungis, Starbucks VP of Volume. “Our size selection is now plentiful.”

Our Grade: B+

Wikipedia

Check out Wikipedia’s main page. Featured article is one on “wife-selling.” “Excerpt: “Along with other English customs, wife selling was exported to England’s American colonies, where one man sold his wife for “two dollars and half [a] dozen bowls of grogg.’”
Our Grade: A

Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite:

B-list celebrities better keep a sharp eye out today, Twitter is celebrating its first April Fool’s Day as a full blown mass media force and killing off the ‘where are they now’ famous among us is just the sort of festivity Twitter revels in. To that end, I feel obligated to tell you that Chuck Norris is not dead. Or paralyzed for life. Or anything other than his normal (ish), fighting, Huckabee supporting, self.

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Well It’s Got To Be A Newsmax Jesus

Huffington Post:

Correction: Newsmax’s cover story “The Jesus Question” is from April 2009.

The editors of Newsmax might be getting a little impatient for the second coming of Christ.

The conservative magazine’s latest cover story, “The Jesus Question,” is about the son of god’s return to earth as prophesied in the Bible.

Jesus is no stranger to newstands. Biblical history interests plenty of readers. Just ask a few magazine editors. But the text accompanying Newsmax’s Jesus cover story (“Will He Ever Return?”) seems to strike a more plaintive, are-we-there-yet tone, that differs from those of the general interest magazines.

While the article is posted online, a search of the magazine’s web site yields a bulleted outline that will tell many readers what they want to know.

Obama’s armageddon-inducing health care bill isn’t mentioned, but the president’s “globalist” ways are panned in a section devoted to biblical prophesies

Radley Balko:

I think it’s the hint of exasperation that makes this wonderful.

Alex Massie:

Radley Balko thinks it’s the note of (mild) exasperation that makes this cover splendid. I agree. Jesus: Disappointing You for 2000 Years.

As the man put it:

Estragon: He should be here.

Vladimir: He didn’t say for sure he’d come.

Andrew Stuttaford at Secular Right

Steve Benen

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#teamdemonsheep

David Kurtz at TPM:

Best TV Campaign Ad EVAH!

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

It’s funny, but in truth it’s nowhere close. The best ad ever was in an election for property value assessor in Floyd County, Kentucky. I wrote about it in TNR in 2002. I couldn’t find the video on the web. (If anybody can, please email it to me.) You’ll have to rely on my description, which can’t do justice to the video but does provide a sense of how dada it is:

If you’re one of the civic delinquents who hasn’t followed this race, here’s what happened: The incumbent, Connie Hancock, aired an attack ad maintaining that her opponent has been “arrested or charged fifty-six times for violating the law,” including DUI, criminal trespassing, felony assault, and terroristic threatening. “In a drunken brawl,” the ad further charges, he “bit a man’s ear completely off.” As if this charge needs more dramatization, it is followed by a high-pitched scream–the sound, we presume, of a man whose ear has just been bitten completely off.

How do you respond to a volley like this? Hancock’s adversary, David May, begins his rejoinder by downplaying the charges. “Sure, when I was young”–May is now 27–“I did a few things I’d like to think I’d handle different. My opponent said I was arrested for DUI. That’s completely untrue,” he tells the camera. When you’ve been accused of committing 56 criminal acts, including cannibalism, it might seem like a fairly damning admission to deny only one (relatively innocuous) charge. But a cardinal rule of politics holds that you should never stay on the defensive. So May immediately segues into a brutal counter-offensive. “Why would Connie Hancock falsely attack me?” he asks. “She suspected this tape”–and here May holds up a videotape–“would surface. It’s X-rated and shows just how little she values her reputation and wedding vows.” At this point the ad cuts to a bedroom scene featuring a smiling, half- naked woman, strongly resembling Hancock, sitting on a bed as a man who may or may not be her husband approaches. Abruptly the video ends, and we are left with an image of May smiling and waving.

The Daily Caller:

Political ads normally aren’t particularly captivating television, let alone appealing viral videos. But in the YouTube era, a handful of candidates have managed to captivate the public’s imagination with their outlandish (and  sometimes borderline slanderous) claims about the bizarre sex practices of their rivals, the [expletive deleted] state of local politics, and, most recently in New Orleans, with a certain coroner’s propensity for selling body parts.

A.C. Thompson at ProPublica:

Here at ProPublica, we’ve had several encounters with Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard, whose office investigates suspicious deaths for the city of New Orleans.

Most recently, I went around and around with the coroner about the autopsy of a man named Matthew McDonald [2]. Police shot McDonald to death in 2005 [2] shortly after Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana. I needed the report for a story I was working on [3] with journalists at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS “Frontline.”

First, one of Minyard’s deputies told me the document existed but I couldn’t have it, because it was part of a homicide case. Then the story changed: Minyard and his attorney told my colleagues at the paper that the coroner had lost the autopsy report. That seemed a bit odd.

Sheri Fink, who reported on the events at Memorial Medical Center [4] during Katrina, has also documented some of the more interesting decisions [5] made by the doctor.

[…]

The spot portraying Minyard as a Frankensteinian crazy was paid for by Dwight McKenna, M.D., a convicted tax evader who’s running against Minyard. It’s airing on local TV.

The video highlights a mini-scandal from the 1990s, when Minyard was sued for allegedly removing bone pieces and corneas from the deceased and passing them onto transplant centers without permission. “It’s contemptible,” McKenna said in an interview.

Of course, some people are going to find the ad contemptible, but McKenna defends it. “The ad is, we believe, factual,” he said. “It’s fair play. It’s done in a humorous way.”

McKenna didn’t want to talk about his 1992 conviction on federal tax charges for underreporting his income by $367,000. He served nine months in prison.

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Web ads like this one are generally created solely for the purpose of getting attention–i.e. free publicity–from bloggers. There’s no ad buy associated with them, and they only work as advertisements when bloggers embed them. Thus, we try not to grant coverage to web ads.  But this one is so weird that I’m going to concede it worked. You got us, Carly for California. Good job.

It’s also a strategically significant: Fiorina entered the gubernatorial race as a “mainstream” candidate with GOP-establishment bona fides, having worked on the McCain campaign in 2008, facing conservatives in the primary. And she’s not the only Republican candidate to find herself in that situation in 2010, as the conservative movement has surged since the 2010 races really began. Her strategy: attack primary opponent Tom Campbell’s fiscal-conservative credentials, dubbing him an FCINO (fiscal conservative in name only). We’ll see if other candidates do the same.

Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time:

The best way to view California Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina’s awesomely bizarre new primary campaign ad–which includes shots of an alien robot sheep, or something–is by pressing play on your cassette tape of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon just as you click play on YouTube.

I think it’s destined to be remembered as a classic. It combines what sounds like the soundtrack to “The Exorcist,” a narrator who sounds like he’s imitating Morgan Freeman with the stratospheric dudgeon of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comments,” and then the grand finale: evil, menacing, vaguely cybernetic sheep with glowing red eyes. Two minutes and thirty seconds into the video, you will be screaming, “What the hell is that?!?” and reaching for any available firearms.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

This thing’s going viral, but not necessarily in a way that will help Carly Fiorina’s message. It just oozes that special brand of ludicrous hilarity that the Internet loves, and the Internet will give the demon sheep many, many lives. And, you will now be able to say, “I knew the demon sheep when.”

If I thought the creation of the demon sheep was an intentional Internet hit, I’d be impressed, but I’m not sure it was. Nor am I sure that the true inanity required to produce viral hits will ever be the kind of thing that serves political campaigns well, but here’s to the Fiorina campaign for creating something we’ll all remember.

Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post:

HOLY CRAP, AMERICA. Mere days after a teensy little Orleans Parish Coroner’s election offered the opening salvo in the Attack Ad Wars of Campaign 2010, we have this ad from Carly Fiorina, running for the Senate in California that is a straight-up game-changing, shock-and-awe slice of pure, mountain-grown BONKERS.

In this THREE-AND-A-HALF MINUTE LONG video, the Fiorina campaign goes after former California Congressman Tom Campbell, who leads the Republican field in the primary race to unseat incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. The Fiorina campaign’s main point is that Campbell is a “Fiscal Conservative In Name Only.” It’s a fairly standard issue claim — or at least it would be, if the video that presented the argument didn’t play like Terry Gilliam and Ingmar Bergman collaborated on a campaign-year sequel to “The Wicker Man”.

The epic ad begins with a voice-over narrator intoning, “Purity…piety…” against the backdrop of galloping sheep. Then, Monty Python animation kicks in, elevating one sheep on a giant column into the ionosphere. Then: THUNDER! LIGHTNING! Darkening skies! A new voice-over narrator — the cheapest Morgan Freeman imitator money could buy — starts impugning Campbell, amid jump cuts of Campbell and sheep and pigs and graphs and quotes, while Satan’s opera company chants dark recitatives in the background.

“And sadly, we’re just getting started…” Cheap Morgan Freeman says. And sadly, THEY ARE! JUST! GETTING STARTED! More accusations and quotes and scary question marks, until it achieves its apotheosis: DEMON-EYED SHEEP!

By the way: this whole metaphor of Campbell pretending to be a heroic cutter of budgets and limiter of government DOES NOT REALLY WORK when you refer to him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Surely, the brave fiscal conservatives are the more vulpine breed! Ideally, the Fiorina campaign would want to contend that Campbell is a SHEEP in WOLVES’ clothing. Right? Take off his disguise and he’s just another member of the herd? I guess it’s hard to work in the DEMON-EYED SHEEP image, in that case.

Also, when the ad gets around to mentioning that Fiorina is the better choice, maybe its makers should have killed the Satan Opera for a more optimistic piece of music?

Fiorina campaign: you should totally call me for ideas!

Wonkette:

OH MY GOD “Carlyfornia” Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has struck again on the Internet and the results are monstrous. It’s best at the beginning and end, especially the end, picking up steam at exactly 2:26. “2:26″ is the absolute most terrifying second of video on YouTube since the most recently uploaded clip of Roger Ailes.

UPDATE: Michael Scherer in Time

Bill Scher at Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #2: David Frum at FrumForum

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Filed under Bloggy Funnies, New Media, Politics

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Correct The Washington Post

From the Washington Post:

correction

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.

Rizoh at Rap Up

The embarrassment could’ve been easily avoided had the writer actually listened to “911 Is A Joke” first. I’ve done all the hardwork for them by digging up a music video of the 1989 PE classic. It took me 5 seconds.

Wonkette:

OH DEAR GOD

Why WaPo Neocons Should Not Write About Hip Hop

[…]

Unfortunately the U.S. military had already invaded Public Enemy by the time of this correction.

Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time

John Cook at Gawker (well, the comments):

“The Washington Post would also like to clarify a misstatement published on Nov. 26 in a profile of the actor and musician Will Smith. Mr. Smith was never, in fact, heir to the throne of Bel Air.”

In other news, police were fruitless in their attempts today to recover rapper Q-Tip’s wallet in El Segundo, CA.

Leor Galil:

It’s hard to tell how “911 Is A Joke” fit into the article, as it was immediately removed from the piece. (I have been unable to retrieve the original version of the article.) In any case, this is a major issue considering that song was off a Billboard-topping album released on Mar. 20, 1990 (A Huffington Post piece on the correction incorrectly stated that the album was released on May 26, 1990, which happens to be the date that the album peaked on Billboard at No. 10.) Considering that 1) the album came out 11 years before 9/11 and 2) Public Enemy were at the peak of their fame and notoriety when they dropped Fear of a Black Planet, it’s something of a big error that Dickson mistook a song where Flavor Flav raps about the (lack of) emergency responses in black communities to have something to do with September 11th. Considering the members of Public Enemy are still prominent members of the black community, its a bit reckless to say they made a song declaring 9/11 a joke when there’s plenty of evidence saying otherwise.

So, of course, the correction went viral.

The Daily Swarm posted the correction on its site a day after the correction came out. And then it made the rounds shortly thereafter.

Rachel Maddow tweeted about it.

The Huffington Post had a write up (with an inaccuracy of its own, as I previously mentioned.)

The Washington City Paper had a little post on its Arts Blog.

Techdirt took the Post to task for the error.

The Rap Up used it as ammo for the Post’s lack of hip-hop knowledge.

All told, the short correction generated more readership than the initial article did. Dickson’s piece had a Facebook widget that said four people had posted it to their Facebook sites.

444 people linked to the Post’s correction on Facebook; 55 people plastered the link on digg.

1,890 people linked to the article on Twitter. That’s over 59 times as many people who tweeted the original article.

All of this isn’t even counting all the write-ups linking to the correction, many of which show a healthy number of posts on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

Clearly, Dickson and the Post made an error (UPDATE/CORRECTION: As Post music/arts critic J. Freedom du Lac points out, one cannot definitively say who at the paper caused the error – it could be an editor-introduced error as much as anyone else’s error). Unfortunately, a lot has been lost in the re-tweets and re-posts of the correction. People have been too quick to jump on the Post for the error, many of whom criticized the Post for not putting a correction up sooner.

Yet, most of these individuals would have never discovered the error had the Post not written about it in the first place: only three readers commented about the error when it first cropped up. And obviously, the Post listened.

Craig Silverman at Columbia Journalism Review:

Then along came @phontigallo. That’s the Twitter account of Phonte (Phonte Coleman), a member of the Grammy-nominated hip hop group Little Brother. Just after 11 p.m. on Sunday, he tweeted a link to the Post correction and noted, “This inspired my next trending topic.” From there, he unveiled the #washingtonpostcorrections hashtag, which invited people to come up with amusing imagined corrections related to famous hip hop songs and artists. He started things off with these:

Soon, people were chiming in and a meme was born. Twitter users continued to churn out imagined Post corrections into the early part of this week. Some of my favorites:

@iivoreee: ‘Fear of A Black Planet’ determined to be an album and not a critique of a struggling dating site.

@jsmooth995: George Clinton has assured us his roof remains intact, and he takes fire safety quite seriously

@corones: An earlier article incorrectly stated that Chicago was not Frank Sinatra’s kind of town. In fact, it is.

@corones: An earlier article incorrectly stated that Sir-Mix-A-Lot dislikes big butts. We regret the error.

@justinmpeterson: We regret mistakenly asserting that Coolio had been spending most his life living in a gangsta’s paradise.

@justinmpeterson: We would like to clarify that if you got a problem, yo, Vanilla Ice will not actually solve it.

Also on Twitter, Post reporter J. Freedom du Lac (@jfdulac) took note of the trending topic:

Not surprisingly, our “9/11 is a joke” correction has become a meme. And some of the #washingtonpostcorrections are hilarious.One person also used the hashtag as a vehicle for media criticism:

@streethistory #washingtonpostcorrections is still more accurate then the #washingtontimes(We’ll forgive him his “then” error…)

Corrections are often amusing. This was a great example of that fact. But the use of a correction to create a hashtag is also a powerful reminder that the public knows what corrections are, and why they exist. The commenters on the Post’s story didn’t hesitate to demand a correction, and Twitter users had no problem using the correction format and tone as a means to elicit humor. It speaks to how ingrained the correction is in the minds of citizens and media consumers.

The birth of the #washingtonpostcorrections hashtag once again sends the message that people expect corrections. News organizations also shouldn’t be surprised to see their mea culpa take on a life of its own.

UPDATE: Regret The Error

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Filed under Bloggy Funnies, Mainstream, Music, New Media