Story from North America

There’s no legitimate rationale for why this little animation should be amusing, but it is.

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A Very Disappointing Animation Experiment

A website called Xtranormal claims that you can make short animated films using typed text you provide. They then use synthesized voices, and extremely basic movement cues, to render a sort of… thing.

Admittedly, the results are slightly artistically better than Family Guy, but quite a bit less entertaining than a Blingee.

Alas, this Xtranormal service only allows you to render one of your creations without payment, so you are likely witnessing both the Alpha and Omega of Film Dilaceratus. Savor it while you may.

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Rip Torn Allowed to Do As He Likes, for Comedy

They should’ve given him a Medal:

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Prosecutors say actor Rip Torn has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from allegations he broke into a Connecticut bank while drunk and armed… the Emmy Award-winning actor pleaded guilty Tuesday to reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and the illegal carrying of a firearm.

The 79-year-old actor was given a 2 1/2-year suspended sentence and three years of probation. Conditions include a ban on firearm possession and random drug and alcohol tests.

This video is supposed to start at 3:30, for the greatest moment in television history, provided by Mr Torn. If it doesn’t work, feel free to enjoy ten minutes of Larry Sanders Artie highlights. There’s another eight minutes here:

And then another ten minutes of mortifying, unwatchable weirdness as chemically challenged mates Rip Torn and Norman Mailer “improvise” a new ending to Mailer’s trainwreck of a film, Maidstonein 1970:

That there is some Real Biting and Real Hammering in this clip should only convince you that Reality Television is actually probably an improvement over Reality Film.

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When in Doubt, Emulate Jay Leno

Tero Nurminen doesn’t seem to be lacking in technical proficiency, he just has bad ideas. All of this Thigh-Master kitsch would have been tiring had it been done sometime in 1991, but this piece was done in 2009! Are the Ironic Cultural References of Hack Comedians seriously arriving in Helsinki two decades late?

You can be his friend on Facebook, if you like. Perhaps you’ve finally found someone to appreciate your lame Murphy Brown-Dan Quayle gags?

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Colossal Idiot Makes the Most Idiotic Argument He Can Think Of

(Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos is the one who looks like David Broder, not doing a Nazi salute, on your right.)

Did you know that United States Marines were mentally deficient big babies, unable to protect themselves or others in battle situations, due to their inability to concentrate? United States Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos wants you to know this, because he doesn’t want any of his big babies to get hurt:

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos — who has opposed repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — suggested that if Congress lifts the ban against open service and allows gays to serve without hiding their sexual orientation, the Marines could be so distracted that they would die in the line of duty:

The chief of the US Marine Corps said Tuesday that ending a ban on openly gay troops in the military could jeopardize the lives of Marines in combat by undermining closely knit units.

General James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps and an opponent of lifting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prohibition, cited a Pentagon study saying Marines fighting in Afghanistan were worried that permitting gays to serve openly could disrupt “unit cohesion.”

“When your life hangs on a line, on the intuitive behavior of the young man… who sits to your right and your left, you don’t want anything distracting you,” Amos told reporters at the Pentagon.

“I don’t want to lose any Marines to distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda (hospital) with no legs,” he said.

He added that “mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives. That’s the currency of this fight.”

His comments were the toughest yet on the issue, after he testified at a congressional hearing that he opposed lifting the ban at a time of war.

Amos said Marines fighting in Afghanistan sent a “very strong message” in the Pentagon’s recent study, expressing opposition to the repealing the ban in an survey.

“I have to listen to that,” he said.

The Pentagon’s survey did reveal that Marines are most opposed to repealing the measure, but nowhere did it suggest that the distraction of gay servicemembers would have the effect of killing their straight counterparts. 

Goodness– I wonder if this sort of argument could be used in any other ways?

Black Marines could be a distraction– Check!

Catholic Marines could be a distraction– Check!

Atheist Marines could be a distraction– Check!

Jewish Marines could be a distraction– Check!

Muslim Marines could be a distraction– Double Check!

That’s one amazingly useful argument, one used by governments and institutions and corporations and religions for all sorts of things, over all of human history, to prevent Justice. “It’s not that we’re against it, you understand, it’s that we’re afraid of the danger it poses to others.”

So basically what Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos would like you to know is that the Marine Corps training is so useless and inept, and that Marines themselves are so useless and inept, that they would be institutional unable to make a procedural change and recognize the homosexuals already serving in their ranks, without taking major casualties.

Seems like we might have already known that.

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Everything Old is New Again

Did you think this sort of thing had been settled back in 1966 or so, when Naked Lunch was finally declared protected speech? Nope:…

Self-published author Selena Kitt was first notified that the print version of one of her fiction books violated Amazon’s content guidelines last week, followed by the unceremonious removal of two more offerings from the Kindle store. After noticing that the three books that Amazon singled out were all “erotic incest fantasy fiction,” she found at least three other authors whose incest-themed erotica had been removed from Amazon, followed by a Kindle support thread full of even more names.

“I want to be clear that while the subject of incest may not appeal to some, there is no underage contact in any of my work, and I make that either explicitly clear in all my stories or I state it up front in the book’s disclaimer,” Kitt wrote in a blog post. “I don’t condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn’t condone killing.”

As Amazon is actually the publisher of the eBook, their decision to not publish certain works flies in their claims of abhorring censorship, but it’s still within their rights.

But wait, there’s more:

On top of the book removal from Amazon’s store, Kitt’s readers reportedly found that her books had disappeared from their Kindles as well. “When one reader called to get a refund for the book she no longer had access to, she was chastised by the Amazon customer service representative about the ‘severity’ of the book she’d chosen to purchase,” Kitt wrote.

This is a little bit further down the road than just saying we don’t want to sell your trashy erotica, and intend to marginalize works based on incestuous content (like Oedipus Rex and The Bible are also going to be removed from their store, of course), and turns into we are going to remove all traces of your work ever existing.

Which is, of course, exactly what Moral Puritans of all stripes try to do with Book Burning.

Amazon is not the government, but when one company dominates the entire publishing marketplace the way they do, they have become, in essence, a Public Information Utility. When public services become monoliths is the time when Trust Busters need to get to work.

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When Having Your Own Highway Isn’t Enough

The Washington Post reports today Muslim workers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC “said they felt discriminated against after being barred over the weekend from floors where an Israeli delegation was staying.” One supervisor reportedly explained to a Muslim worker that the Israeli delegation — which included Defense Minister Ehud Barak — “don’t want no face-to-face with Muslims.” The hotel’s general manager said she told some employees not to come in after the State Department had found “irregularities” in routine background checks on them before the Israeli visit. Yet one worker, who was teased by colleagues as a terrorist after the incident, said he’d worked with other VIPs before with no concern:

“In the cafeteria, they were looking at me, laughing, saying: ‘Ah, they don’t want you there. They maybe think you have a bomb in your belly,’” said the worker, who came to the United States from Africa more than two decades ago.

He said he had worked in proximity to other VIPs, such as George W. Bush, with no security concerns.

“I don’t care about Israel. To me, it’s just another country,” he said. “I work for [the hotel] 12, 14 hours a day, and they profile me like I’m a criminal, like I’m going to harm them. I’m like, ‘If I’m going to harm them, why would you keep me in your hotel even one day?’”

The Muslim civil rights organization Council on American-Islamic Relations is awaiting a statement from the hotel before determining whether to file a complaint. The Post notes that, in 2004 at another DC hotel, a Muslim security guard “was told to stay away from the 10th floor while an Israeli delegation was there. In that case, the hotel’s general manager said the request was made by security units guarding the delegation.”

Uh-huh, and if the Mandarin Oriental’s guests were South African government officials during the Apartheid era, they would have had no problem clearing their floors of black workers.


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