Friday, September 29, 2006

Things that don't suck: Borat

Sacha Baron Cohen is the funniest man on the planet. I first saw him on HBO - he played Ali G in "Da Ali G Show" in which he skewered government officials & other pseudo celebrities in faux interviews - and I thought he was pretty funny. But now? Now he's legendary. He's morphed into Borat, a Kazakhstan journalist. The character is pure genius - think, Peter Sellers, Andy Kaufman - but better. From Wikipedia:
In order to pass himself off as a foreigner, Sacha writes his alleged notes in Hebrew, and uses occasional Polish words (Dziękuję thank you, Jak się masz? how are you?, Dzień Dobry good day, Przepraszam sorry, though never in the correct situations) when speaking to people—not using Kazakh or Russian (the state and official languages of Kazakhstan). This has nearly had Borat exposed as a fake in midfilming. He has also lapsed into Hebrew while purporting to sing the Kazakhstani national anthem (in fact a simple reciting of major Kazakhstani cities) at a Savannah Sand Gnats game. In Hebrew, he kept on repeating a famous folk song: קום בחור עצל וצא לעבודה (kum bachur atzel ve'tze la'avoda) [...] קוקוריקו קוקוריקו התרנגול קרא (kookooriku kookooriku ha'tarnegol kara) ("get up lazy guy and go to work [...] cock a doodle do the cock has crowed"), and also called Kazakhstan a "hole" (חור). The hair and moustache are real, and it takes Baron Cohen six weeks to grow them. The suit has never been washed, which may cause him to smell "foreign" to those he encounters, adding to the apparent authenticity of his character.
This guy is so immersed in his character, that to outsiders, he seems completely authentic - so much so that the Kazahkstan government has had to repeatedly release PR statements that refute his claims! From the Globe:
Kazakh officials have sought to raise the profile of the oil-rich former Soviet republic and assure the West that, contrary to Borat's claims, theirs is not a nation of drunken anti-Semites who treat their women worse than their donkeys.

Shortly after Nazarbayev dedicated a statue in front of the Kazakh embassy, Borat denounced an official Kazakh publicity campaign running in U.S. magazines as "disgusting fabrications" orchestrated by neighboring Uzbekistan.

Shortly after Nazarbayev dedicated a statue in front of the Kazakh embassy, Borat denounced an official Kazakh publicity campaign running in U.S. magazines as "disgusting fabrications" orchestrated by neighboring Uzbekistan."If there is one more item of Uzbek propaganda claiming that we do not drink fermented horse urine, give death penalty for baking bagels, or export over 300 tonnes of human pubis per year, then we will be left with no alternative but to commence bombardment of their cities with our catapults," Borat said.
Check out his website - so bad it's good:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Things that don't suck: Craig

The owner and founder of Craigslist was recently asked if he had considered selling the online classified giant, after analysts projected the value of MySpace in 3 years at $15 billion. His exact response:

"Who needs the money? We don't really care," Craig Newmark said in an interview at the Picnic '06 Cross Media Week conference here.

"If you're living comfortably, what's the point of having more?" Newmark said.

This guy is one of the reasons I still have hope for our society. When I win Powerball (I'm moving to NH, so I can say that now), I will live comfortably, but not in excess, and will dedicate my life to helping others, in some way. Bank on it. No gated driveways for me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Things that don't suck: Kicking the crap out of Fox News

If you have any doubts about Bill Clinton, and what he meant for this country while in office, all you have to do is watch both of these videos, start to finish, and contrast them against the supreme idiot in office now.

1) He admits his mistakes, because he doesn't want to make them again. The current president, without being glib, won't even admit that me mispronounces "nuclear" every single time.

Yes, sure, I know about Monica Lewinsky, and the phrase "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is." But when it comes down to things that really matter, like protecting our people...F's all across the board for H.W.'s son. No, no terror attack since 9/11, my NeoCon friends...lest we forget - our soldiers are our people, too.

2) He supported people from all reaches of the political spectrum, entrusting this nation's counter-terrorism security on the best man for the job. A conservative. Richard Clarke's book is a must read.

3) He is eloquent, even when angry, and doesn't take shit from anybody, even Fox News. In contrast, Bush won't do interviews. They make him look stupid.

Part I of Clinton vs. Fox News:

Part II of Clinton vs. Fox News:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Things that don't suck: Torii's Stories

There's a rumor going around that Torii Hunter could replace Coco Crisp in centerfield for the Red Sox next year. He's one of the best defensive CF's in the league, and a clutch hitter to boot. I was hoping they'd replace Damon with him last year in a trade.

Hunter played instructional league ball with David Ortiz, and has a funny story about him:

"Here's this 6-foot-4 guy, wearing size 91/2 shoes," said Hunter of his Instructional League encounter. "I'm like, 'What's wrong?' He said, 'My feet are killing me, man.' Every game he complained about this for a week and a half. Finally, he showed me his shoe. I said, 'You don't wear a 91/2.' So there it was, 1997 and he finally figured out he wears a 121/2. His feet were curling up in a 91/2 all that time."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Things that don't suck: Bringing on Bubba

The Herald is reporting that Deval Patrick is wasting no time in bringing in the big guns, announcing that the best President in the past 30 years, President William Jefferson Clinton, will be visiting the Bay State next month to campaign for his former employee. Kerry Healey's campaign manager released a few names that may stump for Healey:
Barbara Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Republican former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki are among the names being tossed around to bring star power to her campaign.
So, for all you scoring it at home, that's the bigot mother of the worst president in the history of the United States, the wife of the worst president in the history of the United States, and two New Yorkers. Nothing says "Massachusetts" like that group.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Things that suck: Good deeds, punished

We are looking to buy our first house, and around here, it's impossible to justify the prices that sellers are demanding, even in this weakened market. It's downright piggish. So, like thousands of other families living in Massachusetts, we started to look for alternatives to living in our "comfort zone". We've looked out as far as Shrewsbury & Ashland to the west, Rhode Island to the south...we're probably going to end up heading north, to southern New Hampshire.

Along the way, however, we looked at places in areas such as Framingham, Braintree, and Quincy - in questionable sections of town where you can get into a house for just over $300k, and I remember thinking to myself, "You know, no matter where we live, our children are going to end up fine. We're going to raise them right, they're going to learn the value of helping others, they're going to learn to keep their noses out of trouble."

So this week, when I learned about the story of Timmy Cahill, it sent chills up and down my spine - and gave our house hunt a lot more perspective. From the Boston Herald:
Timothy Cahill is as far removed from the sad and desperate world of a South Boston junkie as a Southie kid can get. Fact is, he works long hours at the South Boston Neighborhood House, trying to keep kids away from the abyss. He’s been coach, mentor, counselor and friend.

Still, Timmy Cahill, all of 25, was delivered to death’s door in the bright sunlight of Monday afternoon by a knife-wielding coward who mistook him for a Southie burnout with a long list of enemies.

It wasn’t the first time, friends said yesterday, that Timmy Cahill had been mistaken for one Joey Pano Jr. But this time, the lowlife who jumped out of a car on I Street, called him “Joey” and accused him of stealing a video game, didn’t wait to hear Timmy say, “You got the wrong guy.”

The knife tore through his liver and cut a main artery in his chest. Timmy was 20 feet from the Quencher Tavern, where his dad, Jimmy, a retired Boston firefighter, was waiting with his cheeseburger.

I can't imagine the anguish Jimmy Cahill felt, watching in horror as his son stumbled through the door, clutching his chest, blood spilling through his fingers. The elder Cahill had already gone through a traumatic event in his life: he had to retire from the BFD after suffering a massive stroke. And now, because of it, he was little help to Timmy, who would always be his little boy.

Due to the heroic efforts of the friends and family that constantly surround them, Tim has a good chance to survive. They quickly mobilized, and kept him from bleeding out. We'll probably hear about how Tim recovers, forgives his attacker, then returns to the life of service he undoubtedly owes to his upbringing. Essentially, a much greater good could come out of this. Or, conversely, he could die and become another tragic story with a moral.

Either way, I've decided that my life as a parent is just beginning, and the worrying that accompanies it is constant. So I'm going to find a nice house, on a nice street, in a nice town, and then lock my children in the basement.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Things that suck: When Lynndie England looks like a humanitarian

Remember Lynndie England (pictured)? Can you imagine being treated worse than this? America turned over the reins (literally) to Abu Graihab prison this week, and conditions have dramatically gone down the toilet. From the London Telegraph:
"The Americans were better than the Iraqis. They treated us better," said Khalid Alaani, who was held on suspicion of involvement in Sunni terrorism.

Inside the 100-yard long cell block the smell of excrement was overpowering. Four to six prisoners shared each of the 12ft by 15ft cells along either side and the walls were smeared with filth. The cell block was patrolled by guards who carried long batons and shouted angrily at the prisoners to stand up.

Access to the part of the prison containing terrorism suspects was denied, but from that block came the sound of screaming. The screaming continued for a long time.

"I am sure someone was being beaten, they were screaming like they were being hit," the witness reported. "I felt scared, I was asking what was happening in the terrorist section.

"I heard shouting, like someone had a hot iron on their body, screams. The officer said they were just screaming by themselves. I was hearing the screams throughout the visit."

The witness said that even in the thieves' section prisoners were being treated badly. "Someone was shouting 'Please help us, we want the human rights officers, we want the Americans to come back'," he said.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Things that don't suck: Fung-Wah diehards

So, the infamous Fung-Wah busline that travels between Boston and New York multiple times daily has finally pushed things too far. One of their buses capsized off of 290, injuring 34 people, and stirring the pot of all the major Boston news channels.

Fung-Wah has long been considered the psycho cousin to Greyhound & Bonanza; there are crazy rumors, from allowing passengers to drink on board, to driving in excess of 80mph, to having undocumented drivers. The latter two points have since come to the surface because of the accident. Last night on the news, I heard a couple of tidbits that I found interesting:

  • They've been able to ascertain the approximate speed the buses have been travelling, from EZ-Pass check-in times (another example of big brother watching your every move)

  • Channel 7 interviewed an awaiting passenger at South Station, who didn't help Fung-Wah's case: "I don't care what they say about Fung Wah, I'm still gonna ride. They HAUL ASS. You get to NYC in 4 hours - nobody can touch that."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Things that don't suck: Making Microsoft look worse

Google does it again. Today marks the launch of Google News, a vigorous undertaking on the part of Google and hundreds of newspapers. I remember the days when archived newspaper content needed to be sorted through on microfiche, or sorted through on Lexis-Nexis. Not only does this content become instantaneously available, it offers an additional revenue stream for newspapers. In other words, everybody wins. See, Microsoft? It's always better to share.

  • You pay $3 for your research, and save 3 hours. Check.
  • Google makes money off of advertising and the agreement with the newspapers. Check.
  • The newspapers make money off of "pay-per-view" articles, most of which were previously inaccessible unless you had a few hours to spare. Check.

While Google has made newspapers "famously ambivalent" over the years, today's launch turns Google into the "newspaper fee-based archive’s best friend." Google is not taking a cut of any of the revenue generated. While fee-based archives are available at each source, aggregating them together makes it possible to expose archive material more effectively than ever before, and to a wider audience.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Things that don't suck: Improving our image abroad through meaningful service

An op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun delves into the subject of mandatory service abroad for all U.S. college students. Service, as opposed to semester abroad is a fantastic idea, for three reasons:

  1. it would give students a better understanding of the world's cultural differences;

  2. it would establish meaningful operations that actually help people in need;

  3. it would promote one of the best reasons to love our country, a trait of the United States that the world rarely pays attention to: altruism.

From the article:

What if, in addition to touring museums and learning new languages, students did as Jan Eliasson, president of the U.N. General Assembly and foreign minister of Sweden, has suggested? He would like all American college students to spend a semester abroad not simply studying but conducting grass-roots service - staffing schools and clinics, improving water sanitation, developing environmentally sound agriculture and helping start local business ventures in the world's struggling nations.