Friday, March 28, 2008

MP3 of the Week: "Thank God This Month is Almost Over" Edition

Not that it's been an out and out awful month, just an exhausting one. We aren't sure we could take much more of it. Let's do a quick recap.

It started off with Hillary Clinton swooping in to Texas amidst gunfire (shown here, obviously heroically protecting this poor girl from incoming bullets; not shown: Sheryl Crow) to squeak out a victory at 3 AM in the morning. Meanwhile, the Obama people quietly went about their business collecting more delegates.

Soon after it was SPRING BREAK! WOOO! During Spring Break we headed out for a few SXSW-related activities - one day's worth - and exposed the Little Supercomputers to live music for the second and first times. Both remained unimpressed.

Spring Break ended. That sucked.

March Madness began. Someone forgot to tell Baylor until 20 minutes in.

Someone unearthed some videos of a pastor that is supposed to make us not want to vote for a candidate. No, it was not John Hagee calling Hurricane Katrina an act of God's vengeance against gays and Palestinians.

Then Barack Obama gave the great speech of our generation.

Eliot Spitzer caused The News Corporation to surge on two fronts: Fox News and Myspace. Bear Sterns was sold for a Player to be Named Later.

Dear Mr. Supercomputer destroyed its previous high of posts in a month with 15, including this one, not including any more that may be coming in the next few days. However, we certainly padded our stat sheet.

The month is mercifully coming to an end. We're basically no better or worse off than we were when it all started. We're all a little more cynical, a little wiser about the world. We even got all spiritual for a minute, just in time for Easter.

So the end of the month comes as a relief for this blogger. Because he's just so fucking tired.

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Today, somewhere between Dallas and Austin, we listened to "Windowsill" by Arcade Fire. We heard the phrase "Don't want to live in America no more." Then we realized we were singing along. And then we thought, "oh shit! We've been to an Arcade Fire concert! We love Arcade Fire! And we sure as hell aren't going to stop going to Arcade Fire concerts because Win sings this egregiously 'unpatriotic' line! There's probably pictures of me at Arcade Fire concerts! Receipts for Neon Bible! Is this going to come up in our 2032 run for President against Chelsea Clinton?! Fuck! This is going to kill us in Pennsylvania!"

But just like Obama can't disown his pastor, I cannot disown Arcade Fire. So the mp3 of the week comes courtesy of them, and let's just hope that the 2032 Clinton team never find footage of me at the Rufus Wainwright concert.

Arcade Fire - "Windowsill"

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jeremiah Wright is Not the Problem

I read this article ("Jeremiah Wright is Not the Problem," by Gary Kamia, Salon.com) after I wrote the previous post. I thought about just adding it to the end, but I feel it deserved it's own post. It is one of the most thoughtful things I've read on the whole incident.

Here are the first five paragraphs.

Maybe we really are doomed to elect John McCain, remain in Iraq forever and nuke Iran. Nations that forget history may not be doomed to repeat it, but those that never even recognize reality in the first place definitely are. Last week's ridiculous uproar over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons proves yet again that America has still not come to terms with the most rudimentary facts about race, 9/11 -- or itself.

The great shock so many people claim to be feeling over Wright's sermons is preposterous. Anyone who is surprised and horrified that some black people feel anger at white people, and America, is living in a racial never-never land. Wright has called the U.S. "the United States of White America," talks about the "oppression" of black people and says, "White America got their wake-up call after 9/11." Gosh, who could have dreamed that angry racial grievances and left-wing political views are sometimes expressed in black churches?

It's not surprising that the right is using Wright to paint Barack Obama as a closet Farrakhan, trying to let the air out of his trans-racial balloon by insinuating that he's a dogmatic race man. But beyond the fake shock and the all-too-familiar racial politics, what the whole episode reveals is how narrow the range of acceptable discourse remains in this country. This is especially true of anything having to do with patriotism or 9/11 -- which have become virtually interchangeable. Wright's unforgivable sin was that he violated our rigid code of national etiquette. Instead of the requisite "God bless America," he said "God damn America." He said 9/11 was a case of chickens coming home to roost. Now we must all furrow our brows and agree that such dreadful words are anathema and that no presidential candidate can ever have been within earshot of them.

This is absurd. We're worrying about someone in Row 245 who refuses to stand up for "The Star Spangled Banner," while the people who are singing loudest and waving the biggest flags are the ones who got us into the mess we're in today.

Wright isn't the problem. Stupid patriotism is the problem.

Words, Anit-Americanism, Bigotry, and The Ordained Ministers Who Brought Them To You

Why was there such an uproar over Jeremiah Wright's statements? Not that they weren't offensive, rude, shortsighted, and unproductive; they were all of those things and more.

But still, why was there such an uproar to the point where it became a potential deal-breaker in presidential politics? Obama didn't say those things, his pastor did. To suggest that someone should leave a long attended church because of some words the pastor said seems a little hasty to me. Have I agreed with everything every pastor of mine said? Of course not. Were I to run for president one day, would my opponents run through the old sermons of all my pastors and comb them over to see if there was anything controversial? Do I need to go back and double check just to make sure (DMS nation would love nothing more than a DMS run at the White House)?

So again, what exactly was it?

Certainly Wright's words were ill-chosen at best, ignorant and insensitive at worst. But I didn't hear stunned silence after he said them, I heard a lot of "Amens!" and clapping. There's something there, but that's not really the point of this post.

The point is to ask: why did this pastor's words, above all other issues and problems going on today, take front and center stage in a Presidential contest? Why would or should someone even think about Jeremiah Wright's words when deciding to vote for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John McCain?

John Hagee, who recently endorsed John McCain suggested that Hurricane Katrina was the result of rampant homosexuality and Palestine. John Hagee said Catholicism was the "whore of Babylon." Sure, there was some murmuring here and there, but to me, the speech of Hagee is as unfounded, ridiculous, and hateful as anything Wright said. But that doesn't mean I'll consider what John Hagee said when I consider voting for him in the Fall.

Pat Robertson advocated the assassination of a sovereign leader, though corrupt and dictatorial he may be. That's more incendiary than most anything that Jeremiah Wright said, but I don't think it discludes everyone who has ever heard Robertson preach.

Mrs. Supercomputer and I were once confronted with a similar situation as Barack Obama. In Fort Worth we attended a church that we very much liked after a few visits. We talked to the pastor and went to some of their ministries to check it out. It looked great. Then the pastor one Sunday morning, in the heat of the moment, began spouting what Mrs. Supercomputer and I considered anti-immigrant rhetoric. While I don't remember exactly what he said (and it won't be on youtube until I run for President), it was something along the lines of "you weren't born here, so get on a plane and go back to your own country where you can't bomb us!"

Mrs. Supercomputer and I looked at each other right after he said it. The look in our faces allowed us to communicate our horror at that statement. We got up and walked out of the service less than a minute later. We never returned to that church, despite a home visit by the pastor trying to re-recruit us.

So in a sense, we did the opposite of what Obama did, and what many people are claiming he should have done: leave the church and don't come back.

However, there's a monumental difference: we had gone to the church a few times, whereas Obama had been going there for years, had roots there, was married by Wright and involved with the surrounding community. To put it in context, had one of my other pastors made such a controversial statement (like the one that married the Supercomputers) I would have stuck by him and continued to enjoy his services. If the pastor who married us said "God damn America" I would have stayed. I would have continued to be friends with him. Three words are never enough to damage a relationship to the point that one side should walk out and give up, never to return. And three words from a pastor should never be enough to make someone want to leave a church that has been their home for years. I wouldn't leave my wife if she said some ugly statements, and nor should someone leave the church for the same reason.

But still, there's the question of "why did this cause such an uproar?" I've addressed why Obama shouldn't have left his church even if he had heard such statements. I've shared examples that are similar and applicable to other candidates. But I still haven't found an answer to why this caused such an uproar on the talk shows.

My guess is simply this: they finally found something. I don't know if "they" is the Clinton campaign or Republicans, but "they" finally found something that could drive voters away from the Obama camp. And so they're shouting it from the rooftops, just like when the Clinton campaign thought they had struck gold with that "3 AM" bullshit and they started using the phrase "3 AM" like we should all be not sleeping at night because "3 AM" is the time when terrorists attack us. But instead of "3 AM," it's "God damn America."

To be sure, it appears as if those "3 AM" ads worked to some extent. And it's a shame too because as Bill Clinton said, you should always vote for the candidate who appeals to your hopes and dreams than the one who appeals to your fears. It would be even more of a shame if voters were frightened away from Obama by the words of a pastor. And it begs (and possibly answers) the question, "why would someone use Wright's words as an excuse not to vote for Obama, meanwhile neglecting Hagee's equally offensive comments?"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Aborted Second Communion

When I was like 8 or 9 or 12 or something I took Firsts Communion at St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church in Austin, TX. I don't really remember it but we have the picture to prove it. And while I don't remember First Communion, I do remember that I hated going to CCD, which when you completed it, you got to take First Communion. I don't think I went back to St. Thomas Moore after that.

It was probably a good eight or so years before I had the opportunity to have my second communion at Grace Community Church in Austin, TX. Invited by a friend for Wednesday youth group, I ended up going back on Sunday morning. I was a regular do-gooder I guess. Anyway, they started passing around a tray with those little clear plastic cups filled with grape juice and little oyster crackers. Before the tray got to me, my friend made it clear that I shouldn't take communion. In so many words, I was told that if I had not had a conversion experience, taking communion would banish me to hell with no possible chance of parole. He said something like it's one of the biggest sins you could possible make: to take communion without being "saved."

So I passed by communion that day. I watched everyone else sip their grape juice and down their oyster crackers, wondering if they were strategizing just how to convert me.

Eventually I did take communion again. I did so tonight. I was thinking about this story and wondering if it is truly so offensive to partake in this ceremony without really understanding Christianity. I also began to think about how we're supposed to repent of all our sins before we take communion and I was wondering if there was a time - or rather, how many times - I had taken communion without examining myself and this allegedly most holy of ceremonies. So I tried to unload a few things as quickly as I could when Girl Supercomputer, who must have snuck out of the kids' room jumped up in my lap. I figured that meant it was time to get out of my seat and I headed up there and took the bread and drank the cup with her in my left arm.

One day she'll probably ask what communion really means. I have all these conflicting thoughts and conflicting stories to tell her. I don't want her to feel like she's not allowed to do anything, particularly partake in a religious experience. But I don't want her to just do it because everyone else is doing it either. I know I have a little time before such a day occurs, but I don't know what story to tell her.

I'll probably just tell her the one about when she prevented me from recounting every bad thing I had ever committed. That's kind of what Christianity is anyway.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The *Real* Nine Circles of Hell



Exactly 708 years ago today marks the beginning of Dante's Inferno in which he was contemplating suicide in the woods and then caught a glimpse of what he described as the Nine Circles of Hell. Each circle had a different category of sin associated with it. There he saw several historical and biblical figures. It is unclear where King "Longshanks" was.

Well, last night, while we weren't contemplating suicide necessarily, between Baby Supercomputer's refusal to eat despite being hungry and Toddler Supercomputer's wetting her pants, let's just say we weren't in a happy place, we also had a vision of the nine circles of Hell.

You see, Dante got wrong. There are indeed nine circles of hell, with each level for increasing levels of sin. However, his depiction of the crimes committed relegating the poor souls into said circles is way off. Here are the DMS 10 Circles of Hell.

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Ye, verily I say to you, the sights ye are about to beholde are notte for the fainte of hearte!!!

Sorry, the 'e' button was stuck on my keyboard.

1. Radio talk show hosts. I was a little surprised to see them so early, but there they were: Rush, Howard, and Colin Cowherd. And while it wasn't the deepest of levels of hell, it was certainly the most annoying.

Their punishment: They didn't even notice they were wallowing in human waste because they were all complaining about the immigration policies of the U.S. or how Allen Iverson is a thug.

2. Anyone associated with a truck commercial. From the head of the advertising section, all the way down to John Mellencamp, there they were. There was a propensity of country singers here. And of course, Bob Segar. There was a special subset of Texas truck commercial makers.

Punishment: They had their eyes gouged out and had to listen to a "This is Our Country" and "Like a Rock" simultaneously for all eternity.

3. Assholes. All the assholes in the world were there. And also several subsets of assholes: jerk wads, morons, and jerk offs to name a few.

Punishment: They had to stand in an endless line at the DMV, waiting for the next window to be open. But alas, it never was.

4. Disgraced televangelists. As I ventured further through the depths, there was a cadre of once prominent proclaimed evangelicals who had been defrocked, disgraced, and humiliated. Certainly, this was the most enjoyable of all the circles of hell.

Punishment: A football to the groin for all eternity.

5. That girl in the blue Mazda 626 with the license plate G54-297 on South 1st Street the other day. She knows why.

Punishment: The swelling, eternal sound of seventy times seven honking horns.

6. Political/White collar evildoers. Here was a mishmash of the indellible link between governmental and corporate crime. On the one hand you had the Enron people and the other you had Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby. Yes, Scooter. George Bush may have commuted your sentence for a federal crime, but Lucifer is not so forgiving.

Punishment: Remember that scene towards the end of Maverick where Mel Gibson throws up the gun to the squabbling James Garner and James Coburn? And then it turns out to be empty of bullets. That's what happens. Except instead of a gun, it was an endless can of mace. And it sprayed the guy who caught it in the face unsuspectingly as well.

7. Bugs. Man I hate bugs. I'm pretty sure they don't have souls, but they were cast down to hell anyway. And thank goodness. Bugs suck. All of them. Ants, spiders, roaches, crickets. I fucking hate bugs. They're gross and they creep me out. They can rot in hell, souls or not, for all I care. I don't care if they're a fundamental part of the food chain. I don't even care if they're on the endangered species list. Squish them and send them straight to the firey pits where they belong.

Punishment: This guy:



8. Credit Card Companies. Not the actual people, mind you. Just the companies and the data that hold good people down. And the soulless robots who man the companies.

Punishment: The Righteous souls who dutifully paid their life savings to these bloodsucking entities got to stand there like Ed Norton at the end of Fight Club and watch them blow up. It was awesome.

9 These are the real bad people. Here's where we get to Hitler, Edi Amin, and Jimmy Carter ("He's history's greatest monster!").

Punishment: I didn't stick around for long because I was trembling, but all I saw was this squirrel.



So you know some bad stuff was about to go down.

Bonus Level of Hell! It's easy to see how Dante missed this level. See, you have to get the magic whistle on the top of the castle. And you need the raccoon suit to get up there. This was the circle of Surprised Terrorists.

Punishment: In hell.

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And lo, I climbed out of the mire to the sound of Baby Supercomputer screaming for food and a new diaper at 4:15 AM. Wait a second...... where am I......

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MP3 of the Week: "Office Productivity Goes to Zero" Edition

This year we didn't have to choose between SXSW and the NCAA like we did last year. That's the good news. The bad news is that Spring Break has come and gone and that means we'll have to be watching the games at "work" tomorrow. And by "work" I mean "watching the games."


Now, who wants some Kentucky Fried Chicken?

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In other, non-sports, non-Obama, news, the Supercomputer family invited three recent albums into their home. One of which is Headlights' Some Racing, Some Stopping. We've pimped Headlights before on this here blog and will be doing so often as Some Racing, Some Stopping is a very early favorite of 2008.

Headlights - "Get Your Head Around It"




Friday, March 14, 2008

MP3 of the Week : "TOP is the New TVOTR" Edition

This year Dear Mr. Supercomputer was allowed to attend one whole afternoon of free SXSW day shows. Emphasis on "free" and "one."

We started out at the Red Eyed Fly, which was to be our final destination, but we didn't stay for long. We had to check out the scene. After catching a bit of Foreign Born we trekked over to Emo's. There we caught the Ravonettes. Then we checked out Mohawk. Not sure what band I watched, but I figured it was time to get back to the Red Eyed Fly to see the band we came to see: The Octopus Project.

Fantastic show. Unique experience. You know it's going to be a good concert when one of the instruments is a theremin and another is a Macintosh laptop.

We've been pimping The Octopus Project for a while now and they haven't lost any of their value. Can't recommend them highly enough.

The Octopus Project - "The Adjustor"



Here's a video of "Truck."


Monday, March 10, 2008

Concerning Last Night's Post...

No I wasn't drunk when I made last night's strange, yet ultimately disappointing and worthless, post. I wasn't inspired. It was a weird feeling I haven't had in a long time.

I had time. Not a ton of it mind you. But all the other Supercomputer household members had gone to bed and I was the only one left up. And more amazingly, I wasn't totally exhausted. To add more it, there was no work for those of us on SPRING BREAK (!!!!!). So there I was, no one to talk to, a bit on the bored side, and not ready quite yet to go to bed.

Yes, rare times indeed.

So when I have free time I simply to expect to blog. But I had nothing to say. And instead of covering it up with some lamewad post like I usually do, I just hit "publish" and called it a post.

Rest assured faithful readers, there will be more exciting developments to come: SXSW, a possible Fort Collins bail-out, the NBA playoffs, gray hair. But we're just a bit tired of the usual stuff over here: nothing has inspired us musically this year, we're so fucking tired of Obama-Clinton we just want it to end now, we don't feel like reading, and there probably won't be major developments in the development of the Supercomputer children any time soon.

So I apologize if I'm starting to sound a bit like lonelygirl15. We'll be up and running again in no time at all.

Now if you'll excuse me, it is after all SPRING BREAK!!!!! and I'm going to go celebrate accordingly.


(P.S. True to form with Blogging Truth #1, within 12 hours I had infinitely many more comments on that three letter post, than on, say, this one.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

MP3 of the Week: "This is not going to be about politics, I swear" Edition

Winter to Spring.

Football to Baseball.

Oscars to 10,000 B.C.

Early to bed to late to bed.

Bundling up to mowing the lawn.

Sweaters to shorts.

Coffee to iced coffee.

Top 10 Lists to SXSW.

February Madness to March Madness.

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Ed Harcourt - "All of Your Days Will Be Blessed"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Well That Sure Sucked Donkey Balls


It's 3 AM and the phone rings. I can't believe that bullshit worked.

To Pennsylvania (yes, even you, Pittsburgh) I want you to consider Bill Clinton's advice when deciding whom to vote for.



(p.s. Texans always like to josh about how they can still secede from the Union. Can Austin secede from Texas?)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why I'm Voting (Twice) for Barack Obama

Photobucket

Tomorrow, record breaking numbers of primary voters will head to the polls (many already have). In Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont voters will cast a vote for their candidate of choice. In Texas, voters will cast a vote for their candidate of choice, then, if they so desire caucus for, presumably, that same candidate.

Having already voted for Obama, Dear Mr. Supercomputer intends to caucus for Obama tomorrow night.

Why?

People cite inexperience most often when describing when not to vote for her. Personally I find that to be a plus, but most people apparently do not.

So why am I caucusing for Barack Obama over Hilary Clinton? Let's run down the reasons.

Rolling back the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts I believe was one of the most economically irresponsible acts of my lifetime. You don't cut taxes just as we're about to go to war. It was essentially a big middle finger to our children. Sure, they scored major political points with conservatives, but let's face it: our kids are screwed. Both Clinton and Obama have declared to roll back the tax cuts, but I believe Obama is more apt to follow through.

College tuition for community service. The idea of redeeming $4000 of tuition for giving back to the community or world at large is one I can get behind and one I wish had been around.

Ethics. Perhaps the quintessential political issue concerns getting the money and the lobbyists out of the political process. I'm not sure any of these issues really matter until you deal with this. Obama has always championed political ethical reform.

A foreign policy of discussion and diplomacy, even with out enemies. When he first suggested that he would talk to our enemies without preconditions, pundits chalked it up to inexperience, like he misspoke or something. Turned out that he meant it. And that lots of other Americans see the value in actually talking to our enemies. It's going to take a lot to get the opinion of the U.S. back up. This would be a step in the right direction.

He's African-American. Let's not beat around the bush on this one. And don't diminish it. I'm not saying that you are obligated to vote for Obama because he's black. However, it cannot be denied that what it represents has value.

The possibility of a landslide. Major reform in the U.S. is not going to happen with a 51-49% victory. It's also not going to happen unless there's a major usurping of Republican power in Congessional elections. Obama has demonstrated the ability to get independents to come out and vote Democratic. Conversely, nothing would galvanize the Republican base like running against Hilary Clinton. Fairly or unfairly, Clinton would at best with a 2-3% majority, and meanwhile her name on the ticket might cost the Democrats several Senate and House Seats (just like her husband did). The ceiling on Obama is much higher. A 55% majority in the popular vote and a 60-40 seat advantage is the only way to bring about major health care and economic reform. Hilary won't be able to get that. It's not just "electability," it's "landslide-ability."

The energy of the Obama voters. Again, while you can suggest this is not necessarily a substantive point, you cannot deny its importance. The Democratic party has a change to energize itself like never before. If it were to lean Clinton's way, I think that would be a big "fuck you" to the youth vote, and the staggering one million+ people who have donated to his campaign.

Obama politics. For the first time in my lifetime, we are on the brink of having a President who truly understands, invokes and employs ground-up politics. Some call it grassroots. But it's truly bottom-up, whereas every other candidate is top-down. The way the campaign has been run and funded reflects and embodies this ground-up style politics. He will get people involved that never have been. He already has. He will be the most interactive President of our lifetime.

Obama the person. When it gets right down to it, people more often than not, simply vote for the person they like better. And I like Obama. I prefer the person who's a few years removed as a civil rights attorney over the person a few years removed from the board of Wal-mart. I prefer the person who is engaging and energetic and consistent over the person who is only one of those three things.

What's particularly scary about that last point is that John McCain is actually a pretty likable guy. In fact, it would be difficult to see him losing against Hilary. All that "experience" and "red phone, 3 AM" bullshit goes right into his wheelhouse. In fact, we might have even voted for McCain over Gore and McCain over Kerry. While we wouldn't vote McCain over Hilary, we also probably won't vote Hilary over McCain.

In fact, if Clinton wins the nomination we'll probably have to write in the following:



Yes that's right. We'd write-in vote for Inanimate Carbon Rod for President. You think I'm joking, don't you....

So, to the state where I was born and the state where I reside, vote for the one man who can bring together Arcade Fire and the Black Eyed Peas (below), vote OBAMA!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hey, My Vote for Chris Bell is Meaningful After All!

Remember this guy:



We liked him. We thought he was intelligent and thoughtful. And certainly the smartest guy on this stage. So much so that we voted for him for Texas Governor in 2006. And while he lost the election by about 10 points to incumbent Rick Perry (you know, this guy) it turns out that he might play a role in determining the next President of the United States.

Well, not so much him, but the people who voted for him.

While many are still understandably confused by the bizzare Texas prima-caucus, the Austinist is all over the delegate distribution for the caucus part of it:

"The way they ultimately calculate this involves a labyrinthine arrangement of (A) precinct-level delegate distributions based on the number of people who voted for Chris Bell in 2006 (remember that?), (B) county/senatorial district level conventions, and (C) various and sundry bureaucratic shenanigans -- all of which you really don't need to worry about" (emphansis mine).


So the delegates are apportioned in part by the number of Chris Bell votes in the area. Where do you think the most Chris Bell votes were? That's right: Dallas, Houston, and Austin. The rest of the state may have voted for Perry, Kinky Friedman, or "One Tough Grandma," but it means that those three "liberal meccas" will carry a disproportionate amount of weight in the up coming Texas caucus, even relative to their size (Austin is worth more than San Antonio for instance).

Advantage Obama.