sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 29, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon Adventure

Filed under: Bay Area politics, society, whatever — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:27 am

Sunday afternoon we happened to pass by a political Wicca and incense store called Mariposa Botanica.  Among the t-shirts on display right outside the door was a picture of Sarah Palin with a words “Shut up already!” in place of her mouth.  That’s what I call inspiration.  I thought of a recent Jim Treacher post Liberals want conservatives to shut up, and conservatives want liberals to keep talking.  I found it a bit amusing that a liberal created an image of a silenced Sarah Palin when so many on the left fantasize of being silenced.

Dec 2010 London protests.  Because everyone is entitled to black nail polish.

Megan McCain, who is apparently in danger of being silenced due to her support for gay marriage.

And no, there is no free speech in the US or Israel.  And no, Palestinian cause is not mired in anti-Semitism.

Why do people who live in societies where they feel no legal repercussions for voicing their opinions, and where their opinions happen to get a fair share of air time, imagine themselves silenced?  Because they want to believe that they are wronged so that they can go ahead and do unto their opponents exact things they accuse them of doing.  So that silenced Sarah Palin t-shirt is contemporary far left at a rare honest moment.

I wanted to snap a picture of the t-shirt for the blog, but by the time I got my cell phone camera ready, a matronly 60-something woman in a long skirt came running out of the door, one small step after another.

“Stop!  Stop!  You are stealing the image,” she screamed.

I looked at her doubtfully.  I thought she was onto me, but no.  Evidently, she couldn’t fathom anyone objecting to her politics, and wanted to intervene on behalf of the masterpiece in her custody.

“A woman artist made this t-shirt,” she explained.  “She makes money this way.  When you take a picture of a t-shirt, you are stealing from her.”

I looked at the price tug.  $22.95.  Being a good capitalist, I would never pay that much for a t-shirt.  Not that I would buy that particular one for any price.

“What do you mean,” DH countered.  “Aren’t you a Marxist?  Property is theft, you need to share.”

“Marxist?  Marxist?  That’s not nice.”

That was a bit disappointing.  If you are going to be a Marxist, be a consistent one; don’t discard your convictions for profit.  She kept berating me in her little voice:

“This woman makes money off her t-shirts.  You need to buy one.  It’s her property.  You can’t take a picture.  It’s like taking a camera to a museum, you can’t bring a camera to a museum!”

“Actually, you can,” a passerby interjected.  “You can bring a camera to a museum.”

True, pictures are typically permitted, but not a flash.  For some reason, museums are not insecure.  People will not stop paying admission if their friends are allowed a snapshot of Van Gogh.  I’m sure the passerby is a liberal in good standing, but he overheard the conversation, and since he knew the right answer he had to intervene on behalf of truth. G-d bless him.

I’m amazed that the store owner was never debriefed on copyright law.  Because copyright doesn’t protect ideas, only their expressions, copyright applies to the exact image and words.  Taking the image the store owner’s girlfriend created and using it for commercial purposes is illegal.  On the other hand, a generic “Shut up Palin!” t-shirt with an image of silenced former Vice Presidential candidate does not infringe on her copyright, provided that the artwork is sufficiently different.  If I were to take this particular idea, I wouldn’t need a photo of the garment. A picture of merchandise sold at the store for documentary purposes, on the other hand, does not infringe on the lady’s copyright.  Of course, the store owner can set a policy that does not allow pictures at her business, although I’m not sure if it applies to the merchandise displayed on the sidewalk.

And what about the picture of Palin used to create the t-shirt on display?  Remember when career plagiarist Shepard Fairey got himself in legal hot water for stealing an AP photograph for his “Obama Hope” poster?  Well, I have a sinking suspicion that the feminist behind “Shut up Sarah Palin!” traced an AP photograph, Fairey-style.  Come to think of it, that store used to sell “We can do it” T-shirts with Hillary as Rosy the Riveter.  That’s generic.  They also carry a generic Native American Homeland Security t-shirt:

DH asked the old lady what she thinks about free speech, but she kept talking about her girlfriend’s income.  More thorough Marxists reject copyright because in their opinion it’s theft and it stifles speech.

Anyhow, although I didn’t get the “Shut up Palin!” image, I did get a bigger and better post out of this incident.


March 27, 2011

Good News for Obama?

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:31 am

Per latest Reuters poll 60% of Americans support Operation Let’s Pound Libya a Little.  Not bad, considering that the pundits are not impressed.  But that’s not where the good news lies.

Apparently a whopping 17% of American adults see Obama as a strong military leader.  I’m trying to imagine who this 17% are and whatever gave them that idea.  Perhaps they are very young and don’t understand what constitutes leadership.  Maybe some of them are followers of Luis Farrakhan who can’t believe that Obama got the temerity to go against Qaddafi.  But Farrakhan can’t possibly have that many followers.

Further good news:

Of those polled, 48 percent described Obama’s leadership as commander in chief as “cautious and consultative,” 36 percent as “indecisive and dithering” […].

“The data suggest he is perceived to be more consultative in his approach, which may distinguish him in the minds of the American public from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who was not perceived to be,” said Ipsos Public Affairs Director Julia Clark, adding that the responses broke along political lines.

So nearly half of Americans thinks that some sort of caution and deliberation was behind the “kinetic strike” business.  Do we have any evidence of any kind of deliberation on the part of the President?  As Pundit and Pundette note, Scarecrow is winging it (h/t Political Junkie Mom).  He articulated no goal, no plan of action, and is avoiding addressing the nation and the Congress to see how things will shake up.  In the meantime White House can’t figure out how to transition responsibilities to NATO.

Obama’s very own special multilateralism person Samantha Power wearing a negligee.

I find Caroline Glick’s take instructive.  First, there is Obama’s outlook:

The first side in the debate is the anti-imperialist camp, represented by President Barack Obama himself. Since taking office, Obama has made clear that he views the US as an imperialist power on the world stage. As a result, the overarching goal of Obama’s foreign policy has been to end US global hegemony.

Obama looks to the UN as a vehicle for tethering the US superpower. He views US allies in the Middle East and around the world with suspicion because he feels that as US allies, they are complicit with US imperialism.

Of course, the anti-imperialist ideology is mighty convenient when you have no interest in foreign policy to begin with.  If the United States is not a force of good in the international stage, then better stay out of the world affairs.  Better imagine that foreign countries, all of them, are good, and a few bows to foreign monarchs will solve all the problems.  No need to learn about history, politics or national character.  Not that they teach any of that in universities these days.  While shunning away from international affairs, our President busies himself campaigning and nationalizing this or that industry.

Obama subcontracted his foreign “policy” to Hillary, “the opportunist,” who:

[…] supports whoever they believe is going to make them most popular with the media and Europe. In the case of Libya, the opportunist interests dictated military intervention against Gaddafi. Europe opposes Gaddafi because the French and the British bet early on that his opponents were winning. France recognized the opposition as the legitimate government two weeks ago.

Once Gaddafi’s counteroffensive began, France and Britain realized they would be harmed politically and economically if Gaddafi maintained power so they began calling for military strikes to overthrow him.

Far from “cautious and consultative,” Obama is wish-washy and weak.  Republicans have their work cut out for them explaining this all to American people, 64% of whom don’t find the current President indecisive and dithering.  One hopes that the registered voters are a little better informed than the general population.

Obama and Qaddafi in the happier days.

For the record, I’m for replacing the old drag queen with a French or an American puppet, but that’s not what appears to be going on.

March 25, 2011

When Euphemism Backfires GRAPHIC

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:04 am

“Dear Reuters, you must be kidding,” — says Jeffrey Goldberg:

This is from a Reuters story on the Jerusalem bombing earlier today:

Police said it was a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.

Those Israelis and their crazy terms! I mean, referring to a fatal bombing of civilians as a “terrorist attack”? Who are they kidding? Everyone knows that a fatal bombing of Israeli civilians should be referred to as a “teachable moment.” Or as a “venting of certain frustrations.” Or as “an understandable reaction to Jewish perfidy.” Or perhaps as “a very special episode of ‘Cheers.'”

Ah, the perennial lefty desire to change reality via language.  I’m afraid, though, nothing can change the gruesome reality of terrorism.  It’s blown off limbs, babies decapitated in cold blood and slaughtered Holocaust survivors.  Whatever you call it, it’s a bloodthirsty savage murder.  Here is a good Russian proverb: “Call me a pot, just don’t put me into an oven”.  Instead of inventing lofty theories, linguists should study the simple wisdom of Russian people.  It’s more authentic, you know.  Terrorism is terrorism whatever you call it.

After mass of a Second Intifada Palestinian strike on a Haifa restaurant.

But wait, I thought we were trying to dissociate terrorism from the Palestinian cause.  Here we are insisting that a proper term for terrorist attack is a Palestinian strike.  Lets try out this euphemism.  How about:

A 59-year-old British woman was killed and 30 others wounded, including six Americans in a Palestinian strike in Jerusalem.


Fogel family massacre: five dead, including a three-months-old baby girl, in a Palestinian strike.

Uri and Hadas Fogel

What about the IRA and ETA, do they perform Palestinian strikes?  In the wake of Madrid train bombing in which terrorists murdered 191 civilians, Spanish government made allegations of ETA involvement.  Yet terror experts quickly pointed out that the scope of the attack and an absence of warning are typical of Islamist terrorists.  So, I guess, whether IRA and ETA perform Palestinian strikes is an open question.

Palestinian strike on Madrid

What about Al Qaeda?  Can you imagine:

Al Qaeda murdered more then 3,000 in a Palestinian strike on 9/11/2001.

Palestinian strike hits New York City

Granted, it’s a bit unfair to the residents of West Bank and Gaza to pin the whole phenomena of terrorism on them when suicide assassins have deep roots in the region and Palestinian identity was invented by Yasser Arafat and his henchmen.  Nonetheless, good job Reuters!

March 22, 2011

The Future of Biodegradable Doorstops in San Francisco

Filed under: Bay Area politics, environmentalism — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:18 pm

With 1.3 bil hall in the city budget, San Francisco Board of Supervisors is mulling a ban on unsolicited distribution of Yellow Pages:

A couple hundred people rallied in front of City Hall Monday to protest Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s legislative proposal to ban the unsolicited distribution of Yellow Pages in San Francisco.

Organized by the Yellow Pages Association, the demonstration drew employees from AT&T and other publishers of commercial phone books.

They banged thundersticks, held picket signs and at one point sang, ”God Bless America.” Their message: the proposed law would kill jobs and trample the First Amendment.

Some business owners decried the plan, saying that despite the popularity of the Internet, they still depend on the Yellow Pages to bring in business. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who sell ads in the Yellow Pages, also showed up in force.

You’d think that being that far in debt the City of San Francisco would be bending over backwards trying to encourage business, but no, they slap more and more regulations on commercial activity.  On the plus side, it’s nice to know that several hundred lost souls in San Francisco still care for the First Amendment. No need to mention the reason behind the proposed ban, but I will anyway:
”This benchmark legislation will conserve resources, promote green business practices and fiscal responsibility, and reduce our carbon footprint,” [Chiu] said. ”I look forward to a robust discussion of the facts at the Board of Supervisors in the weeks ahead.”
I can think of several uses for Yellow Pages: doorstops and booster seats for toddlers, for instance.  But when my father-in-law is in town, he inevitably asks for Yellow Pages.  The bottom line, if the book is published, and businesses pay money to be listed there, somebody still uses it.  Local governments are in no position to tell me how to look for vendors or to tell vendors how to reach customers.
As for the green issues, well, there is another use: an ecology lab.  Step One: Put your telephone directory out in the open in February or March, or whenever it rains in your area.  Step Two: Watch it dissipate.  Newspaper material is fully biodegradable, which is probably more then what can be said about your doorstop.  According to green sources, a newspaper will last 2-4 weeks in landfill due to lack of microbes, but the process speeds up once your yellow book is left out in the air (and in the rain).  Computers, on the other, hand are made of poison.

Helen Thomas v. Baba Yaga

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:04 am

She’s not much of a centerfold, but apparently it doesn’t stop Playboy from interviewing Helen Thomas.

In some ways she resembles Baba Yaga, third from the left on this picture, captured with Alenushka (which is Russian for little Helen — what do you know?) and Ivanushka:

Baba Yaga is a which-like character in Russian folklore. Her outward resemblance to the veteran White House correspondent might be uncanny, but it’s a superficial.   Baba Yaga is creepy cool, and Thomas is creepy creepy.  The coolness of Baba Yaga is a matter of ethnic pride to me, even though I’m not ethnically Russian.  Whereas Baba Yaga wants Ivanushka in the oven, and Helen Thomas wants Jews in the ovens.  Baba Yaga travels in a mortar holding a broom and a pestle.  Helen Thomas has no cool attributes, but she does hog the microphone.

Classic Ivan Bilibin illustration, 1900.

Baba Yaga lived deep in a forest in a hut perched on top of chicken legs.  Helen Thomas used to live in the front row of the White House correspondence room.

Baba Yaga has a bony leg, whatever that means, and she eats little boys.  Does Helen Thomas eat little boys?  Hmmm… did FBI check her fingerprints, I wonder.


March 20, 2011

Gotta Love the Headline!

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 8:33 pm

Obama Takes in Rio with Libya on his Mind. Right.

A speech in Rio beats addressing the Congress.  That appears to be Michelle’s bare midriff walking descending Aifforce One.

March 19, 2011

Beer and Poker with the Scarecrow

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:53 pm

In the finest tradition of Jewish mothers everywhere, I prove myself able to get fabulously sick.  I’m still lethargic, and my mind is still mushy.  DH, though, has some thoughts on the Paper Scarecrow.

First, Obama is touted to be a good poker player.  Some of the praises are rather dubious.  For instance,

“Very cautious in the sense that he didn’t just throw his money away. He played the odds. He didn’t play for the inside straight.”

Well, not playing the inside straight is beginner poker.  Apparently, Obama is a conservative player, and so is everyone else in Congress.  In other words, he waits for a good hand, and then plays it.  There are downsides to this strategy.  What if he never gets a good hand?  Plus, if he’s that conservative, when he plays a hand everybody knows that he has a good hand and folds.

Fortune dealt Barack Obama a very strong hand.  He’s like a 21st century Ringo.  Ringo Starr, a mediocre drummer, joined the Beatles just before they became a sensation.  For that he was dubbed the luckiest person of the 60s.  Barack Obama was propelled into the Presidency by an unbelievable stroke of luck.  He had no qualifications whatsoever, but he happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Either way, he has a good hand.

But what does he do with it?  He announces the deadlines for withdrawal in Afghanistan, and he now announced that there will be no ground force in Libya.  Even if he doesn’t plan on it, why reveal his intentions?  Pro poker players often come to the table wearing hats, hoods and dark sunglasses to avoid “tells”.  Obama is either a lousy player or simply doesn’t care.

High stakes pro poker.

People often say that Obama is very relational, the kind of guy you want to have a beer with.  He might be a failed President, but a nice guy.  Really?  He’s the prick who’d be sitting there talking endlessly and pretending that he knows everything when what he really knows is that paper he wrote his junior year in college.  If Obamas were invited to our house, Michelle would proceed to examine my kitchen.  Barack would “let me make it clear” us.

My idea of a good drinking companion is Governor Christie: an unassuming man who refuses to run for President because he says he’s not qualified.  He’s certainly more qualified then our current President.  And he certainly knows quite a bit, and I have a lot to learn from him.

Governor Christie talks to reporters.

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