Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Okay, now that we've solved the health care crisis and everyone is living healthy long lives with instant access to the best medical care ever for free, and now that we've solved the financial crisis and our messianic leader has promised us that there will never, ever be another financial bailout by the government ever...

Now that we've accomplished those things, I think it's time that our administration turn it's attention to possibly the new most important issue facing our society: The problem of bad journalism.

By now you've heard of the deliberately sloppy reporting by an unabashedly biased conservative blogger that resulted in the firing and severe emotional distress of Shirley Sherrod, a completely innocent and kind-hearted servant of the people who has absolutely no agenda of her own other than the ennobling of all of mankind.

To review of the situation, let me quote yet another ennobler, the late, great Xaview Onassis:
Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a video of Shirley Sherrod (a HUGE PUBLIC TARGET, being Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture) addressing the NAACP.

The video appeared to show her exhibiting a racist attitude towards a white farmer who came to her seeking help. In a knee-jerk reaction by the racially sensitive Obama Administration, Shirley Sherrod was immediately fired.

But guess what? The 2 minute video had been intentionally and maliciously edited down from a 44 minute video to make it appear that she was saying exactly the opposite of what she was actually saying!
That a mere blogger can have such an impact on the administration of our country is clearly a national security risk.

And this kind of thing isn't isolated or even rare. Examples of improper journalistic behavior are common. Remember Stephen Glass's scandalous reporting for neo-liberal publication The New Republic where he made up fictional facts, quotes and even people in his stories.

And who can forget disgraced TV journalist Dan Rather, who created fraudulent government documents for the sole purpose of attacking and discrediting a sitting president.

It's clear that there are systemic and endemic problems with the state of journalism in our republic. This is a problem that we cannot allow to fester.

Journalism is our window into the performance of our leaders. We, as voting Americans, rely on the news media to alert us to government malfeasance, to let us know what our leaders are doing with our tax money and what our national policies are, to keep us abreast of Lindsay Lohan's jailhouse granny panties.

So I think we can all agree that our news media is too big to fail.

Given that, I think it's time for the Obama Administration to step in and take action. We need new regulations that will ensure that the news media is telling us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Since the free market is unable to guarantee this, we obviously need better government regulation of the news industry.

I propose a new cabinet level position in the White House, the Secretary of Truth.

This new secretary-level position, which I'll just call the Truth Czar, will lead the Department of Truth which will be given the mission of monitoring all news media (including blogs) to make sure all communications are truthful and contain no misleading opinions or partisan slants.

Using the latest technology from various other government agencies, the Department of Truth will be able to exert real-time control over all online, broadcast and print content.

Through the efforts of the government's new Truth Czar and his various regional Truth Agents, we will finally be able to rest assured that we're getting only the highest quality information.

Never again will we have to worry about good people losing their jobs because of unsubstantiated opinions posted on a person's blog.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Battle of Branchage

I recently stumbled upon this kick ass multimedia video art project from the 2009 Branchage Film Festival.

The artists used high performance projection technology to present their vision of the nearby castle. This is an amazing example of how technology can be used to alter our relationship with our environments.

With the level of processing power finding its way into mobile devices these days, I think it won't be long before flavors of this find their way into our everyday life.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Photo XXXIV: Up up and away

Sunday evening was downright chilly compared to what we've been through the last few weeks.

With evening temps in the comfortable low 80s and a nice summer breeze (makes me feel fine) wafting down the prairie, it was an ideal time to go for a hot air balloon ride. Which is what a few folks above southern Johnson County did.

The dramatic clouds and sunset made for a pretty backdrop, which even my comparatively craptacular cell-phone camera couldn't entirely uglify.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Blogthing: I write like...

It's been a while since I've been interested enough in any of these online gizmos to give one a try. But lots of people have been doing the I Write Like one.

Here are my results:
I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by MĂ©moires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Okay. Not bad. Not quite mainstream, which is good. Fight Club was kind of cool. So, yeah, hard to argue with the results.

But I do get the feeling, after looking at a lot of peoples' I Write Like results, that there are really only about half a dozen possible results that anyone can get on this.

Still, I'm just glad it didn't tell me that I write like a fourth grader, or that I write like an idiot, or that I write like Stephenie Meyer.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The hunt is on

Since spring I've been catching glimpses of him.

Driving up the street in the morning or coming home after work. A small white flash set against the dark green of the well-kept lawn a few houses up. A furry blur shooting into the shrubbery or up the opposite side of a giant oak tree.

The first few times I saw him, I wasn't even sure it was real. A trick of the lighting perhaps. Maybe just a piece of litter or debris blowing in the wind. But I kept watching. I kept looking each time I drove by the house near the top of the hill until I was sure I saw him.

The white squirrel.

I'd never seen a white squirrel before. I named him Moby. Yes, you're correct, a reference to the squirrely white 1990s-era techno music artist. I vowed to capture the white squirrel no matter what it took. But first I hit up the internet for a bit of research on my quarry.

It turns out that, while rare and uncommon, white squirrels aren't unknown in North America.
Although these squirrels are commonly referred to as albinos, most of them are likely non-albino squirrels that exhibit a rare white fur coloration known as leucism that is as a result of a recessive gene found within certain Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) populations, and so technically they ought to be referred to as white squirrels, instead of albino.

Dr. Michael Stokes, a biology professor at Western Kentucky University, commented that the probable cause for the abundance of white squirrels on university campuses was due to them being originally introduced by someone:
We're not sure how they got here, but I'll tell you how it usually happens...When you see them, especially around a college campus or parks, somebody brought them in because they thought it would be neat to have white squirrels around.
Dr. Albert Meier, another biology professor at Western Kentucky University, added that:
…white squirrels rarely survive in the wild because they can't easily hide. But on a college campus, they are less likely to be consumed by other animals.
Armed with this information, I set about my hunt. I kept my camera in my car, a 200 mm lens attached. And as I passed by the yard each day, I kept my eye out for the opportunity to finally take a shot at the elusive prey.

Finally, my patience was paid off.

Here you can clearly see Moby's fluffy tail as he flees for cover in the shrubs at the side of the house.

Okay, as I look at that picture now, I can see that it might not be as clear to everyone where Moby is. Let me zoom it in a little for you...

There. See the tail sticking out from behind a branch? No? Still having trouble? Let me try this...

Okay. Perhaps the photographic evidence isn't yet as clear as I had thought.

But believe me, this isn't over. I shall not give up my hunt for the White Squirrel. I'll follow him into the neighbor's back yard if I have to. I'll follow him around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around perdition's flames before I give him up.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another major award!

When you've been around as long as I have and you're as awesome as I am, you kind of get used to all of the accolades and laurels thrown your way.

And I'm not just referring to all of the spelling and typing awards I've won. For example, at last year's company picnic, I was given the award for Most Visible Scalp. At a previous place of employment, I won the Steve Forbes look-alike contest we had. And let us not forget my hard-earned victory in the Try-County Calamari Eating Contest of 1998. I know I still haven't.

So while I'm accustomed to winning great awards, it's still a nice surprise when, just out of the blue, a well known and prestigious organization decides to bestow yet another honor upon me.

Such was the case last week when I received the happy news from Emma Lee at that I, your meek humble correspondent, have been chosen as one of the Top 45 Humor Blogs on the entire internet.
Yo EmawKC, I'm real happy for you and I'mma let you finish writin' this blog post.

But I jes wanted to say that The816 is the funniest blog of all time.

Er. Ahem. Anyway,

Here's a bit of the email Emma Lee sent.
Dear Emawkc,

Congratulations! Emma Lee here, and your blog, 3 O'Clock AM, has received our 2010 Top 45 Humor Blogs award!

You can see your name amongst our winners here at:

Winners were chosen through a scoring system led by internet nominations,
which came from your reader base!
Now, I never really was able to discern what the scoring system was, or whether this was just some kind of trumped up scheme to get me to link to their website. I don't think that's really relevant to this discussion anyway.Top Humor Blog

What is relevant is that this is probably the biggest award I've received since Time Magazine declared me to Person of the Year in 2006.

If you want an autograph, please request one in the comments section.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Squatters

Squatters is a new web video series I've been following.

As I've said before, I like these projects in the vein of God Inc., and Chad Vader. I like seeing what some really creative people can do without the oppressive yoke of traditional Hollywood management to hold them down.

So the concept in Squatters is that two Manhattanites lose their apartment due to a rent increase and are too proud to move to an outer borough. They make a bet, with certain provisos, to see who can last the longest without paying rent.

All the episodes are pretty good, with surprisingly high production values. Episode 7 even features a sexy Kansas City Royals fan.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Random Photo XXXIII: Beating the heat

If you live in this nape of the woods, neck of the wape, area of the country, sooner or later you learn to either like the heat and humidity, or find a way to beat it.

Personally, I prefer the air conditioning and beer method of staying cool. But I think this denizen of the Kansas City Zoo has a pretty good strategy as well.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movie Mini Review: Despicable Me

Title: Despicable Me

Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segal, Miranda Cosgrove

Plot Summary: Evil super villain Gru (Steve Carell) plans his biggest caper yet, but he needs the help of three young orphans to pull it off. He adopts them out of evil selfishness, but in the course of pulling off the heist he grows to love them and has a change of heart… but he still pulls off the heist (spoiler alert).

My Thoughts: Over the past 4 years or so, I've seen a lot of "kids" movies. It seems, more times than not, when we go to the theater it's to see something for my daughter. I'm not complaining. Being the only dude in our household (even our dog is neutered) it's either kid flicks or chick flicks for me at the theaters.

I'm just sayin' I've seen a lot of them in recent years. Up, Finding Nemo, Shrek(s), Ratatouille, Kung Fu Panda and more. Believe me, this isn't to brag. It's just to say that I've got a base of experience to pull from here.

I can tell you that Despicable Me is one of the better efforts in this genre that I've seen.

We open with an introduction to the main protagonist, Gru, an super villain nearing the end of his career. He comes across as mean, more than evil. Sure, he's got the freeze gun that he uses on everyone in front of him at the coffee shop. Yeah, he smashes other peoples' cars and pops a kid's balloon. But his most nefarious accomplishment is the theft of the Times Square jumbotron, and a few fake landmarks from fake Las Vegas.

Contrast that with young up-and-coming super villain Vector (Jason Segel), a cocky hipster nerd villain with a secret benefactor who shows up Gru by stealing the Great Pyramid of Giza. Vector enrages Gru by stealing his shrink ray gun, a device Gru himself rightfully purloined from its Japanese creators and which he needs to pull off his magnum opus: stealing the moon.

So he needs to get his shrink ray gun back, but Vector's lair is impregnable. The only only people able to penetrate the tight security is a trio of orphaned little girls who are selling cookies for the morally questionable matron of the orphanage.

So Gru adopts the girls and uses them to gain access to Vector's lair to steal his shrink ray to steal the moon, to… well, I don't want to give too much away.

At this point I'll just say that the voice acting was pretty solid, as you would expect with the likes of Steve Carell and Will Arnett in the cast. The story was interesting and well paced, and the characters were for the most part compelling and interesting. I particularly enjoy the kind of story construction where an audience is led to root for a "bad guy" who eventually becomes the hero (the first Shrek movie did this quite successfully).

These kinds of movies also throw a bone to the adults in the theater by including some inside jokes that only the grownups would get. There are some delicious examples of this in Despicable Me, including the "formerly known as" moniker on the Bank of Evil (where super villains get their operating capital. What? You don't think they have all that money laying around the house do you? Do you have any idea how much a secret lair built into volcano costs?)

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 minions

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everybody's French

Just a quick note to say Happy Bastille Day to all my French friends, and Francophile friends, and Rush fans.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: A Day at the BP Beach

Looks like things are getting tense on the Redneck Riviera. Today's submission for YouTube Tuesday shows us a few moments from a day of a Gulf Coast citizen journalist.

On one hand, when I watch the video it seems clear that maybe the four and a half foot tall woman was actually looking for trouble. It seems to me she was wanting someone to hassle her and she really didn't care much about the personal privacy of whoever was in the ambulance.

On the other hand, she has a pretty good point about being harassed by a cop who was two-feet taller and probably 200 pounds heaver than her. The fact is she was on the beach legally, and based on the video she staying out of the way.

Of course, there have been a lot of changes in the law lately.

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