Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cyanide & Happiness

Cyanide & Happiness is definitely my favorite web comic, which isn't too much of an accolade, I suppose, because I don't really read any others, and I don't read this one regularly either. But anyway, it's pretty damn funny. It's quite twisted, too, so if you get offended easily, and you are aware that you get offended easily, and you also have the self-control not to enter potentially-offensive situations, you shouldn't read any further. Ever notice that my sentence structure is too complex?

Here's a recent favorite:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic

Cyanide & Happiness @

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bubbles & Manias

I came across this nice little graphic that generically depicts the market swings that occur during manias and bubbles. The graphic was posted on Jesse's Café Américain, an excellent, albeit dire, economics and finance blog that New York Nick pointed me too. The figure originally came from one Dr. Rodrigue at Hofstra University.

The eponymous "Jesse" seems to know his stuff, although I'm certainly not knowledgeable enough to know one way or the other, the admission of which is proof enough that those of you reading my opinions on the economy and the policies created to effect it should stick with caveat emptor.

That said, I'm pretty skeptical of everyone's enthrallment with the "green shoots" of economic recovery. Unemployment is still increasing in absolute terms, some assets' values are still dropping---most obviously housing, which precipitated the entire collapse---and the financial industry is still shackled with nasty debt. Any apparent recovery now would be artificial and lead to yet another empty, unsupported bubble. How does anyone expect the economy to grind forward when so many people have lost their jobs, and thus have no money to spend to prop up GDP? Consumption by households was 76% of nominal GDP in 2006. Where will this recovery come from? Remember that scene from Shawshank Redemption when the U.S. Army launches a nuclear weapon at one of the alien motherships, thinking the bomb will get through their fancy alien energy shields, and then for a moment everybody thinks the bomb worked and all their problems are solved, but then the smoke clears and the ship is still intact, floating above a flattened metropolis? It's gonna be something like that.

Anyway, to counteract the glum I've pasted a picture of the album cover from Kenny Loggins' "Return to Pooh Corner" below the "manias and bubbles" one. Now everybody go out and spend! Consume Kenny Loggins concept albums!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Porno Spam

I'm infinitely amused by the bizarre subject lines spammers come up with to get their porn product emails through my spam filter. Usually they're either unimaginative ("Become the lover of his dreams") or too much of a metaphorical stretch ("Make your spire reach skies"). But once in awhile you get a real gem.

Here's my recent favorites:

"Get the longest banana."
I can't help but giggle when I read that. It's so ridiculous. What are we, 6 years old? "Hey baby, guess how big my banana is? It's big, yellow, curved like a crescent moon, and turns to mush after a day in the sun."

"Prosperity in banging."
Screw that ho-hum prosperity in life or career. I want to focus on "banging." And not just success, but prosperity. I want my banging to flourish, to thrive beyond all known bounds of banging.

"Equip your battleship with main caliber."
Picturing my penis as a battleship is pretty novel, and if that's not enough, it needs to be equipped with "main caliber." Kaboom!!! Face full of equipped battleship. The author gets serious credit for this one, and it's a great example of a porno spam that, in another context, would read like a unproof-read Chinese menu.

"Make your pecker your trump."
No, there isn't an "-et" at the end, it does just say "trump." So, next time I'm in a political argument with my conservative friends about, say, progressive taxation, I'll just confidently bang my dick onto the table and call "trump." Done. Argument over. If the author meant "trumpet," the image it conjures is one that every 15-year old boy has wondered about, and maybe even tried (only spontaneously, while stretching, of course).

"Suck it."
Refreshingly direct, though it could easily be misinterpreted as a crude insult from the early part of this decade.

"You're a moron."
Nothing to misinterpret here. Maybe I am a moron for missing out on "Drilling and drilling more, all night long!" I like this aggressive marketing style, it reminds me of those Macho Man Slim Jim ads where he bursts through walls and basically forces delicious Slim Jims down kids' throats. Tear into the spice!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Jaywalkers Beware

While walking to the Metro last Tuesday (May 26) I noticed something peculiar going down at the southeast corner of 13 & U, NW. A police officer was giving some poor bastard a $5 jaywalking ticket for crossing without a "walk" signal. Understandably, the guy looked a bit confused.

As I scuttled by, late to work as always, I overheard the officer trying to justify the ticket with something like, "...and it's dangerous because if you step into that intersection when the light's still green, you may be paying attention, but the people behind you will just follow you, thinking they have a walk signal."

I saw the same cop standing at the same corner today, so I thought it time to raise the alarm. And as a blogger, I naturally feel a duty to also opine valuably on the justice of jaywalking.

First of all, I don't buy that people will unknowingly fling themselves into dangerous intersections without looking just because someone else does. To quote society from the 1940's, "if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?" Of course not, it's a stupid question, just like the 1940's. Unlike in the 1940's, people don't hang out around bridges. We hang out at upscale dive bars and places where we can pretend to understand jazz. Getting back to it, it's pretty obvious when the sign says "don't walk," and it's pretty easy to tell who among the group standing on the corner is gonna go for it. Those people are always hanging out 5 feet into the street, staring intently at the traffic patterns, looking like they're trying to steal third base.

And I don't even really know what jaywalking is. I always thought it meant you crossed the street where there's no crosswalk. I can understand why that's undesirable since it can impede traffic. But apparently jaywalking can take place in a crosswalk, too. In my opinion, if there's time to cross---i.e. not needing to weave through heavy traffic---and you're in a cross-walk, this is perfectly fine. It brings to mind the jaywalking scene in Harold and Kumer Go To White Castle when docile, law-abiding Harold gets thrown in jail for being pressured into crossing an empty country street in the middle of the night even though the sign says "don't walk." Who cares? Not me, not the drivers that don't exist, and not my independently-minded fellow pedestrians.

Mr. Kevin, Esq., pointed out that drivers trying to take righthand turns find it annoying when pedestrians cross the street when they don't have the "walk" signal, because it prevents them from making the turn. Nevermind that DC is a heavily pedestrianized city, let's first remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way in this situation, and that said driver is sitting at a red stoplight. The driver can legally take the righthand turn so long as s/he yields the right-of-way, which the pedestrian possesses. BUS-TED, Mr. Kevin!!

Finally, given that DC does indeed have other problems (do I even need to name them?), it's a bit annoying that the cops have chosen to crack down on jaywalking. I know what you're thinking..."But Brice Lord, 'broken windows,' Rudy Giuliani, the crack epidemic, 1990's urban crime, you know what I mean!!!" 'Broken windows' is applied psychology gone horribly wrong, and I'd rather see more cops working the beat on foot, getting to know the communities and building trust and understanding rather than ticketing the low-hanging fruit.

Sure, this really isn't that big of a deal, but I know if I got a jaywalking ticket while rushing to work at 8:00 am I'd be pretty pissed off. Not just because I think it's a ridiculous waste of time for the police (and for me), or because I think I should be able to do it, but also because it's inconsistent with previous enforcement behavior. Worse, it's essentially an indictment by my government that I've done something wrong, and that pisses me off more than anything (except Comcast). Nor do I get the impression that the general public really considers jaywalking that important. Run a Google image search on "jaywalker" and you'll get a page full of knitted socks and a horse (below).

A sobering reminder of the perils of jaywalking: a horse in a weird prone position.