a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

The reviews are in…

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 16th January 2009

Playmobil Security Checkpoint…for Playmobil Security Check Point:

  • “I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.”
  • “The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighborhood Surveillence System set for Christmas. I’ve heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I’ll get him the Playmobil Abu-Gharib Interogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).”
  • “My family was planning a vacation to Europe, so I purchased this item to teach my twins about what to expect at the airport and hopefully, alleviate some of their anxiety. We also downloaded the actual TSA security checklist from the American Airlines website and then proceeded with our demonstration. Well, first we had to round up a Barbie and a few Bratz dolls to play the other family members, so that cost us a few extra bucks at the Dollar General and it is aggravating that the manufacturer did not make this product “family-friendly.” Of course, since the playmobil Dad could not remove his shoes or other clothing items, unlike the Barbie, the playmobil security agent became suspicious and after waving her wand wildy a few dozen times, called her supervisor to wisk the Dad into a special body-cavity search room…”
  • “I like the basic idea. I applaud Playmobile for attempting to provide us with the tools we need to teach our children to unquestioningly obey the commands of the State Security Apparatus, but unfortunately, this product falls short of doing that. There’s no brown figure for little Josh to profile, taser, and detain? Where are all the frightened plastic Heartlanders pointing at the brown figure as they whisper “terrorist?” Where are the hippy couple figures being denied boarding passes? And shouldn’t someone be forcing a mother figure to drink her own breast milk?”

Via Brett Schenker. See also Playmobil Police Checkpoint.

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Good for a grin

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 9th January 2009

  • Whopper Sacrifice, Burger King’s Facebook Promotion: Delete 10 Friends For Free Whopper (Shea, HuffingtonPost) — “Burger King has created an application for Facebook that allows users to delete 10 friends in exchange for a free Whopper. Taking Klondike’s “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” motif to the next level, Burger King invites Facebook users to sacrifice 10 of their friends on the social networking site for a coupon for a free sandwich: “What would you do for a free WHOPPPER? Now is the time to put your fair-weather web friendships to the test. Install WHOPPER Sacrifice on your Facebook profile, and we’ll reward you with a free flame-broiled WHOPPER when you sacrifice 10 of your friends.” After all, what are friends for?  Burger King Whopper is people!
  • Some Conservatives Fear Obama Advisers Lean Too Far Left” (Edroso, “alicublog”) — No!  Hard to believe, but true, as the Post’s Carol Leonnig breathlessly reports: “Conservatives fear that some of these Obama transition advisers are too far left on the political spectrum.” This is funny on at least two levels, and probably more, but I mustn’t overexert myself.
  • Thesis, Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings”), in its entirety — “Only conspiracy theories can explain why Harry Reid, the most inept parliamentarian there ever has been or ever could be, has a job. Discuss.” For a more in-depth mockery, see Jane Hamsher, “I Want To Play Poker With Harry Reid.”  I also agree with her that Reid has opened a can of worms that will probably never bother any Republicans, only Democrats.  That would have bothered me more once; I suppose I must remember third party candidates will also be victims when they’re elected once in a blue moon.
  • Bush Farewell Tour: Great Personality, Works Out Regularly, Doesn’t Overthink Things. Couldn’t We Have Just Slept With Him Once And Been Done With It? (Doghouse Riley, “Bats Left Throws Right”) — Part of a magisterial review series about all the little stuff Bush got away with that we forget now because it’s buried under tons of big stuff wreckage.  Here’s Riley on the recent AP puff piece on Bush:

    …you have, at the end of the Bush Presidency, The Associated Press trying to construct a legacy out of the exact same nonsense it, and much of the rest of the Mass Market Press, tried to construct a President out of in 2001–but, on the other hand, it does so with an enviable efficiency I couldn’t even have dreamt of.

    He’s a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat! [paragraph one] He relaxes by clearing brush! He gives people nicknames! [paragraph two] He likes punctuality, and stays optimistic! [three] Demands punctuality. [six; the cupboard’s damned empty already, apparently] Early to bed, early to rise! [seven] A sixth sense about other’s preparation! [eight, nine] Reads the Bible! Works out! Challenges Secret Service men to keep up! Competitive! Likes to be in charge! [ten]

    Hates being interrupted by cellphones. [eleven] (Okay, so there’s a little bit of good in almost everybody. M[*%$@#*]r could have banned the goddam things after 9/11, then, but did he? We ban shampoo, box cutters, and corkscrews, give duct tape and plastic a bad name, turn emergency preparedness into a sick joke, and allow the importation of children’s toys built out of radioactive strontium, but free-range idiots can still stand immediately off your left shoulder in the supermarket check-out line and discourse on real estate, soccer practice, and the results of last week’s Pap smear in a voice more appropriate to attracting help while trapped in an elevator, and with impunity, yet.)

  • When a Woman Isn’t in the Mood: Part I (Dennis Prager, “”) —  Oh. My. God.  Part One!???  Oh. My. God.  Via Edroso, whose summary may suffice.

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I’m going to miss this election

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 29th October 2008

Via docudharma. (h/t Priscilla L.)

UPDATE, 10/30: Another version. Why? Because you can’t stop me:

UPDATE, 1/21/09: The second video was first taken off YouTube for a while, and is now marked as “private, make sure you accept the sender’s friend request.” It was open to the public when I posted it here.

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It’s not my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 27th October 2008

Copyright Zina Saunders 2008
Lieberman’s Heartbreak
Copyright Zina Saunders 2008.
Published here by permission of the artist.

Senator Joe Lieberman (“Lieberman for CT”-CT) is busy rowing away from the sinking McCain campaign as fast as his little arms will let him — but not without a few shots of his own at the burning wreckage.

On Saturday, the Hartford Courant’s Greg Pazniokas reported on a rather testy conference call between Lieberman and several Connecticut newspaper reporters.  Lieberman on Sarah Palin:

“She’s not going to have to be president from day one because McCain is going to be alive and well. I’ve been talking to actuaries and doctors,” Lieberman said. “He can be expected to live to his mid-80s and probably longer.”

When pressed about when she would be ready, Lieberman replied, “Well, let’s hope she never has to be ready.”

Right there with you on that one, Ace — and I know just how to make sure of it.  Lieberman also wants it known how deeply he respects Obama after all:

“When I go out, I say, ‘I have a lot of respect for Sen. Obama. He’s bright. He’s eloquent.’ Someday, I might even support him for president, but now in the midst of this series of crises, John McCain is simply so much better prepared that that’s who I am proud to support.” […]

“[McCain] is ready to be our president at this very difficult time,” Lieberman said. “And Sen. Obama is not as ready. It’s as direct as that.”

(Emphasis added.) As the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg notes, that “not as ready” is pretty precious:

Google “lieberman obama ‘not ready’” if you need a few thousand samples of the unqualified way Joe talked about Barack’s readiness before the ship hit the iceberg.

Lieberman has a novel theory about why the campaign has turned so nasty in the last weeks:

“You guys are going down a road, you have contributed to the demeaning of our politics by this kind of focus,” Lieberman said. “I mean, give me a break. Have any of you been out listening to me?”

That’s the problem, Joe — we have.

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Hey Sarah Palin

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 5th October 2008

And such a nice young couple, too. Sigh.

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Pro-EFCA mischief

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 26th September 2008

Make no mistake — whatever the header to this e-mail may imply, I’m writing to *support* the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), better known as “Card Check” legislation. Please vote “YES” on this sensible, well designed legislation.

Workers deserve a fair workplace, which includes the right to vote “yes” or “no” on unionization by secret ballot — or the right to organize by other means when corporate anti-union policies make it necessary. Card Check legislation *enhances* worker’s rights by giving them another way to organize.  Opponents cite potential fears of workers under card check, but studies show workers actually feel less coerced by co-workers in “majority signup” situations than in secret ballot ones.

Americans cherish the secret ballot in *fair* elections. But as you know, all too often elections deciding unionization are anything but fair; companies can propagandize their employees at will, and often threaten them with workplace shutdowns or other punitive measures. Imagine if a mayor could really threaten moving the city if he lost the election!  Would that be a fair election?  Of course not!

As EFCA opponents like to say, the secret ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy. But what they *don’t* like to say is that card check does nothing to change that, since at any time, if 30 percent of the workers want an election, they can have one. (And once they have a union, workers also vote to elect their union representatives.)

I urge you to *support Card Check legislation*, which will even the playing field between unorganized workers and their company bosses.  And more unionized workers means a more prosperous America. I look forward to hearing where you stand on this important matter. Thank you!  God bless America!

Substitute this message to your Senators and Representative for the anti-EFCA boilerplate text here — pass it on!

For more information about EFCA, click here (my blog post), here (AFL-CIO) or here (Americans Rights at Work).

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Good for a grin — sh*tpile bailout edition

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 24th September 2008

# BushCo Speech Leaked (eRobin, “Fact-esque”) — THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American taxpayers are in the early stages of an financial investment plan to aid the billionaires of Wall St., to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

# The Bush-Paulson Bailout Plan (The Editors, Poor Man Institute) —



# buymyshitpile.comWith our economy in crisis, the US Government is scrambling to rescue our banks by purchasing their “distressed assets”, i.e., assets that no one else wants to buy from them. We figured that instead of protesting this plan, we’d give regular Americans the same opportunity to sell their bad assets to the government. We need your help and you need the Government’s help!

# I’ve been honored with a link by Fast Paydya Loans Now! (Tagline: “Payday Loans Quick Reply No Faxing Bad Credit Ok): Random Feed wrote an interesting post today on [blank] Here’s a quick excerpt

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Good for a grin

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 29th August 2008


# Jonathan Schwarz (“A Tiny Revolution”) — “Almost all political conflict, especially in the US, boils down to a fight between the Sane Billionaires and the Insane Billionaires. It generally follows this template:

INSANE BILLIONAIRES: Let’s kill everyone and take their money!
SANE BILLIONAIRES: I like the way you think. I really do. But if we keep everyone alive, and working for us, we’ll make even more money, in the long term.

Works in China, too.

# — because we don’t just need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney, we need a president who IS Barney Smith.

# YouTube Comment Snob “is a Firefox extension that filters out undesirable comments from YouTube comment threads. You can choose to have any of the following rules mark a comment for removal: * More than # spelling mistakes: The number of mistakes is customizable, and the extension uses Firefox’s built-in spell checker. * etc. etc. # All capital letters# No capital letters # Excessive punctuation (!!!! ????)…” etcetera etcetera. Patrick Nielsen Hayden asks the right question: “Can we have this for the entire Internet?”

# Take A Load Off Fannie at “CalculatedRisk”: “The story of Fannie Mae, as narrated by The Band.”

# The Guardian: the whole world’s only source for backup Fafblog. It’s true.

HAT TIPS: Aviva Othirtytwo (Barney), Andrew H. (Fannie)

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Hey Senator Obama! Why not buy some airtime for this great ad?

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 20th August 2008

Dear Senator Obama, I realize we Internet folks have been asking you NOT to do a lot of stuff. Please don’t vote for telecom immunity. Please don’t make Evan Bayh your VP. Nag, nag, nag… right?

Well, this time we’d like to ask you TO do something. There’s a great independent ad up on youtube, you can see it here:

We think your campaign should get behind it, and buy it some air time on TV! Its a great ad on its own merits, and it would show that you understand the power of user-created media.

So please, Senator, get behind this ad.

(Text and ad via the facebook group named, appropriately enough, “Hey Senator Obama! Why not buy some airtime for this great ad?”)

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Remarkable Phoenix Lander microscope image

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th July 2008

This image was acquired at the Phoenix landing site on day 5 of the mission on the surface of Mars, or Sol 4, after the May 25, 2008, landing. The optical microscope acquired this image at 12:34:19 local solar time. The camera pointing was elevation null degrees and azimuth null degrees.

Remarkable -- it's in English, too!

How about that — a tiny, tiny newspaper clipping. And in English, too! I suppose it’s just possible they’d have put it aboard for calibration purposes, but … nah. Then again, “thanks bridge two planets”. MECA is the name of the microscope instrument package (Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer) …well, maybe this wasn’t hacker mischief.

Anyway, the Phoenix lander is busy scooping and photographing and measuring away, have a look at the other photos it’s sent from Mars.

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