Archive for June 2008
In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court today slashed the damages bill against Exxon for the 11 million gallons of oil their drunken captain poured into a pristine Alaskan ecosystem just 20 years ago. Deciding that “the people” – as in of the, by the, and for the – of the original jury were brain damaged for originally awarding $5 billion in punitive damages against the company, Justice David Souter today pissed mightily in the faces of victimized communities, environments, and species for generations to come.
He found that Exxon should only have to pay $500 million in punitive damages, seeing as the company had already paid $507 million in damages to directly compensate communities of Prince William Sound for economic losses.
$500 million totals about $15 000 for each of the 33 000 claimants, and 4 days worth of Exxon’s profits last year, Read the rest of this entry »
Parker Whittle is so real. He shaves. He uses Flickr, where his name is P-Whit (too easy to make something else out of that, hey?). And with a heart of gold, he’s launching himself into a 30-day email and i.m.-a-thon to raise an unknowable amount of money at an undisclosed rate for a handful of mainstream charities.
And the best part? It’s not your money. It’s Microsoft’s money. It’s like you’re reaching into the Man’s pockets and taking cash and handing it to a hungry person, every time you hit “enter.” The i’m Initiative turns you into Robin Hood with a goofy screen name.
Every time Parker, the Parkster, the P Man, or Da P, as his close friends call him, uses Windows Messenger or any other similarly contorted piece of Windows communicationware over the next month, Microsoft – “the Man” – sweats “coin”.
Parker could have just said “money” but he’s so “shtreet” he says “coin”!!
Oh no he di’n’t!!
He better talk to the hand…gurrlfren’!!! Read the rest of this entry »
Just read this on Huffington and got to say that it has saddened and surprised me. There’s no point in comparisons, but George Carlin always sort of struck me as something like the bastard child of Bill Hicks and an alcoholic truck driver, only without the finesse and with ruptured haemmorhoids. Which wouldn’t make sense. Because he was older than Hicks. But the haemmorhoids would explain his infinite grouchiness.
For all his gruffness he must have had a heart, certainly one big enough to propose turning all golf courses over to public housing. And whatever disagreement other people may have had with his style and sass, they must at least acknowledge that Carlin, at least until Sunday June 22, 2008, was one of the only living American comedians of his generation – of most American generations, actually – who was both generous enough to point out that Mickey Mouse’s shorts are big and red simply to help hide his colostomy bag and wise enough to know what that meant – both symbolically and for his career.
Great life history of the man here at HuffPost. And Rachel Sklar has compiled a wealth of links to obits elsewhere in world and US media here as well as posting a fully transcribed interview with Carlin right here.
Full transcriptions are both a labour of love and a guarantee of readworthy answers so check it out.
Here’s a few good moments.
for a start, Carlin on Death
Carlin on Tyranny Americana
On needed upgrades for The Ten Commandments (hope these worked out for him)
On Countdown just last year in October with Keith Olbermann (the discerning newsviewer’s big-balled over-coiffed angry guy of choice)
And, of course….
Hard to choose some videos that do any kind of justice to his work and make them fit on one 15″ screen. Go and explore if you’re not familiar with the big fuckhead or if you’re remembering – either way, take your patient mouse and check these pages out.
I’m not much for analysing polls, though I certainly admire the astuteness of those who are able to do so in meaningful ways. Citizen lobby group GetUp has just taken this poll looking at Australian attitudes to the ongoing clusterf&%k that is the Gunns would-be pulp mill project in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
Conducted by Essential Research between the 10th – 15th June 2008
n=1019 adults 18+
Q: The recent resignation of the Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon and the decision by the ANZ Bank to withdraw its involvement from Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley has resulted in more debate on this issue. Do you personally support the building of the pulp mill or oppose the building of the pulp mill?
TOTAL 39% 61%
Male 45 55
Female 34 66
ALP voter 35 65
Liberal/National voter 48 52
Green voter 21 79
Other/Independent voter 35 65
18-24 44 56
25-34 38 62
35-49 39 61
50+ 38 62
Interestingly, this survey result shows the opposite of what might be expected based on common assumptions about age and conservatism of attitudes. Namely, rather than 50+ year olds being more conservative in their politics and trusting of corporations than 18-24 year olds the opposite is true. 62% of over 50-year olds across Australia oppose the mill, while only 55% of the should-be more radical and more aware 18-24 crowd reject it.
To me, this says one thing very clearly. Basically, if you were aged from 6 to 12 years old when John Howard came to power, then your experience of Australia, governance, and social values has been retarded by having not been properly exposed to life in a country with a social conscience in your formative years.
State governments – in Tassie and New South Wales at the very least – have done nothing to balance this retardation. Just as there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who buy Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera albums, it seems that we’re also awash in young Liberals who know too little to know any better.
Which explains how turd blossoms like Christopher Pyne were spawned, even if it is impossible to explain why.
The truth is that on any night of the week Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” does more in a two-minute segment to show in politicians’ own words how venal, dishonest, contradictory and just plain dense they can be than Russert did in his Sunday services. Russert’s master was always the political structure he grilled, but never fundamentally questioned.
Yep, along with Scott Horton & Mr. Fish, Silverstein is just one of many compelling reasons to check out this ‘zine on a regular basis.
sorry this stream of contrariness is a bit behind the times. I have been busy negotiating an arrangement with the International Panel on Climate Change. Now I can offset carbon emissions that I create by burning plastic bags, furniture, and SUV drivers simply by agreeing not to mine coal, rape penguins, or nuke the Vatican. It’s a tough trading scheme but we’ve all got to do our bit.
Tasmania never ceases to amaze – bigger than Glebe, less corrupt than Zimbabwe, more lively than Stan Zemanek, and better looked after than the Fritzls (pre-rescue, at least). But even by Tassie’s own standards of enviro-political chaos and angst, news emerging from that state over the last month has been like a prolonged advertisement for a WTF theme park.
In late May, ANZ Bank confirmed the rumour that had for weeks been spontaneously swelling the nipples of environmentalists. They would not be acting on behalf of their client, Gunns, to help secure the $2 billion needed to build the world’s largest pulp mill. Some prematurely celebrated the death of the project.
But it is still likely that Jaakko Poyry, Gunns’ pulp mill consultant, will organize the money through less scrupulous international financial colleagues of their own. To do so would not only guarantee their commission, but make it possible for Gunns to actually pay up.
Seemingly bigger, better news came the following week. On the morning of Monday the 26th of May, Premier Paul Lennon aka Big Red, aka The Guy in the Pulp Mill ads, aka Gunns’ Elected Representative, aka The Forest F*cker, announced his resignation. After less than five years and many more decimated ecosystems, Premier Lennon decided to follow in the footsteps of every single east coast Labor Premier before him.
Echoing Lee Harvey Oswald, Lennon declared “I’ve given it my best shot.”
Content with his legacy and bathed in the love of his people, he had gone for a walk in the park and realized that it was time to retire and be bronzed by tulip-clad virgins, placed on an altar made entirely from the feathers of endangered eagles, and worshipped with offerings of old growth at the rising of each morning’s Sun henceforth.
There was, of course, unkind speculation that he was stepping down to avoid being pushed – given that an opinion poll the week before had seen his approval amongst Tasmanians rating a sub-George-Bush 17 per cent. Those are nearly Brendan Nelson numbers.
Unkind and as yet unaddressed rumours have circulated that the poll was actually commissioned by Federal Labor. While it would make sense for Federal Labor to jettison a Labor Premier for whom two deputies have already fallen on their sword amid suggestion of deceptive conduct, one might expect that an inquiry, a committee, and a Lennon Watch scheme would have first been established before launching such an effective and timely strategy.
Even less kind – though almost plausible in a T.I.T. (This Is Tasmania) way – was the suggestion that Lennon didn’t stand aside for family and personal reasons, that he didn’t stand aside out of political foresight, that he didn’t stand aside because he had become less bankable than an old-growth-eating pulp mill or even because he was perceived as less credible than Eddie McGuire.
Some tied his resignation on the Monday to the death of a Gunns’ board member, with the subsequent job opening, on the Saturday immediately before.
It’s enough to make you Very Old Men In Ties.
Lennon was immediately replaced as Premier by David Bartlett, a squinty-eyed bucket of water ten years his junior. His first eighteen hours in office were promising. He considered withholding tens of millions of public dollars from questionably sound private projects and mumbled something about a corruption inquiry before descending into the time-honoured practice of contorted linguistics.
The closest he has since come to promising a return to democracy in The Land of the Wrong White Crowd has been to propose a visionary new system of governance involving merit-based appointments. This, of course, is code for ‘business as usual’.
Because in Tasmania, as in News South Wales, ‘merit’ means one thing: Mates Employed Regardless of Intellectual Talent.