Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

who would have thought that offshore oil platforms could be environmentally hazardous?

clicking around the CBS news website.

BP, Transocean Accused of Negligence in Spill

“The owner and operator of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig at the center of a massive oil spill that threatens to become the worst U.S. environmental disaster in decades are being accused of negligence in a class action lawsuit.”

this story contains a link to:

Oil Spill Could Equal Damage to Exxon Valdez

“Environmental experts say the damage caused by the oil spill unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico may equal or even eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off the southern coast of Alaska, the worst oil spill in U.S. history and one of the worst environmental disasters in decades.”

which contains a link to:

Oil Leak May be 5 Time Worse than Initial Claim

“Speaking Thursday morning to CBS News, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP PLC, which leased the sunken rig, backed away from his company’s denial of Coast Guard claims a day earlier suggesting the five-fold jump, telling “Early Show” co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, “we think the range has increased” to “somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels” per day.”

keep all of this in mind the next time you see a full-page ad in the Post for BP.


Rick Perry jogs with a gun

look for this rootin’ tootin’ jackass to make a run at a presidential nomination in a couple of years.

the move

today is my birthday. send me duckets in the mail.

the song for today is “oh yoko” by John Lennon. I first heard this song on the “Rushmore” soundtrack when I was in high school. this is one of the only two or three John Lennon songs I could name for you off the top of my head, but it’s pretty good. I got my piano teacher to teach a little bit of the piano part to me. Waz was the shit. I need to get a piano and get back on that horse.

you may have noticed, if you have perused a newspaper recently, that Goldman Sachs, titan of Wall Street banks, is in trouble on Capitol Hill because an SEC investigation contends it made bets against the housing market as that market collapsed a couple of years ago. now everyone is super pissed at Goldman Sachs, and they’re gonna get ’em because it acted like and is populated by … you know. a bunch of bankers. the negative stereotype you have of people who went to business school. but I’m not surprised, and I’m really not too outraged or indignant either.
I must be going soft. 21-year-old Matt would have worked himself into a frothy rage. you would have a wide-range of similar emotions, belched out in run-on sentences about those bourgeoise motherfuckers up there in Manhattan, trading paper, producing nothing, and getting rich off of the nation’s economic misery.
that last part is true. they produce nothing out of thin air and get paid for trading it (the term “financial product” is an oxymoron), but …
that “but” is the 27-year-old Matt. the 27-year-old Matt has worked for four years and is about to be unemployed. he is a lot calmer, level-headed. he likes the goddamn McLaughlin Group (three weeks in a row I’ve mentioned it now!) and thinks Fareed Zakaria is a thoughtful writer. 
really! how gay is that? but in Zakaria’s latest column he’s right:

“Evidence may yet be presented that documents specific misrepresentations and false claims by Goldman, but much of the public debate has struck me as guided more by emotion than careful analysis. Even if some Wall Street practices (*add it right here, see below) seem dodgy, or unethical, that’s not the same as illegal. I want financial reform, but I also want our system of governance to be characterized by fair play and equal justice — even for people making $10 million bonuses.”

so soothing, so practical, Fareed Zakaria. you should record your columns onto sleep aids for toddlers. but I would edit that a little bit.
*while some Wall Street practices are despicable and the players who push them are bound to suffer posthumously for the things they’ve done to their fellow men while alive, that don’t make it illegal.
there. now it’s a little more spicy.
look: we all know that the market functions by encouraging greed, but that’s what makes the monkey dance. this is how it’s always been. we know this. they make movies about it and write books on it (ps: this is a good book).
all I ask is if congressional Democrats are gonna institute financial reforms, please ask them not to do it with that torch-wielding mob mentality. please know that I love you, torch-wielding mob. but I’d rather not have you write the rules that govern financial markets. having the mob do it is like having some asshole with an ITT Technical Institute degree in motorcycle mechanics work on The Bomb. but he isn’t qualified. and that move wouldn’t make sense. 
Zakaria’s spot on: everyone should chill out, have a soda pop, and approach financial reform with cooler heads. an easy way to do that? stop using dumb bullshit like predictably skeezy Goldman Sachs emails to bludgeon public opinion into reactionary legislation. yes. isn’t that a good idea?
what’s the opposing word to reactionary? think, Matt, think … progressive? progressive. that sounds better. make it progressive financial legislation.


song of the day:

“stop breaking down” by the White Stripes. double high five!

news of the week:

so they handed out the news at work a few days ago, that we’re expected to pack our shit and get out of the building after May 12. I have the option to apply for a position at the consolidated copy and design desk in Lynchburg, or I can take the severance package and walk. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to explain this. I’d rather be beaten to death by a gang of apes than move to Lynchburg and continue this job.
that’s not the problem. the problem is that to get the severance, I have to work through the last day of the desk’s existence. it’s only, like, two weeks away, but my motivation to show up on time, and not be an asshole, is severely lacking. I’m not very good at acting professionally. imagine how stupid it would be to get canned now.
this is what it’s like to get laid off. hmm. this feels like a very adult experience. I might remember it. but probably not.

story of the year:

this asshole in Connecticut posted an ad on Craigslist inviting dudes to an orgy and sent it to his neighbor’s house, because he has a beef with her. he’ll probably end up in jail, but … well played, sir.

oh boy

song of the evening:

“sugar never tasted so good” by the White Stripes. yes! high five me.

quote of the weekend?

“the answer is a robot has its limits.” John McLaughlin, on The McLaughlin Group Sunday morning. it is my favorite television show right now. because John McLaughlin is stone crazy.

dumb move of the last four days:

so I took a copy-editing test for the Washington Post, and sent it in a few days ago. I don’t expect to hear back from them, as copy-editing tests for major publications tend to be very stringent, but I was required to write a short essay on a subject related to copy editing, that could be as expansive or exclusive as I pleased. so, this here is what I wrote … more or less.
and, fuck it; I will be honest, now that I read it again I don’t like it. I’ll even go farther and say I don’t know what I was thinking when I actually put the following into a job application. but in the interest of full disclosure so that we can all understand the depths of my ability to write bad, dumb bullshit, and if this is all I can muster for the profession, well. here you go:

“what the hell is he talking about?”
by yours truly
a couple of days ago, 2010

  I’ve always thought of copy editing as a noble profession, and I’ve always been amazed at how rough a story will sometimes appear when it arrives in my queue for an edit. At the most egregious examples of bad writing, I will admit to having occasionally thought: Why not just send it on? Make sure there are no potential lawsuits written into it, but let the bad prose speak for itself, if only to prove to the world at large how necessary the copy desks of the world really are. And then after scrubbing the story down and either sending it back for revision or on to the next link in the newsroom chain, I’ve done the Rodney Dangerfield thing that I bet many editors have done at one time or another: The internal monologue on the “I get no respect” theme.

  Maybe so. Copy editing is not what most seek out when they get into journalism. It certainly isn’t glamorous, as it will never include a byline. Most outside of the profession may even profess ignorance of its existence, but I don’t think anyone on the inside would ever argue against its necessity.

  The job requires an unwavering attention to detail, an eye for bad writing and just as importantly, a light touch. Correcting bad writing and confusing wording is a big part of the job description, but extensive revision of someone else’s work isn’t, unless it’s obviously necessary. While staying true to any style guides being used, I think it’s important to preserve the original writer’s voice. As a copy editor, I’m not looking to completely glass over a story. I can write on my own time, and I do, and I would prefer to keep it that way. My stamp on the final product should be much more subtle than that.

  The copy editor’s job is to be a guardian of the masthead. I like that description. It sounds quite noble. But isn’t it true? Without a competent copy desk, error seeps into a publication’s final product. When correcting either sloppy wording or colossal inaccuracy, the copy editor is expected to keep the nameplate clean, night in and out. This effort keeps their newsroom comrades out of possible libel suits, and gives them the backing of a reputable publication in the community at large.

  So raise a glass to copy editors everywhere. It’s not a glamorous job, but someone has to do it.

wrote a movie review

hey, that’s kind of neat.


I definitely need to post more random Frank Frazetta shit on the blog. spacemen and barbarians and naked chicks. get that shit!

Beck sucks. but it wasn’t always like this.

I’m working on this copy-editing test for the Washington Post.
it’d be part-time. it makes no difference to me right now; I need a job.
this shit is hard, and that is no joke.  suddenly, it is 1 in the am, and I am tasked with writing a coherent headline that includes the word “Alzheimer’s” and doesn’t break a 30-character limit.
you know how fucking long “Alzheimer’s” is? say it out loud for emphasis. then count it. that’s 11 characters right there, if you’re counting the apostraphe. fuck you, apostraphe.
what else, let’s see. my lease runs out in … six weeks. it’s officially six weeks now, because it is 1 am and now Thursday. work at the newspaper is forever in its twilight (and soul-crushing, to boot). then, I got this application with the Post I am praying makes it to the next stage, and a job interview in the morning or on Friday for something in Indiana (thank you, Smith). and if all that takes a shit and dies, I think the nuclear option is rent a room for the summer and watch the Progress copy desk sink like the Titanic. and if that doesn’t work out, well. move to Costa Rica, teach English, and learn how to surf.
I’m gonna be 27 in 11 days. and I’m still doing this shit. jesus. anybody sick of me yet?

update, 2 am:

hed: Death displays Alzheimer’s perils
deck: Elderly sufferer found on Md. roadside

no, fuck you, apostraphe.

took a dump and died

a little something for you to nosh as you read.

my Xbox 360 stopped working.
I know, man. it is a big deal. I went to put in a ‘Doctor Who’ dvd, and then it tried to read the disc, and then … nothing. the little prompt on the screen read “open tray.”
open tray? I just closed that shit!
you know, I get the feeling my next couple of weekends are gonna be busy. so this weekend, I thought: if I have the free time, I’m going to finish ‘Bioshock.’ I mean, over the past two months, I’ve slowly hacked my way through that game at irregular intervals. and now I just have to return it to the guy who loaned it to me, because I don’t got the money to get that thing serviced. I … don’t know if I’m gonna trash it? should I trash it?
pro: if I give up my video game system would make me, dare I say, an adult. and temporarily unable to watch ‘Doctor Who’ on dvd. so it would also make me less of a nerd.
con: but video games and ‘Doctor Who’ are fucking sweet!
truly, a decision for the ages.  

“the U.S. Census is in full, Census, mode.”
— John McLaughlin voiceover on today’s show.

I got my coffee here, and the sunday Washington Post, and I’m watching ‘The McLaughlin Group.’ I am now your sixty-year-old father.
‘The McLaughlin Group’ is a fascinating dinosaur of this media age. which is just a superflous way of saying I find it quaint. it is of another time, and it’s unintentionally funny, but I don’t mean that in a snobby culture-critic way. no: it was unintentionally funny when its production wasn’t dated as well, back in the early 80s. it s because John McLaughlin is crazy. and the show he has spawned is proof of that.

on today’s show, Pat Buchanan immediately reaffirms that he is as terrifying in his stupidity as he was when he worked for the Nixon White House, and the world would probably lie in smoldering ruin if he were running it. to begin the discussion, he takes huge exception to the administration saying something about wanting to avoid using a nuclear weapon at all costs, a talking point said in the sea of statements from the administration about its nuclear policy as Barack Obama signs an arms reduction treaty with Russia. I don’t even know what the exact quote was, but that doesn’t matter. the news items on this show don’t matter as much as what the the pundits will say in response to them.
with that in stated, Buchanan instead argues passionately for peace through superior firepower.
Monica Crowley — who is credited as being from the nearly defunct and never-read Washington Times — speaks like she practiced being ‘forceful’ in her bathroom mirror, declares that we are dangerously tipping our military hand.
Eleanor Clift says something pandering to the White House, and glowers at Crowley.
and Mort Zuckerman; who edits the rarely-read U.S. News And World Report; and who is less crazy than Buchanan but nearly as old, he points out: “this isn’t going to change Iran’s policy at all.”
which is of serious note. and renders moot any argument in favor of keeping of thousands of nuclear weapons on hand. how many nuclear weapons do we need to set off before you aren’t just fighting over a post-apocalyptic wasteland?
all of this is done while these four ancient crackers and a weirdly attractive Crowley talk over each other. it is asinine. it is obstinately stupid. it is ‘The McLaughlin Group.’

the fun machine

holy shit, the entire Polish delegation on their way to a memorial service in Russia died in a plane crash. including the president, and the military chief, and the state’s central bank director. that’s like Obama, Bernanke, and Mike Mullen all at once, only Polish. 
the memorial was to mark the anniversary of the Katyn Massacre — the first time that the Russians were going to join them in honoring it, or something like that. first the Soviet Union denied killing a bunch of Polish POWs during WWII. then they didn’t. then they acknowledged wrongdoing. then, fine, they’ll show up to services honoring the dead. something like that. a diplomatic gesture, that means a lot to a nation’s wounded feelings. 
the emotional state of a nation is a weird concept to comprehend. it doesn’t really compute when you try to personify a state’s foreign relations, but you gotta think that there’s some sort of cosmic force at play when the president of Poland’s plane crashes and burns during a trip to Russia to commemorate the mass murder of his countrymen by the Soviets. stars have aligned. there is bad karma in Eastern Europe.