Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I've had enough of those Kashi commercials—you know, the ones where the guy with the hemp bracelet saves a bald eagle, kayaks down the Colorado River and then creates new and interesting cereals based on his adventures.

Give me a break. I've eaten Kashi. I know what that shit is all about. And I think the brain trust in marketing can boil the environmentally conscious angle down into a much simpler, subtler slogan:

Kashi: We Found It on the Ground™

Build the brand around that.

Automatic Trillionaire City.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Monkey Bars

Today's featured photo on Gapers Block.


Friday, January 26, 2007

I've never smelled a woman's perfume as she walked by and thought, "Wow, she smells sexy."

But I've often thought, "Wow, she smells just like grandma's house."

When I first heard about it, I worried the movie couldn't possibly work. But this is pretty encouraging.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It might only have looked like a blip on the political radar this past week, but Frank Luntz's recent editorial for the Huffington Post likely portends the primary conservative meme for at least the next two years. In the key passage (the only one you really need to read), Luntz disguises himself as a sheep and lays bare his latest focus-group-approved frame:

"I am not in the habit of offering partisan linguistic advice to Democrats. But in the genuine spirit of bipartisanship—seriously—I thought this is the perfect time to convey a simple point to the still-euphoric faces of Democrat activists ...

Don't twist the knife."

What first jumps out at me when I read this passage is the fact that despite his claim, Luntz fails here to offer any "partisan linguistic advice" to Democrats. On the contrary, he instead offers us his latest partisan linguistic frame for Republicans. Trust me when I tell you that "don't twist the knife" is a product of days, maybe weeks, of tireless research and focus group testing. That's Luntz's field of expertise, and he's very good at what he does. (This is, after all, the man who once said, without irony, that "[t]o be 'Orwellian' is to speak with absolute clarity...")

So we shouldn't be fooled—I certainly am not—by Luntz claiming to reach across the aisle to the party he still derisively refers to in the column as "the democrat party" (an adjective he and Newt Gingrich brought back into vogue in the early 1990s). Luntz is aware of his one glaring weakness: the fact that he's no longer an unknown player. When word gradually got out about who he was and what he does (and for whom he does it), it effectively tainted every term that emerged from the bubbly swamp of his think tank. That is, once people began to pay attention and realize that catchy terms like "death tax," "blame game," and "tax relief" were republican frames and did not reflect the reality of the issues they purported to describe, Luntz lost a key advantage—that of his own obscurity.

Since then, he has tried on several occasions to make mainstream democrats believe he's willing to work for them and teach them how to exploit complicated issues by framing the debate. He realizes that he's been done in by his own vanity, that his eagerness to let everyone know what a genius he is weakened his own effectiveness. He also realizes that his only chance to reclaim his former glory is to re-brand himself as an independent linguist-for-hire who's willing to bite the hand that's been feeding him for well over a decade.

It won't work. And I'm surprised by how poorly he crafted his latest effort. Were he offering sincere advice to democrats, he'd set up a frame that favors them. Since we know he won't do that, we at least expect him to set up a frame that appears on the surface to favor democrats. But he failed miserably on that count. In addition to the "democrat" slip, he forgot to make his latest meme—how shall I put this—less idiotic.

Look at it again: "Don't twist the knife."

The image he's trying to evoke here is one of bloodthirsty democrats who, now having the upper hand, are tempted to use their position to inflict undue pain rather than resolve the long-standing partisan conflict. We are all familiar with this device—that of the character who, when given a chance to exact mortal revenge on his nemesis, opts for mercy instead of vengeance. It's an image that stretches back to The Merchant of Venice and continues right up through Gladiator, and Luntz knows how easily this metaphor brings it to mind.

But much like Luntz's other creations, this language isn't at all accurate. After all, George Bush is still the madman holding the knife. Only now, instead of standing idly by, Congress is finally going to attempt to disarm him.

Of course we know that, despite his protestations otherwise, Luntz is still nothing more than a strictly partisan player. So objectively accurate terms for the next two years would change his latest frame significantly (perhaps to something like "don't take my knife" or "don't press charges").

There are dozens of good reasons why we shouldn't allow Luntz to once again frame the national political landscape, not the least of which is the timing. Don't be fooled. Don't mistake that wolf for a sheep. Frank Luntz doesn't find religion, he exploits it. He doesn't help explain issues, he obfuscates them.

Twist your knife in his side and nothing but shit will spill from the wound, because he is full of it.

We see you, Frank. And you're not fooling anyone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I hope ExxonMobil can pay some researchers to find out why over 1,200 of the world's top climate scientists continue their vast conspiracy to peddle anthropogenic global warming.

Monday, January 22, 2007

You'll know all you'll ever need to know about me and how much fun I am to hang out with when I tell you that this is the most entertaining thing I read this morning.

I especially enjoyed this:

"I suspect that the author's native language _is_ English, and could provide you with additional examples in the same register, collected from local newspapers. Sequences like these come from people who are not academics but have as their goal the production of sizable stretches of Academic Regalian all the same. Their technique is simple but effective: Write the stuff in ordinary human-being English; take a thesaurus and choose a more AR-sounding word to replace as many of the ordinary human-being English words as possible; make the substitutions and send the result to the "Letters to the Editor" section of a newspaper. Matters such as meaning and appropriateness are not part of the process, and the authors are _very_ proud of the results."

UPDATE: This just got a bit more entertaining. (Think Ben Domenech, only stoopider.)

Hello, and welcome to my Official Chicago Bears Super Bowl Post™. I hope you enjoy your stay.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I want to thank The New York Times for its willingness to reinforce gender stereotypes by reducing powerful women to mannequins.

I especially appreciated this deft transition:

During her first week on the job, Mrs. Pelosi clinched votes in the House on the minimum wage, financing for stem cell research and Medicare drug prices, drawing two veto threats (for research and drugs) from a notoriously veto-averse president.

And she did it looking preternaturally fresh, with a wardrobe that, while still subdued and overreliant on suits, has seldom spruced the halls of Congress.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm sure you've all read it by now, but I think George Bush makes some salient points in his Washington Post Op-Ed.