Tag Archives: Culture


Watch This Film

If you haven’t seen this film yet, you should. It puts the third concept touched on in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) into sharp focus. You will change your life if you watch it, and even if you don’t, you’ll still think about it.

News & Comment

Your Honor, Are You Straight or Gay?

So the question is, “Should only straight judges be allowed to rule on gay rights issues?

…ethicists disagree on whether retired federal judge Vaughn R. Walker, 67, should have disclosed his 10-year relationship with his partner before presiding over the challenge to Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage. Walker ruled in August that the ban was unconstitutional, and his decision is now before an appeals court…

A federal district judge in San Francisco has scheduled a June 13 hearing to decide whether Walker’s ruling should be wiped from the legal record as a result of his personal situation.

Does this mean only gay judges can preside over straight divorces in states that outlaw same-sex marriage? Read the whole mess in the L.A. Times and then discuss amongst yourselves.

News & Comment

Rude Pundit: Hey Right Wing, How’s That Ginning Up the Masses Thing Working for Ya Now?

For those of us following the coverage of the mass shooting aimed at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who are sick of the false equivalency arguments (“But what about Daily Kos?”), the bending over backward denials (“They were surveyors marks, not gun scope sights”), and pleas by the right not to rush to judgment (like they do with every ginned up news cycle concerning the NPRs and Van Joneses of the world), The Rude Pundit offers some relief. He is calling out the same folks as the sheriff of Pima County did — those who earn a living inflaming the American people.

Rude Pundit: ‘Gosh, it’s just wrong to lump you all together, to stereotype you all as criminals in waiting. Like, you know, you have done with Muslims since September 11, 2001’

He goes one further, though, by including the viewers and listeners and readers who indulge those leaders, who drive up their ratings, and who ultimately pay their salaries. And if you are among them, The Rude Pundit leaves you nowhere to hide.

Following are excerpts from what could have been called, “Dear Right-Wingers: We Reject Your Every Attempt to Evade Blame” but which is, instead, the much better titled, “Dear Right-Wingers: You Are All Muslims Now.”

How you must have heaved in relief when you saw that it would be quite easy to portray Jared Lee Loughner as a raving psychopath, an effort that’s helped a great deal by the apparent truth, which is that Jared Lee Loughner is a raving psychopath…

Now, ah, yes, now, lovely right-wingers, you could defend yourself. You could work yourselves into a huff about how unjustly you were accused of driving this obviously disturbed individual into an act of calculated, cold-blooded violence. But that’s because you’re sitting there in your shit-filled underpants, thinking, “I don’t believe in violence. I don’t approve this. I hope the government doesn’t try to crack down on us.”

So, welcome, assholes, because you are Muslim now.

read more »



I eat meat, there are leather chairs in my office, Sarah Palin is deranged and The Learning Channel should be ashamed of itself.

Aaron Sorkin, playwright and screenwriter, answering Palin’s Facebook update in which she challenged the legitimacy of critics of her killing and dismembering a caribou on her reality show. Sorkin added, “I’m able to make a distinction between you and me without feeling the least bit hypocritical. I don’t watch snuff films and you make them. You weren’t killing that animal for food or shelter or even fashion, you were killing it for fun…That was the first moose ever murdered for political gain. You knew there’d be a protest from PETA and you knew that would be an opportunity to hate on some people, you witless bully.”

News & Comment

Read a Banned Book This Week


If you need a suggestion for what book to read to celebrate National Banned Books Week, this site has them.

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982.

Oddly, according to a map posted at the site, most of the clusters of censorship have been along the Northeastern corridor and in the more “civilized” areas of the Midwest.

While some new books joined the Top Ten list of challenged books in 2009 (And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, which acknowledges homosexuality, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which includes drug use, violence, and yes, homosexuality), plenty of old standards continue to irk…someone. These include the highly regarded classics To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Of course, we actually don’t mind that one book series made the list. That would be Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Don’t tell my 12-year-old niece, but it’s O.K. with me if you don’t read those.

News & Comment

Republican Senators Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Don’t Answer the Phone for Lady Ga Ga

Ga Ga: “I am here to be a voice for my generation, not the generation of the senators who are voting, but for the youth of this country, the generation that is affected by this law, and whose children will be affected. We are not asking you to agree with, or approve of the moral implications of homosexuality.”

There is so much wrong with these assumptions that it’s hard to know where to start (many Guard members are in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, and why NOT ask the senators to stop declaring homosexuality is immoral?) but as the aunt of a 12-year-old, I know that Ga Ga is correct that she speaks for youth, and her heart is definitely in the right place on this one.

News & Comment

Media Guy’s Media Studies Pop Quiz Returns

It’s time once again for Media Guy’s Quarterly(-ish) Media Studies Pop Quiz. Here’s the first question:

The Washington Post recently announced a new social-media policy stipulating that its “journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.” In addition, “This same caution should be used when joining, following or friending any person or organization online.” What, in effect, does this mean?

A. Washington Post reporters are a bunch of opinionated, biased, partisan, racist, sexist atheists (or, possibly, Wiccans) who should be thankful they have thoughtful, proactive bosses who are willing to protect them from their worst impulses.

B. In the cyber cafeteria, the Washington Post is now relegated to sitting by itself at that one table with the wobbly leg in the corner by the trash bins — and not even Mrs. Musbocker, the lunch lady, is nice to it anymore.

C. Increased sales of My Little Pony Secret Diary With Locket at D.C.-area Toys ‘R’ Us stores.

Take the rest of the quiz here.


Lame Duck Bush Team Killing Time By Blogging

You know blogging has gone mainstream when two members of Bush’s cabinet start doing it.

Yes, I now have something in common with Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Defense. Welcome to the internets tubes, guys!

The men take very different approaches with their blogs.

Leavitt says he writes every blog entry himself, often late at night in hotel rooms when he is traveling. He is concerned that his entries are too long; on Aug. 20, he wrote 2,444 words about his trip to an orphanage in South Africa.

…Chertoff comes up with an idea for a blog entry, then someone in the department writes it, and Chertoff heavily edits it, said Jeff Ostermayer, a department spokesman who oversees the blog.

Mercifully, Chertoff’s picture is not shown on his blog, “Leadership Journal,” which also calls upon guest contributors like W. Ralph Basham, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Kip Hawley, Transportation Security Administration.

Leavitt, possibly a frustrated editor, features no guests but he does offer a confusing list of categories. I guess you have to spend some time on the site to understand the differences between “health” (capitalization Leavitt’s own), “Health Coverage,” “Health Diplomacy,” “Health IT,” and “Personalized Health Care.”

The blogs are not quite like, say, ours. Or most others for that matter.

The public can comment on Chertoff’s and Leavitt’s blogs, but both departments established ground rules that include a ban on personal attacks and vulgar language.

As all you Pensito Reviewers know, the three of us are on the receiving end of our share of personal attacks and vulgarity. And every once in awhile, we’re on the giving end too. But knowing how much time blogging takes the three of us, I have to agree with a comment on one of Chertoff’s posts.

Another comment said, “This is a serious question. How do you have time to blog? Don’t you have a 24-hour-a-day job with very important things to do?”

Not really.


Friday Night Lights: Illuminating and Proselitizing

The age-old question of which side is God on has taken a decidedly local turn in these parts. Our independent weekly recently ran a couple of stories about a football coach who forces kids not just to pray before games, but to adopt his Christian evangelical POV. Parents, the stories reported, were afraid to protest to school board and administrative authorities, fearing retribution against their sons in winning college football scholarships. The reaction among the independent weekly readers was that the coach, and his supporters, were all wrong.

On prayers before high school football games: “If God is there, could He just take time out from sports to fix the rest of the world?”

But then our local daily, the St. Augustine Record, caught wind of the story, and ran a prayer-friendly version. The reaction among the daily readers — where the story was that all high school football coaches force prayer upon their players and what’s wrong with that? — was that the coach was a hero. Their follow-up story said 74 people wrote in support of the crusading coach and five against.

That’s the background. Here’s a great letter to the editor on the subject in the local daily:

I am against prayer before, after or during a football game.

Players are not praying for welfare of all mankind, for a responsible government, for peace in the demolished land of Iraq. They are praying to win a football game. They should pray that if they are to be hurt, let it be on the football field. They will have some medical coverage.

The Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Whose religion are we talking about? We see plenty of “Jesus” in the arguments for prayer. How about those who want to pray to Adonai or to Allah?

…The Record said it had 74 reactions for school prayer, and five against.

Does that make those five wrong? Does it say something about our city, our community?

My parents came out of World War II convinced there was no God. And if there was a god who let 20 million people die, he is an awful god.

Seeing what is happening today, I do not believe in God either.

If God is there, could He just take time out from sports to fix the rest of the world?


What’s Your Walk Score?

No, it has nothing to do with heart-rate monitors. Your walk score is determined by analyzing your proximity to stores and services.

We help homebuyers, renters, and real estate agents find houses and apartments in great neighborhoods. Walk Score shows you a map of what’s nearby and calculates a Walk Score for any property. Buying a house in a walkable neighborhood is good for your health and good for the environment.

In my case, the results were a bit disappointing.

Despite the fact that I am about midway between a full-service grocery store and the main branch of the public library, my walk score was a weak 43 on a scale of 1 to 100. But when I clicked around the results screen a little, I noticed the grocery had disappeared, and a movie theater that is actually several miles from my side of town was shown on the next block. The popular sushi restaurant on the corner was listed as a catering service, while Arnold’s, the diviest dive bar I know, was featured prominently.

Maybe your results will be more accurate. Check it out and see how your address rates. If nothing else, you will see all the great reasons you have to walk instead of driving. Unless you’re trying to catch a movie. In that case, you’ll definitely want to crank up the roadster.