Today sees the holiday release of the fourth e2 podcast. This has nothing to do with christmas, but with the fact that I have week off and the weather is not good enough for me to be outside and continue working on my cob bench.

Today's nodes are:

Direct download link is: http://e2podcast.spunkotronic.com/e2pod5.mp3

Thanks to Brooks Marlin, TenMinJoe, and The Custodian for their help and the readings, but I will need more of your contributions, otherwise I'll have to do all the reading again, and you don't want that.

A new section in the Guardian Guide this week:-


One constant in Western society is the enduring popularity of t-shirts with amusing slogans and/or illustrations, an inevitable consequence of the enduring presence of that minority of the population who think that they're funny.

A mode of expression that arguably reached its zenith in the 1970s (as documented by the many hilarious t-shirts sported by Nicholas Lyndhurst in the BBC's seminal family sitcom Butterflies), before being subsumed in the early 1980s by the phenomenon of iconic t-shirts (I♥NY, FRANKIE SAY RELAX, the acid smiley, the Batman logo, etc.), amusing t-shirts returned for one last hurrah with the timeless classic "I'M WITH STUPID".

The modern 'funny' t-shirt finds itself in a difficult position. There is no generally accepted convention as to whether a 'funny' t-shirt should be considered a clever ironic statement, or if wearing one is simply a poor decision indicative of deficient social skills. In an attempt to guide the unwary through this sartorial minefield, we have introduced this new column to critique notable examples seen in the wild.

1. "Make Coldplay History"

This slogan is an obvious play on the name of the much-publicised Make Poverty History charity campaign. Or more accurately, it is a corruption of the earlier spoof "Make Doherty History", a reference to Pete Doherty, the over-exposed, substance-dependent frontman of the bands The Libertines and Babyshambles.

The original spoof was momentarily successful on the strength of the obvious (yet valid) wordplay and the strength of (negative) feeling towards tabloid darling Doherty at the time. This progeny manages to jettison both of these strengths. 'Coldplay' sounds nothing like poverty or Doherty; and the generally accepted view of Coldplay, while rightly negative, is not so strongly expressed as to justify the endorsement of their deaths (or disbandment).

Furthermore, whereas Doherty's media exposure, by dint of polluting the mainstream media, was genuinely invasive to the lives of the general public, at this stage, nobody needs to be subjected to Coldplay's music or the (generally un-newsworthy) antics of its members without complicity by their own free will. The combined effect is to make the wearer appear to be a self-conscious but inexperienced music snob with no sense of humour.

2. "Shakespeare hates your emo poems"

Both the slightly up-market presentation and the textual content of this shirt immediately betray its origins as a garment purchased on the popular but extremely variable online clothing store threadless.com. Best known for its t-shirts with purely graphical designs (e.g. Darth Vader's topiary), the store appears to have recently started stocking purely slogan-based designs, firmly entrenched in the I'm with stupid school of 'wit' but sweetened for the indie hipster student idiot market with a thin veneer of ironic fashionability through the use of quirky typefaces.

This shirt again falls into the trap which did for shirt 1.: the choice of target, while seemingly deserving in the heat of the t-shirt designing moment, when put into practice serves only to make the wearer appear petty. Everybody hates emo, but very few over the age of 18 would actually give this niche fashion trend enough attention or dignity to actively denigrate it through the medium of t-shirt.

The shirt's problems are exacerbated by the unfortunate fact that the insult "Shakespeare hates your emo poems" is frankly rather emo in itself. Shakespeare has been dead for centuries. Assuming to shift the burden of umbrage to the language's greatest ever wordsmith is both cowardly and needlessly melodramatic, traits which are practically the defining characteristics of emo. "I hate your emo poems" would be more honest and respectable, with the only downside of making the wearer less desirable to impressionable emo girls.

In summary, if you wear this shirt, you're probably an arsehole.


3. "This is the reason I can't wear shorts"

While t-shirts 1. and 2. were clearly marketed at (and if memory serves, worn by) slightly too appearance-conscious students and young professionals, our third exhibit represents the other demographic most partial to humourous t-shirts: bedraggled, insane-looking ne'er-do-wells. (In this specific instance a stocky, grey-stubbled Mediterranean man shuffling unwholesomely down Highgate Road.)

The slogan is emblazoned in large (slightly faded) bold print across most of the chest area of the long, misshapen garment. It is accompanied by a crudely yet feverishly inked cartoon drawing of a bald man wearing a pair of baggy, knee-length shorts. Protruding from the (separate) leg-holes of the shorts are the head of a gargantuan penis and a lone testicle, each roughly the size of the man's head.

While by any objective measure this t-shirt should be burnt on a remote landfill site and never spoken of again, it has to be said in its favour that it provoked the most reaction from onlookers, and demands the greatest amount of reckless bravery (risking scorn, ridicule and almost inevitable police caution) on the part of the wearer. (Although the more likely explanation for its choice in this instance was that it was the only item of upper body clothing that the gentleman owned.)

That's it for now. I hope you've all learned something today. Join us again for another thrilling excursion into the world of the 'funny' t-shirt, soon.

In the year of our Lord 1987 i was junior political science major at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. I was one of 13 members of our Model United Nations team, and we had just decided to ask for the right to represent Venezuela. This isn't because Venezuela was the best we could hope for, but having played the United States in 1986 we needed to take a year off before playing the Soviet Union. You see, we were good. Really good. Almost the entire team went off to do graduate work and Wendall went into the State Department. During my three years on the team we were named Outstanding Delegation three times.

The reason we asked for Venezuela was that back then Venezuela was one of the world's behind the scenes players. Venezuela was almost always chosen as a member of the Security Council. They were liked by everyone from the first world to the non-aligned movement. Somehow Venezuela found a way to express the feelings of the developing world without pissing off NATO or the Eastern Bloc. They were moderate, thoughtful, and on the right side of everything. Representing Reagan's America or Gorbachev's Soviet Union I would have had problems with at least some part of their foreign policy. With Venezuela I was always on the side of truth and justice. When there was an agreement, Venezuelan diplomats were often found quietly at the center of it.

With this past it is only natural the Hugo Chavez's Venezuela would wish to return to the Security Council. They were regulars once and acceptance there would help demonstrate the legitimacy of his govenrment. The goal seemed achievable despite the Bush Administration's barely veiled contempt for Chavez, George Bush's most lasting achievement may be to have turned America into the most-hated nation on Earth, and enough people would like to tweak America's nose that Venezuela stood a good shot for that reason if no other.

Then Chavez gave his speech where he called Bush 'The Devil" and threw it all away.

I agree with a lot of what Chavez said. No president in our history has done more harm to Americam or the world, than George Walker Bush. Even James Buchanan cannot bear the same blame, if for no other reason than the die had already been cast when he assumed office as a caretaker. By 1856 war was probably inevitable. Americans were no longer talking to each other but past each other, much as they are today. Bush's arrogance, partisanship and ideological blindness have divided our country, His blatant militarism and impracticality have led us into one unwinnable war and possible defeat in the one war he did win. Calling him the Devil isn't accurate, but it's a lot more accurate than what Fox calls him.

Chavez also has reason to dislike Bush, who backed a failed attempt to depose him.

Nevertheless, fire-breathing speeches and name calling are not the act of statesmen. Statesmen put aside personal animosity and concentrate on the common good. Chavez gave a firey speech that no doubt will make him more popular in the streets from Caracas to Beirut. But rabble rousing has nothing to do with statesmanship.

My first political science professor, the late Joe Bindley, used to define politics as 'the art of the possible.' You are there to get something done for the people you represent. Venezuela in the Security Council stands for more than Hugo Chavez's opinions, or simple rage. It stands for the world. In 1987 Venezuela understood this. In 2006 Hugo Chavez demonstrated that it does not. While righteous anger feels good, it accomplishes nothing. And right now the world needs accomplishment more than ever.

JessicaPierce really is taking over the world...But I don't know if it has anything
to do with damp bosoms

True Story

First, some background: My paramour is, among other things, a commercial photographer. One of
his regular gigs is shooting head shots of various people, mostly engineers, for a semiconductor company
here in the valley where I live. The photo shoot takes place up on a stage. The people waiting to be photographed
sit down below and about 15 feet away; this makes small details up on stage hard to see clearly
if you're sitting in the 'audience'.

Now when I asked if I could use the actual name of this semi-conductor company in this write-up, the answer
was a resounding, "NO NO NO". I was told their publicity minions do regular google checks on themselves
to see how important or unimportant or how bad or good or god-knows-what they are at that particular second
in time. So I should not name them.

Now that someone was nice enough to show me how to link to JessicaPierce's homenode, maybe you should
go take a look. Read about her business cards.

My above referenced significant other is particularly fond of these business cards. He is so fond
of these cards that he took one, plastered the back with double stick tape, and covered up the Apple logo on his
Powerbook with one. The Powerbook is tethered to his camera and all the images go straight to the hard drive
on the computer while he shoots pictures.

Every time he goes to shoot these engineers, they are all interested in his gear; he always has all the latest gadgets
and stuff. So around thirty of them are sitting there, facing him, waiting to get their picture taken. J. is knocking them out
pretty quickly, but the crowd does not seem to be getting any smaller; they are just milling around by the door,
watching and waiting.

Finally, the last person is done and J. starts packing up his rig. It is clear that one of the group is selected to approach

"Excuse me. We couldn't help noticing. You have a new computer? We are not familiar with this brand". He is pointing to
JessicaPierce's Robot business card stuck to the front of the Powerbook.

"What company is that? Is it any good?"

J, looking puzzled, still packing: "I beg your pardon?"

"Ah. I get it. Proprietary equipment. I understand."

He backs away and relates all this to the twenty-nine other engineers waiting for the dirt. They all file out,
buzzing with this new development.

So now I'm sure the rumors are running rampant around the semi-conductor company who-must-not-be-named
that there is a new player on the block and that they have both a robot AND something about a spider
in their logo, so boy, they must be one scary company, don't you think?

I told him he needs to strap one of her fuck-bunnies to the laptop next time...I can just see it:
"Engineers panic. Film at 11!"

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