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November 2007 Archives

November 29, 2007

NY's new unconvincing anti-domestic violence ad campaign

NY's anti-domestic violence campaign ad

OK, whatever, mom.

Sure, not slugging your girlfriend is probably the right thing to do, but it's such a drag!

Even teenage boys know that hitting girls is wrong and disrespectful, and illegal, but this approach makes domestic violence sound like something sort of fun and illicit, like filling up on Cheetos before dinner and blowing off Chemistry lab.

The TV ad for New York State's new domestic violence prevention ad campaign looks better.

NY domestic violence ad still

[download ads or read scripts]

The TV ad uses the same logic as those animated anti-pot smoking ads from earlier this year in which a stoner's girlfriend gets bored with him and goes off with a cute alien. Social scare tactics--that your friends and girls will think you're lame--are probably much more effective deterrents than moralistic scolding of "eat your vegetables" or "do your homework" or "dude, that weed is gonna blow your mind".

November 27, 2007

Young Kenyan men enjoy same gifts-for-sex benefits young women have had for centuries

Charlotte Rampling in Heading South

Reuters had an article yesterday on the trend of older white English women going on vacation in Kenya, and while there, taking out hot young men, buying them clothes and expensive dinners, and having sex with them.

The white beaches of the Indian Ocean coast stretched before the friends as they both walked arm-in-arm with young African men, Allie resting her white haired-head on the shoulder of her companion, a six-foot-four 23-year-old from the Maasai tribe.

He wore new sunglasses he said were a gift from her.

"We both get something we want -- where's the negative?" Allie asked in a bar later.

Apparently the negative is that a lot of hotel managers and members of the Kenya tourism board are lumping these women in with other sex tourists who come to Kenya to pay 12 year-old girls or boys for sex.

Which is nuts. Old, wealthy sugar daddies everywhere have long enjoyed taking much younger women out, showering them with gifts, and having sex with them. Some might go so far as to marry them (Billy Joel, Donald Trump, Fred Thompson, Ben Kingsley, Les Moonves, I could go on all day) but plenty more just enjoy the arm candy for a while then drop them (George Soros).

At last, young men from poor countries with little opportunity for living in economic security get to enjoy the same temporary access to nice clothes and fancy dinners that young American women have been hustling to get their hands on forever! Why should sex-for-goods be exclusively a rich man/poor woman transaction? I'm so glad to see these enterprising young African men are finally able to exploit their youthful hotness with all the savvy of a midwestern high school dropout draping herself over aging producers at Hollywood parties.

22 year-old Joseph, a Kenyan man who says he has slept with over 100 white women, says:

"When I go into the clubs, those are the only women I look for now," he told Reuters. "I get to live like the rich mzungus (white people) who come here from rich countries, staying in the best hotels and just having my fun."

He could be half the girls in their early 20's who hang out at expensive Tribeca bars hoping to snag free drinks from an investment manager.

The movie Heading South came out in 2006 and featured Charlotte Rampling (in the photo above) traveling to Haiti to have sex with young men in the 1970's. A long article about the movie goes into all these complicated arguments about sex, economics, political power, gender roles, exploitation, and on and on.

Seems like the only new or interesting thing happening here is that the older, richer person in the dynamic is female and they have to go to other countries to find young men willing to do what many young women in rich countries have done basically forever. Yawn.

November 26, 2007

France's race problems not magically resolved yet +

Paris Riots, 2007

Over the weekend in the suburbs of Paris, two Arab boys riding a motorbike were hit and killed by a cop car. Less than an hour later, crowds of people had set fire to four buildings, torched 28 cars, and started throwing rocks at riot police. Today, they were still going, setting gas tanks on fire while cops fired rubber bullets and threw tear gas.

This is pretty much exactly what happened two years ago. Those clashes lasted for three weeks and resulted in thousands of cars and buildings getting destroyed [details on Wikipedia]. Not may people got hurt, though. This time, 25 cops have already been injured, one with a punctured lung.

Here's another difference: the interior minister who in 2005 referred to the rioters, mostly the children of Arab or African immigrants, as "scum" is now the President. The unemployment rate for young black men is still about 40%.

It's looking like the boys that were killed this weekend were mostly at fault for the accident: they weren't wearing helmets, the bike was stolen, and they cut off the car while traveling at full speed. So the violence of the last two days seems to be more in response to ongoing discrimination against immigrants and pretty much anyone who isn't white in France, not so much this particular incident. The chief of the Paris police union says, "We’ve been saying for eons that we’re sitting on a powder keg."

UPDATE: Sounds like the violence got worse last night: 82 cops injured, some with buckshot fired from hunting shotguns (kids in the French ghetto have hunting shotguns?!), more buildings set on fire, and over 60 cars torched. This is looking bad. I think the people in charge over there need to realize that they have major problems on their hands: several generations of pissed off poor young people who are technically citizens, but are systematically treated like they have no right to live there.

Here's a quote from a local resident, Boniface Gabo, talking about the housing project he lives in: "This is no place for human beings to live. Make no mistake, every hundred kids who grow up here are a hundred lost kids."

November 21, 2007

Eliot Spitzer reconsiders that whole "steamroller" thing

Eliot Spitzer reconsiders

It's been a rocky time for our governor, who swept into his first year of office promoting himself as a "fucking steamroller", guns blazing, ready to take on a mess of a state legislature and make some big changes.

Last week, a poll set his favorability rating at a crappy 41%, with only 25% of voters saying they would re-elect him. That's less than a year after winning almost 70% of the vote in an election in which many New Yorkers were relieved to finally have a Democrat running the state again. The two biggest stories about his governorship so far have been his proposal to offer driver's licenses to undocumented residents that nobody liked, and the "Troopergate" debacle.

It's been a total public relations disaster.

So he announced yesterday that single-swipe subway fares would hold steady at $2. This is being regarded by some media, including the Post of course, who calls Spitzer a tooth fairy, as pandering to grumpy voters in the face of fiscal experts who predict a major downturn in the region's economy in the near future, which will make fare increases necessary eventually.

Who knows? Maybe Spitzer is trying to change his public image and soften the pit-bull approach he's taken since the start of his term. But if he really is trying to get people to like him again, this approach isn't going to mean much to New Yorkers.

The Times interviewed several subway riders to ask them what they think about the single-ride price staying at $2. Considering only 7% of subway and bus riders actually pay $2 per ride according to the Straphangers Campaign, their responses aren't surprising:

"If they’re not hiking the $2 rates, there’s some way it will come out of our pocket," said Ellene Wundrok, a real estate broker from Flushing, Queens. "The tourists might benefit. They’re the ones that buy the $2 fares, not people who live in the city."

Joseph Rivera, 20, a graphic design student from Brooklyn, said that riders might react angrily once the authority announces what the increases in other types of fares will be. "This has the potential to backlash on him."

And this is hilarious: the Daily News jubilantly takes full credit for the non-increased $2 fare through its Halt the Hike campaign, and quotes chirpy reader Elsa Butler who gushes "The Daily News coverage has been fantastic!" I sure hope all those happy tourists getting a price break start picking up the Daily News down at the Publix!

I think actual New Yorkers understand that all the capital improvements the MTA plans to make over the next few years will require a big cash influx. A NYT editorial states that the MTA wants to bring in $580 million of new money in the next 2 years, so a fare increase for unlimited Metrocards may be unavoidable in that period. The MTA decides on its entire new fare plan on December 19.

But until then, we should use the Pizza Connection economic law to demand that midtown pizzerias stop charging $2.25 for a slice.

November 19, 2007

This motherfucking, motherfucking, motherfucking strike

Alec and Jerry

As ever, Alec Baldwin is a mad genius. On his latest Huffington Post entry , about Ryan Gosling's brilliance, how much he hates George Bush, and various other disconnected topics, he says:
I miss my make-up artist, Stacey Panepinto. I miss my hairstylist, Richard Esposito. I miss all of the 30 ROCK cast and crew, who I don't see anymore because of this motherfucking, motherfucking, motherfucking strike.

Eli Roth's Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving poster

Eli Roth hasn't offered any definite information on his Thanksgiving trailer being made into a full-length movie yet. The gross-out trailer [video] ran between the two movies of Grindhouse in the original double-feature theater release, before it got split in two for DVD, which destroyed the cool two-for-one concept that was the basis of the whole project.

Anyway, the fake trailers were a great part of the original movie. My personal favorite is Robert Rodriguez's own Machete [video]; rumors swirl on the IMDb message board about whether or not this one is going to be made into a full-length.

And while Roth isn't promising anything about a second helping of Thanksgiving, he is selling timely merchandise for it! You can buy a t-shirt and a poster at Hot Topic, while you're shopping for your pink rubber spiky fingerless gloves.

While this sure sounds like a cheap ploy to make money for a project you're not actually doing, in this case, I think merchandise for a movie that doesn't exist is just fine. Trailers are often a lot better than the movies they promote (did you see Running With Scissors? Ugh. And the trailer was so funny, too) and maybe some concepts should only last for three minutes.

More exciting news is that Roth says he's working on a collection of trailers called Trailer Trash. As he writes on his MySpace blog, "Why make a whole movie when you can just go film the best parts?"

November 16, 2007

The coolest WGA benefit event yet +

Michael Cera

Guess who's hosting SNL tomorrow night? It's our favorite celebrity ever Michael Cera! With musical guest Yo La Tengo.

Oh, hang on. The writers are all on strike. But that doesn't matter if SNL is going to be happening live at Upright Citizens Brigade! Where $20 tickets will benefit a strike fund for the WGA!

Yeah, well, show's already very sold out.

Also sold out is what will probably be the greatest non-televised television moment of the year: an episode of "30 Rock", also live at UCB on Monday night. The UCB site says limited tickets will be available at the door, so start camping out on 26th St as soon as the SNL show is over!

Here's about as much good news as there is: people are selling their tickets to SNL at UCB for $750 on Craig's List. Fuck.

Cast members Tina Fey and Seth Meyers have been out on the picket lines.

UPDATE: Of course, SNL was awesome.

November 14, 2007

Kelly Ripa doesn't care what anyone says, ass is still the new tits

Kelly Ripa in her ass-hugging jeans

Here's how Kelly Ripa got her butt to produce that modest but discernible curve, in her own words in Fitness magazine:

I buy jeans that are tight in the rear end. I'm not kidding. I treat my cheeks like breasts in a pushup bra. I just reach down in there, lift them up and push them together. And they'll stay put if the jeans are tight enough in the seat.

That's right, girl! Demand support and definition for that teeny little butt!

Last spring the Times priggishly claimed that the new erogenous zone was protruding collarbones, but with Kelly Ripa talking about mashing up her butt cleavage inside her jeans and Slate's recent "buttock innovation" slideshow, I think the ass still has this one nailed.

November 12, 2007

Georgia prays for rain

Dog River Reservoir runs dry

Georgia and much of the southeast have been in a serious drought for months now. One town in Tennessee ran out of water a couple of weeks ago, and the Dog River Reservoir in sububuran Atlanta (pictured above) is nearly dry. Bans have been instituted on "secretive late-night lawn watering" with violators getting their water supply shut off.

So tomorrow, Georgia governor Sonny Perdue is going to pray for rain, along with state legislators and religious leaders. Some residents think this makes total sense. As Rocky Twyman, the organizer of a recent rain-dedicated gospel concert, said:

We need to call on God, because what we're doing isn't working. We think that instead of all this fussing and fighting, Gov. Perdue and all these others would come together and pray.

Uh huh. I guess by "fussing and fighting" he means "conserving water". Given that greater Atlanta has become synonymous with "urban sprawl hell", and the fact that there are no lakes that aren't man-made in the entire state of Georgia, then yes, it's true: what they're doing isn't working.

Not everyone likes that the state government is turning to prayer to address the problem. The Atlanta Freethought Society is staging a protest. "The governor can pray when he wants to," said Ed Buckner, who is organizing the protest. "What he can't do is lead prayers in the name of the people of Georgia."

But the last time the governor prayed for rain, it worked! Kind of. In 1986, then-governor Joe Frank Harris sent out a proclamation asking Georgians to pray for rain. A few days later began "several weeks of almost daily rains," he claims, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that they actually started getting some rain a few days before the magical state-wide prayer intervention.

November 9, 2007

Mickey Rourke's zen approach to DUI arrest

Yesterday we learned that Mickey Rourke got arrested in Miami for drunk scootering, which is sort of endearing, as crimes go. But I was especially charmed by his mugshot, in which he looks almost as destroyed as Nick Nolte did in his mental DUI mugshot from 2002.

Nick Nolte and Mickey Rourke mugshots

But look at that grin! Nolte looks back at the camera from the bottom of a pit of despair, but Mickey Rourke takes a positive attitude about his substance abuse problems, his loud party shirt, and his goofy DUI arrest that is pretty funny, though not as funny as Bill Murray's.

Lesson: Mickey Rourke is probably more fun to drink with than Nick Nolte.

November 8, 2007


In today's Who'dat?™, take a look at this photo of a very gracious celebrity at his appearance at a recent theatrical event in Munich.


To play, try to guess who it is, then click on the picture to see if you are right.

Read more after you've played.

Continue reading "Who'dat?™" »

November 7, 2007

Grossest abuse ever of those tempting egg donor stipends

OK people, this one really is going make you puke.

South Dakotan Ted Klaudt was a foster parent for two teenage girls. One of them was interested in becoming an egg donor as a means of income. He convinced both of the girls to let him repeatedly examine them in a motel room to determine their fertility.

And by "examine", of course, he meant "rape". He performed 10 examinations on one of the girls to make sure she was really good and fertile.

And: he coerced these girls into submitting to repeated examinations by creating a fake email account and writing to the girls pretending to be a woman who worked for an egg-donation program, encouraging them to keep letting their foster father molest them.

And: he was an elected official at the time. Klaudt used to be in the South Dakota state legislature, as a Republican. He ran for state Senate last year and lost. One of the girls also worked as page in the legislature.

And: he looks like this.

former South Dakota legislator and rapist, Ted Klaudt


Thankfully, the good people of South Dakota found this sick bastard guilty of second-degree rape, disregarding the defense argument that because the girls were over 16, the age of consent, there was no crime.

November 6, 2007

America's decline: our public works are ugly, lethal

NYC manhole cover

Above is a picture of your basic, ugly NYC manhole cover.

Now check out this array of beautifully-designed manhole covers from Japan that Wired linked to today:

Japan manhole covers

Each Japanese prefecture makes its own unique manhole covers, many of which are brightly colored and feature cute dancing crabs, frogs, and aliens.

Meanwhile in our own country, the most interesting things our manhole covers do are burn or electrocute people.

And in the larger world of American public works, if the city that you live in hasn't had a major road explode, a bridge collapse, a retaining wall crush rush-hour traffic, or run out of water, you should consider yourself lucky.

November 5, 2007

WGA Strikes!

WGA writers on strike at Rockefeller Center

The first picket lines for the Writers Guild of America strike went up this morning at Rockefeller Center, where about 30 writers peacefully gathered near the skating rink with signs and the giant inflatable rat. Many of the writers out there probably work for some popular shows, but of course, I have no idea who they are or what they look like.

With the exception of Tina Fey.

Tina Fey on the picket lines

The strike is the result of unsuccessful negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. So how does that work when one person is a writer but also an executive producer? Wouldn't that make someone like Tina Fey both union and management? Maybe. But she's a producer who's out there on the lines with the proletariat, because she's awesome.

The Times has a good piece on the vast disparities in income among the 12,000 WGA members. Almost half of the West coast members are unemployed, while writers for shows like "Grey's Anatomy" take home $5 million a year. The WGA site has a schedule of all the picket locations in the LA area.

November 1, 2007

Give Frank a chance!


The Hollywood Writers aren't on strike yet, but that could change after their membership meeting tonight. With the growth of streaming and download services, writers are trying to make sure they get paid if their work is used. So if you watch 30 Rock online, or plan to download it through the new NBC/Fox service, Frank and his union brothers may be getting nothing.

You can see WGA updates here. There's a factsheet [PDF] with a quick summary of the issues or a more detailed analysis. The biggest issues are pensions and healthcare, and payment for downloads. Right now if you stream an ad-supported show online, the writers get nothing.

Our beloved Alec Baldwin has already stated that he's on the writers' side: "CITIZEN KANE, ALL ABOUT EVE and SUNSET BOULEVARD...members of the WGA wrote those scripts."

If there is a strike, as now seems likely, you can expect less 30 Rock and more reality (unscripted) shows. The WGA anticipated this last year, and attempted to unionize these shows.

If you're shocked to find out that reality shows have writers, here's an idea of what these writers do from an interview with an ANTM writer:

What we do is take all of the hundreds of hours of basic raw footage of the show -- of girls getting ready in the morning, of them eating cereal, of them talking on the phone to their boyfriends, and going to challenges, and all of the things that they do -- and turn it into 42 minutes of compelling television...So we are the ones who submit treatments, which are story outlines, where we pick usually four girls per episode and give an A, B, C, and D story of what we're going to be concentrating on that week...We submit an actual script, which is a line-by-line beat of what each girl is going to be doing.

The union failed, and the writers were fired. If the reality writers had successfully unionized, the TV networks would have really been screwed by a strike, and they knew this. In a beautiful lack of solidarity, Tyra Banks, union member, would not support the strike. An injury to one is not so much an injury to all, I guess.

So no reality shows are unionized, and you can expect to see a lot more of them.


Halloween Parade crowd

photo by dietrich

Is any crowd as enthusiastic as the crowd at the Village Halloween Parade? This year's parade was incredibly popular and crowded, but as always, lots of fun.

After years of self-delusion, I can finally admit that everybody in the entire world takes better pictures than I do. Here are some of the neatest, funniest, or freakiest costumes seen at the Village Halloween Parade last night:

A few themes that ran through this year's parade:

  • Last year there were a lot of MySpace page costumes, this year I saw a Facebook page costume, and no MySpace. This is probably a good sign for youth culture and the world in general.
  • Larry Craig, everywhere [NSFW]
  • Bald guys who realized this was the one chance they had to dress as Britney Spears
  • A TON of robots. Think I saw more robots than any other costume.

NY1's George Whipple was on the spot, in a military costume. Note to self: Optimize chances of meeting George Whipple by dressing as him for next year's parade.

[tx Jess]

About November 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in November 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

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