Thursday, December 29, 2011


   If you plan to make a movie that has anything at all to do with anything and you want a lot of young purchasing units to watch it, we suggest you insert a gratuitous shower scene. The movie Psycho had a shower scene. The original Carrie had a shower scene, too, and in fact that shower scene was something of a metaphor for the one in Psycho, and the truth is that neither of those shower scenes were particularly gratuitous. Alfred Hitchcock, who directed Psycho, took a lot of criticism for the Janet Leigh hacking vignette, yet he maintained that it was essential to the integrity of his film. 
    Other, albeit less famous, films remembered at least as much for their shower scenes as for anything else include Heavy Rain, Hollow Man, When Will I Be Loved, Blow Out, Gia, Best Friends, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, oh, the list goes on. The point is that these inserted moments actually do guarantee that a few more--quite a few--people will see your movie than if you make the same exact film without one. 
    Why not bring this same concept into the otherwise mundane world of national American politics? Sure, I know some of you out there have been hoping for a wet and naked glimpse of Michele Bachmann--and for reasons of which I will not speculate. But I'm talking about the entire field: Barack, Newt, Rick, Rick, Mitt, Ron, Jon, plus the supporting third party cast of Darcy Richardson, Vermin Supreme, Jill Stein, Peta Lindsay, Tiffany Briscoe, and, of course, the Naked Cowboy. Hmmm. I actually wouldn't mind seeing Peta in a shower scene, but that might be better left unsaid.
    The only reason this issue presents itself is that American politics is boring and it is boring for a reason: The people we see running for president have very little impact on our day-to-day lives. They are actors, for the most part, and not very good actors at that. The people who really do exert control over our lives do so from more of an economic foundation than from an overtly political one. So, for instance, the people who own the world's largest corporations and the heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank might as well be the financial backers of all the major U.S. presidential and congressional candidates. The way it could work is that the business leaders could essentially hold with the Republican viewpoint. In fact, they could create the Republican ideology. Those business leaders could enjoy themselves when the Republicans are in the majority and they could enjoy themselves when they are in the minority. When in the majority, the businessmen and women could tell the Republicans to support things that favor big business. When in the minority, they could tell the Democrats not to push too hard against the rebel Republicans so that the opposition party actually remains in power even when it loses. Gee, now that I think of it, perhaps I should not have made this suggestion in print. After all, I would hate to see that happen in reality. 
Peta Lindsay
    Another thought I had is that car chase scenes could be useful in the political commercials. In fact, the type of automobile one associates with a particular candidate could give some insight into our expectations for that person. I picture Rick Perry in a 1970 Dodge Charger, something like the one in the thoroughly gratuitous (and nonetheless thrilling) Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry. Newt Gingrich would drive an American car, of course, probably a reliable Cadillac. Romney ads would feature a Lexus. Santorum would be driving an old Volkswagen Beetle, probably with a swastika on the hood. Somehow I imagine Ron Paul behind the wheel of a Hummer, possibly armed to the teeth. Michele Bachmann would ride in the backseat of an AMC Gremlin, one driven by her husband as chauffeur. Huntsman would command a train to nowhere. 
   Other gimmicks could really spice things up. Corporate endorsements (The British Petroleum Ron Paul Comedy Hour!), world tours (Bachmann to Iran: "Treat me like a Jew!"), golf tournaments, pool parties: there is really no end to it. All the campaign managers need to remember is to treat their candidates like cheap B-grade movie actors. Hey, it was good enough for Reagan.


    Yesterday it was Britain. Today it's Germany. Lord, ain't we just the international eRag these days?    
    Ahem. Yes. Five major political parties operate in the country of Germany. These are the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Green Party and the Left Party. In addition, the Christian Social Union (CSU)   currently governs together with the Free Democrats in Bavaria. It has governed in the state every year since 1949, with the exception of 1950 to 1953. In 2002, then Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber ran as the joint CDU-CSU candidate for chancellor, but so far the party has not yet been at the helm of the Chancellery. The CSU and the CDU may be sister parties, but they do not march in lock step and are often at odds on political issues. 
Chancellor Angela Merkel
    The German political party system is fairly transparent. Through the establishment of the Greens in the 1980s and, following unification in 1990, the successor party to the Socialist Unity Party, a long-standing tri-party system has now developed into a stable five-party system. Alongside the popular parties Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and Social Democratic Party, the minor parties also won a double-digit percentage of the votes cast in the 2009 elections to the Bundestag, the German parliament. The CDU itself declines to stand in Bavaria, preferring to leave the region to the CSU with which it is closely allied. In the Bundestag the members of parliament of both parties have joined forces to create a permanent parliamentary party.
    The Social Democratic Party of Germany is the other major force in the German party system. It belongs to the European group of Social Democratic and democratic socialist parties. CDU/CSU and SPD support a welfare state. While the CDU/CSU attract the self-employed, businessmen and entrepreneurs, the SPD is aligned with labor unions. Much of its support comes from the large cities of traditionally protestant northern Germany and the former coal-mining and steel producing Ruhr region.
The Free Democratic Party belongs to the European group of classic liberal parties. Its political creed is that of the state being involved as little as possible in the economy and reminds some of the ravings of Ron Paul and the libertarian right wing in the USA. The FDP gets its money primarily from well-educated high-earners. Its critics call it the party of the privileged few, an image the party has been trying to change in the current election campaign under its leader Guido Westerwelle. Founded in 1948, it has been "kingmaker" to both the SPD and the CDU, serving as junior partner in coalitions with them.
Left Party Sarah Wagenknecht
    The Greens belong to the European group of ecological parties. The characteristic feature of their program is the combination of market economy and decrees pertaining to nature and environment protection that must be monitored by the state. They too represent higher-income voters with an above-average standard of education. The party joined the federal government for the first time in 1998 in a coalition with the Social Democrats. It abandoned its strict pacifist principles under Green Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor Joschka Fischer who persuaded the party to back Germany's participation in the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999. It also supported the US-led attack on Afghanistan in 2001. While in government with the SPD, it pushed through the nuclear power phase-out and enacted laws easing immigration and same-sex marriage. 
    The Left Party is the most recent important political party in Germany. It is particularly strongly represented in the five federal states that acceded to the Federal Republic on unification. As a party that propagates social justice it competes primarily with the SPD. The Left Party is the result of a merger in 2007 of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS)--the successor to the communist party that ruled East Germany--and WASG, a group of trade unionists and disgruntled former SPD members based in western Germany. It has managed to attract left-wing voters disenchanted with the SPD after radical welfare cuts enacted by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003 and 2004.
    You should know that the current Chancellor of Germany is Angela Merkel. After her election in 2005, she led a grand coalition consisting of her own CDU party, the CSU, and the SPD until 2009. In the 2009 federal election, the CDU counted the largest share of the votes and formed a coalition government with the CSU and the liberal Free Democratic Party. 
    In early November 2009, following her re-election as chancellor in September and just days before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Merkel made an historic speech to both houses of the US Congress. She called on the United States to join international efforts against global warming. Before her speech on Capitol Hill, Merkel met with President Barack Obama at the White House. The US president thanked Merkel for her country’s military support in Afghanistan.

    Despite inaccurate claims that Merkel is the daughter of Adolf Hitler, the chancellor has helped to keep a campaign pledge set out in the government's coalition agreement. The new energy policy defines ambitious targets for the medium and longer term: primary energy consumption is to fall by 20 per cent from 2008 levels by 2020, and at least 50 per cent by 2050; renewable energy is to account for 18 per cent of final energy consumption in 2020, and at least 80 per cent of electricity consumption in 2050; and greenhouse gas emissions are to see cuts of 40 per cent by 2020 and at least 80 per cent by 2050, both relative to 1990 levels.
    Energy pricing through taxes and other fiscal instruments has traditionally held a prominent position in the German energy policy mix. German gasoline prices are significantly higher than in most other regions: in early 2011, a gallon of regular gasoline cost over US $7, more than double the average price in the US. The price difference is almost entirely due to higher tax rates on oil and other fuels, a system of excise taxes that dates back to pre-war Germany and has since been harmonized at the European level.

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  1. Sick Teen's Videos Go Viral After Death
    Now Playing | Up Next | 18 hours ago | ABC News 7:16 | 3,110,666 views | Ben Breedlove, 18, succumbed to a heart condition on Christmas night. | Now Playing | Up Next | 3 hours ago | ABC News 1:34 | 694,591 views | Woman created Facebook campaign after store took issue with her breastfeeding. | Now Playing | Up Next | 4 hours ago | ABC News 2:05 | 192,741 views | The Duchess of Cambridge's favorite labels have seen profits doubled.
  2. T-Mac to Howard: Be careful what you wish for
    NEWARK, N.J. - Tracy McGrady forever will be remembered on the wrong side of the superstar alliances, a career of what-ifs with those Grant Hill and Yao Ming partnerships perishing with fractured bones and twisted ligaments. Between Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard, McGrady had been the smaller, sleeker franchise star wanting to leave the Orlando Magic. | Now at 32 years old with the Atlanta Hawks, the knee operations behind him, McGrady has been seared with the scars of professional regret.
  3. Outrage as BBC Chooses Panda as 2011 Female Face
    Last week, it was criticised for choosing its annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year from an entirely male shortlist. | The decision to include the face of Tian Tian (Sweetie), a female panda whose arrival at Edinburgh Zoo on loan from China generated huge publicity earlier this month, has provoked a storm of angry tweets, including one from former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook clash during timeout
    Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant got into a shouting match on the bench during a second-quarter timeout of Oklahoma City's 98-95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoman reported Wednesday. | Westbrook, the newspaper reported, got upset when with 3½ minutes left in the second quarter, he drove into the lane and passed the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha did not shoot an open 3-pointer.
  5. I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping...
    Box office revenue at movie theaters "lagged far behind 2010," an article by the AP's David Germain reports. Partly that was because the year lacked an "Avatar." Partly because a solid summer slate fell off in the autumn. Germain talks to several Hollywood insiders who tried to account for the general decline of ticket sales; 2011 had "smallest movie audience since 1995." I have some theories of my own, fueled by what people tell me. | 1. Obviously, the absence of a must-see mass-market movie.
  6. Missing engagement ring found in toilet, 36 years later
    Missing engagement ring found in toilet, 36 years later - Good News - TODAY.com Headline Headline msn msnbc.com Today Good News Good News Latest show Most popular Our faves     Loading... People Entertainment Food Health Money Travel Books Pets Parenting Style KLG & Hoda Blogs allDAY Animal Tracks Bites The Clicker Digital Life Hip2Save Life Inc.
  7. On Eve Of Net Boycott, Dump GoDaddy Exodus Begins
    It's a boycott of viral proportions. | GoDaddy.com, one of the largest domain registrars on the Internet, stands to potentially lose thousands of customers on Thursday, Dec. 29, after the company gave and then repealed its support for a controversial bill before Congress that many fear could heavily restrict the web.
  8. Obama's new tax on the poor: Internet gambling by states
    Obama's new tax on the poor: Internet gambling by states - CSMonitor.com CSMonitor.com front page CSMonitor.com Search CSMonitor.com Commentary RSS The Christian Science Monitor RSS Skip to: Content Skip to: Site Navigation Skip to: Search Follow us on Facebook. Click Like, and we'll send top stories to your News Feed.
  9. Video: LeBron James dunks an incorrectly disallowed shot off of Gerald Henderson’s head
    Wed Dec 28 11:55pm EST | By Kelly Dwyer | Thanks to Dwyane Wade's game-deciding bank shot, the Miami Heat escaped Charlotte with a one-point win on Wednesday night, remaining undefeated after starting the season 3-0. But had Wade's short jumper missed, the Heat may have had a legitimate gripe with the NBA and its refs, after a fourth quarter dunk from LeBron James was ruled a miss even though replays clearly showed the ball going through the goal. | Oh, yeah.
  10. After Christmas death, teen leaves online message behind
    Have you cried yet today? No? Here, we can fix that. | Ben Breedlove, an 18-year-old high school senior in Austin, Texas, died on Christmas Day of a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, something he'd had all of his life. But he left behind two wordless videos on his YouTube channel, in which he used a series of note cards with handwritten messages to tell his life story, including the three times he "cheated death." His family discovered the videos in the hours after his death, reports NBC's
  11. Obamas enjoy multicourse tasting menu
    President Obama enjoyed a five- to seven-course tasting menu Wednesday night at a dinner in Honolulu with first lady Michelle Obama and 10 friends. | The dinner at Alan Wong's restaurant in Honolulu comes as the president enjoys his annual holiday break in Hawaii, a vacation cut short by the fight over taxes with Republicans in Washington.
  12. 2012 Presidential Matchups - Rasmussen Reports™
    Thursday, December 29, 2011 | Mitt Romney has now jumped to his biggest lead ever over President Obama in a hypothetical Election 2012 matchup. It's also the biggest lead a named Republican candidate has held over the incumbent in Rasmussen Reports surveying to date. | The latest national telephone survey finds that 45% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the former Massachusetts governor, while 39% prefer the president. Ten percent (10%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.
  13. Medical examiner in Casey Anthony case speaks out
    It's been almost six months since a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. Since then, the court of public opinion has continued to question the verdict and the case the prosecution presented. | One very important person involved in that case was Dr. Jan Garavaglia, or Dr. G, as she's known to fans of her TLC series "Dr.
  14. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8982958/99-yea...
    By Nick Squires in Rome | The Italian man, identified by lawyers in the case only as Antonio C, was rifling through an old chest of drawers when he made the discovery a few days before Christmas. | Notwithstanding the time that had elapsed since the betrayal, he was so upset that he immediately confronted his wife of 77 years, named as Rosa C, and demanded a divorce. | Guilt-stricken, she reportedly confessed everything but was unable to persuade her husband to reconsider his decision.
  15. 15 destinations on the rise
    It seems like everyone knows someone who's moving to Austin. In the past decade the capital of Texas has grown steadily, attracting everyone from young urban professionals to artists and students. This rapid evolution is noticeable everywhere from the busy downtown area to trendy and pricey neighborhoods. Despite the growth, Austin has managed to maintain its mellow, small-town appeal. A perennial "Best Place to Live" winner, it's also a great place to visit, offering a range of attractions and activities.
  16. Top QB Kiel commits to LSU
    December 27, 2011 | Josh Helmholdt Recruiting Analyst | Some will say it's a case of the rich getting richer. | But Gunner Kiel, the top-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2012, calls his decision to head to LSU - the nation's current top-ranked team - just the best fit for him. | "My family, teammates and coaches all had my back 100 percent and I feel that God had a plan for me," he told Rivals.com Wednesday afternoon.
  17. Oh, it's just another photo of Kim Jong Il's last ri-... WTF?!
    How on earth did you spot that?? | He's an American spy. | That guy is just a normal sized person. | The rest are...well.....Korean. | He must be Ri "Michael" Myung Hun. He is a North Korean Basketball player. He is 7'9". | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koKcUDFVkFY | I figured this out, guys. | http://i.imgur.com/QNaHJ.png | Looks like another proof, that they were photoshopping the hell out of their "official" pictures.
  18. http://tosh.comedycentral.com/blog/2011/12/29/the-most-popular-post-of...
    Celebrating the best (and worst) of the Tosh.0 blog in 2011. | Despite how it may seem, our goal on the Tosh.0 blog is to make you happy. | Turns out what makes you most happy is beer pong, because our post from 2011 with the most views - by a wide margin - was "Target Knows What You Need For College." | When your alcoholism isn't raging, music is another pastime: the runner up for most popular post went to the dancing vid "Behind Every Great Woman…" and the bronze went to the Rebecca Black post ...