Via the Associated Press:
A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.
"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."
If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.
"I try to treat everyone equally," he said....
Add to the list of not a racists Georgia businessman Patrick Lanzo, who put up a large sign outside of his bar, reading: "OBAMAS HEALTH CARE PLAN - NIGGER RIG IT". Lanzo explained:
"I've used the N-word most of my life and there is different ways to put your opinion up, but that's just the words I choose to use."...
Despite the presence of a mannequin clad in a Ku Klux Klan outfit standing amid the pool tables, Lanzo maintained he's not a racist.
Anyone know where I can get an uncensored version of the sign?
Source: New York Daily News
Boston police officer Justin Barrett sent an email  to the Boston Globe and his National Guard colleagues saying that Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates behaved like a "banana-eating jungle monkey" and that, had he been the arresting officer, he would have sprayed him in the face with OC (pepper spray). Don't worry, though, Barrett isn't a racist, as he later explained: "I regret that I used such words. I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist." 
Barrett isn't the only not-a-racist. British National Party (BNP) nominee Clifford Le May urged the London mayor: "Stop ruining our community by stuffing New Addington with violent immigrants who have no right to live among decent civilised white people". He also called his white opponent a "traitor to his race and nation". Le May has refused to apologize for his remarks and insists: "I'm not a racist -- I'm a British patriot." He went on to explain that a New Scientist article said "there's evidence that people in gangs are predisposed to violence. They didn't bring race into the equation, but you can read between the lines." 
Le May has plenty of company in the BNP, whose constitution is "committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948".  After posting racist slurs publicly online, BNP candidate Charlotte Lewis explained: "I am not a racist, I am a racial survivalist and anyone who calls me a racist is a genocideist." 
The phrase "not a racist" has become so common that it is now appearing in satire. After an anonymous French Tour de France rider accused British rider Mark Cavendish of complaining about "Fucking Frenchies", Cavendish explained that he wasn't a racist, just an "asshole". The next day:
On the Garmin team bus before the start, there's movement behind the curtain in the doorway. We turn to look just as a booming, disembodied voice announces: "Mark Cavendish is not a racist. He just doesn't like French people." 
The so-called National Organization for Marriage issued a strange ad against legalizing same-sex marriage:
While Human Rights Campaign has issued a rebuttal of the ad's claims, the ad has more effectively been countered by a number of ridiculous videos, including the original ad's audition tapes, clips of which can be seen with Rachel Maddow's entertaining commentary 2:08 into the below clip from her show:
My favorite parody is Stephen Colbert's:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad|
I think it's encouraging that acceptance of same-sex marriage has grown so much that its opponents have to argue against specious consequences rather than against gay marriage itself.
Update: The April 19 New York Times had a great op-ed column by Frank Rich, entitled The Bigots' Last Hurrah:
What would happen if you crossed that creepy 1960s horror classic "The Village of the Damned" with the Broadway staple "A Chorus Line"? You don’t need to use your imagination. It’s there waiting for you on YouTube under the title "Gathering Storm": a 60-second ad presenting homosexuality as a national threat second only to terrorism....
Far from terrifying anyone, "Gathering Storm" has become, unsurprisingly, an Internet camp classic. On YouTube the original video must compete with countless homemade parodies it has inspired since first turning up some 10 days ago. None may top Stephen Colbert’s on Thursday night, in which lightning from "the homo storm" strikes an Arkansas teacher, turning him gay. A "New Jersey pastor" whose church has been "turned into an Abercrombie & Fitch" declares that he likes gay people, "but only as hilarious best friends in TV and movies"....
What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead....
It is justice, not a storm, that is gathering. Only those who have spread the poisons of bigotry and fear have any reason to be afraid.
The online world is abuzz over the above Amazon search result for "terrorist costume", with outraged readers of the LA Times Blog vowing never to shop at Amazon again. Despite being an Obama supporter, I was just amused, since I know how easily computer programs can make offensive recommendations. See these prior posts to this blog:
- More bad automated recommendations [bad ads]
- Bad recommendations [MLK edition]
- McCain Zombie Freeze Frame [Google "related search" suggestion]
See also the classic Wall Street Journal article If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here's How to Set It Straight.
I assume the Amazon search results came from how users tagged the Obama mask. I predict Amazon product tagging will be the new Google bombing.
From the February 2 New Scientist:
Thanks to Alex Gough for pointing us in the direction of FairDeal Homeopathy, online purveyors of homeopathic remedies. Their website is intriguing, and not at all what you might expect.
"Homeopathy is not a substitute for evidence-based medicine and proper medical opinion," it states flatly. It goes on to argue that insofar as homeopathy "works", it works through "a complicated interaction with the human body and mind known as the 'placebo effect'".
"What conditions can FairDeal Homeopathy treat*?" is the next question. The asterisk refers to a note at the bottom of the page saying "*'Treat' in no way implies 'cure'". As for the answer: "FairDeal homeopathy," we are told, "can be used to treat any self-limiting condition." Such conditions are defined as "ones that, if left alone, will get better anyway".
Is this website a spoof? When Gough asked the owners they were most offended. "A spoof?" they replied. "Tsk tsk! We dispatch homeopathic remedies* the same working day! Real pills! In real little bottles and everything! How authentic do you want us to be?" Once again, a note at the bottom of their email explains the asterisk: "*No curative properties implied. Guaranteed as effective as all other homeopathic remedies. May taste of sugar."....
According to the "Testimonials" section of the website, such a remedy certainly worked for a Mr S. Scott: "I ordered your product to help treat a mild cold that I was experiencing and that evening I began to feel much better. By the time your product arrived I was nearly fully cured. I cannot recommend this enough, thank you FairDeal Homeopathy."
In an April 1995 memo, Bush invited his staff to come to his office to look at a painting.... The picture is a Western scene of a cowboy riding up a craggy hill, with two other riders following behind him. Bush told visitors — who often noted his resemblance to the rider in front — that it was called A Charge To Keep and that it was based on his favorite Methodist hymn of that title, written in the eighteenth century by Charles Wesley. As Bush noted in the memo, which he quoted in his autobiography of the same title: "I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves." Bush identified with the lead rider, whom he took to be a kind of Christian cowboy, an embodiment of indomitable vigor, courage, and moral clarity.....
He came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.
Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."
See also the Slate commentary (where I found the above quotation and some of the links), which uses this as an example of how Bush prefers what he wants to hear to what the truth happens to be".
- Shorter and dulled teeth inhibiting user from grasping larger pieces of food at any one time
- Smaller triangular shaped surface area allowing dieter to hold less food than many other forks
- Uncomfortable grip compelling user to put fork down between bites, slowing the user's eating speed
This appears to be a real product, available for purchase.
A cliché of the software industry is "That's not a bug, that's a feature". (See, for example, the jargon file.) While normally limited to software, this equivocation was applied to hardware with the Apple Shuffle. Specifically, the Shuffle's lack of an LCD screen and the ability to select which song to play next were touted as a feature with the slogan "Life is random!"
I'd love to see other people's favorite examples of bugs marketed as features.
A North Denver Newsarticle article by James Benfly reported:
Thomas Martel, 28, of Bonnie Brae is a big guy. So he has a hard time using the features on ever-shrinking user interfaces on devices like his new iPhone. At least, he did, until he had his thumbs surgically altered in a revolutionary new surgical technique known as "whittling."
"From my old Treo, to my Blackberry, to this new iPhone, I had a hard time hitting the right buttons, and I always lost those little styluses," explains Martel. "Sure, the procedure was expensive, but when I think of all the time I save by being able to use modern handhelds so much faster, I really think the surgery will pay for itself in ten to fifteen years. And what it's saving me in frustration - that's priceless."....
Q: You built a world-class mathematics department from scratch at the University of Warwick when it was founded in the 1960s. How?
A: I wrote to the six best topologists in the world asking them to join me. They all said no. So I wrote again saying the other five had agreed, and all replied to say yes.