The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


It is time once again to dip into the always revealing EC Mailbag, reserved for those who find the comments section scary and confusing. Let's jump right in:

1. Dear EC,

I've been watching South Park on your recommendation, and while I find parts of it funny, I sometimes have to turn away from the screen. Is it always so gross and disturbing?

Mookie B

Actually, sometimes it's even worse. I think that the five most disturbing things in South Park, in order, are:

5. Cartman tells a story in which the kids have to teach baby animals to perform abortions. Etc.

I had to turn it off halfway through. It's actually much more offensive than the title would lead you to believe. It's also a Christmas episode.

4. Cartman makes Scott Tenorman eat his parents.

There's a special place in cartoon hell for Cartman, where he will be placed neck deep in water and given a terrible thirst for this episode, in which he gets revenge on an older boy by cooking his parents up in a bowl of chili (after indirectly/directly causing their deaths by tricking them into trespassing on a gun-happy farmer's property) and serving the dish to the unsuspecting teenager. You're not entirely sure where this episode is going until the very end, where it slowly starts to dawn on you just how far over the line they've pushed it. The episode also features a cameo by Radiohead who mock Scott for crying. In subsequent episodes, it is not uncommon to hear Cartman whispering "I'll make you eat you parents" under his breath when he is antagonized.

3. Cartman manually stimulates Ben Affleck to Climax

In this highly offensive episode, Cartman starts pretending/believing that his hand is actually Jennifer Lopez. Eventually, Cartman's hand outperforms the real Jennifer Lopez to the point that her label fires her and hires his hand. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. Eventually Ben Affleck falls for his hand as well, and you can probably figure out the rest. This episode is offensive on many fronts.

2. Rob Reiner eating.

Anti-smoking activist Rob Reiner comes to South Park after a lame, school sponsored anti-smoking campaign causes the boys to want to smoke as soon as possible. Reiner is portrayed as an anti-smoking fascist, doctoring photos and attempting to kill people in the name of stopping the evil tobacco companies. But more importantly, he never stops eating. The visuals are disgusting enough, but the sound really puts this one over the top. It's just revolting.

1. Every episode containing Mr. Hanky, the Poo-Choo Train, his wife, and the Nuggets (especially Cornwallace).

I can't watch these anymore. They're so disgusting. Every time the Christmas Poo moves he leaves a little stain. I just don't have the words. As much as I like South Park, I really dislike these Christmas episodes. It's just too much.

Next Question.

2. Hey Pauly,

Why do you think that the immigration issue is "phony?" Isn't this a real problem that needs quick action?

Bob W.

Absolutely not, Bobbo. Think about every serious problem facing this country, from Iraq to Iran to New Orleans to government pork to energy prices (not that the government can do anything about them, but they probably affect you a great deal). The government could be taking on a lot more (or less, if you prefer that).

Immigration rears its ugly head pretty often when the ruling party starts to wane in popularity, and that seems to be the case here. After all, what spurred this topic? I don't recall a particular event relating to immigration in the recent past that would have sparked this controversy. It seems to be chugging along at the status quo.

There are many long term issues that you need to make time for when you're in government, of course, but should immigration be more pressing than Social Security or Medicare reform? Most certainly not.

The Republicans are simply pulling a "Mayor Quimby" with their "Proposition 24" like policy proposals.

And all to take our minds off of the Bear Patrol.

As always, the true solution to this problem is not to eliminate the immigrants, but to eliminate the Bear Patrol.

For more on immigration, try the Coyote Blog.

3. I'm thinking of becoming a rapper and I need a rap name. Any ideas?

Franklin Y.

If you happen to be African-America, I suggest Afro-dizzy-AK, it's a little long, but the first section draws attention to your cultural heritage, the last part will bring you street cred by referencing an automatic weapon, and the name in total will reference your effect on the ladies. Of course, you may not want to focus on all of these things. I can certainly understand wanting to take the AK out of rap, in which case I recommend a one-word name, since you'll probably end up being called one word whether you like it or not, like how Kanye West is just "Kanye," or how Fifty Cent is just "Fifty." I've been calling Sean Combs "Pee" for years now. I'd go with something like "Jettison" ("Jet" for short) or "Clockwork."

If you're just some white dude, you're better off coming up with a name for a group, you know, like Mike Skinner is "The Streets." There are also the Beasties. I know that they sort of have more individualist rapper names, but "Mike D" isn't really that memorable. Of course you could go with "Franky-y" or "Franky-Y-Not" (or Frankly-Y-Not), but you'll sound a lot cooler if you are known as "The Courtezans" or "Tiger Sharkz" or "The Sluburbs." You get the idea. I look forward to hearing you in the not-too-distant future Franky.


4. Dear EC,

Why are the Cincinnati Reds suddenly good?

Wily Mo P.

The Reds' offense was already top notch, but they lacked pitching. Enter Bronson Arroyo.

Bronson Arroyo's move to the offensively weaker NL has done wonders for his game, and getting a good starter at the top of your rotation makes the rest of your staff better, as they all get to move down a spot in the rotation where they will face inferior pitchers compared to last year. You also get to bump your worst starter into the bullpen. When you replace a position player you're just replacing whoever was playing there before, but when you get a new top-flight pitcher, you replace your 5th best pitcher, not your second best.

And if that's not enough, Ethan has been crunching some numbers:

-i said at the time of the arroyo-pena trade that the reds got the better end of the deal, so let's take a look at how it's working out thus far:

with the trade:

arroyo: 6 starts, 5 wins, > 7 inn/start, 7.05 k/9, .89 whip.
aurilia (getting the ab's pena would've made since freel moved to cf with griff's injury): ~.880 ops

pena, platooning with nixon: ~.850 ops
dinardo/wells: 4 starts, 0 wins, < 5 inn/start, < 5 k/9, whip > 2.

without the trade:
replacement level starter: projects better than the dinardo/wells combo, but significantly worse than arroyo
pena, full time: probably wouldn't be doing significantly better than aurilia has thus far

mohr, platooning with nixon: he has a ~.620 ops in limited playing time, let's say he would be ~.750 (career .745) if he was consitently spelling nixon in right
arroyo: even if you inflate his numbers a bit for playing back in the al, he would still be boston's 2nd best pitcher behind schilling.

it's obvious in the short term the reds got a steal here, and we haven't even considered pena's atrocious defense (though admittedly i've ignored aurilia's d as well, but i assume a former ss will be at least average at 2b). but even if/when aurilia and arroyo drop down some, it just makes no sense that boston parted with a middle of the rotation starter (especially when the majority of their staff is old and/or injury prone) for a platoon player.

Ethan's baseball analysis is always spot on, so read the whole thing.

5. Hi Paul,

I need a get rich quick scheme but I can't think of anything. At least, anything original. You seem like a bright guy, any suggestions?

Prescott H.

Let's see, that's a tough one. Presumably if I had such an idea I would be rich already, but I'll see what I can do.

Remember that "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book? It was this little piece of crap book that you could impulse-buy on your way out of the bookstore for five bucks and contained obvious and inane piece of worldly wisdom. Patriotism is really in these days, so what I would do is write a CSFTS-sized book about the wisdom contained in the US Constitution. Not real wisdom of course. What you want to do is take obvious, non-insightful cliches, and link them to the Bill of Rights. For instance, on one page you would have the text of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) and then on the adjoining page you would write something like, "Stick up for yourself, because no one else will."

For the fourth amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

you could write something like "Don't go snooping around in other people's business."

Keep it short, put on an attractive cover, maybe faux-leather with gold lettering, and call it "Founding Wisdom," or something like that. You should be able to pull in a few thousand bucks. It might not make you rich, but it should help you out.

In fact, I'm starting to think that this isn't such a bad idea. I've got to get in touch with a publishing company! Prescott, you come up with your own idea, I'm going to have to take this one.

And look for Founding Wisdom in bookstores everywhere.

That will wrap up another EC mailbag. Good questions all. I hope I was helpful.

Until next time.

*All questions are fake, however, the answers are real.


  • Why do you think the government can't do anything about energy prices? The government could raise or lower taxes on gas. It could put less oil in the strategic preserve, or put more oil in the strategic preserve, or totally drain the strategic preserve. It could drill in the Arctic, or it could close the Arctic to drilling, or it could decide the whole state of Texas is one big wildlife preserve and not allow drilling in any of it. It could institute a draft, send 500,000 Marines to Saudi Arabia, and take the Saudis' oil from them. (That will happen in our lifetime, BTW.) It could invest more money in public transportation, or less. It could force the auto companies to have stricter fuel efficiency standards, or it could completely eliminate all standards. It could mandate that every single government agency and every single organization that gets even a dime of government money shut off air conditioning all summer. All of these things would either change supply or change demand and therefore change the costs of energy. You might not want the government to do any of these things, but that doesn't mean the government couldn't do any of these things.

    By Blogger MDS, at 9:31 AM  

  • Because the driving force behind energy prices is more fundamental than that. Over the last ten years Saudi Arabia has doubled their drilling capacity, but their output is stagnant. They're not running out, but the marginal cost to most of the middle east to produce a barrell of oil is increasing at a fairly rapid rate. Political destabilzation in some countries like Nigeria is another driving force. The biggest issue though, is one-billion Chinese people who are starting to get out of the dark ages.

    Sure, the government could do all of those things. They could even just set the price of gas wherever they wanted and keep it artificially low or high, but those wouldn't be prices.

    Prices are more than just costs. They also convey information on the availability of a product. Those conservation efforts you've mentioned would have some effect, but in the grand scheme of things over the next 5-10 years they'll just be a drop in the bucket. ANWR probably doesn't have that much.

    The primary force driving gas prices will bury every small conservation effort.

    Besides, the only proposal that the government has actually made so far is to send us all $100 bucks.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:27 AM  

  • But actually, MDS, that's a good point. They can mess around with prices, especially if they want to go full blown commie, but I'm guessing that the political will isn't there.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 8:04 PM  

  • my folks were just on vacation in the galapagos and gas was ~$2/gallon, not the ~$3/gal it is here. i dunno what that means, but it means something.

    nice book idea. i think you could do a funny parody of america's recent war tactics based on sun-tsu's the art of war.

    and thanks for the shout out.

    By Blogger ethan, at 9:56 AM  

  • Any time.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:20 AM  

  • The galapagos probably have very little in the way of a gas tax and they are very near if not controlled by several oil exporters.

    By Blogger Scott H, at 1:44 PM  

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