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October 15, 2009 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 3B

Obama's big prize

L ast week, the president
of the United States was
awarded the Nobel Prize for
Peace "for his extraordinary efforts
to strengthen
international 1
diplomacy and
between peo-
ples." Naturally,l
there is only one
appropriate reac- ZACH
tion to news like SIMovL
this: disgust.
Like the Taliban, which shock-
ingly disagreed with the Norwegian
Nobel Committee's decision, many
on the political right in this coun-
try have also decried this terrible
injustice. As Rush Limbaugh put it
last Friday, "I'm on the same side of
something with the Taliban ... We
all are on the same side as the Tali-
ban." Now, I don't know if it was just
the pills talking, but Rush is right.
Today, we are all Taliban.
How could this have happened?
Popular conservative blogger and
founder of RedState.com Erick
Erickson provided one possibility:
"I did not realize the Nobel Peace
Prize had an affirmative action
quota for it, but that is the only thing'
I can think of for this news." Not a
bad thought. President Obama has
always been quick to play the race
card. Whether it was being born
black, being the first black editor of
the Harvard Law Review, the third
African American elected to the
Senate or the first black president,
this is clearly a guy who's only got-
ten to the top thanks to the color of
his skin.
Even on the left, many people
couldn't believe it. As prominent
lefty Barack Obama put it, "I do not
feel that I deserve to be in the com-
pany of so many of the transforma-
tive figures who've been honored by
this prize - men and women who've
inspired me and inspired the entire
world through their courageous
pursuit of peace." What a diva.
Also, let's not forget, the Nobel
Peace Prize is a storied and honored
award they don't give away to just
any guy off the street. You have to
really earn it. Whether it was noted
peace advocates like Yasser Arafat
(1994 laureate) or Henry Kissinger
(1973 laureate), you have to do at
least something transient and irrel-
evant before they give you one of
those giant, meaningless gold coins.
And besides, Barack Obama
hasn't done anything yet. As Alfred
Nobel put it in his will, the prize
should be given to the person who
"duringthe preceding year (..) shall
have done the most or the best work
for fraternity between nations, for
the abolition or reduction of stand-
ing armies and for the holding and
promotion of peace congresses."
Now this award has been sullied
by a guy whose only accomplish-
ments have been awakening a new
vision of American Exceptionalism
around the globe, re-engaging the
United States with an alienated and
hostile world, extending an open
hand of peace to Muslim nations,
working for the non-proliferation of
nuclear weapons, trying to broker a
new and lastingpeace in Israel, tak-
ing drastic steps to solve a complete
international financial meltdown
and, finally, quitting smoking. But

come on, what has he actually done?
But there is a silver lining. Thanks
to winning the Nobel Prize imme-
diately after his failing to bringthe
Olympic games to Chicago, a new
and exciting trend has taken the
anti-Obama movement by storm.
First, there were the "birthers"
who unraveled the decades-old
conspiracy that Obama was actually
born in Nairobi or Jakarta or some
other weird-sounding place. Then,
there were the "deathers," those
who discovered Obama's secret plan
to euthanize your grandmother
unless you worked for ACORN, reg-
istering illegal immigrants to vote
for federally funded gay abortions.
Now, we've got the "douchers."
This is a true and faithful Country
First crowd who celebrates when
America fails and woefully whines
when she succeeds. "Douchers"
want to alert Americans to the
dangers we face. And to do so, they
are willing to respond to events
in the most backwards way pos-
sible, just so everyone can see how
crazy Barack Obama's America has
It was only a few years ago that
whenever people criticized the
execution of the war in Iraq or the
reasons for it, they were immediate-
ly accused of being in an Al-Qaeda
Today, we are
all Taliban.
sleeper cell. But Commie-Nazis
like Sean Penn and the rest of those
Hollywood elite were clearly low-
balling it. Firm, peaceful criticism is
so 2004.
These days, "douchers" know the
only real way to support America
is to ecstatically cheer and applaud
bad news for their country. This is
just the way the conservative group
Americans for Prosperity did on
camera when Chicago's failed Olym-
pic bid was announced. This is the
same organizing committee that
helped the voices of literally dozens
of tragically misinformed shut-ins
be heard at this summer's town hall
meetings. These "douchers" have
fought against our march toward
socialism (or fascism or communism
or progressivism, or whichever term
Glenn Beck prefers that day) by
shouting down a wheelchair-bound
woman with no insurance or a wait-
ress who couldn't pay for her child's
medical bills. Real "doucher" values.
But back to the story of the
week, Obama's sham Nobel Prize.
If I had my druthers, we would do
away with the award entirely. Only
Democratic presidents win anyway.
(Except for John McCain's declared
"hero" Teddy Roosevelt) But still, I
think it's time we started giving out
the Nobel Prize for Cognitive Dis-
sonance. It takes a Real American
to look at losing the Olympic games
and our president winningthe
Nobel Peace Prize and know when
you're supposed to boo and when
you're supposed to cheer. If you're
unsure, here's a hint: Just do the one
that feels wrong.
Smilovitz thinks Mike Huckabee
should've won this year's Prize. Give
Huck a shoutout at zachis@umich.edu.

I will use each of these pens to kill a different member of your family.'

A god among geeks

Jonathan Coulton makes
nerds everywhere proud
with his home-spun tunes
Daily TV/New Media Editor
One day, geeks will rule the world. Though
this just may sound like a mother's com-
forting words to her picked-on son, it has a
grain of truth. With the combined power of
the Internet and uniquely creative minds,
geeks have built a strong community and an
even stronger culture. With conferences like
Comic-Con, QuakeCon and PAX, TV chan-
nels like G4, gaming magazines like Game
Informer and masses of forums and websites
for every type of nerd imaginable, what was
once a shameful label is now thrust in our
faces wherever we look. It's impossible to
ignore the nerds' presence.
Former computer programmer Jonathan
Coulton doesn't just wear his badge of geek-
dom proudly - he spreads his love of the cul-
ture to the masses as the singer/songwriter
of some of today's most famous geek-rock
songs. Though he always had a love for music,
it wasn't until somewhat recently that he
made the transition from a steady paycheck
and systematic profession to the creative yet
unpredictable world of art.
"In general, I've always been interested in
singing," Coulton said in a phone interview
last week before his Thursday night show at
The Ark. "I grew up in a musical
family. We were always singing
and playing instruments and
I started writing somewhere
in maybe junior high or high
school when I picked up gui-
tar and started learning to play
that. You know, it was sort of a
lifelong hobby - just being able
to write and record for fun. It
wasn't until the end of 2005 that
I actually left the day job and
started doing the song-writing
thing full-time."
In September 2005, Coulton
started a creative experiment he
called "Thing a Week," where
he published one new song
every week for the duration of
a year. While such experiments
are more common now, four
years ago it was a pretty bold
"I was always sort of really
hating it," he said. "It was easy
the first couple weeks because I
had a few ideas that I had stored
up, and I guess when I was first i
starting it was pretty low pres-
sure. You know, nobody was lis-
tening. And then as I got into it
and ran out of ready-made ideas,
it was starting from scratch
every week and that - it's kind
of a terrifying place to be when
you're trying to create some-

thing and you're starting from absolutely
Though his "Thing a Week" project was
taxing, it became an Internet sensation pro-
pelling him into fame and pushing him to a
new creative level.
"Frequently, the weeks that were worst for
me and where I spent the most time walking
around desperately trying to come up with
something and really hating myself and hat-
ing the whole project, those were the weeks
when the good stuff seemed to happen,"
Coulton explained. "And you know, I don't
know if it was digging deep as much as it was
just allowing strange things to happen out of
... desperation."
One of Coulton's most famous songs "Still
Alive" is probably best known as the credits
song for the popular video game "Portal." It
outlines the perspective of the game's antag-
onist, an artificially intelligent computer
named GLaDOS, after her defeat. Another
popular tune of his, "Code Monkey," follows
a computer programmer looking for love, and
in "Re: Your Brains" a zombie tries to ratio-

It's somewhat surprising that such a spe-
cific type of music could appeal to the mass-
es, but Coulton has found his niche and has
carved out a new genre that happens to work
out pretty well for him. He recently released a
live performance album, Best. Concert. Ever.,
and is constantly booked for shows.
"I'm not sure I would've guessed - in fact,
I'm quite certain I never would've guessed
- there'd be such a big market for nerd
rock," he said. "I believe that classic, solid
songwriting is going to reach people regard-
less of genre. (Popular music) has to reach
as many people as possible to be successful,
but when you're a guy like me, you're sort of
doing everything yourself, you. can afford
to be- a niche player. I can write stuff that's
really honest and true and you know, stuff I
really believe in."
Perhaps his honesty is what attracts peo-
ple to his music. For years, nerds were looked
down on in popular culture and encouraged
to hide what set them apart. In this new
era, geek is chic, truthfulness is revered
and bared emotions are encouraged. Last
'r' rAdfIA h . t7n n1a Cm ltn '

nalize with his former coworker by telling Thursday, the crow at Jonatan outons
him "All we want to do is eat your brains / concert at The Ark felt like an old group of
We're not unreasonable; I mean, no one's friends rather than a mass of strangers with Community Involvement
gonna eat your eyes." a common musical taste. Coulton fans share Bible Studies
"I write frequently about kind of odd sub- a deeper appreciation for technology, video Step Teams
ject matters and geeky stuff, and really that's games, comic books and, of course, unusual The possibilities are endless...
because that's the stuff I'm thinking about music. The nerd presence is alive and thriv- all we need is you!
and the stuff that I'm interested in," Coulton ing and Jonathan Coulton's compositions not
said. "I like to write about characters that only embrace that culture, but also cultivate + 1
have problems, characters that are confused it and inspire the next generation of geeks to
or characters that are monsters." display their passion with pride.


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