Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Dance Of Death Begins

What seven years ago seemed impossible has now begun to take form. Seven years ago, the United States was a well-respected member of the global community, working in partnership, albeit a tentative and rancorous one, with major nations across the globe.

We had Iraq under control and by extension, had Iran under wraps. We had Osama bin Laden in our sights and had Clinton's anti-terrorism plan been carried out by the Bush administration in the wake of the attack on the USS Cole, we would by now have captured or killed him. Likely, we would have rolled up Al Qaeda cells worldwide, and stood a chance of preventing September 11. We had North Korea operating with international oversight.

And we were doing this in concert with Russia and China, and had the moral authority to speak with them frankly about their human rights violations in Chechnya, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and the Chinese mainland. We could honestly protect Taiwan while working to incorporate China into the world.

In short, we were large and in charge and had the Big Dog at the helm.

From the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, comes this:
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin sharply criticized the United States on Saturday for what he said was an attempt to force its will on the world.

Speaking at an annual gathering of top security and defense officials in Germany, Putin attacked the concept of a "unipolar world" -- implying the United States is the sole superpower -- and said U.S. actions abroad had made conflicts worse.
And he's right.

It doesn't take a genius to see where this is heading: Iran. Russia has a very close relationship with Iran (one that could have served to benefit us, had we taken the opportunity when it arose), selling them nuclear and defense technologies despite our criticisms of such dealings.

Mind you, this was the story as you saw it in the United States, but the truth is, Putin was much more forthcoming than this article would lead you to believe:
Mr Putin told senior security officials from around the world that nations were "witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations".

"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," he said, speaking through a translator.

"This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law.

"This is nourishing an arms race with the desire of countries to ge nuclear weapons."
It gets worse:
“The Cold War left us ‘unexploded bombs’ – double standards and templates of bloc-centered thinking,” Putin said at a security conference in Munich on Saturday.

“A single-polar world has never come around. No latter(sic) how much this term is adorned, it means only one thing – one centre of power, one centre of force, the world of one master, one sovereign. This is pernicious for the system itself and for the sovereign, too, because destroys it from within,” the president said.
Clearly a rushed translation, as the conference has not posted the official transcription of Putin's remarks.

Remarkable in this short excerpt from the speech (deliberately posted by the Russian government on the Tass website) is the veiled threat that Putin makes in the guise of a prediction: that the US will destroy itself. This hearkens back to Kruschev's "We will bury you" 1960 speech at the United Nations, which is often deliberately misquoted to mean that the Soviet Union, through its aggression and actions, would overtly destroy the US, when what he said could also be construed as "we will outlast you and see you at your funeral."

(Odd thing about that misquote is, it didn't happen in 1960 or at the United Nations. Kruschev said that in 1956 at a meeting with Western ambassadors to Moscow. He may have said it at the Soviet mission to the UN just after the speech, but the only people there were the consulate staff.)

Putin's comments, coming 50 years after Kruschev's, make it all too clear that America is slipping backwards in its history, to a time when it felt it had to prove a point to the world, and in so doing, has corrupted its own democratic ideals and freedoms to make the point.

But what is the point? Let's leave it to Putin to answer that:
“It has nothing to do with democracy because democracy is the power of the majority.”
Nuff said

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

Stone Sour - Through Glass

The song and the band bite moosecock, but I found myself totally taken with the video. Stay with it, especially as it wraps up (finally!)

Friday Kitten Blogging

Baby, it's COLD outside!!!!

Poor ThumbPer, he's never seen snow, he's never felt the bitter cold of a Northeast winter. He has now! I think next weekend, I'm going to get away to my country house and bring him and the kid with me. This ought to be fun...couple of nights of "What's that? What's that? What's that?"

Homeland Security: Protecting Cheese Statues

You may recall last year that there was a hue and cry over the reduction in Homeland Security funding for cities like New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, while pony farms in Kentucky got more money than they actually asked for, or some such silliness. Turns out, an huge windfall went to the suburbs.

Now, in fairness, this year at least Michael Chertoff has initiated one good new program that will pilot in New York, a test program to see if, indeed, a dirty bomb can be smuggled in through New York area ports. Of course, this is included in a budget proposal that cuts all homeland security funding by 22%, New York's by a third.

Maybe we need to move to Chesire, Massachussetts? Cheshire requested $175,000 to replace an old fire truck...
The response last month was stunning: a $665,962 homeland security grant.

The award was nearly 26 times the annual budget of the volunteer fire department in the town of 3,500.
Cheshire was not the only Massachussetts town to make out like a bandit: Fall River gets $621,000, Concord gets $414,000, Littleton gets $207,000, and Sudbury gets $101,970. Granted, Concord is the second home of the American Revolution after Lexington, home to the famous battle on the North Bridge, and home to Walden Pond, Thoreau, Emerson, and Alcott, but to get $200,000 less than Cheshire? What does Cheshire have?
[Cheshire] does have the Cheshire Cheese Monument, a sizable concrete sculpture of a cheese press commemorating a 1,450-pound cheese hunk given by town elders to Thomas Jefferson in 1801. But its value as a terrorist target is not readily apparent.
Oh. Naturally. A two-hundred year old block of cheddar concrete! What was I thinking?

Cheshire received a 380% increase above what it was asking (and probably a much higher increase over past funding). New York gets slashed by a third.

Oh...the kicker?

They can't buy a firetruck with the funding!

, ,

I Got A Bad Feeling About This

Maybe I'm wrong. I probably am. I certainly hope I am. But it's late Friday as I write this, in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. The Muslim holy day is nearly done, when:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police forces entered the area around Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and fired stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinian worshippers in clashes at the end of Friday prayers.

Muslim leaders had called for protests over excavations near Islam's third holiest shrine. Arab states had asked Israel to halt the work, charging it could undermine the foundations of Al-Aqsa. Israel says the work will do no damage.

A police spokesman at the scene said 15 policemen and nine protesters had been lightly injured in the clashes. Seventeen people were arrested, some of them in the streets outside Jerusalem's Old City walls.
Keep in mind that this clash comes just ahead of the Jewish Sabbath. While there is no prohibition against warfare during that time (and Israelis took pains to ensure the clash took place after prayers marking the day), such an inflammation comes at a particularly inopportune moment in our process to sort out the Middle East (as wrong-headed as that procedure is).

The Al-Aqsa mosque and it's location have a pretty strong history for all three major religions of the region, and ranks just behind Mecca and Medina in Islamic lore. It is, in fact, the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount, where, in 2000, Ariel Sharon destroyed the burgeoning Israeli/Palestinian peace process back when Ehud Barak was Prime Minister and Bill Clinton was President. Jews believe biblical King Solomon built the first temple there 3,000 years ago. This is the temple that must be rebuilt, according to Rapture lore, in order for Jesus to return and the end times to commence. It was also alleged to be the spot where Jesus drove the moneychangers out (thus establishing His credentials as a spiritual Communist). Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad ascended into heaven from the spot during a night journey to Jerusalem.

Could there be a more inflammatory place for Israelis to stir up trouble, particularly since in 1984, Israel uncovered a plot by a group of Jews to blow up Al-Aqsa mosque so that a new temple could be built? That would be the second attempt to destroy the mosque (in 1969, an Australian Christian tourist tried burning it down in an attempt to bring the Second Coming, thus kicking off the worldwide Rapturist movement). In 1996, Israeli archaeologists attempted to tunnel under the mosque for, by all rational accounts, historical purposes, but instead set off a flash of violence that saw 65 Arabs and 15 Israeli soldiers dead.

And now this: according to the AP, the excavations are being done in conjunction with the repair of an earthen ramp to the mosque. Such excavations are required by Israeli law in order to ensure that no historical (and holy) sites are disturbed by the construction.

However, Muslims see the excavations as an attempt by the Israelis to prove that the Temple Mount is, in fact, Jewish first, Muslim second and therefore should be turned over to the Israeli government. It is currently administered, with Israeli concurrence, by the Islamic Waqf, a trust that oversees the site.

The Palestinians are already in a mini-civil war as factions of Hamas and Fatah wrestle for control of the parliament, making Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah member and President of Palestine, a rather lame duck for the time being. This can't be helping matters any.

Too, an attack viewed by Muslims across the region as an attack on the mosque itself by Jewish soldiers can only have repercussions and reprisals in Iraq and Afghanistan, particulaly coming at the end of the week's holy day. Imagine St. Patrick's Cathedral being shot up at the end of 11 o'clock mass to get a better feel for this story.

Already, three American soldiers were reported killed in Iraq on Friday, bringing the toll for the past three days to 14. Worse, American forces killed 8 Kurdish soldiers, a group we had hoped would be our allies, even after we screwed them so badly after Gulf War I, a group we hoped would send troops to help us out in Baghdad.

Like I said, I got a bad feeling about this...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith - RIP

Then spake the lily maid of Astolat:
"Sweet father, all too faint and sick am I
For anger: these are slanders: never yet
Was noble man but made ignoble talk."
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls Of The King: Lancelot and Elaine
I have no dog in this hunt: I don't care if her husband killed her son, or if he killed her. I don't have any particular fascination for Ms. Smith beyond what I've seen on the news and read in the paper.

I do know that, for some reason, I mourn her this day.

Like so many before her, her life was a tragic one, and seemed to grow more tragic each passing year. I cringed when she had her television show (I didn't watch it, but I saw the excerpts the jackals of gossip shows and snarky commentary passed along). I marveled at her weight changes, and when finally, at long last late in 2006, she seemed to have found footing, I was glad for her.

God proved last year, using her as an example, that He will try our patience until the bitter end, and that He makes no distinctions between good and evil, between innocence and stained, all He cares about is proving a point.

That point? To be determined. Ms. Smith lived a life I would not want for all the fame and fortune in the world, which was both the reward and the price she paid for that life. That she lived her life, her pain and her rare glories out in the public eye for all, even the most unworthy of us to comment on says a lot about our culture and how ugly it truly is.

She was a beautiful woman, even when that beauty was scarred and scared.

Godspeed, Anna. Godspeed.

Major League Gentrification

Like all cities, New York has its ebbs and flows of people moving in and people moving out, and the city does a fairly good job adapting to the tides of both people and the economy. The city was a massive manufacturing hub for much of its incorporated history, and when those jobs faded away, melting to the south and then overseas, New York found a way to adapt (admittedly with some pain). The last bastion of manufacturing in the city, the Garment District, is slowly evolving into a high tech corridor as more garment shops close up.

When I was a kid, I could walk from my parents' apartment on the Upper East Side to a lumberyard (dad was a carpenter...go on, make the most of that!), a junkyard, several car dealerships, four gas stations, and three hardware stores. That neighborhood, almost exclusively working class, is gone practically, replaced by a jet-setting wealth beyond description. The humble little apartment that my mom and dad rent for under $500 is going at market for over $3,000, and that's in a crappy little walk-up.

For decades, it seemed as though the outer boroughs were immune to this gentrification, but I guess it was only a matter of time. Hold-out neighborhoods in Manhattan-- Harlem, the Lower East Side, Hell's Kitchen-- were a bulwark for working class residents, a place they could live where they could work within a short bus or subway ride of home.

About a decade ago, due in some part to the anti-crime efforts of the police commissioners under Rudy Giuliani and giving credit and high marks to both David Dinkins and President Clinton for proposing "Safe Streets, Safe City" and for fully funding it, these parts of Manhattan began to gentrify, meaning people with a little more money were starting to move in, as police patrols were ramped up and crime dropped.

Working class folks were squeezed out of Manhattan and into the outer boroughs and across the river to New Jersey. Although September 11 put a dent into the gentrification of the city as a whole, eventually like a dropped can of paint, middle class folks started pressuring the city to rezone business and warehouse districts in the outer boroughs to partial or even full residential districts.

Thus, neighborhoods like Long Island City and Astoria in Queens, and Williamsburgh in Brooklyn saw more and more middle class kids, literally, moving in. Artists, actors, students, because the rents were cheap but the commute short, began to move to these neighborhoods in droves, pushing the working class residents further and further out.

Comes the next phase of gentrification: losing businesses that were the lifeblood of a neighborhood. In Long Island City, for example, one could find plenty of warehouses and even some small factories that were ideally located near the Queens Midtown Tunnel for distribution, replaced by enormous condominium complexes. Even now to support these, office towers where Manhattan-based businesses, scared partially by the September 11 attacks and more fully by skyrocketing rents, are "outsourcing" their administrative jobs to Queens and Brooklyn. MetLife and Verizon both maintain large office complexes near Queensboro Plaza, and around these buildings, new condominium and co-operative apartment buildings are leaping up like mushrooms after a summer rain.

There are still pockets of the outer boroughs where one can find a car bumper, or buy a truckload of concrete direct from the "factory". Where lumber stacked four stories high is available for immediate purchase and delivery. Where you can buy fencing for your building by browsing installations on premises.

But soon a ballfield will be built...:
The stretch of Queens formerly known as the Iron Triangle is about to turn to gold. But not for the Sambuccis, who have been there for 57 years, or for the Feinstein Ironworks, there for 75 years, or for T. Mina Supply, Inc., which furnishes most of the city's sewer pipes but can't get the city to build sewers under its own building.

Their fear, along with the 200 or so other small businesses packed into the rugged 50-acre tract of landfill called Willets Point, is that soon, someone from the city will come bearing a declaration of eminent domain forcing them to vacate.

"The toughest thing about this is we haven't heard a thing from anyone," Thomas Mina Jr. said. "Not the city, not the Economic Development Council, not the borough president."

Tomorrow morning, a business forum at Queens College will hear from Mets exec Dave Howard, who will tell them how great this will be for the people and businesses of Queens.
It gets worse. Among the other projects going on in the Flushing-College Point area is a refurbishing and expansion of the Whitestone Expressway, which will necessitate closing at least four large scale construction related businesses (including ironically a concrete firm that is partially supplying the refurbishing of the roadway and the construction of Citifield).

Among the complaints about Shea Stadium was the smell that would waft into the arena when the wind was in the right direction. Why? There's a trash tranfer facility there. No plans have been announced for moving it to someone else's neighborhood, but...
The Mets are going to have their new ballpark and all the revenue that 42,500 high-priced seats and 54 luxury boxes can generate, plus $20 million a year in naming rights, without having to pay the city a cent in rent or property taxes. It will be great for them, all right.

[...](S)ome heavy real estate hitters have submitted proposals to the city for developing a wedge of land they wouldn't have been caught dead on a few years ago. Suddenly, the stench of oil and burning rubber has been replaced by the sweet smell of money.
Yea. That smell will be gone as quick as you can say "Donald Trump." Don't get me wrong, I love my Mets, have been a fan since 1962, but this makes me queasy.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (who does have a heart, and has been instrumental with some requests I've made of her) has stated that a "business relocation plan" is in the works.

My only question is, where? Where in this great grand city that is slowly constricting the lifeblood of small businesses in favor of banks, Starbucks, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Duane Reades, will the Sambuccis of the world be able to make an honest buck without their neighbors complaining?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wednesday Cahmedwee Bwogging

No theme, I just can't stop laughing at the scene

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The more news I watch and read, the more convinced I am regarding the underdeveloped psyche of the right wing, and the "magical child" image I raised (hat tip to Miss Cellania for the clip):
Via: VideoSift

2) Point one about the Lisa Nowak story: Based on this video and her curious answer about keeping in touch with her family (married, with three kids), does anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether she had sex in space? If so....what's it like?

3) Point two about the Lisa Nowak story: she drove 900 miles in a diaper from Houston to Orlando in order to, um, pepper spray her rival in an airport? Didn't she think someone might notice the residual stench of at least a couple of, um, events along route 10?

4) The Rangers' trade for Sean Avery is the kind of trade they've needed to make for a decade now: while he leads the league in penalty minutes with 116, he's also drawn penalties totalling some 92 minutes, which also leads the league. A player in the mold of Esa Tikkanen (no surprise that without the Annoying Finn, the Rangers failed to make the playoffs ten years in a row), he can penalty kill, run the power play second unit, and gives the Rangers passion and playmaking skills, things he demonstrated during last night's game against the Devils.

And he's only 26.

5) When my current cell contract is up, I will buy an iPhone based on this review alone, even if it means I have to move to the god-awful Cingular/ATT/whateverthehellthey'recallingitnow. I can't believe Verizon turned it down. Dooshes, because according to an informal poll at ZDNet, 53% of respondents would rather Verizon had gotten it. Talk about not listening to the consumer!

6) Steve Jobs has asked the record labels to drop the pretense of digital rights management. Good for him. While I am first in line for copyright protection, the major labels are not interested in protecting the works of the artists as much as protecting their bloated bottom lines. Too, jobs hand was forced in that no less than three lawsuits asking courts to force Apple to untie iTunes (with it's DRM) from the iPod (meaning you could play iTunes downloads on a Rio) are in the works.

7) On that note, one of those suits was filed in California, saying in part that Apple does not make it clear that iTunes can only be used with the iPod. Um, hullo? They don't sell the iTunes software. That's free, and will play tunes on any computer. But it is very clear that it will only download tunes to an iPod. Any idiot can see that from the very friendly warning that comes with the download!

8) One more Apple note: Last year, you may recall, I blogged about the lawsuit between the Beatles and Apple over the iTunes store. That suit has now been settled. While I own the entire Beatles' catalog on CD (both the UK issues and the US issues), I look forward to the iTunes store selling Beatles tunes, and perhaps some exclusive content from the Fab Four.

9) From Apples to oranges: last month's California freeze subsided and apparently didn't do nearly as much damage as was at first feared (can someone say "scare an insurance company"?).

10) Six helicopters, three weeks. You think somebody's figured out something? Or maybe just gotten some new weapons?

11) A kiss is just a kiss...unless you study movies.

12) Valentine's Day is next Wednesday. In preparation, Miss Cellania has posted an anti-Valentine's day post (not against Valentine's Day, think of this as the anti-matter to VD's matter)

13) Point three about Lisa Nowak: anyone want to bet she's Republican?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wudy Will Decware!

Schadenfreude, my friends, is about to commence:
WASHINGTON - Rudolph Giuliani all but announced he is running for president last night, saying "I'm in this to win" and suggesting the only thing left to make it official is a formal declaration.

"We still have to formally announce it and do a few more things, but this is about as close as you're going to get," Giuliani said on Fox News Channel.
This is going to be great. First off, it knocks George Pataki right out of the race. He can't run against Rudy, because he and Rudy draw from the same money trough: well-heeled Republicans who abandoned the city and/or state a long time ago, but who hold fond memories of New York. Of fifty years ago.

Second. Well, let's let the Republicans talk that one out:
"Hannity & Colmes" host Sean Hannity pressed Giuliani on those positions [on social issues], leading Giuliani to reiterate his support for abortion rights but edge away from his earlier support of a procedure known by opponents as partial-birth abortion. He also said he supported gun control in certain situations and a path to legalized immigration.
Now, imagine a tough race between John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Say it's the second primary round, and Giuliani has New Hampshire in his column, but McCain has Iowa in his. McCain's been this route before (and remember, he's hired many of Bush's campaign strateregists). How long before the push polling starts? "Would you be more likely to vote for Giuliani or less, given that he believes in allowing a fetus to be partially born and then killed?"

Or of course, his personal life: "John McCain's been married to his wife since 1981. In that time, Rudy Giuliani has gone through three wives and at least two known mistresses. Would you be more likely to support McCain or Giuliani?"

Nevermind Giuliani's eerie resemblance to a certain villian of prime time television...If it hadn't been for 9/11, Rudy wouldn't even be a minor blip on the radar of the GOP. He ran New York City badly, as if blacks and Latinos didn't exist for anything more than grooming lawns and picking up trash. He was a bully, a scene-stealing egomaniac, an incompassionate ruthless heartless bastard who would sooner blame the victim (cf Patrick Dorismond) than find out the truth of a matter that flew in the face of his ideal of a perfect world.

In short, another Republican "magical child." I doubt he'll win. I doubt he'll make it past New Hampshire, in fact, but should he win, I hope he doesn't do to this country what this last "magical child" has done:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Underwhelming Overtures

So it seems that, even if the Bush administration is not getting the message, certainly the business community is sitting up and taking notice of global warming:
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Proposals in the revived Doha Round of free trade talks could help protect the environment if governments agree to a deal at forthcoming negotiations, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Monday.

Measures to cut farming and fisheries subsidies will stop overproduction while others will lower tariffs on environmentally sound goods and services, Pascal Lamy said on the fringes of a major U.N. environment meeting in Kenya.

"These are not just speeches, they are very concrete proposals to really help," he told Reuters in an interview.

Lamy had earlier told hundreds of delegates the WTO would be at the forefront of encouraging sustainable development, especially in the world's poorest countries.

It was the first time a WTO leader had attended the U.N. Environment Program's Governing Council meetings, and his attendance was hailed by environmental campaigners.
Key phrase of course is "if governments agree", but it's a step.

The Doha Round referred to is an attempt to lower tariffs worldwide, thus increasing the freedom to trade with nations. Naturally, the EU and the US are on one side of this issue against nearly the rest of the world, which wanted the rich countries of the Northern hemisphere to stop subsidizing agriculture, among other things. The Northern hemisphere bloc wants import subsidies (you may remember this as the way Japan dumped microchips into the US during the 80s by subsidizing their export, ensuring no Japanese firm lost money) dropped in exchange, as well as tariffs on manufactured goods.

So how does this play out for global warming? Let's go back to this paragraph for a moment:
Measures to cut farming and fisheries subsidies will stop overproduction while others will lower tariffs on environmentally sound goods and services, Pascal Lamy said on the fringes of a major U.N. environment meeting in Kenya.
In other words, there will be less incentive for developing nations to go the route of industrialization that the developed nations went through, burning fossil fuels and such until they develop technologies that will speed them into the 21st century. Ideally, under this commitment, developing nations will leapfrog by allowing environmentally sound manufactured goods (clearly from the EU and Japan, because God knows the US isn't making this stuff), and in exchange will receive the right to sell their cheaper (and likely more environmentally farmed) produce to the north.

We hope. There's a hidden white elephant to this proposal: already, developing nations are destroying thousands of square miles of natural habitat a day for subsistence and developing nations' trade. What will happen when suddenly, for example, the US opens its borders to Brazilian soy beans or corn?

Still, it's a step in the direction of talking about the problem, along with some other key stories from the past few weeks:
LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Insurers, which pay out billions of dollars each year on natural disasters, welcomed the publication on Friday of a hard-hitting warning by the U.N. climate panel that human activities are heating the planet.

[...]For insurers, who invest huge sums in conducting their own research into climate change, the report's findings came as no surprise.

But the industry, around one-third of whose overall claims are from weather-related natural disasters, hopes the report will galvanise governments into doing more to combat accelerating global warming.

Insurers paid out over $83 billion on damages from a string of U.S. hurricanes in 2005, making it the costliest year in the industry's history.
Not only insurers are concerned, though. Some of the heavy-hitters are starting to take a close look at it:
CHICAGO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The topic of the conference was climate change and the rhetoric was sobering, haunted by scientific projections of a roasted world for our children and a looming environmental disaster of Biblical proportions.

But this was no talk shop of environmental activists. It was a meeting of Wall Street investors, insurance executives, state treasurers and pension fund managers, who between them manage about $3.7 trillion in assets.

"The insurance industry has historically taken on social issues. I know of no social issue that is bigger than this one," said Tim Wagner, director of insurance for the state of Nebraska.

The consensus of Wagner and others addressing the conference of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) was that institutional investors are still too near-sighted to factor climate change into their investment decisions.
The problem with this, of course, is it may be too little, too late. Based on the science revealed at the conference, that seems to be more and more likely. Until the money guys start taking this stuff seriously enough to alter their investment decisions, companies will never alter their individual behavior to suit the long term effects of global warming.

This is a serious flaw in the capitalist, democratic form of society: there's no overarching moral code that suggests when you can or cannot do something. The only guiding principle is, if you can make money at it, then do it. As the Bush administration has gutted any real chance of oversight for anything environmentally related, by (s)electing this living room gibbon for two consecutive terms, we've likely sealed the fate of humanity.


When Good Movie Characters Go Bad

LOS ANGELES, Feb 3 (Reuters Life!) - A Chewbacca impersonator was arrested after being accused of head-butting a Hollywood tour guide who warned the furry brown Wookiee about harassing two Japanese tourists, police said on Saturday.

"Nobody tells this Wookiee what to do," "Chewie" from the "Star Wars" movies said before slamming his head into the guide's forehead, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported.

The 6-foot, 5-inch-(1.96-metre-) tall 44-year-old man was charged on Friday with misdemeanor battery and later released on $20,000 bail, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
I realize it's been nearly five years since Chewie found work in Hollywood, unless you count the guest shot in "Whore Wars III: Revenge of the Sluths", but surely there is something more constructive the Screen Actors Guild can find for the poor soul than to be panhandling outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre!

Then again, it seems many of our beloved Hollywood icons have hit tough times:
"Superman" and other movie and cartoon impersonators were reported to be witnesses to the aggression in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater amid concern that such behavior could endanger their livelihoods.
Superman, you may recall, just starred in a movie last year. Reports from E!Online and InTouch suggest that he may have drunk away his reported $6 million paycheck, distraught over the loss of Lois Lane and of course, his estrangement from the son he never knew.

This recent flare-up comes after a hiatus in which it seems these vagrant movie folks were settling down and trying to make good of their lives. You may recall the truly hideous and scandalous incident:
Two years ago, Mr. Incredible, Elmo the Muppet and the dark-hooded character from the movie "Scream" were arrested for "aggressive begging", the L.A. Times reported."
And who can forget the uproar created when Popeye did this beer ad:Damned Hollywood liberals! These poor actors are all out of work, and no one will step into help them?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Happy Announcement

At 8:20.27 EST PM, I had my 100,000th visitor.

Thank you all my loyal (and not-so-loyal) readers.

By the way, you're in Manitoba, Canada, whomever you are.

The Boston Typewriter Orchestra

A bit of Sunday morning music blogging:
Yes, you read that header correctly: The Boston Typewriter Orchestra

An Anthropologic Clue To The Origins Of Republicanism

As we have all realized by now, Democrats tend to skew heavily to densely populated areas, where Republicans tend to live in less densely populated areas. A map of any Presidential election by election district will show this to be true.

There must be something in the outer suburban/rural lifestyle that creates Republicans. A stronger spirit of individualism? Fresh clean country air? Homogeneity of population?

How about "brain damage"?:
Teens call it "fence plowing" or "fence popping," and apparently it's the latest craze.

But Suffolk County police call it vandalism and Friday announced the arrest of five current and former students from Deer Park High School, charging them with criminal mischief and criminal tampering for destroying fences of at least 10 homes in Deer Park.

The idea of fence plowing -- the modern, suburban version of the legendary rural "cow tipping" craze -- is to run into a fence, knocking it down.
Hm. Cow tipping. Now fence plowing.

For those of you unfamiliar with New York State, Suffolk County is the furthest east county in the state, encompassing the eastern end of Long Island, hence it tends to be more sparsely populated than Nassau County, the western county of Long Island.

It also tends to be more, um, Caucasian, and is one of the seats of the anti-immigration movement in the United States, since many of the day laborers who manicure lawns and shovel snow and scrape private beaches have to live where there's work.

Suffolk County, during my lifetime, was home to some of the largest potato farms in America. I recall driving along the Expressway and seeing vast stretches of furrowed fields. There are still some left, I think, notably the largest near Bethpage.

But this "brain damage" trope...
Police said most of the incidents occurred on weekends, generally between midnight and 2:30 a.m. It was unclear, Edwards said, whether the teens videotaped the incidents.

But, he said, police believe the teens got the idea after seeing similar videos about fence plowing on the Internet.

"I can't imagine what entertainment value it is to run head first into a fence and possibly break your skull open," Edwards said. "Personally, I don't get it." But, he said: "Kids have always sought recognition from their peers. Now, I can do something and post it on the Internet and brag about it."
It has often been joked that a conservative is nothing more than a liberal who's been mugged, but we see now that mugging must include a blow to the head. I imagine that Ook and Eek back in caveman days had "political discussions" (probably because cousins Argh and Margh were looking at each other in a "Brokeback Mountain" sort of way, or because the neighboring tribe was sending over illegal migrant workers to help pick berries for both tribes), and Ook, who had been hit in the head by a rock while trying to cave plow, argued against both of these positions, and when Eek disagreed...well, that's how Ken Mehlman was born.

See? Republicanism is nothing more than a presenting symptom of a latent aneurysm! Be charitable and get your Republican friends to a doctor, stat!