Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Thoughtful Link

Because I saw a copy of Ann Coulter's Godless sitting next to my dad's computer while I was visiting over Christmas, and because I bit my lip and didn't scream, "Why the Hell do you keep buying this shit!?!?!?" I thought I'd pay a great compliment to my dad's intelligence and assume that he found it "accidentally" stocked in the Humor section.

Here's a link to Scoobie Davis' analysis and book review. Davis has been obsessed with dissecting (literarily, of course) Coulter for years, and also helped debunk Slander, a book about libel.

I haven't checked all Scoobie's arguments and sources, but it's a place to start for people like my dad who accidentally pick up her book expecting a few laughs, read some "facts" and specious arguments and go "that doesn't sound right, but there are so many endnotes."

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Apology, Hotmailers

To everyone who has tried to email me at theygetletters@hotmail.com. It's been months since I've checked it and it went inactive, so all emails from before today are lost. It's back up now.

I am a baaaad correspondent.

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Eragon: Another Crappy Review

I wish I had checked Rotten Tomatoes before I went, which gives it a 12% freshness rating. The best review, from Andrew Wright of The Stranger: "A load of generic mush perhaps best served as a piece of bitchin' '70s van art." I know exactly what scene he was talking about (on the hill with the glass tomb), though I envisioned the dragon figurines you get at a mall kiosk.

This is what happens when something great happens in a specific genre in Hollywood, and why I do not have great hopes for New Line's Hobbit if it's not directed by Peter Jackson. Studios think it's a formula, that the cool genre makes the movie good. That's why New Line thinks Jackson is replaceable. No, sirs, LOTR was great because Jackson was given funding and freedom and he and his posse (the entire cast and crew) loved the shit out of the project and gave it their best.

Eragon felt like an afterthought, like no one put a great deal of thought and planning into it, and then later realized a few extra scenes were needed here and there to help put things in context, that a series of beauty shots don't a movie make.

Another strike against the film was in making me realize that I've gone over the hump into middle age. The attractive young man who plays Eragon has a shirtless scene, but all I felt was motherly pride that perhaps my sons would look like that in a few years, and thank goodness I don't have girls. I was more attracted to Jeremy Irons, who was, needless to say, the best thing in the film.

I mean, come on. There was narrative at the beginning of the film about how Aria, the princess of something or other, stole a stone from John Malkovich, then cut to John Malkovich sitting on his throne saying, in his best Velvety Richard III, "I suffer greatly without my stone." Yeah, okay. Here's your van:

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Bless You, George Martin

Pither got the Love CD for Xmas and I listened to it full blast on the way home from Fort Collins, a smile on my face despite all the crazy drivers.

Full blast on good stereo equipment is recommended to hear the layers. Also, you can hear the lyrics when it's very loud. Wonder no more why some taxis in London have newspapers printed all over them. "Newspaper taxis" is a lyric in Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. (It's probably also a drug reference of some kind.) It's fun making connections, even if other people made them decades ago.
I appreciate Martin's sense of humor, as well, particularly acknowledging Beatle lore by playing a song backward, which even worked musically. It sounded like they were singing in Norwegian. And I spit white cherry icee all over the steering wheel when Octopus' Garden started. It took the 5th Beatle to make that listenable.

However, Eric Clapton was expunged from While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Though I pointed out that the orchestra taking Clapton's place also weren't Beatles, Pither said, "But they didn't sleep with George Harrison's wife." How he knows that, I've no idea.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Been Shoppin'? No ... Been Shoppin'

Hah, suckaz. I finished my Xmas shopping today. No piston engine, though.

I even made Xmas cards using my kids. That's right, I'm marketing my kids for profit. Keep checking my store for new ways I've pimped my kids for cash. (I use old outdated photos that don't look too much like them anymore).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dem Convention in Denver!

I'm starting rumors on the internets.

An unnamed inside source* (actually, a tertiary inside source, meaning I know someone who knows someone who said someone else told him ...) says he has been hired by CNN to be in Denver for the Democratic Convention.

Of course, it could be that CNN has also hired people to work in New York, just in case. But we'll find out sometime this week.



*Blogger Ethics Disclosure -- While I am sleeping with one of the sources, no specific act was performed for this information.

Update: A commenter at SquareState says they heard the rumor first at ColoradoPols. So now it's doubly tertiarialy sourced.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

C4L4U -- The Editors 2008

The Editors at The Poor Man has announced his candidacy for President on the Connecticut For Lieberman party ticket -- Connecticut For Lieberman ... For You, or C4L4U. He's running as a dinosaur.

He's put together an ad already and just needs a script and/or VO for it. I wrote one up, but can't seem to post to comments. I'm not a guy, so I don't care about Cockblockgate. But if it's anything like having one's creative output blocked, it doesn't feel good. In fact, it could make me sick, baby.

So I'm posting it here. The Editors will surely never know about it, but I got it out and that's all that matters. It made the hurt go away.

Video here.

VO
[old couple] Through the generations, Americans have faced many enemies who have sought to destroy our way of life.

[firefighter] Today's generation faces a similar threat equally as grave and deadly.

[crying woman] But we are determined to root out the enemy, the enemy within, the enemy of contrary opinion lurking in the internet tubes.

[Katrina victim] We must stop letting unpleasantries distract us from our mission of unity.

[Joe Lieberman] The Last Honest Man showed us that together we can recapture the graciousness of a bygone era,

[dinosaur] when upstartery was repaid by dinosaurs wielding silver-tipped canes.

[victory with civility graphic] With civility.

[C4L4U graphic] I'm The Editors, and I approve this message.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

2006 Wizbang Weblog Awards

It's that time of year, and again I'm not even nominated. Maybe it would help my cause if I had some sort of blogger ethics. Or cared and tried every day. Whatever, I like to vote, and you can, too, every day until December 15.

Here's my voting preferences so far, and only the ones I have voted for, to which I'll be adding as I discover new blogs that I never knew existed before.

Best Blog: Huffington Post (given the alternatives, but I'll switch to Daily Kos just so LGF has a harder time winning)

Best New Blog: konagod (welcome to my favorites list - not on sidebar yet, though.)

Best Individual Blog: Unclaimed Territory (better known as Glenn Greenwald)

Best Comic Strip: Savage Chickens (short and pithy, which is odd since I like my men tall and Pither)

Best Online Community: Daily Kos

Best Liberal Blog: Jesus' General, though I may switch it around, 'cause there are so many good ones ... for instance, skippy the bush kangaroo.

... Best Humor Blog: Sadly, No! , which is handily ahead enough that I can throw some votes to Jon Swift.

... Best of the Top 250: TalkLeft, a fellow Colorado blog.

Best of the Top 3501 - 5000 Blogs: Blue Gal, shipmate o' Cap'n Dyke.

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Media: Liberal, Conservative, or Just Shallow and Stupid?

Via Eschaton

A columnist for Rupert Murdoch's rag, the NY Post, wrote two opposing columns about Barack Obama which both inadvertently got published.

I buy her explanation that she wrote the more positive one before she actually heard Obama speak then rewrote it based on her new viewpoint, rather than that she rewrote it at the bidding of her ultraconservative masters.

And perhaps I'm putting too much on a NY Post columnist. Her mini-column obviously just takes up space that the salespeople didn't manage to fill with advertising (who the Hell is she, anyway? More prestigious than I, at any rate).

But it certainly serves as a great example of shallow, uninformed, uninquisitive personal opinion reportage that passes as journamalism. I bet she hates those unethical, unprofessional bloggers, too.

Oh, irony, thy name is Andrea Peyser.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baker-Hamilton Commission Report

It sounded like the Baker-Hamilton Commission Report allowed the adults to finally speak up in public (and gave James Baker a chance to make up for his 2000 mistake helping put the Chimperor on the throne).

Some of my favorite parts of the news conference: we talked to the Soviet Union for decades while they were intent on wiping us off the face of the Earth, why not talk to Iran?; the war has divided this country, Republican from Democrat, and to a great extent, the President from the people; part of the process of helping push forward the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission belongs to the media, who are the interpreters and purveyors of accurate of information for the people; we reject the "stay the course" strategy.

I understand why they support the stated goal of instituting a stable, democratic government in Iraq. However, I don't know if we are capable of forcing Iraq to remain intact and be democratic and be at peace. Though it was a mistake to have gone in there in the first place, particularly with the leadership we had -- the Bush Administration made a royal mess and have done nothing right -- there are still those who believe "if only we had done it right," and aren't going to admit that the U.S. cannot salvage even a semblance of a victory. They want the chance to do it right, even though they admit it may be too late at this point.

So I (along with a near super-majority of Americans) support the setting of a time limit, telling the Iraqi government that either they get their shit together or we're out of there. Yes, we made the mess, but it's probably beyond our ability to clean up. It is reasonable to tell Iraq that they have to do it themselves, and it will be a lot more helpful if we would stop sabotaging their efforts, like with outside contractors who steal billions instead of doing the job while leaving disgruntled Iraqis unemployed. After invading in the first place, that was the stupidest of the President's decisions.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

This is Disturbing

From a tour Atrios took of an 1830s era prison:


The prisoners lived in solitary confinement, in small rooms lacking natural light. The diarist expressed genuine surprise that it didn't take very long (6-12 months) for prisoners - many of whom were in for minor offenses - to start displaying signs of profound mental illness.

That type of solitary confinement was reformed away because of this problem, but it's making a comeback, not only in the War on Terror, but also in the our ever expanding prison system which must accomodate the War on Petty Drug Offenses.

Hell, the Germans were ahead of America on prison reform.

It was the openness of the early 1800's system that enabled psychologists and clinicians to begin to see differences in the people kept under such ridge conditions verses other confinement systems. It was also this openness that allowed those psychologists and clinicians to do statistical comparisons between the ridge conditions of confinement in which the senses are deprived and environmental stimulants restricted and other confinement systems.

As early as the 1830's these comparisons began to show the difference between the Philadelphia Prison of rigid confinement and the Auburn system in New York state at Auburn and Sing-Sing. These comparisons gave enough evidence for people to voice their concerns that it was not natural to leave a person in solitary; that these conditions were so unnatural they bred insanity. These comparisons showed the Pennsylvania system had a higher incident of insanity than the New York system.

In 1842, even Charles Dickens wrote his thoughts and impressions of such conditions:

"He is a man buried alive - dead to everything but torturing anxieties and horrible despair..."

Many countries in Europe emulated the American system. However, it was the Germans who took up the task of documenting its effects. This eventually lead to the demise of such systems there. From 1854 to 1909, 37 articles were printed in German scientific journals about psychotic disturbances among prisoners.
Most of the detainees at Gitmo (and most likely all those secret detention facilities) were apparently not guilty of anything. Justice will eventually require their release. In the name of combating terror by any means necessary, we may be forced to release people exhibiting some or all of the following problems:

  • hearing voices - even whispers,

  • panic attacks,

  • difficulty in concentration and with memory (example: inmates stated they could not concentrate to read) which can lead to disorientation,

  • mind wanders,

  • aggressive fantasies of revenge, torture and/or mutilation of the guards,

  • paranoia and other fears,

  • authorities trying to "break them down,"

  • doubt oneself and troubles in determining what is real, and

  • problems with controlling impulses - sometimes with random violence.

As well as being profoundly immoral, that sounds like a national security problem. And if it only takes as little as 6 months to get to that state (probably less time for "detainees" who aren't just left in a cell, but hooded, bound, forced into "stress" positions, kept awake for long hours -- oh, and waterboarded), then what is the point in continuing the "interrogations?"

Maybe, since the captors know the administration is planning to imprison those people for the rest of their lives (regardless of guilt, who cares), their mental health really isn't important. In fact, the more crazy they are, the more our conscience can be clean as we physically neglect them, too, since they're too insane to care that they're starving, cold and in pain. Maybe they're living in a happy fantasy land of warm sunshine and butterflies that have a WMD program and an intention to harm the U.S. -- well, that's what the detainees tell us, anyway.

Sounds like we've brought back the oubliette, which was more humane since it only lasted a few days.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Like Flies To S&%# ...

... or vice versa, it doesn't really matter ... the American Family Association is drawn inexorably to the brilliant musings of a fellow bat moon (see how I flipped it to mean the same as a jackass?) and wants Congress to force all officeholders to use only the Bible for oath taking. (via TalkLeft)

The AFA and their compatriots are making headway banning gay marriage locally because it's not specifically addressed in some "goddamned piece of paper" and there are a whole lot of people who think a feeling of vague ickiness is a reasonable, logical position against gay marriage. However, the prohibition against a religious test is specifically prohibited, and there are even Christians who don't like taking oaths on the Bible.

If a Republican Wing Nut Congress couldn't pass a Gay Marriage Amendment ... good luck with a Religious Test Amendment.

Not.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Dennis Prager Says Muslims Are Not Americans

Or: I don't think "no religious test" means what he thinks it means, since he thinks it means "there must be a religious test."

I heard this on Jay Marvin's show this morning. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, wants to be sworn in on the Koran. Prager says he shouldn't be allowed to because it is not American. I'm not exaggerating.

He should not be allowed to do so—not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

[...]

...America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.

[Emphasis added]

In God We Trust. One Nation, Under God.

Please don't try to tell me those phrases have no real effect on our nation, that they're just harmless acknowledgements of our "Christian Heritage" or the alleged Christian basis for our laws. They're obviously not harmless because they make Dennis Prager and other members of the American Taliban think Christianity = Civic Government and that civic government therefore has the power to force supposedly free citizens to bow to Christianity.

Most people rarely think twice about swearing their allegiance to God in schools and city council meetings because it's become mindless and is viewed as harmless and meaningless. But remember that Estes Park city council member who got kicked out for refusing to recite the pledge? The American Taliban is now emboldened enough to say, "If you can't swear by the Bible, you can't be a member of Congress." It's not law, is specifically prohibited by the Constitution, but we had a President who said "L'etat c'est moi," and a Congress who let him. Is it harmless to foster this mindset?

This is religious freedom?

Personally, I don't think anyone should be swearing on any holy book. (Theodore Roosevelt didn't use one for his first inauguration. Maybe the accusations of "terrorist-lover" were what prompted him to wave his big stick and proclaim "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!" Had to prove his manly Americanism.) I, however, understand that religious freedom and no religious test means anyone can swear or affirm on anything they want. Yes, Mr. Prager, even on Mein Kampf, which isn't actually a religious book, anyway. ::eyeroll.

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Kim Chee - Jiminy Christmas, I Hate It

I just tried some tonight. How do you spell the sound of a barf?

I didn't actually barf, or even gag, but I got to a point where my mouth could no longer chew and swallowing was right out.

There are apparently hundreds of different types of Kim Chee, but I got the one that tastes like rancid seaweed. There was a platter of actual seaweed next to the Kim Chee, which was was like a beautiful summer day at the beach. The Kim Chee was like someone bottled the sea, drove it inland 50 miles in their trunk, then left it in the shed for a couple of days. And then served it to me for dinner.
Kimchi has been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world's five "healthiest foods," with the claim that it is rich in vitamins, aids digestion, and may even prevent cancer.[1] The health properties of kimchi are due to a variety of factors. Kimchi is usually made with cabbage, onions, and garlic, all of which have well-known health benefits. Kimchi also has active and beneficial bacterial cultures, like yogurt. Lastly, kimchi contains liberal quantities of hot pepper, which has been suggested to have health benefits as well.

Yesterday I made beef soup with cabbage and spinach. Tasty. I cook with onions, and have them raw as well, nearly every day. And don't get me started on garlic. Lightly sauteed or raw in a homemade salsa, yummmm. I could choke down yogurt when I need to (I only like yogurt when I'm pregnant, which won't be happening again.) My husband's been helping me build my tolerance for progressively hotter peppers for years. All healthy with the added benefit of also tasting good.

Why does the world need Kim Chee?

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