Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Star Wars 30

In the summer of 1977, my family took a road trip to Utah to visit family friends and my brother, who was attending school (this worked especially well for me, since I got his room while he was there). While we were there, we went to a double feature in a nearly empty theater. The Island of Dr. Moreau was the first film in the two pack. It was kinda creepy for a kid whose age was in the single digits.

The second film was Star Wars, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this Friday, May 25th.

Yeah, you have this idea that Star Wars was a blockbuster right out the gate. Especially these days, when there's so much hype about films in various promotional venues, you think of openings with huge crowds who have been anticipating the movie. But back then, films just had regular advertising and popularity grew by word-of-mouth.

A couple of weeks later, back home at Hilltop Mall in California, we went to Star Wars again, this time in a very full theater.

I had the same experience with Raiders of the Lost Ark. We saw it on its opening weekend at the Cine 3 in Vallejo. Cine 3 was a converted old theater; the two side wings had been converted into steep, narrow theaters, and the central theater was huge. Raiders showed in the center theater with maybe six people, including my parents and me. My parents made the mistake of letting me choose the row we sat in; sitting in the front row for Raiders gave me my first dose of motion sickness ever. Another first was, after the film ended, my dad went out and bought three more tickets, we moved back several rows and sat through a second showing. It was just that great an experience.

Sometime later during its run we went back to Cine 3 to see it again. Inexplicably, it had been moved to one of the side theaters and was practically standing room only (though that's technically illegal, I still recall people sitting on the steps in the aisle). The crowd was so raucous I could barely hear parts of the film. In fact, during the scene with the scimitar-wielding assassin who Indie decides to just shoot, one guy jumped out of his chair like he was calling a touchdown.

And I would say there's something magical about such experiences that just doesn't happen anymore, but I think it has more to do with the loss of my childhood innocence rather than any real external difference, since Atrios posted a video which reminded of the kinds of things I thought were awesome when I was a kid.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Code Monkey

It has long been the diligent endeavor of this blogger to post only the finest content regarding indepth political analysis and activism.

...

Now I endeavor to post only the finest of World of Warcraft YouTube videos.

The latest installment is called Code Monkey.




... I'm not exactly sure how to transition the relevance of the title of my blog to exclusive postings of World of Warcraft YouTube videos, so I guess I'll continue with some fine, indepth political analysis and activism [read: shallow snark].

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Excellent Questions

From the Daily Satirical Political Report, whose title is a dead giveaway.

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Chad Vader Returns

You've stood in line for hours to get your tickets to episodes 1 - 7.

Thanks to They Get Letters, you can cut straight to the front of the line for the final episode:

Chad Vader Episode 8.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Viral Gastroenteritis

It's the new thing, get it while it's hot.

This is my second go-around, this time with an IV to treat dehydration, so you'd better hurry if you want to catch up.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Am a Truther²



Truther¹, generally, is defined as "One who rejects the accepted explanation of the events of 9/11." It seems it's supposed to refer more specifically to 9/11 conspiracy theorists, those who believe the U.S. committed the act of terrorism against itself, even bringing down the WTC by planting explosives.

Though it is often used to describe such theorists, it also appears to be popularly used (based on a cursory Google search) by RWNJs as a pejorative against those who would dare question U.S. foreign policy as it relates to consequences known as "blowback" (The Nation), of which terrorism is a most striking example. Most recently, "Truther" was used by RWNJ Ace of Spades to describe Libertarian Republican Presidential hopeful and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, for making an argument during the second Republican Presidential debate which echoed that made in The Nation:
“[Terrorists] attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. … We’ve been in the Middle East. Right now, we’re building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting.”


(Sadly, No!).

As is often the case with Sadly, No!'s writers (whose stated intention is merely to ridicule stupidity in a cruelly amusing manner), Gavin M. makes a serious and insightful argument after debasing Mr. A.O. Spades.
The notion that Bin Laden came from somewhere, that he has a history and antecedents parallel to ours and engaged with our own American policies; that he possesses motives and is capable of rational choices, is intolerable to the WingNet. It makes them scream and wave their fists, because as absolutists, they’re unable to perform basic moral triage, and can’t distinguish insight into an enemy’s behavior from sympathy for his cause.
If "Truther" in the RWNJ sense refers to one who has a more complex and informed view of 9/11 as it relates to blowback from U.S. foreign policy, then count me in.

The Urban Dictionary only lists two definitions of Truther, however, the second being "A person who tells the truth, as opposed to a liar." I don't know the etymology of the word, but if it's from "The Truth is Out There" from X-Files, it's worth noting that Spooky Mulder was right, there was an alien conspiracy, and regardless of the ridicule he suffered, he stood by that Truth.

In this case, I think Truthers are right insofar as they reject the notion that the U.S. was just sitting there minding its own business when it was sucker-punched from behind. And I think it is worth challenging and undermining such one-word pithy slogans that have given dishonest neocons control over the Republican Party and our government.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Dude, Where's My ... Meh


Idea via Sadly, No!

I allowed the face recognition software to match me to men so I couldn't be accused of sexism. Plus I thought it was funny that I look like Ashton Kutcher. I always thought I was more of an Ally Sheedy, but she's not so popular anymore.

And who the hell are Lalaine, Victoria Bernadotte and Camilla Belle? Oh, wait ... I don't care.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger RE: Paris Hilton

Fashioned after the Free Paris Hilton petition. (Via Blognonymous) The Governator has so far "distanced himself" from the plea.

Update: Mags, a prolific blogger in her own right, has prepared her own anti-Paris petition.

To: The Honorable Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Paris Whitney Hilton is an American celebrity and socialite. She is an heiress to a share of the Hilton Hotel fortune, as well as to the real estate fortune of her father Richard Hilton, and has been raised to be as vacuous and useless as such a position would suggest. She is a terrible role model for young people all over the U.S. and the world. She provides whole minutes of mindless distraction to (most of) our otherwise busy and meaningful lives.

Hilton is notable for coining the phrase "that's hot" on the FOX reality series The Simple Life and for making throngs cheer at her death in the remake of the Vincent Price horror classic "House of Wax". In addition to her work as an actress, she has achieved some recognition as a model with one facial expression, celebrity spokes-skank, singer and writer (bwahaha). Please take special note of the utter lack of any type of community or charitable service.

As most of America now knows, Ms. Hilton was just charged in a Los Angeles court with DUI and sentenced to 45 days in Century Regional Detention Facility in California beginning on or before June 5, 2007.

We, the American public who don't give a fig about Paris, are shocked, dismayed and appalled by how people who support Paris are saying she is being unfairly singled-out as an example that Drunk Driving is wrong. We do not support drunk driving. Paris should have been sober. And she should go to jail, not because of the drunk driving charge as her supporters are characterizing the story, but for violating the terms of her probation by continuing to drive on a suspended license and failing to seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

The supporters of Paris Hilton compare her case to those in the following paragraph:

As depicted on Friday night's episode "Nancy Grace" on Headline News (May 4, 2007), countless celebrities have been "slapped on the wrist" for similar incidents recently. Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Tracy Morgan, Wynonna Judd, to name a few, were arrested and never did a day in jail after their initial arrests for drunk driving /DUI /DWI charges. Rappers Busta Rhymes and Eve still walk free after both being arrested for the same charges as Ms. Hilton just this past week. Brandy's California Highway accident, although no proof of DUI was evidenced in her accident, resulting in the death of a young wife and mother in California, yet Brandy walks free as of today, never doing any time and A WOMAN HAS BEEN KILLED most likely due to her reckless driving!

I don't know what any of that has to do with Paris, as she was not sentenced to jail for drunk driving/DUI/DWI or reckless driving charges. I also don't know much about the cases involving the named celebrities because I just really don't care that much about celebrities. But I would assume that they never served a sentence because they FULFILLED THE TERMS OF THEIR PROBATIONS, thus exhibiting at least some measure of regret and responsibility.

Sure, Paris Hilton did not hurt, injure, or kill anyone or anything. She just decided that, as a wealthy celebrity, she is not subject to the same laws as the rest of us mere mundane mortals. But she is in fact subject to the same laws, and as a serial violator of the law, she must do jail time.

This petition is to ask Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to treat the pleas to pardon Paris Hilton for her mistake with all the respect and consideration they're due: none. Please allow the legal system to work equally for all. Though everyone makes mistakes, and though she didn't hurt or kill anyone, her flagrant disregard of the terms of her probation show she has not learned her lesson. She is sincere, apologetic, and full of regret for her actions just so long as it will keep her out of jail; but she showed numerous times, despite a generous probation and her ability due to her wealth and celebrity status to obtain excellent treatment and alternate forms of transportation, that such protestations are insincere and insulting to the Judge's intelligence. She is distraught and understandably afraid, but it's time for her to grow up and face the consequences of her actions.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to send Paris to the Century Regional Detention Facility where she belongs! Please copy this letter and post it or send it to tell The Honorable Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of the State of California to think about the welfare of his community and state rather than a spoiled young woman who has made a mortal error (funny, the supporters made it clear she didn't KILL ANYONE) and who squandered the second chance so many others in our great nation have been served with after a mistake they have made . The late Former President Gerald Ford made his own mortal mistake when he pardoned the late Former President Richard Nixon after his mistake(s) and failed to prosecute him; the Democrats made a mortal mistake by letting the Iran-Contra felons off the hook; don't make the same mistake by pardoning Paris Hilton who, like Nixon supporters and the Iran-Contra felons, will take the opportunity to continue in her flagrant disregard of law and order.

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I Don't Worship Inanimate Objects


Jay Marvin is intent on "taking back the flag" from RWNJs who use it as a weapon against those who don't worship it as ardently as they. And he's going to "take it back" by worshipping it as ardently as the RWNJs.

Apparently Jay's making bumper stickers and buttons with the red, white & blue that say "It's my flag, too," and he's announced that he and his wife are going to start flying their flag every day.

I get his feelings and intentions completely. I've been sick to death of having my patriotism questioned by people as close to me as my own mother who believes that Americans who speak out publicly against any particular war or the president during a "time of war" (unless it's Kosovo/Bosnia and the president is Clinton) are traitors; or who believe that supporting Social Security is tantamount to working for the KGB.

I was at a Fourth of July event a few years ago in Florida with my probably 3-year-old son. A woman handed him a small flag on a stick. I was grateful, and as I encouraged Ben to say "thank you," she got this hard look in her eyes and said somewhat stridently, "you make sure that doesn't touch the ground."

OMFG.

This is why I don't worship inanimate objects. Actually, I don't worship inanimate objects because I just don't worship anything. But this is why I don't advocate the worship of inanimate objects.

I think I've written about this before, about why I think the Ten Commandments contains the prohibition against the worship of idols. It's because people have a tendency to mistake the symbol for the reality. It starts innocently enough, having a physical object which one uses to focus one's concentration on what they believe to be a god or holy principle; but later the less sophisticated worshipper starts thinking the object is imbued with the power of the entity, and then the object is the entity. And then the fanatical worshipper starts punishing people who look at their object of worship in the wrong way because they've completely lost sight of the meaning behind the object.

We've got the same problem with our flag. When people say "our military fight and die for that flag" I think "then they're fighting and dying for the wrong thing. They really ought to be fighting and dying for our Constitution which is a document that actually has real, tangible meaning and applies to our everyday lives."

I don't mean to denigrate our flag; in fact, I endorse respect for it. If I were in a foreign country or in hostile territory and saw the flag flying or sewn on the sleeve of a soldier, you bet I would feel hope and strength and love. I feel completely the pride and unity the flag is supposed to represent. I think it's pretty stupid and counter-productive for a U.S. citizen to burn or deface the flag as protest.

But I do not worship it. I do not in any way think the flag is more important than the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any of my fellow Americans.

And I bristle at Jay Marvin's attitude that the best way to "take back the flag" is for Lefties (who have an undeserved reputation for hating the flag) to wrap themselves in it just like the RWNJs and use it as a weapon against other Americans. This morning Jay endorsed his own idea by saying [paraphrasing] "If you love America you should fly the flag every day or put this sticker on your car." That's just more of the empty, stupid, symbolic bullshit that has turned what should be a rallying symbol of unity into a tool of division and anger.

Here's when I, a civilian, intend to fly the flag in the next year: May 19, Armed Forces Day; May 28, Memorial Day (observed); May 30, Memorial Day; June 14, Flag Day; July 4, Independence Day; September 3, Labor Day; September 11, Flag Day; October 24, United Nations Day; November 11, Veterans' Day; February 18, Presidents' Day; May 2, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
But flying the flag or not has absolutely nothing to do with anyone's love or respect for this country, its laws, its principles or for other Americans.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

An End to Occupation in Sight?

A million years ago I was in a community college play, You Can't Take It With You. There's a part that goes something like this:
Grandpa: Don't worry, I have a plan to foil the Tax Man.

Other person: What is it?

Interruption by entrance of Russian Dance Instructor: Hello, everybody! In Russia, horse rides YOU!

A very convenient interruption. One day, the actress playing the Russian Dance Instructor missed her cue, leaving the poor actors to improv. It went something like this.
Grandpa: Don't worry, I have a plan to foil the Tax Man.

Other person: What is it?

...

Grandpa: ... It's a ... a good plan .... that I thought up the other day ... I've got it written down here in my pocket.

[Shows other person slip of paper that was in his pocket]

Other person: ... It looks dangerous. Do you think it will work?

Grandpa: ... I don't know why not.

Other person: ... It does look like a pretty good plan ... I guess.

Interruption by entrance of Russian Dance Instructor: Hello, everybody! In Russia, horse rides YOU!

I was reminded of that by the meeting on Tuesday between the moderate House Republicans and Bush about how the Iraq Occupation is becoming politically untenable and is harming Republicans' chances in the next election ... and the one after that ... and probably a couple of others, too.
The House members pressed Bush and Gates hard for a "Plan B" if the current troop increase fails to quell the violence and push along political reconciliation. Davis said that administration officials convinced him there are contingency plans, but that the president declined to offer details, saying that if he announced his backup plan, the world would shift its focus to that contingency, leaving the current strategy no time to succeed.
Another event on Tuesday, which the U.S. media has been silent about, is that more than half of the Iraqi Parliament signed a legislative petition for the U.S. to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. (AlterNet)
Reached by phone in Baghdad on Tuesday, [Al Sadr spokesman] Al-Rubaie said that he would present the petition, which is nonbinding, to the speaker of the Iraqi parliament and demand that a binding measure be put to a vote. Under Iraqi law, the speaker must present a resolution that's called for by a majority of lawmakers, but there are significant loopholes and what will happen next is unclear.
Those Tuesday events plus the pressure of public opinion both in the U.S. and Iraq (and, breaking news, Tony Blair is quitting June 27) ... I'm getting a feeling that the occupation may actually end before the end of Bush's term. Atrios warns against such hopes, as Bush has made it clear many times he will never leave Iraq because to him leaving is losing.

But losing what? The nationalists represented by Al Sadr, according to the AlterNet article, have the best chance of unifying and pacifying Iraq under a strong central government, free from interference from Iran, which Bush has claimed is his goal. But the nationalists would block the U.S. from having permanent bases or oil rights. So leaving would be losing bases and oil. Staying, on the other hand, would be losing even marginal Republican power in the U.S. for many, many years, which would mean Democratic government, business regulation, national healthcare, more sensible energy policy -- all those liberal, progressive programs that people really love though they've been convinced that they hate them by corrupt neocon Republicans. But staying might win them more war profits and oil rights for Halliburton.

Bush must already know he's lost the war of hearts and minds at home. So staying in Iraq until the oil rights are attained is the only way he thinks he, personally, can win, even if that means more fighting and terrorism.

Whether we stay in Iraq or leave, however, Bush has already succeeded in destroying the long-term ambitions of his corrupt neocon cronies. Now we just need to get our future Democratic government to pursue the criminals beyond getting them out of office. If they're not thrown in prison and all shred of credibility destroyed, they'll just come back like the annoying weeds that they are.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Command-Der

How did I miss this?

Bush, on his decision to veto the Iraq Accountability Act (The New York Times Caucus blog):
The question is, ‘Who ought to make that decision, the Congress or the commanders? As you know, my position is clear – I’m the commander guy.
Awesome pics at WTF Is It Now?

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Reid Not Outrageous, Just Wrong

There has been some uproar about Harry Reid's comment that America has lost the war in Iraq. (AmericaBlog)

From the Right, David Broder -- who's got his head shoved so far inside Washington's ass that I suspect he was the one who found Reagan's polyps -- called Reid an embarrassment and suggested the Democrats might want to demote him. Broder is supposed to be the high exalted "dean" of Washington political journalism and commentary. That is, amongst his own peers inside the Beltway (hence the polyp comment).

The Left fired back with blog (Media Matters) and column comments, and the Senate Democrats wrote a unanimous letter of support for Reid.

Of course the ball got lobbed back by the Right. (Sadly, No!)

But everyone's missing the point. What Reid said was just not true. We didn't lose the war, we won it on May 1, 2003 when the President publicly declared "Mission Accomplished;" or when we captured Saddam Hussein in December 2003; or when the Iraqis had their elections and instituted a government and constitution on October 15, 2005.

Iraq has a new, democratically elected government which we are not at war with because it is our ally.

The U.S. is occupying Iraq. You can't win or lose an occupation, you can only either stay or go.

Thus let it be officially declared: We won GWII.

We destroyed and disarmed the Baath government, captured its leaders and instituted democracy in the Middle East. The war is over. Huzzah, let the bells peal and the statues topple -- and whack them with your shoes for good measure. We're done.

Let's go home.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Tancredo Didn't Evolve


I haven't been paying attention to my own Representative lately because, well ... blech.
But Chris Matthews asked the GOP Presidential hopefuls if they believed in evolution (Fuzzy and Blue). Three said no: Brownback, Huckabee and Crazy Tom Tancredo.

Tancredo Watch also has many updates about the many reasons the phony Representative from Arapahoe County has got to go.
For instance, he's a one-trick monkey and he lied about his own sincerely held commitment to term limits because God told him to go back on his word. Of course, this constituency re-elected the lying blighter.
But the country as a whole certainly isn't going to want a redux of reality-denying, lying, promise-breaking ideologues who take political and policy advice from God. Been there, done that.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Mission Accomplished Day

Watch the video and caption the banner at Tell Us the Mission.

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