Monday, January 31, 2005


What have you been watching, reading, listening to?

If this is what it takes to get some Media Monday comments I'll do it
Caitlin's Alan Alda Fansite

One of these years, my spring break will coincide with the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin and I'm going. Until then, I'll have to just dream of a lineup that includes Sleater-Kinney, Blind Boys of Alabama, Son Volt, Aimee Mann, Robyn Hitchcock, Billy Idol, The Donnas, Stephen Malkmus, Brian Wilson and - according to the Hollywood Reporter -- Elvis Costello. I've been to Sundance once. South by Southwest is still on the list.

Million Dollar Baby, Part II
There's just no way that Eastwood deserves acting or directing accolades for this picture. Not because he fell short in either--both were probably just right for the movie. He doesn't deserve it because neither was ambitious or involved enough to compete with Scorsese's work in The Aviator, or Michel Gondry's in Eternal Sunshine, or probably lots of others I could name. Even the boxing scenes, with a couple notable exceptions, were mostly filmed from angles that made it pretty simple to pull off, and the one shot I remember that dared to glimpse an actual punch from the side showed Ms. Swank missing by a considerable distance. Don't get me wrong - I'm not against this movie. It's good, and challenging (though I'm really left questioning, not the big issues the movie raises, but the film's own judgment). But the very idea that Clint Eastwood with this boxing effort could and probably will beat out the man who made the greatest-boxing-movie-ever-made in Raging Bull, for which he didn't get a best director Oscar, is really maddening. More later, as I can't get this film out of my head, probably a sign that I will grow to like it more the more I think about it.

Book Ignorance Alert
Has anyone here read one of Japanese author Haruki Murakami's novels? I'll admit I've never heard of him, but this review in the Times makes me very curious.
One of the characters in Haruki Murakami's trippy new dreamscape tries to explain himself as follows: He doesn't have a name or shape. He has decided to materialize as Colonel Sanders but could just as easily have been Mickey Mouse. He isn't beyond good and evil, but they don't matter to him. He's "not much of a detail person." But he serves as a metaphysical overseer, checking the correlations between worlds and making sure that past, present and future occur in the right order. That way, causes and effects don't get mixed up. "Listen, every object's in flux," he explains. "The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith, justice, evil - they're all fluid and in transition. They don't stay in one form or one place forever. The whole universe is like some big FedEx box."
His website is fabulous.

Sopranos in syndication
A & E Network gets the show! Aren't they the ones that first put Law and Order on the syndication map, playing it a couple times nightly? I am not sure how well the Sopranos can work on TV. Of course the nudity will be gone; what about all the language? If you take out all the F words you can probably fit an entire season into an hour. I'm a big fan of Six Feet Under, but The Sopranos is the best.

It's the truth, It's factual...
If my memory is right, I saw Song of the South as part of a double feature alongside "Condorman." Haven't seen the brer rabbit film since, in the theater or on video because Disney won't allow it. Its racist depictions (Uncle Remus, plus the 2 black crows come to mind) have kept it in the vault. Some people protest this decision and, of course, they have a website. It's satisfactual. from boingboing.

Article 19 Recommendation: Million Dollar Baby
I can't remember the last time I was this conflicted about a movie as I was leaving the theater. I'm still mulling. You should go see it pretty quickly.

There are plenty of boxing-movie cliches and alot of it is really contrived, but there are plenty of genuinely funny scenes and lines, some big questions about religion and ethics, surprises, and maybe a few things to be offended by. I shouldn't say much until everyone's seen it. But I'm still trying to decide which side of bold and manipulative I am coming down on. Has anyone else caught it?

Weekend Box Office
1. Hide and Seek
2. Are we there yet?
3. Million Dollar Baby
4. Coach Carter
5. Meet the Fockers

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Sunday Reading
Fareed Zakaria: Elections are not Democracy
Ted Kennedy: speech on Iraq
Ron Paul, Republican Congressman from Texas: What if (it was all a big mistake?) via truthout.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

DNC Chair could wrap up this weekend
AFL-CIO members, plus the ASCD (the state chairs and directors) are considering an endorsement, that could end up deciding the Democratic Chairman, especially if they go with Dean.

Close Clinton buddy Harold Ickes shocked everyone by endorsing Dean. My prediction is that if Rosenberg makes it to the final 2 he can defeat Dean, but if it's Frost v. Dean, then Dean is the man. Either way we end up with a reform-minded candidate, and that is good news.
Let there be breasts!
Why argue with this? I'm certainly not going to. Maybe if we didn't go to such lengths to keep them covered, teenage boys wouldn't be so obsessed with them. (As opposed to, uh, thirty-something boys. We hardly think of them at all...honest.) But, really, it's all about the equal rights.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Problem Solving, Yer-a-peein' Edition
Europe has been hit with its heaviest snows in more than 50 years. Richard Kral, a Sloviakian man trapped in his car beneath an avalanche, yearned to get out; then he used urine to get out. Thanks to about 3 cases of beer and the will to survive, Kral escaped behind a trail of yellow snow. That is, if you believe this story. I'm having trouble with it.
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.
There's no way this story is true, right? How would you even breathe long enough to drink 60 beers, even if you could drink them all in one sitting, which you could not.
Cheney embarrasses America, again
This is the kind of thing I would let slide for a person with a reputation as being kind-hearted, empathetic and compassionate, even for a world leader. But not so when it's Dick "go f**k yourself" Cheney, world's biggest asshole.

He deserves all the derision he gets for disrespecting the anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation as representative of America. Maybe if he had a gay son instead of a gay daughter, he'd have been forced, by family peer pressure to accept a more distinguished dress code? A little queer eye for the angry guy might have been in order. Or maybe if the Vice President and his staff would learn for once to take seriously the death of others amid the horrors of genocide and war, somebody would have thought twice about this kind of thing.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Senator Boxer posts a diary on Kos
Or, well at least her staff did for her, who knows. Either way there's a post with her name on it. Watching elected officials gradually embrace blogging communities is interesting. And it makes perfect sense: she probably just increased her donor base by a factor of 10. Is Barbara up to something else, politically, like a Presidential run? Or is this more of a sign, like I'm guessing, that she's given up on ever making one, so now she's free to kick more butt?

Also, I had no idea that the 13 votes against Condi represent the most against a Sec. of State nominee since 1825. I'm sure her self-esteem is still intact. But not too high, to continue that debate, if you think like I do that playing loose with the truth to make yourself look better, and an arrogant refusal to admit mistakes are both signs of low self-esteem.
Civil Disobedience (of sorts) on Feb. 8
I mentioned earlier the plight of the Eyes on the Prize documentary which is not available on DVD and is not available for public showing due the enormous licensing restrictions on footage and even the "Happy Birthday" song. Downhill Battle has made the film available digitally in an attempt to save it through grassroots, community-based sharing and screenings. It is a truly fabulous idea and perfect use of the Internet for civil disobedience against the corporate lunacy that is some of our copyright/licensing laws.

They are asking everyone to organize a screening of Part I on Feb 8 as a part of Black History Month. Download the film and watch it with friends and family or organize a larger screening. Scroll down the link above to read more information about the film and the laws that have now hidden it from further distribution or public showing.
Iraq Ex-Citizen Voting Update
While I was just complaining and being ignorant of the facts, Doug was actually doing some helpful research. Here is the Iraq out-of-country voting requirements. They are more involved than I was guessing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'm no psychologist (thank god), so maybe that seriously dents the credibility of my disagreement with Roy Baumeister's very scientific (apparently) conclusion that self-esteem is not really that helpful in life, and probably brings as much negative as positive consequence. More to say later, but I think he is really, seriously wrong, unless we concede the most shallow understanding of self-esteem. For one thing, why is it opposed to self-control and self-discipline and humility?

I know there are Article 19 readers that have thought and read more about this kind of thing than I have. What say you? I believe my opinion is borne less of the cultural brainwashing he suggests and more of direct observation and personal experience. But I guess making you think that is one of the powers of brainwashing. So I could yet be a victim.

But this seems right out of Lakoff's playbook for conservatives (not that I have reason to believe Baumeister is one): to portray self-esteem (a legitimating force from within) as weakness and lack of production, where self-control and self-discipline (taught, handed-down order from a legitimating authority from outside) are the opposite. I'm surprised Kevin Drum fell for it, though it sounds like his mother's fault (again, I'm no psychologist...).

Let me just say this for starters: I don't believe in giving students good grades that are undeserved just to boost their self-esteem. But, that's mostly because I don't believe that giving students undeserved good grades does in fact boost self-esteem. Since when did arrogance and misplaced confidence count as self-esteem? Those things sound more like what he's talking about. And of course they don't help. Can't we hold self-esteem up in a higher place? I do.
Bush and social security reform, a match made in la-la land. See this spot-on political cartoon. Via TPM.
So Sad
Like the "transfer of power" several months back, these Iraqi elections--though they are the announced point of it all--will change nothing about the day-to-day reality. Even the best case scenario, in my opinion, leaves treacherous likely outcomes. That would be if an elected government actually rallies a great number of the Iraqi people behind it, probably by kicking out the Americans. But, that of course leaves Iraq open to an even greater possible increase in chaos, despotism and the rise of heavy-handed Islamic fundamentalism, should the elected officials not have the capacity and the public legitimacy to govern and keep order.

The alternative is to keep us there for a modicum of security and the implicit threat of overwhelming force keeping fanatics from at least an organized takeover. This choice, we know now, has the added insult of turning more Iraqis into fanatics in the first place. And, maybe worst of all, American troops will continue to suffer days like today, the deadliest for US soldiers since the invasion.

When and how will this phase of 100,000+ troops on the ground end? Will we have to be asked to leave by a legitimately elected Iraqi government? Will we have to be satisfied that there is an effective Iraqi police force to maintain order? Or will we have to finally lose the public will to continue with no end in sight? Which sounds more likely to you? I suppose a fourth option would be a new conflict (real or imagined) necessitating our troops elsewhere.

I have been a believer through most of this in the you-break-it-you-own-it theory that says once we demolished their infrastructure and toppled their government, we had a duty to stay and help rebuild. The saddest part of all this is team Bush's apparent lack of interest in developing a reasonable plan to address this stage. There is no end in sight, plus I am very dubious about the training of an Iraqi police force, what with reports of desertion, inadequate training, and the constant threat of violence by extremist guerrilas.

I am sure we are doing plenty of good things in many part of Iraq, but I am starting to gravitate toward the get-the-hell-out-of-there camp. It rings especially true when thinking that most of the fighters would seem to be more angry about American occupation than they are about the idea of self-government which is supposedly keeping us there. Sure, if we break it we should fix it. But when does our presence there start amounting to further breakage (through sheer incitement) in itself? Among a horizon of horrible options, leaving pretty quickly is starting to feel like a less horrible one than the others.

Am I wrong?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pie Graph Hilarity
The Daily Show Headlines last night were the funniest I've seen in a while. You can watch the 5 1/2 minute segment here. There are jabs at Nashville for being one of the 5 locations in the US where ex-Iraqis can vote in the upcoming election, and at the President for calling rather than attending the anti-abortion rally that happened right outside the White House (though this joke is blunted a bit by reading the CNN caption explaining that Bush is calling from Camp David, so not as if he just refused to step right outside his home).

But the funniest is Rob Corrdry's segment on the confusing Iraqi election, in which most all candidates and political parties have tried to keep the fact of their running a secret, an interesting campaign strategy designed to keep them from getting killed or their families kidnapped. Against a backdrop of a pie graph of hundreds of differently colored little slivers, representing recent Iraq polls, Corrdry explains (my rough transcription):
Voters are getting ready to choose from 8,000 candidates representing roughly 270 political parties. And according to the latest polls, things are really heating up. As you can see, the Iraqi Unity Party seems to be sitting strong with 0.8%. But, Jon, anything can happen in a week. I thought this was interesting: The Islamic Islamic Party is now giving ground to the Unbelievably Islamic Party, though of course both are still beating Sharpton by a comfortable margin.
Watch it if you can. That pie graph is still making me laugh.

And another thing I've been meaning to look in to. Why are ex-Iraqis allowed to vote anyway?
Giving up the faith-based fight?
There is no question that African-Americans remain the strongest demographic support for Democrats. But Bush did make some slight inroads in 2004, partly because of his embrace of faith-based funding. Now we hear that the program was highly targeted, politically. If you were a faith-based program in a swing state, you had a much better chance of getting federal money. And it worked:
The administration's attention to faith-based programs in battleground states appeared to pay off.

In Florida, where record black turnout in Democratic precincts nearly put Gore in the White House in 2000, Bush's support among African Americans in November rose 6 percentage points to 13%, helping to increase the president's victory margin and avoid a repeat of the 2000 squeaker that inspired the recount.

In Wisconsin, the president drew 14% of the black vote last year, 3 points above his nationwide performance.

In all-important Ohio, Bush's vote tally among African Americans more than doubled his 2000 total, and he gained 7 percentage points to draw 16% of the black vote. If Bush had received the same proportion of black votes in Ohio as he did in 2000, the president's margin of victory would have narrowed from the actual 118,000 to about 25,000.
And this is Jim Towey, actually trying to defend the program against charges of politicism, but sounding more like a confirmation...

"If you look at where the battleground states are, it's where the action is in the faith-based initiative,"
Adding faith-based funding to school choice and gay rights, Republicans believe they have found the 3-sided leverage to pry African-Americans away from the Democratic Party, a development that would surely spell doom for the donkey for many years to come. The worst news is that Democrats believe it too:
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton last night embraced an issue some pundits say helped seal a second term for George W. Bush: acceptance of the role of faith in addressing social ills.

In a speech at a fund-raising dinner for a Boston-based organization that promotes faith-based solutions to social problems, Clinton said there has been a "false division" between faith-based approaches to social problems and respect for the separation of church of state.
Are we caving on federal funding for faith-based programs? Is it worth fighting? Is Hillary trying to shore up the base already for an '08 run?
Oscar Nominations
are out.
Alan Alda!!

Monday, January 24, 2005


What have you read, heard, watched the last week?

Sundance Festival is now
Official Site here.

Crispin Glover is crazy.
If you need proof, here is the trailer to the new movie he made. Via boingboing.

Recognizing Dylan
Martin Scorsese's next movie will be a 3-hour PBS documentary about Bob Dylan. The Last Waltz is one of my favorite movies ever, so "No Direction Home" should be a winner, even though he won't be shooting fantastic concert footage like he did with The Band.
"American Masters" executive producer Susan Lacy said the show pursued Dylan for 10 years. Judging from the five-minute reel screened for critics, the payoff for that quest should be breathtaking.

"No Direction Home" will tap a glittering lode of hitherto unseen footage. The promo reel included what might be the earliest film of Dylan, taken in 1962 by John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers on his New York rooftop. The film will unearth performances from the '63 and '64 Newport Folk Festivals and outtakes from D.A. Pennebaker's "Dont Look Back" and "Eat the Document," shot respectively on Dylan's '65 and '66 tours of England. Even some Dylan home movies will be aired.

The most unexpected clip unspooled for the writers shows Dylan -- onstage in Manchester, England, on May 17, 1966, during his confrontational first electric tour -- reacting as outraged folkie Keith Butler yells "Judas!" from the audience. It's a legendary moment in rock history, and now we can see it.
I can't wait! Meanwhile Dylan's autobiography continues to get rave reviews (still haven't read it) and even award mention.

Clever Film Critic Qualifications
Via the Cinetrix, a snippet of "How to be a film critic" by Matt Groening, from 1985. Probably still holds true today.
Are you qualified to be a clever film critic?

Did you have no friends as a child?
Do you salivate at the smell of stale popcorn?
Do you thrill at the prospect of spending a career writing in-depth analyses of movies aimed at subliterate 15-year-olds?
Do you mind being loathed for your opinions?

The four types of clever film critics: Which do you aspire to be?

Academic type: boring, unreadable
Serious type: reveals endings
Daily type: nice plot summaries
TV clown: nice sweaters
The critics that reveal endings (or even the middle, or much past the 5th minute to be honest) are the ones I hate the most. I've always thought that film recommendations can be read before seeing a movie, but film reviews never until you've already seen it. In fact, henceforth Article 19's film "reviews" will be renamed "recommendations," as that is their proper intent.

New Video Releases
DVDs out this week include the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which came up in last week's Media Monday. Has anybody seen it?

Brushes with Greatness
Or at least with New Orleans funkiness. One of my students this term was a replacement guitarist for about a year with "The Meters," now known as "The Funky Meters." He toured with Allan Toussant for a few years as well. Now, he's got a family and needs a college edumacation!

Paste Magazine on Wes Anderson
Paste Magazine posts all articles online. Most mags these days require free subscription at the very least. Their newest cover story details an interview with Life Aquatic filmmaker Wes Anderson.

Nominations are out!
For the worst films and performances of the year, that is. My money is on the Olsen twins to nab their first Razzy. But the Wayans make it tough in White Chicks. In their defense, though, I thought that film suffered more for the writing and the makeup than the acting, but it's hard to keep all that separate when you're busy rolfing up your popcorn.

Weekend Box Office
1. Are we there yet?
2. Coach Carter
3. Meet the Fockers
4. In Good Company
5. Racing Stripes
--No film in the top 5 sounds appealing to me. Still have Oscar contenders to watch, like House of Flying Daggers, Hotel Rwanda, and Million Dollar Baby (if it will ever open here)
--3:00 pm

One more example of the strangling effects of copyright on culture
Did you learn about the civil rights movement from the PBS Eyes on the Prize series like me? Chances are good that it may be lost forever or for many years at least. Why? Because licenses for much of the footage has run out and the cost for renewing is astronomical. For most documentary makers, costs like that are prohibitive. For an important series like Eyes on the Prize, it's just plain wrong.

Whistling Mashup
Via Boingboing, a clever masher has boiled together 2 dozen or so whistling excerpts from different songs/sources. The result is a big file (8 MB) but worth it if you have high speed Internet. Funny and creative.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

God talk
The Revealer transcribes part of an NPR interview with Southern Baptist freakazoid Richard Land. Lucky for reasonable Republicans (both of them) he's wrong about almost everything, so maybe they needn't worry when he says this:
the next Republican candidate for president will look a lot like George W. Bush; socially moderate Republicans are "vestigial relics" that can't win a primary west of the Hudson; and the debate over religion in the public square "is over."
But the shocking God-related read, sure to disappoint Land, was from ultra-conservative creep Peggy Noonan. She has done nothing but praise and encourage Bush's God-speak. Now she thinks it's "way too much God":
This world is not heaven.

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. "The Author of Liberty." "God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul."

It seemed a document produced by a White House on a mission.
I suspect more Republicans will grow more and more embarrassed with the President if he proves that the incessant Godspeak wasn't just campaign talk. If you ever talk to a socially moderate Republican, be sure and ask them how they like being in the party of big government spending and evangelical fundamentalism. There are more than a few Republicans who are principally opposed to the former and ashamed of the latter. If the GOP doesn't choose to disappoint folks like Land going forward, they could have some real problems. Hopefully they'll have real problems either way.

If they can't keep a cheerleader like Noonan, what hope do they have of staying united? Does that even matter?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Weekend Project
Yesterday, Kos pointed to the American Prospect's challenge for the Democratic message, noting how simply and concisely Republican principles can be expressed:
We believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense.
Kos and the Prospect want to know what the Democratic version of this statement of beliefs sounds like. The rules: one sentence, no more than 30 words. Here's my first try:
We believe in freedom, liberty and security, justice and equal rights for all, fair taxation that values work, and a government that reflects the American commitment to opportunity through education.
I know it's boring. How about you take a shot?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bredesen, part 2
While I'm on the Tennessee kick, I noticed that Governor Bredesen is on the cover of the current New Republic. I signed up for the free trial to read the article about him--nothing terribly interesting/revealing. But, I was surprised to see how much space was given to a possible Presidential run, which seems very unlikely to me. His response is the typical "don't-look-at-me" Southern persona that is required for success here, even if you're really from New York, like he is:
The people who have the opportunities are the ones who put their heads down and do the best job they can at the job at hand, and that produces the kinds of opportunities that people who put their heads up don’t have.
As for dealing with the "values" issue that so many Democrats fear invalidates the Party here in the South, Bredesen's response:
I’m perfectly capable of keeping [cultural conservatives]somewhat at bay. I tell people, ‘If you want to go do that, fine. If you think your playing a game is going to elect you or elect the next president out of Tennessee, you’re welcome to try and do that. Now, when you’re finished messing around with that, let’s sit down and talk about what we’ve got to do about the state of education.’ I think I’ll just keep doing that, and that we’ll be successful.”
In the end, he can pull it off--proving that strict down-the-line values conformity is not required--because his personality has the right mix of aw-shucks humility and accomplishment/practical competence. You don't need those things to be elected as a Republican here. But you do need them to win as a Democrat.
Local Talk
In Tennessee, Governor Bredesen recently announced plans to dismantle TennCare, our Medicaid supplement that covered uninsured and uninsurable. His plan will kick more than a quarter of a million of our state off of the health care rolls.

The reason for this post? Advocate Gordon Bonnyman, the lawyer that Bredesen blames for this event, has an interesting piece in the new Nashville Scene. A representative for the Governor has a piece as well.

It's quite a nasty, personal fight.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Four More Years
By the time he is gone, most if not all of the following will be true:
--Bush will have appointed 3 Supreme Court justices to join Thomas and Scalia as the most right-wing majority in history. Rights to privacy, abortion, dissent, due process will all be threatened or rolled back.
--The budget deficit will continue ballooning, and major government programs will be gutted or killed under the guise of stemming the growth of our debt. Medicare, non-military science research, education will face serious cuts. And of course funding of the arts and humanities will be done away with altogether.
--We will still have troops in Iraq and over 4,000 soldiers killed, or else that nation will be plunged into civil war and brutal tribal rule based on extreme Islamic fundamentalism. Or perhaps both. Either way, Iraq will be a recruiting haven for terrorists; its dire poverty and lack of stability will turn citizens into terrorists with ease.
--Europe will be the world's economic superpower.
--We will have bombed targets in Iran.
--Federal and local tax bases per capita will continue to shrink, growing the ranks of the impoverished and homeless, and further enriching the very wealthy.
--Americans will continue to vote based not on those things, but on which Party more believably kisses the ass of God.
--You will be four years older, or else dead.
Happy Inauguration Day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Now, Caffeinatedness can be next to Godliness too!
It's caffeinated soap! From
Final Report on Bush-Kerry Exit Poll
This sounds about right to me, but that makes it no less annoying. Via Washington Monthly. The exit polling firm has discovered that the error rate was more pronounced the younger the interviewer was, the farther away from the polling place the interviewer was required to stand, and the less often the interviewer made requests.

Nothing to do with the type of voting maching or the company/method doing the counting. The only question I have left is why was the error always favoring one candidate? I suppose Kerry voters were proud of their vote and wanted to tell everyone who asked. Bush voters were not and wanted to hide and run away. Not sure if the whole report addresses that, and not sure if I have the heart to read it anyway.
Clearing Things Up
Just thought this was funny. I like reading Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. He has good instincts, good connections, and he writes well. Since most of his sentences are better than most of mine, it was nice to read this one, confessing his position on Martin Frost for DNC chair:
I would be less than candid if I didn't say that Frost isn't the candidate I'd most like to see win this, though I'm trying to keep an open mind.
With 2 negatives, a less and a most, I think he's trying to say Frost ain't his favorite, but I haven't completed my Venn diagram yet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Idiot...You were on TV!!
Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS's "Survivor," was charged today with failing to report his $1 million reality TV windfall to the Internal Revenue Service.
I would like to know how many million dollar winners from reality shows wind up in worse financial shape than before the show. Probably happens more often than not.
That's right... Iran
The new Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker, causing all the stir, is online.
The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids. “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” the government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me.
I would have been more skeptical about this, but at this point, what wouldn't they do?
Dean gets the FL vote
DNC voting members from the Sunshine State have decided to vote unanimously for Howard Dean for DNC chair. The only legitimate reason to go against him is that his issue positions are so well known, and the role of the chair is not to decided the Party's position, only to organize and get out the message. But the positives of Dean outweigh that at this point. I'm glad Florida gets it.
Meet Martha Stewart, Activist
TalkLeft has the story. If she stays with it, could she be a force for change, or not?

Monday, January 17, 2005

What have you seen, heard, read in the last week that you loved hated or were indifferent about?
Lewberry scores a documentary trifecta: The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Control Room, Pro
Deb watches only family movies: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Thinking XXX (HBO)

Why Michael Moore wasn't at the Golden Globes
The Hot Blog has the answer.

West Memphis Three Film
While researching, unenthusiastically, the filmography of Michael Madsen (see below), I noticed that he appears in a film to come out some time this year called "West Memphis Three," about the child murder cases documented in Paradise Lost. That brilliant documentary stayed with me for a long time. It did not purport to know the truth one way or the other, the way the Thin Blue Line did, but cast serious doubts on the verdict that landed 3 teenagers in jail (one on death row). As the follow up to their other amazing trial-in-progress documentary, Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost, and the sequel, spawned a large community of followers convinced of the boys' innocence, or at least the wrongfulness of their conviction.

It's the only movie I've ever rented that I watched twice in the same night. I couldn't sleep, thinking about it, so I got up and watched it a second time. I do not have a clear idea about what the truth is, but the film is frightening on many, many levels. I hope that this Hollywood version will not try to answer anything definitively one way or another. I really wish they would just let the documentaries stand.

I believe that Paradise Lost is also the film that brought the filmmakers, Bruce Sinfosky and Joe Berlinger, together with Metallica who provided the soundtrack. That collaboration led to their new acclaimed documentary about the band,(haven't seen it) Some Kind of Monster.

I enjoyed Rounders, so I figured I would like the new ESPN show that started last week, Tilt. Boy, is it bad. Stay away. Sometimes I like Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) when his I-can-only-play-one-character-type is in the right film. He is also in the worst movie I have ever seen (title forgotten it's called Sacrifice), stuck in the wrong film. Tilt is somewhere in between, but the rest of the bad characters and stupid dialogue and ridiculous ideas send this show over the cliff.

On TV right now
8:00 Central time - part 2 of a new Ken Burns documentary, this about boxer Jack Johnson. I've had the first 20 minutes on in the background and it's really interesting. On PBS. Boston Glove review here:
It's tempting to say that unlike Ali, who became an antiwar icon and America's most famous Black Muslim, Johnson never stood for any cause beyond his own unquenchable pursuit of happiness. But that conveniently forgets the fact that in his era, Johnson's indulgent lifestyle was a way of telling a hostile world that he -- and by extension every African-American -- was a free man.
More Like It
Eternal Sunshine racks up 6 British Academy Film Award nominations; House of Flying Daggers gets 9.

Article 19 Film Review: Sideways
****************1/2 (16 1/2 out of 19) It really is funny and a bit touching. And there are a few moments that are really perfect, even powerful: funny scenes, sad ones and intimate conversations. I have one pet peeve about movies though and this one violated it badly. I hate montages. Music plays and you see a series of scenes letting you know how much fun the characters are having. All the sudden when the dialogue picks back up, they have gotten to know each other very well, are very close, and you have no clue how they did it or what they talked about. Sideways has no fewer than 2 montages, one of which definitely moves the story along with no dialogue. Now, I'm not saying I could write a movie, certainly not one as good as this. But it seems a bit cowardly or maybe lazy to have the main character, who is introverted and depressed, finally open up and be funny without any dialogue...just over some music. So we don't know for sure if he (the character, the screewnwriter?) really was able to find a way to be relaxed, engaging, crack good jokes, like it looks like he's doing. I don't mind montages that involve a character's thinking or remembering, but when it actually moves the drama forward, it makes me crazy. I'm sure that's not fair--there are probably perfectly good reasons why they use the effect montages provide--but it does make me crazy, especially when I have my own questions about a character's ability to interest another. Other than that (it's just a minute or so), this is a fabulous and very funny movie. But a bit overhyped at this point. Best picture of the year? I don't think so. Still, I may like Sideways more the more it sits with me. I'll let you know.

Being Seen
It's one thing to get your movie made; maybe even tougher to get it seen. NYT's Adam Leipzig explains why "The Sundance Odds are Getting Longer."
Miracle of miracles, your movie gets accepted by a festival and then is picked up for distribution. The question now becomes: Will it ever have more than a minuscule audience? Approximately 450 movies are released in the United States every year by about 30 recognizable distributors. Of those, major film studios release about half, and independent distributors release the others. But the numbers are even tougher than they look, because roughly 90 percent of the box-office receipts will be sucked up by the studio releases, leaving about 225 independent releases - most likely including your picture - to compete for the remaining sales. When you realize that there will be only a few independent movies that genuinely captivate the popular imagination every year (in 2004 those included "The Passion of the Christ," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and, perhaps, "Supersize Me") you'll see what a thin sliver of pie is left for everyone else.
Stop Ashlee Simpson
...from doing anything ever again. Sign the petition.

Golden Globes
Didn't clear up much about Oscar. The Eastwood film hasn't shown here yet, and I don't like him anyway, so I was glad to see The Aviator win best pic, and confused that a legend like Scorsese didn't rate the best director. Bummed that Eternal Sunshine got shut out of the screenplay race, and even though I liked Sideways quite a bit (review of sorts to come), it doesn't rate all the runaway best picture hype that it's getting. It is maybe on a par with the aviator (how to compare such different films?) but certainly no better.

Seemed to be a bad night for Neverland, but I assume it still has a best picture nomination locked up with Sideways, the Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. My hunch is Ray will sneak in 5th, but perhaps Hotel Rwanda has the momentum to get in. Oscarwatch has all the winners from last night.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

annuities all around! [UPDATED]
I may not be reading him right. But I think former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is suggesting we replace the current social security system with one in which everyone (yes, everyone) is guaranteed a 1 million dollar annuity at their retirement, made up of required savings over their life that the government holds in a big trust invested in index funds, but remains the individual's property. Upon retirement, the annuities would be supplemented if need be by, well, the government. But that's all they would do: add the funds to make a person's account large enough to provide "enough money in retirement for all needs - food, clothing, shelter - and including medical needs like prescription drugs."

Are we really going to have enough in the general fund to give every retiree a million dollar annuity when their savings don't add up? He kinda skips over that part like it's no big deal.

And when a person dies, their account can be inherited?

I'm not sure I get this plan. Does it make any sense?

[UPDATE] Kevin Drum also doesn't get this plan so I don't feel so stupid. How could the numbers possibly add up? If it was that easy to keep everything the same and have everyone retire with a million dollar annuity wouldn't we be doing it? Specifically, Kevin notes that "This is all back of the envelope, but I figure the population of retired people in 2075 will be around 100 million, give or take a bit. At $1 million each, that's a total of $100 trillion in investments.

The total market capitalization of all public companies in the United States is about $12 trillion today. At a long term real growth rate of 3%, that number will be roughly $100 trillion in 2075.

In other words, retirees would own everything. That's a bit of a bleak future for everyone else, isn't it?"

Maybe the strangest part of O'Neill's piece is his admission that he and Alan Greenspan had worked through it. Do they think that most all Americans make 50,000 dollars a year on average for their entire working life? Is he thinking that we will have more money to use because we will no longer be funding Medicare? Since everyone's personal annuities will be expected to cover all medical/insurance costs?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Pictures and sounds (!) the first visit to that moon.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Final Hish School Basketball Score: 5-2
That's right. Basketball. No, not a church league.
"It had to have been one of the most boring games in the world,"
Make that the history of the world.
Krugman on the real crisis in social security
I have resisted posting on social security because I don't know a damn thing about it. I know, that doesn't usually stop me. When the 2 political sides tell opposing stories about essentially the same really big government numbers, it is one of the more helpless positions for a regular, ignorant citizen like me, to endure.

The Republican position--that the beneficiaries will soon outdistance the contributors causing the system to run an unsustainable deficit, an eventuality that deserves fixing now rather than then--makes some sense. But here is what makes more sense to me: take no chances (privatization) with the safety net of social security, plus don't make our immediate budget problems hugely worse. If our budget was balanced, Medicare and Medicaid looking good for the next 30 years, then I'd say sure let's figure out how to avoid any long-term social security problems.

As it is, it's one of the few government programs running a surplus right now. Of course, you wouldn't no that by looking into the account balance since we eschewed the "lockbox" strategy of Al Gore and raided the trust fund. Krugman says it best this past week:
We already have a large budget deficit, the result of President Bush's insistence on cutting taxes while waging a war. And it will get worse: a rise in spending on entitlements - mainly because of Medicare, but with a smaller contribution from Medicaid and, in a minor supporting role, Social Security - looks set to sharply increase the deficit after 2010.

Add borrowing for privatization to the mix, and the budget deficit might well exceed 8 percent of G.D.P. at some time during the next decade. That's a deficit that would make Carlos Menem's Argentina look like a model of responsibility. It would be sure to cause a collapse of investor confidence, sending the dollar through the floor, interest rates through the roof and the economy into a tailspin.
If you want more looks at social security from people who know way more than us, or at least me, check out Kevin Drum's positions here and Brad Delong's here. For the political angles, nobody has been more on top of it than Josh Marshall, who keeps a list of Democrats who have indicated openness to privatization plans. He also makes note of when they take positive steps to come off of the list, like Mississippi's Gene Taylor today.

I would like to believe that W is foolhardy and doomed to defeat for trying such a thing as dismantling social security. But I have thought that before (lying about war, huge tax cuts for the wealthiest, etc.) and watched him win. Democrats must remain vigilant and united on this issue, not because of the political opportunities (that's just partisan gravy), but because the long and short-term health of the economy, and social security with it, may hang in the balance.
Where does Bush find his support?
Read this story in the Times from yesterday, in which Bush pushes a new education initiative based on, you guessed it, more testing. This time, he promises, it will be funded. He also took the time to tout his social security initiative, trying to convince kids that the "crisis" course we're on will leave them with no retirement if we don't let them put some of it in the stock market right away.

But there's no support. He's lost Kennedy, of course, on the education issue--where he had his support in term #1. He lost the 16-year-old they interviewed who thought that national education proposals didn't jive jibe (yes, jibe! My mistake. More on that later) with what he had just learned in government class. And he lost the Virginia Senator, Republican Allen. The social security part of the story is seasoned with a grumbling Republican congressman who clearly wishes the President would use his political capital on some other issue.

Plus, you can hardly find anyone, on either side of the aisle, saying anything good about Iraq. Even Republicans are pushing the quiet retreat strategy. Is there much of anyone on his side on really anything, except for the usual leadership suspects? And yet his approval rating stays around 50%. I'm confused as to how it is even that high.

Meanwhile, Harry Reid, who I still do not like as Senate leader, seems to have the Democratic response team up and running. And Rahm Emanuel, picked to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is being applauded as a good choice. Until we get some victories, in legislation, in judicial appointments, and then in elections, it won't mean squat. But the pathway there would seem to at least have an opening.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Socially Aware Investing
This came up in the discussion below. Here is a list of socially conscious mutual funds. Following a link to any of them provides some insight into how they work. Calvert looks the best to me. bills itself as the "largest personal investment site devoted to socially responsible investing." It allows some research into individual corporations. Not sure how thorough that feature is.

On a day-to-day level, is a new site getting started that directs you to companies and vendors who support Democrats. More importanly it steers me away from those that support Republicans. For example, Costco is in, Sam's is out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The 10 Top War Profiteers
2. BearingPoint
3. Bechtel
4. BKSH & Assoc.
5. CACI and Titan
6. Custer Battles
7. Halliburton
8. Lockheed Martin
9. Loral Satellite
10. Qualcomm
Mission Not Accomplished
What, no fanfare? No aircraft carrier landing? Worst of all, no apology? CNN news story, Via Kos:
U.S. inspectors have ended their search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in recent weeks, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN.

The search ended almost two years after President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, citing concerns that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction and may have hidden weapons stockpiles.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

Dick Cheney August 26, 2002

If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.

Ari Fleischer December 2, 2002

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.

George Bush March 18, 2003

We are asked to accept Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.

Tony Blair, Prime Minister 18 March, 2003
Is "Damn them all to Hell" too strong?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Apple Fun
One of these days I will get back into the Mac world where I belong. I don't know if people will buy the new mac minis announced today, but they sure do look cool, and only 500 bucks. I am also a proud new member of the Ipod community, but if I wasn't, I may have considered one of the new flash-memory Ipods (only 100 dollars). Because of class, I am helped by having much more of my CD collection in one place at a time than this allows, but I think most people could use a 128-song player to carry around. Change the songs whenever you are at your computer.
Lock your doors...or not
Light posting day because classes start tomorrow and I'm losing my mind (would I wait until the day before to make sure I'm ready? nooooo.) But I thought I would relay an experience from yesterday.

The lock on my front door broke. With me outside. About 7 pm, so I had to call one of those 24-hour locksmiths. He was prompt and helpful and replaced the broken piece in my lock. Here's the thing: he got the door open using a little piece of plastic about the size of a credit card with a hole in it. There's a molding barrier that wraps around the door, which opens inside, so I never thought you could really slide something in there (I've seen people open less secure doors with a credit card or butter I know how that works).

I usually have just locked the door, and not the deadbolt, thinking that was plenty of security. I assumed locksmiths did their handy work with sophisticated, loud tools. But now I know that any fool with a little training, or practice, can open my locked door with a little piece of plastic he keeps in his wallet. So, I'm locking the deadbolt from now on (luckily I didn't get to see how easily he can get into that).

I'm not saying thieves are everywhere and we are all in danger; only saying that if they haven't broken into our houses yet it's only because they haven't wanted to, or haven't gotten around to it yet. If you don't already have more than one lock in action, maybe you should.

Monday, January 10, 2005

What have you seen/heard/read in the last week? From the comments...
Lewberry recommends....Harold & Kumar go to White Castle. No, really. And he jeers Troy.
Doug recommends: House of Flying Daggers (and Alan Alda!)
Deb recommends: The Missing (I think) and soap opera watching (All My Children) as a lagniappe of the unemployed!

Mel Gibson loves Michael Moore, hates the Iraq War!
No, really! Well, ok only sort of. Thanks to Doug for the link. What's up with the new Michael Moore look by the way? I know he's up to something, but what? New Year's Resolution? Guest spot on Queer Eye?

The Pet Project Flop
The failure of so many pet projects is more than fluky coincidence. Such films have their own set of problems. Over the years, endless script revisions can drain the life and energy from a movie, which then staggers into the world as if emerging from decades in a dark attic, as withered and creaky as Miss Havisham.
--11 pm

Gotta watch that karma
News buffoons count as media, right? Well, nevermind what Dan Rather is doing to himself today (warning, Drudge link), presumably over the firing of staffers; More exciting: Michael Berube has the goods on Tucker Carlson's come-uppance. I thought that Tucker had gotten off easy with Crossfire just being cancelled. I only wish Jon Stewart could have flipped the switch on that jacuzzi himself.
--6:30 pm

Random Links For and Against Alda
Through the magic of technorati, I searched the blogosphere for impressions of Alan Alda in Aviator. The top 4 links include article 19 (woohoo), someone who didn't like Alda or the movie, someone who liked Alda but not the movie, and someone whose leanings I really can't tell. The message here is only that Technorati is cool, though perhaps overly huge. There are probably better more interesting assessments down the list, but I only looked through 4.
--6 pm

Death of an artform?
Is the jingle really dead? I don't think so. (but jingle-writing as a profession? that's a different story) They just stopped naming the product directly in the song and convinced artists/labels that commercials are ads for 2 products: the one we see and the one we hear. Just one more example of product placement. As far as I'm concerned, that U2 song (you know the one) is a jingle for the IPod, because I can't hear the song without thinking of the product. Maybe we should go back to calling them jingles, as punishment. It's no longer even the gradual loss of integrity that comes with selling out a beloved song. Now, it's just a method of pre-release. And an annoying one at that.

Do you have a favorite? Right now I can't get "Nationwide is on your side" out of my head, but I've always been partial to the Oscar Mayer song.
--4:15 pm

Know your rap
Wonder what the kids are talking about? Try the rap dictionary. It turns out that some of that rap music is sexual in nature. Who knew.
--3:45 pm

How do Oscar nominations work? explains why the unusual system can reward films and performances that have a more narrow, but passionate following. In a year with so many films vying for that 4th and 5th spot, that would seem to give an outside chance to films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Eternal Sunshine. But I'm afraid they both appeal to similar audiences....and that effect may have them cancel each other out. It may help Kate Winslet get a nod for best actress.
--1 pm

That's More Like It
Oscarwatch is reporting (can't find an official link yet anywhere) that Eternal Sunshine has won the Online Film Critics awards for best picture, director, actress, screenplay, and editing. The Aviator is a powerful piece of filmmaking, one that Scorsese could have made exactly the same way 20 years ago. But I would like to see Eternal Sunshine get more best picture recognition because the story and filmmaking are innovative, risk-taking and challenging, and the acting is impassioned in its own way. Does it have a kind of timely, trendy, dated quality to it? Absolutely. If anything will keep it from getting more recognition, beside the early-year release date, it is that. 20 years from now, The Aviator stands a much better chance of still being watched. But its effects wear off in the week or so after you see it. Eternal Sunshine is the kind of film that crawls into your head and stays there for a good long time, inviting and rewarding subsequent viewing.
--12:45 pm

Weekend Box Office
1. Meet the Fockers (How is this still on top? Not that good...)
2. White Noise (I'm hearing bad things)
3. The Aviator
4. Lemony Snicket
5. Fat Albert (what a bad idea...)
--12:15 pm

Article 19 Film Review: The Aviator
***************** (17 out of 19)
Really great. When I first heard Scorsese was making this I was disappointed--sounded like a subject any Hollywood filmmaker would do. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yes, it's long. But it is worth it--a bold portrait of an interesting figure. And on this one point, believe the hype: Cate Blanchett practically steals the movie (at least the first half) as Katherine Hepburn. Go see it!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Fahrenheit to win people's choice [UPDATE]
[UPDATE] Fahrenheit wins! is reporting that Fahrenheit 9/11 has won the best picture. Results are routinely leaked to allow winners to be present. Michael Moore has become such the hated poster-boy of the right, I don't know how much press is good news for our side, especially since there are already allegations of ballot-stuffing.

Remember the good old days when we had Newt Gingrich to kick around, with his fabulous sounds-nasty name and ill demeanor? We need to bring more of the evildoers into the public eye.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Great out-of-context sentences
"In his competitive eagerness to win, his brain apparently made up a Law & Order episode." That mistake overturned a sentence of another kind. Worth a read--explaining the recent decision granting Andrea Stover a new trial.

And speaking of overturning sentences, the Bush Administration is getting rid of "the crown jewel of the federal prison system."

As someone said in a recent political meeting I attended, the message of the 2008 election will write itself: the rebuilding of America. Will we ever recover from all of W's bad decisions?
Armstrong Williams Canned
By Tribune Media Services
I thought Mozart makes kids smarter
I have to admit, hearing Pavarotti sing usually does this to me also.
Co-op, a chain of grocery stores, is experimenting with playing classical music outside its shops, to stop youths from hanging around and intimidating customers. It seems to work well. Staff have a remote control and “can turn the music on if there's a situation developing and they need to disperse people”, says Steve Broughton of Co-op.
I hope and assume that it's the operatic singing style that drives them away. But I wonder why Mozart? Frankly I don't believe it could be especially effective. I'd like to see the kids try to stick it out through any of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Have you ever tried to focus on mischief or other shenanigans with Gotterdammerung in the air?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Krugman puts things in perspective
These are strange and bad times we are living in. Nobody could have made this stuff up, even in a bad novel.
The public became unwilling to believe bad things about those who claim to be defending the nation against terrorism. And the hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels of the right, empowered by the public's credulity, have come out in unprecedented force.
Happy new year.
Please show my 84-year-old butt to the world
Fox, the channel of family values, has nixed a Super Bowl commercial that displayed Mickey Rooney's butt. Leaving aside that I thought he was already dead (apparently not), Mickey must have had alot of cash riding on this endorsement, because nobody is more upset than he is:
What we're selling here is something I really believe in, which is an awareness of the germs we're all exposed to. There's nothing sensual about the brief exposure of my backside...
You can say that again.
Your tax dollars at work
Via Kos, Almost a quarter of a million dollars went to columnist Armstrong Williams. No, not a charity run by him, not a think tank he sponsors, just right in his pocket. For writing positive things about the president's education proposals.

I don't expect congress to investigate the White House over this, even though it is probably illegal. (Via Atrios, Senators Kennedy et al wrote a letter to the President which you can read here (pdf).) But if the major media doesn't stand up and collectively kick Armstrong's ass publicly, the way they did the Times and USA Today reporters over plagiarism, then I'm giving up on them forever.

And that should really hurt.
On cable TV this weekend: Congress Sucks
Take a break from Tsunami coverage (did I ever complain that news channels were short-changing it?) by catching up on domestic issues. C-Span is the place to be this weekend, especially if you are a glutton for punishment; if you can't catch the electoral vote challenge or the Gonzalez hearing on TV, you can watch them on

If you don't want the surprise to be ruined, don't read any further.

1) We still lost; and 2) he will be, sadly, confirmed. Salon has more on the lose/lose day for Democrats here.

But it was nice to see a Senator sign the objection and adjourn the joint session to go into their corners and debate for an hour. The most interesting news I thought was Boxer's claim that she regrets now not doing it in 2000. She said in her news conference today that it was a mistake to think about Al Gore and his wishes and miss the bigger picture of disenfranchised voters in Florida.

For some takes on the Gonzalez hearing, Armando at DailyKos is here. Chris Suellentrop at Slate shows you what it's like to try and get a straight answer from a nominee, when you don't know how to ask a question, here.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Senate Democrats should suffer eternal shame for not stepping up with the Congressional Black Caucus to contest the Florida results in 2000. This time, at least, Senator Boxer of California is answering the call. The stakes are much lower of course, but perhaps some momentum for voting rights reform can come from it.

My question: Why is every single Republican flippant about this process, which requires only a 2-hour debate, nothing more? No Democrat is challenging the outcome or claiming the vote needs to be re-taken or overturned, only that there were too many voting problems. If you are a Senate Republican with eyes on the White House, from a state like, oh, Arizona (cough McCain cough), why not associate yourself with a bi-partisan effort to rectify voting problems and win the respect of some independent Democrats?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reverend Delay
Fresh off of his flip-flop over ethics (he voted against them before he voted for them), Tom Delay spoke at a prayer breakfast this morning and recited some Scripture that, given the timing, leaves me pretty well dumbstruck. One can only imagine what went through his head in deciding what to say...."let's see, we're all praying about this massive tragedy of flooding...I wonder if Jesus had anything to say about floods, that should be good..." You would think a prayer breakfast today, with 150,000+ dead on the other side of the world, would have some really serious, mournful empathy and charitable work to be about. But here's the message of Jesus that Representative Delay decided to channel. From Matthew 7, (via Demwatch and Atrios):
A reading of the Gospel, in Matthew 7:21 through 27.

Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?"

Then I will declare to them solemnly, "I never knew you: depart from me, you evil doers."

Everyone who listens to these words of mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man, who built his house on a rock:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined.
The man has an unhealthy relationship with metaphors. It's so twisted I can't tell whether this proves he believes in the literal interpretation of Scripture, or proves that he does not.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Nobody wants Gore to be successful more than I do. His new television network (INdTV) was supposed to be some kind of mixture of Comedy Central, CNN and MTV. Now, it looks more like it will have a heavy dose of America's Funniest Home Videos. The show descriptions sound pretty much, well, terrible. Here's one:
"That's F*&#ed Up: Is there something unfathomable going on around the corner or down the street? Some state of affairs that just doesn't make sense? You can rant all you want -- it just better be good TV."
They are calling it democratizing television, by relying on video submissions from "Generation Y" citizens, but it sounds more like they had trouble finding ideas and talent on their own. Hopefully I'm wrong.
Search Engine Fun
People often find Article 19 through searches for terms I happen to have written about. Sadly, the search engine rarely takes them directly to the archived post with the terms they seek, but to the front page instead, so it's probably frustrating. But my favorite in a while is someone who was sent here after searching MSN for "a believable excuse to tell your boss so you can be off." Of course, I didn't write that phrase, or about that topic, but it still seems strangely appropriate.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Sorry for the slow posting lately. Took a bit of a holiday and figured you weren't staring at your computer anyway for all of the sugar-highs and salt seizures your snacking has given you. I may have to eat a little broccoli myself this week to make up for it.

Interview with Crichton
From the author that brought us the rampant horror of female sexual harassment of males in the workplace, his new novel takes on the lie of global warming. An interview with UK's Sunday Times.

Article 19 Film Review
Meet the Fockers
******** (8 out of 19)

Hitchiker's Guide on Film?
I saw the preview. Watch it here. How the heck will a film verson work?

NYT on Coupland
Douglas Coupland's new novel, "Eleanor Rigby" gets a not-so-good review in the Times.

Article 19 Film Reviews
From the past week:
The Life Aquatic:
************ (12 out of 19)
Seu Jorge nearly steals the show for me as a Greek chorus figure, singing the songs of David Bowie in Samba-laced Portugese. No, really. But the film seemed a bit empty and static compared to Anderson's last 2. May be a victim of high expectations. If I had never seen Rushmore and the Royal Tenebaums, would I have loved the Life Aquatic? Maybe.

White Chicks (don't ask)
**** (4 out of 19)

Hoping to see Aviator and Sideways this week. Anyone seen them yet?

Films of 2004
A.O. Scott of the NYT thinks Sideways is overrated. I still haven't seen it, but he makes an interesting point: it's not a comment on the film as much as it is on the pack mentality of film reviewers. I know there are far more CD releases in a year than film releases, but notice how much more variety there is in top 10 lists for music of the year than for films.

For a cool compilation of 462 top ten film lists across the country, click here. Eternal Sunshine is #2! That's more like it.
--2:00 pm

Music of be purchased in 2005
My new purchases hardly qualify me to comment on the "best of '04." But honestly many of my '04 buys were things that had made "best of '03" lists. I got them to try to keep up, and of course lost track with '04 in the process. It's not a bad system, though, and keeps me from wasting much money on the bad stuff.

If you want to know what you should be buying over the next few months, there are best of '04 lists all over. Q Magazine's list of the top 50 albums is here. And, NPR has one, with the advantage of listening links, though it's a mesh of all their music reviewers, not a list from a single perspective. Still there may be something in there worth picking up in '05 if you don't already have it. Downbeat Magazine named Lisa Sokolov's Presence the best of the year.

Also, provides its list of the 30 best-scoring albums of the year, based on at least 7 reviews, and scroll down to see the top ten lists of many critics.

Finally, links to several "best of" lists in alternative papers around the country. My non-scientific survey of several of them reveals the following artists to have made the biggest 2004 splash with reviewers of alternative press (in no particular order): Brian Wilson, Franz Ferdinand, Wilco, Green Day, Drive-by Truckers, A.C. Newman, Arcade Fire.
--12:00 am