Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith Has Her Day in Court

Today was the big day former Playmate Anna Nicole Smith had her appearance before the Supreme Court of the United States. I think all parties rather than Smith wish the issue at hand had been a little flashier, but unfortunately it was a technical concern regarding a federal court’s ability to rule on probate matters. It is one of the quirks of law that this issue has been lurking around forever, but it just happens to be a pseudo-celebrity who makes it all the way to the SCOTUS with it.

Smith showed up dressed all in black. The media noted she was dressed for a funeral, to which I say, “Duh.” On the first day of trial practice class we were told the first thing a judge and/or jury looks at is your client and immediately passes judgment on his or her likeability. Dollars to donuts Smith’s lawyer told her to come to court looking like a respectable, yet grieving widow. That’s what I would have done, anyway. Smith is looking to overturn a federal appeal’s court ruling that awarded her $474 million dollar inheritance she received from her 90 year old oil magnate husband (whom she married for true love, naturally.) to the deceased’s son, E. Pierce Marshall.

Despite the dry procedural matter at stake, there was some excitement. The SCOTUS brought up the possibility of document tampering, shenanigans surrounding the deceased’s last wishes, and whether Smith had been forbidden by the family from being besides her husband’s deathbed. Truth be told, this is one of those cases in whih you wish no one would win. Everyone is acting out of pure greed. The family was heartless and cruel in its actions towards smith. Whether she conned the old guy or not, she was his wife and he married her willingly. Probate rules around the country grant an entire estate to the surviving spouse when the other spouse dies intestate (without a written will.)

That’s probably what will happen. The SCOTUS will most certainly apply the limited diversity jurisdiction that it has applied to other lower courts to bankruptcy courts as well. It took 11 years, but I believe smith has finally successfully cheated the old man out of his fortune.
Happy National Pancakes Day

No, really. It's like Chistmas, except there are no presents. Just maple syrup.
Star Trek XI Cancelled?

So it would appear. I figured it might for a few reasons. But before getting into that, bear in mind Dreamwatch is a British magazine with few connections in Hollywood. It has gained a certain reputation for science fiction creators assuming they can speak more freely outside the bounds of the American press, therefore it makes a good scoop now and then, but most don’t pan out.

This one probably does. The premise for a prequel film set even before Archer and his crew set out has been soured by the poor reception of Enterprise. It is also likely that Paramount would like to have some fresh blood running the franchise on the big and small screens besides Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. With the merger of UPN and the WB now to be presided over by CBS head honcho, Les Moonves, don’t expect to see much science fiction regardless. I can’t remember the last genre show that even aired on CBS. That Smallville will return for a new season with an Aquaman spin off in the works. Josh whedon echoed the same reasons for not pitching a revival of Firefly to the new network.

I’m betting The Powers That Be are going to lay low for a while and then launch a “remaining” just like Battlestar Galactica. Would fan accept an updated Kirk and Spock? I have doubts the most dedicated would. Star trek is much more beloved than the original BSG. But the continuity and techobabble aspects of trek have it virtually impossible to develop decent, approachable storylines. Beginning Trek back to something raw and barebones might just rejuvenate the franxhise which, frankly, has gotten too preachy.

Another thing that has struck m with a twinge. It started with the deaths of DeForest Kelly and James Doohan and definitely struck me with Leonard Nimoy’s Super Bowl commercial for arthritis medication--these guys are getting old and passing on. As sad as it sounds, their time has passed. The actors know it. George Takei felt free to come out of the closet knowing he wouldn’t have to worry about putting off audiences. William Shatner is still having fun milking Trek fans for all they are worth, but he has fully embraced his role on Boston Legal. The door has clearly been shut.

While I would like to see a series set shortly after the Dominion War so we could follow the new political landscape, the idea of a fresh start is also appealing. There is just too much baggage and muddled continuity to be new or exciting. Count me as one who would like to see something new hit the screens sometime in the near future.

Monday, February 27, 2006

From the Department of Mixed Emotions

In response to this and this, I humbly offer up this:Jessica Simpson posing with a gun in Iraq. You can't accuse her of being another Hanoi Jane, although I do recall some trying for awhile. Still not one of her better photos, though. The girl has no tush. How about this:Jessica is still not a favorite of mine, but she does have her attractive moments.
The Apprentice, Week One

The Apprentice is back on a new night and up against 24, which I’ll bet is going to be the kiss of death. We’ll watch while it lasts though, no? This bunch of candidates has the usual trappings. There are tons of pretty girls, some overeducated, underemployed folks, a few token minorities, and a weird guy that has no hope of ever winning but makes for good television. They have one every season: Omarosa, Raj, Danny, and Marcus come to mind. This time around, it’s Brent , an overweight lawyer whom no one seems to like.

Rather than have the two teams set up along educational or gender lines as in the last two season, Trump chooses two candidates to be project mangers and they choose their teams, high school gym class style. The first PM is Tarek, a MENSA members who reminds you of that every few seconds in case you forget in your drooling stupidity that he is your intellectual superior. Next is Allie, a Harvard business school grad an resident of Columbia, South Carolina. She’s also short, vute, and around my age. Not saying I’m going to stalk her, just that she’s an early favorite.

The task is to promote memberships to Sam’s Club discount wholesalers using blimp advertising. That sounded to me like a completely peculiar way of advertising anything, but I assume that’s why I am not in the corporate world.

Tarek, who’s name sound like a Star Trek villain, named his team Gold rush and set out to increase memberships by giving away tote bags and using his team’s know how to hustle sales. Tension arose when Summer, who was to do some cold call selling, only made one phone call. I should clarify that. The tension didn’t arise until after the team lost and the gold Rush members all turned on each other.

Allie named her team Synergy. The group worked well together with the exception of brent, who tossed out ideas just as obnoxiously as Markus did last year. Synergy relegated Brent to ride in the blimp so they didn’t have to deal with him. The team decided to give away free massages and manicures for every membership sold. It worked, but just barely. Synergy beat Gold rush by 3 memberships.

Gold rush schemed beforehand to nail Summer in the boardroom, but once in there, Tarek’s failures as a leader came to the forefront. Trump began berating Tarek and it looked like Summer’s neck was out of the noose until she spoke up. Apparently, she has never watched the show before. Trump fired her for interrupting him with a warning that Tarek isn’t going to last too long, either.
Dolling Up Darwin

I have generally stayed out of the Intelligent Design v. Evolution debate. I’m not a science mined person, never have been. I took all the basic sciences in high school kicking and screaming because it took away time I could have spent reading history and literature. Forcing me to spend ix credit hours studying rocks in college was on of the cruelest punishments I ever endured--and I’ve passed a kidney stone before. I am thrilled there are folks out there who are madly in love with science, because if you had to depend on me, we’d still be using square wheels and waiting to discover fire. In other words, I’ve got nothing to contribute and don’t even pretend that I do.

I am at best a Young Earth Creationist at best, an Old earth Creationist somewhere in the middle, or a theistic evolutionist at worst. As far as evolutionist activists are concerned--those that label themselves humanists--any of the three would make me a creationist by default as I accept a supernatural origin for the beginning of life rather than a natural one. There’s already an obstacle too large to overcome, so there seems to be no reason to engage in a dialogue. Upon realizing a notarized letter from a parent presented to the principal of a school forbidding your child from learning about evolution has to be accepted on religious discrimination bounds makes the whole argument moot for me. If every science class had twenty Christians sitting outside in the hallway when evolution was being taught, there would be quite a few changes made in school curriculums.

Evolutionist activists are beginning to see this arising and are opting to put a kinder, gentler face on the teaching of evolution. Randy Olsen, a film director of all things, has created a list of ten things evolutionists can do to improve communication. This list is putting the proverbial sheep’s clothing on the wolf.

I admitted above that I don’t have a scientific background. I understand that the universe contains everything, including all possibilities, and that means that even the mathematically preposterous notion that life randomly evolved through millions of beneficial mutations (even though 99% of mutations are destructive) could have theoretically happened. It insults my intelligence for someone to demand I accept that as a fact, but living life necessitates a thick skin about such things. No, I don’t personally believe it, especially outside of a Divine Creator. Fortunatel for me, this list is largely bypassing th sciences and speaking about a public relations campaign. It’s about winning the hearts and minds of people. It’s about the social sciences of dealing with humanity. I will tell you from personal experience, it’s as dangerous as any movement around.

Let me tell you a few things as an archair political scientist and you can scoff as you deem necessary. There is a very large difference between the political theories developed before Darwin’s theories than after. Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, et al weren’t necessarily angels in developing their political theories. Their philosophies are full of benevolent dictators ruling over the sheep and or random cruelty frightening populations into submission. It hasn’t always been rosey when God has been interjected into government, either, as the mediaval Catholic church’s meddling in political affairs or the so called divine right of kings to be absolute, cruel monarchs has demonstrated. All these things are pre-Darwin, I’ll admit. But look at Darwin’s philosophy and its subsequent adherents.

It isn’t well advertised--how many of you have actually read Origins of Species or The Descent of Man?--but Darwin’s basic philosophy of natural selection involved the elevation of man through the elimination of what he considered to be the inferior races. In The Descent of Man, Darwin predicted that in order for man to continue its upward evolution, it would have to eliminate the non white races. Now let’s be fair, lots of Christians grabbed unto the idea as well, particularly slave owners in the South and Anglicans in Great Britain who wanted to justify the continuation of the British Empire and weren’t found of former slaves integrating into their society. That nasty element of Christianity is still around and dangerous, but less obnoxious than the non-Christian atheists adherents of Darwinism.

You see, Darwin believed that wars, famines, and diseases were a way of thinning the herd of inferiors. They were a good thing. Political ideologies after Darwin grasped unto the idea. Communism would have been a forgotten blip in history in it weren’t for Darwin. Instead, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot mudered millions of “inferior” people to “improve” their respective populations. Nazism is, of course, the more famous ideology to incorporate social Darwinism. Hitler thought he was doing the world a favor by killing six million Jews. He also praised the united states for segregation, the sterilization of the disabled, and the segregation of African-Americans, lest you think social Darwinism hasn’t creeped into the United states’ social and political landscape.

Evolution is, at its heart, an atheistic idea that elevates man to godhood. It’s a religion, son’t be fooled. Atheism is a belief there is no God. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. When you take God out of creation, you put man in as the arbitor of morality. It establishes again what the book of genesis described before Noah’s flood as a time “when every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” That means there’s no reason that Hitler can’t kill six million Jews, that Stalin can’t slaughter the Ukrainians, or that Pol Pot can’t murder half--yes, half--the population of Cambodia because that is aiding the cause of eliminating the chaff and elevating mankind to godhood.

Evolution says that man is not made in the image of God, but is just another animal. Thus the humanist religion both elevates and diminishes man. Do Google search for the Humanist manifesto sometime and view its tenets--the abolition of theism, abortion, euthanasia, eugenics--a virtual cornucopia of good stuff designed to eliminate the supposedly inferior.

Contrast this to more Christian centered philosophies. I’ll give you a place to start:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with cetain inalienable rights….”
The italics there are mine. I see a marked difference between political and social philosophies influenced by creationism versus those influenced by Darwinism. It is enough to tell me that evolution is a bad tree bearing bad fruit, and no matter how much you doll it all up by improving communication, it is still an evil humanist religion that ought to be relegated to the dustbin of history and not taught as exclusive, undeniable fact to impressionable children in schools.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"The Parade of Talents" is No More

This morning, the science fiction community lost celebrated author Octavia Butler. It is believed she fell inside her house and suffered a concussion. Neighbors found her outside her house and rushed her to the hospital where it was discovered blood had pulled in her brain. Surgeons operated, but she did not survive.

Like so many writers, Butler toiled away in obscurity, being a little secret only those fortunate enough to stumble across her work ever got to know. Most people, of course, scoff at science fiction as the domain of weirdoes, with its high oncepts and odd commentary on humanity, all while putting mindless trash like The Da Vinci Code or the latest John Grisham at the top of the best seller's list.

A few years ago, Butler described herself in an interview:
"I'm a 53-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year-old writer. I'm also comfortably asocial -- a hermit in the middle of Seattle -- a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive."
I'm sorry to see she didn't make it that far.
Baby Charlotte Wyatt Must Die

A British high Court decided baby Charlotte Wyatt must be allowed to die as dotors want and against her parents wishes.

It may very well be that is in the best interest of Charlotte. I do not know. Perhaps the parents are holding onto some glimmer of false hope which is compltely irrational and may even increase the suffering of the child. But there is a priciple here that it should be the parents' ultimate decision on how to treat a terminally ill child. of course, in a state run health system, the doctors decide who lives or dies.

We live in scary times, people.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Necessary Nightcap

It's been a day of sad news at home and abroad. How about we cap it off in apprpriate fashion with Jeff Buckley's ethereal cover of Leonard Coken's "Hallelujah."
Darren McGavin (1922-2006)

Obituaries are becoming a morbid habit here. It hasn't hit the news wires yet, but Darren McGavin died this morning at age 83. Here is a web page about his career. McGavin was probably best know as the title character in Kolchak the Night Stalker. It was a short lived show that has since become a cult favorite. Kolchack is probably most famous for being Chris Carter's inspiration for the X-Files, a favorite of me. McGsvin portrayed a unnamed Kolchak-like character on a couple of episodes of the X-Files.

I haven't seen much of Kolchak the Night Stalker, but I remember McGavin fondly as the dad in A Christmas Story. To me, that movie is more of a holidat staple than the trite and overused It's a Wonderful Life. Yes, that's right--I've insulted The Andy Griffith Showand ,i>It's a wonderful life
in the same day. This is the year of living dangerously.

In an interesting bit of trivia sure to be brought up many times in the next few days, Darren McGavin and Don Knotts starred together in a movie, No Deposit, No Reurn in 1976. A nifty coencidence that must have the other surviving stars of that film sweating bullets. These things come in threes, don't you know.

Godspeed, Mr. McGavin.
Don Knotts (1924-2006)

Don Knotts died last night in Los Angeles of pulminary and respiratory complications. He was best known for his role of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, for which he won five emmies. Knotts also potrayed nerdy, but likaeble characters in 35 films from the 1960's right on up into the 1990's.

I'm going to be lambasted for this, I know, but I was never a fan of The Andy griffith Show. Certainly Knotts was a funny guy, but not really my speed. But I recognize, living in South Carolina for all but three year of my life, how much that show--and Barney Fife in particular--means to Southerners. it was one of the few shows that did not openly insult Southerners. For that, Knotts passing is worth remembering.

Godspeed, Mr. Knotts.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Battlestar Galactica--"Downloaded"

I missed out on the last two episodes of BSG for various reasons, but I’m glad I caught this one. It was one of the best of the year. You’ve just got to like how this show takes chances by dropping in an episode with emphasis on the bad guys but keeps you interested in their side of things. That’s what we get here as we return to Cylon occupied caprica.

The episode centers on the resurrection process of Six and Boomer. We’re talking here about the boomer who shot Adama and was killed herself, Lee Harvey Oswald-style. She retains all of her memories of the attempted assassination of Adama and all the doubts and self-loathing she had of being a Cylon. She questions whether wiping out humanity was a good idea in the same way pregnant Boomer asked adama if he ever thought that humanity deserved to die en masse a few episodes back. The parallel struck me.

There is an insurgency of humans on Caprica fighting the Cylons through guerilla attacks. I am hesistant to call it terrorism for obvious reasons. I was bracing myself for thinly veiled commentary about the war in Iraq much like was featured on last week’s L\ost, but at first glance didn’t see much. Not that I am ungrateful. The show is far better when it deals with broad political and social concepts rather than contemporary commentary. Regardless of that little diversion there, Six, Boomer, and another Cylon are trapped in the rubble after a insurgent sets off a bomb. Their entrapment leads to a discussion over the morality of the Cylon’s cause and whether the insurgent ought to be killed.

That was interesting, but the tru eyebrow raiser was that newly reborn Six has a Baltar hallucination in her head the same way the real Baltar has a Six hallucination. It has been assumed by fans that Six was manipulating Baltar. Now it appears that there’s a Baltar manipulating the Cylon as well. Not sure what that means. One would guess the theory that Baltar had some sort of device in him projecting a Six avatar must be wrong. Something must have happened during the intial nuclear explosion that was featured in one of the opening scenes set before the Galactica left Caprica. It was definitely a wild curveball to throw at us.

The scenes with Galactica Boomer and her child were tough to watch. I am liking Rosilyn less and less as time goes on.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
There's a Doctor in the House

Although I really wish there wasn't. Former Dr. Who Tom Baker sings the Buggles' sole hit, "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Candy Catastrophe

I can't explain why I have been playing this game so much today, but I have been.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gambrell Hall
I ran across this photo earlier. I spent many, many hours imprisoned within those drab walls. Gambrell Hall was the main classroom building for the College of Liberal Arts at the university of South Carolina. The Political Science Department was housed on the third floor. Ganbrell Hall was nothing but a big box. It had no style, no aesthetics inside or out. The floors ware mostly brick tile except from the classrooms in which a thing layer of light brown, worn carpeting was stretched on top of the brick tile. It had to be that way. The Liberal Arts College was the largest on campus. Thousands walked through those halls everyday.

I had a very deep liberal arts education. I had only a handful of classes that weren’t in Gambrell in the entire four years I attended USC. To be honest, the only classes I ever remember having where I couldn’t look out the window and see Gambrell were the two Geology courses I was forced to take to complete a science requirement. It was rather fateful, as things all turned out. But that’s a sob story for another time. I took Political Science, History, Economics (There were two ways to take Economics: from the College of Business (BS) or College of Liberal Arts. (BA) The only difference I could ever ascertain is that in the BA for Economics, the charts you drew were prettier. What that has to do with Economics, I have no clue. That’s why in minored in History instead.) Philosophy, and English. For 120 credit hours, I probably spent 110 of those in Gsmbrell.

It wasn‘t always easy. For the first two years of college, I was resigned to the purgatory known as the Towers. Gambrell and the Towers were on polar opposite sides of campus. I say polar for a reason. My freshman year, I was still more or less adjusting to double hip replacement surgery three years before. Yes, it did knock me for that big a loop. I didn‘t think walking all over a campus that sprawled a good chunk of downtown Columbia was the best of ideas, so I bought one of those motorized scooters. I actually had a pretty good tim with it motoring around campus in the afternoons and such with one glaring exception “raining“ down on me one night in the Towers. Other than that experience, the only thing I hated was the long ride in the morning. I had class everyday at 8:30 AM. I was not prepared for just how cold riding a scooter would be in the early morning wind chill. I‘d like to be more literary, but if you can imagine the scene in Dumb and Dumber where our heroes are riding into Aspen, you pretty much have me, minus the frozen snot. That was the primary motive for building my stamina up and getting rid of that scooter for my sophomore year.

The latter half of my college career was even more interesting. For my junior year, I lived in Capstone. Despite its location on the very edge of campus, Capstone was the social hub. Everyone who was anyone outside of the Greek housing lived there at one time or another. It was supposed to be exclusively upper classman, but there was a poorly kept secret that freshman from well connected families had a few slots waiting for them away from the riff raff that lived in the exclusively freshman dorms like the towers. Gambrell was just across the street and passed the College of Business. It became a game to see how late I could sleep and still make it to class. By the spring of my junior year, I was often still putting clothes on as I was walking to class. No shame, of course. Everybody else was, too. We’d all spent the better part of three years watching girls make that walk of shame in rumpled clothes and matter hair every morning and knew no cross words were going to be spoken.

I wound up living in a newly built dorm my senior year that was so far away from campus, you had to walk through a tunnel over the busy streets of downtown Columbia to get their. For convenience sake, living there was a dumb idea. It was a twenty minute walk for me at least twice a day. I used to leave in the morning and stay in Gambrell all day to study rather than march back and forth. It was at that time I got really acquainted with the nooks and crannies of the place. It was one thing to study there, it was another thing to observer people, a pastime I have always enjoyed. Senior year was a subdued time for me. For various reasons personal and familial, I knew I couldn’t go to law school right away. There was going to be a time in which I would be in limbo. I was in a unique predicament in which I would lose my health benefits if I got a career oriented job (which I wanted) or I have to borrow money to get a graduate degree in the interim for law school, which just seemed like a waste of time and money. So I spent a lot of time by myself, savoring the carefree (or so I tried to appear) life of a college student. I watched all the freshman--Lord, they all looked young--full of hopes and dreams march through those halls everyday.

Those scenes in Gambrell wre a stark contrast to my dorm life. The south Quad was exclusively seniors. Very appropriate, considering the place was as quiet as a nursing home. I lived in an apartment with three other guys, two of which were also named Jamie. Strange and unplanned. We weren’t buddies, and we all did our separate things. So did everyone else. Everyone was graduating and knew what they were going to do next--or they we faking it really well. No partis, no loud music. The dormitory government was in name only because no one cared enough to bother with it. Stepping into the south Quad meant you had to grow up, and I did.

Finding that photo of Gambrell Hall reminds me just how much. Life has certainly gotten hard since the days I spent there studying, working on group projects, debating political ideas and current events with friends and classmates, being part of the student government representing the Liberal Arts College, and just being part of self-important campus groups. It seemed like the good times were going to roll on forever. They didn’t. I can’t think of a single bad memory I have of Gambrell Hall. That’s unusual for a cynic like me--unusual enough to note here. I know it sounds strange to have emotional attachments to a classroom building, but I do. To me, it was and still is a symbol of possibilities. Then it was possibilities to be gained. Now it is possibilities lost. Bittersweet memories, but those are worth remembering, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

To Boldly Go Where No One Should Have Gone Before

Jean-Luc Picard, the most pompous captain in Starfleet, has a blog. Engage.
The Only "Good" Executions

A California judge ruled recently that an impending execution must be presided over by a doctor. Prison officials have halted the execution because they are unable to find a doctor willing to participate in an execution as it would be a violation of ethical standards in the practice of medicine. I see.

For the record, the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors must take specifically forbids any medical practitioner from performing an abortion. Abortions are well accepted within the medical community. Euthanasia--the “mercy killing” of patients like Terri Schaivo--I also gaining acceptance. Assisted suicide is not as taboo as it used to be, either. Dr. Peter Singer, a bioethics at Princeton University, has gained fame by promoting the right of parents to terminate their child’s life within a year after birth.

These concepts are all fine, but executed a convicted murderer is an ethical violation of the highest order. If you can explain the contradiction, I’d love to hear from you.
The New Lara Croft

Angelina Jolie has apparently sworn off starring in any further Tomb Raider sequels. Producers hopeful to continue the franchise have chosen a new lara Croft--20 year old unknown British actress, Karima Adebibe. She looks the part from what little knowledge I have of the character. Being a Nintendo GameCube man, I never played any of the Tomb Raider video games although I have had the experience in college of watching a few friends pound away at Play Station versions. There was a comic book featuring the exploits of Lara Croft for a while. It did not last long. Even though top notch talent wrote and drew the short lived series, interference by the copyright owners frustrated both the creators and fans enough to cancel it.

I did see the first Tomb Raider film It was during the spring of 2001 after I had spent many months recovering from my first detached retina. After keeping a vampire’s lifestyle for so long, any chance to get out into daylight was a welcome reprieve. Well, maybe that wasn’t, since I know feel it is ninety minutes of my life I’ll never get back, light sensitive eye or not. It struck me that the producers said, “Let’s make a female Indiana Jones,” without thinking that Indiana himself is a copy of 1930’s movie serial heroes. When you make a copy of a copy, there is going to be some degradation along the way. The biggest problem I had with the film is there was nothing big at stake. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was the possibility that Indy was going to get smooshed by the big boulder. The biggest action sequence in Tomb Raider was the opening battle with the robots which turned out to be a simulation. She was never in any real danger, so what the point? It was a letdown.

Furthermore, the villains were lackluster. Indy had the Nazis--the ultimate bad guys. They had a clear objective to find the Ark of the Covenant and/or the Holy Grail and use its power to conquer the world. In Tomb Raider, Lara had the Illuminati, a group that exists only in the fevered minds of pseudo-intellectuals. Their goal is to find some atrifact that will allow them to control time and do…well, that isn’t made clear. Save the Dinosaurs? Rob the library of Alexandria? Tell Abraham Lincoln to duck? Who knows and who cares? I certainly didn’t.

I was in law school by the time the sequel arrived in theatres and didn’t bother to see it. I seem to recall it being a fairly big hit regardless. I’m betting that most folks who saw it went only for the titillating Ms. Jolie and are unlikely to shell out $ 8 to see someone else, especially an unknown, playing lara Croft. Adbibe has some big cups, er shoes to fill. I hate to talk bad about the woman, but I doubt she can salvage anything from the lukewarm source material she has been given to work with. I wish her the best, but I won’t be in the theatre when this sequel rolls into town.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Some Perspective
Ultimate Career Personality

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 33%
Lifer: 44%
Mandarin: 63%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.



(Via: Mansfield Fox)

Ultimate Sci Fi Profile

You scored as Deep Space Nine (Star Trek). You have entered the dark side of the Star Trek universe. The paradise of Earth is far from you and you must survive despite having enemies on all fronts. But you wouldnâ??t have it any other way because you thrive in conflict and will know what needs to be done to take care of those around you. Now if only the Founders would quit trying to take over the galaxy.

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)

100%

Moya (Farscape)

81%

Serenity (Firefly)

81%

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)

75%

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)

69%

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)

69%

SG-1 (Stargate)

69%

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

63%

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)

56%

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)

50%

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)

44%

Enterprise D (Star Trek)

6%

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

(Via: Sarah, who hasn't missed a thing by not watching Farscape.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 will be run this afternoon. It marks the beginning of the NASCAR Nextel Cup season. On a more somber note, it also marks the fifth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt, who crashed into the wall on the final lap in 2001 and suffered a fatal skull fracture. NASCAR fans, like most Southerners, are a sentimental, loyal lot. Expect some sort of commemoration.

While fans are sentimental and loyal, they are also brutal against drivers they don't like. I know folks when I was growing up who would stop buying a product because it sponsored a driver they hated.

"Martha! Spit out that Big Mac! Bill Elliott's got the Golden Arches on his hood!"

With the great personal risk in mind, I am publically declaring that I am once again plling for the much despised Jeff gordon to win his fith national championship. He narrowly missed the Race for the Cup (final ten races) last year after starting strong by winning the Daytona 500. Can he repeat today and go on to the Race for the Cup?Strive for five, Jeff. Come on!
The War Prayer

You will pardon me for yet another Lost post, but some issues have arisen among fans producing a healthier than I ever expected debate on the War on Terror than I ever expected. It is not entirely unusual for fans of the show to go off on tangents, examining every jot and tittle for any clues that might shed some light on the overall story arc. They often pan out to be nothing, but you knew the old saying about idle hands. With no new episode until march 1st, our hands are firmly idle.

(As an aside, it has been brought out that the new fellow discovered by Danielle Rousseau was named Henry Gale. Henry gale was Dorothy’s uncle in the Wizard of Oz. The Henry Gale of Lost got to the island by way of hot air balloon, the same way the Wizard arrived in oz. Whether this means anything o is just a nifty homage is anyone’s guess. If the death predicted by the hieroglyphs turns out to be winged monkeys, I am going to be sorely disappointed.)

Back to the War on Terror. It was largely speculated the last episode had a general anti-American, anti-war theme. Sayid the Iraqi was presented as a good man until he was corrupted by US forces and made to torture his former CO. That turned out to be a very simplistic and kneejerk reaction, believe it or not. Popular television doesn’t’ delve deep into hot button iues for fear of alienating viwers at the same time it likes to slip in a few touchy-feely, moral relativist notions under the radar. I especially appreciate science fiction for its ability to be more explorative about all issues by disguising them with aliens and other such concepts. They can slip quite a bit in under the noses of all but the most observant.

Sayid has been captured by the Americans twice. The first was during the Gulf War in which last week’s flashbacks took place. It was made verbally clear by the American officers they understood Sayid didn’t want to be at war with the united States; they didn’t want to be their, either. To convince sayid to aid them, the they howed him a Defense Intelligence Agency video of Saddam gassing a village. That Saddam as committed atrocities is established. That Saddam waged a war of aggression against Kuwait is also establish. Sayid agrees to torture his CO. Flasforward to the island where Henry is held captive and suspected of being one of the Others. There’s no way to know if he is because his story cannot be verified. Sayid and Locke debate the merits of torture and both agree that they are at war with the Others and in war, certain nasty things have to be done for the greater good. Jack is shaky on the whole thing, but he’s the one who decided the Castaways needed to raise an army in the first place.

(It isn't entirely relevant to this episode, but Sayid is captured again suring operation iraqi Freedom and cooperates with the CIA is preventing an old friends of his from committing a suicide bombing in Australia. Sayid again decides that aiding the American cause is the best course of action, even if it isn't the easiest choice. As a thank you, the CIA locates his lost love in Los Angeles, which puts Sayid on the fateful Oceanic 815 flight. Gee thanks, guys.)

Here we have elements of our own national debate. What do we do with captured Al Qaeda? They have vowed to destroy America whether they have taken any particular steps towards that end beyond rhetoric. Is what you think they might do enough to justify brutal action against them? Sayid, locke, and to some extent, Jack say yes. They are going to keep Henry prisoner in the ammunition closet for at least six episodes because there is still a strong enough assumption to suspect he is an other. Sayid echoes the pro-war argument with Charlie at the end: “They Kidnapped Claire. They kidnapped Walt. They tried to kill you. I fear everyone has forgotten what they have done to us.” Shades of 9/11 and our weakened resolve to fight a war that needs to be fought.

I have to admit I am wary of Lost moving into the political realm. It has done political theory very well, exploring the concept of the noble savage with characters named after philosophers like Locke, Rouseeau, and Calvin. (They spelled it Kelvin, but the theological idea of total human depravity that pervades Calvinism is implied.) But moving into current events is a dangerous thing. When Star Trek: Enterprise began its season long storyline regarding a Xindi weapon that may or may not have existed being prepped to attack Earth, it was too close to the current national debate over WMDS in Iraq. The idea of overthrowing the Hussein government because of its alleged WMD program was still extremely popular. The show got a black eye from which it never recovered, ultimately ending in its premature cancellation.

I believe the Lost creators are wiser than that. They have a huge hit on their hands and hopefully they will continue a more academic look at political theory and its trappings while leaving the current events moralizing to the talking (pin)heads at FOXNEWS and CNN.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ringing My Bell

Answering the prayers of legions of poor, desrerate fellows, Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell has opted to pose for a photo shoot in the semiliterate men's magazine, MAXIM. She's looking pretty good here, I must say. I a tempted to make a joke about wanting to play astronaut and explore Mars, but I shall refrain. You may recall made my Mistletoe Smooch List back in December. She was not my top choice, but she may have to be upgraded for next year's list....
With Apologies to Aerosmith

"Cheney's Got a Gun"
Heroes and Demigods

The Religious Affiliations of Super Heroes is a self-explanatory site. It is also impressively accurate considering the loose continuity Marvel and DC Comics have been playing with over the last 10-12 years. There are a few points I as a dedicated fanboy take issue with--I'm pretty sure Peter Parker and mary Jane's wedding was presided over by a Catholic priest, but i could be wrong--the page is still a fasinating exploration of the relationsh between extraordinary (albeit fictional)people and the devine. For comic book fans with a penchant for religion and philosophy, it is a place you'll waste an obscene amount of time exploring.
Blogger's Belch

I made four posts yesterday and every single one of them has been eaten by Blogger. It also claims I have some phantom comments that aren't really there. I'm not entirely sure if a bird landed on a wire somewhere and screwed up Blogger--always a likely possibly, Blogger has forgotten the legal definition of "fair use" of copyright while its parent company has been appeasing the Chinese Communists, or one of those emotionally unstable little darlings who seem to gravitate to me has learned how to hack during arts and crafts time at the loony bin.

Time will tell, but hold tight until it all gets straightened out.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

James Bond Gets a New Girl

Kingdom of Heaven star Eva Green will appear opposite Dainel Craig's Bond in Casino Royale. She definitely has that exotically beatiful look. I think she is a good choice, especially considering the awful miscasting of Halle Berry in the last installment. Casino Rooyale promises to take Bond back to his Sean Connery roots and away from the stuntman's nightmares that the series has become since the early days of Roger Moore.I'd still like to see Catherine Zeta-Jones or Eva Langoria take a turn as a Bond Beauty.
If You Thought Freedom Fries Was Stupid

...then you'll love this. The Iranians really enjoy Danish pastries just like Americans love frenh fries with their greasey toad burgers. but now because of the cartoon bruhaha, they felt the need to change the name to "Roses of the Prophet Mohammed." One assumes calling them a Danish pastry in a slip of the tongue will get said tongue cut out. Or maybe a old fashioned beheading. Who knows.

Personally, I think Mohammed Muffins has a snazzier ring to it, but what do I know? I still eat french fries.
Lost in Reality

There has been more chatter than usual floating about regarding last night’s episode of Lost. We have the usual folks who complain about the slow pacing and lack o plot advancing. These are the people who have never cracked open a novel in their lives. I’ll admit Lost isn’t War & Peace, but it is the equivalent of a dime store, take to the beach book. That people don’t have the patience to follow as simple a format as that is a sad commentary on the attention span of the average television viewer. It was only a few years ago that every aspiring writer thought he had the Great American Novel in him. Now it is the Great American Screenplay. Some call that an embrace of progress. I’m not so sure, but it would appear society demands faster paced, spoon fed entertainment without introspection and is not progress in the slightest.

Personally, I think the plot was advanced, although I admit I would have liked for things to have been made more definite. Through much meticulous consultation with those in the know, we have determined the Egyptian hieroglyphs translate to “to cause to die.” Something did occur when the numbers were not entered in time. Speculation points to the beginning of the plagues of Egypt spoken of in the book of Exodus being brought upon the island. Considering much of the Old Testament allegory mentioned throughout the last few episodes (Eko spoke of Moses and Aaron, Charlie’s vision of Hurley dressed as a Pharisee) that makes some sense. Sawyer has already dealt with an annoying frog, and an infestation of frogs was one of the plagues visited on Egypt. A coming sickness has been hinted at for months now as well as the idea that something in the water supply is affecting the Castaways personalities. Both would be variations of the Egyptian plagues as well. We shall see.

Aside from making predictions of future episodes and/or complaints that things aren’t all being spelled out right now, darn it, there is dissatisfaction with the way the character of Sayid has developed. In short, it has been presented that Sayid was basically a nice guy until he was corrupted by the American military. Now, I’ve been blasted on this blog before for critiquing the simplistic “America good, everybody else bad” mindset that pervades much of our political rhetoric these days. I am a patriot no doubt, but I am not one to proclaim that every one we are forced to fight in a war is an evil degenerate anymore than I think Americans can do no wrong. Personally, that an Iraqi is shown as being a conflicted soul overwhat he feels he must do for his own people versus wht his conscience tells him is right adds an extra dimension to him that rises above the political game.

Sayid is not meant to be portrayed as a good guy. Indeed, he is not. He spent six years as a torturer for Saddam. The story behind his capture during Operation Iraqi Freedom has not yet been told in flashback, but he was edgier and angrier than his 1991 self featured last night. Whatever actions he took between 1991 and 2004 were brutal and perhaps irreparably damaging to his psyche. To say that the show has exclusively laid the blame for the changes in him on the Americans who forced hi to torture his CO is too shallow a viewpoint to take seriously.

I know it sounds ridiculous to drag out these thoughts from a television show, but I have drawn the conclusion that Americans have grown up on a study diet of CNN, Fox News, and John Wayne movies sanitizing war to the point it appears to be one big video game. There are psychological and emotional effects of warlike situations that survive well beyond the mending of bones and salving of burns. It not as simple as taking a boy fresh off the farm, telling him to kill the enemy, and then putting him back in society with a pat on the head and a,, ’you be good now, okay?” That goes for both sides in a conflict, regardless of either side’s motives for fighting. If people get agitated that sort of thing is examined from the perspective of both combatants, I fear for our desensitizing. There has got to be a higher discourse about violence and war in this country, and putting on blinders because of a story element in a silly television show doesn’t make me hopeful there ever will be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lost--"One of Them"

Lost has taken a definite turn towards the gruesome in recent weeks. In many respects, tonight’s episode was the most brutal of the bunch, if no the entire series. Sayid takes his third turn as the flashback character and we learn a little more about how his life in the Iraqi Republican Guard took a dark turn because of his involvement with American soldiers.

The episode begins in a flashback to the Gulf War. An American Apache helicopter is show down and the surviving pilot is taken captive. American forces later raid a compound in which they believe the pilot is being held. He’s not there and neither is the Iraqi commanding officer, but Sayid is. Apparently, Sayid is also the only one who speaks English. Later on, that puts him in a very tough spot.

On the island, Danielle Rousseau returns to make contact with Sayid. She wants him to follow her into the jungle but won’t say why. Obviously, considering her last appearance was a ruse to kidnap Claire’s baby, he isn’t keen on the idea, but does so anyway. She leads him to a man we’ve never met before who is suspended in a net. He is not one of our Castaways. Sayid cuts him down. The fellow takes the opportunity to make a break for it. When he does, Danielle shoots him in the back with an arrow. Sayid decides to take the wounded guy back to the hatch as a prisoner. He suspects the man is one of the Others.

In flashback, Sayid is in US military custody. They have captured his CO and demad Sayid find out what happened to the downed pilot. His CO refuses to cooperate Sometime later, Sayid is put in front of a TV screen and shown a video of a sarin gas attack inflicted by Saddam on a village in which Sayid had relatives. The american tells him loyalty is a virtue, but surely unquestioned loyalty is not…..

Jack discovers Sayid and Locke hovering over the wounded man as they privately confer on how to get information from him. As Jack tends to his wound, Sayid and Locke plot to hold him in the now empty ammunition closet. He instructs Locke to change the combination so Jack cannot interrupt the interrogation Through some machinations, Sayid is locked in the closet with the man.

Back in Iraq, Sayid again confronts his CO, this table with a toolbox full of torture devices. The two have harsh words over loyalty and honor. We don’t see what comes directly next, but after some time has passed, we do see Sayid leave the room and hand the box to the American officer. Sayid’s hands are dripping with blood. He says the pilot was killed and buried days ago. He take the Americans there, if they wish.

On the island, Sayid begin the same process on his new prisoner. The guy claims he and his wife were crossing the Pacific in a hot air balloon when it crashed on the island four months ago. His wife died of an illness and he buried her. This sets Sayid off. All his rage over Shannon’s death boils to the surface and he begins beating the man unmercifully. The noise is evident outside the door. Jack and Locke have a violent confrontation over Locke’s refusal to give him the combination. As they scuffle, the alarm sounds that the numbers need to be typed in. Locke relents and opens the door, but is too late to type the numbers in. After the counter goes to zero, the numbers spin around wildly and come up to what looks like Egyptian hieroglyphics or perhaps the DHARMA symbols before going back to 108. What has actually happened is anyone’s guess.

Back in Iraq, Sayid is being driven out to the desert after his job is done. A soldier beside him asks if he has a wife. Sayid does not answr, but the soldier is holding a picture of someone apparently dear to him--Kate! Sayid is dumped out and given some cash. The American officer remarks that his new skill will probably be useful to Saddam. Sayid swears he’ll never torture again. The American says a few words of “wisdom” in Arabic and departs. Sayid is a broken man.

The episode ends with him sitting with Charlie on the beach. He ponders whether the rest of the Castaways have forgotten what the Others have done to them. Claire being kidnapped, Charlie being lynched, Kate held hostage, and walt kidnapped--has all that been forgotten? Charlie doesn’t know what to say.

There was a B story here about Sawyer, who has clealy lost prestige after last week’s con. He is being tormented by the noise of a tree frog. He wanders off into the jungle looking for it and stumbles upon Hurley and a food hoard he has been keeping from the rest. Sawyer blackmails Hurley into helping him find the frog. When they do, Sawyer crushes the thing in his hand and tosses the corpse to Hurley. Strangely enough, considering the other acts of inhumanity in this episode, this was probably the most disturbing. Sawyer seems much less rouguish than before and more sadistic. The change in his character is shocking. He’s not the only one, either. Little by little, the entire cast is becoming more violent and immoral. Rumors are that there is something in the water they are drinking that might explain their irrationality. We’ll have to wait and see.

Interesting episode. Very disturbing, but they gave us the kill switch not being pushed in time, but did not give us any consequences we might have expected. Locke did not look too panicked once the numbers ran down, either. it looks like he knows more about what's going on than he is telling everyone else. Who knows what is up the writers’ collective sleeves.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Andreas Katsulas (1946-2006)

Character actor Adreas Katsulas has died of lung cancer in Los Angeles. Katsulas made a career out of playing ambiguously foreign spies and/or bad guys all over television and the movies, but is best remembered for his roles in science fiction series, particularly my favorite of his, the Narn Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5. He was under heavy make up the entire series, but in many ways the tragic and complex character was the most human of them all. Before landing the role of G’Kar, Katsulas played the recurring Romulan villain Commander Tomalok and the One Armed man in 1993’s The Fugitive remake with Harrison Ford.

Let me end with words of wisdom from G’Kar:
"If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often we assume that the light on the wall is god. But the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. More intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search, who does not bring a lantern with him, sees nothing. What we perceive as god, is byproduct of our search for god. It may simply be appreciation of the light - pure and brighter. Not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume we are the center of the universe. God looks astonishingly like we do. Or we turn to look at our shadow and assume all is darkness. If we allow ourself get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to illuminate the wall in all it's beauty and in all its flaws and so better understand the world around us."

Godspeed, Mr. Katsulas.
Don't Mess with Reese Witherspoon

The photographer who was charged with battery and child endangerment in an altercation with Reese Witherspoon and her kids last fall has been found dead. I'm not jumping to conclusions here, but maybe I ought to tone down the Ryan Philippe anonimosity here at The Eye.She only looks innocent. With all due apologies. ;)
George "Pappy" Boyington Memorial Refused

I served in the Student Senate at the University of South Carolina for three years. I did so as a blatant resume builder because I certainly didn’t care for the high quality of discourse and leadership present. Save for a handful of future lawyers, doctors and business leaders, the Senate was full of self-appointed “Leaders of Tomorrow” who were full of self-loathing at being South Carolinians and possessed a political philosophy that hadn’t evolved much passed the platitudes spoon fed six year olds by Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. The Usc administration was wise enough to grant the Senate next to no power and had full veto over everything. Normally, I’d resent such a thing, but the sheer stupidity of 99% of the legislation passed made me feel more relieved than anything else.

Not that the Senator didn’t think they were saving the world with their touchy-feely utopia schemes of resolutions declaring hate to be totally, you know, like, uncool and stuff. Attempts to raise the discourse were met with accusations ranging from obstructionism to racism. The day after I won my final term in office, a political interest student organization toilet papered my car in the parking lot of my dorm. I can only imagine what our state legislature and Congress will be like in the future with such mature candidates itching to control public policy.

I’m not surprised to see that sort of naïve that lets liberal “elites” be our self-appointed guardians against all practical matters is not only still prevalent in campus politics but is just as pervasive and stupid on the West Coast. The Student Senate at the University of Washington recently debated the idea of erecting a memorial for Marine pilot George “Pappy” Boyington, the World War II hero with 25 confirmed enemy kills.

It will not surprise you to know Senate did not want another memorial for a white man, much less a Marine who is not an example of the type person UW would want to honor” since alll he did was, you know, kill people and stuff. Yes, that’s the best debate over the issue the little dolts could come up with. They’ve embraced the leftist intellectual notion that freedom is not ensured by a gun barrel constantly appointed at oppressors. People thewe kids would have preferred working on slave farms, and paying for their rice rations in yen while wondering where all the Jewish kids went rather than sitting all safe and comfy in a big university, biding their times until they get law degrees and buy SUVs. They’d be neck deep in the former if not for heros like Pappy, to whom they show nothing but contempt.

You know what? It’s going to get worse. World War II is still widely considered a necessary and just war. The current War on Terror--and Iraq in specific--largely are not. I fear our veterans are already sources of contempt that is only going to get worse as the people who enjoy the freedom the military provides distance themselves from the reality that freedom is paid for by the blood of soldiers. That is a scary and sad thought for the future of our country.

Read the minutes of the Student Senate meeting and weep for the future as I almost always have.
The Arsenal of Freedom

I’ve had quite a bit of fun at Dick Cheney’s expense over the last two days, I’ll admit. Such an incident is so rife with comedic opportunities, I just can’t pass them up. I mean come on--the Vice President shot a 78 year old lawyer in the face while hunting birds. You can’t make something like that up. It’s only in real life. I’d still rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than joyriding with Ted Kennedy.

On a more serious note, James & Sarah Brady had a few words regarding the incident:
James and Sarah Brady made comments today related to Vice President Cheney's reportedly accidental shooting yesterday in Texas.

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."
Let me get some of the high emotions out of the way here. I understand the emotional investment the Bradys have in firearm safety. The scene of James Brady lying on the ground bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head while Reagan was being whisked away and John Hinckley was being wrestled to the ground by the Secret Service are some of the clearest images from my youth, believe it or not. That was the first live, tragic “Special Report” I ever saw. I’m sympathetic to the legitimate dangers that gun pose.

I’m not a gun control advocate, however. I believe guns are the great equalizer. I know that some drugged out perp who wouldn’t hesitate to bash someone’s grandmother over the head with a brick for the $10 in her purse won’t go near some 5’ 6” rent-a-cop bank security guard because he is packing heat. Granny might swing a mean pocketbook, but nothing intimidates quite like a bullet. This does not mean I am not conflicted. Every person I know who owns a gun for any reason other than to pop a cap into an burglar has been, in my experience, a beer guzzling redneck with potency and/or size issues. Vicious rednecks who read Soldier of Fortune but would wet their pants in a real combat zone. Who kill deer and rabbits largely because they don’t shoot back. Who spout off about the glory days of their grandfathers’ KKK. You know--morons.

You have to take the good with the bad when supporting the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment isn’t all a John Stewart Mill marketplace of great ideas. Sometimes it is Nazis marching in Peoria. it’s the same with the Second Amendment. You can stay safe by advertising your home as a place where a gun lives, but realize that the public face a gun ownership is Ted Nugent, occasionally a nine year old is going to find daddy’s surrogate penis in a drawer and shoot himself with it, and disturbed high school students are going to go on shooting sprees when the cool kids don’t hang out with them. You can’t have an omelet without breaking a few Fabrege eggs in this case. Because too many guns are in the wrong hands, guns have to be free to be in the right hands.

Simply put: fight crime--shoot back.
Happy Valentine's Day, You Bubble-Headed Boobie!

Monday, February 13, 2006

People Not Like Us

A man went bankrupt trying to turn his home into the USS Voyager after his wife left him. Maybe if he had better taste in Star Trek shows, the two would have lived long and prospered.
Cult of Personality

Blogger Glenn Greenwald asks an interesting, yet misguided question: do Bush supporters have an ideology? By this, Greenwald is wondering why self-professed conservatives support Bush when the president has increased spending, bloated the size of the federal government, and built a prescription drug plan, the most expensive entitlement program since the days of LBJ’s Great Society. All of these actions should be anathema to conservatives, so why do we love Bush? Greenwald speculates it is a cult of personality. He is wrong.

In the broadest sense, Greenwald makes the typical mistake of presupposing conservatives are ignorant and easily mesmerized by the Powers That Be in the Republican Party. Think of the folks sitting at home, Amoco card in hand, swaying in the wind at the cubic zirconium on the Home Shopping Network, and you have a good idea of how liberal intellectuals picture Republican voters. That said, we deserve a lot more credit, particularly considering our longsuffering. Greenwald--and probably many other high thinkers--could stand to be a little more nuance in declaring what a cult of personality is as well. Let’s take this one step at a time.

I am a conservative and I have voted for Bush twice. I am not an adamant supporter of his. I am a disappointed conservative precisely for the reasons Greenwald points out. With Bush’s approval ratings hovering in the high 30’s, I can safely assume I am not the only conservative who feels that way. I do appreciate that Bush hast taken 9/11 for what it was--an act of war--and has pursued a sustained conflict against the enemies of the United States rather than declare Ground Zero a crime scene and shed tears for the camera as Bill Clinton would have done. I did not then and do not now think Al Gore or John Kerry would lead this war to my satisfaction. I also believe either of them would have bloated the government far worse than Bush has, never given a tax cut, and put at least two pro-abortion, non-textualists on the SCOTUS. In short, Bush was the lesser of two evils in 2000 and 2004.

Bush does not have a cult of personality. He does not have the capacity to gain one. He is not a visionary. He is not dynamic. He is not inspiring. He is not even a good public speaker. Bush is the sum of conflicting advisors, many of whom have lead him and the country astray. But we stick with him anyway because the left would take us even more astray. That’s not a very inspiring sense of loyalty, but this isn’t a “Win one for the Gipper” Hollywood flick.

Something else Greenwald misses is exactly what a cult of personality in the realm of politics I offer up support for Bill Clinton as a better example. In his first term as president, Clinton met the common folk, put his hand on their shoulders and proclaimed, “I feel your pain,” and they believed him. Whether it was truth or snake oil didn’t matter. Clinton attempted to push though a liberal fantasy agenda including allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military, a foreign policy subservient to the united nations, and socialized medicine, all of which failed to various degrees and lead to the Republican takeover of Congress. What happened next? Clinton ignored his ideology and moved to the right in his second term. He slashed welfare rolls, somehow managed to generate a budget surplus, and presided over a booming economy, all of which are conservative ends.

Why was the left then and is now so fond of Clinton? He left their ideals pretty much in the dust. Most conservatives won’t admit that because they don’t like Clinton personally. That’s what parties in opposition do. They find a reason to dislike the other guy. If they couldn’t attack Clinton’s politics in his second term, then they went after his character. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve to be critiqued on his character, mind you. Clinton did everything he could to save himself politically after the Monica Lewinsky affair erupted, including destroying a 22 year old girl who fell into his--dare I say it?--cult of personality. And we all forgave him for it. Why? Because he was just so darn...mesmerizing, I guess. Liberals forgave him for being a moderate republican. Conservatives forgave him for being a cad. The voters couldn’t figure out why anyone should have to forgive him for anything. He was so dreamy, after all.

I don’t think Clinton had much of a heartfelt ideology. He just wanted power, and he would have been Jesse Helms, Fidel Castro, or anyone in between to get it. He used charm personal charm to hold sway over voters and to get himself out of trouble he blatantly got himself into. He was enormously successful at both without maintaining. Any core principles. I can’t sit here and give you a laundry list of Bush’s core principles, either. Another conservative blogger is welcome to give it a shot if he so desires. But I think incidents like the Harriet Miers debacle and the backlash regarding the inept response to Katrina prove Bush doesn’t have the skills to weasel out of any sticky situation he either deliberately or ineptly puts himself in. Plain and simple, there is no cult of personality for Bush and you only have to look at his predecessor to see why.
Silence is Golden

It’s been a slow weekend as far as writing is concerned. There wasn’t much luggable material coming up the pike until Sunday when Dick “Elmer Fudd” Cheney joined Aaron Burr in the elite pantheon of vice-presidents who have shot a man. We had company all weekend long, too, so the party started late Friday afternoon, merged into a roman orgy Saturday night, and finally (mercifully) pooped out on the Sabbath. I put in more-or-less polite appearances both nights and hauled back to my cunny hole as quickly as possible. I’m assuming everyone achieved whatever goal they were seeking at the bottom of their liquor glasses, as the walking wounded were all cross-eyed on Sunday. Presumably the good time was all worth it.

I note by looking at my stats that my numbers of visitors increased as my posting frequency decreased. In fact, at some point today, I will hit 200,000 It makes a guy feel unwelcome. Presumably, if I stopped writing altogether, I’d have a million hits within a month. I’m thinking about setting up a PayPal account and insisting if I don’t get regular donations, I’ll start posting treatises on every subject under the sun. I’ll flood this blog with Tolstoyian length bric a brac on everything from a daily account of Reese Witherspoon’s hairstyle to the zen of toenail clipping and everything in between. If I get a load of cash under this plan, I’m going to start an adult website in which you pay me to put my clothes back on.

What’s it gonna be, people? Prolific and naked or a retirement villa in the Bahamas financed by your hard earned nickels?
Can the Kyoto Treaty

The Northeast is digging out of its biggest snowstorm in history, global warming notwithstanding.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Note to Self

Never go quail hunting with Dick Cheney.In Cheney's defense, Whittington probably had weapons of mass destruction in his pockets--unless he moved them to Syria beforehand.

(I keed, I keed.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blasphemy!!

A NASCAR movie without Jim Nabors? What were they thinking??!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Brian Williams is Annoying

He totally blotted the opening ceremonies last night by talking about tragic world events regarding member nations as they were introduced. Denamrk? Offended Islam with Mohammed cartoons. China? Horrible human rights record. Iran? Threatened to destroy Isreal. All significant issues, no doubt, but there is a time and a place for it. Tthe Olympics isn't it.

Since the Cold war ended, there are no "bad guys" to compete against. Williams was being too heavy-handed about, but I think he was trying to create drama. There won't be a Miracle on ice moment anytime in the near future unless Al Qeada fields an Olympic team. Sometimes I guess you have to make your own fun.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Choose Death

South Carolina has allowed drivers to purchase “Choose Life” license plate for years now, with proceeds from the sales going to Citizens for Life, an anti-abortion group which I support. There is now a proposal to offer “Choose Death” license plates for pro-abortion advocates:
The bill is similar to many that have popped up in state legislatures over the past few years: it would have the Department of Motor Vehicles issue Choose Life license plates, with the fees collected there from going to Citizens for Life, and to issue Choose Death plates with funds going to the "Department of Mental Health to use for counseling post abortion trauma in females who have had abortions."
I’m all for it, although I can imagine the harrassment abortion proponents will get for owning the plate will deter most any of them from displaying one on their cars. That’s why I love South Carolina--we put it right out there.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Now here's what I'm talking about. Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison's son, and Prince all cover george harrison's "While My Guitar gently Weep", but Prince steals the show. Where the heck does his guitar go after he throws it into the air?
The Grammy Whammy

The Grammy awards were pounded last night in the ratings by American Idol and Lost How bad has the music industry fallen when amateurs on AI are the preferred listening pleasure? When thinking about that, it occurred to me that music has been a dud lately. In trying to choose a few songs I really liked from the last year, I come up pretty empty. Where has all the talent gone?

All right, U2 is still great and the racked up a couple of Grammies for their efforts. But lately Bono has been catching more headlines regarding his humanitarian efforts, including his Nobel prize candidacy which he richly deserved, in my humble opinion. He was apolitical in his quest for debt relief for Africa rather than taking a partisan “conservatives are to blame” attitude which was quite refreshing. Too bad instruments are in place to keep him from ever becoming Secretary General of the united Nations. If he was, that group of undemocratic do nothings might actually be the humanitarian organization it was meant to be instead of the corrupt, obstructionist organization it is now. The wold’s loss is music’s gain, methinks.

Back to my point, I really couldn’t think of any mainstream song’s I like this year. Polaroid’s So D@man Beautiful comes close, but has anyone even much heard that one? No, they are too busy listening to the execrable “My Humps” or the latest Jessica Simpson cookie cutter, two chord ditty. I turned away from rock back in the early nineties when Rap and grunge took over. A whole let of musicians donned cowboy hats and went with me over to country where we weren’t particularly welcomed. We stayed anyway and eventually watered it down to the point that diehard, twangy country fans are now homeless. I think the only country song I’ve gotten into in recent days is Joe Nichols’ “Tequila Make Her Clothes Fall off,” which you can tell by the title is a goofy novelty song.

Upon reflection, 2003 was the last year rock produced any good stuff. Back then we had Train’s “Calling All Angels”, “I Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones, “All You Wanted” and “Good-bye to You” by Michelle Branch “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer, and “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow just to name a few. In 2004 we were blessed with Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” and not much else. I’ve been immersed in older songs lately and it looks like I will be for quite some time to come unless some new musical genre hit’s the big time and replaces the old, tired stuff we have now.
US Force Feeding Hunger Strikers at Gitmo

The US is force feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Gitmo. Personally, I think this is a lesser of two evils call. The US is going to be criticized no matter what happens to these prisoners. Either we let them starve and be accused of neglect or we force feed them and be accused of torture, even if it is for their own good. To me, they can starve themselves in a hunger strike if they so desire. The logic of that kind of protest has always puzzled me since it seems more self-destructive than effective in generating change.

But wait--I trust there is a good reason why these people are still locked up. I don’t particularly want them to generate change. Admittedly, their status as prisoners seems to be in limbo and that may not be a good thing. But if these guys are in fact still dangers to the US, then I want them to remain prisoners. If releasing them isn’t wise, then we have to deal with their hunger strike in the most humane way possible. Letting them starve to death is inhumane, in my opinion.

I will be interested to see how opponents of the Bush Administration spin this. Naturally, they will consider force feeding to be tantamount to torture, but how will they respond to the alternative? Will they say let them starve to death or suggest we should be more open to releasing the pisoners instead? I’m not so certain that an enemy combatant can be put on trial for specific crimes when his goal is to generally battle the United States. How can you put on trial--uch less catch and release--someone who is going to go back to wherever he is from and fight again? What would be the point of either option? It’s best that we maintain their health and well being until we figure that out.--and make sure they are well stymied in the meantime.
Funeral Pyre

Lots of commentary rolling around regarding Coretta Scott King's memorial service on Tuesday. Conservative pundits think politicizing the event to criticize President Bush was a bad thing. Liberal pundits, whom like I said yesterday think everything should involve politics, disagree. There is a tradition of talking politics at funerals and King was a political figure. both of these points i disagree with unless King herself suggested it was a good idea. no one has said she ever did.

To be poetic, liberals cite the most famous political sppech at a funeral--Mark Anthony tweaking Brutus at Julius Caesar's funeral in the Shakespearean play, Julius Caesar. To this I have to ask; are you implying Bush and some GOP compatriots stabbed King to death outside the halls of power? If not, then discussions of WMDs and Katrina ought not be part of a celebration of King's life.

I don't consider her to be a political figure, either. Many may have considered her a symbol, but she stayed out of the public spotlight like the dutiful (and longsuffering) wife that she was. I certainly don't see the relevance of the comments made about Bush with her political activities, whatever they might have been.

No, I think this was completely tasteless just like Sen. Wellstone's funeral. To me this was as much pandering and racebaiting as Sen. Clinton saying the GOP runs Congress like a plantation. Always remember the wedge between conservatives and the African-American community is constantly being driven in by a liberal hammer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lost--"The Long Con"

We get our first Sawyer centric episode since last February and he manages to pull a con job on everyone--including the audience. The episode adds to the dual nature that is sawyer’s character. At times he seems like a self-interested survivor while others times is a dark, menacing figure. Tonight we saw both with the prerequisite self-loathing that pervades his every move.

Jack and locke are stashing away the guns in a combination locked closet. There is still a lot of strain between the two regarding Boone’s death. They agree that the two of them will both decide when guns can be removed from the closet. That the two have appointed themselves de facto leaders of the Castaways comes into play later. Meanwhile, Sun is working in her garden when she is attacked from behind. A bag is thrown over her head and she is dragged screaming at the top of her lungs. Sawyer and Kate hear her from the beach and come to her rescue. They find her unconscious with a nasty head injury.

Later, all the Castaways suspect the others have attacked Sun and are ready to form a posse. Sawyer hints to Kate that he suspects Ana-Lucia may have attacked sun. Ana-Lucia has been gung ho to start up an army to fight the Others but has found few willing to stand up to them. Could this be a ploy from her? Kate thinks so, and decides to confront Jack about it. She suggests sawyer approach Locke and warn him folk are coming for the weapons.

Sawyer does so. He agrees to watch the computer, yping in the numbers when needed, while Locke hides the guns. When jack arrives at the closet, he discover Locke has taken everything out of it and hidden it. Jack angrily confronts Locke, who admits he has hidden the guns over guilt about Michael. He taught Michael how to shoot and now he’s run off to find his son. Locke fears he may be dead. He won’t let that happen again. Before that dust up can continue, several gunshots are fired in the air. It’s Sawyer. He tells the Castaways that he’s found the gun stash and hidden it again. He’s angry that much of his stuff has been stolen since the plane crash and still resents sayid for the interrogation session they had early last season. Sawyer doesn’t think jack or locke should speak fo him and now if either of them want the authority that being armed would give them, they’ve got to come to Sawyer.

The island sequences parallel Sawyer’s flashback as it details a con game against a wealthy divorcee named Cassidy. He gains her confidence by allowing her to join in small cons with him. Overall, he’s playing her for her $6000,000 divorce settlement. He explains to her that a long con is getting someone to do something that they think is their idea but in reality is yours. On the island, the target of the long con was Locke. At the end, we learn Sawyer had an accomplice--Charlie. Charlie is taking a definite path towards the dark side. In order to get back at Locke, he attacked Sun to set up the confrontation over the guns and allow Sawyer to gain access to them. It was one of the wildest twists we’ve had on the show. Now Sawyer and Charlie seem irredeemable. I did not see this coming, and for that, I am grateful to the writers.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

King Memorial Turns Into Bush Bash

I have watched a little of the Coretta Scott king memorial this afternoon. I can’t say I was surprised it turned into a Bush bashing event. Normally, I would be, but since the memorial service for sen. Wellstone turned into a leftwing hootenanny, I some what expect these things to be not a celebration of a liberal’s life, but a bashing of the continued “evil” of the conservatives. Frankly, Mrs. King deserves better. She has spent nearly forty years with everyone she meeets telling her what a great man her husband was while she knew full well--and probably all that mattered to her--was that he was constantly carrying on adulterous affairs.

But I think this went too far. The rev. Joseph lowery spoke about the lack of Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Former President Jimmy Carter critiqued Bush’s wiretapping and handling of the Katrina affair. I might cut some slack on the wiretapping mention. I don’t think this is really the appropriate place for it, but J. edgar hoover did tap MLK’s phone to examine his ties with the US Communist party and inadvertently discovered his dalliances with other woman. But I certainly don’t see how this honors mrs. King, nor do I think it is especially proper when president Bush is in attendance to honor Mrs. King himself. The crowd wildly applauded each time he was criticized, and Bush just sat there smiling weakly. The guy comes to represent the good will of the US in honoring Mrs. King, and he gets lambasted for it.

But like I said, this seems to be a leftist thing. My mother’s funeral was on march 23rd, 2003, just days after the US invaded Iraq. My sister and I wee about the only people who showed up save for a few of our friends. The minister, a devout pacifist, spent some time beseeching us to pray for the Iraqis who were about to be killed in all our names. I rolled my eyes at that, as did my sister, but we let it slide since the reverend was also dancing around the fact that he believed my mother was burning in hell for committing suicide. Sometimes you have to indulge the folks that do you favors, no matter how small they might be. And yes, I’ve earned my cynicism honestly.
Alberto Gonzales and the Electric Bugaloo

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified yesterday before a senate committee regarding the legality of wiretapping. He was not put under oath, which I think was a mistake. Despite the fact that one is going to either tell the truth or lie to suit his interests whether under oath or not, it adds a certain air of legitimacy to be sworn in. Oh but wait, some interesting bits come out, under oath or not:
"President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale."
George Washington used electronic spying? What did he power it with--eels? Maybe there was a good reason to not put this guy under oath.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Slow News Day

Is everyone hungover from their Super Bowl parties or busy entering the Iranians' holocaust cartoon conest? First prize is a sand flea comb for your beard. Very tempting, I must say.
Songs in the Key of Irony

There were some noticeably bad calls last night that seemed to go in favor of the Steelers more often than. No one is crying conspiracy except for the two or three Seahawks fans there are in the world, but things certainly seemed primed for a Steelers win. On top of the bad calls, several commercials aired with Steeler players talking about what it would be like to win. The crowd was overwhelmingly rooting for the Steelers. Most importantly, the biggest Steelers star, Jerome Bettis, was playing in his last game in his hometown of Detroit. Hollywood couldn’t write a cornier script that the NFL just pulled off.

As expected, Bettis announced his retirement after the game. He is a shoo in for the hall of fame, so it’s no surprise last week was Jerome Bettis Week in Detroit and that he was awarded the key to the city. Was is surprising is the last recipient:
He reigns supreme as a humble Motown hero, in odd contrast to the last individual awarded a key to the city: Saddam Hussein, 1980 version.

As Iraq's new president, Hussein waged war against Iran, an American enemy that had taken hostages from the U.S. embassy. While visiting Detroit, Hussein donated $250,000 to pay off the debts of the Sacred Heart Chaldean Church, which had ties to the Catholics prevalent in Iraq.

The deed prompted Father Jacob Yasso of Detroit to contact Mayor Coleman Young and arrange a Detroit key for Saddam Hussein.
Yes, but how many Super Bowl rings does Saddam have? Here's the entire article.