Friday, December 24, 2004
But I attempt to overcome that. Every year it isn't the holiday season until we play the classic Waitresses tune, "Christmas Wrapping." I also like to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas (I'm so old I remember all the kids in third grade talking about it in class all day the night it first aired in 1965 -- even the Jewish ones!), and, of course, the holy Christmas movie trio, It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and, best of all, Scrooged. And one of the great treats every year is David Letterman's show with Jay Thomas knocking the meatball off the Christmas tree and Darlene Love singing Please Come Home For Christmas. That was tonight (December 23), and on top of everything else, didn't Love look marvelous?
So I'm going to try to get in the seasonal swing this year by making one nice blog entry of Christmas thoughts. I'm going to just keep this atop my blog, so any time I change it, I'm going to delete the old comment and repost the new.
Let's start with a great page from the National Lampoon website (is National Lampoon still published?), forwarded to me by my pal, Harry Broertjes. It's The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time.
Then there's this wonderful parody that my spouse forwarded to me. And, as she says, "Not only does it condense the story into 30 seconds effectively, but... it's got bunnies!
Fellow Legion fan Kevin McConnell replied to the above with this forward of an op-ed piece for the New York Times by Maureen Dowd. I'm sure that those of you who lean red-state are already annoyed about it, but it's for my blue-state-thinking friends and relations. (And yes, you have to register at nytimes.com to see it; make up information, they don't care.)
This Old Chestnut
(Thanks to cousin Ken.)
When four of Santa's elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.
Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.
When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress.
Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.
So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the liquor, and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.
Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"
And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.
Tickle Me This
Thanks to Legion fan Chris Brown.
A new employee is hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory for the holiday rush. She reports for her first day promptly at 8:00 am.
The next day at 8:45 am there is a knock at the Personnel Manager's door. The Foreman from the assembly line throws open the door and begins to rant about the new employee. He complains that she is incredibly slow and the whole line is backing up, putting the entire plant behind schedule.
The Personnel Manager decides that he should see this for himself so the two men march down to the factory floor. When they get there the line is so backed up that there are Elmos all over the floor and still piling up. At the end of the line stands the new employee. She has a roll of red plush fabric and a big bag of marbles. The men watch in amazement as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around two marbles and begins to sew the little package between Elmo's legs. The Personnel Manager bursts into laughter. After several minutes of hysterics, he pulls himself together and approaches the woman. "I'm sorry," he says to her barely able to keep a straight face, "but I think you misunderstood me yesterday. Your job is to give each Elmo two test tickles. Dec. 24
Of course, at this time of year, we are all forced to face our beliefs. Are you a Santaist?
Merry Christmas, and, if you're not Christian, don't tell George Bush, or he'll send you a cruise missile for Christmas.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
One of the nicer guys I worked with when I spent time at DC Comics was Todd McFarlane. He achieved most of his professional success after my time at DC (I still remember him mostly as having worked on a strip called Omega Men, which was written by my office-mate, Roger Slifer) with a character called Spawn. Spawn was eventually made into a movie. Later he achieved fame beyond comics by purchasing Mark McGwire's record-setting home run baseball -- and watching it lose value as Barry Bonds out-bulked McGwire three years later and slugged 73 home runs.
Apparently, one of the characters in Spawn was a mobster named Tony Twistarelli, nicknamed "Tony Twist." Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues hockey team seems to have a goon (press reports refer to him as an "enforcer," which is a euphemism for a player who isn't good enough to do anything except beat up on the other team's good players) named Tony Twist. Twist has sued McFarlane and won, saying that the character in Spawn has earned profits for McFarlane and his company and infringed Twist's publicity rights by using Twist's name without permission. McFarlane's loss has caused him to file for bankruptcy.
My spouse, in forwarding the story to me, used the subject "research is important." I couldn't begin to guess whether McFarlane didn't know who Twist was, but even if he did (and he's got a sports background, and his company manufactures dolls of sports figures), it would seem that Twist is a public figure and shouldn't be winning lawsuits such as this. And if he can, well, heck, I can easily go and pick on DC Comics and several of its writers, including Cary Bates (who created the character Flynt Brojj back in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #209 in 1975) and Tom and Mary Bierbaum, who made me one of the baseball players in a Legion of Super-Heroes story in the early 1990s. Even though I wasn't originally thrilled by the Flynt Brojj character, I wouldn't have thought to sue. Then again, there are fictional characters who resemble real people, and that's always been considered to be fair game for public figures.
That seems to have gone by the boards. It's way, way wrong.
Todd may or may not remember me, but I hope he finds a better lawyer and winds up telling this Tony Twist guy to buzz off (legally). Even if I didn't remember him fondly, he deserves better.
Here's the press release.
Friday, December 17, 2004
I hope you hear the name Christopher Duff time and time again in the coming weeks and months, because he is an example of what is right with the United States of America -- and how he's been treated is an example of what's wrong with the USA.
Christopher Duff was the property manager for the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Here's how conscientious he was about his job: When the first plane hit, he immediately went downtown to participate in whatever emergency effort was necessary, even though he'd been given the morning off to attend to some work on his house.
By the time he got downtown, he wound up inhaling smoke and dust and incinerated particles of who knows what. He walked around a site where people were dead, or dying, where toxic fumes were all about, and he was both physically ill and psychologically scarred.
A court in New York just ruled that he had no business to be at the site and therefore doesn't qualify for workers' compensation.
Makes you want to give 110% effort to your employer, doesn't it? Does anybody now understand why we occasionally run into people with It's-not-my-job-itis?
There's good news. He still qualifies for federal aid because he volunteered at the site in the days afterward. And the court is making sure he gets the federal aid.
Still, it establishes the precedent that there's no sense doing more than your fair share when things go bad. Anywhere. Why do a favor for the neighbor? You might get hurt and get screwed. Why help out someone poor? Why take on a new assignment? The up side is going to be way less likely than the down side.
Here's the real irony: Somewhere, someone is screaming that the people who helped out after the attacks are getting too damn much money.
Maybe we're sending the wrong people to Iraq.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Connie Chung, herself one megabyte short of a hard drive, weighs in on the subject of female anchors. She throws her support to Elizabeth Vargas, our original whining newsbabe, among others.
I'd be happy if these women (and men) could spell and identify Mozambique on a map. And, oh yes, would stop fricking editorializing.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
So among the stories crossing my screen is one from the December 13, 2004 New York Observer, in which ABC News reporter Elizabeth Vargas whines that it's about time for a female anchor on one of the network news programs.
Aside from Barbara Walters, there hasn't been one (Walters had the seat briefly for ABC in the 1970s, before Peter Jennings returned). Maybe people are still fearful, remembering Jessica Savitch.
I say: Where's a female reporter who can report and can command respect?
It ain't Katie Couric. Katie Couric apparently couldn't properly run a high school newspaper with the guiding hand of an overzealous faculty advisor. Most recently I was appalled when she read a tease someone else had written in this way: "...the die is cast... misspelled d-i-e..." Am I wrong when I want a woman helping to present the news to understand that the phrase comes from Julius Caesar's quote when he crosses the Rubicon? Does Couric think the Rubicon is one of those mystic books in the Kabbalah, or perhaps a trendy nightclub in TriBeCa? What the hell kind of school do they have at the University of Virginia, anyway? Amazingly, that's not Couric's only problem. When she conducts interviews (now staged so we can see her attractive legs and fashionable high heels), she interrupts her subject, answers questions for her subject, and ignores her subject's answers. Whereas a good interviewer should ask, "How did that make you feel?," Couric will ask, "You must have felt horrible" (or happy, or dismayed, or whatever). Oh, I almost forgot, she totally denegrated her profession by apearing in Shark Tales. Yes, I'm sorry for her husband's death, but I can't take her seriously as an anchor when she conveys no spark of intelligence.
Or there's always gravitas. The reason the truly great network anchors were great -- Chet Huntley, Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings -- is because when you saw them sitting at a desk, you knew they were serious about getting you the story. That's why Cronkite had the power to make Lyndon Johnson realize Vietnam was a losing cause. A president today -- even Dumbya -- can't be concerned with anything Dan Rather or pretty boy Brian Williams may convey, because, well, face it, Rather became a flake and CBS should have fired him about 17 years ago, and Williams gives the sense that he should be reporting for Access Hollywood. What female reporter currently has this sort of power? There was a time I would have argued for Barbara Walters, but that 15 seconds came and went. She went from interviewing Yasser Arafat to interviewing Justin Timberlake. Right there her resumé gets pulled from the pile.
So who's there? Diane Sawyer at ABC? No. Her morning show is nothing more than a Disney-ized version of the news, concentrating on Hollywood gossip and more interested in Bilbo Baggins than Baghdad. Lesley Stahl? Maybe. She's certainly severe enough.
And how about the next generation of news hotties? Vargas? Well, there's no doubt she's a babe. Heck, the second seat on the Today show has given us a long stretch of news babes, starting with Vargas, and including the current occupant, Ann Curry; Soledad O'Brien; and Kelly and/or Norah O'Donnell. O'Brien has gone off to CNN, where Paula Zahn also resides. Zahn is a possibility, I suppose.
I think if I were building a list, of every woman in the news business I know, maybe I'd put CNBC's Sue Herera at the top. She's not an unattractive woman, but, and I think this is important, she's not so beautiful that you forget to concentrate on her reporting. (Maria Bartiromo, anyone?) (Although I did like Joey Ramone's little tribute ditty.) Her major flaw right now is that she's concentrated only on business reporting, but that means she probably has a leg up on Katie Couric and the other home-ec reporters I've named. Sign her up, put her to work reporting from Iraq, the Capitol, and the White House for a year or two each, and then I'd bet she'd be ready.
You know who else I'd like to see? Jane Pauley.
Related (sadly): A site where you can vote for your choice of hottest reporter.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Say what you want about what John F. Kerry and George W. Bush did during the Vietnam War (and, believe me, if forced, I'd have done what Bush did, and not Kerry), but the fact remains that Kerry was in a war zone and Bush was not.
Think back to 2000, when Bush's opponent Albert W. Gore, Jr. had also been in Vietnam (albeit working as a military newspaper reporter). Throughout that campaign my internal soundtrack was the great Creedence Clearwater Revival song, "Fortunate Son," which refers to the special treatment that it was presumed a senator's son would get. Perhaps, but Al Gore, Sr. was serving in the Senate while Al Gore, Jr. was wandering through the jungle in a war zone.
All of which brings me to this story, which reports on the handful of elected American officials who have offspring in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats, but I would listen to any of them first when it comes to our policy in Iraq. I'd feel a lot better about George W. Bush's policy if his daughters were attacking Fallujah instead of the nearest fraternity toga party.
Listen to these guys:
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA
Rep. Todd Akin, MO
Rep. John Kline, MN
Rep. Jim Saxton, NJ
On Monday, the Major League Baseball Players Association will hold its annual meeting, coincidentally just days after major revelations and hard-to-rationalize allegations about the steroid usage of major league baseball's most powerful hitters and biggest stars.
Last week, before seeing the ABC News 20/20 report on steroid usage is sports, I commented that, should Barry Bonds be found to have used steroids, the pall on his accomplishments would be huge. I would even say they should be career-threatening. I also said that there should be severe consequences, including perhaps delaying or preventing admission to the Hall of Fame.
Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News appears to already be on the bandwagon to do what little he can. In this column, he says that any player whose career accomplishments are muddied by the possibility of steroid use won't get his first-ballot vote. It's a start. Of course, players already hate reporters, and will hate them even more now, but players have to understand that when they screw with the integrity of the game, there will be consequences.
Of course, Barry Bonds will still make $22 million in 2005, so I'm not holding my breath that he's really hurt or that the San Francisco Giants are worried, either.
I will say this, however: 20/20 correspondent Martin Bashir is no reporter. In addition to displaying wavering understanding of sports, he also clearly worked out with BALCO president Victor Conte what was to be said, and seems to have rehearsed the entire presentation with Conte. Conte's answers were not given in a way as to indicate that he was doing anything other than something pre-packaged. Bashir, in addition to filming a rehearsed interview, phrases everything for dramatic effect, concentrating more on his show business presentation than his questioning.
Email 20/20 about its report.
View video of interview with Victor Conte.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
It was revealed today that Jason Giambi, currently of the New York Yankees, admitted in grand jury testimony that he used steroids and human growth hormones for three years.
This is news in the sense a rigged Chicago vote count or an aging Hollywood actor taking up with a twenty-something starlet is news. We've all been suspecting this since the mid-1990s, especially watching players like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Was it simply the weightlifting? Or was it something else?
Granted, there are other reasons baseball is filled with more home runs than prior to 1961. First of all, the truly great players are hitting against a number of pitchers who would never have made it to the majors in the years before expansion. Second, the new generation of baseball parks is tiny. Look at the power alleys at Camden Yards, look at the overall size of the Ballpark at Arlington (shouldn't things in Texas be big?). Third, players are in better shape generally; they train all year long instead of working at gas stations and insurance offices in the off-season.
And, as a baseball fan, I've hoped against hope that the rumors would continue to be rumors. It appears that the BALCO investigation will wind up destroying that hope.
If it does -- and if it turns out that all the suspects are indeed guilty -- then Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association need to accept blame and take action to restore faith in the game. With the exception of gambling (and I can discuss Pete Rose later), nothing is more damaging to baseball's integrity than steroid use.
Steroid testing should be a no-brainer. I am a firm believer that no employer has a right to demand urine testing as a condition of employment, and the owners should not. But the MLBPA itself should step up and pay for the testing (by an independent laboratory) itself, vow to report the results, and vow to not fight any suspensions or other action taken by Major League Baseball should a player be found to use steroids.
Players who have been found to use steroids should be required to return any money paid to them over and above the major league minimum.
Statistics of those players should be removed from the official record books.
Such players should be found to be ineligible for election to the Hall of Fame; All-Star teams; and post-season awards. If the Baseball Writers Association of America votes for such a player, then its members should have their press credentials revoked.
Now, here's the important thing: If this is to be done, it needs to be done before the 2005 season begins. Baseball's most amazing record is being challenged by a player who is one of the many players whose feats have been questioned. Better to learn bad news before it happens. Even better, perhaps we will learn good news and can once and for all exalt Barry Bonds the way he has hoped for all these years. Bonds will never receive the acclaim he wants, even should he surpass Hank Aaron, if doubt follows him.
Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports on Giambi
CNNSI.com story about Ken Caminiti's steroid use.
TheSmokingGun.com story on the BALCO investigation.
More on Bonds from The New York Daily News.
This is one of those protect the guilty things... a pal of mine at an unnamed major North American daily newspaper emailed me a story about a friend of a friend at another paper who had been taking by telephone a story about a local (but "hoity-toity") art exhibition. This person did all right until the phrase "assume vivid astral focus" popped up. Had to be the name of some bizarre new age modern art piece, right? Well, that's what went in the paper.
Turns out that "assume vivid astral focus" was the artist's name. That required what the newspaper folks call a "setrec" — i.e., a correction to "set the record straight." The person who faced with this extra work (whose name and position, naturally, I shall not reveal — if the New York Times can quote anonymously, so can I) then commented, "If someone introduced himself to you as that, would you not just immediately start beating his ass?"
I emailed my pal at the unnamed major North American daily newspaper and said I was ready to buy a ticket and contribute to the ass-whooping.
News stories referring to Assume Vivid Astral Focus can be found here, here, and here. In addition, he apparently performed (or something) on a clearly non-FCC titled show on WFMU radio, wherever that is.
Ironically, the paper in question will need to do another setrec, because a little bit of Internet research (that is, I skimmed the above articles) reveals that the artist in question is actually named Eli Sudbrack. When you find his site, you discover he prefers assume vivid astro focus (which, in fairness, Google asked me if I really meant when I began to search, so there's another reason to drop $180 on a share of Google). Here's an interview with the artist from the New York Observer (it's the Anna Jane Grossman-bylined article at the bottom of the page). Meanwhile, if you want to see his work, click here, and prepare to be underwhelmed.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Choose the one you feel fits best. I kind of like Stevenson's. These were all forwarded to me by John Sweeney, with whom I used to work at Technical Analysis of STOCKS & COMMODITIES, the Traders' magazine™.
"O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." -- William Shakespeare
"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues." -- Cicero
"The worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful and cheerful heart." -- Plutarch
"Since the things we do determine the character of life, no blessed person can become unhappy. For he will never do those things which are hateful and petty." -- Aristotle
"Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves." -- Henry Ward Beecher
"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life." --Robert Louis Stevenson
"We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is 'good,' because it is good, if 'bad' because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country." -- C.S. Lewis
"No people on earth have more cause to be thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of boastfulness in our own strength, but with the gratitude to the Giver of good who has blessed us. Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." -- Theodore Roosevelt
"Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in." --Phillips Brooks
"Even in the midst of the tragedy of a world shaken by war and immeasurable disaster, in the midst of sorrow and great peril, because even amidst the darkness that has gathered about us we can see the great blessings God has bestowed upon us." -- Woodrow Wilson
"Measured by the standards of men of their time ... [the Pilgrims] were the humble of the earth. Measured by later accomplishments, they were the mighty. In appearance weak and persecuted they came -- rejected, despised -- an insignificant band; in reality strong and independent, a mighty host of whom the world was not worthy, destined to free mankind." --Calvin Coolidge
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
I was going to let this slide, but when my college pal Brian Lehrhoff sent this link to me I learned that not only had someone created a game built around John F. Kennedy's assassination, but the creators were awarding a $100,000 prize to the person who best approximated the shots allegedly fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. In fact, these guys sound like total winners; they contacted Sen. Edward Kennedy to tell him that they meant no disrespect, and they deduct points if, in the game, you accidentally hit Jackie Kennedy.
According to the news story, they're using the game to generate intellectual curiosity among today's youngsters and to prove that Oswald alone killed Kennedy.
Luckily, my computer system won't load anything at their site, but I won't stop you from visiting. Just remember: A tiger did it.
Monday, November 22, 2004
The spouse just made me look over at Joe Jackson's website, where he's got video of him, Ben Folds, and William Shatner performing a number from William Shatner's newest album, Has Been.
I have to tell you: Years ago my pal Jay Zilber invited people over for a New Year's Eve Eve party, and we were instructed to bring horrible music. We made a bad music tape that night, filled with many horrible crimes against vinyl, including Billy, Don't Be A Hero and Seasons in the Sun. But of course the highlight of the tape is William Shatner's rendition of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, a performance so awful that most copies of the LP, when found, are required to be buried in lead-lined concrete containers.
But this new album has the advantage of having Ben Folds as producer and other good professionals along for the ride, and so the music is good, and the performances (including Shatner's) are wonderful.
Or maybe we just needed rap music to appreciate Shatner.
Meanwhile, I'm adding this to my Amazon.com Wish List.
I was told that the Washington Nationals website is now up. In fact, if you try to go to the Montreal Expos website, it just automatically forwards you to http://www.nationals.mlb.com.
I actually lived in Washington, DC for four years (while getting my degree at George Washington University) without a baseball team in town! I even flew back to New York for a 1976 World Series game after a Tuesday afternoon class, watched the Reds butt-kick the Yankees, and then flew back in time for my 8 am Wednesday class. I attended a "Bring Baseball Back to DC" rally, where I got a Washington Senators pennant autographed by Bucky Dent and Andre Dawson (think it's ready to sell on eBay?).
If I were still living in DC, I'd be excited about the Expos moving there. (Baltimore may only be an hour drive from DC, but that's far enough in the congested Northeast to be a separate market. And, by the way, Mr. Peter Angelos: Don't be whining about the Expos moving in on your turf — not when the St. Louis Browns moved in on the Senators in 1954.
I looked ahead to the 2005 schedule, and some cool things are afoot. The New York Mets play the Nationals on July 4, and the only way that could be better or more appropriate would be for it to be a doubleheader. (Of course, baseball has given up on the doubleheader; got to maximize that revenue, you know.) And, this is probably left over from wondering where the Expos would be, but the Nationals start with nine straight road games, which is an incredible road stretch at the beginning of the season. Not only that, but the games are against Philadelphia, Florida, and Atlanta, meaning that the Nats can come back to DC with a horrible record; 0-9 isn't out of the question. Of course, that's Washington tradition, too.
I'm looking forward to visiting RFK and seeing baseball for a change. Too bad they didn't pick a team name that fit with the Redskins. You know, something like the Tar Babies, or the Crackers, or the Fighting Fags.*
*If you can't recognize this as sarcasm, then you need to take a class in getting the stick out of your butt before you start lecturing people on political correctness. On the other hand, if you don't get why "Redskins" belongs with those other names, then you probably need to spend a couple of nights in a blue state.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
The sports world wants you to blame the fans for the nonsense that took place in Detroit (okay, Auburn Hills) tonight, but don't listen to those who try.
Yes, fans were taunting, smacking, and tossing food at NBA players tonight. Nobody there was going to get an A for deportment.
But ultimately, the riot that broke out was the result of a culture that puts a false pride above common sense and restraint. There were clear escalations and key moments when the mayhem could have been avoided.
Let's start with Artest of the Pacers. He fouled Ben Wallace of the Pistons pretty harshly, perhaps needlessly, considering that, with 45 seconds remaining in the game, there was nothing that would change the final outcome.
Let's continue with the first escalation: Wallace shoving Artest in the neck. Totally uncalled for. Let the referee call the foul, then smile smugly because you're the world champion. But no, he has to "prove" he's a man and take a cheap shot.
Then there were a couple of minutes of both teams facing off agaist each other. So everybody's testosterone was up.
During this, Artest inexplicably winds up on top of the scrorer's table to shake off the results of taking the force of an NBA player's weight to his windpipe. Here's where once again an NBA player had the chance to do the right thing and totally ignored it.
Some schmo in the stands decided that the best use of his cold, refreshing beverage in a souvenir cup was to hurl both at the supine Artest. Maybe it's someone with the talent to play in the NBA, because his shot was nothing but Artest.
Here's where you can choose to be rational or an animal. Artest chose animal. Instead of standing up and directing the security staff to the idiot who threw the cup so he could be ejected (and perhaps have his season tickets revoked), Artest jumped up and into the stands, whaling on the wrong spectator to boot. Instead of worrying about being "dissed" like the punks on the streets are always worried about, he should have been a man and just took it.
When a player goes into the stands, the entire premise of spectator sports disintegrates. In this case, Artest provoked four different reactions, none of which could possibly turn out well. (A thinking man might have realized this, if not in the heat of the moment, over time, with reflection.) First, he gave the involved spectators reason to want to strike him. Second, he gave other spectators reason to want to get involved by defending the original idiot(s). Third, he forces other players after him to defend him. And fourth, he causes the non-idiot spectators to get involved because they either need to break up the brawls or get away in an area where mobility is limited.
The broadcasters of the game immediately began to blame the fans, but when you are the focus of 38,000 eyes, what you do that's different is going to cause the spectators to behave differently.
Once players go into the stands, the spectators are at a disadvantage. They aren't seven feet tall, they don't carry 250 lbs. of muscle, so they can only respond by putting whatever they can between the goon and them -- tossing popcorn, soda, beer, whatever.
Ultimately, however, the players must take the bulk of the blame. Artest was not involved in self-defense; it was revenge. There is a distinction.
The first fan idiiot is not without blame, and he needs to spend some time in prison for assault and inciting a riot. But once Artest chased that idiot into the stands, all bets were off.
Friday, November 19, 2004
I heard something the other day that I couldn't believe, but according to Wired.com, it's true, too true: Congress wants to make it illegal for you to fast-forward through commercials.
From the Wired story:
"... under the proposed language, viewers would not be allowed to use software or devices to skip commericals or promotional announcements "that would otherwise be performed or displayed before, during or after the performance of the motion picture," like the previews on a DVD.
It's all part of a greater bill that will make it easier for producers of recorded entertainment to put you in jail for copying stuff.
Basically, it's like your parents and teachers used to tell you: If you keep this up, you're going to spoil it for everybody.
In general, I'm in favor of not stealing creative works. I want to one day be in a position where I will be financially hurt if someone steals my work and can sue that person or organization into oblivion. But the RIAA and MPAA are approaching the problem with all the subtlety of swatting a flea with an AK-47. (Yes, that's a TV show reference, by the way.) And perhaps the whole point of putting the fast-forwarding prohibition in the bill is to negotiate it out and keep the other Stalinistic sections in. And yes, advertisers are very, very worried that they'll be buying advertising that consumers don't see, especially after you buy your TiVo.
But this is just insane. Especially since -- and get this -- you will be allowed to alter your videotape to skip past sexual or violent content you don't want to see.
I wonder if anybody in the advertising, entertainment industry or the Capitol has ever read or seen A Clockwork Orange? Surely not.
Here is popular culture that reminds me of my childhood: The Krelboynes from Malcolm in the Middle; Real Genius, about the nerdy kid in college.
And, oh yeah, I started a comic book fan club.
That club, The Legion Fan Club, grew to generate some relatively well-liked highlights of comics fandom, including the Interlac amateur press alliance (or apa) and The Legion Outpost, a fanzine in which we weirdos talked about the internal organs and political reality of a group of super-hero kids from the future.
A while back, a kid named Glen Cadigan approached my crony Harry Broertjes and me asking permission to reprint the best of the stuff we published. A few hundred bucks later (funds not yet paid; what to do with the funds upon delivery not as yet determined), TwoMorrows Publishing will next week ship The Best of The Legion Outpost to smarter comic shops across North America.
If you want to see what the book will be about, here's the TwoMorrows description. Here's an article on the Silver Bullet Comics website, and, amazingly, here's a blog by someone I don't know who is actually looking forward to it.
My biggest disappointment is that Cadigan didn't use any of the Outpost's art, just its articles. (I can understand why it didn't use its fiction — plenty of it was good, but DC Comics had to approve, and DC isn't one for propagating fan fiction.)
Remember, if you look at it, let me know what you think.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
I recently read an article by Philip Kennicott on WashingtonPost.com that tried to examine the map we saw after Election Day two weeks ago. You know the map: It's blue on one side, blue on the other side, has a dab of blue at the top, and is red, red, red in the middle.
I remember thinking how misleading that map is, giving the impression by glance that a broad swath of the nation is Republican, when in fact, to be a red state, all that's needed is to get one more Republican vote than Democrat, and, out east, where the country's population is densest, an 80-20 pro-Democratic vote would show up as a little blue dot (e.g., the District of Columbia).
Thanks to this article (accompanied by its own unique map), I was able to find these maps produced by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan (though I gather their work is not university-funded or endorsed). They show what the states would look like if they were sized according to their electoral votes. They also do one better service: One of the maps they show displays shades of purple, to better reassure those of us in the 48% of the country whose candidate didn't win that the nation isn't quite the political divide that we fear it is.
Washington Post map only here.
University of Michigan maps only here.
USA Today map of counties only here.
Princeton map only here.
Blog devoted to "Votergate."
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid
Every time you get a headache, you reach for some aspirin, only to realize that someone destroyed it. That's just how things are going for you right now... it's hard to eat, hard to sleep, hard to not have a headache. You try to relax, but people always jump on you about something that doesn't make sense. If you were a goat, you'd be a Nubian.
Well, sometimes my life feels like Darfur...
So the spouse's blog had reference to the below, and I had to do it myself. Now you can, too.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
You're One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!
by Ken Kesey
You're crazy. This has led people to attempt to confine you to a safe place so that you don't pose a danger to yourself or others. You feel like you pose a great danger to the man (or maybe the woman) or whatever else is keeping you down. But most of the time, you just end up being observed. Were you crazy before you were confined?
On the Major League Baseball website, there's a contest that will win you Opening Day 2005 tickets if you do better than the other contestants at figuring out which teams will sign which free agents.
Go ahead. It's the only way you'll get a share of the hundreds of millions about to be given away.
11/13/2004 11:49:16 PM Eastern Standard Time
[names withheld because I don't know these folks]; my cousin Ken (who had his own opposing comments that I'm not repeating)
Subject: Robin Williams' [sic] Plan
You gotta [sic] love Robin Williams... Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan . what [sic] we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.
Robin William's plan. (Hard to argue with this logic!)
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.
1.) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, past & [sic] present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic and the rest of those 'good ole boys,' [sic] We will never "interfere" again.
2.) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes in the fence.
3.) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.
4.) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more
cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
5.) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home[,] baby.
6.) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy[-]wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7.) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil[-]producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some[-]place else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up [at] the storage sites would be enough.)
8.) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army [sic]. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.
9.) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10.) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan. [sic]
"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying[,] 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'"
~~~If you agree with the above forward it to friend...
If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it !!!!!
Okay, whoever you are who is putting Robin Williams' name on this piece of isolationist, racist, ignorant trash, you're a dipwad. First off, if you're familiar with Robin Williams, you know this isn't his thinking, and there's proof at Snopes.com. Snopes does attribute the Statue of Liberty quote to Williams, but I'm betting even that's taken out of context, and he was making fun of the very kind of people who are forwarding this email like it's the word of their deity.
On the other hand, maybe it's a good idea if we all went to charm school. We could start with the current administration.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Sometimes there's interesting stuff, but I don't have a lot to say about it (or time to say it): Marvel sues roleplaying gamemaker. • Suspended for turning cartwheels! Bet they took her pencils away, too... • Georgia still doesn't believe in evolution, soon to dispute that the sun is the center of the solar system. • Senate Republicans look for new laws to permit Supreme Court justices to outlaw the teaching of evolution. • "Nuts!" he said. (Actually, this is a good definition of tragedy.) • I trust these guys didn't vote Republican...
Okay, I've been whining long enough, so let's look at some of the other things that interest me and might interest you.
First off, this week PBS aired an episode of Frontline entitled, "The Persuaders." The episode, written and narrated by Douglas Rushkoff, claims to expose all of the amazing tricks that marketers use to co-opt your brains and force you to consume. While he introduces some interesting people (most interesting, Clotaire Rapaille, who finds subconscious, prehistoric connections to words and concepts that help communicate; most frightening, Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist who uses words to oversimplify, obfuscate, and frighten Americans... he's the guy who came up with the phrase "death tax"), for the most part, most consumers know these things. Advertising does not force anybody to do anything. It merely tells us which of our many weaknesses are available where.
Second, my weekly copy of Creativity's Print Critic (subscribe here) arrived, and I loved the new advertising from Glenfiddich. (No, not my former brand; that's wonderful single malt Scotch whisky too, but that's The Glenlivet.) I believe the word the Brits use that would be most appropriate is "cheeky." It's sort of a retro 1960s look with a "Man Show" sensibility. I see Robert Morse, I see Michael Caine in "Alfie" (coincidence? -- what with the Jude Law remake on screens currently?), I see that whole brown-liquor-and-Waterford-crystal-and-angular-furniture gestalt. I love it. The Brock Savage character they've invented is kind of like Dean Martin crossed with Mr. Steed. In addition to the print ads to which my link directs you (click on one and all three will rotate), there's a complete www.BrockSavage.com website. Go to it, and sink those trendy martinis.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
So what does one do with an email like this?
Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2004 4:57:45 PM
Subject: true feelings
The election is over, the results are now known.
> >> The will of the people has clearly been shown.
> >> We should show by our thoughts and our words and our
> >> deeds
> >> That unity is just what our country now needs.
> >> Let's all get together. Let bitterness pass.
> >> I'll hug your elephant. You kiss my ass.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Ted Rall has a habit of disturbing me (and flat-out frightening most others), but this essay describing how most of the smarter people live in the blue states (and particularly in the urban areas) hits the nail right on the head. Or maybe I like it because it reinforces what I've already said.
Yesterday I received an email forward from my friend, Bruce Faber, which alleges the same in starker numbers, listing the average IQs of each of the states; of the red states, Virginia ranked highest, at 17. I don't believe it; I can't believe that there are states with residents' IQs averaging 85. (Yes, I know that half of all Americans will be below average.) This fellow, conservative blogger Steve Sailer, makes a good argument against these data in his blog. And naturally, Snopes.com does its usual yeoman duty by pointing out the errors of saying Bush voters were stupid.
Some of this is most certainly post-election dissonance, making those of us who voted for Kerry feel better.
But ultimately, what we're down to is this: Now that we're out of school, the jocks are still getting away with murder, and we geeks aren't smart enough to figure out how to prevent it.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Sharia, for those who are not aware, is the Islamic code by which all Muslims should abide. My (limited) reading says that Muslims abide by this code in varying degrees, just as, say, Christians abide by the Bible in varying degrees.
In some nations, sharia is being hard-wired into state law. In this way, thieves will have their hands cut off and adulterers will be stoned. As this is the way of the Koran (as interpreted by those in power), this is acceptable.
Now, especially in the wake of the election of George W. Bush to a term commencing in 2005, religion will play an even stronger role in American life. There is already debate about the future of the US Supreme Court and how any new justices may work to throw out the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But the Bush Administration and the current Congress are working to enforce their view of Christianity in other ways, from requiring parental consent prior to abortions to withholding funding to nations that legalize abortion.
Now comes something truly frightening, even if you believe in options other than abortion. It is becoming more and more easy for druggists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills. Many women, not just prostitutes and teenage sluts, need access to birth control pills. Married women certainly should have access to them, as should women who need them for other reasons than contraception (and there are other reasons).
We're not talking about when life begins. I can be persuaded that life begins at conception and not somewhere in the second trimester. I myself have not been responsible for an abortion, and I don't believe I would have ever accepted that option were I presented with it (then again, I'm not a woman). Pharmaceutical birth control has been legal in the US only slightly longer than abortion (cf. Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965), but was what made the total freedom of women possible.
Whether this is revenge for Hillary Rodham Clinton's baking-cookies remark or Theresa Heinz Kerry's even more ill-timed Laura-Bush-never-had-a-real-job slight, it's clear that we are living in a country where our legislators are intent on returning women to living barefoot and pregnant and at home, where they aren't near the halls of any legislature, board room, or night club (especially the latter).
These laws all come from a desire to enforce the Bible -- and really, the New Testament -- upon a heterogeneous nation of 290 million disparate souls. It is the revenge of people who never understood why state money shouldn't be used to display creches or the Ten Commandments, who don't understand why the phrase "under God" should be optional in the Pledge of Allegiance, and who will throw a hissy fit if I begin to wonder why the phrase, "In God We Trust," is minted on our coins. And if I discuss gay people, well, Katie bar the door!
These people now control the government.
And even then, I could live with these people if they could only be consistent. When a man is beating his wife, let's actually arrest him. When some over-steroidized sub-intelligent jock is kicking a gay man to near-death, let's punish him. But let's not let them hide behind their white picket fences and fresh-cut green lawns and their lemonade socials. They want us all to be Christians, and if they can't convert us on missions or by force in catechism class, then they'll do it by threatening to send us to jail. Or, in this case, forcing women to bear unwanted children.
Jeb Bush says he's not going to run for President. Right. And there were weapons of mass destruction.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Okay, I've been of the prejudiced belief that Jeb Bush hacked Florida, but up until today I just figured I was being mean-spirited and anti-Dumbya.
Then I visited Michael Moore's website, where he not only posted a link I had emailed him (I and probably hundreds; I have no special relationship with the man), but where was posted this one, which details how Florida may have been hacked not only in this election, but in the 2002 Democratic primary.
President Dumbya of the "towel-snapping" ilk that seems to favor the GOP would certainly have wanted to sew up Florida after the 2000 debacle. Ditto Ohio and its 20 electoral votes. But, of course, he's probably well-insulated (think Ronald Reagan and Ollie North; Henry II and Thomas à Becket) and has no knowledge of what Karl Rove's gang of merry pranksters may have done.
But let me say this: If electoral fraud was committed in this election, it should not be treated as a misdemeanor. It should be viewed as treason, and punished accordingly. Bad enough the GOP attempted a coup in 1998; odds are at least fair that there was a coup in 1963; Lincoln's assassination was also a coup attempt. (You don't usually get taught that in school.) But any kind of subterfuge that is intended to trounce the will of the people -- especially in time of war -- cannot be treated mildly.
Am I a sore loser? Maybe? Am I a frightened loser? Absolutely.
For a less digital conspiracy, check out what the pagans think.
For an entrepreneurial way of showing your belief that the election was hacked and that Kerry/Edwards did (or should have prevailed), go here.
Read this interesting story about American GIs who deserted to North Korea in the 1960s and discovered that life there consisted mostly of indoctrination and beatings. While these four fellows were apparently surprised, few of us would have been.
For the Bill O'Reilly fans out there, however, let me make a note of why people like me can't stand the current Administration. We see our freedom being taken away by George W. Bush, all the while he is waving the flag of freedom as his reason for being in Iraq and wherever he's going to drag the American military in the next four years.
He says he is bringing liberty to the world. But he's doing it at the barrel of a gun, which means he isn't much different than anybody else spreading his or her particular brand of thinking by blood... whether communism or Islam or Christianity. Like all zealots, he won't see the comparison, and nor will 51% of Americans.
The irony, of course, is that there was a time the Republican Party wanted nothing to do with overseas adventures. The Republicans wanted nothing to do with World War II as it waxed in the 1930s. Now they're driving the US clear into the same thinking that Abu Bakr seized as he began to conquer lands to spread the word of the Prophet back in the 7th century.
To me, there is nothing more wrong than a religous war. It seems counterintuitive and oxymoronic. Likewise, what sense is there to spread freedom by forcing people to take to it? Are we all better off in freedom? Ultimately, yes. But while freedom may be good, I think we would all see the folly of giving complete control to a six-year-old, and culturally, some of the people we intend to deliver are the same.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
I see I've been informed that a dip in jobless claims is good. I'm glad to have found a Bush supporter. (Off-color joke: Would that be a panty-waist?)
Y'see, Mr. Axe, I need evidence that a reported dip in jobless claims is good. I am skeptical that it is.
First, there are those who have been forced -- because they have mortgages and other annoying expenses like property taxes, utility bills, and grocery bills (particularly those hardliners who don't believe in birth control and abortion) -- to take a job that pays less than their last job. They're off the unemployment rolls.
Second, there are those who used to earn a little money to help out. Working mothers, perhaps, who can no longer work. They're eventually off the unemployment rolls.
Third, there are those who just give up, figure they'll never work again, and go to live (if they're lucky) with a relative, or (if they're not) on the street or in their car. After 39 or 52 or 65 weeks, they're off the unemployment rolls.
There are some who go back to work after being outsourced, dumped, fired, or otherwise separated from their previous employer who manage to make a salary equivalent (or sometimes better) than their previous salary. Good for them.
So, the way I see it, there's a 1-in-4 chance that the dip in jobless claims is good. But then, it's a government statistic, and we should trust it, shouldn't we, just as we should trust that the CIA, the FBI, the armed forces, and the Congress are all doing the right thing for us.
Trudeau's Doonesbury weighs in.
Tina Brown puts her $#@$#@ two cents in.
Today's newspapers and Internet news sources are full of how George W. Bush will use his "victory" as a mandate for his policies of religious warfare and social intolerance.
Thus, it was ironic that on the front page of Yahoo! just now, I saw these stories in order, just as if they were placed this way on purpose, in the same manner as used by multiplex movie theaters:
• W. House claims mandate for Bush agenda
• U.S. jets target insurgents in Fallujah
• Group says U.S. bungled Saddam evidence
• U.K. says U.S. attack on Iran 'inconceivable'
• Jobless claims dip, productivity slows
So, in the read-between-the-lines world:
W. House claims mandate for Bush agenda. That is, because our country has moved to this twisted parliamentary form of government, in which the House and the Senate basically are not a check on the executive branch, but do its bidding, if George W. Bush wakes up and thinks every American ought to be required to eat 'Smores Pop Tarts for breakfast, it'll be law by Friday.
U.S. jets target insurgents in Fallujah>. And if you live in a foreign country, you'll enjoy those Pop Tarts or else!
Group says U.S. bungled Saddam evidence. Said group will soon find that the IRS is challenging its 501(c)(3) status. And when the draft is reinstated, its children will be the first on the ground in Fallujah.
U.K. says U.S. attack on Iran 'inconceivable'. Which means "right after Fallujah." (Can you picture Wallace Shawn reading this on CNN?)
Jobless claims dip, productivity slows. The jobs are all overseas, so there's no sense looking for work, and, if you have a job, there's no sense working hard, because your job will be in Malaysia or Singapore by the time we launch our 'inconceivable' attack on Iran.
And, while the major news media are not following up on the probable fraud that was perpetrated in Florida, where election machines were installed giving no way of doublechecking the validity of counts by a company whose CEO said he would provide George W. Bush with "the votes he needs," (put Florida in the Kerry column and it's 269-262 for Kerry and we're waiting on Iowa) we're stuck with this administration apparently voted in by lemmings produced by two generations of television and bad educational systems. (More on the latter later.)
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
My college pal Brian Lehrhoff forwarded this my way, and I only had a chance to read it while watching the Kerry campaign flail away at Ohio (Jeb Bush did a better job of swiping Florida this time). I'd say the song doesn't quite match the creativity of Dennis Leary's take, but it's complementary.
The election? Dumbya's spooks seem to have it sewn up at the moment, with NBC afraid to tiptoe over the edge and stopped at predicting 269 electoral votes (including Ohio).
So get ready for it, everybody. Look for the Bush II v 2.0 Administration to really load for bear this time. Expect more invasions; more bombing of people whose religion is different from the president's; and expect somebody in the world to get pissed off enough to set something radioactive off somewhere populated... probably in a blue state. In which case Dumbya and Co. won't care.
(By the way, am I the only one who noticed that John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge were de-emphasized during the Bush campaign?)
I have more bad news for you, too. Think about who the Republicans will run in 2008. Think it'll be another Bush? You betcha! Jeb has the job coming to him.
Thank goodness we did away with kings in this country.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
In reading about today's election (and as I write, the polls should now be closed in Kentucky (home of Davy Crockett, who went to fight at the Alamo in support of slavery in order to prop up his political career) and Indiana (a historically huge state for the Ku Klux Klan), I ran across this story from Cox News Service, which mentions that the networks fed all of their exit poll data from the 2000 election to a place that was subsequently destroyed.
Still, exit-poll data -- as it had all day -- flowed into computers on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
Whatever was there is clearly no longer there. Coincidence? Okay, fine, and nobody was on the grassy knoll.
I love Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur cartoon. But then, I'm a product of a city that actually once voted a mayor on the Liberal line. (John Lindsay, 1969; you could look it up. That's what the web is for.)
So, here's today's cartoon.
Also underway is the National Baseball Hall of Fame's election -- no, I didn't know fans could vote, either -- for this year's winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.
I mention this because I live here in Seattle, where Seattle announcer Dave Niehaus is an institution. And when I say institution, I'm reminded of broadcasters like Jerry Coleman, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, and Harry Caray, most of whom seemed to lose focus very easily when transmitting pictures and accounts of the game.
Niehaus is no Red Barber. Barber, in addition to being a founding giant of baseball broadcasting, was a man who actually told the story. He was fired from his duties when, during the horrible seasons the Yankees played in the mid-1960s, he directed the cameras to pan Yankee Stadium, thereby showing the attendance of a few hundred patrons only two or three years removed from five straight pennants. CBS didn't find that amusing.
Niehaus is an incredible lap dog for his employer, the Seattle Mariners. He tries to make any move made by the club seem as if it's the latest manifestation of brilliance from baseball Einsteins. He avoids mentioning any boneheaded plays made on the field, and he was a blind apologist for the Mariners rightly departed manager, Bob Melvin. (Worse, he hung the dopey nickname "Bo Mel" on Melvin, which gave me one more reason to wish one or the other or both would be asked to leave the premises.)
And he has no clue where a batted ball is headed.
Fans may vote, as I said. I urge you to vote. There are a lot of names on the ballot, many of which you may not recognize. Others will make your flesh crawl. For instance, John Sterling. I'm no good. I'm n-o-o-o-o-o-o good!
Me, I voted for Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, and Tim McCarver. Okay, fine, I like blind, baseball-ignorant hometown announcers. Just the ones I grew up with, anyway.
There is no time more than now that proves John Lennon was right when he wrote "Imagine."
We are living in a time when nutbags threaten to rule the planet. And I mean bigger nutbags than the ones we're voting against today.
We've already forgotten Andres Serrano, whose piece of "art" was the poster child for the anti-NEA movement. Then there's the Salman Rushdie fatwah, and Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam.
We have forgotten the Crusades (well, maybe not). We have forgotten the Huguenots and the Pilgrims.
Heck, my knowledge about world religions isn't that great. I'm sure that the followers of Anubis probably killed each other over how big a snout was to be shown when depicting that god.
Today I read that a Dutch filmmaker -- it's only tangentially important that it's a descendant of Vincent van Gogh -- was murdered because of his film about being a woman under Islam.
How wrong is that?
Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...
Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...
Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.
Copyright © Bag Productions Inc.
The vote is underway...
Monday, November 01, 2004
I have an old acquaintance from my comics fandom days, Kevin McConnell, who works for the military. He knows people in Afghanistan, and was kind enough to forward an account from his friend about what's Really Going On there.
While I would disagree with his friend's assessment of Bush and Kerry (he agrees with an Afghani translator who describes Kerry as a "woman"), he directed Kevin (and therefore, me) to this article on why some Muslims hate Osama bin Laden, too.
The thing is, I don't think there are many people here in the US who will vote for Kerry who are opposed to the action in Afghanistan. I believe Bush made a mistake that let bin Laden get away at Tora Bora, portable dialysis machine and all. But mostly I believe that Bush was so hot to trot to revenge his father against Saddam Hussein that he got us into Iraq before it was prudent. Hence, we don't have the armies of rejoicing Iraqis that we probably should.
That said, as someone whose spouse used to work in the World Trade Center before we moved in 1989, let me say that everybody involved needs to be brought to justice, that eliminating the threat of crazy, misguided people is our nation's highest national security priority... and that George W. Bush couldn't win a game of Risk against any of Osama bin Laden's grandchildren.
Tuesday still scares me.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Today's news includes a story that the NAACP is in trouble with the IRS. Did its accountants file the wrong forms? Forget to enclose a check? Debit when they should have credited?
None of the above.
No, Julian Bond had the temerity to criticize the Bush Administration in a speech at its July convention. Now, the NAACP is being audited to determine whether it should keep its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
To qualify for such status, an organization must not take sides in political campaigns. Bond condemned the policies of the Bush Administration and noted that Bush would not address the NAACP, while candidate John F. Kerry (who is running against Bush, and is from a different political party... you may have heard) would.
I guess the question is this: If an organization's very reason for existing is challenged by one candidate and not the other, is it supposed to sit silently by?
More to the point, is this a cynical attempt by the Bush Administration to remind its white southern supporters which side of the issues it sits on? As ill-prepared as Bush is to govern, it would be a very clever thing to attack the NAACP on an issue having nothing to do with its real disagreements with African-Americans. And Karl Rove and Karen Hughes are certainly master political operatives.
If groups like the NAACP can't choose sides politically, it's probably reasonable that they don't receive tax-exempt status. You'll notice the Christian Coalition is smart enough to not be tax-exempt. But choosing to challenge the NAACP during this election season smacks of the White House Plumbers more than anything I've heard recently in the Dumbya Era. Heck, even Nixon would have been smart enough (I think) to have waited until after the election to put the screws to the uppity NAACP.
Tuesday frightens me.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
From today's New York Daily News:
Boos rained down from all corners of the Stadium last night, as A-Rod fell short of the World Series (news - web sites) - the main reason he wanted to leave the Rangers and come to the Yankees in the first place.
Oh, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Alex Rodriguez, who spurned Seattle for Texas "to win" and not for the money, once again failed to deliver in the postseason. It goes back to 2000, when he barely showed up for Seattle after Roger Clemens buzzed him high and inside in his first AB.
Rodriguez may have appeared to be a team player after moving to third base with the Yankees, but it always seems to be about him and not about the team. Maybe it's just appearance. I don't know. I know Derek Jeter wouldn't have flailed like a girl at Bronson Arroyo's glove while running to first in Game 6. I know no team with Alex Rodriguez on it has ever won a League Championship Series, even given a 3-0 lead in games and a lead with the most dominant closer in baseball history on the mound twice with the Series on the line.
And the Red Sox say they're they idiots.