27 June 2008

What, Two Office Space References in One Day? (Yes, Why the Hell Not?)

cat


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A Modest Suggestion for The Obama Presidential Campaign

Due to his stances on a variety of societal issues (Abortion and Gay Rights, mainly), Sen. Barack Obama may have some difficulty winning converts amongst "evangelical" voters.

I think there is one sure fire way to attract those that are born again and have had their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus.

Embrace the insinuations that you are the Antichrist (one typically rambling and insane example can be found in the comments to this Ambivablog post).

I know this sounds crazy, and the suggestions that you are the Antichrist are from the crazy fringes of crazyland, to be sure. But many evangelicals hope and pray that we are indeed at the end times, and the only way to hasten the return of Our Lord is to welcome the coming tribulations of the ascendancy of the Antichrist as foretold in Revelations.

You'd be joining an extensive list of historical figures who have been identified as being the Antichrist going back as far as Nero, through to various popes, even Ronald Wilson Reagan and Osama Bin Laden.

You'd be joining a long list of folks who have been called the Antichrist. It might seem counterintuitive to embrace these absurd insuniations, but when you see the amount of merchandise moved by The Left Behind series, you can't dismiss the effect that voters who sincerely desire the Second Coming and would be willing to suffer to see it hastened could have in the Electoral College. These modern day adventists could help to seriously boost your appeal, especially in states where you seem weak.

So, just a few subtle hints that conform to one crackpot theory or another will do. A blue turban would be a good start, that'd get the Nostradamus crowd, talk about requiring a national ID system, that'd get the 'Mark of the Beast' crowd going, talk about expanding our involvement in the UN and other international organizations, that'd get the 'New World Order' crowd frenzied.

All these moves (except for the turban) would be consistent with your stated policy goals, just find a way to play up the Messianic passions of your followers, play up your status as an agent of great change (and tribulations), and speak about the enduring peace that you shall bring a united and healed global community under your leadership (which come to think of it, pretty much is your current rhetoric), and you just might find yourself winning over the evangelical vote, not because they agree with you, but because they'll view you as a harbinger of the "end times".

It's a brilliant strategy, one that you seem to already be undertaking (come to think of it), so keep up the good work. Whether you've stumbled upon this ploy by accident or not, it's in your vested self interest to play it up for all its worth.

(also, find a way to fake suffering a traumatic head wound and then mount a miraculous and speedy recovery, that'd really freak out the end timers . . .)

Tracking My Music Collection . . .


Because every post at someone else's blog is an excuse to make the comment section all about me, I whipped up a list of the albums on my Zune in Google Docs to share with the world what music I carry around with me.

This move was inspired by this Althouse post where she discusses the recent non-revelatory revelations regarding what plays on the "oPod" of The Obama (pictured above, allegedly, captured by The Mark Pike)

Seems like politicians are expected to make some sort of statement as to their musical tastes, so rather than hiding behind some carefully crafted and focus-group tested handpicked precis of my music collection, I'm laying it all out there for the world to see in all its horror and glory (in preparation for 2016, of course). Unfortunately, haven't found a tool that allows direct exporting of the list from the Zune software, or WMP, so I had to enter each the old fashioned way, which sucks, sucks hard (but was good typing practice, I suppose)

And is it really a good idea to put an "o" in front of stuff to indicate it being of The Obama. Anyone who has seen one of the great comic films of the last quarter century wouldn't help but wonder, 'Which songs on The Obama's oPod leads to The Obama wearing his O-Face?'






The Obama's Magic Bus . . .

First his grandmother, then an advisor or two, then his spiritual advisor and mentor, then his hand-picked VP picker, then his new and improved Presidential Seal, all these things have found their way under The Magic Bus of The Obama.

Well, now The Obama's gone too far!

Nobody throws ScarJo under the bus! (and gets away with it)

Seems there's more room under Obama's bus, than in it, that's pretty remarkable, it must be TARDIS like, or something

26 June 2008

3 x 13 Albums (Part 3, 1995)

The music from my 26th year. These were my prime going to concert years, as far as what was released on CD, it was a pretty good time for music. Grunge was already cresting, Electronica was building steam, and all the really good stuff was coming out of the UK (which seems to be the usual pattern with regards to my personal music taste).

(1)To Bring You My Love - PJ Harvey
This was the first album by the great Polly Jean that I picked up. Also saw her twice in concert that year, the first time a small show at the Mayan (I think Mad Professor was the opening act, which seems like an odd bill in retrospect), the next time she swung through Los Angeles she was playing the much larger Wiltern Theatre and had Ben Harper opening (now there's a solid double bill). Great album, still find myself listening to it frequently 13 years later, but it's not my favorite PJ album, that'd be Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. (available on ZunePass)

(2)Post - Bjork
This is a fine, fine album. Bjork at her early Bjork-iest. Not quite the crazy experimental Bjork of later years, this is my favorite Bjork album. Love her take on It's Oh So Quiet. Nellee Hooper brought a solid groove to the whole affair. Hyperballad and I Miss You are fantastic dance tracks. The remix album Telegram is also excellent (and different enough that having both isn't overkill). Another act I caught in concert a few times (though not in 95, not sure why I missed her on this tour, maybe she hadn't toured SoCal that year, don't recall). (partially available on ZunePass, all songs purchaseable)

(3)Elastica - Elastica
This album wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Part 2 list. Could have easily been recorded in '82 instead of '95, and that's not a bad thing. Solid through and through, takes a semi-punky, semi-DIY aesthetic, and rocks hard throughout. (available on ZunePass)

(4)One Hot Minute - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I like this album, a lot. Dave Navarro joining up with the Peppers seemed like a great thing at the time, a shame it didn't last too long. They'd semi-abandoned the rap-rock and funk-rock stuff of their George Clinton years and had a much harder rock style under the supervision of Rick Rubin. Loved the tour in support of this concert, they were the last band that I've seen at the Fabulous Forum, and they rocked out (though not with their 'socks' out, they were getting too old for that gimmick, I guess). (unavailable on ZunePass, available for purchase, however)

(5)The Bends - Radiohead
Yeah, great album, yeah geniuses, yeah, whatever (OK, it really deserves the praise it received that year, this album does hold up, doesn't sound dated at all 13 years later). (available on ZunePass)

(6)King - Belly
Less successful than the album that preceded it (Star), it's actually a much better album. Music tastes had changed, though, and this sort of 'college radio' sound was no longer getting the exposure it had just a few years earlier. Tanya Donnelly is incapable of doing any wrong in my book. I love me some jangly power-pop, always have, always will. (available on ZunePass)

(7)Do You Want More?!!!??! - The Roots
Hip Hop artists who actually play instruments, whoddathunkit? A solid album, their first on a major label, they'd do better later (and worse, too), but this is still a very solid effort. (available on ZunePass)

(8)Maxinquaye - Tricky
Great album, with Tricky's trademark underwater vocals. The darker side of electronica, Tricky through together some nice beats, pushed down the tempo a bit, and came up with a classic. How the hell he went from this to being an actor in The 5th Element, I'll never know. (available on ZunePass)

(9)Tigerlily - Natalie Merchant
I really do love this album, even though I probably shouldn't. A touch somnabulant at times, there's something very right about Natalie Merchant's lazily slurred delivery on this album. The best songs on this album are truly great (Carnival, Jealousy, Wonder), and some songs are just filler, but as a whole this is a very listenable album. (unavailable on Zunepass, or for purchase)

(10)Garbage - Garbage
Take three parts studio veterans, one part saucy young Scottish lass, stir in a post-grunge pot, and layer with tons of attitude and a professional glossy sheen, bake at 350 degrees and out pops Garbage. Great debut album, Shirley Manson is an unbelievably charasmatic frontwoman, and Butch Vig and friends brought rock solid musicianship to the mix. Basically a garage band, if that garage band had decades of experience and training. (unavailable on ZunePass, or for purchase)

(11)Frogstomp - Silverchair
It's pure Nirvana heroworship from a bunch of 15 year old Aussies, but they manage to rock harder than Nirvana ever did. Sometimes the ersatz version of something can be better than the original in small doses. It feels a bit manufactured, slightly inauthentic, but that doesn't keep it from being a really terrific album. (available on ZunePass)

(12)Forever Blue - Chris Isaak
Another solid effort from a very solid performer. Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing was a great track, used to great effect in Kubrick's craptacular last film Eyes Wide Shut. The rest of the album rocks, and billys the way you'd expect Chris Isaak to rockabilly. His stuff never gets old, cause it started out old from the get go. (available on ZunePass)

(13) (What's the Story) Morning Glory? - Oasis
The best Beatles album released by a couple of brothers that despised each other. The Battling Brothers Gallagher could really lay down some solid Beatles influenced tunes when they weren't busy beating on each other or drinking mass quantities of hard liquor. (available on ZunePass)

3 x 13 Albums (Part 2, 1982)

Part two of these, this covers my 13th year. It has been said that the music of your teen years is the music that sticks to you the rest of your life. Good thing I wasn't born a little later and was totally into Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and New Kids on the Block.

1982 (in no order, availability on ZunePass or for download off of Zune.net, noted)

(1)1999 - Prince
Ah, Prince, near his peak. It's not even in his personal top five, but it's still a great album. 1999, Little Red Corvette, DMSR, and Delirious are great tracks. The rest of the double album isn't as essential, but still a fantastic album. (available on ZunePass)

(2)Avalon - Roxy Music
Greatest. Make. Out. Album. Evah! (a shame I was way too young to have anyone to make out with at the time, let's just say I came to appreciate this album more and more as I matured). (available on ZunePass)

(3)Beat - King Crimson
This band just misses making the list all three times. Not because they weren't still making great music in 1995, but because their fantastic THRAK album came out a year earlier, though I'm pretty sure I saw them at the Greek Theatre in 95, so maybe I should fudge that list a little so as to include them in all three lists. As far as this album goes, it's a good one. Especially the songs Heartbeat, and Neurotica. (unavailable on ZunePass or Zune.net)

(4)Zapp II - Zapp
Not their best album (Zapp, wass, errr I mean was), but still a great FUNK album. Dance Floor, and Doo Wa Ditty are classics, the rest is filler, but two funk classics are enough to make this a fun album to listen to. It was downhill for this band from here, don't bother with the other roman numeralled albums (available (along with the better Zapp) on ZunePass)

(5)The Golden Age of Wireless - Thomas Dolby
When my mind wanders back to this time period, it's stuff like this that most evokes that era. Very much of its time, to most folks who didn't discover this as a early teen kid, probably sounds very dated, but to me this just sounds like rock and roll. Flat Earth released a few years later was better, but this is still an excellent album, even if you weren't a teenager back then. Synthpop is an acquired taste, but it's one worth acquiring. (available on ZunePass)

(6)Friend or Foe - Adam Ant
I admit to being inordinately fond of this album back then, and remain inordinately fond of this album 26 years later. A few years after this came out, Adam Ant was the first 'real' concert I attended without any parents around. That was a fun night, and if I had a 15 year old son or daughter, there's no way in hell they'd be repeating the adventure I had back then. (available on ZunePass)

(7)Midnight Love - Marvin Gaye
His last studio album, and one of his best albums in his long, glorious, career. Sexual Healing remains one of his best songs, and the other tracks on this album are also strong. Still seems like some kind of sick joke, him getting shot by his father on April Fool's Day a few years later. (available on ZunePass)

(8)What Time is It? - The Time
I have to admit, I like this little album better by Prince's funkier protege's than Prince's own album of the same year. This ain't nothin' but a party, but what a great party it is. Prince wrote and produced all but one song, and performed all instruments on this album, so really this is just a funkier, more fun side of Prince, Prince album, but with Morris Day taking the lead. Works great, though. (available on Zune Pass)

(9)Under the Big Black Sun - X
This is onf of their best albums, it rocks and rolls from start to finish. One of the all time great bands to form in Los Angeles, this album was produced by some fella named Ray Manzarek. (unavailable through Zune, but buy the CD, you won't be disappointed)

(10) Upstairs at Eric's - Yazoo
Another synthpop album for this list. It's elevated by Alison Moyet's remarkable voice, and Vince Clarke's brilliant arrangements. Don't Go, Situation, and Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I) are three of the best dancepop songs that the 80s produced, and they're all on one album. (available on ZunePass)

(11)Rio - Duran Duran
I've gone on and on and on some more about my appreciation of this fine album. Read that, then come back over here. (available on ZunePass)

(12)Combat Rock - The Clash
I really wasn't 'in' to The Clash in '82. I had friends he were fanatical about them, but I wasn't really liking them. But by the 90s I'd picked up The Story of the Clash, and have been listening to that over and over ever since. A lot of strong tracks here, especially the singles. They were a pretty great band, and this is a pretty great album, even if I didn't recognize it back then. (available on ZunePass)

(13)Night and Day - Joe Jackson
Shimmery, I think that best describes this album. Another album that I liked then, but got better and better as I got older. (unavailable on Zune, but the better tracks are on this compilation which is available)

The early 80s were a strange time musically, you had outfits like Roxy Music and Joe Jackson putting out really sophisticated and lush sounding pop. You had the likes of Devo, B-52s, Yazoo, and Thomas Dolby putting out very 'new wave' type sounds. You had Madness and the Specials leading a Ska revival in Britain, and you had the last days of the first wave of Punk with The Clash, and X. You even had some really good funk and Prince at his most prolific producing and playing on albums by half a dozen proteges. Good times, good times. You may have noticed that a certain best selling of all time album released that year didn't make this list. Simply put, I never really like that album much, back then, and especially not now (but Dangerous and BAD weren't half bad).

3 x 13 Albums (Part 1, 1969)

Here's the music of my multiples of 13 so far. Picking 13 albums is harder than picking films, given the greater number of releases, but each of these years were significant times in music, each at a transitionary phase for pop music artistically. Obviously my choices are going to reflect my subjective personal tastes shaped through my subjective personal experience, so if you find these choices odd or off putting, screw you! Because of the extensive links, and more expansive descriptions of each title, this list will be split up into three parts, unlike the film list.

1969 (presented in no particular order, also noted whether or not you can download the MP3 from Zune.net and if it's available as part of ZunePass, screw iTunes)

(1)The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground
I picked this album up sometime around the mid80s. It's my favorite VU album. I love the songs Pale Blue Eyes, Jesus, Candy Says, and even After Hours are some of their best songs. A very influential album, a good one to listen to start to finish. (available through Zune Pass)

(2)Tommy - The Who
Uggh, rock opera. Only 'rock opera' that doesn't deserve the 'uggh' designation. Great album by an amazing group of musicians at the peak of their form. Too bad it inspired so much crap in its wake. (unavailable for purchase through Zune or Amazon, guess you'll have to pick up the CD, instead)

(3)Santana - Santana
Makes the list, if only for the cover (also, the music is pretty good, too). (available through ZunePass)

(4)Monster Movie - Can
What can I say? I love me some Can. They do that thing that folks used to do back then in making the B-side of the album a single track. Pretentious then, pretentious now, but the song rocks in a German psuedo-fusion sort of way. Holger Czukay is a god of Bass, and Jaki Liebezeit was a great drummer, I came to know those fellas from their work in the 80s, but I sought out their earlier works, and wasn't disappointed with what I heard (http://social.zune.net/AlbumDetails.aspx?aid=875f4d00-0100-11db-89ca-0019b92a3933, but not available for ZunePass)

(5)Kick Out the Jams - MC5
The Jams do indeed get Kicked Out on this piece of vinyl. You owe it to yourself to download a copy today (available through ZunePass)

(6)Let it Bleed - The Rolling Stones
This is an excellent Stones album, with two of their best songs (Gimme Shelter, You Can't Always Get What You Want). I'm not the biggest Stones fan in the world, but I do like this album. (available through ZunePass)

(7)Donovan's Greatest Hits
This may seem a bit of a cheat to include a 'greatest hits' package, but it's an album I'm fond of, and he was pretty damn good at what he did (plus I totally had a crush on his daughter in Junior High). (available, except for one song, through ZunePass)

(8) New York Tendaberry - Laura Nyro
This isn't my favorite Laura Nyro album, but an album doesn't have to be my favorite of hers to still be a great album. She was one of the better singer songwriters of the period, if you haven't heard her before, best to start with Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, work your way to her cover album, Gonna Take a Miracle, and then delve into New York Tendaberry. But if you do all that, you won't be disappointed. She was a remarkable artist. (available through ZunePass, as well as the other albums mentioned)

(9)Clouds - Joni Mitchell
Is this her best work? No. Is it the best album she released in 1969, yes, so it belongs on this list (only Chelsea Morning and Both Sides Now available through ZunePass, but those are the best songs of the album).

(10)In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson
Not their best work, and a much different tone than what they'd become from the late 70s on, but as far as proto-prog psychedelia goes, this is one of the better efforts. Also, great album cover. (unavailable through Zune.net)

(11)Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin
The better of the two Led Zeppelin albums released that year. Became a cliche by the time I got around to listening to it, but it most of been an impressive album to come across back before they were something of a joke. The music isn't a joke, just the fans that grew up around this band through the course of the 70s and 80s. (available for purchase, but not ZunePass)

(12)Soul Shakedown - Bob Marley & the Wailers
Lee Scratch Perry and Bob Marley and the Wailers together for the first time. They'd get better later, but this one's pretty good in its own right. Not released in the USA originally, but I'm counting it so it can be included, and all the songs found their way on to subsequent albums. (unavailable, but all the tracks can be found on this huge compilation, here)

(13)The Stooges - The Stooges
Yeah, this is the stuff, alright. Raw, uncut, rawk. Way ahead of their time, greatly influenced a bunch of the stuff I enjoyed in the mid-80s. Sloppy, feral, angry, powerful, punk before punk, really seems out of place and out of time with the rest of the albums on this list. (Deluxe Edition available on ZunePass)

3 x 13 Films (1969, 1982, 1995)

Today is my 3x13th birthday, thought I'd commemorate it by delving into the pop culture I've seen and avoided from the past times I've turned a multiple of 13.

1969

Picking 13 films from 1969 to write about is both hard, and easy. I've barely seen more than 13 films listed as being released that year.. Going by this Wikipedia list of 1969 releases, the ones I've seen are as follows (obviously, I saw these later than 1969): All Monsters Attack, Bambi Meets Godzilla, Battle of Britain, Blood of Dracula's Castle, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Easy Rider, Medium Cool, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Once Upon a Time in the West, Sweet Charity, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, Women in Love, Z. Not sure why I've never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, just doesn't appeal to me, same with Midnight Cowboy and Oh! What a Lovely War. Of the films on this list, I can easily say that (1)The Wild Bunch is my favorite, followed by (2)On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Lazenby wasn't a half-bad Bond, really), and (3)Once Upon a Time in the West. Even though the Western was a dying genre by then, there were still some real gems being produced. (4)True Grit was also an entertaining film, with John Wayne in full John Wayne mode. (5)Easy Rider is in essence a Western, too, just a damn stinkin' hippie version (still an enjoyable film. (6)All Monsters Attack was one of the better Godzilla films, and (7)Bambi Meets Godzilla is a true classic. (8)Medium Cool I saw in a 'Film and Culture' type class, the less said about that mess the better. (9)Sweet Charity is both a craptacular, and spectacular musical, Fosse was one groovy choreographer, and MacLaine is just so darn delicious, but it's too long, and the musical numbers aren't all that great. (10)Women in Love is Ken Russell in one of less weird phases, I prefer crazed Russell, personally. (11)A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a childhood classic, but nothing one needs to see past childhood. (12)Battle of Britain was one of those big epic films, focused on the early air defense of Britain, saw that recently and couldn't believe Ian McShane was in that, expected him to bust out with the salty language, was disappointed when he didn't. Finally, (13)Blood for Dracula's Castle is pretty bad, but if John Carradine was in it, I probably have seen it.

1982

This year's more in my wheelhouse. The movies of my 13th year, peak geek going to film times. The list of films released is much larger, and the lists of movies I caught is pretty large, too. I very nearly saw a picture a week back then.

(1)Blade Runner was awesome, it was too much for my 13 year old brain though, found it kind of boring back then, but upon rewatching it, It's grown to be my favorite picture from that year. (2)Star Trek II was my favorite summer popcorn picture from that year. Even saw it as part of my birthday party, remember trekking out to Hollywood and catching it at the world famous Chinese Theatre, I didn't admit to tearing up when Spock bought it, but I guess I'll admit to it now. (3)Poltergeist was my 2nd favorite popcorn film from that year, it holds up pretty well. (4)Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a natural to make the list, Cameron Crowe did his research at the same place I would be attending a few years later (yeah, Samohi!), and much of the cast also attended Samohi, speaking of the cast, a ridiculous number of those cast members went on to pretty big careers, and then of course there's that one scene with Phoebe Cates, which definitely made an impression on my delicate 13 year old mind. (5)Creepshow holds a special place in my heart given that it was the first R-Rated film I snuck into without parental supervision, looking back, that film probably didn't deserve an R Rating, and would have been PG-13 had it been released today (or would have had a few edits to get itself a PG-13, but PG-13 didn't exist yet, it took the gruesome bloody, beating heart scene from Temple of Doom a few years later to spur a change to the MPAA guidelines). (6)Gandhi wasn't half bad for one of those big epic biopics, pure Oscar bait, though. (7)Conan the Barbarian was another fun film from the period, our Governator used to kick all sorts of ass (even though he couldn't speak all sorts of English). (8)Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was a fun film, one of the few films on this list I saw twice in the theatre that year, I was a huge Steve Martin fan, and if it's on cable, I'll watch it. (9)Rocky III is my favorite Rocky film, and the only one I've ever seen start to finish (which makes it pretty easily my favorite), was dragged to it by a friend, and didn't hate it as much as I expected to. (10)Quest for Fire was another film I loved back then, another film I saw more than once, it was playing at the Pickwood (long gone, was demolished to make way for the Westside Pavilion), and I seem to remember them having $2.00 seats during the summer on weekdays, so I rode my bike over and caught a screening after spending an hour or two at the nearby arcade. (11)Tron was a great film, dammit (at least through the eyes of a geeky 13 year old, even if the plot wasn't very good, and in retrospect the effects were kind of cheesy, the concept was pretty awesome, and the Tron arcade game based off of it was terrific). (12)The Dark Crystal was a well made film, I liked the use of Henson puppets in a non-muppet film, judging from the B.O. of the film, most people didn't agree with me at the time. (13)Cat People is the only film I'm including on this list that I didn't catch in theatres at the time, but when I caught it a few years later on VHS I remember really enjoying it (or at least really enjoying seeing lots of Natassja Kinski). I know what you're probably thinking, you're thinking, "Where's ET?", I disliked that film then, and I continue to dislike it now, it didn't make my worst of Spielberg list, but it came close.



1995



This was a pretty crappy year for film when looking over the list. Some spectacularly bad films were released that year (Batman Forever, Showgirls, Tank Girl, Congo, Vampire in Brooklyn, Mr. Holland's Opus, Judge Dredd, not to mention Waterworld, which wasn't half as bad as its reputation), some entertaining messes (Assassins, Jumanji, Mallrats, Mortal Kombat, The Hunted, Virtuosity) and some overly earnest period pieces (Apollo 13, Braveheart, Rob Roy) . On to the films I liked. (1)Sense and Sensibility, wait, what? This was my favorite film released in 1995. Yes, yes it was. I'm as shocked as you are. (2)To Die For, Kidman has never been better, a shame really. (3)Crimson Tide is as good of a semi-serious action picture as you'll ever see, gets better every year as another crop of poor imitators get unleashed each summer and fall. (4)Mighty Aphrodite was later period Woody Allen at his funny, introspective, and kind of pervy best. (5)The Usual Suspects doesn't hold up as well as you might have hoped it would have. Seemed fresh and exciting at the time, but in retrospect it's not all that (though still a very good film). (6)Twelve Monkeys isn't a great film, but I'm a sucker for Gilliam. (7)Rumble in the Bronx was the last really good Jackie Chan picture, which is a shame cause it was also the first one to get any sort of wide release in the United States. I actually saw this in Alhambra at a Chinese Theater (not to be confused with THE Chinese Theater) before its US release. Catch his good Hong Kong pictures from before his US success as a cartoon version of his former self, you won't regret it (my favorites from those days are Police Story 2, Armour of God II, and Drunken Master II, he was a force of nature in those days). (8)Casino wasn't Scorcese's best film, and it's about a half hour too long, but it's still worth seeing, and is still easily one of my 13 favorite films released that year. (9)Babe makes the list, even though I didn't see it in the theatres that year, don't know why I resisted seeing it initially, just didn't seem like something I'd be into at the time. (10)Toy Story was the beginning of the Pixar reign over Hollywood. They haven't made a bad picture yet, in my opinion, hopefully I won't change my mind after seeing WALL-E. The progress they've made in terms of computer tech in the past 13 years is remarkable, but story always comes first, and Pixar seems to get that better than the other studios pumping out all these computer animated spectacles. (11)Friday, is a film I really enjoyed, and I don't care who knows it. (12) Devil in a Blue Dress was another fantastic film, not sure why more Easy Rawlins films weren't made, there's enough source material to have made more, but Denzel probably is a bit too pricey to continue with the role, and the film wasn't successful at the box office, even though it is one of the better neo-noir films to have been made in the 90s. (13)Dead Man is another amazing film. Jarmusch and Depp at their 'quirky' best. Shot in glorious black and white, meanders aimlessly, and is coupled with an annoying Neil Young composed score, it's nevertheless a great film. Of the films on this 1995 list probably the least likely for you to have seen, and the one you should seek out as soon as possible, go ahead, put it in your netflix or Blockbuster Online queue, you won't regret it (OK, there's a good chance that you'll regret it, it is 'quirky' afterall, and it's not everybody's bag of chips, but there are some amazing moments in this film, and Depp and Farmer are fantastic throughout).

3 x 13

So today I turn 3x13. Why should 'milestone' birthdays only accrue by the decade or quarter century? I guess in Asian cultures that follow Chinese Astrology, every 12th year would be considered a milestone (it's when your birth animal comes around again). But what about celebrating milestones every baker's dozen years? 13 is a very transitional time, as is 26, and 39 is the last year you don't have to put a 4 in front of your age, so that is a milestone in of itself.

Had a moment this week where I felt all 2028 weeks I've been around, while drumming in Rock Band my right knee started throbbing. That made me feel pretty old, couldn't even play a stupid video game without my knee acting up on me. Guess it's time to start using my left leg instead, that'll take a little practice, but should be doable (my right knee has been problematic ever since I broke my right tibia near the ankle back in '94).

So in honor of the beginning of my next 13 year segment, I'm going to blog a few lists, first up is one post on the films I enjoyed from 1969, 1982, and 1995. After that three separate posts (alot more links and effort went into the albums post) on the albums of those same years that strike me as being significant. After that, I'll think of something else, but you'll just have to tune in later in the day to find out what other lists of 13 things from '69, '82, and '95 that I can come up with.

25 June 2008

I'm Still Here, I'm Just Resting . . .

I'm no Norwegian Blue Parrot, I just took a bit of a break from posting (unintentionally). There was stuff I almost posted about, but other people posted on the subjects I was going to attack, and they did a better job than I would have, so instead you'll just have to imagine what I might have said.

Tomorrow, though expect a bloggy burst of blogginess, I'm cooking up at least a half dozen posts, but I'm not going to unleash them until the clock strikes midnight here, you'll just have to be patient.

17 June 2008

17 Suggestions in 5 Policy Areas for Candidate McCain . . .

. . . the real election is just now finally beginning to get started (yet the entirety of the campaign still feels as if it has been endless).

Here are 17 semi-specific suggestions for Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain divided into five key policy areas.

Homeland Security/Defense/Foreign Policy

1. Articulate a viewpoint that makes it crystal clear that these three things are inextricably linked, that far from a failure, the past seven years have seen improvements in every facet of this matrix, and remind people that appeasement leads to worse wars to come (don't have to attack Obama specifically on any of this, just remind folks that it's OK to be patriotic, it's remarkable that there hasn't been a serious follow-on mass casualty attack in the United States since 2001, and that despite their bitching and whining, the world is more with us than against us when it comes down to it). Don't make the Giuliani error of bringing up 9/11 every five seconds, though, that'd be a sure way to lose on an issue that should be your strength.

2. Stress the need to commit to helping the Iraqis stabilize their government, and detail the horrors that could await should we leave precipitously (just pointing to recent comments from Michael J. Totten would be a good start)

3. Talk positively about the future, about our security goals, and about the prospect of a more prosperous globe and explain how those outcomes can only be accomplished by a strong American military coupled with an active and robust diplomatic corps.

4. Do not bother speaking specifically about Obama's policy statements in these areas of concern, people are smart enough in most of the country to figure things out for themselves. Presenting your positions in a positive framework is the best way to force voters to confront how truly negative, downcast, and downright Carter-like Obama's stated positions are. Either he changes his rhetoric, thus cutting himself off from his most activist lefties, or he loses the vast middle that make up the majority of voters. You are closer to the mainstream on these issues, play to that strength by emphasizing yourself, by not engaging Obama's nonsense directly, you win, he loses.

The Stupid Economy, Stupid

5. Do attack Obama directly on economic policy. It's going to require a strong dose of education and de-programming to make folks realize that your mix of economic policies are a surer path towards a 'soft landing' while Obama-like intervention and class warfare are a surer path towards a full blown Depression. Get Amity Shlaes out there on your behalf, debunking the New Deal, and highlighting the danger of Obama's many proposals of bringing about a New New Deal.

6. Go after unions, big time, especially public sector unions. You aren't winning a single vote from anybody who is a fan of their union. Ronald Reagan won blue collar workers, many of them union members, despite being a unionbuster, and he never made any bones about busting up unions. You are going to be excoriated by union leadership anyway, might as well make it a two way street. If the DEMS want to paint you a tool of 'big oil' then paint Obama as a tool of 'big union'. Remind people of the role public sector unions played in the price-hike/inflation spiral of the 70s that lead to double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, and double digit interest rates.

7. Fight subsidies, educate voters on the need to eliminate as many subsidies as possible, and explain how distorting markets always causes unintended consequences that are often worse than the problems they were meant to remedy. Couple any discussion about taxes and governance with the firm commitment to reducing the influence the federal government exerts on the economy.

Governance

8. Fight pork, hit the pork theme again and again, your record on pork is terrific, and Obama's not so much, so this is an easy area to delineate a strong contrast between you and your opponent.

9. Advocate for smaller government, start with reducing the cabinet. Promise to hack away at the cabinet. Explain that all these various levels of bureaucracies on top of other bureaucracies serves no purpose other than to feather the beds of people connected to the winning presidential campaigns. Promise to restructure the Executive Branch into a model of lean efficiency that the rest of government should emulate.

10. Express regret over how campaign finance reform turned out. Admit that it was a failure, and move on. Promise to learn from this failure and not suggest anything as silly or anti-free speech as McCain-Feingold in the future, and promise to veto any attempts to abridge free speech in such a manner again.

Social Issues

11. Be yourself. You've been around forever, and you have a record on many of the hot button issues of the day, some of your stances are on both sides of the issues, embrace that, use that as a strength. Explain that positions can evolve, and times do change, and show that flexibility of mind is a strength. This is another area where you should hammer away at Obama as being consistently liberal, and consistently out of step with most voters, and that the changes he wants to bring about are changes that won't be good for the nation.

12. Continue to emphasize patriotism and service, and a belief that the United States is a uniquely wonderful country. Do not mention Obama's position on any of that stuff, folks will make up their own minds as to whether or not there is a contrast there.

13. On immigration, stick with getting border security settled first, but admit that you believe in increasing legal immigration to the United States. Also, make a point of extolling the need for people seeking to come to the United States to become a part of the United States. Assimilation is not a dirty word, encourage policies that demand legal immigrants learn English, embrace our system of governance, and integrate into the larger American community rather than creating balkanized enclaves within the United States. As far as amnesty goes, continue to pretend the bill you introduced wasn't meant to be amnesty, maybe you can fool enough people to get elected.

Global Warming/Energy Policy

14. Abandon cap and trade NOW! Just claim after further study and speaking with knowledgeable folks, that while the goals of cap and trade is good, the implementation has been horrible and counter-productive. Show that flexibility of mind, don't call it a flip flop, call it an evolution in your position.

15. Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear. Our economy can't grow, and can't grow less 'carbon-spewing' unless we embrace all possible sources for getting electricity on the grid. Demonstrate how Japan, France, and even Brazil and India are using Nuclear power widely and safely. Promise to streamline the federal government's process in getting approvals, and promise to set up a system to reward localities that go with, good, clean, green, and carbon-free nuclear power in their own backyards. Also, promise to increase federal funding for R&D into fusion. That'd show you are paying attention to the good stuff that's bubbling under the radar within the science geek community.

16. Continue to 'evolve' with regards to your position on drilling and exploration for fossil fuels within our borders. Your recent pivot on off shore drilling is good, but another pivot on ANWR would be even better. Again, promise to speed the processes for approvals, don't let competing federal government agencies throw needless roadblocks to developing more refinery capacity and more drilling capacity within our borders. Oil isn't going away, and sub $100 per barrel crude probably isn't coming back either, we've got massive reserves just waiting to be tapped, promise to get our government to 'tap that' as quickly and efficiently as possible.

17. Make silly pronouncements regarding being about a "Green" President. Promise that going "Green" doesn't mean kowtowing to the UN, Europe, or hobbling our economy. Remind folks that the USA has been more successful in reducing our emmissions without joining Kyoto, than any of the nations that agreed to that silly treaty. Remind folks that it takes energy to run an economy, and the best way to improve how we get that energy is through innovation, not placing artificial constraints on growth.

I know not all of this is stuff that McCain has been about, but none of this is so out of step with who he's been that it would sound too strange coming out of his mouth. Despite everything, he has a real shot at not only beating Obama, but winning a decisive victory in the Electoral College. He needs to embrace his inner Reagan, embrace small government GOP values, and lay off attacking Obama. Just highlighting your own policies will do the job for you, elucidate your moderate/conservative viewpoint, and the contrast between that and Obama's clear liberal to downright Marxist leanings will become self evident, even with most of the media trying their hardest to get the Messiah of their dreams in office.

14 June 2008

Some Objects Are Best Left Un-Gummified . . .

Things that can be acceptably Gummi-fied, Bears, Worms, and Lobsters (hopefully, not actually Lobster flavored).

Things that probably shouldn't be Gummi-fied, Lighthouses.

Kwitcherbitchin'

Filled up at the nearby Exxon station and paid $4.499 per gallon of gasoline (who do they think they're fooling with that 9/10ths of a dollar stuff, anyway?).

Last time I filled up at the same station on May 27th it was $4.019 for the same stuff, and back on March 13th it was $3.539. That's a 12% leap in the past 2 weeks, and 27% jump in 3 months. Unpleasant, but it could be worse.

You could be dealing with a strike of tanker drivers on top of higher prices as they are in the United Kingdom.

Things I noticed in the article that struck me funny . . .

1st, only 30M cars registered in the UK? We have 30M vehicles registered in California alone. That 30M is all cars and trucks, don't know if the UK number is a comparable measure, but autos alone in California count close to 19M (and yes, it's quite believable that there's nearly a vehicle per person here in the Golden State).

2nd, prices seem so much less horrible when priced in pence per litre. That puny average yesterday across UK pumps (as reported by AA) of 117.56p per litre of petrol seems much more manageable than the $4.499 I paid this week. As long as you ignore the fact that in terms of dollars per gallon that comes to $8.676 using current exchange rates, and I think that excludes the VAT which would add another 17.5% to that price (add that in and UK consumers paid an average of $10.194 per gallon for petrol yesterday, and an even higher $11.359 per gallon of diesel, at least I think that's how it works since in the article it mentions that a few p more and diesel will be above 6 pounds per gallon, and that only works if you add an additional 17.5% to a price of 134p/litre, the current price of diesel is 131p/litre).

3rd, if you read enough articles in British papers, you start to think spelling liter with the last two letters reversed is perfectly normal, and all sorts of words should have an extra 'u' thrown in four nou gooud reasoun.

4th, unions suck, as usual, and Britain needs a new Thatcher to thwart the thtrickers (err, I mean strikers).

5th, the best way to cause people to hoard an item is to report that other people might be considering hoarding an item (see the recent rice 'shortage' right here in the USA, a good take on that, here).


View Larger Map

6th, what is this sentence doing in the article? "The Shell chairman Mr Smith sought to beat the strike by cycling from his luxury home in Walton on Thames to the town's station where he caught the 8.06am fast train to London Waterloo - a stone's throw from his company's Thameside headquarters. " I can almost imagine the next sentence being, 'and if you want to throw a stone at him, he'll likely be repeating this cycling commute for the duration of the strike and can be found at the intersection of Adelaide Rd. and Ashley Park Rd. between 7.46am and 7.56am weekday mornings . . .' (good thing this article wasn't in the Guardian, or they might have given those specific instructions)

7th, according to the article, "Brendan McLoughlin, founder of PetrolPrices.com which says 55 areas in the UK could be without fuel as the forecourts run dry, said: ‘Motorists need to stay vigilant and make sure they don’t fall victim to profiteering. I’d like to think that forecourt owners won’t take advantage of the situation, but there are those prepared to hike prices and make a profit out of drivers’ misery.'". He's got it backwards. You want the stations to jack up prices, that's the best way to get people to do the things you want them to do, such as avoid hoarding, conserve what fuel they have, and seek alternative means of going about their business. Setting artificially low prices always causes shortages, those damn laws of supply and demand can't be repealed simply because the resulting 'profiteering' may seem distasteful (and the WSJ editorial board is on my side on this one, so I must be right)

8th, I forget what eight is for, and . . .

What's The Matter With Kansas (Greensburg Edition) . . .

. . . watched the Greensburg 'Special Presentation' on Discovery (as part of a cross promotion with sister channel Planet Green).

This program is pure propaganda, as is Planet Green. It's a rebranding of Discovery Home as an all green all the time channel, and I guess future episodes will be carried over there instead of on the main Discovery Channel.

The hour focused mainly on the F5 tornado, outlining the complete devastation of this small town (pop around 1500). After detailing those events, they move on to show that some folks will leave, but many will stay, and it shows that the town's political leadership seem to have all latched onto the idea of making Greensburg green.

They show a bit of what appears to be a town hall meeting or planning commission meeting (not sure which), and the business people seem to be stymied in being allowed to rebuild because plans haven't been finalized (I'm guessing it's set up for a later sequence of those same people marvelling at the wonderfulness of the outcome after the collective decision to go green had been made, but that transformation will be left for a later chapter).

Seems like letting the people rebuild in an ad hoc basis, without regards to whether or not they choose to do so in the 'greenest' manner possible would make more sense, but for the people making this documentary, and for the town's political leadership, collective action where they get to make the decisions for everyone else is so much sexier.

Towards the end, this douchebag, makes some ridiculous speech about America having lost its way, and how 'greening' Greensburg will be a sentry and signal to the rest of Kansas, the rest of the United States, and the rest of the World that we are living in a new Green Age where all will bow to the twin gods of Small Carbon Footprint and Sustainability (OK, maybe he didn't say all that verbatim, but Mr. Picard pretty much said all that without exactly saying that). All you really need to know about this douchebag, other than that he's obviously a douchebag the minute you hear him speak more than two sentences, is that he's (according to his own webpage) "one of the preeminent environmental consultants in North America" , and he's "a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council" , and he "is represented by the Creative Arts Agency (seriously, this douchebag 'environmental consultant' is represented by agents, and not just any agents, but THE agency better known as THE DEATH STAR) in Los Angeles and serves as their in-house Sustainability Expert."

My tolerance for this stuff was exceeded by this single episode. Unfortunately I won't be watching the rest of this to see how it turns out. But I think I can guess where this is headed in the remaining 12 episodes. A few bad people resist the wonderful transformation, but the wonderful transformation continues apace, and Greensburg is rebuilt better, and greener than ever, and thanks to douchebags like John Picard, they'll implement all sorts of wonderful projects of dubious merit but great symbolic value and will trade in all their awful pick-up trucks and SUVs for shiny new Priuses cause we only have one planet, and we're all in this together, and only we can be the change we desire, and only insipid slogans have meaning, and if Leonard DiCaprio is on board it must be the right thing to do, and America can be great again, but only if Americans agree to use less resources and behave more like Europeans.

13 June 2008

There Are Worse Things for A Judge to Look At . . .


Man Vs. Donkey - More amazing videos are a click away

Than the above video of an amorous donkey (hat tip to Patterico for digging it up) being teased by a gentleman with his butt cheeks showing. Judge Kozinski fell into some controversy after the LAT 'exposed' his 'explicit' 'porn' 'collection' (sorry for all the 'quotes' but the LATs 'news' 'article' really deserves to be framed in a series of quotes that suggest the phrase 'so called', and I'm not linking to that disgusting smear job, it's far more 'obscene' than anything dug up on Kozinski's server). Kozinski has since recused himself from the obscenity trial he was presiding over (which now is a mistrial), seems an overreaction, but probably prudent, and I still say that Judge Kozinski should be Pres. McCain's second Supreme Court nominee (after he gets Janice Rogers Brown on the bench).



This photo above in the office of Ohio State Court Judge James Burge seems much more offensive than any of the stuff reported to have been on a semi-private webpage hosted by a computer privately owned and operated by Judge Kozinski. Orin Kerr points this out, and says what needs to be said (hat tip Instapundit).

All I have to add, is besides the appallingly naked display of partisanship from a presumptively non-partisan official (or if they are elected as partisans in Ohio, at the very least fair-minded and able to interpret the law without applying a political filter), besides adoring a mass-mudering sociopath, Judge Burge really ought to pay attention to some simple rules of interior design. When hanging pictures that feature portraiture, if the portraits are facing different directions, it's generally best to have the portraits to appear to be 'looking' at each other. That way, The Obama and The Che can gaze longingly at each other and despite being separated by time and space can together imagine the perfectibility of society under one glorious and uncorrupted ideology of unity and peace (once all the bad folks are dealt with, anyway).

Why Do You Care?

Tim Russert died today, and the outpouring of sympathy from all corners has popped up around the internet.

He did what he did, and he did it about as well as any of his contemporaries, for that he should be admired, and given his age and seeming vigor, it's a bit of a shock, but why do people care when someone they don't know, never met, and never were going to meet, meet their end?

I think it's something to do with our wiring, the false intimacy of mass communication, and a small degree of 'glad it wasn't me'-ism.

It's our wiring in that we are at heart, and by evolution a tribal creature. We are very good at recognizing faces, and putting names to faces, and when people lack that skill, they stand out and cause a generalized since of ill ease to those around them. It's an innate enough skill that nearly all babies seem to begin picking up that skill before they can even speak those names to the faces they see in their daily lives. Extend that to the tribal level, and people are attuned to not only be able to spot the people that are like ourselves, but also spot the people that are unlike ourselves. It's also a pretty well known phenomenon (and much joked about), that people have trouble differentiating people who have facial characteristics not found in their closer kin group (the 'all [insert group you are not part of] look alike' syndrome). Back when we were nomads, we probably saw no more than a couple hundred faces in a lifetime, kin or not. Even when we began to domesticate our world and ourselves, people may have settled in large communities in the thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands pretty early on during the agricultural revolution, but people didn't travel much outside their own village or neighborhood (except on major endeavors like warmaking or monument making). So up till the invention of print, and then television, people weren't expected to put a name to more than a couple hundred faces in their lifetimes.

Times have changed, though. Think of how many people you could place a name to a face. Is that number 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? If you count the dead, the living, the people you've known from school and work, to all the people you see in media, I bet the average American 'knows' by sight many thousands of people, yet we are still wired biologically like an animal who isn't expected to know more than a couple dozen at any one time. I'd love to see an experiment using social networking sites like facebook and myspace and seeing how many 'friends' recognize their friends and can place a name with a photo, and then add in pictures of famous people from various media and sports, and see how many of those names people can access from memory. Bet most people in the United States and Europe could name far more of the famous than they can of their own social circle.

What's that got to do with Tim Russert? He was in our living room, and he affected a guy from the corner persona, plus he confronted authority figures on a regular basis as our proxy, so add all those things together and for many people, even if he didn't exactly seem a member of the family, he definitely felt like a member of our extended kingroup. On top of that, beyond being the guy who gets to confront 'the man', he wrote a book about fatherhood, and sonhood, so all that maudlin talk about family means that rather than just being a media figure, he's more recognizably also a 'family man' than most media figures. If you are his age, or near it (and a good chunk of you are, being he was a Boomer), then its a powerful reminder of your own mortality, if you are my age and younger, your parents are probably about his age or older, so it gets you thinking about their mortality, which is just as unpleasant.

So, his death has personal resonance not only because he was a name and face on TV, but also because he was a name and face who emphasized family, which makes his passing more poignant than if he was just a ranting talking head who never mentioned his personal life.

The intimacy of television is a lie, he wasn't our kin, I can almost with complete confidence say that no one who reads these words actually knew him (and almost nobody reading these words would have even met him), yet he was someone we all thought we knew in some small way. It's that strange type of knowing that happens with media figures. His death shouldn't matter to you, he was just someone doing his job, and it will be done by someone else in the future. Feel sad for his family, feel sad for the days he won't get to enjoy, mourn him, but remember that you didn't really know him.

"It's a Dutch Oven, and the French are TOAST!"

Best call of a soccer goal, ever.

(just heard on ESPN2 after Netherlands scored in extra time to clinch a 4-1 victory over France)

The call was by a Brit, and at first I thought it might be possible that 'dutch oven' doesn't have the extra special connotation over there it has here, but given that the BBC hosted h2g2 ('aka' hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy) specifically mentions 'dutch oven' in their guide to Farts and Flatulence, I'm guessing the humor was intentional.

You really ought to read the linked guide, here are some excellent pull quotes:


...The cellulose in vegetables cannot be digested, therefore vegetarians produce more gas than people with a mixed diet. There is no difference in the chemistry of male and female digestion, hence men and women emit the same amounts of gas. However, men apparently have more fun doing it.


...The presence of methane and oxygen renders the whole mixture flammable. If tried at all, igniting a fart should be tried out extremely carefully. Setting fire to a fart can 'backfire'! Besides, you should have a good explanation ready because the whole affair is somewhat difficult to explain to rescue and surgery personnel if it goes wrong.


...Farts can bring more excitement into wedlock if administered in a Dutch Oven this is where one partner lets go a huge fart, pulls the duvet cover or bed sheets over the head of their loved one, trapping them in a confusion of methane, while shouting triumphantly, 'Dutch oven! Dutch oven!' The person trapped will wriggle like an eel, the trapper will then nearly die laughing and it will all end up in a really boisterous play fight. Of course, this is all in questionable taste.




12 June 2008

A Multiple Choice Survey for ObamaNation (Possibly Inspired by Pandas and Bamboo Shoots) . . .

Which is most correct?

A) God, Damn America.
B) Goddamn, America.
C) God, Damn, America!
D) America, Damn Dog.

(show your work in the comments section)

11 June 2008

You Might Also Enjoy . . .


Wait, you liked that? Nevermind, anyone who likes Daria is probably some anhedonic freak, so sorry, we can't recommend anything else for you to watch, in short, you suck.

(I'm really enjoying these Blockbuster Online recommendations . . .)

And MTV, there are plenty of anhedonic freaks like me out there, release all the episodes already.

And I know the main reason they can't is because of the whole music rights clearance issue (see WKRP), and also cause they don't think it's a big enough audience, but Daria was one of the better shows on TV in the late 90s and early 00s (no, really).

SO what I'm really asking for is Congress to reform the outmoded and anti-innovative copyright laws that just don't make sense in a multi-media, on-demand, youtube world.

Death to perpetual copyright, death to copyright holders exerting extortive influence over secondary uses of their copyrighted materials, death to using copyright issues to squelch protected free speech (see cafe press regarding non-lefty parody paraphenalia).

Laker Chat: Part Phew! . . .

The Lakers (except for Kobe and Sasha) couldn't score, couldn't get in a flow, and played poorly. But they won anyway (highlights here from this herky-jerky game).

Here's a little quatrain inspired by Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom's performances in this series so far . . .
As I was going up the stair
I saw a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish, he’d stay away.

OK, so this poem wasn't written about the Lakers front line, but I wish, I wish, they'd (or at least the version in these first three games) stay away. Odom has let foul trouble plague him in this series, and Gasol just gets pushed around like a ragdoll. Odom will have to play smarter, and Gasol will have to play tougher, if they do that, the Lakers will have no problem winning 3 more games against this Celtics team.

Having Kobe guard Rondo was an excellent adjustment by Jackson, and helped improve the Lakers defense by a huge factor. Kobe could sag off of the unable to shoot Rondo and roam as a help defender. That help defense lead to horrendous shooting by Garnett and Pierce, Allen shot well, but that wasn't enough for the Cs.

Now we'll see what adjustments Doc Rivers makes to the adjustments made by Phil Jackson. Putting Eddie House out there for big chunks of minutes seems to be the answer he came up with, but House didn't shoot like he was supposed to, so that backfired.

(bet you didn't expect a Hughes Mearns reference in an NBA post, did ya?)

Let's Talk About My Volunteer Work . . .



Just like Mr. Johnson, I too am an unpaid (and unbeknownst to Sen. Obama), volunteer consultant on presumptive presidential candidate Barack Obama's search for a Vice President.

I'm not part of the 'vetting' process, I'm more of an ideas man, big picture sort of dude. Cause one thing that the Obama campaign needs more of is vaguely stated, poorly reasoned, oddly conceived 'big picture' pronouncements.

Here are my five (+ one who should be on the list, but unfortunately is a bit too young) choices for Candidate Obama's running mate.



I've already made the case before, but come on, the Obama-Oprah ticket is a natural, right? Before you dismiss it out of hand, need to look into the possibility that by being on the ticket, The Oprah could give UNLIMITED contributions to the campaign (I assume the rule for VP candidate is the same as P candidate, I don't know for sure, though). An extra 300-400 million of spending loot could come in handy for a national campaign that's been burning through their massive cash reserves (they're not wasteful, they're merely trying to stimulate the economy since the GOP won't do it).



Clearly, The Obama is going to have the hardest time convincing the 'blue collar comedy' crowd that he'll be a President that serves all the people (and not just some of the people). Picking Larry The Cable Guy would be a brilliant bit of rebranding that would help The Obama sweep The South. I'd call this ticket "The Messiah Guy and The Cable Guy" (or "The Barry and Larry Show"). Should shore up appeal with those bitter bible and gun clinging types.



The master of selling hope, hype, a lifestyle, and things packaged in pretty boxes meet Steve Jobs (ha-ha, see how I did the reversal thing there). iMac, meet iMessiah. iMight choke on all the smugness on the stage and at the convention when this announcement gets made, but this choice would make sense on many levels. One, same as the Oprah effect, Mr. Jobs could spare a couple hundred million dollars. Two, rather than running away from marketing speak, the selling of style over substance, and worrying about appealing only to a narrow audience, embrace it. Evangelical zeal is never a bad thing in presidential politics. Also, The Obama needs to start wearing some nice white mock-turtlenecks to contrast with Jobs signature black mock-turtlenecks.



OK, so they both have some 'church' problems in convincing many voters that they're viable leaders of the Executive branch. But, all they have to do is speak sincerely, maybe jump on a couch or two (on the Oprah show, naturally), and flash their winning smiles at the American public, and all will be forgotten. Obama-Cruise works on many levels, The Obama needs to embrace the cult of celebrity, it's his surest path to the office he seeks. He can't run on policy, cause his stated positions and voting record are anathema to voters in a majority of states (and more importantly in states that make up a majority in the Electoral College), so if he can't run as the liberal that he is, he might as well just run as a celebrity. The Cruise brand is somewhat tarnished at the moment, but he's still popular enough to help, and the alternative stars old enough to run with him are either too foreign (sorry Salma Hayek, but please, campaign vigorously for Obama, and in tight outfits), too young (sorry Will Smith, sure technically you're old enough, but given The Obama's relative youth, putting a 39 year old on the ticket probably would hurt), or too lefty (sorry Sean Penn, maybe your good friends Ahmadinejad or Chavez will invite you into their governments in some sort of decision-making position).



OK, I know this might seem like an odd choice. I mean, Larry David isn't exactly the most likeable fella. But, your politics mesh, he'd be a lightning rod for controversy and would make a gaffe a night on the campaign trail. That could come in handy since you can't necessarily rely on the media continuing to ignore your tendency to have some really awkward moments when not speaking off of a teleprompter. Let David be the focus, eventually folks will just be all, 'Oh, that's just Larry being Larry', plus since he's Jewish, you'll squelch all those 'not a friend to Israel' insinuations that swirl around your campaign. Added bonus, another opportunity for those "Barry and Larry" bumperstickers.



Ahhhh, Sen. Obama's bestest email-buddy. She's too young, but if it were possible, this would make a great ticket. (OK, not really, but yeah, an excuse to post a picture of her).

08 June 2008

Laker Chat: More Like These, Please Edition . . .


See above, repeat for 4 quarters on Tuesday, everything will be fine. (also, I doubt it will be 38 free throws for one team and 10 for the other once again)



And yes, of course I agree with Michael Wilbon's assessment in the above clip, this pattern of the home team getting the benefit of the doubt consistently in the NBA Playoffs seems to be worse than ever this run. The Lakers benefitted from, and suffered from, this tendency against Utah, and San Antonio (didn't really matter against Denver), they've been hit by it in Boston, remains to be seen what will happen back at Staples Center starting Tuesday.

But great comeback anyway, they almost erased a 24 point deficit in less than 8 minutes, rather than the Lakers being demoralized, they've given the Celtics something to think about on the flight to Los Angeles. The Lakers have a must win game Tuesday night, if they execute their game for 4 quarters, they'll be down 2-1 instead of 3-0, if they have defensive lapses the way they did in the 2nd and 3rd quarters tonight, they'll be lucky to even see a game five, let alone win the series. Phil Jackson is going to have to earn that 10th ring (if he's going to get it at all), and you still have to like the future for this team over the next few seasons, so if it's not this year, doubt this is the last Finals Jackson will be coaching.

05 June 2008

Defecting Democrats AND Defecating Democrats . . .

From Instapundit . . .
DEFECTING DEMOCRATS? "TN Dems Chair's Dad Might Vote McCain -- Lifelong Democrat and former US Sen. Jim Sasser says he might consider voting for John McCain if FedEx CEO Fred Smith was given a place on the Cabinet. . . . What makes this particularly interesting is Sasser is the father of TN Democratic Party Chair Gray Sasser, who endorsed Barack Obama yesterday." Hmm. I'd be surprised if this happened, but who knows?

UPDATE: Michael Silence is skeptical.

From Michelle Malkin . . .
"Beware the Brown Note"

(amazing what a difference a single little letter can make in meaning)

(I should forget to link to this bit of YouTube-age of Electric Company footage just so that someone else could do so in the comments, but not this time)

The Dumbest Story You'll Likely See Relating to This Year's NBA Finals ('aka' God, I Hate Whiny Ass Identity Politics Obsessed Liberals)

To sum up this Slate "Sports Nut" (they have the nut part right) post, 'white refs like white players (and by extension, hate black players).

There's so much stupid in this article, I don't know where to begin. First, it uses its point of departure a ridiculous study that attempts to quantify racial bias in NBA officiating. The study itself is deeply flawed.

Second, sounds like it's just a Boston fan making pre-emptive excuses as to why his team is going to lose this series in 5 games (in summary, they lose tonight, win Sunday, get swept in L.A., Kobe celebrates Father's Day with a 4th ring).

The 'white players' in the NBA are mostly not 'white', but rather European and South American. For the most part, those players play a different type of game than their American counterparts. Maybe the reason that Radmanovic will be called for less fouls in the upcoming series compared to Paul Pierce, isn't because white refs are happy to see a white face on the court, but because he plays an entirely different kind of game. Why not parse the results even farther and apply a 'coffee and cream' filter to the data? Almost white black guys like J-Kidd (a lot of cream in the coffee) compared to very black guys like K. Garnett (no cream, and just a little sugar), who gets the calls, who doesn't? Why not parse the data based on percentage of exposed upper body area covered in tattoos (bet there'd be a tendency to call those players more, too)? Why not parse the data based on years played in the NCAA (bet players with more than 2 years of NCAA experience get called for fewer fouls)?

If you parsed the data as 'International' players versus 'Native-born', bet you'd see nearly the same evidence of bias they found when parsing the data through a racial filter. It's quite possible, given the completely different player development systems that foreign-born players and American players play in as pre-teens and teens that American players are intrinsically more likely to commit fouls than foreign born players. Foreign players have a reputation for being soft (less earned than it used to be), and that reputation might color officials decision making when making a close call (it goes both ways, foreign players may get away with a little extra contact, but given the reputation for flopping, have a hard time drawing charges on defense).

The LA Lakers won't win or lose because they have a lighter skinned regular rotation than the Boston Celtics, they won't win or lose because of the officiating, they will win or lose based on the games both teams put out on the floor.

If both teams played flat out the best they can possibly play for 48 minutes at the same time, I think the edge would go to Boston, given that at their core they have a strong line-up. But there's an ebb and flow in basketball, and the Lakers are better able to survive the times they aren't playing their best, and better able to capitalize on the moments when Boston shows weakness, that's why this is going to be a short series, with only one or two close games.

04 June 2008

In the Year 2100 . . .

Lileks has a solid bit of Bleatery on tap today. He takes The Obama to task for this bit (he quotes The Obama, thusly)
“John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy -- cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota -- he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for."

Lileks response goes on for awhile, but here's the start to pique your interest
Right here in Minnesota? Hardest hit by this economy? What is he talking about, exactly? Is this a specific reference to a specific plight faced by specific towns, or a boilerplate remark about the dire lives of people trapped in the Bittervilles that dot the strange outlands?

Minnesota, like many states in the rich heartland, has a large farming economy, and if the farmers are struggling, it’s for reasons to complain. Between the demand for ethanol and the related boost in commodity prices, they’re doing well, thank you very much – and this spills over into the towns that service the farms. My paper is running stories about how the prairie chicken is imperiled, because land previously idled is being brought back into service to raise crops and make money. Which is like reading a story about subterranean bacteria threatened by all the drilling for oil in North Dakota and Montana. There’s good news in there somewhere, you suspect.

In Democratic Party speak, everyone is a victim, every place is a struggling backwater, and now is the darkest times we face, unless we hand over our lives to the good folks of the public sector and let them run things.

What does that have to do with the year 2100, though? Lileks ends today's Bleat with this bit (accompanying a picture of a streamline art deco artwork of a stylized man holding a plane)
Like the ancient civilizations, we had our mythological figures, too - except we actually figured out how to do the things usually reserved for gods.

That got me thinking, by the end of this century, many myths will have become real. Live long enough and you'll see most of the dreams, and some of the nightmares of peoples past manifested as commonplace events.

Here's a few of the myths I expect to be fully realized by 2100.

Unicorns, Centaurs, Chimeras, etc.
Genomes for most creatures will be cracked by then, and once cracked, the ability to put creatures back together in new and exciting ways. There's going to be people who pay to create some freaky stuff, and there might even be some folks who choose to become some pretty freaky stuff themselves, I expect lots of freaky beasts, and beastly people to be walking around by 2100.

Methusalahs
Aging is curable. Once it is, there will be people willing to pay to stay young for a long time. There are toddlers running around now, who may still be running around in 3100, let alone 2100. Sounds crazy now, but the limit on this won't be technological, but societal and moral, instead.

Omniscience
The human mind has limits, and doesn't organize itself real well, but we are already becoming untethered from the need to rely on something as limited as a single mind to store, process, and understand all the information we contact on a regular basis. Once that information cloud follows you around, and is accessible, not with the stroke of a key, but the firing of a synapses, you are going to have people walking around able to recall, understand, and process everything, nearly instantly. Folks walking around with these improvements (and able to use this crap capably) will seem godlike.

Golems
True artificial intelligence may or may not happen, ever. Despite all their flaws, biological systems are unimaginably complex, and non-biological systems are simply too new to match true awareness and sentience. There might be a shortcut melding biological systems with artificial enhancements (DARPA's already working on the beginnings of this stuff), though. And autonomous mechanical devices that can do a solid job of mimicking intelligence will definitely be running around doing a huge variety of tasks by 2100.

That's enough wild speculation regarding the future, with regards to the newly minted Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama, he still looks enough like a deeply tanned George McGovern to me (and he won't be much more successful in the Electoral College), that I suspect he's going to leave a lot of confused acolytes in the wake of his failed campaign come November.

03 June 2008

That Might Leave a Mark . . .

Thomas Sowell takes a swing at Sen. Obama, the politician, not the phenomenon,
For any politician, what matters is not his election year rhetoric, or an election year resignation from a church, but the track record of that politician in the years before the election.

Yet so many people are so fascinated by Barack Obama's rhetorical skills that they don't care about his voting record in the U.S. Senate, in the Illinois state senate, the causes that he has chosen to promote over the years, or the candidate's personal character and values, as revealed by his actions and associations.

Despite clever spin from Obama's supporters about avoiding "guilt by association," much more is involved than casual association with people like Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger.

In addition to giving $20,000 of his own money to Jeremiah Wright, as a state senator Obama directed $225,000 of the Illinois taxpayers' money for programs run by Father Pfleger. In the U.S. Senate, Obama earmarked $100,000 in federal tax money for Father Pfleger's work. Giving someone more than 300 grand is not just some tenuous, coincidental association.

Are Barack Obama's views shown by what he says during an election year or by what he has been doing for decades before?

The complete contrast between Obama's election year image as a healer of divisions and his whole career of promoting far-left grievance politics, in association with America-haters like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, are brushed aside by his supporters who talk about getting back to "the real issues."

Exactly.

There's much more at the link, especially about Sen. Obama's fuzzy-headed kumbaya-istic foreign policy mewlings.

Can't Wait for That 'Up Close and Personal' Segment . . .

. . . NBC Sports lurrrvvvs them some 'up close and personal' segments during their Olympics coverage. ABC started it all, I think in 76 (but I could be wrong, might not have gotten really, really bad till 84).

Well, if they decide to do Chinese sprinter Fan Meizhong, they'll have some interesting challenges. He's a literature teacher, and he teaches in the region hit by the earthquake, here's a bit on him from the Telegraph,
In an act of moral foolhardiness, Fan Meizhong set out on a blog his guiding principle: in matters of life and death, it's every man for himself.

When the quake struck, rather than overseeing an orderly evacuation, he said he just shouted "Stay calm, it's an earthquake!" and ran for it without looking back to see if his pupils were following.

"I ran towards the stairs so fast that I stumbled and fell as I went. When I reached the centre of the football pitch, I found I was the first to escape. None of my pupils was with me," wrote the man now known across China as 'Runner Fan'.

Wow.

Just.

Wow.

Never experienced a big quake while in class, just a few shudders and judders, but if the instructor had bolted like a scared rabbit, don't think most people would be pleased.

Also, love this bit from the same article,
One commentator in a state newspaper, the Shanghai Daily, described Mr Fan as a "courageous coward" for admitting what happened - but added that his courage was not sufficient to exonerate his cowardice.

I suspect if that happened here, he might have gotten an endorsement deal with some 'edgy' company (like Steve-O and Sneaux Shoes)

(via Tim Blair)

Greg Anthony Has Lost His Damn Mind . . .

(imagine post title spoken in a Charles Barkley voice, now watch the clip below)




Anthony towards the end of the clip says the current LA Lakers are the, "best passing team I've seen since the early 70s Knicks".

Sorry, I love the way the Lakers are playing right now, but nah-ah.

Magic era Lakers. Bird era Celtics, mid career Stockton-Malone Jazz, even the Divacs-Webber Sacramento Kings could be placed ahead of the current Lakers team with regards to passing.

Where the Kobe-Odom-Gasol Lakers excel is that the decent passing goes 10 deep. When 2 out of the 3 stars are sitting down (rarely does Jackson sit all three at the same time, usually one of those guys is out with 3 or 4 subs at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters, and the end of the 3rd quarter), the "bench mob" all know how to play well within the triangle and move the ball. Sometimes Walton gets a bit too creative with his passing, Vujacic gets a bit too frenetic and frantic, and Farmar gambles a bit too much defensively, but overall you will not find a better non-starting 4 to combine with one starter than Turiaf, Walton, Vujacic and Farmar. All can pass, all know how to fill the lanes on fastbreaks (which didn't used to be so unusual, but nowadays seems like a miracle), and all can hit a jump shot when needed.

I can buy that this Lakers team is one of the best 9 man rotations the NBA has seen since the 80s or 70s, I can buy that this team has the best non-starting 4 the NBA has seen in awhile, but I'm not buying this as the best passing team since Phil Jackson was a player.

If the Lakers can pay everyone, and getting a healthy Ariza and Bynum next year, the Lakers are a team that has quality players 11 deep, with at least 2 players who can back up the starter at all 5 positions. That's just ridiculous.