Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Site Is NOT Harmful To Your Computer (I Hope)

And if it is it's not my fault, blame Blogger for that, because evidently, according to Google search results, not only might this site be "harmful to your computer" so is evidently any site on the internet that turns up on their search engine. This is a big problem. I for one found it impossible to proceed to any sites, despite being informed that I could at my own risk, for the simple fact that they failed to provide a working link by which to proceed. Good luck finding out what's going on. I don't feel like jumping through hoops over this bullshit, and most of their procedural instructions are incomprehensible to me. I just don't have the time for it.

Result-
Bye bye Google
Hello Yahoo

When you get right down to it the difference between Google and any other search engine is pretty fucking minimal once you get past all the Google add-ons which one, are in themselves pretty fucking useless and 2, you could probably find on myriads of other site engines, or a version thereof.

Try this experiment. Google a name of someone you know, someone that you know good and damn well is listed somewhere on the internet. Let's pick a fictitious name at random, like say, Christopher Billingley. Type name of your choice into a searh engine-any god damned one of them-and this will likely be your result.

CHRISTOPHER Jones; Myron Davis; Alicia Bell; David Hackworth; Sylvia BILLINGSLY; Marcus Young: Debra Sowder

Get it? This kind of crap will usually be in regards to a list in which all these names appear, and the fucking so-called advanced Google search results can't even differentiate between the name of one person with several different people who have just one of those names. If you're lucky, and you have the motherfucking time and patience, you might eventually find the person you are looking for if you wade through oh, say fifty-seven pages of results.

So what happens if you use quotation marks in your search query, like so-"Christopher Billingsly"? Nine times out of ten you'll get a page saying there are no search results. Bear in mind, this is for a query for a person you know good and damn well has been listed on the internet. How do I know this? Because I have done it and seen it all. That's not the least of it. I have found four or five separate people on the internet, only, in following up at a later time, to see their listings have vanished, almost as it they never ever existed.

I have always accepted this as an unfortunate aspect of a flawed technology and let it go, and when I see these dumb shits on the internet promoting how great Google is, I usually just laugh it off and shake my head in amazement. These are the kind of fuck heads that would be deliriously impressed by a motion detector in a towel dispenser at a public washroom. But when I read apologies for the kind of nonsense that's going on with Google today, I just can't take it anymore. It's time for people to get their heads out of their asses and off the bandwagon. No, Google is not rocket science, stop acting like it is, and don't you dare try to tell me that it's anywhere near that advanced. Rationalizing this fucking shit is like typing the letter "K" and getting the number "8" and making excuses for it.

The only conceivable explanation that absolves Google of some degree of blame in this mess is if it were to turn out that this is the result of a hacker who somehow sabotaged them.

I have an idea its more than likely the result of a policy that requires a bunch of geeks to always be doing something to justify their continued employment. Sooner or later that is always going to result in one kind of fuck up or another, and in this case, boy is this ever one hell of a fuck up.

Friday, January 30, 2009

More Republican Angst-And Oh Yeah, The Return Of The Romneylan

The Republicans have been meeting to try to map out a strategy to regain power, and they might well make it-if they can only figure out who they are and what they stand for. One of their slogans is "Republican For A Reason" which is on signs strewn throughout the meeting hall, and to which one of the attending delegates remarked the following-

"Republican for a reason?" says Stephen Scheffler, a committeeman from Iowa, pausing before a banner carrying the slogan. "I don't know what that means."

Evidently, even among those who have a vague clue as to what it means, there is a variety of opinions, and not all of them are good. To those people wanting to drag the Republican Party into the Twenty-First century, it might be helpful if you could start out by dragging a good many of them out of the nineteen sixties. Like for example the fellow that said the following-

All the Obama love in the air isn't helping their moods, either. Jim Bopp, a committeeman from the Great State of Indiana, grumbled before coming into town that "there's kind of a 'Kumbaya' feeling in the country."

Yes, there is, and yes, this is lame, but so is using a reference that makes you look like a Bull Connor apologist. It's like some churches I've been to, and though that has been a while, it has been in this decade, and believe me if you go to any Baptist Chruch long enough, you will invariably hear some preacher at some point complain about the philosophy of "If it feels good do it" which of course was an old sixties saying (and a song, by the way) that almost nobody but them ever says anymore, or for that matter remembers, if the truth were known.

So why do they do this kind of stuff? You take a good look around you sitting in the pews and it becomes pretty easy to figure out. There is always a large section of elderly folks who still never quite got over the shenanigans of the sixties, back in the day when they were thirty and forty and actually started to first feel like they had wasted their lives, that the world had certainly gone to hell in a hand basket, and here they are stuck in the son-of-a-bitch, getting carried along for the ride and not in the least bit enjoying it.

This is pretty much the state of the Republican Party today, wondering what the hell went wrong, how their leaders went astray, why they never reined them in, why they just turned a blind eye to the corruption and the hypocrisy, all the time the Democratic Party looked to be laughably trying to position themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility.

Here's the bad part. They still haven't figured it out yet. The major focus of the meeting seems not to be so much about staking out party positions based on principles, but on adopting policies most likely geared to win them elections. Rush Limbaugh pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking-

On the airwaves and in print, the Republicans keep blasting away, gnawing on each other's tender wounds. There's former congressman Tom Davis, once the chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee, declaring in op-eds that "our party is broken" and tsk-tsking the GOP for pushing away "soccer moms" with its social policies and "NASCAR dads" with its ethical failings. And there's Rush Limbaugh giving fellow Republicans what for, and getting some grief in return.

"The Republican Party is making a big, big -- the conservative movement, too -- making a big, big mistake in planning for the future," he told Fox's Sean Hannity. "You hear things like 'Well, the Republican Party needs to identify the middle class, the Wal-Mart voters, and come up with policies for them. And then we've got to come up with policies for the Hispanics because they hate us due to illegal immigration.' "
And the ultimate insult from Limbaugh: that's the way Democrats do things

Of course there is also a major flaw in Limbaugh's thinking. The Republicans do have to adapt, and they do have to reach out to a broader cross section of America. Still, it is true they can best do that by offering concise explanations as to how conservative principles will benefit them as members of this or that community, not by trying to be the party of big government with a conservative face. That, I tell you, is a sure pathway to utter annihilation.

Voters who want big government want it for a reason. They want it because they are "liberal" or "progressive" and want the government involved to a large degree in most if not all aspects of American society, and this is mainly because they perceive some benefit to them by supporting this. It does not follow that these voters are going to support a big government party who tells them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. It actually makes so little sense it might be considered a sign of mental derangement to imagine they would.

No, the big government folks are firmly settled within the orbit of the Democratic Party. That only leaves folks who by natural inclination want government out of their lives as much as humanly possible. To them preaching big government in any form in an earlier time in some extreme cases would result in your body being pulled down from the sturdiest branch of a secluded oak tree in the wee hours of the morning. In most cases you would simply be laughed off as a deluded crank, or cursed as a communist sympathizer or fellow traveler. You would not win their vote, and in some cases might even have it cast against you as a protest.

That is in effect what has been going on. I and some others warned about the very real danger of nominating John McCain, a man who lost twenty percent of Kentucky primary voters after he had the nomination sealed. He got back a significant portion of such voters as this when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate-including myself. Had he not picked her, or someone similar, he would have lost worse than he did. As it happened, it still wasn't enough. The same people who are now worried sick over the Republican Party's ability to win elections are to a great extent the ones actually responsible for the hateful and malicious rhetoric aimed at Palin and her family. They were incensed at McCain for bringing this knuckle-dragging cave woman into such a position of prominence within THEIR Grand Old Party.

Now that the sons-of-bitches (and some cunts) helped destroy what chances McCain and Palin had of winning, after they went out of their way to help him secure the nomination, they are at a loss as to comprehend the reason for their fall from grace with the American public.

I wouldn't really know where to begin, but I do know where to end. If you are against big government, then you can't pick and choose when it's all right to suit you. That includes such things as abortion and gay marriage. It's fine to be against those things and speak against them, but it's quite a different matter when you want the government to get involved in stopping them on the federal level. That is NOT the essence of conservatism, and the idea of making it so by pushing for constitutional amendments is actually missing the point.

There is a far better reason to involve government in such things as energy legislation, health care reform, and reducing pollution than there is to get involved with these social issues. You can make a case, for example, that the rising costs of medical care affects everyone adversely. If someone runs up a huge bill and, through inability to pay, that cost is passed on to the other consumers, it adds up to a significant percentage of the negative drag on our economy.

However you feel about abortion, it does not have that kind of effect. Overturning Roe v Wade might well be an admirable goal, and probably is. However, it does not follow that such a goal should be followed, if successful, by an equally odious extreme involving the long arm of the federal government. Simply put, Republicans need to do a better job at explaining why the states should handle these matters, and the federal government is best left out of it, either pro or con.

Mitt Romney was at the meeting, and one of the things he pointed out, with some justification, was Obama's recent reversal of an executive order which previously prevented federal funds from going to international agencies that performed or counseled abortion. But see, here again, this is just more red meat that will not move the dial past the party faithful. There needs to be more than just disgust and dismay due to religious or moral objections to a medical procedure that is in at least some cases arguably justified.

The whole picture of international aid needs to be thoroughly examined. Why should any of them receive American taxpayer money? If a case can be made that they are putting it to good use and it is helping those it is supposedly meant to help, then make that case, and if it is going into the bank accounts of tin-horn dictators, then make the case with equal voracity that it should be cut. After all, as someone has recently reiterated, foreign aid is money that is taken from the working poor of wealthier nations to line the pockets of the wealthy and corrupt rulers of poor nations.

This is what needs to be hammered home, not that some agencies are performing abortions.

Words and how they are expressed mean a lot, and in this day and age of the seven second sound bite, carelessly chosen words can be all the difference between majority and minority parties.

In the last election, Americans were called to choose a hope they could believe in. Their choice was between "Yes we can" versus "Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb Iran".

It's not always Americans fault that they sometimes make the wrong choices.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Under The Carpet And Out The Door



The indictment of now former Governor Rod Blagojevich by Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgeral on corruption charges, followed by his impeachment in the Illinois House, and finally the conviction in the Illinois Senate which finally removed him from office, happened so fast its breathtaking.

In a way you have to wonder why politicians can't work this fast more often. Just think how much they could get done if they but would. On the other hand, there is a reason that is not always such a good idea. A lot of time, actions taken in haste do not always result in the best outcome. The more serious is the matter, the more appropriate the scrutiny. In this case, do we really know all there is to know?

As I've said before, I know this guy is probably corrupt and doubtless did at least a great deal of what he was accused of doing. Still, would this have gotten that far under ordinary circumstances, with a Governor whose state controlled not only both houses of the legislature, but all but one state-wide office? It would seem unlikely. So, what's the story here? Why did Patrick Fitzgerald pounce on this so quickly? No one seems to know or to even care as to what his original impetus was to conduct an investigation of the governor to begin with.

I think the following paragraph from the Wikipedia entry on Blagojevich might just tell you all you need to know-

As of October 13, 2008 (well before Blagojevich's arrest), an unprecedented 0% of Illinois voters rated him excellent in a Rasmussen poll, with 4% rating him good, 29% fair, and 64% poor.[62] Blagojevich ranked as "Least Popular Governor" in the nation according to Rasmussen Reports By the Numbers.[12]
On October 23, 2008, the Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich suffered the lowest ratings ever recorded for an elected politician in nearly three decades of Chicago Tribune polls. The survey of 500 registered likely voters conducted showed that 10% wanted Blagojevich re-elected in 2010, while three-fourths said they didn't want him back for a third term. The survey also showed only 13% approved of Blagojevich's performance, while 71% disapproved. Only eight percent of the state's voters believe Blagojevich has lived up to his promise to end corruption in government. 60% of Democrats did not want him to serve another term in office, and 54% disapproved of the job he had done. Among independent voters, 83% disapproved of his performance and 85% of them rejected a Blagojevich third term.[63] Blagojevich said in October 2008 that if he were running for re-election this year, he would win, and the economy, not his federal investigations, had caused his unpopularity.[11]
In February 2008, Blagojevich's approval ratings had been, by various accounts, 16% to the low 20s, which was lower than those of then-President George W. Bush in Illinois.[18]


So there you have it. Assuming Blagojevich had no intention of stepping aside at the end of his term and fully intended to fight for re-election, the Illinois Democrats, state office-holders as well as the Illinois Congressional delegation, had every reason in the world to get rid of him by any means possible. Unfortunately for Blagojevich, he made it far too easy for them to do so.

This man had no friends in Illinois. He was successful in acquiring office through the influence of his father, first to the state legislature and then to the US House of Representatives, until he finally won election, and then re-election, as Governor. But somewhere in between the beginning and the end, he seems to have alienated every potential ally he ever had, including those within his own party. He was in fact a pariah well before this scandal became public knowledge. He has even long been considered mentally unhinged well before it became popular to give such assessments public utterance. He almost came to blows with a member of the Illinois legislature, and has had more than his share of problems with Mayor Dailey of Chicago, at one point pressing him to fund the Chricago Transit Authority with the proceeds of the sale of city property as related in this article from 2007.

He has constantly been at odds with the Illinois legislature over such things as the legalization of Keno. He has also engaged in other kinds of funding schemes, for example by pressing for education funding, but in such a way as to potentially endanger state pension funds, according to his critics, who are legion. He has constantly harangued the legislature to remain in session until such budget matters are satisfactorily resolved. This by the way could be the source of his charge that they want to get rid of him in order to pave the way to raise taxes on Illinois citizens.

A look at his record, however-a statewide smoking ban, gun control legislation, comprehensive education initiatives, etc.-would seem to tag him not so much as a tax and spend liberal but as a spend and borrow populist. In all honesty, the state is probably better off without him.

Nevertheless, more should be troubled at the implication that the office of Federal Prosecutor in the person of Patrick Fitzgerald should be co-opted for the purpose of an inner-party housecleaning. Not that I find that to be all that surprising-just disturbing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The New York Times Chances Are Slim

I don't even know where to begin in trying to figure out this story I lifted from The Fat Guy. I'll give it a shot though. These days, nobody really wants to read this rag, so its losing money like a drunken sailor in a Bangkok whore house. It's hemorrhaging cash to the extent that in the last five months it's stock value has lost more than fifty percent of its worth, just within that span of time.

Naturally, to many this would be an opportunity, so up pops a Mexican billionaire by the name of Carlos Slim, who is reportedly the second wealthiest man in the world. Worse, this seems to be a trend, with oligarchs from all over the world buying up cash strapped American companies.

What this means in this particular case, of course, is that the New York Times editorial policy might conceivably reflect the views and opinions of this Mexican foreign national who is as of now majority stockholder. In other words, not a hell of a lot would change. That's the sad part. The Times has lost a large percentage of its readership due to the understandable perception among many that it is biased in its news coverage, to say the least.

So now, what happens? Somebody comes along to make sure the paper gets to stay in business retching up the same daily bilge, as though it will somehow influence people, given an extra lifeline of support. Why else buy this fish-wrapper, but as a propaganda device? He sure as hell can't be thinking he's going to make a decent profit, and so far as I know this would not qualify as charitable donation. Well, I guess it could amount to a tax write-off to some extent, but hell now.

Below are some excerpts from the Yahoo News article-

The $250 million investment by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim could provide some synergies with his telecommunications holdings in Latin America, analysts say.

The Times, which also publishes The Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune, has been trying to conserve cash as advertising revenues continue to slide. Newspaper publishers across the country are hurting amid the economic downturn and as advertisers shift spending online. The Times slashed its quarterly dividend by 74 percent in November and plans to raise $225 million from its new, 52-story Manhattan headquarters, either by selling the building and leasing it back or borrowing against it. It also put its stake in the Boston Red Sox up for sale.

Slim is part of a crop of emerging-market billionaires, from Mexico to Russia, who are on a shopping spree now that the recession has slashed the prices of some of America's best-known companies.

The Times announced late Monday the financing agreement with Slim's companies Banco Inbursa and Inmobiliaria Carso for $125 million each. Times President Janet L. Robinson said the cash infusion will be used to refinance existing debt and will provide the company with increased financial flexibility.

New York Times shares slipped 8 cents to $6.33 in morning trading Tuesday, the first trading day after the company announced the deal.


Slim and members of his family purchased 6.4 percent of the company's publicly traded shares. The Times said the value of Slim's investment has since fallen to $58 million from $128 million.


Note how the Times is losing so much money they are considering making up the shortfall by selling their stake in the Boston Red Sox, probably one of the few enterprises they are involved with that has at least the potential to be profitable. Now that is determination.

Oh well-so many American products are made overseas, I guess its just a logical progression that anything with the by now rare slogan Made In America should be run by CEOs from anywhere but. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can in many cases be a positive trend if it bolsters the economy and saves American jobs, and should not be viewed with undue alarm.

Regardless of that general idea, however, when foreign nationals purchase the so-called "newspaper of record" I would think that should be cause for at least some concern over the prospect of conflict of interest, not only in the editorial pages, but in potential for continued slanted news coverage for which the paper is more renowned than anything else. Just imagine how heads would have turned if it turned out that the New York Times of the nineteen sixties, seventies, and eighties was really controlled by Soviet nationals with connections to Pravda or the KGB after all.

That has in fact long been a suspicion, one that was well-founded, though unproven. In this case, maybe it won't be that bad. Maybe Slim will turn the paper around and make it profitable again, as unlikely as that seems.

The question is, why bother?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ceiling Cat Nose You Tohts, K?

I don't like to link the same blog more than one time within a short period of time, and it's especially unusual to link the same post more than once, but this one by Patrick at Born Again Bourgeois is just too good to pass up.

It seems that almost the entire Bible has been translated into LOLCat, and is available on-line. LOLCat, for the uninitiated, is an internet meme of humorous cat photos with captions, and it has led to the development of its own form of internet shorthand.

Here is the main page of the LOLCat Bible and following is an excerpt from the Book of John-

Teh Cat Macro Becamded Flesh

1 In teh beginz is teh meow, and teh meow sez “Oh hai Ceiling Cat” and teh meow iz teh Ceiling Cat.

2 Teh meow an teh Ceiling Cat iz teh bests frenz in teh begins.

3 Him maeks alls teh cookies; no cookies iz maed wifout him.

4 Him haz teh liefs, an becuz ov teh liefs teh doodz sez “Oh hay lite.”

5 Teh lite iz pwns teh darks, but teh darks iz liek “Wtf.”

6 And teh Ceiling Cat haz dis otehr man; his naem iz John.

7 He tellz teh ppl dat teh lites is tehre, so dat teh doodz mite bleev.

8 Him wuz not teh lite; he jsut sez teh lites is tehre.

9 Teh tru lite ov lotz of lite wuz comes, k?

10 He iz liek, “Oh hai, I mades u,” but teh wurld duznt sees him.

11 He iz comes to his stuffs, but his stuffs sez “Do not want!”

12 And sum guyz did want, and sez “Teh Ceiling Cat pwns,” and deez guyz iz liek his kidz—

13 But not liek reel kidz, k? Iz liek teh Ceiling Cats kidz.

Ceiling Cat is of course God, and The Meow (The Word) is Christ. Although he is not mentioned in the preceding passage, the Devil is Basement Cat.

It's a pretty cool little project by people who obviously have way too much time on their hands. Maybe eventually they'll get around to doing a version of The Iliad or some of the other Classics and ancient myths, which would be a real blast. For the record, I strongly recommend they avoid the temptation to translate the Koran.

Globish-A New Language Of Few Words

A new world language is here, and actually has been for some time, and it has the potential of spreading and winning wide acceptance in a way Esperanto could have never hoped to achieve. Perhaps you have noticed how, when non-English speakers learn the language, they are all remarkably similar. Well, someone has noticed it, and as a result is now pushing this potentially ground breaking and unifying new language which he calls Globish.

It contains a very basic vocabulary of just over one thousand words, and about the only people in the world who are at a disadvantage in a conversation involving Globish are speakers of English. Yet, could this possibly evolve into something more complex over time? Might we eventually have journals and novels written in Globish? Could it possibly become the world's second language of choice, and eventually, depending on its evolution over time, into the first?

Many are not thrilled at the prospect, to say the least, but there are those who find the idea appealing. I don't know, though, I think they might help their cause were they to adopt a different spokesperson, however appropriate he might seem as a model for the Globish speaker of the world.



Hat Tip to Patrick at Born Again Bourgeois

Monday, January 26, 2009

Conservapedia-aka You Have Got To Be Joking

You might consider the following exhibit A as to why the Republican Party has lost the last two elections. It is supposedly from a site called Conservapedia. Although it was founded by a son of Phyllis Schafley (based on the proposition that Wikipedia, from which it was modelled, has a liberal bias) as a conservative learning tool for home-schooled conservative children and a reference guide for social conservatives in general, this entry at least seems to read more like Landover Baptist. Click on the picture to enlarge. I have more thoughts on this matter below, as this might not be so cut-and-dried as it seems.



Sometimes it's really better to just keep your sentiments to yourelf, isn't it? Or, is this a legitimate representation of the site's views? Bear in mind, I found out about this from Wonkette.

I have to wonder if this might be a matter of trolling. Conservapedia prides itself on being harder to disrupt than Wikipedia, in that they have more stringent guidelines for posting and editing. Still, how hard could it be to open an account, wait a few weeks or even months, possibly post a few minor entries in order to secure status, and then make a submission designed to embarrass the site and make waves? One possible clue is the title of the above picture, which is "killem", but of course anyone who saves a picture from a site onto their computer can change the name of the image. If it was a legitimate or semi-legitimate (posted by a true conservative who is about three bricks short of a load), the name may have been different. Or maybe not.

To be sure, there are undoubtedly conservatives who genuinely feel this way, just as there are more than a handful of liberals who are as bad or worse. A few random samplings of the more lunatic postings of Democratic Underground, for just one example, would certainly attest to that.

Nevertheless, this is quite remarkable. Bear in mind one or a few conservative posters does not necessarily represent the majority, even on Conservapedia, which for the time being is down for "maintenance". A visit to their site reveals the following temporary posting-

Conservapedians,

We are working on some maintenance now. Conservapedia will be back up shortly.

Thank you for your patience, Conservapedia Staff


When the site is back up, I have an idea the offending posting will have been removed. In the meantime-Wonkette, if you did that, (1) you ought to be ashamed of yourselves and (2) okay, yes, that was hilarious.

And if this really was an intentional posting by Conservapedia-yes, I know many leftists and liberals are every bit as bad, but remember, the conservative movement is the one at a severe disadvantage, for now, and these kinds of antics are not helpful, to put it lightly.

UPDATE-Well, the page is back up-kind of. Yeah, the page is there, with the title Democratic Senators From States With Republican Governors. However, aside from that tile, the page is a blank, empty, save for the usual side-bar links and whatnot, the things that appear on all pages, like for example a link to the home page. Judging by this, I was correct in my assessment that the page being down for maintenance was precisely due to this article, though as far as I know they have not directly addressed the controversy yet. Maybe in time they will. I would like to see some kind of attempt at an explanation, denial, accusation of sabotage, or something, even if its something stupid. Come to think of it, that would be so much the better.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jerusalem

Now that Hamas has claimed victory in the face of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, maybe people will finally start to catch on that this problem is never going to be solved, at least not within the lifetimes of any of us living now, if ever.

Oh, it could be solved, but there are a very few limited ways in which this could be accomplished, none of which is feasible.

1. The world communities establish a separate nation for the Palestinians away from Israeli borders. My idea would be for donated land-preferably with a coastline to facilitate trade-somewhere in an area of land somewhere near Oman or Yemen, with Saudi Arabia contributing a share of the land as well. They and the international community could help develop it. A further compensation package for Palestinian heads of households of families who are descended from those who lost property at the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 could be added. Though it might seem inordinately expensive, it would pay for itself in a decades time if it produced the desired result-peace, at long last.

The problem-The world community would never go along with this, and in fact I have been accused of promoting ethnic cleansing. So, there's one potential solution more or less out the window. What's next?

2. Hand Jerusalem over to the Palestinians. Not just the eastern part of it, all of it. Although it might seem radical, I am reasonably certain a deal could be arranged to insure the rights of Jews and Christians. The problem would be finding a significant number of them who would be willing to stay aside from Christian Arabs. It might help if Jews were allowed to rebuild the Temple, though of course they would not be able to do so on the original spot, which is now occupied by the Dome Of The Rock.

The problem-Israel is highly unlikely to accede to handing all of Jerusalem over to become the capitol of a proposed Palestinian state. It galls them beyond belief that they might have to hand over East Jerusalem back to Arab control, but most Israeli politicians seem reluctantly amenable to that in theory. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that East Jerusalem on its own will be enough. If it is ceded to the Palestinians, or to the care of the Jordanians as a protectorate much like Lichtenstein or Andorra, or even if it becomes a state in its own right like the Vatican (which would probably be impractical) it would still be a useless gesture if the entire city was not included in the package.

Why is Jerusalem such an important piece of the puzzle? Simply put, Jerusalem is the only reason this controversy continues on, and has for the last sixty years. All other issues are sideshow distractions at the least, but more to the point, they are tactical maneuvers.

Consider-if upon the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, the city of Jerusalem, all of it, were not included, but instead was given over entirely to the proposed Palestinian entity at that time, yet every single square inch of Israel was otherwise the same-this would not be such an issue, if indeed it were an issue at all.

Certainly there would have been objections, possibly even war. It might have dragged on for a decade or two, conceivably even three. But it would not have dragged on for sixty years. It would not be dragging on now, with no conceivable end in sight.

If Israel would simply give up all of Jerusalem and vacate the premises, the problem would be solved. Such non-relevant issues as the so-called "right of return" and even objections to the "apartheid wall" would vanish like the morning dew, only unlike that phenomenon, they would never be heard from again. All of the other cities lost in the formation of Israel, such as Haifa, Joppa, Tel Aviv, etc., would suddenly become distant memories in the minds and hearts of the Palestinians. And really, think about it. What is the real connection of the average Palestinian living today to those places? For the most part, their sole connection to them is through old weathered photos of a great-grandparent and in some cases a few land deeds. The vast majority of Palestinians living today have never set foot in these places, let alone lived there. Their emotional connection is hyperbolic sentimentality manufactured and encouraged by a manipulative power structure in the form of such political and religious entities as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.

All of these entities receive their funding, what doesn't come from the international community, by way of donations from corrupt secular Arab rulers and from religious Islamic charities who draw heavily on upper middle class and upper class Muslims who adhere to a very conservative view of the Koran and Islam. Let me make it clear, this is not to say that they are all radical extremists, though some are, but for the most part they are just very conservative and orthodox in their religious views, and to them the Palestinians are a just cause. But that cause has next to nothing to do with Haifa. It has everything to do with Jerusalem.

Even Saddam Hussein, though a secular tyrant, donated money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He did this not because he thought they were a legitimate threat to the Israeli state, nor did he do so as a means of sticking his thumb in the eye of the Zionists and their American allies. He did so because he sought to curry favor with the average Muslim not only in his country, but on an international basis.

So what is the reason that this would be such a popular issue that a blood-thirsty dictator like Saddam would use it to curry favor? The idea that Palestinian youths have been deprived of a home in Haifa taken from their great-grandparents fifty years before they were born just doesn't fly with me. Nor does anti-Jewish sentiment even serve to explain it, as Jews had lived in the area for centuries, in all parts of the Arab world, and for the most part got along seemingly well-every bit as much as they did in the hell hole for Jews that was Europe, for the most part, and when you get right down to it, probably better on the average.

Again, all of these other issues are sideshow issues and tactical maneuvers. Jerusalem is now and always was the key. It is, after all, the third holiest city of the Muslim faith.

Of course there is one third and final option for a lasting and permanent peace, aside from the two I have mentioned, and that is, as I see it, a final war resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and ending in one side or the other going down to a crushing, humiliating, and undeniable defeat. "You should see the other guy" will not be a reasonable retort.

Naturally, the international community does not want this, and will do everything in their power to prevent it, while inadverdantly serving to keep the hostilities smoldering. The real problem with that is, they might not always be in the position to forestall the inevitable. The way it stands now, the international community can barely keep its collective heads above water from an economic standpoint.

How much longer can they possibly keep the lid on this ever-boiling pot of anger, resentment, and hatred? If and when it finally blows, it's going to be a mess, but at least maybe then it will finally all be over with.

UPDATE-

Just as an afterthought, as one indication of how emotionally charged this issue is, you can go to the blog of Renegade Eye, where this has been over the course of the last month an on-going topic of discussion. It would seem that the more the topic is hashed out, the more vitriolic it becomes-

here, here, here, and here.

It would seem as though there is no realistic hopes for any kind of genuinely peaceful solution in sight-even among those of us sitting in relative comfort half a world away. What must it be like among those for whom this is more than a mere ideological concept and ideal, but instead is a day-to-day reality of life, a reality over which for the most part they have little if any control.

Obama Kicks Bush In The Nuts

This article might well be reading too much into Obama's inaugural speech. Then again, maybe not. The article points out many examples of how Obama's speech in very many ways amounted to not just a repudiation of the Presidency of George W. Bush-seeing as how Bush was present during the speech, the speech pretty much amounted to a kick in balls of the former President.

Following is just one excerpt from among many, which gives a portion of the speech text, followed by the author's rather interesting interpretation.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West –– know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.


This was not just a comment to leaders around the world. This was a comment for George, first and everyone else second. George has built nothing, he has only destroyed. His administration was shockingly corrupt, deceitful and he was just told so by an adult. “Unclench your fist.” My God. Brutal. Those three words could not describe Bush more. And it was obvious, throughout this speech, who he was talking to. Today, some historians have said no president has repudiated another so harshly during an inaugural address since Roosevelt handed Hoover his ass on a plate. And you can be sure the message was received this time.


Like I said, the author may have been reading too much into the speech. For one thing, it's hard to see how a leader blaming their problems on the west would apply to Bush-but on the other hand-well, go read the article in its entirety and judge for yourself. If anything, it's at least entertaining.

Well, after all, this is Suicide Girls.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Emmonak Alaska-American Community In Need



Rufus on Grad Student Madness originally posted about this article about the severe hardships faced by the townsfolk of Emmonak Alaska. I just thought I'd pass it on.

Emmonak Alaska, pictured above, might not look like much, but it is just one of a string of small communities in Alaska that has been hard hit by what has been called a "perfect storm" of disasters. First, the salmon catch on which these communities are so dependent has gotten so low it has necessitated the closing of a fishery which was the major employee of Emmonak. As if that weren't enough, the Yukon River experienced an early freeze in late fall. Below is a picture of an earlier freeze which transpired in the nineteen nineties.




As you can tell by the picture below, at times these freezes can come about suddenly and unexpectedly.



Most of the time, though, they are predictable enough so as to insure timely deliveries of heating fuel. This year, unfortunately, the freeze occurred too early for the usual deliveries by river, therefore forcing deliveries by air lift, which caused an exponential increase in the cost of the fuels to the extent that people found themselves paying hundreds of dollars for two weeks worth of heating fuel.

Now, roughly ninety percent of the community of Emmonak is drawing food stamps. Community leaders have urged Governor Palin to declare the entire region a disaster area, but this takes time for some reason which I'm not sure I understand. Evidently there is a bureaucratic demand that a significant amount of the population must be demonstrated to be beyond help from any other source. State officials have visited the area and attended a town hall meeting to gauge the needs of the community, which does seem to be in dire straights. Yet, according to one official in attendance, the Governor simply can't step outside her office and declare an emergency. To the outrage of many of the affected townsfolk, it was explained that these things take time, a commodity of which they are in especially short supply.

In the meantime, here is a page you can go to if you might be interesting in offering assistance in the way of donating needed goods.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When White Will Embrace What Is Right



In the above photo, we see a group of lazy, shiftless union soldiers engaged in a game of dominoes, a wanton leisure activity, instead of doing what they should have been doing, working non-stop 24/7 to destroy the evil confederacy and free their enslaved black brethren.

They should have made the attempt to embrace what was right, in other words, and we white folks of today should do likewise, just like Reverend Lowery said at President Obama's inauguration.

I guess there's just no hope for us white people, and I'm so thankful to Reverned Lowery for having the courage and integrity to point that out to all of us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not So Ambiguously Gay Super Heroes



Something tells me the folks at this site are kind of kidding around, but you can expect this kind of thing to become widespread the more the news circulates about the expected Showtime series about a gay superhero.

Comics legend Stan Lee is developing a new drama for Showtime about the life and times of a gay teenage superhero.

The hour long show will be based on the 2007 novel Hero by Chronicles of Narnia producer Perry Moore, who is also writing the pilot for the series. The novel tells the story of Thom Creed, a high school student just awakening to both his superpowers and his sexual identity. Afraid of the reaction of his homophobic home town, Creed struggles to keep both aspects of his life a secret.


Actually, though, it is a mistaken assumption on the part of many that this will be the first gay superhero. It will undoubtedly be the first on television, to be sure, but in reality gay and lesbian, and even transgendered heroes-and villains-have been around for some time now.

The first actual gay hero in the comics is generally considered to be Marvel's Northstar. Yet, while he may be the first, he is far from alone. In fact, their numbers at this point would appear to be legion, as proven by this list.



In fact, long-time comics fans of old might be surprised at some of the names they might out in the way of more recent developments in modern comics storylines. Robin, for example, at one point went through a villainous phase. Reason-his unrequited love for Batman. An old Marvel western hero, the Rawhide Kid, recently outed himself, but this seems to have been a ruse, probably geared toward teaching a lesson in tolerance. A renegade Skrull named Skyppi, who befriends Hercules and the Recorder, becomes their partner, and though he doesn't seem explicitly gay, he does seem to favor taking on the form of beautiful women. In one of the more well-known examples, Batwoman came out of the closet, revealing herself to be a lesbian. Nor are villains immune. The long-time Marvel villain Electro realized he was gay after a particularly long prison stint.

Where will it all lead to? One thing that has been pointed out in this Harper's article is that gay characters tend to suffer horrible fates. It is worth noting that after the much publicized outing of Northstar in Marvel's Alpha Flight series, in which he was a team member of some duration, he was quickly dropped. He was later killed, in three separate incarnations, the later two being in the context of two different examples of the bizarre and by now much overused and abused parallel universe story lines which have turned the reading of comic books into an exercise in sheer banality.

The trend will doubtless reach it's zenith with the introduction of the world's first not only openly and proudly gay super hero, but flamboyantly so. After so long, The Human Torch might want to consider adopting another battle cry.

In the meantime, if you would like to have some fun with this, you can join a forum discussion on superhero names. The moderator of one particular forum, in initiating the topic thread which asks that you suggest names for gay superheroes, put it this way.

Not gay, nothing wrong with being gay, just wondering might use it for when I write a book or something? Remember keep it kosher.

Of course, in very short order, it descended into total chaos, with the same moderator joining the fray.

My favorite name so far suggested-Assassin.

Remember, keep it kosher now.

My Own Private Little Greek Goddess


To hell with Obama and his inauguration. All you little Obama-bots are welcome to him. Here's what I'm going to be digging on today.

Agents Sentences Commuted

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two former US Border Patrol agents previously convicted on a number of charges stemming from the shooting of an alleged drug smuggler in the course of their jobs, have had their sentences commuted in a last act of clemency by outgoing President George W. Bush. Originally sentenced to eleven and twelve years respectively, both men's sentences are now set to be served in full by March 20th of this year.

They probably never should have been charged to begin with, but the one thing that may have hurt them the most in the minds of federal prosecutors-a tempering with evidence charge-was probably the precursor to the accompanying charges. Ironically, that was the only charged overturned on appeal. The two guards had allegedly removed shell casings from the scene of the incident.

In the meantime, the smuggler in question was found not to have been armed, contrary to the agent's claims, and a van in the area, which apparently contained significant amounts of marijuana, was never proven to have belonged to the immigrant, who was shot by one of the men in the ass while attempting to flee. He was later granted the right to sue the federal government. He was later apprehended smuggling marijuana across the border.

I always wondered why Bush never pardoned the men, which, assuming the accounts I have heard are correct, he should have-and should yet. A commutation is not quite the same. They will probably never be able to regain their former jobs. Of course, that might be just as well with them, but they could also recover damages. By limiting his actions on their behalf to a commutation of their sentences, as opposed to overturning them entirely, Bush has offered a degree of protection to the federal government they probably do not deserve.

But at least after a relatively short time, they will be free men, albeit with a probably undeserved record.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Insert Not Included



That's how these crooked damn companies hook you every time. They make you think you're getting a great deal, and then you have to turn right around and buy something else before they will work. There oughta be a law.

People's Cube

Mormon Family Values And Proposition 8

I guess it won't be long now before the gay marriage issue will figure prominently as a plot device in the HBO series Big Love, a show about a polygamist Mormon family which is produced by Tom Hanks. Hanks has come out swinging in response to the recent Proposition 8 which outlawed gay marriage in California.

“The truth is this [show, "Big Love,"] takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here’s what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who’s responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let’s have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”

Which, it seems natural that the show broach the subject matter, and that's fine as long as it does it in a thoughtful, non-condescending way, without becoming preachy about it. It might actually make for some interesting television if, for example, one of the three wives portrayed on the show had a gay brother-or if she herself were gay. If the husband turns out to have been a Proposition 8 supporter, or even donated money to the cause, it could turn out to be even more interesting.

One things for sure, under the circumstances in which the polygamist husband lives his life, he damn sure wouldn't want to end up on this map.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Across The Universe

I guess if this story is true, that our universe is in reality a giant holographic reflection from some unknown extra-dimensional universe, somebody has some 'splainin' to do. For example, to that great big giant pagan sitting somewhere the universe getting ready to smoke his umpteenth cigarette before he finally goes to bed and jacks off-come on, cut it out.

On the other hand, if I really am a nothing but a hologram, what the hell do I know? I'm probably nothing but a reflection of some superior being who has probably decided to not smoke and jack off any longer, and my current angst over my habits is just a reflection of his greater wisdom, sort of like this article of a man giving a presentation in holographic form.



I have a better idea, however, one that at least is more comforting, whether it is right or not. How about as we spread out across the universe, and accelerate due to decreasing levels of gravitational pull exerted from our central point of origin, we take on a more complex form and actually over time add dimensional depth due to the ease of restriction. Thus to those of you who see our universe from your present perspective, you are seeing a continuing process of evolution.

See, under my scenario, the best is yet to come. We are the best of what has come to pass so far, and yet, things can only get better, wouldn't you think? We should grow increasingly more complex and, as a result, more evolved. Of course, we could also all just eventually dissipate. Just in case, whatever I do between now and then, I promise not to tell.

The Rehabilitation Of Adolf Hitler


Little Adolf Hitler Campbell, along with his sisters (one of whom is named Aryan Nations) has been removed from the custody of his parents and remanded into the custody of The New Jersey Division of Youth And Family Services. One example of a good reason for this occurred when, as a portent of a long and troubled future, a New Jersey store in the families hometown of Flemington refused to decorate a birthday cake for the little boy with the objectionable name included.

Look, I don't often agree with state social services and their methods and aims, and I could care less that the parents involved are obviously Nazis or, failing that, maybe just stupid pricks. They need to leave their kids out of this kind of nonsense, and as far as I'm concerned New Jersey made the right call here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Anybody For A Bonfire?

Know anybody that's planning on attending the Obama inauguration? Are you? If so, you should be ashamed of yourself. According to this article

The carbon footprint of Barack Obama's inauguration could exceed 575 million pounds of CO2. According to the Institute for Liberty, it would take the average U.S. household nearly 60,000 years of naughty ecological behavior to produce a carbon footprint equal to the largest self-congratulatory event in the history of humankind.

Maybe if they had already had the inauguration, my pipes wouldn't have frozen up overnight, necessitating a most appreciated speedy repair job by my local city water department. Thankfully, this was due to exposure of the main pipe outside to the sub-zero temperatures last night. They fixed and insulated them, and as an extra bonus, they repaired the outside cylinder on which the cover fits. It had previously been damaged when a neighbor parked his truck over it. Since this caused the lid not to fit adequately, the cold air pulled a number on the pipes last night. Thankfully, it was an outside, not an indoor pipe, which would have cost a pretty penny to repair.

According to environmentalists and their Congressional supporters like Henry Waxman, problems of this nature, and other things, are all due to "Global Climate Change" (because Global Warming just sounds so damn hilarious these days).

Thus, according to the article, Waxman is determined to rush through legislation as quickly as possible to deal with these issues, apparently before even more people catch on to just how nonsensical it all is, despite those of us who have already figured it out, and while there is a ton of money to be made off what is these days looking more and more to be a scam of-well, of global proportions.

Is it any wonder the chap seems to be in a bit of a hurry?

The day Waxman delivered his statement, the National Weather Service issued a warning for Chicago about wind chill somewhere in the vicinity of 25 to 40 below zero. In Maine, citizens expected something around 40 below zero. And Iowans were warned that temperatures could drop as far as 27 below. In many places across the nation, there was record-setting cold.
So, in other words, Waxman expects these unfortunate glacial souls to pay higher energy prices to shield themselves from Arctic chills in the name of global warming?
That's quite a trick.
Still, politically, the time is right for progressives to pass any legislation they please. But Democrats may also be setting themselves up for failure. This kind of central planning, after all, has a winning record envied only by the Detroit Lions.


Now that is just unfair and mean-spirited. The Lions have a pretty decent record overall, especially their Thanksgiving Day record.

I guess I can come clean now and drop the coyness, and give thanks unto the Mighty Quinn for his speedy response to my earlier invocation at Yule. Just don't scare me like that anymore, buddy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So, Who Was Number One Again?


A flurry of news from the excellent blog Popehat, so I'll just link to the main page. I'm too lazy right now to mess with Microsoft Word, so, first things first.

No sooner do we hear that the popular British series The Prisoner has been remade and will be shown on the cable channel AMC (starring The Passion Of The Christ star Jim Caviezzel in the title role) than we learn that the old series star and creator Patrick MacGoohan has died at the age of 80.

If the new series is as good as the old reportedly was, it will serve as a fitting tribute to the life of this great actor, who also starred in the cult hit series The Avengers. AMC is showing the old series, but this is kind of a mixed bag. I don't think they could possibly top the ending of the old series, yet if they don't change it, that kind of ruins the element of surprise. Then again, it's easy enough to find that out on the internet. Or is it? Decades later, people are still debating what it means.

MacGoohan never revealed what it was, and now he has taken the secret to his grave.



On top of the news of MacGoohan's demise, it was revealed earlier that Ricardo Montalban has also died. He capped off a decades long career with an appearance in "The Wrath Of Khan", which was arguably the greatest of the Star Trek movies. Montalban, in the title role of the villainous Khan-a role he recreated from the old sixties series-made the movie and quite possibly is single-handedly responsible for re-invigorating the franchise.

That's the thing about great movie villains. You have to love them, and then again, you have to hate them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

24-Yet Another Season Of Mind-Numbing Torture

I had high hopes that this season of 24 would make up for the generally awful last season six. Tony Almeida, long presumed dead, was returning as one of the series main villains. He had plenty of reason to be bitter. When he was supposedly killed about two thirds of the way through season five, he was a victim of then current President Charles Logan, who killed Tony’s wife, and assassinated former President David Palmer, in a convoluted plot to prevent Palmer from revealing the truth about a shady plot Logan was involved in. He intended to set up Jack Bauer to take the blame for the assaults to cover his tracks, Jack having gone into hiding in order to prevent his being handed over to the Chinese for an earlier assault on their embassy, which resulted in the death of a Chinese diplomat in season four. Jack of course came out of hiding to clear his name, and when we finally learned the truth, and Logan was finally brought to justice, he ended up getting a slap on the wrist in order to prevent the nation being traumatized.

Now it turns out that Almeida was revived within ten minutes of his death by a rogue British agent who then took him in as part of his crew of domestic terrorists. (How all this happened so quickly, with Tony’s body in custody of the government agency for whom he worked, has so far not been satisfactorily explained) When Jack is subpoenaed away from a Senate Committee hearing, where he is being grilled for his use of torture in the interrogation of suspects while a member of the now-disbanded CTU (Counter-Terrorism Unit), and remanded to the custody of the FBI, he learns that his old friend and partner is now not only alive, but a domestic terrorist. The group to which he belongs has gained control of the nation’s protective firewall, giving them the power to affect the national power grid, air-traffic control, water and sewage treatment plants, and a host of other things. Their goal-to blackmail current President Allison Taylor into calling off an assault on the rogue leader of an African nation bent on genocide. In the meantime, we learn that high-level officials of the American government are on the payroll of the despotic general, whose nation is rich in diamonds. As if that is not enough, Jack quickly learns that the FBI has a mole in its ranks.

So far so good, but then it all falls apart. Tony is in fact working undercover to bring down the terrorist group. As if that’s not enough, it also turns out he is working as part of a secret group of counter-terrorists made up of Jack’s former compatriots in CTU.

In other words, what was once the sharpest, edgiest show on network television has turned into a satire of itself. Something has happened to the writers of this show. They are no longer willing to take chances, the kind of chances that made this show several notches above your average television fare, and now they are pandering to the audience. That’s a sure sign of doom. First, the writers in conjunction with the networks insult their viewers intelligence, and then they throw them a few crumbs to string them along.

There was no reason to bring Tony Almeida back. He should have stayed dead, but the writers couldn’t resist using the popularity of Carlos Bernard as a ratings ploy. It would have worked too, if Almeida truly was a villain, but under the circumstances, his return to the show is meaningless drivel designed to attract viewers and shore up ratings. The use of characters Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynne Rajskaub) and William Buchanan (William Morrison) in the ridiculous plot device of devoted government servants struggling in anonymity to save the nation from the dastardly corrupt villains who have infiltrated the government, is just adding insult to injury.

True, they could salvage this season-and the show-by turning it around, but I doubt now this will happen. I have a feeling the entire series is already in the can, and so it’s probably too late to rework this obvious mess.

In the past, when 24 sprung a shocker, it had impact. You never saw it coming. In almost every season-even the god awful season six-there were usually at least one “WTF” moments that defined the season, for better or worse, even if it made no difference to the overall worth of the season.

Season One stands out still as the best of the lot. It was a non-stop nerve grinding suspense ride, starting from the abduction of Jack’s daughter and her friend by two young thugs on the payroll of a Balkan based terrorist group determined to blackmail Jack into assassinating then Presidential candidate David Palmer. This led to the later abduction of Jack’s wife Terri, who was later raped, and then finally, at the end, murdered, by Nina Meyers, the one CTU agent Jack trusted, and with whom he had previously engaged in an illicit affair, and who turned out to be the CTU mole in an unfortunately too oft-repeated plot device.

Season Two saw the sacrificial death of CTU chief George Mason, who flew an activated nuclear bomb out to a remote area of the Nevada desert, where it exploded in relative safety. Mason had been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, and so his death was a given, but still gut wrenching in that he was previously seen as something of a heel.

Season Three saw Jack forced to do the unthinkable-he was forced to murder his then CTU boss Ryan Chappelle, in order to secure his cover in an attempt to recover a biological weapon sold to a rogue British agent by a Mexican drug cartel. Jack had previously engaged in heroin use and become an addict as part of his cover, and so this action threatened to send him into a further downward spiral. Chappelle knew it was coming, and tried to weasel out of it, but in the end, he was on his knees as Jack sent the bullet crashing into his brains. At the end, Nina Meyers was finally killed, as was Sherry Palmer, the President’s treacherous wife, and Palmer himself was forced to resign in the face of his wife’s actions-she had murdered a man to prevent him revealing his wife’s affair with the Presidents brother and Chief-of-Staff.

Season Four-Palmer’s presidential replacement was incapacitated by an attack on Air Force One, necessitating his replacement by Vice-President Charles Logan, who seems totally out of his element in the face of this season’s terrorist threat, and so calls for advice from Palmer. In this season, Logan seemingly represents a kind of perverse comic relief. He is corrupt, but seemingly incompetent, and willingly sells Jack down the river in order to keep himself politically viable.

Season Five-As already explained, former President Palmer is assassinated, as is Tony Almeida’s wife Michelle, in an assault that almost kills Almeida as well. He is later seemingly killed by a captured conspirator when he gets a little too careless in his interrogation of the man, who jams a needle with what is supposedly a lethal dose of some drug into Almeida’s stomach. It is only later that we learn that President Logan himself is the Chief ringleader of a group determined to extend America’s influence into the Central Asian region by enabling a terrorist attack by way of smuggled Russian missiles. By the end of the season, both Logan and Jack are in custody-Logan by the government, Jack by Chinese espionage agents still itching for revenge for the earlier assault on their embassy. They would later agree to return him to an almost certain death in the following stinker of a season.

Season Six-Yes, even as horrible as it was, it too had its moments, as in at the very beginning, where we learn that one of the ringleaders of the Logan cabal, a mysterious dorky looking unnamed character, was actually Jack Bauer’s treacherous brother, and that Jack’s own father is involved in a conspiracy to control the government. Both of them are killed, the brother unfortunately early on. The rest of the season devolved into nonsense. Someone decided it would be cool to make President Palmer’s brother, the aforementioned Chief-of-Staff of Season Three-the next President Logan. The only thing that salvaged this season was the re-introduction of the Chinese espionage agent over the course of the last several episodes, and in retrospect, even that now seems forced and hackneyed.

So what will be the defining moment of current Season Seven? I don’t really know, but I think it’s already come and gone. The producers of the show have lost a golden opportunity, taken what could have been a compelling idea and plot device in the resurrection and villainy of Tony Almeida, a man seemingly twisted by the drive for revenge, and turned it into just another television cliché.

Television shows succeed when they grab the viewer’s attention and make them want to tune in for more, and the key factors here are suspense, mystery, and the element of surprise. When television shows start pandering to their audiences, they throw those elements out the window. Then the viewers tune in to How I Met Your Mother.

Of course, I could be wrong, but when a series jettisons its most promising and compelling plot device this early on, it’s not a good sign.

Monday, January 12, 2009

South Korean Blogger Jailed For Criticizing Economic Policies

This is a story you might expect to hear come out of Pyonyang, not Seoul. How much longer will it be before the internet is regulated by some kind of international treaty which will make it illegal, according to international law, to criticize international trade or financial policies? If that ever does happen, which is not beyond the realm of possibility, to what other areas could this lead in the way of regulation? Don't laugh, international regulations of the internet of various types have already been discussed, though typically this involves the use of internet communications involving things such as sex crimes and alleged terrorist communications. Now, in the face of the current and seemingly never-ending global financial crisis, we have the following story from the International Herald Tribune.

Among governments struggling to contain the global financial crisis, South Korea set a rare and controversial example over the weekend by arresting a popular blogger who was accused of undermining the financial markets but worshipped by many Koreans as an online guru.

The man, known throughout South Korea by the pen name of Minerva - after the Roman goddess of wisdom - upset the government with his doomsayer's forecasts for the economy and his satirical attacks on President Lee Myung Bak's policies.

But when some of his predictions on the markets proved right, he gained a huge following among South Koreans fretting over an uncertain economic future.

Park Dae Sung's arrest on Saturday on charges of spreading false online information with a harmful intent - a crime punishable by up to five years in prison - came as the South Korean government was escalating its efforts to fight the fallout of the global financial turmoil. Last week, Lee's administration established an emergency economic task force to be based inside the presidential Blue House's "war room," an underground bunker fitted with security hot lines.

"I wrote articles to help those people alienated from the government - small merchants, individuals and ordinary people who had suffered from the financial crisis," Park told journalists on Saturday before he was jailed. "I plead not guilty."

For months, both the media and the authorities have scrambled to identify Minerva, who has uploaded more than 100 anonymous postings in Daum, the country's second-largest Web portal. He achieved a prophet's status after he predicted the collapse of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, the crash of the Korean currency and the effects of the toxic U.S. mortgage crisis eventually engulfing South Korea.

The commentary that got him in trouble was his claim on Dec. 29 that the government issued an "emergency order" to financial firms and major corporations to stop buying U.S. dollars in a dire effort to arrest the fall of the Korean won. The government was forced to issue a denial to calm the market, though officials had previously appealed to large companies to stop hoarding dollars.

Kim Yong Sang, a judge at the Seoul Central District Court, approving Park's arrest, said his blogging "affected foreign exchange markets and the nation's credibility."


According to the article in the International Herald Tribune, this guy got typically one hundred thousand readers per post. You can bet if he had spent the majority of his time promoting the economy and the Korean markets, and defending the Korean government, I wouldn't be blogging about this, because I never would have heard of the guy. Yet, wouldn't that under the circumstances be more of a crime? Criminal activity is all too often defined by law-makers and by law-enforcement in self-serving and manipulative ways, and this is certainly an example of that, albeit an extreme one.

I promise you will never hear of some stock market analyst, professional or otherwise, being prosecuted for promoting certain stocks, bonds, or market funds-save for those rare cases involving conflict of interest-regardless of how ill-advised it might turn out to be to heed their advice. Why then should someone be prosecuted for advising the opposite. It shouldn't be illegal to be a wet blanket. What if someone had sounded the alarm years ago over Bernie Maddoff's suspicious fund, and warned us all that it sounded more like some kind of advanced Ponzi scheme than a legitimate investment opportunity? Yet, of course as we all know now, that turns out to have been the case.

This guy predicted the collapse of Lehman Brothers literally days before it happened, something nobody here saw coming, yet he has a mere two year college degree-not an economics degree, but in some kind of tech-related field. He established an on-line persona as some old Korean farmer with an inexplicably advanced knowledge of economic language and trends. He is actually in his early twenties, and probably devised the persona out of a perceived need to protect his anonymity in the face of growing controversy. Yet, his persona was not that far removed from reality.

There are people that just seem to have a natural knack for seeing into certain things for which they have no advanced training or background. There are far too few of them, and they come along far too seldom, but when they do, they can have a huge impact. Had he been trained in this field, he probably would have kept his mouth shut and been just another cog in the wheel.

I would also like to note that the South Korean government in this case, in doing what Minerva accused them of doing while denying they did it and accusing him of a crime for blogging about it, may have broken some kind of international law by attempting to interfere with the international trade in dollars. The only thing Mr. Sung seems to have gotten wrong is his statement that there was some kind of "emergency order" as opposed to what the government described in almost cordial terms as an appeal to stop hoarding US dollars.

Yet, he got his facts slightly wrong, which gave the government the wriggle room they needed to pounce. That is the beginning of an authoritarian state, and may be yet another sign of the imminence of the coming ultimate collapse-to me, a welcome one-of the much-lauded "global economy". It should not let the door hit its ass on the way out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wasted Away

When you think of Jimmy Buffet, you tend to think of some slacker lounging on the beach or on the deck of a cabin cruiser, drinking tropical drinks off the coast of some Caribbean island, just relaxing and day-dreaming while planning his next deep-sea fishing excursion. You think of good times and silly, meaningless albeit fun music and partying. You wouldn't imagine his songs would have the kind of effect that a song by, say, Marilyn Manson might have if played at the wrong place at the wrong time, around just the right-or wrong-psychotic person on a drink-and-drug binge.

Well, evidently, you would be wrong.

A soldier from Fort Bragg, hanging out at a bar in Steamboat Springs, Col., was reportedly killed as a result of a bar fight, instigated when the soldier and a couple of friends put a Buffett song on the jukebox.

The police captain was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News as saying, "(Lopez) and two other individuals put on the song, but two other individuals did not agree with it."


The article doesn't say which Buffet song it was, but in retrospect, I can imagine ways in which almost any of them could induce this type of reaction under the right circumstances-especially if played repeatedly.

If I had to make a bet, though, I would have to put my money on "Cheeseburgers In Paradise"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The American Dream-Everybody Wants A Piece

Don'cha just love Larry Flynt? Well, hell, why not bail out the porn industry? They probably have more employees, and customers, and make more money, than the American auto industry. Forget Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. What could possibly be more American than Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler? In their own twisted way, they do provide a vital, needed service, and as the article notes, we are definitely a nation in need. As Flynt said in his statement in which he expressed the hopes for a congressional bailout for the porn industry-

"People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."


I wholeheartedly agree. If something isn't done, and soon, some of my favorite lounge dancers might quit and start working as school teachers or something. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lawsuit In The Making

Sometimes Andrew Sullivan serves up some real vile concoctions in his so-called "Daily Dish", but he's really served up a sewer full of shit now. John Travolta should sue this ass hat, and The Atlantic too, by the way. Yep, in case you haven't figured it out, Sullivan has implied that Travolta is acting shady over the death of his son Jett.

Of course, he's too clever to come right out and accuse him or murdering his beloved son, who died a few days ago from a seizure-well, according to the autopsy which Sullivan informs us was overseen by Travolta's family physician. No, he just points out that Travolta had the son hurriedly cremated without releasing the official results of the autopsy. He leaves it up to us to fill in the blanks, even throwing in there that Travolta flew the family jet home from the Bahamas. I guess if he was that distraught he couldn't do that, huh, Andrew? What a toad.

Of course if he is sued he would probably claim he was merely implying that Travolta was trying to hide the facts of his son's condition in the face of claims the boy was autistic, something the Travolta's have previously denied. What's next? Did the boy die as the result of some bizarre Scientologist healing ritual, perhaps-or a secret cult sacrifice? Hell, they do believe in reincarnation, you know.

It's not just Sullivan, either. Inside Edition has been covering this story, and one of the correspondents tonight was about to explode out of her panties trying to find out an ambulance driver's opinion as to what Travolta meant when, after his son died, he said to the dead boy, "I'm sorry".

She actually smiled when she asked this. It was ghoulish. She didn't even hide her delight at the prospect of getting a confirmation of something sinister. The ambulance driver however merely said that he figured Travolta meant he was sorry he couldn't help him, or something to that affect. Unfortunately, the editing process blacked out what I would guess was probably her disappointed reaction.

These people are really treading on thin ice, and the First Amendment is not an excuse. This is not an attempt to ferret out the truth concerning a matter of importance or interest. This is nothing but an attempt to sell papers and attract viewers, and rake in advertising dollars.

I usually like to soak in a hot bath at night, but tonight I think I need a shower.

Blog Wars-Wonkette versus Confluence

For your entertainment pleasure, I now present what stands to be a jolly good laugh-a war of bloggers, both allegedly of the liberal persuasion. Wonkette and Confluence have been going at each other all day now. Well, more accurately, they've just been slinging mud at each other by way of comments pages. Unfortunately, neither will publish the others comments on their respective blogs, on the posts on which each has attacked the other-which would make it even funnier-but they are still managing to pull in the comments from their respective supporters.

It's simple, really. Wonkette supports Obama, while Confluence is a PUMA blog that is still up in arms over Hillary's defeat. They are now upset that Wonkette is currently leading the voting for Best Liberal Blog for the 2008 Blog Awards.

I don't blame them. If I paid good money to Technorati to make the top blogs list and found myself being trounced by a hated rival in the popular vote, I'd probably feel pretty stupid. It's got to bite to be a Hillary supporter and get trounced in an election by an Obama supporter, even if it is just for a blog award. Kind of like rubbing salt in the wound. Or, in this case, taking off your bra and seeing nobody looking in your window but kids pointing and laughing at your sagging breasts. Or maybe walking outside in a house robe, whereupon the neighbor dog walks up to you wagging his tail, sniffing your crotch-and running away whining and howling in agony.

Of course, to your average Confluence reader, sagging breasts and douche abstinence both seem to be badges of honor. They just won't publish your comments if you make mention of them. At least with Wonkette, you can comment, provided you are pre-approved for commenting. In fact, I supposedly can, if I can only remember my password. Why bother?

I won't vote for either, of course, or for any of the nominated blogs in any category. That's because I resent the Technorati criterion. To me, that should not be a factor, but since it is, I will express my rebellious streak by not promoting it-therefore, no link to it from here. Google it if you must.

As for these two blogs, I admit to enjoying Wonkette on occasions, for no other reason than the snarky sarcasm that is their stock-in-trade. The PUMA people are just sore losers. That's the least of it. These people are deranged. What kind of person devotes this much time to a failed presidential campaign. Earth to PUMA-IT'S FUCKING OVER! Read them and bear in mind, these are the two faces of the Democratic Party. Not a pretty sight.

Well, Wonkette is-you just don't want to bring her home to meet the folks. Just screw around with her a few times and pass her on to your friends. At least you can't smell her from across the room.

Monday, January 05, 2009

American Recovery And Reinvestment Plan

Okay, it's damn sure not perfect, but I have to admit that, on balance, I like it. Especially two components of it. Make that three.

1. Payroll tax cuts to low income to middle income workers, which would apply even to workers with no end of the year tax liability. More money immediately in your pocket, as opposed to waiting till the end of the year refund. As much as 500 dollars per individual and up to 1000 dollars per couple. Not a lot when stretched out over the course of the year by way of weekly paycheck (about ten dollars per week per individual, twenty dollars per week per couple), but still helps, provided it doesn't lessen tax refunds. If it did, now that would bite.

2. Tax cuts to businesses to cover losses of the previous five years (it is currently limited to last two years losses). What does Obama think he is-a Republican or something?

Finally, my favorite, and it's about damn time-

3. Tax cuts to businesses to keep jobs in America, and/or avoiding further lay-offs. One of the few good Democratic proposals of recent years, and in fact practically the only good idea John Kerry ever had. It is sorely needed. Now, if we can only get the damn thing passed.

Of course, not everything in the proposed legislation is that good, but, you got to take-well, you know.

Okay, you can shoot me now.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Assud The Jew Eating Rabbit

Silly rabbit. He's a replacement for Nahoul, the Killer Bee whose "martyrdom" is portrayed at the beginning of this segment of the popular Palestinian children's program "The Pioneers Of Tomorrow". Due to the Israeli blockade, poor Nahoul was unable to reach a hospital in Egypt for a life-saving operation. Previously, there was Farfour the Mouse, who was "martyred" by a brutal Israeli interrogator, in an act of violence that was also portrayed in a segment of a previous program.

The little girl is named Saraa, probably the daughter or granddaughter of a mid-level Hamas leader. She is the hostess of the show, which is basically over-the-top Hamas propaganda. Among other things, it advocates, in fact demands, the liberation of the Al Aqsa mosque and the land of Palestine from the "filthy Jews", and encourages martyrdom to it's young viewers.

I picked this particular segment, though it's out of order, because it has what I assume is a regular feature, a call-in segment where viewers can call in with questions. In the one question asked on this particular segment, someone asks the rabbit why his name is Assud, which means "lion". The bunny from hell answers that a rabbit is a no good coward, after which he promises he will "eat the Jews".

Chilling. And a very good indication of why there will never be peace in the region as long as the Palestinians are controlled or influenced by such as Hamas. In view of the on-going Israeli onslaught against Hamas, I am going to make this a regular series. It helps put the whole affair in perspective. The little girl is gone. It's too late for her. She is probably ruined. She will grow up with the knowledge of the blood of children on her hands, if she grows up at all. For Hamas to use her as an advocate to encourage other Palestinian children to follow their path is in my opinion the depths of depravity.

This is more than just an appeal to patriotism. This is outright lies and child abuse. An overall viewing of some of these videos should put an end, once and for all, to the notion that Hamas might ever be bargained or reasoned with.

I know by the way there are some who will protest that this video was deliberately misinterpreted by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. I don't buy that for a second. It would be too easy to disprove. Besides, in some instances, translation is all but unnecessary, if not superfluous.

At any rate, view this video at your own risk. A strong stomach is in order. It speaks volumes that once cartoon characters reach a certain level of popularity and recognition to the children of Palestine, they are "martyred" at such a time as to achieve maximum impact, and then replaced by another to carry on the fight-all the while encouraging the children of Palestine to join the "Pioneers Of Tomorrow", many of whom will likewise willingly, even gladly, join Nahoul and Farfour in "martyrdom".

Friday, January 02, 2009

Puce Moment

This charming little video has only been on YouTube for a week, though it has been around for a while. It is titled Puce Moment, and is actually a fragment of a larger work called Puce Women, by avant-garde underground film director Kenneth Anger. It seems Anger and myself have something in common other than an interest in occult ritual. We are both enamored of silent-era Hollywood, which is the subject of this film.

The actress in the film is one Yvonne Marquis, who sometime later went to Mexico, where she became the mistress of the then President of that country. As interesting as that is, it is matched by the enigma of the score, recorded in 1966 by an unknown psychedelic folk-rock artist named Jonathan Halper-who following this seems to have vanished completely from the face of the earth. Granted, he has a YouTube site, but I am almost convinced the person who put up the site is not the genuine article. Who is he then? Listen to the two songs on the video, which replaced the original score by Verdi (remember, the film was originally made in 1949).

You have Leaving My Old Life Behind, followed by Yes, I Am A Hermit. I am almost half-way convinced that Jonathan Halper does not exist (despite Anger's cryptic response to a query as to the artist's identity that it was a "friend" who never did anything else).

As crazy as it sounds, I can't help but think this is the Beatles-or at least two of them. The vocals of Leaving My Old Life Behind sounds suspiciously like George Harrison. The vocals of Yes I Am A Hermit sound even more suspiciously like John Lennon. The music of both songs are perfectly reminiscent of the musical period the Beatles were going through at this particular time-the Rubber Soul, and, especially, the Revolver sessions. The lyrics seem to fit as well. All this could be explained as Lennon and Harrison's desire to work on something away from the limelight by which they now felt so constrained. They, and of course Anger, would not have wanted the original film overshadowed by the score, nor would the two pop-stars be particular eager for a public association with the controversial filmmaker.

I know it sounds unlikely, but given everything we know about the Beatles during this period, and Anger himself, it's not out of the realm of probability. An earlier association with Anger, in fact, might well have led to the later pairing of Lennon with another certain avant-garde filmmaker-by the name of Yoko Ono.

At any rate, this is a nice little film to start off the New Year. Something old to ring in the new, you might say.