Friday, April 20, 2007

I found Saddam’s WMD bunkers

So says Dave Gaubatz in the Spectator.

I've always believed that WMDs were spirited out of Iraq. It is the most logical explanation for why so many governments and intelligent reports and political leaders believed it to be the case.

Gaubatz tells a disturbing tale of incompetence and scheming that resulted in Syria holding the bag.

Jonah Goldberg suggests "a healthy dose of scepticism" and I agree. But then scepticism would be in order for 90% of the things we hear these days.

One reason I dismiss conspiracy theories is that they require a government that can pull such events off with competence. This one would be a result of incompetence, something I find very believable.

Charles Krauthammer ...What he Said

Charles Krauthammer has a piece up that says a lot of what I tried to say below about the rush to speak in the wake of the VA Tech tragedy. Only he says it with much more eloquence.

He also mentions our failure to care for our mentally ill, something I've railed about it on this blog with no illusions that anything will ever be done.

One point of departure with Krauthammer is that the problem he describes is not exclusively from the left. This has been an equal opportunity for exploitation.

PCV Killer Captured

The suspected killer of Julie Cambell is in custody.

She was evidently beaten to death.

As a PCV, I'm sure she was carrying little cash. Such a waste.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Take a Breath on VA Tech

I'm a big fan of The Corner. I like the sense of humor and freewheeling style of group blogging. So, I'm not picking on them when I suggest that everybody SHUT THE F**K UP with their idiotic expert opinions about what should have, could have, would have been.

We are 3 days away from a terrible, terrible tragedy. We have plenty of time to discover what happened and what went wrong. People evidently feel it is absolutely critical that they offer their opinions as soon as possible about things they can't possibly know anything about.

It is this kind of hysteria that results in bad laws and policy. Everybody just take a breath and stop talking.

NBC has already destroyed its integrity in its rush to publish pictures, letters and videos from the killer. Doesn't anybody have the ability to learn from that?

The sick thing about all of this is that all these idiotic decisions are being driven by money while the anchors express sincere and deep sympathy. The cynicism of the media is sickening.

King of All Media...Charlie Rose?

What's the deal with Google Video and Charlie Rose? Why is it all Charlie all of the time?

Did the Google guys buy Charlie as an especially unique pet to keep round the office?

I don't get it.

Murder Trial For Deaf Victim and Defendent

I stumbled across a discussion board about a trial currently going on in Sioux Falls. After bouncing around several threads I couldn't think of anything but "IDIOTS" as I read the absolute worst series of english posts I've ever encountered. Well, I guess I'm the idiot because the commenters are mostly deaf.

I finally came across a thread, the link above, that had a guy comment on that very issue and somebody explained that deaf people speak in a shorthand unique to sign language.

Anyway, I never thought about it that way.

Suspect in Murder of PCV

Evidently they have identified somebody as a suspect in the murder of Julie Cambell.

Evidently he was seen carrying her backpack.

My thoughts go out to her family.

China Controlling Weather

China reports that they have made it snow.

All I can say is plant them soybeans!

International News | News | Telegraph

VA Tech Killer Videos

Here's a roundup of various reports concerning the package received by NBC.

There's a lot of debate about whether this material should be released with many making the argument that in today's world it should be freely dispersed and shared for examination.

We all know that shootings like this are always followed by copycats and so the question really isn't whether there will be copycats, but how many. If somebody is at a point that they are considering such an action doesn't the opportunity for such exposure only encourage it?

And when the next copycat murders happen, will be media be shocked, shocked! at such a development?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ukraine Continues the Crisis

Subscriber only piece from Jane's Foreign Report titles Ukraine's President Pushes the Panic Button does a good job of providing background in a nutshell.

Their forecast?

The main winner from the crisis is Tymoshenko. In early elections, her bloc
would be likely to come a close second to the Party of Regions and, in an
ensuing Orange Coalition, she would become prime minister.

However, Yanukovych could still turn the tables on his Orange Coalition
rivals and consolidate his position as the key political power in Ukraine.

Should the crisis continue unabated, the potential for violence would also
grow and with this would come the risk of wider societal division and
widespread domestic instability.

During my time in Ukraine I was constantly frustrated by the apathy the west showed toward the region. It is a critically important area that will unfortunately be recognized only when things go terribly wrong.

For anybody that has lost faith in the US political system, just be aware that it is a paragon of virtue in every way when compared to Ukraine.


CNN locked in exclusive rights to cel phone footage of the Virginia Tech rampage. They've been crowing about it ever since.

The Diabolical Gas of Death

First we learn that Ethanol is leading to dramatic increases in tortilla prices and now we are told it is going to kill us.

Be sure to read to the bottom about the anti-rain effect of soybeans.

We don't stand a chance.

Body of US Peace Corps Volunteer Found in Northern Philippines

Profoundly sad news on the missing, now confirmed dead Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines.

This has affected me more than I would expect.

Very, very sad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ex-U.S. military chiefs warn warming worsens security

Evidently 11 former US military leaders warn about Global Warming and its effect on security.

Well, I'm sure we are going to have security issues when we find ourselves living in underwater cities but what I want to know is what the effect of Flying saucers will be on security. Are we addressing that possibility?

The Vultures Come Out

Somehow I managed to go through half my day without hearing about the massacre at Virginia Tech. Everybody wants to get the information on this but clearly the media have learned nothing from Katrina. They are engaging in conjecture and rumor when the obvious choice should be sticking with the facts.

The story listed above says 29 are dead while another report on google news says 21 and another says 32. These are numbers that are understandably difficult to pin down and I'm not really complaining about that.

What agravates me are the interviews with students in which the talking heads try their best to draw out complaints about why the campus wasn't locked down, why there wasn't more caution after bomb threats last week etc.

The fact is that all of those questions should be and will be answered but now is not the time that any of that can be answered with any accuracy. All it serves is to create chaos.

Another complaint. A talk radio host today was interviewing a student, asking what they witnessed. The student wasn't delivering the goods in his descriptions. He didn't really recognize gunshots for what they were. He thought, but wasn't sure that he heard screaming. He was basically being honest in the aftermath of the event. That's when the host announced that they would play the audio of a cel phone video of the event. After it played, the host actually asked if that was what the student heard. The student already described his experience and it was nothing like the audio...the host was just going for drama. What a jerk.

One of the Columbine parents was just on FOX. I can understand their passion and anger but what do they have to contribute to our understanding of what happened at Virginia Tech today?

PCV Search Continues

Unfortunately the volunteer that has been missing in the Phillipines is still missing.

This is all very distressing since she has been missing over a week now.

The story I link to says that a volunteer was kidnapped and ultimately released in 1990 by rebels. Hopefully this story will turn out with an ending at least that positive.

r blog

I'm not a fan of Rosie's. I remember her singing show tunes and declaring her love for Tom Cruise on the old show and then something about her sueing or being sued by the publishers of her magazine.

Then she shows up on The View and is all batshit crazy.

Now I find
her blog
and I'm trying to figure out exactly what would be the correct description. So far I've got Larry King, Prince and a really emo 15 year old. Have to think about it more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

PCV Missing

In the Philippines a PCV has been missing since April 8. I hope they find her soon.

UPDATE: I'm adding the following to clarify this post a little bit better. I was dumb to not have done it before:

The missing PCV reminds me of an issue that has bothered me since my tour. I don't intend to relate PC security policy with her disappearance in the following.

One of my greatest concerns about Peace Corps is the skewed statistics on crime. Our group had a huge number of assaults but the majority were not reported. Volunteers have found themselves under investigation after being victimized and it is common for PCVs to keep quite. Now before any PCVs challenge that, I'm speaking from experience and personal knowledge of a wide number of unreported assaults. It is simply a fact.

There was a notorious case in South America in which a PCV had been missing for months before anybody noticed. The regional manager had evidently been filing false reports of contacting the PCV during this period. By the time the family raised enough hell to get somebody to try to track down their son, he had been missing for weeks. He was never seen again.

There is a fatal flaw in the PC system for reporting assaults and that is that there is no upside for the staff. Higher assault rates reflect poorly on the staff. So you have volunteers that are encouraged, through a policy of suspecting volunteers first, to not report when they are attacked. Other organizations have procedures to deal with this but PC doesn't and doesn't seem to be motivated to make changes.

Too bad for so many reasons.

In Praise of Smart Radio

I've mentioned my appreciation of "This American Life one of the best radio shows ever. Another program that is equally great, and perhaps even greater because of the sheer quantity of awesome stuff is AirTalk hosted by Larry Mantle on Pasadena, CA public radio station KPCC.

I've listened to Larry for years, my recent years away excluded, and I think it is safe to say he is one of the absolutely best interviewers on radio, TV whatever. Although I have my guess, I could not say for certain what Larry's political persuasion is. He really provides a forum for dialogue and although he isn't confrontational, he does have a way of asking probing questions that go beyond the talking points his guests tend to bring with them.

Added bonus is every Friday the second hour is about movies, usually 30 minutes of interview and 30 of a critics roundtable on the day's new releases.

Extra added bonus, the show is podcasted now so I never have to miss a show.

If you want to listen to the same people scream at each other and tell you what to think, this isn't for you. If you want to hear intelligent talk (the station's slogan) try this for a change.

Ode To Zach Braff

I came to Scrubs late and find it to be one of the funniest and most touching comedies I've ever watched. Zach Braff is a big reason for its success.

This guy likes him even more than me.

Well Jeez, that was Easy

What the entire world body could not accomplish, Mia Farrow does with an Op-ed: "So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood - Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular. Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about"

I don't give Spielberg much credit since it appears he was shamed into acting.

And it is a great example of what truly motivates countries that block certain efforts around the world. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned by a lot of people here.

Too bad the op-ed took so long to come out.

Imus is in Mourning

Yesh, this Imus thing is one long, boring, train wreck.

I learned about Imus when I caught his show on MSNBC and was informed of his great popularity. I never got it. But then I never got Howard Stern either.

So I can't really comment on his character, but the hand wringing going on about his completely meaningless comment has become disgusting. Without mentioning anybody, any particular comic, any particular musical act, any particular reverend, I think me merely mentioning the non-particulars is enough to bring up dozens and hundreds of cases of things said that are so absolutely vile that "Nappy Headed Ho" sounds absolutely quaint.

In the end, it isn't about real or imagined offenses taken, it is about power. And those that increased their power over this are perfectly happy to destroy a man in the process. Its not like they haven't done it before.

UPDATE: Sometimes I try to come up with a witty heading for my posts. I've never thought them actually witty but it gives me joy. Anyway, a quick google blog search of "Imus Mourning" reveals that dozens of bloggers share my incredible skills.

Where is Ukraine?

And how did it get here? Here is a decent analysis of the current situation in Ukraine, tracing back through the squandered opportunities to move the country into a positive direction. The only complaint I have it the title of the piece "Did West Pull Up Stakes Too Soon?" The title implies that the west is responsible but that really doesn't reflect the conclusion reached.

Yushenko ultimately bears the blame for the fiasco since he clearly failed to exploit the massive outpouring of support, failed to use his political capital to push through needed legislation, failed to effectively build working coalitions and failed to maintain the appearance of a level of incorruptability that a person in his position has to have. He failed so completely that the comically corrupt Prime Minister Yanakovich has a piece in the Financial Times about the importance of the Rule of Law!

I don't see how Yanukovich, attempted thief of the 2004 election, was able to pound out the words without destroying his keyboard from convulsions of laughter. Actually, from every impression I've ever gotten of Yanukovich, I don't understand how he was able to actually find the keyboard or the power switch to the computer. Maybe he consulted with his coalition. That's what coalitions are for!

And of course, Yanukovich is demanding the President abide by the law in order that Yanukovich can continue his process of literally buying members of the Rada to create a super majority coalition.

If I sound cynical, see if you can read this passage about protesters in Kiev without a twinge of it yourself:

They pay 40 hryvna a day and 100 hryvna a night, - confesses an elder man
from Zhytomyr camping in the Mariinsky Park next to the Parliament. - I can
make my monthly salary here within a week".

But a group of young people who observe the political show in the Maydan are
divided in their opinion. "I wouldn't have ever accepted any money from
these guys", - says Yurko, a student of Mohyla Academy. But his friend
Alexander, who lives in a student dormitory, says: "Why not? They return
back to the people the money they stole from them.

Their recruiters offer 40 hryvna for just two hours to stay here with
blue-and-white flag. I don't support Yanukovych but my stipend is 350 hryvna
and I get no extra allowance from my parents. I feel it would be actually
better if we take these money ourselves and pay them lip-service. Otherwise,
they would bring their real supporters from Donbas who may make a lot of
harm here".

Unfortunately, this comes from an op-ed by Mykola Rjabtschuk in a German publication (Berliner Zeitung, No.86) that I don't have a link to. The English translation is available at the Action Ukraine Report, a nationalist oriented newsletter maintained by the ex-pat (or diaspora) community in the US. The opinion piece is very slanted in favor of Yushenko but I have known people that took payment for protesting. It is commonly known. If you are interested in receiving the newsletters, you can sign up at the link above.

I've always enjoyed the Action Ukraine Report and actually had the opportunity to meet Morgan Williams, the publisher, who is a very nice man. I don't share his partisanship but I think his heart is in the right place. It just takes a careful reader to understand what is news and what is political opinion.

Finally, no day is complete without visiting the always interesting Neeka's Backlog where Veronica mentions yet more talk of a potential split of Ukraine. I've always thought that kind of talk was silly and hope it still is...silly rather than frightening. Veronica seems to travel a lot and I think she is currently in Russia but she brings a passion and real anger to her posts that captures the heart of somebody who truly cares.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jews for Allah!

A Jewish friend once described his disdain for any Jewish Christian. I wonder what he would think of a Jew for Allah!

And yes, he apparently hates Jews too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Global Warming Initiative

The upcoming Climate Change concerts have steeled me to fight even harder towards my goal to become a celebrity. After that, life will be sweet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Black Like...Him

Via LA Observed, a diarist at Kos talks about the burden of being black and elicits support until somebody points out his disgust at foul mouthed women and fantasy of smashing in the face of his female bus driver.

Dueling grievances ensue.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hate On Display

As long as they don't smoke around them.

AOL SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!

How long will AOL continue to give their customers the shaft? I have in the past been an AOL member, usually because I needed dial up access. Every time has been horrible.

A few months ago I canceled the AOL service my mother was using. Everytime I tried to go through the system, I would be disconnected before the cancellation could actually be accomplished. I spent about 45 minutes before it dawned on me to simply act like I wanted to start service instead. Sure enough, I was talking to a service rep within 2 minutes. From there I managed to get the account disconnected.

Today I wanted to cancel my account and after going through the same automated system, found myself disconnected at just the moment that I was supposed to talk with a rep. This time I remembered the trick I'd used before and sure enough I got through immediately.

AOL has always sucked and customer service has always been bad, especially because of the roadblocks they throw up to keep customers. Why hasn't it died yet?

Free Speech for Some

Cathy Young the hypocrisy of college campuses regarding free speech.

We've already seen Europe roll over for radical Islam, abandoning basic freedoms for peace. Will it happen here?

Geniuses Pontificate and Get It Wrong

I listened to the FOX, ABC and NBC talking heads gabfests this weekend as various politicians lied through their teeth and various real, real smart people predicted the future of this presidential election.

I'd just like to predict right now that the majority of the experts are wrong in their predictions. Remember Howard Dean?

I guess it is still entertaining to watch but wouldn't it be great if somebody kept score of all the things that are said now and then dragged them out in 19 months to hammer these dopes over the head with?

Has anybody kept track of all the praise heaped on John McCain in the past 4 years by the people that are going to start destroying him now?

Kerry and the Little People

During his presidential campaign, John Kerry and his wife Theresa evidently learned first hand about the environmental impact on regular folks and wrote a book about it. Amazon's got it marked down 40% so now's the time to snatch it up.

It is at this point that one is torn over the presidential election of 2008. Does the Democratic candidate become president or the next environmental doomsayer? Such a Sophie's Choice.

Verka Serduchka, Ukrainian Eurovision Entry

Verka Serduchka is one of my favorite entertainers in Ukraine and this live show doesn't do his/her videos justice. Evidently there was some controversy about the orginal lyrics that said something like "goodbye" to Russia and have been changed. A shame really since Ukraine has been trying to say goodbye for way too long.

I spent some time with corporate Ukrainians in Kiev for a while and was surprised to learn they were embarrassed by Verduchka. They should be proud.

Google Headlines

Second headline under US news by the newspaper for Nation of Islam.

Am I the only one that finds this odd?

Coalition of the Bored

Via Neeka's Backlog , an example of the intense commitment to political change. Probably the best use of a Party of Regions flag in years.

Meanwhile the Party of Regions has canceled a rally scheduled for today because of bad weather.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear that the lack of enthusiasm is limited to the Yanakovich team.

Here You Go, Screwing Up Our Consensus

Newsweek has a piece that disputes the global warming "consensus" canard.

Oh sure, he's an oil lobby lacky...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Grindhouse Yawn

As a fan of Quentin Tarantino and someone who has enjoyed about 3 movies by Robert Rodriquez AND as a fan of exploitation films, I was looking forward to Grindhouse.

Sad to say, it was a huge disappointment. Different critics have disagreed over which movie in the double feature is better but neither were really any good. It seems that both directors were so caught up in the exercise of the concept that they thought "the concept" was enough. It seems they thought the audience didn't actually expect a good movie.

Well, I can say that there were fun moments in both but when the movie is working so hard to generate a knowing laugh from the audience it ruins any chance of the audience ever buying into the the film.

There were plenty of fanboys in the theatre that sounded like they were having a great time as they played along with the joke, but a regular guy like me was, of all things, bored to tears.

The critical acclaim for this movie futher proves my assertion that critics don't understand the appeal of genre films to their audiences and this report of a dismal box office seems to back me up.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pelosi was nuts! I didn't say it.

Claudia Rosett slams Nancy Pelosifor her idiotic trip to Damascus.

Pelosi demonstrates the key belief that so many of her ilk hold and that is the absolute fatal flaw in their world view, that people around the world are the same and that governments around the world are the same. And that we all want the same things.

It is simply not the case and it is at best naive to believe it is.

I won't bring up all the obvious cases of diplomatic failures that suffered from this starting belief, there are too many in the last 100 years to list.

Coincidentally, Mars Warms

There is a timeline of the earth's history that basically puts all the events of our planet's existence into a year long calendar. If I remember correctly, Dinosaurs arrive sometime in late december and humans sometime in the last hour of December 31. It is a great way to illustrate how minor our time as a species is compared to the Earth's history.

Of course the Earth would probably be equally insignificant as compared to the rest of the Universe.

Scientists tell us that Mars' temperature has risen 2 degrees in the last twenty years but, before we start making any connections: "The causes of global warming on Mars -- still not entirely understood,
Fenton said -- are not only far different from those on Earth, but the
temperatures involved are totally different." Am I the only person who finds it odd that two planets in the same solar system would manage to experience warming trends for entirely different reasons?

Wouldn't a scientist want to discover what these two planets have in common in order to arrive at such an inprobable coincidence?

Ukraine Dispair

At Neeka's Backlog, Veronica writes of being bored with the ongoing speechifying and promises coming from Maidan.

It seems that in that part of the world, it really is about who has the stamina to continue, who is able to browbeat the others into submission. During my time there I continually proclaimed that Ukraine had a great future ahead, in spite of the cynicism all around me. I didn't realize how much of a role that impact would play in Ukraine's future.

I won't cop to that same cynicism but I am bored as well by the current Ukraine events. I am bored by the constant manuevering by various political operatives that make and take bribes in a constant struggle for power that really in the end has little to do with what is best for the country.

Unfortunately the biggest reason for the failure of the Revolution will prove to be the simpleminded politics that led to populists debacles like price controls that caused prices to go through the roof or the blatant corruption of the President who stood against corruption.

Ukraine really needs an iconic figure to follow. Somebody who is able to truly inspire and rally the people to a single cause and bridge the great divide that generates the mistrust and in some ways hatred between the two major groups. Somebody who comes in with such political and moral authority that they are able to sweep aside the oligarchs and corrupt politicians that keep holding the country back. Somebody who can acquire all that power and manage, in a country that expects personal enrichment in its politicians, to be completely incorruptable.

It is something I desperately want but what Ukrainians desperately need.

One of the Good Guys Dies

Bob Clark, creator of many popular films died with his son in a car crash on PCH.

By all accounts Clark was a decent guy. He produced the popular "Porkey's", which I never saw, and "Black Christmas", another movie I never saw. For me, he will always be remembered for what I consider to be one of the greatest movies ever and absolutely in my top three holiday films A Christmas Story, which manages to be hilarious, sweet and touching at the same time.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Russian Jet Tricks

I'm not an aviation buff but this is pretty cool.

Here is the email description that was forwarded to me:

Subject: Russian SU-30MK demonstration

This is a video of an in-flight demonstration flown by the Russian
SU-30MK fighter aircraft.

You'll not believe what you are about to see.
The fighter can stall from high speed, stopping in less than a second.

Then it demonstrates an ability to descend tail first without causing a
compressor stall.&nbs p;

It can also recover from a flat spin in less than a minute.

These capabilities probably don't exist in any other aircraft in the
world today.
Take a l ook at the video with the sound up: click below

Enjoy the show !

Jagged Little Humps

Genius by Alanis Morissette

Blades of Glory

Finally saw this movie today. I was a little underwhelmed by the underwhelming trailer and the reviews have been mostly positive but so so. Last week a local critic panned it but I found myself laughing at the things he described as not funny because I imagined Will Ferrell doing them.

Anyway, I can't remember laughing so hard at a movie since Old School.

Comedy is not a science. It isn't an intellectual exercise (ok, it can be). It is simply about making the audience laugh. To this day I don't understand the appeal of Adam Sandler in his broad comedies or Howard Stern in anything so I can't claim to have my finger on the funny bone of Americans, BUT this movie made me laugh consistently and loud.

Will Ferrell is simply the funniest guy working in movies and whatever they are paying him is a steal.

Global Warming Therapy

Last month I equated the apocalyptic lessons of my youth with current global warming hysteria. Tim Blair has a great piece with links that describes a family that has successfully taught their kids to live in fear of a warming planet. That includes worrying about the size of cars and whether their bus is running on gas.

Before I wondered if we will look back on these days in disbelief. I'm starting to wonder if there will be future lawsuits for psychological damage.

Money is NOT the Answer

I just ran across this piece by Nikolas K Gvosdev that is an interesting take on the current Ukraine situation. I know nothing about Mr. Gvosdev except that his name implies he is from that part of the world, and I know nothing about National Interest, the publication his commentary is in.

One part that I definitely take issue with is his assertion that the West must pump even greater amounts of financial aid into the country. Ukraine has recieved huge amounts of aid. Vast amounts of that aid have been embezzled. The best thing they west could do is come up with some system that demands accountability and protects the monies being provided from ending up in somebody's living room, or redecorating the living room, or building the house with the living room.

Ukraine in Turmoil

I should have posted something about the latest debacle in Ukraine but frankly I was temporarily overcome with a bit of weariness over the whole situation. Having lived there during the revolution and believed in the great future that Ukraine has in its hands, I'd grown tired of the continual political gamesmanship that all sides have played to the detriment of the country.

It is about around now that I need to start chanting some positive affirmations to myself and regain my optimism.

Anyway, Yushenko has dissolved Parliment and the people have yet again taken to the streets. They say Maidan is full but the Maidan Cam I use doesn't seem to show that.

During the revolution, this was a great source because the TV was defacto government controlled and you couldn't get true coverage there. I kept up with everything through blogs of people living in Ukraine and with some connections with government officials. Unfortunately one of the best Orange Ukraine seems to have all but stopped any postings but another of my favorites Neeka's Backlog, is back in Kiev and posting up a storm with video and pictures. She definitely has an "on the ground" view.

I am calling friends to learn more but so far no luck.

UPDATE: A friend in Nikolaev says there are no signs about what is going on although they have been advised to not travel to Kiev. She is going to ask around but has to be careful not to bring up politics with the locals.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Japanese Pranks

I ran across this in a roundabout way via (don't ask).

This could not be done in the US and I wish somebody could confirm to me that these are genuinely unsuspecting victims. If so, it is simply unbelievable.

Step Aside AIDS, There's a New Kid in Town

And its name is GLOBAL WARMING!!!!! The New York Times reports Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms.

My time in the Peace Corps taught me that NGOs are a great way for NGO directors to make money. And NGOs focus on the issues that money is being spent on. Thus you have a country with rampant alcoholism, alcoholism that can't even be imagined in the US, but the majority of NGO efforts is towards AIDS prevention.

Prepare for Global Warming NGOs to spring up around the world.

Firecrackers Rock

According to this report Explosive Rock the British Embassy in Iran.

According to this report, they were firecrackers.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How Funny is Will Ferrell?

While reading a negative review of the new movie "Blades of Glory" I couldn't stop laughing at all the pieces the critic described as not funny. Just imagining Ferrell in those situations made me laugh.

I haven't seen the movie yet so I can't say if it is any good but if he can make me laugh while I read a bad review, I'd say he's pretty damn funny.

He Enjoys His Work

I have an odd relationship with Quentin Tarantino. Odd in that there is no relationship and that I would refer to one anyway (I used to see him at a local Thai restaurant but that's as close as we ever came) and odd because as much as I think I don't like him, I can't figure out why.

Today I listened to his interview on The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell and he has to be the most enthusiastic filmmaker in the History of Film!

Why do I have this impression that I don't like the guy when he consistently creates great movies? Why would I have a problem with him when he is constantly pushing the cinematic envelope? The guy has done more to bring Asian and genre films off of the beaten track and into art houses than any single person in the industry. The guy has done more to introduce new filmmakers to the world. Why the negative feelings? Frankly I just don't know.

Maybe it's because I heard an interview with the producers of Natural Born Killers who described a sleazy Tarantino hitting on one of them at Cannes. Maybe it is his incredible success. Maybe it is his (ahem) unique style of acting.

Or maybe it's because he doesn't have the carefully managed image that so many others in the industry carefully manage for themselves. Maybe I am seeing all his faults, none that I can claim to be above and none that really add up to much.

I do know that almost every movie he has made has been challenging and exciting. And I know that I am really looking forward to seeing his latest with Robert Rodriquez called Grindhouse.

I work in the film industry and know a critically acclaimed director who gets much more respect than Tarantino. But the director I am talking about decided long ago that making movies was a job. And a job they don't particularly like, Tarantino makes movies because he loves them.

Jeez, sometimes I can be a dick.

Best Radio Show Ever Goes TV

This American Life has a TV version on Showtime. You can watch the first episode online here.

I was a little concerned that the show could never be translated to a visual medium but this is definitely one of the best shows on television. Funny and poignant.

And Ira Glass looks nothing like I imagined him.

Global Warming Solved

Remember back in the good old days? You know, when the Soviet Union was still standing up for the worker and everybody was all atwitter about a Nuclear Winter? Call me an optimist but turn that frown upside down! All of our worries concerning global warming are for naught. The solution is right in our hands (or suitcases, silos etc.) and just waiting to be applied.

All we have to do is decide what sections of the planet can be obliterated in pursuit of a stable planetary climate. We've already prepared ourselves that sacrifices must be made to combat the coming warmocaust. Maybe there are some martyr wannabees that would volunteer?

Even Carl Sagan inadvertantly pointed to another solution that we've not even discussed.

How do I get a powerpoint presentation to the Intergalactic Climate Control Committee?

Not the Sporks!

Via The Belmont Club, a report about the horrid conditions at Guantanamo Bay that illustrates the difficulties of being a prisoner of the US government: "Prisoners could choose regular, vegetarian, vegetarian with
fish, bland (with no salt or seasoning), high fibre, or 'soft' food
meals. There were also fruit juices (but no straw, because of
concerns about self harm), fruit and nuts. And to eat these meals
they get a plastic 'spork'"

Atlas Shrugs at UN

The video posted below came from UN Watch via the always great Atlas Shrugs, who provides a transcript of all the statements that the Human Rights Council President is so thankful for.

There was a time that 9/11 conspiracy theorists were on the fringe of the left. Now you can catch the latest fevered accusation on Rosie's chat show. There was a time that being against the UN was on the fringe of the right. Why can't this now so obviously rational and correct position be moved into the mainstream? It really is an appalling situation.

Watch UN

Another video illustrating the hypocrisy of the UN.

Indoctrinate U Trailer

I don't expect them to get wide distribution but all the luck. This is a subject every Liberal should care about.

Friday, March 30, 2007

It was the GD Teens!

Well, evidently the earlier suspicions are true.

Thank god nobody was hurt.

Not to jump to their defense but I'm sure they had no idea how volatile the brush in the hills can be. They'll never forget.

EU Makes Threat, Iran Yawns

Evidently the EU has stepped up to the plate with Britain over the Iran Hostage Crisis of the New Mellinnium!

Am I being a cynic when I think the EU will back down first?

Fire Fotos

A series of eerily beautiful shots of the Hollywood Hills Blaze.

Stalin Rehabilitated

One of the most prolific mass murderers in history, second only to Mao, Joe Stalin has his own mini-series. Sometimes it is difficult to suggest anybody was more evil than Hitler but if you measure by bodies, Stalin exceeded Hitler's wildest dreams. Only problem for Russia is they never learned to vilify and reject their Uncle Joe. As Daniil Dondurey, editor in chief of Cinema Art said:

"The message is clear: Russia needs a wise leader,' he said. 'The main goal of this show is to preserve and nurture in the people the desire to obey a supreme leader, to take pride in having a supreme leader, to see no alternative to this model in the development of society."

Putin continues to drag his country to a place they have forgotten brought them nothing but misery.

Most Misanthropic Cartoon in History

I like the animation but jeez, lighten up.

Great Animated Short

Can you tell I just learned how to post videos? This short is great.

Rosie O'Donnell as Political Genius

What an idiot.

The UN is a Joke and Darfur is the Punchline...

...or the punching bag. Yet another empty next step in "solving" the problem in Darfur. With a death toll of 400,000 and with 2 million displaced, we can be assured that it isn't genocide because...well the UN says so.

The Hills Are Alive with Fire

I walked out this afternoon to see a massive cloud of smoke blocking the sky. It looked like an apartment building in the foothills was on fire but the TV shows that it was a brush fire near Universal City. What looked like it was a few blocks away was actually on the other side of the hills.

It was close to the Hollywood Sign.

Evidently they've gotten it under control and nobody was hurt. The News Team suggests kids with Fireworks are suspected.

But then this is the city that has STORMWATCH!!!!!!!! whenever it sprinkles.

Glad they got it under control. It could have been a real monster.

UPDATE: Evidently this fire may have been a blessing since it burned away a lot of fuel that could have been a problem with fire season arrives.

For years we've been hearing that one of the reasons for some of the more devastating fires in southern California is because of the excess fuel, or dead shrubs and trees that are not thinned by natural causes anymore. I'm surprised that there isn't some sort of managed burn that takes place in the hills every few years to serve the same purpose. Nobody wants blackened hills but they are amazingly resilient and a little black hill here is a lot better than a house on fire there.

The First Cut is the Deepest

Circumcision has been recommended in the global fight against AIDS.

I use the following quote if for no other reason that the person saying it was obviously born to address this issue. "'The evidence is really now quite conclusive that male circumcision is effective at preventing HIV among men,' said Kevin De Cock, the top HIV-AIDS official for the World Health Organization, speaking in a conference call from Paris."

There are those that disagree.

Integrity is important but losing that particular brand of integrity was never a problem for me.

Place in the US I want to See Most

While some people want to carp about the Grand Canyon Skywalk, I can't wait to take my turn.

One thing that surprises me is it appears that the top is open. I would have expected they would have it enclosed. I think it is only a matter of time before somebody either falls or jumps off.

In any case, very cool.

Political Organization Arranges for Generals to Tell Bush to Not be Political

For the record, I hate the VA. To this day I believe their putred system contributed to if not directly caused my father's death.

My father, a veteran of 3 wars with multiple tours in Korea and Vietnam, believed in his heart that the VA was there for him no matter how much I questioned his care. When he was on his deathbed, we frantically requested his records be sent to the hospital so that the attending physician could refer to them and determine his course of action. The VA originally refused and only agreed after I got on the telephone and turned my pleading to threats.

We received the reluctantly sent faxes and they were unreadable. My father died 3 days later.

So I am not a fan of the VA. Now here is my question. How is it possible that I, a civilian who's only connection to the military is a 4 year stint in the Air Force and a retired veteran for a father, could possibly know more about the VA than a retired general? How is it possible that the horrible care given to our veterans is unknown to those at the highest ranks of the service?

I don't know the answer to that but 3 retired generals have called on the president to not make his visit with troops at Walter Reed political.

And who brought these non-political generals together for their plea? The political National Security Network.

Germans Fear US

Via Instapundit, a blistering attack on the easy anti-americanism of Germany from of all publications, Der Spiegel.

The irony of this latest wave of anti-Americanism that has always enjoyed a great popularity in Europe is that it reveals a complete lack of sophistication or ability to evaluate circumstances as they exist in the real world.

Claus Christian Malzahn hits all the right points. Good for him.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Murderous Dictator Makes Sensible Statement

I don't know if it is just hatred of Bush, concern for his buddy Chavez's oil income or perhaps an unexpected effect of his illness but Fidel Castro actually raises an important issue concerning the scramble towards biofuels.

I love it when ideologists have to choose sides. Which of the Global Warming fanatics will condemn Castro? I'm not holding my breath.

Funny New Discovery

I somehow stumbled across April Winchell's blog a couple of weeks ago and it is hilarious. Today she has an evil analysis of Paris Hilton's evident boob job that continues on to suggestions for other improvements that Paris should consider. From there she continues her mission but its best to just see for yourself.

Only complaint, not enough posts.

Gateway Pundit, One of the Best

I love Gateway Pundit. The investigative work is sometimes unbelievable and the link and background provided on stories are almost always much more revealing than I could ever hope for in the mainstream media.

Yesterday I wrote briefly about my hesitation in coming to any conclusions concerning the Attorney General. Well, once again Gateway gives me provides more context.

And if you want to learn about another political scandal that is brewing and destined to receive less attention that it should get, try this out.

I really don't know how he does it but I am never disappointed.

Sad News

Kevin Roderick of LA Observed has lost his father.

Losing a father is a terrible event in a person's life. I wish him all the best.

Obama Drama

Via Instapundit is a piece by Howard Kurtz concerning the media attacks on Barack Obama.

I've never taken Obama as a serious contender for president if for no other reason than the guy just seems to be depending on an intangible personal appeal rather than any policy positions. Frankly he appears too liberal to be elected in this country.

But there is also the reality that Hillary has already made her claim and her machine is in charge.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Attorney General Flap

I've grown weary of the continuing cries of outrage by various groups over this or that, most of which turn out to be a whole lot of nothing.

When the Plame/Wilson issue came up, my response to my crazed friends who wanted blood was that yes, anybody that broke the law should be punished. I never imagined that somebody would be prosecuted for what could well be a simple case of forgetting details while the person that actually released the Plame identity would not face any punishment. It really boggles the mind.

So the Gonzalez issue has not really captured my attention. Just more noise and the counter argument that Clinton fired close to 100 without any outcry seemed like a fair comparison. Today I did take some time to learn a little more and while I am still shady on the details I do feel comfortable saying the following.

If the prosecutors in question were fired for political reasons, meaning they weren't prosecuting the right people or they were prosecuting the wrong people, politically speaking, it is an outrage. And if that is a standard practice, it should be attacked and ended.

If Gonzales was involved in those firings and tried to cover it up, he should step down.

And if people are defending Gonzales for political reasons then shame on them.

If it turns out that this is yet another artificial outrage, I'm probably going to notice the next one even less.

Terror Marketing

The Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a rough city in the east, evidently thought it would be effective to remind people of the good old days with an ad campaign.

Coming up, Mao as spokesman for the Ukraine flower industry.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Roger Ebert

I've always enjoyed Roger Ebert's reviews even when he was so terribly wrong (thumbs down on Die Hard?!?!?!?!) and didn't realize he was ill until long after it was announced and he stopped appearing on the show. A friend explained that he had surgery etc.

Much to my surprise, today I ran across a listing for a review by Mr. Ebert on Rotten Tomatoes. Well, I jumped over to his site only to learn that reviews are being written by Jim Emerson instead.

Isn't this kind of like when Abby of Dear Abby was replaced only worse?

I'm sure Mr. Emerson is a fine reviewer and a nice guy but I can't help but be turned off by the fact that his reviews are being published under the "Roger Ebert" mantle.

And of course I wish Mr. Ebert all the best and a speedy return to his TV show and his website.

Iran the Infant

What compells the world to treat Iran like a child? The UN votes sanctions and Iran responds.

Add to this the kidnapping and interrogation of British soldiers and you get simple madness.

Its really getting embarrassing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

3D or Not 3D...

Yet another announcement that 3D is the future of film . Once upon a time I'd be the first one at the theater with whatever 3D movie was rolling into town. I've seen quite a few from Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, through the 3D revival in the 80s the IMAX "advanced" version and last year's Monster House.

Frankly they all give me a headache, distract from the movie or just annoy me. I don't see 3D as a viable format until they are able to achieve it without the glasses.

I'm sure this will be a great gimmick to bring people in but the thrill wears off quickly and I'm surprised it is coming back so soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

There's a Scandal at LA Times?

It's ironic that the LA Times would suddenly give a crap about ethics about the time that nobody gives a crap about the LA Times. I dropped my subscription over 3 years ago after the anticipated Thursday surprise preceding the recall election. You know the Thursday surprise. The LA Times has a habit of dropping a scandalous bombshell on the Thursday before an election and damaging the candidate they happen to oppose. I've been waiting for a call from them offering a free subscription since my return since they have gotten to that level of desperation.

Winds of Change links to Andres Martinez who takes his jab. at the paper nobody cares about concerning a scandal nobody cares about. Double irony, he does it in another paper that nobody cares about.

People I despise

I have too many friends who are against the war for me to believe anti-war people to be bad people. But I hate these people.

The anti war movement has gone off the deep end so far that there is no logic or philosophy that it can claim. Now it is about withdrawing with no regards to the consequences. Now it is about wanting american troops to die.

Yes, I despise these people.

Happy Bday, Now What?

The EU celebrates 50 years and still in the flailing about mode.

There is promise of a constitution but..."'If they speak as 'we, the people of Europe,' but do not involve the people of Europe in the process, then something has gone wrong,' said Andreas Maurer, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. 'You cannot continue to have this kind of decision-making in this era of parliamentary democracy.'"

All the best. Love your trains.

Shot in the Foot

I've always been a Mark Wahlberg fan, as an actor, I really despised his rapping character, and have been surprised at his choice of roles since he has defied expectations by not pursuing the action star path.

So I was a little excited when I saw that he was making The Shooter with Antoine Fuqua. Ever since seeing the highly underrated Tears of the Sun, a movie that literally brought me to tears, I've been interested in Fuqua's work. Leaving the country soon after Tears, it made it hard to keep up with his work.

Last week the local free weekly came out with a rave review of the film, a review that put me in the theatre opening day. Sorry to say that although Fugua still knows how to create elements of a great action film, he has a tendency to beat the audience over the head with points that would be better made with a bit more nuance. Ned Beatty has a couple of scenes that are simply embarrassing and I wonder if he was while he was screaming his lines. And the trend of multiple endings has really run its course with The Shooter exceeded its count by at least 3. Overall, a big disappointment.

Of course I should have been prepared. I learned long ago that many critics are simply so disconnected from certain genre films that they don't even understand what makes one entertaining for their audience and so when they offer praise of one, you can almost bet it is for all the wrong reasons. That's how you get almost universal critical acclaim for movies like The Host and Children of Men and dumbfounded audiences wondering what the hell it is they just watched.

Thompson as Candidate

I've always been a fan of Fred Thompson, both as an actor and politician. That is based on his presence on screen and seeming common sense take on the issues of the day. There is a piece here hat seems to show him as a powerful presidential candidate if he chooses to run.

The only problem that I see is that since Thompson has begun rising as a political star, his radio commentaries have been widely distributed and I'm a bit underwhelmed. I guess his folksy, cornpone style of making a point goes over well with a certain segment but just as I'm irritated by the faux folksiness of Garrison Keilor, I'm more annoyed than charmed by Thompson when he lays out his case so us simple folk can understand.

I understand the importance of communicating but I'd still like to see Thompson let his intelligence shine through a little more. It would insult my intelligence a little less.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Apple TV

I have a feeling PC World will get a call from Little People of America with the opening paragraph concerning Apple TV here.

Although PC world seems to endorse the product, I'm still not sold. This is another example of Apple locking customers into the iTunes world to use their product. I just wonder if there is not a massive blowback coming in the future.

There were alreading rumblings, deservedly I think, about the proprietary design of iPod and iTunes that does not allow you to either play music from other download services on the iPod or does not allow you to play iTunes purchased music on other players. What happened to the good old days when you bought a cd, popped it into any old player and listened to your music.

Then along comes the iPhone, well along comes the announcement, the actual phone is still months away, and it not only continues but expands this built in limitation. evidently Apple will not allow 3rd party developers to create software enhancements and it will work with cingular. What happens if you switch to cingular to get an iPhone, decide cingular sucks and want to switch back? Um, nice paperweight you've got there.

Apple may have a winner on their hands but like I said, I'm not convinced. And with a measly 40 gb drive, I"m even more underwhelmed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


No, not that guy, the movie.

I just caught this film after seeing the trailer on another DVD. The basic premise is that a family in Taliban controlled Afghanistan, has no way to make money to feed themselves since the husband has died and there are no men in the household. Because of the laws in place, women are not allowed to walk the streets alone much less get a job.

The decision is made to cut the hair of the young daughter and send her out to work as a boy.

This is a beautifully moving and ultimately devestating film that really should be seen by anybody that has any interest in international issues. I find that many people are frankly ok with allowing entire populations to suffer terrible abuse while at the same time identifying themselves as humanitarians.

Remember, doing nothing means something. Not intervening and allowing a million to be slaughtered means a million were slaughtered because of inaction. Not intervening and allowing the horror of Afghanistan to continue meant that many more were stoned to death, were decapitated were terrorized.

I went to the National Organization for Women website. They cover a lot of issues but try to see if any of these are about women living under the thumb of Islam here . Why do they not address it? I'd really like to know.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cathy Seipp Rest In Peace

I can't say that I read Cathy Seipp's blog everyday but she always had an intelligent and often funny view on things. Sadly she passed away today as indicated at Cathy's World.

Even though I didn't know Cathy and can't remember if I ever posted any comments, I was surprised at the emotion I felt when I first read this.

Bill Gates Steps out on a very gigantic and safe limb

With all the controversy concerning immigration, Bill Gates offers his opinion here which seems to indicate that he supports the "pro-immigrant position.

But this statement ""I think every country in the world should make it easier for people with high skills to come in," Doesn't seem to contradict current laws. I know plenty of people that are immigrants to the US because of their particular skills.

The immigration debate(for the vast majority of people) has nothing to do with highly skilled workers.


Every morning I hike a local park called Runyon Canyon. I've been going here about 15 years, almost since I arrived in LA. There have been a lot of changes, most for the worst. And the worst of the worst is the number of people. Used to be you could get up the hill and back with only a few faces and if you were early enough, without seeing anybody. Now it is packed.

I guess I can't expect things to stay the same forever and I am being a little selfish but I can't help myself.

A few years ago there was an uproar with the people living on one street demanding that parking be restricted from visitors. I objected to that at first for various reasons but then my selfish desire to see the number of visitors decline made me reconsider. I used to get a laugh out of watching people in their $50,000 LandCruisers, wearing $150 hiking boots and other hiking accessories sit at the top of the hill for 20 minutes waiting for a parking space to open so that they could exercise. I would witness this as I walked up the hill from my ever available parking spots 2 blocks away.

Things have changed. The street is indeed restricted now and very few cars are parked on it. Well, there are a few. I assumed they were locals with parking stickers as I was approached but that wasn't the case. There was a line of 4 cars and they all were parking under the same privileges. Here is one.

I only snapped a picture of the one but trust me, there were 4. This is as close to the entrance gate of the park that you can get and the vanity plate gives an idea of the type of person driving.

2 Fit? Surely they are going up the hill, probably running before hitting the gym, taking a pilates class and exfoliating.

Then I realized why 2 Fit and friends are granted the rare privilige of parking where nobody else is allowed.

4 handicapped people parked at the entrance of the park. Now either we had a wheelchair club on a field trip or somebody's bought themselves a handicap tag. Its common in the land of Prius' and vegans.

This is the kind of person I'd like to see somebody from the wheelchair rugby movie "Murderball" yank out of their car and bitchslap.


Al Gore's proposals listed here at Hit and Run. Some writer's at Hit and Run have joined the global warming alarmists. I'm curious how they will react when the government starts laying out all the laws that are counter to what a libertarian believes. But then I've been skeptical of Reason's true dedication to Libertarianism for years.

Similar to a good Libertarian, I do believe that drug laws should be appealed. In the event that this occurs, I have begun considering a new business venture in which I will import legal marijuana from Mexico.

Sure, all the deep pocket importers will be able to overwhelm me with volume but here's my secret. In a post Gore world, I smuggle incandescent lightbulbs in the middle of my bales of pot! I'm going to make a fortune.

All I have to do is figure out if I want to eliminate my street gang competition or incorporate them into my business model. Its all about planning.

Smoking Cure

I have been running studies on the ongoing abuse of tobacco and have found, through extensive research and double blind tests, that cancer is directly linked to smoking.

It is an established fact that government efforts to eliminate smoking have been far from successful. Based on this direct link that I have documented between the occurance of cancer and act of smoking I propose that the United States Congress institute the necessary laws to ban cancer. That is the single most effective method to eliminate smoking.

There may be ways to bring carbon credits into the equation but I will need additional funds for that research.

Please forward all grant funds in unmarked 100 dollar bills.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Obama and Islam

Via Best of the Web an interesting piece on Obama's childhood.

This raises a question for me. I am in no way questioning Obama's religion or past, but I wonder if this past will prove to be an unexpected problem for him.

And my question is admittedly tied to some degree to a lack of understanding of the details of Islam.

It is my understanding that in Islam, it is considered a capital sin to become an apostate. Those of the radical strain interpret this to mean that apostates should literally be put to death.

My question is, at what point is a person considered a muslim? Is there a minimum age? Are there actions the person must take to be converted? Is there any way that Obama's attendance at mosques as a child would make anybody consider him a muslim at one time? Is there any way that anybody could declare Obama an apostate?

Just curious.

UPDATE: I am behind the curve on this issue. After posting I did a Google search and found that the issue has been raised several times including here. Sorry but I swear I hadn't heard any of this before posting!

The lines...

I was at the market the other day, the lines were so bad they reminded me of the Ethiopian famines of the 80s.

What? That a little harsh?

Well I've just decided that I am going to follow this idiot's comparison of Gitmo to the Stalin purges.

In fact, I think I'll make this a habit. It certainly is a way to make a point!

The Evil of Communism

Having grown up in the 60s and 70s, I learned to laugh at some of the more beligerent anti-communists who seemed so out of touch and clueless to the real world. Movies and television seemed to share a belief that our conflicts were really no more sinister than a difference of philosophy. In fact, I remember an episode of "Star Trek, Next Generation" in which Picard made a comment regarding Earth's past and the cold war with something along the lines of "It's hard to believe that countries would be ready to go to war over economic philosophy." And of course the entire crew shook their heads in agreement at his sage words.

There is only one problem with my prior assumptions and with Picard's witty quip, economic philosophy had nothing to do with it.

Totalitarianism and oppression had everything to do with it.

It is at this point that a friend will inevitably quote something by Chomsky about the vile actions of an imperial America. The only problem is that whatever vile actions that were committed by America, the don't come close to a percentage of the absolute horror committed in the name of communism. The numbers are all over the place and since we are dealing with closed regimes the records are difficult to find are are lost forever. Suffice to say that we are talking in numbers over 100 Million.

The numbers are so huge that they begin to lose meaning.

And these aren't people killed in wars, these are people intentionally murdered by their own government. What kind of monster starves to death 10 million people? How about 30 million?

I have often made comparisons to Nazi Germany and Communist USSR. I have a great reluctance to say anything that diminishes the horror of the Halocaust but the fact is that if you compare numbers, the people murdered by Lenin, Stalin and the rest exceed Hitler multiple times. Stalin alone more than doubles Hitler's rampage. And don't get me started on Mao.

Don't ask me why, I don't understand why these basic facts are not widespread. But what is even more appalling is that even people that are aware of Communism's toll will willingly accept a red star or a Che tshirt, symbols of terror and death, because for some reason they have become chic.

I think one reason for this is the complete lack of attention by Hollywood. Sure there have been movies that have taken an anticommunist position, but where are the movies that show the horrors of the Holodomor? The great Terror? The Cultural Revolution? Where are the artists that express their commitment to human rights when it comes time to expose the horrors of the last 80 years done in the name communism?

Maybe one day it will happen but until then, Hollywood has no moral standing with me.

Political philosophy via John and Paul

Oleg Atbashian has a great essay on the Beatles, morality and protest here.

Oleg is also the creator of the crazy site The People's Cube. Oleg is originally from Ukraine but living in NYC now. Maybe it is because of my time spent there and my loathing of the Soviet disaster that his site appeals to me but after one glance, I'm tempted to say it is brilliantly funny.

Polar Bear Faces Extinction

Animal Rights advocates are 'involved.

Thank god for animal rights groups right?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

LIbertarian When Convenient

I'm no Libertarian, heck I'm no nothing now that I think about it, but I am a regular reader of that Libertarian's daily bread Hit and Run. One of the things that attracts me to the libertarian philosophy is the absolute dedication to private property. That's why I am always left scratching my head when I see self proclaimed libertarians arguing against Intellectual Property or so the comments in this post seem to suggest.

I find that Hit and Run writers and readers have gotten into this snarky mode when it comes to...well the adult world. They have never forgiven Bush for the war and since then he can't seem to do any right.

Happily the possibility of a Dem president seems to have thrown them off their total lovefest with the Democrats. It will be interesting in the next 18 months.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Global Warming Swindle

Via The Belmont Clubt, here is the link to The Great Global Warming Swindle.

As I wrote in Belmont's comments:

I remember during my childhood in the deep south and in a fundamentalist Baptist church learning about the coming apocalypse. All the signs were laid out for us and we could clearly see the predictions in the book of Revelations.

Or so we were convinced.

I eventually grew out of this, maybe because I got tired of waiting (I always was impatient) or perhaps I finally started questioning the links that I had been convinced were there.

I remember when the Soviet Union was collapsing and I asked my still convinced mother what it all meant since the USSR was a critical player in the end-times scenario we had been taught to believe. Even then she was convinced that it was all a trick and that Gorbachev was simply playing us for fools.

I don't mean to ridicule religion but I've been a skeptic ever since I was finally able to step away from those early beliefs I was taught and it seems to me that the global warming issue is being made with the same evangelical fervor and by using the same kind of bait and switch citings of facts that my old Baptist church employed.

And I wonder if in 10 years we will all look back and shake our heads at how ridiculous we were.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lost Paradise

I've recently returned to LA, CA after 3 years. My single favorite destination in LA, perhaps because of its proximity, was Runyon Canyon located in Hollywood. It is an abandoned estate nestled in the middle of the city that allows you to get away from the craziness of the city for 30-45 minutes as you walk from the foothills to the top of the Hollywood Hills. The views are magnificent and if it is clear you can see miles out over the Pacific.

When I first began walking runyon during the early 90s it was relatively quiet, people would bring their dogs and it was a pretty dependable location for celebrity sightings. Over time there were some changes. A local organization pressured the city to provide some improvements as a compromise for the tunnel being built for the subway. Unfortunately these improvements, the designation of Runyon as an official "Off Leash" park, word of mouth and local articles led to greater and greater numbers of visitors.

There was an ongoing battle with residents living on the street that accessed the western gate. They wanted parking to be restricted and of course the visitors wanted to retain that access. I opposed the restricted parking for many years on the basis that it was unfair for homeowners to enjoy such a luxury while the renters at the eastern gate would suffer the overflow.

But then something happened. I can't say when exactly. Maybe seeing yet another $70,000 SUV sitting at the top of the street for 20 minutes, blocking traffic while the driver waited for a parking space to become free so that they could exercise with as little...exercise as possible. Maybe the overwhelming odor from all the dog waste that was building. Maybe seeing the many new trails that were inevitably cut into the hills as more and more people decided to make their own way. Maybe watching the city draw up plans that included the addition of a parking lot in the park, a parking lot that would only bring more and more people and probably a whole new set of problems. Maybe it was a combination but at some point I realized that Runyon was being ruined. And it was its own success that was killing it.

I'm not a conservationist nut who wants to preserve every hotdog stand in LA but I really hated to see this decline. And it was around this time that I left LA.

I am walking Runyon every day. And the changes are dramatic. What was once a pristine hillside has a completely new and heavily used trail. The numbers of visitors has increased as well.

The homeowners did finally win their fight. There is no parking on their street. Except for the priviliged few who I assume cozied up to the locals to get passes. But as much as I still believe it to be "unfair" in every way, I have to admit that I am happy that they won. If you want to walk runyon, you have to make a little more effort. I can't imagine what the numbers would be like if people could still park 100 yards from the gate.

They haven't installed the parking lot but I am told that it is till in the plans. That will be the death of the park. I can only hope it is delayed as long as possible.

I guess I am turning into one of those old fogies who longs for the past but damn that park was great 15 years ago.

Monday, March 12, 2007

GW fails to comply

Via The Corner another tale of folly as people clamor to protect our fragile planet.

According to the people involved:

"They were experiencing temperatures that weren't expected with global warming," Atwood said. "But one of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability."

If we experience 10 years of lowering temperatures, will that be a result of global warming? Just wondering.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Just saw the new movie 300 and what a film! My favorite review is this which starts with: "The movie '300' is rated R for 'RAAAAAR!' and is about as inspirational as 'Field of Dreams' multiplied by 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' plus infinity.
High school football coaches who show this to their players before games are guaranteed to win 55-0. Should opposing coaches show the DVD to each of their teams before the matchup, a rupture in the space-time continuum will occur and the game will be declared a tie."

I am passionate about movies but never good at trying to express my opinions on them like a good professional critic.

I will say this. There was evidently a tiny blip of question about whether 300 might actually be a clever condemnation of US imperialism. Let me say that King Leonidas answers that question early with one word. At the start of the movie, a Persian messenger arrives with the demand of "earth and water". A simple token by Sparta to show their allegiance to the Persian king Xerxes. With this expression of support, Sparta will be spared. What is the one word Leonidas says that gives it all away? "Submission?"

What does Islam mean? "Submission."

It is at this moment that the previously attentive Leonidas draws his sword and demonstrates his dedication to freedom and rejection of submission.

This is a movie that proudly declares its allegiance. Any misunderstanding by critics or audiences has to be assumed to be intentional.

I do think a great sketch for SNL would be a stand off between Leonidas and Jack Bauer of "24". Their yelling at each other would be quite a laugh riot.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Not the Host with the most

I've been eagerly anticipating the movie 300 since seeing the teaser trailer. But last night we chose the South Korean big monster flick The Host instead because we expected opening night crowds for 300 to be huge. And The Host is getting amazing reviews.

Well, The Host is a great movie fatally injected with dumb, dull and completely unrelated US bashing that just kill the joyride. The director is obviously very talented and there are sequences that set you back in your seat (even when the cgi is subpar) but the movie is burdened with hamhanded commentary that adds nothing to the experience. I can only guess that the very part of the movie I hated is what is causing it to get such over the top reviews.

The last movie to do this for me was "Children of Men". I was shocked at how dull and dumb that one was. And I went in with equal enthusiasm because of its overwhelming critical support. And it shared in the US bashing.

What's up with US critics?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Movie Cliches in Real Life

Years ago our legal system decided that the mentally ill should be free to determine their own treatment. To see the results, all you have to do is walk a Hollywood street (and beyond of course) to find mentally ill people enjoying the freedom of living on their own. We call them the homeless.

When you live around so many mentally ill people, you become a little numb to the site of a person sitting in their own filth or pushing a grocery cart of trash, their most prized possessions. I say you become numb but of course everybody reacts differently. I still notice the homeless but I'm not traumatized by it anymore. I wouldn't be able to function if I was. Now I am of course saddened but probably more curious about particular situations I see.

Anyway, I guess the reason I bring all that up, is to say today I saw something I've probably seen in movies dozens of times before, but never in real life. As I was leaving the library, I noticed an elderly woman dressed in a slip walking in the street about two blocks away. In this area there are a lot of odd characters to be seen but she immediately caught my attention.

While I cranked my car, somebody pulled up to her. When I looked back and was driving in that direction, a young man in his 20s perhaps, jumped out of his car and carefully guided the obviously lost and confused lady into his vehicle. I assume he was the grandson and I imagine that he'd been frantically looking for her for some time. Maybe others were out looking as well.

I just found the whole thing profoundly sad.

And the fact that I probably pass some confused and lost grandmother everyday, who was never found, or never searched for, just breaks my heart.

Leaving the Left behind | ALR | The Australian

At the top of this blog is the line "Doing nothing means something." It basically reflects my view that there is responsibility when choosing not to intervene (example would be Sudan). Via Tim Blair is a great article that touches on that issue. Leaving the Left behind | ALR | The Australian

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scooter's Patooter in the Roto-Rooter verdict

The irony of the conviction of Libby is that the trial has created a reluctance by some sources to reveal state secrets to jounalists.

Color me crazy but that's cool by me. Sorry a man has to sit in the pokee so that I can feel more secure about national security.

I wonder if and when the Kos crowd will think about this?

Monday, March 05, 2007

New Orleans Twit

Today I was listening to a podcast of my favorite radio program "This American Life". One of the segments was by a NO resident who takes a Greyline disaster tour.

It's as would be expected, yet another litany of complaints about outsiders invading the tragically devastated region. Here are a couple of my complaints:

One, she makes a point about white people coming to gawk at areas mainly composed of blacks. The inference is clear if stupid. I have news for her, I happened to be in Oklahoma City a week after the Murray building bombing. There were tons of tourists, black, white and all other colors, posing and snapping away at the destruction. I'm not excusing poor taste in the wake of tragedy but it has nothing to do with race thank you.

She also expressed her disgust at a middle aged woman who remarked how nice some homes were in a better neighborhood they toured. The implication was that the lady making the remark was more concerned about middle and upper class victims. I would suggest that she was surprised because if you depended on the MSM coverage, you would very understandably think that all the victims were poor blacks.

There has been plenty of heartache and pain related to Katrina. When will people quit inventing more for their own purposes.

And yes, I still think "This American Life" is the best program on the radio.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Off to the Races

Ok, the women are running now. I don't know how fast my friends are running so I'm heading down to Hollywood and Highland to cheer them on.

BTW, wheelchairs are at 6 miles in 16 minutes.

Wheelchairs go, go go!

These wheelchairs are flying! 30 MPH or so downhill. Very cool.

Changes I've Seen

I've been gone from LA for 3 years. Watching local TV news, I notice a lot of people that were young and fresh when I left, seem now to be desperately clinging to their youth. I've seen more than one weirdly bad perm on a guy so far.

Wheelchairs go

Getting ready for the wheelchairs. They're off. Can't imagine that .

Best Reason to Run the LA Marathon?

I'm getting ready to go watch the LA marathon and channel 4 has a policeman on who is running today. He explained that his inspirations for running are two cops that ran last year and died during the race of heart attacks.

Call me cynical but if I was looking for reasons NOT to run, that would be my inspiration.

Not to worry though because the newsman on 4 announced after that story that there will be portable defibulators (sp?) along the course. Yay!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Bush is speaking tonight and I'm trying to figure out what the game is here. Why does the White House release the contents of a speach so early before the speech is actually given? For the last 24 hours I've been inundated by analysis of the big event tonight and the rebuttal by the Dems.

What ever happened to waiting for a speech to find out what somebody is going to say. Why doesn't hollywood just pass out scripts before releasing a movie?


Saturday, January 20, 2007

The New Yorker: PRINTABLES

Oh what the hell. I was going to keep this more as a diary but I can't help myself. Here is a fascinating account of how one goes from death metal to "one of Osama bin Laden’s senior operatives" The New Yorker: PRINTABLES


It’s been a long time.

Since my last posting, I’ve finished Peace Corps, worked as cameraman for a few TV programs and spent several months with my mother, fixing up her place and trying to be of help in general.

Each of those items above deserve some more detail. My last days in Peace Corps were spoiled by a series of problems caused by PC but suffered by me; my work on the TV programs involved the hunting community and several funny, disturbing and bizarre elements that go along with it; my time helping my mother convinced me that I am possibly the world’s worst handyman.

I’d like to write about each in the future but for now I’m just saying hello again. And I’m trying to rethink my purpose for this blog.

Previously I was blogging anonymously. PC has a policy that requires volunteers to have everything approved for publication. I had no desire to participate in that and so I tried to make sure that my blog didn’t identify me or anybody around me to the degree that I would be causing any problems that PC claims to want to avoid.

In writing like that, I found myself over thinking everything I posted, making more of an effort to conceal myself than to write.

I also began to feel I needed to post an opinion on practically everything. Not a good idea. A lot of posts can add up to a lot of crap.

Then I discovered that I could track the hits to my blog. Not a good idea. Caring about your hits can affect your blogging.

Then I discovered that I was getting daily hits from Kiev. Well, that gave me pause. Perhaps I was being paranoid but I decided that I didn’t want to be busted just months before my scheduled departure.

So I am back for now. I got a cheap AOL account that will allow me to post from anywhere and so we will see. I’ll probably stay anonymous because frankly you can’t work in TV/film and have the opinions I have without getting grief from your potential bosses and co-workers.

My current plan is to return to Los Angeles and begin a job search. I’ve been out of my field for several years now and it is a little scary. I’m also reluctant to jump back into the kind of backbiting environment I left before. But I love the industry and have plans to return to Ukraine and shoot a documentary. For that I will need to make money.

I’m going to treat this as a diary of sorts. If anybody actually reads it, thanks!

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