Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NoTex is the new SoCal

While I continue my firm policy of eschewing the ridiculous practice of extrapolating local, short-term weather phenomena into global, long-term climate trends, the truly bizarre weather here in my corner of the world deserves some comment.

This past summer, there were approximately 3 days during which the high temperature was 100+ degrees. (Very unusual.) This past winter, there were only a small handful of days during which the low temperature was below freezing. (Very unusual). During one stretch during the spring and early summer, it rained approximately 70 days out of 90. (Unheard of.)

And, right now, October 24, I'm looking out my window and the grass and foliage is riotously green. (Unprecedented. Unbelievable. Almost literally impossible.)

Though there have been periods of itinerantcy, I've lived here my whole life. In my experience, every year, without fail, come round about the first week of August (and generally a week or two earlier), everything turns brown, the sole exception being extremely well-irrigated and vigorously-attended personal lawns. Everything else, as brown as the shirt on Rudy Giuliani's back. Dead, ashen, and not to return to green-ness until April.

What does this portend? Likely nothing, other than the unfortunate bringing of more yankee move-ins who may have spent some time traveling here during the past year -- which, granted, will provide some comedic potential when next August rolls around, but which, on balance, is certainly not a positive development.

Dear Mr. Preznit: let me introduce you to something called "Irony"

According to the New York Times, Preznit Bush is set today to announce new strategeries in connection with the impending death of Axis-of-Evil honorable mention member Fidel Castro and the resulting power shift in Cuba.

Among the preznit's bullet points: "demands for free and transparent elections, and the release of political prisoners", along with a return of Cuban political power to "the people".

Much like the administration's recent call for Russia to cease its consolidation of power in a single executive and allow for more policy control to reside in its elected legislative body
("'I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and doubts about the Duma,' said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament. 'In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development,' Rice told reporters"),
this is obviously a case of the pot calling the kettle "a black, concave kitchen implement, capable of holding liquids, with one or more handles, typically used for heating soup, stew or other liquids on a stove-top".

Castro may or may not be an evil dictator, but Dear Leader Bush is certainly, demonstrably, a hypocritical gasbag who needs to remove the beam from his own eye prior to casting stones through the window of his glass house.

Sag this, Biatch

The astute Barry Green has already posted this (actually, he's not that astute, I'm just incredibly slow), but here is a better article on the subject of how the City of Dallas is fighting the dire social issue of youngsters sagging their pants.

Based on the radio coverage of this from yesterday and the Liberal Lean post, I was prepared to call for the public flogging of all the people involved in this embarrassment. However, it appears from today's coverage that no public funds have been expended in this effort.

Clear Channel donated the billboards and some insipidly civic-minded group apparently donated their services in designing the billboards and producing the ad-copy. Based on the slogans, the latter should have been obvious, as no self-respecting professional messaging person could ever conceivably put forward these slogans, which are so stupid as to be unintentional self parody, and are the pinnacle of irony insofar as they are certain to have the exact opposite of their intended result.

I would bet the deed to Chez HHL that not one single person will stop sagging their pants in response to these billboards. Not one.
Dear Local Government, City Councils, Mayors, and School Boards Everywhere,

Please get out of the business of trying to determine people's clothing choices. Short of public nudity, this is not your concern. Please refocus your efforts back on your primary purpose of giving sweetheart contracts out to your brothers-in-law, fellow-church goers, and various other members of your social circle.

Thank you.



Friday, October 19, 2007


Back when the preznit was convincing everyone we needed to preemptively invade and occupy Iraq, he threatened us with the specter of a nuclear explosion: "we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Pretty scary. Scary enough to convince enough people to support a near unilateral war against a faraway country that had not attacked us and -- as we later learned -- could not possibly have attacked us.

But we did learn. So we won't fall for that trick again! As the preznit himself says, "fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice... ... ... won't be fooled again".

So now that the preznit wants to invade and occupy another faraway country that has not attacked us and cannot possibly attack us, how can he gain support for it? I mean, he's already played the "nuclear explosion on American soil" card, and it was proven -- to all but the dumbest among us, the increasingly lonely and isolated twenty-four percenters -- to be the most base and cynical kind of propaganda, an utterly false lie designed to play on our deepest fears. He knows it can't work again.

And yet he must strike against Iran. So he needs a stronger, bigger, more monstrously frightening image.


From the preznit's Wednesday press conference:
Q: But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?

Preznit: ...Yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it's in the world's interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian -- if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace. But this -- we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
Got that? World War III.

Either we start a war with Iran, or.... WWIII!

But not just that. It's not good enough for us to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. But from knowing how to build a nuclear weapon.

So, see, then when we bomb them and go in there and search around through their country and don't find any evidence of nuclear weapons, people like me won't be able to go "AHA! I knew they didn't really have nuclear weapons!"

No. Because, see, preznit never actually said they actually had nuclear weapons, just that they knew how to build them. So, let's see you prove they didn't have THAT, why dontcha, mr. smartypants blogger!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Here's a neat parlor game

Explain the comments in this thread.

A sample:
"Al [Sharpton,]
your a disgrace to your faith, only you can make jesus puke
you are an unevolved silver back gorilla that is nothing more than a stupid pettrick
you are walking proof that the ability to communicate does not imply intellegence"
I'll propose the first two possibilities:

1. The level of political discourse in this country has devolved to a point where people can't tell the satirical bullshit from the regular bullshit.

2. There are just a whole bunch of very stupid racist assholes running around out there.

Note that you have to go down several dozen posts before you see the first one that says "Um, hey dumbfucks, this is a freakin' PARODY!"

(via Who Is IOZ.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Actual political progress in Iraq

All you pessimists and America-haters out there who want to point to the lack of political progress in Iraq as a major failure of the Bush Administration and its War Policies, who say that the Maliki is a WH puppet, who say that the various political factions boycott the process and never agree on anything, who say that the parliament can't pass any legislation, who just generally say that the Iraqi government is broken and that the country is anarchic and lawless, well, to all of you people, suck on this:

Baghdad (AP):

Two armored sport-utility vehicles were badly damaged and heavily burned, according to AP photos from the scene.

U.S. authorities confiscated an AP Television News videotape that contained scenes of the wounded being evacuated. U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl told the AP the government of Iraq had made it illegal to photograph or videotape the aftermath of bombings or other attacks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shooting incidents

I glanced at a story from Reuters just now regarding the whole Blackwater controversy. This, you might know, is a private military contractor being paid hundreds of millions of dollars to "provide security" for some of our civilians in Iraq. They sometimes get drunk and kill people at random ("In one killing on Dec. 24, a drunken Blackwater employee returning from a party killed a guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi, the report said.") but are not subject to prosecution because Iraq is a lawless hellhole. But, there are plenty of other Iraqis where those came from, right? So, no big deal, really.

But what got me about this Reuters story was the very first sentence:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki questioned on Wednesday whether U.S. private security firm Blackwater had any future role in Iraq because of the high number of shooting incidents in which it had been involved.
I'm not sure how many of these so-called "shooting incidents" Blackwater has been involved in. Probably a lot. What I'm wondering though, is whether Maliki -- or anyone else -- might start questioning the "future role" of any other groups or organizations involved in a "high number of shooting incidents" there, in Iraq.

Anyone know of any groups or organizations that might fit this description? Anyone?

Soooo, I guess my point is: Maliki, shut the fuck up. And to the media, who is making a big story about all of this? Shut the fuck up.

And to congress, especially to congress, who is currently making a huge show of "investigating" Blackwater? SHUT THE FUCK UP.

All you fuckers take your grandstanding and your righteous outrage and go fuck yourselves. These Blackwater cretins are a small, tiny, symptom of a tremendous raging disaster. But let's all focus on THEM, because they're an easy target, and tackling the entire massive devastating catastrophe that is dragging our entire nation and way of life straight off a cliff into oblivion is just a bit too tough.

Monday, October 1, 2007


No, this is not a post about the Bush Administration, as the title might suggest. On the contrary, it is my 2nd post in a row (!) without political content.

From the Snarkerati site, this is a ranking of the top 50 Dystopian movies of all time. The list was compiled from averaging IMDB's user rankings and Rotten Tomatoes' compilations of reviews from professional critics.

I'm a very big fan of this genre (draw your own conclusions as to what this says about my personality). A few of my personal favorites:

45. Idiocracy (2006). Mike Judge roolz. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a good 'un.

41. Soylent Green (1973). I was shocked that this wasn't higher on the list. I had always thought it was pretty much the quintessential dystopian flick. On a recent re-watching, its genius was confirmed. The dystopian elements are very incisively done, and, of course, the ending is an all-time classic finish.

39. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). Adapted, of course, from one of my all-time favorite books, and what has to be the best-ever dystopian story told in any medium, George Orwell's book of the same name. I recently watched this, and -- though I was prepared to be disappointed -- it was actually quite good, mostly because it stayed very true to the book.

29. Total Recall (1990). One of the Governator's best. I like movies where the plot screws with your mind. I always love the scene where Ahnahld pumps a bullet through Sharon Stone's forehead.

25. Gattaca (1997). This one ranks high for me for no other reason than the central dystopian plot element appears very likely to happen at some point (assuming the human race doesn't destroy itself in the next few years).

23. V for Vendetta (2005). If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend that you do. Where is our Guy Fawkes? (This one also ranks highly on the "are we really that far from this?" scale.)

16. Pleasantville (1998). This movie has its faults (pulls just a bit too hard on the ol' heartstrings for my taste), but you've got to give a lot of credit to the cleverness of idea behind it, and also the way it uses the b&w/color dichotomy to drive the theme and story.

15. Serenity (2005). Joss Whedon did this movie, which is based on the "Firefly" television series, which didn't catch on but is worth watching. The "River" character is fascinating. (An interesting detail is how the characters lapse into speaking bits and pieces of Chinese, a fact that is never actually addressed in the movie but appears to reference Chinese dominance of "Earth-that-was" at some point in the past.)

14. Twelve Monkeys (1995). I have this movie on DVD, but my memory of it is a bit fuzzy. Terry Gilliam is a dystopian master. I remember Bruce Willis being really good, and Brad Pitt plays the only kind of character he is really good at (a person with a mental disability).

9. Minority Report (2002). I wouldn't put this quite so high on the list, and I'm not so sure it is really all that "dystopian" (though I can see why it was included), but really it is just a very good futuristic action thriller with a really clever plot. Lots of cool chase scenes, fight scenes, great CGI, etc.

7. The Matrix (1999). In my mind, The Matrix is a great, classic movie. There are so many awesome things about it, and it is just too bad the Wachowskis cheapened it by doing those two (terrible!) sequels (especially the third one, which was just about totally unwatchable).

6. Children of Men (2006). I think this is the only movie on the list that I actually saw at the theater. I had seen the trailers and it looked spectacular. I was a little disappointed, but I would still recommend it. Clive Owen is predictably great, and the rest of the acting, settings, story, etc is all good, but I just thought the director (Alfonso Cuaron) could have done a better job punching up the themes (or, really, making whatever theme there was more clear, because -- and this could possibly be chalked up to my own denseness -- but I wasn't real sure what it was I was supposed to take away from it).

5. Blade Runner (1982). I don't need to explain this one to you, do I?

2. A Clockwork Orange (1971). A bit of the ol' ultraviolence, eh? (One of) Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece(s). So powerful that a few of the scenes are truly hard to watch. The soundtrack is perfect in its chilling creepiness. I love the mother's tragic explanation of what she thinks (or sooo badly wants to think) it is that little Alex does to earn money: "Well, like he says, it's mostly odd things he does. Helping, like, here and there as it might be."

Some other notes:

3. Brazil (1985). Another Gilliam flick. I liked it, but: someone please tell me the meaning of this movie?

12. The Trial (1962). I've not seen this, but the book by Franz Kafka is excellent. I wonder if Blockbuster has this...

36. A Scanner Darkly (2006). Crazy way they put this movie together. They filmed all the scenes, and then had an army of artists spend a couple of years drawing over the filmed images (apparently this is called "rotoscoping", which I thought was actually a different technique entirely). This makes the movie look like it should be a Grand Theft Auto type Playstation2 game. It was a bit hard to follow (I plan to read the book, which I own, that was written by Phillip K. Dick, who also wrote the book that Blade Runner was based on (which I have read), called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"). Directed by Richard Linklater, of "Dazed and Confused" and "Slacker" fame. It has an excellent cast, but it seems like it would have been better if they had done away with the neat-o rotoscoping bit, and just used CGI to do the tricky make-me-look-like-someone-else-suit thing.

42. I, Robot (2004). On second thought, this should be in my list of favorites above. Good cast, good story, great CGI, and a decent makes-you-think kind of theme.

The Running Man (1987). This gets an honorable mention. Another of the Governator's best. The premise is pretty good. I love when the guy wearing the neck collar gets his head exploded. Richard Dawson is perfect as the game show host.

Should be on the list:

Aeon Flux (2005). This movie is based on the anime series that aired on MTV in the late 80s (or early 90s?). As a commenter on IMDB noted, it is way better than you might expect. Highly stylized, with some good action, and a pretty awesome plot twist at the end.

The Island (2005). This is a very underrated movie. If for no other reason, Scarlett Johansson looks incredibly hot. Ewan McGregor is good too (he's best when he plays a dumb guy -- though in this case he is ignorant rather than dumb, but in this context it's the same). The premise is very clever (though in retrospect, it seems perfectly obvious (maybe even reasonable??)), and the plot is good, the story moves along really well, there are some good action scenes (though some of the settings could have benefited from a bigger budget), and overall it is just a really well done, engaging movie. I've tried to figure out why it didn't do better at the box office, or receive more acclaim, and I just can't figure it out. For my money, it's one of the best movies to come out in the last couple of years.