Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BOOM

Satellite images show that Syria has razed a suspected nuclear reactor construction site that was attacked by Israel on Sept 6. Syria is dangerous and will make things go boom if they get the chance. Iran likewise. North Korea? How dangerous is Pakistan? Do we wait to find out? Do we really want "love and light" peaceniks controlling our military preparedness and response? Not this guy.

I like that when Israel sees a threat to its safety, it blows it up. We must always be prepared to do likewise. Zell Miller tells a story of finding a venomous snake under the woodpile where his grandkids were playing, and whack!, he chopped off its head, without calling a meeting or drafting a resolution for endorsement by the UN. He had a responsibility to protect his family, and in the face of danger, the appropriate response was to quickly and convincingly eliminate the danger. It may not be nuanced but it is a very effective policy: eliminate the threat by eliminating the threat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"THE BOURGEOISIE WILL REMEMBER MY CARBUNCLES UNTIL THEIR DYING DAY..." -Karl Marx


Marx's erupting skin may have influenced writings
AP-News
Karl Marx, who complained of excruciating boils, actually suffered from a
chronic skin disease with known psychological effects that may well have
influenced his writings, a British expert said on Tuesday.
Sam Shuster, professor of dermatology at the University of East Anglia, believes the
revolutionary thinker had hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in which the apocrine
sweat glands -- found mainly in the armpits and groin -- become blocked and
inflamed. "In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to
his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem," said
Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of
Dermatology. "This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response
reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing."
While HS is linked to boil-like lumps, the painful condition also causes more widespread infection, swelling, skin thickening and scarring.
It could also explain a number of Marx's other complaints, not previously linked, such as joint pain and a painful eye condition which often stopped him working.
Shuster based his diagnosis on an analysis of Marx's extensive correspondence, in which he wrote to friends about his health and described his skin lesions as "curs" and "swine."
"The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day,"
Marx told Friedrich Engels in a letter from 1867.
Marx, who died in 1883, was one of the most influential philosophers of the 19th century and his radical writings formed the basis of modern communism.

Just think how the world would have been different if Poor Mr. Marx had had access to anti-botics and Sam-e. Yes, Mr. Marx as a card carrying member of the Bourgeoisie, I do remember your carbuncles. I remember them and the countless millions that died at hands of Stalin. Of the trillions of dollars wasted on defending liberty at your expense.

Unfortunately for me, I never got into Karl's writings. These are the only Marxs I ever liked:




Monday, October 29, 2007

999,999 TOO FEW

It’s been said that liberals love people in groups of no smaller than one million. Individuals they despise. Socialism takes care of both problems by subverting the desires of the individual to the desires of the state. Of course, this isn’t the way they put it. They do what they do out of selflessness. Take Arthur Miller:
In the days after his death, at the age of 89, Arthur Miller was eulogized around the world. Newspaper obituaries and television commentators hailed his work—including those keystones of the American canon Death of a Salesman and The Crucible—and recalled his many moments in the public eye: his marriage to Marilyn Monroe; his courageous refusal, in 1956, to "name names" before the House un-American Activities Committee; his eloquent and active opposition to the Vietnam War; his work, as the international president of pen, on behalf of oppressed writers around the world. The Denver Post called him "the moralist of the past American century," and The New York Times extolled his "fierce belief in man's responsibility to his fellow man—and [in] the self-destruction that followed on his betrayal of that responsibility."

In a moving speech at the Majestic, the playwright Tony Kushner said Miller had possessed the "curse of empathy." Edward Albee said that Miller had held up a mirror and told society, "Here is how you behave."
I hope Not, because. . .
Only a handful of people in the theater knew that Miller had a fourth child. Those who did said nothing, out of respect for his wishes, because, for nearly four decades, Miller had never publicly acknowledged the existence of Daniel.

At his death, the only major American newspaper to mention Daniel in its obituary was the Los Angeles Times, which said, "Miller had another son, Daniel, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth in 1962.

Miller's friends say they never understood exactly what happened with Daniel, but the few details they heard were disturbing. Miller had not only erased his son from the public record; he had also cut him out of his private life, institutionalizing him at birth, refusing to see him or speak about him, virtually abandoning him.

Daniel Miller, they (disability-rights advocates) say, is a "guy who's made a difference in a lot of lives." They also say he is someone who, considering the challenges of his life, has in his own way achieved as much as his father did. The way Arthur Miller treated him baffles some people and angers others. But the question asked by friends of the father and of the son is the same: How could a man who, in the words of one close friend of Miller's, "had such a great world reputation for morality and pursuing justice do something like this"?

Because Daniel is 999,999 too few.
Arthur and Inge's first child, Rebecca, was born in September 1962, seven months after they were married. From the first, her parents "absolutely doted on her," friends recall. She was, says one, "the precious object. She was stunningly beautiful. Arthur and Inge were not really beautiful people, but they produced this exquisite daughter." Wherever Arthur and Inge went, they took Rebecca—on their trips around the world and to dinner parties. . .

Daniel was born four years later, in a New York City hospital. The Broadway producer Robert Whitehead, who died in 2002, would tell Martin Gottfried that Miller called him on the day of the birth. Miller was "overjoyed," Whitehead said, and confided that he and Inge were planning to name the boy "Eugene"—possibly after Eugene O'Neill, whose play Long Day's Journey into Night, which had won the Pulitzer in 1957, had awed Miller. The next day, however, Miller called Whitehead again and told him the baby "isn't right." The doctors had diagnosed the infant with Down syndrome.

"Arthur was terribly shaken—he used the term 'mongoloid,'" Whitehead recalled. He said, "'I'm going to have to put the baby away.'" A friend of Inge's recalls visiting her at home, in Roxbury, about a week later. "I was sitting at the bottom of the bed, and Inge was propped up, and my memory is that she was holding the baby and she was very, very unhappy," she says. "Inge wanted to keep the baby, but Arthur wasn't going to let her keep him." Inge, this friend recalls, "said that Arthur felt it would be very hard for Rebecca, and for the household," to raise Daniel at home. Another friend remembers that "it was a decision that had Rebecca at the center."

Within days, the child was gone, placed in a home for infants in New York City. When he was about two or three, one friend recalls, Inge tried to bring him home, but Arthur would not have it. Daniel was about four when he was placed at the Southbury Training School. Then one of two Connecticut institutions for the mentally retarded, Southbury was just a 10-minute drive from Roxbury, along shaded country roads. "Inge told me that she went to see him almost every Sunday, and that [Arthur] never wanted to see him," recalls the writer Francine du Plessix Gray. Once he was placed in Southbury, many friends heard nothing more about Daniel. "After a certain period," one friend says, "he was not mentioned at all."

By the early 1970s, however, around the time Arthur Miller put his son there, Southbury was understaffed and overcrowded. It had nearly 2,300 residents, including children, living in rooms with 30 to 40 beds. Many of the children wore diapers, because there weren't enough employees to toilet-train them. During the day, they sat in front of blaring TVs tuned to whatever show the staff wanted to watch. The most disabled children were left lying on mats on the floor, sometimes covered with nothing but a sheet. "In the wards you had people screaming, banging their heads against the wall, and taking their clothes off," says David Shaw, a leading Connecticut disability lawyer. "It was awful."

Toni Richardson, the former Connecticut commissioner for mental retardation, who worked at Southbury during the 1970s, recalls that in those days restraints were still used on children who were considered "rambunctious": the strips of cloth used to tie them to chairs or door handles were called "belly bands"; there was also something that "looked like a straitjacket, except that it was made of cotton."

In September 1995, Daniel and Arthur Miller met for the first time in public, at a conference on false confessions in Hartford, Connecticut. Miller had come to the Aetna conference center to deliver a speech on behalf of Richard Lapointe, a man with a mild intellectual disability who had been convicted, based on a confession that many people believed was coerced, of murdering his wife's grandmother. Daniel was there with a large group from People First. Miller, several participants recall, seemed stunned when Danny ran over and embraced him, but recovered quickly. "He gave Danny a big hug," says one man. "He was very nice." They had their picture taken together, and then Miller left. "Danny was thrilled," Bowen recalls.

Causes not individuals.
The following year, Rebecca Miller married Daniel Day-Lewis, whom she had met on the set of the movie adaptation of The Crucible. Day-Lewis, says Francine du Plessix Gray, "was the most compassionate about Daniel. He always visited him, with Inge and Rebecca." Some say he was "appalled" at Miller's attitude toward his son, and it is possible that Day-Lewis influenced Miller to make his first appearance, sometime in the late 1990s, at one of Daniel's annual "overall plan of service" reviews. The meeting was held in Daniel's apartment and lasted about two hours, Godbout recalls. As Arthur and Inge listened, the social workers who worked with Daniel discussed his progress—his job, his self-advocacy work, his huge network of friends. Miller "was just blown away," Godbout recalls. "He was absolutely amazed at Danny being able to live out on his own. He said it over and over again: 'I would never have dreamed this for my son. If you would have told me when he first started out that he would get to this point, I would never have believed it.' And you could see his sense of pride. Danny was right there, and he was just beaming."
Of course he was surprised. He thought most everyone incapable of taking care of themselves.
Miller never went to another meeting, and he apparently did not visit Daniel again at his apartment. But every now and then a social worker would drive Daniel to New York City to see his parents.

Wow, I'm so proud. Now get me away from him.
Today, Daniel Miller lives with the elderly couple who have long taken care of him, in a sprawling addition to their home that was built especially for him. He continues to receive daily visits from a state social worker, whom he's known for years. Although his father left him enough money to provide for everything he needs, Daniel has kept his job, which he loves and "is very proud of," according to Rebecca, who visits him with her family on holidays and during the summers. "Danny is very much part of our family," she said, and "leads a very active, happy life, surrounded by people who love him."

Some wonder why Arthur Miller, with all his wealth, waited until death to share it with his son. Had he done so sooner, Daniel could have afforded private care and a good education. But those who know Daniel say that this is not how he would feel. "He doesn't have a bitter bone in his body," says Bowen.

So it's okay because Danny is good hearted. I wonder if Danny found it in his heart to forgive Elia Kazan.

The article is quite long and the author keeps going back to her prejudices that Miller is this man of great social conscience. Again and again she tries to find mitigating factors that show Miller to be less than a scoundrel. She, of course, sees his actions as some kind of hypocrisy instead understanding it as perfectly consistent with his overall views of the world.

Socialism isn't a love of mankind, but a disdain for it. It's the idea that people are too foolish to be trusted on their own. A guy capable of institutionalizing his son, not providing for his care, and pretending him into nonexistence could not possibly be possessed with the "curse of empathy" no matter how many fashionable plays he could write.

Miller's villains were probably inspired by the weakness that he saw in himself, only he transferred it to middle America and was lionized for it. The Profiteering father, Joe Keller in ALL MY SONS knowingly sent out defective planes during World War II to make money, therefore capitalism is bad. Willy Loman used his conman personality to sell people things they didn't need therefore capitalism is bad.

Like his characters it seems that Miller's actions repudiate what he stood for too? If you can't trust a real socialist to be selfless, then how can you trust a whole system of them to have your best interests at heart?
BILL MAHER

I try to watch Maher every week. It's the best way to see what the other side is doing in one hour and it has some entertainment value too. Maher is funny even when he's infuriating. The last show had Andrew Sullivan, Martina Navratolova, and Wesley Clark as guests. They are all operationally people of the Left, but not without contradictions that made them a fun panel.

I use to read Sullivan's blog after 9-11. He was steadfast for the war, can't get the bombs there fast enough, etc. He hates the war now and endorsed Kerry in 2004. He's always been vague about his change of heart. The war was managed poorly, Bush wasn't truthful, all that stuff. The real reason, of course, is that Bush opposes gay marriage. Had Bush supported it, Sullivan would be shouting to kill those homophobic Islamists still.

Wesley Clark is interesting because he was a lifelong Republican brought to politics by Bill Clinton. It puts him in the position of defending the military and Hilary while crying about global warming.

The most interesting exchange occurred when Sullivan proposed that Hilary supports an attack on Iran as much as Bush. Clark became furious. Later Maher was taking credit for calling Bush a liar in 1999, when Sully still liked him. Sullivan said he should be happy to have him on board. Clark said that it was hard to tell if he was on board with the way he attacks Hilary. Sully said that he supports Obama. Clark then attacked Obama as using religious language to oppose gays in South Carolina. Neither gave a substantive reason for their support of their candidate. It's all based on personalities.

Maher, Sully and Martina were all making fun of Laura Bush in that picture next to two women in burkas. Clark defended Laura and the women wearing burkas. He says that those women like the burkas, just ask them. He's talked to many of them and they all like it. To Maher's credit he compared it to Putin's favor ability rating. How do we really know in a police state? Clark's position was that age-old cultural equivalence argument where any culture no matter how backward is valid simply because it isn't American.

Maher is a funny guy and some of his criticism is pointed well, but other times it's naive. He gives Arnold some credit for his environmentalism and then argues that the Republican primaries would have a different tone if Arnold was running. Is he kidding? Arnold would ditch all of that Leftwing stuff that Maher likes and start running to the Right. The Global Warming Arnold polls about 8% in the Republican primary. Anyway, Maher complains about the constitution not allowing Arnold to run. Sully agrees, but Clark in an unguarded moment becomes the rightwinger. What if 50 years from now China is the top dog and we're a satellite. Our constitution forbidding foreign born Presidents is going to stop China from taking us over. I understood what he was trying to say, but he could have expressed it much better. And the China example is surprising considering that Hilary is getting all that money from China. I'm sure in retrospect he would presented another example.

Martina could have been made out of copper for all the insight she gave during the hour. She too is product of identity politics. I'm not sure if that's because she wants to marry a lady or if she just hates Republicans for looking down on her. My initial question would be why anyone raised in a communist country could defect to the west and not support conservatives? But when you think about it, she never had a real totalitarian experience. She was one of those athletes who grew up in the high life courtesy of the state, defection just allowed her to keep more of the money.

In Maher's eyes all the world's problems are courtesy of Bush. You never get the idea that problems existed in the world before him. Bush created this awful world. Bush is not just wrong in the eyes of Maher but stupid or corrupt or duplicitous. But Maher spends scant time explaining why in detail. Bush is a liar because Saddam didn't nuke our troops, he's corrupt because he has friends in the oil business, and he's stupid because he doesn't agree with Maher.

If these are his best arguments against Bush, I have to think that Maher is playing a character that hates Bush more than anything else. C-Span's Washington journal has guests every morning that make better anti-Bush arguments. Even the caller make interesting points. Maher is just feeding mice to the snakes in the audience. As entertainment his approach is more effective than C-Span and I'm usually entertained between moments disgust.
WHAT ABOUT POE
Last year, the writer Matthew Pearl published a novel called The Poe Shadow, in which a young lawyer sets out to solve one of the great enduring mysteries of American literary history: What killed Edgar Allan Poe?

There are numerous competing theories about Mr. Poe’s death—the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, even has an exhibit dedicated to all of them. Some Poe experts believe it was the result of drink. Others think he had rabies.

The immediate circumstances of Mr. Poe’s death are not in dispute. He had been missing for several days when a man named Snodgrass found him on the night of Oct. 3, 1849, barely conscious and wearing clothes that did not fit, and brought him to Washington College Hospital for treatment. “At the hospital he kind of ranted and raved,” Mr. Pearl said. Three days later, he was dead.

But 25 years later they dug him up.
. . .“the sexton who attended to the removal of the poet’s body” had lifted the head during the exhumation and reported seeing the brain “[rattling] around inside just like a lump of mud.” The sexton reportedly thought that “the brain had dried and hardened in the skull.”

“What I realized was, if that was the case, it would be the only physical evidence we have of what Poe’s condition was at his time of death,” Mr. Pearl said.

Intrigued, Mr. Pearl asked a coroner for an expert opinion. “I read her the description,” Mr. Pearl said, “and she said, ‘Well, that person is just wrong. Unless you embalm the body, the brain is the first thing to liquefy. There’s no way it would still be there 25 years later.’”

But a tumor, the coroner said, can calcify while the rest of the body decomposes. Perhaps that’s what the witnesses were describing, she suggested. Sure enough, when Mr. Pearl looked up photographs of brain tumors, he saw that some of them really did look like shrunken brains.

Next, Mr. Pearl ran his theory by some experts. One was Hal Poe, a descendant of the writer who serves on the board of the Poe Museum, and who told Pearl that he had “stumbled onto something quite important.” Mr. Pearl then went to Poe scholar James Hutchisson, who had advanced the tumor theory a year earlier in a Poe biography, based on other evidence, including the fact that Dr. Moran initially reported the cause of death as “congestion of the brain.”

Despite the enthusiasm with which experts like Mr. Hutchisson have greeted his findings, Mr. Pearl isn’t claiming to have solved the mystery once and for all. But he’s excited to have found a concrete lead amid the tangle of unsubstantiated theories: “At least [the tumor theory] has some evidence and some trails that you can follow that … It’s not just throwing the word ‘rabies’ out there and thinking, ‘That sounds good!’...I’d hope in this case someone picks up the scent and finds more on this.”
That's certainly better than he drank himself to death.
SERIES LIMPS HOME

World Series ratings are in free fall, from a share in the low 50s in the late 1970s to a share in the high teens these days. Sure, some of it owes to the proliferation of cable channels and alternate media during that period, but that is still a precipitous decline.

Me, I skipped Game 1 entirely, watched the end of Games 2 and 3 and paid for the lack of sleep the following days at work, and turned it off last night when the Rockies failed to score in the bottom of the 7th.

The British Telegraph nailed it:
This series, as the past few, created little excitement. Television ratings were mediocre, games ending in the eastern time zone after 1am. There was no buzz, no controversy. There was just the Red Sox, the new Yankees, if you will, on their relentless march.

Parity? What parity?

The St. Petersburg Times blames the TV schedule for ruining this postseason. I can't disagree. The Phillies-Rockies games started at 3pm, 3pm, and 9pm eastern. No game in prime time that I could watch with my kids. Game 4, which was not necessary, was scheduled to start at 10pm eastern. First pitch, two hours after my kids went to bed. Ridiculous.

Have league championship games end at 2:45 a.m. on the East Coast? Push every World Series game to the brink of midnight, and beyond? Blame television ratings.

It's as if no one is in charge of protecting the game's future. Essentially, baseball is chasing off casual and younger fans in search of a few extra television dollars in the interim.

At some point, the clock turned too late, the calendar turned too far and television's influence on the schedule turned too intrusive. At some point, the World Series got away from us.


All that for an 18 share? OR - an 18 share because of it?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ONE BUTCHER TO ANOTHER

The children of Che Guevara, the revolutionary pin-up, had been invited to Tehran University to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their father's death and celebrate the growing solidarity between "the left and revolutionary Islam" at a conference partly paid for by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.

There were fraternal greetings and smiles all round as America's "earth-devouring ambitions" were denounced. But then one of the speakers, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause), revealed that Che was a "truly religious man who believed in God and hated communism and the Soviet Union."

Che's daughter Aleida wondered if something might have been lost in translation. "My father never mentioned God," she said, to the consternation of the audience. "He never met God." During the commotion, Aleida and her brother were led swiftly out of the hall and escorted back to their hotel. "By the end of the day, the two Guevaras had become non-persons. The state-controlled media suddenly forgot their existence," the Iranian writer Amir Taheri noted. (Via James Taranto)

Both sides thought they were meeting with Sean Penn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

JOE TORRE

I will miss him, sure.

I was sorry to see Buck Showalter go.

Then Torre made that decision seem alright.

It would be fun to see Donnie Baseball manage.

I bet Joe Girardi would be decent too.

I’m glad it won’t be the overrated LaRussa.

I can’t feel sorry for Torre or any Yankee manager.

They know the ending before they experience the beginning.

Showalter got the Yankees to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years and then got canned.

Torre walked into that.

He could have left on his own terms several times.

He could have remained in the job as the highest paid manager in baseball.

I will miss him, sure.

But I’m happy that he somehow lasted 12 seasons in that kettle.

He should be happy too. He'll be in the HOF.

The hardest part will seeing him without that NY cap.

It's hard for my mind to think of him any other way.
YET ONE MORE REASON TO DEFEAT HILLARY: A WEAKER PRESIDENCY

One thing that made President Reagan great is his leadership and use of the presidency in it's full power. The Constitution grants vast powers to the office of the President (certainly not unchecked) but power that is needed to run this country. Hillary would diminish that and revert the Presidency to an impotent "Prime-Minister" type position. Wow! I can't vote for Fred Thompson fast enough.

AP: HEADLINE---Clinton would consider giving up some executive power

NEW YORK (AP) — If elected president in 2008, Democrat Hillary Rodham
Clinton would consider giving up some of the executive powers President Bush and Vice President Cheney have assumed since taking office.

Monday, October 22, 2007

RUSH, A NATIONAL TREASURE

Who else could have turned an item of personal rebuke into an instrument proving the detractors wrong?

The whole way the Senate letter played out showed why mere politicians cannot compete with him and should not try. I was lucky enough to be in the car that afternoon and it was glorious to hear the result and then listen to Harry Reid make some asinine statement on the Senate floor trying to co-opt the result.

It shows you how Democrats can get away with shenanigans because they have wingmen in the main stream media. The party of "rights" attacking a private citizen simply as red meat to the George Soros/ Move On crowd. No word on the "chilling effect" to dissent anywhere in the New York Times.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MOVIES SINCE JULY Part 2

HOAX (2007) - Richard Gere stars as Clifford Irving, the guy who forged Howard Hughes’ autobiography in the early 1970s. The story is also chronicled in Orson Welles film F FOR FAKE. HOAX is much more watchable than director, Lasse Hallstrom’s THE SHIPPING NEWS, which was my last attempt at his work. On the negative side, I think that the dependable Gere only scratched the surface. The chutzpah it would take to pull off a fraud so big would require a larger than life guy. DiCaprio pulled it off in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Gere plays it affable enough, but not nearly as grandiose. Alfred Molina plays the researcher sidekick that helps him with the con. Marcia Gay Harden is cast as the wife and accessory to the crime. The lovely Julie Delpy gets a scene or two as Gere’s on-again, off-again mistress. It made me want to read the book.

CINEMANIA (2002) - A documentary about several eccentric Manhattan residents obsessed with films. One guy knows the running time of every movie including the times of alternate versions. Another guys plans to see 5 films everyday so he has to work subway schedules, pack different clothing for different environments, and bring Peanut Butter sandwiches. Another guy is a print snob that avoids 16mm. An older lady is known to fight with the staff and collect movie memorabilia. Except for the guy who admits the inheritance, the rest of the gang lacks a means of support and they live how you’d think. They’re easy to write off as eccentrics, but one guy in particular sums up the pretentiousness of certain foreign films versus other foreign films that are true classics. I thought it was about the best analysis I heard on the subject. The film ends with a screening of the documentary with them in attendance.

COOL (2004) - The only other Theo Van Gogh film available at Netflix. Here a crime gang of kids rob and steal and wind up in reform school. The two main characters fight with one another over the same girl and you know how those things go. Bad boy is the leader of the gang. Good boy is reforming in reform school. I didn’t like it as much at May 6th, although it’s better than the this kind of material would be from a Hollywood production. Van Gogh has a refreshing style in both of these films that make me wonder why he didn't have a larger following. May 6th was better than most of the stuff I've seen at the Enzian. COOL was better than half.

MUSIC AND LYRICS (2007) - Hugh Grant plays the former 80s music star who can still make a living off of his name although it’s not always in the most dignified ways. The latest teen pop tart wants him to write a song so that they can record a duet and our hero jumps at the chance although he is purely music and no good with lyrics. Miraculously Drew Barrymore, here to water the plants, has a way with words and reveals this as she does so. If you like these two actors the movie will not offend you, and may occasionally make you laugh. I find them both winning enough that the movie was about what I expected.

AMERICAN DREAMZ (2006) - American Idol and other reality shows are ripe for parody, but that golden opportunity was lost with this uninspiring comedy. Either Mandy Moore is a great actress or she is naturally irritating like this character. I’ll have to remember to ask myself next time I see her. Here she plays the nobody longing for stardom at any cost. Chris Klein plays her lovesick boyfriend in that same way he plays everything from the popular jock in ELECTION to that popular jock from AMERICAN PIE. Hugh Grant has a tough job trying to parody Simon Cowell. I don’t like those kinds of shows, but Cowell himself is surprisingly self-aware and although you can copy his derision, he seems to have few ticks and mannerisms. There is also a terrorism subplot played for laughs. A parody of the Apprentice may have been easier than this. Avoid!

DARWIN AWARDS (2006) Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes are back from their Siberian exile and the party leaders decided to star them in something not too terribly difficult but clever enough to warrant their participation. Fiennes is a police profiler and fan of the Darwin Awards. He’s smart and he can handle himself but he faints at the sight of blood. This leads to him losing a serial killer he apprehends and gets him kicked off the force. He then talks himself into a job of insurance profiler, convincing the company that he can profile Darwin like tendencies and save the company millions. Winona plays the cynical insurance adjuster that gets assigned to him. It’s gory at times although its played for laughs. A lot of the Darwin winners are recognizable faces. All and all a decent effort with a few laughs.

THE GREAT MOMENT (1944) - The last of the Golden Era Preston Sturges films I hadn’t seen. Here Sturges decides that Joel McRae is the inventor of anesthesia, when I thought that Paul Muni invented it. Soon I realize that it has to be McRae because William Demarest is the sidekick and McRae gets a wife that Muni would never marry. Muni marries the ones that bring him pie in the wee hours, whereas McRae’s wife accuses him of being a rummy when an experiment or two knocks him out cold. If I had to name movies with the most abrupt endings in the history of film, this would certainly make my top five along with Cassevettes HUSBANDS. Distinctively Sturges, but not his best.

BRICK (2005) A different take on high school life. Nobody ever attends any classes and the school action take place on an empty football field, empty parking lot or other semi secluded places in and around campus. Our guy is pressed into being a detective after his ex-girlfriend calls him for help and then turns up dead. Rather than try for parody the movie takes this Chandler/Hammett premise and plays it out in a straightforward manner. We get the fem fatale that doesn’t fool our gumshoe, the crime king pen that our hero gets close to, and a number of hat tips to the masters. Worth mentioning is the visit to the principal’s office that is direct comment on Sam Spade’s visit with the District Attorney in Maltese Falcon. The other Hammett plot device is how he plays both sides against each other like in RED HARVEST. I don’t know that there was anything about it that stands out but it was an interesting idea.

FRACTURE (2007) I notice the more I see Anthony Hopkins films, his character quirks are actually Anthony Hopkins quirks. He almost always does that pause and grunts to himself during a movie. it’s sort of his “I don’t care what you are saying” schtick. I don’t mind it because I like him on screen and it reminds me that he is a movie star in the old tradition. And this is a movie star vehicle. Hopkins kills his cheating wife and then devises a plan to get away with it. The hotshot D.A. on the brink of leaving for a high paying private sector firm suddenly becomes the Hopkins dupe that could ruin his future plans. The plot involving the legal system makes Grisham look reasonable. Decide how much you like Hopkins and you’ll know whether to seek this out. The style is there the substance is not.

ZODIAC (2007) A pretty solid effort from David Fincher (Se7en) returning to the serial killer genre in this based on a true story film. Jake Gyllenhall is winning as the cartoonist that becomes obsessed with the case for years much to the detriment of his private life. The solid Robert Downey Jr. plays the ace columnist also hot on the trail until his personal demons end his quest. The mystery itself is never fully answered so it leaves you a little disappointed especially after spending nearly 3 hours to get there. Does that give away too much? Still, it’s smart and above average.

SMOKIN’ ACES (2007) - A movie that could not possibly exist without the influence of Quinten Tarantino. A bunch of characters and subplots and hitmen all trying to kill the dude who might testify against the mob. Fast paced, cameo ridden and fun to a point if you like the style, but not terribly inspired.

REIGN OVER ME (2007) - Adam Sandler in a dramatic role of a dentist who loses his family in the 9-11 attacks. Don Cheadle plays his dental school roommate who runs into him by chance and tries to lend a hand. Sandler has dropped out of society and doesn‘t remember Cheadle, he also ignores his in-laws and blocks out the memory of his family. It’s a very real premise and both Sandler and Cheadle are at their best. The problems arise mostly out of inconsistencies and movie devices. We get a useless subplot about model-esque patient of Cheadle’s who comes on to him and then cries sexual harassment. Not only does Cheadles just happen to share a psychiatrist with the accuser (in NYC?), but the patient later recants and plays into Sandler’s rehabilitation. Come on. Jada Pinkett Smith plays Cheadle’s wife, a character that exists simply to give Cheadle something to feel guilty/angry about and then thankful for. Cheadle’s parents also exist for similar reasons. Sandler’s in-laws have a little more purpose plot wise, but they aren't given enough to do. Most movies get superfluous because they lack substance. This movie seems to do it to avoid the substance. If you like Sandler and Cheadle it might be worth it anyway, but it could have been much better.

PRAISE FOR NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT THAT ACTUAL WORKS (in me at least)


SAM-e, (short for S-adenosylmethionine, also spelled SAMe) is made from the amino acid methionine and ATP. SAM-e is a methyl donor involved in the making of dozens of important compounds in the body. SAM-e has been available by prescription in Europe for many years as an antidepressant but has been available over the counter in the US only since about 1996.



Because of its role in the making of neurotransmitters, SAM-e has been
tested in the therapy of depression. A number of studies have been
published, mostly in Europe, evaluating this nutrient’s role in mood
disorders. Back in 1994, Dr. Bressa, from the University Cattolica Sacro
Cuore School of Medicine, in Rome, Italy conducted a meta-analysis of the
studies on SAM-e. A meta-analysis is a statistical pooling of already
published research papers. Dr. Bressa concludes, "The efficacy of SAM-e in
treating depressive syndromes and disorders is superior to that of placebo
and comparable to that of standard tricyclic antidepressants. Since SAM-e is
a naturally occurring compound with relatively few side-effects, it is a
potentially important treatment for depression." The influence of SAM-e on
depression has also been tested in the United States. Back in 1994, researchers at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, did a double-blind randomized trial involving a total of twenty-six patients. They compared oral SAM-e with oral desipramine (a pharmaceutical antidepressant). At the end of the four-week trial, 62 percent of the patients treated with SAM-e and 50 percent of the patients treated with desipramine had significantly improved. Similar results were found in a 2002
study when SAM-e was compared to imipramine. SAM-e has even been tested in depressed postmenopausal women. Researchers from the University of La Sapienza in Rome, Italy gave SAM-e for thirty days to eighty women between the ages of 45 and 59 with depression following either natural menopause or hysterectomy. There was a significantly greater improvement in depressive symptoms in the group treated with SAM-e compared to the placebo group. Side effects were mild and transient. New research indicates that SAM-e may give the boot to Prozac and other SSRIs. SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology,
December 2004.

I've suffered from Depression, to one degree or another, for most of my life. It all comes from my Mom's side of the family. It gets significantly worse when under serious stress (i.e. my divorce, death of family, etc.). I've spend 4 years in psychotherapy during my Doctoral training and tried several types of prescription anti-depressants. The psychotherapy was helpful for the emotional and cognitive components. I figured a lot out and it's made me a better psychologist. But the depression would persist. Although most of the prescriptions worked, they were quite serious in their side effects with me (loss of appetite, low to no libido, sleep disturbance, etc.). I knew about Sam-e for many years but only recently decided to try it after a new round of depression back in January of this year. After about a month I noticed a significant improvement in mood and have stayed on it. I do not have the crazy side effects from the prescription anti-depressants nor do I have the "depersonalization" (feelings of being unreal) withdrawal effects that I felt when stopping abruptly and others have reported from the Prozac family of drugs. But as for Sam-e, Wow! All I can say is that I've never endorsed any product for mood before, but this is without a doubt, the very best. Hooray for Sam-e!

(The Photo above is the brand I use and the best formula I've found. It is sold at CVS Pharmacy).




RACE AND POLITICS

Someday the Democrats will nominate a black candidate for President. The media will approach that election by questioning whether America is too racist to elect a black President.

Since it's possible that the Democrats will nominate a black candidate this time let's ask the question now.

Are Democrats too racist to nominate a black candidate?

For what substantive reason is Clinton leading Obama? What position is she taking that Obama isn't taking or vice versa? If Obama has shortcomings that might make him less desirable, youth, inexperience, flaky ideas etc. won't he have those same shortcomings if he wins the nomination? In other words I want the media to explain to me why it is or isn't racist that he's trailing Hilary.

It's a question we'll certainly hear directed toward Republicans some day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

MOVIE LOCATIONS

This is kind of a fun site for learning where your favorite movie scenes were shot. I learned a little something about Martha's Vineyard, where JAWS was shot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ON TELEVISION
One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at venues including the Science Museum in London.

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson's remarks "in full". Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Critics of Dr Watson said there should be a robust response to his views across the spheres of politics and science. Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments. I am sure the scientific community will roundly reject what appear to be Dr Watson's personal prejudices.

"These comments serve as a reminder of the attitudes which can still exists at the highest professional levels."

Anti-racism campaigners called for Dr Watson's remarks to be looked at in the context of racial hatred laws. A spokesman for the 1990 Trust, a black human rights group, said: "It is astonishing that a man of such distinction should make comments that seem to perpetuate racism in this way. It amounts to fuelling bigotry and we would like it to be looked at for grounds of legal complaint."

Luckily for Dr. Watson, a prominent American won the Nobel Peace Prize this week for championing inconvenient truths. He doesn't care about popularity or praise or even his own checking account. All he cares about is science and he doesn't filter it through his own politics or world view. He just believes whatever the data says. A week ago Dr. Watson would have been ruined. Now two Nobel Laureates can walk hand in hand speaking truth to power and chasing the rest of us meat heads right back to the cave.
MOVIES SINCE JULY Part 1

I have such a backlog that I will release in portions.

LONG WAY ‘ROUND (2005)
Documentary about Ewan McGregor and pal Charlie Boorman (son of direction John Boorman) riding their motorcycles from France to the New York city heading through some of the most desolate counties of Asia along the way. The journey is broken into episodes for British TV and runs around 6 hours total. They encounter a lot of unforeseen problems like roads that don't exist and no bridges over strong rivers. They get to eat a lot of nasty food and grow beards. When they fly from Siberia to Canada and get to shop in a real store you remember why the rustic loses its charm after a short period of time. Boorman and McGregor both come off a decent guys seeking adventure and it was compelling throughout.

LAUREL CANYON (2002) - I’ve come to think that Christian Bale is one of film’s finest modern actors. I can’t name a bad performance and he usually seems to lift the material he’s in. So I decided to that I reached back to see this one despite mixed reviews. Bale’s mother (Francis McDormand) is a record producer in Los Angeles and we learn that Bale escaped that life to study medicine out east and to become an adult. At the beginning of the film he and his fiancĂ©e (Kate Beckinsale) travel back out to L.A. so that he can take an internship and Beckinsale can write her Doctoral thesis. They plan to stay in McDormand’s vacant house in Laurel Canyon, but they arrive to find that mother has given her primary residence beach house to the ex boyfriend, so everyone gets to stay in the Laurel house like a big family, and that family includes the band that mother is currently producing. A couple of love triangles are introduced and nothing exciting really happens. It feels like a typical TV show that isn’t quite interesting enough to love but not quite bad enough to turn off.

3:10 to YUMA (2007)
- Bale again as a poor rancher and disabled Civil War veteran. It’s a remake of the a 50s film that I haven’t seen with Van Heflin and Glenn Ford. The movie begins with Bale's money problems and the understanding creditors burning down his barn. The family shoos out the cattle and the next day is spent retrieving them. During that quest, he happens upon Russell Crowe and his band of rowdies robbing the stagecoach. After they vamos Bale drags the lone survivor Peter Fonda back into town where they easily capture Crowe. That’s the easy part. The tough part is getting Crowe several hundred miles to the train station and on to jail while trying to allude Crowe’s gang. Bale tags along to make money to save the ranch. As the journey goes forward a bunch of the posse members taunt Crowe and he kills them with whatever tools possible. Bale doesn't like Crowe but he's respectful enough that Crowe begins to admire him anyway. I guess Crowe longs to be an honest man married to an honest woman. It’s kind of a funny throwback to the movie device where gunslingers were so fast and accurate that they were untouchable. I don’t think I have seen that approach since UNFORGIVEN won best picture.

HOT FUZZ (2007) From the guys who gave us the underrated SHAUN OF THE DEAD, this time our hero is an man-of-action cop exiled to a sleepy English hamlet. But all is not what it seems. There are some real laughs here, a couple of twists, some decent action, and like their last effort much gore for the sake of gore. You’ll see a lot of faces you’ll recognize from other British movies and TV shows. The consensus at work is that this is better than Shaun. I don‘t know. I think the newness of Shaun was part of the charm. I probably needed to see this first to like it better.

HITCH (2005)
- I was ready to skip this, but Will Smith was so good in PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS that I dialed it up. The charm of Smith and Kevin James carries the movie pretty well because the plot is standard enough fare about being true to one’s self and while winning over women. Typical vehicle movie that doesn’t offend.

SYLVIA (2006) - Gwynneth Paltrow plays the clinicly depressed poet Sylvia Plath. I know so little about poetry that I figured this thing to take place in 1890 and was surprised to see motorcars. It turns out that she lived in the 1950s. Typical biopic of troubled genius with Paltrow doing that pouty dowdy thing she does when she slouches and frowns. It has good stretches here and there and then parts that make you uncomfortable. You’re not missing anything if you skip it.

APOCALYPTO (2006) - Mel Gibson has made a movie in a foreign language in the jungle with no recognizable actors and yet it feels as Hollywood as a Tom Cruise picture. The first scene with the hunting party felt authentic enough, but once they got back to the village, Gibson’s sense of humor made the movie seem contemporary. The chases in the jungle built good tension like in a Lethal Weapon movie. It’s violent sometimes for good purpose and other times simply to shock the audience. That savages will sever a guy’s head is not a surprise, but the joy in which these heads are lopped off seemed to be Gibson’s sense of humor more than anything else. The expected approach in a movie like this is to show the noble savage ruined by progress, and although our hero is noble, there are plenty of other savages that could use some good old fashioned imperialism to straighten their butts out. I don’t think he gained anything with the foreign language and it probably cost him a good deal of his audience. Between the way he makes movies and things he says in public, Gibson seems to be more eccentric than we ever knew. What will he do next?

WEATHER UNDERGROUND (2003) -A documentary on the 60s radical group that exploded buildings to protest the war in Vietnam and to protest other social causes that were too slow for their wills. The filmmakers interview the survivors of that period all walking freely in our midst. The work is mostly a straight history that shows archival news coverage and uses the participants interviews to fill in the blanks. It’s an interesting history and occasionally one of the aged hippies would reflect on the nonsense of it all, but I was surprised at how unrepentant some of them were. The documentary sort of skirts the specifics of why these people aren’t in jail now saying that the FBI used illegal tactics to catch them and therefore they were hard to prosecute. The expected thing would have been to show the participants at the end with the amount of jail time they received and their current occupation. Usually I’m happy when I don’t get the expected ending, but in this case I think it was necessary and missing.

STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006) - I don’t get Will Ferrell. He is supposedly funny and makes a living at it by playing two characters, the milquetoast coward and the clueless braggart. Didn’t Bob Hope already do this and more effectively? I don’t mind Ferrell much as a supporting player or in a cameo, but they annoy me too often by casting him as the lead. Of course, it may be that my avoiding his films has kept me from appreciating the real genius in the ones I miss. Maybe the NASCAR spoof was the LAWRENCE OF ARABIA of modern comedies. Stranger than Fiction purported to be a real story with humor rather than a cartoon with plot points. They cast Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhall and they both demand to see scripts with characters and situations that people could actually wind up in. Although this is a fantasy farce it still seems more grounded than someone hiring that over the top Will Ferrell to anchor the news. The premise is that Ferrell is not a real person, but a character in a novel by Thompson that becomes self aware as he somehow hears Thompson’s words describe his every action. Gyllenhall is the love interest that cowardly Ferrell pursues in the book. Funny enough idea, but Ferrell’s self discovery becomes tedious as he hears his every move read by Thompson to the point of my annoyance. After we get past the initial slips, the movie isn’t all that bad, but it could have shined brighter with Steve Martin or Dana Carvey in the leading role. I won’t spoil the resolution except to say that Ferrell somehow winds up in a literature professor’s office who is watching an interview with Thompson so that Ferrell can discover that Thompson is the voice in his head. So how does that even exist in Ferrell’s world unless Thompson had written it in her universe? It really gives you added respect for a movie like PLEASANTVILLE that combines these fantasy elements while staying within the logic of that universe.
BREAM KILLS DREAM: An October Memory

Pirates fans remember where they were when the slowest man in baseball slid across with the game winning run in October 1992. I was in a bar in Cincinnati. I had been in Three Rivers Stadium for Game 4.

Here's how it went down:

Terry Pendleton led off [bottom 9, Bucs up 2-0] with a shot to the right-field corner, where Cecil Espy - a defensive replacement for Lloyd McClendon - passively allowed it to drop for a double. David Justice bounced a ball to Jose Lind, who misplayed it. Men on first and third. Bream walked on four pitches to load the bases, prompting Leyland to pull Drabek, who'd thrown 129 pitches. In came Stan Belinda, who'd converted just 18 of 24 save chances. Bonds promptly caught Ron Gant's blast at the left-field fence. A run scored. Men on first and second, one out. Damon Berryhill, hitting .167, laid off some agonizingly close pitches that were called balls. A 3-1 slider appeared to catch the inside corner. "He's human; he missed it," Belinda would say of Marsh, who'd replaced John McSherry behind the plate after the first inning because McSherry was ill. Bases loaded, one out (to this day, Bream can't believe manager Bobby Cox did not use a pinch-runner for him). Brian Hunter pinch hit for second baseman Rafael Belliard and popped out. The Pirates were one out away from their first World Series since 1979. With pitcher Jeff Reardon due up, Cox summoned the last position player on his bench, third-string catcher/first baseman Francisco Cabrera, who'd been added to the roster Aug. 31. An odd thought entered Cabrera's mind as he stood in the on-deck circle. "I was thinking, 'Who's going to play second?' If I had only tied the game, I might have had to play second. So I appreciate Sid Bream for coming in. It usually took a triple for him to score from second. I knew if I got that hit, I'd become a hero. But if I didn't, it would have been OK, because people didn't know me anyways."

Bonds is still blamed for a lame throw to the plate. But was it? You know Bonds won't admit it.

Bonds was playing a deep left field to protect against a gap shot. He raced to his left and threw across his body. His throw was about two feet wide, forcing LaValliere to backhand it, then dive back toward the plate, where he tagged Bream too late. Few plays in Pirates' history are scrutinized more than Bonds' throw. Leyland, McClendon and others have said it was a good play. Bonds agrees. "If I played any shallower, that ball probably would've gotten past me," he said. "I had to come over toward my left, then cross-fire it. You can go back and look at the history of the game of baseball and how many guys have thrown guys out in that situation."

The Pirates had other chances to win it.

Among the game's less-scrutinized issues: Van Slyke flied out with the bases loaded in the seventh; Orlando Merced got thrown out at home in the eighth, attempting to score from first on Jeff King's double; and Leyland stuck with his platoon system, starting lefties Merced, LaValliere and Alex Cole, even though they'd gone a combined 4 for 21 against John Smoltz in Games 1 and 4. That meant McClendon, Gary Redus and Don Slaught sat, even though they were a collective .487 in the series.

Cabrera did nothing before or after.

Cabrera was released by the Braves in 1993 and never played another game. He hit .254 in 351 major-league at-bats but remains a hero in Atlanta and in the Dominican Republic. "Sometimes in the Dominican Republic, I'll be called for an interview, and they'll ask me to bring the tape," he said in the spring of 2003. "I've watched it over and over."

Bream, a Pittsburgh favorite, felt for the Pirates.

The moment was bittersweet for Bream, because he'd spent five seasons with the Pirates before he was dealt to Atlanta after the 1990 season. "I felt bad, thinking they'd never get another chance," he said. "I desperately wanted to see them get to the World Series."

A Pittsburgh native describes the pain that persists into what will be a 16th consecutive losing season next year.

A poem: My Heart Did Not Burst

my heart did not burst
when ex-Buc Sid Bream
slid his dirty slide
all over the once white plate
just past our pudgy catcher's
too late tag
and the umpire in the same instant
spread both arms in either direction
signaling an end to world serious hope
for my precious Pirates

my nerves did not snap
despite eight and two-thirds frames of tension
I did my deepest breathing to relax
control I did not have
over loaded bases
and balls that were strikes
that were not called
in the bottom of the 9th
at the unlikely sound
of Francisco Cabrera's homicidal single
my brain did not crack
under tons of promise and possibilities
that twist and untwist
but can never undo
the undisputed truth
of 3-2

my arms did not rip
the TV from its cabinet
I could not shatter
the televised outcome
It happened, like a bad wreck
I could not help but watch
the explosion of Atlanta madness
I wished was mine, ours
days, months after the damage
Happened
SOMETHING I HEARD THAT I CANNOT FORGET

You know how you hear something in the media or conversation and it strikes you as odd and then your mind keeps thinking of it? Several months ago I heard Christopher Guest giving DVD recommendations on NPR. A pretty good selection starting with Laurel and Hardy and then moving into Dr. Strangelove and some more modern things like Fargo and the Ricky Gervais’ show Extras. Then the interviewer asks Guest about his first ever line in a movie. I found the archive online (June 1, 2007):
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember the first line you ever said on camera?

GUEST: (sigh) I did a part in a film which may be the worst film ever made. This was a film that turned out to be a film called Death Wish and there were a series of films made after that vigilante movies basically where a guy goes around -- Charles Bronson and kills people. It was horrible. I was a policeman and I said something but I don‘t remember. I think that was my first film.

INTERVIEWER: I imagine you could rent that. It’s gotta be out on DVD.

GUEST: Yes one could rent it. I wouldn’t but one could.

It was funny that Guest said it could be the worst movie ever made. Was he serious? Death Wish may not be Henry V, but it cannot possibly be in the top 1000 stinkers. Unlike the sequels, Death Wish is a pretty solid movie that accomplishes its goals. It does exactly what a lauded film like Erin Brockovich does, it taps into the fears of the audience and gives them a singular human hero fighting alone to save us. It’s catharsis. It just has the unfortunate device of using actual criminals as criminals instead of the typical corporate villain that Guest expects like sugar on his corn flakes.

I’m in a small minority of people who think that the 1950s blacklist has been overstated. If the government had passed laws that ordered Hollywood to blacklist people that would be an issue of freedom, but the blacklist was a result businessmen not wanting to associate with tainted property. They didn’t want their films to be boycotted. It’s the same thing businesses do today to keep Jesse Jackson from launching campaigns against them. What ever the blacklist cost leftists in the 1950s they have milked it to the point where they so control the industry that right wing movies are scarce. They certainly don’t make movies like Death Wish anymore.

Look at Clint Eastwood who seems to have spent the last half of his career apologizing for the first half. He does so subtlety, trying not to alienate his longtime audience while reaching out to the earlier critics with film scripts that question most of the values he espoused previously. He’s probably not all that political of a person, but he’s savvy enough to know how to keep a career in Hollywood. I’m sure that Christopher Guest wouldn’t say that Dirty Harry is one of the worst movies ever made as long as Eastwood is getting accolades for Mystic River. But the day is coming.

It’s a shame that popular film eschews the values of half of America and thus eschews half of the story ideas it could tell. So often we hear about actors complaining that scripts are hackneyed and that there are no good parts anymore. Of course that is going to happen when every villain is a profiteer or clergyman.

What is the Jane Austen revival but a way to tell conservative stories without endorsing current rightwing ideology? You must put those values safely in the past or you risk offending someone’s lifestyle choice.

Guest could have said that he disagreed with the politics of Death Wish instead of giving the impression that it was poorly made. He could probably give you a good speech about artistic freedom and open-mindedness if Mapplethorpe had a piss display ready. But that sentiment doesn’t apply to films where victims are fed up with ineffective government and do something about it. Guest hates Death Wish not because it’s horrible but because it's effective.

It’s Hollywood’s right to blacklist unfashionable ideas. They can decide whether catering to only half of their potential audience is good for business. But please spare me all the moral indignation over the 1950s. They are the absolute worst when it comes to free expression. They do not seek artists but parrots.

Monday, October 15, 2007

BRITTANY SPEARS

That cover of her first CD is the absolute objectification of teenage innocence cum sexuality. She has or had that IT girl quality and they used it as a vehicle for her average talent. They dressed her up in the Lolita outfit and had her dance near the school lockers and they had a hit. Her family became rich and she had everything she could ever want. . . or not.

Around the time of the breast implant question (circa 1998) she came to the Studios. We were eating lunch backstage and Dan pointed her out as she walked by our window. She was with a few of her people when we looked over. There were no fans around, no one to look good for, but she saw that we were looking and smiled and waved to us. It was a very genuine thing. I have seen other celebrities in the same situation and they were only “on” with an audience. Backstage they were different people. It impressed me that she was the same wherever.

Brittany was not a person who was ready for this kind of money and fame. She has made poor choices again and again. But she is not the first person in Hollywood to do so. What she lacks is the identification of some leftwing cause to provide her cover. Angelina Jolie slobbering on her own brother in public is long forgotten now that she is on some U.N. panel. Carrying vials of Billy Bob’s blood is yesterday’s news because she delivered her baby in a third world country. When Donald Trump got a little backlash from the Rosie attack, he criticized President Bush and then he was back in the good graces. Didn’t we all want Princess Diana to suck it up and be Queen? Yeah but that was before she embraced the end of land mines and Aids awareness.

It will be interesting to see if Brittany’s public rehabilitation is accompanied by some sort of leftist position or cause. You pretty much need to wear one to be in the club especially after being naughty. I would guess that some publicist is dreaming up a plight right now. I won’t begrudge her if she follows that script. She was nice to us when no one was looking.

Friday, October 12, 2007

GORE

Former Vice President Al Gore Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today, along with a United Nations panel that monitors climate change, for their work educating the world about global warming and advocating for political action to control it.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee characterized Gore as "the single individual who has done most" to convince world governments and leaders that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and poses a grave threat.


O'Sullivan's First Law:
Any Organization that isn't overtly right-wing will over the course of time become overtly left-wing.


They don't even pretend to seek peace makers anymore. Just holding a position that is in conflict with America is enough these days. There is no agreement on the cause of this phenomenon, if its even dangerous, or if all the money in the world could stop it.

Religion is at the center of many wars. Gore has more or less invented a religion or at least become its greatest reverend. So the question to the Norwegians is how is that going to bring peace.

IN OTHER NEWS: Hilary must be a little worried.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THE POWER OF JUNTO

I have bought an ad in an upcoming playbill inviting Gentlemen to Join me in Forming a Junto in the Tradition of Benj. Franklin. -E

Franklin describes the formation and purpose of the Junto in his autobiography:

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, [1727] I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory; and to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.

The Junto's Friday evening meetings were organized around a series of questions that Ben devised, covering a range of intellectual, personal, business, and community topics. These questions were used as a springboard for discussion and community action. In fact, through the Junto, Franklin promoted such concepts as volunteer fire-fighting clubs, improved security (night watchmen), and a public hospital.

One outgrowth of the Junto was the American Philosophical Society, created in 1743 to "promote useful knowledge in the colonies." Franklin proposed that the group be comprised of "ingenious men"—a physician, a mathematician, a geographer, a natural philosopher, a botanist, a chemist, and a "mechanician" (engineer)—who lived throughout the colonies. The purpose of the group was to facilitate the sharing of information about discoveries being made in the various fields.

A respected intellectual institution, the American Philosophical Society still exists more than 200 years later.

Rules For a Club Established For Mutual Improvement
Previous Question, To be Answered at Every Meeting

1. Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
4. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
6. Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
8. What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
9. Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
10. Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journies, if one should have occasion to send by them?
11. Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
13. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
14. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
15. Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
16. Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
17. Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
18. Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
19. Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
20. In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
21. Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
22. What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
23. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
24. Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

OBAMA, THE OTHER KIND OF PATRIOT

"The truth is that right after 9-11 I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9-11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

The media never asks the right follow up questions. Does Obama think that people who wear breast cancer ribbons or aids ribbons are using those as substitutes for real compassion?

Democrats are always angry that people question their patriotism, but they don't mind questioning the patriotism of others. People wear pins and ribbons for a lot of different reasons. I'm sure that some do so for heartfelt reasons others simply as a shortcut like Obama says. But when Obama makes a point of telling us why he doesn't wear a pin he's grandstanding just the same as those people who wear the pins simply for effect.

We don't know how much any candidate loves his country. We hope they all love it a great deal since they want to run it. Maybe they want to run it so they can love it more than they do now. We can't be sure.

What we do know is that Obama declaring that he won't wear the American flag pin helps him court voters that do not like this country, the ones that are more comfortable carrying hammer and sickle flags like that group protesting in New York before the 2004 Republican convention. The latest Fox poll shows that almost 20% of Democrats want to lose the war. Obama can't win those voters over by wearing flag lapel pins.

Friday, October 05, 2007

THE BUG BOWL

It's the 9th inning NY v CLE 1-1 and the gnats are controlling the game. Bugs are crawling up Joba's neck. Hitters are batting them away. Fielders are swiping their gloves. Why don't the umpires delay the game? This is the playoffs. Rain is easier to play in.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

G.M. WALT JOCKETTY OUT IN ST. LOUIS, LaRUSSA'S FUTURE UNCLEAR

(CEO Bill) DeWitt said he didn't believe Jocketty and La Russa were a "package deal." DeWitt noted that La Russa asked him to seek a candidate with Jocketty's qualities when hiring a new general manager.

The Jocketty household can anticipate a case of Tofu.
al-Qaeda financier' netted in Iraq

Iraqi and US forces have detained a man they believe received 100 million dollars this summer from Al-Qaeda sympathisers to hand out for "terrorist" operations in Iraq, the US military said Thursday.

A statement from the military said the man, who was detained in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Kindi, was suspected of handing over 50,000 dollars a month to Al-Qaeda using his leather merchant business as a front.

"He is believed to have received one hundred million dollars this summer from terrorist supporters who cross the border illegally or fly into Iraq from Italy, Syria and Egypt," the military said.

He is suspected of traveling abroad himself to seek money for Al-Qaeda and of employing up to 50 extremists to help deliver bomb-making materials to insurgents attacking the US-led coalition.

Why would al-Qaeda be in Iraq? Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11.
The US military also accused the unnamed man of involvement in two attacks on a revered Shiite mosque at the heart of Iraq's bitter sectarian conflict.

He was linked to purchasing explosives and weapons for the February 2006 attack on the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra, widely seen as the trigger of Iraq's sectarian strife. Another attack on June 13 of this year destroyed the mosque's two minarets.

They'll bomb their own shrines to beat us and yet we shouldn't be in Iraq when this war can be won with diplomacy.
THE TWO OF THEM

Fred Thompson, 65, is a very large man, and his wife Jeri, 41, has very big... hair.
YOU OFFEND ME SIR!!!!

Makers of hit US television series "Desperate Housewives" have apologised for a slur against Filipino medical workers that caused an uproar in the Southeast Asian country.

The episode showed actress Teri Hatcher, who plays Susan Mayer, asking during a medical consultation to check "those diplomas because I want to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines."

The apology was made a day after chief aide to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said the line of dialogue appeared to be a "racial slur."

"I am mortally offended by the statement because it betrayed the racial prejudice and denigrates the excellent performance of world-class Filipino doctors in the US," said Senator Miriam Santiago, whose sister is a doctor working in Los Angeles.

The outrage is phony. The comment isn't about Filipino doctors, but the phenomenon where Americans unable to get accepted into American medical schools will go to places like the Philippines. Regardless of how good the training, only desperate Americans travel half way around the world to do so. Filipino doctors can be amongst the world's greatest, but Americans in those programs are likely not. It's a question of aptitude not training.

The politicians in Philippines know this as well as anyone, but decided to put a racial spin on it. And to be "mortally offended" is laughable. I doubt they want to be attended by Americans trained in their programs anymore than the characters of this TV show.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

THE ART OF COMEDY

This is so funny, you don't even need to know the language to enjoy it. A Belgian talk show host interviews a man who had his testicles removed accidentally by a surgeon. The lady in the wheelchair is the unfortunate man's wife.

NEW RESEARCH MAKES WIVES EVEN ANGRIER

Here is a finding for all wives to hate.
In men, keeping quiet during a fight didn’t have any measurable effect on health. But women who didn’t speak their minds in those fights were four times as likely to die during the 10-year study period as women who always told their husbands how they felt, according to the July report in Psychosomatic Medicine.

How much the spouses fought and what they fought about did not correlate with increased cardiovascular risk. It was HOW they fought, their bickering style, that correlated with increased cardiovascular risk. Mary Poppins knew: a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD

Today is the anniversary of Bobby Thompson's famous home run. This morning on XM 175, Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez interviewed Joshua Prager, best known in baseball circles for his writings on the sign-stealing shenanigans leading up to that at-bat. At his website you can listen to three radio calls of the historic dinger, including the Russ Hodges call that we all know. Gordon McClendon called it this way: "I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say." Had he come up with something, he still wouldn't be famous today, because "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" is pretty hard to top.
CLARENCE GETS HIS WINGS

Thanks Tom for the link to Rush's long interview with Clarence Thomas. Not even the president has ever gotten that much air time from Rush.

This is vintage Rush:
I asked you if you thought that you were at the pinnacle of your profession as an Associate Justice on the court. You said you don't look at it that way at all. You have a much more humble approach to what it means to sit on the US Supreme Court. But others, who were threatened by your nomination and your confirmation, looked at you as the biggest threat to the existing civil rights coalition prescription for minority success in this country today because you did not follow their route. You did not go through the appropriate civil rights leaders to be anointed and granted permission to move on and do so in their image and in their ways, and America is now seeing you as they've never seen you. They're seeing you exactly as the civil rights coalition feared from the first day of your nomination that you would be seen: a genuine, humble human being who has become, in their fearful view, the way they look at you is, you are now the most powerful African-American man in the country, and you have shown that it can be done without them.

Bravo! Justice Thomas did it the old fashioned way. He worked hard, and long, and harder. He maintained a strong sense of self and decency and honor. He didn't cry about not having access to the best opportunities but made the most of the opportunities that were available to him, and impressed people in those settings through his character, judgment and work ethic. I don't remember hearing it quite that way from Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Obama's pastor.

Thomas delivers the perfect answer to the question, "What is the proper role of a judge?"
My role is to interpret the Constitution. It's to interpret a statute. It is not to impose my policy views or my personal views on your Constitution, our Constitution, or on your laws. It's not my private preserve to work out these theories, and I guard very, very diligently against doing that. I think a part of being able to stay within the confines of that limited role, a judge has to be humble about his own approach and what his capacities are. I had a little prayer that I used to say years ago when I was at EEOC: "Lord, grant me the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do it." So I also think that, in addition to wisdom or humility, you need the courage to do what is right. If the answer is something that is difficult or that will lead to criticism, you still have to do it, if it's right. It's your oath. So that's, in a nutshell, my approach to the job. I took an oath to God, not an oath to be God. We're there to do our jobs as
judges. I'm a judge. I have a limited role, and I stick within that role.

Did the confirmation hearings scar him, leave him bitter?
I've suffered no wounds. People say, "Well, you had a tough confirmation." I have no wounds. I have my arms; I have my sight. Our wounded soldiers have given so much more in defense of liberty than I could ever hope to give. Yes, I love being out among them, the people who fought our wars, the people who protect us, the people who give us our electricity. It reaffirms the way I write the opinions so they can read them. One gentleman came up to me, and he said, "Thank you for writing your opinion," and I can't remember the case. I said, "Why are you reading it?" He said, "I'm not a lawyer, but you gave me access to our Constitution." That's why I write it that way, and it's for these people that I try to be humble in interpreting their Constitution.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

CLARENCE THOMAS

He did a great interview with Steve Kroft on Sunday (see it here).

Rush on Monday.

Here's a story from Pajamas Media.

There are few people in public life worth admiration anymore. I can't think of any that I admire more than Thomas.

I can't wait to read the book.
HOW GOES THE WAR?

According to Investor's Business Daily (via Instapundit)
That the media are no longer much interested in Iraq is a sure sign things are going well there. Instead, they're talking about the presidential campaign, or Burma, or global warming, or . . . whatever.

Things have gone so well, in fact, that leading Democratic contenders have stopped calling for a "timetable" for withdrawal and can't even promise they'll remove all the troops by 2013.

In short, the U.S. is — yes, we'll use the word —winning the war against al-Qaida. And not just in Iraq. In fact, the only way we won't win is if we do something very stupid — such as letting the overwhelmingly negative media convince us we can't do what we clearly are doing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

La RUSSA II

La Russa said "I should have sent over a case of ______ for Ausmus hitting into that double play."

What did LaRussa want to send over? A hint, here’s Ausmus’ reply.
"I would like it better if he'd sent over a beer." Ausmus said.

You guessed it. La Russa suggested that he send over a case of Tofu.
"I want to be true to my values," said La Russa, a longtime vegetarian.

Everyone else can send the obvious case of “animal parts” for a twin killing. For La Russa it's not that simple.
La RUSSA MEANS IT

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa plans to call Milwaukee manager Ned Yost about the three-game series at Miller Park this week that left both managers yelling at the other's dugout. La Russa said he'll probably leave Yost a message.

La Russa said he asked first base coach Dave McKay to let Fielder know the pitch that hit him was not intentional. La Russa plans to restate that case in his message to Yost, whom he has routinely lauded.

"Just so he gets the facts straight from our side," La Russa said. "Because one, the Fielder thing — when I swore on my animals — that's the truth. That message was sent. And they didn't believe it. I'll tell him what I thought was happening in that series, and I'm sure he'll have his own opinion."

Come on Ned, the guy swore on his animals!