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June 28, 2005
Bush to Wusses: Sign Up Now! Free Toaster!

So basically, Bush's speech tonight was a sad plea for more (temporarily) warm bodies to send into combat.

Nicely done.

"Our enemies are brutal. But they're no match for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."

June 26, 2005
Ran, Tonks Ran

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and encouragement. Much to my surprise, running 13.1 miles is kind of hard, particularly when one only decides to start training about 5 weeks before the race. One learns many lessons this way, none of them more valuable than the lessons one could learn by not doing things this way. And that's the real lesson. But how would I have ever learned it otherwise?

Anyway, I made it. It was actually a lot of fun, in a strange, masochistic sort of way, and I beat the time I was aiming for by over 8 minutes. Sweet. I believe I just barely made it into the top third overall, but official results haven't been posted yet.

Here's a real picture or real me, really running the real race. Yes, my legs are really that skinny.

tonks running

Wicked props to Heat Stroke, Wrinkles, and The Gecko, the best training/racing partners I've had in, like, a year. No, scratch that, ever. Couldn't have done it without you.

Now let's do some more.

June 24, 2005
Run, Tonks, Run

So, I've been kind of quiet lately, except for the occasional lashing-out at Tom Cruise, which is bizarre even to me. I have a personal thing against Scientology that goes beyond my personal thing against most religions, I guess, so maybe that's it. Plus, it's funny. He's so crazy!

The main reason for my lack-of-blogitude, though, or at least the reason most worthy of respect, is that I've been training for a half-marathon which I'll be running tomorrow, shin splints be damned! (The less respect-worthy reasons are a) I was bored of politics, b) I was sickened by politics, and c) I was drunk.)

Anyway, the race is tomorrow, in Bend, Oregon (satellite view). Wish me luck. Although, as you can see from the photo below, I'm in peak physical condition and don't need no stinkin' luck.


June 23, 2005
Never Underestimate...

... the power of the freakish celebrity cult.

cruise force lightning

Video: Tom Cruise destroys Oprah with force lightning.

June 20, 2005
Dems Block Bolton Again

Yes. Stick to your guns. This guy is a jackass and everybody knows it. The Democrats are the only ones willing -- the only ones who have even tried -- to take a real look at his record and his personality and wonder if this is the kind of person we want to represent us to the rest of the world. Particularly at a time when our image isn't really so great. Bush's idea is to basically send a giant "fuck you" to every other country in the world, and I know that appeals to the fucking idiot in all of us, but we shouldn't let our fucking idiot sides make ALL the decisions. Sometimes you just have to be a grown up.

Bush is basically just stamping his feet and demanding that he get whatever he wants. "I'm the damn king, I appointed this guy for a reason, stop trying to tell me what to do. I'm GEORGE MOTHERFUCKING BUSH."

Oh, and according to the latest memo, I'm not allowed to end a post about presidential appointments of any kind without using the phrase "up or down vote" at least once. So there it is, you bastards.

Say, I hear the president's own approval rating is hovering around 40% these days. Maybe we should have an up or down vote on his sorry ass.

For the record, I vote down. DOWN, BITCH!

Cruise Squirted

For whatever reason, Tom Cruise's craziness is fascinating me lately. It might be because of a family, uhh, connection, to Scientology and my attendant exposure to that crazy shit.

I particularly loved the parenthetical remark in this story about Cruise's engagement to Katie Holmes.

Cruise is 16 years older than Holmes and is a devoted follower of the Church of Scientology. (Holmes has said she's embracing the religion.)

AP via NY Times

She's been exposed to this "religion" for all of maybe about 6 weeks, and she's already decided that she'll "embrace" it.

"After hearing about this whole alien conspiracy theory for the past couple weeks, I'm convinced. My entire world-view is now based on the writings of this science fiction writer. I believe my body is inhabited by millions of aliens."

Was that the process? Way to show some discriminating thought there, Holmes.

Anyway, the other day some prankster squirted Tom Cruise with a water gun at the premier of War of the Worlds in London. Here's the video.

Pretty funny. Cruise is sort of restrained, in that, if there weren't cameras around here I would go completely insane kind of way. Look at how he's gripping the guy's hand on the railing.

"Why would you do that?...Why would you do that?...What's so funny about that?" asks the flabbergasted actor while wiping himself off with a blue towel handed to him by an assistant.


"Do you like making less of people, is that it?" Cruise asks as he grips the perpetrator by both hands.

E! Online News

Okay, for one, it's funny for the same reason squirting people with water guns has always been funny. Because they get wet.

It's also funny because you have an assistant to hand you a towel. Actually, the assistant smushes the towel right into his face for him. That's really funny.

And yes, some people like making less of people like you. It may be because far too much has been made of you in most other ways. I'd say it's a sort of mental disorder, but that may bestow some sort of legitimacy on the field of psychiatry. It's not the prankster's fault, he's probably filled to bursting with tiny aliens controlling his mind. Pity the poor fellow, don't judge him.

The truly lame part is that they're charging this guy with "assault" and Cruise is pushing hard to follow through completely with it. The police spokesperson said, "It was just water, but that can be very alarming..."

Yeah, well if alarming people is assault, then I'm thinking of pressing charges against Cruise for that Oprah appearance. That shit alarmed the hell out of me.

Go Chucky Go

Looks like the GOP might be running out of Kool-Aid...

"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."


The Moon Illusion

moon illusion

Say, you know how the moon looks really big when it's near the horizon, but then all small and pathetic when it's up overhead?

This is what's cleverly called the "moon illusion," and it's actually an optical illusion, not anything caused by the atmosphere or like that. You can prove this by taking a picture of the phenomenon. The moon will look regular sized in the photograph, and you'll be telling your friends, "Really, it was so super huge when I took the picture, it was really beautiful." And they'll be all, "Yeah, right, moony. Way to take a crap picture of the moon." The picture above, for example, is a composite. You couldn't take that picture. (But if it's any consolation, neither could your jerk friends.)

You can also hold a ruler up to the image of the moon and measure it's size, then do the same thing when it's overhead. Same size. It's all in your mind.

I, for one, find this cool.

So it interests me that the full moon this week hangs lower in the sky than any moon since 1987, which will cause the illusion to be extra strong.

What's even more interesting is that despite thousands of years of documentation of this illusion, no one really knows exactly why it happens. Some have claimed that it is because of the relative size of earthly things tricking your brain into seeing the moon as comparatively large, as opposed to when it's overhead, surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.

Pilots, though, have noted the effect when flying thousands of feet up, with no particular human-scale references on the horizon. Also, if this were the case, why wouldn't the moon look bigger on a cloudy night? I don't buy it.

Other, more sciencey explanations are around, but they're too long and contain words like oculomotor micropsia, so forget that.

The full moon is this Wednesday, the day after the summer solstice. To find out what time it will rise in your town, consult this widget.

So go out this evening or next and check it out. I'm going to try to see it tonight, as it's an extra clear day in Seattle.

More Info.

June 17, 2005
Four More Wars

How disturbing is this headline I passed this morning?

billions for wars

That's "wars," plural. It is not specified exactly which wars, but all of our various wars. And maybe for some yet-to-be-named wars. Aren't you excited to be living in a country with headlines like this? And lots of people think it's perfectly fine. Wars! Yay! Go wars!

Target: Big Bird

big bird in the crosshairs

The House voted yesterday to cut the funding of public broadcasting. Sweet.

Because, you know, we have to save money to fight all of our perpetual wars. It's important. Educational, unbiased television and radio that produces no profit? Well that's just un-American.

Write your Congressperson. It's easy.

In The Navy

gay navy

More evidence of the "homosexual agenda." I can't believe they've finally infiltrated the Navy. Never thought I'd see the day...

I was a bit hesitant at first to post anything with a damn parody of that 15 year old MasterCard ad (can we please stop doing that now?), but the "loss of situational awareness" line got me.

The People to Bush: You Suck

The New York Times has the results of a new poll today. Conclusion: Most people think George Bush is doing a lousy job in just about every possible area.

My favorite finding is that the more people have heard about Bush's plan for Social Security, the less they like it. And yet he's still spending millions of our dollars flying around the country putting on staged "town hall" meetings.

bush poll

I wasn't part of the sample in this poll, but let me just say, for the record, that I don't like him either.

Full Poll Results

June 16, 2005
Bush Poo

bush poo

Can we do this here, please? Anybody know a good, cheap miniature flag manufacturer?

Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks. Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."

The series of incidents was originally thought to be some sort of protest against the US-led invasion ofIraq. And then when it continued it was thought to be a protest against President George W. Bush's campaign for re-election. But it is still going on and the police say they are completely baffled as to who is to blame. "We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act," said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler. "But frankly, we don't know what we would do if we caught them red handed." Legal experts say there is no law against using feces as a flag stand and the federal legal experts say there is no law against using feces as a flag stand and the federal constitution is vague on the issue.

German police baffeled by Bush poo-flags : SF Bay Area Indymedia

Article VII - Congress shall make no law on the establishment of poop flags. All poop flag rights shall be retained by the states.

June 14, 2005
Judge on Judging

From a letter to the editor of the American News of Aberdeen, South Dakota. (Via TalkLeft.)

Misunderstanding Alarming

To the Editor - A recent article by Professor Art Marmorstein displayed an alarming misunderstanding of the nature of our government. He stated that judges are either of the John Lennon school or the Bolshevik school. I know judges in South Dakota and most federal judges. The professor is badly mistaken.

He praised James Dobson's Family Policy Council. Dobson in Sioux Falls last year stated that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is "the most dangerous man in America." Does that sound like a rational statement? Outlandish statements by Dobson, Pat Robertson and others encourage deranged people to act violently against judges and relatives of judges.

The professor stated: "All they ask is to have men and women on the bench who will defer to the democratic process rather than arbitrarily imposing their own ideas on the rest of us." He assumes judges act arbitrarily. If so, the solution is to go to a higher court. We have three co-equal branches of government. Our founding fathers knew what they were doing. No branch of government blindly "defers" to the other. Our judiciary is intended to protect the constitutional rights of citizens, not blindly endorse unconstitutional actions taken by Congress, the president or a state legislature.

Judges should, of course, respect our elected officials and do our best to not infringe on their prerogatives. Members of Congress should treat the judiciary in the same manner.

Charles B. Kornmann
United States District Judge Aberdeen


Exactly right, your honor.

The Bare Minimum

Morgan Spurlock, he of Supersize Me fame, has a new show called "30 Days" premiering tomorrow night on the FX Network.

The premise is to put an average American into a different lifestyle for 30 days, or something like that.

The first episode is about the minimum wage. Spurlock and his fiancee moved to Columbus, Ohio and got minimum wage jobs for a month. Turns out it's not so easy. Go figure.

Think Progress helpfully runs the numbers on the minimum wage in America.

  • 4.3 million: Number of Americans who have fallen into poverty since President Bush took office
  • $5.15: Federal minimum wage
  • 26%: How much the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage has eroded since 1979
  • 0: Number of times minimum wage has increased since 1997
  • 7: Number of times Congress has increased its own pay since 1997
  • $0: How much more a year people earning minimum wage earn today compared to 1997
  • $28,500: How much more a year members of Congress make today compared to 1997
  • $10,700: Amount a person making minimum wage will earn in a year
  • $5,000: Amount below the poverty level working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at minimum wage will leave a family of three
  • 7,300,000: Number of workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
  • 72%: Percentage of adult workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
  • 1,800,000: Number of parents with kids under the age of 18 who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage
  • 11 million: Number of jobs added to the economy in the four years after the last minimum wage hike
  • $8.70: Amount minimum wage would have to be today to have the same purchasing power it had in 1968
  • 2.5 years: Amount of health care for two children which could be bought by raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25
  • 86%: Percentage of Americans who support raising the federal minimum wage

Think Progress

Buckle Up


If you're like me, you think that watching Fox News can be like watching a sneak preview of what the Bush administration has in store for us next. That's why I found the the first segment today (June 14, 2005) on Fox's premiere "business news" program, Your World w/Neil Cavuto, to be pretty darn terrifying. It featured two guests who said they had "unequivocal proof" that Osama bin Laden is in Iran, that Iran is "killing Americans every day in Iraq," that "al-Zarqawi is an Iranian government agent," and that we "can't tolerate this any longer." Fasten your seat belts...

News Hounds

If they are planning to start in on Iran, this would be perfect timing - just as the evidence that they cooked the books on Iraq is becoming so overwhelming that even our pussified media is starting to show signs that they might actually interrupt the round-the-clock Jack-O coverage to say something about it, enter Iran.

Cool It Now

To all my sweatin' homies in NYC and even hotter places, the hook-up...

homebrew ac

Homebrew Air Conditioning for $40.

No Shame

Last night the Senate voted to formally apologize for the body's failure to do anything for decades about the lynching of thousands of black Americans. Similar legislation had actually been blocked three times in the past 100 years.

What's interesting about the resolution's ultimate passage, though, is that of the 100 Senators, 80 co-sponsored the bill, signaling their support. That leaves 20 that did not co-sponsor the bill, signaling, one could argue, their opposition.

And here's another interesting tidbit: They were all - every last one of them - Republicans, including the two Senators from the Mississippi, state that lynched more people than any other.

If you've never seen pictures of a lynching, perhaps you should. This is not ancient history, this was happening less than 40 years ago.

UPDATE :: The number of Senators who did not co-sponsor the bill is apparently debatable, but the party affiliation of the 16 or 20 who did not is not in question. Neither is the need for an explanation.

Be Afraid
They are young and bright and ardently right. They tack Ronald Reagan calendars on their cubicle walls and devote brown bag lunches to the free market theories of Friedrich von Hayek. They come from 51 colleges and 28 states, calling for low taxes, strong defense and dorm rooms with a view.


The summer interns of the Heritage Foundation have arrived, forming an elite corps inside the capital's premier conservative research group. The 64 interns are each paid a 10-week stipend of $2,500, and about half are housed in a subsidized dorm at the group's headquarters, complete with a fitness room.

Unusual in its size (and in its walk-in closets), the program, on which Heritage spends $570,000 a year, is both a coveted spot on the young conservative circuit and an example of the care the movement takes to cultivate its young.

New York Times

And what is the other side doing?

It is an alternative with few rivals. The Brookings Institution, a centrist group more than 50 years older than Heritage, has no paid interns. Neither does the Progressive Policy Institute, which promotes a centrist version of liberalism. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a premier antipoverty group, has 10 paid interns. People for the American Way, a bulwark of Beltway liberalism, has 40 - but no dorm.

Be very afraid.


Just so we're all clear on this, an excerpt from the "Downing Street Memo."

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Times Online

It really couldn't be more clear. Nor could it be more shameful how the media is burying this story. They all write their stories on it, but it's not Front Page News.

June 13, 2005
Shut Up Already

I'd like to apologize for even mentioning the Michael Jackson verdict on this site. And for now mentioning it again.

In the eight or nine hours since the verdict was announced, the "news" media have talked about literally nothing else. I had CNN on mute for the past 3 or 4 hours, and it's been about Michael Jackson the whole time. And they all look so damned pleased about it. Isn't this fun? Aren't we all so clever?

No, no you're not.

Can someone please investigate the fact that the president started a war on false pretenses? Doesn't that seem a little more important than some racially confused rotting skeleton of a washed-up singer?

Some people love it for it's sickness. Not me. I lose my ability to enjoy it even perversely or ironically after a few hours. And this will probably go on for a few days.

Who's On First: Video Store Edition

Not sure if I posted this before, but I came across it again, and it's damn good.

Who's on First?

No Action Jackson

michael jackson

SANTA MARIA, Calif (Reuters) - Michael Jackson was cleared of all charges on Monday after a bitter four-month trial on child sex abuse charges.

The jury in central California cleared the pop star on four counts of child molestation, one count of attempted molestation, four charges of giving alcohol to a minor and one charge of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.


Being a sometimes believer in the general better-than-nothing-ness of our justice system, and not having any real way of knowing who diddled what cancer patient when, I'll allow that it's possible that the jury reached the right verdict.

But I would still like to say that Michael Jackson is a totally creepy freak, and that I have a hard time imagining that he didn't do something with some of those kids that are always climbing all over him, and that if he were still black, they probably would have chopped his nuts off.

Now we can all finally focus our attention back where it belongs, on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Cause For Impeachment

Think Progress has the full text of the British Briefing Papers that show that our government knew full well that the war they were planning against Iraq was not necessary to protect American citizens, and that the evidence they were continually citing in the year-long run-up to war was weak at best, and at worst made up. Further, it corroborates this weekend's Washington Post story showing that the U.S. had virtually no plan for post-invasion Iraq.

It is truly shocking to see all of this material which so perfectly predicts the situation in which we know find ourselves mired.

The American press is doing a terrible job pursuing this stuff. In a more sensible time, there would be large-scale investigations and likely many resignations and threats of impeachment. In this nonsensical time, though, we have very little.

The case against these people is building steadily, and while it seems increasingly less likely to happen while he is in office, I remain confident that George W. Bush's presidency will eventually be seen to be the sickening offense to this great country that it truly is.

Great Idea

File this under Idiots Should Not Be President (an already stuffed category).

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A bid by Indonesia's first directly elected president to be closer to his people by publicising his mobile phone number backfired over the weekend, after thousands of calls crashed the line.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced the number on Saturday and said anyone could call or send text messages if they wanted to complain about government services.


At least our president thinks before he says things, even if that thinking is almost entirely centered around crafting enormous lies.

June 9, 2005
Cruise Control

Holy shit is Tom Cruise crazy.

Observe the clips here and here.

tom cruise

tom cruise

The man is off his nut. It's kind of funny, really, since his Scientology cult training teaches that psychology is a terrible evil and a giant scam. It doesn't take Bill Frist to diagnose bipolar disorder from afar in this case.


Star Wars III: Abridged

If you have no plans to see Star Wars: Episode III, or you've seen it and want a recap, I can't recommend Rod Hilton's Revenge of the Sith: The Abridged Script highly enough.

If you haven't seen it, but you're planning on it, there are some spoilers in there. I can't believe I used the word "spoilers."

They fly toward CHRISTOPHER LEE'S SHIP so they can rescue

Oh no, the hangar has shields up!

HAYDEN shoots something next to the shield and they

The thing that powers the shield is
on the outside of the ship?

Yeah, it's pretty stupid. It'd be
like a life support system being in
a box on someone's chest.

June 8, 2005
Texas Gov to Gays: Get Out

Texas Governor Rick Perry added his name to a referendum in support of an anti-gay amendment the other day. There was no legal reason for him to do this, he just wanted to make it clear that he supported it. He signed the referendum in an evangelical church, at an event to which only Christians were invited.

Outside, there were protesters, some veterans of the armed forces.

The governor was asked about the protesters...

Local NBC Anchor: "Among the protesters were gay veterans and their partners. We asked the governor about his take on gay veterans, many of whom may one day have fewer rights than everyone else."

Rick Perry: "Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live."

[taken from video recording, no official transcript yet]

Daily Kos

Isn't that nice.

How long do you think before they start actually putting them on a bus and taking them to another state?

Think it won't happen? Well, I never thought I'd hear a Governor invite his citizens to leave if they didn't want to be discriminated against.

June 7, 2005

David Sedaris is funny.

His sexless sister, too.

Mmm.. That's Good Poping

Via Ezra Klein.

Pope Benedict, in his first clear pronouncement on gay marriages since his election, on Monday condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of "anarchic freedom" that threatened the future of the family.

The Pope, who was elected in April, also condemned divorce, artificial birth control, trial marriages and free-style unions, saying all of these practices were dangerous for the family.

"Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man," he said.


Yeah, so screw this guy.

Allow me to respond by condemning Catholicism as "fake" and something "which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man."

What, by the way, is a "free-style union"? Is that like with kick-flips and stuff?

June 6, 2005
Perception = Reality

This is currently freaking me out.

optical illusion

Qu'ran Pissed On, Still Not Flushed

Okay, so now the story goes: The Qu'ran was kicked, wetted, stood upon, and - get this - "inadvertently sprayed with urine", but most assuredly NOT flushed down a toilet.

The Pentagon helpfully released this information at 7:30 on a Friday night. That just happened to be when they got the report finished. Just after they finished watching the evening news.

My first question is a simple one: How the hell do you inadvertently spray anything with urine, let alone a religious text? Were they simply spraying urine around the place and didn't realize a Qu'ran was in the room? Or maybe the mischievous, freedom-hating detainees has fashioned a urinal-shaped Qu'ran. Perhaps the guards were peeing in the toilet, nice and neat, when someone called their name from behind and they whipped around mid-stream only to find someone holding a Qu'ran, which was then quite reasonably used as a pee shield.

There are hundreds of similarly plausible explanations.

The military leaders continue to claim that these are "rare occurrences" and that mishandling the Muslim holy book is "never condoned." Which is not to say that anyone is punished for doing it.

It also does not mean - if you are familiar with the "New English" - that those at the very highest levels of our government have not specifically condoned - even recommended - such behavior.

... religious degradation was a tactic expressly approved by the Department of Defense. A memo signed by Rumsfeld in November 2002 listed "removal of clothing" as a permissible interrogation technique, along with "removal of facial hair," also a technique designed to offend Muslims who wear beards. On December 2, 2002, Rumsfeld authorized interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay that included the removal of religious items, forced grooming such as shaving facial hair, and removal of clothing. Indeed, the Defense Department's own investigation of operations at Guantanamo Bay, conducted by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, found cases in which a female interrogator "touched and spoke to detainees in a sexually suggestive manner in order to incur stress based on the detainees' religious beliefs."

American Prospect

Nor does our not condoning such behavior prevent us from promoting many of the high-ranking officials responsible for sanctioning such abuses.

It's one thing for shit like this to happen. It's quite another for us to 1) lie about it, 2) lie about lying about it, 3) blame the media for it, and 4) promote those responsible for it. How do we think this looks? We go around saying that this "war" is not about religion, and then we do this. Not only do we do it, but we refuse to apologize for it.

We have no credibility, no moral authority, and we are creating more "America-haters" than we can ever deal with.

I watched some jackass on 60 Minutes last night basically justify any and all actions we take as being "necessary in a time of war." The reporter didn't seem interested in asking what exactly this war is against, and when it will ever end. There is no question that a true war sometimes requires playing a little fast and loose with the law. This has always been the case. But these special powers must be carefully considered and explicitly limited in scope and duration, not invoked in the name of a vaguely defined, unending war not against a specific enemy, but against a tactic.

(UPDATE :: Edited for clarity.)

Jail the Sick

The Bush administration was handed a victory today by the Supreme Court in their effort to keep the country safe from sick people.

The Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government can prosecute people who use marijuana on doctor's orders, even if that use is protected by the laws of their state.

The Bush administration argued that it was in the country's best interest to lock up people who are suffering under the effects of chemotherapy or other painful, debilitating conditions. These people hate freedom, and their desire to have relief from their pain, using a substance not even invented by a giant pharmaceutical company, and one on which no one makes a significant profit, threatens our very way of life.

New York Times

June 5, 2005
Movies For Your Face

Star Wars Episode III

star wars

Saw this one on Friday night. It was, as many have said before, better than the previous two prequels, which is certainly not to say that it was, in any traditional sense, good. As with the others, Lucas made me laugh when he was trying to be moving (men who have had as terrible luck in love as he have should not be allowed to write love scene dialogue), and made me groan and cringe several times with terrible jokes or puns. The references to the current political situation were heavy-handed and obvious, though not inaccurate. (Example: As the Galactic Senate is approving the elevation of the bad guy to the rank of supreme Emperor, Natalie Portman quips, "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause." Quite so. Witness NASCAR.)

Overall, though, Lucas retains his gift for making good actors look terrible (et tu, Jimmy Smits?), and for dragging out plot points for hours and then just changing everything in a heartbeat. (Example: Annakin struggles mightily with his dark-side tendencies until, in one instant, he is completely and forever evil. "What have I done?" followed immediately by "I am under your command, my master." Enh.)

In summary, it surely was better than it's recent predecessors. High praise indeed.

Hotel Rwanda

hotel rwanda

Last night we finally watched Hotel Rwanda, and all I can really say about it is shame on us. Shame on all of us. Of course we've all known for a long time what happened 11 years ago in Rwanda, but seeing it dramatized so well really brought home the unimaginable failure or our "civilization" to do anything about such a monumental tragedy. We knew about it, and we let it happen. Our leaders were careful to only refer to "acts of genocide," not genocide unqualified, literally playing word games so that we would not be legally obligated to do something.

Our current adventures around the world only show how nothing has changed. We intervene where we have economic interests and pretend it's a humanitarian cause, while simultaneously turning our backs completely to real atrocities on a scale we can't imagine happening in places we don't care about.

Canadian Colonel Oliver, portrayed by Nick Nolte - who was forced to stand by and watch the Rwandan genocide take place, ordered by his superiors to do nothing, (and who later basically lost his mind over the whole thing) - explains the West's refusal to intervene this way:

You're dirt. We think you're dirt, Paul . . . The West, all the superpowers . . . They think you're dirt. They think you're dumb, you're worthless. You could own this freakin' hotel, except for one thing. You're black. You're not even a nigger, you're an African.

I can honestly say that I've never felt so ashamed watching a movie.

June 3, 2005
No Free Lunch, or Snack
Northwest Airlines passengers who said goodbye to free meals in February at least got free pretzels to console them. Now the airline is taking the pretzels away, too.

Beginning June 9, coach passengers who want anything other than soda will have to pay for it. They can get a 3-ounce bag of trail mix for $1. Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the airline has no immediate plans to stop offering soda for free.

He said pulling the free pretzels should save $2 million a year.


They'd make a lot more money if they charged for the soda. Who the hell cares about the pretzels? My sister found a mouse vertebrae in a bag of peanuts on Amtrak last month, so I'm off mini-serving salted snacks anyway.