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busy, busy, busy

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I saw 'The Day After Tomorrow' yesterday. It was quite entertaining, if not particularly good. Of course, I went into it expecting reality and fact to be stretched pretty thin, and I wasn't displeased. If there's any genre of film I love more than hoplessly bad science fiction, it's "science-based" distaster fiction. I think I can safely say this is the best[worst] disaster film made to date. I mean, in the midst of the world's climate being thrown back to the ice age in less than one week, we see one of our heroes attacked by wolves. In New York City. Aboard a cargo ship. Parked in front of the New York public library.

It will happen, if we don't stop driving cars. Beware the wolves of global warming!

Speaking of disaster movies, I finally watched my precious copy of 'The Return of the King' this weekend. It's really not too bad, especially for the few things Peter Jackson and Co. got right. I think my main problem with the film (aside from the atrocious adaptation) is the pacing and editing. It simply moves too damn fast, and the constant back-and-forth scene changes make me feel like I'm watching someone else channel-surf. A prime example:

The charge of the Rohirrim. The scene is beautiful and flawless, until, just as the riders begin tearing the shit out of the orcs, we abruptly move inside the city to see Pippin tell Gandalf that Denethor has gone bonkers. Then--BOOM--back to the battle, and just as quickly we are sent to some other part of the film. And the entire damn film is just like that. It's enough to make me scream.

Could I have done better? Yes.


I have put my ultimate reading endeavor on hold for the time being. I have quite the backlog of unread books waiting for me. Some I'm particularly impatient to break open:

"Dhalgren" by Samuel Delany
"The Scar" by China Mieville
"Concrete Island" by J.G. Ballard
"Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson
The Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake

In addition, Neil Gaiman is now on my must-read list. I'm not sure why I've never read his stuff before now, but after checking out reviews, reading bits and pieces in various bookstores, and, most importantly, seeing Mac's fascination with his work unfold before my eyes, I decided to go for it. As soon as I finish Vonnegut's "Galapagos," I'm hitting Gaiman's "American Gods."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

An Open Letter to John Kerry
Mr. Kerry, it’s not too late for you to become something more than our “anyone but” candidate. We’re ready to elect a president we can be proud of. It could be you. But as it stands now, you may be better than Bush, but that’s not good enough for me.

I bought "The Return of the King" yesterday. I guess you know what I'll be doing this weekend. Even though I didn't enjoy all that much.

Honest Bloggers Quiz

1. Which political party do you typically agree with?
Typically, the Socialist Party USA, but even then we have our differences. I tend to avoid party affiliation.
2. Which political party do you typically vote for?
I vote for candidates, not political parties.
3. List the last five presidents that you voted for.
In 1998 I voted Libertarian (I don't even remember the name), and in 2002 I voted for Nader.
4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy?
Again, I'm leaning towards the SP-USA, but I have yet to find a single individual running for political office who has anything resembling a clue regarding the economy.
5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs?
No party. It's just me. I'm the smartest. Everyone should listen to me.
6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out?
They should pull out now.
7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11?
"Most responsible" would probably have to be the men flying the planes. After them, all the powers involved, be they state or non-state, bear some of the burden.
8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
At this point, I don't care. The issue is moot as far as I'm concerned.
9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana?
10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last presidental election?
A group of power-hungry individuals "stole" the election. I'm certain genuine party motivation was miniscule.
11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski?
12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?
I haven't thought about it. I wouldn't vote for her, at any rate...
13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great president:
I can't even think of one who would make a halfway decent president.
14. Name a current Republican who would make a great president.
"Great" is such a strong word...
15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion?
16. What religion are you?
17. Have you read the Bible all the way through?
18. What's your favorite book?
"The Lord of the Rings" or "Catch-22."
19. Who is your favorite band?
20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election?
Mac Tonnies, of course.
21. What website did you see this on first?
Posthuman Blues.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Rain make Georgie fall go boom

Can one trust a person who lies so much he even has to fabricate stories about situations where there is absolutely no need to lie--such as falling from a bicycle?

Kos does the math.

Brownback introduces fetal pain legislation (scroll to the bottom)
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., has introduced legislation that would require abortion providers to notify abortion seekers of medical evidence showing a fetus can feel pain during an abortion procedure.

The bill, which would apply only to women at least 20 weeks pregnant, was introduced Thursday. It also requires abortion providers to offer anesthesia for fetuses.
The bill should also include a provision for the "seeker" to weigh the "medical evidence" of physical pain against the likely lifelong emotional trauma the fetus will experience when it is forced to grow up as an unwanted, ignored, and neglected human being. "I'm alive because my mommy was forced by law to consider the fact that it might hurt me to be sucked out of her womb. That, and she couldn't afford the anesthesia."

I've been listening to almost nothing other than Man or Astro-man lately; in particular I can't get enough of "Experiment Zero" and "Is It... Man or Astro-man?" If you like your surf-rock tinged with punk and heavily-laden with B-grade science fiction, they will float your boat.

That is me, according to the Portrait Illustration Maker, where "the part of a face or the body is choose and a portrait icon is made on-line."

Friday, May 21, 2004

The People Have Spoken (more or less)

An actual Letter to the Editor in today's Lawrence Journal-World. I shit you not.
To the editor:

If the abortion people's parents would've had the same concerns for the sanctity of a fetus (or lack of), and would have had you aborted, I have to assume this would've been OK with you? No, but what makes you or me better than a totally innocent and defenseless potential human? You wouldn't be here to debate the points!

There are numerous means of responsibly avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. Talk to your doctor. I'm for sane parenting. Our world is sated, now! The half of 1 percent of women who had an abortion to truly save her life doesn't justify the inhumane treatment of the rest!

It's not wise to argue the merits of a topic until you're sure the side you take is the correct one.

How about the shalts and shalt-nots of the commandments?

Your mentors did a very poor job on their homework here.

Monday, May 17, 2004

My Bad

The all-important date in Iraq is June 30, not June 1 as I thought in yesterday's post. I need to be more diligent with my fact-checking. Fortunately, there is no horrible conspiracy to delude the American people, at least as far as that is concerned. Considering everything, though, can you really blame me for jumping to conclusions?

Cannabis Use Not Linked with Psychosocial Harm

Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Powell: Arab Response to Berg Insufficient
Powell said he has made clear, specifically to Arab leaders, that systematic torture of prisoners is unacceptable anywhere. Yet, he said, their denunciation of the killing of Nicholas Berg, kidnapped while in Iraq seeking business for his Pennsylvania communication company, fell far short of their attacks on the United States for the treatment of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
How much outrage would be sufficient, exactly? Should we not be satisfied unless all Arab leaders hang themselves in protest? How far could they go before we accuse them of being insincere?

And, yes, there is a huge difference between the two atrocities. The torture was committed in the name of United States, the world superpower and a country created (in theory) to uphold and protect the rights and dignity of all human beings (that's the reason we're given for being in Iraq in the first--or second, or third--place). The killing was committed by a terrorist organization that has a long history of senseless murder--indeed, it's their primary tactic--and, frankly, the televised beheading was pretty much par for the course, and though horrible, shouldn't have been too surprising for anyone who's paid attention.

And in an unrelated note, did anyone else catch this tidbit contained in the same article?
he was confident the Iraqis who will take charge of governing the country on July 1 will support a continued U.S. presence to help provide security and financial assistance ahead of elections scheduled for January. [emphasis mine]
I thought the transition to a "sovereign" Iraqi government was going to take place June 1. Is this a simple typo, a misspoken comment by Powell, or is the date being subtly pushed back in the hopes that no one will notice?

Cold Turkey, by Kurt Vonnegut
By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?
How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
And so on.
Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
God bless Kurt Vonnegut.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

I decided to go for a new look. I may experiment with template for a few days until I find one I really like. If for some reason you like to check me out more than once a day, don't worry--it's not you, it's me.

I also started a comments section, too.

Edit: I think I'll stick with this look. It's simple. It's bright. It's easy. Let me know what you think.

Film of the day: Big Fish
Music of the day: Les Savy Fav "Inches," Cornelius "Point," Modest Mouse "Good News for People Who Love Bad News"
Best news I've recently heard: 'Donnie Darko' to be re-released

The last time I'll bring this up*

It seems I have underestimated my fellow Americans. In my last post, I assumed the torture story would become just another constantly-updated but popularly-overlooked news item. Not so. Indeed, after reading many "letters to the editor" pages, it seems as if the very people I expected to tune out during the evening news at the very mention of "torture" are the same ones keeping the debate going. Sadly, they do so not out of any sort of human decency; rather, it has become just another platform from which to wave the flag, to praise "heroes," and to justify whatever it is they think is going on in Iraq.

The people being tortured are murders and terrorists. They have hurt and killed our troops. They dragged bodies of Americans through the streets.

War is hell, isn't it? Soldiers get hurt. Soldiers die. Besides killing, that's what they do. Are we so blinded by the righteousness of our cause that we should be shocked and offended that some of the people in a soveriegn state we invaded and occupied without provocation decide to fight back? Those Iraqis are doing the same thing our soldiers are doing (except they have an actual reason to be fighting). The only difference is we use state-of-the-art equipment and they use improvised explosives and car bombs. It's war, and in no way justifies torture.

And dragging a dead body down a street pales in comparison to torturing a living, conscious human being. Meat doesn't care about pain and humilation. Minds do.

*Unless I bring it up again.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Taguba Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse
6. (S) I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:

a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.
(ANNEXES 25 and 26)
8. (U) In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses (ANNEX 26):

a. (U) Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees;
b. (U) Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol;
c. (U) Pouring cold water on naked detainees;
d. (U) Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair;
e. (U) Threatening male detainees with rape;
f. (U) Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell;
g. (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.
h. (U) Using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
It looks as if the shit has finally hit the fan. I wonder if the American people, for the most part outraged, will eventually become desensitzed as more information is released about abuses as they have with the constantly and rapidly rising soldier casulties. Will it become just one more thing to sit through during the evening news while waiting for the weather or sports scores? Like rattling off the names of every dead soldier, will it become labelled as just one more bit of anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-patriotic hysteria brought on by the Left?

Why is anyone even surprised? Are we all so taken in by the talk about military "honor" and "ethics" and "heroism" that no one remembers that soldiers are in essence hired state-sanctioned killers? That this is a war based on lies and deceit and waged illegally? No one remembers the cruelties performed in Vietnam? No one remembers that this is a war packaged after-the-fact as one to wipe out cruelty and torture carried out by an "evil" regime?

U.S. Town Sees GIs as Real Victims in Iraq Abuse

The Bush Administration should be congratulated, and kudos finally go to all those "leftist kooks" who have been screaming "Orwellian nightmare!" since Bush took office. If anything is a clear example of the doublethink of the American Right, it is the fact these people can justify the war because Saddam Hussein tortured his people and had to be stopped, and with the same neurons and synapses boldly suggest that anything less than the torture of Iraqi prisoners of war (torture carried out in the very same facilty Hussein used, no less) is unpatriotic. They are celebrating acts that they were all in favor of invading a soveriegn state to end. It would be sad if it weren't so terrifying.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I guess you never really know just how much you use a certain body part until it becomes un-usable. I can only barely tie my shoes now. On the up-side, I think the fact that the finger is now quite visibly bent in relation to my healthy fingers is kind of neat; plus, now I'm not the same as everybody who isn't different!

This past week was one of the most strange and patience-testing I've had to endure in quite some time. I'll spare the details, but I will say it began Sunday night with one of our men having a siezure and taking a fall down the stairs and ended Friday morning with a painful fracture of my right ring finger distal interphalangeal joint. Praise!

I did see The Producers yesterday in Kansas City and, while I generally hate and despise musicals, it was pretty goddamn hilarious. I still prefer the original film, though.

Speaking of pain and hilarity, I have a thought on what I feel to the most glaring contradiction inherent in religion. Simply put: since one of the main purposes of organized worship is to humble oneself before one's alleged Lord and Creator, why does anyone wear clothing in church? I can't think of a more humble expression of faith than to disrobe and worship without all the trappings of the material world. Everyone would be equal--the blue jeans and t-shirt wearing white trash won't have to sit in the back to avoid the disapproval of the fur coat crowd in the front. Instead, the flock engages in a class-conscious fashion show where the most humbling act one performs is to get down on their knees, which they examine for dust and wrinkles once they get up from the floor.

I want to see how committed the faithfull are to their premise--go naked, or don't go at all.