Monday, February 24, 2003

Screw You George Will

Molly Ivins has a nice little piece on why it's fashionable, but maliciously unfair, to call the French "cheese eating surrender monkeys" over their refusal to toe the line on Iraq.
George Will saw fit to include in his latest Newsweek column this joke: "How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows, it's never been tried." That was certainly amusing. One million, four hundred thousand French soldiers were killed during World War I. As a result, there weren't many Frenchmen left to fight in World War II. Nevertheless, 100,000 French soldiers lost their lives trying to stop Hitler.

On behalf of every one of those 100,000 men, I would like to thank Mr. Will for his clever joke. They were out-manned, out-gunned, out-generaled and, above all, out-tanked. They got slaughtered, but they stood and they fought. Ha-ha, how funny. In the few places where they had tanks, they held splendidly.

Relying on the Maginot Line was one of the great military follies of modern history, but it does not reflect on the courage of those who died for France in 1940. For eighteen months after that execrable defeat, the United States continued to have cordial diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany.


I still like french fries.

The future of product placement is now.

Alias is at the vanguard of the new model of product placement -- turning segments of a show into outright commercials, thereby getting around Tivo-nation and channel flippers. Last night wasn't the first time a Ford Focus was prominently displayed in an episode; however, it is the first time I can recall dialogue like, "What is she driving?" "A Ford Focus." "What model?" "The FX50 [or whatever, I don't know Focus model numbers]." "What color?" "Uh ... blue. Why do you need to know that?" "Well, I was thinking about getting one..."

Surprisingly, as blatant and comical as it was to have the CIA's top spies fawning over the Focus (it's a long way from Bond's cars), I actually didn't mind it that much. I never once felt like Alias was art. It's pretty much the best network TV has to offer by way of utterly artless, mindless fun. Same as 24. I kinda like well done commercials, 30-second snippets of humor in service of capitalism. The one with guy who puts his dog on his head to get a beer, the dog that turns the A/C on, any commercial with a chimp or monkey that doesn't also feature Carrot Top, I can be amused by that. If shows like Alias are able to make their integrated commercials of the same quality as the better commericials, then fine. Drop the pretense altogether that the show is anything but a product to deliver the real product, consumers, to advertisers. It's almost refreshing honesty. Of course, when the same approach is taken with children who don't know how to differentiate between the show and the commercial and we end up with a nation of Coke-sipping, Levis-wearing zomboids we'll have only my complacency to blame.

Friday, February 21, 2003

The Station Fire

86 Dead (And Counting) at W. Warwick Club

Unbelievable. 86 and the Governor is saying workers can see more bodies inside, but can't get to them yet. The news here in Rhode Island has been about nothing else. When I got to work this morning they were saying 39 had died and the number has been creeping up steadily all day. It seems like it was only a few days ago something similar happened in Chicago ... makes me want to think twice before heading out to one of those overstuffed clubs again.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Thoughts That Cross My Mind During the Workday, Part One.

I have a feeling I could create the world's funniest joke if I could somehow distill chibi beer chan and the phrase "that's what I call my kung pow chicken" into one cohesive joke entity. I'm not talking about simply grafting the .wav file onto the picture, which would be pretty damn cool in and of itself, but if I could breed the two memes, I think the offspring would have devastating hilarity.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Just Don't Stop Taking It

A Drug to Cure Addiction?

Read through this article and chuckled at the second to last line: "The work could eventually lead to a universal drug to battle addiction, Malenka said." Maybe it's just me, but doesn't this sound like replacing one addiction with another? Which probably works out great for Pfizer or Merck, but what about the addict?

Friday, February 14, 2003

TC presents: Fun With Sound Bites

"Mr. Rumsfeld, can you tell us where Bin Laden is?" [click here for Rummy's Real Audio response via the BBC]

"Mr. Tyson, are you feeling peckish?" [click here for Iron Mike's .wav reply via The Mike Tyson Media Page]

OK, actually, that's enough of that.

Is the news as good as they're saying it is?

The excitable boys at AICN seem to be all jacked up about the casting of the bloke what played Ian Curtis in 24 Hour Party People to play Phileas Fogg to Jackie Chan's Passepartout in the upcoming Around the World in 80 Days flick. Raving about what a genius he is and whatnot, they are. I was going to see it anyways, I saw The Tuxedo fer chrissakes, but does this mean I have a chance of seeing a decent movie?

Thursday, February 13, 2003

"Who makes the Nazis?"

This quote has been popping up everywhere and seems particularly apt in light of some of the comment threads here:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

TANSTAAFL!

Starship Troopers got Verhoeven-ed and is heading for sequelization. It's enough to make a Heinlein fan toss and turn at night. So word that The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress may get adapted for the big screen is greeted with mixed feelings. It's one of his best and could be great movie. If it gets Verhoeven-ed, it'll be unwatchable, which goes without saying. Off the cuff, I'm inspired to list my Top 5 Sci-Fi Novels I'd Like to See Adapted to the Big Screen Assuming They Would Be Handled By Competent Screenwriters and Directors:

1 - KSR's The Gold Coast Would make a great ensemble movie for young unknowns. James Cameron was supposed to be developing this a few years back but nothing ever came of it.

2 - Ballard's High Rise Just don't let anyone associated with Crash near it. That means you, Cronenberg.

3 - Heinlein's Friday Jennifer Garner's a hot property now ...

4 - Stephenson's Zodiac This would be a great movie for Jake (The Zero Effect) Kasdan to take on.

5 - Asimov's Foundation So I don't have to read it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A Great Blog Is Hard to Find

I'd almost given up on checking in ... glad to report Ethel the Blog is back in business.

Smoke and Mirrors

An embarassing, critical look at the evidence linking Saddam's regime to Osama. So, official/popular justifications for war on Iraq are: (1) Saddam backed Osama -- no convicincing evidence exists for this position, far more exists that Saudi Arabia supports his terror organization, (2) Saddam's a murderous psychopath -- granted, and I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to assemble a list of equally blood-soaked despots we aren't threatening with war because they either aren't sitting on oilfields or would actually be able to fight back, (3) is there a 3? I'm not a fan of bloody dictators. I'd love to see Iraq freed from Saddam's reign and given the chance to develop a representative government. I don't believe for a minute that our government has that as a goal any more than it did in Afghanistan.

It's probably just a coincidence...

But I thought it was funny that on the front page of CNNmoney, the link to an article about Greenspan's call for budgetary discipline (something Spend and Spend Republicans have proven unable to exercise) was immediately followed by a link to an article titled: "Who will be the next Greenspan?" Dissidence will not be tolerated.

Friday, February 7, 2003

Oh the Humanity

If you watched any of the Granada TV documentary on Michael Jackon that ABC showed, interspersed with the idiot ramblings of Barbara Walters, you probably concluded Jackson is about as messed up as you imagined he possibly could be. Creepy. So, if that's the case, what do you make of the fawning women/girls who hug him and are reduced to tears? And the photographers that attempt to trample his children to take his picture? He's like a magnet for scumbags and the emotionally disjointed. Only not a magnet because it's a like-to-like attraction. Sometimes humanity's capacity for compassion and decency is downright life affirming; other times, like last night, you can't believe we haven't been overtaken yet by some less disgusting species (like the dung beetle) in the evolutionary struggle.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Yes, Please

Kim Stanley Robinson's next novel: Science in the Capital. Tentative release date: September, 2003. "The first of three linked novels set in the strife-torn world of big science, operating out of the corrupt political heart of the developed world." Sounds to me a bit like a return to some of the style and themes of The Gold Coast. It's not for everybody, I know, but I liked the Dennis McPherson character and the way KSR looked at the milieu of government military contracting.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Shameless

O'Reilly is such an easy target, it's hardly sporting, but you have to read this transcript of his abomination of a show to remind yourself what an incredible jackwad the guy is. Unbelievable.

Ground Zero

WTC Project Finalists

Between the two, I think I like the German design best -- the one with the spire. I'm not sure about the "airy" one. The pictures in this article are too small for me to get a good idea of the end result though. Either way, it looks like NYC will have the tallest structure on earth again when they're done.
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