Saturday, June 26, 2004

"Don't reelect that fool."

Sure, we were the choir (for the most part -- I don't imagine the uniformed servicemen in the audience fit neatly into the conservative media's idea of Moore's audience) but the applause from the packed house at Fahrenheit 9/11 this afternoon was still heartening. It's got some of the usual Moore-ism's that tire even those of us who like him in general and it's not hard to see where the conservative media will fire their shots ... still, there's plenty there to satisfy even the jaded lefties.

Even if you haven't seen it, you probably know the list of scenes that reviewers are pointing to as the most effective: Mrs. Lipscomb reading the last letter of her son, Sgt. Michael Pederson, the several minutes W. spent at his photo-op after learning of the attacks, the comparison of his service record obtained prior to its release and the censored version released by the White House, the scenes of American soldiers wondering what they're doing in Iraq, etc. The scene that got the biggest chuckle out of me was the one were Mrs. Lipscomb, walking up to the White House talks with a protester about losing her son, is rudely accosted by a (very typical) smug women who tells her the protester is "staged" and starts sniping at Mrs. Lipscomb, demanding to know where her son died, as if she were a prop as well. Finally realizing she's horribly wrong, the women stomps off, dismissively telling the mother of the dead serviceman: "Well, lots of other people died, too." Republican manners exemplified: shrill denunciation ending with one last spit in the face before ducking away the from the issue to resume wallowing in self-righteousness.

[Update: Movies.com box office results for this weekend shows Fahrenheit 9/11 number one with $21.8M from just 868 theaters compared to the second place movie's $19.6M from 2726 theaters.]

Monday, June 14, 2004

Utah Camping Diary, Day 2

Rough start for Tif ... she woke up around 4am with a migraine, the worst she's had since I met her. It was 10am or so before she stopped tossing her cookies and was able to contemplate travel, undoubtedly delighted at the prospect of being jammed into the back seat of a crew cab pickup truck for a 300+ mile drive. She was a trooper though, even when we took a wrong turn on I-70 and ended up out in the desert, adding another 2 hours to our drive by mistake.

We got to Fish Lake not long before dinner time and had time to unload before heading up to the campsite. Our cabin lived up to it's "Rustic" billing. But, it at least had a toilet and running cold water. The walls and windows had strange properties ... wind could whip through them apparently unimpeded, yet they were solid enough to keep in the smell of the gas from the woefully inadequate heater.

At the campsite, we met up with the family and had an enjoyable evening, despite the blustery wind and occasional bouts of snow and hail. That's what a campfire is for, right? We knew the first night that we weren't going to be going out on any boats for fishing, so we would have to enjoy the other aspects of the experience all the more. Luckily, I had the foresight to pack my poker chips.

Fish Lake is beautiful place. It's a long, narrow lake framed by mountains dusted with sage brush, quakies, and pines. The elevation is something like 8700', and I felt it in ol' windbags soon as I tried climbing into the truck to pull out a cooler. I was sucking for air like David Ortiz trying to leg out a triple. We saw lots of deer -- one even knocked Tif's Uncle Kevin off his bike.

We crashed early that night, shivering under our blankets, but invigorated by the mountain air and pleasant company. Plus, we'd been promised a day trip to warmer climes the following day ...

Next: Day 3 --Cathedral Valley.

P.S. We've got tons of photos, we'll have some of the uploaded in the next couple days...

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Utah Camping Diary, Day 1

Tif and I are in Utah this week. We're leaving to go camping at Fish Lake -- about a five hour drive south of Salt Lake City -- bright and early tomorrow. Took a cab to the airport this morning ... the driver was hilarious. Nice enough guy, but not all there. First, there was the debate over the price of stamps he was involved in with his dispatcher and another cabbie. We set them straight on that. Not worried at this point, I mean, stamps are always going up two or three cents at a time. I wouldn't have guessed twenty-five cents, but hey, maybe he pays all his bills online, right? Next, he asked where we were going. Utah, we told him. "U-Haul?" he says, perplexed. No, Utah. "Yoo-hah," he says, "where's that? Nebraska?" Not exactly, Utah: U-T-A-H. "Oh, that's not in Nebraska is it?" No, we're going to the state. "Hunph," he says. I don't think he could imagine why anyone would want to go to Yoo-hah, NE this time of year. On the highway, he points out the sun for us. It's about an hour after sunrise at this point. "Look at that sun," he points, "it's sure orange." Yep, it is. We lose it behind the buildings of downtown Providence and the northbound lane of 95 for a while. He's craning his neck, bolt upright in his seat looking for it. When it's back, he points it out again. Gotcha, Chief. I'm getting a little nervous about how much he's looking at the sun, I mean, directly at the sun in relation to how much time he's spending looking at the freakin' road. I'm about to caution him about the possible eye damage you can get from staring DIRECTLY AT THE GODDAMN SUN FOR MORE THAN 30 SECONDS when he changes subjects. There's a new gas station chain, Valero, that has started advertising in our area and a few of the older run down gas stations have been remodeled to Valeros. He's way up on this. "How about those Vaheebos everywhere?" Vaheebos? "Y'know, the new Vanteebos ... V-A-L-E-E-R-I-O," thanks for spelling it, I'm regretting now that we clarified Utah for him. "The old lady likes the Vroom Vrooms in the commercials." I'm sure she does. The whole drive he was on one topic after another, making little to no sense on any of them. Spelling stuff randomly at irregular intervals. When we got to the airport, he thought he saw a plane with a new company name on it. I dunno, maybe he did, but I just wanted him to stop trying to crane his neck and jump up in his seat to to try and get another look at it over the Jersey Barriers. "You see that? What was that? A-T-W... something?"

Next update when we get back...

Friday, June 4, 2004

10 Minutes to Expert

The Copenhagen Consensus

Don't get caught flat-footed when you're roped into a one of those 'let's sit around and talk about the problems of the world' discussions. Economists have been huddled in Copehhagen doing cost-benefit analyses on programs wealthy countries can pursue to help developing countries ameliorate such challenges as Disease, Malnutrition, Sanitation and Water, etc. The Economist has has been following and supporting the Copenhagen Consensus project and I think I can break this thing down for you so you can pass as an expert on it in 10 minutes or less.

Here's your background article: "Putting the world to rights: What would be the best ways to spend additional resources on helping developing countries? Some answers."

All you need to know to be conversant is that the thing is going on, it's the brainchild of a controversial Dane name of Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, the expert panel assembled to review submissions included 3 Nobel prize winners, and the Economist recommends a focus on the consensus top bang-for-your-buck programs. They are: Control of HIV/AIDS, Providing Micro-Nutrients, Trade Liberalisation, and Control of Malaria.

Given the recent release of The Day After Tomorrow and Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain, to be topical I think you need to highlight your understanding of the reasons why Global Warming/Climate Issues were rated so low by the panel: "the issue is real ... but not so urgent that such massive abatement costs need to be incurred right now," those costs being associated with carbon taxes and the Kyoto Protocol.

Me, I'd throw in that it should come as no surprise The Economist is in love with anything or anyone that promotes Trade Liberalisation and governments reducing the tax burden on any business anywhere (see the background article for more on this), and therefore we might be wise to take their support cum grano salis. That Lomborg's basic premises have been roundly debunked and many feel, with good reason, he is simply trying to discredit and divide the environmentalist movement is another reason to step back and view the results, and the Economist's approval, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

There you have it, you may not be an expert on solving the world's problems, but you know where the 'real experts' stand!

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Hapless, Irritating Klingon Accused of DUI

[Yahoo! News - slightly edited]

BOULDER, Colo. - Alexander, Son of Worf, the youngest member of the House of Mogh of the Klingon Empire, was arrested last week on suspicion of drunken driving.

Alexander, Son of Worf, 22, was arrested early Friday by police who said they saw someone vomit out the passenger side window of his car. Asked how much he had to drink, Alexander, Son of Worf, responded, "Plenty," then failed a roadside test.
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