Monday, November 30, 2009

Poker Face Trio

Fantabulous mix jam of the original, Cartmen's version and Mr. Chris Walken reading lyrics.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Thanksgiving

One more Thanksgiving down and so many memories...

- Deep fried turkey tastes excellent.
- Sweet potatoes and yams should be consumed more often.
- Family teasing is fun. No one should be safe from stupid acts being mocked.
- Don't stare at walls in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.
- Online video game playing is fun, but the back and forth discussion between anonymous players is just as bad as blog comments.
- Rock Band Beatles is good, but they should have automatically set in more songs. Yes you can download more, but come on. There are too many classics left out so that they could put in lesser known songs. The joy of this game would be inter-generational play since everyone knows the Beatles.
- My drumming improved without playing for a year. Must be all of the watching.
- Ninja Assassin was made assuming that the human body has 50 gallons of blood per body part.
- It is possible for someone to see the new Star Trek movie but not know William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were in the original. Shocking yet possible.
- They sell Onesies for adults. Not just on TV, but in stores. More infantilization of American adults.
- Watching a Division 3 college football game reminded me to laugh whenever anyone says they played sports in college and you later find out it is Division 3.
- Thankful for one more year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Heisman Award Hopes

The leaves have all fallen, and cold weather is upon us. It's that time of year in college football land where bowl match-ups starts to take shape, and the Heisman is at the center of CFB discussion. The Heisman loves to award the stiff arm statue to the QB-RB of the best team in the nation. It's rather a joke with how lazy voters have become. Things will not prove any different this year, and we are bound to see another QB standing with the trophy in his hands, smiling like an idiot. One can hope that the voters would look past the names and hype, and dig a bit deeper for the "most outstanding player of the year". Looking at past history, I shouldn't get my hopes too high.

Who is most likely going to NYC for the award ceremony: Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Mark Ingram and fill in the blank 4th invite who has no chance. There is the lifetime achievement theme with Tebow and McCoy. Neither have been off the charts with numbers as in past seasons. Both are on undefeated teams. Both stayed for their senior year and will graduate legends at their schools. Both are white. Ingram is rolling up major yardage for another undefeated team. He's carried them offensively when their QB and passing game have been nonexistent. He's come up big in 2nd halves, and if he has a monster SEC championship game, might swing enough voters his way. Ingram has the best claim to most outstanding player this year, but I don't like him more than a couple other guys.

3. Ndamukong Suh - He is a monster defensive tackle, who will prob go no. 1 overall in next year's draft. He is a beast, blows up offensive line blocking schemes, and is Nebraska's best shot at upsetting Texas in the Big 12 championship. He has been truly outstanding on the defensive side of the ball. It would be fun to see a defensive player in NYC. It will not happen.


2. Golden Tate - I dislike Tate. I dislike Notre Dame. I cannot deny his ability to make something out of nothing. He did have some big drops in the Michigan game, but he has done everything asked of him and more. He is great after the catch, he's great going up for the ball, and he's probably gone after this year. It's tough for WRs to win the Heisman, and sadly, since he plays for ND, there is no signature play in a big game win for him. He plays a position that is dependent on his QB, Claussen, who has played excellent, and I credit him with stepping up when Michael Floyd went out and the double coverage returned. He did have some giant games vs. good defenses. In the spirit of the award, he has played more outstanding than the above named QBs.

1. C.J. Spiller - He can run, receive, return and sometimes throw for scores from anywhere on the field. He is lightning with each touch in open space. Spiller doesn't have top notch talent around him. They are good, but not Florida-SC good. The other problem is his piss poor offensive coordinator. Watching a Clemson drive is horrible if the ball is not in Spiller's hands. He will not win the Heisman, but if I had a vote, my vote's with Spiller.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Prisoner

Quite possibly the most interesting show ever put on TV, The Prisoner is enjoying some publicity due to the DVD release and AMC re-imagination this year. The show is not a procedural, and unfolds in a slow manner. Clues are continuously given thoughout the series about the what, why and who of the prisoner's predicament. The show pieces were standalone episodes but part of a much longer story arc. The show was a forerunner for television to move past the teleplay format to a higher plane.

The "I'm not a number, I'm a free man" theme is very appealing, and I remember staying up late watching reruns of The Prisoner on TV. It was so cool. I only saw a handful of episodes but loved it. Part of the appeal is the theme of the individual fighting against oppression, conformity and authority. mcGoohan has explained the use of the "big wheel" bicycle as a way to joke on the idea that humans have achieved technological progress far quicker than we have learned to emotionally and mentally cope with our inventions. Wonder what he thought of the Internet? One also has to respect the sci fi elements in different episodes. There are features in some shows that touched on 60s thinking and even fictional elements used in current movies. There is also the kitsch factor as some extremely goofy 60s things show up. Looking at the show, one has to be surprised by how old everyone is on the show. Patrick McGoohan was 40 playing the lead. The no. 2s were usually older men. The supporting characters were retiree age, and even the quasi-romantic leads were middle aged women.

My wife & I have begun to watch the series in order (Comcast offers them all on demand). We hav enjoyed shows for different reasons. While we both loved the absurdity of the election episode, I especially loved how in 45 mins, the show lampooned the idea of a candidate. No. 6 declares his candidacy with ferocity for freedom, but is manipulated throughout to spout cliche statements. Even the short answers he gives the 'press' are manipulated. Once he finally wins the election, drugged into submission, he is unable to take advantage of the tools and power available to him. He is powerless. Wonderful political commentary.

Patrick McGoohan plays No. 6; the retired spy confined to the Village to reveal the secret of why he resigned. McGoohan's spy is an educated British gentleman. He hits every stereotype that Americans have of Brits: subdued manner, cold, quoting Shakespeare, arrogant and owner of a bad set of teeth. There are quite a few examples of the detective side of spy work or his spy training on display. He doesn't just bust people up; he plays little mindgames to disarm them.

Some advanced features they insert into episodes are drug use for mind control, aggressive therapy for altering a personality, and most spectacularly, dream manipulation through image and sound construct and data feed. I kid you not, they have an episode where they rig sensors to No. 6's head, and create a construct for him to interact with characters that they insert, not to mention manipulate with vocal input. It's like the Matrix idea, only in 1967. No. 6 has a way to fight back, which is fantastic, and once again exemplifies the human vs. system theme. The episode "Schizoid Man", with the personality manipulation was superb. The lengths the Village goes to fuck with No. 6 are great, and the fact that they mess with him for possibly a full year is cool. We want to know why you resigned so badly that we will set up a mind fuck for a whole year.

Besides the good acting and writing, there is one more superstar element: the setting. The Village is like Alice in Wonderland crossed with an old folks' home and a minimum security prison. It was not built for the show; it exists in that form. It looks like a playground for an insane millionaire. It looks fun, weird, and dangerous. There are plenty of nooks and hiding places for the good and the bad guys.

The Prisoner is a forerunner for the wonderful non-procedural shows Americans have fallen in love with like Twin Peaks and Lost. Who could resist a show that constantly changes the main antagonist? Each opening is the same awakening, and with a constantly changing villain, who is to say it's not just a recurring nightmare? While I am indifferent to the remake, I am still happy to see a little light pointed in the original's way. If yuo do have Comcast and have some spare time, check out the Prisoner on demand.


Finally People are Slowing Down

It took a horrible recession and the cutting off of consumer credit lines, but finally people are holding spending to a constant or are lowering spending habits. This has been in the works for months, but I was afraid Christmas would get the addicts back in action. There are sad details in this article, and many can be traced back to the massive inflation we have endured in the last 20 years from education, medical and home costs. We are not alone as other nations follow right in our footsteps, but when you look at a basic like housing, it is staggering how out of whack it is compared to incomes. Let's hope that this is the only Christmas of Nothing, and that we can get back on our feet as an economy in a year's time.

My department at work is not adopting a family this year, but we are collecting items for a family support center. I'm excited to get some items and start knocking stuff off that list. I will not buy one thing for certain: boy's pants. They put in a request for kids pants and then for the older boys pants with a waist of 38-46. You read that right forty-fucking-six! No pants for fatties. If you didn't eat so much, your family could afford basics like toothbrushes (that's on the list).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Detroit JOBS Program

Michigan suffers unemployment of 15%. None of our current stimulus programs are targeted at job creation. If we want to spend money on temporary jobs programs until the economy gets on a roll and creates jobs on its own, let's spend it on 'shovel' projects. Let's just put people to work with a decent wage. That's much better than extending unemployment benefits forever, which is what Congress keeps doing. Pay people to do something, not just sit at home.

Detroit has 80,000 abandoned buildings. Some could be restored if preservationists or investors want to, but a vast majority of them can be razed. Some of these buildings are beautiful but decrepit & unsafe. How many folks in Michigan would apply for jobs using a shovel and some basic machinery to raze those buildings? Set the wage at $10-15/hr, depending on responsibilities, and watch them line up.


This could be criticized as make work, which is valid. This can be ripped for being a temporary fix, which is right. It's a bridge to a recovery that will employ these people in a private manner. What we have done so far is throw money at 'stimulus' that doesn't put folks to work. Wouldn't we rather see the borrowed govt dollars go to the unemployed to do something rather than sit at home? The latest extension of UE benefits, combined with the home buyer tax credit extension will cost $43 billion. I'd rather spend $43 on a project like FDR did that may not have helped long term with employment at least gave us the TVA and other works that we enjoy in the present day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

5 Years to Destroy a Career

TBS is airing Mean Girls all this weekend. Lindsay Lohan was the lead and 25 lbs heavier. The supporting cast was headlined by Rachel McAdams. Everyone but the lead has gone on to have a solid career. Lohan has been surpassed by McAdams (bankable female lead), Amanda Seyfried (lead in Jennifer's Body & Mamma Mia), and non-movie poster figures like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler both have tv series with NBC. Even the alternative girl has had more work than Lohan. Hollywood is a marathon, not a sprint and Lohan is the perfect example of that.

What was the last role Lohan had? Georgia Rule? Sadly, she has no adult guidance and no control of her drug and alcohol problems. A Madonna or Angelina Jolie type re-invention of her career is needed. If I were to remake Valley of the Dolls, I would approach her for the super druggie role that Patty Duke played. I'd also have her wheeled to and from a rehab center between filming in a straight-jacket. I'd also require that she gain weight. Playing a drugged out starlet is going to be easy and could give her the platform to launch a comeback. It's amazing to be a has-been by 23, but she is.

An Entire MST3K episode

I love the youtube.


Tippi and Melanie

Tippi Hedren is Melanie Griffith's mom!?!?!??!?!?! I never knew this. This explains how Griffith had a career despite having absolutely no talent.

Hackers Expose Global Warming as Phony Science

Hackers have busted into a GW research institute's cpu files and shared them with millions of people. What have they found? So far, it's a widespread collection of fraud, manipulating numbers, and witchcraft. Witchcraft is a good word since they send some emails back and forth discussing how they can stop sending research to some journals because those journals are '"too demanding" with data. I've always been someone who believed the Earth was getting warmer but we did not know the impact of humans. Might not be the case now. I always felt the data they used was sketchy, like how the official temperature thermometer in Buffalo was right next to an air conditioning unit's heat exhaust, and when models for temps 2 years in the future don't turn out correct, why should we trust your prediction for 20 years in the future? Good ending in this article on it. "AGW really means 'All your gold belong to we'". A government power grab which will transfer money from people to 1. govt coffers, 2. clean energy interests, 3. scammers like Goldman Sachs who would game a carbon credit system.

Update: I forgot to point out that Michael Crichton must be laughing in the afterlife when he compared the consensus around the pseudo-science of global warming to eugenics of early 20th century infamy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MTV Reaching for New Lows

MTV has a show starting Dec 3rd called Jersey Shore. It focuses on guidos and guidettes that populate the Jersey Shore that many will remember from Guido Beach. Guys on roids, girls with high hair, implants guys fighting, girls fighting, and lots of fist pumping. It will be like an anthro study. This would make a nice foundation for a thesis at some modern american universities.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Palin was 5 Miles Away

Sarah Palin was in Noblesville for a book signing. I would have gone to get a photo. No book. Just a photo of her sitting on my lap. Maybe she could pull her glasses down a bit and look over them at me. I hope she never runs for elected office ever again, but she can play the naughty librarian role for me.

New CPUS

We got our new cpus installed. Fricking sweet. I'm blogging while I am watching The Ruins.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Angel Hair Flip




Second best hair flip in film history. Ms. Smith does 3 hair flips!!!

Gilda is Decent



Classic.

Network the Movie

This movie was ahead of its time, and is still applicable to today. Watch the entire film, but the first 4 1/2 mins of this clip is brilliant. The CEO of the company, played by Ned Beatty, uses a rather smart way to get to the raving 'prophet' who has messed with a business deal.


Mad Men Season 3 Finale

Mad Men (season 3) ended 2 Sundays ago. They used the JFK shooting as the penultimate episode so they would not have to crowd the finale with the JFK tragedy. Smart. I thoroughly enjoyed the Nov. 22nd episode. I had forgotten that Lee Harvey Oswald was shot live on national television. Truly horrific time. I bring this up because many of my parents' peers call that death as the end of an era or of innocence. That is very fitting considering how Mad Men season 3 ended.

The firm is reborn through a nice swindle with key players intact, Betty is divorcing Don, Big Red is back, the bearded douche (Kinsey) and Kenny Cosgrove are out, no one knows where gay Sal went, no more Brits, that wonderful office setting is gone, and yet it all feels empty. I loved that they had a focus on the agency and making moves with clients. Yahhhhh for not purely being a soap opera. What I did not like was a feeling that the writers didn't know how to write out the Brit storyline or keep Big Red involved, so they came up with this clever way to get the guys back on their own.


So Betty Draper is leaving Don for a guy she has kissed twice? That was pretty flimsy. The idea she'd build a 'lifeboat' for leaving Don does make sense and is 100% real. What is not real is to do it all for a man she's had very limited contact with, and to do it w/o proof of Don's infidelity. Weak. My wife and I both hated Betty though by season's end, so good riddance. I am glad Roger Sterling is more involved again after the weird path they had him going of his young bride, goofing off and drinking nonstop. I like how they had Don going after Peggy to join their new team, and it was nice to see. I wish she had made the leap and left for another company and more power, but this still sets her up for breaking glass ceilings.


As far as the ancillary players, I was hoping Kinsey (bearded douche) was going to confront Peggy about stealing his idea, which is what they were implying a couple episodes back. I want to know what happened to Sal. His whole closet gay storyline was interesting and entertaining. Why didn't they push the storyline of Sally being a violent child a bit more? A divorce will do wonders for that, so maybe they are saving that for next season. I'm glad smarmy Pete is there. My wife hates him because he performs his job of being a smarmy asshole to perfection. Where the hell is the teacher Don was banging who had a very "I'm not going to be ignored, Don" vibe about her? I want to know what happened. Loose ends only anger fans.


Here's part of the gripe, and why we may never know: when do they come back? Is it 1964, 1965, or 1966? If they skip too far ahead, the teacher affair, divorce, building the business, and Sal might be too much of a look back. Plus, you start to get away from the era from which this show resides. Coming right back in 1964 would be fun and allow for flowing continuity between season 3 and 4. Zooming through the '60s with touches to historical events is not what this show is about. It's going to be jarring if they come back and it's '66 and Don Draper is already rocking the non-slicked back hair. Plus, if they come back in '66 with an established office, it's going to feel more like the creator wanted to press 'reset' on the show and start over with the same principals. I want to see the struggles, I want to know how the Drapers split the kids, I want to know how they handle the Beatles and more rock acts. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that when the Mad Men crew comes back in season 4 next summer that it is 1964.
***Betty Draper was on Saturday Night Live last weekend. She looks better in 1960s clothes with the hoop skirts and rocket boob bras. No shape to her at all. She looks like a little girl instead of a woman. Ruins her entire look for me. Plus, I can't stand her character. Big Red goes back to no. 1 on my Mad Men eye candy list.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Who me?


"Are you decent?"

KSM Being Tried in NYC

The no. 3 Al Qaeda guy that we captured in pakistan, worked over with waterboarding and revealed mucho information to our CIA is not going to be tried in the special military tribunals the Bush-Cheney team created for terrorists, but instead is going to be on trial in NYC. This will be a circus. I'm worried that everyday will bring chances of small time or big time attacks. I'm worried for all of the same reasons listed in the linked article.

Trying this terrorist in a civilian court strikes me as troubling from the government's case standpoint. Does Miranda apply to him? Can he have his confession thrown out if a sitting judge is sympathetic to waterboarding being considered torture? If there is no confession, what is the government's case? Is it the word of other terrorists? What happens if we have to reveal classified information that could cause good sources to dry up? What if a country that portrays itself as unfriendly has been secretly very friendly to us with nabbing terrorists, but with exposure, they will now have to own up to it & potentially have trouble back home? What do we have to gain from this vs. a military tribunal set up specifically for terrorists? What is the pay off?

Lastly, what if he walks? Seriously, what if he goes free and is acquitted? I hope that would never happen, as I trust NYers would be so inflamed they will say guilty no matter what, but one never knows.

Update: This guy nails it on the head here.

Newsweek and Sarah Palin


Newsweek, as well as the entire MSM, loves to rip on Sarah Palin. Why is she a problem? The only forum she has is her Facebook page (which manages to influence current policy), a book that if she has no followers won't sell (exact opposite) and whatever media outlet interviews her. I don't want her to have the keys to our nuclear arsenal, but I dislike the MSM witch hunt. After the book tour, the bestseller, the speaking fees, and whatever else she can wrangle out of the entertainment-media industry, she'll be sitting on a pile of money laughing at Newsweek with its 66K subscribers. The Newsweek photo is worse than the one below, which is to promote a porno.



OK, this is the pornographic promotional photo for the Sarah Palin inspired porno from 2008. This is less naughty than the Newsweek photo. They substitued cleavage for legs in this one, and this "actress" is wearing a suit.

ESPN 30 for 30: Da U is Coming!!!!

Drugs, sports, Miami and bright orange uniforms: Da U is coming. The director of the documentary "Cocaine Cowboys", filmed a documentary on the 1980s Miami Hurricanes' football team. The suspense is killing me; I hope it lasts. The ESPN 30 for 30 series has been entertaining to watch, and a native Miamian handling an epoch he has already tackled and a team of notoriety like Da U is too enticing to pass up.

Someone decided to take my Marion Jones movie idea and run with it. Instead of turning it into a great fictional movie; ESPN's 30 for 30 is handling her tale of rise and fall (and rebirth). John Singleton is in charge of it. I dislike John Singleton's work, Marion Jones constant duplicity going back to high school, and how NIKE used Marion Jones in 2000. Singleton can't avoid the fact that everyone in her circle was busted as well, so I don't know how he'll paint her out as the victim. She made that choice as did Regina Jacobs, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds. At least the baseball guys did not break a sport rule, just a law. She violated Olympic rules and law.

I do question this 30 for 30 doc on the South African rugby team. Doesn't Clint Eastwood have a movie coming out about the same event called Invictus? Is Disney trying to steal Warner Bros thunder by doing this documentary? Confusing to say the least.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Valley of the Dolls

A lot of women I know have read "Valley of the Dolls". It's a total downer, and I only saw the movie. A friend informed me that the movie was a bit more uplifting than the book, and I was surprised someone could call the movie uplifting. My favorite plotline is the entire Jennifer plot. It's a classic in the churn and burn cycle of Hollywood, and its use of women. In the book, her farewell letter has the incredibly sad line that did make me chuckle when my friend showed it to me, "I won't let them take your babies", referring to her breasts. Sad that no one dug poor Jennifer for anything but her body. The movie constantly runs that happy peasants dancing music whenever Anne takes pills. Sad. I know Patty Duke did a nice job playing the aspiring actress who hits it big and then becomes a manipulative, catty and aging starlet. It was weird seeing her play that role. I would hum the "cousins, identical cousins" theme song from her tv show whenever I saw her. Depressing but very entertaining.

In an age of mass prescriptions and Prozac Nation books, couldn't someone make a wonderful book or movie about this? Couldn't they just update the storylines and use the same idea of a troika of ladies. The movie/book "Thumbsucker" gets to the legal-illegal mood alterer issue, but doesn't have the horribly depressing vibe that permeates "Valley of the Dolls". Why the hell isn't Lindsay Lohan trying to get this remade or rebooted and cast herself in the Patty Duke role? She wouldn't have to act. I smell box office gold there, but we'll probably be treate to a Smurfs or Monopoly movie first.

Thanksgiving Around the Corner



YUM

Prison or Jail

Jail and Prison. How did jail go from being a reform of the old "hanging for everything" system to a place full of drugs, fights, murder and rape. William Penn and Jeremy Bentham (not the Lost character) had no idea where their ideas of 'jail' would progress towards through the centuries. Part of the problem might be that in days of yore, execution was still used for murder, so murderers were constantly being removed from the prison population. That idea would remove the most violent of offenders from prison populations. The other change is that Penn's idea of prisons had inmates in complete isolation. They would be lead in and out of their cell in hoods so not to contact anyone else. This actually makes sense. You are completely isolated from the world and must do time and be punished through this isolation from human contact. Cuts down on prison rape, too.

With automation of food delivery to prevent the need for a dining community area, how come we do not stick to this isolation/solitary idea? Let's do this at the state and federal level, not short term county jail. Probably too expensive. It would make prison way less violent. It would also cut down on gang problems inside the jail system. Oh, that's right, because people think of solitary as such a horrible punishment, we would not do that to all prisoners. "You're alone all the time with your thoughts", oooooooooh. If I ever went to jail, I would pray for solitary confinement. Cons: no human contact, isolation. Pros: no human contact (jails are full of violent criminals), no rape, no fights, sleeping soundly since no one can rape you. I don't know about you, but no chance for being shanked or raped sounds like a fair trade off for no sparkling conversations with rapists and murderers. Prisons are not full of the Andy Dufresne's and Red's of the prison world. It's much more like Oz.

We can't return to the old English model of transportation, which took advantage of the colonies to dump off undesirables, unless we did an internal model. No one would support that out fo fear a fence would be breached. Maybe this is why the USA tried to buy Greenland from Denmark in 1946 for $100 mil. That was all about military bases & radar sites, but still, sending prisoners to Greenland would have been a great punishment & idea. It would be like No Escape only colder. The American criminal justice system, while flawed, is a system I am glad to be subject to if I ever go the criminal route. Like many things in the world, nothing will be done of substance until there is no alternative & it absolutely has to be done. As Chruchill said, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

MST3K

This clip combines one of my favorite shows of all time with one of my favorite 70s songs of all time. My memory always placed a tiny fake guitar on Servo's body.




Still, my favorite clip involving Tom Servo not in the MST3K movie (when they go to his room, it's priceless) is Tom leading the United Servo Academy Chorus through a song mixing tons of pop song lyrics in a faux serious chorale way. My favorite part is when the camera pans across the Servos wearing uniforms and they sing "in a big country, dreams stay with you...".

TLC

Anyone else notice how TLC has replaced their housing bubble tv programs with shows exploiting people with medical problems? Tree man, mermaid girl, midgets galore.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dana Delany

I'd never watch Desperate Housewives, but I've got to admit, Dana Delaney has been pulling it down whenever I have channel surf by and she is onscreen. I had a crush on her in the China Beach era, and of course enjoyed her work in Tombstone as the fair actress. Seeing her in leather for Exit to Eden worked too, which somehow got my 15 year old mind going despite or because of the leather, elbow length gloves, whip, garter belt and thigh highs. Great name too, like out of the 1940s Hollywoodland days with the alliteration. Secretly, I love redheads. I blame Daphne on Scooby Doo.



I'm not going to be naive and think she has had no work done. She claims yoga & wine, woohoo. Whatever she has had done, it looks natural & fantastic (similar to Raquel Welch's aging). To piggyback on my recent post on plastic surgery, she appears to be allowing time to work on her. She didn't do a misguided implant procedure, but I'd be willing to believe a lift was done. She was very 'the smart one' pretty earlier in her career, and as she has aged, is very I'm-your-friend's-mom-that-you-fantasize-about-and-secretly-hope-her-husband-dies-of-a-heart-attack-leaving-her-a-single-widow'. Whatever the secret to her classy look, and whatever the fantasy I concoct in my head, here is a salute to you Dana.


Afganistan Dilly Dallying

I liked it when Prez Obama renamed the war in Afganistan the Af-Pak theater. Good move since Pakistan is just as important as Afganistan. Sadly, that's all I like about his efforts there. He's dilly dallying, dithering as the press (and Ann Althouse) often states or fiddle fucking as my dad would say. I remember when Candidate Barry would say "We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there", "Afghanistan is a war that we have to win", or "So we don't have a choice; we've got to finish the job". Focus on Al Qaeda and Afganistan, since a troop presence, drone attacks and the CIA were not 'focus' in his book then. That was a long time ago.

I guess letting down gays, women, people against the Patriot Act, people against 'signing statements', people for closing Gitmo, was not enough so now he must now let down the fighting men & women over there and those of us who don't like terrorists, don't like groups that harbor terrorists and want Afgan women to enjoy some freedom.

Give the Marines the tools they need to kick ass and they will. Don't send them into a fight with just their dicks in their hands.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Man Advice

For guys out there, don't drink from a straw. Don't do it. It will not end well. If you are on a date, it will not help you out. If you are in a heated debate, you lose some ground. If you say something really manly like "I ripped a door off its hinges to save my family", it will be completely destroyed by the straw sipping face. Just take the straw out and drink from the glass. There is nothing dirtier about a glass than the damn silverware you will use to eat the meal. I will pass this information down to future nephews, sons, etc. You have been warned.

Not Selling Out

A friend of mine has recently been published in 3 newspapers. Here in the Philly Inquirer, here in the Christian Science Monitor and here in Roll Call. Three essays that he sent me and other friends through email and later submitted to papers. The guy is on fire. He also has the day job of working with Congress. It's great to see him doing what he said he wanted to do in college. My wife jokes that he and I are two old women when we talk on Sundays. Look, football, politics and women can take up 3 hours between friends. I swear sometimes he uses me for opposition research and to check his theories. Few of my college friends have stayed true to the ideals they used to endlessly spout off at every frickin' lunch, dinner, and party. I shot him a note about this. You have to do what makes you happy. He does. You may not have the material wealth of others, but there's a huge benefit to enjoying what you do. He's sublet countless apartments in DC and keeps his wardrobe to a few suitcases or duffle bags in size, but has mental & emotional wealth.

The future journalist/editor who was editor of the Cornell Daily Sun... now a lawyer.
The future sports journalist... now a lawyer.
The future history professor... now a lawyer.
The future lawyer who everyone made fun of for blatantly wishing to be a lawyer... now a lawyer.

Me? I'm living the dream. Stay thirsty my friends.

Thank You Vets

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War One ended. Armistice Day gave way to Veterans Day, and I thank all of our veterans from the bottom of my heart. Your sacrifice will be honored. For those who never made it home or are still counted among the missing, thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice.

Thanks to my grandfathers Renald & Arthur, their 2 brothers, my 3 uncles Eric, Steve & Mike, and my friends Brad, Ken, Tim, Al, Josh, and Angel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Things Like This from DC Please

I disagree with Bernie Sanders on most things, but he gets my full support on breaking up the banks.

Fall of the Berlin Wall

The History Channel just did a 2 hour special on the Wall, and it was very entertaining and informative. The daring escapes were really intriguing. They shot people to keep them in. They put up barb wire, walls and fences to keep them in. That's not an opposing economic and social system... that's a prison.

Good article on the fall of communism here. Mentions multiple nonfiction books that will make it on my Christmas list.

Too bad we did not send our POTUS to Germany to mark the end of the wall. I bet the Germans appreciated seeing Hill there. She's cool. No, Barry, this doesn't involve you at all. Stop bringing everything back to you. The weirdest thing about his comment is that the destruction of the Communist regime has nothing to do with hs 'special destiny' as POTUS. It was the liberation of millions from the oppression of Communist thugs.

Here's a real speech...

Monday, November 09, 2009

MTV's The Ruins: Ruining on Empty

That's not my own blog title, that's the actual name of an episode. They have been using puns recently in this RW/RR Challenge.

Now for an update as 3 more episodes have aired of MTV's The Ruins. Here's some observations and then a discussion of Tonya...

1. Tonya had one of the greatest quotes in MTV history: "You can make fun of me, yeah I get drunk & stupid & I fight & occasionally a boob falls out, but I have a line... & you crossed it". She is 30, looks 40, and acts 20.
2. If you do a show in Thailand, on the coast, you might want to know how to swim and feel OK in the water. Multiple people had problems.
3. No one should compete on these shows after age 35, and I would be open to lowering that to 30. Make it like "Logan's Run".
4. The final Ruins competitions have been entertaining and creative. Not all are brute strength, which might help end the steroids whispers as bulk is not purely rewarded. Cohutta, the little hick, has taken down Wes (best male competitor) and Syrus (old but much bigger/stronger) in back to back weeks.
5. The spool challenge was great as you had to be conditioned, strong, agile and smart to get the pattern right to undo the tied ropes in the proper order. One of the most interesting elimination challenges ever.
6. Susie & Johanna laughing at Veronica when Susie called her "chunks" behind her back revealed in a nutshell how evil the MTV RW/RR girls are. She's got meat on her bones, and she's supposedly 31 (I doubt it). She looks great. She's not an anorexic stick.
7. I'm waiting for Dunbar to unleash the beast and crush someone in a challenge. C'mon Dunbar!
8. Syrus is a retard if he did not anticipate the screw job that Johnny set up on him. He is a dope to not play the 'you haven't faced anyone' card. A guy his age should know better.
9. Tonya smacked Veronica around during a heated fight and was sent home. This even brought up the mocking of Tonya from years earlier about her masturbating in front of others. Looked like she was pulling it back but then smacked her twice and took her to the ground by her hair. Hitting another player gets you removed from the show. End of her run.


I ended with that observation as Tonya's situation shows what is wrong with the people who go on MTV-VH1 produced reality television in most instances. Tonya has substance issues as she is always drunk. She has anger management issues and tons of leftover residue from her foster care time. She constantly has health issues. She's currently going through a divorce. Why would a person going through all of that choose to go to a place surrounded by people they have slept with, had fights with, or shared extreme emotions either way with and isolated from the world? Why do people do this? Why do people leave kids behind for months for a TV show? Is it the money? The money is not much on these shows. The fame? It might be like 1970s porn stars who could say they were on film in theaters. It's sad, but she does bring it on herself. Who knows if she views this RW/RR group of idiots as if they were a family. The dysfunction of the RW/RR cast members might be a magnet for her. MTV should pay for her counseling. I would think the folks at MTV and the production crew might want to select with a more cautious eye next time they do a reunion challenge (fall of 2010). The drinking, sex, roids and emotion can create good programming, but also can create 'personal crisis' situations. One year, something will go horribly wrong.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fatties Messin' with Health Care

The fatties are pushing back. I'm OK with overweight folks, as long as it's within OK guidelines, and having a little extra can help in old age, but not the obese. No, no no, you're obese that does not equal good weight diversity. Who comes up with a phrase like 'weight diversity'? This must be a byproduct of some multicultural crap they teach at some college. An obese PhD student probably ran with it. "We must must understand that the obese like to eat a dozen dooughnuts because it is part of the obese culture". As far as I am concerned, if my tax dollars are going to fund health care for people who cannot afford or or don't have it through an employer, then they better be in shape or I'm not paying for their insulin because they can't put the ho-ho down.

Put the ho-ho down and take a walk.

Chain of Events

Here's a possible chain of events that are based on just one faulty assumption.

1. Prez O takes office with large majorities in both houses of Congress. It's OK since Repubs and Demos are both owned by special interests.
2. Their 'fix' for the tanking economy is a $780 bil stimulus plan that is layered with social welfare extensions that have no lasting effect on the economy and do not put people to work. Remember how everyone in winter '08-'09 thought the stimulus would be infrastructure and alt energy projects? Wrong. US prints money (the Fed's quantitative easing program) and takes on nearly 2 tril in debt in 2009. Note: the 2009 budget was done in 2009 by the Pelosi-Reid-Obama team.
3. Economy keeps tanking with banks holding the US hostage while still making profits from which they pay big bonuses. Instead of fixing/breaking up the big banks, the Dems make the move to 'fix healthcare'. I won't touch the automaker bailouts and losses.
4. Economy keeps tanking. As stimulus is proven to be no help, talk of a 2nd major stimulus program starts. Tax receipts drop further as unemployment is far worse than anticipated, making borrowing problems worse.
5. Healthcare will probably pass (House just approved it yesterday by 5 votes) which includes multiple new taxes, including a removel of the inflation indexing for income tax brackets. This still leaves a half trillion shortfall in covering the plan's costs. Oh yeah, it's illegal to not have coverage. This program will help get people to work how?
6. In early 2010, we'll see a second stimulus intiative or program. This one will be focused on 'jobs'. More debt will be floated.
7. US Federal Creditors say enough is enough and a Treasury bill auction fails. Rates skyrocket, hell breaks loose. In June people worried a small blip up in interest rates would choke the recovery. I know, what recovery?
8. Bush tax cuts expire. US reverts back to 2000 level taxes, the lower & middle class get crushed with the tax increase. Worst thing to have in the middle of a recession. Don't worry about the rich, they can handle a 3% jump. Because of inflation combined with non-indexed tax brackets, the poor & middle class are suddenly in higher marginal tax brackets than they anticipated. Obama blames Bush somehow despite having the power as Prez to prevent this.
9. Nothing changes with the TBTF banks, there's no engine for economic growth or even make work temporary jobs govt programs, unemployment is still double digits, US Federal Govt borrowing costs are much higher, interest on the national debt is a large burden due to interest rate increases and debt rollover, and no social welfare programs are rolled back because of ineffective leadership.
10. There will either be a sovereign default by the US, a firesale of US federal assets (they are the largest landowner in America), or several years with 20-25% inflation in an Argentina style devaluation to hopefully weasel out of debt problems.

The faulty assumption, which McCain would have made just as Obama's team has made, was that this recession would be a 'normal' recession just like the last few. Few people, if any, in Washington understand the depth of the problem, the structural change our economy is going through, or a rational approach to helping the economy flush toxic waste and get fixed. Few understood just how arcane financial products & innovation had become. Few have ever worked in the real world.
In other words, gold looks good even at $1000 an ounce (silver too).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

From Hell (film)

You make a cake for someone's birthday. Everything is carefully crafted, you have a great cake mix, you use the perfect frosting, you even inject some strawberry filler into it for a nice touch. Using tools, you have a nice message on the top wishing them happy birthday. You need a nice frosting flower on the corner, and you look around. After a long search, you just grab a well shaped flower made out of shit. No one remembers the great cake because that piece of shit. It's the bad odor lingering in the room as everyone eats their piece of cake. No one can bring up the cake in the future because of the horrid memory of that piece of shit flower in the corner.

From Hell is that well crafted cake. Heather Graham is that, very visible & well shaped piece of shit.

Please stop, Heather, before you kill more movies.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Reasons to Believe in God

Fried Oreos, when you can 'smell' that it's going to snow, and when women clutch their hair up above, yet against, their head.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Scattered Thoughts on Plastic Surgery

Caught up on a show I had missed while back home last week and then this week's episode. There is a young woman on the show who has breast implants. There's no mistaking it, and she is open about it as this is an MTV show. She was wearing a tight, low cut tank top and they looked awful. It was as if she lost so much bodyf at for the competition that it was just skin around the implant. She's very thin, and with full clothing on or the right bathing suit, they look fantastic. Whenever she does the one on one camera confessionals, it's awkward because they look terrible. Once again, sad was I that another woman in America felt the need to stuff foreign objects into her body to fit some odd ideal. Work with what the good Lord gave you.

People forget that their nose is that long for a reason, it fills the space between your eyes and mouth.



She obviously didn't go to Dr. Li. Go to Dr. Li's 'services' section for 'breast augmentation'. This woman makes the implants look real. My wife sporadically watches the Dr. 90210 show that Dr.Li was on for a while and always marvels at her work. She might be more effective in talking women out of going a size too big for their skin. She might also do a lot of under the muscle implants and have good placement skills. I don't like watching surgery shows, and plastic surgery shows weird me out because of the way the surgeons make the body look like a manipulated doll. I can watch fat pulled out of someone's ass during a lipo procedure, and I would love to see a surgeon put his or her foot on the person's hips to really get leverage to pull the fat out. Like "lemme get a good grip". I don't like seeing objects stuffed into the body. Whether a bridge piece for a nose or calf implants (f-ing gross), it's not suppose to be in there and makes me uneasy. Am I alone with this?

Silicone eventually needs to be replaced.

Plastic surgery does make me sad when it is not for burn victims or reconstructive surgeries for sick or injured people. In those instances, it makes the person feel whole again like breast reconstruction after a masectomy or facial reconstruction after a car accident or fire. When there is not the obvious event X which leads to surgery Y, I feel sad hearing about it. For a person to hate what they see everyday in the mirror, so much as to want to change it in a radical way, is truly depressing. Besides the stop aging movement, there's somethign wrong with 18-25 year olds getting surgery. Accounting for years where they have been mature, they've had what 4-8 years to hate what they see. No number of surgeries, no number of touch ups, no matter how firm, symmetrical, straight, cute, round that things look, they'll never fix what's the true source of unhappiness.

Do you want to end up like Latoya or Michael Jackson?

I'll wrap this up with a personal anecdote. Forgive me if I've typed it before, and my wife has heard the story, so she can stop reading. In the midst of a relationship with a spoiled brat from NY, i was complimenting her as she walked by me in her dorm room (Cascadilla Hall). I was staring at her chest (some things don't change), and she stopped me to come clean about her breast implants. 1. I didn't give a shit and 2. it was week 4 of 'dating', no need for this. It obviously meant something to her as she had this serious look that gave way to a look of pride. She explained that she had run track & been a tomboy. She thought when she stopped running, her boobs would finally 'come in'. Sadly, in her eyes, it was not the case. She was a nice girl, but a spoiled, overindulged brat. She had shapely legs, a great bum, was cute and fit. That was not enough. She got them done going into her sophomore year at age 19. Under the muscle, proportional to her body, tiny armpit incision which they filled the implant after their put it in, and voila she was not a slim pear anymore but a balanced, slender hourglass.

No matter how good something fake looks, how it triggers that connection in the brain for 'good aesthetics', how much it feels like the real thing, it isn't. We'll keep trying to get closer to the real thing, but it's just rubber, plastic and craftsmanship. It's like a great dream where you try to grab a hold of a lover but they evaporate or you can't see well so you try to open your eyes wider and you just wake up.

Ft. Hood

Thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who died today and those holding on in ICU at Ft. Hood. This is a good rundown of what was reported with updates. Man, this is fucking horrible. Let's hope the survivors hold on.

Look at the Cute, Old Couple

At weddings or family reunions, it's fun & nice to see an older couple slow dancing, swing dancing or dancing the Charleston together. People look & wistfully say "How cute, I hope when we're 70 we're still dancing cheek to cheek". What're people going to say in 30-40 years? "Look, aunt Jane is slamming her ass into uncle John's crotch", "Uncle bill is smashing his junk into his wife's hips", or my favorite "gramma is grinding with some hot chick, grabbing her ass and beckoning grampa over, how cute".

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Question 1 in Maine 2009

Oh, how sweet it is to read the whining of my homosexual friends & acquaintances about Maine voting down gay marriage. This is the worst day in the history of the state of Maine. Let me start by saying I support the right for homosexuals to form legally recognized unions, get divorced, have child custody battles, and pay alimony. I can't wait to go to a gay wedding, hear a gay man complain about how his boyfriend won't propose, or congratulate my lesbian friend on her 5th marriage (she's been engaged 3 times already). It's the libertarian in me that believes in the rights between consenting adults to form contracts. I'm also open to the idea that polygamy-bigamy of consenting adults should be allowed as long as spouses are registered & contracts are drawn up to divide the estate in the event of the death for the minority piece of the partnership (the hypotenuse in the triangle). If you will be open to allowing that special contract to be between nontraditional actors, you must be ready for the unintended consequences (that Mormons & Muslims will love).

Throughout history, marriage was, and still is, a preservation of wealth and vehicle for having children. It is a contract between two people, and back when they were arranged in all cultures, between two families. In modern times in the western world, we have made marriage into a wonderful status for a romantic relationship. Let me stop laughing a second. After watching Mad Men's episode where Betty consulted a lawyer about divorce, I think no fault divorce is a good idea despite its overuse. Regardless, the gay community and their friends will live to fight another day. More old people will die, which means a better chance of pro-gay marriage legislation and results occurring.

There is of course the dirty side of this election result. As in California where the gay community protested (and were bigots towards) blacks, Mormons and Catholics after Pro 8 lost, my friends on Facebook are already calling this the saddest day in the history of the world and lashing out. It is as if their dogs died & Sept 11th happened, and a combination of N@zi-Islamo terrorists did it. I'm a little bummed out, but as I typed last night, I was much more depressed by Mainers voting down TABOR & approving a $70 mil bond issuance. It is not wise to mock and 'yell' at the voters you hope to switch to your side. It is wrong to call them all morons and bigots. People hear names like that and don't switch to voting on your side. What if they just don't agree with your side? What if they feel the domestic partnership laws do offer the same legal protection as marriage for hetero couples and no further law is required to grant gays even more clear cut equality. The single best ad of that campaign was supporting a yes vote and showed how gay couples under Maine DP law get the same protection under state law as a married straight couple. It made some people I know go "If they get the same treatment, then what is this all about then?" Legit question.

Along those lines, I also severely dislike the asshats who compare this struggle for gays to have the right to divorce on par with MLK & the civil rights struggle or Gandhi's work for India's autonomy. Let's slow down a bit. Gandhi knew the British Empire because he had worked in its admin (in South Africa), knew what he was up against (a dying empire), and took huge risks in the face of a reluctant foe for his people to have self government. MLK faced down dogs, fire hoses, the KKK, and a legal system in the South set against him. Maine's 'No on Question 1' supporters had better fundraising, spent more money, could call the other side bigots at will, had the press on their side, were in a BLUE state that several questions down passed things in a normal liberal voter manner, and still could not win. Maybe they have to change their tactics. Maybe they should try the civil union route. Maybe they didn't think that voters might be voting in protest of the legislature imposing something on them. Maine voters are funny, and oftentimes will vote to repeal a law from the state house only to pass it through referendum later. This happened with adding sexual orientation to the affirmative action language.

It's probably just being a man, but a wedding day is a public recognition of how you feel. This used to be a community and church thing before the government stuck their nose into marriage with the miscegenation rules of the Old South. That is the origin of marriage licenses. Suddenly, the government is involved and then laws come into play. Then the govt has another piece of candy or a stick to use against or for groups. With how many couples nowadays get married by justices of the peace in semi-pagan ceremonies (myself included), does it truly matter to have the government give you the thumbs up when the state already has domestic partnership laws that would grant the same rights as a married couple? I didn't gain anything from the govt giving the OK to my marriage besides a right to not testify in court against my spouse and then the other rights (orderly divorce & estate splitting). I keep bringing this up because there is no gift bag of benefits from being married except for when you leave that marriage. An orderly division of assets is a HUGE boon. My wife & I the minute before and then the minute after our ceremony saw no change in our life. It was a confirmation of how we felt then, and I wish more people looked at it that way. It would probably spare many more of us from $30,000 wedding pageants.

In conclusion, to my gay peoples out there: it is not the end of the world, wait for the next referendum, work harder, plan better, campaign better, and know that the sun will still come up tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Good Night for Voting

I'm a political junkie, so I love all election nights. Very happy to see Christie beat Corzine in NJ. I don't want to count the chickens before they hatch, but the AP and NBC are even calling it for Christie. Even spending 3x the money his competition had could not win Corzine another election. Corzine has spent $125 mil on 3 elections since 2000. He is a Goldman Sachs man, and only ran for office for personal glory. I am glad he is gone.

Virginia went very heavily for the GOP candidate McDonnell. It's not the victory that matters as much as the margin. It's a 17% beatdown, in a state Prez O carried 12 months ago. McDonnell was smart to focus on himself, his abilities, what he wants to do, and avoid mentioning the R word (republican). Let's hope the GOP runs more small government candidates and not more of the horrible assholes they have run in recent years. No horse in this race, but this has to make the moderate Dems think twice on voting for government run health care. The purple states are calling, and they will want your heads.

While those two races boil down to local concerns, it doesnt look good for Prez O to personally campaign for these two candidates and see them both lose. It's like the Olympic bid crap: smaller potatoes and another small loss. The magic is gone.

Anyone confused that Bloomberg won by only 4% after he spent over $110 mil? I am. Even if voter fatigue of Bloomberg has set in as he enters his 3rd term, he's got the cash and has not screwed up royally like Corzine (budget f-ups) or 2 term mayor of Indianapolis Peterson (property tax fiasco). I'm surprised by this.

Maine. Oh, how I don't believe that state at times and weep for it. I was just there and I love my home state, but they continuously shoot themselves in the foot. On Facebook, I would think question 1 is the only question voted on tonight. Surprisingly, the world does not revolve around homosexuals wanting the right to get divorced. I'm more interested in Maine voting down the taxpayer bill of rights, which would limit govt spending and maybe save some Mainers from having the highest tax burden in the nation. It is so bad that WMTW is already calling it defeated. Don't you worry, Mainers will bitch about taxes ASAP and collectively have amnesia over the chance they had to change things. Thanks SEIU attack ads.

Here is Mainer shoot your own foot voting....

TABOR is slowing down those big spenders in the state house and maybe pulling back on public union ee benefits and salaries... Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes? This was voted down. The SEIU did their job into scaring people about bad roads.

2 Fricking Questions later, the voters are voting for this.... Do you favor a $71,250,000 bond issue for improvements to highways and bridges, airports, public transit facilities, ferry and port facilities, including port and harbor structures, as well as funds for the LifeFlight Foundation that will make the State eligible for over $148,000,000 in federal and other matching funds? This looks like it will pass. The 71.250 million will need to be paid back someday through taxes. It is impossible to reduce the Maine tax system when you pass referendums that issue bonds.

It is comical the doublethink that voters can pull off. The money is going to run out, it's just a matter of time. Wake up Maine.

The Wire: Tv Show, Modern Art, Class at Harvard?

For 50,000 dollars a year, you can send your kid to Harvard University. If your child takes 8 classes a year, that is $6250 per class. The Wire DVD box set costs $125. Harvard wants to burn your money. They now offer a class on The Wire. This class is set up by William Julius Wilson, renowned social scientist. This is to understand the plight of the urban life and the troubles that beset those folks. This will be at Harvard University's beautiful campus with leafy trees and pretty squares.

If William J. Wilson wanted students to understand the plight of urban folks and the troubles they face, he could send them a whopping 1 mile down Mass Ave and have them walk a block or two off that busy st and start asking questions. Professor Wilson once had balls and was not so lazy as in 1989 he sent a PhD student into the ghetto of Chicago to interview poor youths. This journey eventually lead to amazing discoveries of crack cocaine dealing gangs, their economics and odd ties to their negihborhood by Mr. Sudhir Venkatesh. No, that would be too real. Let's sit back and watch a fricking tv show, which is a former cop beat writer's take on urban life. Yeah, that is wicked real.

Harvard is not alone. Duke and Middlebury offer classes on The Wire. Not in the art or film departments, but in the sociology departments. This is what passes for college education now. Six thousand dollars for a class that you could experience by watching a $125 box set with roommates and talking about each episode over some beers. Here's what the syllabus will be: watch episodes, write a 500 word essay on story arc or some facet of the show, have section discussions, then a midterm paper, repeat previous cycle for 6 more weeks, then write a final paper. Hear that sound: that's John Harvard spinning at lightspeed in his grave.

Gold

Who says no vehicle for investment and savings has not earned a killer 12 month return? Gold is up nearly 50%.

Reasons
1. Lack of faith in all fiat currencies.
2. Primary reserve currency, the US dollar, is called into question.
3. People are nervous and know that gold can always buy something.
4. No trust that government spending will slow down, which debases the currency.
5. More avenues of access like the Gold-Silver ETFs available.
6. Foreign Central Banks purchasing gold en masse (India bought 200 tonnes from the IMF).
7. People have just been burnt by stocks for the 2nd time in 10 years and need an outlet.
8. Banks have not been fixed in any meaningful way. Think about it: there was a stress test that checked them out and gave them the 'all clear'. No fixing or breaking up. When you don't trust the health of giant banks, you're going to stuff dollars under the bed. When you don't trust dollars, you'll turn to gold.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Back to the Days of "Mad Men"

This is what I see whenever I do my mental x-ray vision on the legs of women in "Mad Men". I know they don't wear them, but don't tell the 13 year old inside my head. I thought adulthood would be filled with ladies in stockings and garter belts. Boy, was I delusional.



I browsed through this website. As e-tailers go, I wonder if it is geared towards men and nontraditional women or if it's that old marketing attack of "show sexy women in something to get other women to buy the item". One day these will come back in style, and when it happens, I will probably be too old to enjoy it.

The Aforementioned First Playboy

Yes, this is still in my possession. Yes, this is the same Playboy as the one Culkin reads in "Home Alone". Yes, the boobs were real. If you notice at the bottom, there is a note on an interview of Afgan-Soviet war vets talking to a Vietnam Vet. I still remember bits of this interview.


Book Review - The Brethren

Despite the lack of trust American have in many institutions, they still trust the Supreme Court. There's an air of mystery, dignity and formality to the SC. It might also be those black robes that give the Justices a leg up on the dimwits we call Congressmen. As one of the 3 branches of the American government, it is widely known of but not as much is known about the inner workings. We know presidents nominate them, and sometimes the Senate shoots nominees down, but prior to Bork's failed nomination (and the hyperpoliticization of Bush's potential nominees) usually the Senate rubber stamped the prez's nominees. Think about the SC's decision in 2000 for our POTUS election. We knew it was in their hands, but did we really know everything there was to know about the men and women handling that decision? If you want to read a book that stands as a view behind the curtain, read The Brethren.

The Brethren is by Bob Woodward and covers the SC between 69-75. Huge decisions like school busing, abortion, Watergate, and obscenity (porn) were handled in that period. The personalities come out, and Thurgood Marshall stops being that obese, black justice with the serious look to a thoughtful, intelligent and funny man. Future Chief Justice Rehnquist comes across as very intelligent and likeable. Despite being much more conservative than Mr. Woodward, he is so qualified for the court and so polished, especially compared to Burger and Blackmun, that Woodward doesn't demonize him. Woodward makes a great and illuminating remark that Rehnquist was a believer in giving the states more power in our unqieu federal system, but many major decisions had been settled in the previous century. It was like Rehnquist could not fight the battles he wanted to, and settled for the modern SC. Brennan is a brilliant and sharp liberal mind. He also has a tough edge about him. For all the liberals who dislike current Justice Scalia, reading Brennan made me view him as a liberal Scalia and the libs just have to admit that the Saclia-Brennan type is a type you love to have on your side and love to hate on the other.

Even if it was not academic, I loved reading how the personality clashes came into play. It made them human. I loved the parts where clerks would watch porno and scream out "I know it when I see it" in reference to a remark by Justice Stewart in a previous obscenity trial. How weird would the Internet be if the obscenity trials had gone the other way? Would we actually accomplish things on the Net? Reading tidbits how the Justices might not respect one another breathed an air of "our office is just like your office" into the SC. There is a human element that comes through even with their decisions. Blackmun's attention to detail on the abortion opinion, and how he kept trying to figure out when life was sustainable on its own, was very engaging. It is a slippery slope that some justices wanted to avoid, showing a bit of Nostradamus with the future of medical technology.

The book is split into years. If you know your judicial history, you can quickly go to a year that has a decision you want to read about. If I were a high school-college history, government, etc. teacher, I would probably assign the section that pertains to a decision as part of reading about that event in judicial-government history. This is not light reading, but this is engaging enough to keep the attention of teenagers and young adults to learn about how our system of laws plays out. It is a great read for anyone who is a lover of history and the Constitution that our soldiers and sailors take an oath to defend.

******I could teach a class now at the college since they are offering classes at Harvard on "The Wire" (I'll blog on this later).

Paid to Kiss

There is a direct ratio between how pretty a female in a porn scene is and how many times the male or males in the same scene kiss her while performing.

Snow Fort


Now that is a snow fort!I'm about 4 feet tall at that age, so with boots on and the fort being a bit taller than me, it's 5 feet in height. As a testament to Maine winters, it lasted quite a while. I can't stand winter as a season or snow, but this is one of my best memories concerning any winter.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Presidential Diaries

I finished the Reagan Diaries. It was extremely interesting and entertaining to read about the day to day in the life of the POTUS. I really hope Clinton & W kept daily diaries during their 8 years, as they would be great to read & mine for info after their deaths. Even though the daily entries are light and more of a recap of the day, you can see an evolution in, for example, Reagan's attitudes with negotiating and handling the Soviets.



Observations

5. He was serious about confronting the Soviets and ending Communism. He was very conscious of making the bad guys worried or scared.

4. He felt awful that the media forever made him out to be horrible towards minorities, especially blacks. It truly seemed to bother him.

3. The daily threats, concerns, attacks, skirmishes brought to a POTUS' attention are relentless and nonstop.

2. Alexander Haig was a first class jerk. If you read this diary, you will understand why he did the whole "I'm in charge" stunt when Reagan was shot, despite the fact that VP Bush was still alive and well.

1. He deeply loved his wife. It comes across loud and clear.

Remember the Fall of Communism?

The overthrow of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 was a tremendous event. It was a long build up of underground organization by the people, firm confrontation from a strong West (lead by Thatcher & Reagan), and a lack of hard currency money & consumer goods production by the Soviet regime to support its dependents. I find it comical 20 years later when academics and lefties talk of the battle with Commies like everyone wanted to see freedom spread. One cannot just show clips of people standing on the Berlin Wall and say it happened overnight.

Communism's fall was set into motion by Russian paranoia of foreign invaders. The Russians had been invaded by Bonaparte, the Kaiser, and Hitler. Not to mention some battles in the USSR's infancy when Western nations tried to overthrow those Soviet bastards who stole power. As WW2 was raging, the allies had loose talks of how Europe would be handled after the war. Stalin was extremely eager to restore the territory of the old Russian Empire as well as create buffer Slav states. There is that connection of ethnicity and Cyrillic based language. Stalin was paranoid of another invasion, and not as much of the ideologue looking to spread Communism like others in the party. With client states to the west, the Russkis could have a 100-250 mile warning before an invader entered the Motherland. The problem was that in the devastation created by WW2, these countries would need to be supported by the country with which they were aligned.


After WW2, the US used the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe and help create friendly democracies. The Soviets didn't have a plan. If you read books of post-WW2 Russian life, it's horrible the recovery of the common folks as Stalin & his cronies stayed up all night eating, drinking and watching movies. Like so many other events in history, the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc also has its roots in economics. With a state controlled economy, they did not have the free enterprise or innovative spirit to both serve military and consumer desires. Waiting lists for cars and washing machines were years long yet new tanks & planes were quickly built for an invasion that would never come. As I typed in a previous entry, the Soviet's oil wealth fluctuated and created a roving bear or a hermit bear. Oil was how they earned hard Western currency. That was how they funded the spread of Communism elsewhere. That was how they kept Eastern Europe in line. It should not come as a surprise that as oil prices collapsed in the 80s, Russia ran into problems. There was a connundrum that even Reagan wrote of in his diary while in office: why give loans and aid to the Soviets to prolong a system that oppresses people? The West Germans did this with East Germany in 1983 with a multibillion mark loan. Some argue that this delayed the fall of East Germany and reunification. Even in a Commie nation, if you can't pay people or keep the lights on, you're going to have civil unrest.

It would be foolish to overlook the efforts of individuals in the struggle. Lech Walesa was a figure of renown who started strikes in Poland in the early '80s, which eventually lead to Communism's downfall in 1989. The underground work of the Solidarity movement also allowed for a force to be present as the Commies dissolved preventing a power vacuum, which can sometimes be worse than oppressive Commie thugs at the helm. Organized Christianity is often criticized by people for the horrible acts committed in its name (stuff hundreds of years ago, and God forbid any celeb cry out about modern terror in Islam's name). In Poland, tremendous support was given to the Solidarity movement by Pope JP2, himself a Polish citizen, which acted as a benign foreign power where the US could not directly interfere. Vaclav Havel is another name, in the Czech Republic, who spoke out on the international stage as well as his home country against the Commies. Each opposition party and overthrow starts with one voice, and he was an early and loud voice. He continues the struggle for basic human rights for all. Havel is the type of person the world could use as Secretary-General of the UN, but he is too pro-Western Democracy to be elected. These were front line soldiers in the fight for human rights, and they deserve worldwide respect.

Lastly in the ideology battle, Thatcher and Reagan took a hard stance confronting the Soviets. Part of this approach was appealing to the Russian respect for force & strength. Project an image of power to get them to respect our stance of standing on the side of freedom, human rights and individual choice. Reagan fought Communist ambitions in South America & Africa (sometimes in a dirty fashion). No more detente with the Soviets (I will give Nixon credit for detente & the manipulation of the schism between the USSR and China). Confront them, harass them, and expose their policies for the oppression & terror that they were. Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech was a challenge that if their system truly was better, the Commies did not need a wall to keep their citizens in. Reagan pushed Gorbachev in all of their discussions to allow greater freedoms for the Russian people as simple as freedom of religion or an independent press. It should not surprise anyone that the Nobel committe gave Gorbachev a Peace Prize in 1990 for his efforts between 1985-90 and jack squat to Reagan, as if there was not another side to every nuclear arms treaty Gorbachev signed or the ideological battle he waged in the Communist Bloc nations. Nope, Gorbachev did it all by himself without any prodding.

Twenty years later, the world can look at the Soviet system of Communism as an aberration in human history as an economic system. Truly evaluating it for what it was, we can see it as totalitarianism masking as the collective will of the people. Communism was an excuse for Stalin to run the country as the Tsars had done so before him. After his death, the power was a bit more like an oligopoly. Still horrendously oppressive, but not tied to one man's whims as much as under Stalin. It was more about maintaining the elite in power at the expense of individual achievement and freedom. It is unfortunate that Stalin's paranoia, as well as Kruschev and Brezhnev continuing his terrible policies**, kept Eastern Europe and to an extent the World hostage to such a horrible system. Now we can look back and be thankful for an end to such a horrible system.




** Kruschev's rival for power after Stalin's death was Beria. Beria was a torturing, sadistic animal. The worst story I recall reading about him was telling a beautiful young woman he'd free her family members in the Gulag if she had sex with him. She meets him, he rapes her and then afterwards says (paraphrased) "i forgot, they died about a year ago in the camps". Despite being a horrible human being, he had ideas of individual property rights, openness, reunification of Germany and other moves which would have to wait for 30+ years. Beria saw those moves as the only way the Russkis could compete. He was an outlier. He ended up dead.