Tuesday, August 28, 2007

metal bat ban in NYC

the metal bat ban by the NYC council has been upheld by a NY court. The council passed the ban over Mayor Blumsberg's veto. The reason metal bats are used by non pro teams is because they are lighter and make the ball go farther and faster. There have been serious injuries to pitchers because of this. MLB pitchers know that when pitching to someone with a metal bat the ball comes back much quicker - MLB pitchers think metal bats are dangerous. The judge said although there is a lack of empirical evidence, the will of the council to protect the safety of children cannot be overthrown by a court. There IS empirical evidence - only the bat manufacturers want people to believe that there is not. A lot of money is at stake. Once NYC bans metal bats, other cities and states will. Ari Fleischer (Bush former Press Secretary) is the lobbyist for the metal bat industry - kind of like Nick Nailer is the spokesperson for Big Tobacco in the movie Thank you for smoking

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

close call

What a movie! About a korean sixteen year old girl who rebels against her mom and her absent dad. She gets caught up in drugs and the whole underworld scene of dealing and addicts. Her dad returns from Korea to rescue her, only to find her mom has told her all sorts of crazy stuff about him. Beautiful Annie Lee stars in the film - what an actor! Amazing performance, very very intense. I enjoyed the ending - for a while thought it would be very tragic. I like films with hopeful endings.

Karl Rove: Dr. Evil

the biography of Karl Rove is truly bizarre. Abandoned by her husband, and Karl's father, his mom remarried and step dad became the real dad. Until he revealed he was gay, when karl was a young man. After his now "step dad" left his mom, he finds out that step dad was not his biological dad. Then his mom kills herself in las vegas. young Karl goes in and out of college, keeping his student deferrment from the draft even though he flunked out dropped out several times. He was finally declared I - A, draftable, but by then Vietnam was over and the draft ended. He ran for President of the College Republicans, campaigning (yes, you campaign for that) for 5 months, living out of his car. the election was a deadlock, delegates were challenged, eventually he appealed to the Republican national Committee and Richard Nixon to decide. He campaigned for Nixon in 1972 - joked about going through garbage cans to get info on opponents. Was questioned by special prosecutor during watergate for dirty tricks. Emerged as campaign director in the 70's - invented push pull surveys during campaign against Ann Richards in Texas - telephone calls surveyed the public, focused on Ann Richards' supporters (filter questions) and asked, "Would you be more supportive or less supportive of Ann Richards if you knew she appointed Lesbians in key positions?" So, if she appoints lesbians, then she must know lesbians, and how would she know them? She is a lesbian herself! Brilliant Karl. In 2000 presidential primary came up with the push pull poll question: "would you be more supportive or less supportive of John McCain if you knew he fathered an illegitimate black child?" Fact: john and cindy mccain adopted an Indian child, who was illegitimate, John is now the father, the child is "black" so I guess you could say (if you were evil) that john maccain is fathering an illegitimate black child. Again, brilliant Karl! he was also behind the swift boating of john kerry, and the outing of Valerie Plame (CIA agent married to Joseph Wilson, the guy who blew the whistle on the phoney radioactive material Saddam was supposedly buying from Africa) and let his buddy scooter libby go to jail for it. He also sued Richard Thornbough after Rove blew the race for Senate in PA to Wofford, and won - he said richard owed him money. Most of his money comes from Bush campaigns - and from working for the tobacco and oil lobbies. He represents the ruthlessness of campaigning - win by smear, win by making phoney issues (god, guns, gays) or win by making the election a moral battle (the elite Kerry against the average texas rancher modest and humble george bush). he is gone from the Bush administration - but not forgotten. he still is involved in politics. At least they didn't give him the going away party they gave Rumsfeld...

Monday, August 20, 2007

You need permission to be reincarnated in Tibet!

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

Isn't it incredible to be so fearful of one religious man? I am convinced if Dalai Lama was allowed back to Tibet, and could travel freely in China, Buddhism would sweep across China in a religious revival. That is how spritually empty china is - I wonder to what extent Maoism was more anti western ultra nationalism than real communism.

Mon Meilleur ami

Catherine (Julie Gayet) and François (Daniel Auteuil - who also starred in Apres Vous - see blog below) are partners in a Paris antique business. He has just paid so much at auction for a large Greek vase--itself a symbol of a friend's loyalty--that he's put the firm at risk. Catherine, who accuses François of having no friends, makes him accept a bet. Within ten days he must either come up with a "best friend" or forfeit the vase. François's self esteem now being as much at risk as the firm's finances, he bends to the task.

In the course of telling its story this film glances at some searching questions about friendship. What IS a friend? How many TRUE friends does anyone have? But as a comedy—certainly a very dry one—it ends by being neither revelatory nor funny. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like a comedy, and director Patrice Lecante and his writers may not have quite made up their minds what they were doing in the first place.

Certainly the raw material of comedy is here. All François' bustling efforts to dredge up any real chums, let alone a "best friend," are ludicrous failures. He has a daughter, Louise (Julie Durand), and business associates: no friends there. A high school classmate he thinks was a pal despises him. Everyone says he's an odious fellow, a "con"—an asshole. Along the way François meets a companionable and chatty taxi driver named Bruno (Dany Boon) who takes him around, keeps him company, and gives him tips. Bruno comes up with a "three-S" rule for "friend"-making: be Sociable, Smiling and Sincere. The trouble is that for all his chattiness—he's a wannabe quiz show contestant who compulsively feeds factoids to his fares—Bruno is a misfit with no friends himself. His sociability and smile don't mean he knows how to relate to people: the trivia recitations get in the way of that. As for François, he's clearly a person too wrapped up in himself ever to have connected with others. He goes to a lecture by the author of a self-help book on friendship, but the homely myopic man who befriends him afterward, he quickly abandons.

the great thing about this movie was the theater manager who waited at the door as we left and wished us a good night and farewell in french (Bonne nuit and au revoir). Very funny movie even with the subtitles I could get the humor. One line was about Elvis Presley's last words: "I think I will read on the toilet." Bruno is an expert at facts, he knows many things from quiz shows, but he is always throwing out facts that no one wants to know. So he is on this quiz show and panics and asks the host: do you know what Elvis Presley's last words were? Very funny - unexpected.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Video clip library

Some great video clips from movies, including Deerhunter, Do the Right Thing, and Dr. Strangelove, RealPlayer works best. Click to download, then open.

Here is the Dick Cheney Quagmire

Here is Cheney in 1994 explaining why we did not invade Iraq in the first gulf war. What an idiot...How was 2003 different than 1994? JC Watts was on news last night explaining how 911 changed everything, and that 2003 was different than 1994. So....Iraq was involved with 911? Bush has admitted that Iraq did not attack the us on 911 (he said that in the debates) so why keep parading 911 out when anyone questions why we invaded Iraq?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Farfour, the Hamas mickey mouse

Hamas television network in Gaza broadcast what it said was the last episode of a weekly children's show featuring "Farfour," a Mickey Mouse look-alike who had made worldwide headlines for preaching Islamic domination and armed struggle to youngsters.

In the final skit, (and this is the best part) Farfour was beaten to death by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, Farfour called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al-Aksa TV.

There was a recent interview with Sara, the teen presenter, she said she wants to either become a doctor, or a martyr. She says she is prepared to die in order to kill "jewish terrorists."

At the Holocaust museum in DC (some blogs below) part of the exhibition is to expose propaganda, and how Nazi Germany preached hatred to school children. This is no different. I know the people in Gaza are living under brutal conditions, and I know they blame Israel, but teaching children hatred is just not right regardless of the circumstances.

Vikings in Ireland

These guys sailed 1000 mile in an open boat to recreate Vikings invading Ireland.

A reconstructed Viking ship pulled into Dublin on Tuesday nearly 1,000 years after the original sank off Denmark's coast, with its crew retracing the gruelling voyages made by marauding Nordic raiders to Ireland.

The Sea Stallion's weather-beaten, 65-member team set sail from Roskilde in Denmark on July 1 using oar and sail power, journeying over 1,000 nautical miles and aiming to address unanswered questions about Viking ship-building and travel.

Church bells rang out and a flotilla of sailing boats greeted the ship's entry into Dublin's port on Tuesday.

And the, the Viking seamen leaped on shore, to kill, rapine, and pillage at will....

My obsession with Big Joe and the Phantom 309

Below (two blogs below) are some links to Tom Waits. I was thinking why I am so blown away by his performance on Big Joe and the Phantom 309 - it was an old Red Sovine song, a country western songwriter who specialized in writing "stories" songs. He wrote Teddy Bear, a song about a diabled child's relationship with a trucker over the CB (citizens band radio - you used to need a license to operate one) radio, Little Joe a song about a blind truckdriver and his dog, and If Jesus Came to Your House a song about what you would do if Jesus came to live with you (hide magazines, say grace at every meal...), and the famous Bringing Mary Home So his songs are really hokey, appealing to the classic country western crowd (he even recorded a record of him reciting the Pledge of Allegiance). Anyway, I think its Tom Waits interpretation that makes Big Joe and the Phantom 309 so good - his scratchy voice makes you believe he is down on his luck, hitching a ride home. The song establishes at the beginning that the narrator is down on his luck, trying to make a buck, he failed, and now he is returning home, a failure, hitching rides. But Big Joe doesn't judge the hitch hiker - shakes his hand, throws him a dime for some coffee, "I have to make a turn up ahead..." Big Joe is a decent guy, who would sacrifice his life for you if he had to. No matter how down on your luck you may be, there is always a Big Joe to give you a hand, throw you a dime. And Big Joe isn't rich or famous, he is a truck driver, driving a 10 speed Mack truck (not the cadillac of trucks - the Peterbilts) known for their slow speed (only 10 gears, the Peterbilts and Kenworths have 18 speeds). But I guess its Tom Waits that makes the song come alive.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Just saw La Mome, or La Vie en Rose

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tom Waits performs on Fernwood tonight (and Letterman show)

Here is Tom Waits on Letterman show, great performance. But here is Tom Waits on the classic TV show "Fernwood Tonight." Here are the words to Tom Waits' "Big Joe and the Phantom 309" (which is a Red Sovine song.)

Fernwood Tonight was a TV show in the 70's starring Martin Mull (called Barth Gimble) and Fred Willard - set in Fernwood, Ohio, it was a "cable" show that mocked the tonight show. It was based on Martin Mull's comedy show Martin Mull and his Furniture. Absolutely so funny - great show. They had ridiculous guests, like the guy in the iron lung who could play the piano upside down, Tom Waits (see above). The music was supplied by Happy Kine and his Mirthmakers, complete with accordian and plaid suit. Very funny. More fernwood hereand here and more here and finally here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Apres Vous revisited

Here is the animated intro to the film Apres Vous Click the homepage and you can see other animated shorts. great site.

Virgin Air comes to america!

Finally, an airline that is customer friendly! Join Virgin America here. Their LA to NYC route is attractive - the only way to fly coast to coast. the other airlines suck.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here it is: the meaning of life......

Commie disguise kit

I bought two commie disguise kits while in Dallas. I haven't figured out what to do with them yet, but they would be great prizes for some kinda political science dept competition. they will come in handy.

Nagasaki anniversary

Its been 62 years since the bombing of Nagasaki. There are still textbooks written stating that Truman was right to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it saved American lives, that it prevented an invasion of Japan. None of that is true. The Japanese were trying to surrender for several months. Their Island nation could not defend itself from B29 bombing raids. In discussing the incendiary raids that killed hundred of thousands of Japanese civilians, General LeMay stated that if the US ever lost the war, he would be tried as a war criminal. The greatest irony of WWII is that once the war ended, we liked the Japanese and Germans more than any of our allies: more than we liked the British, French or Russians. The great Irony is that our war with Japan was characterized by racism ("Japs") while our war with Germany was not - the propaganda against the japanese was fierce - the slant eyed, inscrutable asians, who don't fight fair, and so forth. And once the Japanese surrendered, the propaganda ended and we started a close alliance with Japan against the commies in Korea and China (and USSR). Japan became an important base in the China Sea in our fight against world communist menace.

Nancy Grace and suicide

Here's a story about Nancy Grace grilling someone on her show, and the person then kills herself. Sometimes Nancy Grace is on the TV at the fitness center, and I have to see her image - I turn away, ignore her, but her image is so compelling (like trying not to look at Satan if her appeared in front of you) that I end up feeling suicidal myself. She is a lawyer and former prosecutor (for a short time) who turned to broadcast "journalism" after the murder of her finance (which was tragic but she really distorts the facts surrounding that). She interviews "guests" (victims) in a way never allowed in court - she presumes everyone is guilty until they prove they are innocent to her. Why anyone would appear on her show is beyond me. Here is the story:

Lawyers for CNN and Nancy Grace have asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses the TV host of pushing the mother of a missing toddler to suicide through aggressive questioning. CNN and Grace say the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Melinda Duckett's family would "severely chill" journalists' coverage of missing-persons cases, according to federal court documents filed Friday.
"The law does not permit people to recover money from reporters who ask routine questions while covering ongoing stories of national significance to the public," lawyer Judith Mercier wrote. Kara Skorupa, a lawyer for Duckett's estate, said a response would be filed by next week. Duckett, 21, was on Grace's show a year ago after her son Trenton went missing from her apartment. Grace grilled the woman, accusing her of hiding something because Duckett did not take a lie-detector test and answered vaguely regarding her whereabouts. Police later named Duckett the prime suspect in the boy's disappearance. Duckett shot and killed herself the day the taped interview was scheduled to broadcast. The lawsuit blames Grace for severe emotional distress that led to the suicide. Trenton, who would turn 3 on Friday, has not been found.

Venus: the movie

Peter O'Toole is absolutely great in this film. Its about an old actor, Maurice, who falls in love with a unhappy young girl, Jessie, who is convinced she is worthless and unattractive. He sees her beauty, and also understands that she has been wounded by life. She tells him that her mother told her that her birth "ruined her life." Later Maurice tells her the most beautiful thing a man will ever see is a naked woman, and she asks, what is the most beautiful thing a woman sees? He answers, her first born child. She cries. Later Maurice finds out she was pregnant but mommy dearest made her get an abortion. Maurice takes Jessie to a museum, and they see a picture of Venus, nude. He starts calling her Venus. When she tells him of her unhappy childhood, he recites Shakespeare to her: shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Of course the end is near, but Jessie manages to provide Maurice with a happy death. O'Toole is absolutely brilliant: the scene where he is standing on a bucket trying to view Jessie who is posing nude for an art class, and the door opens with him hanging on it, he falls down upturning easels - physical comedy, well done, and at his age of 74! I can't believe he never received an Oscar - some acting polls rank his performance in Lawrence of Arabia as the best film performance ever.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Toilet seat on airplane!

I just got back from flying to Dallas. On the way there I was seated all the way in the back, across from the toilet. I was in the window seat, and a grad student from Pitt was sitting in the aisle seat. She joked about sitting next to the toilet, and I told her about the infamous "Seat 29A" internet letter from a man trapped next to the toilet on an airplane. She laughed, said her friend emailed her the letter, then called her friend and told him she is sitting next to the toilet, and she laughed and laughed. I volunteered to change seats with her, but she said it was ok (short flight to cincinatti). Then in Dallas I watched a woman lose it completely - a baggage handler walked out of a door she had opened for herself, and she started yelling at him, then threw two punches at him knocking off his hat. "I am NOT your DOOR OPENER!" she screamed. She obviously was a very important person who was not going to tolerate a minority race baggage handler to walk through a door she had opened. Good Grief. She probably IS important, some big corporate job, and treats everyone below her like shite.

My newer car

The mitsubishi diamante has been traded in...I now drive a 2003 toyota corolla. I found the car on the internet, in Fairfax VA, sold by an internet dealer Car Spectrum. They don't have a car lot; instead, they operate out of an office, and I had to make an appt to see the car (they drove it from their warehouse to the office space). I also got financing on the internet (they don't deal with banks, rather E- Loan). I combined a business trip to DC with the trade in. I wanted a 5 speed which is hard to find, and the optional power package (includes cruise). I am getting 37 mpg with the 5 speed. I am trying for 40 plus - I think its possible with the correct shifting. Its nice to once again have air conditioning, a working radio, a CD player that ejects without me holding onto the front cover, and no burglar alarm going off in the middle of the night.

"Crucifixion is ttttttoo gggggood for him..."

Great quote from film The Life of Brian. Anyway here is a story about a christian theme park in florida - jesus gets crucified six days a week. Same actor? What a gig. His parents probably sent him to Julliard in NYC, he tried Broadway, waited tables, no big break. Then he gets a phone call from his agent...a gig in florida...steady work...
Jesus Christ is crucified and resurrected here six days a week. Snarling Roman soldiers whip and drag him, and somber audience members watch. Some quietly weep at a pageant bloody and cruel. It is the grand finale at the Holy Land Experience, and not the attraction most tourists envision in an Orlando vacation.It is often referred to as a “Christian theme park,” but the park offers lectures, not rides, making it feel more like a trip to church. Its officers prefer to call it a “living Biblical museum” and until last month, the nonprofit operation was troubled. Management changed hands, its founder left and attendance was flat. But suddenly, a savior appeared. Trinity Broadcasting Network, a California-based Christian empire with 12,500 worldwide TV and cable affiliates, took over Holy Land and its estimated $8 million mortgage. Both are nonprofit organizations, so Trinity describes the deal as a “marriage” rather than a purchase, saying little money changed hands. Already, ticket sales are up 25 percent, owing to mentions on the new parent’s broadcasts, and an expansion is planned. It will include new shows, a general freshening and a new Trinity television studio, where movies and TV shows will be filmed and furnish even more publicity.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

US Holocaust Museum

the Holocaust museum is a must see in DC. It explores the reasons for the holocaust (racism, hate propagada), the early pogroms against jews in Germany, and the "final solution." No one can possibly deny the holocaust after visiting the museum. You need a ticket to see the permanent exhibit - that way children do not accidently get admitted. There is a childrens exhibit on the first floor, no ticket is needed. Very moving. I especially was touched by the exhibit of the shtetl of Eisiskes, a jewish village exterminated by the SS. A photo exhibit shows the villages residents, displayed on a three story wall. The village existed for 900 years, then then one afternoon everyone was killed, shot to death. This may have been the inspiration for Jonathon Safron Foer's book, Everything is Illuminated, and the village of Trachimbrod. I kept thinking about the movie while at the museum: everything must be illuminated, for us to understand ourselves. The holocaust must be illuminated, for the survivors and their families, and for all of humanity. It shows us who we are, what we are capable of. There was also a display on the Sudan, a place where human holocaust continues. (Jonathon Safron Foer has a new novel, Extremly Close and Incredibly Loud)

Restaurant: Cuba Libre Cafe, Dallas

Great restaurant - google and get address. the featured drink is the Mojito.A rum drink starting with crushed spearment leaves on bottom of glass, ice, lime, sugar, rum, and a little club soda (the less the better). The food was great too: I finally had a fish taco, made with grilled mahi mahi, and all sorts of great veggies in a soft taco. The black beans and rice also very good.