The Futility Hotline
Saturday, November 27, 2004
 
"Retired" Blogger Weds-Film at 11
If you've followed us for any amount of time, you'd know that our former lead blogger was ready to have himself married off. Well, last night was the big night. And yours truly had the honor of serving in the wedding party.

As weddings go, this one certainly aimed big. Big cathedral. Big limos. Big reception with band, speeches and (ahem) a really sweet video! But where many big weddings make the mistake of being all about the trappings of ceremony, this one never wavered from what it was supposed to be about. Like a blockbuster, special effects laden film with a great plot, this party dazzled on many levels. Style was backed up significantly by substance.

It's said that you can measure what a person is like by the company they keep. Of course I've always known what quality people Paul and Anne were, but on this night, 13 members of the bridal party, many of whom had never met each other before, really came together in an amazing way.

Wedding rehearsals tend to be worth very little. Not so much useless; they're a great excuse for a nice dinner and a chance to break the ice, But the term "rehearsal" would imply that significant preparation would be involved. It's probably more accurate to call it a "run-through," because there's no way to make everyone feel 100% comfortable with what their function is when you only go through it once less than 24 hours before carrying it out. So when it came to the actual day, with no one from the church to function as coordinator, we found ourselves fending for ourselves rather quickly.

99% of the time, this is a recipe for disaster. No organization, no cues, no structure. Smaller parties have collapsed under their own weight due to less. But not here and not now. In the face of this, a lot of people who didn't have much in common except for the fact that they were friends of the bride and groom bonded together and made everything happen.

Not everything went exactly right. The priest made the congregation stand for an eternity before we were ready. There was limo confusion. Too much time on our hands while simultaneously not being enough. And an attempt to meet Shaq would never materialize. But these are the things that make an event special and unique. Without them, things are too perfect, not worth talking about.

Yesterday was a moment in time when many paths came to a nexus for one brief day in the name of two people joining together. I had one of the best times of my life, and consider myself lucky to have been there. The optimist in me hopes that there will be another time when we will all get to see each other again, and continue what was started here. The realist, however, knows that I likely will never see some of them again. Their names and faces will become blurred through the mists of time.

Still, no matter where we go from here, we will always be joined by this event. The photographs will always show that we shared this wonderful moment in time. We were there, working it out, laughing, talking, dancing, drinking and even (gasp) singing together.

But all parties end and everyone goes back to their places across town, across the state, across the country, and across the world. Maybe it's best this way. The old adage in show business is to leave them wanting more. Maybe by going on our separate paths, looking back on it can make it better than it might have been had the paths stayed together. But with the start that we had, it deserves to have a chance to live on in more than just memories.

So here's to our former (future?) lead blogger and his new wife. Two people whose lives not only have enriched each others', but also more people than they could ever know.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
So…Now What?
It’s taken me a bit to gather my thoughts about the election results. I easily could have written a book-length diatribe here immediately on November 3, but certainly those were prevalent throughout the blogosphere. But now that I have moved through the 12 steps and gotten mostly to “Acceptance,” I figured I could put together something a little more meaningful to write here, knowing that whatever views I wrote would be closer to my true nature rather than a knee jerk bitch session.

It turns out, my views haven’t changed a whole lot.

There were a number of reasons I can name for wanting John Kerry in office. I had hoped that we would have someone in office who would approach an issue more thoughtfully and who would hopefully temper this “with us/against us” attitude in this country. However, it would seem that there were more people that disagreed with me.

Frankly, it frightens me a bit to think that people have validated this “Speak loudly and swat with your big stick, especially if you don't subscribe to my belief or faith" attitude that Bush personifies. Bush knows it too, saying that he's "earned political capital. And I intend to spend it." To me, that's a very ominous statement.

Our country seems to relish in this “big bully” role we have in the world and, more alarmingly, against each other here at home. And still more crazy is that this validation has come in the guise of “moral values.” I don’t know how any sort of moral system can justify treating someone who thinks, acts and/or worships different from you with hostility.

So off we go for the next four years, or at least two depending on what we can do to make congressional and senatorial changes and reduce the influence that W might have. I just can’t help but think things are just going to get away from us even more. It’s amazing to think we live in times where Americans are seriously considering fleeing this country because they feel so helplessly out of tune with it.

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Friday, October 22, 2004
 
That's One Hell of a Family Reunion!
I would encourage all who see this webpage to do a little bit of digging to make sure they are who they say they are, but so far I don't see any reason to think otherwise.

Is this election year polarized or what? But then again, I know lots of people who don't like their cousins.
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Monday, October 18, 2004
 
How Does He Do It?
I just don't get it.

In a warped way, this is almost admirable. Here's the guy saying that voting against him will leave the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and yet he accuses John Kerry of using scare tactics? In fact, in this same article, while Bush is talking about the others scaring voters, the evil mastermind is playing up the World Trade Center attacks in the campaign press junkets.

How does he get away so easily with accusing others of doing the things he does so well? How does he get away with blatantly falsifying his opponent's stance to make his look better? How is it people can't see it? Are people really buying this?

Well, if so, then maybe the USA deserves to have a Karl Rove, er, George W. Bush in charge. And while we're at it, maybe we can work Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera and the American Idol judges into the cabinet.
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Monday, October 11, 2004
 
R.I.P. Kal-El
Christopher Reeve died this past weekend.

In some ways, one couldn't be blamed for thinking this would never happen. He had seemingly been so tireless in resuming his life after his accident, in working for finding a cure for paralysis, in pushing others to perform research and supporting the cause. And after all, he had been Superman.

But in the end, life can be cruel and nine years after the accident that not just changed his life, but the world, he finally proved to be mortal. Still, in those nine years, he achieved what many wouldn't achieve in a lifetime. He pushed the boundaries. He gave people in the most hopeless of situations a new hope. And he made things happen that may not have happened without his presence.

Christopher Reeve vowed that he would walk again. It didn't happen, but he did fly. More importantly, he helped other people to fly with the inspiration he gave to them.
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Sunday, October 10, 2004
 
Things Heating Up...Where The Hell Are We?
Yeah, I know...we're smack in the middle of debate season. There's a little over 3 weeks until the presidential electon. The "October Surprise" may have occurred with the latest report on Saddam's WMDs (or lack thereof). Bush says this. Kerry says that. FactCheck.ORG (not com, Mr. Vice President) keeps them in line. So where's all the new entries from us?

Gimme a break, eh? It's a lot to go over!

Or is it really? Although the two presidential debates have been different formats, Bush and Kerry, but mainly Bush, have repeated the same lines ad hoc. But while Kerry's repeated lines are done to deflect Bush's inaccurate attacks, Bush's repeats the same lines and attacks contained in his truth bending political commercials. If I hear him go off about "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" anymore, I'm going to have to pull an Elvis and blow up my TV screen.

Still, I do find the charges that Bush and company spin against Kerry to be disturbing. His campaign seems to think they've hit on a foolproof tactic: to use actual Kerry quotations against him. And it would be a great tactic too, if only they weren't taken so far out of context.

The Bush campaigners, and of course Bush himself seeing as he's George W. Bush and he approves these messages, seem to think that Americans will gladly take these things at face value. That when they see John Kerry say, "The winning of the war was brilliant," they won't know or bother to check that the whole quote was "I think they clearly have dropped the ball with respect to the first month in the after -- winning the war. That winning of the war was brilliant and superb, and we all applaud our troops for doing what they did, but you've got to have the capacity to provide law and order on the streets and to provide the fundamentally services, and I believe American troops will be safer and America will pay less money if we have a broader coalition involved in that, including the United Nations." That's a statement well within the boundaries of what Kerry claims his position has been all along.

Oddly and ironically enough, Dick Cheney gave Americans the key to seeing all these distortions by saying that going to factcheck.org will show how his relationship with Halliburton was misrepresented. But the funny thing is, the site will also reveal just how badly they also distorted John Kerry's statements.

Ultimately, there is one thing to consider. If these tactics of misrepresentation and exaggeration are the lengths George W. Bush will go to to achieve re-election, what do you think he might do, or might have done, to testimonies, reports and other documents to push forth an item on his presidential agenda?
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Monday, September 27, 2004
 
Rumors Of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Yeah, we did lose Paul for a bit. I'm very well aware of the demands on his life right now, and I completely understand his decision. But that doesn't quite mean we're done here. And hopefully, after the big events in his life come to fruition, we'll see our celebrated blog conscience return to the fold. In the meantime, we still have things to futilely bitch about and more interesting reading to call your attention to.

First off, the wonderfully talented Mitch Albom has written a column that sums up a subject that I have tried, and failed, to effectively put into words. That is why he is a famous and wealthy writer and I'm still in my day job writing blogs that no one knows about. Some nice excerpts to tease you with:

In recent issue of Time, I read several letters to the editor. One said, "I love that the president is stubborn enough to stick to his guns . . ."

The letter came from Texas, but it could have come from anywhere. In a world where everything is so fast, so complex, where you don't know who owns the company that owns your company, we cherish simplicity. We want it fast and understandable.

For this, the president has been well coached by his handlers. Say the same thing. Stick by your guns. A certain number will believe you. A certain number will think you're lying.

But an even bigger number will admire you for not changing your mind.

Folks, I don't care what your political persuasion, this is a dangerous quality for us to admire.


And here is a very important piece that should be required reading for anyone registered to vote. It is a very thoughtful dissertation whose writers have placed this in the NY Times. More excerpts to whet the appetite:

History shows decisively that, over the long haul, attacking terrorism increases terrorism. And indeed, that is what is happening right now across the world. As long as they feel aggrieved or attacked, there is nobility and importance in their cause, and their membership rolls increase. When they are no longer aggrieved or attacked, membership declines.
.
.
.

We should not preemptively attack. We were right to invade Afghanistan. Al Qaeda had viciously attacked us on 9/11, and a concentration of their financial support and training bases were in Afghanistan. We had asked the Taliban leaders of Afghanistan for assistance in pursuing al Qaeda, which they rebuffed. We were right to invade Afghanistan, but we have been wrong in abandoning Afghanistan and ceding the country back to the Taliban and the warlords. Lawlessness has returned, the Taliban are reestablished and Afghanistan is again the number one producer of opium in the world. It is the most prominent economic resource they know, and we have not been there to provide alternatives.

Iraq, on the other hand, never attacked us. In fact, we have now learned that our sanctions against Iraq had done their work in essentially eliminating Iraq’s capacity for weapons of mass destruction. By attacking Iraq, we increased the perception of our antagonism toward Muslim nations, and we increased poverty — both direct and powerful factors in inciting the terrorist actions we seek to end. And we damage our case for the morality of our cause. Again, we veer from our founding principles: Lincoln wrote “If, today, (anyone) should choose to say he thinks it’s necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us … you may say to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us.’ But he will say to you, ‘Be silent; I see it, (even) if you don’t.’” Generals Lee and Grant both struggled with their conscience regarding the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1847, which they both fought in but thought to be an egregious war and a stain on the honor of the U.S. The only war that a democratic society can ultimately conduct is a true war of self-defense, not a preemptive war under the guise of self-defense.


Yeah, we're back!
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Monday, September 20, 2004
 
A Public Service Announcement
Despite our best efforts, leukemia is still one of the many diseases that we've haven't yet completely conquered. However, there's always hope as everyday, researchers go after new ways of treating the disease. It all starts with bone marrow transplants, and it's fairly easy to get involved in the donor registry.

Two people that we know of have been affected by this disease. One is a person that my wife used to work with who has had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia since 1997. The other is the mother of someone who's a good friend of one of my friends. She's currently battling leukemia for the third time. Both have reached the point where their best options are to pursue a bone marrow transplant.

My friend's friend has set up a website, www.bmt4cathy.com to help raise more awareness of the need for bone marrow donors. So please take a look and see if you can help out in any way. Even something as simple as just getting the word out will be a huge help.
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Friday, August 27, 2004
 
Farewell (and I really mean it this time)
I know I've tried this before, but this time I can't do anything but finally go through with this.

I need to take an extended, and possibly permanent, hiatus from the blogging world.

I received proof earlier this week that my mind is being pulled in too many directions. And traipsing about the blogosphere, where you can get countless opinions on countless topics, is starting to take its toll on my professional and personal life, especially when you tend to get too wrapped up with the problems of the world (which I have tended to do since I can remember).

There may be a time where I will be able to balance the many demands on my attention span to the point where I can contribute more effectively, but that time is certainly not now. There's someone involved in my life now, and my first priority overall needs to be that of keeping our relationship secure and strong.

Thanks to Jon and Mark for letting me be part of the blog, and I hope that some of my entries and links have proven to be useful, entertaining, and otherwise worthwhile.

Remember to vote your conscience in November.

Let me close this with some words from Todd Rundgren:


Half of me wants to knock you out
Half of me wants to tell you that I’m sorry, so sorry
Meanwhile, half of the world wants to scream and
Shout at half of the world
Just like you and i
Just another fact of life
We plan and we scheme
’til there’s nothing left of our little dream
But half of the time I can’t decide and
Half of the time I’m petrified

I want to change the world
I want to make it well
How can I change the world
When I can’t change myself
Try again tomorrow
I’d love to change your mind
Capture your citadel
How could I change your mind
If I can’t change myself
Try again tomorrow

Both of us want to win this fight
Both of us think the other is mistaken, so mistaken
Meanwhile, everyone wants to take up sides
So everyone helps us to fall apart
Just another fact of life
It’s hard to play fair
And it’s so easy to pretend to care
But if nobody wants to share the blame
Then everyone gets more of the same

If I want more peace in the world
Then I must make peace with myself
If I want more trust in the world
Then I’ve got to trust in myself
If I want more love in the world
I must show more love to myself


Be good, y'all.
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Monday, August 16, 2004
 
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
(apologies to Dylan)

Jeebus, what a weekend. Was my last post really so deserving of such a comeuppance?

My travel group was never in any real danger -- our hotel in Orlando was obviously built to stand these types of things, as we didn't even so much as lose power. We did, however, have to delay our trip to Daytona Beach for a day, just to be sure we wouldn't be on the highway while the hurricane passed. By the time we had arrived there, Charley had already cut his swath of destruction. And boy, was the damage there considerable. Practically every single roadside sign was toppled, stripped, and/or otherwise demolished. A couple of souvenir shops with numerous windows had EVERY SINGLE one of these broken, with all the merchandise strewn about inside the store and out. Trees were uprooted and branches were lying everywhere.

The wedding did take place, only it was moved from the beach to the bride's employer's house (sans electricity). The reception took place at the bar as planned, even though it had lost electricity as well. The only light was supplied by a couple dozen candles, and the music was first provided by a battery-powered boombox, and later by two of the groom's bandmates, who performed for us with an acoustic guitar and a 3-piece drum kit.

Despite the challenges, it was a very touching experience, really. I enjoyed seeing all the guests coming through for this couple, who undoubtedly were dealing with all sorts of stress as they tried to salvage the day. Everyone was gamely putting up with the unpleasantness of being in a dark, hot, humid bar with no lights while policemen directed heavy traffic outside due to the nonfunctional streetlights. Well, they did a great job of it - I felt the whole day went off as well as could have been expected.

Man, I just love it when people do good.

My best wishes to the couple and all the Floridians trying to clean up in Charley's wake.
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Saturday, August 14, 2004
 
Olympic-Sized Thoughts
Well, here we are again at the start of another Olympic Games. I've always enjoyed the Olympics, with their pagentry and spectacle. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that during the games, there's always something on TV, especially if the games are in a European or Asian time zone. You can pretty much turn on the TV anytime and watch part of an Olympic event.

There's such a variety of events, particularly in the Summer Games. Swimming, diving, volleyball, basketball, track and field...the list goes on and on. And then there are some things that you have to wonder how they got considered for Olympic events. Just by virtue of them being "Olympic sports", I've actually found myself watching Table Tennis and Badminton. Granted, I won't for very long, but I usually hang around long enough to see if anyone gets hit by the ball. At this level, you really could legitimately have a Ping Pong injury.

Speaking of "Things I Can't Believe They Have in the Olympics," whoever came up with the idea for making Women's Beach Volleyball an Olympic sport: thank you very, very much! Let's face it-female athletes in amazing physical shape, running around in very tight, very skimpy two piece outfits, hugging after each point? Put that in prime time, baby! I'm there!

*ahem* Did I just say that out loud?

Maybe it's just me, but did anyone else think this games' version of the Olympic Cauldron looked like they were lighting the worst biggest joint?



Earlier today, I saw a medal ceremony for a pistol shooting event, which I didn't even realize they had in the Olympics. The gold medal went to a marksman from China, while the silver and bronze both went to Russian marksmen. Now, speaking as an American, should I be worried that the Chinese and Russians have really good aim?

As I was pondering that semi-serious thought, they began the playing of the Chinese national anthem. Suddenly, the gold medal winner became overwhelmed with emotion. He stood there on the podium absolutely weeping, almost uncontrollably, caught up in the moment as he realized the accomplishment he had achieved. All of his hard work and preparation had paid off in the gold. For himself. For his country.

And that right there is one of the greatest reasons for having the Olympic Games: to show what it is we can ultimately accomplish. To be able to celebrate what we can do as individuals, as a team, as a country, and as a race. In the Olympics, the only real reason to be grouped in countries is to be able to have teams necessary for the competition. Every team is participating in something bigger which brings them...us... all together. The Games become the common ground that the world constantly searches for in order to have a joyous and enjoyable gathering.

Nowhere is that more obvious than in the contrast between the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. At the outset, the teams march in under their country's banner, separate, but all gathered on the stadium floor. By the time of the closing ceremonies, the athletes will be seen mixed together on that same floor without a single territorial or cultural border to be found. They will be talking, dancing, hugging...celebrating together joyously and treating each other as people and not flags.

Maybe someday, it will be more than athletes doing that. Maybe.
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Thursday, August 12, 2004
 
So long, suckers!
Headed off to Florida for a wedding (not mine). See you next week.

In the meanwhile, check out this interview with Thomas Frank, editor of The Baffler and author of the new book "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

An excerpt:

The reason I say there’s something “the matter” with all this is that, in becoming more and more conservative, Kansas is voting against its own economic interests. Large parts of the state are in deep economic crisis—in many cases a crisis either brought on or worsened by the free-market policies of the Republican party—and yet the state’s voters insist on re-electing the very people who are screwing them, running up colossal majorities for George Bush, lowering taxes and privatizing and deregulating, even when these things are manifestly unhealthy for the state.


For those interested, Comrade Max weighs in on this subject in these posts (start at the bottom, and work your way up).
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Thursday, August 05, 2004
 
Democrats Grabbing Headlines? How About Issuing A Terror Alert?
I always thought that it seemed like terror alerts would crop up every time something happened that the Bush Administration didn't like. I also figured if I noticed this, there had to have been a lot of other people that did too.

Sure enough, there were other people much more observant that I. On the JuliusBlog is a nice timeline of the coincidences of "bad news" and terror alerts. Kudos to these guys for doing the legwork, complete with sources and all.

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"Blind Faith In Your Leaders Can Get You Killed"
So there's a massive concert tour mobilizing out there. The Vote For Change tour is an unprecedented collaboration of musicians putting on multiple concerts in cities across the so-called swing states with an eye on mobilizing people to vote in the election and hopefully change the direction of the country.

One of the major artists involved is a guy whose musical career is very close to my heart: Bruce Springsteen. Longtime fans of Springsteen know what his political views are. All you really need to do is listen to his anecdotes on his various live albums to get a feel for it. Ironically enough, Springsteen has also been one of the more misquoted and misinterpreted artists. Anyone who has actually read the lyrics to "Born In The USA" knows it's about the hardships of a returning Vietnam veteran...hardly good background music for the Reagan campaign.

Normally one to not be so overtly political, Springsteen has joined up on this tour and has given a few interviews on his views as well as a NY Times Op-Ed piece. As usual, he has some interesting things to say:

"Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of 'one nation indivisible.'"

"We offered up the lives of the best of our young people under circumstances that have been discredited. I had to live through that when I was young myself, and for any of us that lived through the Vietnam War, it was just very devastating."

"If there was one single thing I’d like to give every high school kid in the United States, it would be a two-month trip through Europe at some point during the formative years. Because it’s very difficult to conjure up a real worldview from within our borders. It’s hard. It’s hard because we’re so big, and the hegemony of American culture is so weighty and so heavy that it’s very difficult without stepping outside and realizing what it’s like to have the next country just a two-hour drive away, to have a certain kind of interdependence that is different than what we have here. It’s just a certain view of the way the world works that is different. So if I could give every young kid one thing, that would be it -- because it would broaden what we listen to, the way we perceive ourselves, the types of leaders we choose. It would change the nation dramatically."

"Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach?"

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Monday, August 02, 2004
 
Wo Sind Die Landers Schwestern?
If you're anything like me you too are a fan of cinema. No...not necessarily the 'nudge nudge, wink wink' variety (but then again...who's not a fan of that genre?). Anyway...tonight, while passing some time on the web, specifically, the IMDB, I decided to look which stars were born the same year as I was. This made me dig a bit deeper to see what 'famous' person may actually share a birthday with me (or I them, depending on your preference). Apparently there are four 'famous' actors with whom I share a birthday:

Hugo Haenen (?)
Michele Daves (?)
Antoine Simkine (?)

...And last but certainly not least on the list:

Judy Landers.

Yes, that's right.. "Stacks" (from "BJ and the Bear" TV series fame (make of that name what you will)) and I share a birthday.

So...in advance...let me just say if you're out there reading this "Stacks"...Happy Birthday. Say hello to Audrey for me as well.
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Friday, July 23, 2004
 
Your Friday Leisurely Reading
I'm not sure I'm going to read a more enjoyable interview this year than
this one at Salon with Alan Moore, the British writer of seminal comic books like V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

I'm familiar with all those works, but I haven't read any of 'em. After this interview, I sure would like to read them for myself -- Moore has quite a following in the comic book scene, and after reading this interview I can see why.

Quotables? Too many to mention. Here are a couple:

"...I tend to think that this conservative backlash that has been going on since the '70s is the final spasms of a dying creature; history is not moving that way, and no matter how much people dig their heels in and assume this is the 1950s or the Middle Ages, that's not the truth of the situation. No matter how powerful our political and religious leaders think they are, they are as dust before the immense and implacable forces of history and progress. I just hope that they don't make too much of a mess or take too many more people down with them."

...

"I'm surprised that the Bushes are doing so well over there. You people actually had a war of independence to free yourselves from a dynasty of blue-blooded Georges. I thought that was the whole idea! You were fed up with having a bunch of aristocrats named George ruling your country, but obviously it seems that you can't get enough of it!
[Laughs.]"

...

"I feel that we may be approaching a cultural boiling point. I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing; I really don't know because I can't imagine it, quite frankly. But I think we may be approaching the point at which the amount of information we are taking becomes exponential, and I'm not entirely certain what kind of human culture will exist beyond that point. Except it will happen sooner than we expect, and the difference between us and the kind of people that will exist after such an event will be vastly different than the difference between us and the hunter-gatherer society we've evolved from."


Enough! Go read!

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Friday, July 16, 2004
 
That's funny...
I could have sworn there used to be three bloggers around here...
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Thursday, July 15, 2004
 
Open thread
Sorry for the low frequency of posts, folks. Got a big exam comin' up.

Feel free to vent on whatever strikes your fancy.
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Friday, July 02, 2004
 
Sheesh -- You guys...
Here's a question: what's the #1 "Hot search" on Netscape as I'm typing this?

That's right - Debra frickin' Lafave.

Man, to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, no one ever went broke underestimating the libido of the American male.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
Fahrenheit and away
Sorry for the long delay, folks. I was in L.A. over the weekend attending a friend's wedding, and I had work I had to get done prior to the trip. Of course, the re-entry required some recuperation that you'd expect if you were to stay up as late as you normally do for a wedding party and the wedding itself, with three hours tacked on due to jet lag.

Anyway, I think we've covered the Pistons well enough as of late (but I can't resist linking to this great VVH post by The Mighty Reason Man), so it's time to get back to business.

I know the "sovereignty transfer" occurred yesterday, and while that's a worthwhile topic, I want to address the #1 movie in the country right now.

I've seen pretty much all of Michael Moore's movies, with the exception of "Pets or Meat" (never saw) and "Canadian Bacon" (gave up after 30 minutes). I've seen a good number of "TV Nation" and "The Awful Truth" episodes. I even saw him at the Michigan Theater in A-squared when he was campaigning for Ralph Nader in the 2000 election. I'm definitely less enamored of him now that I've developed a more critical eye to his work (as well as a more balanced outlook on the world), but he's definitely the most visibile populist muckraker out there at the moment, and while many on the right loathe the man I feel that his heart is in the right place, and he's far less unsavory a character than many I would associate with the right.

Some of you may have already seen this movie, and I probably will see it myself sometime soon. However, I thought I'd pass along a couple of reasonably evenhanded critiques.

The first is by Justin Raimondo, the editorial director of the Antiwar.com website. He doesn't mince words when attacking the bad parts of the movie, but he gives the movie an overall thumbs-up, and offers a nice rebuttal to the same tired charges of Moore hating America (emphasis mine):
What really comes across in this film is Moore's feeling for American soldiers in the field, rooted, I believe, in his empathy for ordinary people, and – dare I say it? – his unambiguous patriotism. He goes inside Walter Reed Army Hospital, in Washington, and interviews the wounded: amputees, laying in their beds, full of pain and determination to get on with their lives. He interviews soldiers in the field, who wonder what we're doing over there. "It's not that easy to conquer a country," says one, his voice full of wonder.


Mind you, Justin is the guy who wrote this book.

The second review is by Juan Cole, the U-M prof I mentioned a couple of posts ago. His criticisms and compliments are similar to Raimondo's, and you can read his review here.

I won't deny that some people can have serious, valid objections with the movie, there's no doubt that a lot of footage (of REAL STUFF, wingnuts) will have never been seen previously by the majority of the viewing public.

Why that is supposed to be criticized at all, in any way, is beyond me.
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