Friday, May 30, 2008

Harvey Korman, Rest

I just wanted to say this: Harvey Korman was one of the funniest men to ever walk this planet. The work that he did with Mel Brooks was wonderful--Blazing Saddles and History of the World, Part 1 are movies that still set me off in fits of laughter.

But nothing--nothing--this side of Monty Python could set me off like watching Korman and Tim Conway working together. It’s sad to think that these two brilliant comedians--with perfect chemistry--will never set foot on a stage again. He was one of the last of a dying breed of comedians and I’m sad to see their time passing.

I’m kicking myself right now, too.  I think it was last year that the two came through town on a tour and I decided not to get tickets to see them. Stupid.

Read the story.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Victory Gardens for All

Darling girl and I played amateur farmers this weekend and will be tending our own little plot of ground in the coming months. Hopefully we’ll have lots of fresh corn, tomatoes, onions, and some other stuff that she’ll eat and I won’t. We’re doing it (aside from the “she wants to” argument so important to many of my activities) because it’s fun, it’s together, and it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying the stuff at the grocery store. It’s, at least partially, a way of compensating in a small way for the higher costs that we are paying for energy, for food, and for travel.

So, imagine my surprise to run across Hazel talking about their Victory Garden. Notably, they sound far better at this stuff than I am; my skill extends to how well I can follow instructions from darling girl.

If you’re interested in starting your own garden, she’s also made a generous offer that you might want to ask about.

Check it out.

The Accidental Inactivist President

I was writing this up last night when I took a break and went tripping happily through my blogroll. One of the things that struck me was this very short post by Shawn Macomber. In it, he offers his unqualified support for the candidate who would embrace the “MAYBE We Can, But We Still Probably Shouldn’t” slogan. Of course, I laughed and agreed. In a way, that’s exactly what I’m arguing for (though I’m not sure Macomber would agree). The difference is that I want inactivity by design rather than by temperament--the candidate who would use that slogan won’t be winning the office, but we might maneuver a man into office who would be an accidental inactivist. Someone who might want to accomplish great things, but who will be so stymied by the political battles that he has to fight that he doesn’t end up doing much of anything.

This is a message for Republicans and libertarians who lean toward the conservative side of the fence. It’s a painful message, but it’s one that needs to be spoken so that we understand what we are fighting for in the upcoming election. Just as importantly, we can decide what we’re aiming for over the next presidential term.

We’re going to lose. We’re going to lose big. Even if we win the presidency, we’re going to lose. We’ll lose sharply in the House and in the Senate. Worst of all, we are losing the minds of the citizens of the United States of America. In fact: not only are we losing, but we have lost. That is not a defeatist message at all; it’s an honest assessment of where the supposed party of conservatism finds itself at the end of eight very tough years.

War was brought to our shores and the long struggle that followed is far from over. Katrina battered us even as it exposed the folly of trusting the government to solve the worst of our problems. While the economy is far from the disaster that Democrats submit (a group of people who obviously don’t remember the Carter years with anything resembling clarity), there is no doubt that our country’s fiscal policies are proving themselves short-sighted and potentially disastrous.

We have a lot of ground to make up. With the right strategies and the right leaders, the Republican party can find its way again. But it won’t be this year.

Let’s be honest, folks: the best we can hope for in 2008 is the inactivist president. The president that either by design, by necessity, or by the prodigious bureaucratic mess that is Washington DC won’t bring us any new big ticket items, won’t accomplish much of anything outside of holding the line on taxes and spending, and who will stay out of our way as we go about the business of living.

Just say no to universal health care. Just say no to fixing Social Security with huge tax increases. Just say no to expanded entitlement programs. Just say no. Inactivity in the Oval Office might allow us a moment to sit back, breathe a little, and figure out what to do next.

While conservatives think that their distrust of McCain is a sign that Americans are crying out for a renewed and truly conservative Republican party (as opposed to the big government “conservatism” of the Bush family), I don’t agree. People aren’t joining the Obama revolution because they want smaller government; they’re joining because they think that more government is the answer to their problems. That isn’t to say that we should sit back and accept bigger government and our new Democratic overlords; it’s to say that we need to be honest about what Americans are looking for right now and what our best hope for the next four years might be. Because the truth of the matter is that Americans are rushing to embrace the big government political alternatives right now, and that should make us a touch nervous.

McCain would be the accidental inactivist president--not particularly conservative, but not so hugely harmful as either alternative. Hell, if we’re really lucky, he might even cut a government program or two.

It is a damned shame that none of the remaining candidates is bound to bring us a good energy policy, Social Security privatization, significant decreases in government spending (far more important than tax increases right now), or even the kind of leadership that the United States could really use. Yep, it’s a shame, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to commit political suicide just because I’m cranky about my options. Unless he picks a VP who cannot be trusted that close to the White House--someone who actually makes McCain the worst possible option--then I’ll be voting for the guy who I believe can hold the line while we regroup.

Because we need to regroup. In the “marketplace of ideas,” right now, conservatism as a philosophy is losing. Moving forward, how does conservatism start winning again? Or are we starting a long, slow slide to the same level of public legitimacy as the Libertarians? Because as much as that crew is passionate about their beliefs, in the fabled marketplace of ideas, they have failed in a big, dramatic way for a very long time. While we find a way to avoid that fate, we need someone to stand up and take the hits while we work to persuade the country that the worst offenses of the Bush years weren’t representative of the philosophies of conservatism. I think McCain can be that guy and I think he’ll do the job in good faith.

The most important thing to remember right now is that McCain isn’t Obama. For all the over-the-top talk to the contrary, McCain isn’t Obama.

McCain, facing a phenomenally unfriendly congress, won’t be able to bully his way to big tax cuts, big spending decreases, or the kind of comprehensive immigration changes that red-meat conservatives are looking for--not that he necessarily would, but he certainly won’t be able to pull off any miracles. but he could well act as the only speed bump to an economically ruinous new universal health care mandate or Social Security “fix.” He could be the veto president, the guy who sits back, smiles, and says no.

As the blue haired bridade’s tight, wrinkly grip on Social Security and a buffet of government subsidized drugs goes so far to prove, once the politicians start handling one of our needs it is nearly impossible to pull us away from their “generosity.” That is to say, once we have a health care mandate or a nationalized program of some kind, government control of health care will only grow and expand until citizens are at the mercy of Uncle Sugar’s limited resources. I want a president who won’t let that happen and I happen to like McCain’s ideas on the subject far more than I do Obama’s or Hillary’s.

This dream of the inactivist president is one that we accomplish by design, though, not by luck. Luck could bring us President Obama with the friendliest House and Senate that a president could ask for--not to mention the good will of an indulgent main stream media who might be more likely to overlook the foibles and follies of a messianic Obama than even a resurgent Hillary. Luck is funny that way.

My old mentor, a Special Forces medic and a hell of a good man, used to say that luck is no substitute for good planning. So let’s get to planning.

It’s strange to say this, the GOP needs John McCain right now. At least, as Americans and as conservatives, we need him far more than we need either an Obama or a Clinton presidency. For all that we yell, scream, and gnash our teeth, his bravery could serve us well as a bulwark against the tide of social programs, spending, and general mayhem that will come with President Obama. He may not accomplish much, but McCain may well save us from the worst of the left--and that would be no mean achievement.

It’s time to pull together and find a way to win this election; once that’s done we can look forward to the next mid-term elections and do our best to find ways to make up some ground. We need new leaders who will not only act well on our behalf, but will ably bring our message to the rest of the citizenry. McCain can give us, in the most hopeful way that I can express, four years to start identifying those leaders. Even better, he’ll make it a little easier to fight the battles that are coming up--important battles that we would have almost no hope of winning with the kind of political power that comes from a Democrat in the White House, Democrats in strong control of congress, and a media fawning over the president. 

Barr isn’t going to win and neither is Ron Paul; vote for them if you need to, but don’t imagine that they will end up winning the office. McCain can win and offers the only hope that we have to avoid what I imagine would be a nightmare presidency: an activist president backed up completely by the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Was Robert Stacy McCain Rooting for Nuts? Just Wondering.

In an article about the role that Barr will play as the Libertarian candidate for the office of President of the United States of America, Robert Stacy McCain says this:

The 2004 Libertarian convention rejected a media-savvy candidate—Hollywood executive Aaron Russo, who led in the first two rounds of voting—and delivered a third-ballot win for software engineer Michael Badnarik.

Badnarik went on to garner just 0.32 percent of the vote in November, a disappointing result that left many Libertarians dejected, feeling their party was doomed to obscurity.

On the first ballot this year at the Denver Sheraton, it seemed to LaBeaume that the LP was headed for deja vu all over again. The convention would reject the candidate with mainstream appeal in favor of a relative unknown who could be safely ignored by the press.

I suppose that it’s find to say that the late Aaron Russo was “media-savvy.” It would be even more accurate to say that he was as nutty as your typical G8 protester--he made wild accusations about our government, built impressive conspiracy theories about the Fed, and claimed that 9/11 was an inside job.

Hollywood director and documentary film maker Aaron Russo has gone in-depth on the astounding admissions of Nick Rockefeller, who personally told him that the elite’s ultimate goal was to create a microchipped population and that the war on terror was a hoax, Rockefeller having predicted an “event” that would trigger the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan eleven months before 9/11.

Rockefeller also told Russo that his family’s foundation had created and bankrolled the women’s liberation movement in order to destroy the family and that population reduction was a fundamental aim of the global elite.

Russo is perhaps best known for producing Trading Places starring Eddie Murphy but was more recently in the spotlight for his exposé of the criminal run for profit federal reserve system, the documentary America From Freedom to Fascism.
After his popular video Mad As Hell was released and he began his campaign to become Governor of Nevada, Russo was noticed by Rockefeller and introduced to him by a female attorney. Seeing Russo’s passion and ability to affect change, Rockefeller set about on a subtle mission to recruit Russo into the elite.

During one conversation, Rockefeller asked Russo if he was interested in joining the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) but Russo rejected the invitation, saying he had no interest in “enslaving the people” to which Rockefeller coldly questioned why he cared about the “serfs.”

“I used to say to him what’s the point of all this,” states Russo, “you have all the money in the world you need, you have all the power you need, what’s the point, what’s the end goal?” to which Rockefeller replied (paraphrasing), “The end goal is to get everybody chipped, to control the whole society, to have the bankers and the elite people control the world.”

There’s your media-savvy spokesman for the Libertarian movement. His crazy talk--hailed by truthers and happy fun conspiracy theorists all over the Internet--even managed to inspire conspiracy theories about his death (see the last comment by Jasmin Cohen). Because we all know that speaking truth to power is a dangerous thing, right?

Is this the guy that McCain thinks the Libertarian party should have nominated in 2004? They may not have ended up with the most media-savvy candidate or a landslide of votes, but I’m thinking they chose the right guy. Or, at least, they chose the right wrong guy;

Read the story.

One of the fun conspiracy theory blog posts. Do a Google search on Aaron Russo and Nick Rockefeller and you can find tons more fun stuff from places like Prison Planet. You’ll also find video of his interviews that are equal parts mesmerizing and absurd. The most generous explanation that I could possibly come up with would involve drugs or dementia.

McCain can be found blogging over here--and there is much to read and admire. My complaint is that name-dropping Aaron Russo in a positive way without dealing with Russo’s maddening conspiracy theories doesn’t do much to convince me that the Libertarians made a bad choice in 2004 or that Barr will be a significant improvement here in 2008. If the Libertarians had embraced Russo in 2004 and his conspiracy theories had started leaking out later, it may well have damaged the party even more than their poor showing in the last election--short term gains aren’t always what they appear to be.

Congo Oil Sands: Does this Count as Alternative Energy?

While America putzes around refusing to concoct some intelligent energy policy for developing her own natural resources while preparing for future needs, the rest of the world continues to find ways to use those big oil bucks that are being sucked out of our pockets. Which is nice for them.

In a way, it’s nice for us, too: exploration and exploitation of new finds becomes more economically feasible while oil prices are up around “choking my vacation plans” levels like they are right now. In the Congo, a find of oil sands might have been mostly ignored a decade or two ago; right now, though, it means new jobs, a new energy source, and new opportunities for a country that could use the help.

Eni, the Italian oil group, has discovered a large oil sands deposit in the Republic of Congo that is expected to become Africa’s first large unconventional oil development and could hold several billion barrels.

Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s chief executive, said the project, due to begin production in 2011, opened “a new front” in the development of “unconventional” oil.

Unconventional resources, such as oil sands, which have in the past been considered too difficult or expensive to extract, are expected to provide an increasing proportion of the world’s fuel supply in future as conventional reserves run down.

Canada’s oil sands and Venezuela’s Orinoco belt have the world’s biggest known heavy oil reserves. The area to be developed by Eni is on a smaller scale, but is still likely to be very substantial.

Eni has not put a figure on the scale of the resources in its 1,790 square km licence area, but a sample 100 square km area that Eni has studied is estimated to hold 500m to 2.5bn barrels of recoverable oil.

Read the rest.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Truly Shocking News of the Day

Like you, I would never have guessed that higher food costs might make it harder for some people to feed themselves or for relief agencies to buy enough food to distribute to needy throughout the world. It never occurred to me to imagine a relationship between food prices and hunger.

Thank God that the UN is there to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

Sustaining high food prices will throw millions more people into hunger, the United Nations said in a recent report.

World food prices, which are now more than 50% higher than a year ago, are unlikely to return to low levels, and poor countries are expected to pay 40% more this year than a year ago to feed their people, the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released Thursday.

“Food is no longer the cheap commodity that it once was,” said Hafez Ghanem, FAO assistant director-general, in a news release. “We are facing the risk that the number of hungry will increase by many more millions of people.”

Thank goodness I have a reserve supply of Ramen. Which hardly qualifies as food, I know, but is still mighty tasty.


Read the rest of the story.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 7.5: The Even More Official Post Than Last Time

The Corner Office at the Curtis Hotel
7 June 2007, 6:30 PM

More details will follow (with the potential for some pretty fun stuff thrown into the mix).

You can RSVP on this post if you have an aversion to Flash based sites or giving your information to a third party to help us coordinate the events (and no one will think less of you). However...

The site that will keep track of this and the big event at the end of the DNC will also be a fun tool for keeping Rocky Mountain Bloggers in touch with each other. We’ll use it to send invitations, updates, and news, make more announcements, and generally bug each other about things like when we think Andy will return to blogging. (Just kidding, Andy.) A number of people have requested that we send out email notifications when the Bashes are coming up--our group on ViewMyLife.com will allow us to take that step, and I think it will really raise the level of our inebriation professionalism.

No pressure, though. Feel free to leave comments, suggestions, complaints, and requests here--and I’ll keep track of the most important bits both here and on ViewMyLife.com.

For those wanting to take part, here are the instructions:

Steps to becoming a better person:

  1. Sign-up on ViewMyLife.com. (Free and easy. Which works well for me.)
  2. From the drop-down menu in the upper left corner (the blue, circle, logo thing), choose Groups.
  3. Search for Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash and request to join the group. I’ll be approving people for now, although both Shannon and Andy will be taking administrative rolls as well.
  4. Update your contact information in ViewMyLife, so we can more easily bug you when the next Bash is coming up.

One of the reasons we chose to work with the ViewMyLife.com folks when they approached Andy was that they were a Colorado company and we like to support home-town geeks. The other reason was quite simply that they seemed like good people--and they’re devoted to the idea of giving back to the community. In the next few days I’ll be posting information about their charitable work. You’ll want to pay attention in particular if you’re personally involved with a charity.

Lastly--and before we start in on the linkfest of RSVPs--please help us spread the word. We would like to bring a lot of new faces around this time and I know that many of you are far nicer, more charismatic, and better known than I am. Which means you have a better chance of bringing in some new folks to buy me shots.

And you know how much I appreciate the shots.

Andy will be there. Because he misses blogging. I can tell.
Wheels will be there. I think. Not sure. Could happen.
Mr. Lady won’t be there, but she deserves a link because she’s doing the lion’s share of the work on these upcoming blogger bashes.
Doug S. might be there. If we offer him enough cash.
Jed will be there. And I plan to buy him a few drinks. Which is nice of me.
Billlllllll willllll be there. And he’ll probably (rightly) harass me for failing to put his blog on my blogroll. I should fix that problem.
Off Colfax will be there. Mostly because he secretly wants to be part of the secret cabal that makes up the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Sick puppy, that.
Darren will be there. Although I could be wrong.
Liz will be there. She’ll be there with other representatives from ViewMyLife.
Bob’ll be there if he can convince his wife that the rest of us are harmless. Which we are. No. Really.

Have I missed anyone yet? Let me know and I’ll get you in the mix.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Idol: Well. That’s a Surprise Edition.

America got it right. Which makes me happy.

Girl called it, by the way. One of the reasons I keep her around is her brilliant mind.

Just sayin’.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

American Idol: Let’s Get Ready to Grumble Edition

Firstly, David C. looks slightly more convincing in faux boxing gear than David A., who looks as goofy as you might have guessed.

Secondly, in the battle of the applause, Simon wins big. Not even a contest.

Thirdly, interviews with David A. are almost as painful to watch as his “soulful” singing. Just painful. Interviews with David C. are easier to stomach, but not precisely inspiring. I do appreciate the low-key and honest approach to the show, though. It’s a nice counterpoint to Archuleta’s irritating, over-the-top personality.

I love the idea of David Cook singing “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For"--it could be a picture perfect song for that boy. Not as good as when Bono sings it (seriously, listen to him singing the opening of that song and it’s something truly beautiful), but that little bit of rasp adds something nice to the sound of the song. What works is this: it’s a familiar (and exceptionally good) song, it fits his approach to rock music, and it gives him a chance to show off. What doesn’t work is that he doesn’t change it up much so it sounds a little like an imitation of U2--but I’m not sure what else he could have done with it in arrangement.

Randy thinks David is hot. Paula finally found what she’s looking for: a stiff drink and a lap dance. Simon thought it was “phenomenal.” Amen amen.

David Archuleta singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” is another great choice. It fits his voice perfectly--and it fits his high school thespian persona. I don’t mean that in the nicest possible way (even though it’s one of my favorite Elton John songs) because it also means that he goes into a little bit of a Broadway-esque interpretation at moments. Aside from that, he hits a few bum notes through the song. The audience loves it, though, and Randy thinks it’s one of the best performances of the whole season ("flawless" and “crazy vocals").

Paula got good and happy during that first performance and, ahem, hit her “peak” during this one. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Simon thinks it was his best performance of the season and gives round one to Archuleta.

Say it ain’t so, Simon, say it ain’t so.

Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash Aside: Have you signed up yet? Are you planning to go? There will be girls and booze and me. What more could you possibly want. I’ll be updating the post later (and bouncing it up to the top) so make sure to get your RSVP in so that you get a link both here and on the ViewMyLife.com site).

And, while I understand the reluctance to sign up for VML--the questions can feel intrusive and the Flash interface is a stumbling block to some--but I have to admit that I like it far better than MySpace and potentially more useful than LinkedIn. I do wish that they had used some nifty AJAX solution instead of Flash, but there are things that you can do with Flash that can’t easily be done in any other development environment.

Dunno. Everything in life involves trade-offs, doesn’t it?

Now let’s rock with David Cook and “Dream Big.” He’s a rock star, isn’t he? I mean, he’s ready to do the shows, he has the attitude, the look, the talent, and the persona of a guy who can command a stage with every song that he sings. Nicely done--and he’s so much better to listen to than the other David.

Like Randy, I’m not a big fan of the song, but I loved the performance. Nice. Paula seems to have a nice afterglow, but it’s hard to tell what she’s reacting to at any given moment. Simon didn’t love it so much. Loser.

On the other hand, David Archuleta sings some other song that bores me to little, tiny shards of enuui. Or something else that I’m too tired to really figure out right now. This song was designed to piss off punks, aging hipsters, and anyone with good taste. And he sounds, to my punk-abused, aging hipster ears, mediocre at best.

That might just be my opinion, though, because the crowd loves him. Randy loves him so much that he wants to hear him sing the phonebook. Never heard that one before…

I think Paula is pissed that Randy stole the phonebook thing because she was planning to use it. Simon is hitting Paula’s crack pipe again and trying to swing the vote to elf boy.

Coldplay Aside: Man, the iTunes ad for the new Coldplay song is pretty. Not just the music, but the artistic vision of the video. Nice.

Can David Cook take on “The World I Know” and make the night his? Not sure…

Again, a good choice for his vocal style, but it build a little slow and he seems to have slowed it down a little extra. Still, he sounds nice and he keeps himself right in the space that he’s built on the contest. He’s a damned good singer--for real--and he’ll have a great career. I’m not sure if he’s going to win the contest, but he’s never going to have to bartend again to pay his bills.

Randy digs it, Paula loves it, Simon loves him but not necessarily the song. He thinks it might have been the wrong song choice to try to win the contest--with which I agree. I still preferred it to everything that Mr. A has brought us this evening.

Good God, I hate listening to David Archuleta sing “Imagine"--because he looks funny, he doesn’t really get it, and he can’t even come close to convincing me that the idiotic message of the song is something worth singing. Lennon could to that (and, yes, it is an idiotic message), but Lennon was special in a good way. David A. is special in an entirely different way.

Utterly nauseating.

Which is, of course, why the trio of judges love him and want to spawn many, many albums with him.

It was nice to see Reuben Studdard again, though--lovely voice on that guy.

And speaking of Hells, Kitchen--because we were, you know--is Matt not the single whiniest bastard of all time? I mean, he could be standing there silently and he would still be the whiniest bitch ever. His face knows no other station but whininess.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Zomby Goes to Calcutta (Or Kolkata, Depending)

I’ve made my travel arrangements and half of my hotel arrangements, and now I’m looking for advice.

I’ll be in Calcutta from November 4th to November 11th, with free time from the 8th to the 10th. Just three days, which seems far too short--but since I’ll be on vacation the week before, at the show the entire following week, and not getting home until November 12th, it bugs me a bit to extend the trip any longer than that. Two and a half weeks out of the office is more than enough to let incredible piles of email, phone messages, mail, and partially completed projects pile up, don’t you think?

Which leads us to my questions:

Question 1: Any suggestions on things to do and see in such a short time around Calcutta. Taj Mahal is on the other side of the country (sort of), so it doesn’t count.

Question 2: Any suggestions on a decent, but budget priced, digital camera to take with me? I will be covering the event for one of the magazines that we publish, so it has to take pictures good enough to use with the story. Clarity, color, sharpness, lack of noise, and speed are what I’m looking for. Megapixels doesn’t matter as much as quality.

Question 3: Along the same lines, I’m considering getting a cheap--really cheap--laptop for the trip. It needs to be good enough and reliable enough to store the photos as I go, my notes from the show, and the article that I write on my way back. It would be best if it had wireless and wired network connections--although I won’t bother with a dial-up service. I don’t care about operating system and would, at least to some small extent, prefer to get one with a newer Linux distribution instead of Windows. Not because of any opposition to Windows, but because it would be as fun to play with after the trip is over.

Simply, I don’t want to take my own laptop. It’s too expensive to replace.

Any ideas?

Friday, May 16, 2008

I’m Sorry, but Your Stupid is Getting All Over My Friday.

Huckabee is one terrifically stupid bastard, isn’t he?

During a speech to the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky Friday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joked to the audience that an offstage noise was Barack Obama avoiding gunfire.

“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he’s getting ready to speak,” Huckabee said. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”

Pointless, not funny, and just another moment revealing him to be a jerk. It is shocking that he seems to believe that things like this and his very public decision to, ahem, not make Mitt Romney’s religion an issue in the election are entirely reasonable coming from a man who wanted to win the White House.

Again I say: if McCain is silly enough to choose Huckabee as his running mate, I’ll be voting for someone else.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big, Stupid Prediction of the Day

I predict that Sex in the City will become the biggest grossing film of all time.

Which will irritate me greatly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American Idol: Good, God I Love Fantasia Edition

Fantasia gives the single freakin’ coolest performance of the American Idol year. Hot, sexy, aggressive, rockin’ stuff. It was, to these old ears, far better than any of the other pro or AI alum performances. Ridiculously better. Most of those songs are lifeless little lumps with musicians that look like they would really rather be somewhere else. Bo Bice being one of the few exceptions. Fantasia, though, came full on with every ounce of energy that she had.

Loved it.

Then the moment was ruined by David Archuleta’s predictably weepy homecoming. When he said that the screaming throngs really made it all worth it, I found myself wondering what precisely he was talking about? Was it the sacrifice of becoming famous, the opportunity to make millions, or the chance to live his (or his dad’s) dreams that was particularly painful for him? Or did I miss something?

Stop crying, kid. Stand up, smile, and stop acting like such an unlikable twerp.

Just sayin’.

At least Syesha comports herself with some level of dignity. Where Archuleta gets on my nerves, Syesha charms. Except for the crying. Which, why the hell is there so much crying on this show?

I didn’t realize that David Cook was an accidental contestant--and, yes, I think that does explain much about his public persona. I personally like that he seems to take the whole experience in stride. Not arrogant at all, but he seems comfortable with himself. I like this guy.

Anyway, his crying moment was minimal. I approve of minimal crying.

Spoiler Below the Line:

Read the Rest...

I’m Sorry, but Do I Know You?

Who the heck are you and what are you doing here?

While you’re here, check out these fine, Zomby-approved posts.

First, find out about the “only known cure for the fetid taste a Mike Huckabee speech leaves in one’s mouth”--because you might just need a taste of the medicine. Besides which, if you aren’t interested in that in specific, there is always the sheer spectacle of a conservative writer’s undercover life as a metal militiaman.

Second (and third, for that matter), Wheels links to a piece of open source software that looks like more fun than getting ripped with Steve Green in Tijuana. Okay, maybe not that much fun, but certainly with less risk of eternal damnation. And if that doesn’t work for you and you’ve served any time in the military, then the military language conversion chart will be worth a chuckle. Unless you’re Air Force, in which case you might want to pretend that we didn’t even have this little conversation.

Fourthly, sympathy goes out to Andy. Although, no, he still isn’t blogging. That was just a momentary relapse. So there.

Fifthly, you know you haven’t had enough American Idol yet. Go ahead. Click it. Alternately, just drop by and show some love to one of the most famous mommy bloggers of our time, and a registered attendee of Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 8.0.

Sixthly and Lastly (othewise known as Seventhly), Ted Bronson makes the case for a trade agreement with Columbia. I’ve been thinking of writing a similar post, but he said everything that I wanted to and he said it better. After reading that, read Hazel’s quick response to another bit of nannystate madness. The folks at TheLineIsHere.org should be one of your daily reads (if they aren’t already).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

American Idol: The Will David Cook Intentionally Tank so that He can Get On with His Life Edition

Still number one in your hearts and minds (and, at least for now, your TV dials), American Idol brings us three of the changiest candidates for President of all time.

Er, wait. Sorry. Wrong competition.

Anyway, David Archuleta singing Billy Joel’s “And So it Goes” is inspired. Truly. The slow, soulful song has a grand sweep that fits boy wonder’s irritating personality about perfectly. He can’t bring believability to the song--he isn’t old enough or straight enough to make a song about love and vulnerability believable. Still, his voice is in fine form.

Randy loved it. Paula loved it. Simon thinks it was good--although predictable and not quite great.

Syesha will be singing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys--a song that I am completely unfamiliar with--isn’t quite as good. Or, at least, I can’t get myself past my apathy to think of anything witty enough to say about the mediocrity on display. Sorry about that. She’s not bad, but there seems to be nothing of her in anything she does and I can’t quite explain what I mean. Sorry again.

Girl thinks that Syesha just doesn’t sound good enough to compare with Alicia Keys and that she doesn’t do anything in her own style.

Randy loved it. I say that a lot, don’t I? Paula fights for grrrl power. Simon thought she did it well but wishes that she didn’t sound quite so much like the original. Everyone agrees that she’s a hotty. Which is undeniably true.

I’m not sure I understand Simon’s pick for David Cook. “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” doesn’t seem to be a good fit. Perhaps Simon hates David Cook secretly.

In the actual performance, it’s better than I thought it would be. He can do slow and sincere pretty well and his voice is pretty damned good. In fact, I was big time wrong. That actually worked pretty well--not only did he give a good performance of a tough song that wasn’t an obvious fit, but he’s far more believable singing about love than boy wonder.

Randy loved it but wishes Simon had picked a rocker. Paula needs her meds because she actually seemed to make sense for a moment. Waitress! Simon claims victory. I agree.

Round 2

David A. sometimes seems as lost as Paula. Singing Chris Brown’s upbeat “With You”, he’s making a play for pop idoldom. Mostly he just looks awkward in the dancing and lost in the singing. Talk about a believability deficit.

Randy agrees with me. Paula is Archuleta’s number one fan. Simon says it was a little “like a chihuahua trying to be a tiger.” Heheh. Funny. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, though. He’s got the deluded fan base of gazillions of young women with more doe eyed stupidity than good musical taste.

I’m looking forward to Syesha singing “Fever.” Hubba hubba. And if everyone thought that she looked good in this last dress, well…

She does it well, but, ultimately, she brings absolutely nothing new to the song. It sounds like it’s sounded hundreds of other times. Not that I’m complaining loudly--because that dress gets my vote every time. Girl looked at me with crankiness in her eyes when I complimented the dress, though, so I think I’m going to be leave that subject alone for a while…

Randy thought it was an “interesting” song choice (he didn’t mean it in the nicest possible way), but that she sang it well. Paula, once she gets past the obligatory compliments for the beauty and wonder of yet another singer, agrees with Randy. Simon agrees, too. Only more so.

So, David Cook is playing guitar and singing the Switchfoot single “Dare You to Move"--I think he’s trying to cement his rocking status. For me, it’s a bit uneven with a meandering, bland intro and a shouty ending, none of which seem particularly connected. Not hugely bad, but disappointing after that first song. Definitely disappointing.

Randy didn’t think it was so hot, Paula agreed, Simon agreed, too. Weird.

Round 3

Elfin Boy sings Fogelberg’s “Longer.” God, I hate the song in the original form, I hate it more when this boy is singing it. Watching him sing it is almost painful, I personally don’t like the sound of his voice, and I think it was a bad song choice.

Randy agrees a bit. Paula. Did she say something? Simon wasn’t so hot on it. Read the first comment from Carin for a great view on this one. Ouch.

Syesha and I’m pretty much done with her. Bored. Make her stop.

I think Randy feels the same. The audience boos loudly. Paula reminds us that the song was from the Happy Feet soundtrack. Which, yeah, the boredom is growing. Simon thinks it was better than song 2 (girl agrees), but that it wasn’t what she needed to stay in show.

For his last song, David Cook sings Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, which is a better song choice than the Switchback song and the performance is decent--the girls in the audience certainly seem to be eating it up. Me, though, I really don’t dig Aerosmith, so it left me feel a little cold--but I seem to be in the minorty.

Randy seems to be on my side on this one. Paula babbles and looks like she’s going to weep. Maybe I do hate Paula. Simon thought it was quite good, indeed.

Syesha goes home.

Two Million Seems a Bit Much, But…

In this situation, I would be mad as hell and I’d want some apologies, a free ticket or two, and a little humility from the airlines. I’m not really the suing type, so the lawsuit for $2 million is right out (although I don’t imagine that the plaintiff will actually receive anything like that in the settlement that is sure to follow--and after the lawyer takes his cut, the final number is bound to be relatively conservative).

But remind me to never fly JetBlue.

Mutlu says the can-finement happened Feb. 23, when he was a standby passenger for a flight from San Diego to New York.

He was told the flight was full, but a stewardess told him that he could take her assigned seat and that she would sit in the “jump seat,” said his lawyer, Zafer Akin.

Mutlu was issued a boarding pass and took Seat 2E, but got a rude awakening as he dozed off about 90 minutes into the red-eye flight, he claims.

The pilot called him to the front and “advised the plaintiff that he would have to give his seat up” to the flight attendant, the suit says.

The pilot told him the “flight attendant wanted to be more comfortable and that the ‘jump seat’ was not comfortable for her.”

A stunned Mutlu asked whether that meant he was supposed to sit in the jump seat for the rest of the five-hour flight, but the pilot told him that would be against regulations, Akin said.

The pilot told him to “hang out” in the bathroom,” the suit says, adding the stewardess took Mutlu’s seat, “closed her eyes and pretended to sleep.

I’m also guessing that being seated in the bathroom, with no safety gear and no seat buckle is as against regulations as if Mutlu had been allowed to sit in the jump seat.

Now, once you read the whole thing, maybe we could talk about the appalling writing from the NY Post…

Read the rest. If you dare...

Monday, May 12, 2008

You Mighta Just Lost Me, John

I can forgive a lot of my Republican candidate when the alternative is either B. Obama or H. Clinton, but choosing Huckabee as VP over someone, you know, good would lose my vote.

Bobby Jindal would be a remarkably good choice, although I continue to wonder if he’s even more useful in his current position. Mitt Romney wouldn’t be my first choice and he wouldn’t shore up all of McCain’s weaknesses, but he would be tremendous by comparison.

Until it’s official, I’ll consider it a useless rumor. If true, though, I won’t be voting Republican this year even though the potential cost would be monumental (more on that later this week). What I can’t personally accept is that Huckabee could be one heart attack, disease, accident, or impeachment away from the White House.

For people still worrying through their own voting strategy, this would be a good time to raise voices in opposition to Huckabee. If the GOP leadership and McCain’s strategists are listening, let’s hope they hear the disgust.

Read the story.

None of which changes the fact that updated information about the Interim Bash is coming up tomorrow--along with a little something about our benefactor. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Response to Andy: Who Refused to Consider What?

In the previous post on Stephen King’s The Mist, Andy left this comment:

Completely unrelated (but since I am not blogging anymore):

Am I the only one who finds it odd (sickeningly so) that we would willingly invade a sovereign nation when most of the world was against the idea (I supported it), yet now this Administration refuses to even consider airdrops of basic supplies and foodstuffs to help a dying people because the junta that rules Burma says we can’t?

I quit blogging and suddenly there’s a whole bunch of stupid in the news.  Ain’t it always the way?

I wrote a lenghty response intending to leave a comment--but the lengthiness got to the point where it just seemed a bit excessive. So, instead of a comment, it’s become a little post. Feel free to snipe away at my arguments.

From a recent article on the subject:

If the Myanmarese government does not relent, U.S. officials are discussing other options, including bypassing the government and sending helicopters directly to the worst-hit Irrawaddy Delta, where more than 1 million people may have lost their homes.

So, yeah, apparently they actually are considering direct aid and not just limited to haphazard airdrops.

I know that we already have one US ship in the area that isn’t being allowed to deliver its aid. We have approval for a single military plane to deliver food and medical supplies. US willingness to help is unquestioned, but the ability to give effective aid is being blocked by their government.

How useful would it be to just drop giant bundles of food and medicine? Without orderly distribution, is it likely to get to the people who need it or likely to be hoarded by those who get to it first regardless of need? How effective do you really think that will be? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t, but I am saying that much of the aid would be wasted and it would be far better if we could find an official avenue for aid distribution rather than dropping stuff out of the sky and hoping for the best.

If we force aid into the country, it will be a military operation with attendant risks. That the planning and negotiating isn’t done yet isn’t a surprise. Neither is it a surprise that some people want the government to act now without proper planning, consideration, or preparation. We aren’t talking about a full-on invasion, of course, but any time you send military vehicles into another nation’s airspace or plant your personnel on the ground without their government’s permission, you face political and military risks. Part of the consideration--which, for some reason, you don’t think has happened--is whether the results are worth the risks.

So far, the UN and much of the world is also against forcing aid--and with good reason. Aid money isn’t infinite and neither are the supplies that need to be sent; any way to maximize that aid instead of wasting it is just good sense.

Meanwhile, Kouchner’s proposal of forcing aid into the country gained little traction. Confrontation would not be helpful, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs David Holmes said Thursday, a stance echoed by the European Commission, China, and other nations.

“I can understand the sentiment of France’s foreign minister, but I don’t think it’s the solution,” says James Schoff, associate director of Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge, Mass.

“You could get to a point where [the UN] could just do drops from the air. But for the whole assessment process – I don’t see how you could do that without working with locals on the ground,” he continues.

Analysts are hard pressed to recall a natural disaster where the UN’s “responsibility to protect” – a phrase conceived in 2005 largely in response to atrocities in Rwanda and Darfur – has been invoked.

There is probably no other possibility for delivering aid to Burma right now, Mr. Schoff continues, other than slow diplomatic gains and persistence. In a few days, Burma might come around, he says.

My guess--and it is just as much a guess as your assumption that the Bush administration isn’t even “considering” airdrops--is that aid will be forced if accommodation can’t be reached in the next week or so. And if that decision comes, it could well be at the expense of international popular opinion again. Currently, naval vessels are heading to set up a base of operations to the area and planes and equipment have been moved to establish an operating base in Thailand--these are all moves that will give us the capacity to quickly deliver aid to the country whether we are officially allowed or not. Not exactly the stuff of a nation sitting back, unwilling to help people in their time of suffering.

In other words, these are I think that it is likely that not only has direct aid been considered, but plans are in the works to actually deliver that aid in the most effective possible manner if we can’t reach an agreement with their government.

I’m sorry, but I don’t share your sense of outrage.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I Can’t Believe I Watched the Whole Thing: Stephen King’s The Mist

Stephen King’s The Mist is hideously bad. From its derivative, overblown script to its utterly cartoonish social and political commentary, from its monumentally bad special effects to its uneven acting, and all the way to the overly telegraphed and monstrously twisted ending, it embodies all that is bad about King’s movies and books. It is ham-handed and ugly with a simplistic view of our nation’s political and cultural differences; its characters are drawn obscenely from pure stereotype with not an ounce of sympathy for the depth of real folks; it’s dialog is tedious; its thrills are killed by the sheer unbelievability of the scary creatures and the stupidity of the plot; and its soundtrack (especially near the end) works hard to infuse emotion into a laughably contrived film.

What the hell was I thinking? I really should have known better and if I had seen it in a theater I would be pissed. Hell, I just rented it for $4.99 on pay-per-view and I’m pretty damn cranky.

Simple Instructions to Meet Your Own, Personal Level of Incarceration Tolerance

My life needs instructions as simple as this.

“If you want to be arrested follow Reverend Sharpton,” an organizer, his profile framed against the Welcome to Police Headquarters sign, barked into a bullhorn. “If you don’t want to be arrested, don’t follow Reverend Sharpton.” Fairly simple instructions. Having been arrested a stone’s throw from the site while covering a protest during the 2004 Republican National Convention I personally planned to err on the side of distance, especially once I saw the rolls of orange netting and ungainly clumps of white plastic handcuffs protruding off police officers’ belts.

Just sayin’.

Via Shawn Macomber, who gets to go to all the good protests. Of course, he also has to deal with spontaneous outbreaks of bad poetry and accusations of supporting the white supremacists.

Tucked in there is this bit of wisdom from Shawn:

An hour later trash cans were stuffed with “We Are All Sean Bell” signs. Because in the end, we really aren’t.

No, indeed, we are not. Which is something that I occasionally shout in public when someone stupidly says, “We are all Columbine.”

Offering sympathy and help in the face of tragedy and disaster is all well and good. The irritating need to insert oneself into the pain and loss of others is just arrogant.


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