Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CP the video star!

I have a post up at one of my sister sites about my infintessimally brief stint as a music video extra. Just so you know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Liberal Fascism"

PMI on how to review Jonah Goldberg's new book.

Kinda NSFW.

Kinda disturbing.

Way bemusing.

I think it says all I have to say on the topic.

24, '94-style

Volokh Conspiracy has the scoop on the original pilot for "24", dating back to 1994, when AOL ruled the 'net and savvy government agents carried pagers.

The Oscars leave me behind, once again

Of all the movies in the latest Oscar nominations, I've seen exactly four of them:

Of the four, the only one I didn't find disappointing on some level was "Transformers," and that was just because I had no expectations whatsoever.

Seriously, though, I'm pulling for "Bourne" for film editing--based on what little I know of the subject, that part of the film kicked ass (think high-speed fight scenes). On the other hand, I didn't like how the techno remix of Moby's "Extreme Ways" broke continuity with the first two films. Minor criticism, I guess.

What generation are you?

The whole Baby Boomer/Generation X/Generation Doofus nomenclature has always struck me as just a marketing tool, especially since so many people seem to be barely left out of categorization. My parents, born in 1944 and 1945, missed inclusion in the Baby Boom (beginning in 1946). I was born in 1974, and it was unclear for quite a while whether I fit into Generation X or not. Now generation labels are thrown around all over the place.

Here's an interesting test to determine your generation based on technology usage rather than date of birth--it makes more sense to group avid Wii-players together than just people born between Year A and Year B. As an example, I was at Ikea a few weeks ago and was mystified by a teenage girl who, while examining fabric samples and talking to her mother, was furiously writing text messages ("texting," as the kids say) on her phone at a remarkable rate. It seemed like super-human multitasking.

Apparently, though, I fall on the high end of tech savviness, as the quiz puts me firmly in Generation Y (18 points!). Chronologically, I'm near the end of Generation X, though.

I wore through a Nirvana cassette in high school and once broke a closet rod because of all the plaid flannel shirts I owned--that must merit inclusion in Generation X, right? Plus, I think a great many recent technological advances are stupid (HD television, mostly--a topic I'll expound upon in a later post.) I feel more Generation X than Y (although I never participated in a mosh pit), so maybe I'll just split the difference and say I'm part of Generation X.5.

Join us. We have coffee.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cloverfield and disaster porn

I haven't seen Cloverfield yet, but I'm sure I will at some point. The History Channel's "Life After People" premieres tonight, too. It gets me wondering--and I have no answer to this question--what it is about the destruction of familiar landmarks in movies that is so dang entertaining.

A few examples include Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and Armageddon/Deep Impact, a nice compilation of which is found here:

Think of it as disaster porn: the "money shot," if you will, of all these movies is the mega-CGI scenes of destruction and mayhem. Maybe we as a culture just need to be repeatedly desensitized after events like 9/11 and Katrina, and watching NYC get blown up/flooded/smashed by a monster/inundated by leprechauns is the way to do it.

Or maybe we're just a nation full of assholes. Hard to tell. Anyway, I prefer the much more sober, survival-against-all-odds Battlestar Galactica over fluff like Armageddon.

And besides, the spoilers about the Cloverfield monster make it look pretty silly.

Happy MLK Day!

"We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Classic animation remembered

A few of my favorites from Liquid Television on MTV back in the day.

1. Never sing with a baby dragon:

2. Never underestimate the power of laughter:

Annoyance challenge for 1/19/08

See how long you can sit through this video:

I made it just over 1 minute, out of 2:28 total.

Don't tell the Lorax about this

My inner hippie is shitting blue cupcakes over this, but this is one damn cool piece of logging equipment:

Thank you, John Deere. And seriously, let's not get the Lorax involved in this. He speaks for the trees.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Celebrating the 10th Monicaversary!

Drudge Retort has the news:
On the evening of Saturday January 17, 1998, the internet gossip merchant Matt Drudge posted a story that opened the most sensational scandal season in the history of the American presidency. He reported that Newsweek magazine had killed reporter Michael Isikoff's story about President Clinton's sexual relationship with a former intern. The next day he had her name: Monica Lewinsky.
Ah, sweet memories...times were so much simpler then, right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Today in douchebaggery

An out-of-control high school party makes international news, somehow.
Otherwise known as total douchebag Corey Worthington Delaney of Melbourne, Australia—a 16-year-old idiot who threw a party while his parents were on holiday that raged so out of control it has made international headlines: "More than 500 people turned up [the] house in Melbourne and police were called when neighbours complained about the noise. Some of the revelers went on a rampage and police cars were pelted with glass bottles while nearby houses and gardens were vandalised. No one was arrested but at least 30 officers, a helicopter and the dog squad were needed to break the party up."
Shakesville has the complete transcript of the interview with the kid, who is, in fact, a douchebag. I also wouldn't be surprised if he has bumper balls.

Today in good taste

Here are two bits of news that brightened my day, at least somewhat:

1. A former executive for the company that makes Enzyte has testified as to its total inefficacy, further noting as follows:
In some cases, company founder Steve Warshak required customers seeking a refund to get a notarized doctor's note stating the pill had no effect. "He said it was extremely unlikely someone would get anything notarized saying they had a small penis," testified James Teegarden Jr.
2. The Virginia General Assembly is considering a bill to outlaw "bumper nuts," those scrotum replicas you see hanging from the bumpers of trucks owned by people who don't have any friends. Urban Dictionary defines them as "prosthetic testicles used to adorn the oversized vehicles of those who think very highly of themselves." Lest you worry about the First Amendment implications, read on:
Objects that resemble human genitalia would be banned from display on vehicles, under a bill proposed Tuesday by Del. Lionell Spruill Sr.

The accessories, sometimes called "bumper nuts," often are found on the back of pickups.

"They're offensive to some folks," said Spruill, a Chesapeake Democrat. "It's OK to express yourself, but citizens have the right not to be subjected to something vulgar."
Remember, the legal standard for "obscenity" is if "when taken as a whole, [it] lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." I don't particularly support the bill, mostly on knee-jerk libertarian grounds, but I also don't really worry that banning truck testicles is merely a gateway to substantially greater government control of speech.

I also don't think it's speech. It's fake nuts hanging from a truck.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

9/11 conspiracy nuts sometimes actually make right-wing nuts sound reasonable by comparison

There was apparently much hubbub about this video that was removed from Google and then rejected by YouTube. Take a moment if you'd like to view it yourself. Now then, setting aside any political motives that may have been behind its removal, the video is just plain bad. I have many thoughts on the poor argumentative style of the video's author, at least based on one viewing about five minutes ago, in between phone calls at work. The video contains three clips from news reports that apparently aired on 9/11/2001:

1. Some schmuck off the street, shortly after the towers collapsed, gave a lucid explanation of how he witnessed the buildings collapse due to the intense heat of the fires.
2. Some schmuck on TV (in voiceover) offers his opinion that it is possible that the towers' collapse could have resulted solely from the force of the impact of the airplanes and the heat of the resulting fires.
3. Some other schmuck on TV, also in voiceover, explains how Osama Bin Laden, from his safehaven in Afghanistan, has been poised to launch attacks on the U.S. with as many as 3,000 fighters, etc., etc.

The video offers these three clips, again and again, as proof of...something, but I'm not sure what. Clip 1 is shown to demonstrate, presumably, that no ordinary shmuck off the street on a morning as insane as 9/11/01 could possibly offer such a lucid explanation of things unless he was planted there by the true architects of the attacks. I think Clip 2 is offered to make the same points. Clip 3 is apparently offered to show how quickly the puppetmaster of 9/11 introduced the meme that it was all the doing of the evil jihadis. The final conclusion of the video--its exhortation to its viewers? "Think about it."

OK, I've thought about it, and whoever edited this video is either full of shit or so determined to accuse the Bush administration (or whoever else is intended to fill the puppetmaster role, since it is never made explicitly clear--I'm sticking with Puppetmasters, I think) of even more mass murder and mayhem that s/he can so easily ignore the basic rules of logic and argument structure. This is actually no different than the simplistic good vs. evil meme that is behind every thought, word, and deed of the Bush administration, just focused differently. The Bush administration, in this view, is Evil, and anything that helps them in their Evil quest must have been their doing. Or something like that.

Clip 1: The schmuck with the unusual clarity of thought and voice in the midst of such a tragedy. Was he stating an opinion of what he saw, mustering up as much gravitas as he could for what would likely be his only appearance on telelvision ever? Was he in fact a plant put in place by the Puppetmasters to introduce the "myth" that the towers were brought down by airplanes? How the hell should I know?

Clip 2: The schmuck on TV with the opinions re: the cause of the collapses. Was he a readily available public official who could offer the public something, anything, other than the news anchors' voices on a day when almost everyone sat glued to the TV? Was he purposefully placed in the studio by the Puppetmasters to further introduce Schmuck #1's elaborate hoax about the airplanes? How the hell should I know?

Clip 3: The question here seems to be how did this schmuck have such a detailed and comprehensive report prepared by 9:30 a.m. on 9/11/01? Could it be that Osama bin Laden was already a subject of much concern after the bombings in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and on the U.S.S. Cole in Aden harbor, and therefore news agencies likely had information on him and his operation(s) at hand and needed something, anything, other than the news anchors' voices on a day when almost everyone sat glued to the TV? Didn't America already have a tendency (whether justified or not) to think of Arabs whenever something blew up? Could it be that this was yet another part of the Puppetmasters' plot to...uh...bring up some Arab guy to distract the public from the fact that...okay, I really don't know where the Puppetmaster argument would go from here.

Just a few points (keep in mind, of course, that I am limiting myself to the clip in question and what I guess could be called "conventional wisdom" about the 9/11 attacks; i.e. I have not taken the time to do background research on the specific clips in the video, beyond the commentary offered in the video and the contents of the clips themselves):

- Schmuck #1, to my knowledge, has never publicly opined on the crisis outside of his fifteen seconds of fame on that terrible morning. The conclusion that fires from the jet fuel weakened the steel supports, blah blah blah, came from other people later on. I don't know who Schmuck #1 is, but I assume that if he was actually quoted in, say, the 9/11 Commission Report as an expert whose opinions and testimony prove the "fire hypothesis," then the author of this video would have mentioned something about that. So either Schmuck #1 is just an unexpectedly cool customer with detailed opinions offered in a crisis situation, or he is part of a conspiracy so large that it must include both engineering experts and shmuck-on-the-street testimony.

- Regarding Schmuck #2, insert the entire above paragraph, but change "schmuck-on-the-street" to "schmuck-in-the-studio."

- As for Schmuck #3, I didn't hear him say anything about bin Laden that I hadn't already learned, prior to September 2001 from other news sources.

From what I have been able to read or watch (and stomach) regarding the whole 9/11 conspiracy movement, just about all of the "evidence" is based on strange turns of phrase on the day of the attacks or from officials during and after that day and from video evidence that can only be seen if your TV color and contrast is adjusted correctly. There is no (or very very little) positive evidence of any actual event, statement, or deed--rather, it is all based on bizarre inconsistencies in individual officials' statements and the misapplication of various logical concepts, such as Occam's Razor (e.g. here). It reminds me a bit of those videos people have of their dogs, where they alone are convinced that the dog is speaking when it's really just dog noises. Schmuck # 1 and 2, by themselves, prove nothing except that the opinion of the "fire hypothesis" might have been quite common on the morning of 9/11/2001. Schmuck #3 doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, and he only proves that we have a knee-jerk reaction to suspect Arab terrorists when something blows up.

I do not know the author of his video, I do not know where he stands on the broader issues, and I do not know exactly where he stands on who is ultimately responsible for 9/11 (because he certainly doesn't say so in this video). I can only assume that he is saying that it could not possibly have been just the work of Arabs and burning jet fuel. Beyond that, we might as well say the Flying Spaghetti Monster did it.

Let me tell you where I stand: I think a bunch of crazed religious zealots carried out a plan to do as much damage as they could to the U.S. as they could, and they happened to succeed (from their point of view, they got lucky). I think a president and his administration, who were well on their way to permanent mediocrity in early fall 2001, seized upon the event in the most craven, cynical way imaginable in order to solidify their hold on power. I think that any involvement the administration might have had with the terror plot prior to 9/11 was limited to ignorance and negligence. I think the administration's obsession with secrecy, an issue long before the morning of 9/11/2001, added to some people's natural suspicion that those who are in power will do anything to keep and/or increase it, and that this same obsession with secrecy has only encouraged stranger and stranger conspiracy theories, until it is difficult to distinguish between those who contend the Bush administration allowed 9/11 to happen through neglect and those who say that the jet airliners that crashed into the WTC were drone aircraft piloted remotely by someone else.

I also think that Dick Cheney probably masturbates to the stories about how he is the Puppetmaster orchestrating this whole thing from the very beginning, only wishing that it were truly so.

Here's a "common sense" question for the conspiracy theorists--one that I have not yet seen answered at all: Considering how wrong the administration has been about pretty much eveything else they've ever done, how did they manage to get this one, albeit enormous, plot to go so incredibly right?