Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Greater Generation?

MANIFESTO

I've frequently stated my antipathy for my generation. (In many instances—I'll not name names—I wish they had died before they got old.) Needless to say, the fact that some of its representatives may cause the demise of the United States hasn't made me change my mind. Today in Salon, Garrison Keillor sums up the problem with the Boomers better, perhaps, than I've ever seen it stated. The salient passage:
This country is squashing its young. We're sending them to die in a war we don't believe in anymore. We're cheating them so we can offer tax relief to the rich. And we're stealing from them so that old gaffers like me, who want to live forever, can go in for an MRI if we have a headache.
I've often said that I fear for Generation Y and its progeny. Certainly, the Boomers, led by the king of the frat boys, haven't done much to provide them a legacy.

And what kind of legacy am I referring to? Something like this:
The American Community Survey for 2005, the Census Bureau's new annual demographic study ... estimated that the median income for individuals nationwide dropped [in the last year] -- men's about 1.8 percent and women's about 1.3 percent ...

Tuesday's good news -- that median household income increased from $45,817 in 2004 to $46,326 in 2005 -- raised more questions than it answered about the nation's working population ...

How could household income go up and individual income drop? Men's income fell to $41,386 and women's to $31,858.

David Johnson, chief of the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, suggested there were more people working per household to make ends meet, but working at individual jobs that pay less.
In other words, while household income has risen, it's only because people are taking on additional jobs at Wal-Mart or McDonald's just to make ends meet.

Tellingly,
"What you'd expect to see during a recovery is poverty going down and income going up. It's disturbing," Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan policy research group, said. "Corporate profits are up by record levels, but it's not trickling down to working families."
Golly. Ya think? How many times do the oligarchs have to be convinced that the Laffer Curve and its supply side mumbo jumbo is exactly what George H.W. Bush described it as in 1980: voodoo economics. It doesn't work; it's never worked; and it simply gives the haves the opportunity to become the have mores.

If this kind of inequity continues, Generation Y will have an extremely tough row to hoe.

Pre-emptive MVP rant

SPORTING GOODS

Sports radio and internet has started to push the Ryan Howard for MVP argument. The argument is that Howard, who leads the league in HR's and RBI's, has carried the Phillies into the thick of the Wild Card race, while Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are in cruise control due to the Mets' huge lead.

I won't bring Albert Pujols into the argument because it just makes it complicated, and I'll pick Beltran over Reyes because the stats support that. Just for fun, here's a comparison of some key stats between Beltran and Howard:

Win Shares:
Beltran: 1st
Howard: 10th

Offensive win shares:
Beltran: 3rd
Howard: 7th

OBP:
Beltran: 11th
Howard: 15th

SLG:
Beltran: 2nd
Howard: 3rd

OPS:
Beltran: 2nd
Howard: 4th

Runs created:
Howard: 2nd'
Beltran: 4th

RBI:
Howard: 1st
Beltran: 2nd

HR:
Howard: 1st
Beltran: 3rd

Runs:
Beltran: 2nd
Howard: 19th

Times mentioned as gold glove candidate:
Beltran: frequently
Howard: 0

Team games over .500:
Beltran: 32
Howard: 1

There are two things that sportswriters tend to overemphasize when voting for the MVP: RBI and late season performance. For evidence of the latter, see Guerrero, Vlad and Tejada, Miguel. Two years ago Vlad Guerrero won the MVP with a torrid two week stretch at the end of the season, including six homers in the last six games. Meanwhile, Gary Sheffield lost out on the award, largely because his hot first four months allowed the Yankees to run away and hide in the AL East. In sportswriter fantasy land, two weeks > four months. For evidence of the RBI effect, look at just about any year, especially those when Juan Gonzalez won the MVP.

So, Beltran has three things going against him. In addition to Jose Reyes likely splitting some votes with him, Beltran falls short in the RBI category (even though he is second in the league) and in late season heroics (as any Beltran walk-offs in September will barely make the first half hour of SportsCenter).

Carlos Beltran should not be a victim of his own success while Ryan Howard leads the Phillies drive to finish over .500. Furthermore, the discrepancy in Win Shares posted above is largely because Ryan Howard has barely made a greater contribution at first than David Ortiz. Zone ratings agree, with Ryan Howard ranked as the second worst fielding first baseman in the National League (needless to say first is the easiest position to play), while Beltran is second in the league in centerfield (one of the most difficult positions). If Papi couldn't get elected because he doesn't field, how can Ryan Howard?

Ryan Howard is a monster. He is one of the most feared hitters in the majors, with good reason. But on August 30, he is not the NL MVP, nor should he finish top 3. But he will, unless the Phillies fall flat on their face in September.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pure Evil

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Jack Nicholson plays an Irish gangster in Martin Scorsese's The Departed. How bad is Jack? His sadistic Southie wears a Yankees cap on the streets of Boston in the movie.

Wow. This guy is evil.

Bush League

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I'm a huge Entourage fan and the great Jeremy Piven is the best thing on that show. On Sunday, he finally won a much-deserved Emmy award. (The Emmys are a notoriously lame voting body and passed over Piven last year in the same category.) Well, before this year's ceremony, Piven had to endure something far worse; being interviewed by Billy Bush.

I wonder if his brilliant smackdown qualifies for an Emmy for next year. After all, his performance is longer than Ellen Burstyn's nominated part from this year. I also love how Bush keeps laughing like he's in on the joke. We're all friends! We love kidding each other! I think I'm gonna puke.

3-4-5

SPORTING GOODS


3. Mark Loretta
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. Eric Hinske

I was shocked to find out the Red Sox were shut out last night!

I hope Papi is OK...

One year later

MANIFESTO

Requiescant in pace.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The absolutely Impossible Dream

SPORTING GOODS

Before I even had the chance to write the eulogy on the Sox season, they did it for me by being swept by the last place Mariners over the weekend. I didn't get a chance to see any of the games, so if anyone did, can you tell me if the Red Sox even brought bats to the games? Or did they just stand there and wait for their turn to take the field again? Or maybe they grabbed some salmon from Pike Place Fish Market downtown and went to bat with that.

Baseball Prospectus Odds calculator gives the Sox a 4.2% chance of coming back and making the playoffs this year. For perspective, that's lower than the Marlins, Diamondbacks, and a host of other crappy National League teams.

Meanwhile, Mets fans, BP gives the Mets this chance of making the playoffs: 99.99985%

By that math, if they played the remainder of the season 6,667 times, the Mets would likely miss the playoffs once.

It won't be long

MANIFESTO

Hey, here's good news.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki predicted it "will not be long" before US troops can start withdrawing from his country but would not commit to a timetable.

Maliki said in an interview with CNN that Iraqi security forces were growing stronger alongside the 138,000 US troops still in Iraq nearly three and a half years after the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Oops. Maybe not.

Another day older ...*

MANIFESTO

The New York Times is reporting this morning that
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers ...

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”
So you work harder and you get less. Sounds like Boxer's mantra in Animal Farm to me. Meanwhile, Dear ("You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie") Leader is falling all over himself promising to make the Katrina situation right a year after he should've done so. Millions continue to live in trailers or motels while the Bush administration covetously holds onto $33 billion of the funds that Congress approved for rebuilding. And “the golden era of profitability" continues for the Republicans' sacrosanct corporations.

* Look here for arcane musical reference.

What's good for the goose ...

MANIFESTO

I'm very glad to see that the Fox news channel staffers have been released. Needless to say, the blogosphere has much to say about the event. Here's one conservative blogger's take on the subject:
The terrorists had them "convert" to Islam at gunpoint. Somewhere in their sick world, they will gain points for that. The "Arab street" will believe it ... and another chapter of "Islam defeating the West" will be written.

Is it just me, or are these idiots like little children? "Say you believe in my pagan god or I'll chop off your head."
I just can't stand these morons. This one can't see that the mentality he describes is exactly like the Bushies' version of foreign policy: Convert to democracy, or we'll destroy your country. Oh well. I'm sure that representatives from both sides of the political spectrum have their blind spots—excluding me, of course.

Friday, August 25, 2006

In the sweet by and by

MANIFESTO

Florida Congresswoman Katherine Harris, the salacious termagent who almost singlehandedly made Dear Leader the US's forty-third president in 2000, is running against incumbent Bill Nelson for one of the state's US Senate seats. She's got an interesting platform.
The Bible says we are to be salt and light. And salt and light means not just in the church and not just as a teacher or as a pastor or a banker or a lawyer, but in government and we have to have elected officials in government and we have to have the faithful in government and over time, that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women and if people aren’t involved in helping godly men in getting elected than we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our founding fathers intended and that’s certainly isn’t what God intended ...

If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong.
Fortunately, this harebrain is trailing Nelson in an election-related poll by 35 percentage points.

[via Salon.]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On to Tehran! (again)

MANIFESTO

There they go again:
Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. [Needless to say,] they echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.
Cripes, this is getting tiresome. It's bad enough to think that these morons never learned the lessons of Vietnam and another autocratic administration, but these idiots can't even learn from their own mistakes! Further, the fact that the US armed forces can't recruit enough personnel to support current obligations apparently doesn't even figure into the warmongers' equation.

The US can't get rid of these cretins soon enough. Unfortunately, we've still got nearly 2½ years left of this nonsense.

Marshall and Yglesias comment on this all-too-familiar jobbing of intelligence.

Lectio brevior lectio potior

MANIFESTO

Dear Leader's summer reading list has gotten a certain amount of press lately. The White House has released a list of what The Decider has whiled away the hours with recently. A number of weighty tomes are included therein. Of course, some doubtful liberals question whether the books were actually read, but that's just elitist enmity.

This sounds like a great opportunity for an enterprising librarian. Many libraries create displays featuring Oprah's Book Club books and the volumes just fly off the shelves. I think a comparable display could be made with equal success. Few could resist reading the very books read by a man who's admitted he doesn't even read newspapers, preferring getting "the news ... from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

That ... and the steroids

SPORTING GOODS

Call me naive, but I remain hopeful that many of today's stars aren't using HGH, never touched steroids, and are as good as they are because they are just good players.

So I found this article about some of the potential superhuman abilities behind Albert Pujols' success to be uplifting - and even if you are cynical, it is still interesting.

Slavery

MANIFESTO

Rummy wasn't kidding when he said that the US goes to war with the army it has. The oligarchs have got them, and they're just not going to let them go.
The Marine Corps said Tuesday that it would begin calling Marines back to active-duty service on an involuntary basis to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan — the latest sign that the American force is under strain and a signal that the military is having trouble persuading young veterans to return.

Marine commanders will call up formerly active-duty service members now classified as reservists because the Corps failed to find enough volunteers among its emergency reserve pool to fill jobs in combat zones. The call-ups will begin in several months, summoning as many as 2,500 reservists at a time to serve for a year or more ...

For much of the conflict, the Army also has had to use "stop-loss orders" — which keep soldiers in their units even after their active-duty commitments are complete — as well as involuntary call-ups of its reservists. Both actions have been criticized as a "back-door draft" and are unpopular with service members, many of whom say they have already done their part.
This is where the story gets a little interesting as people from both ends of the political spectrum have reacted to this hideous decision.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said the Marines' ready reserve call-up was an example of the wear and tear the Iraq war had inflicted on the armed services, a stress that could hurt the military in the months and years to come.

"The right way to address the issue is to increase the size of the military so you do not have to rely on the call-up of the individual ready reserve," Reed said. "We should have raised the strength of the Army and Marine Corps three years ago…. It does underscore the strain that is being placed on the land forces — the Army and the Marines."

Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written about what he calls a military manpower crisis, argued that the involuntary call-ups were the latest sign that a larger ground force was needed. The increasing length of combat tours, the extensive use of National Guard combat units and the stop-loss orders all show the military is scrambling to meet the demands placed on it, he said.

"It is one of an avalanche of symptoms that the ground forces are overstretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Kagan said. "This administration needs to understand this is not a short-term problem, and it really needs a systemic fix in the size of the ground forces."
Notice that neither is explicitly willing to refer to the elephant in the room—the elephant spelled d-r-a-f-t. God knows the Bushies won't touch this point. The Iraq invasion and occupation is unpopular enough; to support it via a draft would insure Democratic wins in November and beyond. Moreover, college campuses have been relatively quiet (well, relative to 35 years ago) about the Iraq fiasco; to make college-age students vulnerable to serving in an unnecessary war in 130° temperatures would make college campuses hotbeds of dissent. Even Bush-supporting parents of draft-eligible men might all of a sudden feel that maybe Dear Leader isn't someone who should be sustained.

I've blogged about this egregious situation before, and now, more than two years later, the military is still recycling the same poor bastards who happened to be in the military in 2003. At this point it looks like they'll continue to be involuntarily re-upped until they're decrepit or dead.

Once again, the Bushies show just how fubar they've made American military forces.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Did he, or didn't he?

MANIFESTO

Not that I care in the least, but more and more people are starting to think that John Mark Karr just wanted a free plane ride.

Let's face it: This story is just another in a long series of missing blonde stories that the puerile American public can't get enough of.

Gender politics

MANIFESTO

From Boy George's press conference yesterday:
Israel ... has a right to defend herself, but Israel ought to be cautious about how she defends herself.
This feminization of Israel is something I've been noticing in news reports since 2006's version of Boudica started hurling missiles across its northern border.

A quick Google search finds that this effeminate connection is hardly unique to Dear Leader.

So, when did the bellicose Israel become a woman?

Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

There are three reasons I go the see a movie in the theater instead of waiting for it to come out on video: First, I want to see it while everyone is taking about it. Next, I want to see it on the big screen. And last, I want to see it with an audience. These criteria hold true for about 99% of all the movies I go to. Snakes on a Planeis different. It is included in that rarefied 1% of releases where my least important reason to go to the theater becomes the most important. Movies like this are all about audience participation, which is precisely why I chose to go see it in Times Square. I tend to avoid 42nd street multiplexes because of their notoriously outspoken crowds. But for Snakes on a Plane, these people, whom I normally scorn, become my cheering, screaming, hooting fellow connoisseurs of cheese.

The fun started as soon as I got to my seat. By wearing my original, internet-purchased bootleg T-shirt, I was letting everyone know that I was into this one. I wasn't alone. When I saw the folks behind me had rubber snakes wrapped around their necks, I knew they were fellow travellers. As soon as the lights dimmed, cheers erupted. A raucous chant of "SNAKES! SNAKES! SNAKES! SNAKES!" filled the auditorium and didn't quiet until the fist preview was already over. My brother was "ssssssss"-ing the whole time.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm 'ssssssss'-ing," he said. "Like a snake."

"Stop that. No one can hear you over the cheering."

Then the cheering died down and I realized many, many other people were also "ssssssss"-ing.

"See?" he said.

Now the entire theater was "ssssssss"-ing.

"Oh."

As readers of Daily411 know, I have been looking forward to Snakes on a Plane ever since I heard the premise. Maybe "looking forward to" is the wrong way to put it. Perhaps "giddy" is more appropriate. Or "foaming at the mouth." Like most early SoaPers, I was immediately attracted to the So Stupid It's Great concept. And casting Samuel L. Jackson gave it some respectability. (Not a lot, but a little.) But I must admit, my enthusiasm for Snakes had started to wane. For some reason, it seemed funnier when less people knew about it. Now it was a phenomenon and I actually considered bagging the whole thing. I rationalized this thinking by deluding myself into thinking I knew exactly what the experience of seeing the actual movie would be like. Why bother going?, I asked myself. You got the shirt, you blogged a few posts about it, now put it to bed and wait for something more exciting to come along. But now, with an entire theater "ssssssss"-ing around me, I realized that I was wrong. It was different actually being here. It was different like watching a baseball game in person is different than watching it on TV. It was different like going to a concert is different that listening to your iPod. The act of Being There changes everything because it forces you to use all of your senses all at the same time.

My deepest hope was that Snakes on a Plane would be less a Bad/Good movie and more a Good Movie Disguised as a Bad Movie. What is the difference, you ask? A Bad/Good movie is a movie so bad you actually like it. Showgirls is a good example. So is Road House and The Color of Night and Commando or anything starring an early Steven Seagal. But no matter how much affection you may have for these movies, you must always acknowledge they are bad. That is part of their charm.

A Good Movie Disguised as a Bad Movie is something entirely different. It is a movie that looks like a bad movie but is actually a lot smarter than people give it credit for. Deep Blue Sea is a great example. So is Starship Troopers. Any movie that would kill off its biggest star just as he is finishing his Rallying The Troops monologue is a Good Movie. Any movie that casts Doogie Howser and a bunch of 90210-lookalikes and places them in the middle of a Giant-Bugs-As-Metaphor-For-Fascism storyline is a Great movie. I once had a fight with an co-worker about Starship. Voices were raised. Tensions simmered long afterwards. And no matter what he says, I will argue 'til the End of Days that Starship Troopers is one of the great satires in movie history.

So how was Snakes on a Plane? I think it was somewhere in the middle. It did a good job of establishing stereotypical stock characters and then having them do something that we don't necessarily expect or see coming. It gave the bimbo a lapdog named "Mary Kate." It gave said dog a terrible, surprising, hilarious death. It had pretty good jokes about who you’d rather have suck the venom out of your wounds. When Samuel L. Jackson discovered the snakes were being driven into a frenzy by pheromone-laced leis, it had him extol: “Great. Snakes on crack.” When a couple of tight-bodied mile-high club wannabes are attacked in the bathroom, the snake doesn't just attack, it latched firmly onto her silicone-enhanced breast. You were going to see some crazy deaths in this one, we were being told. And we did. One guy got it in the penis while taking a leak, another got it in the eye. A fat woman had a snake go up her muumuu while she slept. A kid got it. A cat got it. Anything and everything on the plane got it.

But it also got awfully repetitive. It didn’t really come up with a clever way to up the stakes. It never had Jackson have to outsmart a cobra or trick a python. I think they could have had more fun with material as ridiculous as this. As Jeffrey Wells said, “Samuel L. Jackson should have had gotten into a last-minute wrestling match with the big anaconda and then blown a hole in the side of the plane and the snake had gotten sucked out. The camera could have followed it all the way down and watched it splatter on the deck of a cruise ship.” He’s right. This kind of thinking would have taken the movie to different level; the level of Good Movie Disguised as a Bad Movie. Alas, it will forever be known as a Good/Bad Movie.

So I agree with Darlucky; it was not a great movie. But it was an indisputably great time at the movies. The only comparable experience I’ve had is when I went to see the re-release of the original Star Wars. Then as now, there was the added energy created by the audience's shared affection for the material. The difference now was that the audience had already bonded over a movie none of us had ever seen. At Star Wars, we cheered the stuff we loved and had all seen a dozen times. For Snakes, we were cheering about stuff we had all read about on the internet. And none more so that the infamous “I’m tired of these motherf@#king snakes on this motherf@#king plane!” line; you couldn’t even hear the end of it over the roar of the crowd.

Unfortunately, if you are interested in Snakes on a Plane, you may have already missed your best opportunity. It requires not just a large crowd but an enthusiastic one. Alcohol is probably a good idea too. Based on the lackluster box office numbers, I doubt anyone is going to be encountering any sell-out shows from here on out. (And we probably won't get any of the funny knock-offs I was looking forward to. Grizzy Bears on a Cruise Ship, anyone?) But I may be wrong. So get your butt to Times Square, or wherever the noisiest, rudest, most popcorn-throwingest crowds in your area go, and see this motherf@#king movie.

Pure gold

SPORTING GOODS

Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin (he of the three pitch, ERA=infinity performance on Sunday night) on the weekend's debacle:
"When God builds character, he doesn't just throw someone together and just let him walk away. He puts a person together and then he walks him though the fire. All the chafe if burned off and what you have is pure gold. That's how God works and I believe that's what God is doing to our team right now. We're going through the fire."
To paraphrase the renowned sage, Bart Simpson: Great. Now he's whiny and evangelical.

Day by day, the Sox are taking on a bunker mentality.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Last week's news ... today!

MANIFESTO

I was out of town last week and didn't have much chance to blog, but I kept my eye on worldly goings on. While the weather was absolutely gorgeous, the events of the week were ultimately pretty awful.

First, I saw that, while an Appeals Court judge ruled that the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program is unconstitutional and should be shut down, we got the usual crapola from
Administration officials [who] suggested the ruling, if it stands, will increase the risk of a terrorist attack.

"We couldn't disagree more" with the court opinion, White House spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement. "The whole point is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks before they can be carried out. That's what the American people expect from their government."
No. The American people expect from their government the protection of the Fourth Amendment and established law, but this is an old argument. Dear Leader, realist to the core,
criticized [the] federal court ruling, ... declaring that opponents "do not understand the nature of the world in which we live."
Apparently, the world in which we live makes it necessary for a despot to rule the US. The ruling is still on ice as it's appealed by the Justice Department (a misnomer if ever there was one), which seeks to sanction the administration's insistence on illegal spying without checks and balances to prevent abusing the rights of Americans.

Second, the atrocities at Haditha started getting more attention.
A Pentagon investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha has found possible concealment or destruction of evidence by U.S. Marines involved in the case ...

Two Defense Department officials briefed on the investigation said the unit's logbook had been tampered with and an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone was not given to investigators until a top-ranking commander in Iraq intervened, the newspaper reported.
Like many comparable events, the coverup is bound to be every bit as bad as the original episode. However, I see that now Marines are denying any post-massacre coverup, so we'll have to see where this ends up. Apparently, such blatant disregard for innocent human life just goes to show the nature of the world in which we live.

Finally, Connecticut's Ned Lamont fans got a rude awakening when it was reported that
Ned Lamont, whose anti-war campaign rattled the political landscape with a victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, is gaining voter support, but Lieberman still leads the race by double digits, a poll released Thursday shows.
I'm not surprised since I anticipated Republicans supporting Lieberman months ago, but it's still painful to see this spelled out in black and white. And, to show just how desperately Holy Joe needs his Republican opponent to stay in the race, the poll showed Alan Gold's Schlesinger's support at a less than robust 4 percent among registered Connecticut voters. Josh Marshall blogged about the poll here.

I suppose I should end this post by bringing things up to date, so here goes. Dear Leader held a press conference today, and it was another ridiculous performance in a long string of ridiculous performances. Georgie One Note used the word "terror" or "terrorist" no fewer than 23 times, showing that we've really changed not a whit since September 10, 2001. (Mr. Magnanimous also announced "that America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million." This pittance after he sat back for weeks and allowed Israel to pound the crap out of Lebanon to the tune of billions and billions of dollars worth of damage.) Various commentaries can be found about the press conference here, and here, and here.

In addition to the fact that Garrulous George cannot speak his way out of a paper bag, the things he says are just fatuous. I can't begin to parse the entire press conference, but I was struck by what he continues to say about Lebanon:
Hopefully, over time, Hezbollah will disarm. You can't have a democracy with an armed political party willing to bomb its neighbor without the consent of its government, or deciding, well, let's create enough chaos and discord by lobbing rockets.

And so the reality is, in order for Lebanon to succeed—and we want Lebanon's democracy to succeed—the process is going to—the Lebanese government is eventually going to have to deal with Hezbollah.
For all of his concern about democracy in Lebanon, the Great Decider sure has some dictatorial ideas about it. Let it not be forgotten: Hezbollah is a political party whose members have been duly elected by the people of Lebanon. (Currently, about 1 in 8 members of the Lebanese parliament are members of Hezbollah. Given the wanton destruction wreaked by Israel—and the US—in the last six weeks, want to bet what the ratio will be after the next elections?) Dear Leader says that he wants democracy to thrive in Lebanon, but it's obvious that he wishes for it only on his terms. (This benighted notion of democracy isn't entirely different from that held by a certain Northeast senator.) As long as the democratic process produces results that are amenable to right-wing Republicans (or, God knows, Israel), then democracy is sacrosanct. But if the outcomes of democratic exercises (e.g., elections) are antithetical to the aforesaid, then they're condemned or overridden. As usual, Dear Leader wants to have it both ways. Fortunately, US citizens are seeing the smoke and mirrors for what they are.

I'll go next ...

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I'll admit it, I didn't love "Snakes on a Plane," and there were probably nearly as many things that I could make fun of after walking out of that movie than there were after my least favorite movie of all time, "Batman and Robin."

So why did my jaw hurt from smiling 20 minutes after I left the theater?

Honestly, I wouldn't tell anyone to go see this movie. Because at this point, I think anyone who hasn't seen it has missed the window of opportunity. Every day that goes by this movie will get a little worse, simply because it needs to be seen in a movie theater full of people that are genuinely excited to see it. Looking at the opening weekend numbers, that's not a good sign for the studio.

But I was lucky enough to see SoaP in the perfect situation: 10pm on a Friday with a few friends who were as excited as I was, in the popular Times Square theater, after a long week and a few frosty beverages, surrounded by an excited, loud, hissing crowd that made the movie even more enjoyable.

The plot was laughable, the direction terrible, the acting inconsistent, and the camera work vertigo-inducing, but in the end it was still enjoyable and lived up to the hype. Hell, waiting 80 minutes for Samuel Jackson to say his most anticipated line while the crowd went bonkers was worth it on its own.

But I wonder, even with all the publicity, if Samuel Jackson is asking what would have happened if "Deep Blue Sea" was released in 2006, called "Smart Sharks," and he was given the retort in the following exchange:

Dr. Susan McCallister: As a side effect the sharks got smarter.

Samuel Jackson: You stupid b****!

and then added: I'm tired of these mother f***in' sharks!

Because I don't think "Snakes" has legs. The weekend of August 17th it was an event. But the weekend of September 15th it's going to be a crappy action movie that is ready to close down in most theaters. I'm glad I caught it when it was an event.

Looking forward to the thoughts of any of this site's bloggers that saw the movie with me ...

March 5, 1770 redux

SPORTING GOODS

I wish I could say I didn't see this coming, but I actually uttered the words, "Boston Massacre" last Wednesday.

The basic problem with the Red Sox is that they've become devoid of pitchers who can actually put the ball over the plate. Even Papelbon threw over 40 pitches in getting six outs last night. Thus, when his closer was spent, Francona had no choice but to bring in the ineffective Hansen. This weekend will certainly become the Boston Massacre for this generation's Sox fans. (I'm talking to you, DarLucky.)

However, other, more weighty, items are occurring—although you wouldn't know it by the current hideous news coverage—and I'll ventilate over them later today.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'll start

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Salon.com's Stephanie Zacharek says of Snakes on a Plane,
The picture is sometimes funny, in an elbow-jabbing way, and yet it's essentially humorless: There's no wit to the way the snake attacks are presented, and the movie breaks faith with the audience by killing off a cat, a Chihuahua and the sweet honeymoon couple, just for kicks. (At one point, it looks as if the Chihuahua, a spoiled little thing named Mary Kate, is going to be the hero of the day, which is just the sort of goofy touch the movie needs.)

... "Snakes on a Plane" could have been great, good-bad fun. All it had to do was live up to its name.
However, most reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are positive about the movie.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Everything is Rent

WHATEVER

In case you were wondering about the state of the rental market in Manhattan, my wife and I just learned that the apartment that we vacated yesterday will be going for $1895/month. That's a 31% increase on what they were asking for three years ago, when we moved in.

That is for a 325 square foot one bedroom in a walk up building. It has a dishwasher and is pretty quiet, but beyond that just a normal little apartment. Wow. Just, wow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ewwww!

FOOD FIGHT

I didn't want this to be true when I heard it on the local news this morning, but Shake Shack had 15 volations during their last health inspection. Yuck! There were some big offenders on the list too. At 28 points, a restaurant will require re-inspection; Shake Shack's violations added up to 140! It's the kind of news I wish I didn't know, but I'd recheck the site to see if they've cleaned up their act before waiting an hour for a burger.

Monday, August 14, 2006

'Nuff Said

Friday, August 11, 2006

Attention all wingnuts

MANIFESTO

Here's an event that's sure to make Rush, Ann, Sean, and all the other idiots apoplectic.
Emily Lamont's vote in Tuesday's primary battle between her father and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was thrown out yesterday after the Democratic registrar of voters in the family's hometown, Greenwich, determined she was ineligible ...

Lamont went to vote with her father at Greenwich High School on Tuesday morning. While a throng of media photographers surrounded her father around a voting machine, Lamont was told by the poll moderator that she was welcome to register as a Democrat but would not be allowed to vote.

The moderator, Dolores Trudden, said Lamont protested that she was a Democrat. After the media left the polling place, Emily returned with her mother and a campaign staff member, Trudden said.

During a tense exchange, the female staff member, whose identity is not known, demanded Lamont be given a provisional ballot.
It's the "tense exchange" that's sure to get the attention here. No doubt, the aforementioned fascists will blame Lamont and his staff for bullying tactics and tactics contrary to democratic principles—or some such nonsense. No doubt there'll be no reference to the Gestapo tactics Republicans used in Florida in 2000, which did appreciably more damage than one illegitimate vote in a state Democratic primary.

I'm waiting.

Playing the turrist card

MANIFESTO

Was there any doubt that Senator Sanctimony, that paragon of all that is holy, would stoop to calling Ned Lamont a puppet of "the terrorists"? Ho hum.
Lieberman said [Thursday] Lamont's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq will only embolden the terrorists and put the U.S. at risk.

"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again."
As others have pointed out, this kind of crap is right out of the Rove playbook and is almost word for word what Mr. 28% approval rating said about Lamont on Wednesday. Lamont certainly sees the similarity and can only say "Wow" about it.

Ned, welcome to the pious world of Joseph I. Lieberman, where anyone who disagrees with Senator Sanctimony is a damnable sinner, or, at the least, a terrorist sympathizer.

What a craptacular, to borrow a word, three months it's bound to be in the Constitution State.

(I'll be away for the next week where I'll be getting most of my news from a newspaper that has most of its priorities straight. I hope to be able to blog every so often.)

UPDATE — Media Matters discusses this turn of events in the campaign in great detail.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Breathtaking

SPORTING GOODS

Mike Piazza just hit a solo home run vs. the Mets and the Shea faithful gave him a standing ovation. And they didn't let up until he gave them a curtain call. For those who are unaware, Piazza now plays for the Padres.
Has anyone ever seen a visiting player give a curtain call before? This makes me proud to be a Met fan.

Electrifying.

UPDATE (6th Inning): Holy crap, he just did it again and they gave him another ovation! This is unbelievable. "Sense of the moment" indeed.

Lamont's Victory

MANIFESTO

Before everybody gets too excited about Lamont's win yesterday, I think a few thoughts are in order.

First, Lamont didn't win by what many pundits in Connecticut were predicting. When I first heard the spread at 9:30 last night, and it was 56-44, I felt pretty good, and thought that the polls and the pundits had been right. As Ned's lead slipped as the next ninety minutes progressed though, I wasn't feeling too sure of things; I'm still not.

Second, with an incredibly incompetent Republican challenger, it's clear that Connecticut's Republicans (and, no matter Connecticut's blue state status, there are many of them throughout the state) will have a real choice come November. They won't have to hold their noses and vote for Schlesinger (as they did for Giordano six years ago) because they'll be able to vote for someone who's already shown that he's willing to take Republican positions like privatization of Social Security and supporting anti-abortion Supreme Court justices.

Lieberman's "concession speech" was typical egomaniacal Joe, making it clear that he knows what's best for the party and the country—a "bipartisanship" that looks very much like prostitution.

At any rate, it's much too early to celebrate anything—especially the rejuvenation of democracy in America. In other words, I'm still not dissuaded from my previous prediction regarding the outcome of November's election.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kazaa Redux?

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The previous post by Sergio makes me wonder what YouTube's future might be like. I mean, now that LimeWire looks like it'll go the way of KaZaA, Napster, and other file sharing programs, can something like YouTube be far behind?

I ask this because there are innumerable videos on YouTube that're covered by some kind of copyright. I don't see how long YouTube can continue to dodge this legal bullet.

At any rate, if the recording industry has essentially shut down free mp3 downloads, it seems to me that a similar fate is inevitable for YouTube.

A Movie I Hate They Are Making But Will Have to See

UNVERSAL REMOTE

You're not going to find a bigger fan of the Die Hard films than me (okay, maybe there is one guy...) but even I shudder at the news that Bruce Willis is going to reprise his starmaking role as John McLane in Live Free or Die Hard.

Yes that is the title.

And it is going to be directed by the guy that did Underworld.

Dear God.

First Stallone makes another Rocky movie and now this.

Thankfully, I found this at Defamer and it almost made up for it. It is awesome. Make sure you get to the chorus "Yippee ki-yay Motherf$%ker." I love how they make it look like Bruce is singing.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A little scoring help

SPORTING GOODS

No need to comment on the Sox lost weekend; they are what they are right now. But I have a scoring question for whoever can answer:

Can someone explain to me how David Wells is only charged with one unearned run in this inning?

- D. Hollins singled to shallow left
- C. Crawford safe at first on first baseman D. Ortiz's fielding error, D. Hollins to second
- J. Cantu singled to left, D. Hollins scored, C. Crawford out at third
- T. Lee fouled out to catcher
- J. Gomes walked, J. Cantu to second
- G. Norton singled to center, J. Cantu scored, J. Gomes to second
- B.J. Upton singled to center, J. Gomes scored, G. Norton to second
- J. Paul singled to left, G. Norton scored, B.J. Upton to third
- B. Zobrist grounded into fielder's choice, J. Paul out at second

It seems to me that Crawford reaching on an error should have been out number one. So then him getting out while trying to reach 3B on a single shouldn't be counted as "potential out number two." Crawford can't be counted out twice, can he? Lee's foulout then should be "potential out number two" (as it is also the actual real out number two), so Wells then crapping the bed should all be earned.

I know it doesn't really matter, but David Wells shouldn't get any suggestion that he did anything less than suck on Saturday night.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Connecticut Demographics

MANIFESTO

At least now I know whom I'm voting with.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quote of the Day

SPORTING GOODS

"When we tie the game, are they coming back?" — Wily Mo Peña to Manny Ramírez while watching the few fans leaving Fenway Park with two outs and the Red Sox trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth inning last night.

I'll be at the Fens tonight to watch Josh Beckett go after win 14. Hope it gets played.

Five Days to Go

MANIFESTO

Millionaire businessman Ned Lamont opened a double-digit lead over veteran Sen. Joe Lieberman less than a week before Connecticut's Democratic primary, according to a poll released [today].

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rebel without a clue

Whatever

Was flipping through the channels after Billy Wagner blew the Mets' game and I came across CBS's American Idol rip-off, Rock Star: Supernova. The last contestant had just finished singing a song by "The Who" and was being interviewed by the collection of washed up rockers. One of the rockers said, "That is a great song. That song is all about rebellion. Are you ready to be a rebel?" To which our young contestant replied, "Hell yeah. I'm getting a tattoo tomorrow."

How rebellious.

Lamont on Colbert

MANIFESTO

Ned Lamont acquitted himself quite well with Steve Colbert last night. Videos are all over the Internet, but here's the local spin. Striking in the piece is the fact that after the interview
Lamont ... accepted congratulations from the Colbert staff for generating the most applause in memory.
One week until the primary ...