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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Netflix Headaches

Today something happened that reminded me of my sophmore year of high school. When we were picking our schedules, I wanted to take Physics as my science class, but the prerequisite for Physics was Algebra II, a class I hadn't taken yet. The only exception was if I took Algebra II concurrently with Physics. So I did. I picked both classes. My school had an interesting feature called block classes, which meant that a whole year's worth of classes would be condensed to a single semester, only those classes would be two hours long instead of an hour. Great idea, right? Well, first semeseter I had Physics, second semester I had it's prereq, Algebra II. Brilliant!

So today, when I got my mail and saw the two red Netflix envelopes, I knew I was going to be getting the second season of the Sopranos. I had already put all four discs at the top of my que.

But the discs I received today are discs 3 and 4!! Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeit.

I also got some tax forms, which means I can do my taxes, which means I might have some extra money laying around, which means I will be a very happy man.

Is the Joint Chief of Staff Anti-War?

The Joint Chief of Staff, General Richard Myers, agrees with Murtha (and me) that the war can no longer be won militarily.

He once said: "I've objected to the use of the term War on Terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution. And it's more than terrorism. The long-term problem is as much diplomatic, as much economic - in fact, more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military."

Sooner or later, this war is going to end. Then what will Bush and Company do? They have proven themselves good at a few things: namely libeling their opponents, raking in campaign cash, enriching themselves and their corporate interests, but they really suck at a few things. Like telling the truth, waging war, and governing. You know, the stuff a government really should be doing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Clerks 2 Trailer

The trailer for Clerks 2 is out. Two totally awesome things about it:

* Anthrax's Among the Living is pretty much the only thing you hear. There's hardly any dialogue. Fucking bold. And AWESOME!

* Rosario Dawson is in it.

I doubt I'll rush out and see this movie (the first one was cool when I was a clerk at a video store...but then I grew up) but I love the trailer.

Dispatch From Uncle Jim

Uncle Jim chimes in on Murtha. Though he hasn't formed an opinion on the effort to slander Murtha's military record, he does come down unequivocally against Murtha's position on Iraq. Here's what he had to say:

I don't know too much abouth Murtha's record. But I do know one thing. This country did not get to where we are by half assing what we start. It would be an insult to the men and women who have died to make this operation a success to pull out before the job is done. It's not like you can just say when this one thing gets done, we are done. It's like working on your house. You go out to paint your gutters, well while you are doing that you see something else that needs work to so you go after that, then something else will come to mind. When we are done we will know it. Will we ever leave Iraq? Well let's see we still need to leave Germany from WWII and Japan from WWII. Don’t forget Korea; we better close our line at the 38th too. But wait we still have guys in Panama too. Out of Iraq? Not in our lifetime!!!!!

Uncle Jim

Like Murtha, Jim is also a veteran of the Marines, and more than that, a veteran of the first Gulf War. He has woken up with Iraqi sand in his eyes, and has seen first hand what needed to be done with Hussein's Iraq. I agree with him, and unfortunately Bush, that we can't just get out of Iraq and wish it never happened. But I also agree with Murtha that the fight in Iraq can no longer be won militarily.

Militarily we kicked their ass. They folded. Most Iraqi soldiers couldn't get out of their uniforms fast enough. The ability of the United States military to unleash death and destruction is unparalleled, and Iraq was not spared one bit of it. They were conquered, and they knew it. It was our military supremacy that drove them underground. They had no chance on the battlefield, so they resorted to strategically pointless random acts of violence, the IEDs and car bombings.

The Iraqi insurgents think, in error, that we'll just give up and go away. But Jim is right. That's not going to happen. In some form or another, there will be a significant American military presence in Iraq. It's almost guarenteed, and though I have mixed feelings about why we chose war over a more effective alternative, it's how it should be. We broke it, we bought it. That's another thing about us Americans. Usually after we destroy everything, we rebuild it. We're good that way. I think Iraq is well past the point where we have to blow stuff up. Now we just need to start rebuilding.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mike Vanderjagt on Religion

After the Colts' bitter loss, kicker Mike Vanderjaft spoke to the media:

“It’s extreme disbelief,” Vanderjagt said. “From the Polamalu interception reversal to Jerome’s fumble, everything seemed to be lined up in our favor. I guess the Lord forgot about the football team.”

Hours later, the Lord held a press conference to clear up the confusion. He lamented Vanderjagt's lack of faith, then declared that he's a Steelers fan before disappearing in a poof of smoke.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Swiftboating Murtha

It is stomach-churning how low some partisan hacks will go to libel their political opposition. Consider the swiftboating of Rep. John Murtha here. For one, this CNS "Special Report" has absolutely no journalistic value at all. It is hearsay, repeated and unsourced, and reports absolutely no facts. The whole article can be summed up in this sentence: "A few people alleged that Murtha may not deserve his medals." Were military records searched? Were those involved in the awarding of the medals interviewed? No. A journalist would find that out. A partisan hack would just repeat the allegations and wait for the media to echo them.

And just in case, there is any dispute over the journalistic integrity of CNS, I offer proof of their undeniable bias from their own website. Notice the slogan on the front page: "The Right News....Right Now." Of course, they're not talking "Right verus Wrong" here. It's right-wing, and quite proud of it. The parent organization of CNSNews is the Media Research Center, a conservative organization run by Brent Bozell III, who describes himself as "one of the most outspoken and effective national leaders in the conservative movement today." (Conservatives: When your "movement" crumbles to pieces right before your eyes, you can blame Bozell.)

Bozell, in addition to his work with the MRC, is one of the founders of the Parents Television Council, the prudes who organize letter-writing drives to the FCC every time someone gets nekkid on TV. In other words, this is not a man who can be relied on as an objective source of news. He has an agenda, knows how to organize, and despite the lofty talk about reducing bias and bringing balance to the media, has no qualms about spewing forth partisan hackery.

Here's a few howlers extracted from Bozell's own sites:

In June 1998, Mr. Bozell launched CNSNews.com, an online news service with an emphasis on investigative journalism.
That's evident from the Murtha story, which is so thinly sourced a high school newspaper wouldn't publish it.

...MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III founded CNSNews.com in an effort to provide an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission.

Bias bias bias! Of course, Bozell and the MRC aren't all that concerned with bias as an all-inclusive concept. It's just the liberal variety they're worried about. Conservative bias apparently is A-OK in CNS land.

The sad thing is that this story about Murtha will end up being believed by a sizable portion of the population, even if the bias is obvious and it has no basis in fact. Who gives a shit about Murtha's medals? I have never met a veteran, of any generation, who measures their military service by the number of medals they received. Medals, schemdals. Scars...now that's what a military man looks for.

Just in case I'm wrong, I'm going to consult my Uncle Jim, my main source for all things military and conservative. He was quite receptive to the swiftboating of John Kerry, but I wonder how he would feel about Murtha, a fellow Marine, who until he opened his mouth against Iraq, hadn't raised any eyebrows with his military service. Will he think Murtha a coward, or a principled patriot speaking controversy?

I'll post my report when I get it.

PS. If you get both your legs blown off in combat, do you get one purple heart or two? Does anyone know?

A Million Little Opinions

Maybe you've heard the James Frey story. Maybe you haven't. I'll leave the recap to the Smoking Gun, who put together a long piece here on the subject. This is topic A of discussion in the book world these days, with some folks demonizing Frey for his deceptions and others lionizing him for what they view as a legitimate literary achievement.

I have not read the book, so I can't say which side is right. I did page through it (my Mom has a copy) and it struck me as pretentious garbage. Of course, that's quite a snap judgment after a lazy disspassionate skim. Maybe it is pretentious, maybe it's genius. I just don't know. But I do know that authors could certainly be accused of greater crimes than pretension, such as plagarism or worse, writing crap.

The current brouhaha, taking away the merits of the book itself, is really about the marketing of the book. Frey and his publisher have put in a lot of effort selling this book as True and Important Because It Really Happened. His appearance on Oprah wasn't about the book as a work of literature, but about the book as a reflection of Frey's life. He even went back to his old haunts with a camera crew to talk about the misadventures he recorded (or is it created?) for the book.

Is it wrong for people to feel deceived when they find out its more fancy than fact? Not at all, especially if the book derived some of its power from being True and Important Because It Really Happened. If the fact that it's not true diminishes in any way the literary accomplishment, then the book is crap, or to be nicer, an artistic failure. It appears that A Million Little Pieces may fall into that category.

Of course, whether a book is crap or not is subjective. Some people liked the Da Vinci Code. I hated it. Some people don't like Michael Connelly books. I love em. Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone's got one.

On another note, in all these Frey stories, they mention Lorenzo Carrcaterra and his alleged memoir Sleepers. It was a big book about ten years ago and was made into a star-studded film with Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Kevin Bacon, Minnie Driver and a young Billy Crudup and Ron Eldard. I tried reading the book, knowing that it was supposedly a true story, but put it down halfway through. At the time, I was a fairly unsophisticated teenager but I could still sense the utter implausibility of the story and the complete ineptness of the writing. Turns out that story was bullshit too.

And to think I knew it all along...

The Dogs of Poker


Poker last week was fun. I had some great hands and played them skillfully. I busted out this punk-rock guy with the makings of a colorful sleeve tattoo on his arm. He then proceeded to annoy the bar with his off-key singing.

I ended up making it to the final table, but only got up to sixth place. Out of probably fifty people, sixth place isn't bad but it wasn't enough to win me another bar tab. It was still fun though.

My friend Ginger didn't have a good night, even though she started it off by breaking two people. By the end of the night, she was not a happy camper though. A couple bad beats and an annoying male will do that to you. On the upside, Ginger's friend Kathryn came out and fed the jukebox some coin to play awesome songs. I knew Kathryn was cool, but I didn't know she was that cool until she played Prince followed by INXS. Good choices! Kathryn also served as my poker coach/cheerleader, and it's entirely possible that without that support I would have never cracked the top ten.

Next week....if I'm not in Boulder, moshing it up with Anthrax, I'll be number one. Just you watch.

AFC Champs?

It's still too early to call anyone, least of all the three dominant AFC teams, champions of their conference, but if I had a bookie on speed dial, I'd put my money on the Broncos. They roundly defeated (a strong but appropriate word) the defending Super Bowl champs in a wild game riddled with turn overs. Unfortunately I only caught the second half, but consider a few of these facts:

* The Broncos remain undefeated at home this year. The old Mile High Stadium is gone, replaced with corporate suck-up Invesco Field, but Mile High Magic still exists. When you don't lose at home, home field advantage takes on a whole new dimension.

* During their 10-0 play-off streak, including 3 Super Bowls in the last 4 years, the New England Patriots committed a total of 5 turnovers. Yesterday against the Broncos they had 6.

* Champ Bailey's 100 yard interception return was the 2nd longest in playoff history.

* This is the Broncos first playoff victory since 1998, when John Elway led the team to a Super Bowl victory against the Atlanta Falcons. All talk of hexes can now be dismissed as superstition. (Has it been almost 10 years? Holy hell!)

* Jake Plummer should be named Most Improved Player. Last year, he threw more picks than touch downs. This year, he's playing smart near-perfect football.

* The AFC Championship game next week should be the "real" Super Bowl. Denver-Indy or Denver-Pittsburgh is going to be more exciting than any AFC-NFC combination.

Also consider this. When it comes to play-off football, the only factor that seems to count is who wants it more. The Patriots wanted it, for sure, but with their intensity imbued in every play, the Broncos wanted it more.

Go Broncos!