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Saturday, February 17, 2007

And Hell Followed With Him

Day 2. I'm at work. By myself. It's the middle of the night. I missed a party I was supposed to show up at earlier. And I'm watching Tombstone.

Tombstone is one of the best westerns ever made. I started getting chills watching the first few frames, listening to Robert Mitchum's voice over.

This is the line I'm going to use during my next big hand in poker: "I suppose I'm deranged, but I think I'm just going to have to call." And I'm going to put a lot of Doc into my voice. You know why? Cuz Doc Holliday rulez!

And don't forget Wyatt's brutalizing of that jerk Johnny Tyler, played by a pre-stardom Billy Bob Thornton. "Don't need heels to get the bulge on a tub like you." Bam!

How many other great lines?

"Forgive me if I don't shake hands."
"Wyatt, I am rolling."
"Isn't that a daisy?"
"I'm your huckleberry."
"Why, Johnny Tyler? Where you going with that shotgun?"
"Go ahead and skin it. Skin that smokewagon, see what happens."
"I've got two guns...one for each of ya."

And that's just off the top of my head! Like I said, Tombstone rulez!

V-Day

I'm a few days late, and definitely a dollar short, in saying this, but I decided that Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that I just don't celebrate. I'm not against it, per se. But it's just not applicable to me.

It's like Hannuakah, or Ramadan. I prefer Christmas. It's much simpler, one day, presents are exchanged. Santa's the spokesman. There's no candles and no bombings. It's nice.

I can't tell you the last time I observed President's Day. Stores are having their sales, and government workers are having their three day weekends, but other than that...so what? What are you supposed to do again? Mention George Washington at least once during the day?

Columbus Day is big with the Italians, but not so hot with Ward Churchill and his crew. Me? I say, why stop with Columbus? Let's get Amerigo Vespucci in there, Pizzaro, Cortes, Ponce De Leon and Magellan. You don't like explorers? How about more Presidents?

Kwanzaa? I don't even know what that is.

St. Vitus Day is a great Black Sabbath interlude, but didn't that go out with the Druids? Hell, I don't know. It's not my holiday.

All I know about Cinco De Mayo is you don't want to be anywhere near Federal Boulevard that day unless you like driving in traffic with a Mexican flag on your hood.

My point is there are many holidays out there. I can't celebrate them all. Hell, half the time I don't even like the holidays I do have. What do I need Valentine's Day for?

Is it over? Well, geez, I didn't even know.

Is Anna Nicole Smith Still Dead?

A few things I missed mentioning in my few days off from blogging:

1) Anna Nicole Smith's death is obviously tragic, but at the risk of sounding insensitive, I just don't care. Please...have the funeral, resolve the will, do what you have to do, but please, I'm begging you...stop giving me breathless reports about the latest in the Anna Nicole Smith drama. I don't want to yell, but I DO NOT CARE.

2) There are a few (very few) people who still believe that George W. Bush and his team acted in good faith as they scurried to start the civil war in Iraq, but I question those peoples' analytical powers. By now, it should be regarded as a historical fact that the casus belli was, um, how can I put this delicately, cherry-picked. They turned up the volume on information that supported their claims of WMD, and turned down everything that didn't. (Like Joe Wilson. See the Scooter Libby trial for the coordinated effort to shut that dude down. Then you read about a guy named Curveball and wonder why they were so quick to accept everything he had to say. Oh, Curveball told them what they wanted to hear...that's right.)

Some folks would now say, "Ah, well, doesn't matter about all that WMD stuff. That was wrong, but so what? Saddam Hussein was a bad guy and the world is better off without him." But even as they say this, I wonder if they realize that they are endorsing the old saw, "The ends justify the means."

I was kind of hoping that line of thinking went out of style with Hitler, but I was wrong. From their stance on Iraq, torture, Gitmo, domestic spying, et cetera, the prevailing view of the right wing appears to be "The ends justify the means."

And that's one of the many reasons I'm not part of the right wing.

3) I just saw on CNN that Britney has shaved her head. Shaved her HEAD! I don't if she's trying to get the drapes to match the carpet or what, but you hear this, especially after her "rehab" flirtation, and you think, Jesus Christ, Britney, you're beyond help.

And I mean that, beyond help.

Certainly she must know that everything she does is scrutinized. How can she not know that? From dropping her baby or dropping her panties, everything she does is immediately posted on the internet, discussed on every news or entertainment show, and basically spread across the world. Not just your town...not just your state...not just your country, but the entire world.

And so what does she do with this kind of world-wide scrutiny? She shaves her head Not for world hunger, not for some movie role, not to get rid of the lice. Presumably it was a spur of the moment decision that had no real purpose. An impulse. A reaction. A bunch of childish acting out.

I can see Britney saying to herself, "So they want to talk about me? Well I'll give them something to talk about." Mature, Brit. Real mature.

Now just go away.

3) Did you see the big deal made over Reggie Bush's sprained ankle during the NBA All-Star game? (Yes, I know he's an NFL player, but he was involved in the celebrity shootout.) You would have thought someone had killed the Golden Goose!!! These are our athletes? These wimpy motherfuckers who can't be touched? Look...I know there's millions of dollars involved in grooming these guys. It's incredibly important for his career and for his team that he remains "healthy."

But the last thing I want to hear from a millionaire who makes his living playing a game is "Ouch! I broke a nail!"

4) You've heard of self-aware. Is there another word for self-oblivious?

I'm on record as a "liberal media" denier. No doubt, there are liberals in the media and there are even liberal media establishments, but I don't buy that its widespread or as insidious as the wingers would like you to believe.

I also think the claims of "liberal bias" by wingers is a convenient excuse to engage in some good ole "conservative bias." Like with this post, which included a transcript from what I assume is a real Foxnews broadcast. Here's a snippet:
"Brian Kilmeade: "What I don't understand is, as a network, when you go off the reservation, off the chart so to speak and you have a certain ideology, like for example-"

Steve Doocy: "Who are you talking about?"

Kilmeade: "Well, if you're talking about NBC, if you watch it, if you flipping around, if you're not able to get Fox News, you wonder yourself: Wait a second why don't they just say they're a liberal network? Why don't they just come out and say it?"
Hmm. That's funny.

NBC does have Keith Olbermann, but they also have Tim Russert. Dick Cheney loves going on Russert's show Meet the Press because he could, how did his communications director Cathie Martin put it? Oh yeah, "Control the message."

NBC at least tries to be objective. They try so hard the VP thinks Meet the Press is "our best format." (At least according to Cathie Martin's testimony in the Scooter Libby trial.) I think if a show hosted by your Washington Bureau Chief is considered by arch-conservative Dick Cheney as your "best format," then you don't have much claim as a "liberal network."

Besides, how come Fox News doesn't just come out and admit they're a conservative network? It's well known that their answer to "liberal bias" is pure doses of "conservative bias." I'm just a little confused about how this is supposed to help our bias problem.

The Politically Correct Police Strike Again

I'm unyielding in my criticism of the right-wing, but every now and then I must lay into my liberal brethren for their inevitable trips to Ridiculousland.

Our first example comes courtesy of Joe Biden, who got a lot of flack for calling Barack Obama "articulate." Yes, that's right. To be fair, Biden said that Obama is the "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Oh, the humanity.

Give Biden a break. It's obvious his intentions weren't to insinuate that every black person who came before Obama was "inarticulate and dumb and dirty and very very ugly." Rather, Biden is instead lobbing a multi-layered compliment in Obama's direction. A compliment.

Let it go, PC police. I mean, Jesus Christ. If I said "Wow, you look nice today," are you going to take that to mean that I thought you looked like shit yesterday?

So now that we have Joe Biden out of the way, let me just say that the Super Bowl Snickers commercial was not homo-phobic. Hetero-centric? Maybe... But it definitely wasn't homophobic.

You probably know what I'm talking about. Two mechanics working on a car. One pulls out a Snickers and starts chomping on it. His buddy, sensing an opportunity for milk chocolate, creamy nougat and peanuts, starts munching on the other side until, Lady and the Tramp style, their lips meet in a chocolately same-sex kiss. Shocked, they freak out and one says to the other, "Quick! Do something manly!"

So they pluck out a tuft of chest hair...and harmony is returned to the universe.

Now while the commercial does have apparent homosexual themes, the case for it being actually homophobic is a little complicated.

That the guys react with horror is really no big deal. The reaction would probably be similar if they realized they kissed their Grandma. Of course, they probably would have said, "Quick! Do something young!"

As for their call to do something "manly," that may seem like a slight at first glance. I mean, some people might think they're insinuating that gay dudes are pansies and that manliness is the sole realm of the straight.

The only problem with that, despite the stereotypes, gay men are manly. Have you ever heard of the Bear phenomenon?

There's a line in the movie Layercake which illustrates this little known concept. Jason Flemyng's gay character has a moment where he says, "Fucking females is for poofs." ("Poof" is a UK term for "homo.") Yes, believe it or not, straight guys, some gay dudes think that your pussy fascination is, well, gay. Hard to believe, I know...but it's true.

A sad truth in this life is that many times when people look in the mirror, they see what they want to see. I know a very beautiful girl who looks in the mirror and sees a hag. I know some otherwise intelligent people who look at George Bush and see a hero.

Some folks look at a funny Snickers commercial and see homophobia.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Little Bits

I had the strangest sandwich the other day. I went to the Spicy Pickle, a higher-tier fast food chain not unlike Jason's Deli. The Spicy Pickle menu is notable for having several sandwiches that almost sound good, but there's one or two ingredients that just make the thing sound disgusting. Take the South Side. Roast beef, good. Red onions, okay. Lettuce, tomato, alright, sounds good so far. Pepperoncini peppers, what??? Don't be putting no pepperoncini peppers on my sandwich.

I had the Yard Bird: Roasted chicken, bacon, fresh apples, spinach, bleu cheese crumbles and honey mustard. Yes, fresh apples ON the sandwich. With bacon.

It was good, just weird.

While I was out and about, too, I discovered some bad news. The DAV store which has rocked Montview back since the days when this was Uncle Jim's neighborhood is moving. I was a little distressed, as I raid that place on a near weekly basis, but I wanted to see where they were moving, so I drove by their little sign. I figured they'd find some other location deeper into Aurora...but no. They're moving...to Lakewood.

Geographically, I'm on the very northeastern tip of Denver. Lakewood, on the other hand, is the suburb at the southwestern tip. In other words, it's on the other side of the city!

It seems my reign of cheap books has come to an ignomious end.

A few notable links:

Did you read the NY Times write-up about Slayer's Hammerstein Ballroom show? No? Well, here ya go. I loved this part:
People do get better at many things in their 40s. The odds were against thrash-metal being one.
In case you were wondering, the NY Times think Slayer beat the odds.

My nemesis Michelle Malkin gets a profile in the Washington Post. The headline?
A Hard Right Punch
Michelle Malkin's Conservative Fight Has Others Coming Out Swinging
Funny, considering I recently posted on my desire to knock her teeth out. (Jokingly, of course)

A hard right punch? Right in the nose!

The online buzz tonight? Is Britney Spears in rehab???

Actually, a better question would be, who cares?

I've had it up to here with stars going to rehab. You want a real get of jail free card? Go buy a Monopoly set.

If you're a star and you're in rehab, chances are you're going to rehab your image, not your behavior. I'm not that gullible.

Random Friday Tenner

Wow, it's Friday already. Friday night even!

That means you're probably gearing up for a spectacular weekend...and that I, humbling working man that I am, am starting another work-week.

Here's my Random Friday Ten:

1) Conway Twitty - Desperado Love
2) Lacuna Coil - Purify
3) Count Basie - One O'Clock Boogie
4) INXS - Devil Inside
5) Sevendust - Prayer
6) The Cure - Fascination Street
7) Roadsaw - Satelite
8) Sum 41 - Fat Lip
9) Beethoven - 4th Symphony
10) Tom Petty - Running Down a Dream

Now to catch up on the blogroll...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Disaster Averted

Little did you know that when you woke up this morning, one of the world's biggest problems would have a solution. Thanks to the continuing six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear ambitions, "North Korea agreed Tuesday to shut down its main nuclear reactor and eventually dismantle its atomic weapons program."

And not one bullet was fired.

Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy.

The United States representative was Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. You may not have heard about him, but I know him from way back. Alright, I don't really know him, but I've read a lot about him.

He's not your average Bush appointee. He's actually qualified, well qualified, and relatively apolitical. Over ten years ago, he was on Richard Holbrooke's team at Dayton. Just to refresh a memory you probably never had, Richard Holbrooke and his team (which included Wesley Clark and Warren Christopher) pushed the warring presidents of the former Yugoslav republics to a peace deal that effectively ended the genocide in Bosnia. (The only thing they didn't resolve in those talks was the issue of Kosovo, which erupted a few years later and required more American intervention. That's another story in and of itself.)

And now, he brokered a deal with North Korea that pretty much guarentees North Korea won't be going nuclear anytime soon. They have to close their nuclear reactor in two months and shut down all nuclear programs. Then they get some oil. South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and our own Christopher Hill signed off on it.

The question is will they do it? Who knows? If they don't they will have ticked off at least three nuclear nations and a few economic powerhouses. Not a good idea...

Bush toadie John Bolton, (thankfully) former UN ambassador had to slag on the deal. I like his careful analysis of the agreement:
It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world: 'If we hold out long enough, wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded,' in this case with massive shipments of heavy fuel oil for doing only partially what needs to be done.
That "State Department" jab was directed at Chris Hill.

John Bolton doesn't know what he's talking about. This deal prevents, if not prolongs for a long time, any kind of war with North Korea. The Axis of Evil is now a tripod missing one leg. They'll play ball, if not because they're scared then because they're thirsty.

I suspect a similar approach might be helpful with Iran. Quick, send Christopher Hill to Tehran.

The 5% Solution

Back in January, I posted about the forthcoming evidence of Iranian involvement in the Iraq war. I voiced an open mind about the evidence, with caveats.

If I can quote myself:
I do think [Iran is] involved --they'd almost be stupid not to be-- but I question their level of involvement.

Is it limited to black ops like the Karbala attack? Or is it more widespread? So I'm interested to see the "evidence" that the government will produce, of course, with a few caveats. For one thing, it better not be circumstantial. It better not be based on a bunch of assumptions with nothing else to back them up. And it better be substantial.
My caveats? Well, they haven't been satisfied.

1) The evidence is very circumstantial. I'm no legal scholar, but the Wikipedia defines "circumstantial evidence" as "unrelated facts that, when considered together, can be used to infer a conclusion about something unknown." That's what we have here. Fact 1) The ordinance was manufactured in Iran. Fact 2) The ordinance was used in Iraq. Fact 3) Iran is run by heavy handed Shiite dictators who control every facet of Iranian society. Conclusion: Iran's government is arming Iraq's insurgency.

Unfortunately there is no direct evidence that supports that conclusion. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff seems to understand this distinction. He says:
"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran," Pace told Voice of America during a visit to Australia. "What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se, knows about this."
It may be reasonable to assume Iranian government complicity in these weapons, based on their despotic nature, et cetera, but that doesn't make it any less of an assumption.

2) My second caveat stated that Iranian involvement "better be substantial" as well. At the time, I wrote:
If Iran is involved in 5% of the attacks in Iraq...dealing with them and their insidious intelligence agents will still leave us with the other 95%.
I had no way of knowing at the time, but my 5% number wasn't far off. According to the evidence divulged during the anonymous briefing the other day, they stated that these weapons have killed 170 soldiers. That works out to about 5% of the total dead, 5% too many if you asked me, but it's far from I would classify as "substantial."

It's quite clear that Iranian involvement in Iraq is, as the latest NIE says, "not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability."

That's not to say that Iranian meddling isn't a problem in Iraq, because anything that kills 5% of our soldiers is definitely a problem, but it's not our main problem.

Anyone who says it is clearly doesn't have a clue.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Marty Ball

You gotta be shitting me. Marty Schottenheimer has been fired. Yes, you can take your team to a 14-2 record, host the league MVP, and still be fired.

Consider this...before Marty took over, the Chargers were a bad team. How bad? Two years before he joined on, they only won one game. Yes, 2000 was their 1 and 15 season. They didn't scare anybody that year, not even the Cardinals.

It took a few years to get going, but by 2004 with Marty at the helm, they were 12 and 4.

I think the Chargers may be in for another slip. Stability is something that's often undervalued in the NFL. It's no coincidence that the teams with revolving doors in the coaching department often struggle. Until his retirement, the Steelers invested over a decade in Phil Cowher. And look where it got them. Mike Shannahan has been atop the Bronco pie chart for over a decade, and though his two Super Bowls are relatively early in his tenure, he has still managed to put together an impressive team year-in year-out that hasn't slipped below .500 since the 20th Century.

I think if Marty found an owner who had as much confidence in him as Pat Bowlen has in Shannahan or the Rooneys had with Cowher, he could take his team in for a big win.

It might take more than three or four years, though. So have faith, NFL owners. Don't fire your coaches.

But if you already have fired your coach, and you're not the San Diego Chargers, there's a great coach on the market right now. Somoebody, please, hire Marty Schottenheimer. You'll only be helping yourself.

The Movies I Watched Last Night

It's Monday right?

My workday starts on one day and ends on another, so you'll have to forgive the confusion. Maybe I should rename the days of the week. We've got Day 1, Day 2, and so forth.

I just completed Day 3.

Aside from being an unusually busy weekend so far, it hasn't been too bad. On Day 2, we lost visibility to about, oh, a half of our network. The bad news: I was all alone and near to panic as I watched sites all over the country drop. The good news: They didn't actually drop...I just couldn't see them. Even better news: It wasn't our stuff.

Our backbone providers had some issues on their end, and Day 3 was for the aftermath. I spent all night polling devices, and as interesting as that sounds, it was time consuming and repetitive. Luckily, I brought a few long movies with me to put on the video wall.

Last night I watched, in their entirety, Braveheart and The Thin Red Line. Both movies, I would say, are classics.

Braveheart is easy. Who doesn't love a pre-Jewbaiting Jesus Freak Mel Gibson at the height of his heartthrob days, so full of confidence, so possessed of gusto. He makes himself the precursor swords and slashes epic, the one that heralded a new age of cinema that brought us not only the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Troy, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven, King Arthur, and maybe even the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. If Braveheart had bombed, none of those movies would have been made, or they would have been made very differently.

And the music? It's no coincidence the score for Braveheart is very similar to the score for Titanic. They were both done by James Horner, with a lot of little fluttering pipe sounds that give them both an old-timey romantic flavor. I don't know what that little flute is called, but James Horner single handedly made that a signature of his Oscar-winning scores.

As for The Thin Red Line, that's a mixed bag. I remember seeing it in the theater, hoping to see "Private Ryan 2" and instead squirming two hours in with another hour to go. It's a slow, weird movie that doesn't make a lot of sense. You're seeing all these nature shots, and the people in the movie act like they're moving through some other world. You keep hearing these strange voice overs that are poetic, but don't seem to have anything to do with what's on screen. You thought there were going to be stars, but they're just cameos really. John Travolta struts around unconvincingly as army brass. George Clooney doesn't show up until the last half hour and then only for a minute. Yeah, there's Sean Penn and Nick Nolte and Woody Harrelson. (Of course, several years on there's some recognizable names of some distinction: Jim Caviezel, Adrian Brody, John C. Reilly, Jared Leto, Nick Stahl, Thomas Jane.)

But I think the secret to watching The Thin Red Line is to watch it in pieces. There are some really beautiful, really deep and moving moments, but it's not really a coherent movie. A good movie, but coherent? No, not really.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pathetic

In case you missed it, Lamb of God performed their song Pathetic on Conan the other night.

Conan says, "When he sings, he summons the actual devil."

Updated: Okay, so they took the video down. If only NBC allowed bloggers to embed their vids...

Explosively Formed Projectile Vomiting

You want to watch a scam unfold? Pay close attention.

An anonymous "military official" claims that Iran is arming "rogue elements" of the Mahdi army (as if there were any other kind) with EFPs, a dangerous new weapon that can take out an Abrams tank. It stands for Explosively Formed Projectiles.

Explosively Formed Projectiles, huh?

What exactly is an Explosively Formed Projectile? I mean, IED I can understand. That's a bomb. It explodes. Because of it's improvised nature, it may be a big explosion or a little explosion. It may be set off by a timer, a trigger, or a transmitter. It can be many different things. It's improvised. But an EFP? What the fuck is that?

"Explosively Formed Projectile" just sounds like a clever way to say "shrapnel" to me.

And the orders to send them into Iraq from Iran came from "the highest levels" of the Iranian government. I'm assuming our anonymous official means Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah himself, unless he's using the word "highest" rhetorically, you know, for someone pretty high up...but not the highest. Maybe we'll never know.

I would think if our government really had solid evidence that "the highest levels" of the Iranian government were in involved in the smuggling of "shrapnel" into Iraq, then they would name names, including their own. If it's true that this "shrapnel," er, EFPs have killed 170 of our troops since 2004, then we should be a little concerned, right? If they killed 170, then we know they've wounded thousands.

So why all the secrecy? Eason Jordan has more info, and more questions. (Hint: The official spokesman of the Multi-National Force was probably one of the anonymous sources.)

Jordan writes:
"After the bogus Iraq evidence debacle in 2002 and 2003 -- allegations that led to war, tens of thousands of lives lost, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent -- only a fool would accept as the gospel supposed evidence against another country that's presented by officials who insist on making their allegations anonymously."

We deserve better from the US government. We deserve better from the western news media.
Yes we do.

In a semi-related topic, I'd like to comment on this brief post from some dude over at the Corner.

Here's what he says:
For the "why don't we just try talking to them" crowd, this is the direct result of negotiating with terrorists. Pakistan made a treaty with the Taliban — basically, we'll leave you be in Waziristan if you promise to behave. As night follows day, the appeasement gave the Taliban a safe base of operations, from which they have stepped up attacks on American-led forces.
Well that sucks, man.

But I don't like your implication. For the "why don't we just try talking to them" crowd? I know it's a bit confusing with all these different middle eastern countries and entities, but who's been saying we need to talk to Al Qaeda? No, dude, we're saying talk to Iran, talk to Syria.

Using this example to justify the obstinate lack of basic diplomacy in regard to those countries is just retarded. We have diplomatic relations with Pakistan, and if what you say is correct, they made a treaty with our enemy. So why exactly aren't we talking to Iran or Syria?

We have much to discuss.