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Friday, July 27, 2007

Smoking Pot Makes You Crazy (and other unverified assertions)

When you see a headline like this:
Pot may hike risk of psychosis, research finds
Even limited use could up chance of serious mental illness by 40 percent
You don't expect to see this disclaimer in the article:

The researchers said they couldn’t prove that marijuana use itself increases the risk of psychosis, a category of several disorders with schizophrenia being the most commonly known.
Ah...so research DOESN'T show that pot may hike the risk of psychosis. It shows that people with psychoses smoke pot...

Slight distinction, there.
There could be something else about marijuana users, “like their tendency to use other drugs or certain personality traits, that could be causing the psychoses,” Zammit said.
Could it be marijuana's alleged therapeutic effects?

Hell, based on this study it could be anything.
Scientists cannot rule out that pre-existing conditions could have led to both marijuana use and later psychoses, he added.
So why is there even a story about this study?

Updated:

Seems me and Andrew are on the same page here. Sometimes I wonder why I blog at all...

I tell you, me and that dude are opposite sides of the same coin. He's English and gay. I'm American and straight. He's a classical conservative living in a blue state. I'm a classical liberal living in a red state. And yet we manage to agree more than not.

It should make no sense...but it does.

Beauchampgate

Oh, man...it's really too bad I missed the "Baghdad Diarist" controversy. (Here's Scott Thomas Beauchamp's statement on the controversy. Here's some background. If you really want to go nutty, check out how much space the Weekly Standard is giving the story.)

The psychology behind the furor is interesting. Matt Yglesias makes a great point when he bemoans how "information about Iraq that they [Malkinite milbloggers, that is] don't want to hear...can just be immediately dismissed as fraudulent."

My emphasis on fraudulent, because that truly hints at the underlying psychology here.

It's one thing to dismiss this kind of information as irrelevant to the larger discussion, or as an anecdotal aberration that proves nothing. It's another to dismiss it as a fraud.

Not only is this information wrong or meaningless, but someone, somewhere is planting these lies!

Talk about paranoia on a phildickian scale.

What really gets me is that they are skeptical about cherry-picked media reports on Jamil Hussein or Scott Thomas Beauchamp (to cite two notorious examples) but when it comes to WMD and stuff about the comfy Hussein-Bin Laden relationship, all that skepticism gets thrown out the window.

I guess that's their idea of intellectual integrity.

Ode to Jacki

I watched CNN all day yesterday, because you know, it's up on the video wall, and didn't see Jacki Schechner once! I guess the powers that be targeted in my e-mail campaign ignored me. (Either that, or her other two fans are slacking.)

So now I must rely on the last resort:

Peanuts.

If it worked for Jericho, it'll work for Jacki!

(Yeah, not much of an ode...but my poetry writing skills are a little rusty. I'm more of a prose guy anyway.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Lame

I saw I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry last night. I didn't really want to. I want to see Die Hard, but I was out-voted.

It was better than I thought it would be, but I really didn't think it would be very good. High-concept formula with the obvious soap-in-the-shower jokes. I'm not even an Adam Sandler fan, and my attitude towards Kevin James is, well, tepid. The consolation prize was Jessica Biel as the love interest/attorney figure.

You've seen the trailer.

Well, that's the only panty you will see. On a woman, at least.

Some parts were amusing, but it quickly lost steam towards the end as all the conventional plot points are neatly tied up. I was glad that even though it reveled in gay stereotypes from time to time, it's not even remotely anti-gay.

By putting themselves in the shoes of a gay couple, Chuck and Larry force themselves to take a crash course in empathy. With this one, you can guess where it leads you.

The Crooked Zebra

The Tim Donaghy story reminds me of a line from Casino.
"Ace made more money for them on a weekend on a weekend than I could do heisting joints for a month. Whatever Ace picked up on the streets he told Remo. You know, I mean fixed fights, doped horses, crooked fuckin zebras, locked-in point spreads. He told fucking Remo everything."
When I first saw it, I didn't know what he was talking about. Crooked fuckin zebras?

Then it dawned on me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Alright, I Get It. This is Sparta!

I'm actually posting this for the song, although the clips of 300 are pretty cool too. (It comes out on DVD next Tuesday.)This song brings the heaviness.

Speaking of...name the movie:
"Woah, this is heavy."
"There's that word again, heavy. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?"

Echo Park

The paperback edition of Michael Connelly's Echo Park is out now, but I'm still sludging through the hardback. I don't want to say the Harry Bosch series has lost steam, but it's just not the same. I think back to how much I enjoyed The Last Coyote or Concrete Blond, and it's just not there.

Maybe I'm just onto Connelly now. The melodrama between Bosch and other cops is wearing a little thin. Most people just aren't that confrontational. Some of the writing, too, just doesn't seem to be all that inspired.

Connelly has always relied on the "he knew" device to deliver expositional information, and for good reason. It generally works in the police procedural milieu, with cop lingo and process. But when it becomes noticeable, embarrassingly so, it's not so great.

Actual line from the book, from the "love scene":
Bosch craved the intimacy and reveled in the escape it brought. He knew she knew this, too.
Blegh. I know that you know that I know...

I keep turning the pages hoping that it gets better, and also because Connelly, at his worst, is eminently readable. Unfortunately, I think Bosch might be fizzling out. I hope not...but it just might be.

There is yet a newer Bosch book out that I haven't touched, called The Overlook. This one was serialized in the NY Times Magazine, and later expanded on for book form. I read a few chapters online. It was alright, a little thin, but not terrible or anything...

Maybe the book is better. What I wanna know, though, is when's the movie?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ghetto Garden Update

My old digital camera died after getting splashed at the river, so I had to get a new one. So here we go, the first test pictures.

I hope these tomatoes turn red soon. Look at em! They're huge!These guys, not so much. These are little bite size "super sweet" cherry tomatoes. You can pick them off the vine and eat them like candy.
Which is what I did.As you can see, Tomato Heaven is thriving. As is Pepper Hell. (Quite different from a month ago, no?)And just to add a little color, how about this stuff? I think it's Baby's Breath, but don't quote me on that.

Baby Pic

Look at this lil darling.That's my neice, Angelina.

I Heart Jacki Schechner

Today I got an e-mail from CNN's Jacki Schechner. Okay...so I sent an e-mail to Jacki Schechner and I got a reply. Here's the entire exchange:
-----Original Message-----
From: Jacki
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:01 AM
To: Me
Subject: RE: Jacki Schechner....in the morning?

Yer funny. Sure - email the powers that be. I bet if all three of my fans band together we could get...well...um...

Thx for the nice note tho

Jax

-----Original Message-----
From: Me
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 10:54 AM
To: Jacki
Subject: Jacki Schechner....in the morning?

We have CNN up all day on our video wall at work and usually I have to wait until afternoon to catch your segments. Color me surprised when I saw you this morning talking about the Youtube debate from last night. Can I talk to your boss so that happens more often?

James Pearce
Self-depreciating, even though she's on TV everyday. I like that.

George Bush, Liar in Chief

I just watched George Bush lie through his teeth on CNN. This isn't one of those "The Brits said it first, so it's not really a lie" type lies. It was a bold faced fucking lie. I mean, shameless.

More when a transcript comes out.

Updated: And we have a transcript. The lie?
There's also a debate about al Qaeda's role in Iraq. Some say that Iraq is not part of the broader war on terror. They complain when I say that the al Qaeda terrorists we face in Iraq are part of the same enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001. They claim that the organization called al Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi phenomenon, that it's independent of Osama bin Laden and that it's not interested in attacking America.
Most of what he says there is debatable.

One can argue whether "Al Qaeda in Iraq" was inspired by the invasion or Osama Bin Laden. One can argue whether they are independent or work in concert with Bin Laden's group.

But who the fuck is saying Al Qaeda has no interest in attacking America? Um, no one. That's a complete fabrication, a straw man conveniently strung up so Bush, aka He Who Does No Wrong, can knock down. It's bullshit. A fucking lie.

And sadly, this kind of thing comes to easily to Bush.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Death, He's a Denver Fan

This is a headline you never want to see:
Man seriously hurt in mower accident
Yikes.

Also from the Denver Post, baseball can be deadly too.

These two items caught my eye today not only because they're weird, but because I watched Final Destination 3 on DVD this morning. It was one of the weakest of the series, although some of the characters were mildly entertaining.

My favorite moment was when one of the characters, hoping to be drafted by the Oakland Raiders, starts ranting about Death being a Bronco fan. "Death, he's a Denver fan. Death, he wears orange and blue." Then...splat.

So maybe he's right.

Updated: I was just looking at the trivia for the movie on IMDB.

It says:
The scene taking place in the tanning booth was a closed set. Only the camera operators were in the same room with Chelan Simmons and Crystal Lowe and black curtains were draped to keep onlookers out.
Since the girls were nude, the privacy is almost understandable, and yet...the motive can't be modesty. Their tits were on the silver screen. All the crew had to do to see them is wait for the premiere.

Oh Canada....

This makes me depressed. Come on, people. What are you thinking???

A hundred years from now, when historians analyze the fall of the American empire, they might cite the alternating Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton presidential nightmare we can't seem to wake up from as a contributing factor.

Say it with me. No more Bush! No more Clinton!

Fear and Loathing at the Airport

A level headed article (in .pdf format) that we should all read by John Mueller. From 2004 even! (How long will it take such common sense to become conventional wisdom anyway?)

Some choice nuggets.
"The shock and tragedy of September 11 does demand a focused and dedicated program to confront international terrorism and to attempt to prevent a repeat. But it seems sensible to suggest that part of this reaction should include an effort by politicians, officials, and the media to inform the public reasonably and realistically about the terrorist context instead of playing into the hands of terrorists by frighting the public."
In other words, the complete opposite of the Bush/Homeland Security/CNN approach.

More truth:
All societies are “vulnerable” to tiny bands of suicidal fanatics in the sense that it is impossible to prevent every terrorist act. But the United States is hardly “vulnerable” in the sense that it can be expunged by dramatic acts of terrorist destruction, even extreme ones. In fact, the country can readily, if grimly,overcome that kind of damage — as it overcomes some 40,000 deaths each year from automobile accidents.
That's right, folks. If terrorism is really an existential threat to the United States, then we better be scared shitless of cars.

The last time I flew, I nearly suffered a nervous breakdown going through the TSA security checkpoint. It started with the security trays. I was told I couldn't put my digital camera in the same tray as my laptop, despite the photograph that tells you to put them in the same tray. It just went downhill from there.

The lady in front of me had (gasp) shampoo in her carryon. The TSA wasn't going to allow that, no siree. They made her throw it away.

Then the guy in front of me, who clearly had a back injury of some sort considering he was in a wheelchair and a chest brace, was hassled by the clueless TSA staff. It wouldn't have been so annoying if I hadn't seen the man being pushed around in his wheel chair by airport personnel five minutes before he hit security.

Then, my turn. Like most human beings, I only have two hands. One for the tray with my laptop, another for the tray with my bag. The tray with my non-explosive shoes? Well, that took a second trip.

By this time, I was huffing and puffing, cussing and fussing. Of course, I was careful not to say anything to any TSA employees out of fear that they would arrest me as a potential threat. They scanned my laptop, found nothing. They scanned my bag, found nothing. They scanned my shoes, found nothing. They also didn't find the lighter in my pocket, perhaps because I removed the metal shield so it wouldn't set off the metal detector.

The straw that broke the camel's back however, was when I got through and looked over and saw my Mom, arms outstretched, as some clueless TSA employee gave her a good scanning. My MOM!

My Mom the terrorist. Yeah right!

Oh, I was pissed. PISSED!

I walked up to the main security counter to talk to the old, fat guy holding up a stool and talking on his cell phone. (The old fat guys are good at chasing down terrorists, I guess.)

Being so pissed, I didn't wait for him to end his phone call.

"Where can I make a complaint?" I demanded. At the risk being put on the no-fly list, I intended to lodge a sternly worded complaint, in my name and on the record, about the ridiculousness of it all. I knew it would be futile, but it would have made me feel better.

The fat old guy held up a finger as he concluded his call.

I repeated my question. "Where can I make a complaint?"

He thought about it for a moment, just long enough for me to realize the TSA doesn't have a functioning complaint process, then answered, "You can make it with me." I knew at that moment that my complaint would start, and end, with this fat old security guard who couldn't chase down a donut much less an Al Qaeda terrorist.

"You know what?" I said, more disgusted than I have ever been. "Fuck this." Then I turned on my heel and walked away.

Behind me, the old man was saying, "Sir? Sir? Sir?" I expected to be tackled by a crew of TSA security people, but nothing happened. I walked it off, fuming and mumbling to myself like Yosemite Sam. My family was of little help. I heard things like, "It's for your own safety," and "It's a minor inconvenience."

I was too mad to make my case. A minor inconvenience, for what purpose? Safe from what? Breast milk and bottled water? Ladies with shampoo in their baggage? Dudes in wheelchairs? Digital cameras in the same tub as laptops?

Fuck that. I'll take my chances.

And considering that you're more likely to die from a bee sting or a lightning strike than a terrorist attack, even with Al Qaeda out there making their plans, I think my chances are good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Give Me Spoilers or Death

The drive to keep the secrets of the latest Harry Potter book under wraps has struck me as amusing. I haven't read any of the Potter books, although I have enjoyed all the movies, so I don't really have a vested interest in avoiding the spoilers. Perhaps someday I will, but it's not going to be something I'm going to do this weekend.

But still...I want to know what happens. (Thanks Wikipedia.)

When it comes to spoilers, I take the Greek view. I don't mind knowing how the story ends going into it. I just want to see how it's done.

It's not that strange when you think about it.

How many times have you seen an ensemble horror movie and were surprised when only the main characters make it out of alive? Um...never. You know going in that this guy and that girl are going to die, presumably because they engaged in sex or drugs or both, and that the main star will survive for the sequel. The only thing that needs to be solved is when and how they will meet their grisly end.

If plot secrecy were so important, we'd have no need of Shakespeare. Or Shakespearean adaptations for that matter.

No one would have seen the Passion. (Jesus is tortured, and then he dies. I hope I didn't give away the ending.)

If you'd already seen Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong thriller The Departed was based on, then why bother watching the film that finally got Scorsese the Oscar?

A movie or book based on true events? Forget about it.

I find that knowing the ending can enhance the entire experience of watching a film. You know you had to watch movies like Fight Club and Memento twice. It wasn't ruined the second time, was it? It was better.

Besides, if you think about it, isn't reading the book the ultimate spoiler?