Friday, July 17, 2009

This One's For My Brother

Aurora Cop Watch

The plot thickens in the Derek Cole case. I didn't contact the guy, but as it turns out, the cops who towed his car were NOT the ones who towed my car.

There goes the rogue cop theory.

Now we're back to the theory that towing cars to fuck with people is standard practice for the Aurora Police Department...

As for Cole's contention that police were hounding him, maybe this backs him up.
Police checked Cole’s plates on March 8, April 13, April 17, May 2, May 28, May 30, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 18 and finally on June 22, when the vehicle was towed. On April 13 and May 2, police ran the plate twice. The day the car was towed, police officers and dispatchers ran the plate seven times, the first time was at 9:52 a.m. and the last at 2:36 p.m.
Routine police work? Or does that qualify as "hounding?"

Either way it scares the shit out of me. Random license plate checks, or corrupt cops. Pick your poison.

In other Aurora cop news, there's that little matter of the federal investigation problem.
Investigators will try to determine “whether the city is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against blacks and or Hispanics with respect to employment in police officer and firefighter positions,” said the letter, which was signed by Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s civil rights division.
Nothing will come of it, I'm sure.

But in proportion to this town's population, I don't see too many black or Hispanic cops. (Lots of women, though. So kudos there...I guess.)

My Man

If Obama is such a Muslim, why does he sound like a preacher?

I guarantee everyone in that room got chills.

Regardless of what President Obama, the man, accomplishes during his presidency, President Obama, the idea, will inspire millions of people in ways we can't even imagine right now.

I wish Richard Pryor was alive to see this day.

Readymade Stupidity

Marcel Duchamp famously found objects and repackaged them as art. Readymades, he called them.

I've done the same thing here with a blog comment I found. It's not readymade art. It's just readymade stupid.
(T)he South Pole experienced it’s colder winter in 2007 since taking meteorological observations in 1958. Not to mention this winter is proving to be a record breaking cold season as well..

Please, share with me, from a scientific standpoint the areas which are getting warmer every year. I’ll say Africa is, for the sole reason of its people not cultivating the land properly.

The Chicago area is having its coolest summer in 40 years. Boy, that’s odd.

Many areas of Canada have had longer winters and shorter summers the last few years.
So global warming is a myth...because we're actually cooling!

Ummm...someone needs to explain the difference between "weather" and "climate" to this dude. And while we're at it, let's explain how a 50 year sample is way too small to say anything definitive about climate change.

Two Minutes (Soledad) Love

CNN is promoting their special report from Soledad O'Brien, Black in America 2, the sequel to their special Soledad O'Brien report, Black in America.

In the spots, Soledad says, "You won't be able to take your eyes off the second one."

When Soledad is on screen, yes, I believe that just might be true...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Few Things

I saw Public Enemies last night, Michael Mann's Dillinger epic starring Johnny Depp. I desperately want to say that it was good, that Mann is a genius and Depp the greatest actor that ever sat in a make-up chair. But, despite having its moments, the movie was...meh. It was almost as if Mann couldn't decide whether he wanted to make a love story, or a cops and robbers chase film, or a historical period piece, but decided that he was going to try it all at the expense of coherence, emotional involvement, story, and all the other great things that make a movie, well, a movie.

Great cinematography though. From Ali to Collateral to Miami Vice and now with Public Enemies, Michael Mann has been doing some amazing things with these new digital HD cameras he got his hands on. Too bad someone wasn't looking over his shoulders, saying "But where's the story, Michael?"

In other news, JPMorgan Chase had a good second quarter.
Buoyed by a solid performance in its investment banking division, the company said Thursday that profits in the second quarter rose 36% from a year ago to $2.7 billion, or 28 cents a share.
I'm going to go ahead and take credit for that. True, I'm not responsible for making them all that money.

But Chase holds my mortgage and not only have I not missed a single payment during this greatest-recession-since-the-Great-Depression, I have been paying extra principal to increase my equity and decrease the vig.

I know, I know...I'm a stupid fucking liberal. Paying bills, living within my means, and other un-American activities.

Speaking of un-American activities, having been subjected to the Sotomayor hearings live on CNN all week, I can say this without qualification:

These Congressional hearings are a joke.

The Republicans, pathetic excuses for statesmen, have not been able to get beyond the "Wise Latina" bullshit. I mean, they're not spending a few hours on it, they're bringing it up every day. And we're on Day 4.

I mean, I know they think this is their ace in the hole...but it's not. Ooh, she once said something that you didn't understand? Man, she's going to make a horrible Supreme Court Justice...

This is not a bunker-buster, guys. This is a pebble catapulted off a plastic spoon. A small pebble. Let it go...

And finally, no politics, no movies, no criticism...just this:

I'm going to have a rare three-day weekend coming up this Saturday because I'm going to the Mile High Music Festival with my brother. Yes, a day off...for a music festival.

Among the acts that will be appearing...

G. Love and Special Sauce! (Saw these guys years ago...)

Incubus! (Never saw them, but dig them nonetheless.)

Ben Harper! (YES!!!!)

And finally...


It should be fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Just Words

I'm reading a book about a stunningly beautiful archaeologist and her love interest, an equally studly scientist that works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Together, they unite to save the world from some kind of supernatural evil which, as of chapter three, has yet to reveal itself.

It's a typical pot-boiler set-up from a typical pot-boiler writing team* but it's still kind of annoying.

It's not good writing; it's not even good story-telling. So what the hell is it doing in hardcover?

(Why is it that many writing teams write mostly pot-boilers anyway? You'd think with two writers, the tendency to write watered-down prose and a formulaic story with paint-by-numbers characters would be diminished. But noooo. Things don't work that way.)


Yesterday our computer systems were having issues. One of my co-workers reported this to IT, saying our ticketing system was "running slow."

I clarified.
It's not running slow. It’s walking with tender blistered feet on hot sand and seeing strange things in the distance..."
That got a laugh from my co-workers, one of whom asked, "What kind of strange things?"

My answer: You know, a functioning ticketing system or a responsive IT department.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just Words

So I was reading this book, hoping that I might enjoy it, but I kept getting slapped in the face by all these unnecessary adjectives. "Her oval face," "her pointed chin."

Taken out of context, they could almost be descriptive, but come on, aren't all faces more or less "oval," and what exactly is a "pointed chin" anyway?

In context, they are subtle ways of rendering ethnicity, as the "her" in the story is a Native American woman. An oval face, a pointed chin. There are more to come, I'm sure. It's not that it's offensive, it's that it's just a little too, I don't know, specific.

Let the reader do some of the work. These descriptions add nothing more to the story but words. They're padding. And padding is not good writing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bishop's Castle

CNN ran this local video about Jim Bishop and the castle he's been building by hand for decades.
A couple years ago, my brother, my nephew, and I spent the night in the castle. We slept on the dusty floor in our sleeping bags and were awakened by the morning's first tourists.

The sunrise was spectacular.

Pro-Market, but Anti-Business

I ran across this article this morning about The Next Conservative Thinkers and this guy Luigi Zingales, an Italian, mentions something I've been thinking a lot about lately.

Here's the relevant graf:
Luigi Zingales says it’s time for conservatives to fall out of love with businesses, and fall back in love with the free market. In an argument that’s begun to catch the ear of a few conservative thinkers, Zingales suggests that it’s often business itself, rather than the government, that the market needs protection from.
I think this is exactly right.

One example I've been thinking about is Ma Bell. Ma Bell does not exist anymore. In 1984, Ma Bell was dismantled by federal mandate, broken up and split into several smaller companies with new rules on how they can operate. This was a massive intervention in the market, but one whose end result was to make it more free.

If Ma Bell were still around, you wouldn't be able to shop around for a phone, much less a different rate plan. Yes, kids, back in the day -long before my time- you could buy your phone --a princess phone maybe-- from AT&T, or you could rent it. From AT&T.

The phone I have now was manufactured by a company called Durabrand and I bought it at Wal-Mart. Prior to 1984, neither company would have been involved in the phone business. Now, of course, Wal-Mart (and Target and Radio Shack and a hundred other stores) sells phones made by dozens of manufacturers and I think anyone can agree that this is a good thing.

I, for one, like this world of competitive telecom. Phones at any store! Cellular service from many providers! The internet! The internet...on my cell phone!

So when Zingales says:
“I’m very strongly pro-market and very strongly against business.”
I know exactly what he's talking about.

Being pro-market means that sometimes you have to be anti-business. I, for one, would share no tears if Disney lost the rights to Mickey Mouse's visage. This would not mean the end of Mickey Mouse watches and cute T-shirts. It would just be the beginning...