Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash."
-- Vice President Cheney on CNN's The Situation Room, responding to the suggestion that there were "blunders" in our Iraq policy. He went on to say, "Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes."
(By "we" of course he meant Halliburton.)
The news channels are wall-to-wall on the 2008 Presidential campaign. It's January, 2007!
At this rate of saturation, no sane person could possibly believe that anyone will still care by November of 2008. I predict that, by October of this year, most Americans will look at the candidates the way you'd look at your neighbor's sagging Christmas decorations in April.
Be honest: If most Americans were asked, "Quick, who's the only person who could possibly even come close to getting our country out of the various messes we're in? First name that comes to mind" they would say, "Bill Clinton." And then they'd remember he's not allowed to run. And feel sad.
President Clinton left office with a 66% job approval rating, and as of last week had a 61% approval rating. But we can't elect him President.
We could elect Barry Bonds or Joan Rivers or Nancy Grace or John Mark Karr if we wanted to. But not Bill Clinton. This is madness.
Why are we being denied the opportunity to elect the man most of us would vote for? Because of the 22nd Amendment? If there ever was a time to get rid of that turkey, it's now.
Instead of wasting it on a boring horse race, let's spend the next year getting rid of this insane limitation on our right to choose our leader.
I know that if President Clinton participated in such a movement, he'd be greeted at home by a rolling-pin-wielding missus, and get what is known in some parts as a "wood shampoo." But even if it doesn't restore Clinton to office, getting rid of that amendment is a great idea.
Of course, in the short term the whole problem could be solved if Hillary were to choose Bill as her running mate, and then promise that, if elected, she'd resign on Inauguration Day. That would get me to vote for her... but I don't hold out much hope.
Of course, I still stand by my previous prediction: In January, 2009, George W. Bush will be sworn in for a third term. Given that he's never won an honest election, and he has shown nothing but contempt for the Constitution, there's nothing to stop him.
Still, I am casting my vote: B. Clinton/Gore in 2008.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
A country is invaded by a large army of coalition forces. Government officials and their supporters are killed and/or imprisoned, and a provisional coalition government is installed. The new government is made up of local leaders who are coalition-friendly. (Of course, they serve only as long as they do things the coalition's way.)
Anyone suspected of terrorism or even dissent is held without rights in prison camps. There are no trials. They are interrogated mercilessly.
The army expected to be greeted as liberators... yet the citizens don't react with appropriate gratitude to being freed from a system which has kept them under its thumb for so long. The army struggles to maintain order, even if it means civilian casualties in the hundreds of thousands, and the transformaiton of a once-beautiful country into a bombed-out wasteland.
The fragile order that the coalition forces are trying to maintain is shattered daily by insurgents, using guerilla tactics and improvised explosive devices to kill as many troops as they can. The insurgents are fighting a kind of war the army has never faced before: a war without uniforms or rules.
The insurgency grows stronger and more terror cells crop up daily. Longstanding cultural divides fuel the hatred and violence. More and more troops are killed each day by the insurgency, whose unconcealed agenda is to sieze back control of the newly-liberated country. The cost to the invading nations, in blood and treasure, is crippling.
You might have thought I was talking about Iraq. But this was actually the plot of the movie Red Dawn. Except the insurgents there were called "Wolverines." And those roadside bombers were played by guys like Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, so they were the good guys.
One man's ceiling is another man's floor.
Monday, January 22, 2007
An Australian man was removed from a Qantas flight to London when he refused to change out of his anti-Bush shirt. The airline was afraid the shirt, which called Bush the "World's Number 1 Terrorist," might offend other passengers.
We can put aside whether Bush is the "World's Number 1 Terrorist" or not. (Though he's certainly ahead on points.) We know that George Bush is so sacred, so golden, that no one criticizes him in his presence. Now we can't do it in his absence??
Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon to become dictator of most of the known world. If anyone would be snappish about being mocked, you'd think it would be Julius Caesar. Yet when people gave him shit about his being bald and bi, he took it like a man. (Of course, Bush is no Caesar, no matter what he thinks.)
But back to Qantas. There is an implication in their actions that there would have been no problem had the Australian gentleman worn a "Yay, Bush!" T-shirt. If I were on that plane, such a shirt would certainly make my blood boil. But I would never think to complain about it.
I've been on flights with women with "Bitch" or "Slut" on their tank tops. I've been on flights with guys in mesh shirts that offered up tufts of their lush back hair. On one memorable occasion, there was a guy a few rows back in a hunting outfit. The whole vest-and-flappy-hat, Elmer Fudd deal. With an NRA button. I was, to say the least, offended.
And anyone who flies between L.A. and Vegas has found himself face-to-face with doughy ass cleavage, bisected by thongs that struggle as if they were in a Hooke's Law experiment. Or Botoxed, dermabraded, middle-aged women wearing skimpy, scoopy tops, the better to reveal breasts so leathery they should have "Coach" stamped on them. Or, worst of all, guys in sandals and socks.
But do I complain to the crew? God, no.
Because I don't believe that it's my unassailable right to move through my day without being "offended." If everyone who offended me were "removed" from my sight, there'd be few cars on the freeway, no one at movie theatres, and Fox News would be a test pattern.
Besides, people who are never offended also never encounter anything that challenges their world view. They're never exposed to ideas or opinions they don't already have. Their belief systems are suspended forever, like a mosquito in amber.
There's a word for those people. They're called "stupid."
Speaking of iTunes, Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes website is a dream come true. If there's anything you wish you could do easier in iTunes, there is a script here that will help. They're simple to install and use, and they can open up a whole new world of possibilities for managing and enjoying your music.
The site is free, but Paypal donations are always welcome, and bring really good karma.
I've raved endlessly about the Slingbox, which lets you place-shift your TV viewing to anywhere you can take a computer. At CES the Sling Media people went one better: they introduced the SlingCatcher, which will let you do your slinging TV-to-TV, without the computer. So you can watch your downstairs TiVo upstairs, or even (and this is where it gets really cool) take it on the road with you and watch your home shows on any TV.
I thought of one really interesting use for the SlingCatcher... though its legality is still being debated. If there's someone in your life who is always asking you to make them tapes or DVDs of shows they missed, you can just give them a SlingCatcher. Then while you're out of the house, they can watch the show on your TiVo, and you saved yourself some hassle.
(And the announcement that CBS will offer the Clip+Sling feature, which allows the sharing of clips from CBS shows, is even more good news for Slingbox owners.)
Another great sling is Martian Technology's SlingShot, a clean, simple, efficient app for the Mac that will synchronize any folder or iTunes playlist among the computers on your network. Sync has always been available for folders, through the .Mac service, but there's an annual fee. SlingShot is only $29.99 to buy, and the license covers every Mac on your home network.
And the iTunes playlist feature is a godsend: you "publish" a playlist on your desktop, and "subscribe" on your laptop. Every time you change the desktop playlist, the tracks the laptop doesn't have are automatically copied over. Combine this with the invaluable Smart Playlists feature, and SlingShot is the answer to a lot of iTunes prayers.
You've undoubtedly seen this eBay commercial. I think it's very clever and ambitious and well-executed. Everything a TiVo-proof ad should be.
Until the end, when it frustrates the hell out of me. It's the longest set-up ever to a joke whose punchline they don't tell.
The diamond ring plummets down the pipe, through the building, into the sea. It's eaten by a fish, and when a couple sits down to dinner, the woman finds the ring in her dinner. In this, the longer version of the ad, the guy looks up, delighted, as if to say, "Cool! A diamond ring!" In most versions, we just go out on the woman's surprise.
There's a joke hanging there, untold: she finds the ring, looks up at him with her eyes brimming with tears... he smiles back wanly, gulps, sweats...
It's not exactly a new joke, but leaving it out is like a shave-and-a-haircut without the two bits.
The New York Times reports that Isaiah Washington's future with Grey's Anatomy is in question.
I, for one, think it would be a shame to lose the scenes between the emotionless, robotic Burke and the emotionless, robotic Yang. Their scenes are so filled with moments of not speaking or having facial expressions or even moving their necks.
In a time when TV characters (even other ones on Grey's Anatomy) are so full of feeling and humanity, don't we need Burke and Yang and their cold, dead gazes now more than ever?