Skip Tyler: When I was twelve, I helped my daddy build a bomb shelter in our basement because some fool parked a dozen warheads 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Well, this thing could park a couple of hundred warheads off Washington and New York and no one would know anything about it till it was all over.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
All this after a little incident Mrs. Mosley and I experienced during a trip to Adventure Landing last Saturday. We invited her two little brothers, Michael and Marcus, to come with us. As could have been predicted, our energy level did not last nearly as long as the two munchkins. Mrs. Mosley and I eventually sat on some bleachers to wait for them to finish on the go cart track. Michael got off first and headed right for us, but Marcus kept on walking. I called to him, each shout getting louder over the crowd, "Marcus! MARCus! MARCus!". After this last shout, not only did Marcus turn around but so did Mark Spain, who genially smiled and waved back at me before moving with the crowd towards the exit.
So to the news team of First Coast News, allow me to say this: I'm not following you if you're not following me.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Gibson is due to begin shooting the film, titled "Apocalypto," on location in Mexico in October and is aiming for a summer 2006 release, spokesman Alan Nierob said on Monday.
As with "Passion," Gibson will direct and produce the Mayan-language film from his own script through his own company, Icon Productions, and he will not appear in the movie.
The film's cast will consist of unknown performers native to the region of Mexico where the film is being shot, Nierob said. Few others details about Gibson's project were revealed.
"He lets his work speak for itself," Nierob said.
The story, which Gibson began writing nine months ago, is described as a "unique adventure" set 500 years in the past. Nierob said the title, "Apocalypto," was taken from the Greek word for an unveiling or new beginning.
OK, so first off we have yet another film done in an archaic language. That's cool with me. The whole Aramaic thing with the last film didn't bother me as it did some others at the time. I respected it and respected him for having the balls to do it.
Then we have the title and plot description. The details are thin, but enough can be construed from what is given. "500 years in the past", according to this Mayan timeline, puts us around the Spanish conquest led by Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. As the timeline phrases it, "What force does not accomplish, disease does. Smallpox, measles, influenza, and other introduced diseases kill about 90 percent of the Maya within a century".
So, we have a very powerful and fervent Catholic tackling a period in history where some very powerful and fervent Catholics nearly decimate a civilization. What happened, Mel? Did another studio have a Spanish Inquisition film already in production?
Now, Mel is nothing if not shrewd. The Passion proved that. He's not about to piss off all those culturally conservative Christians who now admire him by making some PC film that paints European Catholics in a poor light. Or would he?
It all depends on how he approaches the subject matter. As it is mentioned in the article, "Apocalypto" (which is close enough to a generic LaHaye title to get some pulses racing in the heartland) translates into "a new beginning". That probably is the key to how he looks upon the film as a whole. He'll pull no punches in terms of showcasing brutality (we all know by now that he's capable of this), but he will also probably emphasize how it was all for a greater good in the transformation of South America into a bastion of Catholicism.
(Goofy aside: Somebody in Hollywood should make a post-WWIII film starring Harry Belafonte and call it Apocalypso!)
So what's my guess for the plot? The Spanish will indeed be bad guys, but it will be portrayed as a force of their political culture more than their religion. The Mayans will indeed be good guys, and they will embrace Catholicism while simultaneously resisting the brutality of the Spanish. They will see this new faith as a step up from their own (We'll see at least one Mayan human sacrifice during the course of the film) and a step towards knowing the true face of God.
Now, let's think about this plot in more general terms: A country driven by zealous belief in their God invades and occupies a foreign land. They claim it is for the natives' own good as they seek to change their backward culture for the better. Despite the thousands upon thousands of deaths that result, there is a hope that somewhere down the road a new nation will emerge. Ideally, this nation will change those around it so that the entire region is rebuilding their society upon the foundations of this new faith that was brought to them.
Yep. Mel's one shrewd guy.
(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Furthermore, I checked the subscription database America's Newspapers and found just in their archives that a total of 19 different newspapers ran articles that included the name and the fact that it was applied to Rove by Bush. I wanted to cross reference these titles with the newspapers that pulled the strip, but none of the Doonesbury articles list the titles. So anyway, If you're a newspaper out there that pulled today's strip and your name appears below, you can just bite me, alright?
Hartford Courant, The (CT)
Ocala Star-Banner (FL)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
York Sunday News (PA)
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Ruidoso News (NM)
San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Sacramento Bee, The (CA)
Boston Globe, The (MA)
Olympian, The (WA)
Journal Gazette, The (Fort Wayne, IN)
Sacramento Bee, The (CA)
Washington Post (DC)
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Los Angeles Times (CA)
Houston Chronicle (TX)
Salt Lake Tribune, The (UT)
New York Post (NY)
Being John Malkovich was really a far more monumental film that even its fans believe. Rarely had a movie as sublimely screwy as this one achieved such widespread success and raves. Spike Jonze also joined the ranks of David Fincher as former video directors who proved they really could direct superior feature films. So it is pleasing to see video director Michel Gondry, with the help of Jonze screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, add his name to that list.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind proves to be as big a mindf*ck for its audience as for its main character Joel (Jim Carrey). He's just ended a long relationship with Clementine (Kate Winslet) and, after visiting with mutual friends, discovers that she has had him erased from her memory by a company called Lacuna. In retaliation, he decides to have the same procedure done. After taking some powerful sedatives one night, technicians from Lacuna come into his apartment to erase Clementine away forever. In the midst of the erasure, he decides against the procedure, but he's having a hell of a time keeping it all from slipping away.
Even after hearing of all the talented people involved in this film, I was afraid it might fall under its own trippy weight. I began thinking of the chase scene at the end of Being John Malkovich and wondered if such a concept as running around inside someone's head could survive a full 90 minute treatment. But Gondry knows this is the wrong way to approach the material. Yes, there are funky visuals like people winking out of existence and cars disappearing a slice at a time, but the main focus is on the relationship between Joel and Clementine, as it should be. We quickly grow fond of these characters and our heart breaks each time another one of Joel's memories falls through his fingers.
Jim Carrey, once again, has shown that he can act, by gum, when he makes an effort to turn it down a notch or three. Again, we have to really like this guy, and the relationship that he had with Clementine, in order to care whether or not he losses it all. Perhaps I'm particularly touched by this concept since I am terrified of Alzheimer's. Though it is one of the least physically painful maladies, to be stripped of elements that make you who you are is a devastating concept, and Carrey communicates that.
At this point, Kate Winslet has excelled in as many kind of romantic roles that exist in film. She's nailed Period Piece Romance (Sense and Sensibility), Hollywood Melodrama Romance (Titanic), Artist Biography Romance (Iris) and even Tragic Tabooed Romance (Heavenly Creatures). With Eternal Sunshine, she can add Quirky Indie Romance to her resume. Her Clementine is one of those messed up yet massively charismatic free spirits. I'm reminded of Roger Ebert's description of Natalie Portman in Garden State as, "one of those creatures you sometimes find in the movies, a girl who is completely available, absolutely desirable and really likes you."
In supporting roles, Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst (as a secretary and technician of Lacuna, respectively) do very well with their subplot. Elijah Wood apparently decided that his first major role after playing a likeable character for so long should be a bit of a creep, which he pulls off. Finally, there's Tom Wilkinson, who seems to popping up everywhere these days in a very wide variety of roles. Jim Broadbent was doing the same thing back four years ago and got an Oscar for his troubles. Don't be too surprised if Tom picks up one soon, as well.
When it comes to "Love & Loss" stories, there is loss and then there is loss. This film got so much attention because of it's freaky concept, but it ends up affecting you through the heartbreak and love of it's characters. The movie is truly unforgettable. No. Scratch that. Make that "Uneraseable".
Nine out of Ten
One side note: The trailer for this film prominently featured ELO's Beatlesque song "Mr. Blue Sky". I checked out the CD shortly after watching the film. I have now been compelled to listen to the song nonstop since then. To quote Captain Benjamin Sisko, "It's in my mind and it's rrreeeeeeaaaaaallllllll!!!!"
(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)
Friday, July 22, 2005
Incidentally, I believe the music is by the group Portishead.
The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.Read that part I bolded again. And read it again and again and again. When the history texts are written, they will have to try and convince children of the future that a majority of Americans in the 2004 election chose indiscriminate destruction of entire countries over guys getting married to each other.
One young European Christian who worships at King of Kings and works for a Jerusalem-based nonprofit gave me a blunt assessment of some of his American counterparts. "There's something in the bloodstream of American Christianity that looks for, and reacts to, signs of the apocalypse." He adds, "To me, it's not a great thing to herald the end of the world while I'm living here. I have kids. I want to see them grow up."It would seem to me that the logical reaction to a group which sees their own exaltation in your destruction would be to get the hell away from them, but we're not dealing with logic here.
But let's get away from the whole Israel thing for a moment. People who see our flawed civilization and wish to just clear the slate and start over are the people we really need to worry about. These are the people that are far to the right of environmentalism, because why worry about the Rain forests when they're going to be ascending to heaven any day now. This attitude, of course, completely screws over those of us (and our children) who plan to be here for the long haul.
You could argue that people are entitled to their opinions on these things, and you'd be right. But what if those people band together and vote for politicians that believe the same things. Politicians who would, perhaps, do everything in their power to ignore and cover up the dangers of Global warming. Then it becomes our problem, and that's why Liberals have a legitimate reason to fear these people.
Interior Secretary James Watt (Yet another counter-productive appointment by Republicans: A protector of the environment that doesn't care a fig for nature) made some infamous statements during his service under Ronald Reagan. They include "After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back" and "My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns". The biggie that's often cited is "We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand".
Proof of my argument doesn't come any clearer than that, but of course Watt was just one man (albeit a very powerful one). My thinking is that people who hold such beliefs are much quieter about it now, knowing that stating such things so bluntly is not very popular, even in a country that just elected Dubya by a legitimate margin. They're still out there, and though they may have been disappointed by the lack of fireworks at the turn of this new century, they were soon reassured of what they probably viewed as a clear sign of the end times in the collapse of the two towers. It's the end of the world as they know it, and they feel fine.
Wish I could say the same.
(One final note: Posts like this suggest I'm hostile against Chrsitians. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's the extremists that worry me, whether they be for Allah or Yahweh or whomever. When we visited Mrs. Mosley's grandfather, who is a scientist and part-time pastor, earlier this month, he expressed his own dismay at the words and actions of such extremists. He's proof positive that there are many Christians today that do have their heads screwed on straight. Thanks, Don.)
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Years ago, I saw a documentary that chronicled the life of John Cleese, and they included very a very brief clip from this old program. As far as I can tell, this sketch is not included in the DVD (Correction: the reviewer himself reveals in my comments section that the sketch is indeed included in the DVD. Thanks, Bill!). I remember the opening lines of the sketch to this day, and though she's never seen it herself, Mrs. Mosley loves the line delivered by Cleese (which she utters in an imitation of my imitation). When Googled, these lines are always attributed to "Unknown", so I'm guessing this really is obscure. So allow me to help anyone who tries to find the origin of the quote by stating it here. Cleese plays the fourth man with a crazy look in his eye.
(Four normal looking men, all dressed in suits and bowler hats, sit at a table and stare into the camera. All four speak slowly and deliberately)
First Man: I am a Chartered Accountant.
Second Man: I am also a Chartered Accountant.
Third Man: I am a Chartered Accountant, too.
Fourth Man: I am a Gorilla.
(The first three men make an astonished reaction to the fourth, then turn back to the camera)
First Man: We are all Chartered Accountants.
Fourth Man: Except me.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
It puts me in mind of Hugh Laurie, the comedic genius of Jeeves & Wooster and currently the wry dramatic emmy-nominated genius of House M.D.. Back when I first saw him in Sense & Sensibility, I was unaware of his dramatic potential, and was completely astounded at what a 180 degree turn his Mr. Palmer was compared to Bertie Wooster. In one scene, he calmly bears his wife Charlotte's fluttering about some subject and issues a one word response in an effort to silence her on the matter.
Charlotte: Miss Dashwood, if only Mr. Willoughby had gone home to Combe Magna, we could have taken Miss Marianne to see him! For we live but half a mile away.
Mr. Palmer: Five and a half.
Charlotte: No, I cannot believe it is that far, for you can see the place from the top of our hill. Is it really five and a half miles? No! I cannot believe it.
Mr Palmer: (brief pause) Try.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Slim Goodbody is alive...ALIVE!!!!!!
(Note: You can also file it under "Geez - that - freak - is - real - I - thought - I - dreamed - up - that - crazy - sh*t!")
Monday, July 18, 2005
Match One: White House Chief of Staff
Andrew Card vs. Leo McGarry: FIGHT!
Most oddmakers give the advantage in this matchup to Card, seeing that McGarry is both a recovering alcoholic and has a weak heart. A weak heart, however, does not necessitate a weak man (See Match Six). Leo will most likely go down once in the round two. But he'll be back up, and he won't go down a second time. Look for him to hand Andrew's ass back to him in round three.
Match Two: White House Deputy Chief of Staff
Joshua Bolten & Joseph Hagin vs. Joshua Lyman: FIGHT!
In the real world, Lyman's job title is divided amongst two people for two areas (Policy and Operations). Lyman's efforts to do the work of two men has left him overworked and scatterbrained; So much so that he doesn't even know enough to capitalize on the obvious affections by gorgeous, leggy blondes. Josh can only do so much, and this two-against-one bout won't last past the first round.
Match Three: White House Communications Director
Dan Bartlett vs. Toby Ziegler: FIGHT!
Bartlett, a mainstay on the morning news shows when they need a WH comment on some controversy, is a master of smiling his way through his job. No matter the severity of the situation, he will flash that grin and chuckle through some glib insults to Democrats. Unfortunately, the ability to grin is no asset in the ring. And against such a grim MF as Zeigler, it's actually a deficit. Get ready, Dan, 'cause you're Toby's bitch, now.
Match Four: White House Deputy Communications Director
Jim Wilkinson vs. Sam Seaborn: FIGHT!
These two young turks both have the air of men with something to prove. Wilkinson, infamous in some circles for the Miami recount protest in 2000, knows how to handle people in combative situations, so he's sure to come out strong. Seaborn, a passionate lawyer who strives for perfection, will give it his best but will most likely hit the canvas by the fourth round. When he is convinced of his defeat, he will be heard to mumble meaningless gibberish as "doctorlyonsvegasden".
Booking agents have closed shop for Match Five and aren't taking any bets. Cregg's strong and tall frame combined with her mastery of improvisational techniques make her impossible to beat. Really, the Washington Senators have a better chance against the Globetrotters than Fleischer besting C. J. "The Jackal" Cregg. Sorry, Ari, but you'll be lucky if you see round two.
Match Six: The Vice President of the United States
Dick Cheney vs. John Hoynes: FIGHT!
Cheney has developed a reputation as a pitbull both inside and outside the ring. He is not averse for grabbing a folding chair and smacking his opponent upside the head when the ref isn't looking. Hoynes talks a good talk, but simply isn't a physical match for Cheney. If the competition was based on skirt chasing, Hoynes would have the upper hand. As it stands, look for Cheney to stand triumphant, perhaps with an illegal object in one hand and Hoynes' still-beating heart in the other.
Match Seven: The First Lady
Laura Bush vs. Abbey Bartlet: FIGHT!
Despite having the occasional gleam in her eye that speaks of a beast within, Laura is a lightweight compared to Abbey. To be sure, the fight between them would last well past three rounds. Laura's energy would have her zipping to all points of the ring like a wolverine on PCP, but Abbey would eventually wear her down. After all, both women have experience dealing with sometimes troublesome husbands, and it is in those matches that we see who can take on more. Which brings us to...
Match Eight: The President of the United States
George W. Bush vs. Jed Bartlet: FIGHT!
They're past their athletic prime and they have a history of crashing their bicycles, but both are perfectly able to "Bring it on". Like Laura and Abbey, Bush and Bartlet are fully able to go the distance, and therefore all you pay-per-view folks won't feel a bit cheated. Expect this fight to go a minimum of six rounds, with both getting the living crap beat out of them in the process. Tenacity can only go so far, though, and in the end it will be a knockout delivered to the man from Connecticut by the man from New Hampshire.
The final blow will, naturally, be a mean left hook.
(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)
Saturday, July 16, 2005
The British newspaper The Guardian has recently held a contest for readers to write their own Dumbledore death scene in various literary and popular styles. It's all so very Who's Line is it Anyway and, therefore, hilarious. Some of my favorites include one of the Hemingway entries and a fellow who mimicked Terry Pratchet as Dumbledore discussed his fate with the ever popular Discworld character, Death.
I am choosing to quote the Jeeves and Wooster entry, and I have three reasons for this choice. One: Mrs. Mosley is a fan of both Harry Potter and the works of P.G. Wodehouse. Two: It happens to be one of the better written entries. Three: The rather ridiculous sounding names in the Potter series mesh well to the similarly silly names in the works of Wodehouse.
I settled back against the pillows and picked up the paper. No sooner had I picked it up than I dropped it in disbelief.
"I say, Jeeves!"
He had been wafting out of the room, perhaps bound for the next room, but to revise this plan was, for Jeeves, the work of a moment. "Yes, sir?"
I retrieved the paper from the covers. "'Hogwarts Headmaster Found Dead in Chambers,'" I read. "Isn't that the fellow Dumbledore?"
"Why, Ladbrokes was offering us a 10-1 spread to that effect not a week ago. We could have made a packet, Jeeves. You advised against it, if memory serves."
"Excuse me, sir. I considered it a macabre investment."
I sighed over the paper for some moments more, until my mood grew philosophical. "Well, don't worry about it any further, Jeeves," I said. "Into each life some rain must fall, what?"
"So it is said, sir."
"Have you heard of this Voldemort?" I asked, naming the suspect.
"I have made his acquaintance, sir. He is well-known among London valets."
I discerned a tinny glint in Jeeves's eye, which was unusual. Jeeves, my valet, is the s.-and-s. type, not much disposed to hysterics or glints. The bean leaped to the occasion, unspooling the mystery like a spool of yarn in the paws of an assiduous detective-cat. "Rummy cove, eh?"
"His habits, sir, are unconventional."
"I don't wonder you heard that. It says here he stands accused of offing the man Dumbledore. Well, Jeeves," I said, folding the paper, "Let's keep an eye on this Voldemort." I disapprove of the murder of headmasters, but am all for their being occasionally inconvenienced.
The chicken is a freshly cooked breast that is warm and juicy. It's cut into very long strips that demand being cut up before hand, so consider that a demerit. The atypical ingredients of tomato wedges and red onions are a nice touch. The lettuce is cut up into small enough pieces and is sufficiently fresh. The croutons are average. The dressing and cheese, while tasty, is only found on top of the salad. Underneath, there is tons of dry lettuce. In other words, the salad was not tossed. When will restaurants learn the simple lesson that the key to a good salad is a good tossing? Do we need to send a Panera representative over there? Incidentally, not long after I discovered this, the waitress offered to bring some extra dressing. She brought out a generous cup of ranch dressing, which means she's not totally familiar with Chicken Caesar's, but at least her intentions were good.
Despite the friendly waitress, I can't really recommend this salad for the price. Salad's are obviously not their specialty and it shows. You're better off with a stack of pancakes and a side of bacon at this place.
The majority of the bombers on 9/11 were from our ally Saudi Arabia. This, naturally, translated into a need to invade Iraq.
All of the bombers responsible for the recent London blasts were British citizens originally from our ally Pakistan. This, naturally, means that we will soon be invading Iran.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
The veracity of this history has been questioned, but it came to mind during my recent trip to North Carolina. Mrs. Mosley and I stopped at a Sonic to get snacks, including a Coney Island Hot Dog. For you Northerners not blessed enough to have a Sonic Drive In where you live, this particular delicacy is loaded with chili and cheese and comes in a little cardboard box sans lid. It also comes with a knife and fork, which many people choose to use since it can be so messy.
My question is this: At this point, why bother with the friggin bun?
It reminds me of a comedy bit which contemplated the practice of placing butter inside a warm box (Butter warmer) inside a cold box (Your fridge) inside a warm box (Your house). Oh, the wonders of modern invention!
Friday, July 08, 2005
Thursday, July 07, 2005
But the reaction to today's attacks feels incredibly English. When I left the quiet area right around the bus bombing and returned to the busy streets of Holborn and Soho, London appeared just as it always is.
The natural state of the English is a kind of gloomy diligence, which is why they do so well in hard times. In 1940, Londoners went dutifully on with their business while the Luftwaffe bombed the hell out of them. Today, most of them are doing the same. I was in Washington for 9/11, and the whole city went into a panic. Offices emptied, stores shut, downtown D.C. became a ghost town. But in London today, everyone still has a cell phone clutched to their ear. The delivery vans are still racing about, seeking shortcuts around all the street closures. The Starbucks is packed.
And when I walked by the Queen's Larder Pub, not half a mile from the Tavistock Square wreckage, at 11 a.m., a half-dozen men were sitting together at a sidewalk table, hoisting their morning pints of ale. Civilization must go on, after all.
"We will not yield to these people."In all honesty and sincerity, I'd like to ask him at this moment: What does that mean?
What other option is there, really? Does anyone, anyone (including the terrorists themselves) expect Bush to one day come out after a bombing and say, "All right, you win. We've had it. My administration will be out of the White House by dawn and you Al-Qaida guys can move in. We'll leave the keys under the doormat."? And, be fair you conservatives out there, do you honestly think that a President Gore or a President Kerry would ever do anything remotely similar?
Of course we will not yield. In actuality, the statement can be taken as a standard response that a leader makes almost out of courtesy. People expect the President to say such things after a crisis. But I'd like to make one other point about it. He uses the term "yield" to reinforce the concept that our fight against terrorism is a "war".
It's not a war. There's no yielding of territory in this fight. War, of course, usually has a clear and definable objective. Our fight against terrorism is a fight against dangerous ideals and individuals, not countries and armies. When this fight grew too abstract to yield satisfying results (like, oh I don't know, capturing Osama Bin Laden, perhaps?), Bush decided to invade a country that he knew he could conquer. Therefore, he could say defeating Iraq was a victory in his "War on Terror". After all, we had captured all this territory, so we must be doing well, right?
Some might think that I'm over-reading into a single word that Bush might have chosen on the spur of the moment. Perhaps he meant that we will not be frightened to the point that our daily lives are filled with fear. That is, after all, the best way to respond to terrorism: refuse to be intimidated. And that should indeed be our response (Along with forming ties with the world bodies and intelligence agencies to track down, capture and prosecute terrorists everywhere).
But Bush and this White House has made all of us jaded when it comes to their words. His advisors and speech writers do all they can to subtly and un-subtly connect Terrorism and Iraq. Their "War on Terror" is counted as one-and-the-same with the "War in Iraq" to the point that the fate of the later hangs in the balance equally with the former.
When it comes to Terrorism, there is no territory and there is no victory; only struggle. One day, we hope, that struggle will wear down terrorists to the point that their presence in the world is a mere shadow of what it is today. Until that day, the world will persevere amid any catastrophes (both terror-related and Bush-related) that come our way.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
President Bush collided with a local police officer and fell during a bike ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort while attending a meeting of world leaders Wednesday.This little accident, combined with this one and this one, seems to imply the guy needs to stick with cars from now on.
Al Qaida/Taliban: Religious indoctrination. Run by clergy.
American Taliban: School prayer. Religious indoctrination (creationism and "intelligent design"). Private religious school system.
Liberals: Leave religious teachings to parents and sunday school.
Al Qaida/Taliban: No school, must cover entire body, no rights
American Taliban: Government control over reproductive freedoms, hostility to Title IX, hostility to working women
Liberals: Equality of the sexes
Al Qaida/Taliban: Eradicate them from society
American Taliban: Eradicate them from society
Liberals: Equality under the law
Al Qaida/Taliban: Torture them or chop off their heads
American Taliban: Torture them or homosexually rape them.
Liberals: No torture
Al Qaida/Taliban: World domination - do it our way or we attack
American Taliban: World domination - do it our way or we attack
Liberals: Peace and international cooperation
Al Qaida/Taliban: Executing Minors OK
American Taliban: Executing Minors OK
Liberals: Find this to be a barbaric and embarrassing practice
Al Qaida/Taliban: Hate it... kill it
American Taliban: Hate it... ban it
Liberals: Laugh at it... boycott it
Al Qaida/Taliban: Belief in their own infallibility
American Taliban: Belief in their own infallibility
Liberals: Willingness to consider other viewpoints
Al Qaida/Taliban: God is on our side and will help us kill our enemies
American Taliban: God is on our side and will help us kill our enemies
Liberals: God may or may not exist and will not help us kill anyone
Use of Force
Al Qaida/Taliban: As a means of propagating a world view
American Taliban: As a means of propagating a world view
Liberals: As a last resort
Bush's War in Iraq
Al Qaida/Taliban: Love it!
American Taliban: Love it!
Liberals: It's a disaster
Al Qaida/Taliban: Control of the Press
American Taliban: Manipulation of the Press
Liberals: Freedom of the Press
Al Qaida/Taliban: Anyone who disagrees with us is an infidel and must be silenced
American Taliban: Anyone who disagrees with us is a traitor and must be silenced
Liberals: Anyone who disagrees with us is in for a spirited discussion
Al Qaida/Taliban: Death to the infidels
American Taliban: Kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity
Liberals: Live and let live
Al Qaida/Taliban: Subservient to will of its leaders
American Taliban: Subservient to will of its leaders
Liberals: Will served by Representative government
Al Qaida/Taliban: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in moral absolutes and scorn those that threaten those absolutes
American Taliban: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in moral absolutes and scorn those that threaten those absolutes
Liberals: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in accepting that respect for our fellow man and the individual choices he/she makes is eminently moral
Al Qaida/Taliban: Marriage is only between a man and a woman
American Taliban: Marriage is only between a man and a woman
Liberals: Marriage is between any two people who love each other
And, in conclusion:
We could keep this up all day, I suspect. Remember, the point isn't that the American Taliban is just like Al Qaida (though given the chance...), the point is that there's no reason that liberals would ever "root" for Al Qaida or the Taliban or any of the crazies in the Islamic fundamentalist world.
The reasons we hate the American Taliban are the same reasons we hate fundamentalists of all stripes -- they seek to impose their own moral code on the rest of society, and do so with the zeal and moral absolutism possible only from those who believe they are doing "God's work".
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Aside from it being really entertaining, there also was and is a lot of respect for this show. For one thing, they didn't overreach by choosing to adapt a comic for live action at a time when television special effects could be quite crude (I'm looking at you, The Amazing Spiderman). They simply hired a massive bodybuilder, painted him green, and pointed him towards the balsa wood buildings and the stuntmen waiting to be thrown through them.
In terms of tone, they played it straight. No Adam West or Caesar Romero overacting here. They instead took a tested television actor (Bill Bixby of My Favorite Martian and The Courtship of Eddie's Father) and placed him in a series that took a tried-and-true plot structure from The Fugitive: Man on the run enters a town, befriends nice people, helps them out, almost gets caught, moves on. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
It all worked very well, and I have fond memories of watching this show as a kid. But in terms of the pattern this show followed to success, I'm beginning to remember one more distinct element:
This was one sadistic program.
Oh sure, there were plenty of action shows in the late 70's/early 80's with heroes that were occasionally beaten up and stomped on. Hell, I watched a lot of them myself. But none of them seemed to unload on the hero with the consistency that David Banner endured week after week.
This was the nature of the beast, so to speak. The pain from beatings and torture (which, in turn, led to anger) was required in order for Banner to make his two script-mandated changes into the Hulk each episode. And, to be fair, the show would mix it up occasionally by having the change be caused by natural circumstances (like a fire) instead of a fight. But more often than not, Banner was unfortunate enough to face villains who knew how to put on the thumbscrews.
It's no secret that superheroes can be the source of major empowerment fantasies for the kids who read about them. Little geeks could read about them and dream about dispatching bullies in much the same manner. But most of these comic book heroes, when faced a formidable force, often battle in the most fantastic of circumstances. In the case of David Banner, we just have a good old fashioned ass whupping ramped up a couple of extra notches. I suppose this brought it home for kids in a way that other superheroes never could.
I remember one show in particular which, due to the details, may forever be burned into my brain. Near the end, the bad guys take Bruce out to a construction site. They beat the crap out of him then seal him in plastic then throw him in a hole then start filling the hole with cement! This is somewhat different than, say, the old Batman show. Even if there is the threat of Batman and Robin being buried alive inside a giant hourglass, everything is so silly that you can't take it seriously, even if the mode of death is inherently horrifying.
Perhaps I'm wrong and either (a) the beatings weren't as bad as I remember and/or (b) there were beatings just as bad on other shows. I did a quick Google search to find the episode I mentioned. I didn't find it, but I did find a synopsis for a Simon and Simon episode that also featured a bad guy attempting to bury some good guys in cement. So maybe I'm engaging in a bit of selective memory.
Still, I imagine some viewed the dispatching of bad guys by the Hulk as one hell of a cathartic experience. No wonder it lasted for five seasons.
(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)
Saturday, July 02, 2005
A Japanese mental health counsellor has broken the world record for reciting pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, from memory.
Akira Haraguchi, 59, managed to recite the number's first 83,431 decimal places, almost doubling the previous record held by another Japanese.
He had to stop three hours into his recital after losing his place, and had to start from the beginning.
Mr Haraguchi had already recited the ratio up to about 54,000 digits last September, but was forced to drop the challenge when the facility hosting the event closed for the night.
The article also mentions that supercomputers have so far calculated pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places and that it has become extremely useful in all sorts of sciences. My question is, given that the computer already has it calculated to such a length, is it really all that useful for one person to have so much of it memorized?
Of course, this criticism is coming from a man who prides himself in knowing the extensive resumes of the entire cast of Alien, so pots and kettles and so forth.
The period of the American Civil War was not one in which belles letters flourished but it did produce a remarkable literature which mostly consists of speeches and pamphlets, private letters and diaries, personal memoirs and journalistic reports. Has there ever been another historical crisis of the magnitude of 1861-65 in which so many people were so articulate?
Friday, July 01, 2005
Charlie Jensen: Is it the frank or the beans?