Thursday, September 28, 2006

Skippy of the Day: Jeanine Pirro

One of the major stories this morning concerned Republican Jeanine Pirro and some trouble she's having amidst her run for Attorney General of New York State:

Republican state attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro said Wednesday she was under federal investigation for plotting to secretly record her husband to find out whether he was having another affair.

Pirro, speaking at a Manhattan news conference, said that any probe into her troubled marriage was "highly improper" but she had no intention of quitting her campaign.
Nothing special here. But I did enjoy this latter comment in the article:

She repeatedly said this was a personal matter involving her husband and charged she was the target of "an unethical, overzealous prosecutor with a partisan agenda."
Pirro is currently running for Attorney General only because she dropped out of a Senate race against Senator Clinton when her party realized she couldn't defeat Hillary. Now that she's not slinging mud anymore at the former First Lady, maybe the two should get together and chat about overzealous prosecutors with partisan agendas sticking their nose into politician's personal lives.

Apparently, Republicans have never heard of the concept until now.

Brick Central Terminal

The most surprising part of the NYC trip was a chance visit to the Toys R Us in Times Square. We had some time to kill before a movie, so we went in and headed for (what else?) the LEGO section.

That's when I first saw "Brick Central Terminal".

This corner of the LEGO department contained dozens of clear plastic bins with batches of LEGO pieces. Each bin contained a specific type and color piece. While I stood staring at this, slackjawed, Mrs. Mosley spotted the sign off to the side that explained how one could purchase a bag of LEGO for 19.99. The bag, almost the length of a subway footlong, had a zipper seal on top to settle what one could get away with in terms of "a bag full" in this scenario.

Believe it or not, I hesitated. Fortunately, Mrs. Mosley was there to prod me on and insist I get a bag. So I did. In fact, two nights later, I got a second one.

And here they are:

Big yellow bags just about to burst with LEGO goodness. Here's the combined pile of them:

Ooooh, Baby!

For those of you not understanding the significance of all this, let me explain. When you buy a set, and you plan to use those piece to make other things, you may end up with a lot of pieces you don't have a lot of use for. An opportunity to buy exactly what you want is, therefore, pretty damn cool.

But allow me to express this in economics. The total cost of the two bags was 40 dollars and the total amount of bricks was 1,761. Now, lets take a sample set like the 4881 Robo Platoon (which Mrs. Mosley got for me sometime back). It has lots of small pieces, which I leaned heavily towards in my choices, and few really specialized parts. That set currently goes for $10.00 and has 218 pieces. If I bought 8 of those sets, I'd have 1,744 pieces, which means that I got twice the amount of LEGO for my money in Toys R Us.

Pretty slick.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NYC checklist

Well, our heels and calves may never speak to us again, but Mrs. Mosley and I had a fine time walking all over New York City for four days last week. Here is our NYC experiences checklist:
  • Broadway - There was nothing playing that really got both of us excited to see, Except for maybe Wicked, and that was not an option at the half-price TKTS booth. So we went and saw The Producers and had a grand old time. Incidentally, this makes two Broadway plays I've seen on vacation in other cities (the other was The Lion King in Toronto) and they were both based on films I haven't seen yet. Weird.
  • Central Park - Easily one of the highlights of our trip. We took a stroll through the southern half of it only hours after landing and checking into our hotel. The weather was clear and cool and we ate lunch next to "The Pond". We then wandered and ended up on a bench on "The Mall" (Ingenious names this park has). Someone played a saxophone down on one end while Mrs. Mosley's head lay in my lap. Moments don't get more perfect than that.
  • Empire State Building - You know, I might have been able and willing to wait an hour in line to go on Thunder Mountain ten years ago, but I'll be damned if I'll do it these days for most anything, including King Kong's hangout. To quote Sergeant Roger Murtaugh: "I'm too old for this sh*t!"
  • Jackhammers - We passed only one, and it was working on a building and not the street itself.
  • Panhandling - Two large instances of this on the subway itself. Both were during crowded periods. The first guy set down his hat (some change already jingling in it) and did a very loud spiel asking for money, gum, cigarettes, anything. He did get some change from others, and Mrs. Mosley and I simultaneously wondered if he jumped a turnstile or actually paid two dollars in order to come down here and beg for change. The second guy, who wandered from one end of the subway car to another offering (of all things) AA and AAA batteries for sale. Unfortunately for him, we happened to be flush at the time.
  • Pigeon droppings - Yep. Once while standing on a street corner and the bird was perched on a street sign above my head. Little bastard.
  • Post 9/11 security - The extra airport security was expected, including the whole "no liquids" thing. What wasn't expected was the fact that security to enter the Statue of Liberty was higher than the airports themselves. We went through the standard security routine once to get on the ferry and a second time to enter the statue. The second also had some sort of compressed air thingy that blew at your sides in case you carried a biological weapon on your clothes.
  • Queens - This was the only borough outside of Manhattan that we ventured into. I'm not sure what I expected to find there, but Mrs. Mosley's first words as we emerged from the underground subway station was, "Hey! We're in the suburbs!".
  • Street Vendors - No, we didn't get around to partaking of any of these. Mrs. Mosley's stomach can be sensitive to strangely cooked meat, so we took a pass. However, as much talk as I had heard about hot dogs and pretzels, the smells seemed to overwhelmingly indicate that marinated chicken on skewers was the most popular dish at these places. I have to admit, they did smell good.
  • Subway - We took the subway to quite a few places throughout the city, though Mrs. Mosley and I agreed that it's not as easy to understand as the other three subway systems we have used on our trips (London, Toronto, D.C.).
  • Taxi Cabs - We rode in cabs twice during the trip. The first was from Laguardia to our hotel after we landed and the second was from our hotel to Penn Station when we left. For the record, the first cabbie did wear a turban (East Indian, not Arabic).
  • Times Square - It's as crowded and flashy and gaudy as you'd imagine, yet it's strangely charming because of it. Since I'm not partial to crowds, I wouldn't want to spend a huge amount of time there, but I'm glad I was able to visit for a little while.
  • Traffic - Though it may be foolish to try and navigate all over Jacksonville with just public transportation, I am convinced it would be downright insane to get around NYC by car. Honestly, I saw more traffic jams at all times of day in all parts of town. It's ridiculous. And I think some of my suspension of disbelief will from now on be threatened if I ever see another movie with a NYC high speed car chase in it. It simply can't be done.
  • Transvestites - I spotted one on a subway platform while we waited quite a while for our train. He had on high heels (natch), cigarette pants, a pink blouse and a white-blonde whig. A very fifties look. However, the whig didn't go nearly far enough to cover up his natural brown hair, half an inch of which could easily be seen. Nice try, though.
There is one last part of the trip that I loved, but that's another post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Be a Man. Be an Olbermann.

NYC post still not done, so here Keith Olbermann with some great commentary on the Clinton interview over the weekend:

Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years.

He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by any one, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration did not try.

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs—some of them, 17 years old—before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for—if not the Great Depression itself—then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War—though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this president.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11th, 2001 -- or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the executive.

But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except for this.

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts—that he was president on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: the very weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is—not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it.

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired—but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for “e-mailing” you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth untold about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist, and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11." Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it—who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews—have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Monica Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general—echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been “distracted” by the Lewinsky witch-hunt, who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt?

Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them in order to strangle us with the trivia that was, “All Monica All The Time”?

Who distracted whom?

This is, of course, where—as is inevitable—Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton, but by the same people who got you elected President.

Thus, instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it, we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently read the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Monday, September 25, 2006

International News Outlets: Save Us!

Ain't this just priceless?

Thank you, Think Progress, for showing how completely blind we continue to be to the world around us.

Start spreading the news: I came back today

Actually, I landed back in Jacksonville just before 7pm last night.

Details on the NYC trip forthcoming after I decompress.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We hope to make it there and then, weather permitting, make it anywhere.

In 24 hours from now, Mrs. Mosley and I will be walking the streets of New York City. Preparations continue unabated, so let me leave with the traditional trio of LEGO Mech pictures until I return to Acrentropy in about a week from now:

Arrivederci, and all that Jazz!

No, Cartman. Nobody eats pudding in this book.

I came across this title the other day:

"Oh my God! Louis L'amour wants to kill Kenny!"

"You Bastard!"

Monday, September 18, 2006

"All-Teal Day"

One other note for today: All the football-worshiping locals here in Jax are all a flutter about the Jaguars playing on Monday Night Football tonight. This frenzy is best summarized by our good mayor John Peyton recently proclaiming that today be named "All-Teal Day" in honor of it (This announcement was broadcast on the tail end of the evening news last week. When she saw it, Mrs. Mosley's jaw dropped open and she declared it to be the most ridiculous news story she had ever seen).

All of this leads to a picture of one fan that popped up on the First Coast News website this morning:

When viewing that picture above, one has to consider if it is more or less ridiculous than this:

My conclusion? About the same. I guess that means we're really in the big leagues now.


I'm currently in the last stages of preparing for our NYC trip. In other words: Busy busy busy.

In lieu of original content, I present this handy-dandy chart by Wired magazine that compares the odds of dying from a terrorist attack to other causes of death in the United States. Enjoy! (Via Boing Boing):

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A picture that is worth 452 words

The Picture ... and the Words (Via Metafilter):

While taking this series of shots of Battersea Power Station in the early hours a police car pulled up on Grosvenor Road and two officers, one female, one male got out. They told me that they were stopping me under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and asked what I was doing.

"Taking photos," said I.
"What of?" asked she
"Battersea Power Station," I said. "Would you like to see some."
"Yes, if you don't mind," she said.
I showed her a picture.
"Can I see some more?"
I showed her 6 or 7.
"They're very good," she said. "Have you go any ID?"
"Yeah," I said, handing her my driver's licence... "what do you need that for?"
"If we stop anyone under the Prevention of Terrorism Act we have to fill in some paperwork. Do you have any possessions?"
I pointed at my bike with a bag on the panier.
"Just that," I said.
"Okay... well, even looking through your camera constitues a search so we have to fill in the form."
She started filling in Form 5090: Stops and Searches.
"It's a beautiful building," said her colleague. "The thing is, we're in Central London and we have to be really careful these days. I like your shots though ... very nice. What do you do with them?"
"Nothing really," I said. "I'll probably put a couple of them on a website."
"Right. What website is that then?"
"Oh flickr!" said the WPC, stopping her form-filling for a moment. "I've got photos on there. Photos of my wedding from 7 weeks ago."
"Really?" I asked. "It's good isn't it? Oh... and congratulations on 7 weeks ago."
"Thanks," she said with a smile. "So... have you ever been arrested?"
"Err.... no"
She picked up her walkie talkie and contacted someone else, asking them to run a check on my name. There was no awkward break in the conversation though as her colleague picked up the slack."
So, is digital the same as a film camera at night?" he asked.
"How do you mean?"
"Y'know, exposure time and all that... with the poor light," he explained.
"Yeah, I guess so," I said. "That's why I like night time photography. But I've never been any good with film."
The walkie-talkie crackled into life to tell them there was no match with my details.
"Do you mind if I write down that website?" asked PC Chap.
"It's" said PC Lady.
"There are thousands of people posting photos there." I explained.
"How do I find yours?" he asked.
", slash photos, slash dgbalancesrocks," I said. "Don't ask."
"Here's your copy of the form," she said, handing it to me. "Nice chatting to you. You can carry on if you like."
"Thanks," I said. "Have a good evening."
"Thanks," said he.
"Thanks," said she.

And they drove off into the night. It was all surprisingly jolly. A novel good cop/good cop routine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thinking Outside of the Brick

Several weeks ago, I learned of a term that I had never actually heard of before: SNOT. This is an acronym used by LEGO builders that stands for Studs Not On Top. It's a concept that I've been familiar with but never knew had a name. I also have never been able to master it myself, so I stand in awe of those that are able to. Perhaps one day I'll post some creations that take the SNOT method to heart, but in the meantime I'll show you the creation on the site where I first saw the term. Ladies and Gentleman, M.C. Escher in LEGO:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Path to 9/11: Revenge of the Sith

With regards to the Path to 9/11 controversy that flared up this week, the following is my favorite quote (from Daily Kos):
"In a clearly hurried and panicked half-response, ABC has just issued a defensive statement declaring that the movie is 'unfinished'. ('Unfinished?' Really? What now, do you suppose they need to put a few computer-graphics Jar-Jars in the White House meetings, just to spice things up a bit?)"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Top Ten Meanings/Purposes of Life

Since my last post dealt with one film character's view of life, I thought I'd trot out ten more for your viewing pleasure:

#10 - "Look, I don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive you've got to flap your arms and legs, you've got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you're not alive." - Mel Brooks

#9 - "We're all here to fart around. Don't let anyone tell you any different!" - Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

#8 - "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone." - Orson Welles

#7 - "Forty-two" - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

#6 - "The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we're gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, 'cause that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, 'Why are we here?' Plastic ... asshole!" - George Carlin, Jammin' In New York

#5 - "My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can." - Cary Grant

#4 - "You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." - Albert Camus

#3 - "Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations." - Monty Python and the Meaning of Life

#2 - "I think I've discovered the secret of life - you just hang around until you get used to it." - Charles Schulz

#1 - "Deep down, all of us are probably aware that some kind of mystical evolution - a melding into the godhead, into love - is our true task. Yet we suppress the notion with considerable force because to admit it is to admit that most of our political gyrations, religious dogmas, social ambitions, and financial ploys are not merely counterproductive but trivial. Our mission is to jettison those pointless preoccupations and take on once again the primordial cargo of inexhaustible ecstasy. Or, barring that, to turn out a good thin-crust pizza and a strong glass of beer." - Tom Robbins in Life magazine, 1991

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Margarine has no soul

I was wandering around the Flick Filosopher website and found her growing list of favorite movie quotes for 2006. The first one she posted for the year was from a small Queen Latifah film called Last Holiday:
“The secret of life is butter.”--Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu)
It's a very appealing way to look at it, but the question remains: Does he mean it in the Julia Child way or in the Last Tango in Paris way?

Friday, September 01, 2006


My three day weekend is about to begin. Allow me to leave you with some geeky inspirational posters:

Forest Whitaker Quote of the Month: September 2006

When I needed a Keith David quote last September, I turned to Blue in the Face, the backstory of which can be found in that year-old post. For this September, I'm using Smoke, which is the film that made Blue in the Face possible. In addition to being a lovely film, it has some great performances by Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and a very young Harold Perrineau as the intelligent but shifty Rashid (I'm so used to seeing him on Lost as a grown man, that it's freaky to watch this film I remember so well and realize that it's over ten years old).

Also in the film, of course, is Forest Whitaker. He plays Cyrus, a mechanic that Rashid has tracked down and discovers to be his long lost father. Without letting him know who he is, Rashid forms a friendship with Cyrus. When he finally becomes comfortable around Cyrus, Rashid asks him about his artificial arm. As with many of the characters in Smoke, he takes this cue to tell the whole story, and he does so with passion and feeling.

Cyrus: "Twelve years ago, God looked down on me and said, 'Cyrus, you're a bad, stupid, selfish man. First, I'm going to fill your body with spirits, and then I'm going to put you behind the wheel of a car, and then I'm going to make you crash that car and kill the woman who loves you. But you, Cyrus, I'm going to let you live, because living is alot worse than death. And just so you don't forget what you did to that poor girl, I'm going to rip off your arm and replace it with a hook. If I wanted to, I could rip off both your arms and both your legs, I'm going to be merciful and just take off your left arm. Every time you look at your hook, I want you to remember what a bad, stupid, selfish man you are. Let that be a lesson to you, Cyrus, a warning to mend.'"