Saturday, September 30, 2006 - Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip*
Apparently if you want to talk with Aaron Sorkin you had better be wearing your running shoes. Everybody in his shows carries on conversations while walking at a brisk pace down tight hallways that twist and turn and have an abundance of overhead lighting. It gets annoying real fast. I tried to watch Sorkin's previous show "The West Wing" but it had such an oppressive air of self-importance I couldn't stand it. His first effor, "Sports Night" was by contrast breezy, light and most importantly, FUNNY! Studio 60 for all its fast-talking and fast-walking banter is turgid and so pretentious its almost a parody of itself. Maybe it is and I just don't get it. ALL the characters are geniuses who speak in one-liners and never fail to have a smart, sharp comeback to everything someone else says. Not a good show.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yo La Tengo:I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass ****
Wonderfully eclectic collection of tunes from Yo La Tengo covers a large range of musical styles. (I don't understand why some critics complain of a record not being 'cohesive'. What does that mean and why is it important?) There are a couple of jammin' instrumentals that tend to run a bit long, but the concise, smart pop song is theorder of the day here. Brilliant.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible? | The Register:
"Once the plane is over the ocean, very discreetly bring all of your gear into the toilet. You might need to make several trips to avoid drawing attention. Once your kit is in place, put a beaker containing the peroxide / acetone mixture into the ice water bath (Champagne bucket), and start adding the acid, drop by drop, while stirring constantly. Watch the reaction temperature carefully. The mixture will heat, and if it gets too hot, you'll end up with a weak explosive. In fact, if it gets really hot, you'll get a premature explosion possibly sufficient to kill you, but probably no one else.

After a few hours - assuming, by some miracle, that the fumes haven't overcome you or alerted passengers or the flight crew to your activities - you'll have a quantity of TATP with which to carry out your mission. Now all you need to do is dry it for an hour or two."

As I have to flt on a business trip last week, I am dismayed to learn that we STILL won't be able to carry on liquids. And for what? How can a small group of small-minded people be allowed to mess with our lives like this? Where are the true statesmen?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Papal Address at University of Regensburg:Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization:
"In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of 'faith and reason,' I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue."

Oh if only B16 hadn't exiled Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, Vatican expert on the Islamic world so that he could have proof-read his text. If you read it, you are left with the sense of a smart guy trying to pull the wool over those he considers not so smart. In a speech purportedly about the differences between faith and reason, he decides that of all the possible ideas or citations available to him, he picks one, admittedly marginal to the overall idea, that is so disparaging, so completely ignorant of Islam's central idea, and then drops it. Really, that citation sticks out like a sore thumb. I can't think of any other reason to include that than to provoke a response and thereby prove the point of the speech that the Islamic world cannot be counted upon to act reasonably about anything.

Gee, what a smart guy this pope is.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Facebook's "Privacy Trainwreck": Exposure, Invasion, and Drama:
"What happened with Facebook was not about a change in the bit state - it was about people feeling icky. It made people felt icky for different reasons - some felt it for the exposure while others felt it for the invasion. Let me explain."

And danah boyd goes on to explain that, in a nutshell, news readers make her feel icky. What this really is about is danah being slapped upside the head by reality and not being able to handle it all at once. Certainly understandable. But what people need to understand right off the bat, is that The Internet is public. Every, every, EVERY bit of it. And just because YOU don't have some nifty little app that lets you make use of that fact, you can be assured that somebody, and most likely many "somebodies", do. The people that signed on to Facebook didn't know that going in and that's their fault, not Facebook's. To borrow danah's analogy, Facebook had the music up loud, but everyone in the room should have realized that the music could stop or change at any moment. And often does and sometimes you don't even realize it.

And I love it that way.

Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC tinkers with 9/11 drama - Yahoo! News:
"Further complicating the situation for ABC was a prime-time address to the nation President George W. Bush has planned for 9 p.m. EDT on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, right in the middle of part two of ABC's miniseries. The network said it would air the first hour of the film, break for 20 minutes to carry Bush's speech live, then broadcast the rest of the movie."

And does anyone think the timing of the address is an accident or coincidence? The interruption of the "docudrama" by real events will lend it even more of an aura of factuality. When I intially read reports of the complaints, primarily by former Clinton staff members, they sounded inconsequential. But it turns out, that was due to inaccurate reporting. In particular the scene suggesting Sandy Berger personally quashed a raid on an al Qaeda camp when agents were moments away from killing bin Laden was reported as being about whether Berger slammed the phone down or not.

Quite a difference.

Now it seems more and more like this film was designed to suggest that it was all Clinton's fault. We have Richard Clarke's account of the Clinton years in his book Against All Enemies and to his mind Clinton actually did more to address the threat from al Qaeda/bin Laden than any previous administration and certainly understood the threat and the need to address it much more than anyone in the Bush administration. Yes, Clinton probably could have initiated many bombing raids in Afghanistan but do you recall the political heat he got for the one he DID authorize? It had been too long since the Cole attack so the political will was very weak and his political capital WAS weakend by the incessant pillorying from Republicans over Monica Lewinsky.

Unless this film goes all the way to September 10, 2001 and shows the Bush staff completely ignoring al Qaeda and concerning themselves with Saddam since day one, it is indeed factually inaccurate and generally misleading.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bob Dylan: Modern Times **
I guess I just don't get it because as much as I would like to love this album, I just can't and I can't understand the extremely favorable critical consensus. I just don't feel any energy in this record and that may be one of its points but it doesn't make for an enjoyable listening experience. I like "When The Deal Goes Down" and "Thunder On The Mountain" but the other 8 tracks are bland and boring. I like a lot of Dylan songs and think he is a truly gifted songwriter but this is not one of his better efforts.