Thursday, April 27, 2006

May 1 protest aims to "close" cities - Yahoo! News:
"'It's intimidation when a million people march down main streets in our major cities under the Mexican flag,' said Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman volunteer border patrol group. 'This will backfire,' he said. Some Latinos have also expressed concerns that the boycott and marches could stir up anti-immigrant sentiment."

"Could"? Um I think there is already QUITE A LOT of anti-immigration sentiment. And yeah Jim, how does it feel to be "intimidated"? Be thankful that for you it only lasts a few hours. It defies explanation how so many people, many immigrants or children of immigrants, can be intimidated by someone marching down the street carrying a Mexican flag. Oh they'll have no problem with Mexican flags come May 5 as long as beer is involved. Protest marches are an essential element of America. It's high time somebody felt stirred up enough to try and change things. I hope to be among them this Monday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SACRAMENTO / California coffers fill with $1.5 billion in extra income tax / Should money go to debt and reserves or schools and aid?:
"'The extraordinary cash developments, significantly above estimated levels, feel like the revenue performance of the late 1990s,' Hill said. 'But we don't fully understand the basis of the revenue surge and how much is one-time in nature.'"

This is mind-boggling to me. To be able to mis-estimate revenue by so much and expect to run anything like a realistic budget is ludicrous. How can we make any decisions at all based upon government budget estimates? It's basically a free-for-all apparently. And these morons are debating what to do with the "extra" cash. God help us all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ian's Shoelace Site - Shoelace Knots - How To Tie Your Shoes
This is simply an amazing website. Everyone knows how to tie their shoes, but do they know 16 different ways to do it? I have recently become enamored of Ian's Secure Knot. I'm still kind of shocked that at this stage of my life I am learning to tie my shoes all over again. I used to just do the regular knot, then double knot the remaining loops which is indeed a secure method. But untying them was a pain. With this "new" way, it is even more secure and you can untie them with a simple pull on one lace. Incredible. (via BoingBoing.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

ScienceDaily: Scientists Make Major Finding On Potential Cure For Type 1 Diabetes:
"A major finding, which represents an important step toward a potential cure for type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, has been made by a research team at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI). The team, led by Matthias von Herrath, M.D., an internationally recognized expert on the molecular basis of type 1 diabetes, used a combinatorial treatment approach in laboratory mice and found it reversed recent onset type 1 diabetes in the majority of animals tested."

Awesome, awesome news. I hope this can get to the people who deal with this disease quickly enough.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

US to watch for gas price-gouging: Bush - Yahoo! News
Don't you feel relieved now? W. is watching those nasty oil companies for you. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, "Give me a break!" If it is like Bush says, that tight oil supply and increasing demand drive up prices, how come oil companies are posting record profits for the last few years? I could see record revenues, but no, these are record PROFITS. That has nothing to do with supply and demand or a true cost push to prices.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

King of Kings (1961) ****:
Shot in glorious 70mm Technicolor, this reverent, mainly literal rendition of the life of The Christ boasts a stirring musical score by Miklos Rosza, some very powerful scenes, some interesting screenplay twists such as the Roman centurion, Lucius, the friendship between Barabbas and Judas, the extended interludes with Herod and an amazing amount of screen time devoted to the motivations of Barabbas. The miracle scenes are moving and artfully done as are the scenes between Jesus and John The Baptist. To modern sensibilities, you would think the literal readings, King James-ish dialogue and pictorial staging of key scenes would elicit guffaws but the tone of the film is so dignified and respectful that it all comes together very well. The cinematography is beautiful, the script is intelligent and literate, the acting is very good across the board except the casting choices range from the inspired (Hurd Hatfield as Pilate, Brigid Bazlen as Salome, Frank Thring as Herod Antipas) to the bewildering (Robert Ryan as The Baptist, Harry Guardino as Barabbas, Royal Dano as Peter). An amazing footnote is that even in an off Oscar year of 1961, this film couldn't manage a single nomination. I suppose the Academy was still suffering from Ben Hur-itis?

But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul."

The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:35-45

Friday, April 14, 2006

Iran President Again Lashes Out at Israel - Yahoo! News
"He [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: 'Believe that Palestine will be freed soon. The existence of this (Israeli) regime is a permanent threat' to the Middle East, he added. 'Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations.' The three-day conference on Palestine is being attended by officials of Hamas, the ruling party in the Palestinian territories."

So we're not the only country in the world with an idiot in charge. According to Juan Cole Ahmadinejad is extremely unpopular with the Iranian people so it looks like his threats and tough talk are designed to provoke Bush into doing something really, really stupid so as to rally the nation around him and preserve his power. And also to impress the visiting Hamas officials. Digby says Bush has already started doing something really, really stupid and I'm afraid he may be right. If Sy Hersh can find these things out why can't someone ANYONE in Congress find out and try to put a stop to it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 (video/quicktime Object):
"James Ridgeway and Alice Ng have produced a stunning short video combining shots of a pleasant New York City day with the tape of stewardess Betty Ong as she described the last moments of American Airlines Flight 11." (via Undernews.)

I could not watch this entirely. As Ms. Ong is calmly, clearly and courageously trying to explain what has occurred, the persons on the receiving end of the call are being so obtuse and asinine as to defy belief. I challenge anyone to watch this in its entirety and not be in tears at some point. Incredible.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The New Yorker: The Iran Plans:
"The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”"

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! The most worrisome thing is NOT that Bush thinks he is divinely driven to do whatever he wants, it's the fact that NOBODY IS OBJECTING TO HIM! So this is all really going to happen AGAIN and no one is going to say a goddamn thing to try and stop it. I never dreamed I would ever be so ashamed of my government. Jesus, what a waste!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Russell Shaw: Couric's Anchor Appointment Is a National Disgrace | The Huffington Post:
"It hasn't helped that the morning show balance has tipped to the less serious, Bauder notes Syracuse University journalism professor Charlotte Grimes as saying. Grimes - a female- tells Bowder the new anchor needs to ditch the fashion consultants and crafters of the 172 hairstyles that Couric joked about on Wednesday's 'Today' show. 'I think she does have the background but she's going to have to overcome the most recent memories of her,' Grimes tells Bauder. Still, Katie Couric is going to have to prove that she has the chops to be the steady anchor for news reports from, and about, this turbulent word we live in."

What world has THIS guy been living in for the past 30 years? When was the last time network news was relevant and not driven by profit? I'll tell you: 1974. Network wasn't called a satire for nothing. Gravitas? These people do nothing more than read the news. What kind of chops do you need? So this guy thinks Ms. Couric is too hot to read the news. She's apparently too "classically beautiful". Take a cold shower buddy. She's a LONG way from Jessica Savitch who was inarguably THE most beautiful woman to ever read the news on national network TV, albeit on Saturdays, and who did a damn fine job at that. And Edward R. Murrow did more than his share of fluff.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Must Love Dogs (2005)**
Diane Lane has fallen into the Jaqueline Bisset syndrome: exceptionally beautiful and talented actress in less than exceptional (to be kind) films. This one fits the mold. And actually, if it wasn't for Diane Lane, this film would merit one star. Very predictable direction and except for half a dozen good one-liners a weak script. The surprise for me was that I wasn't wincing as much as normal when John Cusack was on the screen. Even though he seemed to be wearing the same outfit that he wore in Say Anything in nearly every scene. I actually think he did quite well considering. He's not really that bad of an actor, I guess I feel he is miscast too often. I think that is the case here, although he does nearly pull it off.
NATIONAL JOURNAL: Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks (04/06/2006):
"I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby testified to a federal grand jury that he had received 'approval from the President through the Vice President' to divulge portions of a National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to the court papers. Libby was said to have testified that such presidential authorization to disclose classified information was 'unique in his recollection,' the court papers further said. Libby also testified that an administration lawyer told him that Bush, by authorizing the disclosure of classified information, had in effect declassified the information. Legal experts disagree on whether the president has the authority to declassify information on his own."

Bush probably didn't even realize he did this. This is very telling of the way secrets, lies, and truth are co-mingled, switched around, classified, de-classified, trumped up, toned down, massaged and manipulated any way you need by this adminstration to the point where they themselves have no idea what the facts are. Most of the stuff they classified is bogus to begin with, so what's the harm in declassifying something whenever it is convenient for our purposes is apparently their thinking. Way to go Mr. President!
Downfall (2004)****
Very well written depiction of the final days of The Third Reich as the Russian Red Army closes in on Berlin. Several sub-plots are interwoven to show that even as the total collapse of a society is happening, most people find their own reasons for continuing on. Here is a film that depicts a specific series of horrific, historic events and points to modern parallels without beating us over the head with it. Bruno Ganz deserved some sort of award for his Hitler, but all the performances are top notch. Well-paced direction keeps the 2 hour and 40 minute film moving along briskly. Excellent.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Huffington Post - Delay on Hardball (video/quicktime Object)
A Harry Shearer "found object" that shows Chris Matthews sucking up to Tom Delay big time before the show begins for real. There's an implied dig at Delay for saying something cutting about Hilary Clinton, but in all fairness he is merely repeating what Matthews feeds him. It's Matthews that comes off looking REALLY bad here, as if he hasn't done enough of that already. Delay is his typical smug, self-righteous, they-are-all-out-to-get-me-I-did-nothing-wrong self.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Andalu **
I enjoyed dinner yesterday evening at Andalu in the Mission in San Francisco with some old friends. It's a great place for such an occasion because they have a great wine selection including a large number by the glass or half bottle which was perfect because I was the only one who wanted wine. Their small plates menu is also reasonably priced unlike Isa . To be fair though, you do seem to get what you paid for. The food was good, but nothing special. Go with a group for a good time not a special dining experience.
"King Kong" DVD scares up $100 mln 1st-week sales - Yahoo! News:
"The 'Kong' DVD debut contrasts to the theater box office opening in December, when 'Kong' earned $66 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices in its first five days. That was short of the roughly $75 million Universal thought it might bring. Still, the movie, which was directed by 'Lord of the Rings' Oscar winner Peter Jackson, generated a total $217 million at domestic box offices throughout its entire run and another $329 internationally for a total $546 million. It is the fourth-biggest movie release ever in Universal's history."

I don't think there have been too many major movies that made more money on the first week DVD sales than their first week box office. Half a billion dollars in total box! If I ever needed proof that my tastes in film are far from the mainstream, I can't do much better than that.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Supreme Court rejects Padilla appeal - Yahoo! News
"By a 6-3 vote, the high court refused to hear Padilla's appeal. He was confined in a military brig in South Carolina for more than three years after Bush designated him an 'enemy combatant.'"

So Scalia's ass is spared for now as well as Roberts'. And it's defensible albeit on a technicality since the appeal was based on the fact that Padilla had not been charged and so Gonzalez simply decided to do just that. Kind of a weasley defense though given the extremely important issues at stake here. I mean, if the Supreme Court doesn't want to hear a case like this, what is the point of it?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Capote (2005)*
I did not see the point to this picture. The direction is unimaginative and pedestrian. Philip Seymour Hoffman is good, but it's an easy role and he's been better in other films. Dull and dreary.