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Monday, April 30, 2007

Project365 day 119




Project365 day 119 2007 04 30, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



TheWife is giving me a massage after a long, hard, soul-crushingly boring

day at the desk....I needed it bad!

BUSH KNEW ALL ALONG ON IRAQ AND SO DID DEMS

Well, if this isn't a nice little indictment of the two-party system, I'm not sure what is.


The most important thing to note is that, according to the guy who ran the CIA during Bush's build up to the Iraq Attack, Bush knew there were no WMD in Iraq but told us there were anyway. George Tenet now says that his "slam dunk" comment was "mis-used" by Bush and co. 3000+ dead Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis later, Tenet secured his place in the history books as a guy who needed a $4 million book advance to convince him to tell the truth. Meanwhile, Bush, Cheney, et al, still won't be impeached. But here are some details from [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18400008/|the transcript of last Friday's episode] of Countdown on MSNBC:

"There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat, "nor," the former director of the CIA adding, "was there ever a significant discussion about the possibility of containing Iraq without an invasion," Mr. Tenet complaining in the book and in a "60 Minutes" interview to air on CBS Sunday that the administration twisted and misused his "slam-dunk" comment about the evidence of WMD in Iraq first to justify the invasion, then later to deflect blame onto Tenet and the CIA when no weapons were found.

Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC's Countdown went on to point out that the Dems were still perfectly responsibly for keeping the secrets Bush was keeping about the march to war:
When it comes to who else knew the American public was being lied to about Iraq, one Democratic senator now says you can add the entire Intelligence Committee to the list, Dick Durbin of Illinois making the amazing claim on the floor of the Senate that, while he and perhaps the 16 other members of that Intelligence Committee knew the administration was misleading the American public, he, perhaps they, kept quiet about it because, due to his position on the committee, he had been sworn to secrecy.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


DURBIN: A few hundred feet away from here, in a closed room, carefully guarded, the Intelligence Committee was meeting on a daily basis for top-secret briefings about the information we were receiving, and the information we had in the Intelligence Committee was not the same information being given to the American people.


....


I was angry about it. Frankly, I couldn't do much about it, because, you see, in the Intelligence Committee, we're sworn to secrecy.


Nice.


This is ridiculous.


So, which should be worth more morally speaking?


1) The lives of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of lives of innocent Iraqi civilians.


2) Dick Durbin's reputation as a secret-keeper?


Every time I think I can't be more disgusted with our leaders in Washington, I'm more disgusted. It's not that I trusted Democrats to be honest, it's that I expected them to be ignorant. Instead, they were fully in on it but were too spineless to do anything about it.


These are our leaders, folks. Not a single one of them trustworthy.


So, in the end, not only did we "nay-sayers" know that Iraq had no WMD, but so did the Bushies, the Demmies and anyone with a brain.

Israelestine-Palestisrael Video Game for Windows and OSX!

Wow, there's actually a video game that simulates the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It's called Peace Maker and it's coming to a PC or Mac near you from indy game company Manifesto. This is all according to [http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/28/acclaimed-israel-palestine-sim-gets-commercial-release/|an April 28, 2007 post] at Joystiq.com. Here's a bit more from the post:
Created by a team of American, Palestinian and Israeli students at Carnegie-Mellon University, Peace Maker has won USC's Public Diplomacy Games Contest and was a finalist for Ashoka's Entrepreneuring Peace Contest. It has been highlighted by NPR and The New York Times. Said Manifest CEO Greg Costikyan, Peace Maker "takes on one of the most difficult world issues, presents it without bias or prejudice, and challenges players to think about the issues, to do better than the real-world leaders."

Pretty neat, huh? The game doesn't seem to portray one side as the good guys or bad guys--you get to choose who you want to be, the leader of the Palestinians or the Israelis. I can't wait to give this game a try.


I give myself thirty minutes of gameplay before I nuke the Earth with Israel's nukes! ;)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Corporations Are Weird

So, I have this temp job at a cancer testing lab. I do quality assurance on the data that comes with the tumor samples, basically, making sure doctor and clinic info gets entered properly. While it's not a very complicated job, it is important.


You might think that because this is a health-care-oriented company they'd be different from other businesses. However, this place ends up being just as corporate-headed as the rest of them. They're so cheap we have to bring our own Kleenex to work. They're so crazed about TAT (Turn Around Time) that my job gets very difficult and very important frequently.


Yet, we have these strange office parties where we're not allowed to use "I have work to do" as an excuse to avoid them. I'm not a very social person so I just like to go in, do my job and go home. My department got a keen speaking to when we blew off one of these social gatherings in favor of work. The other day we had one of these little "social events" and my boss sent us all emails encouraging us to go because she'd know who went and who didn't.


The thing is our department is a call center. If anyone in my department steps away from their desk customers end up waiting longer for service. So much for TAT.


This week is some sort of admin assistant appreciation day/week. Now, TheWife was taken to lunch and given a gift card for her work. This sounds perfectly reasonable to me. We get a week's worth of srupid events. Today we'll be playing bingo over the PA system.


I shit you not.


BINGO.


What? Are we in summer camp?


How about a $10 gift card at Amazon, or a paid hour off? Or just leave us the hell alone so we can do our jobs? Remember our jobs? Helping people get their tumors tested?


Later today I get to teach my boss's boss how to do my job. This is rich. The official story is that they're trying to make the process work more efficiently--which, I'l admit, is a good idea. The thing is, "management" (who ever they are) almost called last Friday my last day. Which was disappointing, but, ultimately, I understand I'm a temp so it's cool. The other thing is that they like me and I do my job well. Yet they seem to be having trouble justifying keeping me on.


So, now, everyone is asking me about my job. The other day I had a complete stranger introduce herself and ask if I could show her a portion of my job. I'm a temp(whore) so I say "Sure! Have a seat!"


Then I get an email asking me if I'd "accept" an appointment with my boss's boss to teach her how to do my job on Thursday. No "hey, can you teach me on Thursday?" request (her office is maybe 30 feet from mine), no personalized email request that would take all of 30 seconds to send, just a cold Outlook appointment email.


So, you can probably understand my confusion. In my ideal corporation, the boss already knows the jobs of those under him or her. In my ideal corporation, workers are happy because management respects them and rewards them and doesn't treat them like children. (Bingo today, what's tomorrow? Arts -n- Crafts??)


Please note that this has nothing to do with pay. It's all in how you deal with people and the way this corporation deals with me and my co-workers is kind of confusing and, IMHO, counter-productive.


Anyone care to enlighten me as to why we're treated like children or perhaps why my boss needs the guy at the absolute bottom of the totem poll to teach her how to do what I do?


Maybe it's my history in high school ROTC where they taught us about leadership and accounability that is screwing me up now. They taught us something I've lived by for my entire adult life: Never ask someone else to do something you wouldn't be willing to do yourself.


Of course, the corporate world is all about doing exactly that. Ah well...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PULLING OUT OF IRAQ MEANS FAILURE? WHO CARES?

I am getting so tired of this BS rhetoric. The Bush Admin are saying "if we pull out of Iraq, we'll be failing in Iraq."


This suggests we haven't already failed.


Yep, it's true--in case you haven't noticed, we've lost in Iraq. The idea was to remove a threat in the form of Iraq. Instead, we've created a much bigger threat to middle east stability (as oxymoronic as that sounds) and inspired AQ and other terrorists to take up the fight against America and American interests. On top of that, the state of Iraq seems solidly worse than it was under Saddam's rule. At least, that's what the United Nations and the LA Times are saying. Here is a cutting from [http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq26apr26,0,5020129.story?coll=la-home-headlines|an April 25, 2007 article] at LATimes.com that gives us the details:

Academics are being assassinated, prisoners are being tortured, women are being murdered by their own families in so-called "honor killings," and civilians continue to be cut down by rampant violence, the United Nations said today in a report painting a grim picture of life in Iraq.


The report, which covers from Jan. 1, 2007 through March 31, was most notable for what it did not include: the number of civilian deaths.


That's because the Iraqi government refused to release those numbers, the U.N. spokesman, Said Arikat, said as he presented the organization's 10th such summary of the human rights situation in Iraq.


However, numbers obtained from various ministries by the Times indicated that already this year, 5,509 civilians had died violently in Baghdad province alone, which includes the capital.


In its last report before this one, issued in January, the U.N. said that 34,452 civilians had died in violence last year, a figure it based on information from government ministries, hospitals and medical officials. But the Iraqi government said the U.N. estimate was highly exaggerated, and it would not give information for the newest report.


Sounds yummy.


If you like the taste of tens of thousands of dead people.


So, when the House and Senate decide to give funding but set a withdrawal date for the troops, Bush and Cheney both speak out against it. Bush says that the troops need funds fast and that'll be the fault of Congress when he stamps a big "VETO" on their bill. Bush goes on to say that if we pull out now, terrorists would surely come to American shores. Letting this bill pass would mean more Americans dead.


Cheney echoed this opinion also mentioning how this bill doesn't support the troops.


It's amazing that Pelosi is so spineless. How do you not hit these absurd soft balls out of the park?


To Bush, I would say: You've created terrorists where there were none. That said, there still are much bigger threats to America than terrorists. You caused this mess and you should pay for it with your resignation or impeachment. Talk about the betrayal of the public trust!

To Cheney, I would say: Support the troops? What do you call putting troops in an unjust, unneeded war? If you supported the troops you'd have had SOLID evidence that Iraq had WMD before invading--instead, we waged a war that inspired tens of thousands to become terrorists and in the process lost more Americans in Iraq than were lost on 911. Then, when our troops do come home, they get horrible care at Walter Reed.


This is all big brother doublespeak. The White House accuses others of the very thing they themselves are doing.


Why isn't ANYone trying to call them on it?


So, yes, in the end, we've failed in Iraq whether we stay or go. It's the Bush Administration's fault.


Sadly, many of us saw this coming and didn't just speak out, we screamed out at protests around the world. Bush didn't listen. No one did, really.


And now Iraq is a failure, today, tomorrow, next week, next month and in the history books.



NEW EARTHY TYPE PLANET FOUND, LIKE WE'LL EVER GO

This is probably something I've been waiting for most of my life. No, it's not Bush getting impeached (I've only been waiting 6 years for that). No, it's a new planet. Not just any planet, either--it's one that scientists say is just like Earth. The following comes from [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=450467&in_page_id=1965|an April 25, 2007 article] at http://DailyMail.co.uk and it explains more about this new planet:
Above a calm, dark ocean, a huge, bloated red sun rises in the sky - a full ten times the size of our Sun as seen from Earth. Small waves lap at a sandy shore and on the beach, something stirs...

This is the scene - or may be the scene - on what is possibly the most extraordinary world to have been discovered by astronomers: the first truly Earth-like planet to have been found outside our Solar System.

The discovery was announced today by a team of European astronomers, using a telescope in La Silla in the Chilean Andes. If forced bookies to slash odds on the existence of alien beings.

The Earth-like planet that could be covered in oceans and may support life is 20.5 light years away, and has the right temperature to allow liquid water on its surface.

This remarkable discovery appears to confirm the suspicions of most astronomers that the universe is swarming with Earth-like worlds.

We don't yet know much about this planet, but scientists believe that it may be the best candidate so far for supporting extraterrestrial life.

The new planet, which orbits a small, red star called Gliese 581, is about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the Earth.


WAIT--a RED star?? Could this planet be KRYPTON??? ;) We just found [http://thepete.com/real-kryptonite-found/|Kryptonite] the other day, perhaps this planet revolving around a red sun is Superman's home?

OK, corny fanboy stuff aside, this is incredible, but sadly my hope for humanity has dwindled so dramatically, I can't imagine us ever seeing this planet first hand, or even via a probe of some kind. We're just too mired in our own pettiness to actually think about expanding any more.

We humans have no imagination, our entertainment is about as dumb as it can get and most of us are more scared we won't make it to see tomorrow, let alone a new planet. I bet the trillion dollars the USG spent on tWAT (the War Against Terror) could have gotten us quite a good deal closer to this new planet, if not all the way there. But there's probably no oil or money waiting for us on this new world.

Like we'd ever go without some sort of financial incentive...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Project365 day 113




Project365 day 113 2007 04 24, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Me outside the Apple store in Century City with my new MacBook! WAHOOO!

REAL KRYPTONITE FOUND!!

OK, I know I don't have to describe what Kryptonite is. That said, I feel like I do need to remind you that up until recently, it was considered to be fictional. However, according to a various reports, a substance matching the chemical composition of Kryptonite (as described in Superman Returns) has been discovered. As usual, the media isn't doing a great job covering the story and the scientists involved aren't doing a great job of doing their (fictional) research either. Check out this clip from [http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/04/24/science-kryptonite.html|an April 24, 2007 article] at http://CBC.ca and see what I mean:
Canadian scientists have discovered a new mineral here on Earth that matches the chemical description of kryptonite, the substance that robs comic book hero Superman of his powers.

The mineral, discovered by geologists in a mine in Jadar, Serbia, has the chemical formula sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide, the same formula used to describe kryptonite in the 2006 film Superman Returns.

Huh, I first heard of this story on the BBC News podcast World Today Select and in the interview, the geologist they spoke with sounded British. Maybe he was a Brit who worked at a Canadian Uni? Anyway, here's some more:
But the similarities end there, said Pamela Whitfield, a scientist from the National Research Council's Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology in Ottawa.

While the interstellar rocks from the comic books were typically green glowing crystals, the new mineral is a white, powdery substance with no radioactive qualities.

"It's definitely not radioactive," Whitfield told CBC News Online. "I was working with it for weeks and I haven't grown a second head or anything."

The article does not point out that radiation does NOT cause a second head to be grown, but it does cause CANCER. So unless cancer always shows up within a few weeks of exposure to radiation, I'd hardly say the jury is in. Also, it's not glowing and isn't radioactive because we can't say it's definitely from the planet Krypton. It could be the same substance from some other source. The part of Kryptonite that makes it dangerous to Superman (and to any living thing that can be harmed by radiation) is the radiation itself.

So, good journalism and good science, there, folks!

Sheesh.

Sadly, this substance will only be officially called Jadarite, after the location it was found, as opposed to Kryptonite, since it has no actual krypton in it.

Krypton is an inert gas we already have on Earth and has nothing to do with an alien planet.

Still, if scientists are cool with naming a planet Xena, you'd think they'd be down with naming a mineral Kryptonite.

FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE SAYS CARS WORSE THAN TERROR

Over a year ago, [http://thepete.com/10-points/|I blogged] on a number of things that were bigger killers than terrorism. In my 10 Points post, I talked about AIDS, Cancer and car accidents. According to the numbers I dug up, car accidents kill 37,000 Americans a year while the number of people killed by terrorism was around 3,227 humans, worldwide. In my mind, this made all cars bigger killers than Al Qaeda. Finally, someone else has pointed this out.

Check out this cutting from [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/19/AR2007041902409_pf.html|an April 20, 2007 article] at WashingtonPost.Com:
Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24 around the world -- a huge, overlooked and largely preventable public health problem, the World Health Organization said yesterday.

In a new report, the organization promoted a long list of suggestions to developing countries, where most of the deaths and disabling injuries occur. The improvements include safer roads and vehicles, better urban planning, helmet laws, prosecution of speeders and drunken drivers, better education of the driving and walking public, and simple interventions such as putting reflective tape on backpacks.

...

About 30 percent of all traffic deaths worldwide -- roughly 400,000 each year -- are of people younger than 25. Although teenage and young-adult drivers are at greatest risk, younger age groups also have high mortality. In 2002, traffic injuries were the third leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 9, behind pneumonia and AIDS. About 46 percent of traffic deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occurred in that age group that year.


If I read that second clip correctly, 400,000 people are the under-25 that are 30 percent of all traffic deaths worldwide. This means that more than 1,200,000 Earthlings are killed by cars every year.

Now think about the $1 trillion the United States Government has spent on terrorism.

Don't you think that money could be better spent trying to develop technology that will save more lives on the streets and highways of both America and planet Earth? Terrorism deaths are a joke compared to the number of people killed in traffic collisions. You want another senseless massacre of more than 33 people? Just drive the streets of America and you'll come across more than that in a week, nationwide.

To think that thanks to the Virginia Tech Massacre, people want to take away all guns when cars are much more prolific killers. If we're going to take away everyone's guns, shouldn't we ban all cars, first?

Or you could just go on being scared of people when that thing in your driveway is more likely to kill you.

From WashingtonPost.Com:
Traffic Deaths a Global Scourge, Health Agency Says

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 20, 2007; A09

Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24 around the world -- a huge, overlooked and largely preventable public health problem, the World Health Organization said yesterday.

In a new report, the organization promoted a long list of suggestions to developing countries, where most of the deaths and disabling injuries occur. The improvements include safer roads and vehicles, better urban planning, helmet laws, prosecution of speeders and drunken drivers, better education of the driving and walking public, and simple interventions such as putting reflective tape on backpacks.

"It is a big public health issue for kids, and we can do something about it," said Etienne Krug, a physician who heads WHO's department for injury and violence prevention.

As does most of the public health world, WHO eschews the term "traffic accidents." In a statement accompanying the report, the organization's new director-general, Margaret Chan, said that "road traffic crashes are not 'accidents.' We need to challenge the notion that they are unavoidable."

About 30 percent of all traffic deaths worldwide -- roughly 400,000 each year -- are of people younger than 25. Although teenage and young-adult drivers are at greatest risk, younger age groups also have high mortality. In 2002, traffic injuries were the third leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 9, behind pneumonia and AIDS. About 46 percent of traffic deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occurred in that age group that year.

"Vulnerable road users" -- pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and public transit riders -- account for a much higher fraction of youthful traffic fatalities in low-income countries than in rich ones. But even within that generalization there are big differences. In Mozambique, about 65 percent of road injuries and deaths involved pedestrians. In Cambodia, about 75 percent were motorcyclists.

For all countries, the annual cost of road injuries in medical care, disability and property damage is $518 billion, according to the report. In low- and middle-income countries, the cost is larger than the amount received from rich countries as development aid.

"It is a very big economic problem, a very big development problem. It kills breadwinners and throws entire families into poverty," Krug said.

WHO is asking the World Bank and other institutions making loans for road building in the developing world to require that 10 percent of the money go for safety features, such as guardrails, barrier-protected lanes for bicyclists or pedestrians, speed bumps, traffic- calming roundabouts and lighting.

The authors of the report also said towns need to plan for the consequences of better roads. Dirt roads carrying slow traffic are often used as playgrounds. When the roads are tarred, children need other places to play, Krug said.

Many developing countries are addressing the problem. An African Road Safety Conference was recently held in Ghana, with 200 people attending. South Africa has a program called "Drive Alive," whose activities include everything from consciousness-raising about safe driving to distributing reflective backpacks to school children.

The report was accompanied by a second publication, which described 31 people killed or hurt in crashes around the world. It consisted of interviews with those injured and with family members of those killed.

The collection of those stories, called "Faces Behind the Figures," was produced with the help of Rochelle Sobel, of Potomac, whose son Aron, 25, was killed in a bus crash in Turkey in 1995, two weeks before he was to graduate from medical school. She subsequently founded the Association for Safe International Road Travel, which promotes traffic safety.

Although heart attacks kill two to three times as many Americans abroad as road crashes, traffic deaths are a significant cause of mortality overseas and the biggest one for young people, said Stephen Hargarten, a professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

From 2004 through 2006, there were 2,364 "unnatural" (that is, non-disease) deaths among Americans abroad, according to data gathered by the State Department. Motor vehicle crashes caused 740; homicides, 375; suicides, 270; drownings, 264; and miscellaneous injuries causing the rest.

An analysis of the data, produced by Hargarten and Bella Dinh-Zarr of Make Roads Safe, will be presented in Washington next week as part of the U.N.-designated Global Traffic Safety Week.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Project365 day 112




Project365 day 112 2007 04 23, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Me from inside ThePeteCave, looking out, into TheLiving Room. ;)

HOT FUZZ (2007)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? DEFINITELY. Remember Shaun of the Dead? Yeah, it's by those guys and it's just as funny, if not more so.


Technically any good? Well, it's hard to not compare this to Shaun, so I'll just give in for a moment and say that while I laughed more at this film, I think Shaun was a more real film, that I could almost take seriously. That said, I felt very little for the characters in Hot Fuzz, however, I laughed my ass off. The jokes worked incredibly well and were woven solidly into a plot that made sense, but only if you're familiar with absurdist-style storytelling. It comes off as just silly if you're like most American film-goers, but again, you'll laugh your ass off. Acting-wise, everyone was brilliant for what was asked of them. And what a CAST! Dude, Beloq, the bad guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, played the priest, Edward Woodward (The Equalizer!!) played the town Big Brother, Timothy Dalton (James Bond!!) was the slimy supermarket owner, and, well, I could go on. Getting to see these great actors ham it up is worth the cost of the ticket, alone. The music was great, too.


How did it leave me feeling? Immensely entertained. There were about two things (maybe three) I'd have done differently (I hope to explain those things in a spoilerific post at a later date). Seriously, if you're over 16, this movie will have you on the floor laughing your ass off.


Final Rating? GSN - GO SEE NOW!!! Seriously.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Project365 day 111




Project365 day 111 2007 04 22, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



TheWife and I rollerblading in Santa Monica/Venice. No profound caption

here. Just a nice shot of the two of us, I think. :)

FUN WITH WEB MASTERY

Well, it's been a crazy few days. My site was down for nearly two days solid last week and my entire weekend was slammed with schedule-filling things. I've had no time to work on any sort of blog entry.

Meanwhile, I'm in the process of saving up for a new laptop (Intel Mac) on top of trying to drag myself through a second draft of the novel I wrote last November. I'm not sure I'll be ready for scriptfrenzy.org in June. Well, it's screenplay writing, I'm sure I'll be fine.

That said, I've also got stacks of photos to scan and upload to Flickr and stacks upon stacks of old blog entries from the 1990s that I still need to get posted, as well. In July ThePete.Com begins it's tenth year online and I'd like to have the old stuff up by then. Wouldn't that be nice?

In short, things have been hectic around ThePete.Cave and as a result I've had very little time to post much of anything. I'll try to sneak off to The Bean at lunch tomorrow (Monday) to post my Pocket Review of Hot Fuzz, although it probably will not surprise anyone to learn that I liked it. I'll also try to sneak a post on current events up, as well, if I have a moment at work.

I also have been keeping up with Project365, but haven't had time to post the pics. I hope to do that at lunch on Monday, as well.

All right, that's the update! As always, thanks for stopping by and I'll post again, soon!

You have seen my custom toy, CyniCat, right?
CyniCat!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Project365 day 109




Project365 day 109 2007 04 20, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Two captions for this pic:

1) It just rained and the facilities manager of the Home Depot I'm walking
past doesn't have the brains to shut off the sprinklers to conserve water.

2) Look at the poor guy behind me. He picked the wrong time to be walking
down the sidewalk--RIGHT when the sprinklers started. Poor, wet sap.

Project365 day 110




Project365 day 110 2007 04 21, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



That's me at the Hollywood/Highland Complex in, uh, Hollywood (where

else?). If you squint, you can turn that little white blob on the hill

behind me into the Hollywood sign.

Friday, April 20, 2007

LOOKER (1981)

[asin: B00005JP4N]
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Sure, but for completely childish and base reasons. This is the worst Michael Crichton movie that I know of, though Sphere was probably worse.


Technically any good? While the concepts and premise are very fascinating and damn intriguing, but the execution just doesn't work when you seriously think about it. I mean, why are these women dying? The film never explains it, but there's enough distraction so you don't mind--including Susan Dey naked. The acting was fine, music was cheesy as hell (it was 1981) and the script was melodramatic (again, it was 1981, so was everything else those days).


How did it leave me feeling? Entertained, but not as blown away as I remember myself being when I was a kid watching this over and over and over on HBO. I'd recommend this film if it weren't for it's cheesy (in a bad way) features and completely unexplained reason for the women dying. To it's credit, it's anti-advertising/Hollywood message are definitely cool and much of the tech it explores is now possible, but that doesn't make up for it's weaknesses, in my opinion.


Final Rating? NFIIYM - NetFlix It If You Must - Don't spend any money, but see if you're a crazed Crichton fan or are desperate to see Susan Dey's breasts.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

SHOOTER (2007)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? WOW, was it ever NOT. This movie is a confused liberal polemic that doesn't quite get that its message is actually entirely contradictory.


Technically any good? The plot was almost as thin as it could possibly be, characters weak and predictable (also like the plot). Acting was fine, but there wasn't much to act. The action scenes were perfectly reasonable. The message of the story, much like 300 which I saw the same night, is that violence may not solve all of your problems, but it sure is cool!


How did it leave me feeling? Actually pretty offended. The film presents the idea that the system is screwed because it is run by people who break the law in the interest of making money and do what they want. However, the lead character ends up embracing that very concept but since he's the good guy, his actions got a round of applause and cheers as the credits rolled.


Final Rating? DNS - Do Not See - This movie is so morally corrupt that I can't even recommend it as a big dumb action movie. If you enjoy it like that you just might get slightly warmed up to the idea that taking the law into your own hands is a good idea.

VIDEO OF VTM KILLER

So, we finally get to learn about one of these massacre-guys after they've killed themselves through the magic of video. The thing is, the news didn't want to treat us like adults. Yes, once again the news media has let us down.

How do I mean?

Well, the VTM (Virginia Tech Massacre) gunman swears a couple of times in his epitaphological vid. But the video, at least the video I saw, not only bleeps the audio but fuzzed out his mouth so we can't even read his lips to learn what he was saying.

What? Are CHILDREN watching this video??

Are adults with delicate sensibilities watching a video made by a KILLER before he MURDERED a bunch of people going to be offended by the word "fuck"?

God forbid people of any age watching a video about a guy who massacred 30+ people should be able to hear what the guy actually said. You know, like, in his own words.

We need our mommies and daddies in the news media to protect us from the foul language of the mass-murderer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Project365 day 107




Project365 day 107 2007 04 18, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



I know I promised no more bus shots--but look who's sitting behind me!!

It's SANTA CLAUS!!! I saw him on the bus when I got on and it was all I

could do to not ask for a Daisy Red Rider B-B gun for Christmas!!! AHHH!!!

SANTA!!!



I know he looks like a white, fuzzy blob in the picture, but IT WAS HIM!

Besides, Santa always looks like a white fuzzy blob, doesn't he?



OK, NO MORE BUS SHOTS IN PROJECT 365!! I PROMISE!



Hm, seems like a bus would be pretty slow compared to the reindeer and the

sleigh that can go faster than the speed of sound.



Ah well. You see all types of people on the buses of LA!

BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (1925) (silent)

[asin: B0001EFTXI]
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Very much so! Good acting (if a bit melodramatic, the norm of the time), very suspenseful and almost forgivable that it's pro-communist propaganda. ;)


Technically any good? This film invented a lot of the language of cinema we all take for granted now. Seriously--I'd say you'd be hard pressed to find a film or TV show (and even comics or paintings) that don't inadvertently borrow something from this film. Hey, all of those "cinematic words" keep getting used for a reason. While the acting may seem hokey by today's standards, it doesn't take much effort to look past the hokiness and read the emotions we're supposed to be feeling. This film is pretty powerful and makes some great statements about the abuse of power and the ability of the little guy(s) to team up to fight back.


How did it leave me feeling? Very satisfied. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in viewing a piece of cinema history and a good film.


Final Rating? GBD - Go Buy the DVD - It's on Amazon and probably your local Best Buy.

MORE WHITE FOLKS CRYING TO MUSIC EVEN

Ahhh, when ever there's an American tragedy, it's usually the white folks that end up on the main page of CNN's website. Last night was no different as coverage of the Virginia Tech Massacre memorial(s) began.


Once again, I'd like to repeat that my heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims. It is a truly tragic thing that happened. Without a doubt.


What's also tragic is that, apparently, there are only white people in Virginia. The only people I saw mourning in the CNN.com coverage were white folks. This reminds me of AP.org coverage of Katrina, when they would report on White Victims carrying their belongings through the water and Black Looters Making Off with Stuff that Wasn't Theirs.


OH yeah, and then we mustn't forget NBC's coverage of the massacre. One of the podcasts I listen to is a short news brief from MSNBC. Usually it's a very bare bones piece that blasts through the latest news hosted by a lesser anchor whose face I'd recognize but name I can never remember. Yesterday the podcast was hosted by Meredith Vierra and Matt Lauer and was recorded live on the Virginia Tech campus where students are still trying to cope with the tragedy. I'm not sure how much I object to their location, I think it was the dramatic soundtrack that was offensive. You know that music they run in movies where you're supposed to feel concerned and on the edge of your seat for some woman in distress? It's usually violin music that is suggesting something very serious and even desperate is going on. This is the music that was playing behind Matt and Meredith's "coverage".


So, the event wasn't dramatic enough.


Our shock isn't (over-)dramatic enough.


We need... a soundtrack.


Now we know why more and more people get their news from the Internet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Project365 day 106




Project365 day 106 2007 04 17, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



This is me trying to get work done on the second draft of my novel at my

favorite internet cafe, Boba Loca. Alas, I have trouble telling people to

leave me alone and since I've been going there for three years now, I've

become friends with a few of the locals :)

KILLER OF SHEEP (1977)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely. Most people would take a glance at this movie and not see how amazing it is. It's hyper-low-budget and was made thirty years ago, but if you actually engage your brain while watching it, Killer of Sheep becomes an incredible reflection of our culture.


Technically any good? While the plot is a little thin, the point of this was to present a slice of life reflecting what life is/was like for black families in Los Angeles. Very little crime, very few drugs, but a whole lot of poverty. Sadly, I saw a lot of parallels with the Los Angeles of 2007. The acting was a little weak among the supporting characters, but the leads were amazing. The cinematography was incredible as was the editing. Watch for the scene early on with the little girl in the dog mask. Slow, but powerful in the way it takes it's time.


How did it leave me feeling? VERY satisfied. Really good movie. Sure, no explosions, gun fights, drugs or gangstas, but this black movie will entertain and educate you.


Final Rating? GSN - Go See NOW - it's currently making the art house theater rounds, so look for it in a city near you for the next few months. Hopefully it'll be on DVD before 2008. It'll be in my collection soon after it makes it's digital release.

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO KILL 33 PEOPLE??????????

So, you've heard about the 33 killed on the Virginia Tech campus. My sympathy goes out to the families and friends of those killed. My positive thoughts are for the people wounded by the killer.
That said, the following is directed toward the rest of America who was not directly touched by yesterday's events:

Grow up you fucking shallow, ethnocentric drama queens.

OH WHY DID HE DO IT??

SURELY, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY WHICH MIGHT INSPIRE SUCH VIOLENCE!

America is PURE and CIVIL and NO ONE RIGHT IN THEIR HEAD would have a SINGLE PROBLEM WITH ANYTHING HERE!!!

/sarcasm (in case you couldn't tell)

But seriously, what makes anyone so sure that our society is so perfect that no one would ever want to just pull out a gun and start shooting people? Are you such a perfect person that you'd assume no one would ever want to hurt you?

And what's with this absurd re-evaluation of the gun culture in America? I heard on the BBC this morning that there have been "any number" of shootings like this and the reporter only cited four in the last forty years! How many years has it been since Columbine?? Almost ten.

Finally, I'd like to end my rant with a few questions:

How many Americans died in Iraq yesterday?

How many Americans died in Iraq this week?

This month?

How many Iraqis die every day in Iraq?

33 dead in Virginia doesn't seem so senseless now, does it?

More like par for the human course.

Too bad that South Korean guy who killed himself and all those people in Virginia yesterday hadn't enlisted in the army. There'd be 33 more Americans alive today and who knows how many more Iraqis dead.

My First Custom Vinyl Toy!!




chalky01, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Ever since I was a kid I thought it would be so cool to design my own toys. I used to customize my GI Joe figures with Sharpies. Well, Kid Robot has produced a line of blank vinyl toys that you can do just about anything to. So, I bought a stack of them and here's my first attempt! I started simple and and created Chalky!

Click here to check out more pictures of the finished product!

Oh and do let me know what you think!


Check this image out:

chalky02


There's just something so cool about seeing a toy you designed inside packaging. I know my design was simple, but it's still neat...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Project365 day 105




Project365 day 105 2007 04 16, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



DAMN! The clear coating I put on CyniCat made some of the sharpie ink run.

What ever happened to PERMANENT ink?? Damn. Well, maybe it would have

helped if I had sanded and used primer? I dunno. Live and learn, right??

At least he's done.

DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001)

[asin: B000274TLW]
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely. However, to me, as an American moviegoer, I found the plot to be a little scattered. I never really knew which character or storyline to follow. Still, it's a good film and while ghosts are in this film .


Technically any good? The FX were really solid. I felt the plot was a bit scattered, but still very easy to follow and often very riveting. The performances are incredibly good, even from the lead kid.


How did it leave me feeling? Very satisfied, but pretty depressed. This is a very violent film with a lot of people dying without a whole lot of time for the characters or you to absorb the deaths. This film is a tragedy that leaves you with a feeling of hope.


Final Rating? SIYL - See If You Like - this film is disturbing, so it's not for everyone, though if you're looking for a well-made film that makes you think and is a nice micro-history lesson, too, this is a movie for you.

SILK VODKA CAPITALIZES ON VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN

A very subtle type of oppression is when you oppress people without calling it oppression. It's like that old joke about the screenwriter and the movie producer wandering in the desert, desperate for water. They spot a small pond and the screenwriter immediately starts drinking. The producer starts peeing in the water.

"What the hell are you doing?" the writer asks.

The producer replies: "I'm making it better."

Like wise goes on in advertising all the time. Check out the screengrab I snagged from Gizmodo.com over the weekend:



Ooo, it's a beautiful woman blindfolded... the man behind her is going to romance her all night long, right? Well, that's certainly what the advertising company would tell you. The text suggests her permission has been given for him to "surprise" her. But look at how her head is angled. To me it looks like he's tied the silk cloth around her head with a bit of force. Not a lot, mind you, just a bit. Now look at the guy's hands. They look almost like clenched fists to me. Both of these reactions in me suggests that I have a subconscious tendency toward violence toward women and that the advertising company is trying to take advantage of it.

Ironically, I don't have a tendency toward violence--I don't even like it when my wife playfully slaps my arm because of a bad joke. However, to me, the imagery in the above banner ad is the same. I don't see a woman lovingly giving her man permission to love her in a way that surprises her, I see a woman willfully submitting to a man's will. And that man looks powerful and capable of overwhelming her. So, this banner ad is encouraging women to want their men to overwhelm them.

Think I'm over reacting? Then why not show her wearing one of those masks you wear to block out the light when you're trying to sleep? It can be made of silk, just like the cloth in the current add. Why not have his open hands on either side of her head, looking as though they've just slid the mask over her eyes?

See how easy it would be to tell the same story without invoking a suggestion of violence and submission to some of your audience?

Hm, well, I suppose the above message of willful submission to a strong man is OK since once you click through to the company's site one of the images you'll see is that of a woman tying a man's wrists together.



So, clearly since they are both submitting to each other and we now know alcohol is involved, it's OK. Ha. As if. Men submitting to women is no better a message to send than women submitting to men. We're supposed to be equal with neither side submitting to the other's dominance.

That said, like a man with his wrists tied couldn't still physically overwhelm the average woman. In other words, the image of him being tied up hardly makes everything better.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Project365 day 104




Project365 day 104 2007 04 15, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



YAAAY! My second custom toy is almost done! It's a cat Qee and his name is

CyniCat. You may remember the earlier version I did of him with just a

black sharpie. Here he is with color added. Not the blue shoes :) Now I

just need to spray him down with some sort of clear coating so the sharpie

ink stops coming off on my hands when I hold him.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Project365 day 103




Project265 day 103 2007 04 14, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



YAY! My first Munny project is DONE!!! Alas, the blackboard paint will

come off very easily, so this won't be the catchall Munny designed I had

hoped for. However, it will allow me to do as many designs in chalk as I'd

like, just so long as I am careful not to scratch anything. Watch my Flickr

page for more pics of Chaulky Munny!


OH yeah, in case you're wondering why I'm including this in Project365 should know that I view art as a reflection of the artist. So, get all intellectual and chomp on that for a bit! ;)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Project365 day 102




Project365 day 102 2007 04 13, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Remember that Silver Surfer bus stop poster I posed next to not too long
ago? Look who replaced our reflective friend.

WOLFowitz Screws Girlfriend then Promotes Her, Just Screws 3rd World

First off, as I understand the World Bank, they are a disturbing group that claims it's mission is to help third world countries financially grow to the point where they can compete with the rest of the world. However, I also understand that they really work with the IMF and the WTO to essentially blackmail 3rd world countries by placing conditions on economy-saving loans. Like when they bailed out Bolivia's economy after forcing them to accept terms dictating that they privatize all of their natural resources--even water. They had to pass laws making it illegal to gather rain water. See the movie The Corporation or read the book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy for more on how third world countries really get treated.

That said, when hyper-neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz, got named to head the World Bank I just laughed and shook my head. The guy who claimed the Iraq war would be paid for by oil revenues is now claiming to be interested in helping 3rd world countries get on their financial feet. This is funny since now [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ee84cc80-e91e-11db-a162-000b5df10621.html|he's in trouble for helping out an employee] whom he had on her literal back. Ironically, he screwed her and then promoted her, while countries like Bolivia just get screwed.

Karma, however, is a bitch, hopefully. It turns out that this woman he smurfed also got a promotion and a huge raise, compliments of her pal with the penis, Paul Wolfowitz. Were they really thinking no one would notice the babe the boss was boffing just happened to make sudden leaps in position (missionary?) and salary (more than most of us will ever make)?

Man, am I in a cynical mood today or WHAT??

I guess good old Paul isn't quite the power that I thought he was.

Check these out for more "fun" with the World Bank, WTO, and IMF:
[asin: B0007LEMQA][asin: 0452285674]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Project365 day 101




Project365 day 101 2007 04 12, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Work in progress. My first real toy design. I'll add red and maybe some

blue next. His name is CyniCat and he's a reflection of my dark and twisted

soul!! :P

Insurgents Prove McCain an Idiot

So, we all heard McCain recently say that walking around Baghdad was, like, reeeally safe. He said that the American people aren't getting the true story of what is really happening in Iraq. Then, today:
Blast rocks 'Green Zone' cafeteria in Baghdad


By Edward Wong and Alissa J. Rubin
Published: April 12, 2007


BAGHDAD: An explosion struck the cafeteria inside the Iraqi Parliament in the heart of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least one lawmaker and wounding at least 17 others, Iraqi lawmakers said.


The blast appeared to be caused by a bomb, though it was not clear if the explosive was detonated by a suicide bomber or had been planted. The attack would appear to be one of the most serious breaches of security of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the Parliament is located.


Hmm... I'm thinking John McCain is full of shit.


Another politician has fully discredited himself. NEAT!
Someone should come up with a list of politicians we can still trust.
Like that's even possible anymore...

The above quote came from [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/12/africa/web0412-iraq.php|an April 12, 2007 article] at IHT.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Project365 day 101




Project365 day 101 2007 04 11, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Me and TheIz at Mr. Noodle in Westwood Village. We met for our (mostly)

weekly writing meeting. Iz ROCKS!

Hey, what the hell is with my lower lip in this pic? Oh well.

BUSH DECIDES TO PUT SOMEONE IN CHARGE OF IRAQ

Yep, it's true--according to [http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKN1121727120070411|an April 11, 2007 article] from UK.Reuters.com the Bush administration is looking for "an Iraq Czar". Check out a cutting:
Help Wanted: White House seeks high-profile manager of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to coordinate competing agencies and make sure President George W. Bush's unpopular strategy is implemented.


In a tradition of presidential trouble-shooting, the White House is considering creating a "war czar" post in the National Security Council and has put out feelers to some retired generals to see if they would be interested.


Shouldn't they have done this BEFORE THEY INVADED IRAQ???


Nothing like saying things are going well by hiring someone specific to be in charge of the mess.


Did I say they are hiring someone? Sorry--they want to hire someone--but that doesn't mean anyone wants to be hired. More from the article:

The Washington Post said at least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks had turned down the position.


Retired Marine Gen. John "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who rejected the White House overture, told the Post: "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."


Bet you're not going to listen to THAT general, Bush!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Project365 day 100




Project365 day 100 2007 04 10, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



At Boba Loca with a sample pack of Lesser Evil brand all natural kettle

corn. It doesn't have any refined sugar in it but is still pretty

sweet! Check them out at LesserEvil.com.



I have two words to say about this kettle corn:



Tace-T



Ok, "tace" isn't a word and "T" is a letter, but you get the point.

Monday, April 9, 2007

MY TAKE ON IMUS: WHO CARES?

Our world is so screwed up right now. America, the king country of the world is fighting a war for profits in the Middle East with big prospects of expansion. Said war was built upon lies and deceit. That same king country, America, practices kidnapping and torture and even goes so far as to spy on it's own people all why claiming to be the land of the free and the brave.

Seems like neither word truly describes this land. After all, how free or brave can this country be if it's letting a few stupid words offend it so. I think it's so sad that with everything else wrong in the world and in our own country, Imus demonstrating how stupid and racist he really is should even make headlines.

It's IMUS, people! When has he been the paragon of virtue everyone seems to think he should be?

And WHO CARES??

The guys in the White House lie to us and we give a crap about Imus? We're seeing journalists imprisoned, citizens investigated without warrants and more and all we can do for a news cycle or two is scream for Imus to lose his show?

Taking away Imus' show is just as bad as imprisoning someone for dissenting against a government. In Egypt there's a blogger in jail because of what he said in his blog. Imus losing his show because of something he said on it would be the financial equivalent to imprisonment.

Let him be as offensive as he wants. YOU have the power to watch or not.

So, choose not to watch his damn show if you're offended. Why do you need to remove his show from existence?

I think what he said was stupid, too. BUT WHO CARES?

He's not even the size of a scale on the immensely bigger fish we still have to fry.

Besides. They're just words, folks. Grow up. Seriously.

Project365 day 099




Project365 day 099 2007 04 09, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Me in The Bean near the Playa Park. They've got free WiFi here!

SWEET! Hello lunchtime surfing!

MEDIA PRESENTS OPPOSING BUT FAULTY VIEWS

Ok, this is really starting to piss me off. It's the media's job to report news, to inform--not to pretend to deliver a balanced story, all Fox News-style. Take Global Warming. I know there are still people who think GW and Climate Change are nothing to be concerned with ("Remember back in the 1970's when Global Cooling was the rage?" Um, I don't, actually) but I'm getting tired of hearing varying views on bloody well everything including GW.

In fact, just this morning, JUST when I was starting to feel like there actually is a consensus that GW and Climate Change is accepted fact, I stumble across [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17997788/site/newsweek/|another article] on how GW is no big deal, this one from Newsweek's site. It tells us that our GW concerns are based on an innaccurate assumtion that there is such a thing as a "perfect temperature" and that we shouldn't expect to see dire predictions of weather in 40 years come true since predictions of the weather in four days aren't reliable.

This is such horseshit. All this article does is serve to confuse. The fact of the matter is that predicting weather day-to-day, on a small scale, is difficult. Everyone knows that the weatherman is some times wrong. The thing is comparing what he does to what climate scientists are doing is a falacy of argument--that is to say, the argument is based on a false premise, that predicting general climate shifts is akin to predicting clear skies next Tuesday.
Sure, the opposing viewpoint is important. However, in the case of GW, there isn't an opposing view point. If you look at the average temperatures over the last century, you can see a general increase in temperature. This argument has no required "perfect" temperature and is generally accepted as the truth.

So, if you've got an opposing view, great, but make sure your argument is based on solid ground because there's a serious mess of confusion out there regarding most important issues. It's articles like this one that make me wonder if there's an intentional effort to discredit EVERYONE as a reliable source for news. Or perhaps the effort is directed at leaving us confused and frustrated.

It's working.

Check out [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,2053020,00.html|this other article] I found at http://guardian.co.uk for another example of what I'm talking about. The article defines "flashmobs" as "groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorist groups".

Uhhh, flashmobs are mobs of people that are formed when each person gets a text message telling them where to go and when. A flashmob is like any other mob--not inherently good or evil. In fact, I've only heard of flashmobbing used for protests or impromptu parties, never have I heard them used by terrorists. Obviously, this article isn't about confusing, it's just about scaring.

I don't know if there's a solution to this problem--I certainly want people to speak their minds. I guess I just wish people would use their brains before they write something in the mainstream media. I certainly think we, the readers, should be using our brains before, during and after reading just about anything--especially something from the mainstream media.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Project365 day 098




Project365 day 098 2007 04 08, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Short hair! And, ironically, it looks more blond now than when it was

long :( Ah well, it'll grow back! :)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Project265 day 097




Project265 day 097 2007 04 07, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



In Hollywood to see "Lawrence of Arabia" at the Egyptian but not before a

quick stop to have a Garlic Lover's Dog at Skooby's!! WAHOO!! I'VE MISSED

YOU SKOOBY'S!!



(Notice my shirt...)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Project365 day 096




Project365 day 096 2007 04 06, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Wow, did another application of dye tonight and look how much more blond

I look! SIGH. I don't look more blond AT ALL. Time to do the buzz cut

thing!

THE LATE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. YOU DON'T KNOW

You ever wonder what MLK Jr was really like? The media gets so much wrong these days, have you ever thought that perhaps they are getting more than just current events wrong? Sure, NOW they say the Iraq war is going badly, but before the Iraq Attack, they barely talked about the symphony of naysingers preaching the toothless Saddam song. So, with that kind of evidence doesn't it make sense to question everything they tell us? Even the stuff that we actually want to believe?

Well, Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon wrote something for CommonDreams.Org that deals with this exact issue regarding the true Martin Luther King Jr. Check out a cutting from [http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/04/304/|an April 4, 2007 article] over at CommonDreams.Org:
What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV.

Why?

It’s because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” – including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

“True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”


So, he wasn't just a civil rights leader, but a human rights leader. Shortly after RFK started talking about the poor and running for president, he was assassinated. Seems like MLK Jr's final years were a similar precursor to his own targeted death.

Seems like pointing out the real problems facing human life, your own human life gets ended fast.

Go check out [http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/04/304/|that article] for more on MLK Jr's final years fighting for all of us.

Well, maybe not for the rich folks.

From CommonDreams.Org:
Published on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 by CommonDreams.org

The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV
by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

It’s become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King’s death, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.”

The remarkable thing about these reviews of King’s life is that several years – his last years – are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV.

Why?

It’s because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” – including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

“True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

By 1967, King had also become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 – a year to the day before he was murdered – King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” (Full text/audio here. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm)

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was “on the wrong side of a world revolution.” King questioned “our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America,” and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.”

You haven’t heard the “Beyond Vietnam” speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 – and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post patronized that “King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People’s Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor” that would descend on Washington – engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be – until Congress enacted a poor people’s bill of rights. Reader’s Digest warned of an “insurrection.”

King’s economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America’s cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its “hostility to the poor” – appropriating “military funds with alacrity and generosity,” but providing “poverty funds with miserliness.”

How familiar that sounds today, nearly 40 years after King’s efforts on behalf of the poor people’s mobilization were cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

In 2007, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and most in Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. They fund foreign wars with “alacrity and generosity,” while being miserly in dispensing funds for education and healthcare and environmental cleanup.

And those priorities are largely unquestioned by mainstream media. No surprise that they tell us so little about the last years of Martin Luther King’s life.

Jeff Cohen http://jeffcohen.org/ is the author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.” Norman Solomon www.normansolomon.com is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” now out in paperback.

Lessons from History: How We're Treated Like Ex-Slaves

Ever feel like you're on a treadmill?

Have you ever felt like you just can't get yourself out from under all of your debt?

Well, don't worry--you're not the first person to feel that way.

Check out this excerpt from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, specifically from pages 208 and 209:
Thomas Fortune, a young black editor of the New York Globe, testified before a Senate committee in 1883 about the situation of the Negro in the United States. He spoke of "widespread poverty," of government betrayal, of desperate Negro attempts to educate themselves.

The average wage of Negro farm laborers in the South was about fifty cents a day, Fortune said. He was usually paid in "orders," not money, which he could use only at a store controlled by the planter, "a system of fraud." The Negro farmer, to get the wherewithal to plant his crop, had to promise it to the store, and when everything was added up at the end of the year he was in debt, so his crop was constantly owed to someone, and he was tied to the land, with the records kept by the planter and storekeeper so that the Negroes "are swindled and kept forever in debt." as for supposed laziness, "I am surprised that a larger number of them do not go to fishing, hunting and loafing."


So, others have been there before. In modern society it's much the same for all people, not just ex-slaves. We have to have medical, food, utilities (electricity, heat, cable, Internet), a vehicle, a home (a house, ideally) and don't forget entertainment. Add all those things up and you've got quite a bill to pay. To make it easier, all of those things can be paid for with credit. That way you can have things now without waiting. Of course, there's interest to pay and god forbid you should fall behind or get a credit card with a high interest rate. You're just going to have to keep that job...forever because you're so far in debt that you can't afford to quit or take a chance on another job. Don't even think about a savings account.

Hell, even if you're not shoulder-deep in debt, you've got SOME kind of debt right? Car payments? Mortgage payments? Student loans? Credit cards? Then you've got your monthly bills to pay. Without your job you won't have medical, either.

So, just keep that job, keep paying for things and keep the machine going.

It's like the financial equivalent to zero-point energy. If you're a banker or a credit card company, you just hang your shingle and let your customers do all the work. And check out how well this plan worked for ex-slaves back in 1883. Clearly this kind of thing helped keep them all down.

After all, here we are 124 years later and we haven't even had a black president yet. And now that same thing that helped keep blacks down over a century ago is being done to the majority of Americans.

Just think about that for a moment.

Each and every one of us with a credit card or a loan is being treated just like ex-slaves.

For more wisdom, please check out:
[asin: 0060838655]
buy it and read it

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Project365 day 095




Project365 day 095 2007 04 05, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Blah, blah, me in the Playa Park again with my iced coffee again. I need to shake things up and find someplace else to go for lunch. Ah well, it was a fairly beautiful day today and the coffee was oh so strong!

THE REPUBLICANS ARE GETTING DESPERATE!

Not that impeachment is nigh or anything but I thought this screengrab from DrudgeReport.Com just now was a laugh:



You know some Republicans are getting seriously close to the end of their rope when the word "Stalinism" is being thrown around.

Of course, the "i" word still won't be happening despite the fact that there are quite a few reasons it should.

THOSE WHO DON'T LEARN FROM HISTORY...

Have a quick gander at this:
The Whig party was presumably against the war in Mexico, but it was not against expansion. The Whigs wanted California but preferred to do it without war. As {historian John} Schroeder puts it, "there's was a commercially oriented expansionism designed to secure frontage on the Pacific without recourse to war." Also, they were not so powerfully against the military action that they would stop it by denying men and money for the operation. They did not want to risk the accusation that they were putting American soldiers in peril by depriving them of the materials necessary to fight. The result was that Whigs joined Democrats in voting overwhelmingly for the war resolution, 174 to 14.

...

Throughout the war, as Schroeder says, "the politically sensitive Whig minority could only harry the administration with a barrage of verbiage while voting for every appropriation which the military campaigns required".


The above was transcribed from page 153 of A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

[asin: 0060838655]
buy it and read it


It seems we've been through [http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-2249-Bush-urges-Congress-to-fund-US-war-in-Iraq.html|all of this] before. Of course, going to war with Mexico to get California under our thumb was just as amoral then as invading Iraq to get it's oil under our thumb is today.

Lesson? Based on past experience, the USG will do what it wants even if parts of the USG should be stopping them. Checks and balances only work if the people in power bother to use them.

Expecting impeachment? Don't bother. The system already let us down a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Project365 day 094




Project365 day 094 2007 04 04, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Yep, that's me with my head on my pillow. And yep, that's my vintage Battlestar Galactica pillow case that I still have from childhood. What can I say? I STILL love Battlestar Galactica! (Just not the same one.)

US SUPPORTING TERRORIST GROUP INSIDE IRAN

Not only is the Bush Administration not paying attention to history, it's not paying attention to it's OWN history...
The following cut comes from [http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/abc_news_exclus.htmlan April 3, 2007 article] at ABCNews.com and talks about how, once again, the USG is supporting a terrorist group in order to get things done:
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight.
So, like Al Qeada and the Taleban in Afghanistan before them, the Jundullah are being used to help destabilize Iran by executing terrorist acts inside that country and the USG is advising them.
Someone needs to show the USG a word in the dictionary: blowback
[http://webster.com/dictionary/blowback|Look it up.]

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Project365 day 093




Project365 day 093 2007 04 04, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Me in this blah little place called "Pastaghetti" in Westwood Vilage

with my pal Iz. It sucked, I won't be coming back. :/

CHENEY FUZZY ON WHO HIS BOSS REPORTS TO

Did you hear what Dick Cheney said? Check it out:
Vice President Dick Cheney said in Birmingham on Monday that the Democratic-controlled Congress must learn there is only one commander in chief, and he lives in the White House.
Criticizing congressional resolutions supporting the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Cheney said, "The fact is that the United States military answers to one commander in chief in the White House, not 535 commanders in chief on Capitol Hill.
That came from [http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/index.ssf?/base/news/1175588334137360.xml&coll=2|an April 3, 2007 article] at AL.com.
Basically, that's Cheney saying that the US military answers to one man, the guy in the White House. The catch? The guy in the White House is supposed to answer the People of the United States.
So far, Bush and Co. Have yet to answer for anything they've done, to us or anyone else. So, talk all you like, Dick. This is the USG working the way it's supposed to.

BUSH SCREWED MORE STUFF UP AND WE'RE IN TROUBLE

Suffice it to say that the headline is true.

In fact, you can pretty much say that it's true for almost any day of the week in today's world of Bush screwing something up every day. So, I'm getting pretty tired of blogging on every last damn screw up of his that I come across. So, let's just take it as a given that another day is another Bush screw-up.

Maybe, it's a Supreme Court ruling that says it's OK for Bush to violate and 800 year old principle by holding prisoners without giving them the right to challenge their detention in a court of law ([http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LAW/04/02/scotus.detainees/|source]).

Perhaps, it's Bush threatening to veto any bill he doesn't like even if it's a bill the Congress passes ([http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&ct=us/2-2-0&fp=46110e9e6498ab0d&ei=HOgRRufFAoS0pgL20ezeAw&url=http%3A//www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7006930556&cid=1114451766|source]).

Another possibility is that he might have been ultimately responsible for a botched military operation in Iraq ([http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2414760.ece|source]).

I could go on and on and you know it.

So, why should I?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Just Dumped a SLEW of Pics on my Flickr--Go See!

OK, I spent most of my sick day off (still recovering from the bad foods and little sleep I got in Vegas) at my desk (sitting comfortably) uploading just about every damn photo I have in iPhoto. It's all at my Flickr page which you can check out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepete/

Please check the pictures out by collection and/or by set. Any other way right now would be just too confusing due to the way the Flickr plugin for iPhoto uploads pics and how Flickr allows you to display them. Either way, if you're in need of a time killer, you're in LUCK! Swing by my Flickr page and browse the 2000+ pics I have up.

Yep, more than 2000 pics! I'm really putting that Flickr pro membership to work!! Here are a few pics to get you going:

Me, Glen, Ira and Jud at the 3:30am Phantom Menace screening back in 1999!
buds
Ahhhh, remember when Star Wars was still cool?

Next up, here's me on the moon. No really, that's me on the moon!
petemsiastronaut01
All right, you win, I'm not on the moon, but it IS me!

Here's a snap from the pre-war era!
The Pre-War years.
How's that for depressing. That picture wasn't even taken 10 years ago or anything!

So what are you waiting for? Head on over!!

Project365 day 092




Project365 day 092 2007 04 02, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



Still just a hair under the weather. Oh yeah and speaking of hair, I'm
going to shave my head tonight. Really not digging the new hair color
and I'm too busy to bother with going more blond. Some other day,
perhaps...

RICH RICHER, POOR POORER, FEWER IN BETWEEN

One of my theories (theories, mind you, I'm not convinced this is happening) is that the US economy is designed to concentrate most of the money in the hands of a few people while most folks will be more and more poor. Here's a cutting from [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/29/business/29tax.html?ei=5065&en=f30aed8087a73065&ex=1175745600&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print|a March 29, 2007 article] at NYTimes.Com that presets possible evidence that I am right:
Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.


Some of that is pretty confusing in my mind, but as long as you understand that inflation never reverses, it will never matter what anyone else says. Money will be worth less and less as time progresses--as long as loans are still given out and the USG keeps borrowing money. So, the people with the most will have a lot and the folks without much will have even less.

Anyway, feel free to differ. In fact, please do. I'd love to be wrong on this.

DOCS MAKE SHEEP PART HUMAN, BUT WHICH PART?

You may have heard about the chimera--the sheep with 15% human cells making up it's sheep body. That's what a chimera (keemehrah) is, btw, a part human part other animal being. The first in human history were mythical in ancient myths, like the minotaur. The latest one is real and hopefully represents a step closer to creating human replacement organs quickly and easily. The theory goes, if we can figure out a way to make sheep give birth to sheep with human organs inside, then we can simplify the organ-replacement process. See, it only takes a couple of months for a sheep to grow large enough for its organs to be comparable to human organs. So, say you have a bum kidney. You get some bone marrow taken (not a pleasant process, but a fairly simple one), they inject it into a sheep fetus and all you need to do then is stay alive for a few months until the sheep is born and grows up a bit. (This is all according to [http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=444436&in_page_id=1770&in_a_source=|a March 27, 2007 article] at http://MailOnSunday.co.uk that I read.)

Now this is all fine and good, but what about the whole "Playing God" thing?

I have no problems with humans playing God. Personally, I think it's our destiny to eventually control everything about our lives and our universe. The thing is, in the meantime, we've still got a looong way to go. So, my question is how will we Play God well?

What's to stop those cells from making a sheep brain part or even all-human? What's to guarantee that when the baby sheep pops out it doesn't start crying like a human baby? I have yet to read or hear anything about a plan to even deter such Frankensteinian horror shows from happening.

I know you have to break some eggs to make clone omelettes, but these not-so-little experiments are likely to make some pretty messed up eggs.

I think the results of these tests should be put on YouTube for the world to see. Keep everything transparent so we know if we should protest or not.

Carvel Ice Cream Commercials from the Olden Days

So, I was talking to TheWife just now and she was on her cell driving past a Carvel Ice Cream--my favorite ice cream cake source from childhood. We talked briefly about the commercials and I was trying to describe to her how bad the old ads were. She suggested I try to look them up on YouTube, so I did and found a couple that I remember from the dark ages. First there's an example of the inappropriate voice over guy. It happens to be the head guy at Carvel at the time, so I can understand why he did it, but grandpa's voice never inspired me to buy things (then again, it might have inspired me to ask my mom to buy me things). Next we have a great example of how bizarro ads used to be. I miss those days, to be honest. Now our commercials are just lame and uninteresting, trying to sell us stuff because said stuff is "cool" and not just a good product. These ads express the quality of the cakes. Check 'em out:



Sunday, April 1, 2007

Faint Cold, Real Tired, Thanks Las Vegas!

Well, as you may have read in the caption of day 91 of Project 365, I managed to wear myself down enough on crap food and possibly too much fatigue that I feel lousy right now. Damn--and I had so much hope for today. I ended up splitting the day between sleeping on the couch and (before I started feeling really lousy) uploading the pics from our whirlwind 41-hour trip from LA to Las Vegas and back to LA by car. A trip I hope NEVER to take again. We definitely had a good time (hey, our old pal Alejandro was getting married!) but I really feel like I'm paying for it now.

The sad thing is that I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, hire hookers, party, gamble, etc. All I did was consume junk food (this disgusting strawberry slushy, pancakes, a bottle of Coke and Jack in the Box) and get a lousy night's sleep Friday night (due to our hotel room being feet from strip clubs with LOUD music playing 24 hours a day). We also went to Paris, New York-New York, MGM Grand, the Star Trek Experience and had a great time just wandering around people-watching (it's a writer/actor thing). If you'd like, you can check out the pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepete/sets/72157600041365572/

Here's a taste to get you started:

Me and the Faux-Eiffel


In the above picture you can see the strawberry slush that was no doubt jammed with refined sugar--a substance I very rarely consume and therefore have hardly any tolerance for. I think I'll have to start eating a bit more of it just to inoculate myself.

I also shot a huge stack of vids, but they'll have to wait until next weekend. I don't feel very good sitting upright at present. :(

Project365 day 091




Project365 day 091 2007 04 01, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



I'm sick. No joke. Most people go to Las Vegas and get laid, married,

or an STD (or all of the above). I managed to eat too much junk food

(which I never eat) and catch a cold. Eating healthy is a vicious thing

because once you start, you can't stop without getting sick (in my

experience, anyway).

Project365 day 090




Project365 day 90 2007 03 31, originally uploaded by thepetecom.



No, that's not me on a bus! I promised no more shots like that. This is me on a *monorail*. Big difference. It's taking me, TheWife and our newlywed friends (Darth Taco and Tara) and their dad to the Las Vegas Hilton to check out the Star Trek Experience. Sadly, I was in such a rush to get through it and back on the road, I took no pics of the STE :(

Oh, crap, where's my chin in this pic? Sheesh!