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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Watching the rest of the orig....

Watching the rest of the orig. Battlestar Galactica movie while I wait for the iPhone unlock. They just discovered the secret of the Ovions!

All right, all that's left of ...

All right, all that's left of this 24 hour period is that iPhone 3G unlock! Come on, yellowsn0w! Let's feed you to Steve Jobs before bed!

@cherishhellfire You can spank...

@cherishhellfire You can spank yourself, little missy! Oh wait--I usually spank... AHEM. You know my life is richer with you on the 'net :)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! We s...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! We survived another year and this one starts with a black guy about to move into the White House. That's kick ass!

12seconds - HAPPY NEW YEAR 200...

12seconds - HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009!!!! http://tiny12.tv/AMNHT

12seconds - NYE at ThePete's h...

12seconds - NYE at ThePete's http://tiny12.tv/BZYP3

Just took my 155th mugshot! ht...

Just took my 155th mugshot! http://www.dailymugshot.com/main/show/421

Whoa

Whoa

To all the women I saw around ...

To all the women I saw around Times Square tonight wearing skirts w/bare
legs: Don't reproduce. The gene pool isn't for skinny dipping.

Got a block away from Times Sq...

Got a block away from Times Square. Could see nothing. Heading home.

My new look (either I'm a Russian ninja or damn it's cold!



It's COLD!

Holy crap, I'm outside...& it'...

Holy crap, I'm outside...& it's not so bad!

All right, heading out... beca...

All right, heading out... because I love the cold... apparently... Keeeryst! It's 17º out! Someone come over to my apt & block the door!

Am I still going to go down to...

Am I still going to go down to Times Square? It's 18º in NYC & I'm just getting over a cold. Of course, I'm going to go down to Times Square

Huh. My Sidekick keeps vibrati...

Huh. My Sidekick keeps vibrating w/o calls or emails. I think it knows I'm going to ditch it as soon as the iPhone unlock comes out.

@MuscleNerd http://twitpic.com...

@MuscleNerd http://twitpic.com/yefu - When do we get to feed the yellowsn0w to Mr. Jobs? I'm on the edge of my seat!

Gah--it looks like the iPhone ...

Gah--it looks like the iPhone 3G unlock is out, but I can't find it! (http://ping.fm/t56NW)

Just installed 2 gigs of RAM t...

Just installed 2 gigs of RAM to my XP eee 4g & it's like a breath of fresh--ok, it's still an XP machine, so it gives me room to breathe. :)

@mpoppel Besides, anything is ...

@mpoppel Besides, anything is possible--legal is another story and with the Bush Admin, "legal" doesn't matter to them.

@mpoppel Haha, I didn't think ...

@mpoppel Haha, I didn't think getting away with waging a war based on lies was possible, either, but Bush did it! ;)

Yesterday it was UPS and today...

Yesterday it was UPS and today I'm waiting for FedEx. At least I know they'll get here by 4:30. :)

@mpoppel I'm still expecting B...

@mpoppel I'm still expecting Bush to come up with some excuse to stay in the White House past 1/20. Am I too cynical?

@mpoppel no big surprise, it w...

@mpoppel no big surprise, it was just the White House talking about how Israel's attack on Palestine is all about Hamas & not about them.

@zaibatsu haha, KB Toys: just ...

@zaibatsu haha, KB Toys: just like the Hindenburg ;)

@zaibatsu sheesh--looks like K...

@zaibatsu sheesh--looks like KB Toys is in it's final death throes. I'm a little surprised they lasted this long.

Watching the CNN.com live feed...

Watching the CNN.com live feed of Dep White House Spokesperson Gordon Johndroe & finding it pretty obvious he's a Friend of Anderson #Gay

@mpoppel it's 11:05. WHAT UP, ...

@mpoppel it's 11:05. WHAT UP, WHITE HOUSE? Watchu want? I just *know* it's Bush saying he's not moving out! :P

JetBlue you officially suck. M...

JetBlue you officially suck. My wife is sick on the west coast & you want to charge her $300 to let her fly tomorrow. So she flies sick 2day

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

@CK67 I'm feeling better, than...

@CK67 I'm feeling better, thanks--sadly TheWife is sick with some weird bug she caught in Oakland--where she still is. I may be solo for NYE

I'm just going to come out and...

I'm just going to come out and say it: the original Battlestar Galactica movie wasn't so bad! It's no modern BSG, but it's still good :)

How's that for irony? My wife ...

How's that for irony? My wife and I are both under the weather but on opposite coasts! :( Glad she's got parents to take care of her :)

@siskita just got a new iPhone...

@siskita just got a new iPhone *and* sick stomach & chills that may keep her from her plane home tomorrow & from NYE w/me :(

YAY! UPS finally got here! Hu...

YAY! UPS finally got here! Huzzah! I can shower now!

@tmofee The watching of the or...

@tmofee The watching of the original Doctor Who's goes well. Just finished "The Crusade" last night. Can't believe they wrote that for kids!

@tmofee Yeah, he wasn't *that*...

@tmofee Yeah, he wasn't *that* old, but I never cared for a "grandfather" as the Doctor anyway. I liked him just fine, just used to younger.

@barcelonaphotos aww, thanks, ...

@barcelonaphotos aww, thanks, man! Good to hear from you and best wishes for your new year, too! Yeah, I've been off the topic, too, lately.

Still waiting for UPS. Too sca...

Still waiting for UPS. Too scared to miss him. Can't shower. Netflix is late. Please, Mr. UPS! Arrive at my door so I may clean myself!

@zillz Ah, yeah--it didn't loa...

@zillz Ah, yeah--it didn't load, but it's cool--I never used it anyway. I've hated the way WP handles media for years. But thanks, man!

@zillz why not? It seemed to g...

@zillz why not? It seemed to go fine--but I can always re-upload a backup. I aaaalways back up!!

Wow. I think my Wordpress upgr...

Wow. I think my Wordpress upgrade went beyond smoothly. THANK YOU Wordpress Automatic Upgrade! You should use it! http://is.gd/1uTY

Monday, December 29, 2008

Condi sez: soon we'll thank Bush. She's right...



Oh yeah, soon, we'll be thanking Bush all right...FOR LEAVING!

DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT, GEORGIE!

I'll also be thanking him for not conjuring up some bullshit excuse
for him staying in the White House past Jan. 20. Of course, I would
have thanked Congress for doing their job and impeaching this lying
criminal, too, but they didn't do that.


Check out the article the above screengrab comes from here:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/28/rice.administration/index.html

Thursday, December 25, 2008

@siskita puts the star on the tree!



Our Christmas is tomorrow so today is Christmas eve stuff. Here's
Sierra putting the star on my mom and step-dad's tree. My brother and
niece are coming in tonight. It's TheNiece's 2nd Christmas ever.
Expect a Flickrset. Maybe two.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

After the snow had frozen in NYC pt3 (nature is cool edition)



This is another shot outside the A train station at 190th street. To me
there is something so cool about how nature works. The snow melting and
dribbling over icicles under the power of gravity is just neat to me.
I'm a nerd, I guess :)

Lame thing about this pic is that you don't get a sense of scale. Ah
well.

After the snow had frozen in NYC pt2 (family edition)



This is also on the way to the A train last Saturday on our way to
Ikea. If you look closely you can see a dad dragging his kid on a sled
over the snow covering the sidewalk. It was that kind of Saturday
afternoon. :)

After the snow had frozen in NYC pt1



This was the view on our way to the subway. We weren't thinking about
anything but going to Ikea when we saw how pretty everything looked with
a day-or-two-old blanket of snow on it.

Sitting at the gate in JFK enjoying a can of Crayons.



Siskita and I just stuffed ourselves with $9 salads (!) and now I'm
drinking "all natural Crayons fruit juice drink". O_O It tastes somehow
both tart and watered down at the same time. Not undrinkable and I
really like tart.

Tastes nothing like Crayons, though...

The salad was surprisingly good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holy Bad Movie Music! I Have the Sheet Music to "Hooray for Santy Claus"



Believe it or not, a few hours ago I was sitting in the lobby of the famous Algonquin hotel taking part in a sing-a-long of this song with about thirty other adults who had never heard the song before.

For those not in the know, this is the theme song to "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and it's one of the cheesier Christmas songs ever. The movie it's from was featured on MST3K.

Now if I could only get a copy of "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pic of My "Chicken Pox" (Thanks, Keith!)



Just got back from my friend Keith's Christmas party where he gave
everyone diseases or viruses--in plush form! There's a whole line of
stuffed sicknesses. Keith gave me chicken pox! But I've already HAD
it! Plus I wanted ebola :( But it's cool. As you can see, chicken pox
is kind of adorable.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Finally out of the apartment and it's all fracking slush.



Ah well, snow is snow, right?

ORGUSS (1983) (anime)

It's Friday once again and that means a review of some random anime I've watched recently. This week is the latest in a loooong line of Macross-related series. It's full title is Super Dimensional Century Orguss and was the second part of the "Super Dimensional" series released back in the early 1980s, which started with Super Dimensional Fortress MacrossSuper Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross.


Sadly, Orguss is not available
on DVD in the US.
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Overwhelmingly so! I've watched a LOT of anime that has come out of the 1970s and 1980s and Orguss is, by far, the most imaginative and fun of any of the series. In some ways I like it more than my all-time favorite of that time period Gatchaman.


Technically any good? While the animation does look like it came out of the early 1980s, it's about a thousand times more consistent than it is on Macross and Southern Cross. The character designs are gorgeous and the mecha designs are really great. While I didn't care for any specific mecha, the sheer number of designs the story required was impressive. What's even more impressive is that the mecha are so different. You can recognize the style of the design as being from a particular country. It's really well done.

The acting is fine, though a bit melodramatic in spots. The story is pretty solid and does a nice job of getting you hooked after just the first episode or two. Most importantly, the characters in this story actually evolve. While you may have been rolling your eyes at Minmei's never-ending selfishness in the original Macross the characters of Orguss grow, change and become new, more interesting characters as the 35 episodes of the series pass by.

The only thing I had trouble with were the cultural issues. Character names and references to gender and sex were a little dated and a little annoying. However, as with most good anime, the series lets men and women occupy interchangeable roles of importance. Orguss doesn't say women can't do things. If anything, it says that all humans kind of suck (though the good humans do often do the right thing when it really matters).


How did it leave me feeling? Sadly, the series ends with a semi-classic "What the hell?" ending that is far too common in anime. However, the over all series is an immensely satisfying, well-written, character-driven, scifi epic, space opera set on Earth (sort of).


Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now! Of course, it's not on DVD. So you can't. But if you do find a copy, and enjoy great scifi and/or 1980s anime, you really need to see this. It's really a blast. The sequel series Orguss 02 is available on DVD, but I have yet to watch it. I'd start in order in order since Orguss 02 seems to directly reference events in the original series. :)

SPOILER: Usually I don't include story descriptions of things I review, in my pocket reviews, but I think since most people have never heard of Orguss before I should. So, if you just don't want to know what this show is about, don't read the following:

Premise: On an Earth plagued by spacial and temporal dimensional fractures, Orguss is the god of war in a culture that one of the crew members aboard the Glomar, a caravan of hippie-free-marketeers (!) who take in a human from another reality who may be the key to returning the dimensionally fractured Earth back to normal.

Satellite map over NYC right now



Yikes! Now, I had been planning to go grocery shopping today, but
perhaps I should go shopping for boots, instead.

The forecast says it's going to snow all weekend. If they're right
this could be downright insane. Then again I haven't seen real
snowfall in person since the early 1990s, so the insane-bar is set
fairly low.

Makes me glad I don't have a driveway, though!

Holy Crap, What IS That White Stuff??



A California cat's first look at snow. Seconds after this shot he was
ready to leave the sill. Zaphod seemed fascinated for a few seconds
but then started giving me the "Dad, I don't wanna pose for your
LOLCats pic!" look. Ecks, his older brother, was even less interested.
I guess without birds, window sitting just isn't as fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everyone must wash hands




Everyone must wash hands, originally uploaded by thepetecom.


Too true...

Radio City in December




Radio City in December, originally uploaded by thepetecom.


Classic image :)

This building's got balls...




This building's got balls..., originally uploaded by thepetecom.


Somewhere nearby there's HUGE Christmas tree missing these things...

Wandering NYC tonight, saw this & spontaneusly thought "prettyyyy!"



Taking pictures of things like this and liking them is a sign of
getting old, isn't it?

WATER (2006)


Buy it!
Watch it now!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? It was definitely a positive experience, but a bit on the vague-side when it comes to connecting the theme up with the events of the movie. The plot was fine, but beyond the river flowing by I didn't get any idea of where the title comes from (yes, water washes away sins, but why didn't it for these women?). The movie was probably a bit longer than it needed to be, or just slightly less interesting that it should have been, in my opinion. I wasn't expecting explosions or chase scenes, but something about this movie just felt a little slow.


Technically any good? The story was very interesting and very important. The script was pretty solid as was most of the acting. I wish I could have seen a bit more from the lead child, range-wise, but giving that she wasn't speaking her native language, I have to say she did a good job. The rest of the casting was generally spot-on, but the prostitute character was WAY too hot. She did a good job with the acting, but I just didn't buy that someone that hot and that white-looking would end up in what was essentially a prison for widows (the actress is apparently known as the Angelina Jolie of India!). I had only one other real problem with the movie aside from its pacing and that was a moment where a character behaved in a way that seemed dictated by the plot and not the character. Still, this movie was beautiful and stunning to watch. I just wish the pace was a bit quicker or that there was more to look at while I was waiting for the next plot point to occur.


How did it leave me feeling? Pretty satisfied, over all. I knew nothing about the issue of widows in India or how many are ostracized from society. While the movie takes place during Gandhi's time, it is apparently still a problem. Seems that humanity, in general, is good at oppressing women--even when the oppressors are women, themselves. Makes no sense.


Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now - India is a fascinating culture and while I wouldn't rank this film up among my absolute favorites, I think it's a pretty good movie and a very good introduction to Indian culture (despite it being a negative aspect of Indian culture).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TheKey (my novel!) makes a great gift! http://snurl.com/thekeybook


Buy my book!
Just a quick note for anyone who is still looking for something to get the book reader in their family: my novel, TheKey is available right now at Lulu.com here: http://snurl.com/thekeybook where you can get it for just $11!!. WHAT A VALUE! PLUS you can download the, uh, downloadable version for just $2!!
 
What's it about? Well, TheKey follows the adventures of a handful of amateur conspiracy theorists as they go on a quest to find and destroy one of the most powerful computer viruses ever devised. A virus so powerful, it is capable of destroying every computer on the Internet. Along the way they discover that every conspiracy they've heard of is true and worse than they could have imagined. They also learn that accepted history itself is a lie crafted by the very people who are out to beat them to that virus--a tiny computer program known as, TheKey.
 
So, not only is it perfect for the book reader in your life, it's IDEAL for the conspiracy freak in your life! And if you're like me, you ARE one!! OK, I only entertain conspiracies--but the story is a lot of fun. Pick up a copy and support ThePete!!!
 
PLEASE DON'T HESITATE! If you want to by TheKey in paperback, you must order before December 19 to get it by Christmas! (and even then I think you'll have to pay a bit extra for shipping :( )
 
Not celebrating Christmas? Well, why not pick up a copy anyway? It's good conspiracy fun for the whole--well, almost the whole family. If it were a movie, it'd probably be PG-13. But ANYway, please order a copy of TheKey today! (Or, whenever is convenient, really--I don't want to pressure you.)
 
Oh and THANKS!

Why Bush Should Have Let the Shoe Hit Him

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Why did he duck? The shoes weren't even loaded!
As Muntadhar al-Zaidi becomes a hero across Iraq for throwing his Iraqi-made shoes at George W. Bush during a recent surprise(d) visit to Iraq, I couldn't help but think about how fast good old King George was to duck those shoes. Just last night, Steve Isaacs microblogged that he felt Bush dodging those shoes made the current occupant of the White House look competent and capable. That got me thinking.

In the movie Cool Hand Luke (spoiler alert) there's a great scene where Paul Newman's character proves his grit by standing up to the prison bully. He doesn't win the fight--he doesn't even get a few good punches in. In fact, he gets his ass pounded. The thing is, he keeps getting back up to get pounded again.

This is heroism, folks. This is taking responsibility for your actions. Newman's "Luke" wanted to take on the big man and put him in his place, but he couldn't do it with strength. So, he did it with honor.

So, it's natural that, like a weasel, Bush ducks the shoes as they fly at his face. That's what he's been best at all this time, right? Ducking responsibility for one colossal fuck-up after another.

911 wasn't his fault--it was the terrorists who hate our freedom. Forget that memo with the title "bin Laden determined to strike inside the United States." Forget that it's the government's job to stop things like the 911 attacks from happening. Forget that there used to be FAA regulations that allowed for USAF fighters to shoot down any aircraft heading toward populated areas. What happened to that regulation, anyway? I remember what happened to Payne Stewart.

Katrina wasn't his fault--how could they predict a storm like that and an aftermath like that? Well, National Geographic Magazine did.

Saddam not having WMD wasn't Bush's fault, either. How could they know that Saddam had no WMD? I mean, besides the fact that there was no hard evidence he had WMD?

Iraq being the absurd quagmire that it has become--certainly, there was no way to predict that! Of course, the British experienced it first hand... in 1917. I won't bring up Dick Cheney's own prediction of a mess back in 1992.

So, consider how just one of those shoes hitting Bush in the face would have made you feel. I know I'd have still laughed and played the clip over and over and over.

But him ducking the shoes?

Nothing new there. Just same old not-so-artful dodging from a man who didn't even have the decency to make sure he was properly elected... either time.

It just shows you the kind of spineless, fearful little weasel George W. Bush is.

It's a shoe, man. What's it going to do to you? Knock out a tooth? Break the skin?

Bush, you're supposed to be the president of the United States of America and you're afraid of a couple shoes.

PRIMEVAL (2007) (TV)


Buy series 1 and 2 in one DVD box set!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Haha, yeah--but not in the way I would want it to be. This series is great for people who miss Mystery Science Theater 3000 because it delivers the perfect fodder for quips. This show is TERRIBLE.


Technically any good? To be absolutely fair, the premise of this series is actually pretty cool--it's about these strange time portals that are showing up around the UK allowing creatures from other times to appear. Also, some of the actors try reeeally hard and my heart goes out to them (mainly Douglas Henshall, Andrew Lee Potts, and Lucy Brown who are really solid). Why does my heart go out to the actors? Because the execution of the stories and even the stories themselves are just RIDICULOUS!!

Rather than presenting us with interesting evolutionary mysteries from the past and future from the first episode, the series bores us with way too many episodes featuring cliched dinosaurs, giant alligators (in a community swimming pool!) and other been-done prehistoric creatures, including a saber-tooth tiger who appears in the show's funniest moment (if you don't mind spoilers, check out this clip). There's also an absurd storyline with the lead's ex-wife, which would be interesting if she wasn't so obviously eeeeeeevil.

The FX are also pretty bad. I don't fault the FX artists, I'm sure they'd do a better job if they had a better budget. However, the cinematography isn't smart enough to shoot around the weaknesses of the FX. As a result, you get to see the blatantly CG tiger in the same frame as the actor (who often looks "at" the CG tiger in the wrong place).


How did it leave me feeling? Entertained, but in a very bad way. It's annoying because, like I said, the premise is kind of interesting and some of the acting is perfectly reasonable. I even like the chemistry between Henshall and Brown's characters. It's just that everything is so poorly executed it's impossible to take the show seriously. I'm hoping that in series 3 the Sleestacks from Land of the Lost will show up. I mean, that's how bad this show is--sure there are no crappy chromakey FX, but there might as well be.


Final Rating? IIO - If It's On, it's perfect for background noise. It was created to compete with Doctor Who but doesn't come close--unless it was trying to compete with Doctor Who from the 1970s. Perhaps the show's creators fell through one of those time portals in their show from the Tom Baker era? :P

I'd love to see a remake of this taken seriously. I'd be a fan of that show. Not of this one, though.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Other Shoe Falls on Bush During Visit to Iraq--and It's from an Iraqi Foot


Wow, I hope the guy that threw those shoes at Bush doesn't end up in Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. Pull that kind of thing here in the land of the Free and the Brave and you get your ass investigated and possibly even arrested for threatening the life of the guy in the White House. Hell, in this country just talking about throwing a shoe at the occupier of the Oval Office might bring the Secret Service's shoe down on your throat.

Hey, you didn't really think we have 100% free speech didja?

After all, Bush himself agrees that there should be limits to freedom (and he said that before 911!).

Read more about King George's encounter with the shoe-throwing Angry Iraqi at CNN.com.

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

CORRECTION: I just watched the video--turns out the Iraqi dude threw both of his shoes at Bush. So, I corrected the text above to reflect multiple shoes thrown. :)

UPDATE: Here's video of the actual event as it happened:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

ThePete's 12 Second Japanese Lesson #12: Counting to 12


ThePete's 12 Second Japanese Lesson #12: Counting to 12 on 12seconds.tv

The hiragana, romaji, and English for this lesson is:

いち ichi (ee-chee) 1
に ni (nee) 2
さん san (sahng) 3
よ yo 4
ご go 5
ろく roku 6
なな nana 7
はち hachi 8
きゅう kyu (sometimes ku) 9
じゅう juu 10
じゅういち juu ichi (literally 10+1) 11
じゅに juu ni (literally 10+2) 12

Now, these numbers have kanji that I'm not going to go into, but basically, all you need to know is that it's the difference between spelling out the word "one" and using "1". So, "one" in Japanese is "ichi" but "1" in Japanese is "一". To make it more confusing for us, they use both kanji and our numbers. But this is taking much longer than 12 seconds, so I'll wrap it up!

To learn more Japanese online, I recommend checking out Alex Brooke’s LearnJapanesePod.com (also visit his site AlexBrooke.com to check out what else he’s up to). You might also check out JapanesePod101.com or pick up the book Japanese from Zero: Volume 1 if you want to learn offline.

Did I get something wrong? Tell me! I’ve got a LOT to learn still, so please help me and others by commenting. ありがとうございます! (arigatou gozaimasu - thank you very much!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pics of my OLPC XO Running Ubuntu! Wahoo!!

Check it out--a year ago, Linux on the XO was annoying because it needed an external mouse and was a huge pain to install. Thanks to Teapot's instructions over at the OLPCNews.com forum it was largely a breeze. I did have to change "/dev/mmcblk0p1" to "/dev/mmcblk1p1" to get one bit to work, but aside from that, it was pretty straightforward. My only problem now is working in Ubuntu--anyone know how to change the time on the clock? Can't work it out at all.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

ThePete's 12 Second Japanese Lesson #11: You and Me


ThePete's 12 Second Japanese Lesson #11: You and Me on 12seconds.tv

Here is the hiragana for this lesson:

あなた わたし

Here's the romaji:

anata watashi

you me/I

That's it for lesson 11!

To learn more Japanese online, I recommend checking out Alex Brooke’s LearnJapanesePod.com (also visit his site AlexBrooke.com to check out what else he’s up to). You might also check out JapanesePod101.com or pick up the book Japanese from Zero: Volume 1 if you want to learn offline.

Did I get something wrong? Tell me! I’ve got a LOT to learn still, so please help me and others by commenting. ありがとうございます! (arigatou gozaimasu - thank you very much!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

MOSPEADA (1983) (anime)

Yep, it's Friday again and here comes yet another (vaguely) Macross-related anime review.


Buy it on DVD!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely, but the ending was a little underwhelming.


Technically any good? The premise is straightforward enough: a survivor of a military team sent to Earth to fight back against an alien occupation attempts to complete his mission by recruiting civilians and soldiers to take on the Invid/Inbit. The good news is that despite that somewhat cliched premise, the show still manages to be a lot of fun to watch. Thanks to the story being so sparse, the show's creators allowed the characters to fill in the blanks.

The most interesting of which is a soldier who hides from the alien invaders under the guise of a female singer. So, yes, one of the show's leads is a male cross-dresser with an amazing singing voice. I guess him being a soldier falls under the "don't ask don't tell" policy the military would be required to have after an alien invasion.

Underground cities, old west cliches, man vs. the elements, evolution, and other concepts are explored but not overly-exploited in this series. As a result, the show seems tempted to get boring, but never quite does. In fact, of all the anime I've seen, it's Mospeada has been the easiest for me to watch so far--the episodes fly by and I enjoy them quite a bit.

Sadly, the mecha weren't terribly well designed, but they weren't as bad as the designs for Southern Cross, either. I do like the design for the motorcycle that is driven by four of the characters, or "mospeada" as the show calls it. I also liked the actual character designs, themselves. Acting-wise, everyone was solid (I'm referring to the Japanese voice-over actors).


How did it leave me feeling? Unfortunately, the ending is a little flat. The good news is that it's not one of those "Whaaaaaa?" endings that a lot of Japanese animated shows often fall back on. However, it's not terribly satisfying, either. Still, if you like the Western genre, mixed with the post-apocalyptic alien invasion genre, this is a series for you.


Final Rating? SIYL - See If You Like. I wouldn't say this was a must-see, but it is fun and, as the original version of the third act of Robotech, it's important in a historical sense. However, as with the other two series that would get redubbed, recut and rewritten for the sake of Robotech, I think this series deserves to be watched on its own.

As an FYI, this series had a one-off sequel made called Love Live Alive, but it's very hard to find copies of it. If you find one, please let me know where you got it. I'd really like to see how they handled it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Actual Universal Declaration of Human Rights

OK, so, yesterday was One Day for Human Rights, right? Head over to OneDayForHumanRights.com for more on that. But the way I look at it, every day should be a day when we defend human rights, right?
Now, I'm just a blogger--the only "weapons" I use are my words. So, that's how I'm defending human rights. Speaking up and speaking out--hey, in some countries, that would get me thrown in jail.

So here's day 2. I'm not saying I'll be able to keep this up forever, but I've got a few ideas for posts. For starters, I thought I'd post the entire Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sure, you can find it elsewhere, but until these rights are actually universally respected around the globe, it can't help to keep repeating them over and over, right?

Now, on OneDayForHumanRights.com, they have a post that includes the entire text of the UDHR, but also links to where they got it from. Here's where I got the below text from:

http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

Find it in other languages here:

http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/navigate/alpha.htm

OneDayForHumanRights.com also made available, in PDF format, a flier about human rights abuses around the world and the UDHR in it's entirety. I'm hosting copies of those PDFs here at ThePete.Com along with a text version of the UDHR.

Here's an intro about the UDHR from it's Wikipedia page:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris). The Guinness Book of Records describes the UDHR as the "Most Translated Document" in the world. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law.


So, there you go--not only is it a guide book, but it's a law book, too.

Here it is, just for you, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:



Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.


I'm thinking it's pretty sad that it's the 21st century and we even need one of these things. Makes you wonder just how far we have actually come as a species and as a culture.

I Blog About Human Rights and Google Adsense Gives Me an Arabic Ad

Yesterday I blogged about human rights and look at that Google Ad on
the left there. I didn't know I had very many Arabic readers (or
any). Thanks for nothing Google!

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920)


Buy it on DVD!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? HELL yeah. This is my all time favorite silent movie (though Metropolis is a very close second favorite).


Technically any good? The story follows the events in a small European village after Dr. Caligari and his cabinet arrives. He charges people to see "Cesare the Somnambulist" who spends his entire life sleeping in Caligari's cabinet to be woken only by the doctor, himself. But when people in the village start dying, who is to blame?

One of the most characteristic things about this movie is how they didn't try to do anything with lighting--instead, they literally paint the shadows onto the sets. The effect is that the actors literally pop off the screen and the sets look creepy and surreal.

The acting in this 1920 silent film is perfectly reasonable for the time period, though if you've never seen a silent before you may have trouble accepting their behavior. The story is wonderful and invented a premise that would be used often in the scifi and horror genres over the following century. So far, I'm not sick of the premise yet.


How did it leave me feeling? Creeped-out, as always. I've seen this movie a bunch of times (most recently projected with live music and SFX--the best way to see it!) and it never fails to entertain me. I also see new things I've missed before with each viewing.


Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now - if you can find it on the big screen, that's the best way to really appreciate it, but really it's good on small screens, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Human Rights and the Promises of Our Leaders

Human Rights are something that, here in America, aren't really thought about until someone we know or care about becomes a victim to them. In some areas in the world everyone knows someone who has had their rights abridged or outright squashed. We've all heard of those places, so I won't go into them here. Just know that for all of our own advancements here in America, the vast majority of humanity has been left behind. Most of Earth's citizens are still waiting to see a world that protects the rights of all humans.

In this sense, our leaders have universally let us down. The role of governments (and the leaders who run them) is supposed to be to protect the rights of their citizens. The thing is, we have trouble making sure that happens here in the US. There are still too many people who are silenced or worse. Sure, it's easy to point to things that have happened under the Bush Administration, but the reality is no US administration has put human rights front and center. In fact, in previous decades and even centuries, the USG has sponsored military actions, coups and even full-blown wars solely in the interest of securing capitalism as the dominant economic system in other countries.

So, when someone talks to you about human rights and how they should be supported, don't think that just because you live in the US or another western country you don't need to worry about them. Here in the US we still have a long way to go. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written sixty years ago, there is a passage about marriage:
Article 16

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.


Guess what Prop 8 over in California is about. Yep. Gay marriage. Stopping gays from getting marriage is a violation of the UDHR. Our leaders shouldn't even allow something like Prop 8 to get put up to a vote since it violates basic human rights. Yet, there it is.

Human rights activist Jack Healy posted about the UDHR's birthday a couple days ago on HuffPo and in that post he said, in part, this in reference to the UDHR:

By the year 2010, 42% of the world will be under the age of 21. As was seen in the recent American election, there is a clamoring for change amongst this demographic. This exists not only for young people at home, but all over the world. When injustice occurs in far corners of the globe, this document empowers the innocent against the oppressor. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as an example of justice and equality, so to will this new generation need a rulebook to combat oppression.

Such a rulebook already exists in this Declaration. For 60 years, governments have let this document gather dust in a closet.


...and our governments, across the planet, have let us down.

I'm not an anarchist, but ya know, now that I think about it...

Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over at OneDayForHumanRights.com

Hell, I think there should be a 365daysAYearForHumanRights.com!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Day for Human Rights

I'll be blogging more about human rights today, inline with the website OneDayForHumanRights.com

In the meantime, head over there and see what's up.

President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama's Cabinet So Far

Wow, well, it's looking good for the forces of evil, or at least, the forces of lameness. I guess we indy-types shouldn't be too surprised that Obama can't deliver the "change" promise he ran on. He may still be promising new ideas, but let's look at some of the old people Obama's appointed to his cabinet so far:

Treasury Secretary: Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
ThePete Says: Wow, one of the handful of people that controls America's money supply as TreasSec? Meh, I'd rather get some generally independent economist from outside the system that is currently crumbling under its own weight. Also, he was TreasSec under Clinton, so you might suggest that Geithner had something to do with setting the dinner table we're all financially going hungry at right now.

I remember reading something about how Geithner was supposed to be corporate-experience-free--but guess what? Running a FedRes bank is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as running a corporation. Apparently, Geithner was also instrumental in orchestrating the bailout of Bear Sterns. He also worked for Kissinger Associates--as in Henry Kissinger (many look at this man as a war criminal).

Secretary of State: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
ThePete Says: Giving her "lost to Obama" status, this seems like a fair appointment (though I'd still prefer her as VP). However, it doesn't get much more Clintony than an actual Clinton. I know most of Americans are used to blaming Bush for all of our troubles, but remember, these economic problems are actually more complicated and older than the media is explaining right now. As I mentioned above, the table we're all starving at right now was set by the Clinton Administration.

That said, I actually believe Hillary will make an OK SoS. (!) Of course, that's in comparison to previous ones, which isn't setting the bar too high, I think.

Attorney General: Eric Holder, former deputy attorney general.
ThePete Says: Yikes, this is the dude who defended Chiquita Banana against lawsuits accusing the fruit company of supporting terrorism (which they did, in order to keep farming bananas in Columbia). He was also Deputy AG under Bill Clinton and feels drug penalties should be more harsh.

Defense Secretary: Robert Gates, a holdover from Bush administration.
ThePete Says: I love how the AP calls Gates a "holdover" from the Bush Admin. They're almost all holdovers from previous administrations. Yet the AP seems to think this is not significant. What's even funnier is that Gates is not only a holdover from George W.'s admin, but he was also the head of the CIA under George H.W. Bush. That makes him pretty much entrenched in evil. ;)

To be more specific, the Wikipedia page for Robert Gates reminds us of his role in the the Iran-Contra Affair. Remember that old chestnut?

Homeland Security Secretary: Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz.
ThePete Says: Don't think that just because she's a Democrat she's not a racist xenophobe like most southern-border-based Republicans. Seems Napolitano is quite the hawk when it comes to cracking down on illegal immigration having called for not only National Guard support along the border but also asking for more ICE resources to be sent to Arizona, as well. She was also a US state attorney under Bill Clinton--yep, she's another Clintonite.

National Security Adviser: Retired Marine Gen. James Jones.
ThePete Says: I don't know much about this guy. Turns out he's a former NATO commander and also served on the boards of Chevron and Boeing. Yeah, two big-ass companies, one oil and the other military/industrial (you know, like the complex). According to James L. Jones' Wikipedia page, he:

....became president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chair of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council of the United States. He also served as chairman of the Independent Commission on Security Forces of Iraq.


Hmmm, seems like that energy institute thing hasn't worked out so well and that whole thing where he was to, according to that same Wikipedia page:

...investigate for 120 days the capabilities of the Iraq armed forces and police.


That hasn't worked out either. Granted, he did find "serious deficiencies in the Iraq Interior Ministry and in the Iraq National Police" but his alleged strong negotiating skills didn't exactly get his findings accepted as fact. Of course, the Bush Administration isn't known for their acceptance of facts, are they?

Commerce Secretary: Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.
ThePete Says: Meh, yet another Clintonite. Richardson was Energy Secretary under the Billster. He is also the object of scorn for some Chinese Americans who felt that he was unusually racisty during the Wen Ho Lee mess. Lee was the fellow who was wrongly accused by the Clinton admin for spying for the Chinese. Apparently, Richardson tried to encourage the idea that any Chinese people in the US could be spies.

Here's a big however--I do like Richardson. I've seen him in a bunch of interviews and he seems like a fairly reasonable guy. Another however is that just because he's reasonable doesn't mean he's a good leader.

National Economic Council Director: Lawrence Summers, former treasury secretary.
ThePete Says: Haha, another Clintonite and another guy who's partially responsible for our current money mess. Back in 1991 Summers was chief economist for the World Bank and wrote a memo suggesting that pollution from first world countries could be exported to third world countries which he consider to be "underpolluted".

You may also remember Summers as the dude who had to resign as president of Harvard University after he said publicly that women had less innate scientific ability than men.

Office of Management and Budget Director: Peter Orszag, director of Congressional Budget Office.
ThePete Says: I hardly know anything about this guy, either. But if he's in charge of money now, that worries me. However, Democracy Now reported that Orszag felt the bank bailout would make things worse, not better and testified to that. So, he gets points from me on that.

Veterans Affairs Secretary: Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki
ThePete Says: Ahhh, OK, cool--this dude is OK, as far as military-types go. He was the guy who was ignored by the Bush Administration when he told them the Iraq Attack would require waaaay more troops that the Bushites wanted to send in. Turns out Shinseki was right (as you may have noticed).

TheCONCLUSION: I don't see a lot of change with this cabinet, so far. Sure, it's tentative and the names could change as they are rejected by vetting or by Congress. Still, there have to be perfectly competent people out there who have not held positions in the Clinton Admin or in the financial or corporate worlds who can be appointed. I'm sick of all of these damned insiders. Nothing is ever going to change if the same people keep getting cycled through Washington.

Am I being a bit harsh? Maybe, but it's the media's job to play devil's advocate for everything the government does. Figure, the government puts forth the "pro" argument for everything they do. Who will represent the "con" argument? Some lame Republican think-tanks? That's just letting the system criticize itself--the press needs to represent the non-government opinion and be critical of all. That's how they've let us down and that's why I cite only the negative aspects of Obama's appointees. I figure, if you want to read how good these people are, go to Obama's blog, Change.gov. Come to me for some contrarian stuff :)

HELLBOY 2 (2008)


Buy the 3-disc DVD set!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? It was definitely fun, but the bar was set just a bit too high with the first Hellboy movie, sadly, so I found this one to be disappointing.


Technically any good? FX and designs were AMAZING. Visually, this film was STUNNING. Unfortunately, the visuals and FX are the only reasons to see the film beyond some solid acting by the leads. Sadly, the script is cliche, contrived and annoying. There were just too many "that was supposed to be funny?" moments in it. The first Hellboy seemed confident in itself as being a good movie, where this one felt like it was trying hard to prove itself. I should also point out that Selma Blair always falls a little flat for me, but I feel like she just needs a good shove and she'll be amazing.


How did it leave me feeling? Vaguely entertained, but disappointed. It's always hard to follow up a good movie with an as-good sequel, but I felt like this script fell into some obvious traps and came off much more cliched than it should have.


Final Rating? NFI - NetFlix It. Don't spend any money on this one unless it's your monthly Netflix subscription. :) Though, if you disagree and plan on buying the DVD, please buy Hellboy 2 from my Amazon store so I can get a cut. Thanks! ^_^

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Buddy Alexander on the "Chuck" TV Show

He's the one on screen who isn't Gary Cole.

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

Dane Cook Ringtones: the Real Reason I Hacked my iPhone!

And here I thought video messaging would come *before* the Dane Cook ringtones. Well, it seems like some hackers really have their priorities straight!
 
I kid the hackers, but I love 'em!

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

You Must Watch "CHUCK" Tonight! My Buddy Alexander Fazel is In It!!

My very good friend Alexander Fazel is an actor out there in Los Angeles and he manage to get himself a gig on the NBC show CHUCK. His episode, entitled "Chuck Vs. The DeLorean" apparently airs TONIGHT at 8pm on NBC and will also be available tomorrow on iTunes for just $1.99!! So, TUNE IN, PLEASE!
(Or iTune in, I suppose!) Watch for the Arab billionaire's sidekick, that's my buddy, Alexander :)

To help you spot him in the show, check out an episode of The 5 Minute Show that I shot with him back in June of 2006:



As you can see, he's pretty funny, a handsome dude and damn talented. So, be sure to watch Chuck, tonight! I will thank you and so will Alexander!!

You can check out more episodes of my webcast The 5 Minute Show here:
http://tv.thepete.com/tag/the-5-Minute-Show/

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Our First Snow in NYC




Our 1st Snow in NYC, originally uploaded by thepetecom.


Yay! This is video of our first snow as New York residents! ENJOY! :)

And NO, it's not just flurries since it did stick to the roofs of cars. :P

Chicago Factory Worker Occupation Shows What Happens When the System Fails (We All Fail)



OK, so here's how I was told it was supposed to all work growing up:

1) You go to college
2) You get a good job (because you went to college)
3) Your boss pays you because he makes money in the business you both work at.

The reality in 2008:
1) college is becoming much too expensive for the majority of Americans to afford
2) no one is hiring because no one is making any money because no one is buying because no one is making any money etc, etc...
3) Your boss lays you off because most of point 2 applies to him AND in the case of one Chicago factory, he doesn't even pay you

See, here's what's going on right now in a factory in Chicago according to an article at ChicagoTribune.com:

Workers laid off from their jobs at a factory have occupied the building and are demanding assurances they'll get severance and vacation pay that they say they are owed.

About 200 employees of Republic Windows and Doors began their sit-in Friday, the last scheduled day of the plant's operation. On Saturday, about 50 workers could be seen through a window sitting on chairs and pallets on the factory floor. Reporters were asked to stay out of the plant's work area.


If you have a Digg.com account, please Digg this important labor rights story

See, the company that owns the factory isn't making much money these days thanks to no one spending any money thanks to them not making any money these days.  Sorry, you know this bit.

But remember a few months back when King George talked about our entire economy being in danger? He also made the point in that speech that "every day lending" had to continue. This suggests that loans are something businesses take out all the time just to keep the gears of capitalism lubricated.

This suggests that without said loans, most businesses would fall apart.

Whose idea was a system that had to perform like a shark? If it stops moving, it dies.

The problem is, that because we're all relying on this system, we all suffer.

So, banks fail, and can't give every day loans to businesses that rely on those loans to pay employees. Employees then can't eat or pay their bills or their mortgages and so they go hungry and homeless. Then, the banks don't get paid back and they can't give loans and they can't loan to businesses and--sorry, again, you know this bit...

Yeah, good plan, assholes. Does anyone else see the circle-jerk-cum-downward-spiral there?

And just why should businesses need every day loans to pay their employees?

Shouldn't their employee's pay come from what the company makes? And if they can't make money why are banks giving loans to them?

This whole system sounds completely screwed up and I've lost even more faith in American political, business and financial leaders for supporting this thing. As a fiction writer I couldn't get away with a premise like this one.

You know the old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? What happens when all the links are weak? The chain morphs into another cliched metaphor--the house of cards. This was just a matter of time, folks. The signs of our failing economy were all around us, too. I've been blogging for years about various canaries in the mineshaft. I wrote a post a year-and-a-half ago about how Tower Records closing down was a sure sign our economy was in decline, like it or not.

As a former fanboy I watched my most prized scifi toys sell for a fraction of what they should have gone for. As an inhabitant of a major American city, I saw a number of local businesses close and get replaced by chains like Starbucks or Blockbuster (even if they weren't coffee shops or video stores in the first place). Another canary is that our currency isn't based on any thing real--no gold standard, no silver standard, just the credit of Americans as being able to produce goods and services.

Of course, America just lost over a half-million jobs last month, so you can imagine how much that hurts the value of our dollar.  Less jobs means less ability for the American people to produce goods and services which means less value for our dollar. That, in turn, weakens our economy even more.

You know what this all is?  It's a series of dominoes falling in very slow motion.

These dominoes are still falling. Can the Obama administration stop them?

Posted via email from thepete's posterous

Friday, December 5, 2008

SOUTHERN CROSS (1984)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely, though as with a lot of older anime, the cultures do clash a bit with American sensibilities. Still, the series is generally enjoyable if you can get past the truly crappy prog-rock rip-off music on the soundtrack. :(


Technically any good? This series is a sort of sequel to the original Macross series. However, there are no characters that cross over and there's really no reference to Macross at all. The only connection is the inclusion of two words in the full title of the series "Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross." Those first two words are the same "SD" in the "SDF" of Macross. The only other similarity beyond those two words is the production company that made it--as a result, the animation is about as bad as it was for Macross so don't expect anything too amazing. The acting is just fine, as it often is in anime. The story, while it does feel a bit laborious at times, is generally pretty solid and enjoyable. It's got a great message at the end that I'm starting to recognize in other Macross-related anime.

Sadly, the music leaves a lot to be desired, but I think it's worth sticking with it anyway. There's also a bit of unnecessary nudity, but it's not too gratuitous. The mecha designs are probably the worst I've seen, but the characters are fairly well developed, so if you're like me, with story trumping all else, it's still watchable. The ending feels a little rushed, but that makes sense given the series was canceled early. Still, it manages to eek out a much more coherent, poignant and even resonant ending than a lot of better known anime. The ending also suggests a more than passing comparison to the Israel/Palestine conflict. (The premise of the series surrounds a group of humans that have colonized a planet formerly inhabited by aliens who left it behind--now they want it back and these humans are in their way.)


How did it leave me feeling? Pretty satisfied. It's not the greatest anime in the world, but it's definitely fun. If you're on a quest to watch EVERYTHING even vaguely connected to the original Macross this is not punishment the way Macross Plus is.


Final Rating? NFI - NetFlix It--if you can. Not sure how available this series is on DVD anymore. I managed to find a copy, but I got lucky, I think.

NOTE TO ROBOTECH FANS: There's a reason you probably think the Southern Cross portion of the Robotech saga is the worst of the three story lines--it's because the original story was very edited to explain how "Dana Sterling" could be Max and Myria's daughter, blah-blah-blah. In the original un-Robotech-ized version the series makes much more sense. Lt. Jeanne is a brash, young flygirl (like flyboy) who runs her group of soldiers by the seat of her pants.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

KING CORN (2007)


Click to buy!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely, but depressing, too. I knew that corn is a bit of a SNAFU industry in this country, but it's much worse than I thought.


Technically any good? Without coming out too much on the anti-corn side of things, this docu does a pretty good job of explaining the situation we're in with corn and it's not good. Farmers are apparently paid to not make a profit and there's too much corn being made every year and not all of it is even edible. Don't worry, there are a lot of other things inedible corn can be used for like something good like fuel or something horrible like HFCS. This movie is unbelievable, but unless they lied, so is the situation we Americans are in with corn. This movie breaks a lot of it down and even shows you that you can make high fructose corn syrup in your kitchen (it's apparently pretty dangerous).


How did it leave me feeling? Disturbed but unshocked. I am rarely surprised by the depths of absurdity our culture goes to in order to make capitalism work. I'm no commie, but this film illustrates the problem nonsensical capitalism brings to our lives. Check it out, you won't be sorry.


Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now--seriously--if more people knew how corn worked in this society, there would be change. (Well, I hope there would be change, anyway...)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

GREAT DICTATOR (1940)


Click to buy the 2-disk set!
Positive Experience/Entertaining? This is a truly impressive film. I had always heard good things about this movie, but the film largely does live up to the hype.


Technically any good? While I've never been a fan of comedians speaking gibberish in a way that it both sounds fun and sounds like another language, the film makes up for this in spades. To be honest, I did find myself laughing at the gibber-speak, but still felt like it wouldn't be done in a comedy, today.

The acting was a solid as you'd expect--that is to say, not great, but perfectly reasonable, for sure. The story is very solid, following a sort of "prince and pauper" vibe as silent movie comic actor/director/auteur Charlie Chaplin plays both the prince (a very Hitler-esque dictator) and the pauper (a Jewish barber). The setup is clearly absurd, but entirely brilliant. This is seriously amazing film making.


How did it leave me feeling? Seriously moved--there's a wonderful speech at the end that nearly brought tears to my eyes--it was disturbingly resonant in today's war-filled culture. I could not believe that something from sixty-eight years ago could still be true--and since it's about war and profit, how depressing is that? VERY.

Good on you, Mr. Chaplin! It's a shame you're dead. You'd be wishing you were, anyway. :(


Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now--this is a cinema classic for a reason. It's also a perfect double feature with To Be Or Not To Be. TheWife and I both agreed that George W. Bush should be forced to listen to Chaplin's big speech every morning before breakfast.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Posse Comitatus is Effectively Dead, Literal Death Coming Soon



Just a quick FYI on what Posse Comitatus is--it's an act that was passed into law back in 1878 and it keeps American military troops from enforcing the law. This law is a good thing because it stops the USA from being a military dictatorship. If the military enforces the law and not a civilian police force, that's exactly what you have. Sure, we may have elected Obama and our local officials, but the guy who decides to pull you over for a speeding violation might be holding an automatic rifle. You're going to do whatever that military person dictates.

All that said, let me direct you to a few headlines from ThePete.Com over the past month or two:

US Army to Be Used Inside the US

US Army Troops Have Begun Serving Inside US

More On the Status of Posse Comitatus in the US

That first post was about how military troops would serve on active duty to support local authorities in times of disaster or a terrorist attack--but specifically, they are to be trained in dealing with "unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds."

In other words, during times of emergency, they'll be doing things the police normally do.

The second post is about how the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has begun active duty inside the US--this was back in early October, by the way.

The third post goes talks about Democracy Now holding a debate on the subject of Posse Comitatus and military troops on the streets of America.  I added that mission creep might occur and these soldiers would go from playing police during an emergency, to playing police full-time after the disaster is done.  Seems reasonable to assume mission creep is a possibility, since we went into Iraq for the WMDs and didn't leave when we found none.

Late last night, at 2:45am I saw a Reuters.com article and felt compelled to write a post with this title:

Chances of a WMD Attack in a big city better than 50%??

The Reuters article reported on the claims of a task force--they said that there's a better than 50/50 chance that a major city in the world will be hit by a WMD terrorist attack.

Then, yesterday, fellow Pete, Peter Santilli, of PeterSantilli.com, Twittered a link to a WashingtonPost.com article with the following headline:

Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security

Yep, apparently 20,000 more USGIs will be added to active duty on American soil by 2011. Here's a cutting from that WaPo article:


Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response -- a nearly sevenfold increase in five years -- "would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable," Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted "a fundamental change in military culture," he said.


So, what changed here with the non-military culture (us)? Was there really less hatred for America before 911? That would strike me as impossible since, if people didn't hate America before September 2001, 911 would never have happened, right? So, why are our values suddenly different? Why are we suddenly OK with troops serving inside America's borders?

3000 people died on 911. That's less than the number of American soldiers who died in Iraq. It's nothing compared to the number of Iraqis died in our invasion of their country--yet, here we are accepting a virtual military dictatorship, but only in the case of a "nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe," say Pentagon officials.

And what an amazing coincidence that a task force announces that they feel some major city in the world has a better than 50 percent chance of being hit by WMD when they did? Isn't this just perfect timing for the military, the politicians and the military industrial complex?

Lots of money to be made in the fear industrial complex!

Now, I don't think 911 was an inside job, but I do think it was a virtual inside job--that is to say that I think 911 was allowed to happen. What kind of leaders ignore the obvious signs that something like this could happen? We don't need a police state to be able to scramble fighter jets that can intercept hijacked aircraft. We don't need the Patriot Act to stop known terrorists from entering the country and taking pilot lessons. We just need our leaders to do their jobs.

That's what upsets me the most in all of this--the Home Minister of Mumbai resigned after his mishandling of the Mumbai Attacks last week. Have we had one person resign in shame because of 911? And now we're supposed to assume that the same people who let 911 happen are going to not screw this up, too?

And what about Obama's supposed "change we need"? Well, his cabinet is made up almost entirely of Clintonites and you may recall that they were in charge of America until just eight months before 911 happened. So, it's a cross-partisan breakdown of leadership.

What can we do?

Beats me, man. I'm just a blogger.