Friday, September 14, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up

While I was preparing my Information Blast this afternoon, I came across an article at The Huffington Post about a movie called Shoot 'Em Up. The title said that it was the best dumb action movie ever. Seeing as I've been trying to watch a pointless action movie for a while, my interest was piqued. I hadn't seen a good pointless action movie since I watched Passenger 57 the other weekend.

Shoot 'Em Up puts Passenger 57 to shame. Firstly, Shoot essentially eschews the traditional plot. Oh, there's a plot. It involves a mystery man, a baby, and a lactating hooker. No, seriously, a lactating hooker. Honestly, if this movie took itself seriously, I have no idea when. The plot was ridiculous, the action scenes were crazy (awesome), and the political commentary on--wait for it--gun control was completely misplaced. All of the things that would normally dissuade other viewers, including levels of violence even Tarentino hasn't reached (and, if you have seen Kill Bill, you know that Tarentino loves the ultraviolence), but not me. It made it endearing to me, especially because the movie took such a tongue-in-cheek tone to its own innate absurdity.

Each character was a trope of the action stereotype. Clive Owen played the enigmatic loner hero; Paul Giamatti, the wickedly evil villain; and Monica Bellucci, the ridiculous hot woman whose hard-boiled exterior covers a heart of gold. Honestly, this movie wouldn't have worked as well in the hands of less-talented actors. Owen's character wouldn't have been as interesting if it weren't delivered in a complete deadpan, something Owen does well. Giamatti's cool, calculating nature helps him in exerting his evilness in the movie. Also, I loved Bellucci's half-grasp of English; it worked really well for her.

All in all, Shoot 'Em Up was hyper-violent, campy, and super stylized. And, I loved every second of it. Here's the gauge that I will give you to whether or not you should see this movie. Did you see Kill Bill? If no because it's violent, stay away. If you saw it and were grossed out, stay away as well. Anyone else, please see this movie as it was really fun and (un)intentionally hilarious. The rant about ponytails and the skydiving gun fight really made the 87 minutes (also, that kept it interesting: it was too short to lose interest) worthwhile. Do It!

Aye Aye Aye!!!

Last night, the 43rd President of the United States George Walker Bush dedicated himself to the perpetuation of an unjust, unreasonable, and unnecessary war. While that sentence was tainted with editorial bias, that's actually what happened. In a speech that ran 18 minutes, Bush announced the withdrawal of the surge from Iraq due to the "success" in the region. Some people have been very polite about the way in which Bush decided to address the country last night. Some people decided to sleep through it. I opted to tape it because I wanted to watch West Virginia take it to Maryland, which they did.

Anyway, when I got around to actually watching the address, Bush made a speech littered with factual inaccuracies and a replacement of the onus from the President current to the President future, burdening whoever becomes the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW with the responsibility of ending this war. Also, it seemed to me as if Bush is positing the idea that America is seriously contemplating an attack against Iran in the not-too-distant future. That might be my own paranoia about another war, but it wouldn't surprise me that he would try to sell this non-existent angle.

This attempt to sell a new angle was pretty resounded panned by the media and all onlookers except for the people who actually support Bush, which have to be rarely than a coherent idea from Bush.

Seeing as this speech announced that troops would "return upon success," CNN realized that this is more spin. Rightfully so, they did a compelling look at all of the spin done by the administration with regards to this war. It's a lot more than you think. In addition to the new message, Bush tried to pull the heartstrings with a note from the family of a dead soldier. It suggested that we are fighting a battle between good and evil. While this idea might be true, our prosecution of this war leaves very much to be desired and led to the unnecessary death of their song. Freedom could have been defended without attacking a defenseless, unrelated country. Iraq was not innocent, but it also wasn't a real threat.

To get away from this point, Bush also said that there were 36 countries still with troops on the ground. I heard this and called poppycock. Chris Matthews heard this and called poppycock. Steve Benen supports Matthews and I's poppycock. Difference is that Benen actually knows who is in the Coalition. I could only named Iraq, US, UK, and Australia. Seriously, I have no idea.

As you can pretty much tell, the grand message of the speech last night was that Bush is a huge-ass lame duck. He cannot do anything. The charm is gone. The charisma is gone. The cocksureness has disappeared. Bush is only a shell of the man that he once was. One of the articles that I read made a comparison between Bush and Nixon during the 1960 Presidential Debate against Kennedy, and I'd pretty much agree. Both of them sounded fine in voice, but you could see the terror and discomfort on their faces as they didn't know what to do in the face of the larger issue. As Bush pretty much said in his speech, the ball is now in the Democrat's court. They are posted up at the free throw line. All they have to do is sink it, a simple yet seemingly difficult proposition.

Information Blast: Hustlin'

I'm trying to see Shoot 'Em Up in about 50 minutes, so I've gotta book it.

Just for the record, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is, seriously, one of the best shows on television right now. I laughed so hard I cried last night. If you are in foreign countries or haven't seen it, I'm not going to spoil it for you. All I'm going to say is that a lot of drugs were involved. And, not on my end; I have to stick to drinking for a while.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not Right Now

I'm not blogging today. I've been overridden by the fact that I have no job following a year of looking, and, as you can clearly guess, I am not really ok with that. I was always told that having a college degree was a useful thing, something that I needed to be a successful member of society. It only takes a few seconds to realize that all of those hours you spent slavishly writing a perfect research paper on the failure of Marcus Garvey's failed expedition to Liberia in the 1920s mean nothing if you don't have any experience actually sitting at a desk and doing work.

Even if you have an internship, it isn't enough experience to actually get you the most basic of administrative assistant jobs, jobs that I've done since I was about 14 and am overqualified for without the added benefit of my college degree. I shoulder a part of this blame seeing as I didn't know what I wanted to do in college well enough to pursue work in that field. At the same time, I do expect to be able to use my degree to find some semblance of work, not a constant sink into depression and mental exhaustion. I don't expect to be loaded; I expect to support myself, to put food in my fridge and a roof over my head. The fact that I can't do this, even with all of my efforts, is sad. The sadder part is that this is across all generations. People from 23 to 53 are being left out in the cold, unable to get decent jobs after 1, 2, 3, 4, up to 6 and 7 years of searching. These people are forced to resort to the most menial of positions.

The only options that arise for people like me are jobs that would require using a full day's pay to fill my car to commute to and from the job. The fact that I live at home does help things, but it doesn't really cover for the fact that I'll end up spending most of the money that I make to cover basic costs that aren't assisted by me living at home like paying down student loans, which I am buried in to the tune of about 30,000 dollars. The bad part about that is that number actually could have been about 40,000.

Anyway, all of these things are just things to think about. I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy since I know I won't get any. All I ask is that you don't call me a layabout, don't call me lazy, don't call me entitled. I'm none of the above. I sank four years of my life and thousands more into an education. I expect it to pay some dividends. Like anyone who makes an investment, you want to get a return on it and make a profit. For me, that profit is working a job that actually utilizes the skills that I learned in college. Unfortunately, I'll most likely have to settle for doing a job that didn't require all of the debt and work that college was. But, for now, I have to call myself an unemployed college graduate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LNS: Cutting Losses

My lap is getting really hot from this computer. Additionally, I got sidetracked during the day trying to answer the following question: is Woodford Reserve smoother than Maker's Mark? The answer that I came to was no, it isn't. The taste is nicer, as I think it has a bit more accent. But, it doesn't really matter in the end as both of them sit in pale comparison to the orange-capped beast that is 100 proof Old Grand Dad. But, this fact has signaled that I would like to start drinking and stop blogging, especially since nothing has panned out. Petraeus told us what we thought he would. The only thing that I have to acknowledge is that the mainstream media actually did cover the story about the woman in West Virginia. I guess it was salacious enough for daytime programming.

I should also note that Shinzo Abe, a year in, resigned from his scandal-marred post of Japanese Prime Minister. Folks are calling for the return of that Elvis lover Junichiro Koizuimi. But, one would think that maybe Bush would get an idea from our buddies on the other side of the Pacific Rim. Also, I haven't watched the Britney defense video. That guy has become the new flavor of the month. He is on all of the broadcasts nowadays. I don't plan on watching it either; that would imply that I actually like Britney's music and want to defend her.

There's a bit of posturing on Capitol Hill, but nothing to spend too much time talking about, especially since they are just posing and not doing. With this as the case, I'm breezing out of here.

This is the video for Ride's Seagull from a show back in 1990. They are a brilliant band. Their genius passed a little as they started being a lower quality version of Primal Scream and became more psych instead of shoegaze.

This is also a Ride video. This is for the song Like A Daydream. Both of these songs are totally awesome and full representations of why Ride is completely awesome.

Called It

While I was trying to find proof on my own blog of this idea, I know that I've thought about it for a long time. Now, it is only being confirmed: Kanye's killing 50 Cent in sales. It's what happens when you continue to make extended metaphors about doing it with women and blatantly talking about how much money you make. 50 said he'd retire if he was outsold. Don't hold your breath on that one.

Lesbian Spank Inferno

This is a clip from the first season of Coupling, a British Friends but far better done. All I need to tell you is that Susan (the Blonde at the end of the table) found Steve's porn, which is entitled Lesbian Spank Inferno. Susan knows that Steve doesn't know if she has seen the tape. There's a lot more going on, but you really have to watch the whole episode to get all of that. This part is a piece that can stand alone. And, with that sentence, I've completely overexplained this.

Take The Day Off

Because you'll be getting at it all day. All in the name of Mother Russia. From the BBC:

The governor of Ulyanovsk region in Russia is offering prizes to couples who have babies in exactly nine months - on Russia's national day on 12 June.

Sergei Morozov wants couples to take the day off work to have sex. If a baby is born on national day, they will receive cars, TVs or other prizes.

Mr Morozov has declared Wednesday "family contact day" as part of efforts to fight Russia's demographic crisis.

The population has sharply declined since the Soviet Union collapsed.
I guess this isn't really as positive as it seems since it is, essentially, a game of sperm horseshoes. The only difference is that close doesn't count.

There is a Reason for Why I Own a Mac

It is clearly because I can simplify the ideas of Baudrillard towards hyperreality with ease, but I can't tell the difference between an S and a 5 on the back of my computer. If I had been able to make that difference, I would have not had to drive to Tysons Corner and be terrified of the sheer excesses of capitalism and be trampled by the many who heed its beck and call.

Seriously, it was kind of terrifying, but it was also because I haven't been to a respectable mall (the malls I go to are ghost towns) in probably about 5 to 7 years.

We're Getting the Band Together

Playing a one-off show in London, Led Zeppelin will reunite in honor of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. While the band will be lacking John Bonham, this should be quite the impressive site. Rock and roll!!!

Kanye Headroom

Aside from the debacle that was Britney and Kid Pebble giving the business to Tommy Lee, the other substantial story to come out of the MTV Video Music Awards was Kanye West's complaining. Kanye West is well known as a complainer. After his homage to Evel Knievel's failed Snake River Canyon jump did not win for best video at the MTV Europe Awards, West went up on stage, interrupted Simian Mobile Disco's award speech, and famously ranted.

On this occasion, West ranted again about the way he was being treated at this year's Video Music Awards. Everyone thought that West's rant was about him not winning a VMA. In NME, West states that he was upset because he did not get the opportunity to play on the big stage. If you watched the ceremony, some artists were given suites and performed from their suits in lieu of playing on the main stage.

According to the story, West was talked out of playing the big stage because it wouldn't suit his performance. Additionally, having the ego that he does, Kanye was pissed because he didn't get to open the show. That honor went, much to everyone's now displeasure, to Britney. He believes that it should have gone to someone who actually deserved it because they had been touring.

As you can tell, this is pretty much standard Kanye whining. I've never seen such a successful artist complain so much in my life. This dude is wealthy beyond all belief, has legions of devoted fans, and gets respect from super-grimy hip-hop heads all the way up to mainstream pop addicts. But, this is never enough if he's not in the spotlight all of the time. I'd be happy with performing in a Vegas suite. It's like a fly ass house party, and who doesn't love a good house party? Not this guy for sure. But, in the end, this bravado is what keeps a lot of people interested. One of those people just isn't me.

LNS: Grammar Points

While I know many people don't make these mistakes, just as many do. There are a few that I have to address.

Some people attempt to seem smarter by liberally sprinkling I's in the speech. The I is only acceptable when you are referring to yourself as the subject. If you are the object (if you don't know what subject and object means, go buy a copy of The Elements of Style right now. It's 10 bucks. You won't be able to drink for a weekend or go to a movie, but you'll sound more educated after the little bit of time you spend with it), you use me. Examples of both. Correct usage of I: Phoebe and I went on a magic carpet ride with Haji. Correct usage of me: Haji loves to hang out with Phoebe and Me.

Next, shall is one of those terms that was cool when Jane Austen was writing about the foibles of the British Victorians. Now, the term has fallen out of public favor, resulting in its usage in mock irony and pseudo-sophisticated settings. There is a WASP seething at that suggestion right now. But, even with a limited usage, the term is responded to incorrectly. I'm referring to the ever-tricky "shall we?". Whatever you will do (shall is not used for the second person. It is only for the first and third) is immaterial. The primary focus is the shall we. If your first instinct is to respond we shall, your instincts are completely and absolutely wrong. The correct term is yes, let's. There's no argument about this one. That's what you say to someone who ask you this question.

Also, as a general reminder, do not answer the phone "this is him/her." Along with sounding bad, it's grammatically incorrect. You can answer this is s/he. Ideally, you should identify yourself when answering the phone. But, I'm not that classy.

And, there you are. These are just some of the more gross errors that bother me on a day-to-day basis, especially when I hear supposedly well-educated people making such basic grammatical mistakes.

Animal Collective

If you are one of the many who cream their pants thinking about Avey Tare and Geologist, you are already fully aware of the fact that the group has released a new album called Strawberry Jam. Seeing as my world stops for no artist (it would for a reunion of the following bands: The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, The Gun Club, 3rd Bass, Heavenly, Josef K, Joy Division, Lush, Neu!, and Metal Urbain. If you are paying attention, you will understand why my world stops for no artist), I have been trying to understand why people get so excited about this band.

When I listen to them, it strikes me as a pretentious, self-indulgent endeavor, full of misplaced screams and an ineffective use of noise and tape loops. Their take on psychedelic music is also greatly hampered by the aimlessness of a lot of their music. Unlike good experimental music on the likes of Stars of the Lid and Windy and Carl (yes, they are both Kranky artists. But, I can also reference 12K records here too), which starts at one place and makes it to another, the music of the Brooklyn via Baltimore quartet strikes out with little confidence and finds itself lost in a sea of formless experimentation. Anyone who listens to experimental music knows that this is the worst thing that can happen: an experimental band that goes nowhere.

Seeing as this reaction to their music stands in diametric opposition to public opinion, I'm wondering who is really right here. Is anyone actually right? Are we all wrong? Are we all being taken for chumps by four guys from suburban Baltimore? These are all questions that I'm unable to answer because I just don't know. All I know is that their aimlessness makes me grind my teeth, much in a manner similar to that when I listen to Gang Gang Dance.

To demonstrate a non-aimless piece of experimental music, I will point to Black Dice. While their sound is fairly pretentious, it actually has a rhythm to it. They build it up, tear it down, replace backbeats, and do other sorts of crazy shit. But, the primary thing is that it gets somewhere and it works. Animal Collective doesn't do this in my opinion. There will be someone who has no idea of what I'm talking about. If you are this person, don't worry. You are totally normal and probably more sane than me. This video is a song that Black Dice did on what appears to be Spanish Television:

I'm done with this topic. If you have further insights in either direction, put it in the comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bush Liberation Tour: Next Stop: Iran

I'm serious. This administration will launch the third world war and hopefully not start a nuclear arms war with the East. I'm seriously terrified if we are actually considering using nuclear weapons against any target in the East. From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime, FOX News confirmed Tuesday.
If you read the article further, it goes on to state that actions could happen in as little as 8 months. I can only hope that the US government stops trying to play world police.

Must Read

This is fucked up. Period. I never said West Virginia was perfect. I said it was alright. From The Associated Press:

BIG CREEK, W.Va. - For at least a week, authorities say, a young black woman was held captive in a mobile home, forced to eat animal waste, stabbed, choked and repeatedly sexually abused — all while being peppered with a racial slur.

That intro doesn't really do justice to the brutality that this woman suffered through. The question will be if the mainstream media does any sort of reporting on this story tomorrow. This is an absolutely horrific story. At least the woman is still alive.

Come Back, Yasmine

We all miss you. You could have been bigger than Pam. Well, not in that way.

Profiles in Modern Eloquence: Tommy Lee

Throughout our hypersaturated, hyperstimulated existence in the Internet age, every asshole with a computer and an opinion has been able to express themselves online. Some of these opinions are very important and quite good.

All of the bloggers that read this site are fine bloggers. The bloggers that I read on my own time are also fine bloggers as well. But, we're also normal people. We don't got to flashy public events or casually throw on 300 dollar jeans to grab a cup of coffee. Well, Arianna Huffington might, but she's way loaded and doesn't count.

Anyway, with the rise of Myspace and more general blogging, celebrities who constantly crave the spotlight have been given the ability to blather on about the minutiae in their life. This can be boring. Actually, most of the time it is. But, there are rare gems that appear from time to time. And, these gems will be celebrated in a series that I will refer to as Profiles in Modern Eloquence. Much like JFK's Profiles in Courage, I will honor celebrities and other non-blogger bloggers (that means cats like Digby, Atrios, anyone from Daily Kos, Michael K from D-Listed, Perez Hilton, etc. will not be in this series because they are well-respected, legitimate bloggers who are best known for being bloggers. I'm focusing on people who are known for other stuff than thinking and photoshop semen) who display exceptional abilities in conveying an interesting tale or message through the written word.

The first person to be inducted to this elite group will be Tommy Lee. Aside from being known as the drummer for hair metal juggernauts Mötley Crüe, Lee is well known as being a ex-husband of gigantically breasted Baywatch star Pamela Anderson. Lee is also well known for making a sex tape with Anderson, which showed the world that the man is hung like a horse. Damn, that man's penis is huge. I'm getting away from my point.

Lee displayed his eloquence following his tussle with Kid Rock at the MTV VMA's. Lee wanted to show what his side was, and this is what we got:

Yeah!! I am minding my own biz having a great time with my friend Criss Angel (magician) and watching the MTV awards in the front row saying hello to all my friends......Pamela comes and sits on my lap who I love and adore....and also say hello to my friend Travis Barker and his wife!.....and i get a text from another friend P. Diddy and he says come sit with me.....and he's sitting with Miss HOT Megan FOX so I go over and sit with P! Not a minute later and Alicia Keys starts her amazing performance....("I apologize sweetie.....I had nothing to do with the timing and disrespect")......back to the stupid-ness!! I get a tap on the shoulder from Kid Pebble...I stand up and embrace him with a semi hug and say "Hey dude...What up"?? He punches me in the face.....well if ya wanna call it that!?....more like a bitch slap!.......Wuss!! Anyway....i go to knock this jealous country bumpkin the f$%k OUT....and before I can have a meeting with my fist and his ugly ass mug guards... grab me and haul my ass outta the award show! So I'm fine and of course leave to my room with police and owner of the Palm's George Maloof......the rest is paper work and bullshit!... Anyway...... I would like to apologize to Alicia and George and MTV for the disrespectful bullshit caused by a piece of shit called Kid Pebble!!
Kid Pebble! Apologies to Alicia Keys! Shoutouts to Criss Angel AND Megan Fox AND Travis Barker! And, how can I forget about all of the ellipses. This is one of the best pieces of celebrity writing that I've read in years. I have never been so moved by sincere apology and aimless namedropping. Lee was definitely the most fitting choice for the first Profile in Modern Eloquence.

TMZ's Calling It, the infamous celebrity empire, has tolled the death knell on Britney Spear's career following the disaster on Sunday. There's only one question to ask: do you agree? Actually, two questions: the first one and do you care?

Fuck This

On the anniversary of 9/11, I'm glad to see that the rights of citizens is so high in the minds of our government.

The man being arrested is Rev. Lennox Yearwood. Well known as a hip-hop activist, Yearwood was in line to go into the Petraeus hearing at the House. Now, I want you to pay attention to TWO things in this video. At the beginning, it is clear that Yearwood was in line. But, he was bypassed for two other people who were behind him in line. Additionally, the amount of force used was completely unnecessary for one man who did not even raise a fist nor make a threatening move towards the officers.

Apparently, the Capitol Police are charging him with assault of a police officer and suggest that he was told to move to the back of the line. Why? Yearwood believes that it was because of his pin which supported the people of Iraq. On a day where our country came together six years ago, it's sad to see the diversity of opinions, which makes this country great, be stifled.

[h/t Pandagon]

9/11: Could We Have Stopped It

McClatchy, on this 6th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, pose the provocative question of whether or not we could have stopped the attacks.

Two numbers scrawled in a notebook that belonged to terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui could have given the FBI a chance to identify several of the Sept. 11 hijackers before they struck six years ago, according to officials who are familiar with the bureau's massive investigation of the attacks.

The notebook entries recorded the control numbers for two Western Union wire transfers in which suspected al Qaida coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh, using an alias, sent Moussaoui $14,000 from Germany in early August 2001, before he went to a Minnesota flight school to learn to fly a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

A check of Western Union records probably would have uncovered other wires in the preceding days for similar sums of money to Binalshibh — who'd been turned away at the U.S. border four times because he was a suspected terrorist — from an al Qaida paymaster in Dubai. On one of those receipts, the paymaster listed a phone number in the United Arab Emirates that several of the hijackers had called from Florida.

While McClatchy does not go as far to say that the attacks could have been completely stopped by acknowledging this notebook, it does suggest that this evidence could have played a role in helping to find out about more about Moussaoui and the people that he was connected to. It saddens me to this information wasn't investigated before the actual attacks. It's an interesting conundrum to ponder, but given a lot of the government's actions before the attack, this lack of diligence is not particularly surprising.

Lost Productivity

I'm actually not talking about my awe-inspiring inefficiency here actually. I'm referring to the lost productivity of workers due to the presence of the oh-so-conformist Facebook and other social networking sites. Apparently, these sites are costing businesses around 260 Million dollars in lost productivity. Now, I've held a few jobs in my life. None of them were particularly stressful. I was easily able to waste a little bit of time while still being completely effective as an employee. All of my work would get done and no one was the smarter.

So, this whole efficiency argument doesn't hold weight with me because, in the end, it is about the work getting done. As long as the work gets done, I don't really care what they do in the in-between. But, this also might by the reasoning of a dirty hippie instead of a grubbing capitalist who would give me some lecture about not appreciating anything that I've gotten in life, even though he knows nothing about me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back To Britney

While her performance was terrible, she looked very good. Perfect? No. Healthy? Yes. A lot of people having been slamming her because she's not super thin. She's pretty thin. Also, her cause would have also been helped if she had not went out in a two-piece.

9/11 Conspiracy Theorists: You're All Wrong

I actually meant to comment on this yesterday, but I forgot. I got caught up looking at some people have sex on HBO. Before, I address that title, let me comment on this new HBO show Tell Me You Love Me. Aside from having the creativity to take your title from a fairly well-known Cardigans song, this show is groundbreaking because you actually get to see some male junk. Everyone's objectified! Huzzah! Anyway, it's not a particularly exciting show to watch. Actually, it's pretty boring. It's like an updated, less interesting version of thirtysomething. That's actually a bit of an insult to thirtysomething, but it's the best that I can do for now.

Back to my original complaint. I was watching the History Channel last night and there was a show on 9/11 conspiracy theories. The idea had popped into my head when Mos Def, someone whose politics I generally agreed with, suggested that 9/11 was a conspiracy. The show laid out some of the conspiracies that had been floating around. Much like the grassy knoll, there are many theories surrounding the falling of the towers. Some people believe that it is a government conspiracy, a corporate conspiracy, etc. I'm confident in making the following statement: these people are idiots.

With the JFK assassination, there was a possibility that it was an outside shooter. But, with recreations of the fatal shot done on television, we all learned that the magic bullet wasn't so magical; it was just a regular bullet shot by a highly trained former marine, a marine that was widely considered as a very good marksman. But, this fact does not stop the conspiracy theorists who believe that this whole thing is a cover-up. We will never know who Oswald was working for or why he did it, but that's sort of immaterial. We just know that Oswald acted alone and let off all of the shots that killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Why will be one of the all-time great mysteries. Thanks for nothing Jack Ruby. But, I digress.

The JFK Assassination is exactly like 9/11. We know who committed 9/11. We have pictures and manifestos from them before they did it. We have al-Qaeda acknowledging the 19 men. But, on top of this, we saw it happen. Unless you didn't have a television, you saw the two planes hit the World Trade Center. You can see the second plane fly directly into the tower. I watched this with my own two eyes as I'm sure millions others around the world did too. Even if you didn't have a television, the pictures were in every newspaper in the country following the event. The fact that there are conspiracy theories surrounding this confounds me to no end. There's no conspiracy to be had. There were a bunch of men who had grown angry at the United States, hatched a plan then executed said plan. Period. That's what happened.

The CIA wasn't involved. They tried to stop it. The White House could be considered responsible, but that's from their own stupidity more than complicity. Defense didn't have a motive. No one has a motive to destroy these two towers with airplanes other than the 19 men who did. Also, why would the Defense Department want to destroy their own building? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I don't mean to be so flippant about conspiracy theories because a lot of people believe that 9/11 is a huge conspiracy. I'm just one of those people who believe that the conspiracy theories are crocks of shit, paranoid explanations of a reality that is far simpler and less explicable: some assholes took out two buildings with planes, cost us a few more structures in collateral damage, gave an administration an unfortunate death grip on the national psyche, and sent thousands of Americans and Iraqis to their untimely deaths. That's what happened. That's all that happened.

Larry Craig: The Tick of This Newscycle

The only way to kill it is if you crush it with your bare hands. From The Guardian:

Sen. Larry Craig should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in a sex sting because he was under extreme stress after being hounded by journalists asking questions about his sexuality, his lawyer argues.

For the record, Larry Craig was only being interviewed by the Idaho Statesman, a small run newspaper in Boise. He wanted to get his name out of the paper because then he would have to do the unthinkable: admit to liking it in the butt.

Play It For The Jury, The Defendant, and The Plantiff

As I noted sometime last week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have strolled up to Capitol Hill to deliver their announcements on how the war is going. Today, they spoke to the House. For the next couple of days, they will then talk to the Senate. Everyone pretty much expected two things out of the General: a slight withdrawal of troops and more time to wait for the American forces to win (I don't harbor the illusion that anyone else is really doing anything in Iraq. There are other countries there, but this is pretty much our particular project).

Both of these things came as suspected. Petraeus called for a draw down of about 4,000 troops by the end of the year and a return to pre-surge levels by next summer. While this is all dandy, there are two very clear camps of people looking at this war. I'll give them cheerleaders for the sake of the argument.

On the left, there are people like Dennis Kucinich, Chuck Hagel, and Mike Gravel who are calling for a complete withdrawal from Iraq. They believe that the war has been a complete mistake and that we have to cut our losses now instead of sitting around and waiting. On the right, there are people like Jeff Sessions, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol who are fully behind the war and think that, with time, the war can succeed in its purported goals. Both sides believe that they are right, but are they really?

The short answer is no, neither side is right. The long answer is fairly more complex, and requires a fairly obvious realization: Iraq is fighting a civil war. The left has realized this, but their problem is the fact that a swift withdrawal will destabilize a country that is already destabilized. A precipitous withdrawal can create the breeding ground for WWIII/IV (Cold War was III, if you count it as a real war) with Iran coming in to fight to expand the politics of Shi'ite Islam in the region. But, the right's wrong too. Staying in the country will lead to the continual slaughter of American and International troops while they babysit a civil war.

The only correct answer in this situation is to start a fairly slow, long withdrawal from the country. The police force is not adequately trained and highly sectarian. America will have to spend at least two years in the country just to train them. Withdrawal can happen, but it will have to occur over the course of at least 18 months if not longer just because the country has been completely destroyed by this current course. I want our troops to come home faster, but the facts on the ground and the continual violence require me to temper my emotions and think with my head on this issue.

Also, if you want to keep up with the hearings at work, the Firedoglake women are all over it. FDL's a fantastic blog by the way. You should definitely read it if you can. Plus, they are holding it down for West Virginia.

I'm not going to lie

This song's kind of awesome. I always get it stuck in my head, so she must be doing something right. I mean, I'm not paying money to see her live, but this song's got to having something going for it if I can't manage to get it out of my head. Also, I apologize ahead of watching the video because the same thing will happen to you, much to your displeasure.

A Few Words on Ms. Spears

Last night, Britney Spears made a last attempt to save her public career, to show the world that she has gotten her shit back together and focused on the music again*. Coming out in her underwear and panties with some tights on, Britney sauntered around the stage, lip synced poorly (I've realized and accepted that she will never sing a song live. Why should I ever expect that of my pop stars?), and pretty much looked like a deer caught in headlights. Actually, the expression of Curtis at the third minute of her performance (if the link doesn't work, do a search on google video) pretty much sums up everything. His mouth is agape, unsure if he is watching a bad performance or the visualization of a career at its end.

Now, the new single's not really that good. It'll get some spins on the gay club circuit, but that's pretty much it. I'll be surprised if this song blows up. But, more on top of everything, her performance was just terrible. Uninspired, unmotivated, and poorly performed, I'm having difficulty in even offering an explanation for why we should care about Britney Spears as a pop singer anymore. At least Fergie's going all out and putting on good shows. We'll have to see if this performance was the death knell of Spear's career or if Spears can make it out of this period of turmoil to thrive once again. The good part about this is the fact that we will only have to wait a few weeks to find out as her album, I think, drops in October.

*focusing on the music is a relative term as she doesn't write much of her music. But, I'm meaning that she's at least back in the studio and recording or even hanging around in the studio. I will accept her hanging around in the studio as focusing on the music again.

Editorial note: I didn't watch the actual performance live. That would give MTV the impression that I support their programming, which I definitely don't now that they've canceled Pimp My Ride.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pretense Does Not Make Good Fiction

For the last eternity (read: about a month), I have been slogging away, attempting to finish Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. If you have never read this book before, I don't suggest that you do. I found it overly indulgent, disjointed, and uninteresting (it revolves primarily around the Knights Templar. Don't know who they are? Join the club). I've actually quit reading this book. This is something that I almost never do. The only time I quit reading books is actually when they are the above three things. I can actually deal with the first two, but the last one is really the kicker. I read Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, so the first two really aren't that much of a concern. The last book that I quit reading was The Obstacles by a Mexican named Urroz. Snorefest. But, I digress.

A lot of people believe that Foucault's Pendulum is a master stroke, a perfect marriage of medieval research and psychological thriller. If you do not see the book in this way, you are obviously an idiot in the minds of these people. The last thing that I would call myself is an idiot. Slacker? Sure. Sketchy? Possibly, but those days are behind me. Idiot? No chance. I aim to keep the personal conceit in check, but this is a place where I can pretty much go apeshit. I actually understood the book. I just didn't like it. It wasn't holding my attention like a good book should, and I didn't feel invested in the characters. But, the fact that people look at me as if I'm an idiot because I don't like the book gets at my larger point.

Foucault's Pendulum is pretty much one of those books people read if they are either interested in the topic or trying to be super pretentious. There is a lot of good medieval research in the book. But, all of that research is obfuscated by the terrible prose of Eco. Wordy and overwrought, Eco's writing helps to slow the leaden pace of the book and make the already impenetrable topic incomprehensible as well. But, people will swear that it's a revolutionary book even if they didn't finish it or they didn't actually like it when they read it. They will do this because the book can be held up as a kind of calling card, a badge of intellectual supremacy even though speaking with half a brain about something other than sports and gossip will usually convince people of your intelligence as well.

As I am publishing this at 4 in the morning, I'm not really sure what the grander point of this all is. All I know is that I am angry at people thinking I'm dumb because I didn't like a dense, overwritten treatise with unengaging main characters and absurdist topics which were discredited before the book even began. I just needed to get my frustration with this book out into the open.