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Old Blog Posts May 24, 2007

Subject The Visible Man
Posted Date: May 24, 2007 – Thursday – 5:23 AM
Here’s an interesting story about a man who made his life an open book after mistakenly being put on a terrorist watch list. In order to protect himself from incorrect accusations, he’s began tracking his entire life on a website.

Now that’s what I call thinking outside the box.

In a related story, traffic wardens in the UK are going to start carrying around minature cameras, to record instances of “anti-social” behavior, or to record abusive behavior directed at them.

So not only are people becoming more accountable, but so is authority. To paraphrase David Brin in his remarkably prescient book, “The Transparent Society“, if we must live in glass houses (and every indication is that we must), then we also must make sure the glass is two way, not one.
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Subject Westboro to protest at Falwell’s funeral.
Posted Date: May 17, 2007 – Thursday – 5:50 AM
In a turn of events that can only be described as ironic, the “God hates fags” crew at Westboro is planning on protesting at Falwell’s funeral. According the their press release, they say Jerry:

1) was a Calvinist
2) spoke against Westboro
3) spoke warmly of Jews and Christians that don’t support Westboro

Apparently anyone who speaks against Westboro is guilty of sinning against the Holy Spirit. For those who don’t know, sinning against the spirit is the one sin that Jesus will not save you from; if you do it you’re going to hell, even if you repent. murder, rape, theft; those can be forgiven, but not this. Very convenient of Westboro, to twist these words so that they can never receive correction from their followers or others.

Falwell was most recently in the news when he had this to say about 911 attacks:

“And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.””
Jerry Falwell.

Jerry eventually apologized, saying that of course it was the terrorists fault, at least primarily. But he then explained that his view was justified due to specific scriptures and that his quote had been taken out of context.

But Falwell really did believe that America was doomed because we had fallen away from God, and knew from scripture that this would result in attacks, famines, storms, etc (basically the parts of the Bible where God explains what will happen to the Jews if they don’t follow their covenant).

Apparently Jerry was not aware of the actual reasons why we were attacked on 911:

1) Because we supported Israel.
2) Because we had bases in Saudi Arabia
3) Because our nation had fallen away from God.

Check this out: here is a good summary of Jerry’s beliefs, taken from the Moral Majority website: “God burdened my heart to mobilize religious conservatives around a pro-life, pro-family, strong national defense and pro-Israel platform, designed to return America to her Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Sooooo….

1) Jerry is one of the founders of the pro-Israel movement called Christian Zionism. The reasons for this are related to Christian eschatology, and are demeaning to Jews, Christians, AND Moslems.

2) Jerry supported a strong national “defense”, and approved of virtually every act of US aggression that occured during his life, including the ones that ended up putting “temporary” bases on Saudi soil.

3) Jerry fervently believed that our nation did not follow God. He blaimed succularism and paganism for this, and wanted out nation to become a Christian theocracy based on biblical values. In contrast, Osama bin Laden believes our nation is not following God. Osama blaims succularism and paganism for this, and wants out nation to become a Moslem theocracy based on the values of the Koran. Sound familiar?

The fact is, Jerry had a part in 911, much more so than any homosexual ever did. Most obviously, His pro-Israel and strong national defense views were directly related to the specific reasons for the attack. This should have been clear to even him.

But in a much more subtle way, it’s MEN LIKE JERRY who are directly responsible for 911. Men like those in Westboro Church. Men like those in Islamic terror cells. They are fanatical believers, and they have no problem forcing their their religion and its values on others. They believe that bad things happen because of their people’s sin, and do not hesitate to condemn anyone who disagrees with them on anything. They fervently believe that they are completely right, and that God will reward them for it in heaven. They believe that anyone who disagrees with them is going to hell, including those who disagree over what seems like minor doctrinal differences. They do not allow contradiction or argument; the law is innerant and infallible, and they and only they have interpreted it correctly.

The ironly here is that they condemn each other to their respective hells. Jerry things Westboro and Moslems are going to hell, Westboro thinks Jerry and Moslems and going to hell, Moslems think Jerry and Westboro are going to hell. Does this strike anybody else as being the ultimate irony here?

Religious fundamentalism had a lot more to do with 911 than the ACLU, and Jerry was a big advocate of fundamentalism. The damage that he has done has ramifications even now that he is dead, but at least he can’t do any more.

R.I.P, Jerry Falwell, and may God have mercy on your poor misguided soul.

cl
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Subject Happy Belated Mother’s Day
Posted Date: May 15, 2007 – Tuesday – 3:34 AM
Thanks for the link, Sam!

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Subject Must See Summer Movies
Posted Date: May 10, 2007 – Thursday – 9:54 AM

Spiderman 3:

OK, I already saw this one. I am a big fan of the first two Spiderman movies, and I’m also a big fan of the old Sam Raimi films as well, The Evil Dead Trilogy in particular. There is a great Bruce Campbell cameo in Spiderman that is freakin’ hilarious. This movie wasn’t as good as the first two, had plenty of huge plot holes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pirates of the Caribbean:

Who isn’t waiting to see the new Pirate movie? The last one leaves us with a cliffhanger, forcing us to wait an entire year for the resolution. It’d better be good! The high point of this trilogy is most certainly Johnny Depp, an absolutely amazing actor who is at the top of his game.

28 Weeks Later:

Yet another sequel, this one to the awesome movie 28 Days Later. I’m a big fan of zombie movies and literature, and I loved the direction Danny Boyle takes the genre. Fast zombies are certainly more exciting then the slow creeping zombies of Romero’s films (not to diss Romero, Land of The Dead proved he’s still got it in him). And I love Boyle’s mix of MTV and cinema-verite styles; dropping you into the middle of the action. I expect great things from 28 Weeks Later.

Lucky You:

Hollywood has jumped onto the poker bandwagon with a vengeance, and we’re going to see a ton of moves involving cards and gambling. This one features poker AND Drew Barrymore, two things I have a weakness for. Sure, it might stink, but I’m still going to see it.

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

OK, the first Fantastic Four sucked. I really wanted to like it, I truly did. But there was no story, the CG was mediocre at best, and the characters were paper thin. But the sequel has the Silver Surfer, and that totally rocks. The previews for this movie look awesome, so my hopes are up.

Paprika:

A new anime from Satoshi Kon; this looks to be THE trip film of the summer. This movie looks to be georgeous and extremely psychedelic, transhuman dream therapy run amok. It should be very popular with the art house, anime, and drug culture crowds.

Live Free or Die Hard

I will be watching this movie on the chance that BRUCE WILLIS WILL FREAKIN’ DIE. Die Hard was awesome, and then there were all those other movies. Here’s hoping this film will finally put the series to rest.

Hostel Part II:

Oh. Boy. The first Hostel was one of the scariest movies I’ve seen…well, ever. Any movie that causes me to close my eyes has to be horrid. Hostel was an amazing movie, though, Eli Roth at the top of his game. The movie mixed a buddy road trip film with a truly horrifying abduction and murder story. Roth’s first big movie was Tromeo and Juliet, and he’s brought the campy/horror style of Troma films (Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die) to the mainstream.

Momma’s Boy:

One word…Jon Header. He blew us all away in Napoleon Dynamite, one of the most original movies to come out in 2004. And he’s done OK since then. This movie looks hilarious.

Transformers:

Pretty much THE sci-fi movie to watch this summer. We all grew up with Transformers, and now they’ve got their own live action movie. Could be great, could totally suck. Either way I’m seeing it!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

I admit it, I’m a Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all the books, and have the last book on pre-order with Amazon. These have all been very successfully translated to the big screen, every Harry Potter movie is better than the last. The Order of the Phoenix is the darkest book to date, and it appears that the movie will be as well. It’s been a pleasure seeing Harry and his friends grow up in the stories and on the big screen. And who would have figured Emma Watson would become such a cutey?

The Simpsons Movie:

Mhhhh…Donut.

Son of Rambow: A Home Movie:

I saw the preview for this movie the other day, and almost fell out of my chair laughing. I am totally seeing this based on that alone.

Halloween :

A John Carpenter movie re-made by Rob Zombie? Might be awesome, might totally suck. We shall see…

Stardust:

Is there a art form that Neil Gaiman does’t dabble in? I love Gaiman’s books; he’s pretty much invented the modern form of magical realism. His comics are amazing; Sandman is considered once of the best series ever. MirrorMask was turned into a movie a couple of years ago, and did quite well. And now a less known comic of his, Stardust, is being turned into a movie as well. I’m very much looking forward to this film. And speaking of awesome comic series, when are they going to turn Preacher into a movie?

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Subject Intelligent Falling and Other Odd Stories
Posted Date: April 24, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:33 AM
It’s been a good couple of days for news, albeit a little weirder than usual.

Check out this short video. These guys are first dressing as an American, next as an Arab, and then filming at various quasi-restricted areas. Suffice to say they are treating different in both cases! This reminds me of a scene in the movie Borat, where an old redneck cowboy tells Borat that he should shave his moustache because only terrorists wear moustaches. Expect to hear more idiocy like this…

Ever wonder why highly processed foods are cheaper than foods that are less processed? The NYT has a fascinating article on how the various farm subsidy programs have affected American waistlines. Especially poor peoples.

Here’s a angry note on craigslist from a soldier who lost her husband in Iraq. Tragic.

Trail by jury was meant to be a last defense against tyranny. Judges are aware that juries have the right to judge the law directly, as well as the guilt or innocence of the defendant. But due to an unfortunate precedence set by the Supreme Court, they do not have to tell this to jury members. It’s interesting to see this article in The Conservative Voice. It’s poorly written, but makes a very important point.

A Christian Flash Mob? This rather bad comedian was ganged up on by a group of religious people, who poured water on his outline and walked out. Apparently they found his language offensive (never mind that the bible says nothing about using Anglo-Saxon vs. the proper Queen’s English).

Quote:
” I doubt I will ever forget the look in his face as he defaced the only original of the handwritten show outline–it was a look of hatred, and disgust, and utter and consuming pride.

That face is not Christian, by any definition Christ would be proud to call his own–its naked righteousness and contempt have nothing to do with the godhead, and everything to do with pathetic human pride at its very worst.”

Pathetic human pride…word. I have to remember that this pride exists in everyone, including me and you. Of course, thinking only you and those who think like you get to go to heaven probably doesn’t help much. The “cure” for pride is not “religious humility”, it’s probably self-awareness and a willingness to be corrected when wrong.

Here’s an oldy but a goody from the Onion: Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory.
“”Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.”

This story is tragicomic on so many levels. The objections made here to the Theory of Gravity are all correct, and could (are) equally applied to the theory of Evolution. This is farce, but it is WAY to close to reality for any sane person’s comfort.

And speaking of ORU, they’ve been in the news recently. Did you know that there are over 150 graduates from ORU work directly for the Bush Administration? Does this scare anybody?

As usual, I’m WAY behind the music scene. I recently downloaded the last Blink 182 album (self-titled). I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the album is AWESOME (don’t shoot!). Every song is solid yet experimental, and they have never sounded this good. I don’t even like this band, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that almost every band has at least one great song, and many bands are capable on producing at least one great record.

Here are examples of some “one amazing albums”:
Massive Attack: Mezzanine
Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
James: Laid
The Beta Band: The Three EPs
Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
Moby: Everything is Wrong
Counting Crows: August and Everything After
Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West (OK, these guys may still produce another awesome album)
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Subject Got Hates Bundles of Sticks
Posted Date: April 19, 2007 – Thursday – 6:03 AM
Interesting youtube clip on The Westboro Cult. This is part of a Louis Theroux documetary on the Phelps family. I’d love to see the full documentary, but it’s not available on the BBC website yet.

The mother and her girls conviction and confidence is amazing to see. In the clip, they are accused of being a cult. They deny, saying:

“We are the ones who are strictly adhering to the doctrines of faith of all the mainline religions.”

Indeed, they have a very valid point. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testament, and execution was the original punishment for it. If you take this as the infallible word of the Creator and take a simplistic, fundamentalist view of scripture; it is very clear that many of the writers of the Bible considered homosexuality a serious crime, worthy of eternal damnation and death.
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Subject Why It Sucks To Be A Major Label
Posted Date: April 9, 2007 – Monday – 11:08 AM
Not to say, “I told you so“, RIAA, but…well, I and thousands of other people told you so. And told you so, and told you so. You didn’t listen, and now it’s probably to late.

You see, overpriced CDs, DRM, suing music fans, robbing musicians, and putting out crappy music only works when you have a functional monopoly.

That monopoly is effectively gone. For good, I hope.

Don’t worry, the death of the major labels will NOT hurt music, fans, or musicians, it will help them. Music existed before it was turned into a business, and it will exist afterwards, too.

cl
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Subject “Have you been in any peace marches?”
Posted Date: April 9, 2007 – Monday – 5:58 AM
Here is an account of Walter F. Murphy, a distinguished scholar of public law and a decorated Marine who served in Korea.

See how this man is being treated by our government. This is not only unethical, but it is anti-American. I hope enough stories like this will convince the people that many of our enemies are also our leaders. No American is above the Constitution, including our president.

“On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving.”

“When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.”

“I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said. ”
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Subject our REDACTED war on terror
Posted Date: April 3, 2007 – Tuesday – 10:29 AM
Excellent article in the opinion section of the Seattle Time’s website.

Quote:
“Only George Orwell could have written what comes next in the transcript. The following is what we are allowed to know of Nashiri’s response when asked how he was tortured:

“What else do I want to say? (REDACTED). Many things happened. They were doing so many things. What else did they did? (REDACTED). They do so many things. So many things. What else did they did? (REDACTED). After that another method of torture began. (REDACTED). They used to ask me questions and the investigator after that used to laugh. And, I used to answer the answer that I knew. And, if I didn’t reply what I heard, he used to (REDACTED). So many things happened. I don’t in summary, that’s basically what happened.”

I guess that’s how the U.S. government extracts information from detainees: (REDACTED).”

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Subject Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
Posted Date: April 3, 2007 – Tuesday – 9:54 AM
I don’t know what log I’ve been living under for the past year, but I’m listening to Bloc Party’s album “Silent Alarm”, and it’s awesome! The song “Banquet” was a big radio hit, and I liked it, but I never listened to the whole album and it’s ALL good.

I also purchased “A Weekend In the City”; their latest album, although I have not had a chance to listen to it.

List of albums purchased online today*:
Are We Not Horses, by Rock Plaza Central
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, by Yo La Tengo
Neon Bible, by Arcade Fire
Bloc Party, by Bloc Party
Silent Alarm, by Bloc Party
Weekend in the City, by Bloc Party.

*Why the sudden spending spree? On eMusic I pay $9.99 for 40 songs per month in the mp3 format, which is a steal at 25 cents a track. But if you don’t download before the next billing cycle you lose them. And then, once I’d listened to Bloc Party’s self titled album I had to get their latest stuff, of course. :)
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Subject OMG PONIES!!!!
Posted Date: April 2, 2007 – Monday – 2:02 PM
Ferrofluid sculptures, and they’re awesome.

Wikipedia has a good technical description.
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Subject EMI to allow non-DRMed music to be sold. w00t!
Posted Date: April 2, 2007 – Monday – 6:00 AM
This is big news, EMI, one of the “big four” labels, is going to offer their catalog free of Digital Rights Management on iTunes and other online music distributors!

What does this mean? Well, this means you can download music from iTunes and use it on your Zune or any other mp3 player. Or, if you’re an iPod fan (and who isn’t?); you eventually should be able to download music from, say, Rhapsody or Microsoft and play it on your iPod.

IE: you get to decide how and where to play your music, not Apple, Real, Microsoft, or the RIAA.

This is a big win for music fans and anti-DRM activists. Link to the full story, and a link to Cory Doctorow’s coverage of the news.

List of some great EMI artists:
Radiohead
Massive Attack
Beastie Boys
Gorillaz
Moby
Supergrass
Coldplay
Daft Punk
Dandy Warhols
Ben Harper
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Subject the Onion has a News Network
Posted Date: March 28, 2007 – Wednesday – 6:20 AM
Just got this off digg: The satirical news site, “The Onion” has formed the Onion News Network; featuring video clips lampooning television news. I read The Onion when it was a regular old periodical, and LOVED it. There was no John Stewart or Colbert back then; satirizing the news was a pretty fresh idea.

They made a very successful leap to the Internet, with the onion web site. And now they’re adding video; rock on, guys!

Interesting trivia; one of the founders of The Onion, Tim Keck, went on to found The Stranger; an irreverent and influential Seattle weekly.

Favorite Onion Article: Clinton Deploys Very “Special” Forces To Iraq
The Stranger has been a key player in deciding how to replace the viaduct.
Savage Love is like a car-wreck, you can’t help but rubberneck.

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Subject A Win for Open Government – The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
Posted Date: March 16, 2007 – Friday – 9:41 AM
In a potentially big win for proponents of open government, the House of Representative’s has just passed a bill to give added protection to federal employees who publically denounce political motivated abuse and coercion.

In a rather predictable turn of events, the White House has spoken out against this bill, arguing it would be a threat to national security. In other words, if the president and cabinet are not able to bully whistleblowers into keeping their mouth shut, Al Quada could win. WTF?

So let me get this straigh, the well documented abusive tactics the White House has used to keep climate change science under wrap should be allowed to continue? For reasons of national security? I’d say we’re talking about POLITICAL security, not national security. Unfortunately, Pres. Bush, these are not equivalent, no matter what you might think.

Opponents of open government beware; there is a new House in town that apparently isn’t putting up with your bullshit FUD.
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Subject Haliburton moves to Dubai
Posted Date: March 13, 2007 – Tuesday – 2:22 AM
Good riddance! Maybe now we’ll stop granting them no-bid freakin’ contracts.
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