23 April 2007

Ok yeah, that's just about the most awful thing I've ever seen

Uh yeah. Last King of Scotland. Very good movie. Did not care for the meat hooks at the end. Beats out the eye-ball squish in Kill Bill by a considerable margin.

Otherwise. It was very good. Mirrored some documentaries I had seen on Uguanda and the slow understanding of madness that the rest of the world had toward his regime. Anyone who wants to see what a modern Hitler might have looked like, Idi Amin is a good start. Very charismatic. Very, very ruthless. And a bit eccentric. And didn't like the Jews much either, or at least pal'ed up with the PLO during their heyday. I found myself both revolted and amused by the character. Which I think is the proper reaction to a madman. So yeah, I'd say that was a well-deserved Oscar.

19 April 2007

time to go random again


Anybody still doubting the media angles here? ---

"reported that Cho also discussed "martyrs like Eric and Dylan" apparently referring to Columbine High School"... Why not just give them a goddamn holiday to go crazy for. If there aren't at least 2-3 more random school related shootings (the bomb threats this week are nothing) within the next month, I'll be very surprised.

Getting aside from that. I managed to mangle my ankle playing basketball. It appears there's some minor ligament tearing or at "best" a major sprain. It's generally bad to hear an audible and distinct popping (not a cracking) noise coming from your legs and to follow it up with your foot turning a lovely shade of purple the next day. So. . lots of ice for me for a few days. Doesn't hurt that much, but I bet jumping around is out of the question for a couple weeks. And that just pisses me off.

I need to find a place to move. Lease is up soon. Down payment isn't build up yet. I hate renting. No tax breaks. Given another year, I guess I can sort that out.

17 April 2007

shaken not stirred

Weeks of nothing much interesting happening and now all sorts of stuff again. Must be the weather. We're back to looking in fear at our kids again, afraid to go to classes and such. That's perfectly legitimate for once, for those few of us who suffered through it.

I hate to be a pain but I think we can expect a few copycat attempts over the next few weeks as schools wind down. These sorts of things happen in patterns because once the first event happens, it in a strange way legitimizes the behavior. It calls glorious attention to people who may otherwise feel left out or ignored, even if they're not in reality. While reading Tipping Point, there was a chapter on teenage suicide rates skyrocketing in Micronesia. They had what amounted to a trigger point from famous local celebrity and the ensuing death and so forth. Over the following weeks and months, the cycle perpetuated itself with scores of young men attempting to kill themselves, often with no warnings, or even any real interest in suicide. There were a great many who seemed to do it as though it was the latest fad. Let's see if I can suffocate or how many pills I can swallow. Not exactly roller blades.

The same types of behavior happened here with some famous deaths (Marilyn for example). And also with school shootings. They are in some ways an epidemic that spreads and flares up from time to time, needing only the refreshing jaunt down memory lane for some to stir up the whirlwind. So we can expect a few more of these, because this one is like a major workout compared to those jaunts. 32 dead, many others wounded. It's a lot to live up to. People will try. And we will look in fear at our teens and young adults, wondering how many they're trying to take with them.

I look at this a bit differently than most. I realize it's a terrible event. But I have to wonder what causes the snapping point where someone just decides to take out the gun and start trying to get a new paint job before they turn it around. I look at the people who do these things somewhat more sympathetically. I wasn't ever there myself, because I tend to let a lot roll off my back. But I can't say that schools were always good times either. I wouldn't go back to high school again. And there were a few people I wouldn't have hesitated to let suffer if they needed help. That's a cold realization. But it's one that connects in some way. The pressurized environment created by tension from classes and the tension from just trying to deal with growing up isn't exactly a healthy potion. It's actually more like poison. Expecting people to deal with it without some consequences is sort of like expecting people not to experiment with drugs or sex. Fights or assaults will break out. They don't have to.

If there's a way for people to take it easy once in a while. Relax. Go blow some heads off in a video game. Drive fast on a lonely street. Something. Put together a plan for world domination. Organize guerrilla movements based on taking out druglords and using their money for further conquest (that's mercantilism on the private scale).. but I digress. See it's not hard to get away from having any feeling or reaction to people who don't deserve one. Instead they're getting bullet barrages. If it were easier to explain how to chill out once in a while, and how to bleed off that tension without boiling over, we'd be a bit healthier. People would probably be more honest in feeling. None of this fake, how are you bullshit. Because we'd already know how someone is that day. It'd be written on their face. We'd have the human equalivalent of sharpie saying HAPPY, ask me why, or PISSED OFF, get the fuck out of my way. That's a happier environment because it's an honest one. Instead people are shallow and make motions of emotions. Using real emotions will get things done. Faking it is just hurting everyone. There are times when it doesn't do to be chipper and happy just as there are times when it won't do to be pissed off at the world. But unless people start expressing something realistic, they're just going to eat away at each other until someone snaps. That's where we are today. And the body counts are getting higher. Hopefully a few people learn from this.

15 April 2007

imus doofus but so are you

After letting the entire mess unravel over the past week, thought it was time to chime in. Not so much on the single issue of what to do about the situation itself, but the entire racial structure of our country and how it's being detoured by political conniving of the few with a few parting shots from free speech. I had no real idea who this yokel Don Imus was myself until this week. I've heard his likeness compared favorably to Chewbakka, which is about right. Imus' comment itself was ridiculous. Veiled or at least presented as a poor joke, it wasn't very amusing. Was it poor taste and a stupid, classless thing to say. Sure.

While there are those, like Big Al in Harlem, who would have us control what is said and shut down the 'hate speech' on our airwaves, this was not hate speech. Hate speech is somewhat like pornography in that it lacks a real legal definition. But to be most fair, I would have to say that hate speech incites action and demonstration in support and concurrence to its points. The upcoming KKK march in Cincinnati would be an true example of hate speech (if it happens, the city council shut it down so far). The broad brush with which this definition paints overlaps greatly with stereotypical views and ignorant statements, and is widely perverted (not quite as much as pornography can be). Besides, if we are talking and casting that wide a net on regulation of airwaves for 'hate speech', there's quite a few people who shouldn't be on who think that having such regulation is necessary. Big Al for one, something about 'diamond merchants' and 'white interlopers', thanks Al. While there may be something to be said at times for censorship (I don't have or want kids, so you'd have to ask someone else for that side of the argument), I've always felt the best kind of censorship is the remote control. It's very easy to just change the station. It's not difficult to have some idea of context and understand what we will see and hear on the airwaves when tuning in that day. My understanding is that Imus is something of a shock jock and will readily poke at any group or person in the news, although never quite stooping this low. Change the station if you don't want to hear it. If lots of people are doing this, the show will go away from the market speaking.

Secondly, it is also my understanding that the greater number of people are not offended when something the media thinks is shocking occurs. Disturbed and perhaps angry for a time, sure. But very few people are worked up enough about an event to want to legitimately complain about it, meaning they were personally offended. Something like 90% of the FCC complaints surrounding Nipplegate came from a handful of organizations. How many millions of people were watching that game? 200? 300?. And only a few thousand people thought to complain? From the coverage, we would have thought all of us were in an uproar, ready to have her head on a pike for the offensive breast on national TV. We did get several second delays on such broadcasts out of it. Whatever that's good for. Go overseas and I'd have to say we need to get our heads out of our posterior as far as anything relating to sex goes, but that's neither here nor there.

The same is true now. Like then, this is a stupid non-event. It's not our call if Imus was to be fired or not. CBS axed him over it and that's their call. I don't disagree or agree with it, actually I don't care at all what happens to him personally in this. What concerns me is not how he was treated but how the issue of state-control of airwaves is being pushing now tantalizingly close to stricter control and regulation over what is said and what is 'offensive'. Virtually anything can offend someone. Having strong opinions, particularly where it concerns core issues like children, religion or wars can offend others.

Even simpler things. For a crazy example. An omnivore myself, I could be offended by the notion that I should not and cannot eat meat because it's wrong or cruel to the animal or something. (I'm not personally offended, because I think this is an idiotic line of reasoning, but follow along). Likewise, the vegan would every right to think that my thinking they are being an idiot is offensive. The distinction here is that my behavior is not affecting them at all. And neither is theirs affecting me, until they want to enforce it upon me. I'm not forcing them to eat meat and they are not preventing me, we merely disagree in a semi-hostile fashion. Real offenses are not committed until people are truly damaged by the actions and words of others. Imus' words were insulting and perhaps damaging; to the Rutgers basketball team. But he apologized and we should be able to see his intent was not to be harmful or malicious, just stupid. We as a society should accept this at face value and move on. If someone was legitimately hurt, then they can hold whatever grudge they want. So far as I've seen, the women of Rutgers basketball have accepted and moved on. I guess the NJ Governor was seriously hurt in a car accident trying to get to the photo op to 'mediate' the meeting. As though a public official is necessary for people to reconcile differences, but hey, he can hold a grudge if he wants. (nice seat belt Governor)

Here's the kicker though. In the fallout of WW2, the Germans, seeking to put the Holocaust behind them and ashamed of the blight upon their national heritage, sought to expunge the Nazi political dogma and machinery from existence. Nazi ideology is fundamentally hate speech at its absolute. There isn't any way around it. So I'm not arguing that they should not try to suppress Nazism itself. But in banning the existence of the national socialist party and the swastika, etc, what happened was they restricted only the images, not the ideas. Neo-nazism is alive and well throughout Europe and America, winding itself around the restrictions with ease. Still prowling around and spreading its vitriolic messages of fear, paranoia and hate. Ideas cannot be suppressed by hiding them. They must be combated in the open with better ideas. An appeal to reason is usually hopeless in this quest in as far as a dialogue with such people. But there is the hope that presenting a clear and better path openly opposing such hopeless demonization of others will steer others clear of that dark path. I don't think every idea is worth consideration, but I do think that in order to defeat those that aren't, people have to be willing to take a stand against it. And that doesn't mean banning it to the seventh level of hell or some other such magical realm that we have not the power to do.

Which brings me to racism. It's an ugly place still in America. Race is still somehow or other a topic of interest beyond a check box on forms for financial aid or some other such wasteful nonsense. There are still real and painful divides in some parts. There are real and imagined difficulties to deal with. And there are real and pointless issues. The present situation underscores especially this last point. Words by themselves are not issues. Thus Imus' words, left alone with out the intention and purpose of harm, are not meaningful. We focus so much on the few words that we can never say, or that we shouldn't say. But I say almost any combination of words, used in the right manner or the right timing, can inflict gastly pain on the receipant. Conversely, exactly the same turn of phrase might create inspiration or hope, even evoke love or friendship. I believe that the words we use are by themselves, nothing. But the structured intention from the root of our character is what makes them relevant. Unfortunately, there are those who have a knack for being offended or pained by otherwise innocuous remarks. In the shadow of Black History Month, Martin Luther King, and the celebration of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the 'Gentleman's agreement' banning black players in baseball, it only serves to highlight that our racial relations in America are not improving. They have been going sideways for many years because the supposed civil rights leaders have not the wit to understand what they are struggling for anymore. They have the wit to offend, to impose and oppress those who are not like them, or are perceived as oppressions upon their people. But these are limited political messages that get themselves on TV and lack any power. Rarely motivating people to action.

What was civil rights really about? I believe at the heart of the issue is this line. "All men are created equal". Now, if you want to be a hardline feminist about it, we can change that to people for nowadays, but I believe the point is made. All human beings are inherently people. And deserve to be treated as such. We treat each other as people, as men, or as women if you like, first. Not black, not white, not Jewish, not Muslim. People. That's what the struggle is about, the idea of basic human decency. It was not about struggling for scraps and demanding more for "our" one particular group of such people. It was about being able to stand up for ourselves and say "I'm a man" and not being lynched or laughed at, then called to be called boy. No one deserves that. Somewhere along the line, this was hijacked. The rightwingers call these guys 'race warlords'. I'm not sure what libs call them, although they seem perfectly willing to accept the nonsense that comes about. Ebonics for example. Innumerable slights at Jews or Asians, the stereotypical market owners in traditionally black neighborhoods. Why is this tolerated? Because supposedly these are the leaders of the movement. Yet the predominate public figures supposedly represented by these mouthpieces do not move in support. Barack Obama was notably quiet, and very late to throw a few soundbytes in on the most recent flare. Going back further, you can hear comedians like Chappelle or Rock poking light of Jesse or Sharpton, and pondering the likely candidates to replace them as leaders (I alway liked the Pat Riley skit). The biggest problem with these two is that they do not seem to possess a vision that improves their community without pulling the "rest of us" down in exchange. That is not the means of improvement that the natural world seems to like. And that is why the civil rights movement has stalled and the word racial has spread and proliferated until it becomes necessary to fire radio talk show hosts for being idiots, when they do not appear to be anything approaching racist.

10 April 2007

global warming attacked again


Still on the holy quest to nail down the global warming sky is falling crowd. Theses #9, only another 86 to go.

People this is the point, what is the problem. We haven't defined yet clearly what will happen in the future (because we can't), so why are we running around with this silly idea that the human industrialized world is a death knoll for civilization, if not the entire ecological system as we know it. Are there reasons to be 'green' or act with appropriate concern toward energy consumption? Yup. I recycle, I drive a fuel-efficient Toyota, so I'm hardly saying we should do nothing. There are foreign policy reasons to get off the oil fix we have in this country without delving into the whole 'buy carbon offsets' that Al Gore wants us to do. That's about the biggest scam I've seen in years.

If we really want to solve this problem, its not going to be resolved by government mandates and trading 'carbon offsets' or other pollution credits. It will be resolved by a strong public initiative to force something like global pollution standards, like those which we in America and in Europe are beholden to already. That's about the only thing governments can do for us to resolve the issue is demand unilateral environmental policies in exchange for trade agreements or manufacturing contracts overseas. Governments can't force us to recycle or choose cars we don't want because they get good gas mileage. They can offer incentives, or provide penalty in the form of taxes and tax breaks. But that doesn't force people to change.

Finally, if we are all that concerned about it, I ask again, what is the problem? There isn't a good deal of credible evidence either way to suggest that human activity is having a tremendous impact on the planet nor is there sufficient evidence to suggest that the dire circumstances we are portented with are happening as we speak. Not even close. But likewise there isn't a good deal of evidence to say our actions do nothing or are of help to the environment as it presently stands. I say this means we need better studies, non-biased and verifiable. Remember, science does not care about consensus, it only cares about reproducible results. Right now all we have are computer models and a few wild ass guesses. I'm not ready to bet the farm on that.

09 April 2007

do nothings

I'm growing tired of blogging on the environment; largely because I feel my position is the most reasonable one out there anyway. So aside from poking fun at the people on both sides running for the hills; it doesn't leave me much to say. But fortunately, the politicians haven't given me much to complain about lately. Because they aren't doing anything 'productive'. You know like pass legislation. At least the kind that affect me. And if they are, they're being damned clever at keeping it quiet (like the union one was). Nope, instead they're busy bogging up the whole war effort. Which is fine by me. I'm not convinced leaving the place is much good either, but so long as it keeps the politicians from actually DOING anything, I'm happy.

Other news. Work is busier, although still slower than I'd hope. I want to be down to one job by summer's end. That's not happening at this pace. I suppose I shouldn't cheer the Congress when I'm not accomplishing much either. If the damned weather would act spring-like again, I'd least be able to run around some. It's rather hard on the lungs, the cold air and jogging. I heard the odd tale of golfing with snowflakes coming down. That'd be lots of fun, but still easier on the lungs than a long winded sprint or one of my diatribes in oral form. I'm very tired of these ads for 'fashion' on my computer. I am quite possibly the least interested person in Madison Ave. That's about it for random thoughts of the day. Brain-dump complete. Back to work. Maybe