Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A bit of fun from Outlook India, via Salon.com:

This White House gets what it wants -- even from the Queen of England ... No other U.S. president has stayed inside the royal compound, and she has met 11 of them in her time...

Clearly ... her first impression of Bush [has been improved]. In 1991, Bush famously appeared wearing cowboy boots at a White House dinner given by his father for the Queen and cheerily informed her of the inscription on the heels: "God save the Queen." A frosty frown appeared on the royal brow, an eon passed, many feet shuffled all around. Convinced that understatement or sarcasm would be lost on the man standing before her, the Queen asked bluntly: "Are you the black sheep of your family?" Bush replied in the affirmative and shot back: "Who's the black sheep in your family?"...

but now I look at this anecdote, which I think I've seen before, and I realize it has a certain gestalt quality about it; to many people, myself included, there is an appreciation of how we're right to be put off by George W. Bush's conceitedness(he offended the queen yet again by bringing five white house chefs with him) and arrogance and yes, boorishness, and so we read this anecdote as validation of our view of the varmint-in-chief. And yet, I imagine millions of other Americans who see his behavior in the affirmative, as validation of their own insecurities, of their wish to twist the lion's tail and thumb their nose at an authority figure, whether the queen, as here, or say, the United Nations.

I will be back to regular posting on Monday, 1 Dec.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Stories like this one, not the Michael Jackson arrest, should be front page news:
Calif. will require voting-machine receipts
Courtesy Salon.Com and the AP wire.

an excerpt:

In a major victory for voting rights advocates, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced Friday that all electronic voting machines in California must provide paper receipts by 2006.

Shelley also introduced stricter requirements for testing and auditing of the software used to record and tabulate votes in the nation's most populous state

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Peddling Charitable Behavior:

curious item from the Texas Lottery website really caught my eye:

(Austin, November 19) - When Keith Morgan learned he had won more than $48,000 playing Cash Five from the Texas Lottery®, his thoughts turned to a simple act of kindness last summer. Morgan was en route to Louisiana from his home in Carrollton when he and his wife, Debbie, made a stop in Marshall in East Texas.

"There was a homeless man sitting on a bench outside the store where we stopped, and it was like he was invisible," Morgan remembered. "Everyone just walked right by him."

Morgan said he felt this compelling urge to give the man some money.

"I just had to do it," he recalled. "So as we drove away, I stopped and gave him some cigarettes and a $20 bill. I didn't expect anything in return."

That hot day came back to him when Morgan read the Texas Lottery® results in the Dallas Morning News for Thursday, November 13, and discovered he'd matched all Cash Five numbers for the top prize of $48,931...

Sunday, November 16, 2003

A Marine's Girl will apparently be gone soon, due to bullying and intimidation from a reader claiming to be a retired marine, which he may well be, of course, but that really isn't the point. (via Atrios)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Billmon at the Whiskey Bar is new (to me, at any rate). He has a really interesting post entitled "Not-So-Honest George" about a PIPA poll regarding people's perceptions of dubya and his largely failed Orwellian maneuvers. Go n see.
From Salon.Com's technology news:

Record labels seek to profit by mining file-swap data:

Nov. 14, 2003 | LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The recording industry, it seems, doesn't hate absolutely everything about illicit music downloading.

Despite their legal blitzkrieg to stop online song-swapping, many music labels are benefiting from – and paying for –
intelligence on the latest trends in Internet trading.

It's a rich digital trove these recording executives are mining. By following the buzz online, they can determine where geographically to market specific artists for maximum profitability...

Friday, November 14, 2003

Eric Alterman doesn't have archives at Altercation, so I thought I'd post this smashing list he made in its entirety (Nov 12th) in response to a recent Kristof column in the NY Times:

Bush Haters:
1) Bush “haters” talk about policy not personality.
2) Bush “haters’ support the country and its soldiers in wars they believe to be misguided
3) Bush “haters” do not accuse the president of drug-running and murder
4) Bush “haters” do not accept millions from billionaires to publish their paranoid fantasies in magazines like The American Spectator, and helping to drive unstable people to suicide, only to try to exploit even this tragic act for gain, with even more lurid paranoid fantasies about murder, safe houses and moved bodies.
5) Bush “haters” do not control any media properties remotely as powerful and influential as the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Murdoch empire, the Moonie network, their own cable network, world-famous internet gossip sites, weekly and bi-weekly magazines, dozens of multi-million dollar “think” tanks, various publishing houses, etc.
6) Bush “haters” are quite removed from the Democratic establishment.
7) Bush “haters” back up their arguments with references and, frequently, footnotes, all of which can be checked for accuracy.
8) Bush “haters” are addressing themselves to a president who ran, dishonestly, as moderate and still managed to lose the election, only to gain the presidency with the support of Republican-appointed judges.
9) Bush “haters” are addressing themselves to a president whose dishonesty has led to the death of thousands of people in a counterproductive war, the looting of the treasury, and the trashing of the environment, for starters.

Now look at the Clinton-haters:

1) One of them, the one who advised David Brock to make stuff up for the Spectator in order to see what would stick, is Solicitor General.
2) Another is House Majority Leader
3) Another is the former House Majority Leader.
4) Another is the former Speaker of the House.
5) Just about all of these refused to vote for a resolution in support of U.S. troops risking their lives for freedom and democracy in Kosovo, when given a chance.
6) Another is the former Republican-appointed special prosecutor, who controlled an unlimited amount of funds as well as the loving sympathy of the Washington journalistic establishment.
7) Another is a radio hate-monger who just got out of rehab, to the delight of 15 million-20 million others.
8) A significant number of the rest of them have their own shows on cable, care of the So-Called Liberal Media.
9) A bunch of others control the editorial page of the most important business publication in the world.
10) Virtually all of their arguments were driven by either paranoid fantasies, planted lies, or at best, personal actions that had no bearing on the well-being of the country.
11) A few of them-including the one who sought to raise money by accusing the president of murder-blamed the attacks of 9/11 on Americans.
12) Clinton-haters abused the constitutional system to shut down the government and later, impeach the president.
13) Clinton-haters were addressing themselves to a president who was honestly elected, and by the way, boasted a 68 percent approval rating on the day he was impeached.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Yet another Guardian list: the "forty greatest living film directors." I have to note the absence of Zhang Yimou and the panel's apparent lack of awareness that Bergman's still alive. And didn't Godard, who is both still around and still cranking out pictures, contribute something to the grammar of cinema?

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Curtis at Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log has a handy chart of campaign contributions to the major presidential candidates by toal receipts and percentage of receipts by size of donation. I was reminded o the chart when I heard the news about Howard Dean forgoing public financing. I wonder about the dynamic at play viz-a-viz Dean's decision; is he hoping that traditional major Democratic donors will become more reluctant to help the non-Dean fray catch up in financing in the primaries, knowing that they'll be able to give more to a nominated Dean post convention, than to one of the other candidates-- sandbagging, if you will. Looks like Kerry sure could use some of that Teresa Heinz Kerry ketchup money..

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Ms. Avedon over at The Sideshow notes this excellent, pithy article by Eric Alterman(" Team B")at the Center for American Progress website. here's an excerpt:

Many of the very same people who deliberately created the misimpression about Iraq to goad the American people into supporting a war had already executed a run-through of the same strategy in the 1970s. Back then, establishment hardliners associated with the now defunct “Committee on the Present Danger” heaped scorn upon the professional intelligence services for their alleged underestimation of Soviet military capabilities. They succeeded in convincing then-CIA Director, George H.W. Bush, to appoint a now infamous "Team B" to go through the same material and come up with an answer that would justify a vast increase in U.S. defense spending...

Never heard of the Center for American Progress before, but it looks interesting. MSNBC, The Nation. Where else does Alterman write? Me, in my slothfulness, am heap embarassed...

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I finally saw Sweet Smell of Success. That's the one in which Burt Lancaster is a crazy self-obsessed columnist and Tony Curtis plays a publicity agent and his sometime stooge.
I'd heard a lot of positive things about this picture for a long time from people whose opinions I value, and as a consequence I looked forward to finally seeing Sweet Smell of Success for quite some time. It does have nice cinematography, and an engaging jazz score by Elmer Bernstein, but otherwise it was quite a dissapointment. You will see reviewers referring to the dialogue as "tart" and witty-- humbug.

Burt Lancaster tells Tony Curtis

"I wouldn't wanna take a bite out of you, you're a cookie full of arsenic."

a girl that Curtis pressures to have sex with an associate for his benefit tells him,

"I'm not a bowl of fruit; you can't just peel me like an orange any time you like."

And so on. After a certain point the cleverness, as opposed to the wit, of the writing reaches a level of oversaturation, and the constantly metaphorical dialogue becomes irritatingly arch, the mark of the writers showing off. It was (way over)written by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, who probably could've used collaborators other than one another, who might've reined in their excesses rather than magnify them. Odets is much better in the play Rocket to the Moon, which is more sentimental than witty, and Lehman's wit is better for being restrained in (Hitchcock's) North by Northwest. A friend once told me that he disliked American Beauty because by attacking the suburbs for being far less wholesome than they may wish to seem it was "shooting fish in a barrel", taking smug potshots at subject matter that's ripe for criticism. I haven't made up my mind what I
think of that critique of AB, but I see Sweet Smell of Success in much the same way-- it takes
snide, sophomoric easy shots at publicity peddlers-- what, are we supposed to be shocked to see
people in that millieu portrayed as back-stabbing and venal?