Friday, February 29, 2008

happy leap day

the last word on blogging...

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some things to read

And for your eyeballs

Putting aside my general sense of the polyannish meaninglessness of registering to vote, at least for a national election, I rather liked this little video.

episode 1

episode 2

episode 3

(Embedded above is episode 4, of 4.) For some reason I never realized Rosario Dawson was so, um, pneumatic, as Aldous Huxley would've said.(even though there is a mostly coherent story arc, I don't think the order you watch them in makes terribly much difference-- it ain't Hamlet.)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Dennis Kucinich regarding the Cleveland primary- March 4th

the verbiage that accompanies this video reads in part:

Cleveland's corporate establishment is pouring massive amounts of money into an unprincipled attack campaign against Congressman Dennis Kucinich, distorting and misrepresenting his record in a way that comes right out of the Republican dirty tricks playbook.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is Africa a country?

photo via the gnooze

I am curious why they are all wearing those yellow sashes with what appear to be bar codes on the tags. Do they indicate they've been checked by bomb-sniffing dogs? Do you wonder if the kid wants to be there?

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Matthews vs Kirk Watson re Obama

Whether you see it as unseemly or reasonable, this is the video clip that apparently has the blogosphere all atwitter today. I think it's reasonable, but I'm concerned that McCain's water carriers may not get the same, and will get a pass instead.

An afterthought, 2.21: It occurs to me that when they booked Watson they may have indicated a specific set of topics, then switched up on him on purpose, to make him and Obama look foolish. Do the network news shows do things like that? I don't know.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This, n' that, etc

I was excited by the doings of "Blogroll Amnesty Day," and enjoyed poking around and finding sundry similarly small blogs that struck me as interesting.
I've added (and been added by),
Rob Singleton,
Jon Swift
Art of Peace

In addition, I asked Barbara O'Brien of th' Mahablog to add me, even though she was already on my blogroll and she did, which was exceedingly nice, especially as she's kind of a bighshot, like Skippy and Jon Swift. And I've corrected my previous error in not linking to Josh Buermann of Flagrancy to Reason.

There are a few I have missed that I've been meaning to add, which I will shortly.

Incidentally, I left a comment at Rotus asking him(?) if he was aware of the defunct US kit car company by the same name that used to manufacture a Lotus 7 replica in the 1980s, designed to take Toyota or Mazda mechanicals(hence the slightly impolitic pun of "rotus", suggesting the stereotypic Japanese person's pronunciation.). I think they were based in Maryland. Caterham Cars in the UK makes a pricey but officially licensed replica, and lots of other companies in the US and UK and elsewhere still make unauthorized knockoffs.

Technically the Rotus was a knockoff of the Lotus Super Seven that replaced the original 7, but I won't burden you with too much auto pedantry, just refer you to the links below should you be curious. Also, pictured below is Patrick McGoohan in KAR 120C, the most famous Lotus 7 ever-- which was actually made by Lotus, and featured in The Prisoner.

Wikipedia's Lotus Seven article,

BBC on the 50th anniversary of the Lotus 7

photos:Rotus Cars, BBC

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Monday, February 18, 2008

On the damned presidential race

I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.-Mark Twain

Sometimes disgust is the necessary mother of invention:

The Hugo Zoom Undesirability Index© (HZUI, or "hizzooey!")

by my calculations, if Rudy Giuliani is the baseline for the 2008 group, getting a 100, then,

Huckabee gets a 97,
McCain a 95,
Hillary Clinton a 94, and Obama a 92, or a 91 cause I don't want Scarlett Johanson to be mad at me. Either way, a solid A minus in undesirability.

Edwards is awfully hard to grade, probably in the 70s or 80s, but a lot of it depends on how genuine you believe his conversion is-- a conversion to a politician quite unlike his Senate voting record. While he was still running I certainly hoped it was genuine, insofar as he seemed like the only remotely viable candidate who was also (possibly) worth a damn.

Ron Paul is also hard to assign a score. His views regarding the constitution and reining in the bloated US military empire would ordinarily make him an F minus on the HZUI, with a score of 30 or less, but then you have to reconcile those items with his hostility towards immigrants and homosexuals, as well his radicalism with respect to tearing apart the welfare state, abolishing the income tax, etc. I'm going to say 55.

Mike Gravel gets a 30. I'd slice 5 points off if he endorsed good old fashioned progressive taxation instead of his cockamamie value-added scheme which I don't think he's really thought out. You also have to note he's nearly 78 years old, so he can't score too low-- but if he's on the ballot in your state(he's not in Texas)I'd point out he has the worst HZUI score of any candidates still in the race-- therefore the best score. Dennis Kucinich gets a 20--but he also didn't make the Texas ballot, and needless to say, he's already dropped out, in no small part because the democratic party has threatened his day job in Cleveland(the Ohio primary, in which he faces a well-financed in-party challenger, is March 4th).

I think it's interesting and odd that the dynamic is so different with GOP rebel Ron Paul-- although he also faces a challenger in the Texas primary(also March 4th), the GOP leadership has mostly distanced themselves from the Paul primary house race, possibly out of fear of pissing Ron Paul off and of him subsequently running as an independent for president in November.(the Libertarian party, whom he represented for president in 1988 when he got around half a million votes, has already said their nomination is his should he ask for it. So far Paul has gone out of his way to say he has no plans to run as an independent in the fall, but I wonder if that will change after he secures his party nomination for his house seat.)

Now, back to the HZUI: you may object that it's facetious and simple-minded and reductive. Absolutely. It might even promote cavities-- I don't know. But I fail to see how it's any worse than all the bigshot bloggers going on and on and on, ad nauseum, about whether Obama or HRC poses a better ability to beat McCain. (The big time news media outlets are doing the same of course.) The undesireability index has the virtue of recognizing, in simperingly simplistic terms, that the democratic front runners don't really differ in any substantial terms from the republicans on the big issues, at least not when it comes down to brass tacks and actual congressional votes and actual implementation. Secondary issues, like gay marriage and stem cell research-- maybe. But on the big issues we are facing today-- the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the possible war with Iran, and the death by a thousand cuts of the US Constitution-- not so much.

Perhaps you object, that the possibly imploding economy is also a big issue. Yes, but while polled Americans roundly support leaving Iraq as a substantial solution to our economic woes, the leadership in both parties reject this, as each vies for the style of tax rebate or tax cut which will be better. So I'd argue the politicians have already taken the economy "off the table" and won't deal with it seriously no matter who wins in November.

Whenever I hear Hillary Clinton scolding the Iraqis for not "taking more responsibility" for their own security or Obama talking about the "threat" posed by Ahmedinejad(!?) I wonder what they think they're accomplishing, apart from legitimizing the standard BushCo/republican party take on foreign policy. But perhaps that's the point.

I'm even wondering, in complete seriousness, if the best way to protect social security from the privatizers is to vote for a republican president and a democratic congress-- because otherwise, if the democrats have all three they may feel they don't have to bother with the last pretense binding them, albeit barely, to their old New Dealing ways.

Then, their transition to the semi-secular branch of the GOP Big Business Party will be complete, and they'll insist that any privatization plan allow citizens consumers to choose a socially responsible, (cruelty-free?) portfolio of stocks for their damned individual accounts, designed to make you feel good like an investment option should.

see also John Caruso's "I don't care as long as it's a DEMOCRAT!"
and Rob Payne's "Pavlov's democrats"

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Friday, February 15, 2008

New Yorker-ish

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Alternate Focus:"If Americans knew"

You don't need me to tell you that there's an enormous amount of junk on Youtube, but there are some intellectually redeeming things too. One useful channel is that of Alternate Focus, which includes the video above. If Americans Knew is an organization founded by the woman they interview towards the end of the piece, Allison Weir.

Alternate Focus is available on the Dish Network, Free Speech TV, Channel 9415, Saturdays at 8:00pm EST and on some cable stations.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Zadi Diaz and epic fu-- the middle eastern cable outages ...whatever

I will go ahead and post a video response to Ms. Diaz-- "Epic Fu", formerly the Jetset Show, is yet another example of how we young people are more likely to get news through non-traditional sources. I haven't made up my mind what I think of Zadi's presentational style, with its heavy emphasis on ironic detachment, seemingly communicating at two levels, suggesting underlying significance if you're predisposed to look for it, but just emanating apolitical cool for the rubes. (I never saw V for Vendetta, but my sense from the ads and my conversations with some who'd seen it suggested to me that it was a product of the same sensibility. )

Zadi's "take" on the cable cuts in the Middle East isn't very clear to me, although I'm guessing Roman Space Boy would probably dig it, and maybe suggest I was stuck in the agitprop sixties. Perhaps ambiguity is the new black.

Oh, incidentally: No, Hillary Clinton's people still haven't contacted me with offers of gobs of money, in case you were wondering. Maybe they had this sense that my intimation of support for her was somewhat less than earnest. (Also, I doubt Mike Gravel would shoot the promo with her as I wrote it, although Joe Biden does strike me as someone who'd eagerly hold her cue cards if he thought it meant he might score a cabinet post.)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

an Iraqdoc 2008 update: Syria

map: US State department

My plans for what I've been calling "Iraqdoc 2008" have been postponed repeatedly, mostly due to personal financial hardship, although I note again the many fine people who've helped me since the Fall of 2005, like Apocalyptic Bill, Rob Payne, Micah Holmquist, Harry McDougal and Bubba. For a while I was unemployed, then precariously employed(well, like millions of us), unemployed again, and just recently, I've attained what appears to be a state of comparatively stable underemployment.

When I hear about a bigshot blogger holding a fundraiser and saying it's because "the bills won't pay themselves" and they're on a free service like Blogger I often feel annoyed*, because I don't think anybody owes a blogger so much as one red cent for holding forth sundry opinions about punditry's topic du jour. It's a little like saying, "hey, pay me to read the New York Times and Washington Post for you, and as a bonus I'll tell you what to think about the topics discussed in the articles." (I note that the people asking for money in such terms often run ads as well.)

Yes, undoubtedly there's an element of jealousy in my response, and if I insist that I'm trying to do something more altruistic or high-minded with the funds I ask for, I recognize I've done nothing to tangibly demonstrate this so far. In November 2007 I last discussed this project, saying that my financial picture wasn't so good, and that I was reluctant to try to raise money just then since I'd probably just spend it on living expenses at that point.

Well, 2007 was pretty rough for me, and I did dip into the funds people donated for non-documentary expenses like food and the light bill, etc. I'm sorry if I let anyone down who's helped me out, but it was a difficult time. Within the next 30-45 days I will replenish the Iraqdoc fund back to where it was before, less the price of a mini-DV camcorder that I got some time back for 115 bucks and a used 3.0 megapixel still camera I got for 22 bucks.

Also: my plans at this point are to go to Syria in May, for 2-3 weeks, to document the Iraqi diaspora in Syria. I've found a contact person who's said she will help me as possible, which is a great blessing.

In the meantime, I will post at least two more films to my Youtube channel within the next 30 days, to give persons thinking of helping me a chance to see something more tangible by way of reasons to invest in me, whether financially, which I still need, or simply advocating on my behalf through your own websites, etc. I will also follow Karena Espuela's sound advice that I seek out a newspaper, preferably an independent one, to help me defray the costs.

If I do go to Iraq eventually, which I still mean to do, it would be only some time after returning from Syria and making the first documentary available. (I also imagine the initial Syrian trip will give me a much better idea of what I need to do to go to Iraq afterwards, as well as give me more of a voice to raise funds for the second project.)

My intention is that the Syrian Iraqdoc and any subsequent Iraqdoc projects be freely available to download, with the stipulations that I'm given attribution and that they not be sliced and diced to make derivative works by others without my consent.

Finally, on a sort of side note, I'm still going to add some links to myblogroll for "B.A.D.", so please don't automatically assume I decided not to add you if you've added me and still don't see your link. If you're not sure if I know that you've added me, assume I don't know and leave me a comment or just email me. This also applies to anyone who may have blogrolled me some time back of whom I'm not aware. So let me know.

*I don't feel that way about Arthur Silber or Gary Farber, both of whom strike me as sincere(and are often better writers than the bigshots).

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Marta Costello regarding super Tuesday(and waterboarding...)

and, Dennis Perrin on Obama:

...The system demands cleansing, not the real kind, of course, but a general sense of the feeling, and Obama is the perfect vessel into which Hopers may pour their dreams. Right on cue and beautifully executed. You'd have to be completely numb not to appreciate the approach.

he's referring to this video.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Does your vote matter?

from yahoo news, news for yahoos: "everything you need to know about the election in 3 minutes"

and a reminder regarding John McCain:

Also this, from the town hall meeting in question. Note the looks on the faces in the audience.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

B.A.D. blogging, etc.

"Maha Barb" O'Brien of the Mahablog informs us that today is "blogroll amnesty day" a day wherein lefty bloggers may pledge to freely blogroll somebody else in exchange for the same favor.Call it quid pro quo blogging, or networking, or what have you.

As a lowly nanoblogger with very little "traction" and a documentary project I've been trying to fund, naturally I owe it to myself to participate, so I am. As an added inducement to persons who might wish to "blogroll" me, I'm offering a free j-peg of virtually-rich, virtually-buttery Lorna Doone cookies.

The cookies are offered on the honor system naturally, and I can't exactly stop you from copying my j-peg without blogrolling me. But somewhere, there's a virtual Irish priest who will scold you for taking my virtual cookies under false pretenses, and he will haunt you in the long virtual night, so just don't do it. (Cheaters never win unless they're the New England Patriots, as fellow documentarian Terrell Owens reminded us last year.)

So, I say: blogroll me, and go Giants. If you want me to blogroll you, please leave a message in the comments below.

See also: Skippy th' Kangaroo: "blogroll amnesty day"
Jon Swift: "blogroll amnesty day,"
HZ(2005),"Lorna Doone blogging,"

Finally, I will have additional comments about "Iraqdoc 2008" later this week, by Wednesday.

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