Sunday, July 31, 2005
1. Woody Allen: Sun-Yi was the adopted daughter of his longtime girlfriend, Mia Farrow, and he served as a father figure to her for many years. As such, I find the relationship to be morally equivalent to incest. Also, there are only so many times you can make a film about being a neurotic New Yorker in New York before it becomes deeply annoying.
2. Roman Polanski: Accused and convicted of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl, rather than accept responsibility for his actions or stand and fight the charges like a man, he ran to his native France where he's been living in exile since the 1970s.
3. Victor Salva: The director of "Powder" and the "Jeepers Creepers" movies, he confessed to 5 counts of sexual relations with a boy whom he videotaped in sexual situations in the late 1980s.
4. Tom Cruise: He's actually a better person than those listed above, though that's not saying much at all. He has famously (and to his career's great detriment) extolled the virtues of his beloved Church of Scientology as an alternative to peer-reviewed medical and psychiatric treatment, in spite of there being no peer-reviewed evidence to support his claim. I would say more, but I fear lawyers. And Tom, please, PLEASE, try not to ruin Oprah's sofa the next time you feel the need to express your love of Katie Holmes.
5. L. Ron Hubbard: For this person, I cite the First Amendment protection of free speech as outlined in the Constitution of the United States of America. As long as I say nothing libellous, threatening, or patently false, and stick with my own opinions and identify them as such, two centuries of legal precedents are on my side. Though my question is how does one threaten a person who's been dead since the January of 1986... Anyway, in my opinion, he was a third-rate and barely-coherent science fiction writer who then formed a church in 1954, a church that has oft been criticized for a variety of reasons. Also, he's responsible, at least in part, for what is widely regarded as one of the worst films of all time, "Battlefield: Earth," a film so awful that it makes Troma Studios look good.
Now onto the weird shit.
Astrologers everywhere are now pissed off: A tenth planet, at a time when Pluto's status is being questioned, has now been discovered at a distance of 9 billion miles (approx. 14.37 billion kilometres) from the sun. I'm hoping they name it Eros, Kama, or Bob, though the proposed name has not been announced to the public.
Seriously good news for quadruplegics: With the invention of a new electronic device, a quadruplegic man became the first such person to be able to do so assisted. This may help reduce the risk of serious respiratory illnesses and death among quadruplegics.
Lance wins in France, gets screwed by British court: Even after testing clean in hundreds of drug tests over the years, The Sun, a British paper, has been allowed by a British court to not face legal liability for their defamatory stories about Lance Armstrong.
When on a busy highway, don't leave the car while it's running: Robbin Doolin, 31, leaned out of her car door to spit. The car split and careened towards a construction site. She suffered injuries to her leg, arm, and head, though I'd think she'd have had more than enough air in her head to protect her...
Moose takes liking to miniature golf course: The summary says it all.
Decades after Cultural Revolution, Beijing has toilet revolution: As part of its preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games, the city announced plans to renovate 1,263 public lavatories in central districts by the end of 2005.
One of the worst OB/GYN's ever: Dr. Akiva Abraham has been accused of having sex with a troubled 25 y.o. female patient in various places, including his office and a waiting room for doctors on call in an Albany, NY, area hospital. Also, he was accused of delivering the child of a 30 y.o. woman early so that it would not interfere with his vacation. I think he just got promoted to my People Who Suck HoF.
South Korean punk-pop band members perform au naturale: On national television, two members of the Korean punk-pop group RUX, while in heavy makeup, stripped and performed naked for several seconds until cameras shifted away. "Oh yes they called him the streak, liked to show off his physique..."
Damn, I wish I were in Vienna: Visitors to the prestigous Leopold Museum were offered free entry into the new "The Naked Truth" exhibit, a new exhibit of early 1900s erotic art, as long as they arrived scantily clad or naked. Many people took them up on their offer. Why oh why did I have to be in Alabama instead of Austria?
That's all for now.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Within the past couple of days, Alabama has passed a new sex-offender law that requires all sex offenders convicted of Class A felonies to wear an ankle bracelet upon release from prison for 10 years to life. Initially, an amendment to the bill was passed to require surgical castration on those convicted of crimes against children under 12. However, upon the advice of Attorney General Troy King, that language was removed out of concerns that it would ultimately be struck down by the United States Supreme Court and endanger the other provisions of the bill. Lawmakers have pledged to revisit the issue later. The place where the comedy ensues is that the aforementioned former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL) is claiming that the new law, which makes Alabama's laws among the toughest in the nation, isn't strong enough. His stance was that the law should have required a life sentence and castration after the first offense, and capital punishment after the second offense. My questions to former Governor Don are thus: You had four years in office to consider this issue. By that time, there had already been a number of high-profile child murders committed by sex offenders. Why didn't you show the leadership to address the issue then? Also, have you ever even heard of the Constitution of the United States of America, specifically its Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment? And he calls himself a Democrat. lol
Also, the question of castration ignores a couple of simple facts about such crimes. As I've read many experts say, by and large, such crimes are not about sex; they're about power. Also, it's biologically impossible to castrate a woman, and as we've all seen in the news, there is an increasing number of females who commit such crimes against children. The only conclusion I can make is that this is a pathetic attempt by former Governor Siegelman to become relevant in statewide politics again. What he forgets is that he was elected on a platform of "Anyone But Fob (James)," not out of an overriding desire to see him in particular in the Governor's mansion.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
At least no one got hurt: A deceased 49 year old babysitter was struck by a bullet during her wake.
Note to self: If on the run from the law, AVOID POLICE: An escaped convict in Brussels was captured when he attempted to steal the handbag of an off-duty policewoman.
Oh, Oh, Oh how embarrassing: A British couple, who decided to "couple" on the sea just off the shore of Torbay, England, sparked a rescue drama when a passerby mistook their cries of passion for distress.
What an asshole: A man falsely claims that his niece was abducted when his car was stolen in an attempt to get his car recovered faster. Now, not only has he lost a car, he's lost his freedom.
Breasts like a... carburetor?: This year's Bulwer-Lytton award winner won $250 for his opening sentence to an imaginary novel where he compared the act of caressing a woman's breasts to working on a carburetor.
What an amazingly BIGOTED asshole: Fred Phelps, infamous anti-gay activist known for picketing the funerals of murdered gay people, has now taken his antics to a disgusting new low. He and his mindless followers (I refuse to use the term "brainwashed" since that would imply that they have functioning brains) picketed the funeral of a soldier who lost his life in Iraq.
Grandmother gets Tasered and Probation: A grandmother in Kansas City, MO, was tasered by police when she honked her horn, and was later sentenced to probation in an incident that led to the discipline of the two officers involved and a change in department policy.
"And for my next trick, I'm going to turn a former seat of parliament for a brutal dictatorship into a mountain.": Artists have announced plans to turn the former Parliament building for East Germany into a mountain, covering it with cloth and adding other effects to give it a wintry feel. My question: Why?!
That's all for now.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The solution began to be achieved through a simple yet elegant competition, the Ansari X Prize. On May 16, 1996, a competition was announced to create the first craft, fully funded and designed by non-governmental means, to have the capacity to carry 3 people or the weight equivalent into sub-orbital space (defined as an altitude of 100 km or greater) on two consecutive flights in two weeks, using the same craft. The competition was a winner-take-all event, with US$10 million going to the winner. On October 4, 2004, just over 8 years after the prize's creation was announced, Scaled Composites LLC, led by Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen, achieved that second consecutive successful flight with several days to spare within that 2 week window. Also, several other teams from several points around the globe were not far behind, with one of the more intriguing ideas coming from Romania. And while the prize was $10 million, the estimated costs (I'm working from almost a year's memory, so forgive me if the figures are inexact) were around double that, still a bargain compared to the cost of government-sponsored spaceflight.
Given the success of the Ansari X Prize and other aeronautical design and flight competitions in the past, I think the solution is obvious. Set a groundbreaking goal; set aside a significant amount of money as a reward for the successful achievement of the goal; and may the best company win. We've all seen what happens when research and development are left to governments: 30 year old designs without a credible replacement near testing, let alone completion. We as a world are capable of far better, and we should demand better.
As for me, I measure how much I enjoy the company of a child by how many minutes I'm around them before I start to get a migraine; but that's just me.
I'm sure that if you are from a state other than Alabama or its neighbors, you may be of the mistaken belief that Governor Riley is a moderate Democrat. However, the truth could not be a difference. He's a conservative Republican who has (thankfully extremely rarely) cited his faith as a reason for his reform efforts. I think he mishandled the evacuation orders during Hurricane Dennis, and I don't agree with other things that he's done, but I think he's brought an unusual level of integrity and intelligence to the office of the Governor of Alabama. I've spent the better part of the last three years being deeply thankful for the fact that we finally have a governor who is not a complete embarrassment, after a possibly endless stream of those who were. Don Siegelman (D), Fob James (R), Jim Folsom (unknown), Guy Hunt (R), and George Wallace (Dixiecrat) are just a few examples of governors we would have been better off without. I can honestly say that he and Senator Joe Lieberman of, ironically enough, Connecticut, are two of a very small number of politicians who, I feel, have earned my respect.
So to my friends on the left and on the right, I say this as a reminder of the fact that the problem with this nation isn't the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. It's the people who run both of them. Also, I say this as a reminder that I'm not always interested in complaining about problems. Sometimes, I can be positive, when sufficiently motivated, and this news certainly qualifies.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Given the fact that Christian Slater was my hero (namely, his roles in "Pump Up the Volume" and "Heathers"), the fact that I listened to Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and others as they expressed (and possibly fed) my inner anguish, as well as other issues in play at the time, the first wasn't exactly unexpected. I won't go into detail, but I will say that, as I've learned from some of the people I'm close to, some heartbreaks hurt just as much when you've reached middle age as they do when you're in your teens. I would like to think, however, that I would handle it a lot better now than I did back then, were it to recur. I'm certainly at a much happier point in my life now than I was then, though I now have some anxiety problems that did not exist back then, or perhaps were being masked by the other aspects of my inner turmoil. All in all, I say it's a more than fair trade.
On the second count, the most that I can say is that, while I do have tendencies to lean towards pomposity when provoked, at least I'm a lot more mature about it, and again, that aspect of self-loathing isn't there to make those displays virtually unreadable.
On the third count, however, as the host of Various Miseries, and to a far lesser extent, the hosts of Petty Rage, will attest, there's been no real change on that front. But at least my writing style has improved significantly, although I still have a bad case of diarrhea of the keyboard. I guess it's easier for me to say less at Perverted Republican's website since she doesn't spend all that much time talking about policy issues and party politics, focusing more on the first word in her name than the second. But one thing I will say is that at least she's interesting, even if her site isn't exactly appropriate for someone under the age of 18.
Perhaps this post is little more than self-indulgent whimsy, but that's pretty much the nature of most of blogspace, at least, what I've seen of it in my short time as a blogger.
Monday, July 25, 2005
But Mr. Williams, I do thank you for one thing: At least you're only one person, and did not manage to somehow talk, say, the entire players' union into a grand exhibit of pomposity and tactical retardation. You, being only one person and acting on behalf of only yourself, were only able to really fuck yourself up and maybe (okay, PROBABLY) the 2004-05 season for the Miami Dolphins. But, that being said, at least you didn't cost the entire NFL a full season. No, that mark goes to the owners and the players of the NHL. So thank you, Mr. Williams, for not being an even bigger fuckup and for having possible intoxication to blame on your actions. As far as I know, the NHLPA and NHL owners were completely sober during their months of stupidity.
Friday, July 22, 2005
"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
"This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy....
"It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
"There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.... If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield."
Snave, the host of Various Miseries, has posited the theory that the Republican Party is the greatest threat to America, not terrorists. This theory is completely flawed and ignores several basic facts, which I will be mentioning later. First, the desire and the tendency to infringe upon the rights of others and destroy lives for the furtherance of one's own career and goals isn't merely a "Republican" or "Democrat" trait. Nor is Sensenbrenner the only McCarthyist in public service. Several other members of Congress have expressed that trait, and I believe it may be simply a case of power corrupting the corruptible. The most recent to display this trait on the Democrat side in Congress is Senator Durbin.
But if you want to look for racists, the most disgusting of the lot in Congress is a very senior Democrat: Senator Byrd, a man who as recently as 2001 used the "n-word" in a public forum and once served as a recruiter for the KKK, and later claimed that he was young and didn't know that they were a racist organization or that they had problems with anyone who isn't a conservative white Protestant. Bullshit. The KKK has been around since the 1860s-1870s, and in each of its incarnations, they never exactly hid what they believed, so pleas of ignorance are laughable at best, and a thinly-veiled attempt to whitewash a fact that has rightfully destroyed the careers of several Republicans to the point that they have been expunged from the Republican Party at worst. Considering his later actions, the latter is far more believable. The site to which the link belongs has some thought-provoking material.
I've mentioned the recent Kelo vs. Weare, CT and Gonzales vs. Rauch decisions in earlier posts, and these clearly illustrate that both Democrats and Republicans are more than willing to trample on individual rights to further their own agendas. This may leave you wondering what I think about the two major political parties. I don't wholeheartedly agree with people often, but I think Chris Rock was absolutely correct to equate political parties with gangs. The only difference between political parties and gangs is that parties use words instead of guns as weapons, and when it comes to people in power, the pen can be far mightier than the sword. So if asked my opinion of the nature of the greatest threat to America, I would have to go with the increasing polarization of both of the major political parties.
I think, and have said for years, that the two-party system is irreparably flawed, and that the only way to make elections about ideas instead of who looks and sounds better on camera is the creation and/or cultivation of viable third-parties. I think some Democrats and some Republicans are good people who have the public's best interests at heart, just as I believe that others of both parties are the opposite, and that most are somewhere in between. Therefore, I am an unrepentant independent, though if I had to pick a party affiliation, I would probably be closest to the Libertarians, though by that I mean their pre-1988 form. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that I'm sick and damned tired of having to pick a candidate from two almost equally awful choices.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Those who burn Harry Potter books are, pretty much without exception, conservative evangelical Christians who think these books promote witchcraft. I don't know about you, but I've never found a site for Wiccans that even mentioned the terms "Alohamora," "Wingardium Leviosa," or "Whomping Willow Tree". I'd wager that, if one were to do so, it would either be done in jest or exasperation, or that Wiccan would be one of the countless millions of Harry Potter fans who have made J.K. Rowling one of the richest women in the world. I haven't read any of the books, but I have watched one or two of the movies, and found them at least entertaining enough to make one viewing not a waste of my time. These are books that promote imagination and respect for others, and actually get children to read. These books are so entertaining that the fandom crosses generational lines. For those reasons alone, I think Harry Potter's a good thing.
Furthermore, book burning has a very nasty past. Look throughout history at the regimes that burned books, and you'll find some of the most brutally oppressive in the history of the world. But I must admit that I do find one thing funny about the book burners. Assuming they are doing so legally, as opposed to committing the crimes of theft and arson, the book burners had to buy the books. So, in essence, they're showing their opposition to Harry Potter by supporting its author. That would be like someone showing his/her opposition to the cruel treatment of animals by buying veal. Great job, morons. But I must also admit that I'm thankful for stupid people on some level: They keep me laughing, as long as they're not actually harming anyone else in the process.
Monday, July 11, 2005
I and those I care about came through the storm unharmed. I was very glad that his maximum sustained winds weakened 15 mph before landfall. The difference between a moderate Category 3 and a low-Category 4, in the damage it causes, is significant, and while I'm very sad for those who were adversely affected by Hurricane Dennis, that sadness is tempered by the knowledge that it could very easily have been far worse. Living in any part of the Gulf Coast, you live with the knowledge that, in any year, it may be your time for a big storm to hit. It's a fear we all live with, and one with which we have all become unhappily accustomed.
Those in the affected areas will once again have a tough time rebuilding after this storm, and with this only being July 11, more than 3 months from the end of hurricane season, the anxiety of those along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and other nations will only continue to rise. As for me, I hope any storms that do form move so fast that they shear apart as we've seen in the past, go into the shipping lanes in the Atlantic, far from land, or, if they do make landfall, arrive only as a minimal Category 1.
Tropical Depression 5 is currently in the Atlantic and expected to organize into Tropical Storm Emily, possibly as early as this evening, with possible upgrading to hurricane status on Thursday. Nothing would please me more than for this to be inaccurate, but as I've said time and again during Dennis, when it comes to the safety of yourself and/or those you care about, it's far better to be wrong and alive than it is to be wrong and dead.
For those reading this in the Southeast and elsewhere, stay safe, and keep a watchful eye on the skies. You never know when they can turn ugly.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Sunday, July 03, 2005
The... Coffee??? is mightier than the sword: A 50-y.o. shop clerk warded off a knife-wielding robber with a cup of coffee. She just proved that coffee is useful for more than just getting that morning caffeine fix. I wonder what she fixed: A double-mochaespresso with a healthy topping of Whoop-ass?
And some people just THINK they live in the airport: In a case of life, imitating art, imitating life, a Kenyan man renounced his Kenyan citizenship and stayed in Nairobi's international airport to protest the denial of his entry into the United Kingdom. What makes this stupid is that, according to UK officials, he needlessly made his desired entry into the UK more complicated. The rewards of being an ass are readily apparent to anyone.
And finally, I can't make this shit up: An Estonian, once again, won the World Wife-Carrying competition, the same competition that Dennis Rodman pulled out of shortly before the race. Rodman cited fears that it may hurt his back since he has not trained for the event. Given that the minimum weight of the female is 108 lbs. according to the rules, I'd think that would've been nothing for Rodman. After all, that's only 1 percent of the weight of his ego.
And that's all for now.
Why do the French hate Lance Armstrong because he outclasses them, both as a cyclist and as a person?
Perhaps there is a way to end this type of harassment, for Lance and for any future person who approaches his greatness: Boycotting anyone who sponsors the Tour de France itself. The team sponsors are just trying to win, but the sponsors and the suppliers of the race itself would be able and inclined to put some serious pressure on the village idiots who run the show now, if they noticed that they were losing money because of this foolishness. Also, they are tacitly approving of this by virtue of their sponsorship of the race. The full list of all sponsors is here. This would not be unprecedented in the U.S., and as a result, intolerable behavior by the responsible parties has been corrected or ended, or, more rarely, those organizations who engage in the intolerable behavior have ceased to exist. After these years of harassment that Mr. Armstrong has faced with far more grace than I would have shown, I can't say that I care. In the immortal words of the Bard who resided on the River Avon, "Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of war."