Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Could we see the tape on that one?

A man has pleaded guilty to trespassing in connection with a fatal horse-sex case.

[He] admitted to officers that he entered a neighboring barn last July with friend Kenneth Pinyan to have sex with a horse, charging papers said. Tait was videotaping the episode when Pinyan suffered internal injuries that led to his death.

. . .

The prosecutor's office said no animal cruelty charges were filed because there was no evidence of injury to the horses.


Personally, I think the "internal injuries" line is a bit misleading. At least, I hope so.

If you think that's bad . . .

"Death toll from road accidents 390 times that from terrorism: study"

Gee, that sounds tough. I wonder what the numbers are for old age?

The War On Terror, Education, The Economy...

It's come to my attention that some people feel there's a "war" against Christmas in this country. Some even want to boycott stores where employees say awful things like "Happy Holidays."

I'd call this Exhibit A of people with too much time on their hands.

Who Runs The World Again?

Sometimes when I talk politics with my more conspiratorial friends, they'll say "you don't think the government really runs things, do you?" "Who does, then?" "Corporations."

I'd laugh except they seem to be serious. Now I'll admit corporations have some power, and can do wrong with it, and should be prosecuted when they commit crimes. I'll even admit I'm extremely concerned when the free market gets deformed by government and big business being in cahoots, but that's because it is the government that runs things.

Anyway, for the people who believe corporations are behind everything, I ask them if they've ever tried to run one? It's not just a bunch of rich people sitting around in boardrooms smoking cigars and determining the shape of our lives. Quite the opposite. Corporations are run by people who work endlessly, worried about losing market share and, eventually, their jobs. If you ran a huge business and someone told you were in charge of the world, you'd manage a few bitter laughs before getting back to work.

I remember when I was a kid in Detroit, Chrysler, Ford and GM were three of the five biggest corporations in the country (perhaps the world). If these guys were in charge of everything, they certainly did a lousy job protecting themselves, since Chrysler has been bought by a foreign company while Ford and GM seem to be basket cases these days.

Meanwhile, what are some of the biggest companies today? Well, there's Microsoft and Google. They didn't even exist when I was a kid--who let them in? And I'm not just talking about new technologies. Today's #1 corporation is Wal-Mart. How could this happen in a world where Sears and K-Mart were running things?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NPR watch IV

Holy Moly. Give both NPR and a Democrat congressman props. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) actually visited Iraq and told the truth: We're winning.

Expect to find his political career at Ft. Marcy park.

Oh, and don't forget Joe Lieberman. Why didn't he win the Democrat nomination, again?

Scary Potter

I recently saw Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. I thought it was a pretty good entry in the film series--partly because it broke the mold and didn't waste any time with his awful muggle family. Still, I had one major problem.

Earlier, I've complained about Quidditch, which is such a big deal in the Potter universe. The game makes no sense, since all the flying about doesn't matter--whoever catches the golden snitch pretty much wins, and that's that. It's as if the Super Bowl were decided by a side-game of tiddly winks.

In Goblet Of Fire, the concentration is now on the Triwizard Tournament. This sounds fine until you realize what it means. Large crowds turn out to cheer on the young wizards as if this is some sporting event. Instead, these are tests where any one of them may die at any second. The crowd shouldn't be excited--they should be in a state of constant horror.

Lost Opportunities

The following is about the TV series Lost. If you don't watch the show, much of it will be unintelligible. Furthermore, it contains spoilers if you ever intend to catch up. Read at your own risk.

Many fans of Lost complain the story moves too slowly. This is partly because each episode feature flashbacks. Since I consider this fleshing out part of the overall story, I don't mind, but it does take away considerable time that would otherwise be spent on the island.

If anything, I'd complain that they often skip over big moments too quickly. There are so many things going on, and so many unanswered questions, that the show is a bit like plate-spinning, where the writers have to keep running back to older stories to make sure we're updated. And in some cases, they miss scenes and even stories that could have been great.

For example, in the first season, Locke and Boone find a hatch and spend several episodes trying to open it. Their quest ultimately leads to tragedy. At this point, Sayid goes to Locke and demands to know what's been going on--"no more lies." Oddly, though, the next episode has Sayid and Locke leading Jack to the hatch. The potentially great scene of Sayid discovering the hatch had been passed over completely.

Last week, though, there was so much going on, the writers could hardly deal with it. They either ignored, or treated shallowly, or put on hold, about 95% of the storyline.

Two weeks ago, we had the tailies, along with original castaways Sawyer, Michael and Jin, traveling across the island to find the other survivors. Meanwhile, Shannon chased after a (phantom?) Walt, with Sayid following her. The two groups met with the surprise ending (that had been published on the internet weeks before) of Ana Lucia shooting Shannon.

So last week, there was a lot to deal with. What happened, after a brief tussle, was Sayid being tied to a tree while the near-nutty Ana Lucia tried to hold everyone together at gunpoint. Eventually all got free and went over to the original survivors' camp, while Jack came back to meet Ana Lucia.

Now there were a lot of characters meeting each other and exchanging info, but there was even still more missed. Alas, a lot of it was glossed over by the now-cliched (and never entertaining) Lost ending of music played over slow-motion reunions. And even more time was taken up with Ana Lucia's flashback, where we discovered she was equally unpleasant back in her days as an LA cop. (I have to admit I've found her character to be a disappointment. Michelle Rodriquez as the "tough gal" is a cliche. Her first appearance on the show was as a surprisingly flirtatious babe. Since then, all we've seen is the tough chick, before and after. Another deficiency--I believe hers was the first original flashback that didn't show what she was doing in Sydney flying to Los Angeles.) Luckily, the tailies also feature Mr. Eko, who's great.

So here are just a few of the big things the characters are learning in the episode, any one of which could make for a big scene, even a big episode: That the guys on the raft were lost at sea. That Walt was taken from them while Sawyer, now close to death, was shot. That they made it to land. That they met others who were survivors from the tail section. That these people had found a cement structure of some sort rigged with electricity. That "the Others" had killed or taken most of the tailies.

In the other direction, Jin, Michael and Sawyer had a lot to find out--in particular this hatch had been found and opened, and there were a lot of amazing things down there, especially the button that needs to be pushed every 108 minutes. (Incidentally, Michael and others sure had a lot of faith in Jack as a doctor--there's no way they could have known he now had the medicine needed to fix Sawyer.) Heck, they didn't even know that Arzt had blown up yet.

Then there's the Shannon story. She's dead and that's hardly registered on anyone. And while it seemed like there might be some sort of stand-off between Sayid and Ana-Lucia, it kind of fizzled out. And what about the phantom Walt? I believe Michael mentioned to Sayid Walt was taken, but Sayid didn't bring up the visions of Walt that he and Shannon had.

Then there are all the reunions, which were mostly glossed over in the ghastly slow-mo sequence--Jin and Sun, Rose and Bernard, even Michael and Vincent the dog.

The episode ended with a face-off between fellow leaders and flirters, Jack and Ana-Lucia. There are a lot of places to go from here. I hope they don't miss the best scenes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Animal husbandry

It's not like His Virtualness to make this kind of mistake: He writes about zootropic flu strains, including not just avian flu that has everyone agog, but also a porcine variety (Porky flu?), then states, "So we need to worry about sanitation on pig farms, not just poultry farms."

It's been awhile since I've hauled out my FFA manuals, but I think the theory, if not the practice, is to worry about the sanitary conditions of all your animals, perfessor. (Of course, how that comports with most modern farm factories, I can't say, except that it doesn't.)

That Drudge

Drudge links to the same story twice. The first Drudge link headline is in red at the top of the main page, "Piece of Supreme Court facade falls."

The second Drudge headline is in ordianry black several headlines down and substantially tracks the actual article's headline,"Marble chunks fall from Supreme Court."

As His Virtualness would say, "Heh."

Analyze This

I recently heard some news, or news analysis (I'm not sure what they'd call it) on the radio about the Bush Administration's new push toward diplomacy. I won't rehearse the whole thing, but let me describe the highlights.

State Department officials who favor diplomacy (whatever that means, since everyone favors it) and oppose the war, and only such people, were interviewed to explain the latest Condi Rice maneuvers on the world scene. The central concept was now that the Iraq war has failed, the Bush people have been forced to go back to rational, proven methods.

Let's look at the record, shall we? Diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, which we've been working at for years, has a record, as far as I can tell, of utter failure. It's just a game where they say what they think we want to hear while they do whatever they want. Meanwhile, the Iraq war has been a success, removing an extremely serious threat (luckily for those who oppose the war, Saddam is vanquished so they can pretend he wasn't a problem) and replacing it with a country that is moving towards democracy. We should continue with diplomacy, as we always have, but I think it'll work a lot better on countries like Iran if they understand our patience is not unlimited.

Now if we can only get this concept through to the chuckleheads at the State Department, who don't see dictatorships and democracies, but just bunches of folks they talk to.

I also caught an analyst on CNN (sorry, didn't catch the name) who said we had to pull out of Iraq immediately to win the war on terror. Why? Because our occupation of Iraq works against us and makes Arabs and Muslims suspect our motives and doubt our good will.

Leaving aside that an immediate pullout would give the terrorists a huge victory, what bothered me most was that lack of follow-up. Why didn't Wolf Blitzer (I use the name generically--I don't know who was interviewing this expert) ask "do you believe we want to see Democracy succeed in Iraq and, while we obviously have our own self-interest, too, would also like to see it spread throughout the Middle East, along with peace and prosperity?"

If the expert believes we don't care if Iraq is a democracy or becomes a fascist state again, he's too stupid to listen to. If he thinks we do care, then it would mean the problem is one of perception in the Arab world. We, in fact, are not working against them, but (according to this analyst) they think we are. This would then mean that this expert feels it's better to appease people who believe racist lies than try to explain to them that they are mistaken.

Diversity In The University

David Horowitz has a point when he complains about the pall of orthodoxy at the present-day university. Too many departments have been taken over by people who think alike on controversial political issues. For example, if professors of Middle Eastern studies believe that western colonialism, American imperialism and Israeli militarism are the root of all problems in that area, and only teach that point of view, then their students are being cheated by this impoverished, even false view of the world.

However, Horowitz's proposed solution, an "Academic Bill of Rights," is a bad idea. Either it has teeth or not. If it doesn't , who cares? If it does, it could force professors to teach what they don't believe, which is bad for academic freedom (even if the profs hide behind this very freedom), and could lead to all sorts of useless complaints from too-easily aggrieved parties.

Nevertheless, when academics are actually asked to defend their positions to a greater public, as usual, they make a hash of it. A good example is the intellectual dishonesty seen in Russell Jacoby's LA Times commentary. Instead of taking on the student's bill of rights honestly, and admitting it tries to address a serious problem, Jacoby caricatures the situation. The only examples Jacoby gives are forcing professors to teach nonsense like astrology, intelligent design and Holocaust denial.

Jacoby, a history professor at UCLA, ends with the reminder "Truth itself is partisan." Glad to hear he believes that. But scary, if I were a student, that my history prof seems to think he's the one in full possession of it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

He misspoke

NPR just ran its weekly corrections. Single sentence correction about a story on I. Scooter Libby; the reporter (missed the name) "said I. Scooter Libby was indicted for outing Valerie Plame. He misspoke. As several of you wrote in to tell us, Libby was indicted on perjury, lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice."

No, folks, he didn't misspeak. He spoke your worldview, quite accurately. Just like you think Clinton was impeached (and not indicted) for sex. Maybe you NPR hotshots are smart enough, and now distanced enough, to tell us upon what charges he was impeached?

Good news!

Hey, guess what? I don't remember who Harriet Miers is! Or Trent Lott!

Ayn Rand Lite

I rarely use this blog just to link to other things--we all know there's plenty out there. But I happened to see something amusing on the Canadian site "GayandRight" (which I occasionally check out because it shares our template) and I thought I'd share it with our Canadian readers. The piece is a bit much, but then, that's the point.

Mickey Kaus, conservative blogger

One Philip Sherwell writes, "Mickey Kaus, a leading conservative Internet blogger, predicted that any attempt by the pair to equivocate over Iraq would backfire: 'The new trick won't work.'"

Seasonal Music Sellout

I've complained about how great songs are cheapened by use in commercials. Instead of conjuring up a unique image in your mind, the song is now tied to some product.

But it doesn't always have to be that way.

For instance, I love the songs people sing around Christmas, and since they're so widespread, it doesn't hurt them to be used in Christmas commercials as well.

But even fine non-seasonal songs can sometimes work out. When certain songs are mostly forgotten, it's nice to hear them again, and see them reintroduced into public awareness. For instance, I've always loved Fats Domino's "Whole Lotta Lovin'" but I haven't heard it anywhere in years, so it's nice to hear it again in a Kohl's commerical. It might even make some people go out and buy his greatest hits.

Then there are cases where cool new versions of songs are introduced. For instance, there's a great, acoustic-type cover of the Blondie-popularized "Hanging On The Telephone" in a current Cingular commercial. I don't think we'd have heard this version otherwise--I actually look forward to the commercial (though it makes me want to get the son, not the product).

The Large Nap

I just caught The Big Sleep on TCM. It's my favorite Bogart film and I've seen it countless times. Yet, if you want a description, don't ask me, I have no idea what's going on.

The movie, in fact, is famous not only for its clever dialogue and thrilling scenes, but for the impenetrability of its plot. If you honestly want to know what's happening, check the link, which goes over the film practically line by line. Me, I don't want to. Ignorance is bliss. Every time I watch the film it feels like the first time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The tie that binds

ColumbusGal and I loved Walk the Line. There were a few heavy moments in the first half hour, a bit overdone, and the scenes of the early boys (Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy) were a little bit too much caricature, but overall everyone involved did nicely, even very well. The Carter family was handled superbly -- maybe because they're only pop-subculture. Give the players that old time Oscar religion.

Logrolling

Last week in the LA Times, Richard Schickel raved over three volumes of John Simon's collected criticism.

Now, in the New York Times, John Simon raves over Schickel's biography of Elia Kazan.

Coincidence? Sure, why not.

Did I Hear You Correctly?

David Edelstein starts his review of Syriana stating the Bush Administration is trying to demonize all opposition to its policies in the Middle East. Given this "climate," Edelstein calls it a "miracle" that a movie suggesting the Bush people might be wrong--i.e., that the whole situation is very complex and that America is as much at fault as any other player--could be released by a major Hollywood studio right now.

I've often disagreed with Edelstein's politics, but up until now I've never thought he was stupid.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Another milestone

We ("we" meaning someone else) started this blog over a year ago, and only recently did we get out our 1000th post. AnnArborGuy did the counting, and I'll take his word for it--scroll down a few days to see his celebration of this fact.

Much more recently we started counting the number of hits we get, and I'm pleased to announce we just passed 1000. Keep on reading and we'll keep on writing.

Can't Turn Around For A Second

I was gone for about a week, and what should I discover when I return? I open the sliding door to the balcony, and a bunch of pigeons have taken up residence. And they're persistent--I had to force some out with a broom.

I soon found out why. They'd built a nest. And there was a little pigeon egg. Sorry, had to toss it.

Does anyone know how to get rid of pigeons? I don't want to have to chase them away. I want them to understand they are not welcome to begin with.

That Which Will Not Be Mentioned

Well, I'm back, and fully recovered from the OSU game. I don't want to talk about it.

Okay, one thing. We had the Buckeyes right where we wanted them. If our defense didn't completely fall apart in the fourth quater (an all too common occurrence) I would have been a lot more thankful on Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanks

Here at Pajama Guy the Guys give thanks to our readers. Cheers to Gary J. Introne, SexieRexie, the ghost of Yost, more that I can't think of at this moment, and of course the prolific Anonymous.

Enjoy the feast, guys and gals, keep the words coming, and when you have a chance, send a few of them this way.

Give thanks!

Counting my many blessings along with the rest. Much of the discussion of the blog is entertainment or political. Neither having much to do with what occupies most of my time. Of course AnnArborGal and A2Kids occupy a lot of my thoughts and I give thanks for them each day. Gratitude is the natural reaction to looking at your life and knowing that you did NOT earn most or any of what you got. Still we tend to take it all for granted just about as naturally. Good to have times to reflect and give thanks. As the link says, "God rules the world."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fair and balanced

NPR's Don Gonyea and Jackie NOrtham have a nice ironic piece today. They're fact-checking the arguments over whether the Bush administration lied over Iraq. To their credit, they've had to recast it for the piece, into whether the argument was skewed in favor of war. The irony? THeir piece is skewed into the affirmative. Their method is to set up a pro-Bush point, and then implicitly knock it down. They do this about six times. Piece over.

THe most egregious lie NPR tells (why not get into the spirit?) is that there wasn't any connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Don, Jackie, meet Stephen. Maybe all that high intellect at NPR could address just the 40 documents that a real reporter uncovered, or maybe they could explain why it's okay for Saddam to offer rewards to Palestinian suicide bombers. And I'm sure they will someday, if Hillary decides to bomb the place, but right now they've got other priorities, dig?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

1000

I am honored, truly humbled to submit the 1000th post on this blog. Who knew when the late pajamaguy began this blog that it would have such a run? Thanks to all our readers. (We know you are out there.) LAGuy, wish you were here.

Can't we all just get along?

Chris Matthews and I agree: When it comes to al-qaeda, he says, "They just have a different perspective."

Indubitably. I do think, however, that Chris and I have disagreements when it comes to the appropriate civil discourse on their different perspective. On that score, al-Qaeda and I are thinking pretty much along the same lines:



UPDATE: Turns out al-Qaeda, me and Matthews are all in agreement after all. Matthews says it's a case of a reporter hearing what he wanted, telling Powerline that in fact what he said was, "Hunt them down and kill them one at a time and be rough about it." (Watch his show for discussions of Bush administration malfeasance on torture.)

Flip story

Everyone has surely seen the story of Bush making a face when he pulled on a locked door while leaving a press conference. Our daily ran it. The link above is to the BBC, stalwart conservative Bush supporters.

It's silly enough. If you want to catch someone making a face all you have to do is try. You could even do it with Bill. And when someone deliberately makes a joke, well, you just have to wonder if the Manhattan media picks and chooses when to cover it (No, really, just suspend disbelief, and it's possible to wonder what the Manhattan media's method is).

Perhaps I'm wrong, but isn't there a segment of the media and the other Democrats who believes Bush is stupid?

But for all the media coverage of a trivial moment, nothing beats The Old Gray Mare. They didnt' run the one photo of Bush pulling the face. No, they ran, count them, four photos, telling an entire story.

Could this be funny and interesting? I'm skeptical. But if you're an editor, I think you have to ask yourself, does this fit a story line that you, your staff and a large part of your readership believe, rather than news? And if you're perpetuating that storyline when it's not news, what exactly are you?

Monday, November 21, 2005

No fool like an old fool

Like all junkies I enjoyed the Democrats Friday fiasco, with Rep. Murtha (a decorated war hero! Vietnam! John Kerry!).

It's too bad the Republicans didn't adopt Murtha's resolution as drafted. It would have been hillaryious to see them vote on that.

And don't you love all the commentary about Republicans pulling a political stunt? I suppose it's possible Murtha is sincere, he's stupid and arrogant enough (but then the whole of the 435 seem to be) but clearly the Democrats are willing to be traitorous and pull stunts all day (What's Bill's position today?) The Iraqi front of the war is nearly over, but the Manhattan media is still peddling the silly line that it's a failure and a quagmire.

Not to worry. The Democrats will still be "reporting for duty" in 2006.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Coyoteville

ColumbusGal and I had the nicest experience Saturday. We have two dogs. One's a black lab, and you know how they are. They want to go with you, and if you're meeting with your banker, they're cool with that. They've got a tie somewhere.

Our other is a bad boy appropriately named "Wolf" by the six-year-old ColumbusDaughter 11 years ago, for how he looks, sounds and behaves

They've aged and so our walking range has narrowed, but the other day we took them to an isolated field that we used to take them to every day. Lots of acreage and woods and no population or use, yet right near the heart of town. ColumbusGal likes to lie in the sun and the boys can disappear for an hour if they like, except the lab, of course.

But after 15 minutes of sun, what do we see except a coyote walking through an open field coming up to about 50 yards of us to look, with Wolf right behind, happy as a lark. We start calling our boy, because we figure it's even money whether he'll be eaten or decide to join a more productive pack, and then what do we see but a pair of the coyotes on either end of our boy running out of the woods and over a hill?

By this point we pack our home boy in the car and go walking and calling. After 25 minutes we quit and meet to regroup, but for whatever reason our boy chose that time to rejoin us, out of breath and quite satisfied. Our pack won. Or he couldn't keep up with his homies. Anyway, we're happy he's not lunch.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Here's Johnny

Poor Johnny Depp. First the U.S. is a stupid puppy country and he won't live there until the political climate changes, and now France sucks. What's next, Johnny? Couldn't they use your help in, say, Darfur? What's that? They're cleaning up a room for you in Monaco? C'est la vie.

Vacation

I've still got plenty to say, but I figure it's time to give my poor readers a rest. Therefore, I will be on vacation for about a week. Until I resume blogging, I trust ColumbusGuy and AnnArborGuy will pick up the slack.

Columbus Guy says: Talk about an act of faith.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Easier said than done

Jack Murtha is finding out tonight what happens when your ideas are turned into a congressional resolution. If you are a congressman that is something to ponder prior to speaking. A Republican congresscritter decided to see if the Dems mean what they say when they call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Amazingly 3 people called for immediate withdrawal and several others either abstained or were not present. 403 voted to keep troops there. So now the question which should be obvious is, if the war is so unpopular, why don't the dems want to be on the side of getting out now?

I will say, for the sake of balance that the Bush plan for the war was also way easier said than done. Notwithstanding that the war has gone well when compared historically, the American people seem to have less tolerance for American loss of life than ever. It certainly has not helped (and in my opinion encouraged the resistance) that many dems have made this political. But also importantly we are fighting a different kind of enemy.

Quantum Queries

Finally caught the cult hit What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? Who the #$*! paid money to see this concatenation of half-baked pseudo-science!? Where the #$*! do the filmmakers get off pretending this thing makes sense!? Why the #$*! did I waste nearly two hours of my life watching this!?

Chutzpah

The old definition of chutzpah was someone who murders his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

We may have a new winner. You know, I could take a few paragraphs and explain why, but maybe it's just best to reprint a few lines from this Reuters story in its pristine beauty:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Joseph Wilson, the husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, called on Thursday for an inquiry by The Washington Post into the conduct of journalist Bob Woodward, who repeatedly criticized the leak investigation without disclosing his own involvement.

"It certainly gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. He was taking an advocacy position when he was a party to it," Wilson said.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What did the Buddhist say to the pizza delivery boy?

"Machines will take over from humans as the biggest users of the Internet in a brave new world of electronic sensors, smart homes, and tags that track users' movements and habits, the UN's telecommunications agency predicted."

Bad day for free speech

First a Communist knucklehead gets it in Hungary for wearing a Communist star, and then a would-be Nazi, fully fledged buffoon gets it in Austria for a decades old speech saying Adolph was swell.

Given that much of our free speech jurisprudence is built around Nazis-in-Skokie stuff, it's a bad day for the First Amendment. But wait! There is no First Amendment at the U.N.! Yay! They're in compliance with the law! International law, no less!

The Big Game

...is, of course, OSU versus Michigan.

I just heard the good news. Because of a local ABC blackout, ESPN will broadcast the game out here in LA. Not seeing it (in one form or another) would be unthinkable. I haven't missed it in decades.

A month ago, it looked like it just might be another game, but, as the gods decreed, it's the most important game of the season. It will determine major bowl games for either team and may also decide who takes the conference.

Michigan, understandably, is the underdog. They might be on fire, and it might be a home game, but they are facing a team that's only lost twice, both times to top five teams, in their only close games this season.

For great coverage of the rivalry--from an Ann Arbor guy point of view, not a Columbus guy point of view--check out my friend's blog The M Zone. If you're a Buckeye fan, however, I'm guessing Pajama Guy is already too intellectually challenging for you to be reading this post.

Same Old Same Old

Extremely conventional editorial by Brian C. Anderson (author of South Park Conservatives) in the LA Times. It's the old "Hollywood-is-failing-because-it's-out-touch" claim. Nothing to get excited about--conservatives write this one on autopilot while they're thinking of something original to say.

You know the story. Movie attendance is down this year. (Mind you, even when attendance isn't down they make the same argument.) Why? Because the messages behind the films go against what the mainstream wants. While this might be part of the explanation, it's hard to ignore other factors, such as newer media (including DVDs) that have people entertaining themselves.

Anderson points to the conventional (cliched?) messages behind blockbusters like The Incredibles, Lord Of The Rings and Spider-Man. Hmm, looks to me like the secret formula is special effects and a whole lotta violence. (The biggest hit out right now, if you look at cost-to-profit ratio, is a film of relentless sadism, Saw II.)

What's most maddening about this dusty dust-up is the surprising strength of the meme that says attendance dropped in half in the 1960s, when Hollywood starting getting "countercultural." This stat is based on a flawed study that has been tirelessly promoted by Hollywood enemy #1 Michael Medved. In fact, the greatest drop in attendance was from the late 40s to early 60s, as television took over. Since the early 60s, attendance has been fairly stable.

PS For some reason, Anderson chooses Bonnie And Clyde (1967) and Shampoo (1975) as examples of Hollywood being "anti-establishment." These films, both starring Warren Beatty, were huge hits--Hollywood wishes it could turn out more stuff like this. Anderson then tries to dismiss them anyway, saying Bonnie And Clyde is only 850th on the all-time money list, but even he must know you can't compare grosses from different eras. Taking inflation into account, Bonnie and Clyde is one the top 200 all-time grossers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Here's a nice Manhattan media treat, in its entirety:

The United States made a "big mistake" when it invaded Iraq, former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday, citing the lack of planning for what would happen after dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
"Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done, " Clinton told students at the American University of Dubai.
"It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."
Clinton did however say that the United States had done some good things in Iraq: the removal of Saddam, the ratification of a new constitution, and the holding of parliamentary elections.

So the questions are, why do we care what Clinton says; was it really an error to think it was easy to get rid of Saddam, given that he was chased out, well, easily; if "it's a good thing," why does he not agree with it; and since the good things include ratifying a new constitution and electing a parliament (which seems to negate the "hard to unify" bad thing), what exactly makes anything a "big mistake"?

It's simply hilarious. Iraq is possibly the most successful, least costly war in history, which in addition to accomplishing its immediate objectives, is jerking an entire culture 1000 years out of the past. This is epochal stuff. But the Manhattan media is only concerned about what Bill Clinton says? What does it matter? He lies even if he's accidentally telling the truth. And ought not even a nothing story like this at least be coherent?

UPDATE: Kaus thinks this nonsense is a deliberate Clinton straddle strategy. THere's no question that the Clintons are both willing and able to pull all sorts of strings --there is no doubt they are behind the effort to make the preacher Ted Strickland governor of Ohio, although I doubt there's a single word of it anywhere in the press--but Mickey's overthinking this one. This is just Bill's ego.

And AP isn't the only Manhattan media performing a Lewinsky on The Prez. Check out David Granger from Esquire, labeling Bill the "most influential man in the world."

Esquire editor David Granger argued that Clinton was poised to become "something like a president of the world or at least a president of the world's non-governmental organizations."

Doesn't that just sound like a junior high school kid? "Something like a president of the world." "Yeah, like that." (This world-president stuff must be an Article IV power, or maybe Article VIII. I can't quite place it. Steven Breyer? LAGuy's common law? International law?)

No, Mickey, Clinton strategy is a little more down to earth and sensible. This is pure ego.

Lying liars

So I pick up one of these mindless, ubiquitous brochures while I'm waiting for this or that bureaucratic process to unfold. It happens to be from the American Cancer Society. It's 20 pages long or so, full of tips on quitting. It ends with two tips that may be "especially helpful."

One of them is, don't beat yourself up if you slip. Fair enough.

The other?

"Think about how tobacco companies have manipulated you . . . For example, tobacco industry studies done in the 1960's found nicotine was addictive. Yet these studies weren't made public until 1994. During the 30-plus years the tobacco industry was keeping this secret, 9 million Americans died from illnesses caused by tobacco."

Excuse me? Keeping nicotine addiction secret? I left elementary school by the mid 1970's, and we'd been indoctrinated quite well, thank you very much, that cigarettes were addictive. My parents lost more than one pack involuntarily down the toilet, thanks to their little storm trooper. This sort of garbage is known as a "lie."

And it's so unnecessary. It's not like the tobacco companies have the high ground. "Could you please pay us ridiculous money for weeds and die an early and painful death so we can send our kids to Princeton?"

Negative = Positive

I looked forward to reading Michael Massing's latest piece in The New York Review Of Books, "The End Of News?". I thought it would be an interesting discussion of the rise of conservative media from the viewpoint of the Left. Instead, it was the same old cluelessness that helped create a need for a conservative media to begin with.

In the introduction, Massing complains about a press that's too wimpy, compared to the glory days of the Pentagon Papers. Apparently, back then the media would stare down the White House, while today they're too ready to apologize. This is silly nostalgia. In fact, the media was much more pliant back in the 60s, and only after the double whammy of Vietnam and Watergate did they become relentlessly adversarial as a default position. In fact, they want to cause trouble so badly, they often go too far, hence all the apologies these days.

Massing, needless to say (alas), thinks Bush has had it way too easy, but listen to the end of his intro:
With the President's poll numbers down and infighting among conservatives more visible, the coverage of Washington has sharpened of late, but overall the climate remains hostile to good reporting.
Got that? "Good reporting" doesn't mean getting it right, it means keeping it negative.

Massing starts with the rise of right wing radio, followed by Fox News, then conservative bloggers, and how they all interact. It's a familiar litany, but the story, well told, is still worth hearing. The trouble is, along the way, he keeps showing how--and I hate this phrase, but it fits--he just doesn't get it. He might ask himself why conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have been so successful--why there was such a big niche waiting to be filled. I'm not saying he has to to agree with them, just understand them. But this seems beyond him.

Amazingly, even before Rush happened, Massing believes the media in the mid-80s were already so intimidated--apparently by a few studies on media bias (!)--that they had a near-hands off approach toward Reagan. I'm sure we all remember that golden age when the press supported supply-side economics during the recession of '82, and then kept a lid on all the dirt coming out of the Iran-Contra hearings.

There are many examples in the piece demonstrating Massing's one-dimensional view of the media, and, in fact, the world. For instance, after condemning Fox for weakening news coverage overall, (he refers to a mysterious "Fox effect"--sounds like something they should investigate on the SciFi Channel), he does see one bright, shining moment where the press finally got it right--hurricane Katrina. Forget that there was more misinformation than information in the early reporting--it's good enough for Massing that the blame (probably incorrectly) was placed squarely on the Bush administration. This gives Massing so much hope, in fact, that he says the media might make it through yet. (For similar bizarre claims, see Al Gore.)

But Massing really loses it in discussing the internet. His characterization of Rathergate is astonishing:
When 60 Minutes ran its segment on the memos about George Bush's National Guard service, [conservative website] Power Line led the way in raising doubts about the authenticity of the documents and the reliability of their source. After CBS apologized, the remaining serious questions about Bush's National Guard service were abruptly dropped by CBS and the press in general.
(He then refers us to a previous piece in the Review Of Books on this issue, which was the most preposterous thing I have ever read in any periodical that I didn't find stuck under my windshield wiper.) So Rathergate isn't about catching CBS trying to bring down Bush by using obviously fraudulent documents, it's about how CBS was cowed into stopping important research.

Let me count a few ways this is wrong. First, this story was widely reported in 2000 (and perhaps earlier) in hopes of bringing down Bush--the whole thing was merely a rehash in 2004, just in time for Bush's second run for President. The only thing "new" about it, that made it even potentially newsworthy, were the documents--no forgeries, no story. Second, there are lots of reason to doubt these negative legends about Bush, but CBS, consistently and conscientiously, seemed to avoid reporting any contrary evidence. Third, even if it were all true, it's actually a pretty trivial story that tells us little or nothing about what sort of President he'd be--how he'd already performed in office was incomparably more significant.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I was hoping Massing, as an outsider, could give us something useful and objective. Instead it's just another missive from the liberal cocoon.

Columbus Guy says: Who are you really?

Brief Encounter

I used to be a regular at the Silent Movie Theatre. I saw a fair share of celebrities dropping by, including Quentin Tarantino, Johnny Depp and Marlee Matlin.

I remember about five years ago I was there with a friend. He spotted this cute, tall girl and asked "do we know her?" I looked over and, after a while, figured it out. I walked over to her and asked "were you an alien in Galaxy Quest?" She admitted she was. I said she did a great job (she did, by the way) and she graciously accepted the compliment, though I didn't get the feeling she enjoyed being recognized--I think she was just waiting for her boyfriend to come out of the bathroom so they could leave.

Since then, I've noticed her whenever she's on TV (I just saw her on My Name Is Earl) or movies. In fact, she seems to be in about every other movie I watch.

Anyway, happy birthday, Missi Pyle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Big Game

This is Michigan/Ohio State week. OSU now ranked no. 7 and Michigan has moved up to 15th. Last week, OSU dominated Northwestern, a team that we had some trouble with. Michigan is definitely the underdog. Either team will need to rely on the bruised MSU Spartans to upset Penn State. If you don't control your own destiny, perhaps it is better to be the underdog. Then all the expectations are against you. Go blue!

Working too hard?

I have been particularly busy with work lately. And with winter and busy season upcoming, it is always good to review different theories of work and leisure. Real life experience tells us that we need to recreate. If our recreation is done well, we will bring renewed purpose to our work. I enjoy my work. Truly I love it. The best job can become a grind if one does not take time to reflect on the beauty and meaning of our existence. So, LAGuy, enjoy your time off as you contemplate your purpose.

LAGuy out of town

I am hearing that the City of Angels will be missing it's Guy for a few days. Of course if we are all reporting our absence from one or more of our chairs
(see http://pajamaguy.blogspot.com/2005/11/chair-jump-in-sector-five.html)
it is not much work for the overlords who watch us. Anyway, I will try to write something for PJGuy over the next few days to help fill in.

LAGuy helpfully points out: You're jumping the gun a bit. I will be here the rest of the week. Next week I will take my first vacation from the blog since I started. Nevertheless, we are always glad to have any new posts from you.

At Long Last Lost (Meant To Write This A Week Ago)

As all Lost fans know, bitch/beauty Shannon bought it last week. Too bad her obit was announced online almost a month earlier--it really ruined the surprise factor. I'm not sure how outsiders got the inside information, though it might have been that Maggie Grace, who played the part, was suddenly at large, and no longer in Hawaii.

But even if the audience didn't know the bullet had her name on it (I'm guessing it was a bullet), the moment was still ruined by ABC's ads letting us know someone was going down. While I understand the idea is to get people to watch, how about just doing good shows and letting us enjoy them? That way, when they kill off a regular, the effect is complete. This isn't a movie where you've got to convince your audience to put down money, it's a TV show where creating a satisfying viewing experience will keep 'em coming.

I was a bit surprised it was Shannnon. I gave odds earlier this year on who would die. Shannon seemed fairly safe to me because 1) they already killed her brother, Boone, so her death would be the producers admitting they'd made a mistake in introducing these characters and 2) the show had fake killed her in a first season dream sequence, so a real killing seemed redundant. Also, it didn't hurt that she was a hot babe.

Reason #1 still bothers me. While the producers claim to have a road map for the entire show, it seems they've improvising quite a bit if they can kill off a whole line--Shannon and Boone--before the middle of the second season. I can see killing characters to prove the situation is serious, but if Shannon and Boone were red-shirted (Star Trek style), I'd guess that shows they discovered along the way they'd miscalculated regarding an entire plotline.

I was sorry to see her go. I thought her character had room to grow. I must admit there are a few characters I wouldn't mind losing. The real question is when, if ever, will they kill the truly popular ones? I don't see it happening this season, or even the next, unless the ratings start to flag (or an actor wants to leave for a David Caruso-type film career). I'm figuring Jack, Kate, Locke and Sawyer can safely buy homes in Hawaii. Hurley and Sayid aren't that far behind. The others, even the relative "names" who play Michael and Charlie, should maybe still be renting.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Chair jump in sector five

Drudge has a post (link ephemeral) about law enforcement drones to hover above cities. Yikes.

Chances are I have posted before about my three-chair theory: That, say, 80 percent of all your activity can be captured by knowing the locations of three of your chairs, the one at work, the one behind the wheel of your car and the one in which you watch television. Combine such assumptions with the fact that five billion is a small number for computers and it isn't beyond ambition to monitor, literally, everyone.

Soon enough--before Social Security breaks down, say--we'll all be part of the network. Wonder what will happen when it stops?

Roger And Me

I found Zathura disappointing. It didn't have the power of Jumanji, even though it's essentially the same story--kids playing a supernatural game with serious, real-life consequences. What bothered me most was the incessant whining of the two kids playing the game. I understand the point of the plot is to teach them valuable lessons in love and cooperation, but a little whining goes a long way. Also, there was a major plot point, where the older boy wanted to get rid of the astronaut, that made no sense.

Roger Ebert, who hated Jumanji, likes Zathura. Okay, his call. But his argument is a bit strange. He likes the latter because you never feel the lead characters will get hurt. I not only disagree with this--they are seriously threatened--but if I did feel that way, I'd like the film even less. (He also claims no one gets killed in Zathura, though it's pretty clear a Zorgon ship gets blasted to smithereens.)

Even stranger, he compares the three films based on the books of Chris Van Allsburg, these two and The Polar Express. Ebert claims the "differences between the three movies are fundamental." This is simply insupportable. Polar Express is definitely different, but Zathura and Jumanji are the same story dressed up a bit differently.

Ebert, incidentally, considers Polar Express a classic. He thinks it has "archetypal menace [now he likes menace?] and genuine emotion...." Gonna have to disgree again, Rog. The cold, pointless Polar Express looked cool, but had just about zero menace and very little emotion.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An interesting take

Powerline speculates that Republicans have no Manhattan media presence except during election years, thus explaining their drops (and rises) in polls of the public, er, mind.

Sounds a little too convenient. I would have preferred seeing the observation from the conservative Powerline when Bush was riding high, rather than as an explanation for his riding low.

But it does strike me as an interesting, testable hypothesis. Is there a correlation between Republican approval ratings and elections? It seems obvious that at the presidential level, the answer is yes. Presumably many factors play into this kabuki, but the idea that one player remains relatively silent (involuntarily so, apparently) except during the relevant period is an interesting one.

Your mathematical model of public decision-making would have to have a reasonably short capacitance. But that seems likely enough, if perhaps somewhat variable. I suspect, for example, that "dishonest" is a necklace Clinton will wear forevermore in the public mind, while "Bush lied" has a shelf life of only five minutes after Brian Williams, Jimmy Carter or the NYTimes says it.

I'm Not Making Fun, Honest

I'm not morbid, but when I pass by an obit and note the person died fairly young, I often read it just to see how.

NFL great Steve Courson died a few days ago. The headline in the LA Times read STEVE COURSON, 50; PLAYED FOR STEELERS AND BUCCANEERS, SPOKE OUT AGAINST STEROIDS.

So I'm thinking "this must be steroid-related." I read on.

In the first paragraph, they note he developed heart problems while playing. This definitely must be it. I read on.

Nope, I'm wrong. He died in a way I'm sure has happened before, but this is the first actual case I'm aware of: he was cutting a tree and it fell on him.

ColumbusGuy adds: That reminds me: I met my first wife chopping down a tree.

The Day Of Rest

For the first time this Big Ten season, Michigan fans could sit back and take it easy. Even though Indiana scored right off the bat on an unlikely touchdown, it was all Michigan from then on. In one of the most dominating halves we've ever played, the Wolverines went into the lockers leading 41-7. Player of the game Steve Breaston got 201 all-purpose yards in those first two quarters alone.

Michigan is not a team to pile on, however, and the second string played out the second half, where Indiana actually outscored Michigan 7-0. 41-14 is good enough for us.

After a season of stomach-churners, it was fun to be able to leave our fingernails alone. It's hard to believe that a little over a month ago, this team was 3-3 with a tricky schedule ahead. Now we're 7-3 with only a tough OSU in our way to a top bowl game. But that's another story.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I Love NY

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan with a friend. He claimed that Dylan was unique. There's been no one since, he said, with equivalent talent--whose work demonstrated such depth and breadth, and who's still relevant today.

I thought about it and said there's only one other I consider on the same plane. When I mentioned this artist's name, my friend agreed.

Happy 60th, Neil Young.

Untitled

Good speech by Bush on the war on terror, but the question is will it have any effect. These days, critics of war will always have easy forums to complain and undermine any war, unless the war is over fast enough to beat their complaints. (I'm not saying they don't have the right to speak out, by the way--I'm just recognizing what they're doing, seems to me.) Wars are by their very nature horrible, and if they last long enough, it's hard to imagine things would be worse without them (this is the only justification for a war).

Of course, this is politics, too. The attacks on the war are coming more regularly, and succeeding better, because the public is more receptive to them. For a short period, things were reversed.

What I'm trying to say in my roundabout way I wonder whether big speeches, especially those not heard directly by most people, have as much effect as they once did. Sure, there's still the State Of The Union, and speeches made after tragedies when everyone is listening, but, by and large, I wonder how much Bush can gain back popularity at this point just by words.

(I must apologize. This is one of the worst written posts I've ever done. Maybe it's because ColumbusGuy is away and AnnArborGuy is absent, so I have to carry this blog on my back.)

Bye Bye Bye Week

Okay, I'm not seriously worried about the Wolverines losing to Indiana today, but I've seen too many "patsies" beat us, often because we were looking ahead to next week. We're coming off a bye which may mean we're a bit rusty, so it's good to have a weaker team to help us warm up.

Just forget about Ohio State. We'll have a whole week to concentrate on them soon enough.

Friday, November 11, 2005

House Rules?

For whatever reason, the first head-to-head of Commander In Chief and House during sweeps showed a closer battle than expected. Last week, it looked like they took a bite out of each other with Chief still standing, but the latest data show the two much closer (10.8 versus 10.4 rating) with House getting superior numbers among the prized 18-49 demo.

Bad PR for PR

I usually ignore Pat Robertson, but his ravings are sometimes so imaginative I feel I have to comment.

In last Tuesday's elections, the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania voted out all eight school board members who had tried to introduce "intelligent design" into their science courses. I say great, but Pat had a fit.

Different people have a different view of their deity, but Pat's won't put up with even minor irritations. According to Pat, He's "loving and tolerant, but we can't keep sticking our finger in His eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

Pat, it's called science, and it works pretty well. Next time you fly, do it in a plane not built along the principles of physics, and see if you can stay aloft on prayer alone.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The ColumbusGuy who didn't bark

There will be silence from the heartland for a few days (Don't talk to me about the snakepit, A2Guy) while the ColumbusGuy clan travels to Champaign-Urbana. We're going to see if ColumbusDaughter likes orange pants.

Tuesday Battle

This year, the most fought-over real estate in prime time seems to be Tuesdays at 8. Last week, we finally got new episodes of Commander In Chief, House and My Name Is Earl simultaneously.

As I predicted, Commander In Chief won. But it seems the battle took something out of her. Chief had been top ten lately, but was down to #15 last week. For that matter, House was often in the top fifteen, but fell to #19. My Name Is Earl was probably the least effected, still doing okay but outside the top twenty at #25.

All the shows are successful enough to go on. The question is will any network flinch and seek a different timeslot.

Actually, I've heard rumors NBC might move Earl to a Thursday slot. Thursday was NBC's glory day for almost 20 years, but the age of Cosby, Cheers and Seinfeld is long gone. The hope is Earl, NBC's biggest comedy, will help prop up the failing Joey and the tired Will & Grace. It certainly hasn't been able to do much for its Tuesday neighbor, The Office, which was #53. If Earl does leave, my guess is more of its viewers will go to House than Chief--if they go anywhere--since House is more of a comedy. That could make the Tuesday battle even closer.

Do They Think We're That Stupid? Yes, They Do.

Lately I've been hearing these strange ads on radio. They're promoting NBC TV shows. They feature two guys and a gal acting as if they're having a free and open discussion about what's on TV tonight. It turns out, however, that they only mention what's on NBC and they always love it.

The odd thing is, as far as I can tell, we're meant to not only think this is an honest conversation (I have no trouble splitting infinitives, by the way--I promise to never do it when I write in Latin); we're also meant to think this isn't an ad but actually some sort of radio show we're catching a few seconds of (I also have no trouble ending sentences with prepositions). It seems pretty obvious it's an ad to me, but they sure must hope they're fooling others.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Curious Incident of Sammy Davis Jr.

Over the weekend, TVLand showed nothing but What's Happening!! The late 70s sitcom was about three African-American teens, Raj, Dwayne and Rerun, and their lives in the inner city.

I tuned in now and then and finally caught what I consider the most astonishing half-hour of TV ever broadcast. It wasn't the Gong Show episode. It wasn't the one where Raj is hired as a consultant on a sitcom and has to tell the white producer that no kid gets a $20 allowance in the ghetto. It's not even the classic two-parter where the kids are forced to bootleg a Doobie Brothers concert.

No, it's the Sammy Davis Jr. episode.

The teen center has closed. The gang decides to hold a benefit. Rerun foolishly promises he can get Sammy Davis Jr. to appear. When he goes to Sammy's office, he's told Sammy loves helping out, but simply doesn't have the time.

The day of the show arrives. The promotional material promises Sammy. Rerun still hasn't told anyone Sammy can't make it.

The show goes on, as the regulars in the cast go through their amateurish acts (which I belive we're supposed to like). The audience is shouting for Sammy. Rerun realize the jig is up and walks to the microphone to explain Sammy can't make it.

Let's stop for a second. By the time I saw this episode, I'd seen countless hours of other sitcoms, so I knew what to expect next. Rerun has learned his lesson, and just as he's about to apologize, Sammy will appear from the wings to save the day.

Instead...nothing! Rerun apologizes. Then Shirley and Dee (two female regulars) come out and actually castigate the unruly audience for not appreciating the good show they've seen and the good cause they're supporting. They even thank Rerun. End of problem, end of show.

I'm still at a loss. My only guess is the behind-the-scenes story is the same as the plot--the producers of What's Happening!! thought they could get Sammy but, in fact, had to go on without him. I've seen even more hours of sitcoms since then, and I've still never been so completely surprised as the night Sammy didn't sing.

Metaphysics

The Dems have been piling on, lately. Not because they have better arguments than usual, but because Bush and the Iraq war are doing poorly in the polls. This is no surprise, it's just politics.

They actually have the nerve to claim the Bush people manipulated the intelligence on the war--the same intelligence they saw and signed off on before the war, with Bush making the exact same claims Clinton and Gore and all the Democrats were making before Bush was elected. They're also trying to turn the question of whether Scooter Libby lied under oath into into an investigation of pre-war intelligence.

Oh well, when you're on a roll, you can't always stop to make sense.

More interestingly, a number of leading Dems have called on Bush to pledge he will not pardon Scooter Libby. Now I'm already on record as saying Bush shouldn't pardon Libby if he's found guilty, but this is a more interesting philosophical idea. Should A promise not to pardon B even before he knows how, or if, B was convicted? Should A ever "pledge" not to pardon someone, or simply not pardon someone.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I guess the Dems think it's okay to make such metphysical promises. This is fascinating, because the last metaphysical pardon (Ford pardoning Nixon for any crimes he may have commited while in office) didn't go over too well with them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's Over

I just heard Governor Schwarzenegger on the radio. He was asked how he thinks his Propositions are doing, and he said he couldn't say. Now I realize the polls aren't closed yet, but the Guv must have a pretty good idea what the numbers look like. If he can't say, they're all going down.

PS It's now well after the election and yes, it was over.

Open To Suggestions

We at Pajama Guy may seem like a bunch of loudmouthed Americans giving out our views to the rest of the world--not that anyone asked. But I admit, these riots in France have me stumped. I'm not sure exactly what causes them, or how serious they are, or what's the best way to deal with them.

Now I know that our website gets hits every week from Europeans, so I'd like to hear how you feel about the situation. So far you're all shy. Come on, here's a chance to tell the world. Even better if you're from France. Hey, maybe you're a rioter--even if you think allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrive, let us know.

Marching Orders

Years ago, I would often see local character Melrose Larry Green as I drove past the corner of Melrose (natch) and Highland. Haven't seen him in years. But yesterday, there he was, waving as traffic crawled by.

He seemed to be out there on a political mission. He was carrying a poster, but I couldn't read it. I'm guessing it was about today's special election. Now how will I know how to vote?

Probably doesn't matter, as the latest polls look like all four of Arnold's big Props are going down.

Monday, November 07, 2005

If that much

"The instrumental value of voting is nil."

Knock Me Over With A Feather

I know the editorial board of the LA Times has been changing, but I felt whipsawed this weekend. California's having a special election on Tuesday and there are four propositions, in particular, that are central to Guv Ahnold's plans to change the state around.

I figured from past experience the Times would say "no" to all. The unions have spent over $150 million, I've heard, to stop them, and the Times usually goes along with the unions. Instead, they're advising a "yes" on three of four--I'm not even sure if I'd go that far.

On Prop 74, which makes it tougher for teachers to get tenure, the Times says yes. On Prop 75, which requires unions to get individual permission before spending dues on political campaigns, the Times says yes. On Prop 76, which would give the governor special powers to cut spending in certain situations, the Times says no. On Prop 77, which allows three retired judges to draw district lines (as opposed to the parties), the Times says yes.

I really haven't made up my mind on any of these except 76, which strikes me as more important than the other three put together. I'm voting yes, so, of course, that's the one the Times gives a thumbs down to.

Incidentally, as I predicted a while ago in this blog (sorry, no link), the Survey USA poll used wording that was far too positive (or just clear?) and thus got results too sunny for Arnold's side. Other polls (which may be a bit too much on the negative side, especially if turnout is low) suggest all four propositions are in trouble.

The one just about certain to fail--it figures--is 76, the one I like. Meanwhile, 74 and 75 are fairly close. Local pundits suggest if Arnold can win just two of four, he can declare victory.

Live Debate

I watched the live "debate" on West Wing last night (while taping The Simpsons Halloween Special--it can be done). The two fictional Presidential campaigners, Santos and Vinick, went at it in a live show (done separately for both East and West Coast). Supposedly, the actors were allowed to be spontaneous, though it was pretty clear while they had a little leeway, they were mostly going from set piece to set piece. Even the audience had its "lines."

It was interesting in that with a regular debate, I watch two things at once--who's making the better arguments and who's actually winning (two completely different things). But West Wing added a third factor: who's the better actor, Alan Alda or Jimmy Smits?

As to who had the better arguments, both were allowed to make reasonable points. Overall I'd probably side with Vinick because I'll generally take the free market over higher taxes, but it was close.

Who would have won with the public, that was tougher to call. Some of what they said sounded odd, because they were allowed to make specific claims politicians avoid because they're too controversial. For instance, Vinick said Head Start doesn't work. He's probably right, but people feel so warm and fuzzy about it that it's probably too dangerous to frontally attack. Overall, Vinick scored some solid points, but I think Santos played it safer--gave the opposition less ammunition in the post-debate spinning--so he probably won.

As to the acting, I think Alda, who's got a bag of tricks, pretty easily defeated Smits, who was more or less stuck being the stiff.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Whatever happened to . . . ?

. . . Treason?

RedState has an interesting piece on theWashPost report that the United States has secret terrorist jails in other countries. Leaving aside whether these people are being tortured. ( I don't want them to be.) Leaving also aside whether a WashPost reporter should report this story that will clearly hurt our country. (which is RedState's main focus) Because like that is so journalism 101; of course real journalists should do everything in their power to undermine their own country.

The real issue is that the CIA has become the leakiest ship on the high seas. And as far as I can tell our politicians are not too concerned. Isn't it treason or at least some major federal crime to leak classified information? There seem to be long term implications that will last long after Bush is gone.

Where's my picture of JonBenet Ramsey?

Yes, Virginia, if the Post says it, it's so.

Teens are having sex in the auditoriums, the bathrooms, the classrooms, the hallways, in the parking lots, the school buses, the bleachers, the wrestling mats, on that back stairway next to the physics classrooms.

Man, if this keeps up, we're going to STDs, out of wedlock births, and a general loss of self-esteem. Oh, and morals will decline.

I suppose this is all par for the course. Just two things to note: The Post quotes an authority saying it all started five years ago, ABOUT THE TIME OF THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT, you might say. Damn Republicans.

The really serious news, though, and LAGuy should take note, is that it turns out it's the movies. Things really peaked, so to speak, about the time of that "popular movie, 'Mean Girls'" (Lindsay Lohan is such a b*tch.)

I think we need a commission to study this. Let's fill it half full of Congress critters who will each get five minutes to question every witness, and the other half every editor outside of boulder who ever published a picture of JonBenet Ramsey.

Bad Strategy

I usually don't follow the Pac Ten too closely, even though I live out west. But I was intrigued this season by the two local teams, USC and UCLA. Both came into this weekend unbeaten. USC is #1, but UCLA was more interesting. The average game had them fall way behind only to make an amazing comeback in the fourth quarter.

While this makes for exciting games, as a strategy, it sucks. (A much better strategy is get out to an early lead and keep increasing it.) Sooner or later, they wouldn't be able to come back, and it finally happened. They got off to a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter against Arizona and just couldn't come back. Sorry, UCLA, it was fun while it lasted.

Was It Just A Dream?

I just watched Fahrenheit 9/11 for the first time. And after watching this award-winning blockbuster, I had to ask--what was the big deal? I mean, aside from the predictably one-sided politics, the somewhat entertaining film clips and the more entertaining but ultimately pointless crackpot theories of Moore, why did everyone make such a big deal?

I realize the anti-war base of the Democratic party ate it up, but did they really think this was a serious political work? And did they honestly think giving Moore a seat of honor at the Democrats' convention was a good idea? Did they really think the movie was going to effect the 2004 election? (Moore does--he apparently believes Kerry would have lost by even more than three million votes if not for his film.)

I must apologize to all our non-American readers (I know you're out there) who don't follow our politics on a daily, intimate basis. You may actually believe, or have been told, that Fahrenheit 9/11 is worth taking seriously. But you have to understand, most Americans, left and right, had a least a general idea of what was going on, and could easily see that Moore is...well, not the most reliable fellow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Spike's Dislikes

Filmmaker Spike Lee recently attacked rappers for the bad messages they put out to African-Americans. Isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle inauthentically black?

PS Lee says that though there are major black movie stars, they still have little power in the film community. Well, I do know of one multi-billion dollar section of the entertainment industry that does have strong black control--rap music.

PPS In the article I link to, Spike complains about certain music and videos. And if you click on those words, they show you where you can buy the stuff.

Bye

This is a bye week for the Wolverines, so not much to say. But let me note the rankings show they're the best 6-3 team out there. Thank goodness they're not 7-2 or they might not do so well.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Climbing out of the echo chamber

This is two columns in a row I've found interesting from Kinsley. I might have to just start reading him a bit more regularly.

(But let's nit: On some hot issues—such as affirmative action, or property rights, or gun control—it is Republicans calling for judges to interfere and Democrats who want them to keep their hands off.

Sorry, Michael. All of those things have immense, indeed, overwhelming, support in the Constitution.)

LAGuy adds: I don't think he's been at his best for years, but back in his New Republic days, I thought he was one of the best political writers around.

Kaus Goes Over The Wall

I don't usually post just to link to something else, but check out Kausfiles' takedown of Nicholas Kristof and his attempted correction (in TimeSelect) of his original column on Joseph Wilson.

Magic Moments

In the old, old days, you went to a theatre to see a film. A bit later, you saw a lot of movies on TV, shown flat and chopped up with commercials.

Now with cable and other advances, you watch movies at home. And since cable often shows movies over and over, you can tune in just for the moments you like.

For instance, there's one film, Camp, about misfit teenagers who perform musicals. It's essentially a low-rent Fame. (Though I think I prefer it--Fame is a bit too slick while a small budget gives Camp an amateur's charm.) I don't think I could sit through the whole thing again, but about 30 minutes in, they do a rousing version of "Turkey Lurkey Time," the big act one finish to Promises, Promises. I try to time it so I catch that number.

I feel similarly about Sweet Charity (like Promises, a hit 60s musical with book by Neil Simon). On stage, it was one dazzling number after another. For some reason, the same Bob Fosse routines don't play quite so well in the movie. That is, except for the wordless "Rich Man's Frug." From what I understand, Fosse virtually imports the number step for step, and it still works. If you're only gonna watch five minutes of the film, this is it.

It's not just musical numbers. I like the movie version of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, but there are two special moments I try to tune in for. First, there's the great explanation of the award system by Alec Baldwin. Then there's the wonderful vituperative speech of Al Pacino against Kevin Spacey when he queers a deal. When I see the film is playing, I try to tune in to catch one of these moments.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pardon Me

There are rumors that, if convicted, Scooter Libby may be pardoned by President Bush. Jay Leno has joked about it (doing the old "pardon me" joke--like I have above--that was tired back during Watergate) and now it's in Kausfiles.

I understand why the Framers gave the President the power to pardon (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1). Our chief executive officer should be allowed to overturn wrongs done in extraordinary cases. It's too bad they didn't put an exception in for crimes that further, or even seem to further, the interests of the pardoner.

Otherwise, there's nothing to stop the President from ordering crimes committed, with the understanding if the criminal is caught, he'll be pardoned.

I have no strong opinion on the prosecution of Libby. Regardless, if Libby is convicted, Bush should leave it alone.

Technical difficulties

For the last few hours, we've been experiencing technical difficulties here at Pajama Guy. If you haven't been able to download the page, we apologize.

If you experience similar problems in the future, there's only one thing to do. Keep on trying incessantly until we're available again. You mustn't let anything get in the way of your daily dose of PJ Guy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A good point

Anonymous captures one of the fundamental conundrums about (free or American) government: the right to keep and bear arms.

In a previous post, C0lumbusGuy asserted that government is based on a monopoly of the lethal use of force, and that law exists only where there is government. Anonymous argues, if this is so, then any RKBA country must not have law, since its citizens in fact have their own right to lethal force. (Apologies for missing the post until now.)

I think it's possible to generate any number of responses to this, in varying levels of technical interest, from the trivial, such as defining legitimate spheres of government and private action and assigning force rights accordingly, to the philosophical, such as, sovereignty resides in the people, not their government, so they are free to delegate pieces of it as they choose (this is what is used to justifiy federalism, the idea that we have two governments rather than one).

The more interesting, practial problem to RKBA, though, is that it is important only to the extent it enables rebellion (this is why the huntin' ducks motif is such a joke), but rebellion is a crime. Even if that's not a direct contradiction (and it's not), it's certainly in the direction of one.

Regardless, it's clear that Anonymous is thoughtful on the topic. PajamaGuy would be honored to have his definition of government; if it's not monopoly over force, what is it?

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome

Meine damen und herren, mesdames et messieurs, ladies and gentlemen! Guden abend, bon soir. We geht's? Comment ca va? Do you feel good? I bet you do! Ich bin euer confrecier; je suis votre compere...I am your host!

Anyway, I've found out via email we have a worldwide readership. Sure, most eyeballs come from the good ol' USA, but we get people from all over the globe contemplating our pensees. Please, tell your friends; we believe in the good neighbor policy. And who knows, maybe some day we'll take on an international correspondent.

So let me take a little time out to welcome to Pajama Guy, sans passport, the people of Germany (Ich verstehe nicht. Sprechen Sie Englisch?), France (Voulez-vous cesser de me cracher dessus pendant que vous parlez), Sweden (Mysig), Italy (Puo parlare piu lentamente) and Spain (Estas en vuestra casa).

And to all you Canadians out there, keep reading, eh?

PS Let's not forget the land down under. Good on ya, mate. Fair dinkum.

New House

There was a new episode of House broadcast last night. Because of baseball playoffs, this will be the first time there's been a new House up against a new My Name Is Earl and a new Commander In Chief.

Earl probably has a different audience anyway, but CIC is highly popular and attracts similar viewers. It should be interesting to see how the ratings turn out. Both House and CIC are top twenty shows--my semi-informed guess is CIC has built up enough steam to surpass House (even though I prefer the latter.) Fox might regret allowing the Commander audience to build for a month while House had nothing new.

New Type Of Conservative Identified

Predictably, the Left is not that happy with the choice of Judge Alito for the Supreme Court. Some are calmer than others, but the message tends to be the same--this guy is far right. Some are even claiming, based on his decisions (not his style of writing or reasoning) that he's more conservative than Justice Scalia.

For all I know, they're correct. It's just that until a little while ago, I wasn't aware anyone could be to the right of Justice Scalia. I guess the Court's been more moderate all along than we suspected.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Going for broke

Cass Sunstein puts himself on the line. His conclusion? Alito is conservative.

Here's the hard hitting final two sentences:

On issues that divide people along political lines, he has rarely been more liberal than his colleagues. But on numerous occasions, he has been more conservative.

I guess we can safely infer Sunstein doesn't watch Manhattan media network news.

Gangs of D.C.

So Mike "Clean Diamonds" DeWine supports Al-Ito. Perhaps he found a brain and a principle, but I think in fact he found he's got an election next year with a challenger, so he needs some Republican support. Either way, I'll take it. Chafee is similarly hobbled; McCain was on NPR today in support of Alito. Give up one of the Maine ladies and Cryin' George Voinovich, but I'd say Scalito is going to be hard to beat.

Unless maybe he's lied to Pat Fitz: "No, of course that dress doesn't make you look fat."

Put Away Those Balloons

I would love to see a revival of the sitcom, for both personal entertainment and job opportunities. However, I fear Nancy Franklin, in her review of My Name Is Earl and Everybody Hates Chris in this week's New Yorker, is a bit premature. She writes:
“Earl” is the most popular new comedy of the season, and “Chris” is seen as a potential crossover hit—meaning that it would be UPN’s first black-oriented show to draw a significant number of white viewers. Apparently, the sitcom, which had been strangled by the kudzulike growth of reality shows, has been reborn.
Trouble is, neither of these two "hits" are cracking the top 20. Compare this to 1984. In the previous year, there had been no sitcoms in the top ten, but soon, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Golden Girls, among others, would be at or near the top. Now that's a real trend.

If there is a new trend, it's the hourlong drama edging out reality with Desperate Housewives, CSI and Lost ruling the roost. Meanwhile, the only sitcom regularly in the top twenty--but not the top ten--is Two And A Half Men.

When you got three or four sitcoms up in the ether, call me. Otherwise, it's just mindless trendmongering.

...And The Coach You Rode In On

The most bizarre news I've read lately concerns Prince Charles and his visit to America. Apparently, he wants to tell Bush, and everyone on down, the USA is too intolerant of Islam, and doesn't appreciate its merit.

I've never thought much of Charles's intelligence, but now I think he's insane. Sure, we've recently attacked a couple of Muslim countries (after giving them plenty of warning)--not because they were Muslim, but because we felt they were serious threats. Ultimately, we believe we're improving life in these countries. In fact, for the last 15 years, almost every military action we've taken has ended up making life better (or potentially better) for Muslims. The way Charles talks, you'd think we bombed Mecca.

Furthermore, Bush and his people have gone out of their way to explain we're not at war with Islam, and to distinguish extremists from average Muslims. While we're at it, Muslims in America enjoy full rights, religious and otherwise--moreso than in Britain, where they've been taking tough measures lately.

If Prince Charles really wants to do some good, I have a whole list of countries where there's severe religious intolerance--Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, France...

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