Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Rules

Lein Shory takes on Hollywood, race, casting, and bad movies.

Trust me, it's good. And funny.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harrison Bergeron Alert

Deborah L. Rhode, a Stanford University law professor with entirely too much time on her hands, writes in the Washington Post:

Appearance-related bias also exacerbates disadvantages based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and class. Prevailing beauty standards penalize people who lack the time and money to invest in their appearance. And weight discrimination, in particular, imposes special costs on people who live in communities with shortages of healthy food options and exercise facilities.

So why not simply ban discrimination based on appearance?

Diana Moon Glampers was not available for comment.

Aw, Darn

From Fox News:

A man whom the U.S. described as a key figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula accidentally blew himself up, U.S. military officials told Fox News.

The officials say Nayif Al-Qahtani was "messing with a bomb" when it went off. U.S. officials had been watching him, but Fox News' sources insist the U.S. had nothing to do with his death.

Al-Qahtani was "a vibrant guy linked to ongoing operations planning, and his death will have an impact," one official told Fox News.

An Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula newsletter was the first to announce his death a week after the United States put terror sanctions on him. The newsletter did not say when it happened but said Al-Qahtani died in Yemen's Abyan province in the south of the country.

The State Department recently described al-Qahtani as "a liaison between Al Qaeda cells in Yemen and Saudi Arabia." It said he manages Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's operations in Yemen and receives financial support from abroad to launch attacks in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Certainly, Al-Qahtani's fatal incompetence leaves the world no poorer. Let's just hope he blowed up real good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

There Is No Try

The Empire Strikes Back is 30 years old today. Ars Technica has a nice current-day review.

I won a couple of tickets to the midnight first show at the Clark Cinema in Enterprise, Alabama. I was only 11, so the other ticket went to a neighbor with a driver's license. It was quite a night. That was the last movie that played on the original full-sized Clark screen; after TESB's run (which lasted most of that summer) they cut it in half and made two shoebox theaters out of the old large room, which was really too bad.

It's a little hard to believe today, but back in 1980, that movie was widely panned by critics for essentially just being a big loud thrill ride and not having a satisfying ending. It was at least a decade before Empire became the critical darling it is today.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Credit Where It's Due

Markos Moulitsas, via Politico:

“The old structures have been eroding, ever since we knocked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party in 2006,” he said. “We've only gotten more sophisticated in the subsequent years, while insurgents on the right have joined the party. There's no doubt that the inability of both parties to govern effectively has played a role, but we're building a world in which people can bypass their parties' institutional forces and make up their own minds on who to support.”

Well said, and quite right (no pun intended). Read the whole Politico piece; it's likely causing hives to break out all over institutional D.C.

"Well... Bye."

To the dismay of almost nobody, the political career of Snarlin' Arlen Specter is over. All together now: "Aaaaawww..."

Specter only had two problems with the electorate: Republicans hate him, and so do Democrats.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heads Up For Kaus

Having cut his first campaign ads, disheveled California Senate candidate Mickey Kaus wonders,

How annoying is it that in a 30 second spot, 5 seconds are words dictated by the government: "Paid for by Kaus for Senate" and "I'm Mickey Kaus, candidate for U.S. Senate, and I approved this ad." It's not as if voters might otherwise assume that my campaign a) hadn't paid for the ad and b) didn't approve it. ... Maybe if someone else's campaign had produced the ad they should have to disclose that, to avoid deception. Or if the ad was an attack ad that never mentions the candidate who funded it. But this was an ad in which I appear and identify myself. I don't quite see the compelling public interest in forcing candidates to tell voters that, yes, what they naturally assume is the case is, in fact, the case. It seems more like the government just forcing them to jump through verbal hoops because it can.

Actually, Mickey, you can thank Maverick McCain for that one. McCain insisted on that language being inserted in McCain-Feingold (aka BCRA) because of his visceral dislike for "negative ads," apparently figuring candidates would be less likely to air attack ads if they had to verbally take credit for them.

You can ask McCain yourself how well that worked out...

Full disclosure (again): I donated $20 to Mickey's campaign.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio, RIP

I was never what you'd call a Dio fan, but by all accounts he was a very nice guy, in contrast to the subject matter of most of his songs. He did a lot for charity over the years, and was a pretty big figure in raising money and awareness for music therapy programs (my wife's profession). He died of cancer this morning.

I have one Dio story. Several years ago my wife (then my girlfriend) got free tickets to a triple-bill of Deep Purple, the Scorpions, and Dio at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta. Since the price was right, we went down there, stopping on the way to pick up a friend of hers from work. This girl, a prototypical Southern Sorority Princess, bounced into the car all excited. "I can't wait to see Dio, " she said. "I really love Dio!" The future Mrs. and I exchanged glances and shrugs--the SSP really isn't the Metal type.

So we got to the venue, and Dio opened the show. SSP was intensely confused for the first two or three tunes, then finally turned to me and asked, "Are they going to play 'Whip It?'"

Back In Beige

We're home again after a too-brief vacation in the Dominican Republic. No, I didn't tell any of you about it beforehand; I'm not big on putting a "ROB MY HOUSE" sign online while I'm away. But it was a very nice trip, thanks for asking.

Thanks also to Steve Green and Ed Driscoll for passing along my stream-of-consciousness reports from the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Thursday evening. My wife and I had just settled into our seats for a long layover when the fire alarm went off and the entire terminal was evacuated. Here's what the scene just outside the terminal doors looked like:

Not very exciting, is it? Apparently the alarm was caused by an electrical fire in an air conditioner; the TSA guys said after the fact that the already-cleared passengers in the terminal should have been allowed to stay inside. They also said that alarms go off in that terminal "a lot," which probably accounts for the general nonchalance about the whole incident that you can see in the video.

It took about an hour and a half to re-screen everybody for our flight; the airline held the jet on the ground until all the passengers could make it through to the gate. This annoyed the dead ringer for Fenster in The Usual Suspects who was sitting next to me, but I personally appreciated it. I sure would have wanted them to hold the takeoff if I were the one still waiting in line at Security.

So, that's what I've been up to lately. More blogging to follow, thanks for checking in after the long silence here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fair Warning

I'd apologize for blogging being so light this last week... but seeing as how it's going to be nearly nonexistent for the next week, I won't bother.

Thanks for checking in; things here should be back to "normal" (whatever that is) in five to seven days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Repeal Works

From the AP, news that a Democratic program for shaking down motorists is heading for the offramp:

Arizona is ending a groundbreaking and contentious program that put speed cameras along Phoenix-area freeways and in vans deployed across the state.

Opponents have argued the cameras open the door for wider "Big Brother" surveillance and are more about making money than safety. The program has been the target of an initiative measure proposed for the November ballot.

Even Gov. Jan Brewer has said she doesn't like the cameras, and her intention to end the program was first disclosed in her January budget proposal. That was followed by a non-renewal letter sent by the Arizona Department of Public Safety this week to the private company that runs the program.

Scottsdale-based Redflex said Thursday that the 36 fixed cameras will be turned off and the 40 vans taken off highways on July 16, the day after its state contract expires.

The non-renewal letter was first reported by The Arizona Republic.

The camera program was instituted by Brewer's predecessor, Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary.

No doubt Secretary Incompetano's media fan club will be quick to dismiss this removal of automated surveilance cameras as an egregious display of "Nazi tactics."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drum Dumb

Regarding Mickey Kaus's (excellent) LA Times op-ed, Kevin Drum writes in Mother Jones,

You know, the first area of the country to ditch public schools en masse was....the South. And the area of the country with the weakest teachers unions is....the South.

Speaking as a 100%-public-school-educated native of Alabama, this statement is completely risible.

The Alabama Education Association is and has long been one of the "big mules" in state politics. Just one easy example: for generations, Alabama's spring break has been universally known as "AEA Week," in honor of the annual union conference held in Birmingham while the schools are closed.

Paul Hubbard, the AEA's long-time boss, is one of the most formidable figures in Alabama politics, and the AEA spends millions in union dues on (always Democratic) political contributions. My eighth-grade history teacher (an incompetent twit) made it a point to rant to her class early and often that any candidate opposed by the AEA had "no chance" of winning an election in Alabama.

Just last month, in Baja Alabama, the 'weak' Florida Education Association had enough clout to convince Charlie Crist to (a) veto a popular education reform bill that the union hated and (b) run as an independent with the clear aim of using the FEA as his base of support.

Now, I'm morally certain that Kevin Drum doesn't know and didn't bother to research any of those things (obviously other than Crist's very public actions), but it was just too easy of a cheap shot to pick on "the South" as a (RACIST!) source of all bad things for the Mother Jones readership. Just another good example of the Left's penchant for indulging in its own bigotries.

Full disclosure: I donated $20 to Mickey's campaign a few weeks back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Political Violence in North Carolina

From the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times:

Video footage captured by Asheville Citizen-Times surveillance cameras shows some among a large group suspected in a Saturday night vandalism spree throwing bricks at windows and dragging newspaper boxes into the street.

The video also shows about 13 people who diverted from the main group and walked down an alley on the side of the Citizen-Times building used for employee parking. Between 20-30 people continued walking south on O'Henry Avenue.

The Asheville Police Department estimated the vandals damaged at least eight vehicles and five businesses.

Almost all of the 11 people arrested after the vandalism spree in downtown Asheville listed addresses outside Western North Carolina.

The suspects, whose ages ranged from 17-26, were each charged with seven counts of injury to personal property and three counts of injury to real property, both misdemeanors, according to arrest warrants filed at the Buncombe County Magistrate's Office. All are expected to have a first court appearance on the charges today.

Clearly another case of the dangerous right-wing radicalism that's sweeping the country, right?


The anonymous author of a sign posted Sunday on the glass sculpture outside the Grove Arcade at the corner of Page and Battery Park avenues argued that the incident Saturday was connected to May Day, a May 1 holiday honoring and advocating for workers' rights.

At least five of the suspects arrested appear to be enrolled in colleges and universities, warrants show.

[Arrested suspect Havely Carolyn] Carsky is listed as a senior biology student at UNC Asheville, according to the school directory. Allgeier is a sophomore studying women's studies and art at UNC Chapel Hill, the student directory shows. Stezer attends Alamance Community College in Graham, and Ullian goes to Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., arrest warrants show.

[Arrested suspect Cailin Elizabeth] Major was named in a civil rights lawsuit filed in Michigan last year, according to online court documents. She was named as a participant in protest at a church organized by Bash Back!, a radical gay rights organization with chapters around the country.

A Google News search for "Asheville vandalism" results in no media stories outside of the local area.

However, a Google News search for "Asheville violence" does yield one week-old USA Today-aggregated story... about a HAM radio buff who was arrested outside a the Asheville airport for having "large antennas" on his car. The story makes a point to note that the since-released man's website contained "no threats of violence or anti-Obama material."

Well, that's nice to know.

Political Violence in Michigan

From the Flint (MI) Journal:

City officials suspect arsonists with a political bent were trying to scare residents after nine vacant homes were torched over a 20-hour span.

The rash of fires was worse than the city has seen on Devil’s Night in recent years, a night typically considered the worst night for arsons in Flint all year.

Must be those violent right-wing Tea Party milita types, right?


The fires started Wednesday about 30 minutes after Flint Mayor Dayne Walling announced that 23 firefighters would no longer be on the job starting Thursday morning.

“The point here is that this is a series of coordinated criminal attacks that are designed to scare the residents of this city,” said Walling, saying the arsonists are seeking a “perverted political purpose” by setting them.

Walling said the city is doing everything it can to curb the outbreak of fires and promised to “not allow criminals and fear to take over this city.”

He said investigators believe the fires were set in a “routine pattern” but declined to give further details about the fires or any evidence found at the scenes.

Lock said investigators were talking to someone in connection with the fires Thursday morning, but wouldn’t say if the person is a suspect. No arrests had been made Thursday afternoon, Walling said.

“I think it’s someone that has knowledge of what they’re doing, and I’ll leave it at that,” Lock said. “You can read between the lines.”

Reading between the lines, I'd say Lock was suggesting that Flint's own unionized firemen and/or police were setting the fires themselves. I'm certainly no big media editor, but I'd have thought something like that would be a major news story.

Not so much, apparently. That article is dated March 25, now over a month ago. The city is continuing to investigate the outbreak of arson fires as of last week:

Lock said federal agencies and Michigan State Police are involved with the task force set up "to find the people who are setting these fires."

He said more information about the task force will be available next week.

"The majority are arson," Lock said of the rash of fires that have come since the layoff of 46 police officers and 23 firefighters. "I think it's several people doing it ... Neighbors are beginning to call" with information.

Funny thing, this outbreak of poltical violence hasn't been reported at all outside of the local media in Flint. How much you want to bet that wouldn't be the case if, say, a scorched Gadsden Flag had been found at one of the crime scenes?