Friday, August 29, 2008

Blog focus: "Dr. X's Free Associations"

Today I came across an interesting blog, entitled "Dr. X's Free Associations." The blog publishes a mix of political commentary and vintage photographs. Having been born in the wrong century, these photographs lured me in. Following is one of Ayn Rand as a young woman:



I had no idea she was such a babe when she was younger. So it goes.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gibbons hearts Watchmen movie


In contrast with writer Alan Moore, Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons is positively gushing about the new Watchmen film in the following video by Empire Magazine. Gibbons refers to Moore in the video as well. You can watch it at ComicBookMovie.com.

By the way, a quick look at Wikipedia shows that Gibbons is nearly sixty years old. He looks excellent for that age.

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"Woman in the Dunes"


As you get older, your taste in films evolves. While the likes of Star Wars are still staples, I now find art films like Woman in the Dunes far more appealing than I did years ago.

Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna) is a 1962 Japanese film. It's the story of a man who is held prisoner by an extremely lonely woman stranded in rural Japan. The protagonist intitially is hostile to his captor, but over time starts to develop lust and compassion for her.

The sexual symbolism is heightened by the astounding shots of the winds roaring through the desert sands of Japan. These shots will leave you with your mouth open. Woman in the Dunes seems like a film that would never be able to work in color, as it takes advantage of the beauty of black and white photography. See for yourself by watching the trailer at NYTimes.com.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

10-years-old, Dude.

Rolling Stone magazine has a piece up called "The Decade of the Dude," which examines the impact of the film The Big Lebowski since its release 10 years ago. While it's not the first media outlet to tackle this story, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene did tackle aspects of the story I'd never heard of.

For one, the unforgettable character of Walter Sobchak was based (somewhat) on Apocalypse Now screenwriter John Milius. The resemblance is pretty amazing:





There's also a great picture of Jeff Bridges dressed up as a ten-years-older Dude:



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Friday, August 22, 2008

In the Marvel Universe, it's all about change

In Marvel Comics, earth has been invaded by the shapeshifting species known as Skrulls. I haven't been following it, but apparently it has led to a propaganda campaign in favor of interspecies diversity:



The "Embrace Change" link will take you to the Marvel site, where you can buy issues of Secret Invasion, the series that chronicles the Skrull invasion. It's pretty interesting how Marvel is turning the "Change" term, which we've heard so much in the presidential campaign, on its head.

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I am not now nor have I ever been a Truther

I've found myself in a place I never thought I'd be: A 9/11 "truth" website!

If anyone is finding my work due to finding it at "Truth Ring," please keep in mind that I am not a 9/11 conspiracist. I find the conspiracy theories around 9/11, as well as the even more bizarre conspiracy theories that the British government was responsible for the 7/7 attacks, to be ridiculous, unfounded and offensive.

Conspiracy theories are a common result of any catastrophe or controversial event, from contested elections to terrorist attacks. Those that believe them have all the right to do so, but I would like to make it clear that I do not.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Theatre of Tragedy - Machine

I found out about this band while searching Google for industrial and gothic music. To put it simply, I'm in love with the girl in this band. She's gorgeous and has a great voice. The guy's mechanical talking took some getting used to, but it kind of works. I really like the verse "Use me, I'm cheap to rent."



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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deadpool's back!



Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, there was a really good Deadpool ongoing that defined the character as the Marvel Comics court jester. In a period when Marvel Comics weren't exactly something to remember, that series stood out as exceptional.

It soon evolved into a Cable/Deadpool series that I never found as appealing, partly because I find the character of Cable bland and absurd even for a comic book character. (The whole idea of Scott Summers' aged offspring going back from the future and showing up in the present looking like Arnold Schwarzeneger in a death camp seems a little bit ridiculous.) Next to Wade Wilson screaming at his TV with an AK-47 in one hand and a Miller Lite in another, Cable was just lame.

The end of that lackluster series hasn't meant the end of the merc with a mouth, however. He's back to kill the Skrulls that have invaded earth (a storyline I plan to catch up with in the trades) while hopefully laughing at the absurdity of it all. Deadpool is the only Marvel character who seems to be aware that he's in a comic book, and seeing that part of his character exercised in the midst of a catastrophic event sounds pretty damn entertaining.
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Saying goodbye to Isaac Hayes

The great Isaac Hayes has left us. Obituaries are difficult, so I'll recommend you visit Moistworks, which does a pretty good job:

Obituaries are difficult things, because they're at once final and transitional: final for the person who has died, transitional for the rest of us, who get a chance to remember, reflect, and reassess. When artists die, this effect is especially pronounced. Isaac Hayes, who died over the weekend at the age of 65, had such a broad and eclectic career that reabsorbing it will be a sad joy. As a songwriter and arranger, he (along with David Porter) helped build Stax Records into the undisputed powerhouse of Southern soul; as a solo artist, he tended to set aside originals in favor of jazzy, extended remakes of other people's songs. At once behind-the-scenes and aggressively out front, he created some of the most haunting and strange soul music of the seventies, as well as some of the most canonical blaxploitation soundtracks, all the while building a second career as a campy actor and, ultimately, voice actor. It's impossible to sum up his talent, his influence, and his soul, so we'll just point into it with this heartfelt cover of the Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye," which takes the young Michael Jackson's most adult love song and repatriates it to the land of actual adults.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

BBC's Chinese Olympics ad

The BBC really never disappoints. In this ad, they got a hold of the same team behind the Gorillaz animation to do a musical number that weaves together the different characters of the Chinese calendar.



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Will Eisner predicted Pearl Harbor

An interesting comic book history piece is over at Comic Book Resources. Writer Brian Cronin provides a clip of a comic book, National Comics #18 written by Will Eisner, from November 1941 featuring a foreign bombing of Pearl Harbor. That's only a month before Pearl Harbor was actually bombed by the Japanese.

Here's the clip:



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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Skottie Young re-imagines the Wizard of Oz

Artist Skottie Young is doing art for an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz novel. The art looks absolutely spectacular. As I said on his blog, I think I may find myself unable to wait for the trade paperback.



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United Liberty

I'm now blogging over at United Liberty, a libertarian blog that will soon be expanded into a full-fledged libertarian resource website. My first post is called "John Edwards' personal life is his own."

This blog will by no means go away, but I may wind up posting less on politics here, and more on music, films, comic books and similar topics with emphasis on the "pop culture geekiness." Stay tuned and be sure to leave a comment at United Liberty.

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McCain releases one of his better campaign ads

This radio ad targets Obama for (in my opinion) his biggest weakness: his leaning towards a more centralized economy. This is much smarter than comparing Obama to Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Central planning was tried by the communists and it failed miserably. There's no reason to go back to it.



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Friday, August 8, 2008

Ron Rosenbaum at Slate defends the right to dissent

There is a very important article by Ron Rosenbaum over at Slate entitled "How journalists should handle global warming skeptics."

It's a great article that is in many ways an angry letter at an article in the Columbia Journalism Review which condemned CBS for allowing global warming dissenters on air. It's important because in it Rosenbaum acts as a rare voice in our monolithic media as he defends the right of those with unpopular views to be able to express them.

A big part of Rosenbaum's argument is illustrated in this excerpt:

In fact, the history of science frequently demonstrates that science proceeds when contradictory—dissenting—studies provoke more studies, encourage rethinking rather than being marginalized by "the consensus" or the "consistency" of previous reports.

Indeed, the century's foremost historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, believed, as even "green" reporters should know, that science often proceeds by major unexpected shifts: Just when an old consensus congealed, new dissenting, contradictory reports heralded a "paradigm shift" that often ended up tossing the old "consensus" into the junk bin.


There is a really strong dictatorial tendency among many in politics. It might possibly be genetic, as it shows up in all generations and different environments. There are certain people that simply cannot handle other people disagreeing with them. This is illustrated by Al Gore saying "the debate is over" in regards to global warming, which, when you think about it, is an extraordinarily anti-intellectual thing to say. Imagine if Gore had said that in relation to any other political issue, such as abortion or the death penalty.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Being President will age you

I was watching the news today and saw President Bush making a speech, and I was struck by how much the man has aged in eight years. It's way more than a person usually ages in that period of time. See for yourself:

In 2000:



And only a few months ago:



A look at former President Clinton is similiar, and a President Obama or President McCain would be too. It's very well in the running for the most stressful job in the world.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Best CNN poll ever



I'm glad somebody over there has developed a sense of humor:

Whose energy plan shows the most promise?
John McCain's 27% 24469
Barack Obama's 33% 29878
Paris Hilton's 39% 34967
Total Votes: 89314


The related article sums up Hilton's approach to energy:

The McCain camp responded to Hilton's ad Tuesday. "It sounds like Paris Hilton supports John McCain's 'all of the above' approach to America's energy crisis - including both alternatives and drilling. Paris Hilton might not be as big a celebrity as Barack Obama, but she obviously has a better energy plan," says McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.


I definitely support that. It's hot.

Here's the video (A little warning: It has Keith Olbermann in it):



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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ron Suskind takes on the White House

Ron Suskind, who wrote the book The Price of Loyalty, has written a new book, The Way of the World. One of the chief arguments is this:

The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official "that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion."


When I was working as a canvasser for the DNC back in 2004, I remember getting into a debate over Iraq with another canvasser. At the time I believed that there was no justification for the war and basically believed what most leftists believe, that the entire war was launched because Bush had picked Iraq to invade for oil, retribution and other nefarious reasons. The canvasser I was debating made a point that I remembered: Iraqi officials are not credible sources of information. It was a great point, and one that I conceded to.

It's the last year of the Bush administration. We are seemingly about to move into an Obama Administration next year (though things could take a surprising turn). Bush is becoming a larger and larger dartboard, just as his predecessor did, and as a result writers and former officials that feel disiullusioned or just want to cash in are coming out against the administration with regurgitated arguments.

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John McCain's "Broken" ad

After running to the right in order to calm the hardline conservatives that have serious doubts about him, it looks like John McCain is bringing his "maverick" title back with this campaign ad.



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Monday, August 4, 2008

Bob Barr on the National ID card

I heard alot about this from left of center aquaintances back in Seattle. Seattleites tend to be alot more friendly to libertarianism than the democratic socialist folks down here in San Francisco. I'd like to urge my fellow Seattleites who worry about the implications of a national ID card to reconsider voting for Obama and look at options outside the Democratic and Republican candidates.



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Rapper Nas targets politics



From The American Spectator comes a piece by Why You're Wrong About The Right co-author Brett Joshpe:

NEW YORK -- On July 23, the popular rapper, Nas, attempted to deliver to Fox News Channel several boxes full of petitions containing more than 600,000 signatures protesting what he claims are Fox's racist attacks against blacks and Barack Obama. Nas, who had planned to use the "N-word" in his new album title before succumbing to pressure to change it, then appeared on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," where he performed "Sly Fox," essentially his accusations set to music. In this rap song, Nas denounced President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Fox host Bill O'Reilly as part of what he calls Fox's "racist propaganda machine." Of course, Nas only attacks conservatives, fueling the grossly offensive and inaccurate myth among his followers that right-wingers and Republicans are bigots.

Nas has made no secret of his support for Obama -- the fresh, hip, change candidate running against the less-charismatic, older John McCain. And because of Obama's youthful appeal and a difficult political environment for Republicans, many on the Left are convinced that Obama cannot lose this election. In the seemingly unlikely event that McCain does defeat Obama, Nas and others may argue that such an Obama loss would represent a last-minute surge of latent racism.

How about we bring up some petitions protesting the blatant calls for violence by Nas in songs like "Got yourself a gun" and "Shoot 'em up?" It seems apparent that Nas is trying to redefine himself as a leftist conscious rapper in the mold of Chuck D., Common or Talib Kweli, but he can't hide from the fact that the bulk of his work is comprised of mindless rants glorifying guns, drugs, violence, meaningless sex and picking fights with other rappers. Songs like "Got yourself a gun" didn't seek to show violence and problems in inner city communities, but instead called for more violence. Read the chorus of that song for yourself:

Yo I'm livin' in this time behind enemy lines
so I got mine, I hope you ("got yourself a gun")
You from the hood, I hope you ("got yourself a gun"
you want beef I hope ya ("got yourself a gun")
And when I see you I'ma take what I want
so you tried to front, hope ya ("got yourself a gun")
You ain't real, hope ya ("got yourself a gun")


I saw Nas live back in 2004 and was enthusiastic about his music for most of my teenage years. Now that I'm in my twenties, I see his garbage for what it really is. Violence and darkness are not new to music, and musicians like Johnny Cash, Rammstein and Gary Numan have explored the darkness of humanity through their careers. Unlike Cash, however, musicians like Nas and 50 Cent glorify violence with no sense of responsibility or focus on the consequences of violence. They're nihilists.

Obama has alot of celebrities behind his campaign, and I'd assume that him and his staff are competent enough not to bring Nas aboard in any way.

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Paris Hilton's mom tears into John McCain


Kathy Hilton is none too pleased that the campaign she donated to is using its funds to make fun of her daughter:

WASHINGTON - Paris Hilton's mother doesn't share John McCain's sense of humor.

McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, said last week that his campaign ad mocking Democrat Barack Obama with images of Hilton and singer Britney Spears was part of an attempt to inject humor into the presidential race.

On Sunday, Hilton's mother, Kathy Hilton, a McCain donor, registered her disapproval.

"It is a complete waste of the country's time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs," Kathy Hilton said in a short article posted on the liberal Huffington Post Web site. "And it is a completely frivolous way to choose the next president of the United States."

The ad plays on Obama's popularity by dismissing him as a mere celebrity, like Hilton and Spears. The Obama campaign has said the ad is proof that McCain would rather launch negative attacks than debate important issues.

McCain on Friday denied that his campaign had taken a negative turn, saying, "We think it's got a lot of humor in it, we're having fun and enjoying it."

Kathy Hilton, however, was unpersuaded, calling the ad "a complete waste of the money John McCain's contributors have donated to his campaign."

Kathy Hilton and her husband donated a total of $4,600 to McCain's campaign earlier this year.


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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bob Barr on the "Race Card"

The following video is of Bob Barr on Fox News' show "America's Election HQ."



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Obama concedes racial dimension to Missouri comments

From ABC News:

"I don’t think it’s accurate to say that my comments have nothing to do with race," Obama said. "Here's what I was saying and I think this should be undisputed: That I don’t come out of central casting, when it comes to presidential races. For a whole range of reasons. I’m young, I’m new to the national scene, my name is Barack Obama, I am African American, I was born in Hawaii, I spent time in Indonesia. I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate. What that means is that I’m sort of unfamiliar and people are still trying to get a fix on who I am, where I come from, what my values are and so forth in a way that might not be true if I seemed more familiar."


I said before that being born outside of the mainland United States and living overseas is nothing unusual and it doesn't make Obama as special as he thinks he is. John McCain was born in Panama, Bob Barr lived in Iran and Ralph Nader is Lebanese. Big whoop. His name and skin color are totally irrelevant to the job he's seeking. Obama seems to want these biographical factoids to become some sort of campaign issue so he can justify his own persecution complex.

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"Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Anakin's New Padawan"



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"Mark Steyn's message to liberals"



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Star Wars, Star Wars, STAR WARS

This month Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be showing up in theatres to fill us in on what happened between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. In honor of that, I thought I'd post one of the best scenes from all six films: the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. It contains the most impressive choreography, mixing of CGI with live actors and use of music I've ever seen in a film.



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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mark Steyn at UC Berkeley

Following is a great interview with Mark Steyn from 2007, where he talks with two UC Berkeley professors about America, Islam, writing and Canada. This was filmed before he was fined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission for writing a politically incorrect article. It would have been interesting to hear him talk with Berkeley professors about that.



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Obama draws the race card, but McCain's the racist

There's a little bit of an uproar over Barack Obama saying that Republicans are going to point out that "he doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency." In the following NBC clip, there is some pretty good spin that makes it look like the McCain camp are race-baiting by pointing out that Obama is bringing up race:



If Obama wasn't accusing the GOP of bringing up his race negatively, what did he mean by saying Republicans will point out that "he doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency?" Was he saying they would point out that he has close-cropped hair, big ears or a big smile? It's obvious that he was talking about race.

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Who has the geek vote?

Great, great quote from the goth hottie: "I'm a libertarian. I'd be anarchist, but I love money too much."



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Friday, August 1, 2008

A new frontier of goods regulation in Los Angeles

Fast food restaurants may soon be banned in low-income areas of Los Angeles. Is this the beginning of "food zoning?"

The main reason people go to fast food restaurants is financial. For evidence of this, you need only look at the advertising campaigns by these establishments, which usually brag about $1 menus and the like. If you take a trip into a Burger King, McDonald's or Carl's Jr., you'll often see a mix of people on the go and homeless people.

I'm not really sure what the economics are, but I'm not convinced that the absence of fast food restaurants in low-income areas will in any way bring down the price of food at other establishments. In fact it may raise it as there will still be a high demand for food and suddenly fewer establishments available to sell goods at affordable prices. It's doubtful that very many unintended consequences were considered when the L.A. ordinance was passed. Feeling good and morally active is usually the top objective of these sort of actions.

From a Slate article by William Saletan:


What we're looking at, essentially, is the beginning of food zoning. Liquor and cigarette sales are already zoned. You can't sell booze here; you can't sell smokes there. Each city makes its own rules, block by block. Proponents of the L.A. ordinance see it as the logical next step. Fast food is bad for you, just as drinking or smoking is, they argue. Community Coalition, a local activist group, promotes the moratorium as a sequel to its crackdown on alcohol merchants, scummy motels, and other "nuisance businesses." An L.A. councilman says the ordinance makes sense because it's "not too different to how we regulate liquor stores."


What the councilman doesn't take into account is that, by banning the sale of certain foods, food zoning steps into a whole different territory than alchohol or cigarette regulation. Alchohol and cigarettes are vices. Food is a necessity. If this were to expand into the sale of unhealthy foods in grocery stores, which is possible, Los Angeles would really be stepping into a new frontier of government regulation.

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Podcaster Dan Carlin on Bush, Obama and Buchanan

I interviewed my favorite podcaster and talk show host out there today, Dan Carlin, on his thoughts on Pat Buchanan, Barack Obama, the Bush legacy and more. It's posted as a knol. Go check it out!

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Ron Paul speaks on his "Rally for the Republic"



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Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr on "McCain's Meaning of Is"

Let Bob Barr debate McCain and Obama!



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