Archive for October, 2008

“Tell me where you are, Josh!”

Happy Halloween. Here’s the trailer to one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.

I know people are split on this one– you either love it or hate it.

Released in 1999, the actors filmed it themselves with a Hi-8 and a 16mm B/W, and managed to capture some truly impressive visuals. With minimal scripting and no special effects, the film plays off the best Hitchcockian idiom that what you can’t see is often much scarier than what you can.

An Obama Speechwriter Says “Sayonara”

Wendy Button has written speeches for Senators Obama, Clinton, Edwards, and Biden. And she has had enough.  Here’s the close to her post…

Has [Palin] made mistakes? Of course, she’s human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama’s “57 states” remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, “There’s nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man’s thoughts.”

But thank God for election 2008. We can talk about the wardrobe and make-up even though most people don’t understand the details about Senator Obama’s plan with Iraq. When he says, “all combat troops,” he’s not talking about all troops—it leaves a residual force of as large as 55,000 indefinitely. That’s not ending the war; that’s half a war.

I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.

I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.

Before I cast my vote, I will correct my party affiliation and change it to No Party or Independent. Then, in the spirit of election 2008, I’ll get a manicure, pedicure, and my hair done. Might as well look pretty when I am unemployed in a city swimming with “D’s.”

Whatever inspiration I had in Chapel Hill two years ago is gone. When people say how excited they are about this election, I can now say, “Maybe for you. But I lost my home.”

…but you have to read the whole thing.  This is the kind of disillusionment that follows after of wave of campaigning run like a game of catch-phrase.  I’ve had to turn off the news; I cannot stomach the AM frequencies.  I know more about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe than I know about Sen. Obama’s association with Bill Ayers.  It’s a joke.  And this election season has finally worn out its welcome. 

HT: Threedonia

Tennant to hand in his Sonic Screwdriver

“When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me.”

Unfortunate news. I stumbled onto Doctor Who when Christopher Eccleston first had the role.  He won my viewership.  Tennant won my heart.  He’ll be missed.

Note to USA viewers, unless you’ve seen the latest episodes, the article contains a minor spoiler.

(photo (c) BBC)

The Hatred Toward Palin

Jeffrey Overstreet invited readers to email in and try to persuade him how to cast his ballot this year, and he was nice enough to post some of those he received.  Skimming over the ones he posted (22 pages in MS Word) I noticed a thread of discontent toward Gov. Sarah Palin, even from those who said they support McCain. 

I’ve read a lot of the same material and seen many of the same interviews these guys have and I have to admit that I just don’t get the same vibe.  I’ve noticed this thread of discontent in a few places, and in many of those, it reads like pure disdain. 

So I wanted to share this brief piece from Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard

The money quotes:

Lorne Michaels is the longtime executive producer of Saturday Night Live. Sarah Palin appeared on SNL in mid-October, after which Michaels noted, “Her politics aren’t my politics.” But that wasn’t all he said. “I think Palin will continue to be underestimated,” Michaels told EW.com. “I watched the way she connected with people, and you can see that she’s a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she’s had a huge impact. People connect to her.”

[…]

A media person I know dismisses her as “a journalism graduate of the University of Idaho.” This is pure snobbery. I asked him to name his favorite president of the past 60 or 70 years, and he chose Harry Truman. Truman never went to college but became a pretty good president nonetheless when he succeeded FDR after only a few weeks as vice president.

[…]

Governors who run for national office automatically face questions about their inexperience in foreign affairs. Ronald Reagan did. Bill Clinton did. So did George W. Bush. Had Obama picked Virginia governor Tim Kaine as his veep, Kaine would have been hit with those questions. If McCain had chosen Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (as he came close to doing), Pawlenty would have faced the same doubts. So the qualms about Palin’s experience are merely par for the course.

[…]

My advice is ignore the critics who know far less about Palin than she does about foreign policy. A good example is Ken Adelman, who headed the arms control agency in the Reagan administration. Adelman recently endorsed Obama and said he “would not have hired [Palin] for even a mid-level post in the arms control agency.” Well, I know both Palin and Adelman. And Ken, I’m sorry to tell you, but I think there are an awful lot of jobs in Washington that Palin would get before you.

I like Sarah Palin.  I feel no shame in liking her, and I won’t lose a wink of sleep if she finds her way to the White House.

Why Socialism Sucks

This was written in 1995, but I found it timely, considering this is what a particular person running for president has indicated he’d like to see happen.

Money quotes:

If perfection really were an available option, the choice of economic and political systems would be irrelevant. In a world with perfect beings and infinite abundance, any economic or political system–socialism, capitalism, fascism, or communism–would work perfectly.

However, the choice of economic and political institutions is crucial in an imperfect universe with imperfect beings and limited resources. In a world of scarcity it is essential for an economic system to be based on a clear incentive structure to promote economic efficiency. The real choice we face is between imperfect capitalism and imperfect socialism. Given that choice, the evidence of history overwhelmingly favors capitalism as the greatest wealth-producing economic system available.

[…]

The “tragedy of the commons” refers to the British experience of the sixteenth century when certain grazing lands were communally owned by villages and were made available for public use. The land was quickly overgrazed and eventually became worthless as villagers exploited the communally owned resource.

When assets are publicly owned, there are no incentives in place to encourage wise stewardship. While private property creates incentives for conservation and the responsible use of property, public property encourages irresponsibility and waste. If everyone owns an asset, people act as if no one owns it. And when no one owns it, no one really takes care of it. Public ownership encourages neglect and mismanagement.

Since socialism, by definition, is a system marked by the “common ownership of the means of production,” the failure of socialism is a “tragedy of the commons” on a national scale. Much of the economic stagnation of socialism can be traced to the failure to establish and promote private property rights.

Read it all here.

Dir. Kevin Smith likens Star Trek reboot to “Khan”

So he says according to SciFi Wire (via TrekWeb):

“I can watch the movies again and again and again,” Smith said. “The TV is kind of sacrosanct for a lot of people, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy the movies. So this one I enjoyed probably the most since I’ve enjoyed, like, Wrath of Khan.”

Kevin Smith’s endorsement, I’m sure, sets the nerds all a twitter, but I am still not convinced.  Like I wrote on Overstreet’s blog, early reactions from a few who say they’ve seen bits of the film sound promising, but many of these are the same people that once promised me The Phantom Menace was going to be genius.

Dir. J.J. Abrams is a talented storyteller, and the team he’s assembled to reboot Roddenberry’s baby are some of the best writers working today.  I want to believe, really.  I am just not there yet.

David and Goliath…Present Day

An new series coming to NBC, Kings will tell the story of David and Saul set in a fictionalized, present day “kingdom” of Gilboa. 

From the NBC web site…

“Kings” takes place in a modern-day kingdom named Gilboa, and its shining metropolitan capital of Shiloh. It is ruled by King Benjamin Silas, the nation’s much-loved monarch, who unified several warring territories to found Gilboa many years ago. They have since built a proud and prosperous nation. While not a perfect society, the kingdom is a beacon of hope and idealism.

But the dark clouds of war continue to rumble in the north, where the forces of enemy nation Gath are massing to invade, and threaten to destroy all that King Silas has created…

That is, until a young soldier named David slays a fearsome Goliath tank, rallying the nation… and turning the tide of history.

Color me curious.  Bold shades of curious.  And file it under “damn, I wish I had thought of that.”

HT, and a little more info: Peter T. Chattaway