Sunday, December 31, 2006

FLU REMEDIES? PLEASE!!!

OK, it's going on seven days since I came down with this fucking flu--anyone got any miracle remedies out there? SERVE 'EM UP! PLEASE!!!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sorry, Joan of Arc lovers, you're praying to a cat

Now, I've got a hero worshipping streak in me, and I'm very sentimental about certain objects that hold particular personal meaning to me. I teared up when I saw one of the few remaining pairs of Judy Garland's ruby slippers at the Smithsonian. I can still go back to my scrapbook at home and see a pair of false eyelashes glued to a page, the ones I wore opening night when I played Dolly in "Hello, Dolly!" in high school. I enjoy going to historic buildings and standing where kings and queens once lived. Seeing an actual object or standing in a real place gives you a certain connection or perspective on the meaning behind an event. The one thing I don't understand is the worship of relics that have no true historically-backed truth to them. Shards of the "True Cross," bones of saints, fingernail clippings of Angelina Jolie (well, at least those can be DNA tested?). Anyway, most people who are believers of a certain faith will harbor or hold sacred a relic for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. And they do so on faith or word-of-mouth alone. A beggar man walks into a village with a mysterious collections of fragmented bones in a tiny bag and tells them they're bones from Saint Ethel. The villagers raise a huge church in Ethel's honor, hire the beggar man as chief overseer of the relic, he dies fat and happy, and in 1000 years there's even a gift shop clumsily parked next to the church with "I saw Saint Ethel!" tshirts printed on them. So, I read that it turns out that one particular collection of relics, those supposedly of the bones of Saint Joan of Arc, include a cat femur, and that the rib bone and piece of cloth supposedly collected from Joan's funeral pyre contain embalming fluid and blackened dye to make it look scortched. Now, I'm not saying that the relic don't contain actual parts of Joan mixed in with the cat, but chances are the relic is a hoax. Here's the deal. This is not to say that Joan wasn't the Saint she is so revered as. It is not to say that she is not worth worshipping or honored. She was a bit insane in my opinion, but had a modern sensibility about her and could have kicked ass in the 21st century. However, this is a perfect example of how humans should never take any information, especially when it is by word-of-mouth and undocumented, for granted. People spend thousands of dollars traveling to holy lands, relicaries (sp?), and other places where relics and "holy spots" lie just to be close to what they believe is connected to their faith. I guess they'd rather be safe then sorry when it comes to visiting something that they truly believe in. They'd rather believe it's true or they might lose out on the chance to actually be close to something connected with God. I just hope they don't get snookered into spending money in the Joan of Arc giftshop under false pretences. And if there is a Joan of Arc giftshop, can anyone buy me a shirt that says "I got burned at the stake and all that God got me was this lousy tshirt"? I believe that faith should be enough. If you believe in Joan of Arc, you shouldn't have to go and be near her bones to feel more worthy of her praise. Then again, I didn't NEED to go to see Judy's slippers in order to love her work. It was just fun to do, and I got to see many other pop culture, space, and historic pieces of art up close and personal at the same time. But I know that they're real and that they connect to something I saw and heard ...or do I? Maybe those slippers are fakes and I don't know it! Perhaps in 1000 years humans will look back on Judy's slippers and say "wow, Saint Judy wore those? And be snookered into purchasing hologramatic replica slipper-shoes to wear at the next "Wizard of Oz" worshipping ritual. Bring the holy Scarecrow scroll too. Linked article here

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What to tell your parents this holiday season

Sierra glamour shotSince many of my friends connected through MySpace are artists, actors, musicians, I'd like to give a little advice to them. "Struggling" "Starving" "Hopeful" If ever you hear one of your darling, dear, well-meaning parents or other relative use one of the terms above to describe you, as in "Oh, my Johnny is a 'starving actor' down there in Los Angeles" -- take action. Nip it in the bud right now and take that lovely family member aside. Tell them it does you no help to have any augmenting adjective in front of your professional description. You are an actor, writer, singer, painter, musician, welder, whatever. Done. Period. No need to add a disparaging word. We know that there are a limited number of roles for a large number of talented people. We know that only a fraction of those roles are paid, and that the big movie and television roles are coveted. But it's about being proud of your work as an artist. About knowing that your work is good, that you deserve to be seen, that you have an individual voice which can offer up a new way of seeing the world and of what human nature is. We can be proud of our work whether we are performing in a coffee shop, 99 seat theater, concert hall, or if our work is seen on a screen. Strive for the large dream, of course, but remember that we climb the ladder by accomplishing many great things on the way up, and affecting many people along the vertical climb. So if Aunt Ethel introduces you to her friend as "Johnny, the Struggling Artist", break in with "actually, I just did a very sucessful run at the Matrix Theater this past month, so I wouldn't consider myself struggling at all." Indeed, you're not struggling when you are doing what you love to do. Most people choose to put their dreams aside and work at their job just to make money, follow their parents wishes or those strung up by society over the years. These people may not "struggling" in a monetary sense, but they may be struggling with their dreams, or the lack of trying to accomplish them each and every day. In 2007, make a vow to yourself. Wether you've accomplished your dream or are still on the road towards it, make it a plan each day to do something, anything, that will take you closer to the next step. I temp during the day, but when I can I read a play, do online submissions, call a friend who may be a good source of support or may have a contact for me. Those actions add up. Push forward this year and get that dream out of your head and into reality. The only struggle is when you don't do something about it. Love you all, Si

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THE GOOD GERMAN (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Very much so. While impatience will stop some audience members from enjoying this movie, I thought it an interesting experiement and very entertaining work. Director Soderburgh creates a movie that feels like it was made in the 1940's but made with modern sensibilities. Thus, the people behave, speak, and act like they must have (swearing, sex, murder, violence), but all captured on beautiful black and white. The pace is even, the story clear and understandable. But, like I said, without huge explosions today's audience may not think it's very thrilling.
Technically any good? The black and white photography is lovely, with film noir lighting and great costumes. It really adheres to the sensibilities of the time, so while there are no huge camera cuts, zooms, or special effects, it still kept my attention.
How did it leave me feeling?! Satisfied. While not the perfect movie, it still was worth seeing and worth making in this day and age of colorized, CG-effect-laden movies.
Final Rating? SIYL

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas is Over...Thank Christ!

Sure, I'm an Atheist, but I enjoy Christmas as much as the next guy. Still, Christmas in America has gotten so bad, I wonder if Charlie Brown would kill himself upon seeing how much of it is all about the economy these days. So much of the past few weeks has been about buying, giving and getting things sold to us by corporations. The funny thing is that yesterday, while TheWife and I and our pal Jen were at the Grove (an outdoor shopping mall in Hollywood) with tickets to see Dreamgirls we could find almost no place to eat or even shop. There were a tiny faction of the shops open and only a slightly larger number of restaurants. As a result, the literal scores of people who had come to the Grove yesterday had a hard time spending their money. We actually had to leave the Grove and walk three long blocks in order to find the deli counter at the famous Canter's restaurant -- they were the only place that had a minimal line. So, I ask American corporations just one thing: Can you please make up your mind? If it's about supporting the American economy, then why aren't your shops and restaurants open on Christmas day? And if it isn't about supporting the American economy, can you please lighten up on the pressure to buy? OK, that's two questions, but seriously, I feel like it's my responsibility -- no, my DUTY to buy things but when I actually want to buy stuff, you're closed! I've got Christmas money, gift cards and merchandise returns that will mean profits for you. Sadly, they are lost to you now. Sure, I'll eventually get to all of them, but how soon? Not for a while... Better luck next year.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

CLOUDS!

I'm not a big fan of scenery shots. However, clouds tend to do it for me--don't tell me why. I'm sure it's just the fact that I took them--I have a feeling other shots of clouds taken by other people would be pretty boring to me. Anyway, have a look at these clouds and check out more of my [http://flickr.com/photos/thepete|pictures at Flickr]. These were all taken of the sky over Culver City, California while I was waiting for one bus or another.
Sky over Culver City, CA Sky over Culver City, CA Sky over Culver City, CA Sky over Culver City, CA Sky over Culver City, CA
Aren't they pretty?

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Leninade


Leninade
Originally uploaded by thepetecom.
I'm not a Commie, but this drink cracked me up... TheWife and I found

it last night at Famima!!


Orignal From: Leninade

The Next Episode of TheUsCast is Coming Soon!

Yes, I know I've been saying that for a while now, but believe me the next episode of TheUsCast is on its way! I've got it all edited, I just need to sit down with SiSi and record the intro and outro. In fact, I would have done it last night but we got swept up in Christmas shopping fever and through the post-capitalist glow eminating from the two of us I couldn't quite see all the way to the laptop... BUT IT WILL BE DONE TONIGHT! So, be sure to stop by and check out the second to last episode featuring special guest Stennie from the Hucklebug! KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE!

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

OH MY GOD JOHN LENNON WAS A...hippie?

Yesterday morning I heard on the radio and read this news article that the FBI finally let go of 10 documents (or 300 pages) of previously unreleased data on former Beatle John Lennon and allowed them to be revealed to the public finally. These pages were held away from the public eye due to the FBI's assertion that the information was classified. They said they had reason to fear that the information held may cause retaliation against America by the MI5. The information? That Lennon was thinking of opening a peacenick bookstore and reading room in London, that he was arrested of marijuana posession, played around with illicit drugs, and that he harbored left-wing sympathies and sometimes gave money to them. Whee. This overabundance of hysteria through the ages has got to stop. On CNN this morning there was a newscast about how strollers and some baggage isn't being scanned on the way into an airplane. OK, I understand that security is important, but in the great scheme of things there is still more probability that I will be killed driving home from work (all 15 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic) than crashing down during my flight to North Carolina next week due to a bomb or terrorist attack. I mean, now babies are being stupidly placed into X-Ray machines. Okay, that last point was slightly off topic, but there may be a connection. The baby could have been packin'. If America's foundation of freedom, justice, liberty and the tenants of democracy is strong enough, we citizens shouldn't fear left-wing, long-haired, scrubby, bed-sleeping-in-for-peace musicians, even those as powerful and as British as John Lennon was. Let's learn from our superior's idiocy, and grow up and out of it. -Siskita

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Airfare...


Airfare...
Originally uploaded by thepetecom.
Guess which country I'm eyeing...


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American Taxes Enough to Push Pats to be ExPats

Wow, I've been thinking about how I'd like to leave the country in protest of it's government, but now people are tossing aside their American citizenship because of taxes. Check out this cutting from [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/17/news/expat.php|a December 17, 2006 article] at IHT.com:
She is a former U.S. Marine, a native Californian and, now, a former American who prefers to remain discreet about abandoning her citizenship. After 10 years of warily considering options, she turned in her U.S. passport last month without ceremony, becoming an alien in the view of her homeland. "It's a really hard thing to do," said the woman, a 16-year resident of Geneva who had tired of the cost and time of filing yearly U.S. tax returns on top of her Swiss taxes. "I just kept putting this off. But it's my kids and the estate tax. I don't care if I die with only one Swiss franc to my name, but the U.S. shouldn't get money I earned here when I die."
Damn straight--but what does that say about our country and the American government's actions? It says that America is such a lousy country that taxes are enough to push her out the door for good. This is where we are now.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Working on t5Ms!


Working on t5Ms!
Originally uploaded by thepetecom.
Ah, rendering! SO MUCH FUN!


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DON'T FORGET: BUSH LIKES SECRET CIA PRISONS

This is something I should have blogged on back in September, but like so many other stories, I just bookmarked it and forgot it. Anyway, so a couple of months back at WNBC.com, they [http://www.wnbc.com/news/9794233/detail.html|posted an article] with the headline Secret CIA Prisons Help War Effort, Bush Says. Just in case you hadn't realized, this is some serious fascist shit right here. Secret prisons? Oh yeah, that's American freedom for you. Don't cross the Americans! They'll whisk you off, against your will, to a secret freedom prison! WHOOOSH! Sadly, this has happened to a whole bunch of people... OH yeah and one other thing: Bush thinks secret prisons are good. That means Bush likes (and likes to use) fascist tactics whether he wants to admit they're fascist or not.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

TIME MAGAZINE POINTS OUT OUR REAL POWER

So, Time magazine has named "You" a the Person of the Year. They're saying that each of us who has taken part in creating content for the Web in some form or another we each get credit for having an effect on millions of people. That all sounds real nice and stuff, but when you consider that the majority of what's on the 'net is either porn or teenage angst, you wonder how much effect any of us caring folks actually has. What's really sad is that Time is right--we each do have power as individuals. Something like a blog or a podcast can reach people and really can make a difference. In theory. The problem is that we're not thinking about what we're doing, generally speaking. SO many of us were against the Iraq war and many of us blogged, vlogged, protested and did other things in the hopes that some of it would stop Bush from invading a country that didn't need invading. None of it made any difference. Yet, I believe that Time Magazine has tipped its hand. This whole "the individual can change the world" thing is a puff piece through and through. But that doesn't mean it's not true. The thing is, you can't let the Time Magazine piece lead you to believe everything is cool. That's what it does to most people. "Oh, isn't that great? One person can make a difference!" Then you go back to your dayjob and never give a second thought to what your company does, how it damages the world around it, let alone any possible dreams you might have had. Don't be a cog. Get involved, do your research. Don't let just one news source tell you about the world. Learn from many sources. And for God's sake SPEAK UP! Be vocal. Blog, post pictures, shoot videos. SPEAK YOUR MIND. Let the world (and especially politicians) know what you think. It's easy once you get going. Time Magazine is right! Individuals can make a huge difference! But only if they BOTHER.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

herro



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hey

weird

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test



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TIME MAGAZINE POINTS OUT STRENGTH IN INDIVIDUALISM



Orignal From: TIME MAGAZINE POINTS OUT STRENGTH IN INDIVIDUALISM

BALLPOINT ADVENTURES FOR 12/18/6



Orignal From: BALLPOINT ADVENTURES FOR 12/18/6

BALLPOINT ADVENTURES FOR 12/18/6



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Saturday, December 16, 2006

First Pic from My Sidekick 3!


First Pic from My Sidekick 3!
Originally uploaded by thepetecom.
--thepete


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First Pic from the Sidekick 3!


First Pic from the Sidekick 3!
Originally uploaded by thepetecom.



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The First Post from My Sidekick 3!!

Ah, me and the gadgets! One of the promises I made to myself when I went back to dayjobbing was that I'd bribe myself with cool new gadgets. I wasn't about to spend 40 hours a week toiling away at a job that wasn't helping my career without SOME sort of real compensation! Thus, the gadgets. The first new one I picked up was a replacement minicam. Then I bagged a Nintendo DS Lite. Finally I picked up the spiffy web-enabled cell phone called the Sidekick 3! While far from perfect, this little device seems to be pretty awesome. It's got a camera (no video clips, alas), an mp3 player, email, an I'M client, a phone (duh) and a bit more. So expect to see more blog entries from my SK3 and more pics taken on the go. What's next for my gadgeting? Hm, probably that motorcycle...

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

AUTHORITIES TO JUDGE SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR

Yay!! I love stories like this because they point out how we can't trust authorities to understand what freedom is--let alone trust them to protect it. Way back in September Engadget.com posted [http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/02/australian-scientists-working-on-suspicious-behavior-monitorin/|a blog entry] about how "Australian scientists are working on automating this procress in software to track "inappropriate behavior" in public places, interpret that how you will." Well, I interpret it this way: bad. Sometimes I'm walking down the street and I realize I'm heading in the wrong direction. Do I stop and turn around? NOPE. I didn't used to. I felt that I'd look stupid if I did that. I felt like someone else on the street would see me and think "that idiot doesn't know where he's going!" Of course, the reality would be that I did know where I was going, I just made a mistake. Still, this concern used to be enough for me to not put myself in the right direction immediately. I'd have to walk around the block once. A little OCD? Probably, but that's who I am. The reason I bring this up is because someone else watching me might think up some other reasoning for why I suddenly turned around and they'd likely be wrong. Perhaps I just felt like walking the other way? Or maybe I just felt like a spaz and decided to explore my spazziness. The point is that, often, you can't tell what is going on in a person's head based solely on their behavior. Take [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15824096/|the story of the 6 Muslim Imams who were kicked off a plane because they were praying to Mecca before they got on]. The crazy suspicious Americans (probably mostly white folks) were freaking out because these Muslims were clearly praying for the last time before they blew up a plane. Or not. So, now we'll have software telling authorities who is behaving "strangely." Isn't that great? A computer deciding whether or not I'm about to blow up a plane. Hell, my Mac can't even tell when I want to listen to my iPod and when I'm just wanting the charge the damn thing and it's a Mac... I feel safer already...

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310 REGULAR TheHotline Msg for 12/11/6!

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powered by ODEO INCREDIBLE, huh? Go leave your own message for ThePete.Com by dialing 310-REGULAR, that's 310 734 8527!! LONG DISTANCE CHARGES MAY APPLY!! MAKE IT GOOD AND YOU MIGHT SEE, er, HEAR IT HERE!!

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DEMOCRAT CONGRESS HATES 911 SUGGESTION

So, the Dems win Congress completely and what do they do? Renig (is that still a word?) on one of their promises. Typical fucking politicians. Turns out they promised to implement all of the suggestions made by the 911 Commission. They still say they will implement all of them...but one... Can you guess which one? Let's read what [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/29/AR2006112901317_pf.html|a November 30, 2006 article] at WashingtonPost.com reported regarding the matter:
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers. Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the "first 100 hours" of the Democratic Congress.
So, first, they bail on impeachment and now they won't even reorganize themselves to make sure a 911-style attack can't happen again. This is more proof of my theory that the Dems want to abuse the same power that the Republicans have been abusing for the past six years. Democrats, Republicans, they're all the same--part of a corrupt system of rule. Not government--rule. You know, like what kings do.

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MY "SOLUTION" FOR IRAQ

OK, so check out this screengrab from CNN.com's main page last night:
So, here's my solution: Just wait it out. I mean, come on! How many people are even left in Iraq? Give it a few more days and no one will be around to even get killed, let alone kill anyone else. ... Too cynical?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

So, I'm perusing the Google News page this morning and stumbled across [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/11/DDG5KMSDK51.DTL|an opinion piece] at SFGate.com on Mel Gibson's latest film. Having just seen the film last night (as of this writing, but not of this posting), I felt this piece seemed to misrepresent the movie so I decided to address each of the author's points. Enjoy, but beware--SPOILERS ABOUND! Don't continue reading unless you don't mind having some of the movie ruined for you!!
San Francisco Chronicle VIEW 'Apocalypto' does disservice to its subjects Zachary X. Hruby, Special to The Chronicle Monday, December 11, 2006 "Apocalypto," Mel Gibson's new thriller about the ancient Maya civilization, is exactly that: thrilling. But this entertainment comes at a price.
Yeah, the price of a ticket. I bet now I'm going to have to explain how Hollywood movies are supposed to be simplified entertainment. Of course, they have a responsibility to generally get it right, but by the nature of cinema, simplification MUST occur.
The Maya at the time of Spanish contact are depicted as idyllic hunters and gatherers, or as genocidal murderers, and neither of these scenarios is accurate.
So, there were absolutely no hunter-gatherers in all of South America during the period in which the Mayan Empire existed? I'm no historian, but I hardly think depicting one village of hunter-gatherers equates to committing a grievous misrepresentation of the Mayan people.
The film represents a step backward in our understanding of the complex cultures that existed in the New World before the Spanish invasion, and it is part of a disturbing trend re-emerging in the film industry, portraying non-Western natives as evil savages.
The catch is that the film's heroes--the lead characters were portrayed as every day humans--people who work, play, joke, love and have healthy lives with each other. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that Hollywood still portrays "the other" as savage, evil--but this film, I found to be fairly balanced. The "country" folk are peaceful and the "city" folk are violent. Last time I checked, in America, to this day, the dynamics are still portrayed (some would say accurately) as such.
"King Kong" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" show these natives as uncaring, beastlike and virtually inhuman. "Apocalypto" achieves similar goals, but in a much subtler fashion.
I agree with the interpretation of those other films, but the characters in Apocalypto, in my judgment were far from "beastlike" certainly when compared to the islanders in King Kong.
As in "The Passion of the Christ," Gibson utilizes native language to invoke a veneer of credibility for his story, in this case Yucatec Maya, a technique that unfortunately does much to legitimize this rather strange version of Maya history.
I can't wait to hear how this version of Maya history is "rather strange." I hope this guy has stacks of evidence, so I can learn more about Maya history.
First, a typical Maya village is shown as an unorganized group of jungle people who appear to subsist on hunting alone.
True enough. There was nothing in the film about the lead characters farming, or practicing any sort of local politics, though the lead characters father does seem to have some sort of leadership role. Though I think such exploration of politics and farming may have taken away from the message of the film--that power corrupts and simple is better (that's what I got from the movie, anyway).
The Maya were an agricultural people with a very structured social and economic system.
I didn't see anything that contradicted this. There are scenes where we see other Mayans on farmland, just not the lead characters.
Even small villages in the hinterlands of large cities were connected to some political center.
OK, but are you saying that a truly tiny village like the one in the movie could not have existed? I think this is a little bit like saying a tiny town in the middle of rural Alabama would have close ties to the state capital. Possible, I suppose, but in the lives of these "country folk" it would seem to be unlikely.
The jungle people in Gibson's movie are flabbergasted at the sight of the Maya city, exclaiming that they have never seen such buildings.
I don't have a perfect memory, but I don't remember them speaking of the city at all. They were tied to bamboo poles by their necks and were generally silent during their captivity. They did speak but only a couple of lines of dialog and I don't remember them talking about how they had never seen such buildings.
The truth is, pyramids of comparable size were never more than 20 kilometers away from anywhere in the Maya world, be they occupied or abandoned.
20 kilometers was a long way back then--I'm not sure I've ever traveled that far on foot and I know people who have never walked beyond the borders of Los Angeles, which I'm not sure is much larger than 20 kilometers (actually, I have no idea how big LA is).
Second, Mayan city people are shown as violent extremists bent on harvesting innocent villagers to provide flesh for sacrifice and women for slaves, leaving the children to die alone in the jungle.
No, just some of them were. Many were portrayed as rich, "cultured" people with amazing costumes, make-up and body jewelry. The sequences in the city were fascinating because of the various people they portrayed. The political leaders of the city were the ones portrayed as violent extremists bent on harvesting innocent villagers to provide flesh for sacrifice. These same politicians turn around and lie to their people saying that the men who were about to be sacrificed were brave, willing warriors. Believe it or not, this is Mel making a statement about politics, here. The city-dwellers, trusting their leaders, believed them, much like modern day Americans have been known to trust their leaders when they probably shouldn't.
Hundreds of men are sacrificed on an Aztec-style sacrificial stone,
Well, that I can't judge as I couldn't tell you the difference between Aztec and Maya sacrificial stones. I understood that all South American cultures of that time period practiced ritual human sacrifice.
their headless bodies thrown into a giant ditch reminiscent of a Holocaust documentary or a scene from "The Killing Fields."
Ah, here's where we get to an interesting point. Suggesting that there is no way Mayans could not be these same kind of genocidal murderers as Nazis suggests a sort of inverted racism where the Maya are not subject to the same emotions of greed, hate and racism as the white man is. This suggests that the white man is the source of all corruption in the world. Now, I'll admit to some of that corruption sourced with us pale-skin types, but come on--fighting racism with racism? But back to the giant ditch of decapitated bodies...
Problem is, there exists no archaeological, historic or ethnohistoric data to suggest that any such mass sacrifices -- numbering in the thousands, or even hundreds -- took place in the Maya world.
But plenty of artwork depicting such acts or else where would we get the idea that any human sacrifice occured at all? This is can be justified by realizing that Mel Gibson doesn't make films that are historical documents--he tells fables, legends--simplifying historical events in the interest of making a more exciting story (and thus making it more likely to be seen again and again). Come on, didn't you go to film school? ;)
Third, once Gibson paints this bloody picture of 15th century Maya civilization, the ultimate injustice is handed the pre-Columbian Maya. As the jungle hero escapes the evil city and is chased to the edge of the sea by his antagonists, with literally nowhere else to turn, Spanish galleons appear, complete with a small, lead boat carrying a stalwart friar hoisting a crucifix. For Gibson, the new beginning for these lost Mayan people, the Apocalypto, evidently is the coming of the Spaniards and Christianity to the Americas.
OK, you DEFINITELY saw a DIFFERENT MOVIE FROM ME. The scene that he describes above that I saw depicts the lead character at the end of a long series of obstacles that threaten his life and indirectly the lives of his family. His final two pursuers have caught up to him but all three are distracted by the European ships. The film's hero realizes his pursuers are distracted by the men on small boats coming ashore, so he quietly backs into the forest and rescues his wife. As the hero and his wife climb a nearby hill, overlooking the ships, the wife asks her husband if they should see who these new people are. The lead character thinks for a moment and then says something like "No, let's go into the forest... where we can find a new beginning." Tell me how you get that Mel is saying the Europeans are the "new beginning" for the Maya. Seriously--the lead characters are heading away from the Europeans!! How is this an example of the primitive savages finding a new beginning with the white men?? Besides that, everyone knows that the Mayan Empire no longer exists--so, how could the Europeans' arrival be a good thing for the Maya if the Maya aren't even around any more?
Although this film will undoubtedly create interest in the field of Maya archaeology by way of its spectacular reconstructions and beautiful jungle scenes, the lasting impression of Maya and other pre-Columbian civilizations is this: The Maya were simple jungle bands or bloodthirsty masses duped by false religions, resulting in the ruin of their mighty but misguided civilization, and their salvation arrived with the coming of Christian beliefs saddled on the backs of Spanish conquistadors.
The "salvation" of the Maya people is not represented in this film. Once again, if moviegoers are aware of the single fact that the Mayan Empire went extinct around this time period, I fail to see how the film infers that "salvation" arrived with the white man. If anything Mel is suggesting with this film that if we're not careful we might end up like the Maya--as the author of the opinion piece says, " The Maya were simple jungle bands or bloodthirsty masses duped by false religions". Often times filmmakers will provide commentary about modern society or politics by presenting examples of past cultures. Look at MASH and how it commented on the Vietnam War despite being about the Korean War. In my opinion, this is Mel's point. Issues and fear and political corruption do appear in this film, so that's how I take it.
As archaeologists struggle to accurately reconstruct ancient Maya society, obstructed by their decimation via Western diseases; destruction of their books, art and history by Spanish friars; and their subjugation and exploitation by the conquistadors,
I find it pretty messed up that you failed to mention the genocide by Europeans... Just "subjugation and exploitation".
such films as "Apocalypto" represent a significant disparagement of that process.
I disagree. This film will invariably inspire some to seek out more regarding the Mayan People. ANY film about the Maya is going to have some sort of positive impact especially when not every Mayan is portrayed as a bloodthirsty maniac. Mayans in this film are portrayed as both blood thirsty and peaceful, responsible and reckless--in other words, they're portrayed as human.
Further, inaccurate representations by Hollywood of indigenous peoples as amoral, inhuman or uncivilized can only lead to greater misunderstanding and strife in contemporary society. This may be particularly important in a modern world, where common ground is increasingly difficult to come by.
I think the writer of this opinion piece has a right to his opinions, but I feel that he is allowing himself to be swayed by his emotions rather than the film he saw. Saying the film unfairly portrays Mayans as bloodthirsty people or simpletons is a little bit like saying the film It's A Wonderful Life portrays all white people as greedy, warped rich bastards bent on propping up the institution of the corporation. This ignores George Baily's fight for his family and for his beliefs, the same way such judgment of Apocalypto ignores the struggle of the film's lead character to protect his family, his beliefs and his future.
Zachary X. Hruby, Ph.D., is a lecturer and research affiliate in the department of anthropology at UC Riverside, and senior archaeologist at CRM Tech in Riverside. He divides his time between Southern California and Guatemala. This article originally appeared on mesoweb.com.
Ah, well, that explains it--he knows nothing about cinema. No wonder he seems to think presenting a segment of Mayan culture to be stupid, simple or bloodthirsty provides "significant disparagement" of the process of learning more about the Maya people. While I'm no anthropologist, it is my understanding that Mayans did, in fact, practice human sacrifice, therefore, ignoring that aspect of them would also serve as "significant disparagement" of the process of learning more about the Maya people. Take the good with the bad or you'll never learn from history--all humans, throughout history, have been guilty of tremendous atrocities all around the world. You can't use this film to accuse Mel of racism against Mayans unless you use Braveheart to accuse Mel of racism against white, British Christians. As someone who knows very little about Mayan culture, I can't say whether or not this film is an accurate portrayal of Mayan history. To me, it seems like there are enough contrivances for the sake of plot to make it evident that this is more of a fable about Mayan culture than something like an historical document. And hey, sad as it is to say, why not compare the accuracy of this film to all of the other films on Maya culture? You can't because there are no other films on Maya culture... I'm not saying you should count your blessings, but for the first modern major Hollywood film about the Maya, I'd say it does pretty damn well.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

The 5 Minute Show Episode 42!

Check out the disturbing footage I came across recently. It seems I've got a fanbase! All right, so it's a fanbase of ONE. Still, she's kinda cute! Check out this week's episode and see what you think. Hm, I feel like saltines... [http://video.lisarein.com/thepete/stuff/ThePeteTV/t5msep42.mp4|Check out the iPod/PSP-ready mp4] or watch it on YouTube.Com below. You can also subscribe to ThePete.Com's feed here -->[http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepetecom|] http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepetecom or to get JUST The 5 Minute Show every week paste the following URL into iTunes or other aggregator of choicie: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepete/t5ms

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

AUTHORITIES TO JUDGE SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR

Yay!! I love stories like this because they point out how we can't trust authorities to understand what freedom is--let alone trust them to protect it. Way back in September Engadget.com posted [http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/02/australian-scientists-working-on-suspicious-behavior-monitorin/|a blog entry] about how "Australian scientists are working on automating this procress in software to track "inappropriate behavior" in public places, interpret that how you will." Well, I interpret it this way: bad. Sometimes I'm walking down the street and I realize I'm heading in the wrong direction. Do I stop and turn around? NOPE. I didn't used to. I felt that I'd look stupid if I did that. I felt like someone else on the street would see me and think "that idiot doesn't know where he's going!" Of course, the reality would be that I did know where I was going, I just made a mistake. Still, this concern used to be enough for me to not put myself in the right direction immediately. I'd have to walk around the block once. A little OCD? Probably, but that's who I am. The reason I bring this up is because someone else watching me might think up some other reasoning for why I suddenly turned around and they'd likely be wrong. Perhaps I just felt like walking the other way? Or maybe I just felt like a spaz and decided to explore my spazziness. The point is that, often, you can't tell what is going on in a person's head based solely on their behavior. Take [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15824096/|the story of the 6 Muslim Imams who were kicked off a plane because they were praying to Mecca before they got on]. The crazy suspicious Americans (probably mostly white folks) were freaking out because these Muslims were clearly praying for the last time before they blew up a plane. Or not. So, now we'll have software telling authorities who is behaving "strangely." Isn't that great? I feel safer already...

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One of Every 32 Americans In Trouble with the Law in 2005

I had wanted to blog about this last week when I first came across the story but got swamped. Anyway, so can you believe this statistic? If you know thirty-two people, one of them (possibly YOU) were in trouble with the law in the year 2005. According to [http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2689183|a November 30, 2006 article] from AP.org available over at ABCNews.com, there are a whole lot of Americans who have broken the law. Check out this cutting from the article:
A record 7 million people or one in every 32 American adults were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday. ... "Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails." From 1995 to 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.
WELL, at least they're in prison for a good reason! Or not! Those numbers are absolutely absurd!! You know all those extremist Christians who are always whining about how America is becoming more and more decadent and so on? Well, I'm beginning to agree with them!! I don't think Christianity is the solution. I'm thinking a hearty dose of the golden rule would be good, though. If people were taught to think about other people as people just like themselves, I like to think they'd commit fewer crimes. Also, we've got to stop sending people to jail for fucking drug offenses. This is ridiculous. Nearly half of the rise in the number of people in prison were put there because of drugs. Who the hell do drug offenses hurt? OK, dealers, I can see--but users and possessors? Legalize that shit and license and tax it through the government. That's how you solve the drug "problem." But that still leaves a bucket-load of people in prison for other crimes. CHRIST, people!! STAY IN SCHOOL!! CRIME DOESN'T PAY! Hm, guess we better do more than just give you platitudes and rhetoric. Um... Just say no?

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

IMPEACHMENT BILL PUT FORWARD IN THE HOUSE!!!!

Wow, well, for those of us in the impeachment crowd, I've got good news and bad news. First the good news: A congresswoman has put forward a bill to impeach Bush, Cheney and Rice. This seems overwhelmingly justified as there is a goodly stack of evidence that would convict Bush of violating a handful of laws--which is funny since you don't even need to break the law to be impeached. Now for the bad news: The bill to impeach Bush and Company was sponsored by Cynthia McKinney who won't be returning to her seat in January. Here's a cutting from [http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/politics/16198546.htm|a December 8, 2006 article] from AP.org available at Macon.com:
n what could be her final legislative act in Congress, outgoing Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill Friday to impeach President Bush. The legislation has no chance of passing and serves as a symbolic parting shot not only at President Bush but also at Democratic Party leaders. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment. McKinney, who drew national headlines this spring when she struck a Capitol police officer, has long insisted that Bush was never legitimately elected. In unveiling her legislation in the final hours of the current Congress, she said Bush had violated his oath of office to defend the Constitution and the nation's laws. The legislation says Bush misled Congress into approving the war in Iraq and violated the law with secret surveillance practices. The bill also calls for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Nice how the first thing the article talks about regarding McKinney's backstory is the "hitting a capitol hill cop" story. Then they throw in the bit about how McKinney felt that Bush had stolen the 2000 election to make sure that the average reader reacts to this story with an: "Oh, she's one of those sore-losermans." The funny thing is that McKinney has been spotting the same things that I have been--questionable choices made by Bush time and time again that have ended up getting us in bigger trouble. She has felt that the official 911 story is suspicious, the war in Iraq was waged on lies and that much of what Bush has done has been unethical and illegal (hence the impeachment bill). So, it isn't that surprising that she is best known for overreacting to a cop demanding to see her ID on the way into the capitol building. Obviously, the media labeled her a loon early on and just waited for her to do something to embarrass herself in public. Then, when she did, they exploited it. I'm not saying there was a conscious conspiracy by the media to smear her, but the natural cynicism of the media would have excluded stories of her criticizing Bush while including stories of her embarrassing herself because they are more "juicy." There is some other good news, however. McKinney has been voted out of office, before. I believe she can win her seat back again and hope she won't give up on politics. Once the American people spend a couple years with the Dems in charge of the House and Senate, they'll realize that there's really no difference between the two parties. Then, McKinney can run as her true, outspoken self and stand out against the lobbyist-loving crowd in office now. She'll win easily. I do want to touch on one last thing regarding the above-linked article from the AP. Here's quick quote from above:
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment.
Isn't that funny? According to the article, Pelosi thinks the liberal wing of the Democratic party wants to impeach Bush. I always thought "liberal" meant "generous" not "sticking to the letter of the law." In my mind anyone who wants to impeach Bush in the interest of abiding by the law and thusly protecting said law, the US government and the country of America are quite conservative--not liberal. A true liberal would want to give the libelous, law-breaking leader the benefit of the doubt. A true conservative would see Bush impeached with extreme hardcoreness. That's what really cracks me up about these damn labels and the politicians who use them--they're all acting like one thing: greedy politicians who are care about one thing and one thing only: their jobs. Our system breeds hypocrisy.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

NEW COMMENT LINE AT THEPETE.COM

You got something to say to ThePete.Com? Now you can say it TWO ways! First, you can leave a voice message through Odeo.com by going here: http://odeo.com/sendmeamessage/Thepetecom OR you can call the new HOTLINE at ThePete.Com!! That number is: 1-310-REGULAR That's 310 734 8527. And NO, calling that number is NO SUBSTITUTE for the proper amount of fiber in your diet! The number comes compliments of PrivatePhone.Com. Hey, if your message is cool or obnoxious enough, I'll post it here at ThePete.Com! BITCHING!!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

ThePhlog for 12/3/6

Weeee... Audioblogger.com is no more so I went looking for another free service and found Gabcast.com. Click below to listen to my test episode of ThePhlog that I recorded last Sunday. http://www.gabcast.com/casts/5293/episodes/1165188365.mp3 Sadly, I had to manually paste this direct link to the mp3 file and there is no way (that I could find) to have Gabcast.com automatically post a direct link to the mp3--thus making it work inside of a podcast. So, sadly, until someone points me to a free post-audio-from-a-phone service, ThePhlog will no longer be updated. :( I'm hoping to pick up a Sidekick 3 one of these years which will allow me (hopefully) to upload videos directly from my phone that will be included in a podcast, but who knows? With all of the competing formats these days it's tough to say what will work and what won't. I'm still hoping that the format that the iPod and PSP plays--the mp4--will become the standard for video just like mp3s have become the standard for audio, but still there are apps that don't like mp4 files that don't have the ".avi" extension, which cracks me up since ".avi" could mean just about anything. Ah well, let's hope for a bright future for mobile blogging. :)

Orignal From: ThePhlog for 12/3/6

The 5 Minute Show Episode 41!

FINALLY!! It's the Thanksgiving episode!! Just a couple weeks late! Check out footage of ThePete's attempt to cook a green turkey to match his hair! WAHOO! Seriously, it's flashback time to Turkey Day 2002 with fragments of pilot of sorts for The 5 Minute Show. Basically, it's just footage of ThePete being goofy while cooking a turkey. CHECK IT OUT!! [http://video.lisarein.com/thepete/stuff/ThePeteTV/t5msep41.mp4|Check out the iPod/PSP-ready mp4] or watch it on YouTube.Com below. You can also subscribe to ThePete.Com's feed here -->[http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepetecom|] http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepetecom or to get JUST The 5 Minute Show every week paste the following URL into iTunes or other aggregator of choicie: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thepete/t5ms


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Idiocracy (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Oh man is it ever!
Technically any good?While the special effects were uneven, the storytelling is brisk and the editing keeps it moving. The acting is spot-on: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, and Dax Shepard make simple choices and refrain from bogging the story down. Other character actors go the whole nine yards and put their heart and soul into being brainless. Real but over-the-top.
How did it leave me feeling? Okay, here we go: Having just seen a midnight showing of the movie here in Los Angeles (thanks Santa Monica Nuart Theater!) I must say that this will go down in the history books as one of the most interesting, unique, inventive and funny movies of the decades. SHAME ON 20TH CENTURY FOX for not taking the time to advertise and distribute it!!!
But I can understand why they wouldn't distribute it - the movie takes an unquestioning jab at everything FOX and channels like FOX NEWS stands for. Mike Judge takes a truly satirical look at the future of humankind- a "what if" of extraordinary proportions in which the idiots of the world outpopulate those with higher IQ's. The corporate mentality, melded with assembly-line automation technology, create a world in which stupidity is basically tube-fed to survive. They're basically left to their own to do mindless work and then sit at home watching T.V. Sounds familiar? Or do you think that's a strange premise? Can't visualize it? Mike Judge made it happen in a wonderfully inventive and frightening way.
The social commentary is incredibly witty and hilarious. Those who actually watch for the details will be stunned by the intelligent nuances mixed in with the "dumb" humor. But even the "dumb" humor is made specifically to comment on our own seeming fascination with fart humor, sex, and jackass entertainment. I don't quite understand some reviews that call the jokes "bathroom" humor. They don't get it.
This will soon become a cult classic, under-the-radar fare. I was laughing hysterically at this movie. I wanted them to hit rewind so I could watch it again then and there. It's coming out on DVD early January, and I'm excited to get it, buy it for my family (all stupid and intelligent members), and hold a screening to introduce it to those who never heard of it or who didn't get to see it in theaters (ONCE AGAIN SHAME ON YOU 20th CENTURY!!!).
"Welcome to CostCo. I Love You."
Final Rating? GSN - any way you can!

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New Flickr Pics!

Hey there--been swamped with work and stuff and have been too busy to blog, but I did just upload some new pics (taken with my minicam) to my Flickr account and I thought you might enjoy having a look at 'em. Here are a few:
I Voted pt 2
Found the above on the way back from voting--it's an "I Voted" sticker stuck to the sidewalk. SOMEone's feeling patriotic but ashamed to show it! :( So sad! Saw this in a Nine West window at my local mall:
Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, much? Sure, the guy's probably enjoying it--except for the fact that he isn't. Imagine if the genders were reversed in this pic--but the expressions stayed the same. The man happily grabbing the woman's ass. Yep--pretty unequal. And no, revenge is not cool.
Earth 'n' Clouds
That one I got lucky with. I was bored waiting for my bus to show up and the contrast ended up being PERFECT. I love the clouds, too. So, there are a few--check out my Flickr page for more (that's flickr.com/photos/thepete). Make sure to have a look around, too, if you haven't already and leave some comments, if you feel like it.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anti Smoking Hero dies himself of cancer of the lungs

Oh the irony/sad coincidence/proof that God has a wicked sense of humor. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6194670.stm You'd think that this story would cause everyone who smokes to throw away their packs and start breathing healthily again. But sadly probably not... Allen Carr championed at least 10 million people to quit smoking and lead healthier lives. He quit 23 years ago and stlll died of the disease. Probably increased his lifespan, since he did die at the age of 72. I hope all those who are reading this who still smoke will take a look at Allen Carr's life and their own and see what's worth keeping - a habit or your life?

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A JOB THAT DOESN'T SUCK WORSE

Most of the time I blog about current events, politics or entertainment. For this post I'm getting a bit more self-indulgent. It seems to me that there's no such thing as a good job or even [http://thepete.com/a-job-that-doesnt-suck/|a job that doesn't suck] - rather, there is, but it doesn't stay that way for long. See, I started a gig six months ago that I didn't want to start in the first place. I was only doing it to provide some financial stability. I was making money doing a few different things that I actually enjoyed but the money was sparse and not consistent. It was rough on myself and TheWife, so I bit the bullet and started temping, thinking that if anything sucked too badly, I could just move on to something else. Luckily, I got a gig at a cancer lab doing what is effectively data entry. As far as crappy dayjobs went, it was perfect for me. I didn't have to talk to anyone on the phones, or anyone in my department--I could just keep to myself, do my job, listen to my podcasts and earn $14 hour (my temp agency told me I'd be making $15, but when I looked at my first paycheck...surprise!) which is enough to live my spartan lifestyle. If I actually owned a car, or ever partied (aka drank, went to clubs, etc), or had any major debts to pay off, or wanted to actually go on vacations anywhere, it's not enough. As it turns out, I don't spend a whole lot of money except on the very occasional gadget. Then, last week, I was asked by my boss (whom I hardly ever see) how I felt about making some outgoing calls. Literally her words were: "How do you feel about outgoing calls?" I'm an introvert who is good at pretending, but I respect myself too much to lie so I reply with: "Well, I'm not terribly comfortable dealing with strangers on the phone." "Oh, OK, well, hopefully the holiday season will be slow, so you won't need to do it." Hopefully? I didn't pursue the topic of conversation (one of my longer conversations with her) as she was off, dealing with the next problem facing her job. Then, yesterday, surprise! "It's time to train you on the phones," my immediate supervisor cackles. Literally, she cackled. I told her I wanted to talk to my boss before I started any new training. "Sorry," my supervisor says, "this is from On High," as in GOD?? "this can't wait." "Uh, well, I sort of feel that... no, actually, it's not that I sort of feel anything, it's that I definitely don't want to do that kind of work." I then added that I'd really just like to talk to our boss about it. "You can't, she'll be out for surgery until January or maybe longer." "Well, I don't want to do that kind of work." Then she made some sort of "good-natured" insulting jibe at my expense which I ignored so much I don't remember what it was and just repeated myself "I just don't like to work on the phones." Then, my supervisor got a call she had to deal with and I was able to continue with my day. After a few hours, she gave up on the idea temporarily and just before I left to catch my bus I told her thanks for understanding about the phone thing. To that she replied that nothing had changed. I then suggested that I help out the department in some other way--it's not that I'm not willing to do more work (though on most days I'd be hard pressed to find time for it) it was just that I didn't want to do phones and I hadn't really been warned that I'd be forced into training for something new. I was also honest in saying that I just don't like to call people on the phone--especially strangers. "Just try it, maybe it's not as bad as you think." ??? Try making phone calls? Why does she think I haven't made phone calls before? "It's just not something I like to do. I already know this. I probably wouldn't have taken this job if I knew I'd have to call people." Then she tells me that since the boss is out for the next month, at least, "you'll have to live outside your comfort zone a little bit." What a bitch. "My comfort zone." So, now I'm a fucking freak because I am all soft and warm and cuddly when I don't have to make phone calls. I'm a weak, spineless coward because I don't want to deal with frigging idiots who don't know how to do their own jobs let alone answer my simple questions about patient names and birth dates and such. "Don't worry, I'll train you." But you're abrasive and rude and I don't like you, I think to myself. "There's nothing to panic over, I won't throw you to the dogs." "It's not that," I try to explain, "I'm not scared of making phone calls," and I'm trying hard not to feel insulted by this, "it's that I don't like to make phone calls." I even suggested they get a new temp in and that I'd be OK with being moving on. Without missing a beat she said that it would take too long to bring the new guy up to speed. By the time we did, my boss would be back and we wouldn't need them to go on the phones. She then added that she thought our boss had already spoken to me about this. I described to her my one mini-conversation about it. "Well, I can understand why you're frustrated." Yeah. Ultimately, it's not about how much I don't like making phone calls. It's about simply respecting your workers. Usually my boss has been very up-front and hands-on. But this time she screwed up and put me in a position where I either have to do something I just don't like to do (don't forget, I'm already doing that by having a temp job in the first place--so don't say I can't deal with being an adult) or take a chance on finding another temp job. This is my point--why can't a job just stay the way it is when I start it? Why must bosses always try to get away with shit? Why can't they just give me a job and let me do it until I quit? Sure, OK, things change, and they need people to pick up the slack--so their solution is make the temp guy do more important work without a pay raise? Oh yeah and don't warn him about it beforehand either. Dude, just fucking hire someone full time far enough in advance to have him/her up to speed by the time they are needed. Noooo, that would cost money. It's easier/cheaper to keep the temp guy in the dark until it's too late and then force him decide against his own self-respect and finding a new temp gig.

Orignal From: A JOB THAT DOESN'T SUCK WORSE

Sunday, November 26, 2006

PAUL KRUGMAN SEZ: SOMETHING WAS WRONG ON NOVEMBER 7

So, a couple of weeks ago, [http://thepete.com/just-because-the-dems-won-doesnt-mean-all-is-good/|I blogged about how I felt that just because the Dems won doesn't mean we're out of hot water]. In typical mainstream media fashion, it took someone from the MSM a bit longer to suggest that just because the Dems won doesn't mean the fix wasn't in. I've suggested that the fix is in, but it's a very subtle fix that only works if there if no landslide. Columnist Paul Krugman seems to think the same thing. A friend of mine recently forwarded me a link to [http://welcome-to-pottersville.blogspot.com/2006/11/paul-krugman-when-votes-disappear.html|this post] at Welcome-To-Pottersville.blogspot.com that quotes a Paul Krugman column on the case of possible election fraud in Sarasota, Florida. Yep, FLORIDA again. Anyway, here's a cutting:
You know what really had me terrified on Nov. 7? The all-too-real possibility of a highly suspect result. What would we have done i! f the Republicans had held on to the House by a narrow margin, but circumstantial evidence strongly suggested that a combination of vote suppression and defective — or rigged — electronic voting machines made the difference? Fortunately, it wasn’t a close election. But the fact that our electoral system worked well enough to register an overwhelming Democratic landslide doesn’t mean that things are O.K. There were many problems with voting in this election — and in at least one Congressional race, the evidence strongly suggests that paperless voting machines failed to count thousands of votes, and that the disappearance of these votes delivered the race to the wrong candidate.
The gist of the rest of the article is this: There were 18,000 (!!) voters who voted for no candidate. This is called an undervote. Now, according to Krugman, 15 percent of these 18,000 voters voted on electronic ballot machines. Weee... So, while he writes mostly about how the electronic ballot machines are bad and how we can't verify the voters will with a recount, he doesn't point out how suspicious it looks that the other 15,000+ undervotes occurred at all. To me it looks like the fix was in, there, too. Is it a coincidence that most of the undervotes came from predominantly black areas? Is it another coincidence that blacks tend to vote Democratic? Then, one of the comments on the post at Welcome-to-Pottersville.blogspot.com directs readers to [http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_rob_kall_061117_clear_evidence_2006_.htm|this November 17, 2006 post] at OpEdNews.com. Here's a cutting from it:
A major undercount of Democratic votes and an overcount of Republican votes in U.S. House and Senate races across the country is indicated by an analysis of national exit polling data, by the Election Defense Alliance (EDA), a national election integrity organization. These findings have led EDA to issue an urgent call for further investigation into the 2006 election results and a moratorium on deployment of all electronic election equipment. "We see evidence of pervasive fraud, but apparently calibrated to political conditions existing before recent developments shifted the political landscape," said attorney Jonathan Simon, co-founder of Election Defense Alliance, "so 'the fix' turned out not to be sufficient for the actual circumstances." Explained Simon, "When you set out to rig an election, you want to do just enough to win. The greater the shift from expectations, (from exit polling, pre-election polling, demographics) the greater the risk of exposure--of provoking investigation. What was plenty to win on October 1 fell short on November 7. "The findings raise urgent questions about the electoral machinery and vote counting systems used in the United States," according to Sally Castleman, National Chair of EDA. "This is a nothing less than a national indictment of the vote counting process in the United States!" "The numbers tell us there absolutely was hacking going on, just not enough to overcome the size of the actual turnout. The tide turned so much in the last few weeks before the eleciton. It looks for all the world that they'd already figured out the percentage they needed to rig, when the programming of the vote rigging software was distributed weeks before the election, and it wasn't enough," Castleman commented.
Weee! Ah, the most powerful democracy on planet Earth isn't even a fully functioning one! HOORAY! sigh...

Orignal From: PAUL KRUGMAN SEZ: SOMETHING WAS WRONG ON NOVEMBER 7

TIME MAGAZINE ON FEAR, ITSELF

One of the things I'm always going on about is how stupidly scared we all are of everything. Bird flu, Al Qaeda (all 50,000 of them), Iraq, and soon Iran--but what is it all for? Are the odds actually good that any of us will die from any of those threats I just mentioned? Eleven months ago, my 10 Points post appeared on my blog. It outlines specifically how AIDS, cancer and car accidents are all much more likely to kill you than a terrorist. I even back it up with statistics and links to my sources. Well, that was back in January of 2006. On November 25, 2006 Time.Com [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1562914,00.html|finally got around to addressing] the issue that, frankly, we ALL should have been talking about on September 12, 2001--fear, itself. After all, that is the only thing FDR said we have to fear, right? Somewhere along the line we forgot his words and gave in to the idea that there are actual boogie-men out to get us. The catch? They aren't. I mean, sure, there are extremist Muslims who want to kill Americans, but their numbers are tiny and they are NOT well organized. If they were, we'd have seen a lot more successful attacks than just the two on the WTC in 1993 and 2001. I mean, come on, they're really going to topple America with two lucky strikes? Three or four, even? Not likely. Yes, anti-terror cops are on the job and are foiling plots. But look at the time between 1993 and 2001. It took them eight years to get lucky again and that was under George W. Bush's crack anti-terror administration (perhaps they were on crack to let 911 happen). This is the level of their expertise. At that rate, they should be getting lucky again just in time for the next president. That is, unless we're so scared that we decide to make George W. Emperor of America... So, BRAVO, Time Magazine, for finally getting off your ass and doing some serious questioning of the way things are going. Kudos to Time.Com for being brave enough to NOT allow comments on their fear article at Time.Com--it takes a lot of balls to be a bald-faced coward in today's world. Here's to hiding from the truth until it's cool to face it and even then hiding from any possible criticism. What's even better is that the Time article doesn't address how the media makes things worse by playing the fear card every chance they get.

Orignal From: TIME MAGAZINE ON FEAR, ITSELF

Thursday, November 23, 2006

THANKSGIVING PARADE??? WHAT ABOUT AL QAEDA???

So, TheWife was in NYC two weekends ago for an acting gig and went to visit an old buddy of my who works at the Empire State Building. She had been wandering around Manhattan for hours with a huge backpack strapped to her, so, in the lobby of the ESB, she crouches down to stretch her muscles a bit. A security guard tells her she can't crouch there. He then tells her she can go in the cafe to sit if she wants, but crouching where she was is not allowed. According to my friend, you can't crouch in the lobby or dig through your bags for anything (he once was admonished for looking for the pass that let him get into his office) without being harassed by authorities. Seems that if you're crouching, you might be praying to Allah before you blow the place up. If you're digging through your bags, you're clearly looking for your remote detonator. Flash-forward two weekends to the giant terrorist target that is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Hundreds of people come out every year to watch the parade--when I was a kid I remember going at least once and having a blast. But why is it illegal to crouch or dig through your bags in the lobby of the Empire State Building because you might be a terrorist, but a GIANT PARADE with HUNDREDS OF INNOCENT TARGETS CIVILIANS can go on without a problem? So, we sacrifice habeas corpus for non-American-born people, allow the government to track our phone calls, bank transactions, and reading habits, put up with taking our shoes off before boarding a plane and only taking with us a few ounces of shampoo or hand lotion on that plane... but a giant parade is allowed to go on? Come on, folks--this makes no sense. If EVERY passenger plane is a probable terrorist target, how can Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade not be a DEFINITE target? Are we scared of Al Qaeda or not? OH and Happy Thanksgluttony--Thanksgiving.

Orignal From: THANKSGIVING PARADE??? WHAT ABOUT AL QAEDA???

TheYouTube

Yep, I'm a YouTuber just like the rest of the world. Here are the vids I've posted there. WATCH 'EM! [tubepress]

Orignal From: TheYouTube

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AMERICANS HAVE KIDS BUT FEWER ARE GETTING MARRIED

Is it me? Are more people having kids these days? I swear, I see more and more pregnant women wandering around LA. See, personally, I'm confused as to why people want to have kids at all these days. I mean, I look at the world and think "do I want my offspring to have to deal with/clean up this mess? NO WAY!" To me, it seems positively vindictive to have kids with the world the way it is today. Would you wish the preteen fascist state that the US is becoming on someone you're supposed to love? Well, I wouldn't. But most people aren't me. The interesting thing is that fewer couples are bothering to get married than ever before. According to [http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/tribpm/s_477899.html|a November 2, 2006 article] at PittsburghLive.com:
For the first time, married-couple households are no longer in the majority, according to statistics from the bureau's latest American Community Survey. From 2000-05, the percentage of Southwestern Pennsylvania households headed by married couples dropped from 50.5 percent to 49.1 percent, mirroring national numbers.
To top that off, [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110AP_Unmarried_Births.html|a November 22, 2006 article] from AP.org available at SeattlePI.com reports:
Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday. While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the birth rate among girls ages 10 to 17 actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s. Experts said the overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married. They said it also reflects the fact that having a child out of wedlock is more acceptable nowadays and not necessarily the source of shame it once was.
OK, now, what I think no one will talk about in the media is why marriage seems to be in decline. Sure its "more acceptable" to have a live with a lover and/or have a child out of wedlock, but why is that? Well, one of my theories about religion is that it was literally invented to help control people and make them behave in a civilized manner. "Behave or you'll go to hell!" And we did. For millennia we've behaved and used religious rituals to signify to God that we were following the rules. Marriage was part of that. We couldn't just run around having sex with anyone because that would be chaotic. Men get possessive of their women (even when they have more than one) and so marriage would bind women to a man. God was used as an excuse to keep women (and men) "civilized". But now, it seems like we humans don't need God or religion's rules to form bonds with loved ones and have families. We're perfectly capable of being "civilized" on our own without the threat of hell or a lack of heaven hanging over our heads. I think it's great--religion has told us what to do and what not to do for thousands of years. Now, more and more people are telling religion to take five while they make up their minds for themselves. Independent thought that still values the family unit/community. Pretty friggen' cool, if you ask me. I still think humans should stop having kids until we can feed and care for the kids on planet Earth already. But that's just me--I think no kid should be parentless or healthless--I'm wacky that way.

Orignal From: AMERICANS HAVE KIDS BUT FEWER ARE GETTING MARRIED

FINISHED MY 50,000 WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO.ORG!!!

This'll be a short post as I just wanted to announce that I've just finished my seventh novel! Well, the first draft of my seventh novel, anyway. I did it in conjunction with NaNoWriMo--See, the idea is that you sign up at the NaNoWriMo.Org website and then, on November 1, 12:01am, you begin to write a novel with the plan to have it 50,000 words or longer and finished by midnight, November 30 or sooner. See, that's why they call it NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. The catch is, it really should be called InNaNoWriMo because it's international. Something like 70,000 people around the world take part in this and many of them use the forums to get and give support from and to other writers. What I did was assign myself a region which then gives me access to a special forum that only folks in that region have access to. From there I can virtually meet up with other novelists in my area. Next, we're planning to have a TGIO (Thank God It's Over) party where we'll all meet in person. Of course, most of them have already met since they had a kick-off party a couple days before this year but I couldn't make it. :( For the TGIO party, I won't miss it!! I wasn't the fastest person, but I did finish early. That makes me feel good about myself, which is always a good thing, I think. :) Still, my story ended up being a lot shorter than I had initially planned, so I'm not perfect. Still, any excuse to sit down and let a fiction writing project take over my life for a while is a good excuse. If you are a novelist or think you might want to give novelism a try, this is a great way to make sure you'll get your book done. Check out NaNoWriMo.org for more info!!

Orignal From: FINISHED MY 50,000 WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO.ORG!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NEW DISEMBODIED ANIMAL HEAD THEATRE RELATED VIDEO!!

OK, I've been meaning to blog on this for weeks but my novel got in the way. Now that my novel is almost done (JUST 300 MORE WORDS TO GO!!!) I thought I'd grab a moment to post the latest video from Andrew Moore, the brains behind Disembodied Animal Head Theatre! This one follows the host of DAHT, good old Tex, as he goes into the studio to record his album of Christmas standards!! CHECK IT OUT: Or check out the original post at the DAHT blog here: http://daht.blogspot.com/2006/10/ho-netizens-did-i-say-id-have-video.html

Orignal From: NEW DISEMBODIED ANIMAL HEAD THEATRE RELATED VIDEO!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

REDS (1981)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Entirely entertaining! I don't know how I've lived this long without seeing this movie sooner.
Technically any good? This movie was crazy-impressive. Everything about this movie was well done. The acting was brilliant, the script solid as solid can get when trying to condense this story to a tiny (but still quite cinematically huge) 3h15m. There was hardly any music, which helped the realism and aside from some sound issues (mostly bad ADR issues in a couple scenes) the "technical" stuff was spot on, as well. Like I said, I don't know how I haven't seen this amazing film before now.
How did it leave me feeling? Inspired to write more :) and to avoid involving myself directly in politics. But seriously, it left me feeling very positive. Actually, for about the first hour, I was having such a good time with the movie (even through the depressing bits) I had a big grin on my face because everything was so well done. I felt like I was on a date with someone who wanted me to have the world on a platter. The film treats you like you're intelligent and familiar with how the world really is and only occasionally gets all liberal on your ass. Generally, though, it stays pretty balanced and actually presents you with the really sucky side of communism, so you know it's not all about the liberal, commie crap.
Final Rating? GSN - Go See Now!! It's particularly timely.

Orignal From: REDS (1981)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

CASINO ROYALE (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Yeah, but just barely. It was fun and most folks will enjoy it, but I just felt that this film was over-hyped as a new kind of Bond movie when it really wasn't.
Technically any good? Not at all. Sure, the action scenes were exciting, but only slightly less fantastical compared to the action scenes in recent Bond films. The acting was great--really liked Daniel Craig as Bond and everyone else is perfectly believable. Plot was convoluted as hell (YOU try describing the plot in a couple of sentences!) and the dialog was for CRAP. "I have no armor left, you've stripped it from me." BARF!
How did it leave me feeling? Disappointed. I actually had a nice chat with the guy sitting next to me about the film and generally, we both agreed that the film was pretty perplexing and uneven. TheWife enjoyed it more. Generally, I'd say wait for Netflix.
Final Rating? RTV - Rent The Video (not even worth a matinée price in my mind.) [http://thepete.com/casino-royaleeh/|Read my long-ass, knock-down, drag-out review of Casino Royale.]

Orignal From: CASINO ROYALE (2006)

Casino Royale...eh...

OK, I'm not going to talk about my opinion of the new Bond film Casino Royale out in the open like this, so if you really want to read this check out below. Let's just say I have strong feelings about the film. If you've seen it or don't plan on seeing it, go ahead and read on. If you have yet to see it and plan to, I'd suggest coming back to this post once you have seen the movie and formed your own opinion. ...

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Friday, November 17, 2006

FEDERAL JUDGE: WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING OK!

I found [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/10/america/NA_GEN_US_Domestic_Spying_Challenge.php|this article] a week ago at IHT.Com from AP.org that reports on a federal judge that dismissed a claim by a convicted terrorist that his case may have been tainted by evidence gathered via warrantless wiretapping. I suppose with all of the other rights the government is dancing upon, it only makes sense that a federal judge would dismiss this attempt to get out of his plea bargain. Here's a clip from the article that explains a bit more:
Truck driver Iyman Faris, 37, of Columbus, Ohio, is serving a 20-year prison sentence after admitting in a plea bargain that he conspired with al-Qaida on an aborted plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge by cutting its suspension cables. But Faris sought to have his sentence vacated, in part because of suspicions that the government's eavesdropping program tainted the case. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, filed earlier this week, is under seal, so it is unclear why she dismissed the claim.
YAAAY!! WE'LL NEVER KNOW WHY THE JUDGE RULED THE WAY SHE DID!! Who needs transparency when you've got rich, thick, FOGGY JUSTICE?!?!

Orignal From: FEDERAL JUDGE: WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING OK!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

JOHN CONYERS LETS US DOWN

So, I get the latest newsletter from Illinois congressman John Conyers in my inbox today and I get part way through before I stop reading. The sentence that tripped me up was this one:
"As many of you also know, I have agreed with Speaker-to-be Pelosi that impeachment is off the table."
Yep. Nicely done, sir! /sarcasm Why am I so let down at this? Let me include a bit more of his letter:
Although we won back control of Congress, none of us should delude ourselves into thinking that running the legislative branch in a nation wracked by years of one party rule will be easy. We need to put aside any thought of anger or payback. Instead we need to focus on identifying and correcting abuses and pass legislation which serves the interests of the American people.
OK, that second paragraph above came before the line that tripped me up. Getting to the line that tripped me up instantly inspired me to email Conyers immediately. Here's what I said:
You've let the American people down. For political reasons you are allowing laws to be broken and criminals to get away with it. Since when is enforcing the law and convicting criminals revenge? You insult me and other supporters, sir. I am not interested in Bush being impeached out of revenge. I am not petty as you and other Democrats think. I am interested in the truth being known and the law being followed. You would sweep both the truth and the law under the rug to ensure an easier future for yourself in Washington. Why have laws if you let the people who break them get away with it? By failing to go after George W. Bush for breaking the UN Charter, the covert propaganda law and a great many other domestic and international laws, you send a message to the future that says abuse of power is acceptable. You and your party have disappointed me more than I can describe. I now fall into the category of a person who feels that all politicians are in it for themselves and are corrupt and power-hungry. Why else would you fail to go after Bush? So that you or other Democrats can rise to power and abuse that power the same way Bush has abused it. You were the one person in the government I felt was still trustworthy. You were the only person who spoke of impeachment. You silenced yourself to help your party seem more "moderate" and "reasonable." Since when is following the law and impeaching a leader who has betrayed the public trust "extreme" and "unreasonable?" If letting a criminal get away with it is what it means to be reasonable, I'll be unreasonable for the rest of my life and I won't be voting for Democrats ever again. I'll be sure to encourage others to vote third party, too. Or, you could do your job and impeach Bush. It's not too late. Don't let yourself and your morals get squashed by the game of politics. FIGHT. FIGHT for your country! FIGHT for the people who elected you! SET a good example for the future! Please.
Let's hope he listens. You should email your congressperson, too, and tell him what you think. I need to contact mine, here in LA, as well, and make sure he knows that impeachment isn't about revenge--it's about the US Constitution.

Orignal From: JOHN CONYERS LETS US DOWN

AMY GOODMAN: MONOTONE HERO

I've been listening to the podcast version of Democracy Now! (DemocracyNow.org) for probably more than a year now. It was tough to get going on because it's so low budget. It sounds low budget and if you watch the show it looks low budget. However, they mange to cover almost every topic they touch on with way more depth than you get from the mainstream news. DN is daily, Monday thru Friday and it's an hour long. That adds up to way more depth than the evening network news shows could ever deliver and still a heckuva a lot more depth than you'll get in an equivalent number of hours on CNN. Plus you won't hear about independent reporters getting shot during months-long protests in Oaxaca (wah-hah-ka), Mexico. Goodman did a full hour on this American indy reporter who was shot dead by Mexican police who were trying (but failed) to break up a HUGE protest against the local governor. Of course, you probably didn't hear about the protest, either. But hey, I grew up on reruns of the classic Trek. I can totally deal with low budget and in fact most of the time I prefer it because the content is usually better. The catch here has been that Amy Goodman is not a dynamic personality when she's hosting the show. Her style is rather bare-bones and unemotional. I suppose she's trying to come across "unbiased" but it's obvious to me how liberal she is when she has on two liberal guests and one conservative to debate an issue. Of course, I don't mind that because last week I heard Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC, refer to soon-to-be Senator-Elect Ford (from Tennessee) as a "moderate" because Ford is a Democrat who admits his love for Jesus. So, I figure Amy Goodman stacking the deck just balances things out in the end. That said, she is still so MONOTONE. It would be great if she could just seem a little less clinical. Early on I would literally get drowsy listening to her voice. Eventually, though, I got used to it and have come to not mind it, really. I mean, it's a small price to pay for the great coverage of stories you get from that show. The thing is, up until yesterday I still didn't think of her as much more than someone who was a libbie-hippie type who could write decent copy. Then, yesterday, I listened to [http://www.democracynow.org/index.pl?issue=20061113|the November 13, 2006 episode of Democracy Now] and was blown away. On the show she talked about how, back in 1991, Goodman and another reporter were covering the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. There was a group of East Timorese who were attending a funeral for a local community figure. The mob was getting a bit unruly, but there was no violence among the mourners. Then, Goodman and the other reporter see Indonesian troops marching down the street that led into the walled cemetery. Obviously, they were armed and it was also obvious to Goodman and her friend that these troops were going to use those arms on the mourners. The two journalists put themselves between the troops and the mourners, holding their microphones, recorders and cameras in full view of the troops. The troops just marched by them, raised their M-16s and began to fire on the crowd. They also began beating the journalists, dragging both of them to the side of the road. They were both beaten and bloodied and had M-16s pointed at their heads but at the last moment, the troops decided not to murder them. Two-hundred-seventy East Timorese were killed in the massacre. Amy Goodman is a fucking hero. To be sure, so was Allan Nairn, the male reporter who was with her and threw his body over her to protect her against the rifle butts of Indonesian soldiers, but I had never heard of him before yesterday and never fathomed that Amy Goodman had done something that brave. Seriously, Amy Goodman is a fucking hero. Sorry, gotta say "fucking". Calling her a hero just doesn't seem enough. Oh yeah--and the American president's response to the massacre? More support to the Indonesian military. Where do you think they got their American-made M-16s from in the first place? THANKS, GEORGE H.W.!

Orignal From: AMY GOODMAN: MONOTONE HERO