Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hillary Clinton vs. the Coffee Machine

A hat tip to my Gaullic friend for the video.

How Will It Play in Apex?

For your consideration: let's read today's column by NYT columnist Gail Collins.

This is such pointless, aimless, sloppy muck. As bloggers proliferate around the world, what is the point of hack columnists like Gail Collins? Why does Gail Collins have a column in the New York Times? Why is she not jealously guarding her table at an Upper West Side Barnes & Noble Cafe, piled with Atlantic and New Yorker magazines, as she nurses her latte and updates her blog about cats, Annie Proux, and teeth whiteners?

Joel Stein in the LA Times also often makes me feel this way.

What is the point of columnists like these?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Octopus Grigori Variety-Pak

Yesterday, at work, I was in the stall in the bathroom and heard someone at the urinal tapping out a message on a blackberry -- while he was peeing.

Obama drives left, like Ginobili. What's up with the tucked-in t-shirt? And tight sweatpants? I think his recent spate of basketball playing in Indiana and North Carolina is helpful. I'm glad he played with the Tar Heels and not with f*cking Duke. (I'd be willing to wager that Hillary Clinton is a Duke fan.)

A fascinating article by Wendy Doniger on Indo-European language and mythology in the London Review of Books.

On a summary judgment motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 in federal court, it's well-established that the non-moving party bears the burden of showing the absence of any issues of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1985). In the boilerplate language mindlessly recited by courts and lawyers in summary judgment briefs and opinions, there's invariably this line from Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986): "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." (Emphasis added.) It just hit me the other day how weird this "metaphysical doubt" language is, sitting there in thousands upon thousands of briefs and opinions. It seems obvious that one of Justice Powell's law clerks, perhaps an undergraduate fan of Descartes back at Swarthmore or Cornell, decided it would be fun to bring questions of metaphysical doubt into the standards for summary judgment under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. What is a metaphysical doubt? Shouldn't the entire process of legal analysis succumb to metaphysical doubt?

I was walking back from the grocery store the other day and thought of something I thought would be good band name: Bad Parking Job. I don't know if I like it so much anymore.

The administration and the military appear to be ramping up the preparations for an attack on Iran, but NPR was running a call-in show tonight on what? Answer: the "controversial" Vanity Fair photos of Miley Cyrus. The economy is going to hell, there's rice-rationing at Costco, millions are starving around the world, and we're about to be plunged into another war in the Middle East, but the biggest news in the entire world is stuff Obama's pastor is saying. God bless the Fourth Estate. Hillary's happy about the developments in Iran: this gets the total obliteration started.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Los Angeles and Environs

This guy was hanging on for dear life on a palm tree at my bus stop downtown, right near Ye Olde Taco House #1. The cook at Ye Olde identified him as a baby possum. Everyone was wondering where the mother was. I kept on expecting the mother to come screaming down the palm tree, tear out all of our eyes, and rescue her baby. But she never came. I missed a bus trying to get good pictures of the baby possum.

Another shot of the baby possum. He moved a little left and right, but not up or down, during the ten minutes I was observing him. (It may have been a girl, I don't know.)

More shots of the tortoises from the L.A. Zoo. They were really slow. One of the tortoises appeared to be spending the entire afternoon with his head tucked in, pressed up against a wall. They live a long time.

The backboard at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center. Apparently, there's been an outbreak of illegal dunking in Eagle Rock. I was there a couple weekends ago. I got totally, absolutely waxed by some college-age kid. Like 11-2, and then 11-3. He was draining threes and jumpers from everywhere. I spent most of my time working on my left hand drive; suffice to say that I'm no Manu Ginobili.

This is one of the organizations in the Citibank building on Eagle Rock Boulevard in Eagle Rock. I have no idea what it is. I guess I could Google it. Okay, I just did, and now I'm disappointed. It's apparently just a temp agency and not some kind of crazy religious sect preparing for the Rapture. Bummer.

Flowers outside Spitz, on Colorado, near the Sizzler.

Brad Penny (I believe) pitching against the Padres a few weeks ago. We got a hold of free field level seats. They were ridiculous. The Dodgers lost. I am a Mets fan for life, but I feel some affection for the current incarnation of the Dodgers. It's hard not to like guys like Rafael Furcal, Russell Martin, and James Loney. I'm trying to get tickets to see the Mets when they come to town in a week or so.

A tunnel from the arrival gates to the baggage claim area at LAX at the end of a long day of commuting for work. This shot strikes me as a very late-90's kind of image, maybe something that would go in the liner notes of a trip-hop group's CD. It feels very pre-Bush era, that whole feeling of the world is going to work out as we all stylishly commute to raves and conferences in sexy international locations and come closer together through international treaties, equitably distributed prosperity, sustainable development, Apple products, and electronic music. Didn't work out that way.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Some primary viewpoints

I want to give Rosa Brooks a hug. She is my hero. This is one of the best columns I've seen on the Clintons' recklessly selfish and destructive campaign of personal aggrandizement.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman has completed his transformation from former brilliant voice of progressive opinion to shameless shill for the Clintons for Presidents Forever Campaign. [Memo to Paul: She's not going to win, and you've thrown away your reputation in pursuit of a government appointment that's never going to come -- unless you build a time machine and take yourself back to the ever-glorious and golden '90s.] It's pretty sad to see how Krugman has gone from such great heights to becoming such a straight-out dickhead. Remember this line Paul? "We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war - or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly - should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security."

I guess you're not asking those questions anymore, huh? That's okay. You're right: let's get behind the candidate with all that foreign policy experience (Sinbad! Snipers! Eighth-graders!) who's threatening to "totally obliterate" nations.

Obamatards! Give up all hope and embrace the logic of Krugman: bow down before Hillary Clinton, or she will totally obliterate you.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Global Food Crisis

You know, fuck this whole primary bullshit for a minute. As you may have heard, the world is facing a massive food crisis; tens of millions of people are facing starvation as the price of staple grains such as rice and wheat have doubled or tripled in recent months.
Last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16% (see chart 1). These were some of the sharpest rises in food prices ever. But this year the speed of change has accelerated. Since January, rice prices have soared 141%; the price of one variety of wheat shot up 25% in a day.

As just one example, in Bangladesh, it is estimated that sixty million people currently face severe food shortages because of the spikes in rice prices. The current global crisis threatens to throw tens of millions into deep poverty, overturn governments, and unleash waves of violence:
The UN's special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, earlier blamed the crisis on biofuels, speculation on commodities markets, and EU export subsidies. "Hunger has not been down to fate for a long time - just as Marx thought," he told the Austrian newspaper Kurier am Sonntag. "This is silent mass murder."

Food riots have broken out in at least a dozen countries, most notably in Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Yemen and Mexico. Pakistan has reintroduced rationing, while Russia has frozen the price of milk, bread, eggs and cooking oil. Indonesia has increased public food subsidies, while India has banned the export of rice, except the high-quality basmati variety.

Earlier this month, Haiti's parliament dismissed the prime minister, and cut the price of rice, in an attempt to defuse widespread anger at food price hikes that led to days of protests and looting in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Thousands of garment workers in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, also went on strike this month over spiralling prices. The price of rice, the staple Bangladeshi food, has increased by a third since a devastating cyclone last year. Experts say 30 million of the country's 150 million people could go without daily meals.

Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, has urged the nations of the world to respond, laying out the grave nature of the crisis:
"The World Health Organisation now views hunger as the number one threat to public health across the world, responsible for a third of child deaths and 10% of all disease," wrote Mr Brown.

"Tackling hunger is a moral challenge to each of us and it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of nations."
The current global food crisis is a massive, steadily building disaster that is inflicting incalculable misery and pain; if not dealt with quickly, the food crisis may claim thousands upon thousands of lives.

Please do what you can to help: UN World Food Program

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Hope Itself

Hillary Clinton is a massive, irredeemable, asshole.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Indian Superman

Words fail me. This is incredible.

Barack O'Bollywood

This video alone, described on YouTube as "East Meets West Meets Acid", should insure that Barack Obama will be President of America, and our hearts, forever.

At the very least, maybe it'll help pick up some more South Asian votes. He's got mine!

I think I might be hypnotized. I am going to go eat some samosa chana, play cricket, and work on my dance moves.

Yellow Card

On Sunday, during a soccer game, I got a yellow card for calling the other team "a bunch of dickheads." I was actually very surprised when the ref came over and gave me a card. I thought I couldn't get a card for something I could say on TV. (I think you can say dickhead on TV, but I'm not sure.)

I think it mostly happened because the other team -- who were, in fact, a bunch of fucking pricks -- made a big stink when I called them all dickheads. This one guy in particular, with shoulder length blonde hair and a headband, made a big show of being injured by my impolite language, saying something like, "Now, how do you think that makes us feel?"

The game ended in a tie.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Faith of Our Parents and Grandparents -- Not Yours

Roger Cohen explains, quite movingly, just why -- and some of us might have forgotten during this longueur between primaries -- it matters so much who wins the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton wants to make sure you know that her Christian faith “is the faith of [her] parents and [her] grandparents.” Get it? Unlike, some other, *ahem*, BLACK MADRASSA MUSLIM and/or CRAZY WHITE-HATING CHRISTIAN people (who don't have $$$110 MILLION$$$ on hand).

Trust her, she's really really faithful. She's like Joan of Arc! Well, okay, maybe not -- but it's NOT RELEVANT because, you monkeys, SHE IS WHITE! She is a totally, absolutely, UNADULTERATED CHRISTIAN WHITE PERSON. Therefore, she must win and the Clintons must be returned to power. Anyone who disagrees is an elitist, and/or possibly not totally Christian like Hillary Clinton, who is not a black Muslim French-Palestinian terrorist suicide bomber/Al Qaeda operative, AS FAR AS WE KNOW . . . .

Message from Hillary Clinton to America: Shady Black-Muslim dudes with funny names will never run our Great White Christian Nation. They do not understand Our Values or hunt ducks. Colored folk, please arrange yourselves around me for the photo op. Thank you.

I agree with Spike Lee! All of you whack-ass Clinton supporters can get the Bozack.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Trip to the L.A. Zoo and Other Events from Sunday

L.A. is not known for its zoo. The San Diego Zoo is famous around the world; it would be sort of pointless for L.A. to try to compete with its own world-class zoo. So instead, we have a smaller, more manageable zoo. One can easily take in the entire zoo in a few hours.

Most of the habitats are pretty dumpy looking. Occasionally one comes across an empty dirty pool where sea lions or seals used to swim out their natural lives going in circles. Some of the habitats are pretty nice. It seems that the animals that we assume to be more intelligent or more like us (chimpanzees, gorillas, and, for some reason, otters) get more complicated and interesting habitats, while lesser animals (gibbons, coatamundis, etc.) are relegated to tiny cages, sometimes with other random animals. The chimps and gorillas in particular had the greenest, lushest, climate-controlled environments, with plenty of stimulating landscape features (caves, rocks and things to climb on, waterfalls, etc.). Animals like the zebras and giraffes got large patches of fenced-in dusty ground.

We saw a lot of action at the chimpanzee habitat. There were about eight or so chimps, and they were pretty active. One took a dump right in front of us, but into the waterfall that ran through the middle of the habitat. The huge poop was promptly washed away down the falls. A few minutes before, another chimp had taken a piss into the waterfall. This deliberate use of the water feature as an outdoor toilet seemed to be a clear line separating the chimps from, say, the giraffes across the way, who continually peed and pooped just wherever they were standing. There was also a minor chimp fight, a lot of chimps climbing around on rocks, and a lot of grooming and leaf-eating, but no chimp masturbation or sex.

A lot of the people visiting the zoo today were fat. And everyone visiting the zoo was constantly eating. Each major set of animal exhibits had its own grill or Mexican restaurant or burger spot: the smell of greasy onion rings wafted through the air as we observed a mountain gorilla's backside.

I overheard some conversations. A young mother gave her four-year old five dollars to give to her boyfriend to buy her a beer. A young man and his date stood at the tiger enclosure (they were both fat and eating):

"You like the predators, huh?" he asked her.

"Yeah, I do," she said. "I guess it's because I'm kind of a predator, too."

The young man seemed to like this answer. Nearby, a girl tried to get the tigers' attention by calling out "Hey, Tiger!"

At the zebra enclosure, I overheard two women debating the merits of zoos. One woman seemed to find zoos depressing and inhumane. Her friend took a different view: "Yeah, sure, the animals are locked up and everything, but think about this: they get free food, they're safe, they're entertained a bit, and if they get sick, they get free health care. They got all these people here to take care of them. So, you know, there are two sides to the coin, right?"

Later, everyone kept calling the lonely, solitary, endangered Snow Leopard a "cheetah".

After the zoo we came home, and I played the saxophone while I watched the Yankees-Red Sox game. We decided to go eat sushi. So we went to Sushi Go 55, and parked on the fourth floor of the parking structure just like the website instructions told us to. Next to us at the sushi bar, a college student and a middle-aged man were talking about the college student's attempts to secure an internship at a financial institution. The middle-aged man was some type of consultant and was about to move with his family to another country for three years. He explained how he and his family had to get chest x-rays to be admitted into this other country: "They're looking for all sorts of stuff: TB, AIDS, you know." Near the end of their dinner, he told the college student, "You know, I read this book, and I think you should really check it out. It's a little old, it came out in the 70's I think, but it's still just really good. It's by this guy named Dale Carnegie, and it's called How to Win Friends and Influence People. I think it would really help you, especially when you 're going into these internship interviews."

We got home, filed away our tax-related papers, and watched an episode of Deadwood. I read a couple pages of Roughing It before falling asleep.

I won't be able to take eight years of clap-clap point-point

She's so amused by the dancing colored folk. Hillary is down, yo!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

View from the Tank: Children of Men (2006) - Commentary by Slavoj Zizek

I saw this film back in 2007, but I thought it worthwhile to post about it now. I'm in complete agreement with Zizek: this really was one of the greatest films I've seen in the last decade. The attention to detail -- especially in the backgrounds, as Zizek discusses -- is overwhelming. The scenes in the immigration camp in particular are some of the most terrifying and fantastic film scenes I can remember watching.

Speaking of images of dystopian futures, I just found out that Ridley Scott is signed on with Leonardo DiCaprio to direct an adaptation of Brave New World

Monday, April 07, 2008

View from the Tank: Shine a Light (2008)

I can't remember what songs the Rolling Stones played during Martin Scorcese's concert documentary, Shine a Light, shot over two nights of concerts at the Beacon Theater in New York City. I don't remember too much about what the band was doing. No, mostly, I was mesmerized by the wan, joyless, off-rhythm clapping and half-hearted swaying of the the anorexic, hedge fund hotties in the front row. (Thanks to Kenneth Turan for that phrase; his review, which I read before I saw the movie, largely framed my view of the movie.)

Throughout the movie, as the withered, stringy, animated corpses of the Stones -- radioactive with life -- closed their eyes in bliss as they picked out notes on their guitars, strutted with their chests out, in stark contrast to the soulless corporate law firm associates and J.P. Morgan drones in the audience pretending to be excited between taking pictures of themselves on their cell phones and checking their blackberries, I kept thinking of what these boring, spiritless people represented.

What's changed, the Rolling Stones, or us? The archival footage of the Stones forty years ago -- the summer of '68 -- reminds us that at that time, young people would risk arrest and complicating their legal records by bursting past security and trying to tackle Mick or Keith. In 2008, multi-millionaire Central Asian uranium deal-maker Bill Clinton introduces the Stones, who wait to take pictures with Clinton's nephew and mother-in-law, and the starved young women in identical thousand-dollar outfits up against the stage respectfully wave and maintain a safe distance. The corporate waifs don't want to do anything that might endanger their employment at Davis Polk or their Lower East Side co-op applications. These plastic youth are citizens of the world we live in now: capitalism triumphant and indestructible. The Stones are phantoms from the past; relics that dance and strut for us, deliciously trapped in their endless gig -- yet forever more alive than us.

The movie is about the pure joy of music. The Stones are sold out beyond any discussion, of course. They are millionaires going around efficiently delivering a thousand paid-for iterations of their copyrighted songs, profiting off the sales of ring tones in the Phillipines. But a joyous note on a guitar, a brilliant high D on the tenor saxophone -- these are the clean, uncomplicated joys that vibrate in the frequencies of whatever stuff makes up our souls. That stuff that has wasted away in us. Like the hedge fund hotties, the Stones are skinny, too -- but their leanness is earned; they are marathon runners of bliss. They are lambently human. We are synthetic simulacra, unsure of how to find joy, and therefore ignorant of how to share it. We are unable to care about anything. So we buy Stones t-shirts for $60 and take pictures of ourselves to post on Facebook while 19 and 20 year-olds lose hands, legs, and eyes in an endless war in Iraq.

The movie is worth watching in a theater with a good sound system. The archival footage is mostly great. The final shot is quite amazing.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bush's Law

I am definitely going to get a copy of Eric Lichtblau's new book, Bush's Law. I will probably make the transaction at the bookstore in cash, wearing dark glasses and a hat, and I'll read the book in a sealed-off, undisclosed location with no windows.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What the neverending campaign has reduced me to . . .

Just more evidence that Obama has a lock on the youth vote. I can totally identify with this crazy little guy. The best part is when someone asks him to "now say, 'Hillary'." America's future is in good hands.