Friday, December 23, 2005

God Bless Us, Every One

I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, and the Happiest of Holidays.

Codemorse will be suspending publication til' after December 25th, so that I can go home and drink far too much wine with my family.

May your days be merry and bright.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Even Stevens

From the Washington Post:

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, battered all week for using the defense spending bill to force through a home-state oil drilling provision, delivered an emotional plea to his colleagues as the Senate prepared to vote on the legislation....

For 25 years, Stevens, 82, has tried to secure federal permission to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a remote wilderness area in Alaska's northeast corner. This week, he attached the provision to the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill, which also includes hurricane relief funding, and threatened to keep the Senate in session through the holidays until Democrats and moderate Republicans dropped their procedural objections and allowed the bill, with the drilling provision, to pass.

But last night, when the Senate voted to strike the drilling provision, Stevens did not take it well. "This has been the saddest day of my life," he said. "It's a day I don't want to remember. I say goodbye to the Senate tonight. Thank you very much."

I'd say we'll miss you, Senator, but attaching a provision to the defense appropriations bill that allows for the desecration of what is one of the few unspoiled places left on American soil makes it easier to say goodbye to you.

Stevens, as you may remember, is also the man responsible for pushing for funds to build "the bridge to nowhere" (not to be confused with the bridge to Terabithia).

Auntie Meme

After reading the excellent indie-comic book Memenevore, I've become interested in the concept of "Memes"; contagious ideas that spread, virus-like, through a culture. You can read a little bit about them HERE.

And because I like these sorts of things, here's the "Meme of Four." Feel free to repond with your own answers. All of them are off the top of my head, without allowing for second-guesses or revision.

Four jobs you've had in your life: Actor, waiter, landscaper/construction, summer firm associate

Four movies you could watch over and over: Super Troopers, Serenity, North by Northwest, Fight Club

Four places you've lived: Maine, Illinois, New York, Connecticut

Four TV shows you love to watch: Lost, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Deadwood

Four places you've been on vacation: Hawaii, Wyoming, Europe, Florida

Four websites you visit daily: Chud.com, Then Fuck You Jack: The Life and Art of Vern, Aint it Cool News, CNN

Four of your favorite foods: Tortellini, Buffalo Wings, Chicken Pad Thai, Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream

Four places you'd rather be: Hogwarts, Biking down a volcano on Maui, the woods, a bookstore

(Meme courtesy of Artsjournal)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Strike A Posner! Vogue!

Posner weighs in on the domestic intelligence debate:

The only valid ground for forbidding human inspection of such data is fear that they might be used to blackmail or otherwise intimidate the administration's political enemies. That danger is more remote than at any previous period of U.S. history. Because of increased political partisanship, advances in communications technology and more numerous and competitive media, American government has become a sieve. No secrets concerning matters that would interest the public can be kept for long. And the public would be far more interested to learn that public officials were using private information about American citizens for base political ends than to learn that we have been rough with terrorist suspects -- a matter that was quickly exposed despite efforts at concealment.


Absurd. With due respect to the P-dawg, that danger is not "more remote than at any previous period of U.S. history." You can't dismiss the potential harm of practicing domestic surveillance on your own citizens by claiming that there are no secrets in government anymore. That's pat, trite, and flat-out wrong.

At the core of this debate is a philosophical difference of opinion over whether our continued safety matters more than our privacy. That's the debate we should be having. Dismissing one side's arguments in a generalized, under-thought paragraph is the equivalent of a liberal saying that war is bad, and if everyone just hugged, we'd be alright.

That's also absurd. You may not like war, but you have to acknowledge its occasional necessity in order to have a genuine discussion. Posner may not see a problem with domestic surveillance, but in order to make a compelling argument he needs to deal with the very real concerns of those who do have a problem with it. Otherwise, his POV is largely useless.

And lurking between the lines in this article is an unspoken, implicit fact: that even if our current way of handling surveillance is outmoded, our government has seemingly set aside legality to accomplish its aims. That's not good. If the law is wrong, or ineffective, change the law. Going outside the law makes you, by definition, a criminal.

And here in the U.S. we prosecute our criminals.

Retro Rocket Rising

A few of you may have noticed the absence of film reviews here at Codemorse in the past few weeks.

Average Joes, the site that hosts "Retro Rocket," my film column, has been down for a major overhaul and content-shift. In the next few days, AJ's should have my column up and running again, with new film reviews. I intend to busy myself watching some obscure/forgotten/maligned films over the holiday with an eye to writing on them. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Have you seen a movie that you think deserves to be given a shot? Let me know, and I'll add it to my viewing pile.

I'm excited to get back into the semi-weekly swing of things. Even I'm getting bored with all the politics stuff. Bring on the Rocketeer! Primer! Bubba Ho-Tep! Bring! Them! On!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ho, Ho, Ho

This made me laugh out loud. I expect coal in my stocking as a result.

From MSNBC:

"Drunken, violent, flashing imposters give benevolent St. Nick a bad rap"

Drunken Santas on a rampage in New Zealand, armed German robbers in Santa disguises, a British St. Nick wanted for flashing, and a Swedish vandal in a Santa outfit are giving the big man in red a bad name this year.

The Impertinence Of Being Exceptive

From Time Magazine:

Democracy is rooted in the impertinent belief that our rulers are no better than we are and that they are answerable always. We're occasionally amazed to discover that people who are used to power forget that. That's why, every now and then, we have to remind them. In that sense, 2005 was a great year for democracy. Because it was reborn this time after the votes were counted.
-Andrew Sullivan

Conservative or Liberal. Democrat or Republican. It doesn't matter.

What matters is that we are informed, aware, open, and critical.

Right, Mr. Jefferson?


Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.

-T to the homas! J to the efferson!

Bareback Mountin'

Two very different takes on "the gay cowboy movie".

From Vern, the Great and Terrible:

I'm man enough not to squirm during a gay love scene but I'm sissy enough that it sometimes makes me uncomfortable. That said, this is one of the least gay gay love stories you're gonna see... I am one straight man that had no problem watching these dudes fall in love. Is this some kind of gay issue movie? Kind of, kind of not. I mean obviously the issues here are specific to being gay and in the closet. The tragedy is not just that these guys can't be together.

But of course you don't have to be gay to be interested in this story...How many fuckin hitmen do you know, man? How many undercover cops? How many ninjas, or vampires? I mean jesus, I think it would be okay to every once in a while have a movie about gay people. There's gotta be way more gay people in this country then there are sheep herders, but I don't hear your bitch ass complaining about the sheep herding.


From Rod Dreher:

What's interesting to me is that there really is an appetite, however limited, for non-erotic male homosexuality (e.g., Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, The Birdcage), and there is an appetite for lesbian eroticism in mainstream film. But not frank male-on-male eroticism. I can't begin to explain the discrepancy--I mean, why so many people find male-on-male eroticism distasteful, when they tolerate the same from female-to-female--but it's real. Anyway, Brokeback Mountain might actually be a great movie, but I work such long hours and have so many responsibilities around the house that on the rare occasion when I have an opportunity to see a film, I can't work up much enthusiasm for spending that time and money watching two dudes betray their wives and children cowpokin' each other.

You know, it's not only liberal cultural politics that separate most critics from the mass audience, but something harder to pin down. It has to do with experience. Critics live in such a rarefied and aestheticized world, seeing five to 10 movies a week, that they quickly grow bored with the sameness of movies. Without quite realizing it--this happened to me as a conservative--critics become suckers for novelty, especially of the transgressive sort.

Rod's got a good point here. Film critic's do tend to fall in love with films that are different from the average Hollywood fare, and that tends to be because they see so many movies.

I'm not sure why a film reviewer's politics matter. I don't care whether a critic is hard-right or far-left, as long as they do their job - which is to tell me whether the movie is worth seeing. On the rare occasions when political thought seeps into film reviews, it's usually an extension of the film's subject matter (for instance, the police tactics of "Minority Report," or the overtly political "The Power of Nightmare").

Both takes are worth looking at, if only to appreciate the power of art and the way it engages us in real, heartfelt discourse.

Martial Arts

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The House Republican Leadership has announced its intention… to have the House vote under a procedure known as “martial law.”

Under this procedure, longstanding House rules that require at least one day between the unveiling of significant legislation and the House floor vote on that legislation are swept away. Instead, under “martial law,” the Leadership can file legislation with hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and votes on it, before Members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted in the legislation behind closed doors.


Hmmph.

Ignore the "House Republican Leadership" mention in this article. The particular political party does not matter. What's important for you and I to know? That laws are being rushed through the political process without the invaluable tool of debate.

(link courtesy of the-kos-that-is-daily)

MTArrrrrrggggghhh

It's 7:35 on a chilly Tuesday morning, and the city's lookin' like a ghost town (with apologies to Garth Brooks).

As of 3 am, the Metropolitan Transit Authority's workers went on strike - effectively crippling Manhattan's public transportation system and creating the kind of early-morning havoc we haven't seen since the early 80's (not counting, of course, a certain September morn a few years back).

I'm a general supporter of unions. Despite their omnipresence and their power, they continue to be necessary. But this strike seems ill-advised, given that the MTA's higher-up's acquiesced to all but one of the workers's demands.

If you're out there in Manhattan, you have my sympathies. The next days are going to be a bitch. If you're outside of Manhattan, count yourself lucky not to be dependant on an elaborate public transportation system.