Thursday, July 07, 2005

Today We Are All Brits

There's not much to say, really - a despicable series of acts that no one on Earth can justify. While I see many on both sides of the political spectrum have been jumping on their favorite horse all day and either calling for redoubled military commitment in Iraq or calling the administration to task for focusing on Iraq at all, I'd rather take the time to feel sorrow for the dead and wounded and anger at the fucking assholes that did this. George Bush didn't do this, nor did Richard Clarke or Bill Clinton or his wife - the people that did it did it and bear full responsibility.

The offices and centers of my company, as well as the customer that I work with, are for the most part outside of London, so they were mostly affected by the transportation issues and by the problems with the cellular phone system overloads. I exchanged sympathetic instant messages and phone calls with a few British colleagues, less to check up on their physical or work well-being and more to let them know that we were thinking of them and ready to help in whatever way we could. People were obviously shaken up, but after years of IRA attacks, they at least know how to react to this. It appears that the emergency services performed quite well - something I hope similar teams in the States never have a need to become quite so proficient at.

Good coverage by the Guardian today and interesting use of the technology, running a "live" newblog as well as pointing to the photo pool at flickr for submitted photos. Nicely done coverage of a tragic day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On the Small Screen - Cheap DVDs Edition

With the last couple of weeks I've had, one of the best coping mechanisms for me (well, other than that) is a bunch of beer and some goofy comedies in order to induce complete brain shutdown. Luckily Wal-Mart was more than ready to oblige. Checked the $5.50 DVD bin and.... score!! Top Secret! (featuring Val Kilmer and the hit Skeet Surfin'), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie that Joss Whedon wishes would go away), Hot Shots! Part Deux (another movie with an exclamation point in the title) and Earth Girls Are Easy (featuring Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum before they both started looking like the scary pictures in eating-disorder public service announcements). Yes, I'm a sucker for the goofball stuff. Also picked up High Fidelity but it doesn't count as it a) is a much better movie, b) cost a couple bucks more and c) actually makes you keep your brain engaged, so I'm holding off on watching it until I don't need the cheese quite as much.

If I run through those and I'm still thinking too much, I'll grab the Roger Corman collection and slap in The Creature from the Haunted Sea, one of the funniest movies I've ever seen (some of it was even intentionally funny!). What I didn't know until playing around with IMDB is that the goofball playing the lead was Robert Towne, who went on to write for "The Outer Limits" and "The Man from U. N. C. L. E." before writing movies like Chinatown and The Two Jakes and, not unlike the aforementioned Joss Whedon, developing a reputation as one of the best script doctors in the business for this work on The Godfather and Bonnie and Clyde (ah, the things one can learn from the Internets!). The movie is well worth your time - it's early Corman at his cheesy best!


Hey, greeeeaaatttt!! Three thousand dollars in air conditioning repairs and replacement?!?! Super!! Would you like to kick me in the balls a couple of times too? Excellent!!


Maybe I'm just cynical, but I'm not sure I really "got" Live8. I mean hat's off to Sir Bob for caring enough to pull it off - I have enormous respect for his drive to end hunger in Africa and the energy he's willing to expend to make stuff like this happen. And I was bowled over by Live-Aid a few years ago and its relatively simple message - "Millions of people are starving. While we play music, send us some money!" By golly, it worked! I sent money, almost everyone I know sent money and some of it seems to have actually made it to where it was supposed to go. This seems to be a much tougher message - by showing up in Philadelphia to see/hear Will Smith and the Dave Matthews Band, that's somehow supposed to send a message that the G-8 countries should excuse undeveloped countrys' debt? I'm not sure I get it. Maybe everyone else will. I respect the message - and yeah, I know it smacks of imperialism and yeah, I know that actions by the G-8 alone won't do it (still have to do something about corrupt local governments and tribal warfare, etc. etc.) but it's a start. It's one of a number of things that can and must be done and I hope it really will have the intended affect.

Maybe I'm just cynical.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pray for Rain

Can't get that Guadalcanal Diary song out of my head every time I look out and see how brown and crispy the grass is getting. We were sitting on the back porch Sunday evening when JennySlash pointed out the fox that had just traversed our back yard and was trotting across the street and up our neighbors' driveway. We've never seen a fox in the neighborhood before - a good indication of how dry it's getting. During the last big drought of 2001-2002, we'd see herds of deer grazing the yards - J once saw thirteen in our yard alone - but as soon as the rains came back, they mostly moved back into the woods and the pastures along Homestead Road. I expect we'll continue to see an influx of critters looking for water and greenery until we get some good soakers. With the high rate of rabies in Orange County, that doesn't thrill me.

It's getting bad - we're at least 7" below average for the year so far, while the NC mountains continue to get way too much. Mom measured something like 17" of rain in June in Yancey County and I'll bet we didn't get a full inch after June 3rd. There's been enough up there that sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway that finally reopened after being washed out due to the tropical storms last summer/fall have been closed again due to fresh slides. And it looks like another tropical storm may be coming their way late this week. On the other hand, for weeks we've seen bands of rain coming towards us from the west and then petering out to nothing by the time they reach Alamance County. So yeah, pray for rain...

She's a grand old flag

I have never to my knowledge desecrated a US flag. I actually don't know anyone who has. I haven't seen a lot of news reports the last few years about people in the US desecrating the US flag, although occasionally it looks like those foreigners will take a match to one. But I suppose I just haven't been paying attention since the Congress seems to feel that it's an important enough threat to our freedom or something that they're determined to get an amendment to the Constitution to protect the flag rather than spending time on more mundane things like, oh, the budget or what to do about the rising cost of health care.

So if they're going to do this, they should do it right and define "desecration" as not following the US flag etiquette as laid out in the Flag Code. So when you see some bubba flying a flag from the aerial of his '81 Ford Bronco until it's nothing but tatters, place him under citizens arrest. And when you walk into Party City and see all of the napkins and paper plates emblazoned with the flag on sale for half price, report 'em to the proper authorities. Guess you'd better do the same for the US Postal Service as those flag stamps are clearly a violation. Your neighbors that insist on flying their flag 24 hours a day 7 days a week to "show their patriotism" but don't properly light it so that it can be seen at all hours? Better turn 'em into the flag cops. And when the flag that you've been flying with all appropriate honor starts to get a little faded, it "
should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning". Huh?

All that is to say that clearly the intent of the proposed amendment is in no way to protect the flag but instead to prosecute people for what they were thinking when they "desecrated" the flag, since I can't imagine any of my scenarios above of thoughtless desecration actually being of any concern to these fine patriots. I actually thought that the brave men and women that the proponents keep saying fought and died for the flag were actually fighting and dying for the country it represents, including the right to free speech (and one assumes free thought). Guess not.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Yep, Takeru Kobayashi won Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating contest for the fifth year in a row, making him in the words of one of the announcers, "the Lance Armstrong of hot-dog eating". He did fail to eclipse his record-setting meal of last year, "only" inhaling 49 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, 4 1/2 short of his record. The real story though was probably the runner-up - Sonya Thomas, a 105-pound Burger King manager from Alexandria, Virginia, managed to almost keep pace with the Tsunami for the first few minutes and proceeded to down 37 hot dogs in setting a new America record. That count would have easily won the competition a few years ago before Kobayashi came on the scene. In fact, Rabbit Arai's winning score in 2000 (which was a record at the time) was only slightly more than 25, a score that the Tsunami doubled in his first win the next year.

I gotta go fire up the grill!! Happy 4th, y'all!