Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Crackpot News Item of the Week: "U.S. and S. Korean Warmongers Flayed for Increasing Tension"

I was surfing the website of that most inimitable of news services, the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, when I found this headline:

U.S. and S. Korean Warmongers Flayed For Increasing Tensions

Intrigued by this news, I was of course compelled to read on, where I learned:

"The military moves shown by the U.S. imperialists jointly with the south Korean bellicose forces under the pretext of the DPRK's recent self-defensive nuclear test are, in fact, allround preparations for a nuclear war against DPRK."

Here are some other interesting facts from this article:

"The United States is putting spurs to the introduction of latest types of nuclear war equipment..."

"...the DPRK will never overlook the reckless nuclear war provocations moves of the U.S. imperialists and south Korean bellicose forces but decisively counter them with its self-defensive deterrent forces of justice."

"In particular, it [DPRK] cannot tolerate in the least the foolish dream of the U.S. imperialists against its [DPRK's] dignified political system. They should not commit rash acts but promptly abandon their provocative and harebrained plot of nuclear war against the DPRK."

The article concludes:

"Those who are fond of fire are bound to be burned to death. If the U.S. and south Korean war maniacs persist in nuclear war adventures, they can never evade the lot of destruction."

Needless to say, that final statement will let me sleep easily tonight.

The KCNA of DPRK article is here.

N.B.: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is also colloquially known as North Korea.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone.

Allen Backers Manhandle Heckler

Apparently, during a campaign stop, a heckler/activist "confronted" George Allen with some questions. The video doesn't show what precipitated the physical dust-up, but what is seen are three men throwing the activist onto the ground before he is escorted out of the building. So, George Allen, who must be the most YouTubed of political candidates this election, has managed to get another unflattering clip posted on the Net a mere week before election day.

The article is here.

The video is here.

Kerry: Bonehead or Jackass?

Kerry's most recent contretemps was his warning to a group of college kids that they should either work hard in school or get "stuck in Iraq."

To see Kerry implant his foot in his mouth, click here.

Kerry's explanation, that he meant to say, "if you don't work hard, you end up getting us stuck in Iraq," is plausible. However, when he started to hears the "oohhh's," shouldn't he have gotten a clue that his joke was misconstrued, and attempted to clarify. And people think Bush mangles words.

Regardless of that, why did his speech writers get anywhere near this subject. One of the leitmotifs in the war coverage is the difficulty of recruitment, and how the military has had to lower its standards to meet their quotas. Furthermore, one of the main talking points against the war is how it disproportionately affected the poor, who presumably joined the military in such large numbers because they lack the educational background to choose another career path.

Anyway, this just reinforces Kerry's egotistical reputation. And why must Kerry cause such a huge stink now. He should simply make a clarification, apologize for any misunderstanding, and drop the issue. This is taking up unnecessary airtime, and allowing the Republicans to go on the offensive. I mean, doesn't he understand that he has no chance of getting the nomination? Now, Democrats are going have to waste time defending themselves by stating how they support the troops, instead of hitting the Republicans on the mismanagement of the war and the economy.

The CNN article is here.

Addendum: Admittedly, even if Kerry makes an attempt to drop the issue, undoubtedly the Republican spin machine will keep trying to harp on this. However, if Kerry had dropped the issue and just made his clarification, I think the issue would have petered out sooner. Now, because of Kerry's manifesto (which I enjoyed as much as the next guy), the media is going to keep this incident on the cycle for the next couple days, possibly even running into the election. CNN is already framing this issue as Bush v. Kerry II. The "netroot" blogs aren't helping either by defending Kerry, and thus lengthening the lifespan of this story.

Death Penalty Reform in China

Starting January1, 2007, all capital cases in China will be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court. Prior to this reform, provisional courts often had final say on a death sentence.

The article is here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Dominic and a Donor

The National Gallery of Art had a Titian exhibit this summer, and luckily I was working in DC at the time. So, not having anything else to blog about, and since this blog is primarily devoted towards whatever drivel happens to pass through my mind, I'm going to post one of my favorite paintings from this exhibit, which is rather maladroitly entitled: Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Dominic and a Donor. (presumably, the last guy isn't Saint Donor, but rather the slob who commissioned the work).

Unfortunately, I could not find a JPEG, so the painting has to be seen at this link.

I particularly like how the paintings background is divided in half, with the colorful clothing of the women contrasted with the neutral backdrop of the building (which to me appears to anticipate Velazquez) while the darker clothing of the men is draped by the eye-popping landscape.

What is particularly neat about this painting is how Titian managed to use a rather cliche image (a devotional image of the "Virgin and Child" done a thousand times before hand) and managed to fuse together the techniques of portraiture and landscape in one painting, render the entire painting in vivid colors, and pose the individuals turning towards each other in media res, without any of these elements diminishing the others.

Quite a juggling act that is carried off beautifully.

Harold Ford: Hollywood Values

I will give this to Republicans this year. Their ads absolutely kick ass. Whether they are racist and otherwise morally repugnant-- well, yeah. (N.B.: amorality= awesome [see Edmund in King Lear, Satan in Paradise Lost, and the collected works of Uwe Boll]).

However, though everyone has heard about the Blonde Floozy advert ("Harold, call me"), people have not yet talked up about how visually slick and well-made the replacement ad "Hollywood Values" is.

I specifically like the kaleidescope of the vibrant background colors, which manage to distract the viewer from actually pondering the truthfulness of the assertions before another cut is made. (i.e. behind a backdrop of blue, yellows, and red, an announcer intones, "didn't you know Harold Ford took money from Hollywood's top x-rated porn moguls?" before a wipe is made and they make their next assertion). The sense of disorientation is also buttressed by the predominant use of wipes (side wipes, clock wipes, and maybe even a star wipe) in the ad, with each "shot" lasting maybe 2 seconds tops with whatever sound bite being propositioned spelled out in big, gyrating letters.

I just love the Republican's sense of irony. To actually use Hollywood production value when attacking someone for having "Hollywood values." Very Borgesian of them, very PoMo. I mean, this ad's knee jerk editing would put any video on MTV to shame.

Y.'s Rating: Awesome Squared.

Yellow Dog Democrats

Finally, if this Slate article is correct, America has suddenly caught up with that beacon of civilization, Great Britain. Apparently, the basis for this thesis is the New York Times's endorsement of Diane Farrell over the venerable Rep. Chris Shays of the CT 4th District. The Times Editors, who candidly admit that, while they don't know anything about Diane Farrell, have decided to "draw the line" because "his [Shay's] re-election would help empower a party that is long overdue for a shakeup."

Michael Kinsley notes that this move to "support the party, not the person" is fine, and that in England, no one votes for the person for their MP, but the party the person represents.

Of course, I applaud this move to help revitalize our democracy. Unfortunately, further reform is needed. In Great Britain, not only is the election about the party, but the individual is considered so unimportant, he doesn't even have to be a resident of the district. Doesn't the efficiencies of such an electoral process make you feel nigh (though not quite) orgasmic! Thus, Hillary wouldn't have had to bother with her "listening tour" of upstate New York back in 2000. George W. wouldn't have had to leave the Bush fiefdom of Connecticut in order to become governor of Texas.

Indeed, no one would ever have to cross the Beltway ever again. (oh, wait, I guess this reform isn't as necessary as I thought).

N.B.: Shay's is a descendant of the man who instigated Shay's Rebellion in 1786. (I add this footnote solely for the purpose of padding this post with as much useless drivel as possible, in furtherance of this blog's lofty goals and objectives).

N.B. 2: Apparently, Diane Farrell also caused a mini controversy over whether she deserved a Wikipedia entry. (The rule is only House members get entries, not candidates). [I lost the cite, my apologies].

Disclosure: I went to school in the 4th District, but lived in the CT 5th. [Not that this disclosure really matters, but once again, a nod to journalistic responsibility and to make up for my lack of citation for N.B. 2 {see above}].

The Lou Is Tops Again

St. Louis has just managed to topple that provincial upstart Camden, New Jersey today by reclaiming the title of most dangerous city in the United States. Of course, this only includes the the city proper, and not the County, so perhaps we fudged the numbers a bit in order to charge ahead of other such cosmopolitan metropolises like Compton and Flint, MI -- however, I still find it heartening that STL has managed to live up to its nickname again -- the Loo (in the British sense).

The article is here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

White Trash: Threat to German Democracy?

According to Der Spiegel, the greatest threat to German democracy isn't the proliferation of nuclear arms nor the radicalization of young Muslim immigrants, but the rise of "white trash."

These people
, apparently "watch television for half the day, eat fatty foods, and enjoy smoking and drinking -- a lot." (n.b. apparently 8 percent of the German population account for 40 percent of the nation's alcohol consumption). "While he may be a family man, his families are often broken. And on Election Day, he casts a protest vote for the extreme left or right wing party, sometimes switching quickly from one to another."

However, "the main thing that sets the modern poor apart from the industrial age pauper is the sheer lack of interest in education."

The only thing I'm confused about is why this guy is such a gloomy guss. The advent of German white trash should be celebrated, not mourned. If you take all of his criteria into account, he has just about described every swing voter in the American electorate, and shouldn't our electoral process be emulated whenever possible?

The article is here.


I spent the past week thinking about how I was going to revitalize my previous blog, and finally decided just to start over. Now, I have no idea what I am actually going to blog about, having spent the majority of my time just thinking up a name for my new site. (unsurprisingly, Media Whore was already taken).

Since my previous attempt at making a constructive, edifying blog ended miserably with a meek post about my Crim Law professor's appearance on C-SPAN, I wanted to liven up this new blog with humor, excitement, and other sundry forms of adventure. Unfortunately, the only idea I could come up with was writing under the guise of a twenty something ex-pat degenerate who, while not blogging, spent his life in the pleasure houses of Phuket and Bangkok, snorting lines of coke and other powdered forms of delights off a whore's ass. Later, I thought I would create a menagerie of amusing characters to join the blog as guest commentators, such as Otto von Ribbentrop, German nihilist and post-punk bongo player, or Stacy Vanclamp, East Side pole dancing floozy by day, enterprising gossip columnist of the Federal Judiciary by night. Alas, these ideas, in slightly different permutations, have already been taken (i.e. Big Lebowski and Underneath Their Robes respectively), and thus I have to settle for being little old crackpot me.

In other words, I still have no idea what I am going to blog about.