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Thursday, April 30, 2009

James Bond Day Continues

A musical sendoff to Arlen Specter, courtesy of the archenemy of SPECTRE.

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"No, Mr. Bondholder, I Expect Your Portfolio To Die!"

If I could draw, I would concoct an editorial cartoon based on this famous movie scene, With UAW chief Gettlefinger as Goldfinger, General Motors bondholders as Mister Bond, and starring as the laser is the scheme for the Federal government and UAW to jointly own 90% of GM.

What's really insulting is that this plan would place GM under the control of the two entities most responsible for saddling it with unnecessary business costs.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heroes - Season Finale

(Episode: An Invisible Thread. Spoilers ahead.)

Hiro manages to rescue his fellow mutants from Building 26. But every use of his time-freezing ability is injuring him. Suresh somehow has insight into this; probably Hiro's body is rejecting the artificial power boost the way Mohinder's body rejected the flawed synthetic abilities serum.

Sylar was indeed able to move his vulnerable spot with his power. He frames Danko, convincing the agents that he's Sylar in disguise. After being imprisoned with Bennett (who gets captured at a roadblock, but not before dropping off Claire and ANgela so they can escape), Danko realizes Bennett was right about needing mutant allies to chase the dangerous mutants.

Sylar has a plan to take the place of the President. He captures Claire for a while and battles the Petrelli brothers, which is a trap - it allows Peter to come into direct contact with Sylar and copy his shape-shifting ability. Sylar is eventually able to get to his quarry, but in the limo the President turns out to be a Peter, who jabs Sylar with a tranquilizer that not even regeneration ability can dissipate rapidly.

Beofre that meeting with destiny, Sylar has another fight with Nathan and slits the senator's throat. Nathan is dead when Angela and Matt find him. Angela had a dream that Matt would "save" Nathan somehow, and she now has a plan that everyone agrees to reluctantly: Matt uses his power to brainwash Sylar into thinking he's Nathan. Someone remarks that "100 Dankos" would be on the loose if it got out that a mutant killed a US Senator.Sylar subconsciously morphs into Nathan.

In the preview for next season, "Nathan" is getting his first hints of Sylar's natural ability (didn't Angela think this would eventually happen?), and Tracy, who can take the form of water, is on a murder spree, out to get all the Building 26 agents. A newscast reports "mysterious drownings," revealing her modus operandi. No doubt she'll eventually hunt down Danko next season.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Cry Freedom

Andrew Ian Dodge has a YouTube video:

From the video description:

Music video for the Growing Old Disgracefully song "Cry Freedom" featuring photos from tea parties nationwide. Includes a tribute to "Chaplain" Arthur Irving Dodge my late father in his American Legion regalia.

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Can You Count, Suckers? I Say, The Future Is Ours, If You Can Count!

Rand Simberg knows someone who can count.

Title reference here (top quote).

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Reading Corner

Bill Bennett has a list of books that everyone should have read by high school graduation (link via KLo). This shows up on my radar as quickly as Darth Vader at a Klan rally, for reasons I blogged back in 2003:

Here's a word for both the pop educators and the "hooked on classics" crowd: balance. In between the old kid-unfriendly classics such as Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, uber-depressing nihilo-crap like A Separate Peace and Catcher In The Rye, and ancient works such as Beowulf and Canterbury Tales that require an advanced degree in linguistics to read, there's gotta be some fun stuff. Kids need to be able to develop the discipline to read challenging works, but for the sake of morale and future reading habits they've got to be exposed to literature they might actually enjoy.

John Derbyshire airs one reader's complaint: that the reading list is slanted heavily toward well-above-average IQs.

There's another factor that Bennett's panel may have failed to account for: time. Leaves of Grass in its entirety? The novels - plural - of William Faulkner?? The two-volume Democracy in America, which alone would require the better part of a semester??? War and Frickin' Peace????

I'm going to attempt a systematic approach at cranking out a list of must-reads. First, I'll list questionable and outright atrocious Bennett selections:

  • Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald: Cultural significance is overstated, I think.
  • Pride and Prejudice, Austen - A possible assignment, but why this over the works of other writers of this genre? (I haven't read it, which is why I ask.)
  • Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky - College-level reading. (Haven't read; I'll trust the NRO reader.)
  • Faulkner - ditto.
  • War and Frickin' Peace, Tolstoy - It's not nearly as long as Les Miserables, but I'm averse to assign a single reading task that large.
  • Paradise Lost, Milton - College-level mammoth poem.
  • Catcher in the Rye, Salinger - This novel's cultural relevancy rests largely on the fact that it's required reading in so many schools. Piffle with the educrat status quo. Anyway, I'm leery of the notion of socially maladjusted youth - which is no small number of the teen population - reading a first-person novel about a socially maladjusted youth. It sounds like an unscrupulous psychology experiment.
  • Politics, Aristotle - see below.
  • Homer, Virgil - see below.

Now I will fit contenders from Bennett's list - and my own additions (by no means an exhaustive list) - with various school courses.

Greco-Roman literature. I would confine this subject to a single course, perhaps at 9th grade level. That doesn't leave much room for three epic poems. If one is doable, I'd pick Odyssey, because it involves Greek mythology (which the kids would have learned in the previous semester's Ancient Mythology class). Sophocles' Oedipus is the obvious choice to represent Greek theater; given time I might also throw in its sequel, Antigone (which I have read). One item Bennett's lexico-luminati omitted which I believe is a must is Aesop's Fables - but that could be taught at a much earlier grade level. Not sure about Roman works; never read Cicero, so I can't comment there.

Poetry. Bennett's list cites only four post-ancient poets, and they're all American: Dickinson, Frost, Emerson, Whitman. I'd definitely add Poe's works and various classic poems ("Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Rubaiyat," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Harlem," etc.)

Literature (American). Literature is a course that recurs from grade to grade, so there's lots of room for reading material. Because this is America, most lit will be Amercican lit. Start with Bennett's list. Scarlet Letter pioneered the psychological novel. Moby Dick has its flaws (including some errors about whaling, which should be pointed out in class), but it's a unique novel and is one of the most culturally relevant American novels, in that class with Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (the latter is on Bennett's list). Grapes of Wrath I haven't read (I saw the movie), but it probably belongs. Ditto on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, which amazingly did not make the list.

Literature (the rest of the Anglosphere). Shakespearean plays are a staple of junior high and high school, and my school would be no different on that mark. I'd issue the Folger Library paperback editions that have play synopses and translations of key archaic terms opposite the original text.

Orwell's Animal Farm (not on the list) and Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities are quite readable at junior high age. I will insist on modern translation of Canterbury Tales. I'd throw in two of the great horror influences, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and (going out on a limb to endorse a book I haven't read) Irishman Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hound of the Baskervilles is an excellent representative of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series; I've also heard good things about A Study in Scarlet. Wells' The War of the Worlds also makes my list.

Literature (World). I'd have a single course, in high school. I'd have to toss a coin between The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo for the token Alexandre Dumas selection. Haven't read Goethe's Faust, but it's culturally relevant, so it's a contender.

Political theory. I would have a single course focusing on key writings influences on the subject. 1984 would not be assigned in this class, but would crop up in some general poli-sci course. (Orwell's prose gets quagmirish in sections.) Found here are Bennett selections Plato's The Republic, Machiavelli's The Prince, Marx's Communist Manifesto, and the Declaration of Independence.

There is a way to include Aristotle and de Toqueville without requiring any actual reading: if such productions exist, show film documentaries that explain each of these books. There is such a film associated with Milton Friedman's Free to Choose; both the film and the book might be worthwhile. I would also seek such a film about the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

That leaves a hole to be filled: modern socialism. Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward was a utopian novel that deeply inspired socialist movements in the early 20th century.

Whether in book form or video documentary form (probably the latter), I'd want Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, and Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.

Update: A more exhaustive list, which I will not attempt at this time, would address my concern about the balance between challenge and enjoyability. Here I limited myself to the must-reads (and must-views, in the case of documentaries).

Update: The original post cited Faust without mentioning its author. This has been changed.

Update: Andrew Ian Dodge links this post, and has a few literary suggestions, including Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.


Friday, April 24, 2009

They Say There Are Strangers Who Threaten Us

In the wake of that paranoid DHS report on right wing extremism, I've been pondering a question: who deserves the moniker "witch hunter" more - Jan Napolitano, or Joe McCarthy? Let's stack them up to the key characteristics of the Salem witch hunts.

  • The perceived menace is nonexistent or greatly overestimated. Napolitano. (Commie agents were a real problem; Joe simply went after the wrong people.)
  • Specific individuals were targeted. McCarthy. (Jan is way short on names.)
  • Primary instigation involved ordinary citizens' use of existing laws to lynch their neighbors. Neither - lawsuit abuse is the strongest contender here.

At this poin1 the score is:

Napolitano - 1
McCarthy - 1
Trial lawyers - 1


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shakespeare's Birthday

NRO gathers a symposium to discuss their favorites among his plays. King Lear is the popular favorite, and it's high on my list, too.

W. C. Fields would have made a great Polonius in Hamlet. "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessing season this in thee! Now get away from me kid, you bother me."

Among my dubious talents I can recite this portion of Hamlet's soliloquy from memory in a single breath:

To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

I always thought Romeo and Juliet was overrated. The one high point was Mercutio's antics. I didn't see anything special about the star-crossed teenage puppy-lovers. Charlotte Allen calls it "a play for girls." Maybe it's a Y-Chromosome thing, but I don't understand what girls see in Romeo. Then again, I don't understand what they saw in Leo DiCaprio's character from Titanic. That movie needed a Mercutio - and Rose shoulda run off with him.


Random Thought

If white separatist groups, Nation of Islam, Al Sharpton, and MEChA were to band together to hold a conference on racism, would its anti-Semitism be greater or less than that of Durban II?

This ADL press release is worth reading.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heroes - Identity Crisis

(Episode: I Am Sylar. Spoilers ahead.)

Sylar wakes up and finds himself morphed as the Federal agent whose identity he's been assuming for the purpose of working with Danko. The shape-shifting ability is unstable, even during waking hours; Sylar tells Danko about one eye turning a different color for a time. Danko suggests that Sylar needs an "anchor," some object that connects with his true past.

Sylar uses his faux government position to acquire his mother's effetcs. As he can read someone's past from contact with their persons or belongings thanks to one stolen ability, he is able to understand his mother perfectly - and in Norman Bates fashion acts out her part.

He steals yet another power in this episode, the ability to make stuff disintegrate. He and Danko discover the victim's phone - with a text message from Rebel. They track him down to a nearby location. (Why does a mutant computer hacker have to be in DC to do his stuff?) Sylar goes in first, secretly, and Rebel/Micah tries to turn Sylar from the dark side of the force. Sylar decides to help Micah escape. Posing as a fleeing Micah, he rins to the riverfront, is shot in the back with a tranquilizer dart, falls into the water, and is presumed dead. Micah sees Sylar again, witnesses the Bates-like exchange with his mother, and Sylar runs him off.

Meanwhile, Hiro has a plan - to find the bad guys' lair by getting captured. Ando is railroaded into becoming the bait; he is captured, and Hiro takes the place of one of the guards, stealing his uniform while the gang is time-frozen. They don't quite make it to the Feds' HQ; while en route in a truck, one of the other guards gets suspicious. Ando sees the guy reaching for a taser, and uses his powers to subdue the agents. The discovery of a GPS tracker gives them a Plan B for finding Building 26. But suddenly Hiro gets a headache and starts bleeding at the nose. Wait a minute - I saw this on Lost, and that had to do with temporal anomalies...

Nathan goes to his office and finds Sylar. After some unfriendly words Sylar is about to perform inlicensed brain surgery on the Senator, but Danko arrives in time to administer two tranq darts. Sylar hints at his immediate future plans, supported by earlier scenes involving "conversations" with his mother: that he intends on assuming the identity of the President. Danko thrusts a knife in Sylar's vulnerable spot, but Sylar recovers. This must be tied to his morph ability - either he can "move" his Achilles' heel (Achilles' brain tissue, more accurately), or the morph power provides some sort of automatic defense.

Matt has gone to return his son to his ex-wife, and to help them escape, expecting the Feds to make another go at it. They do, and they're in another room out of sight, where Matt is probably planning some mind mojo trick. Agents are also closing in on Suresh, who is manually scrolling through the Project Icarus reel, and the car with Bennett, Claire, and Angela.

Will our heroes get away? What's wrong with Hiro? Does he need a recharge from Baby Parkman? Will Micah figure out that he can hack stuff from a distance, like Matthew Broderick in WarGames? Will President Sylar bring change we can believe in? Will he pay off the debt using that gold transmutation power he stole from Bob Bishop? Stay tuned.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

New Currency

One Barack = one trillion dollars. (Stated in second paragraph following the Atlantic excerpt.)

The concept is also referenced here.

Any photoshoppers wanna have a go at designing the Barack bill?


Jackie Chan Under Fire

The actor's recent complaints about "chaos" in Hong Kong and Taiwan and his statement that we Chinese need to be controlled" attracted howls of protest from many fellow Chinese.

If I had a chance to sit down with the guy, I'd ask him to give me specifics about this "chaos" that disturbs him, and what sorts of "control" he supports. It's entirely possible that he's more pro-Democratic than our president.

He didn't favor the type of control implemented in Tiananmen Square in 1989, so rest easy about that.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anniversary Time

It's the anniversary of the Waco and Oklahoma City tragedies.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The Party Of John Locke

Joe Wurzelbacher:

A speaker at the Dallas Tea Party (appearance begins at 1:33)

Don't they look kinda like the guy from Lost?

Lost - Miles In The Past

(Episode: Some Like It Hoth. Spoilers ahead.)

It's now Miles' turn at the continuing theme of less-than-satisfactory father relationships. He grew up in the States raised by his mother. Supposedly his father had abandoned the family, but considering that dad is Dr. Chang/Marvin Candle, I'm not sure that that's the true story. I predict that the Incident will increase the overall level of danger on the island, and that Candle will send his family away for the sake of their safety.

The episode gives us a strong hint as to the cause of the Incident: it will involve the Swan Station's incipient construction. I think it will also involve future Daniel Faraday, who had departed the island after Team Sawyer had joined DHARMA, and who has now returned. Recall that the hatch implosion several seasons back had sent Desmond's mind into a temporal rift where he met Mrs. Hawking; it makes sense that someone who tinkers with time travel might be responsible for messing up the Swan site.

What is Candle covering up? How did that guy die?

In the flashbacks, we see bits of Miles' ghostbusting career and his recruitment by Naomi on behalf of Widmore. We also see a vanload of guys led by Ajira passenger Bram who try to talk Miles out of his upcoming gig. Ilana's comrades are not working for Widmore, or for Ben. With only one season to go, they've just introduced a new faction fighting over this island! Or maybe it's an old one - maybe Ilana and Bram are with DHARMA. Or maybe they're with Mr. Paik, Sun's dad who's been ignored by the show for some time...

Sawyer's infiltration of DHARMA has just hit a crisis. Phil's seen the security tape - proving that he absconded with Ben Linus. Sawyer punches the guy out, and now he's got to hide a DHARMA prisoner. Meanwhile, Roger Linus is getting suspicios of Kate's concerns about Ben, and wonders if she's got something to do with his disappearance.

This is the year of Star Wars, and Hurley is trying to change history by writing an improved script for The Empire Strikes Back. He's thinking ahead to Episode VI, too. Quote of the episode: "Face it, Ewoks suck, dude."

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Party Links

Instapundit has 'em.

Wow - 10,000 protesters in Democrat stronghold San Antonio! Remember the Alamo, remember the debt!

National Review has the DC rally.

Michelle Malkin has more. Note the "Tax His Teleprompter" sign in Sacramento. And the Toledo sign that leaves no 21st century president behind:

[red circle and slash over "Acorn"]

We haven't forgotten, Dubya.


Heroes - Go Ask Alice

(Episode: 1961. Spoilers ahead.)

In that year gone by, a secret government program (Project Icarus) had rounded up children with mutant abilities and brought them to Coyote Sands. Included were Angela and her sister Alice, then teenagers. Also among the detainees are young Bob Bishop, Daniel Linderman, and Charles Deveaux. Dr. Chandra Suresh is a chief physician, and Dr. Zimmerman (later responsible for giving synthetic abilities to Tracy and her fellow triplets).

Alice had not planned for an extended stay and did not pack any change of clothing; she often complains about not having any socks. (This explains Angela's neurotic penchant for shoplifting for socks later in life; it is one such incident that introduced Angela to the series.) Eventually she discovers that she can control the weather.

One night Angela and the three boys plot to sneak out and escape. The boys insist on leaving Alice behind, because the timid girl would "slow us down." They make it to a nearby diner, where they hear the weather sirens go off - they realize that it's Alice. At the compound, Suresh is trying to give Alice an injection. She is agitated, causes a windstorm, and a lightning bolt hits one of the guards. She flees, Suresh follows. A boy with force-projection powers reflexively uses his ability to knock down Alice's pursuer; a guard panics and shoots the boy, triggering (no pun intended) a camp-wide panic. The children are slaughtered. Angela convinces her friends that they must form a company, to hide their secret and to protect people like themselves.

At the diner we finally get to see Deveaux's ability - the same possessed by Maury and Matt Parkman, Sr. Able to read and redirect people's thoughts, Deveaux is more confident among white society than the average black youth of 1961.

In the present the Petrelli brothers, Bennett, and Mohinder Suresh manage to patch up their differences, as Angela discovers that Alice survived, and has been living in the area for 50 years. They collide at first and then make up - but everythign falls apart when Angela admits to lying about having a dream about Alice's safety. Alice leaves, and nobody can track her down.

Mohinder plans on staying in the area, evidently; Peter had found a movie reel labeled Project Icarus. The three Petrellis, Bennett and Claire plan to reinstitute the Company. While discussing the idea they see what looks like Nathan doing a press conference - they know instantly that it's Sylar.

Will Suresh encounter Alice, and help her overcome her bitterness? Will the new Company avoid the mistakes of its previous incarnation? Will Senator Sylar go after the Tea Party protesters? Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Word About The Tea Party Protests

From Rush Limbaugh:

One of the reasons the tea parties have sprung up is because the Republican Party is hibernating. One of the reasons it sprung up is because these people have turned to themselves for leadership, because they can't find any in the fiefdom of Washington, DC.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Conservative?

The Rottweiler has uncovered a couple of gems. First, this piene of satire: According to Janet Napolitano, You Are a "Right Wing Extremist" If You--- I take issue with this item: "Miss WF Buckley, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon." Nixon was one of the pioneers of the hyperactive regulatory state, so conservatives have no reason to miss him.

I'm a deep South conservative who owns no Confederate flags. That should make some heads explode.

This appears to have been inspired by the second item, an DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis report titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

Michelle Malkin makes this key observation:

I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.

By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.

Note that the report title does not specify criminal activity - you know, the sort of thing DHS is supposed to be watching for. It flashes vague buzzwords. Extremism? Radicalization? What are the legal definitions for those words?

Better not let DHS catch you with this book in your possession.

Update: Powerline has an excellent analysis.


Tomorrow Is Tax Day

 photo SylarPaint-1.jpg

Sylar is painting the future, and he sees you paying your taxes on schedule. Don't try to get out of it - Hiro Nakamura isn't going to change history for you. If you try to resist, we'll just have to send Sylar after you. You wouldn't like that.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Peeps Show II

Another contest involving dioramas and marshmallow peeps. Entries have fun with Elvis, Amy Winehouse, Marion Barry, Larry Craig, A Christmas Story, Full Metal Jacket, The Lion King, American Idol, and my favorite, the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles." And more!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Lost - Revenge Isn't So Sweet

(Episode: Dead is Dead. Spoilers ahead.)

In the past, the desperate scheme to save Ben works, and carries the side effect of very selective amnesia. He remembers DHARMA, but not the shooting, or (apparently) any other episode involving the time-warped Lostaways. Present Ben seems genuinely surprised to see several of Sun's comrades in the DHARMA Class of '77 portrait.

(And that building where the photo was displayed was completely ignored by the Others when they took over the Barracks. Did Jacob place it off limits or something?)

He is also terrified at seeing Locke back from the dead, as he confesses to Sun. Earlier he lied to Locke about being unsurprised.

Ben has a mission. He has broken a taboo: returning to the island after having left it. (Yeah, but so have Mittelos employees Alpert and Ethan - what gives?) He must stand before the island's court of law - the Smoke Monster. Locke accompanies him to the temple, where the judge awaits.

Ben is weighed on the scales and found wanting. Smokey is concerned with only one misdeed of Ben's past - the time he gambled with Alex's life (and losing it) in the past standoff with Widmore's commando hireling. Ben is given a reprieve, but in Alex's form warns him not to carry out his private scheme to kill Locke again.

Note that Smokey doesn't bring up any of Ben's other transgressions, such as the mass murder of DHARMA, which included his own father.

The flashbacks explain Ben's predicament. He was the one who had snatched baby Alex from her mother. Charles Widmore, then a leader of the Others, had ordered Danielle to be killed. Ben refused that order, and Widmore's new order to kill the baby they hadn't known about. Ben adopts the girl. Some time later, he banishes Widmore for having snuck off the island several times against the taboo, even fathering a child (Penny, apparently) with an outsider. (I suspect that during these trips Widmore somehow used island secrets to become a gazillionaire.)

On the day of the Ajira flight, Ben calls Charles and tells him he's about to keep his promise to kill Penny, in retribution for Alex's death. He shoots Desmond in the abdomen, is about to shoot Penny, but hesitates as he sees their child - and sees the parallel with the mission Widmore had sent him on to kill Danielle Rousseau so many years ago. Des is merely wounded, and punches Ben out and tosses him into the water.

At the end of the episode Lapidus returns to the little island; he had left the Barracks alone, not wanting anything to do with all this weirdness. He finds that several survivors, led by Ilana, have staged an armed coup. He fails to give the "password," the correct answer to the query "what lies in the shadow of the statue," and is thus assaulted and tied up. I an near certain these are Widmore's people.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Quote Du Jour

"I did not have 'salutational' relations with that man."

- An NRO reader, reacting to the Obama administration's bow denial.

Look at the video - the White House apparatus is lying through its teeth. Don't give me that "he had to stoop to give a two-handed handshake" excuse. Obama and I are the same height. I can give two-handed handshakes to guys a lot shorter than King Abdullah without bending down, or the other person getting on tiptoes.

No, Bush didn't bow, too. He stooped to receive a medal - specifically, the King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit. The award is reported here.

My two cents: heads of state should greet each other as equals.

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Breaking news - porn scandal at the National Sciences Foundation.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fidel Does Washington

And Cuba's maximum leader draws kind words from various members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mel Martinez, Florida's Cuban-born junior senator, was not pleased. In comments to that post I dropped this grenade:

Didn't blacks have more rights under George Wallace than they do under Castro?

If you have some time, check out Wikipedia's article on human rights in Cuba.

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Heroes - Revenge, Is It Sweet?

(Episode: Turn and Face the Strange. Spoilers ahead.)

Matt and Sylar are similarly bent on revenge - but their plots take very different paths. One seeks murder, the other destruction.

Sylar uses his shape-shifting and voice-mimicry powers to pose as Sandra, showing up at the office to serve divorce papers. Bennett recognizes that her signature is forged, and shows up at the real Sandra's DC hotel room thinking she's Sylar. (He'd discovered earlier that the body presumed to be Sylar's really belongs to a known shape-shifter.) In the confrontation he realizes Sylar set him up.

Bennett pretends to be Sylar in Bennett disguise, and offers Danko some previously undisclosed Primatech files - then pulls a gun and reveals his real identity. Bennett's figured out Danko's arrangement with Sylar, and wants to know what agent he's been posing as. Danko tells him, and the two find that agent's team. In the confrontation Bennett shoots the agent, who really is Sylar in disguise, but Sylar plays possum long enough to convince all present that Bennett got the wrong guy. Bennett flees.

Matt decides he's gonna give Danko a taste of his own medicine - he plots to find out what woman Danko's close to, and then kill her. Danko's girlfriend is a Russian-born gal who knows Danko by an assumed name (not unusual for a secret agent man). Eventually the three are at her place, and Matt can't go through with his plan. He drops the gun, and Danko get s his, shoots, and - poof! - Matt is gone faster than you can say "Takezo Kensei." Hiro comes to save the day!

En route to that scene, Hiro and Ando discover that Baby Parkman turns stuff off when he's upset. Ando has to make a silly face to keep the baby happy so he doesn't shut off the minivan. When they rescure Matt Sr. (getting directions from Mohinder), the ex-cop discovers he has a son.

Meanwhile, all roads lead to Coyote Sands, the site of an old government project. Mohinder finds papers of his father's related to that place. Angela has summoned her sons, Claire, and Bennett to that place. She tells them to dig. They find a mass grave, evidence of a horrible secret that Angela has kept all these years...

Will the real Sandra Bennett seek divorce? What will be the next move for Hiro, Ando and the Parkmans? Is Matt's ex-wife safe? Will the Russian chick show up again? Will Danko ever arouse the suspicions of his fellow agents? Stay tuned.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lost - Richard Alpert To The Rescue

(Episode: Whatever Happened, Happened. Spoilers ahead.)

Ben's gunshot wound will be lethal unless a real surgeon goes in after the bullet. The island's only real surgeon refuses; Jack is too bitter about Future Ben's many sins.

Kate comes up with a desperate plan, in which Sawyer assists: going to Richard Alpert for help. He can heal Ben, but the boy will always be "one of us" as a result of the experience.

Alpert takes Ben to Jacob's cabin. At that point the scene shifts to our present. Ben wakes up from his Sun-inflicted head injury and is shocked (to put it mildly) to see Locke alive.

I think that what power saved Ben in the past is the same power that resurrected Locke - which means that Locke is now irrevocably one of the Others, the full implications of which we have yet to see.

In "flashbacks" (from the viewer's time perspective) we see the errand Sawyer sent Kate on before he jumped from the helicopter: seeing to his old girlfriend Cassidy and his daughter Clementine and delivering a little financial help. She tells Cassidy the truth about the island. Through this new friendship Kate learns that she's adopted Aaron out of her own need, as a means of getting over Sawyer.

Kate finds Carole Littleton and tells her key portions of the real island story, including that Aaron is Claire's and that Kate last saw Claire alive on the island. She leaves the child with his grandmother and vows to find Claire back on the island.

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Friday, April 03, 2009


The number of cities hosting Tax Day tea parties is - guess.


American Gothic


(via Glenn)

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Picture Of The Day

Jay Manifold sends this link to a re-imagined North by Northwest image.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Quote Du Jour

From James Taranto:

President Obama's cabinet nominees have more amendments than the Constitution

These are tax return amendments in question, though. Kathleen Sebelius is the latest nominee to be late-coming with certain taxes.

I wonder how many of these taxes will be overlooked by appointees to future White House administrations...


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Heroes - One Of Us, One Of Them

(Episode: Into Asylum. Spoilers ahead.)

Danko was never keen on adopting The Company's "one of us, one of them" policy, but Sylar plays Mephistopheles to his Faust, manipulating the Fed into taking him on as an unofficial partner as the latter finds himself utterly helpless in nabbing a shape-shifter.

The two track their quarry to a nightclub; they split up, and the shape-shifter takes Sylar's form and approaches Danko - falling right into their trap. Danko shoots to wound, and Sylar goes in for the kill and the power grab (in reverse order). Sylar has a new ability, and his victim retains Sylar's form even after death, thus providing physical evidence to fool Bennett into thinking that Danko has killed the real Sylar (with sharp object embedded in the back of the head where Sylar's regenerative ability would be cut off, the proverbial stake in a vampire's heart).

Meanwhile, Claire and Nathan are hiding out in Mexico. Short on cash, Nathan attempts to win some money betting with some twenty-something American bar patrons on who can drink whom under the table. Nathan can hold his tequila better than all but one; he loses the bet, but Claire dares the last guy standing, and thanks to her regenerative power her liver can out-endure anybody's.

Angela and Peter have taken refuge in a cathedral that the Petrellis have long attended. Angela has frightful insomnia and thus cannot sleep, perchance to dream about the future. Agents eventually come to the church and search the place; the two hide in a confessional. One of the agents finally opens the door to Angela's side of the confessional - it's Bennett, who shouts, "All clear."

Angela finally gets some sleep, and gets the direction she needed: she needs to round up Nathan and Claire, and with Peter seek out her sister.

Before the agents arrive, Peter approaches the altar and utters a brutally honest and presumptuous prayer. He admits to being angry at God, a not-too-uncommon human weakness. He also remarks that "we had a deal." God doesn't come down in the form of George Burns or Morgan Freeman and ask, "When did I make a deal with you? Do I look like Howie Mandel?" Perhaps Bennett's arrival is a more subtle divine message that God has things under control.

Will Bennett find out that that really isn't Sylar's body? How long until Danko regrets his pact with Sylar? Will Peter and have to escape their next predicament by being lowered out of a window in a basket? Stay tuned.

Update: How did he get from the back seat of Danko's car to the top of a building? Did Sylar assimilate someone's teleportation ability?

Update: I've been thinking about Baby Parkman's ability to partially recharge Hiro's ability. It's a challenge for science fiction to concoct conjectural laws of physics and make them look semi-rational - and this show has some 'splainin' to do. How did Arthur Petrelli steal Hiro's ability and leave enough of it intact for Baby Parkman to recharge part of it?

The best explanation is that the late Arthur's ability doesn't actually remove the power itself; it copies the power, and in the process drains the "power source" from the host. If this theory holds, Hiro is unable to teleport simply because that requires more power than freezing time. If Ando uses his power to augment Baby Parkman's, then Hiro might have the energy to teleport - and maybe even to travel through time.

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