PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.
September 26, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 38
Table of Contents:
Sometimes, I'm just Ed Sullivan (or, more aptly, Herb Caen). I introduce the acts and then get off the stage. As regular readers know, I consider my own life, past and present, to be darned interesting, especially when I present it as good writing, which I always do. But in the great sweep of the years ahead and behind, this week will be filed under "quotidian." On the other hand, I am pleased, honored and proud to present some great items provided by friends and colleagues.
Just to keep you posted, my birthday was last week (stayed at Ocean Beach with Vicki, had dinner at Sunset at the Cliff House, saw two movies); this week Vicki and I present a home concert of Celtic music. I'll let you know how it goes.
Your Bill for Iraq
From Richard Dalton:
Got a letter from American Friends Service Committee that included an "invoice." Here it is:
To: Every American Household
Pretty unbelievable, especially in the face of the fat cat tax cuts which congressional Republicans are trying to make permanent.
But there's more.
NASA's administrator, perhaps after smoking something liberating, says we should be spending $104 billion over the next decade, so we can go back to the moon. Didn't we do that?
Bush says we will rebuild New Orleans and reverse poverty in the area. Cost? No way to know the full tab at this point, but everyone agrees it will be in the $100s of billions. And we can do all this without raising taxes or (further) impacting the monster deficit we are accruing, waiting for the economy to generate new- found wealth that will substantially boost tax revenues. Guess that also precludes a raise in the minimum wage, which hasn't been modified in a decade.
Bush says we will pay for the Gulf Coast reconstruction by cutting other programs. Hmmm. Defense? The oil industry subsidies that were recently approved? No wait--there's that nifty new drug program for Medicare recipients that was sold by the Bushies based on a price tag of $400 billion and is now estimated to cost $750 billion. Nobody's received those benefits yet, so they haven't really lost anything, right?
Actually, I agree with John Sidney McCain, that we should dump the Medicare Drug gizmo and substitute a program for seniors living in poverty who often stop taking life-sustaining drugs because they can't afford them. That would eliminate the drug and insurance companies windfall from the drug plan due to start January 1, so Bush will probably oppose this logical approach.
I think the Bush strategy is working. Most people are getting numb to the realities of hundreds of billions being shoved down all the administration's favored rat holes. That's why its important for organizations like ADSC to focus our attention on the individual consequences of "staying the course" of a war which was started fraudulently and continues because Bush can't admit the truth.
Let's take an extreme, but historically accurate view of one aspect of the Roberts nomination:
Is it perfectly acceptable for the dems to take a dive on the nomination of a hyper-intelligent, glib, smooth, clean-shaven right-wing conservative corporate ideologue? Especially one who has engaged in a massive conflict of interest in violation of federal law (28 USC 455(b)(4)) to get the nominations (first to associate, second to chief). One may remember Judge William Byrne who was offered the FBI directorship while presiding at the Ellsberg trial (Byrne met in person briefly with Nixon and then twice with Ehrlichman and said he could not even consider the offer while the case was before him).
Roberts came in for his first interview with A.G. Alberto Gonzalez on April 1, 2005. On April 7, 2005, he was on the panel hearing Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Gonzalez was discussing his promotion to a new federal job. A subordinate of Gonzalez, who discussed the job with Roberts six days earlier, represented the government in the case. The government asked Roberts to reverse a federal judge and find that citizens may be held forever without charge or trial at the command of the President--who, at one point, was a named defendant in the case.
This case was as important to this government as the Ellsberg case was to the Nixon administration. Then on July 15, 2005, Roberts joined in the extraordinary ruling--wiping out the 5th and 6th amendments. Although the decision was nominally 3-0, when the concurrence is read closely it is clear the vote on the key issue was 2-1. If an impartial jurist had been in Roberts' seat and decided the other way it looks like the decision would have been affirmed. On July 19, 2005, Roberts was paid off with the first nomination. What will it take for people to see what's going on? Will Bush have to nominate Ann Coulter (who looks like Groucho's brother Karl by comparison) to make it clear what is happening?
Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
From Peggy Coquet
It's one of those jokes that, if you get it, you're almost ashamed to admit it; and you have to think carefully about whom to send it to.
Knock knock.Who's there? Objective case. Objective case who? No, objective case "whom".
Me and You and Everyone We Know
First class work by writer/director/co-star Miranda July. There is one teenage sex scene which led me to believe the film must have been written by a boy, fulfilling an adolescent fantasy, but apparently July either has incredible empathy or enormous imagination. Her work was solidly grounded by the inspired performance of John Hawkes, a veteran not-quite-well-known actor with two score movie and tv credits.
Don't you get tired of mainstream films, which tend to be about the problems of professionals and the upper-middle or upper class? One of the charms of indie films is their willingness to take an unflinching and unsentimental view of the working class--in the vivid words of the economists, those who are "one layoff and one serious illness from homelessness." Hawkes is a divorced father and shoe salesman. It doesn't get much grittier than that.
We loved it. Hardly smiling, happy and upbeat, but a great work of art.
This Chinese film arrived in San Francisco to the thunderous applause of the local newspaper, which makes me wonder about its judgment. Not every Asian film with subtitles is a subtle masterpiece. I will refer to the IMDB summary, because this is how the film views itself: "an exploration on the impact of urbanization and globalization on a traditional culture." A user comment added: "a sad picture of how modernization is the same the whole world over."
Possibly it was both of those things; if I had to guess, I'd say that was the goal of Zhang Ke Jia, the writer and director. But the thing is, I'd have to guess, because it was so mind-boglingly slow, meandering and boring. Perhaps that's because these young people's lives are like that, but it doesn't make for entertainment or art. We walked out after about 130 minutes--I don't believe it probably got better in the 13 minutes we missed. We were looking for the movie the reviewer promised, but I guess they weren't showing it that day.
Maybe it was the subtitles! Says one IMDB reviewer: "I'm sure subtitle-dependent viewers lose a lot of the significance of different accents and regional differences among the employees from all over China." Well, yes, but if that was what carried the whole film, it didn't carry it as far as San Francisco. Ironically, my mother, upon hearing of our plans to see this film, said "That's one I'm sure you dad would want to see." Even if sensitive, subtitled Chinese films were his cup of tea, he wouldn't be interested in this one.
Calonquey Madness, Coquet: Ethics of Psyops, New Japanese Cars Coming, Dan Grobstein File
We saw the Calonque while in the South of France this summer. Rae spotted Calonquey Madness.
Steve Coquet writes:
This is one of the scariest things I've read in a while.Slate:You Can't Handle The Truth. . I always ask myself how anyone at all concerned with ethics can allow himself to work for an outfit like that, whose services will inevitably be used more for illicit purposes. At the risk of sounding both nineteenth century and melodramatic (guilty on one charge!) nefarious purposes. One can infer from the article itself that it has already happened.
Kent Peterman found a virtual font of wisdom at one of those compendium of quotes sites: Doug Larson. Here's a warmup:
Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.
Go. Look. Larson is funny and profound.
Richard Dalton sees a new Japanese car on the horizon:
Yeah, the Prius is a great car but it's still much of the same old design-wise. A Japanese colleague knocked my socks off with a concept car he saw at Toyota's exhibit at the World Exposition being held in Aichi, Japan.
It's aslinky-looking single seater that transforms itself from a low-center-of-gravity road vehicle to an upright for local tooling around or storage. It's also said to be made of "plant-based materials such as kenaf." It's powered by electric motors in the rear wheels and uses a lithium ion battery. It weighs only 180 kilograms (a hair under 400 pounds).
After seeing hordes of Mercedes Smart Cars in Europe, I was interested in when they will get equipped to meet US regulations (they seem safe enough for some pretty looney drivers). After seeing the I-unit, maybe I'll wait until Toyota brings a product, based on these principles, to market.
Dan Grobstein File
New York Times
If the Children Can Drink Uncola, What About Unbeer? By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN Kidsbeer, a Japanese soft drink bottled and formulated to look like beer, may soon be available throughout Europe, but watchdogs of underage drinking say they will fight any effort to ship it to the United States.
Even a Darling of the Newspaper Industry Is Starting to Sweat a Bit By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE At a time when many newspapers are cutting back and announcing layoffs, McClatchy is building its properties. Still, the trends for newspapers are dismal right now and even McClatchy sees clouds on the horizon.
David Carr: More Horrible Than Truth: News Reports Hurricane Katrina brought out the best in the news media, but also the worst, as when lurid rumors were reported as fact.
Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore By NATALIE ANGIER Researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that cursing is a human universal.
Craving Hyphenated Chinese By JULIA MOSKIN Over the past decade, as large communities of people from India, Peru, Korea, Trinidad and Guyana have formed here, New York has had to expand its ideas about what Chinese food can be.
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