Saturday, April 23, 2005

Taibbi on Friedman's latest literary atrocity

New York's Premier Alternative Newspaper. Arts, Music, Food, Movies and Opinion: "It's not for nothing that Thomas Friedman is called 'the most important columnist in America today.' That it's Friedman's own colleague at the New York Times (Walter Russell Mead) calling him this, on the back of Friedman's own book, is immaterial. Friedman is an important American. He is the perfect symbol of our culture of emboldened stupidity. Like George Bush, he's in the reality-making business. In the new flat world, argument is no longer a two-way street for people like the president and the country's most important columnist. You no longer have to worry about actually convincing anyone; the process ends when you make the case.

Things are true because you say they are. The only thing that matters is how sure you sound when you say it. In politics, this allows America to invade a castrated Iraq in self-defense. In the intellectual world, Friedman is now probing the outer limits of this trick's potential, and it's absolutely perfect, a stroke of genius, that he's choosing to argue that the world is flat. The only thing that would have been better would be if he had chosen to argue that the moon was made of cheese.

And that's basically what he's doing here. The internet is speeding up business communications, and global labor markets are more fluid than ever. Therefore, the moon is made of cheese. That is the rhetorical gist of
The World Is Flat. It's brilliant. Only an America-hater could fail to appreciate it."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Antarctic glaciers show retreat

Antarctic glaciers show retreat: "A detailed study reported in Science magazine shows nearly 90% of the ice bodies streaming down from the mountains to the ocean are losing mass."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

official lies = national moral rot

Now what do you think will happen to the police officer caught lying under oath? If your guess is nothing, well, he might spend a couple weeks on paid leave...
Videos Contradict Sworn Police Testimony of Convention Unrest: "Dennis Kyne put up such a fight at a political protest last summer, the arresting officer recalled, it took four police officers to haul him down the steps of the New York Public Library and across Fifth Avenue.

'We picked him up and we carried him while he squirmed and screamed,' the officer, Matthew Wohl, testified in December. 'I had one of his legs because he was kicking and refusing to walk on his own.'

Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention.

For Mr. Kyne and 400 others arrested that week, video recordings provided evidence that they had not committed a crime or that the charges against them could not be proved, according to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

Among them was Alexander Dunlop, who said he was arrested while going to pick up sushi.

Last week, he discovered that there were two versions of the same police tape: the one that was to be used as evidence in his trial had been edited at two spots, removing images that showed Mr. Dunlop behaving peacefully. When a volunteer film archivist found a more complete version of the tape and gave it to Mr. Dunlop's lawyer, prosecutors immediately dropped the charges and said that a technician had cut the material by mistake...."
Yeah, and the police dog ate the missing tape segments. And people wonder how innocent people end up on death row?

Why is perjury by the police ignored in our society? I guess the same reason rape in prison is laughed at, or that the same government people don't trust with their taxes is allowed to railroad people to death row with bogus testimony... it doesn't affect us, so who cares?

If lies have so saturated our 'justice system' -- illegally editing police videotape to 'nail' someone picking up sushi?!? -- is it any wonder that we as a nation are capable of creating a gulag of lies and torture from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo? The fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


If you've seen the wonderful film Amelie, you'll remember that the incident that began her adventures involved finding another person's childhood treasure trove and anonymously returning it to them. The individual who suddenly and unexpectedly received back his long-forgotten storehouse of treasures was deeply touched by the chords struck by the revivication of memories long ago lost and forgotton.

I had a similar experience recently after I found the movie Daimajin. I had a vague memory of a film I had seen as a kid during the 'creature double-feature': two movies shown back to back on Saturdays on a local tv station featuring all the schlock horror classics and Japanese rubbersuit monster movies. I could only remember that one movie -- or set of movies -- featured a very grim statue that would come to life and wreck vengeance on some really bad dudes. The movies stood out because they were not shot in the typical rubbersuit camp style. They were very serious and -- as I recalled -- very scary for an adolescent, both due to the skillful treatment of the themes and the violence depicted.

Not that the violence comes close to anything you can see now, but it was set in a context that dramatized the shocking nature of it rather than merely desensitizing you to it, a la Friday the 13th etc. I think they also resonated with the whole childhood experience of injustice and 'blind justice' endured by the innocent peasantry as well as the feeling of being stalked by a much larger, more powerful being -- just as the baddies are by the statue.

Well, I didn't know the name or even the year that the movies were made. However, after an exhaustive Internet search I found this review at Video Wilderness (an interesting site in its own right), which confirmed my sketchy memories. The review also provided me with the key necessary for renting the movie, the movie's name: Daimajin. Thanks to the wonders of Netflix (the best thing to happen to movies since DVDs) I was able to rent them. They were everything I remembered and more -- a strange cross between monster flick, samurai drama with perhaps a dash of art film tossed in. Here are some more reviews to give you an idea. Enjoy!

Climate changing before our eyes

Dolphins flourish in North Sea: "Warmer water is washing unprecedented numbers of 'southern' fish and other marine life into the previously inhospitable North Sea, according to a survey by university biologists.
More than 600 sightings of dolphins and whales - some in schools of more than 200 - have been recorded in a year-long audit of waters between Britain, Scandinavia and Germany.
Large shoals of sea bass, usually found off Cornwall, have added to the new ecology, astonishing fishermen, who described the number of squid in particular as 'unreal'. A volunteer fleet of fishing craft and pleasure yachts working for Newcastle University also charted an invasion of red mullet, pilchard and velvet crabs, all indicators of warmer seas."