Monday, November 30, 2009

Neutrality fail

Gotta say, not helpful.

The sponsors of the initiative provoked complaints of bias from local officials and human-rights groups with campaign posters that showed minarets rising like missiles from the Swiss flag next to a fully veiled woman. Backers said the growing Muslim population was straining the country “because Muslims don’t just practice religion.’’

“The minaret is a sign of political power and demand, comparable with whole-body covering by the burqa, tolerance of forced marriage, and genital mutilation of girls,’’ the sponsors said.

They said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey compared mosques to Islam’s military barracks and called “the minarets our bayonets.’’ Erdogan made the comment in citing an Islamic poem many years before he became prime minister.

First of all, a law that this explicitly targets one religion, well...? How do you not call that religious discrimination.

The security rationale boils down to, "We heard this guy in Turkey say something once that sounded sort of threatening."

And laws like this make it difficult to tell the Muslim world that the West isn't making war on them en masse. The fact that this law seems to have shown up on the streets before it was written into the books doesn't help either.

The Swiss People's Party, which embraces fringe right policies well beyond immigrant policy, seems to have political power in the country out of proportion to their membership. American progressives disgusted by the Big Two often envy Europe, where parties are smaller and people give a damn about them. Both systems appear to be flawed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gale force Saturday Random Ten

Sunny day but a windy one. It makes things colder, but not unbearably so, at this point. Watching the leaves bet picked up and whisked through the air is pretty impressive.


1. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--Tell Me
2. Lou Rawls--Your Good Thing (Is About to End)
3. Child's View--Sabure
4. The Go Go's--Girl of 100 Lists
5. Yo La Tengo--Nothing to Hide
6. Ry Cooder--Going Back to Okinawa
7. Stan Kenton and his Orchestra--Opus in Pastels
8. The Decemberists--Sleepless
9. Moby--Hyenas
10. The Squirrel Nut Zippers--Meant to Be

Friday, November 27, 2009

A shame

Wow. I knew Roger Ebert was off his movie review show permanently, and I knew he had been undergoing treatment for cancer. But until reading this I figured it was him and his bosses not being able to come to terms. The fact that he's physically unable to speak now is sad, even if he can obviously still write.

On a lighter note, Gene Siskel's mustache back in the 70s was a thing of glory. Wonder why he got rid of that bad boy. Possible that his wife didn't like it. I'd like to think he had it preserved under glass, anyway.

Friday advisory

No Random Ten for Friday. I spent much of the day at a day-postponed Thanksgiving dinner with a couple of friends, their kids, and a sister/boyfriend combo from out of town. Which was a good time, hanging out with them. Also saw the fourth Futurama movie, which sort of goofily backed into some heavy metaphysics. Douglas Adams would approve.

Anyweasel, Saturday Random Ten should be on the horizon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The antidote

Hope your Thanksgiving was happy, filled with grace and good will, not to mention good food.

Of course, if you overdosed on giving thanks and want an excuse to gnash your teeth and question the Lord's mercy, I give you Mandy and Randy.

I was referred to that video with the implication that it contained nudity. Whew, no. I believe I owe what's left of my sanity to the fact that all three of those digital homunculi remained fully dressed at all times.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not to take anything away from Gary Busey, but the real Buddy Holly was much geekier. And cooler. I did love that movie, though.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Still available: The Friday Random Ten.

Light blogging at best this week. Has to do with me having vague ideas for a post and then either A) lacking the time and energy to get into what I wanted to get into or B) forgetting what I was going to say. Well, I have off weeks and relative on weeks.


1. XTC--Respectable Street
2. Nancy Wilson--The Nearness of You
3. Mika--Touches You
4. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--Answer Me
5. Johnny Mathis--When Sunny Gets Blue
6. The Beatles--While My Guitar Gently Weeps
7. Bonzo Dog Band--The Monster Mash
8. Brian Eno--By This River
9. The Kinks--Rosemary Rose*
10. Ry Cooder--Paris, Texas

* One of the songs Ray Davies wrote for the more pop-oriented companion to "Village Green", which unfortunately never came together. At least this song and a few others got a (very limited) exposure on the Great Lost Kinks Album, then wider hearing through expanded CD reissues.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just waiting...

"If I could predict the future, I would be at the track."

That's something I am so going to start telling people if they give me the opportunity. Mainly because everywhere you look, there are people who can predict the future, at least by their own telling.

Every philosophy has to start somewhere.

Monday, November 16, 2009

John Cleese comes to us all

A little more Python.

I guess most of us let things build up inside.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Random Ten as the reservoir fills

When I got up this morning I thought I heard rain, so I brought my umbrella. Turned out to be just the wind. Actually it didn't rain all the time the sun was up. It is now, and I think we had a shower earlier tonight. I didn't get caught in it, but afterward the ground was wet and my sneakers weren't doing much to keep my feet dry. Which just goes to show you. (No I don't know what. Something.)

Anyway, here is the Random Ten. Again, didn't really do iTunes editing this week, but tha's okay.

1. T. Rex--Midnight
2. Lou Rawls--Trouble Down Here Below
3. The Go Go's--Our Lips Are Sealed
4. Brian Eno--Spider and I
5. The Kinks--Where Did My Spring Go
6. The New Pornographers--The New Face of Zero and One
7. Talk Talk--Life's What You Make It
8. k.d. lang--Help Me
9. Johnny Mathis--The Twelfth of Never
10. Ladytron-- Re: Agents

Thursday, November 12, 2009

At the breaking point, things break

So. Fort Hood. It's been about a week now, and while that's a long time in the digital age, the wounds are still fresh.

No doubt I could dredge up a lot of racist blog posts and speeches, then refute them by using other people's refutations. By now I've learned this is about as effectual as getting drunk late at night and getting up at dawn to drink a pot of coffee. Just less fun.

The relevant question--much asked--is "How was this allowed to happen?" Hasan was a ticking time bomb who went off in the most horrifying way. Why did no one see it and remove him from any position where he could do harm?

The answer partially comes together when you look at what else he got away with. Not anything drastic, but from a basic human resources point of view, cause for concern.

As a psychiatrist in training, Hasan was characterized in meetings as a mediocre student and lazy worker, a matter of concern among the doctors and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences military medical school, the official told the AP.

The AP reported that a law enforcement official says a terrorism task force did not refer early information about the Fort Hood shooting suspect to superiors because they concluded he wasn’t linked to terrorism.

Not to put to fine a point on it, Nidal Hasan sucked. While whatever combination of mental disease and hostility to America that made him explode may not have surfaced, it seems that as a psychiatrist he was indifferent at best. And considering the high stakes involved when treating soldiers, that is a menace in itself.

For the better part of a decade, the military has been involved in two full-fledged wars/occupations. There is currently no conscription, a fact which helped build public support in the early days, but has left the services high and dry. There have been other ominous instances of standards being lowered. At the end of the day, they take who they can get.

The push for more and more military action has left the military overextended. Overextension has consequences. Does that mean that more Fort Hoods are on the horizon? We can only hope not. But the signs aren't healthy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today a boy appeared in the doorway of my office. Seemed maybe a little high strung, but not really upset at the time. He asked me and the other fellow I work with if we liked the Patriots. I muttered something vaguely positive and we shook hands. (Should be noted that in the context of my workplace this is not as strange as it sounds.) It was a pleasant encounter over all.

Luckily I kept some opinions to myself. Like how football is basically an ice age, but longer and with helmets.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Oh man. Too tired tonight to even think about coming up with a real post. Gotta restore. Hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stay with me long enough to hear the Friday Random Ten

Know how sometimes you're typing and one of your hands is misaligned, so that you're not just getting a little here and a little there wrong but actually typing xomplwrw fivvweiah*? Well I almost logged in with something crazy like that. Probably good for me if I get this day done. Don't get me started on the cursor suddenly jumping a line up.

1. Chic--Real People
2. Talking Heads--Air
3. The Beatles--Glass Onion
4. Sarah Vaughan--You're Mine You
5. Luciana Souza & Romero Lubambo--Muita Bobeira**
6. XTC--Generals and Majors
7. Bonzo Dog Band--In the Canyons of Your Mind
8. The New Pornographers--The End of Medicine
9. Lou Rawls--Righteous Woman/I Wanna Little Girl
10. Mika w/ Imogen Heap--By the Time

* "complete gibberish" by the way
** Brought to you by Windows Vista

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A medal just for showing up

Congressional seat opens up in traditional GOP district. (Thanks to White House Democrat giving Republican congressman a job.) GOP nominates relative moderate, par for the course in this district. Club For Growth and other conservative pressure groups start yapping. Third party candidate forces official Republican nominee out of the race. Safe Republican seat is won by Generic Democrat.

Variations of this story are likely to play out many times next year, especially since so many "conservatives" find all of this to be good news. Sometimes the results will be similar to this, leading to Democratic victories. In some districts they'll be very different, and some scary-ass people are going to get elected. The fact that so many citizens mete out political support based on how well the politician howls for liberal blood is both depressing and disturbing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Caution: Existential crisis ahead

That's pretty bleak. Is this from Kafka's "vodka and codeine" phase?

Possible return to actual blogging tomorrow.