June, 2004 Archives

via Sheila Lennon’s blog, this camera phone shot of a swan on the Washington Bridge in Providence. I wonder if she made it to the other side safely.

A couple years from now she’ll have a nice linear park to walk across…


Just saw Fahrenheit 9/11. Totally great. Everyone in America should see it. There is a lot of uncomfortable footage, kind of gory in some spots, but one thing I really came away with was a lesson in sacrifice. Also, now I hate the Jews.

Oh wait, I might be mixed up on something or other…

Like James, I’ll have more (Moore?) later.

Now Watch This Drive

This week I broke my old phone and got one of those fancy sidekick things to replace it. Now I can not post to this weblog from anywhere. Banks, water parks, subways, dance parties, even from Jim’s deli like I am as we speak. What an awesome, yet useless new ability!

And oh yeah – screw that fat james bond guy with the 9/11 documentary that came out today. I’m so sick of that dude.

You might not know it, because there’s been so little said about it, but Michael Moore’s new movie is out today. From what I can gather from Cable News, it’s 2 hours of lies, damned lies, and uh, unedited footage. Personally, I’ve caught Moore in a devious misleading lie that no one else seems to be talking about. Look at this picture, from the movie poster. I’m pretty sure President Bush never held Moore’s hand. Therefore, I think it’s clear that not a single thing in this “film” is even remotely accurate.

Everyone should go out and see it this weekend and pay close attention so that all its lies can be debunked. Make sure you go this weekend, because the commie liberal media will undoubtedly change the record before long. Good Americans will go see it twice, uh, to make sure Moore doesn’t get any subtle deceptions by you.

I’ll be there tomorrow, and a full denunciation of this hate-America “motion picture” will follow here at A Cry for Help.

Fahrenheit 9/11

You all have been watching the Daily Show every night, right?

Abu Garif

In between innings of the not-good Red Sox game today, I read the rest of Lullaby (I’ll get around to that resume thing any minute now). One of the characters is an eco-terrorist and an all around asshole named Oyster. There’s very few times in the book when he’s not going on about invasive species or animal cruelty. Here’s two of my favorite passages for your reading pleasure:

When you think about it from a native plant perspective,” says Oyster, “Johnny Appleseed was a fucking biological terrorist.”

Johnny Appleseed, he says, might as well be handing out smallpox.

Centuries ago, sailors on long voyages used to leave a pair of pigs on every deserted island. Or they’d leave a pair of goats. Either way, on any future visit, the island would be a source of meat. These islands, they were pristine. These were home to breeds of birds with no natural predators. Breeds of birds that lived nowhere else on earth. The plants there, without enemies they evolved without thorns or poisons. Without predators and enemies, these islands, they were paradise.

The sailors, the next time they visited these islands, the only things still there would be herds of goats or pigs.

Oyster is telling this story.

The sailors called this “seeding meat.”

Oyster says, “Does this remind you of anything? Maybe the ol’ Adam and Eve story?”

Looking out the car window, he says, “You ever wonder when God’s coming back with a lot of barbecue sauce?”

This is from the guy who wrote Fight Club, the movie being one of my all-time favorites. Makes me want to read the rest of his library, but I have Bowling Alone on the shelf, waiting patiently for months, and I’m probably going out to pick up this book tonight (Thanks Matt Graves!).

More Palahniuk

I finished up 1984 yesterday, and the copy I had included an afterword, written, I think, in the 1960s. The message of the afterword was that reading 1984 as only a denunciation of Stalinism (which would be the most obvious interpretation, and indeed one of Orwell’s main intentions) was to miss a more important point: western culture could be headed for the same future as the communists, just via a different route. I forget who wrote the afterword, but I wonder what his thoughts would be today.

Instead of Emmanuel Goldstein, we have Osama bin Laden’s face adorning giant TV screens, gladly collecting and focusing our hatred. When disagreeing with official policy is automatically “aid and comfort to the enemy,” we have a less overt manifestation of the Thought Police. We have a populace that can be whipped into a frenzy for a war with one country while ignoring a more grave threat. Dismantling clean air standards is called Clear Skies; allowing more logging called Healthy Forests.

Our words are not being destroyed by the government, but by our culture. Anti-intellectualism is a prevailing notion. Flag pins on suit lapels are proof of orthodoxy.

I’m reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby now, and right at the beginning he gives me a great way to end this post, and to direct my thinking into modern life (which Palahniuk is masterful at capturing):

Old George Orwell got it backward.

Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.

He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled.

Reading List

Last night 7 of my friends conspired to put together a get together to celebrate a recent accomplishment of mine, and pulled it off wonderfully.

Thank you so much guys! I really enjoy getting together with everyone, so I appreciate you guys for coming out. Special props to Whitney (who just occasionally “skims” A Cry for Help) for not only organizing the whole charade, but also for making a highly impressive checkerboard cake.

You guys rock!

P.S. Since I was complaining about cigarette smoke at The Red Fez, where we went to eat, it’s nice to see that the RI legislature has passed a statewide indoor smoking ban. Yay!

I Have Good Friends

So I’m supposed to be looking for a job to start my career, right? Now, I have no interest in pursuing anything for any serious length of time, but I do have bills to pay so I need a job, preferably one that pays well. This has gotten me thinking of what kind of jobs to look for.

Given that I’m reasonably intelligent, with an impressive sounding undergrad degree from a decent school, I imagine that I could look to the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries for good pay. However, I have serious misgivings about the behavior of some of these major pharma/biotech companies. Their lobbying efforts in Washington, to pick one, are reprehensible in some cases.

Here’s a hypothetical: Say I am offered a nice cushy job with Pfizer (in nearby Southeastern Connecticut!), where I can make plenty of money selling cancer drugs or giving old men long-lasting boners. Can I do that job with a clear conscience knowing that profits generated by my labor are being used to buy legislation that bans drug imports from Canada? How responsible am I, as a worker, for the elderly woman who can not afford medications which would make her life better?

If I don’t take an available job, though, I’m sure that a less conscience-burdened individual would take the job. So if it’s going to be done whether or not I take the job, shouldn’t I just do it and perhaps use my good pay to do good elsewhere (ah, assuaging liberal guilt, right?)

(I’m sure this type of thing has been hashed out in plenty of psychology and philosophy classes that I never took)

Anyway, I might being heading into America-hater territory here, but what got me thinking of this question of responsibility was Paul Johnson’s murder in Saudi Arabia. He was the American beheaded by al-Qaeda last week after being taken hostage. Their justification for kidnapping and murdering him was based on his job as a mechanic (or something) who worked on Apache helicopters which America uses to kill al-Qeada terrorists and Iraqi insurgents and anyone else who gets in our way.

In war everyone, I think, understands that people will defend themselves and fight for their lives, so no one should expect terrorists to walk up to American soldiers so our boys can kill them simply because they’re “the bad guys.” So if there’s an Apache bearing down on an insurgent-manned bunker, I don’t think anyone finds it morally reprehensible that those in the bunker would try to shoot down the copter, right? If the enemy sees soldiers running to their helicopters to fire missiles at an enemy encampment, they’re going to try to kill the pilots or destroy the copters, which seems to fit the rules of engagement, it’s war, after all. What about ambushing supply trucks to cut off necessities to troops at the front? The supply drivers aren’t actually killing anyone, but by doing their job they directly enable others to do the killing. Are they fair targets? Would we take a similar opportunity to cut off our enemies? What if those supply truck drivers aren’t actually in the military, but hired by it? Are they as responsible for the death of a man with the bullet they brought to the soldier who used it to kill? Or is the truck driver innocent, or just doing their job? How far back does responsibility go? Is the man who repairs the truck responsible, since without his work, the truck would not have made it to the front? What about the person who owns the truck? What if the person is a company? What if the truck was bought with tax-payer money? Are we responsible for the life of someone killed with a bullet we bought? We (supposedly) hold those who fund terrorists who kill Americans responsible for their part, is it so difficult to understand that the enemy in the war we are fighting hold us similarly responsible? We have a government elected and abided by the citizenry, are we responsible for its actions? Or are comparisons inapt, as the American people, as a whole, are certainly not evil.

As with most things, I don’t have answers. But it’s gotten me thinking.

Job Hunting

Sorry, reading 1984 has caused some newspeak to get jammed in my brain (don’t know what that means? Go to the library and alert the DoJ of your thoughtcrimes pick up Orwell’s classic today!).

Anyway, some buzz on Kos made me tune into last night’s Daily Show at 10am (missing the first half of my new favorite show, Live with Regis and Kelly). It was as good as promised. The beginning devoted some time to playing video gotcha with the Vice President which was absolutely beautiful in it’s hilarity. The guest was Stephen Hayes, whose Weekly Standard article “Case Closed” was assigned in a class I took last semester as proof of Saddam and Osama’s collaborative efforts at killing us.

I argued in class that the article, 50 items of varying levels of credibility (ranging from “it’s not 100% unprovable” to “directly contradicted by other (ignored) information”), put together by neocon shill Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, was not exactly something to be sending Americans to their deaths for. The professor was very fair about listening, though one classmate had a great look of incredulity that I would in any way doubt the altruistic intentions of the administration. Future classes will be able to read a small book that grew out of that article, which author Hayes was on the D-Show to promote.

Jon Stewert ripped him a new one. It’s absolutely amazing to watch Stewart interview his political guests. He knows what he is talking about, asks real questions, and is not afraid to call “bullshit” on sound bite answers. It seems to me that his position is that the media’s job is not to arbitrate arguments between the ideologues of a particular issue, but to expose the truth, to separate rhetoric from reality and ask questions of the powerful on behalf of those of us without the ability to do so. I’m a fan of this position. Nowadays it seems as if too much “news” is only reporting what someone said, and the veracity of the statement is never considered. I’m constantly reminded of Paul Krugman’s half-joking assertion that if the Bush administration said the world was flat headlines the next day would read “Opinions About Shape of Earth Differ.” It’s not just the Bush administration, the press treats every controversy in the same manner (though the run-up to the Iraq war is particulary illustrative of the uncritical nature of the modern mainstream media).

Catch it again at 7pm tonight, then a new one at 11pm. Seriously, Most Important Show on Television.

D-Show Doubleplusgood

If you listen long enough, you’ll hear President Bush say one of his favorite speech lines eventually: “I believe freedom is not America’s gift to the world; I believe freedom is the almighty God’s gift to each man and women in this world.”

Now, that sounds pretty good. Humble. And, along with the whole “terrorists hate us because of our freedom” thing, it makes Islamists the enemy of God by association. Very effective rhetoric.

It makes me wish someone would ask him or his staunch religious supporters about the absolute truth written in the Bible about slaves (or, if you will, people without freedom). Do you know what’s in there? Take the quiz!

I don’t mean to play “gotcha” with this, but it annoys me quite a bit when religiosity gets wrapped up in politics (for instance, denying communion to pro-choice politicians [but not death penalty supporters]).

Kevin Drum thinks out loud about whether Bush’s overt association with the sometimes-scary Religious Right could be turned into a liability with moderates. I hope so.

Vote God in 2004

David Mittell has an interesting column about riding the train and racism (which, for some reason, sounds not-quite-right to me, but anyway…) in yesterday’s paper. Read it. I link it only to recount something I heard somewhere (sorry so vague) that struck me right, since I’ve lived in both the south and the north:

Southern whites think it’s fine for blacks to be near them, so long as they’re not uppity; northern whites think it’s fine for blacks to be uppity, so long as they’re not near them.

Riding the Race Rails