Thursday, July 31, 2008

V for Vendetta

(Guy Fawkes Night Fireworks)

Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.

The film V for Vendetta was originally scheduled to open the night of November 4, 2005, the night before the 400th Anniversary of the The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an assassination attempt of King James I of England. Crafted by Catholics upset with Protestant rule, the plot involved blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on November 5, 1605. While Robert Catesby is generally regarded as the leader, military expert Guy Fawkes prepared the explosives and was left in charge to execute the plan. To this day, in the United Kingdom people celebrate Bonfire Night or Cracker Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) on November 5th with fireworks or bonfires.

The plot was conceived in May 1604, and that summer, London was particularly hard hit by the plague, which postponed the opening of the parliament. Skipping a lot, writer Alan Moore wrote a ten issue comic book series V for Vendetta during the 1980s (think Thatcher and Reagan) about a dystopian near future where England is run by a totalitarian fascist regime that embraces corporatism at the expense of individual rights, liberty, or prosperity (familiar?).

The Wachowski Brothers, most noted for their Matrix trilogy, adapted the comic series into a screenplay for a film Joel Siegel would also produce. They got James McTeigue to direct the picture and for film buffs, the lead role "V" is played (although hidden behind the mask) by Hugo Weaving, the same actor that played "Agent Smith" in the Matrix films.

The People should not be afraid of their government.
The Government should be afraid of their people.

Delays prevented the film from opening as planned, and it opened in March 2006. The themes pointed directly to the heavy handed tactics and bullying of the Bush administration and America’s descent into a world where the US constitution has become a complete farce. I recently saw the film again, and it occurs as more applicable now than it did in 2006. The film is fantastic with stellar performances and well crafted ties to fascist intolerance and the notion of "undesirables" that threaten national security (homosexuals) and the frightening change in the meaning of certain words like "collateral" and "rendition" and how the idea of "different" became dangerous.

Certain scenes represent precious moments in cinema, including Natalie Portman raising her arms in the rain, Stephen Rea putting the pieces together, the falling red and black dominoes, and the masses of people removing their masks and exposing their faces in a wave starting from front to back as they watch the Parliament building. If I had my way, everyone in the United States would watch this film before voting in this year's election.

I shall die here.
Every inch of me shall perish.
Every inch, but one.
An inch. It is small, and it is fragile.
And it is the only thing in the world worth having.
We must never lose it or give it away.
We must never let them take it from us.

The video below only runs 43 seconds. By the way, November 5th is the day immediately after the 2008 election.

God is in the Rain.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nanny Knows?

Individuals across the political spectrum can get excited about the notion of the Nanny State. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants. Trans fats are not healthy. For restaurants in California, they will soon be illegal, and nationally the trend towards requiring restaurants to have nutritional information on every menu item is all but unstoppable. At a McDonald's or an Arby's, who cares? Do you really want to know the figures for a $45 steak?

David Harsanyi published The Nanny State last year from the right wing perspective, complaining that various "do-gooders" if allowed would turn the United States into a nation of children. I'm not clear what David has to say about laws against birth control, abortion, or gay sex.

I raised the subject with an intelligent group that arrived at the consensus that "the line" rests somewhere near the point where irresponsible behavior puts other people at risk, hence the power of second hand smoke in the justification of aggressive anti-smoking leglislation that also occurs as unstoppable. In California even outdoor smoking is banned in many public locations with the argument that an exhaled puff can find its way to the children downwind in the park.

Where does such a line put us with seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, and similar legislation? The other argument involves the costs incurred by society should daddy fail to don said seat belt or helmet and end up splattered against a road or windshield (or both). If we're going to discuss the costs to society, how expensive is it to keep the brain dead on life support? As the aging boomers march en masse towards Kaputenland, do we pass legislation making it illegal for them to stop taking their meds?

Failure to exercise is as bad for you as those fries. Shall we implement the Cardio Cops? Do you have documentation of your 20 minutes three times this week? What does obesity cost the nation in health care expenses? Shall we implement BMI limits and fines?

Images of those Nazi films with all of the homogenous looking women in white gym suits or men doing various gymnastics in large arrays across fields sends shivers up my back.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Incoming Curve Balls and Sliders

As those opposed to Obama continue to seek angles to cast doubt on his viability and appropriateness for the White House, no stone will be left unturned, and as they start to realize that he is a superior candidate to the worn out ideas from a past generation, they will grasp at anything to drag their opponent down.

When tangible matters like direct quotes and actions that can be verified run dry, desperation sets in and people start to lie or, where possible, make assertions that can neither be proven nor defended, intangible claims of a qualitative nature few are in a position to confirm or refute. They have started, and the press is now running material suggesting that Obama's ego is, well, excessive.

Oh really? John McCain's ego is that of a kitty cat? We have Joan Vennochi's The Audacity of Ego as well as Charles Krauthammer's Barack Obama's Ego Deflates Him. I'm not clear how many publications have picked up Joan's piece, but the Krauthammer article has been reproduced in at least half a dozen other online as well as hard copy publications.

Eggplant's ego would not fit into an oil tanker, and Cheney? As has been discussed here and elsewhere, before this is over, every nook and cranny, every possible assertion and question, all possible doubts, are going to be heaved at the Democratic nominee. The press will toss pitches like those at the Home Run contest at GOP man John McCain. They have been for over a month, and he still sticks his foot in his mouth. At Obama, expect major league pitch after pitch, the best they can throw, anything that can strike this guy out.

Expect lots of curve balls and wicked sliders. They will slice and dice and hack and hew. Perhaps we should discuss McCain's growing list of gaffes and misstatements? Why, I think the man is showing the beginnings of dementia and Alzheimer's. Do we see this in the press? Does the New Yorker run a "satire" showing McCain being revived on a stretcher? I would like to think that the American public is smart enough to scratch its head when it sees one candidate treated with kid gloves while the other is subjected to unprecedented vivisection.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now from New York - TRASH

Often one can judge the street interpretation of a media move by the commentary that it provokes. We have conservative talk radio hosts praising the recent cover of the New Yorker magazine cover shown to the left, an immediate implication that something is amiss, and indeed, the cover boggles the mind of the sensible. How anyone can call such an illustration anything other than a mean-spirited hit given the context of the psyche of the teaming masses is just flat out ignorant. This is not satire, and efforts to tag it as such insult the astute.

Granted, I don't know the demographics of New Yorker's subscribers, but now the cover has made front page news and gets the exposure of what everyone does see, and you can bet Fox News is going to have a field day with this image. The flag in the fireplace, the Islamic garb, and what makes me past offended, the machine gun over Michelle's shoulder. I said 2008 would bring out the worst. I wanted to be wrong. This is exactly what it looks like, and it comes from where we think it does.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lines BeeTween Dots

Tucson, Arizona. Daniel Scarpinato's weekly political notebook refers to the upcoming Eggplant visit to Tucson to raise funds for congressional candidate Tim Bee (R), who seeks to unseat incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in AZ CD-8. Readers may or may not recall that in January Karl Rove visited Tucson for a fund raiser at the Arizona Inn. Although president of the Arizona Senate, Bee wasted no time high tailing south to meet with the soulless mastermind and "pick his brain."

For what?

Bee's decision to associate with Rove helped lead to an AZ Democratic Party funded hit piece one might have predicted. Still, most people have never heard of Grover Norquist, and while they may have heard of Steve Forbes, they probably don't remember who he is. Virtually no one respects Karl Rove as a human being, most regarding him as everything horrible about Machiavelli or what that name conjures up. No name carries the political malignancy of the Eggplant himself, distilled incompetence, dishonesty, stupidity, arrogance, and destruction. Dumb Dubya is easily the most embarrassing presidency in the history of the country. Most GOP operatives advise that being seen on the same TV screen, in the same sentence, paragraph or the same room as the despised and reviled Idiot-in-Chief is a bad idea for a candidate for office.

If that's the case, why this event? Is the visit a simple matter of raising funds? Let's ask who really generated the event. The vegetable lands in Tucson, rides a limousine up to a palace where ultra rich part with peanuts, only $25K to $100K or so to be seen with the Moron who declared, "I don't understand how poor people think" in a sentence four words too long. Without generating a story about the nature of Tim Bee as candidate or person, for now I offer one assertion: Tim Bee did NOT generate this event. Others invented, arranged, and produced the entire circumstance with at most Bee's acquiescence.

Tim Bee is the one moved, not the mover, in the flow of causation leading to this visit. One has to see dots before lines. By the way, does his campaign get all the funds raised?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bee, Being, and California

Tucson, Arizona. In his quest to unseat incumbent Gabrielle Giffords for AZ CD-8, Tim Bee has started to upgrade his presence in the media. Blake Morlock had a Citizen piece about him yesterday, and Bee has a thirty second piece, "Grounded", running during local and evening cable news shows. Bee recently had sympathetic appearances in the local news, perhaps about the state budget. So far all content I have seen remains positive and free of hits. That will change.

Regarding matters presidential, the RNCC has started hit pieces against Obama during cable sports programs (baseball, NASCAR, etc.) that don’t even mention McCain. One of the future prospects they tie to Obama, "No lower gas prices."

That sure got my pro-McCain juices flowing. Of course, how anyone supports just about any GOP candidate in 2008 defies the reality that plays on my view screen. A better blogger would provide links to various articles and op-ed pieces articulating the ontological malaise afflicting the GOP (translation: inability to answer, "Who are we? What is our vision?"). Bee's Being in this race for this seat suffers the same ontological vacancy, and his choice to run is a mistake. He will lose.

The astute who devote energy to the subject would note ontological angst with the current blogger since a visit to California. Prolificity has fallen and a certain doubt has emerged. Influence rankings fell so fast I wondered if the BNN guys had psychics. Since California I don’t even think this place has made the list.

Above is the very deck where I shared a particularly special moment with another human being. The photographer (to my considerable chagrin) missed a photograph of the woman, but he did catch of photograph of her daughter, starting at Stanford as a freshman this fall.

In addition to the woman I met an elder who sat with me, an extremely successful man who made his first ten million before the age of thirty, and he stated, “I had everything, and I was miserable. I employed illegals, dozens of them, and I remember one night up in the Arizona mountains. There was still snow in the areas that had shade during the day, and these people kept from freezing to death by walking all night. They had scraps for clothes and not two nickels to rub together, but that night they sat around a campfire, singing, and happy to have work in Arizona and be alive. They were singing, and they were happy, really happy. There I stood, worth millions, the business owner, and they were happy, and I was not. At that moment I realized I knew F about life."

I have a friend I’ve know for three decades who is slowly dying of an incurable disease that robs its victims of energy. Imagine being exhausted all the time. On the phone yesterday she cried about how in the last couple weeks she grasped the extent to which she had lived life in the undistinguished context of considering herself redundant, because as a child her know it all father had always replied, "I already know that" to everything she had ever said. As a growing girl to every enthusiastic discovery, every insight, every learned or newly seen idea she had shared with daddy, she had heard, "Oh I know all that."

(In California) Unconsciously she organized a life of one who is redundant and matters not, one who has nothing to add. Despondent, she asked on the phone, "Is there anything encouraging you can offer me? Can you say something supportive that might help, maybe an angle or an approach that offers some hope or a better way to think?"

I am well trained in this notion of creating possibility, and I completely locked up. Everything that came to mind seemed inane and idiotic, something that would put her in the position of having to be generous by pretending what I had said had value when it did not. I could not do that to her, so I froze, too choked up to speak and feeling completely bankrupt. I sobbed after hanging up the phone, experiencing Failure as never before.

I don't profess to understand what someone meant when he said, "It is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," but I am clear the speaker was not talking about money or knowledge or fame or power. Something Else has to be surrendered. I only speculate, but I sense that the answer to such considerations defies many limitations in simplicity, elegance, and difficulty.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Campaign Cars

Tucson, Arizona. I don't know which candidates are doing this (if you know of a car, submitting a comment informing us would be very much appreciated), but I have seen two so far in Tucson featuring the bright red, white and blue colors of local candidate names. I saw a Joe Higgins Volkswagon Beetle all decked out, and today I saw a Frank Antoneri truck.


Also, today is the one year anniversary of the publication of Something Else. I had hoped to have a superior, updated version by today, but alas, no such luck. Frankly, I feel like I have blogger exhaustion. The last thread wore me out. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Stacy or Art or those bloggers who had blogs two years ago at this time when people were creating threads of 150-200 comments, and if you think the threads today are spicy, I promise that two years ago (or maybe it was in the spring of 2006) the stuff was just crazy.

In case it isn't obvious, if you host a blog, you really do have to pay attention to the comments. You just don't know if someone is going to submit something absolutely off the map that needs to be deleted and quickly. Fortunately (so far) that has been a very rare event.

I will never seek office, but if did, I would not make a car of myself. Who is going to change their vote because of a campaign car?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Eggplant in Tucson

Tucson, Arizona.As already noted on other blogs and in a Daniel Scarpinato piece this morning, Eggplant is coming to Tucson for a Tim Bee fund raiser. Of course it will raise some serious Arizona GOP money in amounts TBD, but Daniel appropriately questions the political wisdom of associating with an entity having a head intellectually indistinguishable from that of iceberg lettuce. That the Idiot-in-Chief has popularity that would "take dog food off the shelf" results in odd behavior regarding visits presidential, like the weird one last May when the moron came to Phoenix for McCain. As in May, they’re being strange. Neither the Bee campaign nor the White House will actually "confirm" the event even though the invitations are out and lots of people have them. Daniel describes the invitation in his article, noting date, time, and place.

But, hey, nothing is confirmed. Whatever.

A housekeeping note I’ve intended to make for months (keep forgetting) is that this place puts no effort into reporting first what will soon be common knowledge. It is far more inclined to produce commentary or report what will not be common knowledge in years if ever (Lot 175, 7.83 Hz, CCA, Cloth dots).

Speaking of commentary, I question the following assertion Tim Bee made in a recent email as part of his fund raising rush for the 2Q08 FEC report:

With my opponent’s large war chest funded by unions, and Washington special interests, she has the resources to distort my record.

What distortions? Tim Bee is in fact a Republican (political equivalent of dog shit) and while his campaign won’t confirm it he is in fact bringing to Tucson something that belongs in a Petri dish for discerning biological factors behind stupidious maximongus in anthropomorphic organisms. Bee caved to knuckle-dragging Neanderthals and lost Kolbe's support that was his for the taking.

I don’t think Giffords has to distort any facts. Duly noting all of the hard work of campaigning, with that in place all Zach Wineburg has to do is counter any 527 shenanigans and make sure voters are aware which candidate is in which party.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Research Fellowship Success

Tucson, Arizona. The dissertation page count (at left) produces more inquiry and conversation (personally) than blog content. Sparing the reader details, the last two months have been devoted to: 1) data infrastructure, and 2) the application for a very competitive fellowship.

A research grant of considerable financial value, the fellowship provides compensation for "exemplary" excellence in research leading to a dissertation worthy of significant funding and exposure. Obtaining a research grant is difficult for distinguished professors with publication portfolios. Obtaining one as a doctoral student without a PhD for writing a dissertation is almost impossible.

The operative word, of course, being "almost." I am delighted to announce that my efforts to be awarded a significant fellowship to conduct my research and write a dissertation have borne fruit. The good news (aside from the compensation) is that this substantially increases the exposure of my work, and for better or worse, it also increases expectations across the board and raises the pressure to produce extraordinary results.

Not complaining here. I thrive under pressure of this kind. Back in 2004, when SAIAT's funding was slashed 75%, it occurred as a phenomenal challenge where success would bring reward. When success was punished, I tendered my resignation and switched to another game. Granted, I could have groveled, browned my nose, licked certain toes, and been a fine piece of fabric, perhaps not six figure fabric, but pretty close. Alas, I have a soul. It matters. Life after death or not, the current game works for me better than milking life out of a parking lot scam.

(Carol D. Lee, Co-Coordinator, SESP Spencer Research Training Program, and Professor, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University) Where does the current game lead? Time will tell. Summing up the mission of the rest of my career in a single statement, I would put it as follows:

My work is dedicated to maximizing the ability of hungry minds to obtain the education they seek to contribute to themselves, their families, and society.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Capturing Recent Learnings

Tucson, Arizona. (Lot 175 typical weekday - NW intersection is Franklin & Church). The reader is clearly already aware of said non-outcome (relatively speaking) of the recent Steve Leal call for Tucson City Manager Mike Hein's resignation / termination. We all know it didn't happen.

What did happen, and not by design (I speculate) was the discussion Web 2.0 made possible as a result of the, shall we say, eruption of discontent. First, we have Rob O'Dell's properly vetted story on the subject that was published in the Saturday Star.

What the paper did or did not anticipate was the thread of comments that followed the story, and while such threads can prove rough terrain with ore as tough as caliche, they can still yield gems and precious metals. I wish to honor and thank those who furnished the following:

AZ Star #39 Jefferson Smith
I heard a very disturbing rumor yesterday. The rumor was that Larry Hecker, the "civic activist" that the Star keeps quoting in support of Hein, is actually Hein's personal attorney.

Perhaps O'Dell could check into this rumor and either confirm or deny it, since he's the one who keeps going to this source.

We know that Hecker was the front man for the developers in fighting Kromko's water initiative last year. These are the same guys who leveraged the Council into hiring Hein as manager, even though he hadn't even applied for the job. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, just why he supports Hein so adamantly. Oh, I forgot, just connect the dots.

AZ Star #67 Mike Lane
Yes they need an independent audit. No, they do not need a mediator.
If the city manager can not communicate with his employers (the council) he needs to go. Mike Hein was city manager for Marana when mayor Bobby Sutton was pulling his illegal scams around Waste Management. (What did Hein know? who knows. He was only MARANA CITY MANAGER after all). Mike Hein was working for Chuck Huckelberry when it was exposed that the county was fixing road contracts as political favors. (Was Hein implicated? Who knows. The only result of that investigation was Dan Eckstrom -- Hein's protector -- stepping down in mid-term). Mike Hein worked for South Tucson, which has been a pit of crooked vipers for as long as anyone can remember.

Mike Hein worked for Nogales -- need I say more? Everyplace Hein has worked has ended up in scandal. Hein was put in at the City of Tucson at the behest of Don Diamond, Larry Hecker, Bob McMahon, and other big-time elites that run this town like their own personal feifdom. Included then were Fred Ronstadt, Jose Ibarra, and Kathleen Dunbar supported his coronation without a process. Their replacements (Ulich, Romero and Trasoff) should know better than to continue with this sleeze-bag.

The only way the council can regain any credibility with the public is to fire Hein and start a real public process to replace him -- UNLIKE THE CLOSED DOOR, BACK-ROOM DEALING THAT HIRED HIM TO BEGIN WITH. After the Council shows us they are serious about cleaning up the mess at city hall by firing this bum, then have an audit. Maybe then, and only then, we will believe what you say.

AZ Star #73 Christie D. (just thefacts)
1. #53 - Miranda already turned his back toward the best interest of public safety and our officers, he's already a puppet to Mike Hein.
#65 - Are you kidding me? Rick Myers was President of Southern Arizona Leadership Council when he and all the profit-minded members of SALC (Don diamond, Larry Hecker is just a close ally to them, Jim Click, Don Bourn, Ken Abrahams) led the effort (very persistently might I add) to skip any fair and public hiring process and put in Mike Hein. I can say this as a witness - I was working at SALC at that time and watched it happen. I know and actually respect Rick Myers but I disagree with what took place and having him as the auditor would be a colossal conflict of interest. and...
2. #67 - you are exactly right.

To Jefferson, Mike, and Christie, if no one else will acknowledge your coming forward, please accept what little I can offer here. Thank you.

From comments submitted here I have to reproduce a little, starting with Observer's poem about Tucson, Arizona:

Our dearly Hecker,
who art in cloth,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
in Tucson as it is in Cloth.
Give us this day our daily deal,
and forgive us our crimes,
as we forgive those who steal from others.

Lead us not into truthfulness,
but deliver us from scrutiny.

For thine is the cloth, and the power, and the money, for ever and ever, Amen.

Finally, I must acknowledge Liza. We might inflict a scratch or bruise on one another along the path, but I say with confidence that we stand on the same side against tyranny and the slaughter of the defenseless and innocent. Safe words on paper, but not so safe in reality. Liza has seen, up close and for real, some of what I have seen that tears at my heart and provokes rage.

I have seen the well meaning, adept, and hard working pack up belongings into boxes so shit like Snell, Lyons, Hein, Hecker, and the rest can fatten their wallets.

(The same lot on a weekend. Now where do those parking payments go? Since they have no employees, who collects and deposits the payments, and where?) I think Cigar Man is right. Progress is slow, but Web 2.0 is altering the terrain. For example, suppose I just happened to receive an email that the DDC Federal Tax ID is 86-0372238. I like where it discusses the compensation of the top five employees and it reads, "NO EMPLOYEES/NO PAYMENTS."

Think about that, a company where no one gets paid anything. See, the way that it works is that the master non-profit creates subsidiaries that CAN pay people, and that's where folks get rich.

Don't believe me about a company that has no employees and pays no one a thing? Read it yourself.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Small Moves

Tucson, Arizona. One should hardly be surprised that no dramatic moves occurred today, and as The Tucson Citizen reports, the city council voted unanimously to keep Hein on as city manager. Now the Cloth have to make sure whoever takes a look at the books will see things their way.

Thanks to those who commented at the last story and also to those who submitted insightful information at the AZ Star article on Saturday, which certainly made a contribution to me. Thanks also for some of the emails.