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March 2004 Archives

March 1, 2004

About Damn Time!

It's official. Return of the King took all eleven awards it was nominated for!

It's about damn time, considering how they snubbed Jackson, and his crew the previous two years.

I can hardly wait to see what they do to The Passion a year from now. :)

If you haven't been following this, Return of the King won:
-Best Picture
-Best Director (Peter Jackson, if you've been living in a cave for three years)
-Best adapted screenplay (Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens)
-Best song (Into the West)
-Best score (Howard Shore)
-Best visual effects
-Best art direction
-Best costume design
-Best makeup
-Best sound mixing
-Best film editing

Return of the King beat the old record holder for taking all awards nominated for (Gigi, nine), and tied two other movies for most awards granted: Titanic and Ben Hur.

UPDATE: I cringed when I heard Tim Robbins won Best Supporting Actor, expecting a re-enactment of Moore's spew last year. But I have to hand it to the man, he resisted temptation and took the opportunity to talk about child abuse instead. I think that shows a lot of class. Two thumbs up for Tim!

True Story from Afghanistan

I'm snogging this link from StrategyPage, but it first showed up on Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor Monday.

---
From Afghanistan Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 9:43 AM

Story of the week;

So we are up in the mountains at about 0100 hrs looking for a bad guy that we thought was in the area. Here are ten of us, pitch black, crystal clear night, about 25 degrees. We know there are bad guys in the area, a few shots have been fired but no big deal. We decide that we need air cover and the only thing in the area is a solo B-1 bomber.

He flies around at about 20,000 feet and tells us there is nothing in the area. He then asks if we would like a low level show of force.

Stupid question. Of course we tell him yes.

The controller who is attached to the team then is heard talking to the pilot. Pilot asks if we want it subsonic or supersonic.

Very stupid question. Pilot advises he is twenty miles out and stand by. The controller gets us all sitting down in a line and points out the proper location.

You have to picture this. Pitch black, ten killers sitting down, dead quiet and overlooking this about 30 mile long valley.

All of a sudden, way out (below our level) you see a set of four 200' white flames coming at us. The controller says, "Ah-- guys-- you might want to plug your ears". Faster than you can think a B-1, supersonic, 1000' over our heads, blasts the sound barrier and it feels like God just hit you in the head with a hammer. He then stands it straight up with 4 white trails of flame coming out and disappears.

Cost of gas for that: Probably $50,000

Hearing damage: For certain

Bunch of ragheads thinking twice about shooting at us: Priceless
---

All I can say is "HOOyah!"

March 2, 2004

Fan Film

When I started this blog (and my website), one of the topics I wanted to write about was the cinema.

And now, I'm finally writing one.

I was cruising around the web tonight when I came upon the mention of a live-action Batman movie short at Greg's Previews. It had -for me- a couple of "hunh?" moments in it, but overall I think it was very well done, and agree with Greg that it was more faithful to the original material than any of the recent movies have been.

You can find the actual film here.

If you check out the interview with the director (also to be found at the above link), you'll find out that Kevin Smith liked the short as well, to the point of saying that this "is the best Batman movie ever made."

If that's not enough to whet your interest, you're hopeless!

March 14, 2004

That's Gotta Hurt!

Rosemary Esmay, Queen of All Evil, has encountered good news, and bad news.

The good news is that she doesn't need a root canal.

The bad news is that Dean's sex life will take a nosedive, as others have already archly observed. Or not, if you catch my drift. Heh.

The worse news is that the Idiotarian Liberation Front will get a pass for three weeks. This is not to be borne!

Lewd remarks that to the effect that a half-inch gap in Rose's mouth brace are more than enough for Dean to enjoy himself are beneath notice... :)

Big Brother

The headline reads "FBI adds to wiretap wish list."

"A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police.

The FBI's request to the Federal Communications Commission aims to give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications. If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development."

If you read the article, you'll find out that the Feds argue that terrorists could beat wiretaps by making phone calls over the internet. Mind you, they aren't saying that anyone is doing this, only that they could.

Viewed in isolation, this doesn't seem too bad; after all, we are all behind the war on terror, right? The problem is that they want to force all services to add guaranteed backdoors ahead of time. So much for due process. The other problem is that they have to follow this approach, since (AFAIK) there's no way to examine a packet and determine if it's part of a internet phone call, email, or someone downloading a music video. So they have to have access to everything.

Which includes encrypted sessions. In fact, they should target these, since someone obviously has something to hide. Again, the problem is that this law would guarantee a back door into every electronic sale over the internet, every PayPal money transfer, and every transaction you have with your bank.

Feeling safer yet?

Brought to you by the same folks who gave us Ruby Ridge, Waco, the TSA, the (completely futile) War on Drugs, racial profiling, and claims that smoking marijuana helps Al Quaeda.

I'm feeling much safer...

I fought the law...

Y'know, it used to be so simple when I was a kid. If someone pushed you, you pushed back. If they took a swing at you, you had the right to fight back.

The new, modern solution is "Zero tolerance." NO fighting. Like mom use to say "I don't care who started it, you're both in trouble!" Ok, fine. So when someone (oh, say) verbally and physically bullies a girl, she reports the thugs to the school, and justice prevails, no?

Um, no. At least not here in Butler County, right down the road from where I live. Alicia Kinsey did the Right Thing: complained about harassment by four other girls. A foot in the back of the neck, in fact.

Talawanda Middle School Counselor Sandy Greenberg brought three of the four girls to her office and left them alone to write down what happened. All three claimed that Ms. Kinsey threatened one of them with a knife the day before, even though they couldn't get their story straight. The girls couldn't agree whether Alicia threatened to stab or kill the other girl. The fourth girl was questioned separately later that day. She named the wrong girl as the target of the threat. Later one of the original three recanted; she wasn't even on the bus that day.

So far the case sounds pretty far-fetched and thin against Ms. Kinsey, no? Again, no.

Greenberg reported all this to Vice Principal Chris Rhoton, who talked to Alicia the following day. The result: he had Alicia questioned by a police officer, charged with criminal menacing, then expelled.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

Get the full story at Zero Intelligence, a website dedicated to "Fighting School Board Tyranny/Inanity." It's a great place.

I smell something... "fishy" here

I just read this Yahoo! news article: French Court Frees 'Nemo' from Lawsuit

"Sunday March 14 9:56 PM ET

A court here has turned down an injunction against selling merchandise for the movie "Finding Nemo," ruling that there were no "serious similarities" between the Walt Disney Co./Pixar character and a clown fish drawn for a French children's book.

The case was brought by lawyer and part-time author Franck Le Calvez, who claims to have penned a book about a clown fish called Pierrot about nine years ago.

In the preliminary ruling, judge Louis-Marie Raingeard found that there was no possible confusion between the two characters. "

That sounded interesting, and I've heard enough stories to know that, sometimes, there really are unexplainable coincidences between one story and another, or one song and another. It happens.

Then, just out of curiosity, I Googled "Franck Le Calvez Pierrot," to see if I could find pictures of Pierrot and compare them to Nemo. Here's a good example of Pierrot. For comparison, here's Nemo. (scroll down)

Same fish? Well, they are both clownfish, yes. But the faces are significantly different, with Pierrot showing (on my monitor anyway) as a definite orange, while Nemo displays strongly red.

But they both live in anemones, you say! Well, yes. They're clownfish. Both stories start with the loss of one parent: in Nemo the mother dies; in Pierrot, it's the father. After that, in both stories, the child becomes lost, and after many adventures is reunited with his mother/father. Sounds "fishy*" eh?

Well, at first glance, yes. On the other hand, how many stories can we find about a child who loses a parent, is separated from the other, and (after many adventures) is reunited? Put it that way, and you can almost include the Home Alone movies! It's a fairly generic plot.

But wait, it gets better. I found links here, and here (scroll down to "commentaire par YM") that illustrate connections between The Lion King & the Japanese TV series Kimba The White Lion, as well as Atlantis & the Japanese TV series Nadia and The Secret of The Blue Stone.

Does this prove anything? Hard to say. But, given the wealth that Disney has gained from public-domain stories such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., and given that company's severely unforgiving attitude to Intellectual Property infringements, I find this series of coincidences... Interesting... Heh.




*er, sorry about that. couldn't resist. mea culpa. :)

March 15, 2004

Shoulder to shoulder

Generally, Ara and I have disagreed just a tad on the '04 elections. :)

But I'm with him 100% on this:

"...the Spanish people overthrew the incumbent ruling party in reaction to this terror attack.

Bottom line? If, God forbid, the same thing happened here three days before the election, regardless of who was ahead or behind, I would hope that the people of the US would not lose their resolve. If we do, the terrorists win. "

Amen.

I want to take a moment to point out (and many liberal/Democrats may find this hard to believe) that quite a few conservative/Republicans oppose Kerry not just because he's a Democrat, but that they think he'll revert to a "talk about it, don't do anything" policy like the one that gave us a bombed-out asperin factory in Sudan and "Blackhawk Down" in Somalia, but not much else.

Before anyone pops a rivet, I'll admit that things are different, now. Even Slick Willie might have pursued a more "warhawk"-like foreign policy after 9/11, and many intelligent commentators believe that Gore would have at least executed something similar to Bush's Afghanistan operation.

But, many observers hear what Kerry is saying, and interpret it to mean that he really will return to policy that views terrorism more as a police-enforcement matter, than a military one. In other words: have a lot of conferences, publish press releases, but don't spend any blood or treasure defending our society.

If Kerry is elected, I hope he doesn't follow that path. And if he does choose the path of courage and righteousness, I'll be behind him 100% as well. As Churchill once said: "God willing, we can do no other."

Or cite another Churchill quote, especially the first line:

In War: Resolution
In Defeat:
Defiance
In Victory:
Magnanimity
In Peace:
Good Will

Fire Burning Bright, or Beware the Ides of March

I generally manage to keep up on this stuff, but Dean caught me on the hop with this one.

Or, you can go directly to the source he links to here:

"03/13/2004: Rebellion in Northern Iran
Project FREE IRAN has several pictures similar to this of an ongoing rebellion in Northern Iran in a place called Fereydunkenar, which I would imagine few of us have ever heard of. Street battles have occurred and, according to the site, several protestors killed by "security forces." Project FREE IRAN is worth bookmarking because this struggle is certain to continue and our media have little access, even if they wanted it. (hat tip: Larry)"


But that's not all! Just a few hours ago I found this link over at The Corner on NRO:
SYRIAN RIOTING

"Public buildings still burned Sunday in the northern Syrian city of Qameshli following riots in which at least 14 Kurds were reported killed in clashes with security forces, an AFP reporter saw. Syrian authorities swiftly cracked down on the unrest over the weekend, branding it an attempt to destabilise the country as Washington prepares to impose economic sanctions on Damascus."

"At this moment, Qamishli and four other Western Kurdish cities are under siege by the Syrian military. Tanks and helicopters surround the cities. Syrian soldiers and Arab militias on patrol shoot indiscriminately into the streets. Communication with the outside world has been cut off. Mobile phone contacts report over 50 people killed and hundreds injured by this callous act."

"US forces now in Syria (emphasis added: Casey)

"Analysis: this highlights some key points that will be discussed later. First, the signs of concrete American involvement have come to light. American personnel and helicopters landing in northern Syria, no matter who they are or why, is big news. Assad's dispatch of his brother (Defense Minister) to speak with Kurdish leaders is also a major turning point; signs that the Syrian military can't control the situation? Or simply fear international backlash by making any critical moves?"

Things are heating up over there! And (as Dean pointed out) as of 3/15, 10:45 p.m. Eastern time, CNN still doesn't have a clue on their website.


UPDATE (March 19): the UK's Telegraph is now reporting on the rioting in Syria.

March 16, 2004

Separated at birth?

A quick "Happy First Anniversary" to the Mudville Gazette, and thanks for the link to these photos:

shaza.jpg
Well, gyoollllleee!

It's the middle of March.

It's the middle of March. Baseball season starts in less than three weeks.

What the heck is this!?

snow2a.jpg

Don't you love Cincinnati weather? :)

CNN: fair & balanced?

Yesterday, Dean Esmay linked to a story about ongoing rebellion in Iran.

Michelle over at A Small Victory followed up on that tonight.

It's pretty darn clear that something is going on over there (see my post here about Syria), so you would think that the major services would have reported something about by now, wouldn't you?

Not to worry, CNN is on the job!

"Iranians celebrate fire festival
Tuesday, March 16, 2004 Posted: 6:37 PM EST (2337 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iranians danced in the street, threw firecrackers and jumped over bonfires Tuesday night as authorities openly tolerated an ancient fire festival for the first time in 25 years."

Oh, I see! It's just a New Year's Eve celebration, not a rebellion against a vicious theocracy. I feel much better, now.

It's a good thing that CNN is there to provide us with 24/7, honest, and unbiased reporting.

Just like they did in Iraq...

UPDATE (March 19): the UK's Telegraph is now reporting on the rioting in Syria.

March 18, 2004

Music Wish List

Y'know, I'm kinda between jobs right now.

Oh, I have one (newly resurrected) now, but it's not what I'm after. It's just to pay the bills.

My point (and I do have one) is that this is a "pay the bills while you keep looking" job, even if the money is halfway decent.

This is why I reall, Really, REALLY resent Dean Esmay. The man is a sick, twisted, sadistic SOB without the slightest tinge of mercy in his makeup.

Why do I say this? Because he has, for the 147th time (by my careful count) made me wish I could afford another great CD.

DAMN him, anyway! Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, and Junior Wells all on the same stage!? Just twist the knife, why don't you?...

Oh, well, at least the Allman Brothers aren't there. :) A note to those who care: if you can; do not walk, RUN to the nearest recording of Wilson Pickett performing Hey, Jude, with guitar lead by a certain Duane A.

About March 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Gantry Launchpad in March 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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