31 July 2006
Quick Update: Back from Travel
I took a buttload of photos that I need to go through, check out, crop, adjust, etc., before posting to our Flickr site. It may take a few days.
I'll have some things to say about some of the bands at the music fest. And about good beer. But that will have to wait until a time not too distant.
Four-wheelin' was a blast.
We had a great time. Valerie and Kendall are great folks, and their little corner of Wyoming is beautiful. Good people, good food, good beer, good music, and great outdoors -- who could ask for more?
27 July 2006
More Stevie; More Zappa
p.s. Yeah, I had the sequencing on Innervisions slightly screwed up. My bad.
Breaking Eggs, Omelettes, and All That
And so, a man who had fought for constitutional democracy and universal citizenship found himself helping to organize a military dictatorship. On this day in 1793, he took his place on the Committee of Public Safety, which would rule France for the next year. And in order to keep French citizens in line, Robespierre advocated the use of the guillotine, a new machine that was supposed to make all executions efficient and humane. The guillotine was set up in the Place de la Révolution, which later became the Place de la Concorde, and over the next year more than 2,000 people were beheaded for having opposed the Revolution.There's little evidence, hence little reason to beliver, that any other cadre of revolutionaries ends up any less likely to resort to such bloodlettings if/when they assume power. This applies, of course, not only to revolutionaries of the left like the Jacobins of France or Bolsheviks of Russia, but also to those of the right like the theocrats of Iran. Breaking eggs, omelettes, and all that.
At first Robespierre executed people who had supported the monarchy. But then he began to execute revolutionaries who were too moderate. And finally, he began to execute people who had merely opposed him on one issue or another. Eventually, members of the National Convention began to realize that no one was safe, and even they could be the next victims. So they turned on Robespierre. Exactly one year, to the day, after he had taken control of the Committee of Public Safety, he was arrested, and the day after his arrest he went to the guillotine himself.
For more than a year Robespierre had been executing people in the public square to cheering crowds. When Robespierre went to his own death at the guillotine, onlookers said the crowd cheered just as loudly as ever.
26 July 2006
Dumb All Over
Appropriate for the times. Has been for a while.
From St. Alphonzo's Pancake Homepage (please, no margarine stealing):
Whoever we are
Wherever we're from
We shoulda noticed by now
Our behavior is dumb
And if our chances
Expect to improve
It's gonna take a lot more
Than tryin' to remove
The other race
Or the other whatever
From the face
Of the planet altogether
They call it THE EARTH
Which is a dumb kinda name
But they named it right
'Cause we behave the same...
We are dumb all over
Dumb all over,
Yes we are
Dumb all over,
Near 'n far
Dumb all over,
Black 'n white
People, we is not wrapped tight
Nurds on the left
Nurds on the right
On the air every night
Sayin' the Bible
Tells the story
Makes the details
Sound real gory
'Bout what to do
If the geeks over there
Don't believe in the book
We got over here
You can't run a race
Without no feet
'N pretty soon
There won't be no street
For dummies to jog on
Or doggies to dog on
Can make it be all gone
(I mean it won't blow up
It'll just look ugly
For a thousand years...)
You can't run a country
By a book of religion
Not by a heap
Or a lump or a smidgeon
Of foolish rules
Of ancient date
Designed to make
You all feel great
While you fold, spindle
From a neighboring state
TO ARMS! TO ARMS!
Hooray! That's great
Two legs ain't bad
Unless there's a crate
They ship the parts
To mama in
For souvenirs: two ears (Get Down!)
Not his, not hers, (but what the hey?)
The Good Book says:
("It gotta be that way!")
But their book says:
"REVENGE THE CRUSADES...
With whips 'n chains
'N hand grenades..."
TWO ARMS? TWO ARMS?
Have another and another
Our God says:
"There ain't no other!"
Our God says
"It's all okay!"
Our God says
"This is the way!"
It says in the book:
"Burn 'n destroy...
'N repent, 'n redeem
'N revenge, 'n deploy
'N rumble thee forth
To the land of the unbelieving scum on the other side
'Cause they don't go for what's in the book
'N that makes 'em BAD
So verily we must choppeth them up
And stompeth them down
Or rent a nice French bomb
To poof them out of existance
While leaving their real estate just where we need it
To use again
For temples in which to praise OUR GOD
("Cause he can really take care of business!")
And when his humble TV servant
With humble white hair
And humble glasses
And a nice brown suit
And maybe a blond wife who takes phone calls
Tells us our God says
It's okay to do this stuff
Then we gotta do it,
'Cause if we don't do it,
We ain't gwine up to hebbin!
(Depending on which book you're using at the
time...Can't use theirs... it don't work
...it's all lies...Gotta use mine...)
Ain't that right?
That's what they say
Hey, we can't really be dumb
If we're just following God's Orders
Hey, let's get serious...
God knows what he's doin'
He wrote this book here
An' the book says:
He made us all to be just like Him,"
If we're dumb...
Then God is dumb...
(An' maybe even a little ugly on the side)
Again, real freedom comes from describing things, to oneself first and then to others, as they are, as best one can. No rented French bomb can guarantee that.
WARNING / GUARANTEE
This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor surpress.
In some socially retarded areas, religious fanatics and ultra-conservative political organizations violate your First Amendment Rights by attempting to censor rock & roll albums. We feel that this is un-Constitutional and un-American.
As an alternative to these government-supported programs (designed to keep you docile and ignorant), Barking Pumpkin is pleased to provide stimulating digital audio entertainment for those of you who have outgrown -the ordinary-.
The language and concepts contained herein are GUARANTEED NOT TO CAUSE ETERNAL TORMENT IN THE PLACE WHERE THE GUY WITH THE HORNS AND THE POINTED STICK CONDUCTS HIS BUSINESS.
This guarantee is as real as the threats of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ).
If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.
Blast From the Past
25 July 2006
Submitted for Your Amusement...
Dan and Ray and Santa:
Dan and Ray and the Easter Bunny:
Me on my very first day of school in 1961:
Check 'em all out at our Flickr site.
ERAU Tech Blog
24 July 2006
Me in the 1st grade:
Me in 1991 at the Boston AIDS walk:
Etc. Check 'em all out!
23 July 2006
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
(b) Commercial air pilot.
(c) 12th-ranked chess player in the world.
(d) Rescued refugees from current Lebanese conflict.
(e) BBC radio host.
(f) Lead singer in world-famous heavy-metal band.
The answer here, from Sploid.
Speaking of Old Farthood
I never feel like see the complete picture he's telling: Too much mystic framework I'm not privy to. But I like the gist.
On this day, in 1993, my Mother flew away.
“Living with death on our shoulder”, not as gloomy presentiment but as reminder of the short & ephemeral nature of our visit here, is a bracing experience. When we are in the presence of dying, of someone close to us, our experiencing acquires an intensity, a sharp edge. If this were how we experienced all of our everyday living, how very different the quality of our lives might be. Small moments hold our attention, suffused with meaning, value & significance.
In recent weeks, much of my life has been reappearing & representing itself, unbidden, of the entire period I have been drawing breath. Memory – what is memory? Many memories have been appearing, as if emerging from hiding behind protective barriers. The day spent with Sister yesterday, celebrating our Mother’s Second Birthday of today – reinforces the poignancy of knowing that, when opportunities were available, how few were fully seized. Not guilt, not sadness, but perhaps time to allow & even encourage, remorse. Remorse of conscience: how easy the words; yet a powerful shoulder on the door to a finer world.
Also recently, Robert has often been appearing & looking out through Fripp’s eyes. This is an experience I associate more with childhood.
But, Fripp misses his Mother. His good fortune is that, as an aspirant musician, in music he may find words to express this more fully. This is, after all, part of the function of our artists: they give voice to what is most deeply personal, and utterly impersonal, in all of us. We are the same person.
How dangerous, then, that we might demand of our musicians that they play the songs we want to hear, justifying this with a claim to own consumer rights. Certainly, let us give our artists what they need to support their lives, their independence, and the strength to tell us what is true. Let us also heckle & boo where they fail their calling, believing themselves to be the source of their talent & their art.
Maybe more on truth -- truth and freedom -- soon. Cogitating. Ideas congealing soon, I hope.
Aside to Mike
Later we will explain that Gnarls Barkley is a tiny French Bulldog the size of a Coke can, and that he can get on an airplane without showing any identification to anyone.It's in the Current Toddler Status box, so it could be gone before you ever get there.
Aside to Sam
I am so clueless. I am so embarrassed.
Link is New York Times: registration -- or workaround -- required.
20 July 2006
Barney Frank on the W. Presidency
Here's Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank's analysis, direct (not, er, "straight"!) from the Congressional Record.
Frank's thesis is the Bush/Cheney think that once the election is over, the President gets all the power. Like they never heard of -- or read -- the Constitution of the United States. And that the Republican-majority Congress is rolling over and playing dead about it.
I'm reading Henry Adams's history of the Madison presidency right now. There have been equally dysfunctional Congresses: Certainly that of the lead up to the War of 1812 would give this one a run for the money. But not in the same department. Not in the area of abdicating their Congressional responsibilities and giving the President carte blanche.
The W. Decade Deconstructed
He takes apart its What, How, and Who: "What" is to flood the world with cheap dollars, so the monied interests (worldwide, apparently) can make a quick buck. If in the process it puts governments in a position where they have less influence, all the better.
Bush promised to give financial elites a huge hit of money, and promised, more or less, that this would bankrupt the state that was capable of regulating them. Neo-gilded age economics would return, and he surrounded himself with advisors who were intended to ressurect that period. It is why I knew in 2001 that Bernanke would be made Federal Reserve Chair after Greenspan, his academic work is about how that world could have saved itself, and his answer was that it could have suspended the rules long enough to get over the temporary disequilibrium, and then there would have been no Great Depression, and therefore, no FDR, and therefore, no New Deal. This was done – massive revenue reductions created a growing federal deficit wave, and the promise of the bankrupting of Medicare and Social Security. Interest rates were dropped through the floor. Money at the top, became very easy to come by fairly quickly, as "the carry trade" – borrow short and lend long, became the escalator that dragged the wealthy out of the pit that a falling stock market was threatening to hurl them into."How" is to use military force to prevent an abundance of cheap money from being able to harm the interests of the USA. Instead of using military action to destroy excess production capability, military action would be used as a threat to excess purchasing power.
Even on its face one can see why global elites would accept this project, because even if it went badly, they would be the winners of it while it lasted. Against the backdrop of the 2000-2002 stock market crash, a no strings attached bail out of the very people that had blown the dot com bubble was going to be almost irresistible. The rich went along, because nothing looks as good during a crash, as free money.
"Who" is instead of the Republican operatives of the Nixon-Ford-Reagan years ("strong jawed ex-military men combined with sleazebag greasy arrogant used car salesmen" -- a great turn of phrase), a corp of Christianist yahoos who will fix the books rather than use honest measurements of status and progress or the lack thereof.
But once they are running long enough, there are well known effects: resource nationalism, rising autonomy of the peripheral states, socialism in Latin America, Islamic militancy becomes a more open force. When people are parched for money, they dance to the tune that comes from Washington DC. When they are fat with it, they begin to want to call their own shots. And many of them are with live rounds.
Thus Bush promised that the second part of his dollar gusher would be the United States using aggressive military force – let us not try and find circumlocutions like "preventative" – to nip any place where the dollar glut was threatening to rattle loose. The Cowboy Diplomacy which Time just declared an end to, was credible in the face of 9/11, but it found its expression in the invasion of Iraq.
Iraq was invaded not because Saddam had WMD, but because he did not. It was to be an example to all of the states who wished to acquire them. In the days of dollar drought, the US could buy the atomic aspirations, or at least rent their manifestations. In the days of dollar glut, this would be untenable. The second part of the product that Bush sold was that an aggressive America could restrain the centripetal forces that a dollar glut would unleash. Despite academic and financial misgivings about his policies, 9/11 and Saddam seemed to argue the other direction: everyone knew that even if he had nothing, Saddam would reacquire WMD ambitions as soon as he had the money to do so. And with oil marching upwards in price, everyone who thought about it knew that day would come.
Since I spent a short period of my life in the company of Pentacostal "Full Gospel Business Men's Association" types, as well as a few just plain old old-fashioned redneck Holy Rollers, I've felt like I know these Bush people for a while. To the degree that they are not tempered by simple love of their families, friends, communities, and nation, their zeal towards obeying what they take to be God's instructions is a matter of concern. Fanatics are not to be trusted, whether Islamist, Christianist, Atheistist, etc. Their belief-based self righteousness makes them a threat to all.
And this is why there has been, from America's technocrats, meritocrats and ground level intellectuals, such a ferocious and visceral hatred of George Bush and his ism – because Bush intended, deliberately, to replace the meritocratic technocracy – the very class whose rise defines the rise of the West – with true believing fanatics, who believe that ideology is definitive, while reality is frequently inaccurate. It manifested in obvious ways – such as the NASA appointee who edited releases to conform to Creationism. It showed up in the Air Force Academy, where fanatics have driven others out of the hierarchy. It showed up, most importantly, in Iraq, where biblicalist functionaries would rewrite wholesale technical reports to conform with the revealed world of an entire counter universe of counter-fact which has been created to fill the empty minds of the fundamentalist wing of American society.
There has been, in otherwords, the creation of a whole parallel world, filled with parallels to science, popular culture and scholarship. In no small part it has been funded by the loose dollars created by 37 years of reactionary government – give crazy rich people money, and they will start funding other crazy people to create a tapestry that conforms to their tastes of the world. The Medici's state built cathedrals and funded the resurrection of the West, along with the beginnings of what we now call "physics", but the work of art of the Bushite state is Left Behind and "Intelligent Design" and biblical literal reading of the history of the Fertile Crescent.
Consider, if you will, that the first veto of Bush's tenure – after having gone longer than any modern President in wielding the veto pen – is of money for stem cell research.
The piece finishes with an homage to The Net as some kind of reality-based corrective, something too many bloggers are all too happy to buy into, because they believe themselves reality-based, a statement made by many as much in the mode of the Bushite believers as because of true self-reflection, self-criticism, and self-awareness: A self-fulfilling prophecy of Netroots Power as much as cooking the books on Iraq. It would've been better off without this sucking up to its readership. But, then, the author probably blieves it.
Still, for its problems -- long, directionless, lack of evidence, homage to the web -- the piece is challenging. I think it deserves some thoughtful reads, analysis, and response. Check it out when you've got a few minutes.
16 July 2006
This doesn't mean I don't support Israel in their attempts to have the Lebanese government secure control over southern Lebanon and to stop the "government" in Gaza from allowing military actions from that space. It means I trust they will take the security of our personnel into account in making decisions about how to proceed. That may necessarily require them to be a little less gung-ho than I had first thought desirable.
Just another example of why it is good that I am not the king.
Ranchers Leaving Central Florida
I went to a prep school, now non-existent, in Lake County near Mt. Plymouth for the 8th and 9th grades (1969-1971). I ended up living in Central Florida -- Polk County, Orange County, Osceola County -- for a while during 1977-1978, and Mack and I have been in Volusia County now since 2000.
Cattle, ranching, and beef had been part of the Central Florida equation from the first times we started coming down here. When I was in school here, some of the other kids were from cattle ranches in Polk County. Where I lived in Osceola County was within eyesight of the Silver Spurs Rodeo.
Now, cattle familes are pulling out of Central Florida. They've been beat by accelerating land values that leave them land rich but cash -- i.e., tax -- poor and by encroaching development. Today's Orlando Sentinel has a special feature -- story, photos, narrated photo essay, "in their own words" videos, etc., here on one Osceola County family's move to Texas so they can continue raising cattle. (I don't think there's a registration involved. If there is, I can e-mail you a PDF of the story.)
Addendum: When I visited the Black Hills last year, I met a guy, about my age, who lived and worked on his parents ranch near
13 July 2006
Why Support Israel?
Because Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorists?
Because no matter how justified they might be in terms of the rights of Palestinians -- and Palestinians are humans and have rights the same way that Israelis do -- those responsible for those organizations and many if not most of their followers want more than that: They want the destruction of Western Civilization as we know it.
They (qualified as above) are anti women.
They (etc.) are anti homo.
They applauded when the World Trade Centers came down.
They are Leninist at best in terms of their political organizations. They may have had elections in the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority, but they weren't elections as you and I know them. (Neither were the Iraqi elections. Mexico is getting close, though.)
The Palestinians had the option of a two-state solution almost a decade ago. The corrupt, venal, arrogant Arafat was suffiently cowardly to turn that down. If only he had been the lion that Sadat was. That Begin was. That Rabin was. But he was a liar and a thief.
Do I have to continue?
If Hamas and the Hezbollah were only concerned with a state for the Palestinians, it would be one thing. But they are hellbent on the destruction of Israel itself. I believe Israel, for any wrongs it has done, still deserves to exist. I believe the Jews have, in the long run, been shit on sufficiently that their stand in their own self-defense deserves commendation, not denigration.
If they take out Hamas and the Hezbollah, the world owes them a favor. If they take out the Iranian nuclear program like they did the Iraqi one, we owe them a larger favor.
Stand with Israel.
12 July 2006
The Middle East
Check 'em out here. Note: Some of the images have links in the lower left corner that bring up alternate forms of the same work. (Link here via Bill at A Bear in the City.)
11 July 2006
The Other Tim Wilson
What? There are other Tim Wilsons? Oh, all right.
09 July 2006
Seeing Patterns in Randomness
(2) After several years of creating PaperFrog, one of my daily reads -- I mean, where else do you get the lowdown on the Dalai Lama's birthday party? -- Kit is moving on to new challenges . Good luck, Kit!
(3) Agenda Bender makes the "no one wishes they had spent more time at the office" call.
07 July 2006
An Unexpected Letter
I'm not sure I would want to dance at any revolution put on by those bastards, even if they claimed it was allowed.
Yours in anarchy,
Department of Individualism Department
04 July 2006
Shuttle Discovery -- 04 July 2006
Good luck to the crew and to the NASA engineers and managers.
Old Glory (in Miniature)
Update: The flag was provided not by neighbors, but by some area real estate company whose name and phone number were on the flag pole. I learned this as I was bringing this little flag in from yesterday's rain. It can now join my little rainbow flag from pride parades past in the paperclip holder on my physical desktop. I would put it on my virtual desktop, but I don't have that cool Tron machine yet.
Is This A Great Country or What?
Two Hundred Thirty and Counting
It would be really cute -- and ridiculously time consuming -- if I could offer you 230
Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof offers the text of the document itself (here -- I think I may still have the 5th Dimension record that put the excerpt below to song):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.Mike Silverman at Red Letter Day lays down much of the current scope (here):
I'm openly gay and openly Jewish. I live in Kansas (f*cking Kansas!) and I can read whatever I choose to read, openly express my opinion that our President is the dumbest and most corrupt leader of a world power since Caligula (although replacing my Senator with a horse would be an improvement), read what I want, listen to what I want, download practically whatever I want, learn how evolution works, worship God (or decide not to worship God) any damn way I want, marry another man (whatever the backwards State might think about it), and in spite of many obstacles thrown my way by a government forgetful of her founding principles, still enjoy Independence Day in the United States of America! We beat Hitler, threw the USSR into the dustbin of history, and put a man on the Moon. Does anyone think Osama Bin Laden or Pat Robertson stands a chance?
And Mike Hollihan at Half-Bakered quotes The Tubes and sees the USA as the world's party animal (here):
Britain was our mother, and she's still one happenin' babe. Our sister France is still a little difficult, and sometimes she's a bit slutty, and she's a tad too obsessed with her own comfort and leisure. But we love her just the same. Our cousins across the world? Well, they all drive Audis and Beetles, worry about mortgages and such. They're not as well off as they pretend they are. They say things about us when we're not there.Happy Independence Day.
But America roars up at the family get-togther in our Prowler with the top down and stereo blasting. Probably rap music. We're loud, sure, but we're fun. We'll get drunk, knock something over and probably feel up Hong Kong. The Junior League matrons-to-be like Canada and New Zealand will tut-tut, but their children will watch us enviously, and ask us where to buy those pants. And yeah, the neighbors will probably crash the party to have a run at the buffet table. Everyone secretly wants to be us, but no one has the guts to go for it.
02 July 2006
LGBT Engineers Yahoo Group
...workplace and employment issues and questions related to being a lesbian, bi, gay, transgendered, etc. engineer:You can use the textbox form near the bottom of the sidebar on this page.
* How out to be in the workplace.
* How to deal with HR issues.
* How to secure domestic partnership benefits.
* Dealing with homophobic and/or clueless supervisors.
* Perception issues related to being LBGT and an engineer.
* Issues regarding engineering education for LBGT students.
* And all the rest....
For what it's worth, people who design systems that depend on shoving information around -- i.e., software engineers and computer hardware engineers -- are just as much engineers in my book as people who design systems that depend on the shoving of matter and/or energy (it's all the same, right?) around.
01 July 2006
Let's Hear It for Canada
Our neighbors to the north have existed in their current political form since 1868 (hence the 1968 World's Fair celebrating the centenial, that I had the pleasure to attend). Thanks to Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof for the reminder. (Go there: there's an "Oh, Canada!" audio link.)
Hopefully, all Americans are willing to stand on guard for and with our closest ally. If you're not, then get with the program!
Also, a commenter there reminds us that two male RCMP officers are getting married today. More info here from Towleroad.
(In the Superman post below, I could've mentioned that there was a time when Superman got moved to the afternoon, and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon was on early in the mornings. Yes, I had a mountie outfit, okay? No pics of that, either.)
One. More. Time. Let's hear it for Canada! All together now: Oh, Canada! Our home and natve land....
If Depression Were Cancer
Imagine having cancer with a good rate of remission, whose cure you could not seek without people concluding "Yeah, she just couldn't handle the job," or even "Yeah, women just can't handle that sort of job." "You know how women get -- when things get stressful, they always go running for cancer treatments. Put them in a position of this sort, they'll get cancer." And then, even the most compassionate among your advocates thinking "Well, maybe people with cancer just shouldn't be put in a position like that. It's too much for them, poor dears." When all you needed was a few months of treatment before resuming a job for which you were uniquely suited.I think that's a great framing. I know I'm only repeating what's above, but think about it. Since depression often does go away without explicit action, and since treatment of depression -- and just about every other form of mental illness -- is often looked upon as a sign of weakness, think about what things would be like if the disease in question were physical.
And that's what killed Denise Denton. Not the stress of the job, but the cultural assumptions that go with mental illness, combined with the cultural assumptions that women can only go so far in the academy. And who among us could say we would have been braver in the face of those assumptions?
It would be nice if we could create a cultural situation that would allow more people who are afflicted with mental illnesses to receive treatments that are effective for those conditions instead of the dark-ages like attitudes that seem to persist. We may be wired to make that difficult, but we've got enough wiring and the ability to construct cultural situations to make it possible, too.
Update: I'm ignoring the gender / gender bias / gender discrimination issue, just like Flatland ignored the sexuality / homophobia issue. They're relevant, important, certainly factors. But depression, even if it has different likelihoods of incidence in different gender or sexuality categories -- for reason from genetics as soup to culture as nuts (heh, it's like I'm chanelling Agenda Bender. I flatter myself) -- is widespread enough regardless of category to consider it alone first. Your mileage may vary, and I might could be educated on this.
Superman Returns: Quickie Review
My infatuation with Superman lasted until the 1960s Batman teevee show started running. Somewhere in that same time frame, I started subscribing to DC comics and reading Marvel ones when I could get them. (There was one little grocery store -- Tilley's -- in my home town that carried comic books, so I'd have to beg to get taken out there just to buy "funny books," as my grandma would say. Trips to Nashville were another opportunity to buy comics.)
Superman Returns? Not bad. I'll pass on a story summary. You can get those anywhere. It's definitely a sequel to the Richard Donner Superman and the Richard Lester Superman II. (Will it break anyone's heart to know that I never saw the next two?) I went through an initial reaction of "this kid is too young to play Superman" during the first little while of the movie, but I have to admit that when Superman and Lois make eye contact after the first big action / special-effects sequence, I bought it all: Brandon Routh as Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, etc.
The Lex Luthor character was a reversion in some ways (not quite as smarmy) to that earlier movie continuity: there was nothing from the Smallville storyline there, which I think was a missed opportunity. Kevin Spacey was creepy as one with no regard for life other than his own. Parker Posey was good, too, as his moll, but it wasn't really clear why Luthor had to have a moll, except to fill some comic book / movie staffing requirement. (Maybe it's in the comic book characters' union rules or something.) Again, she was good, but not well motivated in the larger story arc.
I'll pass on the issue being discussed about whether Superman in this movie is a Christ character. There's material pointing to that, done tastefully and thought provokingly, but it's not what you take away at the end. You take away the story about the characters: about love lost and maybe won again, about creations of love maybe outlasting love, maybe recreating it.
It is long, and there are a lot of water scenes -- not as much as The Perfect Storm, but plenty still -- so you can expect to be straining at the end if you get the large drink to go with the large popcorn. (I also think it had the longest credits sequence I've ever seen at a movie.) Still, I think it holds its own in the continuity it exists in.
Mr. Koizumi Goes to Memphis
(If you've never been to Graceland, it defined the idea of "white trash with money," at a time when Toby Keith and Confederate Railroad were still candy bars in their daddys' back pockets. (For what it's worth: Mack's in OKC as I type, and he had lunch at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill.))
What you might've missed, however -- and I haven't seen this reported at any of the Big Journalism usual suspects -- is that Bush and Koizumi went to the National Civil Rights Museum which occupies the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in 1968. One can argue that that, too, would've benefited by Clinton as host and tour guide moreso than Bush. Still, it is good to know that Bush or his handlers at least have the good sense to go through the motions of honoring more than just Big E while in Memphis.
Complete story here from the Memphis Commercial Appeal (all together now: "More commercial than appealing!"). Registration required.
The motorcade surprised those in the South Main area -- and the hungry media -- by making an unexpected stop at the National Civil Rights Museum. Bush greeted several stunned children with handshakes and shoulder taps.
The president and prime minister took a quick tour and later stood on the Lorraine Motel's balcony with former NAACP president Dr. Benjamin Hooks and AutoZone founder Pitt Hyde.
Standing behind the wreath that marks the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968, Hyde and Hooks pointed across the street to the former boarding house from where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots. That building, now part of the museum, was not cleared, and people were crowded up to the windows to watch.