Friday, November 26, 2010

TSA: Bringing New Meaning to "The Friendly Skies"

TSA: Feeling more booty than R. Kelly
TSA: We're making air travel a "touching" experience.
TSA: All your secrets are safe with ALL of us
TSA: Big Bertha is watching (and getting ready to do more!)
TSA: Bend Over and touch your toes...
TSA: Increasing Cancer rates Exponentially since 2010
TSA: We've seen it, and we know you're lying about your length.

In case you were wondering, those a few suggestions I have for the new motto for the TSA. Some came from other sources, some I came up with myself. What do you think?

People seem to fall into two camps: Those that think the new TSA security procedures are a great idea, and those that think we are now many steps closer to 1984 and Big Brother.

I definitely fall into the second camp.

I agree that we have to do what we can to keep bombs off of airplanes, but I think the resources of the government should be more devoted to finding and stopping people like the so-called "underwear bomber" before they even get near an airport, and to removing the root causes of terrorism in the first place. Mostly this means ending our dependence on foreign oil, much of which comes from the Middle East, and the money we pour into that volatile region only serves to place more money in the hands of the people who fund people like the underwear bomber.

It also means putting an end to the ham-handed way in which American foreign policy trends in that region, our typical ready-fire-aim approach that we as a country are so famous for lately in our never-ending thirst for oil.

By the way, of the people I have talked to, by an overwhelming majority the ones that have no problem with the new security procedures are the ones who do NOT have pending air travel plans. That's the difference between them and me--I DO plan to fly in the next couple of months. And now the hassle that has become the airport security line has gotten that much bigger.

Oh, and in case you were planning to wear one of the shirts linked to above to an airport security checkpoint any time soon, take my advice: Don't! It's just common sense.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Madness of King Friday

This Friday after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will rush to stores to take advantage of the retailers' advertising tricks that convince them that they are getting great deals on items already marked up more than 200% above their usual prices.

Most will crowd around store entrances at 3, 4, or 5 a.m. to take advantage of "special sales" that are only available "until noon". Many will be there much earlier.

You may or may not recall the so-called "Black Friday" incident that happened a couple of years ago, where people were trampled after storming the partially opened gates of an early opening store.

You may also wonder what kind of psychosis grips people that convinces them that bargains can only be obtained on one single shopping day that occurs the day after Thanksgiving. When the retail season lasts easily more than a month after that. With multitudes of discounts to follow.

It's also shocking that this massive amount of holiday spending is expected after millions of unemployed people will lose their benefits thanks to the Repuglicans. And they will spend money they don't have to spend.

I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

12 Angry Men

Last post, I opined on the latest retelling of Clash of the Titans.

Today, at the library (where I find the majority of my DVD's), I found 12 Angry Men. The original version, starring Henry Fonda.

Also starring E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley (Senior), a VERY young Jack Klugman (you may remember him as Qunicy M.E., the original CSI), and other actors that no one remembers.

This movie was shot 99% in a single room, on a budget of $350,000 1957 dollars (I'll let you try to find out how much that is today). There are also no female actors credited in this movie, although in the opening credits you can hear and see a crying woman who is uncredited.

This movie was also based on a play originally written for television. It's been performed as a play all over this country. I'm not ashamed to admit that I performed a bit part in a local amateur production of it (as the Jury Room guard, who has maybe 4 lines in the play. I got this part because I was able to obtain a local Sheriff's uniform at no cost).

But I digress. My point is that this movie, which was nominated for at least 3 Academy Awards, was shot on a shoestring budget, with only one "big name" actor, with almost no special effects (a thunderstorm occurs about halfway through the movie), managed to be a major box office hit, one that is still watched today. The President's first nominee to the Supreme Court cited this movie as the inspiration for her entry into the legal system.

Ask yourselves if the same thing will still be said 50 years after the latest release of Clash of the Titans.

I seriously doubt it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I recently stumbled across the latest retelling of this old legend of the life of Perseus, the supposed son of Zeus who became the founder of what would become Persia. You may remember it as this year's 3-D blockbuster Clash of the Titans.

The latest rash of movies celebrating the Greek Gods has gotten me to wondering: Why are these folks so heavily worshiped?

Seriously. The Greeks were eventually destroyed by the Romans. When you think about the planets, think of their names: The largest planet is named Jupiter, not Zeus. Venus, not Aphrodite. Mercury, not Hermes. Mars, not Ares. The only Greek named to survive are Uranus and Neptune, named only after telescopes finally became powerful enough to identify them as planets instead of stars, when "modern" history was finally beginning to sort out ancient history to distinguish enough the contributions made by both the Roman and Greek civilizations.

It still persists today, though. Remember the Saturn line of automobiles?

People love to romanticize ancient legends. Even this country's own brief history has produced its own share of legendary characters--think Paul Bunyan, John Henry, etc.

We may never know the real story of what happened to these ancient--or not so ancient--legends. But their stories will continue to entertain generations to come.

If they fudge the fact a bit, so be it. Most of the time, it's still a good story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

Also known as the BATF.

A while ago, a former co-worker of mine asked why it is necessary for this government agency to exist.

He (yes, typically, it was a he. And, naturally, he was a Repuglican) wondered why the need for a government agency existed to control 3 things that were all legal.

I've given it some thought since then.

It didn't take too long.

You see, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, three things that are completely legal, have annually accounted, directly or indirectly, for a total of nearly half a million American deaths every year. And they have done that by being used EXACTLY the way they were intended to be used.

It only makes sense that these three things should be under strict government control. And that there should be an agency that regulates that control. And of many more "legal" things. But in today's anti-government society, it will probably never happen.

This past election, the tsunami of Republicans that were swept into office were mostly elected by promising less government intrusion into the affairs of citizens. At a time when government, under the increasing influence of corporations, is ignoring the rights of citizens in favor of the rights of corporations, and when we can expect the newly elected Republican Congress to vote lock, stock, and barrel with what the corporations elected them to do, we can ill afford less government regulation.

Regulation by the government is the only way ordinary citizens can survive against the tyranny of big business. The sooner we all realize that, the safer we will all be.

If you ask me, there are a LOT of other legal things, substances, or actions that regularly kill hundreds of thousands of people that need their own controlling agencies and that will forever lack them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hollyweird Does it Again--The Results (Sort of)

A couple of posts ago, I blogged on the Hollyweird movie treatment of the "Crazy Eights" runaway train that opened today--Unstoppable.

I lamented how overblown it looked to me. Seriously. They've taken a mediocre news story and made it into a major Hollyweird event.

Our local paper--not to put too fine a point on it--lambasted the movie.

But are they really being fair? Am I?

I couldn't help noticing the references to the real-life incident that inspired the movie in the review. And, running on the same day and in the same section of the paper, is this story. Written by separate people of course, but either they were both at the same critics' screening or the reporter consulted the reviewer. Either way, there is no way that the critic's opinion could not have been biased by knowing what happened in the real event that "inspired" the movie. And is there not a possibility that the review was colored by that opinion?

By the way, in case you were wondering, the picture in that second story does not show a train rolling down a paved road. Rail crossings in rural areas often cross roads at odd angles, and are often VERY poorly marked--but that is a subject for another time.

And I have to admit that my own enjoyment of the movie would be diminished by knowing how un-exciting the "true events" were.

So I really want to know if I'm being fair.

So I put it to you, the three people who read this blog. If anyone who stumbles across this blog entry sees or has seen this movie, I invite you to post what you thought of it in the comments.

I realize there is little chance of that happening, but a man can dream.

Meanwhile, I may wait for the movie to come out on video...

Update (7/11/11) The Toledo Blade updated their website some time after I posted this entry. Links no longer are valid. Sorry.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm VERY Disappointed

Why, you may ask.

Well, I am on the e-mail mailing lists of numerous Progressive organizations, including, Credo, and Presente.

(In case you're wondering about why me, a person as white as Tom Sawyer's fence is on the mailing list of a latino advocacy group, rest assured I've been asking myself that same question for quite a while now.)

And not once have I received an e-mail from any of these "liberal" organizations requesting me to sign a petition in support of suspended MSNBC news commentator Keith Olbermann.

Understand that these are organizations that start petition drives when someone sneezes near a Democratic Congressman, petitions that demand Distributing Vitamin C to everyone in the progressive Caucus.

But now, when one of the most vocal opponents of the continuous wright wing noise machine is suspended for daring to show support for candidates that he happens to like, these organizations are strangely silent.

Now is NOT the time to be silent! After the Republicans received their well-deserved electoral beatings in '06 and '08, they got back on track by being as loud and raucous as they possibly could. They did not cower in the corner. They fought back hard and heavy.

It's time for us to return the favor. And do it LOUDLY!

F$#@ing Up YouTube

It can't possibly have escaped the notice of the 3 readers of this blog that I include a LOT of Youtube videos on this blog, despite my well-stated hatred of Google, which owns Youtube.

The only explanation for this is that there is simply no other alternative.

Youtube has managed to capture the type of Web monopoly that no one else can claim credit for: if you want to find a popular video, go to Youtube. And while you're there, they will analyze your choices and try to figure out what type of person you are.

So I try to screw up their profiling machines as much as possible.

I search for Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road"

Then I search for Carrie Underwood's "Jesus take the Wheel"

Then I search for Half-Life 2

Then I search for Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take it"

Then I search for a Star Trek episode I like.

Then I search for something that is totally random.

By this point, with any luck, the Youtube profile computers are so f#$^ed up trying to figure out who I am that they are frying themselves. I figure at this point that they must think I am a fundamentalist Christian, moonshine-smuggling, pot-growing, Hair-Metal-band-loving, NRA member. Don't think about that combination too long or your brain will break!

Dear Google: Please feel free to bite me.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hollyweird Does it Again

Yes, folks, once again the folks at Hollyweird have conspired to take a somewhat boring true story and inflate it into a massive major movie event.

You see, about nine years ago, a freight train towed by an EMD SD40-2 Diesel engine, the very same engine that is featured as the "hero" in the upcoming movie Unstoppable, departed a train yard near my home city of Toledo towing a long freight train with no one at the controls, for reasons which I won't get into here.

The train rumbled nearly 70 miles south down the train tracks of Northwest Ohio, crossing dozens of RR crossings without blowing its horn. This track was mostly straight and level (check any terrain map of the Midwest and you'll find that that isn't unusual). Since this engine type has a maximum speed of about 60 MPH at the most, there was little danger of it becoming a runaway missile that would plow into a Pennsylvania city, spreading a toxic cloud that would kill thousands.

A crew of ordinary engineers latched another engine onto the back of this runaway and managed to slow it down enough that another engineer was able to grab a handrail of the runaway engine and board it, then apply the brakes and stop the train. No major Metropolitan areas, trainloads of children, or anyone else was endangered.

Only until Hollyweird got ahold of the story.

I'll probably go to see the film anyway. Tony Scott does not direct films that do not entertain. But my entertainment will be diminished because I know the true story about what happened. Because what really happened started about 2 miles from my house.

The only person who looked like a fool in this whole endeavor was the State Trooper who tried to shoot a hole in the engine's fuel tank with an anti-personnel shotgun. He might as well have tried to stop a charging Rhino with a slingshot.