Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter: Democrat?

So, he went and did it

Facing what appeared to be defeat in the polls from his new Democratic Challenger, Arlen Specter has decided to run in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. 

It's still plenty of time off, and Specter's ictory is by no means guaranteed, but at the same time this is going to shift the politics. What I liked the most about Specter is that while I didn't always agree with him, I could usually count on him to make a decision he believed in. I have no reason to think that would change now, but what I do fear is that his sear will open up to someone much further on the right to slide in there. This is Pennsylvania, after all. So while it's unlikely, we could have a Santorum II issue bubbling here. Of course I'd rather have Specter as a Senator than not have him, but if it means opening up that seat in the slightest so someone of that caliber, I'm going to get anxious. 
Most of the press right now is being made about the fact that this, along with a Franken confirmation, will make a filibuster-proof majority, and how the GOP are scrambling to hold up the Franken issue at all costs, or how Kay Bailey Hutchison would be freed up to run for Governor (King? Emperor?) of Texas now since her vote wouldn't be as crucial to the GOP. 
These are all good points and worth considering, but to assume that all of the Democratic senators will toe the party line is just foolish. One of the biggest problems with the Democratic Party is that the beliefs are scattered across such a wide area that it's much harder to get everyone to vote the same. Whether that indicates a narrower mindset on the GOP side of the aisle or just greater discipline in the party leadership I'm not qualified to say, but it's definitely a factor, and to think that Specter (along with Evan Bayh, Mark Begich, Bill Nelson, and the rest of the Bue Dog senate) will just dive headfirst into all of Obama's agendas is lunacy, just as it's lunacy to expect any more of the wandering GOP members to occasionally buck their party. This is going to shore up both sides and make things uglier for the time being. Especially between now and November, when Specter is going to have to consider his votes carefully and Al Franken is going to go through the Salem witch trials for his confirmation. 

So as a whole, this makes m happy. Knowing that Specter has a much better chance of keeping his seat is good news, though I still think I'd rather have him moderating the right than the left. My home state will probably have two very moderate Democratic Senators. There are worse things, to be sure, but I wouldn't complain to see Bob Casey, Jr. replaced with someone just a tad more progressive. 

Joe Sestak, your destiny is calling....

Monday, April 27, 2009

So, apparently, April is grilled cheese month. I don't know who thinks this needs to be a thing, especially in this house, where the grilled cheese is enjoyed all-year round.

Me, I go for a cooper sharp cooked in light butter, a thin slice of tomato, and a shitload of little red pepper flakes. Then, I cut diagonally and dunk in some Cholula.

But if that's not your thing, Women's Day magazine (yes, I am a lifelong reader) has compiled a list of wack-ass recipes for you to check out. Actually, the Gruyère with Caramelized Onions and the Caprese one look great. The rest I reserve suspicion for.

Clouded Leopard Cubs!

Clouded Leopard cubs were born at the National Zoo recently. And they're fucking* adorable!

(it's not a picture of Fergus, right?)

*This is my first f-bomb in what feels like ages. It was totally worth it.
It isn't often that I ask something of you, the HDF reader. This is partially because I feel guilty enough for not updating this site enough, and largely because I get squeamish in asking anything else of anyone reading this (other than that West Wing idea!) other than to keep checking this site every once in awhile. Sure, it doesn't really offer anything other than linked news stories and the occasional story about my cat, but then seriously, you're probably at work and bored, so I can only hope to help fill that void. I don't send forwards, and I'm not on Facebook, so really this is my only web presence, and I'm happy with that. I don't feel bad about whingeing on about my own lefty idealistic dogeared beliefs, because, because hey, you came here. But I -hey, where are you going? Please come back, I didn't mean that. Stick around for a minute, I'm getting to the point, I was just trying to talk about something here.


Anyway, I'm always impressed with m friends, who are in fact the best people in the world (now that Paul Newman is dead). My friends are industrious and creative and fun and, well, people I'm proud to be friends with. There isn't a one who doesn't impress me semi regularly, and I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Y'all make me look like a coma victim.

And then there's Neil, who's putting together another documentary, this one about United States bombing campaigns from the people who make the decisions to drop them to the people they hit (intentional or not) and the way it affects our national conscious as a whole. It's solemn work, and it deserves our attention whether we want to think about it or not. Just because last month we made it illegal to sell cluster bombs doesn't mean that we made it illegal to use them or (shudder) just give them to Israel. and not even counting those godawful things, think of these weapons, these awesome (not in the good way) munitions, which we drop from several tens of thousands of feet up in the air into very much populated areas. I can't spit 4 stories in a closed stairwell* and hit the ground, and there's not even wind in there. Sure, my spit isn't laser-guided, but then how laser-guided was that bomb that blew up a wedding in Afghanistan (oh wait which one?) or the thousands of other accidents we've had? You can chalk it up to being the costs of war, but it's a bullshit war and it's a bullshit write off. If our taxpayer dollars are responsible for killing this many people by accident, we should damn sure be thinking about it.
But I'm getting off track, and I'm talking about things I don't know about, and the only way I'm gonna get my shit straight is by watching the movie when it comes out. and that's where Neil comes in.
The thing about Neil, though he'd probably deny this, is that he's one of the most decent people I know. Seriously, he resides in the uppermost strata of decent (heretofore referred to as the Carmody/Halloran barrier) of all the people I know, which is remarkable. At which I have to stop and wonder "why do these people even know a bastard like me?". I could never imagine working on a project like this and coming out the other end with my humanity intact. I just don't have that in me, and I'm certain if I could utilize my ape mind to slap together a film, it would not only be terrible and more than likely feature of accidentally inserted scene of me drunk and crying a la Martin Sheen in Hearts of Darkness, but it would also have no point. and that's one of the myriad of reasons why I can't make films. But I get the feeling that in addition to Neil's spirit remaining, and in addition to him continuing to be Neil, I'm pretty sure that after watching this film I will say to myself "Holy shit, there's something I can do", which is pretty rare if you know me at all. And I'm looking forward to having that feeling, but in the meantime, what I can do is tell you about it.

So please do me a favor. Go check out OurBombs.com. Watch the trailer. Look at the Air Strike Tracker. If you know someone you think might be interested in it, tell them about it. I promise I won't ask anything else of you until the movie comes out (you know I mean it!), but in the meantime, it's not going to take up too much of your time, and you're going to learn something, and you're going to help out my friend Neil. Tell you what, you go check this out and I won't post any more pictures of my cat**. That's win-win! Anyway, thanks for listening.

*this writer performed these tests in a controlled environment with no person in any danger of being hit. No humans or animals were harmed or humiliated in the tests. I messed some plants up pretty bad, though.
**This is not a guarantee.
Think we're out of the woods as far as the economy is concerned? The Economist says to pull your head out of your ass.

only, you know, much nicer than that.
I'm not getting into the whole torture thing, largely because I think that this is all stuff we've known or at least suspected to have known for a long time. Whether you're a proponent of torture or not, and I'm not going to pretend like there aren't people that don't advocate torture, nor am I going to say that they're wrong for doing so. It's a valid opinion, just not one that I happen to share. Anyway, I can handle that just fine, what I just can't tolerate is the renaming of it and pretending it's something that it isn't. I can understand why someone might think torture works (though I refuse to accept 24 as a reference point here), but they should at least have the stones to admit they're in favor of torture and not enhanced interrogation techniques.

Anyway, I'm not going to get into that (see what I just did there!!??). But I just read a story that provides some pretty compelling testimony that we can also add kidnapping children to the list of things I can be ashamed of our government doing and that pit in my stomach just grew a little bit. I mean, I guess we've been kidnapping children for awhile now (how old were some of those kids in Gitmo? 15? 16?), but these are kids. like, 7 and 9.

Anyway, I don't really have all that much to say about it, I just figured that it's worth pointing out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So, I wanted to post some stuff about Alex Andreev's art the other day when I first saw it, but seeing that I don't speak Russian, I found his website somewhat tricky to manage. Obviously, this is a stupid reason not to at least superficially explore a website, but then my computer hasn't dealt well lately with flashy websites, especially since the Flinstonesian bird living in it died of heatstroke a few weeks ago.

Of course, he has a page on Livejournal that I didn't know about until I came across it on English Russia this evening. He refers to his art as Hermetic (is this to say that it is entirely uninfluenced? I'm not so sure...), and it might well be. But that doesn't matter, because much of it is absolutely stunning. Airplanes weaving through massive pillars that shooy skyward from the cloudline. Cloud cities. A few where boxcars are suspended by a thin strand of cable. The imagery presented here is gorgeous, and shows more premise than most of the movies being made today.

so yeah, there's something pretty to look at. I should try to use one of those websites to translate what he says on his page about these things, but I kind of like the mystery attached to them either way. Click one of the links above or check out some more here.

and while I hate to cram two great artists into one puny thread (in a time where my posting is scant at best, I should really be milking this into two threads), I also hate to post twice in a row from the same website. Had I more time for browsing, I could've at least spaced these a few days apart, but this is what happens when I have to catch up on several weeks of my favorite sites in a sitting.

Anyway, there's a beautiful set up there of a series of pictures taken from a rooftop at dawn in St. Petersburg. I think many of these were treated with HDR, and maybe some other effects, but my favorites might be the ones that aren't touched at all.
Dawn is something I don't see often, and when I do it's more than likely at the end of a night rather than the start of a day (much, I suspect, like these scruffs*), but the growing light is always nice, even when I feel more weary (or sometimes very drunk) than energetic, it's a comfort to know that a day is over and a night. You can go to bed knowing that at it's already another day no matter how you look at it. And if you're going to bed after dawn, chances are you'll sleep just fine.

I dunno, that's how I see it, anyway. See the rest of the set here.

Well, I'm off to watch one of my favorite episodes of the West Wing** and hopefully drift off to sleep soon after. Maybe I'll have something fun to write tomorrow when I'm done with my work?

*I was thinking at first that this term might seem offensive (I spend a lot more time thinking about that crap than you'd think while writing this. Or anything, for that matter), but then realized I would totally refer to myself in that way, so fuck it.

**I'm just starting this. Or at least I did a few momths ago, got through season 1, loved it, and now I'm watching it again to catch Carrie up. So far it's one of my favorite shows ever (I was seriously considering trying to get whatever friends I have that never watched it to start up a long-distance viewing TV club, but logistics somehow brought this down before it started), but I'm stuck a hell of a cliffhanger so I really wanna get the rest of this season out of the way.

If anyone wants to start watching this show now, I'm not going to hit season 2 for another couple of weeks. Think about how fun it would be, watch an episode or two a week, and comment about it! I'll start another blog for it! a ten year old sitcom that is one of the most watched shows ever! Ten years later!

okay, I'm going to bed... man, this post is all over the place....

Monday, April 20, 2009

How awesome was that Sixers game?

I have to say, every time I think Sammy D is picking up his D and picking it up again, he does something completely stupid on the court and looking confused. Right around the third quarter, it was killing me. If you had told me that a Donyell Marshall and Theo Ratliff were going to come in and make everything okay when they were down by 18, I wouldn't have believed you.

In any case, I'm going to bed a happy happy man.

Also, Reggie Evans is my favorite player to watch on the the bench ever. Not that I necessarily want him benched, but he really maintains this energy that I love. He's on the edge of his seat the whole time shouting his support and you know he's just one of those hearts of the team that goes much further than a box stat would lead you to believe.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I've proclaimed my love of Maddow here before, but hearing her tonight (or last night, as it already is here) rebuke the accusations of Senator Richard Burr's office is downright Murrovian. and I love her for it.

now back to my Beatles binge (more on that to come).

Monday, April 13, 2009

I wanted to write something about the death of Harry Kalas, but I've got a truckload of reading in front of me and the way my day is going, I'd probably get gandraped by a herd of elephants before I get to finish writing it up. Needless to say, he was one of the greats and his voice is truly missed. and I'm glad he at least got to anounce the Phils' Series win.

As far as my day, it really was a shitty one of epic proportions. When, by 1:30 PM. you've decided that you're better off going home and not going outside for the rest of the day, you know things aren't going your way. I also got pulled over for the first time in awhile, and got my first ticket since... 2000. It was a nice streak, and the longest of my life so far, so now I got a challenge.
But then I found an article about a guy who had a 5 cm fir tree removed from his lungs. While that's pretty damned weird, I think the craziest part is that he "probably inhaled a bud and it proceeded to grow inside his body". Yeah. So, I got that going for me. That is, not having a tree taking root in my lungs. Which is nice.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rare Megamouth Shark Caught, Eaten

Gregg Yan said the fish was tagged "Megamouth 41" — the 41st megamouth recorded in the world... Yan urged fishermen who encounter the rare shark to immediately report to authorities or the WWF.
and, you know, not to eat them.

I really feel shitty about not updating this as regularly as I should, but in truth I just haven't been able to devote enough time to the outlets where I usually end up gathering all my odd information, and my extracurricular input time has been reduced to the Rachel Maddow audio podcast and the Best Show, so it might be a little while before I get this stuff on a regular schedule. In the meantime, though, I think I should have another mix to put up soon.

The reason I'm posting today, though, is the 25 biggest censored news stories of 2009. It's pretty scary stuff, especially considering that 2009 isn't even halfway through at the moment. Oh well, at least we're finding out about them somehow, right?

That's all I got for the moment, but I'll try get over here later today with something more substantial...

Friday, April 03, 2009

G20 hijinx

It's like when you're in school and you're allowed to do one "zany" photo. I'm half expecting Obama to put Berlusconi* in a fake headlock.

Speaking of whom, how do we feel about leaders who refer to themselves by their last name when shouting across crowded, formal rooms?
I think it's kind of awesome.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Men Who Experimented with Beards: The Quiz

(I got 8/10, though one answer was sheer luck).
Isn't there supposed to be some crazy computer virus outbreak today?

I've always been interested in the golden age of piracy (though the modern age is just as fascinating to me for different reasons), probably an offshoot of my general curiosity regarding famous outlaws through history. Or just a byproduct of my colossal dorkery. In any case, it's fascinating to me the lengths people will go to live outside of the law. I've never romanticized the notion of piracy in any era, least of all the 17th and 18th centuries. There is really no aspect of that lifestyle that appeals to me. I have a terrible aversion to scurvy and losing limbs. I'm not a very good fighter. I hate rum. and make no mistake, these were by and large awful, awful people. But I love the idea of these drunken madmen just infuriating the largest and most powerful forces that the world had ever seen at the time. But anyway, that's neither here nor there.
National Geographic just put out some pictures of artifacts found on what's almost certain to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, which was discovered sometime in the late '90s. This is probably the most famous pirate ship that ever existed, and almost certainly the basis for the ship in those Johnny Depp movies*. It's also one of the few pirate ships whose name I know**, despite its relatively short lifespan as a pirate vessel.

Anyway, check out some artifacts here and at the link above. Then eat some fruit to avoid scurvy.

This reminds me that I should point out that I actually can't stand the weird hipster obsession with pirates and acting like pirates and Talk like a Pirate day and whatnot (I'm looking at you, Portland). While it's cute to run up the Jolly Roger (which might be the most boring pirate flag ever), never forget that these were reprehensible people that kidnapped, tortured, murdered, raped, maimed, etc... It's fun to paint them as Robin Hoods, but in most cases they were barely literate thugs. For every fun-loving and playful corsair, there is a sadist like Edward Low that really nobody should be emulating. Anyway, enough of that.

*what happened with those? The first one was so much fun, then they followed it up with overwrought mythologies and ubermenshian crap... much like the Matrix trilogy, now that I think about it. Maybe we should pass a law that in the case of trilogies, all works must be complete and hashed out before the first day of filming starts.

**Others would be Bartholomew Roberts' Royale Fortune and Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley

Picture above: Howard Pyle's depiction of Blackbeard's last battle. In addition to being probably the definitive pirate artist (there's a whole book, check it out), he was also a profound influence on N.C. Wyeth, which in turn makes him one of the most important influences of his era. Plus, this. So he's okay in my book.