Just a reminder that we're responsible for all this terrible terrible blood. Go USA.
Finally saw the Batman movie. I give it a B-. I didn't even think it was as good as the first Tim Burton film. You just can't beat the Jack Nicholson Joker. Much better than the other Batman films no doubt. It does take a serious approach to the hero myth. It takes much of its feel from Batman: Year One. I also like the science behind the film. The science behind superheroes, from the Incredible Hulk to the biotech savvy vampires in Blade to the fusion experiments of Spiderman, has gotten way beyond the cosmic rays and radiation of the Stan Lee 60s. There isn't much that Batman does that isn't plausible. In fact, in the imaginary novel in my head, you could do a lot of that with remote droids. I just wish that they had taken a Sin City approach and brought the creators on board. Bring Alan Moore and Frank Miller to the sets why don't you. And of course, we have never had anything as good as, say, Kingdom Come or the Miller Dark Knights make it to the screens. Ah well. Bring on the Fantastic Four, which looks slightly weak...how could it be better than the Incredibles? I'm also looking forward to the movie treatments of Astro City and Invincible--which has a shocking premise which involves a Krypton-like world doing to us what we're doing to Iraq.
Still haven't seen Batman yet. Sigh.
AROUND THE INTERNETS
Philip Carter, apparently a reservist, has been called to active duty. This is one of the few pro-war vets that I respect because he sincerely cares about the plight of the American soldier no matter the many giddy and optimistic pronouncements declared by the Bush Administration. Of course, I'm sure that his criticism of the war has nothing to do with his being called up and probably being sent to the
Russian Front front lines. Who would imply that the Bush administration is mean-spirited and vengeful? Nothing to do at all I'm sure.
Update: I added this low key comment to his site. There's a bit of contrast with the boosters. I don't think it would be banned. Afterall, we kinda know Philip Carter isn't a pussy.
First, watch your back.
Second, I do not congratulate you because I do not think you'll be murdering Iraqis for a good cause. For the record, I wouldn't wish a German soldier good luck in Poland or France, either.
Third, I have the greatest respect for your courage. Here's somebody who walks the walk and talks the talk. You're smart enough to be a conscientious objector, or even to make some other nuanced claim, but you didn't. In a fair world, the Patrick Ruffinis and Instapundits and Pejmanpundits would go in your place...
Four: I have to say this out loud: Do you think your critiques against the war led to you being called up?
There's an exciting new media project called Independent World Television. It's an attempt to create a publicly funded new media movement. Check out the very good 15 minute video about their origins. Features the wide array of alt journalism heroes: My fantasy girlfriend and love Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Robert McChesney and others. Watch the whole thing.
I wish Ralph Nader would get out of reactionary and harmful politics and join this media project. Check out his thoughtful piece (always maintained that Nader is world's greatest journalist) on the common sense proposal to legalize hemp. Go to www.votehemp.com for more info. We could replace tobacco with a crop that's potentially both profitable and beneficial.
New Environmental Link: www.treehugger.com
For those of us who watched Tech TV and then watched it get raped by that dopey brain dead gaming channel that bought it, the old guys who had a clue have their own online podcast called TWIT. or This Week in Tech.
They read books. They know history. They even bring back John Dvorak, who used to have a radical show, even featured a cute female socialist. It felt more like ABC's old Bill Maher show. Of course they changed it around and cancelled it even before those game show morons got into the act. (Needs editing and insider tech jargon demanding but go for it Leo...)
Incredible Live Music Site (Wax Poetic, Zero 7, all kinds of interesting stuff, 40 minute live concerts...)
Older but interesting story about Russian stem cell research. It's the new frontier. Thanks Ales Rarus.
Here's more on the same topic. I was always under the impression that if you knew more about embryonic stem cells then you would better understand adult stem cells. It's not either/or, it's complimentary. Fight Aging has my back:
You folks may find this of interest: a long MSNBC interview with biologist James Thompson on topics relating to stem cell research. Some of the more interesting items:
Q: How do you respond to the claim that we have these other sources of stem cells — adult stem cells or cord blood — and there's no need to turn to embryonic cells?
A: We don't. The most studied cell in the whole body, in terms of stem cells, is the hematopoietic stem cell. It can't be grown. So what you do when you do a bone marrow transplant is you take some bone marrow out of you - actually, we do peripheral blood - and we put in another patient without expanding it. There's a clinical need for that expansion step, but it can't be done right now. And hundreds of labs for 30 years have studied that adult stem cell, and that’s the one we know the most about.
And again, getting back to the basic science thing: If we study the embryonic stem cells, we learn the basic science. That knowledge is just as likely to be applied to adult stem cells as to the embryonic stem cells. The knowledge goes back and forth. And in the case of the blood, people have failed at growing that cell for three decades. Well, studying that lineage with embryonic stem cells, we might learn the clues to make it growable, and it might be that we still want to use adult stem cells to do that because there are a lot of advantages to that, but the knowledge might come from embryonic stem cells.
Stem cell research really all boils down to a matter of trying to fully understanding and controlling our cells. If researchers can learn to do that, then opportunities to develop cures for aspects of degenerative aging simply fall out of the process.
I really was impressed with Morgan "Supersize Me" Spurlock's new "30 Days" show, where the first episode featured him and his wife attempting to live on minimum wage for a whole month. Of course, people like Morgan and Barbara and that woman from Australia get to go back to their upper middle class lives after their stunt slumming. Couple of observations:
These conditions, which I have lived under for more than 30 days I assure you, makes you much more sympathetic to the criminal element. The United States makes you feel like a sucker for playing by the rules. You just don’t get ahead. When I went over to the website I checked out the message boards where we find our usual right wing assholes, one of whom said that it made the United States look like a Third World country…and of course, for a lot of people, it is a third world country. We have playstations and cable but apart from that a lot of us are a bad accident or two away from the streets. I wish Morgan and his wife would do the same thing in France. They would live better on unemployment than most working Americans. American elites gnash their teeth at the working classes getting a decent standard of living. It’s the real reason they hate France.
The emergency room scenes hit home for me. I don’t have health insurance. I made two emergency room visits over the last 13 years. I saw a doctor, both visits combined, for about 30 minutes. I came away with bills totaling $900. On the show, they’re treated for a sprained wrist and a urinary tract infection (had to embarrassing for the wife) and it costs them two emergency room visits at a price of $1200, which totally blew them out of their monthly budget.
It answers the question as to why poor folks shop at Wal Mart. You can’t afford not to. I shop at union shop Giant Eagle a lot, but I can spend $40 at Wal Mart and live off of that for two weeks. Actually, I could do all of my shopping at Giant Eagle if they offered two things: 5 pounds of chicken breasts for $4.00 and $4.00 whole chickens. Must eat meat.
Update: Chuck P's campaign responds. He gives us the scoop on why Tim left the campaign and answers some other question. I'm too poor to knock on 10000 doors on a volunteer basis! But I did offer to hand out 1000 flyers if he sends me the flyers. Here's Chuck's campaign spokesperson John Morgan:
This is a must read for Chuck Pennacchio and serious Democrats who want to take back both chambers of the Senate and the House.
I must also say that I'm worried about Chuck Pennacchio's campaign. I think, and this is just a gut feeling that I truly hope is wrong, he just hasn't raised enough money to wage a credible campaign. Back when he came here to Pittsburgh in April I asked him, persistently, how much money has latest money raising effort had yielded and I believe he said $25000. Based on my same hunches--a facility that fails me miserably with women by the way, almost all the time actually--I don't think he had more than $25000 previously. So I don't believe he's been able to raise more than $50000. To put this in perspective, I believe Peduto was able to raise about several hundred thousand dollars and that was just for a city race.
Now, it is early and a lot of those indy Kos/Atrios givers (I may write a plea for the Kossacks to get involved in this race) might not be focused yet. But consider what Chuck P. is up against. He is opposed by the Rendell machine*. Labor backs Casey (wonder how Casey will vote when we need opposition to the inevitable pro life anti-labor judges that Bush will nominate. I think I already know...does labor?) Dean has already said nice things about a Casey run and I believe has even raised money for him. Of course, now that Dean is against you what hope do you have that his previously independent fundraising arm (run now by Jim Dean) would throw money his way. Even Teresa Heinz Kerry, our last best hope, is backing the Pro Lifer Casey Jr., while she makes arguments against Santorum's refusal to recognize church/state divisions.
I also don't think his idea of getting the corporate press to play along is a good one. That's why they're the corporate press. They don't give poor candidates free pub. I already told him the Courier is run by a Republican. I think he has to go directly to voters. For Chuck P to win he has to roll up big majorities in Pittsburgh, Philly and probably Erie. I've offered to knock on 10000 doors a month and deliver flyers and volunteers. If it worked and his polling improved, he should repeat the plan in Philly and Erie. My whopping price range would be $1200 to $2000 a month. I was told by the campaign manager (Tim Tagaris has left, and I'm guessing, probably because of money.) that they didn't have the money for that. If they don't have the money for that then they don't have the money to win. Its the cheapest why I can think of to directly contact voters. ACT's methods worked. They could work for Chuck P. It would take $10000 to find out.
By the way, as an idea for Chuck P. on the money front, if he has a donor list of 10000 names, he should take the list to Direct Advantage Marketing, which has one of the best political phonebanks in the country. He might also, and this is just a wild idea, consider going back to pro choice groups (understandably angry about Casey Jr. and who can blame them?) and ask them for their phone lists--if they're available. I'm thinking NOW and/or NARAL.
And if Chuck P. can't pull it off we need to start looking for other candidates to step up. I hope I'm wrong about Casey Jr. but he is the wrong candidate at the wrong time. The stakes are too high to vote in some guy who will probably vote the wrong way on anti-choice judges and a possible draft. Let's put it this way: if the Democratic Party candidate nominates Casey Jr. I will take a look at the Green Party's senatorial candidate. What would I have to lose? Update: MoveOn is asking members to make a primary choice in the Pennsylvania primary. I voted for Chuck P.
AROUND THE INTERNETS
Last week Kathy Dopp informed us that the voter verification bill (HR 550) that she supports is sponsored by US Rep. Rush Holt. There was a two day lobbying session last weekend where a number of concerned citizens lobbied congressional members on behalf of auditable elections. Holt had this to say:
"These people came to Washington on their own -- on their own time, at their own expense -- not to lobby for a special interest but for democracy itself. This is a strong movement across the country, representing a deeply felt commitment to America's democratic promise.
"Anything of value should be auditable. We have been presented by the founders of this country with a self-correcting governmental system. And it works as a self- correcting system because citizens like these make the effort, make the commitment -- in some cases the sacrifice -- to see that it works, to see that we correct the errors as we find them and improve on our record over the years.
"There are many things we can do together as a country-there are opportunities to be extended, injustices to be corrected, efficiencies to be gained...but none of those can be accomplished well if Americans don't believe they are in the drivers seat by being able to control their government by casting votes that count and are counted. That's what this movement for auditable elections is all about."
You can learn more about the lobbying effort, here, here and here. I'm not sure what the Pennsylvania congressional delegation thinks. I know that there's very little going on at the state level in Pennsylvania.
Related: EFF's Guide to Legal Blogging
New Naomi Klein or How We Kill Democracy and Self Determination Abroad
"When I kill one I create three." Could you try not killing any Iraqis...I know, sounds crazy...
PHIL'S ONLINE MUSIC EMPORIUM
Today's Interspersed Theme: Girl with the Beautiful Tone
Esthero "That Girl" (only vid I could find)
Mahavishnu Orchestra Covers by Gregg Bendian's Mahavishnu Project
Try "You Know You Know" and "Meeting of the Spirits" (Real Actual Jazz Rock That's Downloadable!)
Massive Attack's "Protection", featuring Everything But the Girl vocalist
Only Goldfrapp tune I like "Pilots"
Try All The Superior Koop Vids but "Summer Sun" makes you want to live, even if they have stolen your vote.
Trail of Dead's "Caterwaul" (rips off Led Zep's "Black Dog" but in a good way...)
Portishead's "Glory Box"
Terranova's "Chase the Blues Away"
Eighty Mile Beach's "Red Helicopters" (need more clarinet in acid jazz)
Zero 7 "Destiny Live"
And I Gotta Have More Cowbell! "Little Sister"
Broadcast's "Papercuts" (I am amazed by this band.)
(Kathy Dopp of US Count Votes)
Imagine, if you will, a country that hadn't audited its elections in decades. Imagine that one party (the Republicans) owned 80 percent of the voting machines. Imagine, aside from outright theft in 2000 and probable theft in 2004, that there have been suspicious down ticket results since 1996 affecting a number of senate seats including Max Cleland's improbable loss. Imagine that there were voting irregularities in over a dozen states including Pennsylvania. Imagine an opposition party that doesn't make this issue its number one priority. And, try, if you can, to imagine how you can change a country--caught in a transparently evil imperialist war, with corrupt liars at the highest levels, and where the courts offer no sanctuary for justice and fair hearing--with a vote that you can no longer trust?
Imagine no more if you live in the United States. Welcome to your nightmarish Kafkaesque reality. Scary scary stuff as SCTV's Count Floyd used to say....
Or at least that's the primary message I got from Kathy Dopp's talk Monday night in Oakland at St. Andrews Lutheran Church. Ms. Dopp runs the site US Count Votes. Her speech came mostly from this Powerpoint slide presentation that you can take a look at here.
Here were the horrific scary scary highlights:
Insider "vote embezzlers" (her catchy phrase) have had free reign to count our votes with proprietary software and no audits.
Her group claims there has been evidence of vote tampering in up to 12 states, including Pennsylvania.
Dopp said Hillary Clinton's vote verification bill sucked (not her exact words) and that she instead backs Rep. Rush Holt's bill, "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005"...Barbara Boxer for President 2008.
Local CMU Prof. Mike Shamos is a major player for the Dark Side as he argues that it's okay if unaccountable paperless systems produce false results. The fact that he works at an institution tied to military contracts makes you feel even safer.
The Ukraine vote was overturned with a difference of 2 percent in the exit polling while ours was 5 percent, although as someone in the 20 plus crowd noted the overturned results in the Ukraine wouldn't have happened without 500 thousand angry folks taking to the streets...of course, I don't think that would have worked here knowing the players, but it would have been nice to have found out...
Without the vote, nothing else matters.
There's more depressing stuff and keep in mind these folks aren't lightweights, either on the board or the ones doing their stats--unless folks that have PH Ds are lightweights....
I found her solutions to be the most interesting and the thing keeping me from throwing myself off a bridge (not that I would ever do that for you Richard Scaife black ops guys out there ha ha...just a figure of speech. Still not a partaker of the drugs or the drink, or suicidal in any way.).
Their plan is to raise money and create their own independent auditing database by 2006. I wish George Soros would give them the $1 million they need to do the work and also follow the Daily Kos suggestion to start selling auditable machines. (I need a grant too George since wishes are fishes...)Once that's in place--and it would be vast, over 30000 precincts covered--you could take the data to the courts. Her only request is that candidates (cough Kerry cough) not concede before the vote has been challenged and verified.
Of course, and you can probably see this, you would have to trust the courts to be fair and impartial, which they're not. You have to give it to the Republicans: they fought for the courts. Clinton and the Democrats didn't think it was a big deal, or worth fighting for. Had to appease those same business interests that vote Republican anyway. I still hope Dopp is successful and I hope my idea (I raised my hand. Remember: I'm not an objective corporate media journalist. It matters to me if my vote doesn't count. I can't move offworld when the fundies come to "save" me.) about creating open sourced exit polling also takes off. The guys who did the polling in 2004 won't make their results public. She said that would need a million too.
She also waffled a bit when I asked her why the Democrats don't make this their primary issue. She kind of danced around that issue all night long, thanking the Greens, noting that Edwards would have pursued the recount but...Anyway, I wish the Dems would not only campaign on Delay corruption but the corruption of the voting process. Its a winner as an issue. It forces the Republicans, who are offering us a very dark and suspicious silence (If you had won legitimately wouldn't you want to remove doubt?) on this issue, on the defensive. Gawd knows if the issues were reversed that would be the continuous GOP meme and rightfully so. I just can't shake that Washington Generals Party meme, the other less ruthless business party that also caters to the Republican Iron triangle + theocrats base that never fights for principle (The dems lose two national elections and they can't make ballot integrity an issue and I raised my hand for that one too...) and seems designed to lose...Scary scary stuff.
AROUND THE INTERNETS
Ales Rarus gives us the slanted dogmatic view of the stem cell issue. Chris Mooney, open minded and subjected to bouts of rigorous reason, gives us his take here and here. Advantage: Mooney, even though when I was still arguing with Ales (I didn't realize that he simply ignores evidence he doesn't like) I did make a suggestion that chosen people like himself carry these potentials to term, if you wanted another brain damaged kid who thought Pat Robertson was a swell guy brought into Earth.. The Funky one passed on the offer.
On a related note, join this campaign. And also from Mooney: The US is losing ground. Thanks Funky. Where were you when the US was creating the computer software and hardware industry? Nowhere to be found? Thank God you weren't...Also related: Pennacchio speaks out in favor of stem cell research. Of course, according to this Post Gazette article, frontrunner Bob Casey Jr. shares Rick Santorum's position. Let's put that in caps: BOB CASEY SHARES RICK SANTORUM'S POSITION. Why should I vote Democratic again...okay, one two three arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh...!
Nice Worldchanging Update on Solar Cells. Quick aside: if we had invested 10 billion in alt fuels, used CAFE standards and made a solid commitment to conservation, then you wouldn't have to kill any brown people for oil. Just throwin' it out there...