Saturday, August 13, 2005

A "W" for labor

That's "W" as in "win," as opposed to "W," the Bubble Boy president.

Homeland Security Dept. Loses Labor Rules Fight

It really pissed me off that when Bush did his about-face on the creation of the Dept of Homeland Security, he had to include a Rovian stick-it-to-ya provision of taking rights away from the civil servants in the department. Government by spite, I guess was the principle behind the move.

So, good news for these employees. And I loved the strong language from the ruling judge, check that out too.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Intelligent Design: Let's all stick our heads in the sand

...but try not to notice the fossil record while you're down there.

It upsets me to hear questions about that which I learned back in my schoolin' days, only to discover that the questions are bogus, and that those bogus questions are actually being successfully used by the flat-earthers and the hucksters that play to them.

Anyway, here's the link, via Kevin Drum.

When applied to evolution, the erroneous distinction between theory and fact shows why tactics such as the Dover disclaimer and the Cobb County textbook sticker are doubly pernicious. To teach that a scientific theory is equivalent to a "guess" or a "hunch" is deeply misleading, and to assert that "evolution is a theory, not a fact" is simply false. And why should evolution, alone among scientific theories, be singled out with the caveat "This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered"? Why haven't school boards put similar warnings in physics textbooks, noting that gravity and electrons are only theories, not facts, and should be critically considered? After all, nobody has ever seen gravity or an electron. The reason that evolution stands alone is clear: other scientific theories do not offend religious sensibilities.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Manchurian Candidate

I would be well advised to not write about a movie that I watched once over a month ago. The chances are probably pretty good that I will mess up the details, take portions out of context, and misremember entire scenes.

But I've never been good about taking advice.

The movie is "The Manchurian Candidate," the 2004 version directed by Jonathan Demme, not the classic 1962 original directed by John Frankenheimer.

I keep thinking of two different pieces of this movie, pieces that are not at all essential to the plot or characters, but instead are some sly commentary about our current culture and where we may be heading.

The first is a simple shot of Denzel (I'll just go with the first name - he is that kind of famous, after all) entering a building in NYC (I think). It is an overhead shot (I think) and, completely uncommented on, as he approaches the building, he passes a soldier stationed outside. The soldier has on green fatigues and is carrying a machine gun. There is no interaction between these two, just one man passing another on the street.

But the shot spoke volumes. No mention of the Posse Comitatus Act. No one protesting the soldier's presence. He was just there.

Perhaps what has me thinking of this shot is cops randomly searching subway passengers in NYC. Or perhaps it is Rumsfeld's planned little pep rally and latest administration conflation of 9/11 and Iraq.

[Correction: There was more than one soldier on the street, and they were outside Penn Station.]

The second piece of the movie that struck me was how the television news was presented. At different points in the movie, a cable news-like program was presented, basically to hash out some of the plot points. Pretty typical in movies, really. This movie, though, presented the news across the full screen, by which I mean that you didn't see one of the characters watching the news on a TV set, you saw the broadcast on the entire frame of the movie.

In addition, the movie presented the typical cable news format, but just amplified everything enough to make it damn creepy. The colors, the graphics, the music, the pseudo-seriousness of the news anchors were tweaked just enough (they didn't have too far to go, really) to make it pretty clear that you were seeing a form of propaganda.

As I said, these are some background strokes that were memorable and eerie. I'm not going to comment on the movie as a whole, or compare it to the original, as that would be a much longer and most likely a much more tedious (for the reader) post.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Talking Wounded"

Subhead: "Terry Rodgers Came Back From Iraq a Changed Man, and Not Just Because of the Bomb"


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"Relatively small scandal"

A NYT op-ed blurb and chart:

As Washington shuts down for August, President Bush's report card from the public for the first half-year of his second term is not a good one compared with how the public graded Presidents Reagan and Clinton at a similar point in time.


For now, the president has only a relatively small one [scandal] in the investigation of possible White House collusion in the unauthorized outing of C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame.

Just a "relatively small scandal" involving blowing the cover of a CIA agent who worked on WMD issues, an immoral and possibly illegal action, in the course of trying to discredit a man who had the temerity to question one of the administration's arguments for war in Iraq.

These op-ed writers need to rethink their perspective on this.