Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Friday, March 31, 2006

You Hit a Cop, You're Goin In 

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a true moron if there ever was one.


Friday, March 24, 2006

A Whirling Dervish 

This video of Jason Richardson's game winning, spinning-NBA Live Playstation hitting the triangle button, three-pointer was one of the most impressive, confident shots I've ever seen. You could tell that he was completely cognizant of the clock and knew exactly what spot on the floor he had to get to and how he was going to go about geting there.


Overheard in Transit 

"And another thing... there ain't no such thing as assassinations, neither."

[Courtesy of N.L.]

A Flourishing Democracy 

Secretary of State, Rice, is seeking a "favorable outcome" in the trial of a 41-year old Afghani who converted to Christianity and is now facing execution by beheading.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I am Jack's Complete Lack of Surprisre 

FROM ABC: REPORT: Bin Laden sought 'operational' relationship with Saddam for attacks on U.S. troops...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

V for Vendetta 

The poster for this film, which was all over the subways, was great.

It made me want to see the movie. It called to mind...

The movie however, was not good.

It was about as heavy-handed as this...

and about as under-stated as this guy...

It covered all the major talking points from the past 5 years. In this not too distant future a 1984-ish English police state (read as American police state) has outlawed homosexuality, Islam, free press, anything they deem undesirable. There is imagery reminiscent of the Auschwitz/Birkenau camps. There is the ruling party in England that couldn't possibly look anymore Nazi, from the party colors (red and black), to the facial hair (significant), etc. There is a contra-band flag that reads The Coalition of the Willing. It has portions of the US and British Flags, intertwined with a Swastika. I don't know what that means, but I'm sure it is a political statement! There is a pedophile priest that wants to make sure that the prostitute he has just ordered is young enough. That is for your holiness to decide. Surprising no one, political prisoners in Vendetta are dressed in the style of today, black hoods and orange jumpsuits.

I'm unfamiliar with the comic book that was used as source material, but I'm pre-supposing that it did not make reference to the Avian Bird Flu, or That War that America Started.

Another issue I have with this movie... There is a scene where V is born again, baptized by fire, the seminal scene for any superhero. Where they step off the page and announce their arrival. V rises from the burning rubble of the medical testing center/concentration camp and lets out a primal roar and puts everyone in London on notice. This is fine and certainly in line with standard comic book narrative.

Later in the film, Evey, Natalie Portman, experiences a similar rebirth. She has been tortured (by V) and has arrived at a place where she is no longer afraid. Beyond fear. She goes on the roof, where it is raining and let's out a similar scream, arms raised in a V for Victory.

This is also fine. I'm ok with symbolism and parallel story-lines. I'm ok with coincidences and all that. But the scene kept cutting back and forth between Evey's rebirth and V's rebirth. Multiple times. Split screen. Just in case you didn't get it the first, or second or third times. Because these scenes are similar. They call to mind each other and vise versa. Fire and Water. Get it?

I want to work a little while watching a movie. I want to make connections on my own, and decide for myself. I don't want to be hit over the head with political statements and symbolism.

If it wasn't for all of this, the movie could have been interesting and actually accomplished what it set out to do in the first place.... make a political statement. If there wasn't all of this anti-US, anti-neo-con rhetoric, I might be able to sympathize with V, whose vision involves overthrowing a repressive government by razing Parliament in order to create a spectacle so shocking and awing that it results in a popular uprising. If a movie can get you to root for a guy who terrorizes a city by using forms of public transportation to blow up landmark buildings, then that would be a political statement.

Blessed July 

For quite some time, the Billiken community has been concerned with the question of how history might judge the decision to invade Iraq and overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. Even given the glaring absence of discovered WMDs, history is going to take her sweet-ass time making up her mind on the issue.

But for those Billiken readers who remain interested in evaluating the threat posed by the late Iraqi regime and the nature of its support for terrorism should at the very least take a gander at what among the vast collection of documents recovered in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq is slowly being now released to the American public. On March 16, to begin with, the U.S. government posted on the web 9 documents captured in Iraq, as well as 28 al Qaeda documents that had been released in February.

For those who don't have any interest in poking around government web sites looking at documents themselves, at least check out the double-length Foreign Affairs article that came out this week, which details (among other terror connections) how Saddam Hussein's regime povided support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s (based on a review of 700 Iraqi documents by analysts with the Institute for Defense Analysis and the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.).

It's a really good article.

Here's a taste, from page 6:

The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.

Plans for the release of many more documents have been announced.

No word yet from Michael Moore or the rap community on where all that oil we fought the war over is being stored away.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

For Your Consideration 


Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Drudge Report 

Despite being a member of the democratic party, I often enjoy reading the headlines on the Drudge Report. However, Matt Drudge has an affinity for celebrity stories. And not just any celebrity stories, usually ones where very liberal celebrities make jerks of themselves when they try to communicate their liberal views and end up using incorrect grammar, or spelling words wrong on their own blogs. Most of the time you will find these in the Drudge Report self discovered format. You know, the 6 lines of type writer like type that say, this just in, Barbara Streisand is a big liberal idiot who can't do things correctly (paraphrased of course). The type is to give the reader the impression that the Drudge Report has broken a big story that is about to be passed to a news anchor live on a national news show. And sure this is funny from time to time. Even if he has his own Trey Parker and Matt Stone like agenda, it is always funny when someone famous screws up. The bone I am picking with the Drudge Report, is that at least once a day, the links do not work. Sometimes you get the "Article currently not available" for a few hours and other times the link actually links right back to the Drudge Report itself. If you hold your cursor over the link it says www.drudgereport.com. Now if you ask me, for someone who doesn't actually write more than 6 sentences in his news website everyday, mislinking is about as aggregious as the worst of spelling/grammar errors.

Monday, March 13, 2006

An International Incident 

Two things happened this weekend that involved the Japanese getting the business end of a boot.

Donnie Brasco played on network televison...


"Hey Sonny my old man was in the war and because of them I had to grow up in a fuckin orphanage, I'm not takin off my shoes for that jap bastard."

And the US played Japan in the World Baseball Classic in California:

The play began innocuously enough. United States left fielder Randy Winn made the catch, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka tagged up from third base. Winn's throw drifted up the third-base line and Nishioka scored to give Japan a 4-3 lead. Nishioka did not even have to slide.

The United States appealed, claiming Nishioka left early, but such appeals are generally considered formalities after Little League. They are rarely granted and are often considered acts of desperation. Brian Knight, the second-base umpire, who had rushed over to third, rejected the appeal and signaled that Nishioka was safe.

Only then, when the play was over, did it get interesting. Buck Martinez, the United States manager, ran out of the dugout — not to Knight, but to the home-plate umpire, Bob Davidson. Martinez insisted that Nishioka left third base early. Davidson talked it over with the rest of the crew.

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the day went up when Davidson called Nishioka out, erasing Japan's run and keeping the score tied. Sadaharu Oh, the Japanese manager, who is also the leading home run hitter in professional baseball history, bolted from his dugout, wagging his index finger at Davidson. Oh was trailed by an interpreter, presumably to help him argue more convincingly with an American umpire.

Although the inning was over, Japanese players refused to leave the dugout, their own quiet show of protest. It took three umpires, waving their arms angrily, to finally get them out onto the field.

Japan, already defeated in spirit, lost the game in the bottom of the ninth when Alex Rodriguez singled with the bases loaded and two out.

"It's unimaginable that this could happen in the United States, where baseball is so famous and popular," Oh said through an interpreter.

Japan's Ichiro Suzuki, commented on both incidents, through an interpreter:

"It's such a shame. It's such a pity."


Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Devil is in the Details 

She tells me that the college basketball playoffs are about to start. I smile because she is about 98% correct. This means something.

The college basketball regular season is over. The conference tournaments are taking place and the NCAA tournament begins on Tuesday. So for all intents and purposes this is the playoffs, except its not, it is the Big East Tournament or the ACC Tournament and then it is the NCAA Tournament. Like the playoffs, but not quite. That 2% that separates the ESL foreigner from the native speaker. That 2% that seperates the knowledgable from the amateur.

Sports is one of the few talking points I can speak about with complete fluency.

I read about politics, economics, literature, but not to the point where I am comfortable using their vernacular. I have to double check on Webster or Google news when I decide to use words such as oeuvre, zeugma, haute couture, or Al Jazeera in a post. I am intimidated by NPR, but I am at home on WFAN Sports Radio 660 AM. I have mastered the mindless. I can talk with complete fluidity about the three big three - basketball, baseball, and football. I can weigh in with opinions on the merit of various statistics - Batting Average vs. On Base Percentage, Assist to Turnover Ratio vs. Points per Game. I think that J.J. Reddick will only be a relevant NBA player if he ends up on the right team, with a point guard who can get him open shots. New Orleans or Phoenix. Etc.

When I hear the uninitiated speak about sports I wonder if that is what I sound like when I speak about basically everything else.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Yes, they deserve to die! And I hope they burn in hell! 

Last Summer, Dave Chappelle stopped filming the 3rd season of his show, in part because he started to feel that the material he was producing seemed racist:

According to Time, Chappelle became unsure about his material for the new season when a white visitor at a taping laughed especially hard and long over a sketch Chappelle performed in blackface. "When he laughed, it made me uncomfortable," Time quotes Chappelle as saying. His longtime writing partner is quoted as confirming that Chappelle had decided some of his material was not funny but "racist."

Dave Chappelle's Block Party was good, except for the times it wasn't. Chappelle does comedy, he doesn't do Inside the Actor's Studio as well.

Soon they forget where they plucked they whole style from, they try to reverse the outcome. I'm like - TOUGH!

Last month, Free Darko wrote:

What these young ballers fail to understand is that Jordan's participation in the Dunk Contest played a large part in creating his legacy - indeed, it literally made him an icon - and it was only after repeated battles with Dominique that he moved on. Therefore, this is a case of players emulating #23, but not understanding the reasons behind the action. It wasn't the contest itself, but the fact that he had done all he could in that venue. After all, only the most reactionary red-stater could be offended by a Bron/Wade dunk off, and those guys don't buy hundred dollar basketball shoes anyway.

Dave Chappelle doesn't want to do sketch comedy anymore. He doesn't want to do racial hyperbole. He wants to do Lauryn Hill, or rather be her, maybe. Or maybe he wishes he could be more militant, more like Dead Prez who he featured at his block party and who he praised from the rooftops, literally, (via megaphone) during the film:

So are you guys going around hugging trees?

Dead Prez: A tree hugger? sh!t, I'll give a tree a hug. To me that's a given. First you have to get rid of this bastard system for you to be focusing in the ozone. The way the system is set up is why the ozone is so f#@$ed up. I don't want the atmosphere to burn up... that's gonna f#@$ the game up. I don't know if I gotta start with that first. When we get rid of these crackers off my back we gonna fix the ozone.

Dead Prez: Hey I got a tangent question for you. What's worse a cracker or crack?

Well, crackers put crack in our community.

Dead Prez: OK. What's worse... whitey or the White House?

Chappelle asked Luz, the woman who runs the nursery school that they filmed the concert from, what type of people live in Bed-Stuy. Luz told Chappelle that it is a multi-cultural neighborhood... Blacks, Latinos, and some Caucasians. Chappelle chuckled and replied, doing his best Joe Scarborough, said that it's funny that you call Bed-Stuy multi-cultural when it is, in fact, Black and Latino.

Luz, not angry at Chappelle for twisting her words and not missing a beat, responded, "And I said there are some Caucasians moving in."

You only hear what you want to hear. I only hear what I want to hear.

Chappelle is best at pulling the knife out, not twisting it in deeper. On stage Dead Prez talks about running up on the crackers in city hall, the camera cuts to a scene backstage with Chappelle on the couch with Dead Prez.

He pulls up his jeans and shows a unity fist on the tongue of his sneaker.

He laughs and says something to the effect of this is how I show I'm down for the cause. That is what he is good at. Undercutting tension, not stabbing.

Chappelle, The Roots, and Lauryn Hill appear uncomfortable with the demographics of their fan base...

A scene from Block Party of particular interest to me...

Dead Prez and Fred Hampton Jr. on stage inciting the crowd to run up on those crackers in City Hall, all while the backup band on stage, composed of a white guitarist and a white saxaphonist, nod along in complicit agreement.

Whether on the basketball court, subway, or back in junior high....

this is an interesting dynamic that never ceases to shock and awe me.

!Ya Basta!


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wearing white socks with dress shoes and a suit 

Drinking champagne from a paper cup,

Drinking Sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay,

An office in Bombay with a broadband frame-relay connection, VOIP phones, and a cow parked in front.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Escape from Bombay 

Anti-Bush, Anti-US protest in Bombay on Thursday afternoon.
Crowd estimates varied from 250,000 to 700,000, according to the city police and a protest organizer — or from 10 percent to 25 percent of the Muslim population of Mumbai (also known as Bombay).

An aerial view of an anti-Bush rally at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday.

Nearby, a few dozen men stood under a banner declaring, "We are ready to become suicide bomber." It is a sentiment rarely expressed openly in India, which has had domestic terrorism over the years but whose citizens have not seemed to be attracted to the current global terrorist networks.

"Suppose Bush is here," said Sajid Khan, 25, a student. "I will suicide bomb to Bush. If we could get a visa, we would go there and fight."

* * * * * *

One of my co-workers showed up late last night to the office. He said there was a big traffic jam. He told me that all of these protesters were marching into the traffic. No one could move their cars, bikes. One of the protesters came to his window and waved a chopper at him and yelled at him in Hindi to move his car or he would kill him. I asked him what a chopper was. He said it is a traditional Muslim sword, a scimitar.

He said the protester ran the sword over his windshield, scraping it for menacing effect. Like nails on the blackboard. He didn't seem all that shaken up by this. He said he simply made a u-turn over the median and drove to the near by Parsee neighborhood for an hour or so. He said the Parsee neighborhood is neutral, like Switzerland, so it was safe. That's why he was late to work.


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