Friday, May 12, 2006

Halliburton Solves Global Warming

An astonishing Truth is revealed, the problem of Global Warming has been resolved thanks to a simple but high-tech Halliburton survivial suit - check out the incredible pictures and this astonishing speech:

An advanced new technology will keep corporate managers safe even when climate change makes life as we know it impossible."

"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way," said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. "This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate change," he said to an attentive and appreciative audience."
The conference attendees peppered the duo with questions. One asked how the device would fare against terrorism, another whether the array of embedded technologies might make the unit too cumbersome; a third brought up the issue of the unit's cost feasibility. Wolf and Goody assured the audience that these problems and others were being addressed. "The SurvivaBall builds on Halliburton's reputation as a disaster and conflict industry innovator," said Wolf. "Just as the Black Plague led to the Renaissance and the Great Deluge gave Noah a monopoly of the animals, so tomorrow's catastrophes could well lead to good - and industry must be ready to seize that good."

Oh wait --- it's the Yes Men.

Once again they prove that comedy and satire cut to the heart of absurdity in the corporate and government mindset. Just as Steven Colbert did so recently. And these guys have shown just how gullible the working world can be, putting forth the outrageous and insane in a polished 3-peice suit and the ideas gain acceptance. Their movie is amazing, too.

Is what they do legal? They say, so far, so good!

Camera Obscura - It Waits, Futurama, Blade, 400 Blows

Friday arrives and I have a special sneak preview of a new horror movie from Anchor Bay Entertainment written by Richard Christian Matheson and prolific producer Stephen J. Cannell, along with a stack of great news about the return of the perfect sci-fi comedy series "Futurama" and much more, so read, on read on.

Producer Cannell has made many notable additions to TV and film, with shows like "The Rockford Files", "Baretta," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," "The A-team" - tons, people, truly. He teams with another prolific writer and creator Richard Christian Matheson, whose dad, also a Richard, help define the horror and sci-fi genres with his work on "Twilight Zone" and his book "I Am Legend."

The movie, "It Waits" concerns a babe in the woods - the babe being Cerina Vincent - the prettiest park ranger I've ever seen. She'd make Yogi Bear give up the hunt for a pick-a-nic basket and start spraying on Axe. She's been a regular on "C.S.I.", and made a eye-popping student named "Areola" in "Not Another Teen Movie" as well as another cult horror favorite "Cabin Fever."

Vincent is a not what she seems here, mild-mannered park ranger - she's really hiding out from tragedy and soaking herself with vodka, sharing conversations and remorse with a talking parrot in a remote ranger station. The location shooting, in Canada is truly gorgeous, and DVD extras reveal they shot this an amazing 20 day timeframe. It's her guilt and her secrets that are drawing the attention of a demon spirit, which is based on Native American mythology. The creature is a great piece of work and not an all CGI monster. Like the movie, It is an old-fashioned monster suit, expertly done. And as in so many old classics, it's the Id inside Vincent's character that is bringing out some nasty death and dismemberment.

She gets some help (but more guilt) from her doomed boyfriend-ranger, played by Dominic Zamprogna ("Battlestar Galactica"). However, everyone in the movie is fodder for the monster, who throws around corpses and makes grim toys of the bodies attempting to terrify and tease Vincent.

The movie is a good guide for making the most of every shooting day, no doubt. For longtime horror consumers, this may seem too familiar, but for newbies and novices, this is a good beginner flick. Anchor Bay has an impressive catalog of horror, anime and other classics and TV and is ever growing. Big thanks to them and the folks at M80-Teams for allowing me to view "It Waits" and tell you about it. Check out the movie site and trailer here, where you can also order a copy.

Fans of Matheson also got news this week that a show he wrote for "Knight Rider" is getting the big screen treatment. Never underestimate the power of David Hasselhoff. His cameo-bit in the "Spongebob Squarepants" movie was brilliant.

Fans worldwide too have brought more life to the deeply underrated and hilarious world of "Futurama". Fox dumped this show from "The Simpsons" creator after four seasons, and never knew what to make of the show or how to promote it. Thanks to the Cartoon Network's reruns on Adult Swim, creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen are making 4 DVD movies and possibly even new episodes for broadcast. IGN has an interview with Groening here, all about the vast comedy universe they made and the stories they never got to tell.

The comedy is layered on so thick it takes multiple viewings to catch all the jokes. And come on, where else could you see an effort to save the world from destruction with real-life performances from Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Nichelle Nichols? I never miss an episode.

Also set to hit your TV set next month is the new vampire show based on the Marvel comics and movies character "Blade." Set to debut on Spike TV after some wrangling with writer/director David Goyer, it will be interesting to see if they can make this work. I've liked the movies (well -- the last one was more comedy than vampy). Goyer meanwhile is back working on comic book adaptions, writing a new "Batman" script and one for "Flash." Check out scenes from the new TV series of "Blade" here. You might also want to check out one of Goyer's first screenplays, an underrated adaption of Robert Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" - a decent adaption of the Heinlein tale which was used for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and countless others.

Finally, this one has been on my list of Best Movies Ever since I saw it and it remains on the list today. It's the very first film from Francois Truffaut, "The 400 Blows", out in a brand new DVD with a nice low price and new commentary and a crisp new transfer. The story of adolescent Antoine Doinel is as current today as when it was made in the late 1950s. He's a smart kid, bored with school and mostly left on his own by parents and other authorities, more out of simple lack of attention than outright abuse. He drifts through the city and into petty crime, running away from home rather than accept the boring and unhappy views of life offered by his parents or society in general. What he finds is that being on your own is harsh too. I've always liked the simple approach of the film - slightly disengaged, not sentimental - a brilliantly composed story of alienation and dissatisfaction.

Oh and remember how much you didn't like "Mission: Impossible 3" when you shelled out the ten bucks to see it last weekend? Well, the new remake of "Poseidon" will make you feel the same way if you chunk out ten more bucks for it.

You've got more choices! I just gave ya a stack of 'em!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Porn Preferred to "DaVinci Code"

I overheard this discussion today between some cashiers at the local Mega-Mart, as one was telling the other about the fury and indignation of a customer because the store had copies of "The DaVinci Code" for sale in the store.

#1 - He would not stop complaining, demanded to see the manager over this DaVinci book. He said it was the most offensive thing he'd ever seen in public.

#2 - He said that?

#1 - He did. It didn't stop him from buying two microwaves, though. Said I was going to Hell and so was everyone in the store.

#2 - He said that?

#1 - He did. He was all tore up.

#2 - It was about a book? What book? I ain't never heard of it.

#1 - He would not let it go. Said he would rather his child be able to see stacks of pornography magazines out on display. Said that would be better for his boy.

#2 - He wants to see porn?

#1 - That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. Said his whole church was mad. I can't believe what he said. He wants he boy to see books of ... butts and stuff ... not a book of fiction.

#2 - He's crazy!

#1 - He is.

GOP Candidates Face Students Tonite

A public forum for Republican candidates seeking the 1st Congressional office will meet with local students first, then appear in a public forum at around 6:45 pm. The candidates will take questions from students in Hamblen County from middle through high school in history and civics classes, as moderated by the Director of Schools. The public can listen in to the questioning of candidates who seek the seat of the Congressman Bill Jenkins, who announced he is not seeking re-election to Congress.

Candidates scheduled to appear include Larry Waters, David Davis, John J. Grose, Richard Roberts, Peggy Barnett, Richard Venable, Vance Cheek, Phil Roe, and Dan Smith.

Larry Waters is former Sevier County Mayor, David Davis is a state representative, Richard Roberts is an attorney and former staffer for Howard Baker, Peggy Barnett is a Family Nurse Practitioner, Richard Venable is Sullivan County Mayor, Vance Cheek is former mayor of Johnson City, Commissioner, East Tennessee Claims and is a member of the East TN Commission, Phil Roe is a Johnson City Commissioner and currently Vice-Mayor.

These 9 of the 13 GOP candidates are hoping to face the winner of the Democrat Primary which currently stands at four candidates, and one independent has also announced a candidacy, Green Party candidate Robert Smith. (NOTE: Congressional Quarterly reports 21 candidates, and has a recent breakdown on some of their fundraising efforts thru March.)

The nine will meet with the students in "meet and greet" with the students at around 5:30, according to the Young Republicans group organizing the event, and the public forum will be held in the auditorium of West High School.

(It should be noted times of the event reported on the Hamblen GOP web site are not those announced in the local paper, however, if the public arrives between 6:30 and 7 pm, they should be able to find seats and watch the event.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Politics and The Two Party System

I was kind of amazed that Kleinheider at Volunteer Voters actually blurbed a comment I made. It's been odd to see links to this page via the likes of Poor Hobbs and comments from The Can't Spell Representative. I appreciate any and all readership.


I'm pretty certain that the number of people blogging who tackle the real and ugly state of politics today outside of the two party system have not only captured the national mood, they have also shamed the mass media for utterly failing at their job. Some from within the system also get it right.

And then I read the following quote from Thomas Jefferson, and I'm forced to re-think many ideas.

Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all." --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.

From Shoeless Joe to Barry Bonds - The Bittersweet Myth of Baseball

Baseball in America is at an historic moment as Barry Bonds nears the magic number of home runs made famous by Babe Ruth and surpassed by Hank Aaron. But as always with the game, the Glory rides with some Despair. This is more than a game - this is personal. This game is different from other sports because it is welded into the history of uniquely American ideals. Lewis and Clark stopped to play some baseball on their monumental journey to map out the nation. The poetry of Whitman and Frost took on the game. Box scores were printed alongside the news stories of Sherman's March.

It is a game filled with myths of innocence and tragedy, of the Everyman and the Capitalist, and the current rage-filled debate about Barry Bonds continues a tradition of scandal and history.

Perhaps it's because it arrives with Spring and the anticipation of leisure days ahead. I can't quote you the latest stats on a certain team, but when the season is upon us, it offers an immense pleasure to have the sounds of the game, either by radio or TV, as I drift thru the ever-lengthening days. I can become intensely linked to a game or let it simply fill the background with the sounds of a distant stadium, that unassailable crack of a bat and the roars or disdain from the crowd.

It's got hot dogs and beer and the language of the game itself is part of the story of American success and failure. George Carlin famously joked that baseball was far different from football. In football your aim is to reach the End Zone. In baseball, the aim is to just Go Home.

Baseball columnist Thomas Boswell once wrote of the game:

"Born to an age where horror has become commonplace, where tragedy has, by monotonous repetition, become a parody of sorrow, we need to fence off a few places where humans try to be fair, where skill has some hope of reward, where absurdity has a harder time than usual getting a ticket."

The names of the legends all have been tarnished here and there, Shoeless Joe Jackson, part of the World Series of 1919 scandal, when allegations of gambling and fixing the game brought national outrage, remains a hero. The notoriously named Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis doled out lifetime bans for Joe and seven of his teammates, in an effort to send out a "no-tolerance message" about gambling in baseball. Despite having a lifetime batting average of .356, Shoeless Joe waits like the mythic outsider at the gates of the Hall of Fame, the fans forever pleading for entry. Of course, his official website also has plenty of ways to get your vote, your sympathy, and your money as you buy from the corporate romanticism.

Similar battles rage for Pete Rose, for the steroid allegations against Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Even the tragic innocence of player Lou Gehrig has found fame for baseball and for a disease that carries his name.

Like some tale written by Homer, like Odysseus wandering years searching for home, Baseball brings heroes and heartbreak together in tales that continue to be told and made right before our very eyes.

I played Little League ball way back when - it was easy to join a team in a town so small they had to widen the road to paint a white stripe down the middle. I wasn't very good at the game and it wasn't until playing intramural softball in college someone actually told me how to swing the bat and move my body to make a hit. I was still a bad player.

But forever etched in my mind are those days of the Little League in a dinky park with buckeled board benches and sagging fences. There is this smell of Coca-Cola and ice dribbled into patchy red sand and the sweet scent of new-mown grass, the aromas of chewing tobacco from the umpire who spat like a camel in the Sahara, the steamy and seamy aroma of sweaty beer from drunken parents who often yelled insults at their own children.

None of us care about the adults. We liked the game. We had uniforms. If we were lucky to snag a ball and make a double play or get that thudding shudder in our shoulders when we smacked the ball out of the infield, our hearts galloped like giant horses of mythology, creatures reaching for Glory and History. If we just plain lost the game, we were sad for a little while, but the attention span of a child quickly found some other distraction. On the field, we were all equals, except maybe for one or two boys who we all knew had real honest-to-pete Talent. And most always, those guys were never snobs about it.

We all had a chance.

Bonds nearly pegged home run 714 last night, and the news wasn't exactly great. But the real number is Hank Aaron's 755 home runs.

And for many spring and summer days and nights for many years to come, the Chance is there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Lie About MPG

Thanks to the rules as written, those numbers on a new car indicating gas mileage are the result of never actually driving on a road.

I had wondered about this, just how the car makers and marketers arrived at their numbers. The law allows for vehicles to be placed on a treadmill - which means once the vehicle actually hits the roads, and traffic, and stop lights -- well, in a typical scenario, the actual mileage was usually half of what the sticker said.


Again, its the rule set in the 1970s by the government that allows for no actual driving conditions to be tested to obtain mileage. The information about real conditions comes from tests conducted by Consumer Reports.

For example, Chrysler says the four-wheel drive diesel version of the Jeep Liberty gets 22 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports tested it and found it got more like 11 mpg.

Honda claims its hybrid Civic sedan gets 48 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports found it only gets 26 mpg -- a 46 percent difference.

Chevy's Trailblazer EXT four-wheel drive is supposed to get 15 mpg in the city. For Consumer Reports, it was 9 mpg."

Read more here.

I Was Wrong

At times I'm forced to eat my words - guess what time it is? Yep. Time to eat 'em up.

After I had expressed grave doubts about voter turnout in the county-wide elections, predicting 15% or less in turnout. However the actual numbers are certainly higher than I expected. According to election officials, they estimate 25% of registered voters took part - of course that also means 75% did not. (And also the problems I noted in the April 10th post are, I think, likely to lead to tax increases - and if not, then I'll dine on my words at the appropriate time.)

The election was largely a primary race for numerous Republican candidates, but since some winners, such as newly elected Sheriff Esco Jarnigan faces no opponents in August, then he is the winner. Similar wins were also reported.

I've heard rumors there may be one or two independent candidates on the ballot, but running as an independent is a momentous task.

Regardless, I stand corrected. Now if the other 75% could find the motivation to vote.

Eminent Domain Bill Provides Little Change

The state's Senate has unanimously passed a new resolution regarding eminent domain, but is it anywhere close to the improvement needed? One notable change was providing property holders an extra 25 days to challenge condemnation, making for a grand total of 30 days to file a challenge. Yet, of all the various versions of the bill put forward, this version is the least restrictive in terms of limits on eminent domain.

However, one section seems to gut the entire idea of restrictions or reforms that were prompted nationwide over the Supreme Court's Kelo decision.

This bill also permits land acquired by eminent domain to be sold, leased, or otherwise transferred to another public or quasi-public entity, or to a private person, corporation, or other entity, so long as the transferring entity receives at least fair market value for the land."

That looks to me like a fairly enormous gap whereby government can take the property, following any number of "new" rules, and then sell the land to private developers anyway as long as they get a good price for the land.

The bill is listed under HB3450/SB3296 on the state General Assembly site.

Another resource for grassroots efforts to track how each state is reviewing the issue is Castle Coalition and is loaded with news and information.

Monday, May 08, 2006

County Officer Indicted for TennCare Fraud

In Carroll County, the Register of Deeds was indicted on two counts of TennCare fraud, according to the state. The sixty-two year old Judy Baker was scheduled for arraignment today, but thru her attorney waived the reading of the indictment and right to be present at that reading.

The report states that Baker:

" ...
while acting as the power of attorney for Ruth D. McKenzie, Baker committed theft of services and TennCare fraud by intentionally not reporting a transfer of property that would have rendered the McKenzie ineligible for TennCare. The value of the TennCare medical benefits unlawfully obtained was more than $10,000 but less than $60,000.

'“We are finding individuals from all walks of life abusing TennCare and we'’ll seek charges against them regardless of their community stature,'” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. '“We have a zero tolerance policy, and thatÂ’s what it takes to protect the integrity of the TennCare program.'"”

Meanwhile in Middle TN, in an unrelated case, another six people were charged with TennCare fraud, ranging from selling prescription drugs to refusing health care insurance offered via a school system's insurance plan and taking TennCare instead.

Anyone can report TennCare Fraud by calling toll free 1-800-443-3982.

Polled and Appalled

If we were to place end to end all the main political scandals termed "gates", we'd already have an expanse vast enough to blockade the southwest border. The one difference between now and say the political world of the mid-1800s until Watergate, the press just used the word scandal, leaving the phrase "teapot dome" for a footnote in history.

Far too often when I watch speeches via C-Span or on the Talking Head Sunday Morning/Cable News'orama/Blog'oblather, what I hear is "those dang Democrats" or "those dang Republicans", which in reality translates to childish sniping. No resolutions occur, or at best corporations and lobbyists create policies that serve their interests and public interest is not a concern. Watching and reading the recent "debates" about U.S. Energy Policies, oil companies and automakers, it's like watching reruns of the mid 1970s. (Or maybe the faux newsreel at the beginning of "Road Warrior"

An April report from The Pew Research Center notes that while the public opinion of the President continues to plummet, the public has an even lower opinion of our Congress. As an independent, I still wait for the voters (who continue to participate in lower and lower numbers) devise a way out of the empty system of either one party or another. The best measure of that mood tends in recent history to appear as an "Anti-Incumbent Mood" which does zero to find resolution to a multitude of issues.

Newscoma posted recently about the problems of the no-show voters. I have no answers to that issue.

However, the Pew study did offer an interesting snapshot of the words people associate with each party, as shown in this graph. Please note that the numbers next to the words indicate the number of people who selected those words and are not percentages, though they well could be.

As always, the best advice I can offer those who seek answers, seek them outside the realm of politics and seek them within what you can do.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Stripper Dolls For Kids??

I found this via Rachel (a former Morristown resident). Seems the Hasbro toy company is preparing to sell dolls based on the neo-burlesque stars of the Pussycat Dolls, aimed at the six to nine year old market for li'l girls. I suppose since this group of new-strippers also are making music CDs then why not more product tie-ins with the Sex Pistols O.D. Kit Slam Dance Playset, or the Gundown the Rappers Bling Shoot Out? Would a rational parent seriously want to provide My Little Stripper Dolls for your six-year old girls? (Maybe Hasbro could call it Skanky and sell it alongside Slinkys!)

She also notes the super creepy thousands of dollars folks spend on life-size "Real Dolls", which looks like training kits for serial killers and sadists.