Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A mixed bag

Some good news and bad news regarding the proposed amendment to ban the "desecration" of US flags.

The good news: The bill fell four votes short of the 67 needed for it to pass the Senate--after already passing in the House by a count of 286 to 130--and be sent to the states for ratification.

The bad news: We have 349 Congress-people who don't have the foggiest clue about what the concept of free speech really means.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Personal rejection, venture capitalist gnomes and other absurdities of life

I tend to shy away from blogging about my personal life. I find the idea to be somewhat pretentious and the results seem to be more than a little boring. I certainly don't have anything against pretension--I think a certain bit of pretentiousness is a prerequisite for even starting a blog--and boring is okay from time to time, but the combination of the two? Not good (amusing stories from junior high school being a notable--or possibly notorious!--exception). That being said, I'm going to deviate from my standard operating procedure and write about my life outside of my antipathy towards George W. Bush. Feel free to stop reading now. I won't take it personally; after all, I'm not terribly interested in reading about your life, either*.

Anyway, I mentioned a few months back that I was applying to the University of California, San Diego in order to transfer into their Biological Anthropology program. After many days of nail-biting and eager mailbox-checking, I finally was informed in May that my application was rejected. Today I found out why. As it turns out, I was rejected because of where I was transferring from, or more precisely, where I wasn't transferring from. Apparently the UC system is mandated by the California state legislature to give heavy preference to students transferring from other California states schools and community colleges, and because UCSD consistently has so many applicants coming from these schools, they accept basically no transfer applicants from non-California schools (and they probably just point and laugh at students coming from tiny, Midwestern, evangelical Christian liberal arts schools--thanks, Wheaton!). That's what I was told, anyway.

In one sense, I feel this comes as good news because now my ego can rest assured that the cause of my rejection was not some personal or academic flaw of mine. On the other hand, the news is disappointing because, as the admissions office informed me, nothing I can do will ever get me accepted. It's simply not going to happen. As many Socal surfers are wont to say, "Bummer, dude."

There goes plan A. And plan B. . .well, I'm still working on plan B. I'm feeling kind of similar to the underpants gnomes of South Park, except that the gnomes have both steps one and three of their business plan figured out (to those who do not consider South Park to be an integral part of their lives, the underpants gnomes' business plan consists of the following steps: 1. collect underpants 2. ??? 3. profit), whereas I'm really only solid on step three of my evil plan to become an exotically rich and famous primatologist who takes over the world. My plan looks something like this:



3. Become exotically rich and famous and take over the world. Or is it become rich and famous and exotically take over the word? Or possibly I'm suppsed to become rich and famous and take over an exotic world! Who knows?

Apparently I may still need to spend more time working this whole life-plan thing out. I may not know what it is that I'm doing with my life, but at least I now know what the next step is. Oh wait, I haven't the foggiest clue about that either. Okay, I may not know what I'm doing with my life and I may not know what the next step is going to be, but at least I know what the next step isn't going to be! I think I'll take some solace in that. Oh hell, maybe I'll just join the underpants gnomes; I'm sure they have things figured out by now.

*Just kidding, Catherine.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The world is back to normal

That's right, now that I've gotten that brief, aberrational Bush-praising out of my system, I can get back to my regularly schedule government-loathing. It seems that the Bush Administration, not content to spy on Americans using the NSA, has resorted to using the private-sector to violate our civil liberties. See this AP Report for details:

WASHINGTON - Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans' personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers.

These brokers, many of whom advertise aggressively on the Internet, have gotten into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and even acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents gathered by congressional investigators and provided to The Associated Press.

Yes, that sounds more like the government we all know and love.

Thanks to Ed Brayton for the heads up.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hey NSA, read this one!

Anybody who reads this blog knows how much I love to rag on President Bush for being a dishonest, incompetent hack, and for making a general muck of nearly everything to which he puts his hand. Well folks, it's time to buy an industrial strength raincoat and a very large umbrella because the swine are taking to the sky tonight (years from now, I predict that people will remember June 17th, 2006 as The Day It Rained Pig Shit); that's right, I'm about to say something nice about "Dubya."

Not being used to this sort of thing, I'm naturally having a hard time getting the words out, so I'll just say it as plainly as I can: President Bush did something really, really great this week. (I wonder if this means I have to turn in my "Arch Liberal, Destroyer of Freedom and Enemy of Liberty" credentials. I hope not; I think the signed glossy photo of Alec Baldwin simultaneously burning an American Flag and eating pages of the Bible has a high potential value as a collector's item) The Christian Science Monitor has the exciting details:

With the stroke of a pen, President Bush has established the largest ocean wildlife reserve in the world, centered along a string of islands, reefs, and atolls that stretch 1,400 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Other reef systems, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, are larger. But only a third of that UN-designated World Heritage reef is protected, analysts say, leaving far more of it open to exploitation.

The move comes from an administration not known as the darling of the environmental and conservation crowd. But it's drawing kudos from a variety of marine-conservation groups. The region's relative isolation has allowed it to retain some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world. The president's proclamation Thursday, which designated the area as a national monument, immediately created a reserve that covers some 140,000 square miles, more territory than all of America's national parks combined.

"This is just amazing," says Ellen Athas, ecosystems-protection director for the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, who served on the president's Council on Environmental Quality under Bill Clinton. "This is an important first step in protecting some of the world's healthiest reefs for future generations."

Way to go, Mr. President! Now if we could only convince you to give a damn about anthropogenic climate change. . .

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Get thee gone from the gene pool!*

From the Seattle Times:

A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lion in a Kiev, Ukraine, zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said Monday.

"The man shouted, 'God will save me, if he exists,' lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said. "A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."

The Kiev authorities have ruled this a suicide, but I think that there is more to the story. It seems obvious to me that this was no mere suicide, but a propaganda stunt concocted by the Evil Atheist Conspiracy. The poor guy was only a patsy.

*Alternately titled: "In which I show a stunningly offensive lack of sensitivity."

A melodramatic movie review

I lead an exceedingly meaningless and miserable life; so dreadful is it that I am desperately willing to pursue nearly any activity—no matter how inane and boorish it may be—in order to temporarily escape the wretched drudgery of my daily existence. I would like to think that this really isn’t the case, but reason tells me that it must be so, for I can conceive of no other explanation for why I decided to go see the remake of The Omen this past Tuesday night.

To call this movie bad is to do a grave injustice to every truly bad movie that has ever been made. No, this movie was not bad; it was shit, pure and simple. I have watched hundreds of movies in my short life—many of them tremendously horrible pieces of film—but, by any reasonable standard, The Omen has set a new gold standard for ineptitude in filmmaking. It professed to be a thrilling supernatural horror flick, but it was neither thrilling nor horrifying (well, that’s not actually true; I did find myself continuously horrified by the poor acting and wooden writing). Instead, it was scene after disjointed scene of shear boredom and snooze-worthiness.

Let’s get one thing straight: I did not expect this to be a high-quality film. I fully anticipated that it would be a bad movie, but I did expect—foolishly, in hindsight—that it would at least somewhat interesting and mildly frightening. Alas, this was tragically not the case; nothing could have prepared me for the heights of craptitude that The Omen scaled. I’ve felt my heart pound harder while looking at things floating in my toilet, than I did during this movie. Speaking of things seen in a toilet, did I mention that this movie is shit?

Every few minutes I would think, this is the part where things will get interesting! It wasn’t. After a few more minutes I would declare to myself, Aha! Now the movie’s really going to get scary! It didn’t. And finally, as the movie and my hopes for humanity were nearing their end, I whispered in my head, as if in a prayer, I know there’s going to be something really crazy that happens here at the end, something so wildly unexpected that it will make the torturous boredom of the past ninety minutes all worth it! There wasn’t. What a fool I am.

As I left the theater, a few burning questions formed in my mind:

*Why does the son of Satan seem incapable of making any facial expression more startling than a slightly peevish pout?

*Why—Dear God, why?—was Julia Stiles in this movie? She is neither a good actor, nor an attractive looking person. Poor actor + not hot = should not be in blockbuster Hollywood horror show.

*Why does every horror movie made in the past five years use the same old camera tricks? They’re not scary, only boringly predictable.

*Why has President Bush not banished every person involved in the making of this film to the Russian Gulag, where they will spend the rest of their natural lives engaged in back-breaking labor?

As preoccupied as I still am with finding answers to these questions, I find myself haunted by a disturbing fact: I paid hard-earned cash to see this movie and, therefore, I helped to make The Omen happen. This is my fault. Because of me, more films as shitty as this one—my heart quakes at the mere thought of it—will undoubtedly be made. Please pardon me while I go hang my head in shame.