Kitty Pics

Cheap Shots

There's something about a high-speed internet connection and photoshop jokes (from the 'ol Shugashack) that never fail to make me smile. Thank God, it's usually at somebody else's expense.

Is Religion A Virus?

Survey says , "YES", according to the infamous Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, at a recent lecture at Harvard.

Society provides a breeding ground for the “virus” of religion by labeling children with the religion of their parents. Children, in turn, absorb these beliefs because they are conditioned to do so.

Though it is universal, Dawkin said, religion is not widely beneficial.

Rejecting the theory of many of his contemporaries, Dawkins argued that religion has not helped people to adapt or to survive. Beyond acting as a source of solace, religion provides no protection against diseases or physical threats.

New Verbs and Haiku

From Atrios Comments:

First, a haiku about Rick Santorum:

Man on dog
Hold the dead fetus

And Ahmad Chalabi becomes a verb!

To chalabi: transitive verb:
To take violent action with grave consequences after getting poor advice, then pretending that whatever outcome arises was the desired one.

Eg.: The gullible bully was chalabied by the little boy when he kicked the rock after the little boy told him it was made of rubber. Hopping on one foot with tears in his eyes the bully claimed that he needed to break his toes so he could get out of gym that afternoon.

I'd Rather Go Blind

Mac Eye For The Windows Guy - Via Geek Culture

The Boys Are Back

Nice win from the Cowboys yesterday. The Cowboys haven't had a winning season since 1999 when they finished 2nd in the NFC East (after a devastating loss to Minnesota). In 1999, Aikman surpassed Joe Montana to be the decade's highest winning quarterback (and still remains the highest winning starting quarterback in ANY decade in the NFL with 90 wins in the 1990s).

Speaking of 1999, Michael Irvin caught his 750th career reception at Veteran's Stadium (Philadelphia). He was tackled by Tim Hauck and suffered a devastating neck injury that ended his career. I hope that Purcells will be playing that video for the team, especially the reaction of the Philadelphia fans who not only cheered when they saw Irvin injured on the film, but they cheered when a stretcher was called to remove Irvin from the field.

The Cowboys will most likely see Carolina again in the playoffs, and we can only hope that we will fare better than we did when they knocked us in the 1996 Divisional Playoff.

Go Cowboys!

-Photo from Cowboys Plus


From the Republican Party Platform:

"We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget."

I guess that the Bush Republicans skipped that part of the memo. It definitely stands in stark constrast to the following article from the Washington Post:

As Congress rushes to conclude its 2003 session, Republican leaders are trying to garner votes for controversial legislation by loading the bills with billions of dollars in added costs that analysts said would expand the budget deficit for years to come. The year-end binge has alarmed analysts in Washington and on Wall Street, coming as it does after three years of presidential and congressional initiatives that have both substantially boosted government spending and shrunk its tax base.

All those actions come in the face of a federal budget deficit already projected to rise from a record $374 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to close to or above $500 billion in the current fiscal year.
"The only thing I can tell you is evidently the word 'tomorrow' no longer exists in the vocabulary of otherwise responsible members of Congress," said Warren Rudman, a former New Hampshire Republican senator and long-standing budget hawk. "They are acting as if there is no tomorrow."

Former Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin said, "Our political system has simply lost its willingness to take the very difficult path of maintaining fiscal discipline."

Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers expressed concern that the burgeoning deficit is happening under the watch of the Republican Party, which came to power in Washington preaching fiscal restraint and less government.

Another article from the Washington Post continues:

Way back before Republicans took over the House in 1995, GOP lawmakers pilloried Democrats for stuffing legislation with local projects that get little or no oversight but boost the popularity of the lawmakers who take credit for them.
But a rising tide of GOP spending on home-district projects is making those Democrats of yesteryear look like mere pikers of pork, according to a 15-page study just released by the minority staff of the House Appropriations Committee.

The study finds that the number of home-state projects earmarked in various bills has skyrocketed under the GOP, despite the party's rhetorical commitment to reining in a profligate federal government.

And all of this definitely fails to meet any of Bush's "promises" made during the 2000 Debates:

"This is a peaceful nation, and I intend to keep the peace. Spending money is one thing. But spending money without a strategic plan can oftentimes be wasted. First thing I'm going to do is ask the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan so we are making sure we're not spending our money on political projects, but on projects to make sure our soldiers are well-paid, well-housed, and have the best equipment in the world. "

"One of my promises is going to be Social Security reform, and you bet, we need to take a trillion dollars out of that $2.4 trillion surplus. Now remember, Social Security revenue exceeds expenses up until 2015. People are going to get paid. But if you're a younger worker, if you're younger, you better hope this country thinks differently, otherwise you're gonna be faced with huge payroll taxes or reduced benefits. And you bet we're gonna take a trillion dollars of your own money and let you invest it under safe guidelines so you get a better rate of return on the money than the paltry 2% that the federal government gets for you today. That's one of my promises. "

"When you total up all the federal spending [Gore] wants to do, it's the largest increase in federal spending in years. And there's just not going to be enough money. "

"It's a difference of opinion. [Gore] wants to grow the government and I trust you with your own money. I wish we could spend an hour talking about trusting people."

Has Anybody Checked the Temperature In Hell Lately?

The Clergy Leadership Network is a new organization hoping to become the new Christian Coalition... For the Left. Does this prove the existence of practical, logical Christians? Probably not, but it is a little exciting to surf through their site.

From their "Why We Need Change" page:

2. CLN will work collaboratively with all those who seek change in our nation's current directions and its leadership. Practically this will involve pursuing collaborative relationships with the Democratic Party, Republicans who seek change and other political groups who share these goals. However, CLN will not function as a branch or program unit of any political party and will accept no party funds at any level. It is a clergy network, not a political body. Strictly preserved independence of choice is necessary for there to be an effective clergy role involving political participation and public leadership. Any collaborative relationship can be withdrawn at any time.

From their "Issues" page:

Today we are seeing the principles and practices of church/state separation being undermined, perhaps even for election advantages. Every religious community has benefited from the absence of government intrusion into religious affairs and from the restraint on religious communities seeking special government privileges and support. This constitutionally guaranteed level playing field for all religious groups has allowed religion to flourish among us in its own integrity and by its own energy.

We have seen the Congress refuse to pass legislation supporting "The Faith Based Initiative," only to have the Administration through executive orders authorize expenditures and program supports for religious communities in exactly the ways the Congress refused. Consequently, though most of these funds are being transferred from existing successful programs, tax monies, derived from a public that includes those who oppose such funding and even those with no religious faith, are being given to religiously based programs and institutions. It violates our faith traditions and compromises democratic principles of equity and respect.

Admittedly as clergy, the issue of church/state relations is of special concern to us. We believe that separation is precious for the well-being of our country, and it must be jealously protected!


Not the Queen's Rhodendra!!

All in all, I have to say that President Bush's trip to the UK went about as well as I expected. Four days, over a quarter million anti-Bush protesters, £7 million security bill, £1 million fish 'n' chips lunch, and the desecration of a centuries-old garden. (Oh, and Bush had to bring five of his own personal chefs to Buckingham Palace.)

Yep, that should patch up all the problems. I'm sure Japan can't wait to invite us over in hopes that another President Bush will vomit on another one of their prime ministers. (And yes, the Japanese do have a term for vomiting on a Prime Minister, it's "bushu-suru".)

Via Sunday Mirror:

THE Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-mantained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit.

The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.


The Palace's head gardener, Mark Lane, was reported to be in tears when he saw the scale of the damage.

"The Queen has every right to feel insulted at the way she has been treated by Bush," said a Palace insider.

"The repairs will cost tens of thousands of pounds but the damage to historic and rare plants will be immense. They are still taking an inventory.

"The lawns are used for royal garden parties and are beautifully kept. But 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days.

Via Independent UK :
For the Most Powerful Man in the World, an "authentic and private" trip to rural England was always going to be difficult when you travel with a 100-strong media entourage and your hosts lay on 1,300 police officers to ensure the good behaviour of a quiet rural community of 5,000 people and 300 protesters.

Durham Constabulary, one of the country's smallest forces, confirmed the security bill for the President's four-hour tour would reach £1m.


Here's a good response to the ridiculous GOP TV ad campaign....

Remind Us

More Sadness in Iraq

Shit. What a shitty weekend for US Troops. I wonder how much longer Bush will be calling this a "success."

Via NY Times:
Three American soldiers were killed in Iraq today, including two whose throats were slashed, a military official said, after they came under attack in the northern city of Mosul with rocks and gunfire.

Juan Cole has more on this:

Reuters reports that two US soldiers were shot while stuck in traffic in Mosul, and that then crowds gathered to loot their bodies and vehicle (which they tried to set on fire), shouting angry slogans. They may have survived the shooting and then the crowd slit their throats. [Later reports speak of the soldiers being dragged out of their vehicle and pummeled with concrete blocks.] People of Mosul have been upset by recent US military actions in the area. In Baquba, another US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb.
...I just do have to remark that this incident is an alarming indication that the US is losing the battle for hearts and minds. Mosul is not in the Sunni Arab triangle where hostility has run high, though it does have a substantial Arab population, and a long-lived Muslim Brotherhood branch. But my impression from earlier reports was that progress had been made. I guess you can win hearts and minds or you can pound an Iron Hammer, but it is tough to do both.

Via Austin American Statesman / Associated Press:

Since April, the military says, at least 17 Americans — 15 Army soldiers and two Marines — have taken their own lives in Iraq. The true number is almost certainly higher. At least two dozen non-combat deaths, some of them possible suicides, are under investigation according to an AP review of Army casualty reports.

No one in the military is saying for the record that the suicide rate among forces in Iraq is alarming. But Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top American military commander in Iraq, was concerned enough, according to the Army Surgeon General's office, to have ordered a 12-person mental health assessment team to Iraq to see what more can be done to prevent suicides and to help troops better cope with anxiety and depression.
"In most previous conflicts you went, you fought, you came home," Rudd said. "In this one they went, they fought, they're still there."

Rudd said she knows of no studies that show a definitive correlation between length of deployment and military suicide rates. But Michelle Kelley, a psychiatrist who studies deployment-related stress for the Navy, said the longer the deployment, the greater the strain on a relationship with a loved one.


Cops do. Here in Texas, we don't need fancy-pants movies or video games to kill our kids. We leave that job to the cops:

Via Houston Chronicle:

Three teenage boys were gathered around a favorite video game in a back bedroom of a northwest Houston apartment Friday evening when the police arrived searching for a suspect in an assault.
Police said nothing Saturday about how or why (Officer) Carbonneau's gun fired, citing an open investigation into the incident. It is the second time in three weeks that an unarmed teen has been shot and killed by a Houston police officer.
Escobar had gone to the apartment, 3130 Mangum, on Friday at 4 p.m. to play video games at the home of Jose Sanchez, 14. He had told his father he would be home by 6 p.m., and when the boy did not return, his father began to worry.


Sweet, Delicious Irony

Via Calpundit -

We all know that the GOP National Convention will be held in NYC, and that the date has been pushed back as close as possible to the anniversary of September 11, 2001. As a Texan, I can't really say how New Yorkers should feel about the exploitation of the most tragic moment of their lives. So I'll let the New Yorkers at RNC Not Welcome Org put words in my mouth:

We are New Yorkers adamantly opposed to the Republican's selection of our city to celebrate rising unemployment, their gutting of social services, tax cuts for the mega-rich, unlawful detention of immigrants, and their unrelenting exploitation of the 9/11 victims while standing on their ashes.

The Republican National Committee has, for the first time in their 150 year history, selected New York for their Convention in 2004. In a shallow attempt at exploiting the lives lost at the World Trade Center, the RNC has pushed the Convention date (usually held in July) to September. We have witnessed two unjust wars, at least one American life lost each day overseas, a depressed economy, the collapse of the dollar, $87 billion to boost war profiteering, the closing of our firehouses, a health-care crisis, millions of children being left behind, and now this. We say, Enough!

The GOP's shameless exploitation of 9/11 has certainly put them in a difficult position in Illinois, because a Presidential candidate must be nominated before September in order to be listed on the Illinois ballot. Democrats in Illinois have worked out a nice deal with the GOP, though. They'll allow Bush to be listed on the ballot in the Presidential election, and Republicans have promised to count hanging chads and dimples in Illinois! Sounds like a decent arrangement.

From the Chicago Sun Times:

State law requires Bush be certified as a candidate in late August. But that is in doubt because his likely nomination comes Sept. 2 at the GOP convention in New York City, something national Republicans failed to consider when setting the convention date.

"I'm happy as a bipartisan person, as a leader on the Democratic side of the aisle, to make sure we have a fair election and let the president on the ballot," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the election bill's House sponsor.

To waive the certification requirement for Bush, the House GOP pinched its nose and joined Democrats to pass an election package 84-21. Now in the Senate, the package would wipe away more than $900,000 in election fines to White and other officeholders and permit paper ballots with hanging or dimpled "chads" to be counted.

"There's an awful lot of Republicans who said, 'Whoops, what do we do?' " said Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville), who supported the measure. "If we don't pass this bill, there's a strong possibility our presidential candidate would not be on the Illinois ballot in November."


The New Al-Qaeda

Here's an update on Al Qaeda, courtesy of the LA Times.

The biggest risk of invading Iraq is losing control of the war on terror. It's becoming obvious that this Administration has completely lost the upper hand on both battlefields, and a re-strengthened, rejuvenated Al Qaeda could overshadow any gains made in Iraq.

A spate of suicide bombings in several countries illustrates that Al Qaeda has survived by mutating into a more decentralized network relying on local allies to launch more frequent attacks on varied targets, experts say.

In bombings from Turkey to Morocco, experts say, evidence suggests that Al Qaeda provided support through training, financing or ideological inspiration to local extremists. Through an evolving and loose alliance of semiautonomous terrorist cells, the network has been able to export its violence and "brand name" with only limited involvement in the attacks themselves.

"I think it [U.S. strategy] has backfired," said Alani, of the London defense studies institute. "There is no evidence they can cope effectively with these groups."

On the other hand, some U.S. and European officials see signs of weakness as inexperienced, improvised terrorists turn to soft targets. Even in a diminished condition, Al Qaeda has shown how effectively it can harvest the seeds of hate, said Olivier Roy of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.

Casualties of Peace

From the NYTimes:

The Army has charged three Reserve soldiers with assaulting Iraqi prisoners in southern Iraq six months ago.

In an arraignment at an Army base in Kuwait on Saturday, three members of the 320th Military Police Battalion of Ashley, Pa., were accused of kicking and punching Iraqi prisoners that they were taking to a camp near Basra on May 12, Army officials said Tuesday.
The accusations became the third set of charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners that military authorities have brought against American service members.

The Army has charged Lt. Col. Allen B. West with firing a pistol near a suspected supporter of guerrillas during an interrogation in August to scare him into giving up information on pending attacks against soldiers near Tikrit. Colonel West has defended his actions as necessary to protect his troops. Through his lawyer, he has rejected an offer from the staff judge advocate for the Fourth Infantry Division to quit without retirement benefits to avoid court-martial.

In addition, the Marine Corps has charged eight Marine reservists in the death of an Iraqi prisoner near Nasiriya last June. Two of the eight marines faced charges of negligent homicide, while others faced lesser charges, Marine officials said.




Via Atrios comments:

What's the difference between a zeppelin & Rush Limbaugh?

One is a dirigible, the other is an overblown Nazi gas bag.

Our Standards Are Weak

This Washington Post article indicates that the Feith memo leaked to the Weakest Link, I mean Weakly Standard, is under investigation by the Justice Department. So this Administration has given up on Osama bin Laden, leaked the name of a national intelligence officer working on WMD, and leaked national intelligence about investigation of terrorist activity. Quite a record of integrity there...

The CIA will ask the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a 16-page classified Pentagon memo that listed and briefly described raw agency intelligence on any relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, according to congressional and administration sources.
A senior intelligence official said yesterday that the NSA and the DIA may make their own referrals to Justice, based on their analysis of the information disclosed from the Feith memo.
W. Patrick Lang, former head of the Middle East section of the DIA, said yesterday that the Standard article "is a listing of a mass of unconfirmed reports, many of which themselves indicate that the two groups continued to try to establish some sort of relationship. If they had such a productive relationship, why did they have to keep trying?"

Another former senior intelligence official said the memo is not an intelligence product but rather "data points . . . among the millions of holdings of the intelligence agencies, many of which are simply not thought likely to be true."

The Weakest Standard

I haven't commented on The Weekly Standard's 'Case Closed' article. The main reason is because Josh Marshall, Calpundit, Atrios, Eric Alterman, and the majority of the blogosphere has listed their comments. I don't have too much more to add than what has already been said...

But I do think that these type of misleading statements by the right side of the political spectrum, statements that twist raw data into hard facts, have ruined any chance of establishing a legitimate public discourse about the issues that matter to this nation and to the world.

This PIPA report underscores the above point:

A new study based on a series of seven nationwide polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war with Iraq.
Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.

An in-depth analysis of a series of polls conducted June through September found 48% incorrectly believed that evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found, 22% that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and 25% that world public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq. Overall 60% had at least one of these three misperceptions.


Say You Want a Revolution

I haven't posted my thoughts about Matrix Revolutions, yet I have responded to several positive and negative reviews. This movie, along with the previous two, require more than the initial "knee-jerk" responses typical of the regular movie reviewers. I'm not ready to post a review just yet, but I do want to say something about the negative reaction to the conclusion of the trilogy.

I have a theory that most mainstream audiences only wanted to see what happened in the six months between M1 and M2. This would have featured Neo & Co. fighting for humanity, kicking major ass, and finding new converts left and right. This film would've been more of an extension of the first film than Reloaded. If this had been M2, then M3 could have just led us right up to the Architect's little speech and Neo could've returned to the Source then. I think that this type of trilogy would've provided plenty "wow" effects, and may have reduced some of the philosophical chatter. In other words, perfect for today's popcorn audiences.

Most of the negative comments toward these two movies refuse to acknowledge that the Wachowski Brothers have brought their vision to the screen. It's not the movie that the critics would've made (HA HA!), it's not the movie that the Warner Brothers executives necessarily wanted to make.

Can't movie critics at least appreciate the opportunities given to the Wachowski Brothers and all lovers of science fiction? The critical, not financial, failure of Reloaded and Revolutions will have a negative impact on the fate of future high budget genre films. Why would executives greenlight Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or Larry Niven's Ringworld when they can just pump out another Independence Day or Armegeddon? Critics and movie goers will piss and moan that Hollywood only produces generic sequels, but they will give more support to these films (and their makers) than the people willing to take chances like the Lynch, Cronenberg, or Fincher.

I brought up Rendezvous with Rama because I have been thinking about one of Morgan Freeman's last quotes about the project:

"These things, they always want to make it into an action film. So you've got to cowboy it up a little bit. You can't do it with this. And we've been having trouble getting someone to see the science aspect of this, the exploratory aspects of it, rather than the blood and guts and stuff."

Freeman ends by giving Rama fans a reason to retain hope by saying, "It's not in limbo. We're pushing hard at it constantly.
" -David Fincher Net

Given the response to Reloaded and Revolutions, what do you think that the average studio executive would do if he was in charge of the Rama property? Spend $150 million with a visionary genre director or give it to somebody like Michael Bay? After Revolutions, I'm afraid that a lot of studios will be tightening the purse strings and reigning in projects that might yield the next Matrix.

You have to give the W. Bros. credit for delivering films that defied expectations and traditional narratives. Half of the story is one the screen, and the other half of the story is created when you sit and think about the film's universe. Blade Runner did the same thing, and audiences initially hated it. Now it is viewed as one of the most important sci fi films in cinema history.

Roger Ebert had this to say about the philosophy and dialogue of Reloaded:

The speeches provide not meaning, but the effect of meaning: It sure sounds like those guys are saying some profound things.

That will not prevent fanboys from analyzing the philosophy of "The Matrix Reloaded" in endless Web postings. Part of the fun is becoming an expert in the deep meaning of shallow pop mythology; there is something refreshingly ironic about becoming an authority on the transient extrusions of mass culture, and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) now joins Obi-Wan Kenobi as the Plato of our age.
-Chicago Sun Times

He is not entirely wrong in his comment about the dialogue in Reloaded (or Revolutions). However, the fans of the movie don't just discuss dialogue. They discuss the other "narrative" that must be inferred from multiple viewings AND late-night discussions with friends while drinking wine (or smoking a blunt). It's like watching a movie like Mulholland Drive or Natural Born Killers. You have to think about the characters, their motivation, the cinematic universe in which they live. If you don't like these kind of movies, just go watch the regular Hollywood fluff like Independence Day or 2 Fast 2 Furious.

(Ebert may like to think that the philosophy of an Ingmar Bergman film is ultimately more profound than that found in the Matrix, but that is nothing more than the view of most film "elitists". )

If your initial gut reaction to viewing this movie is negative, then there's not really anything that can be said that will change your mind. I don't like Titanic, and never will. I was disappointed with Terminator 3. But I didn't allow my negativity affect my overall criticism. I told my friends what I didn't like about these films, but still encouraged my friends to see them. Even if you don't like the story, Revolutions is one of the most sophisticated movies to ever hit the silver screen.

Nearly everybody will admit that the Wachowski Brothers completely owned us with one of these three movies. Even if you didn't like the sequels, you have to admit that the Wachowski Brothers did something amazing with the first film. If we continue to support them and their films, they may make something else that will even top the Matrix Trilogy. If we just give them nothing but shit for their hard work, another studio may not give them a chance to take Sci Fi to the next level. And that will be nothing but a loss to EVERYBODY here.


The Real Reason For Murder

While surfing for articles for the previous post, I came across this Guardian UK article about the diary Emma Thompson, the UK woman whose 1995 Murder appeal set an important precedent in UK law. (Basically, the defense of provocation in cases of extreme domestic violence and abuse.)

Most murders occur for specific reasons. The Sniper assassins did not murder because of a movie or a video game. There HAS to be a reason why people like them, or the Son of Sam, or the Zodiac Killer, pick up weapons and use them against their fellow man.

Emma was born in 1967. Within five years her parents had split up. Her mother and stepfather were both alcoholics, and her stepfather violent. From the age of 12, Emma started to run away from home and was drawn into drugs, drink and prostitution. After her death in July 1998, from an accidental overdose, Emma's father produced a suitcase of her belongings from his attic. Inside a diary was found, dating from the three years before her arrest, which is published today in a new book, The Map of My Life, The Story of Emma Humphreys.

Had these documents been known about at the time of her trial, they could have provided critical evidence to support her defence of provocation. They provide a fascinating record of Emma's life as a prostitute, of her relationship with her boyfriend, of her growing fear of his violence and her disintegration into alcohol-induced oblivion.


The WaPo discusses Lee Boyd Malvo's defense. He was brainwashed, blah, blah, blah.

Unfortunately, it seems like his lawyers are dropping the claims that Malvo (and Muhammed) were brainwashed by The Matrix and the video game, Halo. I say that I'm disappointed, because I get a real kick out of the people who try to blame the world's problems on movies and video games. However, the second article does indicate that the Matrix and Halo defenses will make an appearance!

For some laughs, here a sample of the arguments.

Fradical says:
Last evening, Friday, December 14, Stone Phillips reported on Dateline NBC that the Beltway Sniper investigation found that John Lee Malvo, aged 17, prepared for his sniping spree by training on an XBOX shooter game, Halo, switched to "sniper mode." Phillips reported that John Muhammad had Malvo train on this game to break down his inhibition to kill because it switched Malvo from two-dimensional rifle range targets to virtual human targets. Killing humans would then be easier.

Certain children near Washington don’t have parents today, and certain parents in Paducah don’t have children today, because the video game industry, even after Columbine, whose killers trained on Doom, has targeted American kids with violent games that train them to kill. These games are nothing more than adult-rated murder simulators that make killings foreseeable and likely.

Laughing yet? It's odd to blame Columbine on a game like Doom, when the parents were aware that Kleibold and Harris were in possession of illegal firearms and bomb-making equipment. I guess that they must have been playing another video game, in which undisciplined spoiled brats walk all over their parents without any fear of the consequences of their actions.

It's important to note who wrote the above section. Jack Thompson is also suing the publishers of the Grand Theft Auto series, Take Two Interactive, for a $100 million because two minors, who shouldn't have been in possession of an M-rated game in the first place, went on a killing spree that mimicked the game's content. Jack Thompson is the man responsible for the Ice-T Cop Killer Controversy, too. It's also important to note that Thompson has yet to blame any attacks on the parents of the minors involved. He does not sue the firearm industry. He doesn't sue the US government over it's "murder simulator", America's Army. Jack doesn't provide any answers, he just smells money anytime a young child spills blood.

But let's laugh some more....

Boston News has a terrific article about the number of people claiming "The Matrix" defense:

When Lee Boyd Malvo, teen half of the alleged D.C. sniper duo, goes on trial for murder in Chesapeake, Va., tomorrow, his attorney confirms that he too will weave "The Matrix" into his insanity defense. Malvo told FBI agents that they should "watch `The Matrix"' if they wanted to understand him, and jailers found lines of dialogue from the film scribbled on paper in his cell. Even the Columbine killers were "Matrix" fans.
"The concept behind the movie isn't new," offers Dr. John Kennedy, director of the University of Cincinnati's Institute of Law and Psychiatry. "But there may be a certain group of individuals who wouldn't have heard about the concept except for the movie, who are ripe for hearing that and running with it. They're people whose lives are so fractured or without meaning that `The Matrix' is a way to explain that without saying, `I'm sick,' or, `I'm different.' It's a much more soothing explanation than admitting you've got a problem."

Kennedy's theory is borne out by the stories of the two killers who've already pled not guilty by reason of "The Matrix." In May 2000, Vadim Mieseges, a 27-year-old Swiss exchange student and former mental patient, confessed to skinning and dismembering his landlady and stashing her torso in a dumpster in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The reason, he said, was that she was emitting "evil vibes" and he was afraid of being "sucked into the Matrix." A judge accepted his plea of insanity, and the case never went to trial. His preexisting paranoia, it seems, had turned lethal under assault from crystal meth and "The Matrix."

I definitely recommend reading the full article, because it cites more cases that are just too stupid to believe. These cases have just as much merit as the argument that John W. Hinckley, JR's assassination attempt on President Reagan can be blamed on Scorcese's Taxi Driver and an obsession with Jodie Foster.

I think that Chris Rock said it best... " What happened to crazy? Can't kids be crazy no more?"

Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler were very crazy, very efficient killing machines. And without the expert training of "video games".

Why Does Bush Embarass Me?

From the WaPo article about Bush's trip to London this week:

The queen and the president have met before, most famously in 1991 during his father's administration when he made her smile by wearing cowboy boots stamped with "God Save the Queen" during her visit to the White House. U.S. and British officials are hoping his quirky charm, combined with his deeply held belief that he is protecting the world from rogue states and terrorism, will somehow capture hearts and minds here.

What a boot-scootin' embarassment. Of course, the Queen may surprise us by wearing a crown that says "Don't Mess With Texas", but I doubt it...


Baghdad Burning

Via Buzzflash

Here's a great, great new blog written by some woman in Baghdad. Surprisingly, she isn't posting about the schools and hospitals re-opening (after we bombed the hell out of the country).

The remarkable thing about this blog is her ability to frame this occupation through the eyes of a "regular" citizen. (She could be royalty for all I know, but the prose is very down-to-earth.)

This comment really struck a chord with me for some reason...

As my mother constantly says, “Kul wahid yihtajleh galub memdeshen”, or “every person [you listen to] requires an brand new heart”. This is usually said when anticipating a sad, frustrating story. Every story begins with a deep *sigh* and ends with an “Allah kareem”.

Baghdad Burning Weblog

Ouch, Baby. Very Ouch.

Baby Bush is bopping across the puddle to visit his boy-bitch, Blair. It doesn't sound like it will be completely "Cavier Wishes and Champagne Dreams"...

But in Iraq - as in most other things, the average American assumes - the British are our friends. Imagine the shock, then, when they see surging crowds, burning flags and (unless police step into ban it) a giant effigy of the Great Leader being toppled, à la Saddam, in Trafalgar Square.

It is not only Bush the Chicken-hawk warmonger and promoter-in-chief of the great illusion about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction who they will be denouncing. It is also Bush the ignorant, self-righteous Christian warrior, Bush the smirking executioner and Bush the believer in one law for America and another for everyone else. And, of course, Bush the "Toxic Texan", an image made flesh by the "ghost ships" bearing down on Hartlepool, whose US-produced contaminants will find a last resting place on Britain's unpolluted isle.
-The Independent UK

Is this the same British press who isn't allowed to say Prince Charles was snuggling in bed with the Tooth-Paste Butler???

Operation Iron Fisting

This NYT article makes me a little nervous. Evidently, Operation Iron Hammer, is more smoke 'n mirrors than a real pushback toward the Iraq insurgency. While these tactics have merit, I'm disappointed that our commanders try to tell us that they destroyed a building that is clearly still standing.

On the southern edge of the capital, a large building that American commanders said was a "meeting, planning, storage and rendezvous point" for the insurgents still stood, despite the military's claim that it had been destroyed in an airstrike the night before.

American soldiers came to the neighborhood several hours before the attack, local residents said, warning of the impending strike and making sure that everyone in the area was evacuated. Then an American AC-130 gunship strafed the building, knocking holes in the walls and wrecking much of the textile machinery arrayed inside.

After the strike, the Americans came back but detained no suspects, not even the owner of the building, and found no weapons.

I hope that the Iraq Insurgency is getting the correct message, but we have such a minimal voice in the Iraq media that rumors will spread far faster than the truth. The Iraqis feel the stress of living in a low-security state for six months now, and now they see us bringing out our guns again and firing into their property. If these type of tactics don't show positive results immediately, it will only further strain our relationship.


These Headlines Disturb Me

I can't help but think that these two articles should be read together... We might be re-opening schools (that closed because of the bombings), but that doesn't seem to be enough to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis...

Iraqi Teenagers Watch as Americans Bleed

After a roadside bomb ripped through a military vehicle and wounded two soldiers, Iraqi boys rushed out of their homes to survey the damage.


Teenage boys were irritated to hear that two American soldiers were just wounded, not killed.

"I saw them pushing their hands onto one of the Americans' chest. They must have died. One soldier's friend was crying," said Abdullah Oman, 18.

His fury has been fueled by what he says is an American desire to humiliate all Iraqis.


"I want to join these Iraqi fighters. I want to hit the Americans, the infidels," said Ali Ahmed, 10.

INTELLIGENCE C.I.A. Report Suggests Iraqis Are Losing Faith in U.S. Efforts
The C.I.A. and the White House refused even to confirm the existence of the report, which was first disclosed by The Philadelphia Inquirer. But government officials outside those agencies said its conclusions were among the darkest intelligence assessments distributed since the American-led invasion of Iraq in March.

"It says that this is an insurgency, and that it is gaining strength because Iraqis have no confidence that there is anyone on the horizon who is going to stick around in Iraq as a real alternative to the former regime," one American official said.

The latest C.I.A. report follows earlier intelligence assessments that warned American commanders in Iraq of increasing resentment among ordinary Iraqis. The picture those reports presented was very different from the public view presented by administration officials.

Late Halloween Costume Contest

Well, this site didn't really have a Halloween Costume Contest, but I feel that I have to declare a winner anyway..

Contgrats to Mr. Garrison for his bitchin' Hunter S. Thompson outfit.

And congrats to Mike Uhlir for submitting this picture to the
South Park Studios Halloween Costume Contest


Success for Bush!!

Here's some great news for the Bush Administration. On July 2, he demanded that the Iraqi opposition "bring it". Well, that may have been the plan all along... Surprise surprise.

Whether or not the Iraqi opposition is waging a long-planned war, there is no question that enemy attacks on U.S. troops and their foreign and Iraqi allies are increasing in scope, intensity, sophistication and frequency.

Of course, it might seem like I'm a little snarky and taking the President's comments out of context. So let's reprint Bush's plea to the Iraqi opposition...

There are some who feel like -- that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. Of course we want other countries to help us -- Great Britain is there, Poland is there, Ukraine is there, you mentioned. Anybody who wants to help, we'll welcome the help. But we've got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure. We always welcome help. We're always glad to include others in. But make no mistake about it -- and the enemy shouldn't make any mistake about it -- we will deal with them harshly if they continue to try to bring harm to the Iraqi people.

Well, they "brought it", Mr. President. Thank goodness you've assured us that we have enough force in Iraq to "make the situation secure". I'm sure the Italians are thanking you, too....

Bush and Clinton Haters

Eric Alterman breaks down the difference between Bush haters and Clinton haters...

1) Bush “haters” talk about policy not personality.
2) Bush “haters’ support the country and its soldiers in wars they believe to be misguided
3) Bush “haters” do not accuse the president of drug-running and murder
7) Bush “haters” back up their arguments with references and, frequently, footnotes, all of which can be checked for accuracy.
8) Bush “haters” are addressing themselves to a president who ran, dishonestly, as moderate and still managed to lose the election, only to gain the presidency with the support of Republican-appointed judges.

Now look at the Clinton-haters.

1) One of them, the one who advised David Brock to make stuff up for the Spectator in order to see what would stick, is Solicitor General.
2) Another is House Majority Leader
3) Another is the former House Majority Leader.
4) Another is the former Speaker of the House.
5) Just about all of these refused to vote for a resolution in support of U.S. troops risking their lives for freedom and democracy in Kosovo, when given a chance.
10) Virtually all of their arguments were driven by either paranoid fantasies, planted lies, or at best, personal actions that had no bearing on the well-being of the country.
11) A few of them—including the one who sought to raise money by accusing the president of murder—blamed the attacks of 9/11 on Americans.

Taco-Flavored Kisses

The new episode of South Park is nothing but a half-hour informercial for a restaurant, Casa Bonita. I knew that Matt Stone and Trey Parker planned to "sell out" as soon as they got to Hollywood, but this is ridiculous!!

I did enjoy the episode, even more than the Crab People season opener. I didn't like it as much as the Christian Rock episode, and I was a little upset that Professor Chaos didn't do something about Cartman's treachery.

However, I am impressed with Butter's knowledge of old Peter Cetera songs...

If you leave me now
You take the biggest part of me
Ooh no, baby please don't go

And if you leave me now
You take away the very heart of me
Oh no baby please don't go
Oh girl I just want you to stay

A love like ours is love that's hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We've come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes and we both regret
The things we said today

A love like ours is love that's hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We've come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes and we both regret
The things we said today

If you leave me now
You'll take away the biggest part of me
Ohh no, baby please don't go
(don't go, please don't go)
Oh no I just got to have your loving

If You Leave Me Now
(Peter Cetera)

You Get As Much Justice In Texas As You Can Afford

I'm not a huge fan of MSNBC or The Abram's Report, but I think that he did make a clever observation about the jurors on the Durst Case.

"I think they left their common sense at the door. And that is my closing argument."

He interviewed four of the jurors, all of whom nearly made me fell embarassed to be a natural-born Texan. The jurors were "impressed" that Durst was consistent with his story, while the prosecutors were "confusing" because they presented multiple scenarios of the crime.

These jurors readily admitted that Durst killed Morris Black, dismembered Black's body and dumped it in Galveston bay, returned to the body and cut off the head, dumping the head in New Orleans, and then disguising himself as a woman to evade police.

That's all well and good. The jurors don't care about that. The only question for the jury was :

"The question that we had to answer was ... Was it an intentional murder? Was it self defense, an accident?" -Houston Chronicle

Good question, ya'll. I'm sure that it wasn't intentional. I accidently murder people all the time and dismember the body and discard it in the gulf. And self-defense? Who hasn't had to cut off the head of an attacker's body and carry it across state lines? I mean, if it's self-defense, you really have to defend against possible zombie attacks, too.

I can't wait to see how the Houston juries rule on the on the child molestation case.


A Homenetz Matrix Forum has this transcript of a 1999 Q&A session with the Wachowski Brothers with fans who were watching the movie online. There are some interesting and humorous replies throughout, but I pulled out the ones that really stood out.

Question: How did you guys come up with the idea for the Matrix? Playing video games? Shock therapy?
WachowskiBros: No, designer drugs.

Question:... Morpheus shows Neo the desert of the real.
WachowskiBros: There have been many questions about the history that Morpheus suggests in this scene, we have written the history in a fair amount of detail. We've often hoped that if we did an anime series, we would tell the story of this history and the story of the first One. Somebody asked us about the liquification of humans, that's what they feed the people in the pods, the dead people are liquified and fed to the living people in the pods. Always recycle! It's a statement on recycling.

Question: What are the odds of the Wachowskis directing a "straight up" live action adaptation of an anime?
WachowskiBros: I thought we did.

Question: Is it hard to work as brothers? Don't you disagree on everything?
WachowskiBros: Mom flies down to the set everyday to settle every one of our arguments.

Question: Just out of curiosity, do you guys hold to any religious beliefs?
WachowskiBros: Non-denominational.

Question: Did ideas from Buddhism influence you in making the film?
WachowskiBros: Yes. There's something uniquely interesting about Buddhism and mathematics, particularly about quantum physics, and where they meet. That has fascinated us for a long time.

Question: What is the significance of Neo eating the Oracle's cookie?
WachowskiBros: There was a piece cut out of the movie that explained the significance more. It's hard to explain.

Question: Have you ever been told that the Matrix has Gnostic overtones?
WachowskiBros: Do you consider that to be a good thing? I would.

Question: Do you believe that our world is in some way similar to "The Matrix", that there is a larger world outside of this existence?
WachowskiBros: That is a larger question than you actually might think. We think the most important sort of fiction attempts to answer some of the big questions. One of the things that we had talked about when we first had the idea of The Matrix was an idea that I believe philosophy and religion and mathematics all try to answer. Which is, a reconciling between a natural world and another world that is perceived by our intellect.

Question: Confronted with Neo's choice, which would you choose?
WachowskiBros: Blue pill.

Question: What is your fave line in the movie?
WachowskiBros: "Dodge this." And "There is no spoon." We also liked that one.

Question: How long had you been working on writing the story, and was there re-writing going on while filming?
WachowskiBros: There was not much re-writing, a little bit. Somebody asked us about the street names in the movie and all of them are significant. They are all based on places in Chicago.

Question: Any influence from Blade Runner?
WachowskiBros: Blade Runner was a benchmark science fiction film, a masterpiece. Of course there's influence. But we were like the only guys who liked that movie when we saw it, everyone else hated it.

Question: Am I really watching the movie right now, or am I in...The Matrix?
WachowskiBros: Take another blue pill and call me tomorrow.

Space City Likes a Revolution

Texas critics seem divided on Revolutions... I'm surprised that one of the major papers, The Houston Chronicle, rated it higher than any other paper in Texas. Way to go, Space City. As usual, I disagree with Austin's Chris Garcia. I guess Niobe is right after all. Some things change, and some things never change.

In The Matrix Revolutions, the Architect, thankfully, keeps his muttering to a minimum, but everyone else takes up the slack. These characters love to talk. Still, so much of Reloaded was devoted to setting up Revolutions that the new movie is able to move more swiftly, relatively unburdened by explication. The catch, however, is that you need not only to have understood Reloaded's mumbo jumbo to make sense of this, but you also need to have retained it.
Revolution brings the saga to a close with a bang. But while it's an honorable effort and provides closure, it isn't an entirely satisfying conclusion. For one thing, I'm not sure what it means.

- Houston Chronicle A-

Oh, the tedium. The plot is at once convoluted and cliches, an exhausting morass of backflips and claptrap telling the oldest story in the world with the newest computer effects. It galvanizes as it narcotizes, drones as it dazzles.
"Revolutions" finds rote means to a rote end. Whatever was special about the original "Matrix" has curdled into tired convention. The narrative vigilance and visual elegance of the first "Matrix" has been bargained away. The new movie glistens with the sweat of filmmakers whose sole goal is to top their previous enchantments. But they have nowhere to go that hasn't been visited by them or their acolytes.

-Austin American Statesman (1/4 Stars)

The final installment in the genre-shattering behemoth collectively known as The Matrix finds Neo (Reeves), Morpheus (Fishburne), and Trinity (Moss) hunkered down in the subterranean city of Zion, last bastion of nonenslaved humanity and apparent home of Seattle's cast-off cotton grungewear. The machines, by this point, are only some 24 hours away from breaking through and wiping out this pocket of human resistance to their strangely metaphysical anti-life above;
(B)ut for all its bluster and jaw-dropping computer graphics, Revolutions never quite manages to live up to the unexpected brilliance of the original outing. There's love and sacrifice galore, yes, and the hand-to-hand combat set-pieces choreographed by legendary martial artist Yuen Wo Ping remain peerless, but all this action very nearly overwhelms the trilogy's inherent intellectual pursuits. Still and all, it's an impressive closing to the cycle, and, frankly, one that arrives not a moment too soon.

-Austin Chronicle (3/4 Stars)

But the series has reached a level of joylessness, a ponderous self-seriousness and labyrinthine mythology that now elicits laughs where they're not intended. If you walked into this movie without having studied the first two, you would probably end up shouting at the screen in frustration.
Dallas News C-

Ignore the fact that we're basically watching one set of computer-generated images fight with another set of computer-generated images. Ignore the fact that the robots look like marauding vegetables -- the attack of the portobello mushrooms. The real mystery here is why Neo drops out of the movie -- along with Trinity and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) -- for nearly 30 minutes. What kind of movie leaves its three main characters out of the centerpiece? An inept one.
Fort Worth Star Telegram D


Yay For Movie Watchers

Prevue Magazine Talks Matrix and it seems like they understand what the Wachowski Brothers were trying to achieve.

It is certainly true that many die-hard Matrix fans appreciate the mental work required to grasp the overtly complex philosophical themes dealt with. This film veers so far from the classical narrative conventions, viewers cannot passively accept the unfolding of events. Ironically, one must question the reality projected on the screen in exactly the manner main character Neo is forced to do.

Reloaded and Revolutions are very challenging films that require that the audience to participate on some visceral level. The first movie challenged the audience with Morpheus advertising, "Nobody can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself." However, The Transformers, ambassadors of the machine world, have always warned us that there is always "More Than Meets The Eye". Some viewers don't really care for these revalations, and respond with white-hot rage.

Fortunately, Some People Do Watch The Movies

Corporate Mofo has posted an analysis of Matrix Revolutions. Beware, spoilers abound. (You might want to catch up with the Reloaded analysis first.)

(What kind of life could (Neo and Trinity)have, anyway? They're archetypes, not characters. What would they do, raise a bunch of clichés?) -Revolutions


Via Rotten tomatoes, here is a section of Rene Rodriguez review of Matrix Revolutions

Matrix Revolutions packs an undeniable visceral punch -- it's an amazing piece of technical work -- but the Wachowskis had primed us for something deeper than an action extravaganza. And that, unfortunately, they do not deliver. Game over.

Matrix Revolutions doesn't deliver anything deeper than an action extravaganza? That's like saying Twin Peaks was nothing more than a crime drama. Rodriguez only wanted to see a traditional action movie with candy-coated pieces of philosophy and Western religion added into the mix. The philosophical implications of Sati and the Oracle's actions are the core of the revolution of this trilogy. Neo would have just been another regular "One" without the existence of Sati and the Oracle's sacrifices, but Rodriguez can't acknowledge these revelations because they would conflict with the theme of the criticism of "failing to deliver."

Rodriguez continues:
Revolutions conclusively proves that the Wachowskis had little substantial to add to the premise of the 1999 original -- our reality is an artificial construct designed by the machines that have enslaved us -- when they decided to spin out The Matrix into a trilogy.

Little substantial to add? The Wachowski Brothers have blurred the line between human consciousness and artificial intelligence. They create a vision of the future based on the direction of current technological trends, just like every good science fiction story has done in the past. Has Rene given any thought to the difference between Sati's parents and the other "rogue" programs like the Merovingian or Agent Smith? The latter two have evaded deletion for a number of reasons, but are any of those reasons love? How is it possible for programs to learn love? What are the implications of a world where AI has advanced to the point that it wishes to exist for the sake of existing? What are the implications of a world where humans can choose to live between two different realities?

For all its aspirations at profundity, the story all boils down to a really big fistfight and a war between computer-generated machinery whose resolution will have you grating your teeth, much like Agent Smith himself. As a whole, Revolutions is as anti-climactic as the moment in Return of the Jedi when we finally got to see what Darth Vader looked like under that mask, and he turned out to be . . . a bald old blue guy.

How can readers respond with these type of opinions, stated as fact, that imply that the reviewer just does not pay attention to the story on-screen? What would Rodriguez say about Twin Peaks? That, for all its aspirations at profundity, the story all boils down to a "non-traditional FBI investigation into the murder of a rural high school prom queen"?

Rodriguez could at least try to acknowledge that the Wachowski Brothers have created a type of modern allegory seeded with Eastern and Western philosophies that is appealing to audiences around the planet. Rodriguez could at least try to commend the brothers for allowing a studio to take a chance on a $400 million pair of movies that aren't cut by the typical Hollywood cookie-cutter. These movies are connecting with a big audience and initiating dialogue among academics who normally don't obsess on the science or philosophy of Hollywood big budget actions. Rodriguez has chosen to completely dismiss these aspects of the films, and that is ultimately Rene's sacrifice. I'm glad that I didn't have to do the same.



I don't ever follow royalty gossip, but there's some crazy stuff here. Princess Diana was videotaping interviews with staff and other people. Maybe she was going to use them as evidence in a custody case, or maybe just for the memories. Paul Burrel may or may not have these tapes now. This site, ThroneOut, has the basic layout of the scandal, with plenty of links to further explain these crazy characters. I'll go ahead and introduce three main players...

Prince Charles: You know, Dana Carvey played him perfectly as a tampon.

George Smith: Falkland War Veteran. Former valet to the royal family. He occasionally would deliver breakfast on Sunday mornings when the head butler was not at the palace. Now he is 43 years old, suffered from a nervous breakdown, and is an alcoholic.

Michael Fawcett: Mr Fawcett was a trusted aide to the Prince, having worked for him for more than 20 years. He became famous as the man who squeezed the toothpaste onto his master's toothbrush.

He started as the prince's valet and rose to become his personal consultant. He was the prince's most trusted servant, but his abrasive manner made him unpopular with other staff. .

Test Your 80's IQ

I wish we could go back to those wonderful days...

Test your 80s IQ by completing sing lyrics. I am pretty happy with the ones that I was able to figure out, but pissed that I missed the U2 and Weird Al stuff...

I did well, though. This is my total score:

You grew up to this. No Bonus. No penalty.
5 point bonus for telling me where you saw this. Thanks!

Final Score: 68.5

Trey Parker, New Conservative Leader

I posted earlier about the conservatives embracing South Park. The creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, gave a couple of interesting sound bites in the latest issue of Details that obviously sync with the conservative agenda....

Details: When was the last time you got in a fight?

Trey Parker: Neither of us is passionate enough about anything to fight about it.

Matt Stone: Yeah, we're from Colorado-we're laid-back. My mom is Jewish, so I understand the Jew-blood yelling tendencies, but somehow that was genetially engineered out of me.

Details: When was the last time you cruised the strip?

Matt Stone: We stopped doing that when we realized we weren't mexican.

Details: When was the last time you voted?

Trey Parker: I've never really voted. All I know is I've got a really cut dog named Rodney, and he would do better than the governor we have right now.


Escape the Meatrix. Go Vegetarian...

Enter the Meatrix

Y'know... This reminds me of one of Peggy Hills best quotes...

"Boggle is a game of wits, Cow Bingo is a game of strategy." - Peggy Hill



The British press is getting a little helter skelter about a couple of rumors concerning Prince Charles and his former assistant. The press in the UK is restricted by libel laws, and have been skirting the issue for a while. It is about to break, and will likely destroy the entire monarchy. (Who, by the way, are still recovering from the allegations that Prince Charles is really The Tampon Prince, and Canada has abandoned the Monarchy.)

Charles "is too close to Fawcett. What can one do when your husband is in an unhealthy relationship" with a servant, Diana says on the videos, the Sunday Mirror reported yesterday. She also tells how Charles and Fawcett appeared "uneasy" after being disturbed while together in a private room, the paper claims.

The contents of the 40-minute recording were exclusively revealed to the Sunday Mirror by someone who has watched the tapes.

The video diaries are separate from the so-called audio "rape tape" which Diana made of allegations by former valet George Smith that he had been raped by a member of Prince Charles' household. On one video tape Diana talks about Smith and says how sorry she feels for his predicament.

She says that she understood that at first he was having consensual sex with a member of the royal household but that things got out of hand.

Diana says that the royal household member went too far and raped him. "It must have been awful for him," she adds.

- The Mirror

Matrix Codes

These are the new codes to break the 128-bit encryption at The Official Matrix Website. To enter the codes, you 'll have to follow the entire process. (I'll highlight the new codes in bold).

(You'll want to make sure that you aren't blocking cookies to the Matrix website.)

Once you're at the main hub of the website, go to the upper right corner of the screen.

Click the small yellow button.

Click the small grey box, not the grey rectangle. It will slide open to reveal a green button. Click the green button.

The Control Panel should slide down. Open the access panel by clicking on the left side on the grooves.

Enter 01101111 and a green button will light up. Click Enter.

Now for 32-bit...

Enter 0AC01BFA in binary (machine code).

(Binary is nothing but ones and zeros, so just click buttons until you have all of this.)

0000 1010 1100 0000 0001 1011 1111 1010

The button should light green and press enter.

Now for 128-bit. Enter all of these codes. This time you can see the corresponding hexidecimal code on the right of the screen.


0011 0001 1001 0101 1010 0011 1111 0110


1110 0111 0010 1011 0101 0100 0011 1100


0110 1001 0111 0111 1101 1010 0001 0110


1110 0111 1000 1001 0101 1011 0011 1110

Enjoy the Zion Archives.

The Oracle Smokes a Different Brand

The Oracle smokes an interesting brand of cigarettes named Double Destiny. Fans of the movie might find that slightly interesting. The box also features a slightly altered warning than we are accustomed to.

Tobacco smoking is a major cause of relaxation. It can cause queues at cigarette machine. These queues can lead to chest pain and panic attacks. A panic attack is the most common cause of death in America. Smokers run a far greater risk of looking cool than people who don't smoke.
For Information, call 0011 5510.

Oracle's Cigs


This blog will be taken over by the matrix for a while. Hope all of the faithful viewer(s) don't mind too much.


Matrix Revolutions: The Critics Need To Reload

Let's look at the CBS News List of Revolutions Mistakes


But these are quibbles. What makes "Revolutions" destructive instead of merely stupid is the way it repeatedly violates the series' internal logic. For instance:

Even though "Revolutions" takes place only in the span of a few hours immediately following "Reloaded," some of our characters have taken, quite suddenly, to using informal nicknames with one another, such as "Merv" and "Trin."

In "The Matrix" we were told that agents must obey the physical laws inherent in the matrix. Morpheus says, "Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air, yet their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be." Not anymore. In "Revolutions," Agent Smith can do everything Neo can.

In "Revolutions" we meet computer programs who feel love and appreciate karma, but later we're assured that machines always keep their word, since betrayal is a human trait.

Neo survives being driven into concrete so forcefully that he creates a 30-foot crater. (The wonderful site Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics will have a field day with "Revolutions.") Yet what finally fells him is a punch to the gut. There may still be some rules in the matrix governing Neo, but they appear and disappear arbitrarily.

When confronted with a single sentinel in "The Matrix," a frightened Trinity tells Neo that the electromagnetic pulse is mankind's only weapon against these devilish devices. In "Revolutions," simple machine guns prove quite effective and all ships seem to be equipped with them. Is this a small inconsistency? Yes, except that it makes the tension of the closing minutes in "The Matrix" a complete contrivance.

The same can be said for the process of jacking in and out of the matrix. In the first movie, much of the drama concerns finding safe lines to jump into and out of the matrix. This process has become such an afterthought in "Revolutions" that jacking in is done smoothly, quickly, and always off-screen.

The list of glaring inconsistencies goes on.

Worse still, is the way "Revolutions" abandons the larger thematic issues. The climactic moment in "Reloaded" comes when Neo meets the Architect and learns that Morpheus has his chronology wrong, that there have been several matrixes and Zions. The Architect then gives a long mathematical explanation of what Neo is:

Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here. …

The function of the One is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the matrix, which coupled with the extermination of Zion will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race.

Pretty big news. In "Revolutions" barely a word is spoken about any of this. In the end, "Revolutions" settles down to a fairly explicit Christian allegory, but even here the Wachowski brothers are confused: Neo is a warrior and if you strip out the symbols, he resembles Muhammad as much as Christ.

This is just lazy, lazy journalism. There are some inconsistencies in Revolutions, but this guy sure hasn't found them.

- Nicknames? Merovingian and Trinity have already met each other, hate each other, and using a nickname is part of the psychological war with somebody like the Merv. People have been calling Trinity by her nickname "Trin" since the first movie. She doesn't meet anybody new in Revolutions, so why is it a surprise that people she already knows use her nickname?

-Agent Smith can do everything Neo can? Yeah, no shit. That's what the fucking Oracle tells us. He is Neo's opposite, as Neo's power grows, so does Smith's. Duh, duh, duh.

-Who says betrayal is only a human trait? Who says that the peace will definitely last forever? Who says the humans won't be the one to break the peace next time?

-Neo isn't "felled" by a punch to the gut. Neo dies when Smith sticks his hand in him and assimilates him. Did this guy even watch this fucking movie? If I pile-drive somebody into a crater and they stand back up, it might not take more than one punch to finish them off. Haven't you ever seen a boxing match when one final nasty punch in the 9th round is enough for the final KO?

-No, they aren't confronted with a "single" sentinel in the Matrix. They aren't close enough to Zion to risk open war with hundreds or thousands of sentinels. If they were close to operating depth and got into a gunfight, some of the sentinels would survive long enough to signal for backup. An EMP gets the fucking job done, the right fucking way. You just have to FUCKING THINK ABOUT IT, you inept journalist.

-Both Revolutions and Reloaded have warnings about the difficulty of finding a secure operating location. Do we have to fucking see them jack into the Matrix every fucking time? And we actually do see Neo jacked into the Matrix at the end. So that means we only miss Trinity and Morpheus jack into the Matrix once in Revolutions? I can fucking live with that.

-The Architect already explained everything in Reloaded. If you want to see him say it again, go watch Reloaded. How much more do you need explained? We're adults now, we don't need somebody to hold our fucking hand and walk us to the library for a fucking explanation.


Politics and Science and Politics and Politics and Politics

This comes as no surprise to the scientific community, and it definitely shouldn't surprise anybody in the Bush administration.


Federal agencies with global reputations for scientific excellence depend upon the objective input of leading scientists and the impartial analysis of scientific evidence to develop effective policies. The Bush Administration, however, has repeatedly suppressed, distorted, or obstructed science to suit political and ideological goals. These actions go far beyond the traditional influence that Presidents are permitted to wield at federal agencies and compromise the integrity of scientific policymaking.
- U.S. House of Representatives

MEDIA - Nobody Wins The Culture War

Brian Anderson's column We're Not Losing The Culture Wars Anymore declares:

"The Left's near monopoly over the institutions of opinion and information which long allowed liberal opinion makers to sweep aside ideas and beliefs they disagreed with, as if they were beneath argument is skidding to a startlingly swift halt."

Anderson doesn't attempt to prove that the Left (or Right or Middle) is part of a monopoly of opinion and information. Anderson simply states that the existence of Fox News, the NRO laughable Krugman watch, Dennis Miller, and South Park indicate that the end of Liberal Media snobbery is now over, forever, until the end of time itself. Excuse me while I go laugh myself sick...

Partisan pundits often attempt to place mainstream personalities into categories that serve the needs of the pundit, not the public. South Park is a good example of a show that has been picked apart by its fans (and critics), and has been adopted by both Conservatives and Liberals as a portal to impressionable youth. I would argue that South Park only has one main agenda, to be a type of bully pulpit for Matt and Trey's humor and libertarian ideology. Conservatives and Liberals might agree with some of the libertarian ethics that manifest themselves into statements on gun control or religion, but pundits from both extremes should hesitate before declaring that South Park pushes any legitimate agenda in the US two party political system.

When South Park first premiered in 1997 (the same year it received a GLAAD media award), it inspired most Conservatives and Liberal pundits to come together and agree that the show shouldn't be on television. Conservative media watcher, L. Brent Bozell III , said

There's simply no way that the executives at Comedy Central can deny they are polluting the minds of youngsters with this filth. It is what television has come to. It is what television was bound to come to because adults have sanctioned it through indifference. There is not one of us who escapes responsibility for this tragedy. It's going to get worse still.

Another Viewpoint adds:

Responsibility is not part of the program. An uncle gives free reign to the boys by handing them three things they are not supposed to have -- alcohol, automatic weapons, and cigarettes. This is probably used to promote the ultra-leftist "responsibility by government control" because they want to tell, "Parents can't do it, let the government do it." Now what real life parent would do such to their children?

So why is Brian Anderson so willing to look past South Park's stance on issues like abortion, drugs, religion, and homosexuality only to latch onto Cartman's anti-hippie, anti-rain forest stance? Well, Aunt Tom hits the nail with the hammer here with his term "South Park Republican". Young conservatives enjoy the show as much as young liberals. But youth, as a whole, is gullible and impressionable. Conservative pundits can throw around a term like "South Park Republican" and hope that young voters who identify with the libertarian philosophies of the show will think of themselves as Republicans. (It's a bit like political ambulance chasing.)

To put this in South Park terms, Anderson (and other conservative pundits) are acting like Cartman in a recent episode about Christian rock music. Cartman believed that he could exploit a certain niche market and service his own agenda.

Cartman: "This weekend is Christfest, the single largest gathering of Christians in the Midwest. Each one of them is a walking, praying wallet full of cash and I'll be there selling my album."

Stan: "Yeah, you don't even know anything about Christianity."

Cartman: "I know enough to exploit it."

(Cartman then ends the episode with the new Conservative party slogan: "Oh, Fuck Jesus. I'll say it again. Fuck Jesus." but I honestly prefer the old Conservative party slogan from the South Park movie: "God? He is the biggest bitch of them all.")

Pundits like Brian Anderson are similar to Cartman when they couple South Park with the a specific political ideology. They hope that any fans who might be Independent will read the article and say, "Well if South Park is pro-conservative, I must be too if I like it so much." I usually get upset when I read articles like Anderson's, but I can only smile at the strange bedfellows that he has chosen for the "right" agenda.

Anderson offers South Park as evidence that the youth of America are "trending" right, and then includes shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Yes, he listed Six Feet Under as a show that would "make Karl Rove happy". I'm sure he and President Bush had many discussions whether Brenda or Lisa was the biggest bitch or whether David has chosen the right homosexual life partner. I'd be interested in knowing if Karl Rove has even seen the show, much less made him happy.

Anderson also throws in pro-choice, anti-drug war, pro gay marriage Dennis Miller on this list. Dennis Miller is a sign that the Left's monopoly on information has come to an end? (Does Dennis own hotels on Park Place in addition to all of the rail roads and utilities?) Dennis Miller has pissed off his longtime fans who enjoyed his scathing political commentary for nearly twenty years. He makes a shift to the right, lost his show on HBO due to extremely low ratings and an annoyed fanbase, and then shows up on Monday Night Football. Even though the MNF audience "trends" slightly to the right, and is predominately males between the ages of 18-60, Dennis Miller couldn't even make a connection with this audience and was eventually fired.

Dennis Miller razzled and dazzled conservatives with his remark that Howard Dean wears the tattoo of Neville Chamberlain on his forearm. How many "South Park Republicans" out there know who Neville Chamberlain is? How many conservative university professors know who Neville Chamberlain is? Hell, how many outside of Dennis Miller's reading circle know who Neville Chamberlain is? Sports fans couldn't care less about reading the ESPN Dennis Miller MNF web companion that explained all of his remarks, and I doubt that Fox News fans will either. Miller might identify himself as conservative, but if you listen closely he says "conservative Libertarian". There is a difference.

Brian Anderson should realize that there are no winning sides in the contemporary American culture war. One pundit can point to South Park, another points to the Daily Show. Some pundits may point out media surveys that indicate Fox News has more viewers, other pundits may point out surveys that indicate that Fox News viewers are more likely to be misinformed than viewers of other news shows. These arguments/observations are worthless in the context of a "culture war" because mainstream American ideologies are a little bipolar. In fact, they are a lot bipolar. Didn't America finally swing to the Left once-and-for-all in the 70's? Didn't America finally swing back to the right once-and-for-all in the 80's? Didn't America finally swing back to the left right once-and-for-all in the 90s? Am I to believe that America is finally swinging back to the right once-and-for-all in this decade?

Americans are much more reactionary than revolutionary. This is a function of youthful rebellion, youthful reactionism to the trends set by previous generations. If this country is truly "trending" to the right, I don't think that it is necessarily indicative of the American public fully embracing the conservative platform. I think that it shows the American public reacting to the perceived "liberal" media by switching channels to something different. When the American public perceives an overt "conservative" slant to the news, then they will react by changing channels again. It has happened in the past during the ratings battle between networks like CBS and NBC in the 70s and 80s, and it will continue to happen in the future.

Any pundit who wants to point to a specific piece of media, whether a television show or website, and declare that its success defines America's ideology needs to pull their head out of their ass. The West Wing hasn't turned America into a haven of liberalism. South Park isn't turning America's youth into a group of thoughtful Republicans. Murder She Wrote isn't going to turn our country into a bunch of little old women who solve crimes. And Dennis Miller? He didn't turn America into a liberal think tank in the 20th Century, and he won't turn America into a conservative think tank in the 21st Century.