All posts for the month February, 2006

Now this is great stuff.

Let's put the subject matter aside for a sec. I love this. It comforts me greatly to see that, within the confines of the last two decades of mindless, pre-ordained toy design, there are still lessons from the lincoln log gurus lurking in the heart of the kindernet. When I was a kid, I concocted brilliant, operatic episodes wherein the Ninja turtles clashed, defending my homework desk against the Transformers, climaxing with a slow-mo sweep of Donatello's plastic bo through the ranks of the scuffed and traitorous Constructicons.

The day that software like Maya, or UnrealEd, or some game editor like the Movies game, becomes as essential to learning and youth as MS Paint or as inspirational to content creativity as BASIC was to me on the Apple IIe, then the sandbox will be regained. The pliable submissiveness of Starscream and his lego hordelings seems to have found a virtual set to host their sagas.

Vestigally, the idea that it is a re-enactment of Brokeback Mountain's critically acclaimed homosexuality, er story. But to be perfectly honest, that doesn't bother me in the least. The only thing keeping me away is the fact that it's by Ang Lee. I got used to losing my favorite curse word to the PC forces adjacent to me, but, still, well… fuck that fag fool. See the restraint? I'm a halfway master of globalization already, already got the bay area down pat. The secret is knowing that without a gay friend you're still probably a homophobe, so empathy is in vain.

What we should all do is just relax and go skiing in Dubai. Dubai? Why, yes. Camels, sandstorms, terrorists, non-terrorists, and snow. That kind of shock therapy should give us some perspective, emancipate new epithets. As Master Splinter says, "I have always liked 'Cowabunga'."

So. This is the image that is the center of debate and riot? This is the image so horrifyingly insulting it resulted in death of young, promising Europeans and Middle-easterners worldwide?

Somehow, the arab media justified their anger, claiming that the depiction of Muhammad was tasteless (I'll give ya that) and that it is blasphemy to put his image in print. I'm not sure how the Danes, some of the quirkiest 420s in the world, would know that this:

and works like this (circa 1550 AD) were A-OK (even revered), but the former was not.

Somehow it is lost on the arab world how their own newspaper depictions of Ariel Sharon eating babies and rabbis reveling in human blood is a signal to very non-Muslim ignorant white folks that religious criticism is acceptable. The minor clause I guess the Danes missed the bulletin on was that you can't put Muhammad in print except in the circumstance that his face is veiled, nevermind the rest of the body and megaton captions for it basically translating to "THIS IS MUHAMMAD BUT HIS FACE IS COVERED SO IT REALLY ISN'T HIM SO THE KORAN SAYS GO FOR IT, CHUMS." Or in the case a muslim does it.

Globalization is inevitable, but it works both ways. Obviously we shouldn't go out of our way to insult a culture we hardly know, but hardly knowing them DOES excuse our ignorance in part. The newspapers are written for their host communities, not for Bumfuck, Nepal. It really doesn't help the cause of the victimized when, in this case, calls for every cartoon satirizing the Holocaust is made so Al Jazeera can satisfy its revenge. I've said before, revenge is a wonderful thing, but this childishness lacks such exquisite antihumanity, and has devolved into a game of telephone over who-said-what-said-that?-omfg-that-angers-me. Meanwhile, the Danes barely even know what a Qu'ran is.

One arab woman on NPR asked how Christians would feel if our media did the same with Jesus. To be honest? They wouldn't give a fuck. Did they not see Kanye West with a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stones? The fecal Virgin Mary in the LA Times? No, it's not about religion. It's about freedom of speech, which they aren't used to and we aren't good at. Perhaps this should serve a reminder to muslims of the stereotypes the world possess of you. Perhaps you shouldn't reinforce that very stereotype by reacting immediately with fatal violence. Perhaps my use of the word "you" shouldn't offend personally since I'm using it in the plural neutral case, with no accusation intended.

And you silly Danes, stop feeding the troll, Mahmoud is pole-dancin' off your toite little ball hairs. Your cartoons just suck- I've seen all twelve, and they all were subliminally tokin'.

After a week of sleepless nights, I finally sort of got my new toy, a Philips Streamium SL400i, working. I now have everything – Naruto, my CD rips, IFilm, Yahoo! trailers, webcams from raves in Hungary, BBC, Finnish music news, NASA educationals, and every web radio station – at my disposal. Had I paid the original retail amount of $450 for this thing, I'd have been pissed at the blood sweat and tears I poured into getting the stupid thing to work. But Fry's had them for $79.92, and my rage was channeled into my nightly sessions of practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu on my cat.

So that explains my absence for the past week. In real news, if you haven't been following, today was a very important hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales by the Senate Judiciary Committee on war-time powers abuse, specifically wire-tapping citizens, which I managed to listen to the entirety of.

My synopsis, as neutrally as possible, is as follows:

1. An act specifically granting the president certain powers stipulates that wire-tapping is forbidden.

2. The attorney general responded to the act with an interpretation that reinstated the inherent power of a president during wartime, to the shock but few contrary motions of some senators.

3. A large number of names to investigate was culled through the usage of these powers, enough to garner suspicion that the power was being abused.

4. The contention that check and balances must be maintained during war-time is relatively neglected by the Constitution where it states that the president has said inherent powers, and of the role of Congress in war. Therefore, an act passed through Congress is potentially unconstitutional despite the need for the auditing of military powers.

That's it for my neutrality.

In short, it's nebulous whether or not Congress has the right to overwrite what a president perceives to be within his inherent war-time powers. Justice O' Connor ruled that in the case of HAMDI vs. RUMSFELD, a presidential writ was enough to warrant detaining a U.S. citizen given probable cause WITHOUT the need for a warrant, so long as he was classified an "enemy combatant." Her contention that detaining was far more invasive than wire-tapping seems to give an unspoken support for current intelligence gathering techniques. More importantly, the president's inherent power overrode whatever acts were in place via Congress.

This is an extremely important situation upon which the nation's very balance of power hangs. Ultra-liberal radio stations in the area had a field day with insults and rhetoric, but this transcends partisanship. Making matters worse is how unforthcoming the administration is. There are two reasons for this: they are abusing the power, and/or they know no matter what they say that Americans will perceive as an abuse of power. It's all very Heisenberg… to divulge what they are doing compromises the new techniques in place that makes intelligence effective, but to not open up creates public panic and thus greater scrutiny on their practices. One can not practice frankness and effective intelligence at the same time. Some went so far as to ask intelligence experts to reveal what secret words they scan phone calls for, in dire fear they may be marked as terrorists.

It's rough that the Constitution leaves this loophole for the branches to pounce on each other about. It is not simple, however, to resolve this issue since "reasonable measures" to ensure security, depending on who's definition of "reasonable" matters, will end up nearly unchecked as a lion's share of military power for one branch. It's even rougher that Americans naively demand information that, upon being revealed, destroyed the very work it sets out to do. While I have no doubt that our civil rights have been violated and that Alberto Gonzales knows more than he can cover up, I also know that we have to make a decision between candidness from the NSA or CIA, and homeland security. I have the utmost respect for those unwilling to lay down their civil rights, but my choice to do so should be respected as well.

Step away from the drivel spilling out of KPFA's shameless little mouth, away from the demonizing by the likes of demon incarnate herself Feinstein and Co.; this is not a battle between democrats and republicans, but between Congress and the executive branch, and ultimately against two equally important clauses in the Constitution. Truth be told, and truth was told, James Risen did a fabulous job exposing the lies and cover-ups of the administration, and in doing so violated the Espionage Act. He should take his punishment like a virtuous man, not a fucking whining namecaller boohooing about being singled out. His account, while sensational, galvanized the nation to address the REAL issue. Where inherent powers' limits are. And he couldn't have done it without a president who, despite being just as (or less) "corrupt" as every war-time president of the past, is such a public goofus that we're finally seeing some gallant. Americans are so predictable, but politics are so quantum.