Friday, April 27, 2007

File Sharing and Illegal Downloading, or OK, What Would You Pay For?

This may be the best piece on file sharing I've ever read. It both acknowledges that the genie cannot be put back in the bottle at this point but also that, ethically, there are still a few lingering solutions and compromises.

(Gosh, now that I think about it, when file sharing first started, Christina Aguilera's "Genie in the Bottle" was a big hit. I know, because I downloaded it!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It Gets Worse!

So, anyone else see or read of the Tillman testimony? Very sad, equally infuriating stuff. It's remarkable that the same people once pegged as heroes by the administration - like America's sweetheart Jessica Lynch (remember her?) - have in turn accused the government of manipulation and outright deception. And then there's more Wolfowitz, whose dubious World Bank dealings have him in deep doo-doo. Harry Reid brushes off attacks from Dick Cheney with a great diss: "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with someone who has a 9-percent approval rating." The nutball kook Ohio congressman Kucinich had the cojones to actually submit articles of impeachment for Cheney. George McGovern predicted both Cheney and President Job won't last their term. Karl Rove is being investigated, again, which makes him the center of at least three major corruption investigations, maybe more: the attorney general scandal, Abramoff bribes, the Plame leak, destruction of evidence (RNC emails), etc. Maybe more. Probably more.

To be honest, it's so hard to keep up. People are already wondering out loud what back channel deals are being struck to keep these guys out of jail - or at least out of the courts - once they're out of office. It's all so totally depressing, but at the same time watching this house of cards collapse in slow motion is kind of like a long season of "American Idol," where the losers, deep in denial, stay on, vote after vote. President Job? Maybe President Sanjaya is more accurate.

Dude, America has spoken. It's time to go home and clear brush.

On the bright side, the new album by The National, "Boxer," is great. Truly great. Which in turn makes 2007 already 10 times as good for music as 2006, with albums by LCD Soundsystem and Panda Pear joining "Boxer" as discs I already know I'll be enjoying for years to come.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

If There's a Hell Below, They're All Going to Go

Can all these cronies of President Job really be this incompetent and corrupt, or is it just that the technology age makes their transgressions all the more transparent? Between Alberto Gonzales - who simultaneously concedes mistakes were made and confusion rife in the firing of several U.S. attorneys, yet defends the mysteriously baseless decisions all the same, earning him the even more mysterious support of the Pres - and Paul Wolfowitz - who favored his foreign national girlfriend with a job, a raise and even an unheard of security clearance - it's amazing and sad to see these losers hanging on for so long.

That goes for their superiors as well, international embarassments so extreme and nefarious at their core that, ironically, I don't think it will be hard to undue the damage they've done (Iraq aside). Notice how quickly the Senate undid certain provisions of the Patriot Act - 98-2, no less - when they discovered how badly it robbed them of power? Expect that on an even larger scale once Job and his crew are gone. It'll be like a big oil spill clean-up. The sense of relief around the globe will be palpable, akin to the end of a World War or the death of a dictator even if American policies don't change very much. After all, that's been the U.S. in a nutshell. Sure, we do bad stuff, and always have. Same with every country, without exception. But in the past our gift has been to at least do it all with a smile or a hint of good intentions. Our current long national nightmare - two more years of this !? - shows what happens when the people in charge barely even pretend what they're doing is right. Only a fool believe that and, fortunately, most of those fools will be out with dirty water at the end of the term as well.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I got the point before you even made it, NBC

What could possibly be gleaned from actually seeing the videotaped message of Virginia Tech's insane killer that could not be conveyed by the way it's been described? Nothing. Nothing more than airing footage of beheadings, car crashes and the gory like. And if it conveys nothing new (save a sense of queasiness) then it's not really newsworthy, is it? It's bad enough that the dude's crazy gun-toting poses were splashed on the cover of every paper. Seeing them in motion adds nothing.

Granted, I'm sure there was just so much handwringing over the decision. SOOOO much.


For shame, NBC.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Not the Crime, It's the Cover-Up

OK, sometimes it's the crime, too. The audacity of this administration has been something to behold. Is there anything President Job and his cronies have touched that has not emerged tainted in some way? Even things that could conceivably, hypothetically be less fishy than they seem - like Cheney's infamous private meeting with energy mavens, or the current Attorney General scandal - seem as sleazy, shady and unseemly as possible thanks to the arrogance, hubris and outright suspiciousness of the brazen administration's behavior.

Of course, past behavior long ago eroded any benefit of the doubt these guys might deserve. Now the biggest assumption one should hold with this most dubious of Presidential circles is not that the group of crooks and morons is guilty but that they're guiltier than we can possibly imagine. Their future lives as collective pariahs is something to look forward to, but I really hope they get their comeuppance while they're firmly in the public eye. The near future feels like an eternity away when the country’s in the hands of such horrible, destructive people. It’s like the whole country is living with cancer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Yes, it snowed last night. Mid-April snow. We had a nice spring March, and everyone was ready for it to warm up, but then came the cold snap. The whole Chicagoland area is in some sort of shock, like weather-related Stockholm Syndrome.

The other day I saw "Grindhouse," which turned out to be a big box office flop and really, if you think about it, deserved that fate. Not because it was bad, per se, but if you model your movie after trashy lo-budget exploitation fare, what do you expect? The spin should have been that the movie was made to flop, if only to fulfill its grindhouse legacy.

In any case, the best things about it were the fake trailers. The second best thing was Quentin Tarantino's half of the film, a go-nowhere Po-Mo masterpiece of sorts that subverts its own entertainment value with non-stop pointless talking, which in a sense captures one overlooked quality of the grindhouse films Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez tried to pay tribute to: they're more often than not, despite all the sex and violence, boring as all get-out. That certainly holds for Tarantino's '70s car-chase fave "Vanishing Point," and it certainly holds for his "Death Proof," cool car chase and all. To be fair, he could have cut a good 20 minutes from his movie and not missed a beat, but when indulgence is the name of the game, any sort of narrative efficiency or creative compromise constitutes b-movie treason.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

But What Do You Really Think, David Lynch?