Nota Bene #98: A More Glorious Dawn Awaits

“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” Who said it? Continue reading

Review: The Road must taken

wordsday_bar

theroadcoverartAs soon as I picked up Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I wanted to call a “time out” from life and put everything on pause so I could do nothing but read, read, read this unrelenting book.

McCarthy pens a powerful tale of devotion and love set in a post-apocalyptic world of despair and hopelessness, as stripped down and bare as McCarthy’s spare, elegiac prose. I mean, he’s writing bare-bones, devoid of commas and apostrophes and, frequently, even complete sentences. But oh, does he capture images and emotions! It’s almost stream-of-despondent-consciousness from characters who wish they were unconscious.

The story follows a father and young son as they make their way across the barren landscape toward the sea. They’re ostensibly traveling there in the hope of finding better living conditions, but this is, after all, a world without hope. Continue reading

It's the Democrats that need to be re-formed

On election night 2008, i had the chance to speak with my newly reelected representative in a setting more private than the average meeting with a politician. That was quite a night, wasn’t it? After eight long years of Bush-Cheney running all sorts of rampant over everything from our civil liberties to our economy and a few foreign nations in between it was hard not to savor a moment where so much seemed, once again possible. I looked down on the twinkling lights of my little city from the penthouse suite of our luxury hotel and felt hope…even through my well-cultivated cynicism.

I asked my representative, “What’s the agenda when you return to Washington?”
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In racist technology wars, HP closes on Veridian Dynamics

In Episode 4 of Better off Ted (a fantastic show that you really need to tune into now before it, like so many other shows that make the mistake of being intelligent, gets axed), Veridian Dynamics encounters a small problem. It has installed new motion sensors in the building that turn the lights on and off as employees enter and leave the room. They already had a sensor system, but this one is better, somehow. The official ABC synopsis sets the stage:

Meanwhile, Lem and Phil have their usual morning quarrel, this time over coffee and microscopic organisms. (Trust us, folks—it’s hardly as sexy as it sounds.) When Phil leaves to get a cup of joe, everything in the lab suddenly shuts off. Lem is confounded by this, even more so when everything springs back to life upon Phil’s return. Continue reading

Will Obama sell out disarmament like he did bank reform and healthcare?

THE DEPROLIFERATOR — Most who champion nuclear disarmament were heartened by the election of Barack Obama. His apparent abhorrence of nuclear weapons seemed forged in The Day After eighties. Hopes soared after he delivered his celebrated Prague speech in April outlining his vision for a nuclear-free world.

The first step — negotiations on a treaty to continue the work of the recently expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) — may not have met the December deadline, but the treaty’s conclusion is seen as imminent. The new, improved model of START, the New York Times reports, “would require each side to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to roughly 1,600 [and] strategic bombers [and] missiles to below 800.” Still, “Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said on Thursday that there had been ‘some slowing down’ in negotiations by the other side.” Continue reading

Breaking news: terror suspect aided by sharp-dressed man

Nothing good is going to come of this.

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport

(MLive.com exclusive)
By Sheena Harrison | MLive.com
December 26, 2009, 2:22PM

According to witnesses, the suspect had a long beard and was driving a red 1937 Chevrolet coupe. Police forensic artists have released the following sketch: Continue reading

A nation of five-year-olds

You know that we’ve reached a new level of Sovietization when you’re treated to statements from the Transportation Security Administration claiming confusion to be all a part of the plan. If you’re confused then the terrorists will be confused too. Freedom’s last hope is that nobody knows what’s going on, and the subtext is that not establishing a protocol publicly allows the TSA to be “flexible.” Just remember that even in their flexibility, the organs never make mistakes.
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The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 3: the Super-Platinum LPs

In Part 1 we noted that 2009 had produced some really good music. In Part 2 we explained that the past year had given us some really great music. Today, though, we take an unprecedented step, because a few of the platinum-level releases from 2k9 were simply a cut above the rest, necessitating the creation of a Super-Platinum LP award. But that’s okay – if artists keep cranking out more exceptional music than we have categories to deal with, we’ll keep inventing new ways of honoring their efforts.

IAMXKingdom Of Welcome Addiction
Darkness? Yeah, Chris Corner knows a thing or two about darkness, and in Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction he’s kind enough to escort us through a blasted, perversely alluring landscape of addiction, lust, self-loathing, sexual degeneracy, spiritual poverty and alienation that’s about as dark as it gets. And the landscape is distinctly British in a way that recalls perhaps the greatest portrait of England ever painted, TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. Continue reading

Nothing says lack of imagination better than sanctions

THE DEPROLIFERATOR — Last week Secretary of Defense Robert Gates accused Tehran of “stiffing the international community” by failing to hold up its end of the October United Nations agreement. Iran, of course, had agreed to send low-enriched uranium to Russia and then France. In return, it would receive uranium that was highly enough enriched to run a reactor producing medical isotopes.

Gates wasn’t rattling the national saber, though, with his colloquial turn of phrase. Military action, he said, would only slow down, not halt, Iran’s nuclear program (however he perceives it). Instead, Gates was trotting out that old scourge sanctions. Continue reading

Review: The Road on the big screen

ArtSunday

theroad-posterThere’s redemption, of a sort, at the end of the movie The Road. You can tell because it feels like the fist that has been squeezing your heart against your spine has finally let go.

Most of the credit goes to Viggo Mortensen, who plays a father trying to guide his son through the post-Apocalyptic world heaving its last dying breaths. Mortensen comes across simultaneously as desperate yet resolved, with vulnerability hanging about him in the air the way a man’s breath hangs in front of him on a frigid rainy day. He’s raw all the way through. If he doesn’t get an Oscar for this one, then the voting was rigged.

Overall, John Hillcoat’s film adaptation stays faithful to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel. Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 2: the Platinum LPs

Best-CDs-of-2k9In Part 1 we had a look at some very good 2009 releases, and in other years some of those CDs might have made a run at a Platinum LP. As I said, though, this was maybe the best year for new music since Jimmy Carter was president. So please, give these recipients of the S&R/Lullaby Pit Platinum LP a listen.

The Platinum LPs

Antony & the JohnsonsThe Crying Light
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-between where Antony Hegarty is concerned. Listeners either get it or they don’t, and while I’m in the “he’s brilliant” camp, I do understand why some find his music hard to access. In a nutshell, it’s probably some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever heard – pure, distilled essence of anguish at times. Continue reading

Much ado about Norquist

Jane Hamsher ruffled some feathers last week when she forged a temporary alliance with Grover Norquist to call for an investigation of Rahm Emanuel’s activities at Freddie Mac. She also warned us about Treasury’s plan to raise limits on government backing for Freddie and Fannie. She was too late to stop the latter; in fact, Treasury stuffed the fattest, slush fund stocking in history on Christmas Eve. I don’t know if Rahm is guilty. He looks guilty as hell, though that goes for pretty much everyone in that fetid swamp. But the biggest uproar to come from Ms. Hamsher’s activities seems to be the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth that comes from purity betrayed.

I don’t particularly like Grover Norquist. Then again, i don’t pay particular attention to Grover, either. I’d be interested to know whether he considers the DoD part of “big government.” If he does, i might be willing to shop for bathroom fixtures with him.
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"You're screwed": GOP plan for America right on schedule

In Mike’s most recent Nota Bene, he points us to a disturbing, if not altogether surprising little vignette from Capitol Hill.

When House Democrats gathered on Friday for their end-of-the week caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol, caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told the group he wanted them to hear first from Rep. Michael Capuano, who’d just returned from a primary campaign for the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.

Larson asked Capuano, who finished in second place, to share the wisdom he learned on the campaign trail. Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

'Twas the Night Before Christmas – as retold by a dog

by Ronan

‘Twas the night before Christmas and out in the kitchen, mom’s cooking something, and man, it smells bitchin’.

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Mine’s full of jerky treats – I can smell them from here.

Dad’s drinking egg nog, all spicy and sweet. A couple more cups and he’ll be out on his feet.

When out in the yard we heard such a racket. I started barking and Dad grabbed his jacket. Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 1: the Gold LPs

Best-CDs-of-2k92009 was arguably the best year for new music since 1979, and that’s saying a lot, even if I’m wrong. For whatever reason, this year was just packed with incredibly great CDs from bands we knew were great, bands we didn’t know were this good, bands we hadn’t heard from in a long time and bands we’d never heard of, period. The result – it was all I could do to keep up, and I fully expect to spend the next couple of years tripping over even more awesome releases from 2009 that I missed this year. So in advance, apologies to those artists I didn’t find my way to in 2k9.

So here’s the format. There are usually three tiers: Gold LP, Platinum LP and CD of the Year. (The LP is taken from my personal site, Lullaby Pit, which is where this annual tradition started several years ago. And the fact that albums used to be LPs. Get it?) This year the glut of outstanding CDs have necessitated the addition of a new level – SuperPlatinum – because a few of those platinum discs are a notch above the rest. Over the next few days, then, the Scholars & Rogues/Lullaby Pit Best CDs of 2009 will be rolled out in four installments.

Up first, in roughly alphabetical order… Continue reading

Spiderman 4 preview: Who Would Jesus Whack?

Remember the scene in Spiderman 3 when Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace) goes to church and prays that God will kill Peter Parker? That probably got a laugh out of most viewers because, well, how over-the-top preposterous is it to pray to God to kill someone you don’t like? Jesus us a god of love, isn’t He? But hey, it’s Hollywood, it’s a superhero action flick, and villains in these films have to be, you know, a little over-the-top, right?

Still, if that whole scene set your plausibility alarms to ringing, you might want to brace yourself for this one.

Think Progress makes a great catch on C-SPAN this morning: Someone calls in while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is answering the lines, practically in tears because Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) missed this morning’s procedural vote on health care. Continue reading