As you read along, there are very few cues to how near you are to the beginning, how far from the end. You’re always in the middle.This is a pretty big drawback. You never know how far into a book you are? That's awful.
May 29, 2009
May 28, 2009
For Terminator Salvation, they advise two: one at the 50 minute mark, when Marcus cuts down the female pilot and another at around 75 minutes when he has almost had his leg blown off by a land mine and she helps him escape. Hard to disagree with those — there's a lot of agonised grimacing between the two of them which one takes to be evidence of a blooming romance — although Runpee also claim to have found two pee moments not only in the original Terminator but in Aliens. This is impossible: those movies are like bullets. Maybe that bit where Sarah Conner says, "I had a dream about dogs" but only in a real emergency.
If you want an overall rule of thumb: chose the 50 minute mark. You are, roughly, halfway through the movie. The first act is done. The action is beginning to let up. Maybe the director feels a theme coming on; the characters are gazing at one another, trying to figure they're all doing there and if there is a larger purpose to existence. The perfect time for a pee.
May 27, 2009
May 26, 2009
May 25, 2009
It could just be that it is better, that Drudge has killer tabloid instincts, etc. But there's more to it than that, I think. Surveying a recent page of his, at random, I found stories about:—
— how Netanyahu is "defying" Obama
— Muslim riots in Athens
— a shoot out at a Sikh temple in Vienna
— a guy who mowed down a traffic cop
— another flu alert
— a NYPD forensics investigator stabbed to death in bed
— the Lars Vin Trier film Anti-Christ getting an award at Cannes
— British banks "revolting" against Obama's tax plan
— Iran wanting nukes
You get the picture: the world is a scary place. Muslims lurk around every corner. People are getting knifed in their beds. The French worship at the altar of the anti-christ. And our president is a wimp. Compare that to the leading liberal news aggregator, The Huffington Post, which today has stories about:
There's no question which world-view I find more helpful and yet the fact is: I read the Drudge Report way more than I read the Huffington Post. I'm tempted to explain that via an old debate that started up in England a few years back, when Martin Lewis, one of the BBC's blander anchors, complained that they reported too much bad news. His opinion was ridiculed by many senior journalists: what does he want? Stories about meals on wheels and puppy dogs? Most news, they pointed out, tends to be bad news by definition. I think much the same way about Drudge. Scary news is better than non-scary news. And the right has better scare stories than the left. Therefore, it makes sense that the biggest news aggregator in the country would be right-leaning. I'm none too certain about this theory but will continue to ponder the matter further.
May 24, 2009
May 21, 2009
May 17, 2009
May 16, 2009
This is disconcerting. All the time that I was picking the non-winner so consistently, I felt that I was, in essence picking the winners, but in reverse: you simply took the opposite girl to the one I chose and — presto — you had the winning girl. But Tyra has really screwed with my head this time. Even when I attempted that process of reverse-engineered selection, I still picked losers. This leave me with two options: either I am genuinely and randomly clueless, or Tyra really is, as I have long suspected, a cruel and wicked God, impenetrable to fumbling mortal minds.
"More recent presidents have had trouble making their labels stick. Mr. Clinton called for a New Covenant in a series of speeches at Georgetown in 1991 as he ran for president, but pollsters turned thumbs down and he largely dropped it. George W. Bush championed an Ownership Society when he ran for re-election in 2004, but that also made little public impression.New foundations has problems: it's hard to imagine giving a building a new foundation. New foundation means new building. You can't just let it hang in the air while you slip in and replace only the bottom. It's like taking a card from the bottom of the deck, or removing a tablecloth while people are still eating.
Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, suspects Mr. Obama’s expression may suffer the same fate.“I’m not sure what it means,” Mr. Dallek said. “The successful slogans tied in a convincing way to current events. T.R.’s Square Deal, F.D.R.’ s New Deal, J.F.K.’s New Frontier and L.B.J.’s Great Society all resonated because they summed up what their presidents intended and what the public was eager for at the time. I guess you could say the same for the New Foundation, but foundation doesn’t strike me as a word people will comfortably take to.” — NYT
Interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship.Cheney is probably right to bet that popular opinion will come to his rescue all the time that torture is justified by the 'ticking-time' bomb scenario; but the possibility that he ordered it to prop up the teetering casus belli for the Iraq invasion will not, I believe, be looked on so kindly. Fighting terrorism is popular; the Iraq war is not.
During the same period, two alleged senior al Qaida operatives in CIA custody were waterboarded repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times and Khalid Sheik Mohammed at least 183 times.
A U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Paul Burney, told the Army Inspector General's office in 2006 that during the same period, interrogators at Guantanamo were under pressure to produce evidence of al Qaida-Iraq ties, but were unable to do so.
"The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results," Burney said, according excerpts of an interview published in a declassified Senate Armed Services Committee report released on April 22.
May 15, 2009
May 14, 2009
May 13, 2009
"A former CIA high-value detainee, who provided bogus information that was cited by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war, has died in a Libyan prison, an apparent suicide, according to a Libyan newspaper.
Libi was captured fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001, and he vanished into the secret detention system run by the Bush administration. He became the unnamed source, according to Senate investigators, behind Bush administration claims in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. The claim was most famously delivered by then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his address to the United Nations in February 2003.
Libi made up the story about Iraqi training after he was beaten and subjected to a "mock burial" by his Egyptian interrogators, who put him in a cramped box for 17 hours. Libi recanted the story after being returned to CIA custody in 2004.
"I would speculate that he was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration," said Tom Malinowski, the head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. "He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war."
The Libyan newspaper Oed reported Sunday that Libi was found dead in his cell after killing himself, but added that friends of the 46-year-old former preacher, who ran a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, questioned the alleged cause of death" — Washington Post
One of the ironies of Cheney's position these days is that he is beholden to the opinion polls which he once affected to despise. From a legal standpoint he is probably guilty of war crimes. His one hope is that even if he is guilty, the American public are not in the mood to see him tried. And so he must double down, take to the airwaves, to acquit himself in the court of public opinion.
May 12, 2009
May 9, 2009
"I've met him twice. The first time was a couple years ago, very early on when he had just announced his candidacy. He was in Los Angeles, speaking at a luncheon we were invited to. There was a very small crowd - minuscule compared to the crowd that he gathered later - at a private home in Los Angeles. And we were standing on the back patio, waiting for him. And he came through the house, saw me and immediately put his hand up in the Vulcan gesture. He said, "They told me you were here." We had a wonderful brief conversation and I said, "It would be logical if you would become president." — Leonard NimoyWatching the new film I definitely felt a mind meld of sorts going on between Spock and Obama. He's mixed-race. He radiates skinny logician cool. He believes in the rule of law and follows a course of sober intergalactic diplomacy. Kirk, on the other hand, is played by Chris Pine as a scrappy hothead — a n'er-do well bar-brawler with a famous father, who finally follows his footsteps into the starfleet. Remind you of anyone? He even refuses to negotiate with terrorists — sorry Romulans — after the way they jerked his dad around.... More of my thoughts on the Star Trek reboot at the Daily Beast here.
Opening weekend guess: $75 million.
May 5, 2009
I'm currently laboring to finish a piece about John Cheever for Arete; someone remind me never to write a profile of a short story-writer ever again: all those stories, all those characters, each one demanding your utmost attention and most concentrated skills of precis. Next time could I please have a writer famous for a single, long masterpiece? A one-hit wonder like Kerouac, or Exley, please.
May 2, 2009
Lucas explained politely as I listened contritely. Anakin Skywalker is a promising young man who is turned to the dark side by an older politician and becomes Darth Vader. “George Bush is Darth Vader,” he said. “Cheney is the emperor.”
Bush as Vader is ludicrous. The comparison betrays a failure on Lucas’s part to understand the resonance of his own characters, which explains a lot, especially about Episodes I & VI. Other than being the father of twins, Anakin Skywalker, born a slave, with extraordinary abilities (the “best pilot in the galaxy”), has almost nothing in common with Bush, born to privilege and not much of an advertisement for the notion of a natural aristocracy. Is Jenna going to be Luke and bring him back from the Dark Side? If we are going to play this game, Bush has more in common with Count Dooku, the Jedi dropout turned warmonger, or, better yet, Jar Jar Binks, who, after a buffoonish youth, improbably rises to a prominent political position and obliviously fronts for the soon-to-be emperor in getting the “Star Wars” equivalent of the Patriot Act passed. Of course, all this can be taken too far (Condoleezza Rice as Asajj Ventress), but one thing is clear: Donald Rumsfeld is Grand Moff Tarkin.
"Cheney is Palpatine with a soupçon of Sauron, a pinch of Voldemort, a dash of Mabuse, a jigger of Fu, with some Elmer Fudd and Richard Nixon folded in."
*Talking of which Publius has a very good take on Republican fear-mongering re cloning.