Wednesday, June 29, 2005

War of the Worlds

Geek central is heating up today with the release of the much anticipated, by me at least, Spielberg film War of the Worlds.

Reviews have gone back and forth between glowing, National Review, to the slightly above average NY Times review, which includes a very funny line at the end concerning the movies PG-13 rating.

Perersonally, I've been looking forward to it for months, in much the same way I was practically beside myself for months waiting for Independence Day. I guess I'm just a soft touch for alien invasion flicks.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Topic Shift

It is time once again for one of my patented topic shifts on this blog. While I do spend the majority of my time on bizarre political rants, the blog's usual readers know I jump into Star Wars/Star Trek topics from time to time.

And this is such a day.

I just completed reading this blog, The Darth Side, Memoirs of a Monster. This is not a normal blog, but instead one person's interpretation of the inner thoughts of Darth Vader. It is extremely well written and the author has a great sense of humor.

What I find of great interest is that the author enjoys Star Wars enough to spend a great deal of time and effort to create such a blog. My guess is he is a geek of high standing. Among nerdom he towers above most, if not all of his contemporaries. And that is great. The Web has given this fellow a great outlet for his passion. Lukily, Darth Lucas has not come down on this guy and demanded that the site be taken offline. I suppose that much like Lando's small mining colony, this site rides below the evil emperor's radar.

I think being able to pour ones nerdiness onto the web is a cool thing. Most people simply hide their scifi desires or bring them outh when they are with certain friends and attending Star Trek conventions.

I wonder if peope who love Shakespeare or Twain or Steven King delve into the characters in those books in the same manner as Star Wars and Star Trek followers? Is there a site where somebody is writing the inner thoughts of Hamlet? I suspect Harry Potter has either already started generating such fans or soon will. Perhaps even Battlestar Galactica if it can stay on the air long enough to gather a following.

All in all I would say these outlets are a plus for society. Nerdiness that is swallowed by an individual will simply fester over the years leading to fat, single men who work as computer programmers by day. The world has enough of these, so more power to the author of Darth's memoirs.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Congress Looks To Undermine The War

The call this week by a semi-bipartisan group of Congressman asking the President to set a date for withdrawing from Iraq must be considered Allah sent by the terrorists.

President Bush, quite smartly, stated that the troops would stay until the job is completed. Anything else would have given our enemies exactly what they wanted. A chance to hold on by their fingertips until we packed up and left. At which point they could run roughshod over the Iraqi troops and return Iraq to how it was under Saddam, or perhaps something even worse.

Any Congressperson with even a smattering of historical perspective should know that setting such a timetable is tantamount to giving up on the fight. We owe the people of Iraq the chance to turn their country into something safe and secure.

Sorry, no time to blather further on this.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Corporate America never ceases to amaze me.

This morning while driving to the train station I hit my radio preset for WCBS 101.1FM, an oldies station playing in the NY City area, and was disturbed to find it was gone and replaced by something called Jack 101.1. Now, for those of you who do not know this WCBS NEVER changes. It has been playing oldies for the past 33 years. It does update its playlist every now and then and now there are more 70s songs mixed in then 50s, but for the most part you get Top 40 music from 30 years ago on your radio when you tune in.

Yes, I am so old that I do like to listen to this stuff, especially in the morning when my mind can’t handle anything to wild and crazy. But I’m still cool. My wife tells me so.

Anyway, at first I simply thought the odd music and call sign was a joke being played by the morning DJ, who happens to be Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. Yes, I am so old that I remember and actually like The Monkees, but I love Van Halen, too. I went to another station and came back and heard more of the same and became truly confused.

When I got to work I checked the news to see what was up and found out that the station had fired its DJ staff and gone to a computer generated format. All without informing the public or the DJs. They were simply fired, later, thanks for everything, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The idiots at Infinity Broadcasting decided to eliminate the top selling oldies station in the nation in order to implement something called the Jack FM format. Jack is supposed to mimic a person’s iPod playlist or satellite radio. It will play a mix of 2,000 some odd
songs from the 1950s to 1999. Like an iPod on shuffle.

The stupidity behind this move is truly astounding. In addition to the fact that an executive should never mess with a cash cow like WCBS, it never occurred to these honchos that listeners tune into a station because they enjoy listening to a particular type of music. They don’t want to go from The Rolling Stones, to Madonna, to Duran Duran to The Beastie Boys. All they did by implementing a staggering array of music is guarantee that a listener will leave the station when a song they don’t like is played.

It’s like watching the SciFi channel and getting a soap opera.

Luckily there are a couple of other stations on Long Island to get me through my 7 minute drive to the station, but I will truly miss WCBS-FM. It was a little something from the past, kind of corny at times, but dependable.

My only hope is the new format bombs worse then New Coke and the program directors are forced to admit their mistake and go back to the old format. Due to corporate thick-headedness I doubt this will happen even when the station bottoms out, but you never know.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Oil, Oil Everywhere and Prices Are Still $55 A Barrell

There are a couple of quotes in this CBS Marketwatch story that are simply frightening.

What the analysts say is that despite good news on Friday on oil supply and inventory levels commodity brokers still drove up the price. Here is the best example.

"Now as the 'fear' over gasoline supplies is fading, the next 'fear' is heating oil," Kyle Cooper, energy analyst at Citigroup, told clients. "Middle distillate inventories in the U.S. are almost exactly equal to last year as of May 27, and they are 15.6 million barrels higher in Europe at the end of April. From fear to fear. Fact means little."

If facts are being ignored in the stock and commodity markets then Western civilization is in trouble.

What this situation makes me think that there is somebody behind the scene manipulating the market. Think ENRON and how it manipulated energy prices to the point wher the average Californian could not afford electricity.

What other reason could there be for brokers to ignore the obvious, stupidity perhaps. In which case we are still in trouble.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The EU Failure

I hate to call the EU dead, but well OK, I will. It's dead.

Perhaps not the economic aspect of the union, but the grand political, lets be a counterweight to the United States EU is now foundering on the rocks of French and Dutch worries. I can't say I'm surprised. The idea of creating a new nation in this day and age seems improbable.

Essentially, what the EU wants to do, and for your Euros please read all of this before you go ballastic, is re-create itself in the U.S. image. Not politically and economically per se, but structurally. Smaller nation/states controlled by an umbrella governing body. However, the step toward independence and then melding the American states took to create one nation was not as broad as the stride the EU must take.

The problem is the 25 nations that would have comprised a formalized EU have spent too many centuries as stand-alone entities. I think it's asking the impossible for these populations to put at risk their cultural identities and concerns for the sake of a larger union, that may or may not be better then what they have right now.

The original 13 American colonies had less time to develop strong local customs and identities, but what helped was they were essentially already apart of the same nation, Britain. Even then there were more then enough interstate problems to overcome, but the outside threat of the British Empire helped smooth these over, at least until the Civil War started.

The EU leadership has, pretty succesfully, tried to make America the outside threat that would help bind together their nation. The U.S. has been hauled across the coals for being the world's bully (Iraq); environmental fiend (Kyoto Treaty) and cultural enemy (McDonalds, Disney, etc).

This strategy has worked brilliantly. From what one hears in the news, the majority of Europeans hate America, but not enough for the French to give up their 39 yearly days of vacation nor the Dutch legalized prostitution and pot. I wonder how many Frenchmen go to Amsterdam to get stoned and meet hookers? Could be a great combo.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

No Limit To Watergater's Hypocrisy

The revelation that the FBI's second in command W. Mark Felt was the infamous Deep Throat who helped bring down President Richard Nixon has brought out a small horde of Watergate crimminals and Nixon administration members who are calling Felt a traitor.

Felons like G. Gordon Liddy said in published reports today that it was unethical for Felt to go to the press and not the grand jury with his information. Considering Liddy, along with 39 other people, did serious jail time for actively participating in a heinous crime and cover up. Liddy, a former FBI agent himelf, felt no compunction to reveal Nixon's crimminal behavior.

Henry Kissinger, Nixon's National Security Advisor, called Felt a "troubled man" to rat out Nixon's wrong doings instead of going to the police.

While Felt certainly could have taken the extra step and gone to the courts, he at least did something to tell the world what was happening inside the White House.

Nixon attempted to rig a presidential election, a terrible crime. For anyone involved to say anything negative about Felt is hypocrisy at its highest level.