Who do you trust?

I just finished watching Farenhype 9-11, the Republican response to Michael Moore’s latest film. I found some interesting facts that I had learned before about both sides of the argument and have decided to post as many as I could here. This is not an attempt to display an arrogance on either side, but to present somethings I thought were interesting and worth knowing.

The quotes at the bottom of this post are from the Farenhype film and can be read at face value. These were “talking points” from the film that are fully within context here. There was little other context extra in the film and the theme of these statements remains true when separated. Yet, you can see the irony in their statements a little easier without the music and images they bombard you with.

Maybe film media isn’t the best place for political debate since it is prone to deception and lies. Statements can be made in rapid succession with no rebuttal and build a case that may be baseless at the core. On both sides of the fence, we have been lied to.

Bad on Moore:

  • Altering size of font of newspaper story and misleading that it was a story, rather than the editorial that it was.
  • Misrepresenting Bush’s dinner party quote about the “Have and the have mores” when he was going through a set of jokes that were aimed at poking fun at himself. Gore was at this dinner as well and did the same style of set.
  • The Carlyle Group has a good number of Clinton’s cronies (Democrats) on its board.
  • Saudi investment levels misrepresented in the film. It is not 8% of the US economy.
  • Bush is not responsible for the cutbacks in the Oregon State Police since they are not federally budgeted.
  • France wanted to lift the sanctions on Iraq not to help the people of the country, but to have access to their promised oil fields that Saddam had offered in exchange for their veto.
  • Not showing the Kurdish reaction to Saddam’s ousting which from the 3 seconds the film shows has some people in the streets dancing.

Bad on his critics:

  • Shameless use of 9/11 and the firemen/policemen who sacrificed their lives to stir up anger against Moore. Claim that refusing to show the 9-11 attacks visually was meant to diminish their affect rather than doing so out of respect for the dead.
  • State that Moore lied about length of time Bush read with children (5min not 7) when Moore stated that Bush was IN THE ROOM for 7. They state that Bush waited only 5 minutes. Neither side is saying an incorrect time, but the GOP lied to distort this to their advantage.
  • Dismissed claims of 2000 election fraud because 3 major papers said it was okay, the Supreme Court said it was okay and the narrator, who worked on the Gore campaign, said it was okay. Yet, documentation has been provided that has not been discussed in the major American papers (the Brits covered it extensively as did most of Europe) that should raise alarm bells for anyone interested in true democracy.
  • Disregard the stamping out of the rights of all Americans by the PATRIOT ACT by showing a few examples of its success.
  • Zell Miller likens the war on terror to him finding some snakes under his porch. His “unilateral action” to kill the snakes without going to City Hall for a resolution or consulting with his wife was justified because the snakes were dangerous to his family. This oversimplified analogy is supposed to justify the innocent civilians who will pay for OUR security with THEIR lives? There are more factors involved than just ourselves.
  • Mislead the public that the WMD that Saddam had in ’91 were still usable. The nerve agent he possessed had a shelf life of 2-3 years and had since expired. The UN inspections team had confirmed this fact that the agents were useless and the fact that they could not be accounted for is nullified. The real question would be if he could create more of it. This was raised at the UN speech by Colin Powell but failed to show any concrete evidence that such facilities existed. All he had were drawings of what he COULD have used to do so; none of said facilities have been found.
  • Ed Koch states that he would have voted to go to war if he was a congressman even if no weapons were found. This of course was recorded well after it was clear that nothing was found were the intelligence said it would and was doubtful anything would turn up. While it is his opinion, this statement in a “documentary” is misleading and deceptive. This is exactly what the film was trying say about Moore.

“What is similar between what some of us call World War III, the Cold War, and World War IV, the one we are in now, is that both were animated by a hostile ideology with global ambitions.”

Frank Gaffney – Former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Reagan

“One person’s opinion, or agenda, does not make the truth. Just because they are famous [or] have a lot of money [means] we have to believe them or think they are credible?”

Aunt of fallen soldier who was the focus of the final part of Moore’s film

“Here is a man [Moore] who says that the United States has spread misery throughout the world? Come on.”

Sen. Zell Miller (D)


New System of a Down Album…s!

So I just found out over the wire that System of a Down will be releasing not one but TWO albums this year. There will be a six month gap between releases, most likely to make sure singles from both albums see the light of day on MTV/Much.

The albums are to be called Mesmerize and Hypnotize and should probably follow in the footsteps of Steal This Album which had a heavier political stance in terms of directness than Toxicity. I am eagerly awaiting this disc and rumor has it that the first half should drop in early spring.

Also on the music front, NIN will be releasing “With Teeth” sometime this year. It was supposed to drop this spring as well, but Trent has made some strange comments lately that make it sound like delays will occur. Sigh. Hasn’t it been 6 years now since The Fragile? Trent is either the world’s biggest perfectionist or the biggest procrastinator. I’m betting its the first one. The big news on the disc is that Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters did the drums for the album. Trent has stated that working with the legendary Nirvana drummer was “the most exhilarating experience of his life.” Let’s hope it translates to tape well!

Inward Analysis

It’s been a while since I wrote something deeply personal so I figured I should output some pondering I’ve been doing.

The concept of self-worth is sometimes not apparent to ourselves unless it is made clear by outside entities. To say that in english: Compliments make us feel valuable, necessary and validated. This is all the more necessary when you are somewhat self-depreciating and are skeptical of praise coming from people who have no idea about what they are complimenting you on.

For example, when the average person tells a painter they like their work, the painter will most likely thank them but wonder what it was that they liked about it. Were they impressed with the subtle references to the great works of Picasso? Did they think it was a daring venture from their previous conservative works? Or did they just think it was “pretty”? All are valid reason for sure, but if that same comment came from the curator of the museum, I believe it would carry more weight.

This is even more relevant when you deal with technology related projects. Once you have left the domain where the average person can even comprehend what you are doing, praise is going to ring hollow. If you look at my CPU I designed last term for EE476 you will most likely not even know it was a CPU unless I told you. It’s just 10 files of code that is about 1000 lines all told. When you simulate it on the computer, you see a bunch of lines that look similar to those seen on heart monitoring machines. It’s like that scene in the Matrix where Neo talks to Cypher as he “watches” the Matrix from the real world. Neo only sees the green characters scrolling down and Cypher says that once you get used to it, you can see past the code and see “a blonde, a redhead and a brunette.” I wish I saw that in my code, but I do see the functions of the CPU in some level of detail. I look at my friends’ code and I see their work come alive. When other people see it, I get comments like, “… uh… That’s cool, I guess…” It’s nice to hear an honest comment. 😉

What I’m getting at is, I wish I could get some approval for my efforts besides a hollow grade. Sometimes I wish I had gone into arts where I could flex my witty prose machine and get some verbal praise from people that know what I’m talking about. This doesn’t exist in engineering. At least, not in my field of it.

Where does this desperate seeking of approval derive from? I wasn’t sure for a while. I thought it was just a tick of mine for the longest time and I can still argue that to be true. But beneath that, there must be something which caused that tick to manifest itself. I believe this to be the loss of my mother. She was the encourager and the motivator for my early works. I remember playing a song I wrote on the guitar for her one night. She said, “Well, you have become quite the little musician haven’t you? I’m very impressed.” I felt fuzzy for a week.

Sometimes I would sit in my room on my computer and listen to her on the phone. I would strain to hear when she began to discuss me in any fashion. My belief is that whatever people say about you when they don’t know you are there is the honest, unguarded truth. This kind of praise is the kind that can move mountains in a person’s soul. (Or destroy people forever if negative… but that didn’t happen in this case.)

The other kind of Golden Praise that can inspire a somewhat down person is random encouragement. The kind that can be bestowed on you by a complete stranger. Last week some guy stumbled onto my blog and was genuinely impressed with my writing. Not content with simply posting a comment saying, “U = roX0r” like Pie Man tends to do sometimes *wink*, the guy adds me to his MSN and lets me know “in person.” In person of course meaning real time rather than a static post. It made me want to write more. Like I am… right now… Strange…

Now I don’t mean for this post to shame people into false praise. This is just something about myself that I wanted to say somewhere. I also wonder if others feel the same way in their lives. Like we are all walking by each other seeking others approval unable to realize we are withholding it from others. It could be enough to keep them from giving up something they are gifted in.

Heading to the polls… twice?

Yeah, good old provincial elections. The question this time will be how many seats will the NDP win back? Oh wait, no its not. The question is how many seats will the Liberals lose. You see, BC has this nasty habit of voting out rather than voting in. It makes one wonder if democracy is really what we have here since we never elect anyone. Just replace them.

Anyways, the news on the street is that pollsters for the Conservatives are asking some interesting questions… Here’s the gem that my Grandmother was asked…

If an election were called today, could we count on your support for Stephen Harper?

Sure, it could just be a quickie poll to find out support levels, but with a minority government this kind of question should set off alarm bells. Is Harper going to work with the NDP/Bloc to kill the Martin government? I wouldn’t put it past him. He is quite the little prick when you get into it. I don’t understand why people don’t see him for what he is… Bush Lite. Half the religious fanaticism, same old Reagan-esque economics. Well, maybe 1/4 less religious fanaticism. Of course, we could be dealing with Stockwell Day still … then it would be double…

So in the end, what is going on? I don’t know. But you may want to be ready to head to the polls more than once this year. Woot!

Jon Stewart is my hero

Originally posted at Ars Technica, the following article is truly amazing news. Heh, Tucker Carlson is a jackass. 🙂

Jon Stewart wins, CNN cancels Crossfire

1/6/2005 2:37:15 PM, by Ken “Caesar” Fisher

In the middle of October, Jon Stewart took his usual complaints about partisan hackery to his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire (transcript here streaming video here). From the beginning of the discussion, Stewart took aim at Crossfire and other media shows, saying (at first with a smile) that they “hurt America” by making politicians’ lives easier by failing to “hold their feet to the fire.” The gist of Stewart’s complaint was that shows that were purportedly “hard” and “cutting” were really only theatrical performances of talking points and sensationalism. The incident is now famous, and little needs to be said about it. I’m following up that story because it was so popular when we ran it before.

Today CNN announced that they are nixing Crossfire, and dropping their relationship with one of the show’s “commentators” (I use that word lightly), Tucker Carlson (who claims that he actually quit months ago). CNN’s new President, Jonathan Klein, said that he agreed with much of Stewart’s indictments against the media. So sayeth the New York Times:

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at “Crossfire” when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were “hurting America.” Mr. Klein said last night, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.” He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

Now, few would think that Stewart is the cause for the demise of Crossfire, but his complaints are most certainly a symptom of the media’s unwillingness to throw punches. Whether it’s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth or forged National Guard documents, too much time is spent discussing discussions about “news.” Then, what becomes news are the discussions themselves, and the journalists don’t spend enough time asking whether or not any of this garbage is actually correct, or engaging in real debate. I commend CNN for dumping the likes of Crossfire, but they, like most major media outlets, have a long way to go before the thinking public truly respects them again.

Go Canada!

I guess it isn’t a surprise really, but man, it’s nice when you dominate a tournament like that. 8-1 victories are really nice to get. But a 6-1 victory in the gold medal game is even better. Way to go boys.

Recommendations from 2004

I hardly consider this an exhaustive list. I was trying to make it into a top ten, but it just didn’t seem appropriate. Saying that Spiderman 2 was, in some way, better than Kill Bill seemed like saying apple juice is better than orange juice. Instead, I have compiled a list of films that I thought were worth noting that either were released or re-released in the past year. I reserve the right to edit this list as people yell at me for forgetting films that should be here.

  • Garden State

    This one I will state explicitly: This was my favorite movie of the year. Hands down. Perfect execution by Braff and company showing realistic tones of a young man begining to realize he has slept through most of his life. Subtle wit and simple metaphors keep it from being too overbearing but still maintain enough to make its point. Best soundtrack for a film in a long time.
  • Donnie Darko (Director’s Cut)

    Fine, I haven’t seen it. But I’d put it on here anyways so who cares. Go see it. Brilliant. On my top 20 of all time.
  • Spiderman 2

    Ebert called it the best superhero movie ever. I can’t agree, but I won’t fully disagree either. There are only two weak spots in this one. Dunst still can’t act and Molina is given very little to do with Doc Ock to make him memorable. On the plus side, the emotional rollercoaster we are given by Sam Rami is breathtaking. Highlight for me was the homage to Evil Dead 2 in the hospital. Note the chainsaw and the “evil-cam” tenticles… I’m not sick for laughing the whole way through, just slightly deranged.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Jim Carrey finally sheds Jim Carrey and becomes somebody else. I managed to get through this whole movie without saying, “Oh, there he is.” I was caught in the spell. Charlie Kaufman deserves more recognition than being a character in his own movie (Adaptation). Give this man some statues people.
  • Collateral

    Michael Mann earned my respect after filming Heat and The Insider, two of my favorite films of all time. While both of those are rather long, Mann has learned of editing this time out and has made a slimmer film with a more even tempo. Jamie Foxx rivals Tom Cruise for screen presence but the winner is the night time skyline of the city. Mann gives us long glances at the lights of the city giving the film a larger feel even though a good portion is held within a cab. Cinematography nomination is a must.
  • The Aviator

    Leo still looks to young to play anyone over the age of 30, but besides that this film is excellent. The acting is spot on and the script, while definitely expansive and drawn out, is fascinating and spellbinding. Alan Alda and Adam Baldwin are great as supporting characters.
  • Kill Bill 1 & 2

    I’m bundling these together since that’s the way they should have been. Tarantino has an eye for great cinema but I admit, it’s not for everyone. His dialogue is not loved by all, but deserves recognition for being the most fresh that I’ve heard in a long time. Sure he is “ripping off” movies left right and center… but how many rip offs come out as good or better than the source material? And isn’t impersonation one of the best compliments you can give? Part 2 even works on its own as a film and is easier to stomach violence wise.
  • The Incredibles

    Pixar seems to be invincible. Character design, plot, script… all tight as a drum. I don’t think this is their funniest film, but it is not supposed to be a laugh riot comedy. This is a family action film. Highly recommended.
  • Spartan

    When you do plays for a living, your films will focus more on characters speaking than actions occuring. This is how David Mamet works. Val Kilmer gives an excellent performance as a spy/soldier (we are never really told what he is) who is called in to help with a missing persons case. The story spills out and twists many times before we reach our destination. Epic storytelling with such minimal scope you’ll wonder how it managed to work out.
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    I have a thing for Wes Anderson. I think it’s the resemblance between his work and that of some aspects of Kubrick. Or maybe just his ability to make movies about losers and make us care about them. Bill Murray is brilliant in this, but I don’t think he is really acting that much. Most of his candid comments in this film I think are shared by him in real life. When watching this, keep that in mind and see if you agree. I believe the reason he is all pissed off in the press is because he is taking all the critical response to the film personally. Something to think about at least… Also, best usage of Sigur Ros in a film… EVER. I got goosebumps.
  • Shaun of the Dead

    Who needs a new Evil Dead remake when new films like this are possible? This quirky english comedy was a hit beyond all imagination of its creators. The tagline says it all, “A Romantic Comedy… With Zombies”

And now, the documentaries…

  • The Corporation

    If a coporation has the rights of a person, what kind of person is it? This film builds a tight argument to show it is nothing less than a psychopath. A little lengthy for most people, but a must see for everyone.
  • The Fog of War

    Errol Morris’ documentary on MacNamara is both pointed and fuzzy. While some details are given that show his life through the second world war and Vietnam, some questions are left unanswered. Some have suggested that Morris wasn’t tough enough as an interviewer to get the real answers from MacNamara, but in the epilogue we see that it was more likely that MacNamara wouldn’t have done it if he had tried harder. Note that while he seems apologetic about wars in the past, MacNamara is only sad about the loss of American lives. The cost of the enemy civilians is never really mentioned.
  • Control Room

    Reverse propaganda? Probably. This “insiders” look at Al Jazeera is as manipulative as CNN yet it is refreshing to see the view from the other side of the fence. It would be good to remind ourselves that the “enemies” are the terrorists, not the citizens of the countries where they live.
  • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

    Yes, it’s a documentary that isn’t political. *Gasp* Highly recommended, even if only to see the kings of 90s metal go through therapy together to discuss their feelings.
  • Fahrenheit 9-11*

    I don’t think this is a documentary. (Note the star) This is editorial filmmaking if anything. I was captivated from the opening shots of the 2000 election all the way to the final shots of the Bush administration wrapping up. I don’t agree with Moore as much as I used to. We all grow up eventually I guess. But I do think it is good to have opinions and voice them. Even if you are wrong. That’s what our ancestors fought for anyways. If you want to spit on their graves feel free. If people would actually discuss issues rather than bash each other with ridiculous statements (ie: Kerry’s “superficial” purple hearts or Bush’s pretzel wounds) we wouldn’t need muckrackers like Moore. At least this time out, Moore chooses to show ideas of other people than try and build his own thesis like in Bowling. The film benefits from this as it is less scatter shot… but not by much. Still, worth seeing before seeing Fahrenhype 9-11, the Republican counter offensive.