Archive for August, 2008

Clint Eastwood — great film director

Posted in Movies with tags on 23 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

My respect for — hell, my adoration of — Mr. Clint Eastwood knows no bounds. As a kid, I liked The Man with No Name; as a teenager, I dug Dirty Harry. They were badasses, and they were so. very. cool. As an adult, I’m consistently amazed and delighted with the depths of his artistic integrity, his vision, his imagination, and his sheer technical skill as a filmmaker. A lot of his movies will still be being viewed a hundred years from now. Clint Eastwood is a national treasure.

But you knew that.

Anyway, he’s joining the ranks of other Great Film Directors in my Flickr set of that name. I like the way he looks now; like a combination of wind and sun and sand have blasted away all unnecessary skin, fat, and connective tissue — leaving just the burning brilliance of his core essence. Here he is, in all his scowly glory:

I’m not ranking these guys, but he’s up there with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Akira Kurosawa, James Whale, Stanley Kubrick, François Truffaut, and Billy Wilder. Next up, I think, is Michael Curtiz. On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of films by Alan Smithee…

Volcanic eruption and lightning storm extravaganza!

Posted in Natural wonders with tags , , , , , , , on 21 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

I received this message and attached pictures through a forwarded e-mail message. I don’t know what the provenance of these pictures is; I don’t know who took them, or when; but I do know they’re pretty goddam spectacular. Behold:

Two of nature’s most spectacular forces produced an incredible brew in the skies of Chile as a volcanic eruption met a lightning storm. Tons of and ash from the eruption of the Chaitén volcano poured into the night sky just as an electric storm passed overhead. The resulting collision created a spectacular sight as lightning flickered around the dust cloud amid the orange glow of the volcano. The eruption was all the more spectacular because the Chaitén volcano, 800 miles (1,290km) south of Santiago, has been dormant for hundreds – if not thousands of years. The Patagonian volcano began erupting on Friday and the 12-mile-high plume has left vast tracts of land coated with a layer of ash.

Andrew J. Bacevich on the limits of American power

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 17 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

The August 15 edition of PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal featured the most startlingly clear-eyed assessment of the current state of our nation that I’ve ever heard.

Andrew J. Bacevich teaches international relations and history at Boston University, is a graduate of West Point, and a retired Army colonel. He’s no lefty, preaching to the Moyers choir. Neither, it would appear, has he any use for Bushie neocons. Instead, he’s an astute observer of the political scene, with a deep knowledge of history, and a keen insight into the nature of the American character.

Professor Bacevich understands that a good-sized piece of our foreign policy problems are a result of our dogged determination to maintain a highly consumerist “American way of life.” If it’s our God-given right to unending supplies of cheap energy, cheap consumer goods, and unlimited credit, then our political leaders have no other real function other than to project military force, in a Sisyphean effort to protect the incoming supply lines for all the goodies we demand.

Which, of course, leads to a sort of permanent militarization of the country, especially when we can’t get our way, or when somebody gives us a black eye. In the preface to his new book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich writes:

… for the United States after 9/11, war became a seemingly permanent condition. President George W. Bush and members of his administration outlined a campaign against terror that they suggested might last decades, if not longer. On the national political scene, few questioned that prospect. In the Pentagon, senior military officers spoke in terms of “generational war,” lasting up to a century. Just two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was already instructing Americans to “forget about ‘exit strategies’; we’re looking at a sustained engagement that carries no deadlines.”

And here we are.

Bill Moyers and Andrew J. Bacevich -- August 15, 2008

Bill Moyers and Andrew J. Bacevich - Aug. 15, 2008

There are ways out of this mess, but setting things to right will require a massive realignment of the way we think of ourselves. It’s time to start acting like grown-ups.

Catch the whole thing in video, audio, or transcript starting HERE , and be sure to read excerpts from Bacevich’s book, the site’s blog comments, slideshows, and other features. This is important stuff.

“Quantum of Solace” theme song?

Posted in Cool video, James Bond, Movies, Music with tags , , , , , , , on 9 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

As a confirmed, lifelong, hard-core James Bond fan, I am, of course, eagerly anticipating this fall’s new 007 movie QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

One of the rituals in counting down to the release of a new Bond film is anticipating the new theme song. The BBC 6’s Adam and Joe have proposed their own tune, with an accompanying video. It’s one of the funniest Bond spoofs I’ve seen in years. Feast your eyes (and ears) on:

The real, actual, QOS title track is entitled “Another Way to Die,” and will be performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys. Let’s hope it’s as inspired as this!

SOP for SWAT teams: Shoot the Dogs!

Posted in Civil liberties with tags , , , , , on 7 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

From the Stumbled Across This While Looking for Something Else, and It Really Chapped My Ass department:

The Cato Institute website is carrying a reprint of an article by policy analyst Radley Balko (a specialist in “nanny state” issues and author of the forthcoming study “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Drug Raids in America,”) about the growing propensity of killing dogs in the commission of drug raids. And we’re not talking about savage Rottweilers or Pit Bulls guarding the premises of ruthless drug dealers here — we’re talking about family dogs; household pets of the families whose homes are mistakenly targeted for paramilitary assault.

Perhaps a hatred for animals, or at least dogs, is a prerequisite for SWAT police work. Balko’s article lists numerous examples of the offhanded (or, maybe, just-for-fun) shootings up dogs, including frightened animals simply trying to run away from all the ruckus. Describing a 2004 raid in a Phoenix suburb, in which the suspects house was actually BURNED DOWN , the author comments “the image that sticks in your head, as described by John Dougherty in the alternative weekly Phoenix New Times, is that of a puppy trying to escape the fire and a SWAT officer chasing him back into the burning building with puffs from a fire extinguisher. The dog burned to death.” That’s some good police work, Lou.

The piece originally ran April 5, 2006 on Reason Online; it’s entitled THE DRUG WAR GOES TO THE DOGS, and, if you have any soul at all, you’ll be enraged. Now that the DEA is using Blackwater mercenaries in their raiding parties (see the post below), one can only imagine the animal slaughter rate climbing even higher.

DEA uses Blackwater to roust medical marijuana dispensary (?)

Posted in Civil liberties, Politics with tags , , , on 4 August 2008 by Doc Tourneau

Last Saturday, I stumbled across a story on the Los Angeles Times website about a Drug Enforcement Administration raid on a medical marijuana dispensary in Culver City, California. Think what you will about the efficacy of medical marijuana, or about marijuana laws in general, but only a draconian asshole of the highest order would applaud the seeming prioritization of cracking down on these types of operations. By “draconian asshole,” of course, I mean the Bush administration and the current group of gangsters running the quote-unquote US Department of Justice. Or maybe it’s just that the dispensaries, basically mom-and-pop perations run by people whose raison d’être is to help the sick, are the low hanging fruit of the DEA’s identified targets.

You can read three Times story for yourself, but it’s the usual horror story of black-clad shock troops smashing down the doors, terrorizing the personnel and clientele, ripping the place to shit, and seizing all its assets. An added bonus this time around was the breaking-into of an Automated Teller Machine and confiscation of its contents, i.e. money. Wergelt, I guess…