Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mushie to Bush: A Scorned Lover's Lament

A tearful Musharraf shed his uniform today. I admit, I'm not much of a poet, but there is something so sad about the jilted lover aspect of this, I felt inspired to say it in verse. Consider it a follow-up to my Hi'Ya Mushie phone call post.

I Took it Off for You
A Scorned Lover's Lament

I took it off for you.
Now tell me what to do ...
When Benazir bites my ass,
And the Pashtoons give me sass,
While Waziristan waits in the wings,
And suiciders throw everything
At my pitifully reduced powers
Even now, in The Nuclear Hour.

What's a poor dictator to do?
I figured YOU'd have a clue,
Though it's true you're busy stalking
That nervy Iranian who's balking.

Oh, I'm feeling a little bare
Standing here in my underwear.
I took it off for you.
Now tell me what to do!!!

ps, send Condi my love and these slightly used black calfskin gestapo boots.

**** Now to get that bad taste out of your mouth, click HERE for the lovely Crystal Gayle: Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue ****

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Do we ever learn anything? a small sample ...

This little outburst of YouTube was inspired by Enigma's son asking what music did you listen to when you were my age. I listened to a lot of protest music, so these are a few protest songs I listened to as a teenager. The war in Viet Nam was raging & failing, yet many people seemed to be mentally stuck on sticking it out. Anti-war sentiment built up & spilled out into the streets. Have we learned anything since then? I used to think we might learn someday, but now I'm not sure. In viewing some of the updated video footage, I see I'm not the only one struck by similarities separated by 40-years. Ah, but I was so much older then ...

I feel like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag by Country Joe and The Fish:
as sung live at Woodstock, a good introduction to 60's war protest attitude

Untitled Protest by Country Joe (with updated video footage):
offered as proof that Country Joe and evocative anti-war music are timeless

Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire (updated video footage produced by Mickey Morris): "There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave"

The Chimes of Freedom Flashing by Bob Dylan:
"Flashing for the Warriors whose strength is not to fight, Flashing for the Refugees on the unarmed road of flight, and for each and every underdog Soldier in the night" ... this is for anyone who's ever had an epiphany during an all-out lightning storm.

For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield (video by Jordan Sharp):
"Something's Happening Here" ... classic scenes from back in the day

Finally, a soldier's poignant memories of war ... I wanted to leave you with this one because I was a devoted Tim Buckley fan. His songs & sad haunting voice live forever, despite his tragic early death. Here, then, is Once I was a Soldier:

Of course, there was much other good 60's protest music, but this is enough for one sitting. We had lots of other good music, too, but that's another post. Do you have a favorite protest song?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Tucker Carlson said today that a poll of which presidential candidates you would like to share your Thanksgiving meal with had HILLARY as the clear winner. I'm sure she has other plans, Tuck, but if she shows up at my house, I will treat her nicely until she starts criticizing my turkey. Anyone who criticizes my turkey is normally treated to a turkey leg up the nose and some giblet gravy smeared on their ass ...... Fair Warning, Hill.

The only thing worse than Hillary showing up for Thanksgiving, would be this guy with his styrofoam turkey ---------->>>>

ummm, tell me, corporal, what size slice of this here phoney bird would you prefer? Those nasty dems can try to cut back war funding, but I will always find some good turkey-shaped plastic for my troops. Howza 'bout some play-doh yams? Yummy!!!

And, of course, the only thing worse than either Hillary or Bush showing up for my Thanksgiving turkey, would be .... you guessed it!


Hey, I'm saving BOTH turkey legs, just in case.

And I always have plenty of Giblet Gravy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Declining Empire

Watch Brit Tony Benn Beat Punk-Ass Bolton to a Pulp, 5-minutes of BBC fun! Why don't we see smackdown shows like this in America? Was that Benazir Bhutto sitting on the panel? The Zen of Benn:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Are you a potential Yucca Mtn downwinder? CNN bumps further discussion to cover the important diamonds or pearls for hillary issue ...

For me, one of the many disappointing things about the Nov 15th CNN Democratic "Debate" in Las Vegas was the exchange about Yucca Mountain, currently being constructed apprx 90-miles NW of Vegas. Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository is a planned one-stop nuke shit-site for our nation's nuclear waste. If it ever becomes operational, you will be shipping all your locally produced nuclear waste products thousands of miles by road & rail to be buried in the Nevada desert. You may think that once it is gone from your neighborhood, you are safe. Let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth ... because there is NO safe solution for nuclear waste!

Yucca Mountain is located within the Nevada Test Site, where almost 1,000 above- and below-ground nuclear tests were conducted between 1951 and 1992. The "sneeze map" above shows actual nuclear fallout as it escaped the Test Site during some of those years and entered the prevailing jet stream. And don't think you are safe in central California up through the Pacific Northwest just because you didn't get sneezed on during those years. The winds do not always blow west to east, as the recent California Wildfires fueled by Santa Ana winds prove. This map only shows airborne fallout patterns. Any nuclear storage site will also be subject to leakage and seepage, both above and below ground, with contamination effects lasting over 24,000 years (to put that into perspective, we were painting wooly mammoths on the cave walls of Lascaux 20,000 yrs ago). Leaking containers, rotting structures, earth movement, subsidance, water table changes, floods, major climate changes, deliberate sabotage & terrorist magnets are only some of the problems that could compromise a storage site in a 24,000-yr timeframe. And that doesn't even begin to address the basic problem of shipping nuclear waste through America's small towns & big cities, the possible accidents along the way that could result in vast contamination areas.

I guess you can tell that I have a personal interest in this matter. Having grown up in Las Vegas and currently residing in SW Utah, I have some knowledge of the continuing problems faced by Downwinders. The atomic tests were a fact of life for me. Hey Mom, what's that noise, why is the ground swaying? Oh, they are conducting a test today, want to go watch the next one? Everybody is invited! You can read a few eye-witness accounts and resultant health nightmares from people who were considered "a low use segment of the population" in an excellent well-referenced article called "Killing Our Own" (warning: scroll thru the references, but it's still a lengthy article that you won't be able to stop reading). The photo at the beginning of this paragraph is the most infamous of the above-ground radioactive blasts, dubbed Dirty Harry, a 32-Kiloton device fired from a tower at the Nevada Test Site on May 19, 1953, as part of Operation Upshot/Knothole. See photos of other nuclear tests here. Such pretty pictures, such a deadly heritage.

Back to the CNN Blitzer-hosted "debate": What irritated me was the soft-nuke answers provided by the two candidates who actually were allowed to answer. Obama said "I don't think nuclear power is necessarily our best option, but it has to be part of our energy mix", later citing "solar, wind, biodiesel, clean coal and superior nuclear technology". Richardson, drawing on his Secretary of Energy experience, wants to "turn Yucca Mountain into a national laboratory ... to find a way to safely dispose of nuclear waste". Sorry, Obama and Richardson, I see NO solution to the disposal of nuclear waste; therefore, I do not think nuclear power or Yucca Mountain are options at all.

A little more pleasing was this exchange, in September, when Tim Russert moderated the Democratic Candidate's "Debate" at Dartmouth. From the 30-second lightning round:
Russert: "Mr. Edwards, would you be in favor of developing more nuclear power here in the U.S.?"
Edwards: "No."
Russert: "Period?"
Edwards: ... "in less than 30-seconds."
Russert: "Obama, nuclear power?"
Obama: ..."can't take it off the table ... have to store it properly & safely ..."
Russert: "Congressman Kucinich?"
Kucinich: ... "they never factor in the cost of storage, which continues FOREVER ..."

Well, I'm afraid we need much more dialogue than that! I'm afraid there is too much temptation to consider nuclear power as just another alternative energy source & possible solution to global warming. Many do not want to face up to the reality of the cost and technical challenges of waste disposal. We all need to understand that ill-thought out choices today will leave future generations with a legacy of nuclear waste that could even dwarf global warming issues.

America is certainly not alone in this situation. France keeps a low profile on its nuclear program, emphasizing only the positive aspect of independence from fossil fuels. However, France is no nearer than we are in deciding what to do, either with their own nuke waste, or other European countries' waste they were originally so eager to store. At least Europe is also investing heavily in solar, wind and biofuels. Russia and its former satellite republics have huge stocks of nuclear waste, most of it military. China? Well, call me dubious, but I don't trust a country that sends us lead-painted mercury-filled toys & goods produced in contaminated worker environments, to safely store their nuclear waste, either.

In my opinion, nuclear power is neither viable nor an option. No community wants to live near a nuclear power plant or deal with the waste. And attempting to route our nation's nuclear waste to Nevada is not a solution. Think of what is already in the Nevada ground and ready to be reborn should the Yucca Mountain project ever suffer an accident. Look at the sneeze-map again. Ah-chooh!

And, what if there is a radiation transportation incident in your area? Each state has its own program, but here is the Dick & Jane style three-point DHS and DOT (I'm-seriously-not-making-this-up) advice on how to limit your exposure:
TIME: Limit time spent around the radiation source.
DISTANCE: Increase distance from the radiation source.
SHIELDING: Increase shielding from the radiation source with protective barriers such as building walls ---------------------- D.K. note: that comforting advice sounds like, get into your lead-lined DeLorean & drive like a bat out of hell, BEFORE the radiation incident occurs, so you can get BACK! to the Future!!! Oh ho-hum, I suppose they will also raise the terrorist alert level to RED, which should help a bunch. What do you think?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Avatar

OK, so this is it. Hope you all like my orange hair.

I feel like a fortune-teller in that fussy headband with beaded embroidery and dangling gems. A ginger gypsy?!?

Thank you bloggers for staying with me through this long arduous process ... arduous for me, the non-blogger! Next task: a blogroll.

And thank you, Alphonse Mucha ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Alphonse Mucha

OK, so I'm still in a Retro mood. If you were around the hippy scene in the 1960's, you probably remember Alphonse Mucha. His art was on everything from Zig-Zag rolling papers to Moet & Chandon champagne. Posters of "Mucha's women" adorned the walls of many night clubs, record shops & clothing stores. His colorful drawings were incorporated into advertising promo pieces for cultural events. There was Mucha wallpaper, carpeting, book illustrations, magazine ads, etc. My memories of that era are forever colored by his art.

Mucha's women were beautifully healthy, clothed in flowing neoclassical robes & usually surrounded by flowers. Their innocence shines through, even when provocatively posed. Mucha's art was so pervasive & seemed such a perfect representation of the flower child era, I never realized at the time that this was a revival for Mucha, who had died in 1939. He was born in 1860 in Moravia, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that eventually became part of the modern Czech Republic. He had the great good fortune of achieving early commercial success within the Art Nouveau movement, which his bio says irked him since he thought it frivolous & unimportant (art critics did not agree). In 1939, as a 79-yr old still-active painter of nationalist pan-slavic history, Mucha was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo & died in prison.

If you have a few unoccupied moments, you can pass them quite pleasurably at a website called Olga's Gallery which features about 120 Mucha paintings, not only his early work, but also the later more political canvasses. You may notice I picked up an avatar at Olga's. The image reduction is such that I'm not happy with the final product. Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

VOTE The Nation

Gore Vidal asked people to vote their choice of Democrat candidates, if the primary were held today, in a poll sponsored by The Nation. He likes Dennis Kucinich whom he compared to James Madison. Click on the VOTE link below to read the entire text. To check the results, click on the Cast your Vote link in the article. Hint: Hillary is NOT leading, not even close.

What do you think of this poll?

To read entire text, including articles about other dem candidates, click: VOTE The Nation

Here is a pasted snip...

Dennis Kucinich by Gore Vidal
online 11/8/07 for the 11/26/07 issue

If the Democratic presidential primary were held today in your state, whom would you support? Cast your vote in the Nation Poll.

For the past two years I've been crisscrossing the United States speaking to crowds of people about our history and politics. At the same time, would-be Presidents of the greatest nation in the country, as silver-tongued Spiro Agnew used to say, have been crowding the trail, while TV journalists sadly shake their heads at how savage the politicos have become in their language. But then, it is the task of TV journalists to foment quarrels where often none properly exist.

As I pass through the stage door of one auditorium after another, I now hear the ominous name of Darth Vader, as edgy audiences shudder at the horrible direction our political discourse has taken. Ever eager as I am to shed light, I sometimes drop the name of the least publicized applicant to the creaky throne of the West: Dennis Kucinich. It takes a moment for the name to sink in. Then genuine applause begins.

He is very much a favorite out there in the amber fields of grain, and I work him into the text. A member of the House of Representatives for five terms since 1997, although many of his legislative measures have been too useful and original for our brain-dead media to comprehend. I note his well-wrought articles proposing the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, testing the patriotic nerves of his fellow Democrats, but then the fact of his useful existence often causes distress to those who genuinely hate that democracy he is so eager to extend. "Don't waste your vote," they whine in unison--as if our votes are not quadrennially wasted on those marvelous occasions when they are actually counted and recorded. Meanwhile, Kucinich is now at least visible in lineups of the Democratic candidates; he tends to be the most eloquent of the lot ...

... I asked a dedicated liberal his impression of Kucinich; he wondered if Kucinich was too slight to lead a nation of truly fat folk. I pointed out that he has the same physical stature as James Madison, as well as a Madisonian commitment to our 1789 Constitution; he is also farsighted, as demonstrated by his resolute opposition to Bush's cries for ever more funding for the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More to the point, in October 2002 he opposed the notion of a war then being debated. For those of us at home and in harm's way from disease, he co-wrote HR 676, a bill that would insure all of us within Medicare, just as if we were citizens of a truly civilized nation.

... Gore Vidal is a prolific novelist, playwright and essayist, and one of the great stylists of contemporary American prose.

******************** Now for some serious fun, check out Pursey Tuttweiler's Big Impeachment Party currently in progress! *************

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sounds of Silence

I heard some talk yesterday about how this election is shaping up similar to 1968. Someone said Hillary is like Hubert Humphrey (the entrenched party favorite, long time insider), that Obama and Edwards are like Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy (you decide who is who). Those are the so-called top-tier Democrats. In the lower tier, we have, among others, the fearless Dennis Kucinich who always knows where he stands & is therefore released from trying to play the polls. We don't hear much about the lower-tier Dems; their messages are sounds of silence in the media.

All of this talk of 1968 has me remembering: Eugene McCarthy had done well in the early primaries. Bobby was being pressured to run, but wouldn't commit. Then LBJ announced he would not seek re-election, and I went downtown to volunteer at a make-shift RFK campaign office that sprang up overnight. He galvanized people like no one I have ever seen. The organizers held seminars for us; they wanted to make sure every volunteer knew where Bobby stood on the issues, so that we could represent him well. They arranged media blitzes & voter registration drives & amassed lists of people who would need to be prodded & even physically taken to the polls to vote in the primaries. We lowly volunteers handed out a lot of brochures, campaign buttons & other promo items. We made industrial-strength coffee by the gallon & provided donuts & cookies at public gatherings. We went to supermarkets & other public places, set up little tables with candidate info & attempted to engage with people about Bobby. I reasoned with republicans and democrats alike, pointing out where RFK differed from others & why his philosophy was better. We were told to never make personal attacks, to stick to the issues -- if anyone tried to get personal, we were to refer them to the campaign office people. It was a real grass-roots eye-opening experience for a skinny 16-yr old who wore too much make-up & ironed her hair.

The night Bobby died, June 5, 1968, I had stayed up late to follow the important California primaries. Then I stayed up some more to hear Bobby's victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. I remember being elated, but so tired, I could hardly keep my eyes open. As soon as he waved goodbye to the crowd, I flipped the TV off & trudged to bed. Early the next morning, my Dad tip-toed softly into my bedroom & said, "your guy's dead". I still can't explain how I even knew what he was talking about, but I immediately did know Bobby had been assassinated.

A few days later, I volunteered for McCarthy (I was "Clean for Gene"), but it was an empty effort for me. I was too young to go to the Chicago convention, even though I knew others from the campaign who did go. They went thinking mass protests would derail the Humphrey steamroller machine. They carried signs that said, "Dump the Hump". We did not want another political hack, an LBJ yes-man, to win the nomination. You've all seen the pictures from that convention, the heavy-handed police vs the mostly earnest college kids trying to make their voices heard.

End result: we got Hubert H. Humphrey, who ran a carefully crafted, but ultimately losing campaign. One of the key issues was his failure to differ from LBJ on continuing the Vietnam war. Oh sure, he wanted to do things differently, but he still maintained the goal of stopping communism in SE Asia, which meant the war would continue. HHH lost to Nixon. Vietnam drug on until 1975, eventually costing over 58,000 American lives & uncounted millions of Vietnamese deaths. You know the rest of the story.

Today, I am recognizing the similarities of 2008 to 1968. Are you? I'm afraid Hillary is the Humphrey of today, and that her unwillingness to state how & when she will end our military involvement in Iraq, no matter how slickly worded, is a losing position for the Democrats. I'm afraid she is the democratic candidate who will have the toughest fight in the General Election. I'm afraid she will lose, and we will end up with Rudy or Romney, and then heaven help us. I'm also afraid she will win, and we will end up with only a slightly different strategy, still going down the same road to hell. Tell me I'm wrong. Please.

Better yet, tell me if any candidate is speaking to you the way RFK did, with words like, "What's been going on in the U.S. for these last years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment, the war, that must end. We are a great country, a selfless country, a compassionate country & now we must work together. That is the basis of my candidacy."


********** Enigma of Watergate Summer has a couple of inspirational posts up right now: "Mainstream Media" has another RFK video & asks us why the media isn't covering important issues & what we can do about it. Also see "Catching Light" with a Simon-Garfunkel video that captures Dennis Kucinich (in the clearing stands a boxer ....)

********** And don't let the media also silence news about Pakistan: Bhutto arrested, but vows to go ahead with protest rallies today, 11/9/07. Follow the news ...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hi'ya, Mushie!

Bush is taking heat today for not personally calling & talking to his good friend, Musharref, about the State of Emergency declared in Pakistan. I, for one, am glad he has not. Otherwise, CNN might have to report this conversation:

Bush: Hi'ya Mushie, how's it going?
Mush: Great! We are having wonderful success in controlling our terrorists.
Bush: Fantastic! which terrariss exactly are ya controlling?
Mush: So far, we are having best luck with students, activist groups, journalists, attorneys & judges, and vocal members of the opposition party & their familes.
Bush: hmmm, those are surely bad terrariss. What methods ya using?
Mush: We have removed them from society so they will not pollute our patriotic citizenry.

Bush: How ya gonna keep the patriotic citzenry from contamination by any sneaky terrariss you have not removed yet?
Mush: We have shut down all forms of mass communication, such as telephones, TV, radio, newspapers, graffiti & the internet.
Bush: Let me know how that internets thang goes down. Hey, what about satellite dishes, sneaky terrariss will surely use those to broadcast their messages of unpatriotic hate.
Mush: Good point -- today we have outlawed satellite dishes.

Bush: Well, it seems like ya done a heckuva job there, Mushie!
Mush: Thank you, Mr. Bush, Pakistan is feeling so much more secure now. Why, I have not heard one disparaging remark about myself since declaring a State of Emergency.
Bush: Darnit, I sure do wish I had me some of those State of Emergency powers. Oh, almost fergot! Condi wanted me to ask you to remove your uniform.
Mush: If I remove my uniform for anyone, it will be for Condi.
Bush: Awww, she'll be so pleased to hear that.
Mush: Well Mr. Bush, I am seeing some terrariss, errr terrorists, needing my controlling right now, so I'd better go ...

Bush: Wait, wait! Cheney wanted me to ask, how'd ya like to come over here & help me control my terrariss, after you're all done controlling your own, of course?
Mush: Would I be able to keep my uniform?
Bush: Mushman, you are one tough negosheeator! I'll have to ask Big Dick & get back to ya. He's the only one who can override Condi since he works outside the executive branch. Maybe they can figure out a diplomatic shared uniform arrangement. Meanwhile, you jest let me know if them terrariss you're controlling begin overflowing your jail accomodations. We got some Black Site Detention Centers just begging for a little controlling experience.
Mush: I don't think that will be necessary. We have plenty of soccer stadiums at our disposal....

Pakistan Locked Down

click to read more

stay on top of it

Monday, November 5, 2007

Keith Olbermann 11/05/07

This 11-minute Special Comment is a must-see. Keith was in fine form tonight. The subject is: Waterboarding.

Assuming Torquemada Bush watches Countdown, I wonder what the Whitehouse Laundry will encounter in the pants that our "Mock President" was wearing tonight? Then again, perhaps they are used to applying heavy-duty solvents in cleaning all his clothing. I mean, he has crapped all over our country & constitution, why would he spare his own trousers? By now, his rock-hard boxers, after years of industrial-strength detoxifiers, must really chafe. As he attempts to pull on a fresh stiff pair tomorrow, Laura will hear him squeal, "aaaack, this is torchure, 'Merica dudint torchure, 'speshly not da prezzynads 'nads". She will sigh, as she does every morning, reaching for the Febreeze Tenderizing spray and muttering, "I gotta get a lockout key for Keith's show".

Waterboarding is torture; torture is illegal; Bushco has authorized & condones it; let the criminal court trials begin! Many retired JAGs will be happy to testify.

But don't worry, Mr. Pissy-Pants and your pukey pals, I believe Paraguay is still one of the countries that you have convinced to exempt themselves from the International Criminal Court. [note: link concerns US pressure to expand exempted countries] ... Buh-Bye, SonOfaBush!

Lions for Lambs

Robert Redford's new movie, "Lions for Lambs" will be opening at theatres this week. It's about post-9/11 politics, education & the press. Redford plays a Vietnam vet professor. Tom Cruise plays a Republican Senator spinning military strategy for the network news. Meryl Streep plays a TV reporter. The movie concept intrigues me. May it generate some sorely needed dialogue.

I've always liked Mr. Redford's unorthodox style. He earned a college baseball scholarship, but was expelled from the Univ of Colorado in the mid-1950's for drinking. He has said his real education began as he traveled around Europe & met other young people who were smartly political. He eventually landed in New York, where he studied Art before turning to Acting.

No one doubts where Redford stands as a longtime crusader for social justice & activism. He loathes this "stupid war" in Iraq & laments a "press that has rubber-stamped" this administration's agenda. He expresses "frustration with what we've lived with for so many years now" and sadness over "the losses we've experienced at the hands of this leadership". But he is also distressed by a generation that has buried itself in video games. America would be a very different place right now had there been a draft in effect for the war in Iraq, he says: "For one thing, this administration would be toast by now" because "students would have paid a lot more attention to this war".

Redford says he hopes "Lions for Lambs" will be a catalyst to provoke thought. The film invites viewers to weigh the choices that elected officials, journalists, academics and soldiers make in the morally swampy era of Bush administration foreign policy.

Here are some excerpts from a Times Online review of "Lions for Lambs": The story unfolds in real time, during the course of a single day, and explores many of the issues that are dear to Redford’s heart via three separate strands – the role of the media (how, in the present climate, can it step away from being the Government’s propaganda machine?), the politicians’ justification of the War on Terror, and the losing battle of educators (Redford plays the anguished professor) to prevent students retreating into a torpor of cynical lassitude because they feel helpless to effect change.

The power of the film is the juxtaposition of two injured soldiers – former students of the professor – waiting to be killed by the Taliban on the snowy mountains of Afghanistan, while in the safety of lecture rooms and living rooms and White House offices, politicians, professors and students, reporters and editors, argue about how to end this war.

Redford is not at all optimistic about the future: “The bottom line has taken over everything, including journalism. It’s surprising, frankly, that the studios would take a chance on this film. There has been so much damage to our country ... and there’s such a negative impression of America throughout the world, and for these people to be talking about democracy while practising policies that are so undemocratic …..................”
... “You know, what I can’t forget or forgive is that we were asked to give up our freedoms and let them do what they needed to [after 9/11], and we zipped our lips and gave up challenging the election because they had a difficult job. And it sure was good timing for them ....................."

{quick note: sorry for the interruption, but D.K. wishes to thank Bob for the shortened understatements above, realizing that had he completed his thoughts, we would now find ourselves on a short bus whose next stop is ... Twilight Zone Det Camp #9 ... let us now resume Redford's Times Online interview quote} ...

“We gave up criticising the administration and our president, and we all saluted and marched in lock-step in support, only to be lied to and cheated, and send young people in harm’s way to unnecessarily risk losing their lives. That made me angry ... now I’m past anger and in a state of mourning ... Freedom of opinion, freedom of debate and dissent, that’s what democracy means, but it’s all been shut down now."

Lions for Lambs opens nationwide on November 9.

Watch the movie trailer released to international audiences, 2-1/2 minutes:

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Isaac Asimov Science Sunday

I'm a sucker for short answer tests. Yes, I was that kid in school who bristled at ABCD multi-choice tests, never completely happy with the menu, usually reinterpreting (or misinterpreting) the only choices allowed. Same with True-False (is there any such thing as a truly true or completely false statment?). But give me a fill-in-the-blank, or short answer test, especially a deceptively easy one, and I will eat it up like blueberry pancakes with pecan syrup on a lazy Sunday morning.

So, I was very pleased to recently find out that one of my favorite science fiction writers, Isaac Asimov, lent his name to a series called Isaac Asimov's Super Quiz, published in many newspapers by the King Features Syndicate. Each quiz has a different subject.

Today's subject is: SCIENCE ... (answers will be at the end of this post)

"Freshman Level"
1. What is the term for a period of 1,000 years?
2. There are 1,760 _______ in a _________.
3. From what raw material is aluminum obtained?

"Graduate Level"
4. The sugar found in honey and fruit is called ________.
5. What is controlled by a rheostat? ______________ .
6. What element has the atomic number 1? _________.

"Ph.D. Level"
7. "In Vivo" means in the living body,
and "in vitro" means __________.
8. Translate "compos mentis": __________________.
9. What is the common name for diamorphine? _______.

Scoring is as follows: 1 point for each correct answer at the "Freshman Level", 2 points at the "Graduate Level", and 3 points at the "PhD Level". (remember answers are at the end of post)

I first became acquainted with Mr. Asimov's work during the summer after 9th grade (same summer that found me anxiously awaiting the arrival of the boob fairy). Summer vacations always included a lot of reading for me. In hunting around the city library for something different, I ended up in the science fiction section. So it was there that I found & devoured The Foundation Trilogy (which deals with the fall of the Galactic Empire in a more thought-provoking way than Star Wars), followed by the "I, Robot" series (featuring the famous 3 laws of robotics & eventually made into a movie starring Will Smith), and "Nightfall" ... thus beginning my life-long love of sci-fi.

Originally written in 1941, "Nightfall" was later expanded into a fuller novel & re-released. The story revolves around a planet bathed in the perpetual sunlight of its six suns ... except once every 2,049 yrs when all six suns are eclipsed, plunging the planet into total darkness. Stars appear for the first time, causing widespread madness & complete destruction of civilization, knocking any survivors back to the stone age. As the story unfolds, an archeologist finds evidence of multiple cyclical collapses of prior civilizations ... and a group of religious fanatics (called The Apostles of Flame) prophesize an impending disaster when a torrent of fire will rain down from the sky. People start having mental breakdows & massive civil riots even before the prophesized event. The novel has many underlying messages about fear & how we deal with it.

Isaac Asimov has an interesting life story which you can read about here. He was an atheist humanist who called himself a feminist & believed that homosexuality must be considered a "moral right". He authored about 500 books before his death in 1992. His final book, "Our Angry Earth" (1991) deals with environmental crises such as global warming. Here are some of my favorite Asimov quotes:

"Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." ....."I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more; for whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse." ....."Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what's right."....."It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." ....."Science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." ....."Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do."..... "To insult someone, we call him 'bestial', but for deliberate cruelty, 'human' might be the greater insult."..... "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

OK, here are the answers to the Asimov Science Quiz: 1. Millennium; 2. Yards, Mile; 3. Bauxite; 4. Fructose; 5. Electrical current; 6. Hydrogen; 7. In the test tube; 8. Having control of one's mind; 9. Heroin.

Score Results: 18 points=congratulations, doctor; 15-17 points=honors graduate; 10-14 points=you're plenty smart, but no grind; 4-9 points=you really should hit the books harder; 1-3 points=enroll in remedial courses immediately; 0 points=who read the questions to you?

My results: I'm "plenty smart" !?! but maybe not, since I had to award myself full points for answering #8 with "sane". I completely fluffed #3 (tin was all that came to mind & I don't even know if it's "raw") and #9 (I winged that with "daily change", boy was I off). Deceptively simple! If you take the science quiz, tell me how you did & what questions messed you up.

Were you affected by an author an early age? What genre?