Thursday, February 21, 2008


It looks like torture may not be all it's cracked up to be. I'll be the first to admit that I always thought torture worked. I didn't like it and I certainly don't agree with using it, but I assumed it worked. Otherwise, why do it? The answer lies at the end of the article where it states:

'"The larger problem here, I think," one active CIA officer observed in 2005, "is that this kind of stuff just makes people feel better, even if it doesn't work."'

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Castro Resigns

Fidel Castro resigned today. He's still not dead.

My favorite quote from the article is this:

"Fidel Castro is widely expected to retain a strong voice in the country's strategic decisions for the time being."

No kidding. That's the understatement of the century. Fidel Castro is going to keep as tight a hold of his power as he can until he's gone.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Everything In Moderation

Here is an interesting commentary on the McCain problem. I agree that we should perhaps calm down, take a step back and think about compromise. That's how politics works best after all. I am just not sure if I can actually trust McCain or other neo-cons to follow through on such a plan. McCain already told us at CPAC that he might listen to conservatives if they wanted him to change his policies. His promise might not be good enough for me. I might need some more evidence to back up a statement like that. McCain might have to oppose embryonic stem cell research, or he might have to try to get troops out of Iraq, or he might have to understand what's wrong with the economy. McCain might have to do something about border security -- something that doesn't grant amnesty to illegal aliens. He might even have to come up with a fiscal plan where the government does not spend more than it brings in. Or he might have to be somebody other than McCain. Yeah, I like that last sentence best.

The Race Annoouncer -- That's Me

Virginia: McCain won on the Republican side. Obama won the Democrat primary.

Maryland: McCain won again. Obama won again.

D.C.: Same story by wider margins.

I cannot say I am surprised by any of the outcomes of these states/district. Except perhaps that Obama is doing so well. That's how the Dems are, however. They will shoot themselves in the foot every primary by picking a really liberal candidate who can talk pretty. Republicans prefer the inarticulate guy who's willing to take action whether it's necessary or not. I am still surprised about McCain coming up as the forerunner. He's incredibly unpredictable when it comes to Republican values. He switches back and forth so often. I remember a time when it was thought that he would become an Independent and change the balance of power in the Senate. I respect him for what he has been through, but I do not want him to be president.

Oh, yeah, and Ron Paul's numbers continue to be existent, but low.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Count Them Votes!

Huckabee is contesting the results from Washington state. The state Republican Party chair declared McCain the winner with only 87% of the votes counted. McCain was less than two percent ahead of Huckabee.

Ron Paul won 21% of the votes counted so far in Washington.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Plot Thickens

Huckabee won with 60% of the vote in the GOP Kansas caucuses. McCain came in far behind with a measly 24% and Ron Paul only got 11%. In Louisiana, Huckabee came in first by a slim majority. Ron Paul received 5%. Washington is still too close for me to tell who has won and not all the votes are counted. I will update when it's closer to 100% of precincts reporting.

Obama won four races. He won by a wide margin in each one. Take that, Hillary!

My thoughts are conflicted. I won't vote for McCain. As far as I'm concerned he has betrayed the Republican party several times over. I won't vote for a Democrat. I don't want to have to vote for Huckabee. He's too liberal. There just isn't a candidate who I can get behind this year. Of course, that's why I worked so hard to get Ron Paul the nomination. I guess I'll start researching Congressional and local races. I officially can't care about the presidential race anymore. But I'll keep updating on it. It's fun to watch.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday Is Over Now

As usual I am linking to the results of the election. Super Tuesday was yesterday. 21 states voted in primaries.

For Republicans the results were still mixed. McCain is considered to be ahead now. Ron Paul beat Huckabee in a couple states and he came out ahead of McCain in Montana and Alaska. I just hope he keeps getting his message heard. I'm going to say right now that I won't vote for McCain. He clearly knows nothing about the economy which I think is the most important issue right now. *cough* RINO *cough*

For Democrats I don't think we can make a generalization yet either. Clinton won New York and California, but Obama won more states and with higher margins.

The race continues to be interesting. Frankly, I am enjoying this year's primary/caucus season more than any other I have witnessed. I want to see this go back and forth all the way to the National Conventions.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don't Forget To Breathe

If you plan to see the movie There Will Be Blood then my best advice to you is, "Don't forget to breathe." It's easy to forget when you are watching the most powerful acting performance of the last 20 years (that I can remember). Very easy. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Hands down. It will be a gross injustice if he loses to Johnny Depp or George Clooney. I could not be more clear if I hosted the Oscars myself. That man should win. I don't think any of the other nominees could hold a candle to Day-Lewis's performance in Blood.

To be fair, I only recommend that you go see Blood if you are okay with a bitter storyline, an ending that does not tie up loose ends and watching a person get driven mad by his obsession. I went to see the movie because I thought it would be good research for my writing. It turned out to be so much more than that.

The beginning of the movie jars the audience into its setting and main character. After that you could not walk away if you wanted to. The soundtrack at the very beginning is like the sound of someone holding his breath. It's frightening. The intensity of the acting -- with no dialog for the first 20 minutes -- is gripping. I found myself identifying with Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from that first moment.

Blood is the story of a man obsessed with making money. He starts out with gold and silver mining then moves on to oil drilling. At first he doesn't seem like such a bad guy. You can tell he swindles people, but he's so good at it that you cannot hate him. As his character develops and things happen to him you begin to see him losing his grip on reality itself. He becomes so engrossed in his own successes that he just hates everyone. I know this sounds horrible, but you can't stop watching. You almost feel like you are Daniel Plainview until it's too late and you suddenly realize he has gone completely mad.

The anchor that makes Daniel Plainview a believable character is his son H.W. For some reason Daniel loves that little boy. Reviewers have said that H.W. was just a prop for Daniel. But I think they're wrong. H.W. was Daniel Plainview's "rosebud," so to speak. He was the one thing Daniel cared about, but Daniel did not love the boy more than Daniel loved his own success. I thought it was interesting that Daniel hated everyone except a child. He was happy when H.W. was a little boy and before H.W. had an accident that handicapped him. Daniel risked his life to save H.W. After that he abandoned the poor kid and became even more obsessed with his oil drilling.

The movie features one other compelling character played by Paul Dano: Eli Sunday. Eli is a preacher under the compulsion of his own obsession. He makes an excellent contrast to Daniel because he is just as obsessed with spirituality as Daniel is with money. I feel bad for Paul Dano, however, because his performance -- which was good -- seemed pathetic in comparison to Day-Lewis'. It would be difficult for any actor to play opposite Day-Lewis in Blood. Eli, at first, welcomes Daniel to his town and helps Daniel buy up the oil rich land. When Daniel scorns Eli's church, however, Eli becomes embittered and wishes he had not allowed Daniel into the community. The two men eventually become enemies. It was interesting to watch them. The one obsession against the other. But both end up in a bad way.

Which leads me to the ending. I'm not going to give it away, but if you prefer happy endings then you will hate this movie. It was truly a remarkable thing to see. When I walked out of the theatre I was so full of different emotions that I had no idea what to say about the movie. I felt like I had just awoke from a dream in which I was a different person. There is so much in a thematic sense in Blood. The characters, the oil, progress. I can't even begin to explain it all. I might have to watch it again . . . Or just buy it on dvd when the time comes.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Retiring The Bum

If you have kept up with my blog lately then you know I have been annoyed with myself. I often refer to myself as a "bum." The main reason for that is I don't always get things done when I need to and I have been unmotivated for the past year. I think I may have learned the secret to motivating myself: positive reinforcement.

In retrospect I'm not sure why this was so difficult to figure out. When I was a kid I used to get up at 6am every morning and do my schoolwork (I was homeschooled). I normally finished by noon and had ample time to play outside in the mud (I enjoyed mud and frankly, Michigan is a mudhole). I am doing the same thing really, I get my work done and then I get a reward (mud). The main difference is that now I have to come up with a better reward and that can cost money. For example, since I completed my housework and made it to the gym this week I get to go see a movie. Next week I might do something more mundane like playing Civ IV. That's the only game I play. I find it's a constructive way to deal with my kneejerk neo-conservative leanings -- don't judge me I was once just like you, I mean, I was educated by neo-cons. Conquer a few virtual civilizations, win a virtual space race, set off a few virtual ICBMs and I'm all set to talk about what's wrong with the economy again. So, it's a very rewarding game. I digress as usual. I find that fun is a lot more rewarding when I know I have done my work. I must have forgot that fact in college since I had to grab fun when I could because most of what I did was study, study, study.

Housework and exercise are not the only things I have let slide over the past year. I have become terminally bad at sticking to my writing. I have jumped from one novel to the next with gaps of two months in between a couple weeks of frenzied effort. The hard working times never last. So, I have set down and really started editing my 2005 NaNo novel. I have the prologue in ship-shape condition. I have even allowed people to read it and tell me what's wrong with it. If you want to be one of those people and I trust you then send me an email and I might let you read my work. It's good to get all the feedback I can -- not that I will take everything you say seriously.

I feel a whole lot better about myself now. I realize that my problem has not been that there is something terribly wrong with me. It's been that I know I am not doing my best with my responsibilities. I think it's time for the bum to retire. Of course, if I get sick then the bum can come back for a few days.