Will Darren Sharper Testify?

If the maelstrom of lawsuits comes, will Green Bay Packer safety Darren Sharper testify, as an expert for the defense, upon the theft of an election that was a guaranteed Kerry victory based on the unrelated and certainly non-causual occurrence regarding the Redskins’ wins and losses preceding a presidential election?

If so, the Republicans should call Manny Ramirez to testify that 2004 is an outlier, wherein historical streaks come to an end.

An Attack on Free Speech

I don’t know which is worse, the headline “Dutch filmmaker accused of ridiculing Islam slain“, with its passive voice implication that maybe he had it coming to him since he was, after all, accused of ridiculing Islam, or the first paragraph:

A controversial Dutch filmmaker accused by Muslims of ridiculing their religion was stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam on Tuesday, shocking the Netherlands where the killing was denounced as an attack on free speech.

Pardon my Midwestern simplicity here, but I think that a more basic right was violated somewhere along the line. But to some people, the metaphor’s more important than the concrete, and the abstract more important than the specific, and you cannot suffer along with the oppressed dead guy if it’s just murder–but if it’s suppression of free speech, it’s just like Bush’s America!

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

The Funniest Thing on the St. Louis County Ballot

Preposition A: Shall the St. Louis County Charter be amended so that any County assistance of value, whether direct or indirect, to development of a professional sports facility, requires prior to any assistance being given that the County Auditor first prepare a fiscal note and that the governing body proposing to take action to provide financial assistance hold a public hearing and that the financial assistance be approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the County voting thereon?

Jeez, in the last ten years, they’ve built or funded a new hockey/basketball arena, a football stadium, and a baseball stadium. This will pretty much eliminate a new professional dog racing track or perhaps an Olympic venue.

On the other hand, if this passes, it will be funny to see how the politicos in power deal with the trigger in the St. Louis Rams’ current lease that they can leave if the Edward Jones Dome falls out of the top ten facilities in the nation. Undoubtedly, the County and the city will find money to refurbish professional sports arenas without a pesky hearing.

Michael Moore of Video Gaming

Spare us the enlightened citizens’ re-education through First Person Shooters. From the Entertainment Weekly profile of the forthcoming Halo 2:

Clearly, there are political and religious dimensions to Halo 2 that were absent from the first game. (“You could look at [the story] as a damning condemnation of the Bush administration’s adventure in the Middle East,” admits Staten.) Such provocative themes were bound to come under the scrutiny of Microsoft’s legal team. Even as the game was getting its final polish, lawyers forced Staten to change the name of an alien antagonist, arguing that it carried Muslim overtones. Staten objected. Nonetheless, some of the voice actors (who include Michelle Rodriguez, Ron Perlman, and Miguel Ferrer) were called back to rerecord dialogue only weeks before the final version was delivered.

My knee jerk reaction is to condemn it out of hand, but hey, he’s a storyteller, and he can tell the story he wants. We in the West allow people to express themselves and seek to better our own consciousnesses by understanding other cultures, even those completely at odds with our way of life.

Hey, that’s well and good. Just so we don’t forget that our culture affords tolerance and certain parts of ours does not, and our culture, though imperfect, is better than the peak of Islamicism and we defend it.

(Link seen on The Bleat, which is a daily column from some obscure Minnesotan newspaperman.)

Your One Stop Paranoia Shop

Okay, so read this bit in Ann Althouse’s Dick Cheney’s Hawaiian visit:

5) Another very pretty girl whom I could only conclude was a Secret Service groupie. She came in and as I gave her a lei she held up her Bush Cheney sign and asked where she could get autographs from Secret Service guys. I pointed them out to her but told her I didn’t know if she’d have any luck. I saw her after the event and she had managed to get several!

So here’s the question from your shidoshi of paranoia:

    What can someone forge with a Secret Service agent’s signature?

And Next….

Note to Pediatrics: Instead of banning BB guns and paintball guns because FOUR CHILDREN A YEAR or fewer die from them, how about we focus first on the more dangerous schnucking STAIRCASES and BATHTUBS, which kill far more?

Because they don’t look like EEEEEEEEVIL GUNS? Okay, then, as long as we understand the real goal here.

Coming soon in this month’s Musings magazine: a study about how deadly raging academic stupidity is. Never mind the study or the methodology, the press release announcing the study is the important thing.

Book Review: MENSA Think-Smart Book by Dr. Abbie F. Salny & Leris Burke Frumkes (1986)

I picked this book at a yard sale some years ago and have just gotten around to it now. It’s a thin book, 124 pages, broken into chapters that provide different puzzles/means of cognition and intelligent ways to approach them. Memorization tips, visual skills, and whatnot.

It’s an interesting little book, with nice little tricks. However, it’s not going to put me over the cusp into the warm embrace of Mensa, mostly because the book doesn’t cure lazy. But if you’re motivated to improve your thought, it’s a quick enough read.

Interesting Occurrence

As some of you know, I was home in Milwaukee this weekend. As some of you in Wisconsin know, John Kerry and George Bush are holding simultaneous rallies in downtown Milwaukee (please don’t anything blow up).

I knew about the Kerry rally the minute I walked down Wisconsin because I was accosted by Kerry volunteers on every corner who wanted my attendance.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have known about the Bush rally if I hadn’t seen it on the news.

I hope this smacks of a certain amount of desperation to get bodies–that Bush has already filled up the convention center and that Kerry needs street people to fill the plaza outside the Starbucks. But who knows? One sees what one wants to see.

Channelling Pejman

I feel so Pejmanic posting this love poem, but he started it with all the poems he’s posting these days. So here’s on with which I became reacquainted this weekend:

Cruise
by David Gilmour

Cruise you are making me sing
Now you have taken me under your wing
Cruise, we both know you’re the best
How can they say you’re like all the rest

Cruise, we’re both travelling so far
Burning out fast like a shooting star
Cruise I feel sure that your song will be sung
And will ring in the ears of everyone

Saving our children, saving our land
Protecting us from things we can’t understand
Power and Glory, Justice and Right
I’m sure that you’ll help us to see the light
And the love that you radiate will keep us warm
And help us to weather the storm

Cruise, you have taken me in
And just when I’ve got you under my skin
You start ignoring the fears I have felt
‘Cause you know you can always make my poor heart melt

Please don’t take what I’m saying amiss
Or misunderstand at a time such as this
Because if such close friends should ever fall out
What would there be left worth fighting about

Power and glory, justice and right
I’m sure that you’ll help them to see the light
Will you save our children, will you save our land
And protect us from all the things we can’t understand?
Power and glory and justice for all
Who will we turn to when your hard rain falls

(Lyric source.) It’s from his album About Face, and somehow I think this 1984esque song probably meant it as satire.

I, on the other hand, remember the feelings I had when I sat in a stadium in southwest Missouri and an A10 flew over. An ugly machine crafted only to rain fire and death. Even though I knew this, I was happy that our technology is better than theirs. All of them others theirs.

The Deity Speaks?

It’s rumored at Powerline that Brett Favre has spoken:

UPDATE: Hah! It’s true what they say about Karl Rove. Dusty Tryggestad writes:

Actually, my mom recieved a recorded message from Brett Favre supporting Bush. Reference was made to today’s win vs the Redskins. I would imagine this is playing all over Wisconsin.

I think this could make the difference in Wisconsin. I mean, really.

St. Louisians, this is not the equivalent of an Ozzie Smith endorsement; this is Jack Buck and Kurt Warner (2000) telling you to vote for a candidate.

If true.

Book Review: Judge Me Not by John D. MacDonald (1951)

I bought this book from my aunt at our semiannual yard sale, and I insisted upon paying her the whole blooming quarter because I don’t want to have her come begging from money from us when Social Security collapses. Also, I like John D. MacDonald.

I have to admit that this is the most exciting tale of a City Manager I’ve ever read. Of course, the city manager and his assistant are going to rid a small town of the syndicate, which this book charmingly misspells as maffia because it was written before the Godfather came out. The Maffia don’t want to go cleanly, and before the 160 pages elapse, murder, kidnaping, and other various mayhem erupts. Also, there’s a fair amount of sex.

I grew up on these potboilers, or at least kettlewhistlers, and I’ve forgotten how much fun they are to read (and they’re very instructive, too; for example, one can learn a lot about how to treat members of the opposite sex, particularly women of the night with hearts of gold). So I ventured to Downtown Books this weekend and bought a couple more.

I wonder if John D. MacDonald, churning several paperback originals a year throughout the 1950s and 1960s, could imagine how well his books would hold up so that some punk kid in the 21st century would read them and find inspiration.

I bet he didn’t.

Book Review: Interior Desecrations by James Lileks (2004)

I bought this book on the remainder rack at Borders for $1.00. It’s by a relatively obscure columnist from Minnesota….

All right, all right, I bought the book full price, okay? Lileks gets his fifteen cents of my money. Not that he needs it with his following, wherein acolytes daily stoop at his altar and do whatever his voice commands them.

The book features photos of mod (er, sorry, slang from the wrong decade) rooms depicted in interior design magazines from the 1970s interspersed with Lileks’ wit. Undoubtedly, most of them are outliers on the stylishness scale, but you’ve got to see them to believe them. Sure, it’s a rip-off of an X-Entertainment feature from a couple years back, but hey, Lileks has the pull to get it into print.

That aside, I liked this book more than I liked The Gallery of Regrettable Food because man, I can remember what it was like in the 1970s. A lot of the rooms in the book were in finished basements or in attics turned into additional bedrooms. Who has those now? Out here in the suburbs, houses are carefully crafted to have no space into which you can expand.

Also, this book reminded me of my red velvet table. You see, when I was in middle school, my family received a houseware which was essentially a cable spool wrapped in a shaggy red fabric. It’s a trailer park thing, you dig? When we moved into an actual house, we brought it along. I took it to college. I brought it home from college. I moved it to my apartment. Hey, it was a functional piece of furniture, of which I had a full eight in my apartment. Then it ran (or rolled) headlong into my wife, who has taste.

So I could relate better to this book because, quite frankly, but a birth a couple decades too late, I could have decorated like this. Actually, some of it’s kind of interesting. So I might yet. Also, Lileks’s text is shorter and more less linear than in TGORF, where he examined entire cookbooks in detail and each section ran on beyond its natural lifespan. With only a photograph to go on, Lileks’ quick humor fits better. Also, I read it in a night.

And I have a collector’s edition, which contains an incomplete word wrap erratum in the the author bubble on page 11. So run out and get yours before they correct it in the next printing. I read this book in Milwaukee, though, a city where no one can spell anything anyway, so this error was only one of many, many I encountered this weekend so I’ll let Lileks off easily by not crippling his Web host with a Briantrickle from this review. Hey, it’s almost the least I could do.

Watch This Space

Here’s a story in the New York Times: Ethnic Clashes Erupt in China, Leaving 150 Dead. What ethnicities?

Violent clashes between members of the Muslim Hui ethnic group and the majority Han group left nearly 150 people dead and forced authorities to declare martial law in a section of Henan Province in central China, journalists and witnesses in the region said today.

I don’t think China will have a long term problem with Islamicism because it will take extreme measures early. So take some comfort, fellows, that Sharia law will never encircle the globe, for even if we cannot stop it, there are other competing civilizations that can and would.

Book Review: Highlander: The Element of Fire by Jason Henderson (1995)

I bought this paperback (oh, the horror, the horror!) from the local library for a quarter. Heather and I, although we’re upper middle class, we’re the evil upper middle class who buy books second hand so the poor starving artists don’t receive their pittances and from the library for less than the books are worth as sort of another tax break for us. Muhahaha!

So what you’ve got here, basically, is a book about immortals that was published ten years ago based on a movie that came out twenty years ago. Wrap your heads around that. Man, where was I ten years ago? Working as an assistant editor at a magazine and moonlighting as a produce clerk, which is where I was when I got the call that my father died. Man, that’s a heavy thing to come up from a cheap little multimedia tie-in book like this, but wow, has it been ten years since that syndicated television show aired? Yessir.

This book, which might have been the first in the series, features the characters from the movie and the series and they run about, lopping off other immortals’ heads, which really means that the immortals are only mostly immortal, but if you don’t know the mythology of the bit before you pick up the book, you probably wouldn’t pick it up in the first place, even for a quarter. But I digress….don’t I?

Unlike the first movie and most of the episodes of the television series I saw, this book takes place entirely in the past, with an old immortal who thinks he’s a god and who doesn’t understand the rules of the Game, which to be honest I’m not entirely sure of, either. But he vows revenge on Duncan and Connor Macleod. 220 pages later, it doesn’t work so well.

Sorry to ruin it, but the Highlander lives on to fight in other books in the line. It’s not a bad junk read, a bit slow in spots, and I sometimes get the sense that the author has done just enough historical research to mention but not really give much sense of place. But the flaws with the book–that it’s written with a definite sense of being adapted from television and lacking in proper setting and mood–come with the genre.