Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big Brother squashes free speech

And Obama isn't even in office yet.

Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.

Police on the scene refused to tell ABC lawyers the charges against the producer, Asa Eslocker, who works with the ABC News investigative unit.

A cigar-smoking Denver police sergeant, accompanied by a team of five other officers, first put his hands on Eslocker’s neck, then twisted the producer’s arm behind him to put on handcuffs…Video taken at the scene shows a man, wearing the uniform of a Boulder County sheriff, ordering Eslocker off the sidewalk in front of the hotel, to the side of the entrance.

The sheriff’s officer is seen telling Eslocker the sidewalk is owned by the hotel. Later, he is seen pushing Eslocker off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, forcing him to the other side of the street.

A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.

During the arrest, one of the officers can be heard saying to Eslocker, “You’re lucky I didn’t knock the f..k out of you.”

Eslocker and his ABC News colleagues are spending the week investigating the role of corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors at the convention for a series of Money Trail reports on ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson.”

Here's the video
Here's the article

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For Better or Worse comic strip reboot

I suppose this has been done in comic books, at least to an extent. But this is an interesting event for a syndicated comic strip.

Lynn Johnston's Drawn-Out Adiu to Cartooning

'For Better or for Worse' Starts Over

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2008; Page C01

Cartoonist Lynn Johnston can't bring herself to abandon her fictional family. For years, the "For Better or for Worse" creator mulled retirement, then lightened her workload by creating flashbacks and repurposing the archives of her popular comic. Finally, she knew she needed to conclude the Patterson family's 29-year saga.

his Sunday's cartoon is an adieu of sorts to readers, but not a final farewell. She announced this month that she would retell her strip's narrative, beginning Monday, by taking her continually aging characters back to 1979, but creating new artwork and some dialogue. Her syndicate says it's the first time a mainstream cartoonist has set out to tell the same story twice.

What the reflective Johnston, 60, realized was that after decades of her identity and creativity and livelihood being linked to a comic strip, she wasn't ready to give it up.

"It's in your blood -- it's part of your life. I don't want to quit being a cartoonist," Johnston says by phone from her Toronto studio. "It's tough to put it down -- you still think of gags. And at the same time, I knew I'd be looking at material that I'd want to improve."

She will keep scrawling dialogue into a pad, keep inking her fluid lines, keep living in the intricate world of her characters. But this is not life as she would have drawn it up.

"I thought I would now be a retired woman with my Tilley hat and sitting on a cruise ship and going to the Galapagos," Johnston says. But that was before the recent dissolution of her 32-year marriage to the man many readers chose to see as John Patterson's inspiration and doppelganger.

"I really wanted to be happy as a couple and make everything right, but things became more stressful. . . . It made me look again at my career."

Which is why, on Sunday, the strip's fans will read Johnston's heartfelt salute as she comes to the endpoint of her characters' lives. (In the final chapter, for example, the original Patterson kids, Michael and Elizabeth, will forever remain grown and married.)

And which is why, on Monday, the strip will time-travel back to 1979 and do it all over again, but with new drawings, new conversations, new wrinkles. (And in some cases, fewer wrinkles -- John and Elly Patterson will return to parenting tykes.)

"It's going back to the beginning when Michael and Elizabeth were very young," Johnston says of the approach, which she is dubbing "new-runs." "I'm going back to do it how it should have been done. . . . I'm beginning with all this knowledge, so it's a much more comprehensive beginning. I only have an insular world of characters [from 1979] to work with."

As far as Johnston knows, "new-runs" -- in which a strip's continual story line is retold -- have never been attempted by a syndicated cartoonist ("Nobody has done it before -- most people die or the strip ends," she says).

"All of September will be brand-new material," Johnston explains. "In October, it will be [a ratio of] 50-50. The color Sunday comics will be all-new material. . . . I think it will be 50-50 for the first year, at least."

More info here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Another canonical installment in the Star Wars saga is in the theaters now. This one is 100% computer generated imagery. The images are great, although pretty much what you expect to see in a decent modern video game... at least in the intros and cut scenes.

It seems to take place somewhere between episode 2 and 3, where Anikan is still a good guy and is still partnered up with Obi Wan. Duku is still alive and Palpatine is still big man in the senate. Yoda deems that it's about time that Anikan get's his own padawan.

There's plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat, including some tech warfare, light saber duels, kidnapping, and deception. The plot is good, in a juvenile Star Wars kind of way. There are appearences from lots of your favorite characters and races, as well as lots of cool ships and vehicles. No Wookies, Jar-Jar creatures, or Ewoks... though there are Jawas. Lots of little details are completely consistent within the existing framework.

Must see for Star Wars fans.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Okay I made it. At least I think I did. Gosh this is so exciting. Just read Matt Ruff's " Bad Monkeys ". It's would be hard to type this book, but it could be called SF in the vein of Vonnegut, with some cyber punk sensiblities. The premise is a woman who is in a police interview cell being held for the crime of murder. She is being examined by a psychologist due to her claims that she works for an super secret organization that kills evil people. It proceeds in flashbacks as she tells how she first came to their attention and was later recruited. As the story proceeds the examiner uses records to show that events she has recounted either did not happen or happened in different ways that would support why she would create such a delusion in the first place so you don't know what to believe as she claims that the organization has the power to alter public records. It's a real page turner and not a long novel. I reccomend it. I'm also reading " The Judgement of Paris ", which describes itself as an account of the revolutionary decade that created impressionism. It's very readable and fleshes out the bare bone textbook paragraphs that you might be familar with. It gives a good feel for the people and politics in Paris and France at the time, and Emperor Napolean 3. If this is a topic that you're into this is a good book.

Tax Credit ?

Here's a note I just got from

Dear Valued Newegg Customer,

As a result of recent changes in New York State tax law requiring certain out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes to the State of New York, we began collecting applicable sales tax for all orders shipped to New York addresses starting June 1, 2008.

After careful review and consideration, we are pleased to inform you that we have stopped collecting New York sales tax, effective August 21, 2008. This decision was driven by your direct and candid feedback and our continued commitment to you as our valued customers.

We appreciate your patience as we worked through this process, and would like to reiterate our commitment in offering our customers the broadest product selection, competitive pricing, fastest shipping, and award-winning customer service.

We look forward to continuing to provide you with the premier online shopping experience for all of your IT and consumer electronics needs.


Bernard Luthi
Company Spokesperson and
Vice President of Merchandising

Disclaimer: While Newegg no longer charges sales tax to its New York customers effective August 21, 2008, you may still have an obligation to pay New York State use tax on your purchases. Newegg cannot offer you any tax advice, so please refer to applicable law if you have any questions about use tax. Nothing in this email shall be deemed to approve the validity of any New York State law, including but not limited to section 1101(b)(8)(vi) of the New York State Tax Law, which purports to require Newegg to collect and remit New York State sales tax on its sales to residents of that state.

Hoisted by their own petard?

What's a petard anyway?

Whatever it is, it seems that at least one food manufacturer is getting some poetic justice. There is a note posted at all the registers in my local supermarket stating that the 14.5 ounce jar of Skippy peanut butter, recently downsized, is not approved by WIC. So in an attempt to save money, apparently Skippy cut off a portion of their business, namely those using food stamps.

It's also interesting to note that, apparently, there are some checks on the use of food stamps since the store is enforcing the edict.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Movie Reviews

Here are a couple of movie reviews for you. This time I'm staying in the art house.

I recently saw two classic foreign films, Solaris and Wild Strawberries. Both had English subtitles.

Solaris is a Russian SciFi flick from the sixties. It was a drudging 3 hours long. Lots of time was taken up by shots which establish imagery rather than move the plot along. There are scenes of landscapes, flowers, a fish pond, and one pretty cool scene (about 5 or 6 minutes) showing the point of view of a guy driving a car through from the countryside into a Russian city. Longs scenes of going through tunnels and under concrete overpasses, with buildings in the background. I believe this was to establish "modern" Russia as a futuristic landscape.

The actual story was sort of reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Russian scientists find some sort of intelligent life force in space. It looks like a vast ocean. They establish a space station nearby to study it. As people go near the "ocean", live beings comprised of unstable neutrinos are created from their memories. These beings look like their dead wives or children or some other creepy memory. It generally causes madness or suicide.

The imagery could be described as "groovy", but falls short of "psychedelic". The plot was slow moving, and might have been depressing if you cared about the characters... which I didn't. There is a "Planet of the Apes" mind blower at the end, but probably not worth the wait to get to it. I'd give this one a "miss".

On the other hand, Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries was depressing surrealism done right. It's a stroll though the life of an elder Swedish professor who is receiving a prestegious award from a university. Because of a foreboding dream, he decides to take an all day road trip to the university instead of taking the quick flight. Taking along his daughter in law, and picking up a few hitch hikers on the way, his past and present are revealed through conversations and day dreams.

This is only the second Ingmar Bergman film I have seen, but it is clear to me that he was a genius in the art of film making. His movies are filled with angst, tension, and awesome imagery done with simple lighting and camera work. As boring as the plot may sound, it is captivating, and at times humorous.

I give this one a "see".

OK, apparently I'm illiterate. I just spent some time correcting my spelling errors and rewording this post as I'm not sure who will be reading it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Longest Journey Begins with a Single Step

Hello World !

OK, maybe not the most original thought, but it is a traditional one. And who am I to scoff at tradition?

The plan is to see if we can get this blog up and running with multiple people adding content, and allowing the general public to comment.

Right now I have no expectations whatsoever, so if anything comes out of this... anything at all... I will have surpassed my goals.