Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: December 2004

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas Montage

Merry Christmas to all.

The sermon at church last night talked about the fact that the holy land referenced in all the stories and readings during Christmas is anything but peaceful right now. As the music from the boys choir that I sang in so long ago resounded through the church, I got a bit choked up thinking about the situation in Iraq -- the soldiers, the innocents, and the pain that so many have to endure.

Instead of trying to explain what I was feeling in words, I decided to go for a visual interpretation.

Christmas Montage

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Weihnachtsmusik! A Hasselhoff Chrismtas

And I was worried about getting into the holiday spirit. Just in time came David Hasselhoff's very own Christmas CD on the Apple Music Store. Of course my favorite track is his rendition of Stille Nacht in its original German text. Good old Hasselhoff is never afraid to stoke the fires of hilarity.
(Click the image to listen to the tracks in iTunes)

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America's War Support Wanes

Today's Washington Post:

President Bush heads into his second term amid deep and growing public skepticism about the Iraq war, with a solid majority saying for the first time that the war was a mistake [...] according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth fighting" -- an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.


My question is, what happened in the last few months that changed people's minds? The number of US casualties each month has fluctuated up and down, and though November marked the highest total of any month so far, it was but one more than the number killed back in April. The grim mark set in September of 1,000 US soldiers killed in operation Iraqi Freedom has been increased by another 309. And suddenly a majority of Americans have now decided that the war has come to an "unacceptable cost" in lives? What was the turning point? The 1,308th soldier?

Meanwhile there are estimates of over 30,000 Iraqi troops and insurgents dead, as well as 15,000 civilians killed. These numbers are such a callous way to describe death on either side of this conflict, not to mention the innocents trapped in its midst. Can cold, uncaring numbers change American sentiment about this conflict all of a sudden?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us As I've mentioned before, it's nearly impossible to go for a walk through Boston without spying a car bearing a yellow "support the troops" ribbon. Aside from the fact that I highly doubt the gas stations and convenience stores selling them -- or the mysterious manufacturers making them -- are donating the proceeds to our soldiers and their families, what does such a small and relatively meaningless act by consumers signify?

In the past, I believed it possible to "support the troops" without necessarily supporting the action in which they are being deployed. I felt by buying calling cards to be sent to soldiers away from their families, or by donating money for care packages to be mailed to them, one could give support without necessarily agreeing with the mission those in combat have been ordered to execute. Judging by the innumerable yellow ribbons on the street, and taking into consideration this recent poll, do a majority of Americans agree with this? Can you be supportive of the men and women fighting and dying without expressly believing in their purpose?

I have lost contact with any peers I knew in high school or college that are now in the military. Not due to this war, but simply because whatever relationships we had in the past have been dissolved by time. If I still talked to them, I would want to know their thoughts on the matter.

I imagine when, with every day in Iraq you and your friends risk injury and death, when every day you are sent to quell an underestimated force that can strike at any time, when every corner you turn means danger, you have to believe in your mission. I imagine that for many in combat it must be impossible to risk such horrors while disagreeing with the cause of them. How can you face death over something you aren't sure is right?

Is it possible to support the troops, to hope that they remain safe overseas and to wish them a speedy return home to their families, without agreeing with their mission? I used to believe so. When, however, I try to ask that same question from the point of view of the those who are fighting this war, I just can't believe that it is.

I don't know what that makes me. When I see soldiers returning home alive I feel happy for them, and extremely thankful for the gift they give our country. If I disagree with the actions of our President, does that trump my feelings of gratitude and awe for the men and women who are fighting and dying in Iraq? I just don't know anymore. I can't imagine the fighting men and women in Iraq ever coming home to the same public displays of anger their predecessors met after Vietnam. I think that a vast number of Americans hope and pray for our soldiers' safety.

What, then, does this poll mean for the question of supporting the troops?

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Snow Day!

Remember how great snow days were?

When I was really young and didn't know to check the weather, they were some of the best surprises a second grader could ever imagine. I would wake up much later than usual and spend a few minutes being confused as to what day of the week it was until I would finally look out the window to see the brightness of sun reflecting off of melting snow and realize what had happened.

Once I was old enough to follow weather forecasts, a whole new level was added to the snow day. I would stay up late doing homework, intermittently glancing from my books to the window to monitor the size of the flakes as they passed through the beams of the street lights. There was no better feeling than going to sleep with confidance in my prediction and then waking up to the radio alarm only to hear my suspicions confirmed before closing my eyes again to sleep.

The all-time best snow day, however, had to be the nor'easter in high school that covered New England in so many feet that every child felt the distinct possibility of a DOUBLE SNOW DAY. We spent the day shoveling for money and sledding down the fantastically dangerous hill of the Yale Divinity School with its menacing cast-iron fence at the bottom. That night my friend and I sat down to watch as school after school began preemptively closing their doors for a second day in a row, hours before normal announcements were made. After one day off, it seemed almost impossible that we'd get a second, but as we waited for the list of districts to scroll across the screen we still had hope. When we saw our city marked as "closed" it marked one of the greatest moments in snow day history. A snow day that we knew was a snow day, well before the day even arrived!

Today is the first snow day I've had in years. How can that be, considering that I don't go to school anymore and that the distance from my bed to my work is roughly three feet? I am down in New Haven for Christmas and Jocelyn and I woke up early to watch as the city's school system announced today's closure. I'm on vacation and her work is canceled.

Just like old times, except now I don't get money to shovel...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bush Named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year"

In a spectacularly unsurprising decision, the folks at Time Magazine has chosen George W. Bush, President for another term, as this year's "Man of the Year". Of course, the award is really called "Person of the Year", and has been ever since way back in 1999, when Time decidedly missed the political correctness craze by about five years. As far as I know, no woman (or hermaphrodite) has won the award since its renaming, except when in groups like "The American Soldier" and "The Whistle-blowers".

This was the obvious, and correct choice. There has certainly been no more dominant or discussed figure in the past year than Mr. Bush, for better or for worse. To illustrate this I decided to make a list of a few things that have changed since he took office almost four years ago:

  • We are at war (and it has been declared).
  • America has adopted the doctrine of "preemptive strike".
  • The average American has become far more politically involved, whether it means volunteering for or contributing to a campaign, or just paying much more attention to political news.
  • Terrorism has gone from a fringe issue that most Americans don't think about, to one that probably decided the 2004 election.
  • America (at least seems) more politically polarized that ever before in my lifetime.
  • The United States has become a more popular target for international anger.
  • One of the largest tax cuts in recent history has been made permanent.

I know there are plenty more things that have changed drastically in the last four years, as well as those that have not. Keep going! Please comment with some that stick in your mind.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Celebrex and Heart Attacks

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Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc. on Friday said its popular Celebrex arthritis drug more than doubled the risk of heart attack in a large cancer-prevention trial, a setback that comes just weeks after Merck & Co. recalled its similar Vioxx drug due to heart safety risks.

So wait, is there an arthritis drug out today that doesn't cause heart attacks? Is that an inherent trait in all prescription medication that fights arthritis? Conversely, if I were to take heart medication, would my arthritis get worse? Well, if I had arthritis, that is.

Perhaps there is some sort of axis upon which our health tilts, each illness somehow inextricably tied to another otherwise unrelated affliction. Arthritis to heart, backache to feet, halitosis to...leprosy?

If I rinse with Listerine, will my skin and digits begin to fall off? Gross. Now I'm worried what effect my daily Flonase® is surreptitiously having on my dandruff (not that I have any dandruff--get out of my face Selson Blue®!).

I guess it's not so terrible that I don't have health insurance right now after all. At least it keeps me from taking prescription medicine that's bound to fuck me up some other way that I can only guess.

Review: Collateral

I watched Collateral last night on DVD, and was less than thrilled. The full review is up at Rear Window Reviews.

Link to review

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Zell Miller Awards Swift Boat Vets

And the "Zelly" goes to...

AP:

WASHINGTON - For one night only, it'll be spitballs and Swift Boats together on the same stage — a who's who of Sen. John Kerry bashing. The American Conservative Union on Thursday announced it has tapped Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., to present the "Courage Under Fire" award to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at the Conservative Political Action Conference's Feb. 16 banquet.


This sounds like a riot. I would love to be a fly on the wall for the night, listening to a bunch of angry people with nothing to be angry about pat each other on the back. So is this event be the ACU's equivalent to John Waters presenting a lifetime achievement award to the Oompa Loompas from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory?

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Link to story

And yes, I realize this post is in bad taste. But you probably knew that from the moment I mentioned John Waters, now, didn't you?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas with The Beatles

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From 1963 to 1969, The Beatles recorded annual Christmas messages for the official members of their fan club. The records are extremely rare, and up until now I had only heard about them before. Thankfully, someone posted all seven years worth of them in mp3 format for us all to hear now.

Honestly, I don't know how you can listen to these tracks -- especially the early ones -- and not grin like an idiot. The four guys seem to be having such a great time with each other, and their enthusiasm is both palpable and contagious.

All seven tracks provide a fascinating trip through the group's history, starting in '63 when they were just boys, still shocked at their own fame, through the middle years when they combined their hilarious group antics with more individual influences, and ending with musical surrealism and a hint of resentment as the four recorded the last greetings separately.

For me, however, they are the very beginning of my slow switch into the holiday mood. Gifts have been purchased and travel plans made, but it wasn't until I heard these recordings that I felt like it was truly Christmas time. "Christmas Time Is Here Again" as the boys sing...

Link

Jenna Bush a D.C. Teacher?

"Miss Bush, why do we spend all day talking about this test instead of learning about anything else?"

"Because by testing you over and over, and by threatening you with severe consequences if you cannot meet standards decreed by congressional bureaucrats, you'll get a better education."

According to the Washington Post this morning, First daughter, Jenna Bush has accepted a teaching position with a Washington D.C. public charter school. The District, of course, is one of the most highly Democratic areas in the country, and you can bet that the parents of kids in school there don't take too kindly to the unfunded mandate that is the No Child Left Behind Act.

So soon Jenna can enjoy:

-- having any creativity in her curriculum stifled by constant testing preparation

-- feeling the immense pressure of the trickle-down responsibility dodging from Washington to meet nearly impossible mandates without proper funding

-- hearing her students talk about their "goals in life" being to pass standardized tests (it happens, and it makes me want to cry)

-- teaching children that the value of learning is to fill in bubbles, and that every problem in life has an easy a) b) c) d) solution

-- finally realizing that, while teaching is an art-form, her father's law is trying to turn it into an assembly line.

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UPDATE: Weird White Kid Rap Video

UPDATE:

Andy Milonakis has two more sites. One with tons of his videos and mp3s, and one which appears to be his homepage of sorts. He has quite a cult following it seems.

More Videos

Website

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Iraqi Resistance Video

After watching a video here claiming to have been created by the Iraqi resistance, one thing is quite clear:

Despite the clashing of cultures, the differences of beliefs, the financial disparity, and the fact that our country is busy Christmas shopping while theirs looks like a war-torn wasteland -- we're all suckers for a good, old-fashioned montage.

Link

Weird White Kid Rap Video

This gem comes courtesy of Jocelyn who actually got it from her younger brother Cam.

I really don't know what else to say except that it slays me. I should try something a little more meaningful. Like: Watching this weird chubby white kid rap video saved me from a life of sin.

Link

Monday, December 13, 2004

Peterson Trial Book Deals!

As I wrote after the guilty verdict was announced and then subsequently blasted across media airwaves a month ago, I never comprehended the celebrity-like fascination the American public has with this case. I understand that it was a particularly heinous crime, but there are terrible things that happen all over the world all the time. For the entire country to decide that this specific trial was so fascinating to read and hear about all day long, for no particular reason, just boggles the mind

This I do know for sure, however:

The book deal onslaught can begin! Book deals! Get your book deals!

Were you on the jury for the case? Were you an attorney for the prosecution or defense? Were you a witness or the lawyer of a witness? Did you clean the toilets the jury used to relieve themselves while in the courthouse?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, please step over to the line forming at the steps of the courthouse, while major media corporations whore themselves out to you in an attempt to win the rights to your ghost-written account of this infamous trial! Choose from appearances on morning news shows, MTV guest VJ spots, or even your own Paris Hilton-style recording contract!

If you did not answer "yes" to any of the above questions, don't just give up! Did you, by any chance, go to middle school with someone involved in the trial or murder? Or, perchance did you work the front desk at the hotel in which the jury was sequestered? Even if you just watched a lot of the coverage on CourtTV, we can at least find a news magazine article for you to be quoted in.

Seriously, though, wasn't it slightly unsettling in the aftermath of all of this to see the grins coming from people being interviewed who knew that they had some significant cash coming their way in exchange for telling "their story"? Lawyers, jurors, reporters and news anchors can't seem to get through any kind of an interview on TV without talking about the prospect of lucrative book deals.

And they better hurry, too, before everyone forgets about this stupid case. The first book out will be read, but the sales for each subsequent release will be smaller and smaller. Because, I think in the end, no one knows why the hell the entire country was mesmerized by what was essentially a horrible but sadly generic and familiar act of violence.

More Housekeeping

Two the multitudes (read: handful) of people who are subscribed to Rear Window Ethics via email, I've recently changed the email list over to a better server and program. Your emails have been transfered automatically. Once again, you may need to check your junk mail and tell your email program that my writing is not great, but it shouldn't be automatically diverted to your junk folder.

Those bastard email programs....always judging.

In other, more boring (is that possible?) news, I'm actively tinkering with the color palate of this site, so do not adjust your television dial. All is normal.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Were you aware...?

NERD ALERT:

Google, as part of their new technology development, has created two very cool new services.

Google Suggest

Just came out. As you type your search, Google offers keyword suggestions (and result numbers) in real time.

Google SMS

The money melon. Get precise answers to specialized queries from your mobile phone via text messaging. Type "define ____" and get the definition of the word in question. Type "g ____" and get the first google result of the word. Similarly, get residential and business phone numbers simply by sending a text message to the txt short code "GOOGL".

More about these new features at labs.google.com

Friday, December 10, 2004

Canada and Gay Marriage

Reuters:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Supreme Court of Canada gave the federal government the go-ahead on Thursday to legalize gay marriage, prompting Prime Minister Paul Martin to announce plans to introduce a redefinition of marriage early next year.

It did rule that the constitution allowed the proposed redefinition of marriage as "the lawful union of two persons," while protecting the right of religious organizations to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Two decisions in one week?! First South Africa, now Canada. I don't know what's worse, looking intolerant compared a country with one of the worst civil-rights records in recent history, or being shown up by our northern, joke-riddled neighbor.

I guess this just gives more ammunition to some of the idiot pundits out there who were flying off the handle with Canada during Bush's recent visit there. Between Ann Coultier screaming about Canada "becoming a problem" that we should solve by invading, and Tucker Carlson insisting that all Canadians spend the majority of their time dog-sledding, it's no wonder our progressive next door neighbor dislikes us so much.

View the clips from Media Matters: Quicktime Windows Media

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We shouldn't be too harsh on old Canada (eh?) considering we import a significant portion of our raw materials like lumber, energy reserves, and artistic/comedic talent from them. I'd say a limit of one obscenely offensive joke per day concerning the ol' "True North strong and free" should be a good rule of thumb.

LINK to the Reuters story

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Buy Blue

I stumbled upon this site yesterday, and at the very least, it is a very interesting concept. This is the kind of grassroots movement any party needs, with ideas, power, and money coming from the people--via their chosen corporations, of course.

From BuyBlue.org:

You may have voted blue, but were you aware that every day, you unknowlingly help dump millions of dollars into the conservative warchest? Simply by buying products and services from companies which heavily donate to conservatives, we have been defeating our own interests as liberals and progressives on a daily basis.

Buy Blue is a concerted effort to educate the public on making informed buying decisions as a consumer. We identify businesses which support our ideals and spotlight their dedication to progressive politics. In turn, we shine that spotlight on unsupportive businesses in the form of massive boycotts and action alerts.

Currently, we are developing an extensive and interactive website which will soon allow you to find out exactly where your money goes when you make purchases, and participate in a dynamic community which constantly monitors corporate activity. There will be Blue alternatives to offending companies, and by making a decision to buy from these businesses, you are helping stimulate the growth of Blue-friendly economics. We are aiming for complete corporate responsibility.

Our collective buying power WILL make a difference, and we WILL be heard.


The site is just starting up, but they have already posted a small list of companies and their donations to help guide Christmas shopping choices.

Walmart, Circuit City, Saks and Sears donated $2.5 million to conservative races in 2004, which made up roughly 90% of their political contributions.

Barnes & Noble, Borrders, Sharper Image and Costco averaged 98% of their contributions to Democratic candidates.

Interesting stuff. LINK.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Gorilla Wake

Okay, I can tell for sure that I've been too emotionally fragile lately. I read this CNN article about a Zoo Gorilla that had to be put down due to an incurable kidney condition, and I sat there staring at the screen silently for a few minutes just visualizing the scene as it is described. Then I got sad for like five minutes.

CNN:

BROOKFIELD, Illinois (AP) -- After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family.

One by one Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs' body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a "gorilla wake."

Babs' 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to approach the body, followed by Babs' mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down, held Babs' hand and stroked her mother's stomach. Then she sat down and laid her head on Babs' arm.
...
Koola, 9, brought her infant daughter, whom Babs had showered with attention since her birth in August.

"Koola inspected Babs' mouth for a while, then held her baby close to Babs, like she loved to do the last couple months, letting Babs admire her," Green said.

Its sort of like when that lone Ewok dies in Return of the Jedi, and the other Ewok keeps trying to get him to get back up. Then he realizes his Ewok friend is dead, and lets out an Ewok cry of despair. Sad sad sad.

Another late night...but this time, success! (Possibly...I think.)

I've been having a hard time nailing down a good Christmas present for Joc, thanks to the meager two month gap between December 25th and her birthday. After using up every major gift idea for her so recently, I was at a loss. A number of plans have come and gone due to various different impossibilities that arose, and I was beginning to get nervous about what to do.

Good thing I'm a night owl with a strong sense of determination. As luck would have it, I stumbled on something I hope and pray may just work.

Wow, could it be possible for the above writing to be more ambiguous? I think not.

So if this comes through, all I have to do is finalize my otherwise all-encompassing Amazon order, find a few fun little things here and there, and I'm done with my Christmas shopping.

God bless you, internet. You've done it once again.

Glayvin!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Memory-fueled Insomnia

After spending a week in New Haven before Thanksgiving, memories of high school were surfacing in my head with an unusual frequency. On top of that, tonight I had a long-overdue conversation with one of my best friends from that period, and now the memories have sprouted and are teeming around in my consciousness to the extent that I'm trying to sleep but can't because they are too loud and too numerous. All this, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that I'm now dating my unrequited love from high school.

And yes, so much has changed since then. And yes, that fact is not surprising, nor is it original. But it is interesting to think about the changes or lack thereof in my life from then to now.

My friends meant absolutely everything to me. Spending time with them was almost an addiction in the way it made happy, and even more so in the way it made me feel when I didn't get enough of it. You couldn't blame them. No matter how close you are with someone, you normally don't want to do everything with them all the time, but I didn't seem to feel that way. The best times with them, in my memory, can be distinctly captured and framed in a picture of all of us on the large trampoline in my back yard. There we were, high school students with what we thought was the weight of the world on our shoulders, jumping up and down for hours on a children's toy my mom and dad had bought for my younger brother.

This explains why it felt like such a symbolic gesture a few years later when it was my job to take the now barely recognizable heap of bent metal to the dump. My parents' tenuous marriage had finally ripped beyond the point of repair, my best friend from the fourth grade through high school had disappeared in the haze of college transition, and I was sitting on the frozen ground with a hacksaw, pulling springs apart and cutting through fused aluminum joints.

The girl I loved blindly for years without any hope of seeing my adoration returned, the girl who never wanted anything to do with me in a romantic sense (and sometimes altogether), now tells me daily how much she loves me. I was convinced then and for many years following that I was destined to be the second choice--only attractive to those seeking a rest from the heartache caused by assholes, and only attractive for the time it took them to heal before chasing after the same assholes once again. I know that isn't true anymore. I know that she loves me, but it's difficult to rid years of conditioning repetition from my head so quickly.

Most if not all of my lesser friends from then have faded away, leaving only a small handful of people that stay close no matter how lengthy the periods of silence between us. The house I spent most of my life in is not really my home any more. The city I grew up in is going through a drastic metamorphosis, shedding its old familiar skin at a frenetic pace. And ever since the Christmas when I ended up decorating the tree alone, holidays have lost all their Rockwellian innocence and are instead dominated by the gentle but ever-present pulling by parents on either side of me.

Yet I'm anxiously anticipating my return to the place that was once my home, to again try to revive what I remember so fondly; to refresh some of my happiest memories in the wellspring of their origin; to dust off those few indestructible friendships that make up the bedrock of a growing number who remain long after casual acquaintances fall away; to gather with family and to savor those last remaining drops of idyllic holiday memories; to reinforce my reminder that I am loved by those people that matter.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Expanding Horizons

Well, that's a rather dramatic way to put it. A more realistic way of saying it would be that today I had a review I'd written on the Red Sox World Series DVD syndicated across a number of national news sites.

Cleveland.com had it up first. There are others too, but I haven't really looked around to find them. The ego stroking commenced this morning and has yet to cease.

LINK

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Bush Billboards in Florida

Now I know that I've seemed a bit ranty of late, what with the whole Stalin thing. I don't like to do that. I hope to (and try to) talk about issues instead of candidates, because the issues are really the important thing. Whether someone things so and so is an idiot or a courageous leader, well that seems far less important that the issues that possible moron or luminary will push while in office.

So anyway, after that, I bring you this. One of many billboards sprouting up in Florida lately.

Some people are drawing conclusions, considering that the billboards are owned by media giant Clear Channel. I don't really care all that much about that. Yes, Clear Channel owns more radio stations than God (though I don't know if God is that into radio) and some have criticized them of violating anti-trust laws.

More importantly, however, when did we become a country that puts huge pictures of our leaders up on public display? I always kind of thought it wasn't a GOOD thing when your country has its leader's picture plastered all around the place. I mean, let's go down a list off the top of my head:

Nazi Germany
Mussolini's Italy
Stalin's USSR
Mao Zedong's China
Middle-Eastern theocracies
Your average, runofthemill African military dictatorship

Isn't this just an American corporate version of fresco paintings of Fidel Castro? Yes I realize I'm taking it a bit far. But still, it's unsettling.

I mean, what's next? Now that the assault rifle ban is expired, should we as Americans begin expressing our anger or joy by firing AK-47s into the air like crazy?

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NESN Red Sox DVD Review

A review of NESN's DVD, Faith Rewarded: The Historic Season of the 2004 Boston Red Sox is now available on Rear Window Reviews.

Link

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Bush at Yalta?: Update

Wonkette brilliance here:

For the President's trip up to Canada, the White House advance team set up a backdrop for him to sit in front of. It appears they were trying to show similarities between Mr. Bush and two historically great world leaders:

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Unfortunately, despite their attempt at bolstering their boss' image in a relatively unfriendly land, they forgot to do their homework. You see, the black and white photograph Bush sits in front of was taken at the Yalta Conference at the conclusion of World War II. However, the Yalta Conference was attended by "The Big 3". Who's is Mr. Bush standing in for?

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Oops.

UPDATE:

My history-crazy friend BJ notes that the backdrop Bush sits in front of cannot be at Yalta, because Roosevelt is too young in it. That's fine. Where the picture was taken is of less significance than the hilarity, considering Stalin would be the third member of the picture in most instances during WWII. My brother, the WWII scholar, is surely ashamed of my Rooseveltian pictoral ignorance.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Changmo

My friend Changmo is what you might call a fascinating specimen.

Mo (1:07:17 PM): although I dunno what type of stuff you primarily take pics of... you dirty old sea dog

Mo (1:07:47 PM): ohh, I got a pic that will make you wet

Mo (1:09:53 PM): fine. no ookie wookie for you. :-P

Mo (1:14:19 PM): oooh, you sneaky little fuck-buddy
Mo (1:14:59 PM): why do you tease me so?
Trav (1:15:12 PM): tease you?
Mo (1:15:20 PM): abusing your irresistable sex appeal like that

Mo (1:17:52 PM): I know your secret fetish, you nasty nasty monkey

Mo (1:20:11 PM): you can't brainwash me, bitch

Montage Itch

That's right, friends. I'm getting that familiar hankering to make a montage. You may remember the last time I felt this urge, before the seventh game of the ALCS between the Sox and the Yankees. This time, however, I decided to turn the subject over to you, dear readers.

A few guidelines:

I'm in a serious/dramatic mood, so nothing too comical right now.
It could be topical, involving the latest news around the world.
It could be a personal issue for you or me.
It should be something I can do in my office right now--I don't feel like going out with the camera for this. Something that can be conveyed in still images, like the ALCS montage.

Whatever, just leave suggestions and I'll see what strikes me.

Thanks

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Some Housekeeping: UPDATE

Thanks to the feedback from people, I've been informed that some email programs will filter the confirmation emails as well as the actual post emails into junk folders. How dare they. I mean, I know this isn't the best prose in the world, but I like to think it's a tad above garbage status.

If you change those messages from the Zinester account to "not junk" in your email service, the rest should start to come into your inbox like normal.

South Africa Legalizes Gay Marriage

ABC News:

A South African court has delivered a watershed judgement on gay rights that could see same-sex couples getting married within the next year.

The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of a lesbian couple, who requested to have the common-law definition of marriage changed from being a "union between a man and a woman" to a "union between two persons".

Wasn't it just a few years ago that people were picketing outside South African embassies to protest a country that was desperately hanging onto a backward, racist government? When did South Africa become more progressive than us? More importantly, what does that say about America today? Our government is trying to enact the very law that just was overturned by a country that only ten years ago was one of the most discriminating in the world.

My dad and I were talking about this issue over Thanksgiving--specifically the hang-ups over the wording and definition of a "marriage" versus that of a "civil union"--and I decided that in order to make a level playing field, anyone who has been joined by a member of the clergy should consider themselves in a marriage, while those who have gone to a city or state official should consider themselves in a civil union.

Why is it, if a straight couple gets joined by Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, they're considered married when the good ol' captain has never been ordained into ministry? Elvis impersonators perform five minute "marriages" in Las Vegas drive-throughs, and people are getting their panties in a bunch about wording when it comes to gay marriage?

If we're going to get bogged down with definitions of words, we might as well settle the interpretations as they pertain to past and present unions between straight couples.

Abstinence! Abstinence! (and misinformation...)

The federally funded abstinence education programs used by 25 states and supported by President Bush have come under fire by House Democrats for spreading misinformation in their teaching materials.

One manual says, "The popular claim that condoms help prevent the spread of STDs, is not supported by the data..."

Another reads, "twenty-four chromosomes from the mother and twenty-four chromosomes from the father join to create this new individual"
(I haven't taken Biology since high school, but isn't it 23?)

Finally, one curriculum states, "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."
(Wow, if I had know that I would be pretty depressed right now. I thought I had some great friends, a loving family and a lovely girlfriend that all made me happy. Oops.)

Look, abstinence-only pushers, no one disagrees with the simple fact that abstinence is the only 100% foolproof method of birth control. No one is out there stating that if you DON'T have sex you might get HIV. NEWSFLASH: Teenagers like to have sex. They like it a lot. They're going to do it, because they're curious, because they're rebellious, and because their hormones are shooting off like so many M80s in a high school plumbing system.

Tell them abstinence is the best, but for God's sake, try and protect them by teaching them alternatives so they don't drop out of school to have babies or die of AIDS. It's the least we can do.

Full Report Here

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Some Housekeeping

The new email address for rear window ethics is at Gmail, and is: rearwindowethics@gmail.com

I'm working on customizing the look of this site, bit by bit. Now my banner is flush with the other sections of the page, and some colors have changed here and there.

I've also added a new feature to the blog. If you would like to sign up for the Rear Window Ethics email list, you can receive each new post in your email inbox usually as soon as it appears on this site. I realize there is a VERY small number of people who are interested in this (mom) but I decided to make it available to all of you.

Don't worry about SPAM or any junk emails coming your way from this. I will never sell this email list. I don't care how much pressure people selling penis enlarging pills and pyramid referral schemes put on me--the 2 to 6 people that will might end up on this list are safe.

Let me know if you have any problems with it. I'm still working out some of the bugs here and there.

Hallogen Power!

In the middle of my weekly trip to the local hardware store (I'm obsessed by it, and it doesn't even go by the term 'hardware store' but instead calls itself an 'urban home center'), I froze.

There on the top shelf of one of the aisles were two 750 Watt Hallogen work lights, on sale for almost NOTHING. I nearly lost it.

Let me pause for a moment to explain some things to those of you who don't know me. First off, I like to buy random things. A lot. We're not talking overboard/weird stuff like jewelry or expensive clothes. I really have a problem buying random, low-priced electronics and other items of that ilk. (Example: Last week I bought a tiny universal television remote off of eBay that spits out every remote code and can control about 75% of TVs--just because it was cool).

Secondly, I've been looking for a cheap way to light video setups for work rather than spending $2000+ on a cheap film lighting kit. These Hallogen work lights, if bounced properly and used with the proper amount of tin foil and clothespins, work pretty damn well. And I bought them for only $12 a piece.

So today I opened the packages to survey the contents, and--long story short--ended up walking around my small apartment blasting rooms with 1500 Watts of double-fisted fury. No one was home, of course. Then I walked over to our huge bay window, and bathed the entire street outside with light to see the true extent of my power. It was pretty cool in a very nerdy, very weird way.

So that was my day.