Friday, November 28, 2008

Fuck Black Friday

Ok, here it is - a Wal-Mart employee killed in a Black Friday shopping stampede.

NEW YORK - A Wal-Mart worker was killed Friday after an "out of control" throng of shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains broke down the doors at a suburban store and knocked him to the ground, police said.

At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Nassau police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the store doors at the mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the man to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming. He described the scene as "utter chaos."

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help the man were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Witnesses said that even as the worker lay on the ground, shoppers streamed into the store, stepping over him.

So now Black Friday has become Bloody Friday.

This poor employee has become the most direct human sacrifice at the altar of corporate consumerism. This is entirely the fault of the companies who whip people into a shopping frenzy. The mob mentality is encouraged by the stores, who want that level of animal greed. If they didn't want it, they wouldn't let people line up for days, they wouldn't offer limited numbers of items, they wouldn't do the kind of first in line stuff. But they do. So this is what they get.

If you ever wanted to have a reason to participate in Buy Nothing Day, this is it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I blame Dr. Bitch

As she pointed out, the turtle says some not-safe-for-work stuff. This is pretty fucking funny.

(We love BitchPhD!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coleman still trying to steal election MN Senate

Norm Coleman is trying his level best to fashion the same judicial coup in the Minnesota Senate election that the Bush Administration successfully used to seize the Presidency in 2000. There's some chance he might succeed.

Here's the executive summary: Coleman evil, local media compromised (Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio), Franken not taking it seriously and needs help. Links at bottom.

Coleman is very canny and gets the propaganda game VERY well. Take this: the initial vote reports uniformly erred in Coleman's favor. The initial reported results, based on 3 AM call-ins from far-flung counties, padded Coleman's numbers by 500 votes. Coleman, being clever and manipulative, has turned that on it's head and is on the rampage about why the 'Democratic Secretary of State's Office' keeps giving Franken more votes. The reason? Because the first numbers were wrong. How were they wrong, Norm? They were skewed in Coleman's favor. Why is that, Norm?

The direct attacks on manifestly-biased Democratic FARMER LABOR! (note the social-democratic third party) Secretary of State Mark Ritchie have begun. Tim Pawlenty is got his sly digs in on one hand and is pretending to play off that he's above it on the other.

There is an attempt by the right wing media to say Minnesota 2008 is like Florida 2000. This is also turned on it's head - in Florida in 2000 Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and their friends disenfranchised poor and black voters by the double handful, arranged Republican staffer riots, and succeeded in narrowing the discussion to the point where the Supreme Court could appoint Bush. So what I hear when they push that is 'I would like to steal Minnesota like we did there, please?'

Nate at 538 gives Franken a reluctant 'leans Franken' on the recount. Minnesota's voting apparatus is top-notch, with fully auditable paper trails and transparency. (earlier post)

Coleman has declared victory. Twice. The right-wing bloggers are uniformly pushing. My visit to Franken headquarters today (where I shared my 'Coleman sure turns things on his head, fight hard for this' thought) ended in a not-at-all reassuring 'Don't worry, we have some great people on this.' Right! As one of the commenters (Norsecats) on a Pandagon thread says,
Franken was not a strong candidate. I live in MN, and I do not know of many people who were really enthusiastic about Franken’s candidacy. Coleman started the mud-throwing, but Franken was throwing it thick and nasty as well. Just as an example: the Mpls. StarTribune put out a voters’ guide. Franken’s summary of his views spent half his time attacking Coleman.
I think Coleman is loathsome, but if you can’t draw more than 42% of the vote in a wave year, when the presidential candidate carried Minnesota with more than 55% of the vote, you are a weak candidate."
I'm by no means unbiased here. Norm Coleman is a dangerous wanker, one of the few political figures I actually hate. He was my hometown mayor, he's in a sham marriage and talks about family values, and his hypocritical stands are matched by canny triangulation.

He's engaged in a full court press. With Alaska gone D, and Georgia close, this might be THE filibuster breaker. The Star Tribune, the onetime liberal Minneapolis daily, is drinking Normade, and Minnesota Public Radio, the most aristocratic of public radio stations, is pushing RNC lines.

Please call the Franken campaign and get them to wake up. Call MPR and write the Star Tribune. Maybe this will work out, but the Right is putting more pressure on the Secretary of State's office than the other side. Minnesota has a good process that should be run. If Coleman gets it clean, well then we kick him around for 6 more years, but if he succeeds in sending it to the courts it will be a good sign that we've got a bunch more corruption to cleanse from the system.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers movie discursion

I’m a huge Tolkein fan; the trilogy is definitely a sacred text in my life. The Peter Jackson film series was something I had a lot of hopes for – and largely those hopes were realized. The story isn’t Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, it’s Jackson’s take on it. Since Tolkien’s books are huge (Tolkien was a big fan of one of the longest poems in existence) I didn’t expect 100% following of the text. Jackson is a fan, and he did a fine version and one far better than I thought Hollywood was capable of.

BUT – sometimes he goes off the text for no good reason that I can discern. I happened to be doing some work-work, and put on the Two Towers to play in the background. Bad idea. Not only did I cease doing work and watching the movie, I decided I needed to write about it as well.

Of the things Jackson did do that piss me off, a bunch of them are in this movie. First of all – he makes the good guys less good, and the bad guys three times worse than they already are. So it’s a less optimistic movie than the books were; given the time it was made (the depths of the Bush Regime) perhaps that makes sense. Nevertheless, he’s constantly pushing people into being petty, vindictive, jealous, weak, selfish, batshit crazy in ways that Tolkien didn’t.

Arwen, Aragorn, Faramir, and Frodo all get the treatment.

Arwen Undomiel has the choice of Elves who love Men; to either stay with Aragorn or to go over the sea. In the books, it was indeed a grave choice and a hard one; but the frame was that Elrond would give the hand of his daughter only to the man who was king of Gondor and Arnor combined. The challenge was for Aragorn, and the decision point was Elrond. In the film, Elrond tells Aragorn to leave her. Aragorn tells Arwen that she’s too good for him, she says she isn’t. Aragorn tells Eowyn, who’s practically lubricating for him, that Arwen has left Middle Earth and is sailing over the sea, but he remains faithful to her. Arwen, under pressure from her father, bends and leaves; and then decides not to and throws aside her peeps for the rough and ready King of All the World.

Faramir, second son of Denethor (and younger brother of Boromir, who did fail the moral test) has this gigantic Freudian complex slathered on his character. In a lengthy flashback we get a ton of off-book detail. (And I give Jackson some slack here – the added scenes were not part of the initial release’s narrative flow, so adding the content either requires crappy devices like flashbacks, or shooting a bunch more film. I assume some of the clunkiness has to do with extending the version, but a bunch of it is in the source, which buried information all over the place. The scene where Eowyn and Aragorn are talking about his age, and his status as a Dunedein is really funny and cute. And was never in the book.) Like this load of mean stench; Denethor’s learned about the meeting in Rivendell and sends Boromir to steal the ring. Boromir is not sure but follows Daddy’s wishes. Daddy Denethor also has a hate-woody for Faramir (never explained) and disses him publicly at all times. (Denethor, overall, got the worst treatment at Jackson’s hands, I think.)

Aragorn doesn’t have a moral dilemma – he just gets literally pushed of a cliff of Jackson’s imagination and is throught dead until he comes back to help lead the defense to save the day. Sheesh! It’s dangerous enough, but Jackson (probably with the complicity of Viggo, who jizzed all over this role and totally method-acted it.) decided that we needed a bunch of Swords and Sorcery Cowboy moments with the not-dead cliff fallen Strider getting the kiss of life from his spooky witch girlfriend (And his horse) and having all these Clint Eastwood Down Under moments. I mean, making the Worgs big riding hyenas – yeah, that was cool. Deciding you needed another OMGZ DANGER!!!11!! moment for your lead buff hero (the heroic hero not the tragic hero) is like pointless. And took time from some solid plotline that Tolkien put in there.

Anyway – Faramir has a much more dramatic swordspoint – so you have the ring! moment with the hobbits, and then he decides to send them to Daddy, and then they go to Osgiliath, which is cool, but then under fire Faramir sends them across the river. (For which he gets royally screwed by Daddy anyway in the last movie, sending him out for a way-stupid Charge of the Light Brigade into orc pikes. If the Men of Gondor have such an inflexible command structure that you can tell people to commit suicide and they gleefully do, maybe they deserved to get wiped out. I mean, cavalry without any backing infantry? Who do they think they are, Rohan?)

I know I said Frodo gets it too, but I ran into the stumbling block of the Battle of Helms Deep, where you get great glory of war quote lines like “If this is their end, I would have them make such an end as be worthy of remembrance.” (Theoden) and then there’s some awful ‘wee ones going to war’ stuff. "Farmers, farriers, stableboys. These are not warriors." (Legolas) OMGZ! "Where is the horse and the rider, where is the horn that is blowing - they have passd like rain on the mountains like wind on the meadow. The days have come down on the west behinds the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?" which is more Theoden and could come out of the mouth of some right-wing Classics professor standing at the gates of Princeton and bemoaning the Obama victory parade going by outside.

So I stopped watching, since I was getting too pissed off. But Frodo basically turns his back on Sam, breaking the perfect relationship they have between them, for Gollem's sake. Sam, the disgruntled bottom, weeps after Master and then saves his kiester in yet-another dangerous homoerotic puncturing of Frodo by the nasty spider. But that's another post.

(Oh yeah - the Ents - they were starting to back out too. I hadn't gotten to the point where Pippen riles them up into it, but that's another character gooped with the 'less good' slime.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two great things that go great together!

Link above is courtesy of imageshack. Image courtesy of VelvetElvis in my gaming guild.

Fascism, Palin, and Right-Wing Paramilitaries: a glimpse of the near future

Power gives up nothing without a demand.

Demands come in several forms; lawyers, money, and guns.

Lawyers implies that there is equity before a judicial system, where both actors have power and agree to settle that power in court.

Money is then used to influence things more.

Guns are used if money doesn't work.

The Bush cabal used lawyers to reach the presidency, and money and the power of people with money to retain it.

They have are losing the ability to use the lawyers and they no longer have the money. So they will turn to guns.

The American economic pyramid has stretched farther and farther beyond our borders since we ran out of frontier. Getting the Indians taken care of, we turned outside - Cuba, the Phillipenes, Mexico. World War One carried us further, and at the end of World War Two we 'inherited' the British power base.

Economic pyramids work by exploiting those at the base for the good of those at the top.

The Klan was used at a couple of points in American history by the ruling factions to keep various people (blacks, immigrants, labor) down. It grew from the Southern Democrats - who were the party the former ruling class of the South as Lincoln, the Republican, was the former party of the North. They freaked out about the black man having power - and here comes the violence!

As Central America became even more firmly embedded into our economic pyramid - and as the really grueling oppression was offshored along with jobs - right wing paramilitaries were used (and are used, Colombia being a major case in point) to keep people in check.

So now, we're experiencing the collapsing of our economic empire. South America is full of countries that have slipped the leash - Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, to a certain extent Brazil and Chile.

The folks who are now leaving the White House include the very thugs - Negroponte, Reich - who were part of the Reganite evil.

The RNC is an example of how they are willing to import the tactics of control (Iraq) into the US. The Klan is an example of how they use street level violence to control society.

The whole Jim Crow/lynching system was a part of that keeping people down.
David Duke is claiming that the government is no longer the purview of white people (hmmm, how many Senators? How many reps?) and that whites need to regain control of 'their' government.

Now that they have lost it, they will be using violence here.

The current crop of folks are seen in Jesus Camp, in white supremacists, in 'spiritual warfare' and imprecatory prayer situations.

Since the Bush cabal has been chased out of congressional and Presidential power, they will rely on the power they have. This will mean mystery right wing money going to these harsh outsider Armageddon Christ Army types.

This will mean more violence - because these guys play for keeps.

(Thanks to White Trash Academic for the assist!)


I see I have to separate my labels with commas. This will require going into the backlog to change them. Oh, boy! Bookkeeping!

Coleman trying to steal the election

The signs are that Norm Coleman will fight hard and dirty to try to win his re-election in Minnesota.

The Republicans are attacking the Secretary of State.

They have 'ballot watchers' across the state.

There have been preliminary attempts to disenfranchise - a lost lawsuit in Hennepin County that nevertheless may have influenced the County to not count certain votes.

If they get away with this I will be so fucking pissed at Franken.

More later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Norm Coleman is a dangerous wanker.

I've been asked what I think of who will win the Coleman - Franken race; and while I'm trying to seduce a certain working class scholar into co-writing a longer more detailed post, I can write this one easy.

I think it leans Franken, and by God I hate Norm Coleman.

I am very judicious about who I hate. I didn't hate Bush, although he was awful. I didn't hate Cheney, although he came close, but it was more of a despising. Hate is something that is active, that you feed. And Norm, Norm I hate.

It began in the early 90s, when Norm was the conservative Democratic mayor of Saint Paul. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are both pretty Democratic - sorry, VERY Democratic. So if you're the fundamentalist free-market business community, you find yourself some nice pliable folks who claim that they are Democrats and get them elected. (This means you sell out the religious right but that's fine. The marketeers will sell out anyone.) This included people like Jackie Cherryholmes and to a certain extent Sharon Sayles Belton in Minneapolis, and people like Norm Coleman in Saint Paul. You can tell if you have a faux-Democrat if they defend the interests of 'the downtown business community'. So Norm decided that the first thing he would do, to show he knew the game, and knew who had the power, was prove his 'conservative' bonafides by picking on his employee unions.

AFSCME Clerical and Technical for the city - got into huge fights with them, played hardball. Norm was a 'no tax' Democrat (why do they exist?) and so the city was being starved and the unions had to go. And then, when our little workplace organized itself into AFSCME? Norm was not our friend. And when Arne Carlson, who was for gay rights and was for legalized abortion, but was still a marketeer, decided to contract out our work to Fargo, Norm stood by. Yeah, that was 150 good paying jobs leaving downtown Saint Paul, but so what. Norm was much more into getting his corporate buddies (Lawson Software) big subsidies for their offices.

Norm's clever. He pitched Saint Paul for the Twins baseball stadium. And then he switched and got state money for a hockey stadium. Smart.

It's sad. Norm, of course, was the former roadie for Ten Years After at Woodstock. Oh - you didn't know that? Yep, that was our Norm. Head of the SDS, a longhaired antiwar conniving ambitious amoral misogynistic hippie. Who went to work for the lame-ass Skip Humphrey (Son of Hubert. No charisma, dumber, way less of a leader.) as an Assistant Attorney General. Liberal Democrat. Then moved centrist, then ran for Mayor. Then 9/11 happened, and that changed everything. Norm switched parties! Then won as an incumbent Republican, and then... ...then Norm had someone call Tim Pawlenty and tell him not to run for

Norm the partyswitcher. The fact that he's cast like 10 votes in the last 6 years that weren't party line, and the fact that he used to be a Democrat, makes him a centrist somehow.

He is, actually. Norm Coleman is dedicated to a center point: himself and his political career. Norm loves the power, and he'll do or say just about anything to get it. He is IMMENSELY hypocritical. He filed an 11th hour baloney lawsuit against Franken, which he's done before (Sue 'em in the last days before the election! Throws mud in their eye!) and then someone does the same to him - someone NOT the Franken campaign - and Norm launches into an apocalyptic fit! "This is an eleventh hour phoney political stunt by the Franken Campaign. And they're attacking my wife!"

Attacking his wife. THAT he said with a straight face. There was a rumor that she had been greenscreened into one of his commercials, which was believable because Norm and his wife do not share their lives with each other. Personally, I think it's a huge sham, they're both fucking around, and Norm has a terrible reputation with women for being grabby and pushy. I read someone who was in an acting class with Norm's wife never knew she was the Senator's wife - because she never mentioned it. Odd.

Three other stories (available on request): how to piss Norm off, Norm and Paul Wellstone, Norm and Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Guy Fawkes Night

Remember remember the 5th of November,
The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.

Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

Things that worry me...

Listening to the BBC - I am worried about the phrase 'raising expectations' that the neoliberals on the BBC financial service are mentioning. I worry because they want us to think about 'decreasing expectations.'