Begging The Question

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Not-So-Random Semi-Obsessive Thought of the Day
I think I have ruined a friendship, one I value a great deal. In fairness, I did something stupid, but I think my friend has overreacted if in fact my act has ended our friendship. But I don't think that telling my friend that ending our friendship is a bit of an overreaction is the best way to get back in my friend's good graces, or even to get my friend to talk to me again.

I completely understand if what I did hurt my friend. I regretted it the minute it happened, and have emailed and left messages saying so. But I would hope that a long period of friendship would count for something. My friend and I have been through a lot, and I need this friend in my life. And I thought I meant something to my friend too.

I'm not really asking for advice. I know that the only thing I can do is wait and hope that eventually my friend returns my messages. It's not really possible for me to pull a Cusack and show up on my friend's lawn with a boombox. And, I don't want to go off the deep end if it turns out that my friend has just been busy lately. Although, I think I know my friend well enough to sense that it's something more than that here.

So, I'm in limbo. If I knew the friendship was over, I could grieve over it (and grieve I would). If I knew it was just wounded, I would try to fix things. If I knew we were okay, I could get back to normal. Not knowing is driving me nuts. If my friend is reading this, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done what I did. I still want to be your friend, and I hope it's mutual. Let me know what I can do to make things right. I've ended friendships before (both passively and actively), and I don't want this to be one of them.

(As a side note, to my readers, especially the ones who know me outside the blog. Please don't speculate in the comments about who my friend is or what I've done. You may not be right, and even if you are, I don't want to discuss it here. I will delete comments that speculate about specifics. If you must discuss it, feel free to email me, but don't count on confirmation.)

Friday, June 25, 2004

My own random thought of the day
How do blind people know when they are done wiping?

Bill Clinton's White House Prison Blues
Hey everyone. I'm back from my little vacation. A wrap-up and a return to full-time blogging will come soon, but today I'm pretty busy catching up at work. But for those of you dying for a Milbarge fix, here's a song that's been rattling around my head for a few days.

I like doing song parodies; I think they're fun. Usually, something in a news story reminds me of a line in a song, and off I go. I tend to use the original lyrics and structure as much as possible. I figure that I'm not going to do a lot better than a professional writer of hit songs, so why reinvent the wheel. That's certainly what happened with my Strom Thurmond/"Brown Sugar" parody. And when football season starts, I'll post my two-part ballad of former Alabama coach Mike Price.

But for now, Bill Clinton. As you know, he's been all over the news this week with the publication of his memoirs. What struck me was a line he had in an interview a few days ago. When asked why he dallied with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton replied, "Because I could." This reminded me of the famous line in Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die." Cash always explained that he felt that this was the absolute worst reason to shoot a man, and Clinton's "reason" sounds about as bad. But anyway, that line set my mind in motion. I figured that the White House must have been like a kind of prison for a man of Clinton', appetites. And I'm sure it gave him the blues.

So, just for reference, here is Johnny Cash's song:
I hear the train a comin', it's rolling round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin' on,
But that train keeps a rollin' on down to San Anton..
When I was just a baby my mama told me, "Son,
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns."
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
Now every time I hear that whistle, I hang my head and cry...
I bet there's rich folks eating in a fancy dining car.
They're probably drinkin' coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free
But those people keep a movin', and that's what tortures me...
Well if they'd free me from this prison, if that railroad train was mine,
I bet I'd move just a little further down the line.
Far from Folsom prison, that's where I want to stay,
And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.....
And here is my version of Bill Clinton's White House Prison Blues:
I hear those thighs a-rustlin' as she's walking 'round the bend,
And I ain't had no lovin' since 'bout ten a.m.
I'm stuck here in this prison, can't get my freak on.
Think I'll mess 'round with this intern, while I'm on the phone.

I know what you're gonna ask me, the question isn't new.
Just how could I go cheatin' on the one who said "I do"?
Well, I did it with that intern just because I could.
And for all the grief it caused me, Lord it weren't that good.

I bet they all was laughin' on the day that I got caught,
Said all my bright potential had ended up for naught.
I guess I had it comin', 'cause I can't let whores be.
But when I think of who I married, that's what tortures me.

They finally freed me from that prison, and I'm up in New York state,
My wife is in the Senate, every night she's workin' late.
I've settled myself down, and joined the P.T.A.
And I let those lonesome housewives blow my blues away....

Random Thought of the Day
At what point does it stop being brunch, and just become lunch?

It's Like Tee-Ball, But For Midgets
Since he was put in office, Milbarge has been skeptical of Schwarzenegger's ability to improve the situation in California. To help ease him back to the blogging lifestyle and give him fodder for a counter argument, I'll copy this post that Phil Carter over at Intel Dump had up Wed.

Connie Bruck has an outstanding magazine-length political biography of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the June 28 issue of the New Yorker. Unfortunately, the article is not available online, but this Q&A with the article's author is available. The article has a lot of great stuff about California political history, and the ways that Arnold has broken from Sacramento's stale traditions in order to get things done. Like him or hate him, you have to admire his political effectiveness, because he's done more since last November than the past two governors to break gridlock in Sacramento. (Of course, the jury's still out on whether his policies are a good idea, but at least he was able to do something.) Check out the article, if you get the chance.

If you are wondering about the post title, don't ask. That's just how my mind works before it's had enough caffeine.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Zee Germans!!!
You wanna see something hilarious?

Go to Google, type in Dirk Nowitski and hit I'm Feeling Lucky.

(Or, if you are lazy, just click here.)

Random Thought of the Day
How much you want to bet that Vince McMahon is already coming up with wrestling names for this kid?

A View From Baghdad
Thanks to Scott, I have found several good Iraqi blogs over the last few days. This morning I found a post on Iraq The Model that is worth relaying, at least in part.

As the sovereignty hand-over getting closer, the insanity of terrorists reaches an extreme so they gave Iraqis another dark, bloody day that shows the terrorists' dark dreams and their disrespect for human life whether western's or arab's, Christian's or Muslim's as long as they get in their way to destroy civilization since it represent evil in their sick minds.

The increased severity of theses operations indicate that their greatest fear is democracy in the ME and building democracy in Iraq is the seed for it. It's obviously not only us who believe this, the terrorists seem to get it too!

He goes on to talk about how while Saddam and the terrorists may not have been strategic allies, their goals were the same. Then he goes on to make a point that Greg over at the Hobbesian Conservative has been making for months.

People here are getting more anxious and more worried as the 30th of June gets closer and as the attacks' frequency increases. But what Iraqis fear most is a pessimistic scenario that includes the US army leaving the cities and armed militias controlling the streets and then killings, looting and chaos return in a manner worse than ever taking advantage of the lack of strong authorities.

Such ideas are having their effect on the behavior of the people despite the cautious optimism they felt when the IP reinforced their presence in the streets. It may seem illogical thinking but many Iraqis find it very difficult to trust any authority after all they've been through and reasoning play little role if any here. They need to see solid changes before they regain their trust in the others.
The attacks in the last few days illustrate the spots of the terrorists presence and activity whom foreigners represent a high percentage of their count because of the close proximity of Diyla governorate to Iran and the close proximity of Anbar and Mosul governorates to Syria, the two countries that have the greatest interest in the failure of the democratic process in Iraq. That's why those spots must be dealt with in a special way but for a very limited time. Besides, there should be active communications between the authorities and the people who live there and there should be also a strong presence of the security forces.

So the Iraqi people don't want the US forces to leave, want a strong show of force, and reassurance that the US is committed and won't leave them to their fate after June 30th. What a novel idea. I'll be holding my breath until I hear this reported by Brokaw and Rather.

The end of the post is the best part, and should give some hope to all parties involved in this fight.

We should present the best example and I am optimistic because I see the majority of Iraqis, and despite their fears, have decided to go on no matter what. Yes, we'll give sacrifices and we'll go through sad days but I'm totally convinced that nothing can stop the process. We'll pay precious blood but it's worth the sacrifice. The accomplishment will be a great victory and a turning point in history that will influence the region and the world.

Once again I address those who think that the war on terror was a mistake; take a look at the Iraqi field and you can see how the terrorists have gone crazy proving by themselves that the war is on them. Still they can kill some of us but they can't kill our dreams and they can't kill Iraq. No more martial laws and we're ready to give more sacrifices to achieve our ultimate freedom and build democracy.

As Americans, how could we not fight for people who believe this?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I'm Going Back to the Waffle House*
This story about a truck full of eggs overturning in Houston was unremarkable, except for the bit at the end...

It took more than 14 hours to clean up the spill and reopen the highway. Babb's co-workers brought food to keep the crew's energy up, but he didn't exactly appreciate it.

"They brought us scrambled eggs, you believe that?" Babb said. "Sick sense of humor, these people."

I love finding out there are others in the world who share my sense of humor.

*For those of you who don't know, the title of this post is an actual song that can be found on Waffle House jukeboxes across this great land. Back in college, myself, Milbarge and friends would sometimes go to Waffle House to eat and on our way out the door, queue up the jukebox to play about a dozen Waffle House songs in a row. Mean? Yes. Funny? Absolutely

Hope the Judge likes Spam
Jason Smathers charged with selling AOL's complete subscriber list, over 30 million names, to spammers. I hope he gets a judge who gets bombarded with daily email ads for low interest rates and p0rn.

Random Thought of the Day
What self respecting guy designs a public bathroom and doesn't put dividers between the urinals? Shouldn't this be mandatory?

Your so-called kung-fu... is really quite pathetic.
It seems that the Kill Bill franchise of movies is not quite done.

According to Tarantino, there is a plan in place to do a third Kill Bill in about fifteen years. This one would focus on Vernita Green's little girl seeking revenge on The Bride. Conceivably, this could go on forever... after Nikki Bell (yes, I looked up her name) kills The Bride, Quentin could wait a couple years and then have B.B. stalk down Nikki. And, since he will need new "styles" of film for each of these (in keeping with the samurai feel of the first and the spaghetti western/Chinese kung-fu feel of the second), he could do the third one as a 1950s sci-fi flick and the fourth as a silent movie with dialogue screens every few seconds. If he decides to do a KB5 (with Bill's cousin's daughter stalking down B.B.'s youngest son), he could do a 1960's Yellow Submarine-style cartoon. That would be sweet.

Don't get me wrong... I thought Kill Bill 1 was a very good film. I thought KB2 was pretty good. The problem with each was there just wasn't enough actual material to need two movies. Tarantino, despite what he says about the "studio" wanting to make two films, just did it so he could create a buzz about the second and so he could change "styles" for the second film. In reality, he should have made one outstanding film by combining the two, losing dull scenes like the mother-daughter crap in KB2, and shooting for a 2.5 hour martial arts kickassathon.

But Tarantino doesn't work like that. He doesn't want to shoot the movies that make the most sense. He wants to beat you over the head with how great he is as a writer and director. The problem is, love him or hate him, Tarantino's relative greatness as a filmmaker is pretty much already set for most moviegoers. In the anti-Tarantino club, you have the people who cannot look past the fact that Reservoir Dogs was a complete rip-off of Ringo Lam's City On Fire or that Four Rooms was pretty crappy. In the pro-Quentin camp, you have people (like me) who count Pulp Fiction among their all-time favorite movies and who think Jackie Brown was underrated. Either way, another Kill Bill is not likely to change people's minds about Tarantino.

Besides that, dropping an "idea" for Kill Bill vol. 3 fifteen years before you make it is pretty lame. It's not like he's getting people excited about it now. Hell, when that movie comes out, I'll be 41 years old (pardon me while I go vomit). A whole group of three-, four-, and five-year-olds will be in prime movie watching age by 2019. Which is to say that the audience who would even pay attention to a comment like "I have plans to make a third film" today is not necessarily the same audience that will actually see said film. No, stating that he wants to do KB3 is simply an exercise in ego masturbation. It's Tarantino telling you, "look at me... I know what I want to do with these characters two decades from now. I must be great!"

However, if Quentin Tarantino really wants to be considered one of the all-time great writer/directors, perhaps he should focus a little more on creating great films and a little less on creating publicity about Quentin Tarantino.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Richard Simmons Would be Proud
According to Old Spice, I live in the 13th sweatiest city in America.

If I'm in the 13th, I can't imagine how bad #1 is.

Constantine or Constantinople?
I had been planning on sending this in to the BTQ advisor, but now I can take the opportunity to ask you, the readers, directly.

Does anyone know of a good website to get news from Iraq (or the Middle East in general) from the perspective of the people there?

Every time I manage to catch an interview with someone from that area who is intelligent and well spoken, they always make some great comments that give a new perspective to that area.

Case in point was an Iraqi talking with Colin Quinn on Tough Crowd a few months back. He was talking about how he was glad the Americans had come and removed Saddam. However, he disliked the Coalition Provisional Authority and the people they selected to write Iraq's new constitution. It had nothing to do with it being US backed. According to this gentleman, in the cities in Iraq members of various religious tribes live and work together, and even inter-marry. But the people selected to write the constitution were leaders from rural parts of the country, which are known for intolerance of other views. Basically, the US went out and got the Rush Limbaugh's and the Michael Moore's of Iraq, sat them down, and expected them to work out their differences so they could come up with a fair plan for every one. Actually, a better analogy was they went out and got Billy Graham, Jesse Jackson, and Michael Nedow and told them to work together.

This is the kind of thing you never hear from the news outlets over here. If anyone some suggestions, I would be grateful to hear them.

Hitch on Moore*
*Alternative post title: As Lionel Hutz once said, "There's the truth and then there's the truth."

Aside from his hostility toward Christians, Chris Hitchens is one of my favorite journalists. He's great in print (Slate, Vanity Fair, etc.) and he's great in an interview. I've yet to read his book on the Iraq War, but it is on my list.

Hitch's article in Slate today in which he demolishes Michael Moore and his mockumentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" demonstrates everything I love about Hitchens. He is so entertaining and so good and so right that I will adopt those oft-used phrases from the boys at Southern Appeal: this one is "spot-on" and it is a "must read." Allow me to prime the pump with a couple of choice passages. To preface his take down of the film, Hitch offers that
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
But wait, there's Moore! Hitchens gives us a taste of the film's inconsistency and Moore's selective memory:
More interesting is the moment where Bush is shown frozen on his chair at the infant school in Florida, looking stunned and useless for seven whole minutes after the news of the second plane on 9/11. Many are those who say that he should have leaped from his stool, adopted a Russell Crowe stance, and gone to work. I could even wish that myself. But if he had done any such thing then (as he did with his "Let's roll" and "dead or alive" remarks a month later), half the Michael Moore community would now be calling him a man who went to war on a hectic, crazed impulse. The other half would be saying what they already say - that he knew the attack was coming, was using it to cement himself in power, and couldn't wait to get on with his coup. This is the line taken by Gore Vidal and by a scandalous recent book that also revives the charge of FDR's collusion over Pearl Harbor. At least Moore's film should put the shameful purveyors of that last theory back in their paranoid box.

But it won't because it encourages their half-baked fantasies in so many other ways. We are introduced to Iraq, "a sovereign nation." (In fact, Iraq's "sovereignty" was heavily qualified by international sanctions, however questionable, which reflected its noncompliance with important U.N. resolutions.) In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed. Then - wham! From the night sky come the terror weapons of American imperialism. Watching the clips Moore uses, and recalling them well, I can recognize various Saddam palaces and military and police centers getting the treatment. But these sites are not identified as such. In fact, I don't think Al Jazeera would, on a bad day, have transmitted anything so utterly propagandistic. You would also be led to think that the term "civilian casualty" had not even been in the Iraqi vocabulary until March 2003.
Hitch concludes with this assessment of Moore's integrity:
Some people soothingly say that one should relax about all this. It's only a movie. No biggie. It's no worse than the tomfoolery of Oliver Stone. It's kick-ass entertainment. It might even help get out "the youth vote." Yeah, well, I have myself written and presented about a dozen low-budget made-for-TV documentaries, on subjects as various as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton and the Cyprus crisis, and I also helped produce a slightly more polished one on Henry Kissinger that was shown in movie theaters. So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a "POV" or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them. By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (. . .), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised.
As they say, read the whole thing - here.

Monday, June 21, 2004

If you keep making that face, it will freeze that way.
This is a cautionary tale of sorts. I have started to notice that more and more, I find myself in the very position of people that I once mocked. A few examples.

I had grew up with dogs as pets. Always wanted to have dogs as pets. And I mocked those who owned cats, especially lots of them. Well you can see where this is headed. My fiance has not 1 cat, but 3. So I am now a defacto cat owner (and have been informed by the missus that I will be for the duration of our time together). I've come to accept this, and no longer mock cat owners for fear of being hypocritical.

Now we are looking for a house. We live in a large metropolitan area, and both the fiance and myself frequently mock those who move out to The Burbs. However, in looking at the loans we qualify for, it is quickly becoming obvious that if we want a nice house in a nice neighborhood we will have to move out of the city proper.

Another example is that for the majority of my drinking life, I was a beer and bourbon guy. People who drank wine were snobs. Sure enough, I have come to appreciate good wine, and routinely have a glass or two with dinner.

The last example I have, at least that I will admit to, is the used of facial products. Growing up on a farm, I developed a certain stigma about people (read: men) who used things like moisturizers and such. Well, again, the fiance bought me some Jack Black shaving products for Christmas. Being a gift, I couldn't really throw them away. So I give them a try, and it turns out they work pretty well. Damnit

I mean, what's next? Am I going to grow a mullet? Am I going to become the person that drives slow in the fast lane on the freeway? What was once a mere coincedence has turned into a disturbing trend, and I have no idea what to do about it. How does one avoid turning into a full blown metrosexual?

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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