Monday, December 29, 2008

Cabiria: the movie with built-in spoilers

Back in the mid 19-teens, Italian filmmakers began pioneering the long form cinema we know today as "feature film".

Cabiria is regarded as the most successful of the lot. It's only borderline watchable today; it suffers from a persistent habit of early silent films in which they would put up a title card explaining what you were about to see:

and then follow that with a scene in which you see exactly what you were already told you were going to see:

It's like a movie with built-in spoilers. Another:

followed by:

But you can see the elaborate production values they put into this toga pic. The sets and costumes are great:

It also has some good stunt work like this scene where you see Roman soldiers scale a high wall by methodically building a human pyramid...

... with each layer of men standing on the shields of the men below:

And yes, they really do get a man up to the top of that wall. I don't know if that's a historically accurate maneuver, but they convinced me it could work.

Audiences of the time were also struck by something called "the Cabiria effect". In numerous shots they slowly moved the camera's vantage point into, out of or across the scene. It's a very subtle shifting of perspective that undoes the inherent flatness of a stationary camera. Today we know this as a "dolly shot" and it's not at all uncommon, but it makes Cabiria look about ten years more advanced than other movies from this period.

Still, for all this awareness of how to use the camera there are some moments of excruciatingly bad framing:

The object of that scene is a man on a bed just off the left edge of the frame. We saw them lay him on the bed in a previous shot but for some reason now we just see their butts as they lean over him.

And what is "Cabiria"? It's a girl. She may be the original "McGuffin", as Hitchcock would say. Rather unimportant in the film except as a foil to involve all these other people you see who are trying to capture her, protect her, sacrifice her, deflower her, rescue her...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

nina paley attacks!

Animated film-maker Nina Paley criticized me yesterday, over in the comments at, for using uncredited photographs in this blog, after I expressed my doubts about the merits of film projects that were based around music by (not paid) musicans who hadn't been involved with the film project. I said it was a too easy way to add polish to a film production without paying the artists who made that polish possible.

Yes, the picture of Blagojevich was uncredited. I've corrected that now by making the picture link back to the original photographer's Flicker page. I picked an image off Flicker since those are obviously out there to be used. They give you options to download a copy of any size you want for free. I presume the photographer approves of those terms or he/she wouldn't be publishing on Flicker.

But as I skim through the rest of my blog entries I see that almost every one that uses an image has a link to drive readers back to the original source. For example, the post on the recently discovered phonograph cylinders of Russian musicians links back to the pertinent NY Times article.

The numerous Youtube clips are self-documenting in themselves.

So I don't feel I've been too egregious in my borrowings here.

And Nina's film? It's "Sita Sings the Blues". (I won't even try to show you a picture here.) I actually contributed money to her last year to cover some unexpected production cost she was desperately trying to raise money to cover. My contribution wasn't much, but at the time the film was described as a narrative film about her being dumped by her ex-husband or something like that, which sounded like an interesting indy film project. I hoped that maybe my contribution would edge the film along toward distribution so that I might see it some day.

Now it turns out the film is perhaps more of music video based on some recordings from the 1920's. I'm not sure I would have contributed to a project like that. I'll never get to see the movie to be sure since Nina didn't get clearance on the music she was borrowing and her film is now shelved for copyright infringement reasons.

I've been working on an independent film lately, titled "The Tin Woodman of Oz" based on the public domain story by L. Frank Baum.

Authorized image from "The Tin Woodman of Oz":

It's a modest little movie, we didn't have many resources, but we made it all ourselves; we didn't borrow anything we didn't have the rights to, we even wrote the songs ourselves. I wrote two of them!

I don't imagine anyone out there on the internet will contribute $35,000 to our production like they did to Nina Paley's, but we did our homework before we embarked on making a movie and she didn't. Our movie has at least a remote chance of being distributed, hers has none. Which would you give money to?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

rhymes with Manishevitz?

The nice thing about political scandals is you get to learn about local officials all across this great land that you didn't even know existed before. Idaho has a Senator? Florida had a congressman who knew how to send text messages? I had no idea.

Now it turns out that Illinois has a Governor. Who knew?

Good head of hair on that guy. They'll love that in prison. To make paint brushes for for art class, I mean.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

hair quality alert

Is it not at all suspicious that the man with the most poorly executed combover I have seen this week wants to use 100,000 year-old DNA to recreate... a woolly mammoth ?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

recession ruins romance in India

from NYTimes article:

In a country where most marriages are arranged by parents, the downturn has even taken a toll on the matrimonial prospects of those in technology outsourcing. “Because there is no job guarantees for I.T. people, for the last six months brides’ families have not been accepting grooms from this background,” said Jagadeesh Angadi, a matchmaker in Bangalore.

In America, you take bride.
In India, bride takes you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

In the year 2000...

... science will finally eliminate the scourge of water polo pony drownings. That's the only explanation I can think of for this 1950's magazine cover.

It's from a fabulous collection of retro-future illustrations. Climadome homes and personal jet packs are, of course, included.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a vote for the lizard people

I'm originally from Minnesota, so I'm following the manual recount of the Senate election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. If there's any doubt about the voter's intention a ballot may be challenged and put aside for later judging.

Minnesota Public Radio has put up a gallery of challenged ballots that will be completely unsurprising to anyone who has ever tried to teach their grandmother or pot-head nephew how to use a computer.

As an aside, Al Franken turned out to be a much weaker candidate than anyone thought. In a Democratic state like Minnesota, in an anti-republican year like this, against a completely unimpressive incumbent like Norm Coleman, he should have put this thing away easily.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

tough talk on bail-outs

There's a lot of tough talk in Washington now about how they're not going to give a "blank check" to the auto-makers and how Detroit is going to have to present a plan to reform their operating practices and fix their dumb management before we give them any more money.

I was just wondering... what if the Chinese started saying that to America? I can see them continuing to loan us money because we're "too big to fail", but eventually they're gonna have to say "hey, wait a minute here..."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

power assist for squatters

In the most embarrassing product demonstration of the week, Honda unveils a new way to lower fertility rates among the working class:

See Honda video here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

message from another time

After being thought lost in WWII, an archive of wax cylinder recordings from the 1890's of Russian classical musicians has been found. They don't sound great, but how would you sound at 110?

Hear some excerpts at The NY Times.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

and another thing...

I know The New York Times is trying to save money, but I don't think the strategy of loading an entire encyclopedia article into one sentence is going to work.

With shrill blasts from its three Tyfon whistles and a 39-foot-long paying-off pennant streaming from the mast — a foot for each year at sea — that traditionally marks the end of a ship’s commission, the Queen Elizabeth 2 (only the actual monarchs warrant Roman numerals, not the ships named for royalty) split the predawn darkness to begin a day of festivities and souvenir photos by the Statue of Liberty and berthed at Pier 90 at 53d Street on the Hudson River, where the ship tied up around 6 a.m.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

there is no overhead projector

I was disappointed last night that Obama offered no defense of the "$3 million overhead projector" McCain said he made an earmark for.

I'm even more disappointed to find out Obama passed up the chance to call McCain for lying about it.

The director of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago (btw, the first I ever went to) has released this statement

...the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama's efforts. This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in the reports that accompany appropriations bills.

what the project really was:

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

the real americans

Many non-Americans may get the impression from the Sarah Palin interviews that we're just a bunch of babbling sloganeers who can barely put two talking-points together in a sentence.

Here are the real americans, the ones who vote republican, not for the tax breaks but for the principles involved and who can speak at length about it without coaching...

I'm thoroughly impressed that they managed to get a man, a woman, another man, and a dog all on the same motorcycle.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

bite me

There's nothing quite as damning as your own words coming back to bite you in the ass.

I really admire the voice over in that ad. It's calm and understated and yet it seems that a dark, ominous rage is just under the surface. I wish I could do that.

Of course, I'm sure McCain's comments about lobbyists were just attempts to explain the reality of Washington.

But the stuff about working so hard for W, long after W was fashionable... that was was just asking for it.

Sometimes you don't have to wait years for your words to come back and bite you. Sometimes they start nibbling right away:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

dueling jewelry

Without any major soundbites produced, it seemed like a draw to me.

It strikes me that neither party got the candidate they really wanted. The Democrats really wanted, but couldn't get, Al Gore. The Republicans wanted, but couldn't get, Ronald Reagan.

I think John McCain's low point was when he labeled himself a "maverick". That's a word other people have to put on you and they've pretty much stopped that except within quotation marks.

I bravely predict that the SNL sketch tonight will revolve around who has the most meaningful jewelry.

McCain mentions his victory bracelet, Obama counters with his never-again bracelet.

McCain shows a Georgia-in-NATO earstud, Obama matches that with a they-love-me-in Germany nipple ring...

...and by the end they're both down to their underwear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

not a blank check

I just need to point out that it's not really a "blank check" if the amount is filled in.

See? Nothing to worry about!

Stephen Colbert explains the urgency of it all:

Jon Stewart and John Oliver do an exercise in "What could be worse?":

Sunday, September 21, 2008

three times is enemy action

The 700 billion dollar bail-out of the investment bankers really means the end of the United States as a world power. No country can remain strong with the level of debt we have taken on and must repay to foreigners.

The only comparable example I can think of might be the reparation debt Germany was forced to pay after World War I. We know that didn't turn out well.

A blogger on dailyKos has posted a lucid history of the Republican hands behind the deregulation that created this disaster:

Three times is Enemy Action

update: that DailyKos article is getting traction; it's been put on the front of The Nation's website

Friday, September 19, 2008

the hyphenated adjective that dare not speak its name

An ad running in California to defeat a proposed ban on same-sex marriage:

If you can't say it out-loud in California, it must be just about hopeless.

The producer of the ad explains that "same-sex" doesn't resonate with the voters as much as "rights" do.

I imagine that's true. I'm sure that for most straight men the right to marry another man is about as dear as the right to live without cable television.

If they could make an ad that suggested your cable television would go away if same-sex marriage were banned (who do you suppose makes all those shows, anyway?) then they might have something.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a fatwa for you

Cleric demands death of Mickey Mouse because mice are "corrupting".

A few thoughts...

-How do you qualify to issue fatwas? It must be as difficult as becoming a conservative blogger.

-Christians carefully limit edict issuing to the Pope for Catholics, and for Protestants you have to have good hair, a TV show and a phone bank:

(When Robert Tilton speaks it's a "fartwa")

-If Mickey is bad then Pegleg Pete is good.

jumping the moose

(When a TV series runs out of ideas or gets desperate for ratings and introduces some wildly out-of-place element, that is often called "jumping the shark", after the episode of "Happy Days" where motorcycle hood Fonzie somehow decides to take up waterskiing and does a giant stunt jump over a shark.)

On a completely unrelated note, here she is giving her most thorough defense of why she's ready for whatever...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New York Jews for Minnesota

I grew up in Minnesota so I still take note of what happens there. It used to be a solid Democratic state when Hubert Humphrey was around but has varied more over the last 30 years. You do see things in Minnesota that you don't see anywhere else. Like the nation's first Islamic congressman or a professional wrestler winning the Governor job.

In 1990 the Senate race between Rudy Boschwitz and Paul Wellstone turned on "who is a better Jew" and this year the race between Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken has them debating which one is too much of a "New York Jew."

Al Franken notes that he's "the only New York Jew in the race who actually grew up in Minnesota."

I like his explanation of why he's running and his thesis that government policy can make people's lives better:

Although not at all amusing, here's an effective ad against his opponent, Norm Coleman:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ads attack

Here in Texas you wouldn't know there is a presidential election going on. It's a "safe" Republican state (although we did elect a lesbian for Dallas Sheriff in 2006); little campaign advertising makes its way here. I have to go to the YouTube to see what everyone else is seeing.

Well finally... someone on the left has made some attack ads that aren't a complete embarrassment to the fine tradition of attack ads:

That one would have been more effective if they had been shooting panda bears but I guess wolves will have to do.

Rebuttal ads are only about half as effective as the attack ad they are trying to undo, but I think the fat guy drinking beer while he watches kids get off the school bus is a clever touch:

Unfortunately neither of these is from the Obama campaign; I don't think they know how to do a proper attack ad. How is he going to run a country when he can't even smear a political opponent with lies, innuendo and distortion? Did he not take that class when he was at Harvard?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

jong ill?

There's a report that North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il might be ill.

Gee, do you think? The guy's been wandering around in pajamas with one leg longer than the other for five years.

His father, the previous ruler, is basically a god in North Korea and the object of numerous adoring paintings like this one:

Ths style is much like the bland art I recall in paintings of Jesus at Sunday School.

Here you can sample more of DPRK propaganda paintings.

ageing not quite gracefully

I don't know what the right age to wear too much mascara is, but it's not Cindy McCain's age.

John McCain's skin looks like my dad's which would be fine except that my dad is 92.

It's got to be challenging to photograph him for close-ups in campaign ads, but he looked pretty decent in this one:

It is entirely possible, however that that is just a wax muppet they created for such shots.

Monday, September 08, 2008

framing the answer

I noted that Obama didn't sit well in interviews. His other problem is that he doesn't cast his answers in terms that are advantageous to him.

Here's how I'd answer some common questions if I were Obama:

Q: Why don't you admit "the surge" worked?

A: The surge is a great step forward. Unfortunately, it's only one step forward after five steps backwards. It doesn't even restore Iraq to the level of stability it had before the war. General Petraeus tells us that the gains of the surge are very fragile and could easily disappear.

George Bush, John McCain and the Republicans want us to reward them with another four years for leaving us four steps backwards from where we started and for having wasted a trillion dollars to do it. How many more steps backwards should we give them the chance to take us?

Q: Sarah Palin has more executive experience than you. You've never made an executive decision in your life. What makes you ready to be President?

A: It's true that we elect Presidents to make decisions. But if previous executive experience led to good decisions then George Bush, after six years as Governor of Texas and eight years as President, ought to be doing expert work by now. Unfortunately he's still making lousy decisions that are going to handicap this country for many years to come.

The key to making good decisions is to first understand the problem you're dealing with. George Bush never bothered to understand what he was looking at, he just wanted to feed his fantasy of being "the decider".

Q: Should the government bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

A: This could have been avoided if the Bush Administration had properly regulated those companies over the last eight years. A lot of rich people got richer because George Bush and John McCain looked the other way, and now this bailout kicks the responsibility for this disaster to the next administration. George Bush can claim he's saved the financial system today, but the next president is going to have to find a way to pay for his foolishness.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I told you not to tell me that

Here's a bit of a report that appeared in The New York Times about some cost-cutting measures a certain newspaper was implementing:

The paper would not say how much money the moves would save, though some executives, insisting on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, put the savings at several million dollars a year.

The odd thing is that the newspaper they are reporting about is themselves, The New York Times.

Friday, September 05, 2008

my favorite right-wing kook

I don't know why the Republicans didn't put Huckabee on the ticket.

Well, yes, I do... they're as spooked as the rest of us by someone who actually believes all the right-wing dogma and doesn't just give it lip-service (Romney? McCain?) in the run-up to an election.

But he has comic timing and wit that rarely shows up in career politicians. Here he is holding his own on the Daily Show:

Don't get me wrong... he's a kook, but he's a fun kook.

p.s. I recall Huckabee is also a competent bass player. Music is all about timing. I'm sure that helps.

p.p.s. I'll bet you a dollar he shows up hosting SNL sometime next season.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

bad posture Barack

Obama does great in speechs, lousy in interviews. A lot of it is his body language. Look at this shot from his O'Reilly interview:

He's bent over, he's looking down, while O'Reilly is upright and looking directly at him. This happened often and the camera angle FOX has chosen accentuates this.

I wouldn't surprise me if FOX got to that room early and sawed an inch off his chair legs to make him sit more awkwardly.

The lighting is giving him Frankenbrow, too:

The Democrats should be sophisticated enough to send someone along on every interview who can flag these bad stagings before the tape is rolling, but they don't do that.

If Obama loses, I think much of it will be because of his un-commanding performance in interviews, even with non-hostile interviewers.

I don't see what the advantage of doing this interview was. FOX won't cover him any more favorably for it and FOX viewers aren't going to be switching sides to vote for Obama.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

no mule named Sal either

I just watched a WWII movie called "Guadalcanal Diary". I didn't see a single canal in it! The whole thing was about fighting the Japanese on a small island in the Pacific. I am doubtful that there would even be a need for a canal on Guadal Island.

I'm sure this was quite a striking movie in 1943. Today it seems to contain every war movie cliche imagineable, but it might well be the movie that originated them so you have to give it a pass.

Friday, August 29, 2008

killed her a bar when she was only three

John McCain announces his VP pick and finally puts to rest those rumors that he's just a skirt-chasing, horny old guy.

Apparently she's a former Miss Alaska contestant. She might have won if it weren't for a serious miscalculation in the swimsuit competition:

On the plus side she has a reputation in her state for fighting corruption.

John McCain had to go all the way to Alaska to find a Republican with a reputation for fighting corruption.

I applaud her for being photographed wearing glasses.

It's a look that is traditionally limited to female laboratory scientists just before they get nailed by James Bond.

I can't think of any major politician in the last 40 years that allowed themselves to be defined as wearing glasses. Those better be real and not just those prop glasses you get from the International Male catalog.

But she's obviously in the pocket of Big Fur.

And she has a serious crab problem:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

cue the banjos...

Two of the alleged Obama hitmen:

I don't want to say they're goofy lookin' but these pictures appear as if the Photoshop "caricature" filter had already been applied to them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I have seen bigfoot

Some guys are holding a press conference to say they found a Bigfoot body.

But I have seen Bigfoot already.

I remember when i was about 12 or so, paying $1 to see the frozen body of a Bigfoot/Missing Link/Apeman at the Minnesota state fair.

While you waited in line they spun out a long story of how it had been accidentally shot by a hunter and how it was the object of a court case to decide if the hunter should be charged with murder depending on whether it was human or not.

But in the meantime they conveniently had it on ice for us to see!

Finally you get in the viewing room and peer into a giant chest freezer to see something encased in about a foot of ice. It seemed to be a hairy biped of some sort but there was a lot of strategically placed mud and dirt and blood (!) and bubbles frozen in the ice that prevented any clear examination of it. It was the in-person equivalent of a blurry bigfoot photograph.

I don't know how the court case came out. I'm sure the hunter is out of jail now as the penalty for shooting a crash dummy in a racoon coat must be pretty low.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ich bin... splat

It occurs to me that if George W. Bush tried to give a speech like that in a public place in Europe the rotten tomatoe-proof glass shield would have to be about a foot thick.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Triumph of the... what did he say?

I marvel at the ability of Europeans to sit thru long speeches in languages they do not speak.

Yeah, I know... english is the new "lingua franca". Well, I've been to Europe. Their english ain't that hot.

They may claim to sprechen englisch at first, but this is quickly revealed to be wishful thinking after a few sentences. (Locating our current position on a map also seems to be a skill in the larval stage.)

So I have to wonder how much Obama's speech in Germany actually connected with anyone. Just once I'd like to see an American politician go over there and do the whole thing in their best full-tilt high school German with some mein liebes Volk and wir brauchen Lebensraum and auf die Zugspitze and lots of hysterical arm waving too. The way German was meant to be spoken.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Spanish-American War?

John McCain has been going around saying "I know how to win wars". Plural.

Which wars would those be?

Maybe he just means he's read about such things in a book and now he knows how it's done.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ding dong donald

I recently bought a DVD on ebay and it arrived today in a brown paper wrapper.

From the return address above one might think it was something for the Clarence Thomas collection, but no, it was just Donald Duck cartoons. On the other hand, Donald Duck did spend his entire career in front of the camera with no pants on.

But I shouldn't make fun of the chinese names. Now that we owe them more than a trillion dollars, they can pretty much use any name they want.

Friday, July 11, 2008

cut them off at the pass

So, what do two straight guys talk about when they think no one else is listening? Men's balls!

I've suspected as much for a long time. It turns out they are objects of weird fantasy. Really creepy fantasy. Excuse me while I go vomit.

I know someone will say "that's just a euphemism." How much worse can the bad-phemism be?

Something that hasn't gotten much notice is how Jackson reveals here he doesn't regard Obama as truly black. You can't talk "down" to someone if you are of them and on the same level. In his mind, Jesse Jackson sees Obama as an outsider and not a fully qualified black person.

With two too many balls.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

three out of four wasn't good enough?

Our fake Missile Defense Shield can take out their fake missiles any day of the week. That alone ought to justify the $100 zillion cost.

I'm sure Adobe cringes at the pervasive use of the term "Photoshop" in these situations.

In all this coverage of the Iranian missiles I haven't seen any indication of whether they actually hit what they were aiming at. That would be key, I think.

When the US tests a missile you get a promotional video with rock music showing the rocket hitting withing a few inches of its target.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

exit, stage down

Jesse Helms should have died while he was in office. It would have made bigger headlines which is what he would have liked, and we would have gotten him out of the Senate sooner which is what I would have liked.

100 years from now when people examine why democratic institutions failed to run this country well, Jesse Helms will be a case study.

Hate-monger, racist, dope... all those apply, and in some states those are enough of a plus to get 51% of the vote and have a career in the senate making things worse, not better.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

my cousin's crater

My father's sister's son was the geologist and archaeologist Roald H. Fryxell (frick-SELL). Aside from notable work in finding some of the oldest evidence for human activity in the Americas he was one of the initial geologists to examine moon rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts.

That's Roald, above on the right, with Neil Armstrong in a picture I took myself at a "space symposium" they were both speaking at in 1972. This was a rare moment when Armstrong was not being mobbed by hand shakers and autograph seekers. So, of course, I shook his hand.

Via the web, I find out that Roald has a crater on the moon named after him! So where is this thing?

One may find it in the perodically visible border area between near and farside of the moon, in Mare Orientale ("Eastern Sea"... oceanfront property!)

A closer view of the Mare with some other named features:

And Fryxell Crater itself:

Sure, it looks remote now, but in 30 years we're all going to be saying "Why didn't we pass some proper zoning laws? Those McMansions have ruined the neighborhood!"

Monday, June 02, 2008

doof, doofuss, doofest

This is why I stopped watching local TV news. The premise of this clip from Washington DC is interesting: some doofuss security guard hassling people about an imaginary security "policy".

But look at the layers of padding it takes to get to that. First, there's the woman in the green dress (standing, I guess, to give an air of immediacy) who tells us what the story is going to be about.

Then, to raise the stakes, she pitches to the reporter in the "control room" set who tells us what it's going to be about again. (Live! This story is so hot he has extra information he didn't have time to put in the video!)

Then we finally get the actual video coverage of the outrage (padded with a profile of the victim to assure us that FOX isn't aiding terrorism).

It's more theater than news really. It's as if every story has to measure up to the Hindenburg disaster or the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and if it doesn't measure up... they'll still present it like it does.

But I do love the security guard. He's like the reporters, pretending to be more than he really is, but obviously lacking the years of broadcast news school that teach you how to pull that off.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

ice on mars?

NASA thinks this may be ice underneath the Phoenix Lander where the rocket blasters blew away some dirt. That would be promising for the possibility of life on Mars. But I think they're going to be disappointed when it turns out to be just a chunk of someone's old patio. My backyard is full of that crap.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When I was a boy... couldn't use language like that in a "family newpaper".

But seriously... it's beginning to look like faulty school building construction is to blame for deaths of many children in the chinese eathquake and the parents, understandably, are starting to to ask questions.

This is a Communist Party official confronting outraged parents holding pictures of their lost children. I can't pretend to know all the cultural nuances in a scene like this, but when was the last time you saw any American official show even this much humility in the face of obvious under-performance?