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Sunday, November 30, 2003
Gollum: What I Really Want to Do is Direct
The New Zealand Herald manages to scoop the rest of the world media in its exclusive interview with the ever-reclusive, ever-controversial Gollum:
The first thing you notice when meeting Gollum in the flesh (so to speak) is how much shorter he is in real life than he even appears on screen. Hobbits must tower over him. We're talking Kylie Minogue short. I reach down, we shake hands. The second thing you notice about Gollum is the smell of fish.
James Griffin manages to get past the fish aroma to press Gollum on the rumors that he and Rings director Peter Jackson have not always seen eye-to-bugeye on artistic issues. Gollum feels that Jackson has been too much in thrall to the JRR Tolkien books:
"We sees things differently, the Master and Gollum. Sometimes the way he treats us."
He trails off into a moody silence, looks away, eats a handful of sushi, sips his Mai Tai. I ask him what he means. He turns back, suddenly bug-eyed and venomous.
"He treats us like we not real, yes, like we are one of his precious special effects. But Gollum has feelings, Gollum hurts, but does the Master care? No, no he cares only for the Books. His precious precious."
Lest you think that Gollum is only interesting in his contribution to the Rings trilogy, Griffin discovers that Gollum has plans for his career after the release of the last Rings movie, The Return of the King. Gollum is apparently negotiating for the lead in a Don Knotts biopic, which sets off a case of the giggles for Griffin. This results in the following reaction from the 500-year-old entertainer:
"You think Gollum is only about the Rings? Like the rest, you think Gollum has no career after the Rings is dust? They all think that, laugh at us, hurt us with cruel words. But Gollum does not laugh, Gollum knows this is the beginning, yes. And his agent knows this too, yes, he says we are the new Yoda, the next Steve Buscemi, yes. You are like the Master, with your cruel laughter. Sting us, it does."
Speaking of Steve Buscemi, isn't it strange that you never see him and Gollum together? It's almost as if ... well, never mind. But the notion of Gollum playing Knotts isn't bad at all. I'd especially love to see him playing Ralph Furley from Three's Company:
JANET: What are you doing in my bedroom, Mr. Furley?
FURLEY: Must have the Precious ... Nasty, swishy Jack Tripper wants the Precious all to himself ... [grabs lingerie from doorknob] Give me the Precioussssss...
Well, maybe not. But read the rest of the interview so that you can get a good look at the mutant behind that evil screen persona. Heck, even Gandalf thought that Gollum would have a role to play later on.
Obituary of a Madman
As part of my new commitment to Blog-Iran, I was directed to this notable obituary of a key figure in the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution -- and an indication of the tender mercy we can expect from Islamofascists if they are allowed to expand their power:
After the establishment in 1979 of a fundamentalist Islamic republic in Iran under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian army occupied three Kurdish-Iranian towns for supporting the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, condemned by Khomeini as "un- Islamic". The hardline cleric Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali set up his Islamic revolutionary court to weed out "counter-revolutionaries" in the town of Saghez.
Learning that a Kurdish defendant who was born in Orumiyeh had lost a hand to a grenade explosion during the Tehran uprising, Khalkhali asked what he was doing in Saghez.
"I am a guest at a social get- together, your honour," replied the defendant.
"That fits together very well," Khalkhali said candidly, "Born in Orumiyeh, participated in the Tehran uprising, executed in Saghez. Kill him! Next!"
The next defendant was charged with being the son of a usurer.
"What does my father's crime have to do with me?" protested the defendant.
"Usury is haram - sin," thundered Khalkhali, "and so is the seed of usury. Kill him! Next."
Twenty-four other Kurds were tried that day by Khalkhali. All were executed.
Khalkhali should be a name we recognize, according to the Independent:
Television footage taken in 1980 showed Khalkhali prodding the burnt corpses of US soldiers killed in an unsuccessful mission to rescue American hostages held at the US embassy in Tehran.
Khalkhali died unrepentant on November 27th:
Twenty years on, he remained unrepentant. "I would do exactly the same again," he said, when reminded how defendants had been given little chance to speak or get a lawyer to challenge evidence, if any were presented. "If they were guilty, they will go to hell and if they were innocent, they will go to heaven."
Bear in mind that the people of Iran have been under the thumb of people such as Khalkhali for twenty-four years. People such as Khalkhali have been exporting Islamofascism for all that time, notably but not exclusively through Hezb' Allah, and now are reportedly sheltering al-Qaeda leaders. After Iraq is secure, Iran should be our next focus for change -- not military action, but through diplomatic, economic, and covert means, we need to defeat this threat to the region and the world.
The Patriette Quails at the Cold
A big thank-you to the Patriette, who recently included me in her blogroll, but she seems to have an issue with Minnesota. She's applying for doctoral programs and one of her choices is, or was, the University of Minnesota, which is near where I live. (The Patriette adding to the collection of Northern bloggers? How cool would that be?) Inexplicably, this picture may have dissuaded her:
I just have to say that as someone looking into their programs and currently living in Texas, THAT PHOTO DOES NOT MAKE ME WANT TO ATTEND THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA! It makes every person who's told me that I am insane for wanting to move north because it gets so cold up there seem correct.
Kelly, don't worry about this picture. It's designed to keep out all of the riff-raff from the Paradise that is the Upper Midwest. Just because you can drive pick-ups across our lakes in the wintertime does not mean that Minnesota is unfit for human habitation. I moved from Southern California to live here six years ago, and I've only lost two fingers since then. No, just kidding! Fortunately for my vocabulary, I still have all of my fingers.
Doesn't the sun shine there from time to time?
Yes, we have lovely sunshine all twelve months of the year. However, as we discovered shortly after moving here, a bright sunny day in the middle of winter is not a good sign. In fact, it means that it's colder than Ba'athist compassion -- I mean, it's like tongues-freezing-to-flagpoles, tears-freezing-to-cheeks cold. That's when we all go to the Mall of America, or our favorite pub, or just stay the hell indoors.
Anyway, don't let that little picture throw you too much. As you can plainly see, the weather wasn't bad enough to discourage scores of people from riding their bicycles! And when you do get up here, make sure you let us all know so that we can show you where the frozen lakes are at.
Perhaps They Could Call Him "Dances With Weasels"
It's a story straight out of Hollywood, and may wind up there:
A 59-year-old retired builder from Yorkshire, northern England, was shocked to discover he is in fact a tribal chief with a claim to thousands of acres of land in Canada, British newspapers reported on Friday.
Mick Henry, the son of an English mother and a Canadian soldier over in Britain during World War II, was recently tracked down via the Internet by his long-lost Native Canadian relatives from the Ojibway tribe in the province of Manitoba.
Until recently, Henry hasn't bothered to learn much about the people he's destined to lead; he thought that they still lived in teepees until he was told about his inheritance. However, Henry is determined to bring Western values to his tribe, even though he still lacks a ceremonial name:
Henry is also apparently hoping to cash-in on his new-found heritage and sudden celebrity status. When contacted by telephone by Reuters, a Henry family spokeswoman said: "He is not speaking to the media about his story any more without a fee."
Apparently, it's not enough for Henry to have thousands of acres of Canadian land to fall into his lap. They should take this capitalist theme into account when they come up with his ceremonial name. I'm thinking something along these lines: Sells Out to Strangers, or perhaps Greedy Horse.
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
No, this is not a reference to Notre Dame's spanking of Stanford yesterday. Power Line posts about the poetry and beauty of Ireland, a subject which always has my interest, as you well know. And in this instance, Hindrocket has plenty of evidence of both!
Still A Distraction?
It amazes me, but some people insist that military action in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. News stories like this tend to disprove it:
American forces have captured three members of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s terrorist network in northern Iraq (news - web sites), a U.S. military commander told The Associated Press on Sunday. If confirmed, it would be the first disclosed detention of al-Qaida militants in Iraq.
About 10 members of Ansar al-Islam — an Islamic group U.S. officials believe has al-Qaida links in northern Iraq — also have been arrested by U.S. troops in the past seven months, said Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.
There are two explanations for al-Qaeda to be in Iraq. One: they were there all along, as our intelligence indicated, or they are coming to Iraq to fight American soldiers, instead of coming to America to kill civilians. Either way, it would appear that the battle for Iraq is, as many of us have maintained all along, a key piece of the war on terror in general and on al-Qaeda in particular.
500th Post: The Dark Side of Blogging
Last night, after we got home, I fired up the laptop and took a quick look around some of my favorite blogs before hitting the sack. I was hoping to come up with a blogosphere theme for my 500th post, and the Commissar at the Politburo Diktat did not disappoint -- although certainly other bloggers have been behaving in a most disappointing manner:
The Politburo authorizes me to extend its congratulations to the LOL on its highly successful advancement of Party members within the TTLB Ecosystem, maintained by the "Dumber Than the Average Bear" NZ Bear.
With your commendable and Revolutionary use of two tactics, you have propelled many LOL members to high ranking in the Ecosystem rankings, even while the Ecosystem is maintained by that reactionary wingnut, NZ Bear.
The Commissar discovered that some League of Liberals bloggers have been using two different methods of artificially inflating their stats in order to move up the TTLB Ecosystem: multilinking posts and multiple sitemeter accounts. The first isn't necessarily abusive, unless all you're doing is publishing posts with so many links that it's obvious that the whole purpose is to pump up your alliance's stats. (The Commissar includes an example in the comments over at NZ Bear's post on this subject.) The second, though, is plainly intended to deceive the Ecosystem programming in order to boost the standing of LoL bloggers. This has caused NZ Bear to suspend a number of LoL blogs and invalidate their links for the Ecosystem:
If you're wondering just how badly these blogs distorted the League's rankings, I'll draw your attention to the League's total inbound unique statistics from this morning, before I suspended these blogs: 8597 unique inbound links across all the League's blogs. With the removal of the duplicate blogs, the League now totals 5641 unique inbound links. That's right: 34% of the League's total unique links were due to these duplicate blogs. To League members, I ask you: is that really the way you want to advance?
I have trouble trying to decide what is most disturbing about this scandal. The LoL logs involved (a minority of them) purposely abused NZ Bear's hospitality by corrupting his Ecosystem. There's a masturbatory element in all of this, too; I mean, what's the point to all of this if all you wind up doing is running your stats up with a bunch of your own links? And what does that say about the credibility of LoL blogs, that they go out of their way to falsify their records? Would you trust anything written by a blogger that feels free to corrupt someone else's blog system?
That's not the worst of it, though. If you read through the comments for NZ Bear's initial post on the subject, you'll find some of the LoL trying to make the case that conservative blogs play games with their stats, too. I am sure that's true. However, before the LoL came along, there were two alliances, and neither of them were partisan; they were formed around tongue-in-cheek opposition to or support of Instapundit. While their blogs may or may not be politically oriented, their alliances were not. This political finger-pointing is ludicrous and embarrassing, especially since it's coming from the only politically-oriented alliance in the Ecosystem and the only alliance that's been caught with its hand in the cookie jar.
This is what happens when one loses sight of their reasons for blogging. If the only reason you blog is to become a Large Mammal in the TTLB Ecosystem, what do you think that gets you? Validation of your political beliefs, or some sort of affirmation as a human being? It's an odd way to think, and it results in twisted escapades like this. It's hardly a Watergate event, but it's still a good lesson in corruption.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Flying Home, with France On My Mind
Today we're flying back to Minneapolis, after a great vacation with the family. These times are never long enough, but it will be great to sleep in our own beds again.
No other posting today, as I will be too danged busy, but you should check out this post at Jennifer's History and Stuff about France. I spent my blogging time today writing an extensive comment on why and how the French irritate the livin' snot out of me. (If you read this, Jennifer, sorry about the length.)
Tomorrow, we'll have the 500th post at Captain's Quarters!
From the Soldier's Perspective
Andrew Sullivan posts this e-mail from a soldier at the Thanksgiving celebration in Baghdad where President Bush made his appearance:
Mr. Sullivan, I was present for the surprise visit by the President. It was truly wonderful to be there, and my buddies and I really are grateful that President Bush would take a real risk to come see u. He flew about 12 hours to spend 2 hours with us, he served food to the troops, but he never got a chance to eat himself, at least not until he got on the plane, I'd imagine. For 2 hours, the President walked amongst us, not a receiving line where we came to him, stiff and formal, but coming to us, reading our names on our uniforms and greeting us by name. He looked me in the eye when he shook my hand, he joked with some, whispered to others, spoke a little Spanish to my friend. 2 hours of almost non-stop motion, how exhausting after a 12 hour flight! He did it to be with us, and we appreciate it.
It's amazing how well that compensates for the media elite currently blathering on about how the secrecy of the trip amounts to lying to the sainted press corps, as if security considerations were just an annoying afterthought. Howard Kurtz reports on the biggest whiners:
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. "That's just not kosher," he said. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."
So, Tom, let me get this straight: if a reporter decides to pose as a mental patient to blow the lid off of abuse in psychiatric hospitals, he's acting unethically -- correct? I mean, the reporter is lying, isn't he? If a reporter poses as a slaughterhouse worker in order to inform the public of substandard practices in food handling, he's lying, isn't he? Investigative journalists do this all the time -- and in the case of the Bush trip, it wasn't even lying -- it was keeping one's mouth shut for a finite, short period of time so that the story could be told safely. Explain to me how that's unethical and that's lying, but the two cases I mentioned earlier (Geraldo Rivera, 1969, and Upton Sinclair, 1906), explicitly lying about one's identity and purpose is somehow justified by the end result.
Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable."
Philip Taubman and Tom Rosenstiel really ought to compare notes. On one hand, Rosenstiel says that reporters are obligated to tell what they know, but on the other hand, Taubman's insisting that the White House could have told the entire press corps and no one would have breathed a word of it. Oh, and the White House "decided" on stealth mode, too; it's not as though it were necessary to keep him alive, or anything like that. Kim Hume has a more realistic view:
She said the administration took a network pool crew, as it was supposed to, and "we didn't get any competitive advantage from it." Had more journalists been told, Hume said, "the story would have leaked in about two seconds" because "news people are the biggest gossips alive."Of course, media leaks never occur; just ask about this incident, over at Rantingprofs:
Second, from this story, the cell wasn't captured in its entirety. Why? Wait for it -- media leaks. It would have been real nice if the Beeb had been a bit more, say, robust in their coverage of that part of the story. I'd love to know which outlet leaked information that made it possible for suspected terrorists to get out of dodge before the cops grabed them, wouldn't you? (But by all means, lets rehash whether it was unnecessary deception for the White House to put out a fake menu before the President left for Baghdad. I'm sure that information would never have leaked.)
The media are up in arms both because Bush didn't invite them all to his little party, and also because they're beginning to suspect that he's going to breeze to re-election next year, and they aren't happy at all about either one.
UPDATE: Demosophia has a good post on this same topic. Money quote: "I suppose they'd also have insisted on giving Hitler fair warning about the invasion of Normandy." And besides the one post I linked from Rantingprofs, you can read more about this story in several earlier posts as well.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Politburo Diktat Maps the Blogosphere
Comrade Commissar is not just good political enforcer -- he is Glorious Revolutionary Cartographer as well. If you click on just one link today, you must click on this one, Comrades.
I notice that KaptainEdsk is located in South-Central Reynoldssia, which suits me just fine. Nice place for good weather and a nice little dacha near the Volga, da? This is your one-stop blogroll; simply click where you want to travel, and faster than Glorious Revolution, you are transported to the blog of your choice. (Da, I know, Comrades, choice is counterrevolutionary plot, but we must peacefully co-exist for the moment ...)