Apolitical Manifesto

Posted on June 2nd, 2007 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

Updated 6/20/2007, originally posted 6/3/2003

Update 6/20/2007: Yesterday Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, announced he was leaving the Republican Party and will now be an independent. This follows on his switch from the Democratic to Republican parties a few years ago. Mr. Bloomberg has also been travelling to states with upcoming Presidential primaries, inflaming speculation that he will be running for President. Based on what I know at this point, Mr. Bloomberg is the first Presidential candidate in a long while for whom I would be willing to vote, and I hope he runs.

He fits the profile of an ideal candidate (from the article below) in that he has had a career outside of politics, he’s not a Republican or a Democrat, he can speak extemporaneously, he acknowledges that the system is broken, and he’s not a lawyer. I’ve liked what he’s done in New York so far, and I think he’d be an absolutely refreshing change from the past eight years of idiocracy.

Below is the original post from 6/3/2003:

Die-hard, straight-ticket-voting,we’re-right-they’re-wrong supporters of either of the two major American political parties should read no further, as little or nothing that is said here will have any meaning for zealots and/or fanatics and/or conformists. The same goes for single-issue voters.
I rarely vote. Many folks tell me that by not voting I am neglecting my duties as an American, but I beg to differ. In fact, from my perspective it is the people who vote out of a sense of duty who are being un-American. Why? Because by virtue of their participation they are demonstrating tacit approval for a system that is fundamentally flawed. How is it flawed? Let me count the ways:

The Monopoly of the Demoblicans and the Republicrats.
With exceedingly rare exception, all serious candidates are the product of either the Democratic or Republican parties. And although there are superficial differences between the parties, they both strive to maintain the status quo, and to evolve the system to the advantage of the politically connected. So your “choice” between their candidates is like the choice between french vanilla and vanilla bean ice cream. Yes, they’re different, if you’re talking vanilla, but they’re both still just vanilla. Right now our political process is Baskin Robbins 2 Flavors.
The Electoral College. Back when our electoral process was developed (when delivery by horseback was the fastest communication method), it made a lot of sense to have the individual states compile their results and turn them over to a representative who would then deliver those to the central government in person for the final tallying.  But now we have instantaneous, secure, ubiquitous communications, and the selection/use of the electoral college is outdated, outmoded, inefficient, inexact and unnecessary.

Functional Qualifications: Rich, White, Photogenic, Ruthless, with Powerful Supporters.
Yes, there are a few serious Candidates that don’t match these qualifications, but they are so few and far between as to be irrelevant. Show me a grass-roots candidate that doesn’t meet the above, and I’ll show

John from Cincinnati (***½)

Posted on June 1st, 2007 in Television by EngineerBoy

So we watched the premiere episode of John from Cincinnati last week on HBO, and watched the second episode tonight via TiVo, and we’re hooked, at least for now. We’ve been here before with shows that caught our initial interest but then took a wrong turn, but we have our fingers crossed that JfC will continue to deliver.

The show is centered around three generations of a surfer family in Southern California. The father is Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood), a weathered, older, legendary surfer whose career was cut short early by a bad knee, and now he only surfs alone at dawn. He drifts between noble and bitter, and he also has a tendency to levitate six inches off the ground. His son is Butchie Yost (Brian Van Holt), a late-20’s/early-30’s drug addict who was also on his way to surfing legend-dom when his career was cut short early by a bad need (drugs). Butchie is the father of Shaun Yost (Greyson Fletcher), who is a teen surfing prodigy in his own right.

Mitch is married to Cissy Yost (Rebecca De Mornay) who basically runs the family surf shop business. Their next door neighbor is a slightly dementiated retired cop played by Ed O’Neill. There are also other secondary characters played by familiar faces Luiz Guzman, Willie Garson, and Luke Perry.

The titular character is John (Austin Nichols), who appears to be…well…an alien? A robot? An extreme performance artist? A god? A prophet? A genie? A magical, cheerily autistic tabula rasa? Uh…hm. I guess what I’m trying to say is that John is a bit hard to decipher, but he moves through the lives of the other characters in inscrutable and mysterious ways.

The early focus of the show seems to be the fate of Shaun. Will he follow in his father’s drug-addled footsteps? Will he chase the same dreams as his grandfather and have his fate dependent on the continued integrity of his body? Will somebody just let the poor boy surf?

And what about John? He is the titular character, after all. He seems to have strange powers – for example, his pockets have a tendency to produce what those around him ask for. He also seems focused on two concepts – first, that “the end is near”, and second, that Mitch Yost should “get back in the game”.

Bottom line is that the show is interesting and different. It’s like a cross between Twin Peaks and Endless Summer and we hope the show stays on its current course and continues to deliver.

I’ve got my eye on you! No, I’ve got my eye on you!!!

Paris Hilton’s Pathetic Whining

Posted on June 1st, 2007 in Celebrities by EngineerBoy

First let’s all agree that Paris Hilton has never accomplished anything worthwhile, ok? Her “celebrity” status is the result of her complete willingness to prostitute her name and position as an heiress (not to mention her body and sexual escapades) in order to gain notoriety. That notoriety has gained her a reality TV show in which, if I’m interpreting the previews for the new season correctly, she entices six year old beauty pageant contestants into drinking champagne. How noble of her.

She supposedly has a singing career and an acting career, but both seem to be artificially created (certainly not based on talent), bought and paid for by her money and notoriety, and neither are noteworthy in any way. She calls herself a businesswoman, but her ventures into fashion and nightclubs have either gone nowhere or ended in acrimony and lawsuits. Meanwhile, in her shrewdness, she ignores her family hotel and real estate business where she might actually be able to be successful. Oh, and she also shrewdly never finished high school and instead got a GED. College? Nuh-uh, that’s not hot.

Also, she’s not really all that rich. Is she richer than me? Oh, sure – I’ve seen her wealth estimated to be in the $50 million range. That’s certainly enough on which to live comfortably, if one isn’t an idiot, but, well…you know? Early in her “career” I always wondered why she kept trying to land super-rich guys, like the sons of Greek shipping tycoons, as that’s not typical rich-girl behavior. Then I realized that while she is in fact a millionairess, she’s living the lifestyle of a billionairess. And if she is to continue to live in the style to which she has become accustomed, she needs a *rich* husband, and quickly. So, in essence, Paris Hilton is simply Anna Nicole Smith with a $50 million head start.

And now we come to her recent incarceration, which at its heart is based on her drunk driving conviction. I’ve noticed that “the media” makes almost no mention of this fact in the endless stream of stories about her jail time. They have turned the jail time itself into the story, not the crime behind it. And what, exactly, was the crime? It was threefold, as follows:
Paris Hilton’s Journey to Jail
September 2006: Paris stopped for DUI, and she got 36 months probation, a suspended license, and agreed to attend an alcohol education program.
January 2007: Paris stopped and charged with driving with a suspended license.
February 2007: Paris stopped for going 70MPH in a 30MPH zone, did not have on her headlights even though it was dark, AND was driving with a suspended license.
May 2007: A judge took into account the above violations, coupled with the fact that Paris had not attended the alcohol education program as agreed, and found her to be in violation of her DUI probation and sentenced her to do her time behind bars.

Well, folks, that’s how it works. Probation is not a right, it is a privilege, a second